Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Write ... Edit ... Publish ... Bloghop - Bridges ...

I could not think what to write … then came across this true story - the limerick is mine

There was an old woman of Wadebridge
Whose enjoyment was an afternoon playing bridge
Her hand played high …
She slapped her thigh …
… too much for the lady of Wadebridge …

A game of bridge - but NOT the winning hand

… based on Wendy Brown, who died immediately after being dealt a ‘once in a lifetime’ hand because she couldn’t take the excitement.

The old railway station at Wadebridge - now
The John Betjeman Centre

The grandmother of 12 died from a massive heart attack at the John Betjeman Centre in Wadebridge, Cornwall – during her regular Tuesday game.

John Betjeman statue in
St Pancras Station

John Betjeman (1906 – 1984), poet, writer and broadcaster, became Poet Laureate in 1972, passionate about Victorian Society and architecture, yet hankered after his beloved north Cornwall.

Trebetherick, north Cornwall  - looking
across to the Bristol Channel

He lived out his final days in Trebetherick, where his father had had some properties, and where many of his childhood holidays had been spent … getting there via the train terminus, opened 1834, at Wadebridge. 

St Enodoc Church

St Enodoc Church was commemorated by Betjeman in his poem Sunday Afternoon Service:

So grows the tinny tenor faint or loud
All all things draw toward St Enodoc

Cornwall Tour Site - re Wadebridge and Betjeman Centre

Wendy Brown's story in The Daily Mail

Write Edit Publish Bloghop details June 2017

The river used to need wading across, until a bridge was built in the 1460s, from then on the settlement was known as Wadebridge.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Bran Tub # 12: Myotonic Goats ...

Fainting Goats to you and me … well Rhonda of Albom Adventures alerted me to them in her comment on my F for Feral Goat post I wrote as part of my series “Aspects of British County Rare Breeds”.  I couldn’t not find out more could I? … so you get a bran tub post!

Kid goat that has fainted

To me … it seems an extraordinary condition … the goat’s muscles freeze for roughly 3 seconds when the goat feels panic.

Young goats tend to ‘keel’ over, while older goats have learnt to spread their legs or lean against something when startled …

Poor goats ... stiff legged ... 

… this can leave them for a while with an awkward, stiff-legged shuffle - giving us humans another way of describing them … ‘wooden-legged goats’ … or no doubt many a description!

But symptoms can affect humans too – so often there’s that  interlink - but I’ll leave you to investigate ‘myotonia’ … it’s a symptom of a small handful of certain neuromuscular disorders characterised by delayed relaxation (prolonged contraction) of the skeletal muscles after voluntary contraction or electrical stimulation.

Tennessee - Lewisburg, home of the fainting goats is near the
Alabama border: about where the 'C' of Chattanooga is shown

Back to fainting goats (wooden-legged goats) … they are classified as a meat goat as opposed to a dairy goat, but can be raised for chevon (goat meat). 

Referencing the British Rare Breeds Survival Trust as my April posts highlighted – this rare breed falls under The Livestock Breed Conservancy of America (ALBC) – and thus is being protected.

Marshall County Courthouse
in Lewisburg

Tennessee seems to be the centre for these goats, where in October there is an annual “Goats, Music and More Festival” honouring the fainting goats …

Marshall County puts on this festival, centred on goats, but has activities including music, arts, festival games, crafts, food (of course!), and children’s activities … sounds like fun.

The logo c/o the Festival site
There’s a three legged goat triathlon apparently … and a goats gallop of 5 k … I presume both of these are human based!

How do I finish a post like this … ah! a link to South Africa … I see on the Goats Music and More site that the judges are described as Boer judges – after my time in SA … that is where ‘the boer’ is an Afrikaans farmer.

Matt Gillan - with his winning dish for Great British
Menu in 2015.  He told the important story of the goat
to the islanders of St Helena (see my post)

Yet the introduced Boer goat has been discovered as an excellent crossbreed stock for the fainting one, a meat goat which was imported from South Africa … the fainting gene is recessive, therefore it is usually not expressed in crossbred animals.

Jerk Goat Kebabs with dried mango
So the fainting goat can be conserved as a breed … yet the traits of the meat goat can be kept as a meat goat, when it has been crossed with the Boer goat … and can thus give us goat meat …

Albom Adventures – Rhonda’s blog highlighting ‘The Essence of Travel Through Photography’ …

Wikipedia’s – Fainting Goat …. and Myotonia sites …

Marshall County’s link to the Goats, Music and More Festival in Tennessee …

That's it for fainting goats - can't quite get over this Bran Tub find!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Celebration of Diaries - an Exhibition ...

I went to the Dear Diary Exhibition at King’s College, London in the Inigo Rooms of Somerset House … these will be jottings on various snippets of information I noted …
The Courtyard, Somerset House

Some of the work was copyright - so no photos … but I did note that people’s handwriting is difficult to behold – let alone read … especially through glass: nothing changes as time goes on!  (thank goodness for the typed or spoken word … spoken: perhaps not so much – dialects etc).

Exhibition Guide

I whizzed through, glanced at … picked out some salient points …  so please excuse this disjointed post …

The first ‘diary’ was the Almanac (c 1400 BC) … almanac in Arabic apparently means making a camel kneel: ‘al-munak’ … that’s what was written up …. ?!

There was a long hanging banner with some
of the works on display down the staircase

Almanacs … we bloggers and authors know and quite often refer to them … they record the calendar, weather, poems, sayings, astronomical and astrological information, other relevant aspects to the writer …

The word 'diary' comes from the Latin "diarium" (daily allowance), as too 'journal' - it is from the same root "diurnus" (of the day).

The first use of the word ‘diary’ occurred in 1581 … while Ben Jonson in 1605 coined the word to mean a daily record in his comedy ‘Volpone’.

Gentleman and Tradesman, Daily Pocket Journal
for the year 1754

Some diarists used code in their writings … Pepys - naval administrator and diarist - (1633 – 1703), Anne Lister – diarist, mountaineer and traveller (1791 – 1840), Charles Wesley – a leader in the Methodist movement (1707 – 1788) and Beatrix Potter –author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist (1866 – 1943) …

Anne Lister (aka "Gentleman Jack")

Anne Lister inherited from her landowning uncle … she wrote in 1803 ‘my library is my greatest pleasure … the Grecian history had pleased me much’.  She was known as “Gentleman Jack” … it is worth reading up about her

Anne Frank School Photo
in 1940

Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901) kept a diary … Beatrice Webb (1858 – 1943) co-founder of the London School of Economics wrote a diary … and I can’t forget Anne Frank (1929 – 1945) who kept a diary …

But a film had been made in Germany in 1929 ‘Diary of a Lost Girl’ … it is a silent film … considered a classic … based on a controversial book first published in Germany in 1905.  I would like to read the book and see the film …

Diary of a Lost Girl - silent film:
original German poster
There are many items on display … in manuscript form … until that internet thing came upon us … then one of the first to embrace the new medium recording her thoughts for all to see was Carolyn L Burke …

… in 1995 she seems to have embraced the new technology and started sharing …

… the use of  ‘blog’ and ‘blogosphere’ first appeared as words in 1999 …

Western Mail Diary - cost 3 shillings

Carolyn observed that she was able to share her interests, she had an audience – a range of characters, ‘they’ became her therapist, her confidante, her intimate friend ….

… the momentum gathered and after several months alone by herself on the net … they started visiting … at the peak she had 100,000 hits and numerous followers … and critics ... 

I am sure she is still around … but she encourages others inwhat is apparently her last entry in 2007.

… the exhibition asks us to participate – I used pen and post-it note to add my tuppence to the board of experiences – yellow for online, blue for handwritten … guess mine = yellow!

So many can let others know what is happening in their world … refugees, a child’s view on a riot in Paris in 1968, a day in the life of a UNICEF worker in Yemen … and bloggers around the world …

… if you wish to participate – this is the site … I hope someof you will …

The art work appearing with Einsam's link ... 

There is a song, which I rather like: “Ephemera – Dear Diary” by Einsam: to be found here … Einsam means lonely

Lots of alternatives for diary keeping today … video, taped, via an app, online blogging or vlogging … and of course pen and paper …

Facsimile page of Anne Frank's diary
on show in Berlin

However I’m happy with doing what I do – I’d hate for my life to be out there for everyone to read … so boring, so illegible!, these posts at least keep me amused and a few of you – for whom I am mighty grateful …

Other links:  The Diary of a Lost Girl - the book

The Exhibition: "Dear Diary - celebrates diaries and their digital descendants" ... 

Cover of the first edition: 1892

Over the centuries (millennia) diaries have offered unique accounts of given times, in a medium selected by the diarist … no other kind of document offers such a wealth of information about daily life, and the ups and downs of human existence.

Apart from exploring what motivates diarists, noting the ways in which paper diaries have been joined by phones and tablets as our means of keeping track of daily life … 

Stranger than fiction probably ... especially the historical details and facts that make up our understanding of earlier lives.

An Addendum - Mike from A Bit About Britain mentioned the Mass Observation Project conducted by Sussex University ... it looks fascinating: so here are two links ...

The Mass Observation Archive - gives an overview ... 80 years of social observation ...

The MOA is archived at the University's new facility in The Keep

I'm going out to the Keep sometime soon ... so now will ask about this collection ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Bran Tub # 11: Lightning Rod Fashion ...

Lightning Rod Umbrellas or Hats … the fashion of the day in the 1770s …
Benjamin Franklin drawing electricity
from the sky - painted by
Benjamin West (1816)

Honestly – I could not believe what I saw and then read about – so you had to know too!   Life does throw out some wonderful and weird ideas …

Benjamin Franklin (one of the Founding Fathers of the United States [1706 – 1790]) the renowned polymath had invented the lightning rod to protect wooden structures, but which did not become commonplace until 50 years after his death.

Church with Steeple on high ground
 - illustration

To back up a little (well over 250 years ago) – the highest point in villages and towns was the church steeple, and in that steeple were metallic bells that were rung to ward off storms - ?? ...

Denny Church, Falkirk,
Scotland, showing damage
via lightning strike

... ideal for the lightning … not so for the Church or particularly for the 103 bell ringers killed by lightning strikes per a report published in Europe in 1786 noting the 386 recorded strikes in the previous 33 years (1753).

To make the disaster complete there was a habit of storing gunpowder in the vaults of churches … a church being a sacred place - its vaults were considered the safest place to store munitions.   An explosive idea …. ?!

Brescia in northern Italy

The clergy of the Church of St Nazaire at Brescia in northern Italy had refused to have a lightning rod installed … then in 1769 the church was struck … 

... the resulting fire ignited 90,000 kg (nearly 200,000 lb) of gunpowder stored there – causing a massive explosion which destroyed one-sixth of Brescia (90 houses) and killed 3,000 people.

But as with all things it took time to accept that lightning rods were an essential protection … but then there’s the overreaction – really why this post is being written! - everything had to be grounded by a Franklin rod …

Le Parapluie-Puratonnere

Lightning Rod Fashion came to the fore, especially in Paris … the concept was, by now, to some extent accepted practice … that the lightning bolt would strike the Franklin-designed protective device instead of the person, sending the electricity harmlessly down the metal chain to the ground.

Umbrellas for men were invented … named “le parapluie-puratonnere” literally ‘umbrella protecting against thunder’ – a misnomer, as it was intended to protect against lightning, not thunder!

Each of the hats at the back has a silver chain
running down to the ground

While women had special hats … a woven metal ribbon was wrapped around the hat, a silver chain was attached to the ribbon which then trailed to the ground …

This is one of those extraordinary unintended inventions arising from Benjamin Franklin’s foray into science … and especially the concept of how electricity worked …

Title page of 1751 original edition

I do this Founding Father of the USA an injustice … as his 86 page book on electricity went through five editions in English, three in French, one in German and one in Italian … and he received numerous awards and acknowledgements …

This phase of his life lasted less than seven years … politics was beckoning … with his influence as a newspaperman and his fame as a scientist … Franklin was an ideal candidate for office.

So did you know this part of Franklin’s life … I knew little about him … so I have learnt … but what an extraordinary fashion to be in vogue in the late 1700s – that’s the story of the fashionable lightning rod.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 26 May 2017

We Are The World … In Darkness, Be Light … #3

My story this time comes from Mexico … Monterrey and Mexico City … highlighting a teenage son and his mother …

Julian Rios Cantu has recently hit the headlines through inventing a prototype bra … eliminating the need for a mammogram …

… the bra will detect cancer very early, by noticing the changes, particularly abnormal temperature, occurring in the breast. 

Here Julian is with Richard Branson - having won
his award - c/o Higia Technologies

I’m not explaining this very well … but please read up about him.

He was determined to help his mother, and all mothers with (potential) breast cancer …

Apart from his dedication to overcome his dyslexia by studying obsessively, which then enabled him to better understand science – he became top of the class with interests in technology and robots.

He is inspirational … his motto on (that dreaded birdie thing!) twitter is:

“Stop Thinking.
Stop Pondering.
Stop Strategising.
Stop Debating.
GO     DO.”

Monterrey, Mexico where the
company is based.

The family are practical … but you do need to read his story – definitely worth it … totally admirable.

His mother still works to feed her family – Julian and his twin sister, Daniela – while having cancer medication and chemo …

The prototype bra 

Julian has set up a company Higia Technologies with three of his smartest friends!  This includes a brief introductory video … please listen …

It also notes some statistics … one of which is that over 1,700,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year … check the website – it is before you get to the video.

Let us take stock … GO DO …
        … and then help others to GO DO …

We Are The World … In Darkness, Be Light

Your lead co-hosts this time are: 

Emily Bloomquist - Her Life in Ecuador ... is a new participant this month ... so please join us via the sign up form on her blog ... 

After the terrible tragic happening in Manchester this week – my heart goes out to all the families of those affected … please read Damyanti’s post:

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Easter Parade – a wee bit late …

Family and friends gathered … horses had been fed, watered and were out in the field on the Downs ...

Downland View

... the day was cold, but dry and sunny at least …

The cat had disappeared … Bertie is not too keen on visitors!  

Well in this photo - she's hoping someone will throw the
ball for her ... but that someone just wanted to have a zizz!

The beloved dog was greeting all visitors, happy just being around her two-legged pals … this photo is from the end of Summer last year.

I think there were 16 of us … as I’m no longer required to help – that eliminates me from knowing numbers or worrying about how many table settings or seating plans!

Just making sure I was well
watered! Sadly I was driving
so that scuppered that!

I just need to chat away to whomever wished to be talked to … including the dog!

Chocolate eggs were dotted around the garden for garnering in later on … 

Egg planting session here

... strange custom to have plants that give us chocolate – but they do … especially as some of you recently mentioned about chocolate mint …

Rockery - rosemary in front, bluebells
beyond, shrubs and many other plants

So here’s some photos of the day and the garden … this is before the full spring blooms were out … it is now meant to be late Spring early Summer – but it is raining!

Beech tree underplanted with
cyclamen - where the hammock sits

Over the years the garden has matured and changed … it is not the easiest soil to garden on … chalk – doesn’t help – this wet spell will have improved its lot immeasurably …


Right off we go – pictures and some notes – on names of flowers, trees etc … (well some of them anyway!) … 

well that was the post that was!

Wild naturally planted rockery - Downs in distance,
with primroses, bluebells and cowslips

Enjoy your fresh air breaks ... see how many plants, flowers, trees etc you can identify ... if not - check out later on ... and watch them change as we go through the seasons ... not too quickly please for this third-ager!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories