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  • Christopher Columbus and Mermaids October 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Christopher Columbus and Mermaids

    Beachcombing cannot find it in himself to envy Christopher Columbus. All that salt water and all those incipient rebellions must have wreaked havoc on the good navigator’s blood pressure. But in one thing alone Beachcombing confesses to green-eyed rabid jealousy: the great Genovese explorer saw Mermaids, not once, but twice in his life, while the closest poor […]

    Going Dark Age on the Circle Line October 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Going Dark Age on the Circle Line

    Beachcombing’s trawl around south-east England and London on behalf of Canadian History Student is now three-days old and continues here with another side of London’s Circle Line. The Circle Line for any London virgins among Beachcombing’s readership is the wonderful series of station represented by a yellow circle on the map of central London that goes […]

    A Ring, A Curse Stone and J.R.R. Tolkien October 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Ring, A Curse Stone and J.R.R. Tolkien

    As noted in yesterday’s post Beachcombing is presently trying to pass on some off-the-beaten-track travel tips to Canadian History Student in his/her coming trip around south-east England. Beachcombing thought that for the second of his suggested visits he would counsel a quick run up to Vyne House near Basingstoke. Beachcombing doesn’t care much for the […]

    Politicians and Maps October 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Politicians and Maps

    As Beachcombing explained in a previous post it has been a difficult week. And yet his attempt to shrug off the blues with an unfortunate Mayan sacrificial victim yesterday backfired – he had bad dreams. Here then is a further attempt moving on from Mesoamerican pain to political stupidity. And as there is so much stupidity out […]

    Mayan Blood and Mayan Victims October 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mayan Blood and Mayan Victims

    Beachcombing has had a bad week and so to perk himself up a little he thought that he would resort to the last strategy of the truly desperate: pity someone who is worse off than himself. In this spirit and in continuance of his wcih (‘worst careers in history’) series he has decided to rememeber the […]

    Hunter-Shoppers October 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Hunter-Shoppers

    Beachcombing’s nickname at High School – concrete comprehensive school somewhere in the lush north – was Caveman. And Beachcombing’s peers – with that preternatural perception that adolescents still have before soap operas, nicotine and 9-5 set in  – were onto something as the Stone-Ager was always close to the surface. Even now, it is enough for Beachcombing […]

    Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica October 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica

    It was a dull weekend and so Beachcombing is going to give himself a pick-me-up this Monday morning with one of his favourite sports – making fun of the Soviet Union. And what better way to do it than with this fabulous photograph of the southern pole of inaccessibility, the point in Antarctica furthest from […]

    Boiling mice in the name of history October 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Boiling mice in the name of history

    It is widely known, Beachcombing believes, that the Romans ate dormice. Despite sumptuary laws forbidding the practice – dormice were an indulgence – they were fattened in gardens and kept in winter in a glirarium (a large ceramic jar) to prevent them hibernating (and becoming thin…). They were then cooked, stuffed with  pine kernels, garum, […]

    Those Nice Austro-Hungarian Machine Gunners October 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Those Nice Austro-Hungarian Machine Gunners

    Beachcombing recently found himself marveling over a passage in Mark Thompson’s The White War on Italy’s dreadful First World War campaigns. Italy it must be remembered was fighting, for the most part, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Peacock Imperial Throne of central Europe. Another kind of collusion was so rare that very few instances were recorded […]

    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism September 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism

    Beachcombing has loved the extraordinary monastery of San Miniato (Florence), his favourite continental church, since he first saw it fifteen years ago. Started in a largely undocumented generation in the eleventh century it showed from the beginning an ambition that, though wholly medieval in form, anticipated the Florentine renaissance in terms of its self-confident eccentricity. However, there […]

    Blowing Up Robin Hood Airport September 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Blowing Up Robin Hood Airport

    Regular readers of this blog will know that Beachcombing is a stickler for chronology. For example, the ‘contemporary’ tag he regularly uses refers strictly to events between Germany’s invasion of Belgium in the summer of 1914 and the birth of Little Miss B in the summer of 2008. But every so often an event comes along […]

    The Galeotti: Rowing Out Of The Barbary Coast September 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Galeotti: Rowing Out Of The Barbary Coast

    It’s been a bad week in the seventeenth century. There you were, a French pilgrim, just minding your own business, lounging around on a Catalan cutter and, bang, Barbary pirates overrun the ship. Next thing you know you are being shunted on board their vessel kicking and screaming and being told that you are to be […]

    Super-Centenarians in the Roman Empire September 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Super-Centenarians in the Roman Empire

    Beachcombing knew that life expectancy in the Roman Empire stood at between twenty and thirty years of age – a figure dragged down, of course, by appalling infant mortality. So he was particularly fascinated to come across this passage in Pliny the Elder. In addition there are the experiences of the last census, held within the […]

    A Kingdom in a London Hotel Room September 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Kingdom in a London Hotel Room

    Over the last weeks Beachcombing has offered a collection of posts from his Forgotten Kingdoms file. And he thought that today he would add to this with the smallest recognised state known to him: Suite 212 at Claridge’s. First a little background. Claridge’s has long had a reputation as the most exclusive London hotel. And […]

    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper September 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper

    Beachcombing has long had a secret nemesis: Donald McCormick aka Richard Deacon, a British author. McCormick (1911-1998) wrote entertainingly on a bewildering series of topics including the Hell Fire Club, Mossad, Ian Fleming, the Kempa Tai and the death of Kitchener. Many of these books included doubtful elements: extremely valuable sources that no one else had ever […]

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