Archives for: June 2007


Permalink 12:02:15 am, by Email , 85 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, British History

Earlier this past week London's famed Christie's auctioneers put a collection of rare letters up for auction. These included missives from some of Britain's major historical figures such as Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I and Oliver Cromwell. While I personally believe that letters such as these belong in a museum for the public to enjoy, and learn from, I do admit that I would love to have anything that at one time belonged to Her Majesty, Elizabeth I or simply her signature.

Image Credit: BBC



This could ALMOST go on the Paranormal Blog...

Cemeteries are ever so haunted! They must be! Everyone knows this, right?

Sue and I are fairly decent paranormal investigators and researchers (so we're told,) and as such, I can tell you this is absolutely, positively...


Here's the challenge to those who disagree... Go to your local bookstore or library and pick up any three different "true ghost story" books... Now, count the stories and do a ratio... Cemeteries to "Other Places".

See something interesting?

Now, I hope you weren't cute and picked up "Haunted Cemeteries" for this challenge... even though it's author said some VERY flattering things about your's truly... it will skew the data incorrectly... it's like asking for the same "challenge" and picking up "Haunted Ships"... it would seem, based on a basic test like this, that every vessel in the water is haunted!

ANYWAY, as you can see, "ghosts" are reported where the person they represent lived, played, worked, visited, or died... not where they are interred.

Statistically, this is borne out without question.

So, why are cemeteries THOUGHT to be so haunted?

Well, I have four answers for you... and three are based in history and folklore... and one in human instinct... and none have to do with visitations from the beyond, I'm afraid...

The first one, and the easiest to spot, is the "Ancient Curse" deal... We've all heard about them... The Pharaohs Curse! The curse of the mummy!

Do you know what most historians feel is the reason for these curses?


Um, no...

It was to keep grave robbers out.

The thought (and it's a good one,) is that if the grave robbers, usually being "low born" and "ill educated" broke into a tomb, saw the "curse", they would flee and the occupants spared having their valuables so needed to get through the afterlife left unmolested.

Oh, and about the "curse" of King Tut? Click here...

That other mummy? Click here...

Anyway, it's a relative accepted fact that, indeed, the curses were put in place to "scare away" the superstitious.

The second one has to deal with a major taboo... which was witchcraft... and I don't mean the Frank Sinatra song...

Actually, it was the "art" of Necromancy to be exact.

There was a general "idea" that talking to the dead would illuminate the future... that using magic to "raise the dead from their sleep" would be a good idea to get a hot tip for the stock market...

The ancient Greeks were big on it, but it had a "resurgence" in Europe during the middle-ages when everyone was dabbling in weird things because it was the ultimate taboo... I mean, go off to the graveyard, draw a pentacle, try to get your dearly departed buddy Oscar to chat and you could genuinely be accused of all sorts of nasty things and off to a stake to be cleansed by fire!

Yup, it was witchcraft!

Oh, and before I get a slurry of comments telling me how awful it is to equate "witch" and this type of weird "hocus-pocus"... I know... I'm a student (not a practitioner) of Wicca... but we aren't talking about an enlightened age here! This is back when having a mole between one's breasts was considered a "third nipple with which to suckle Satan" and a guaranteed trip to the gallows at least!

Anyway, with this warning... it tended to set up TWO thoughts with people...

#1: Being in a graveyard at night could cause you to bump into these whacky and evil practitioners of the devil's arts and possibly a dead guy to boot! Best to stay away!

#2: Being in a graveyard at night we could be MISTAKEN for one of these whacky and evil practitioners and I don't look good in shackles while being tortured! Best to stay away!

Either way, it fed a fear.

The third one, and the last historical one... and the one that has probably led to most of the "modern" thoughts on ghosts in cemeteries comes from England and North America... and a little problem they had from the 1600's through the 1800's...

Before getting into it, you should know that the British people use their ghosts and have used them for convenience sake for centuries, according to Peter Underwood... and I'd agree.

Let's say you made a brisk living smuggling... but you needed people to stay away from the cellar of your home or maybe even a cave...

Well, the "gentry" won't be heading their, so it's the "peasants" and townsfolk you need to concern yourself with... what to do, what to do...

I know! Take a page from the ancient Egyptians... sorta...

Don't go down THERE... that's where the GHOST is and I seen 'im!"

Also, in England, there was a time where practising Catholic rites could get a person killed... or worse, make them a social pariah and take away all their wealth! This led to many "fine homes" having what is called a "Pope-Hole".

This was a "secret place" for a priest who was delivering sacraments to hide in lest they be discovered...

Again, who was your concern in turning you in? The servants...

How to keep them away?

"Did you hear that? It was THE GHOST! Not a priest in a hiding-space under the floor, but a GHOST!"

"What? You saw a mysterious cloaked man running into the kitchen??? I didn't see anything! He vanished??? YOU SAW A GHOST!"

Clever, eh? It would scare 'em into not wanting to investigate further... and it worked more often than you know...

Interestingly enough, Underwood surmises that many English ghost stories seemed to "start" during this time in history... and REMAIN TODAY including modern sightings of what was reported "way back when".

Are the priests haunting? Maybe the smuggler? Perhaps... or is the power of suggestion over long centuries playing a part...?

WELCOME TO MY POINT! (Read: Meanwhile, back on topic...)

Traditional Christian dogma has a resurrection planned... a day that all the dead rise for final judgement before *POOF!* we're all gone.

Now, back-in-the-day, this meant you wanted to look and be your best to meet your maker... and in one piece.

Sure, some "grave robbers" went after your jewellery perhaps... but the real fear was something far more insidious... STUDENTS!

You see, with this fear, one has to wonder where an anatomy student studying medical arts would get a cadaver for dissection? Almost no one wanted to be caught in jars or with limbs scattered when God came a callin'... so no one donated themselves to science!


Sounds bad, doesn't it... in some ways, it was.

Basically, the student (school or professor) would "hire" some ne'er do wells to run over to the cemetery, dig up fresh corpse et voila! One specimen!

Of course, this REALLY didn't go over to well with the relatives, so they had to "mask" themselves... They go in the dark, do the best job without leaving evidence... and collect the fee from the school.

This was so bad that in 1752, British Parliament had a plan... they would hand over all executed criminals to the anatomists! This had TWO bonuses... it put a stop to grave robbing and it was a double-whammy for the condemned! You're going to be killed for your crime... and then God's gonna have to get model glue for you come judgement day!

A decent deterrent and a decent idea... save two problems...

First of all, who wanted to be dissected NOW!?! I mean, if you WERE toying with the idea and you were of decent stature, who'd want to be treated like a common criminal when post-mortem!?!

Second of all, supply was not meeting demand... and the trade continued.

The ne'er do wells ended up becoming a profession... they referred to themselves as "Resurrectionists"... other's called them "Sack 'Em Up Men"... grave robbery was done by the lowest, but their trade ended up dealing with the educated elite!

Sure, there was "booty"... if a corpse had nice jewellery or even gold teeth, BONUS!

...but these guys, like most men, only wanted you for your body.

That's where the REAL coin was! Doctors paid top-dollar for a fresh one!

They became adept at their jobs... digging a small hole deep at the head of the grave near the stone, breaking open the casket, dragging the corpse out, and filling in the hole... no one was the "wiser"... several accounts of anatomy students "recognising" their cadaver.

...oh, and some "anatomy lessons" were open to the public... this led to much issues with the doctors.

(Here's the ghost part...)

To keep "witnesses" away, MANY resurrectionists pretended to be GHOSTS playing on the old fears of the cemetery at night... it was also done vice-versa... there are documented cases of "cemetery ghosts" being "created" to dissuade would-be sack 'em up men from entering the "haunted domain"... yup, it's the Pope-Hole and Smuggler's Cave ghosts in a cemetery!

...anyway, I should tell you what happened to stop this... sorta...

Thanks to the supply and demand... the "Sack 'Em Up Men" made their money... and the doctors sometimes were in big trouble... but studies HAD to carry on.

Parliament had another brilliant plan... what about the poor! They could use the "John Doe" cases and those who died in the poor house for the students!

This idea floated like a concrete Zeppelin.

This was a more "enlightened" age... and people were aghast that the "poor" were now going to be treated, in death, like CRIMINALS!?! POVERTY IS A CRIME!?!

Considering the amount of "well to do" folks that, through bad moves and whatnot, ended up in the margins of society, many feared that a stroke of a lawyers pen and they'd be spending the first part of their dirt nap on the dissection table!

Leave it to the church to come to the rescue!

(I need to go off in a direction here, but bear with me...)

Way back when, it occurred to some folks that to REALLY protect yourself from postmortem "evils", one should be buried IN a church!

Now THERE'S the ticket! Safe and sound in the church basement... bonus if you were near the altar then you'd have people praying over you constantly! Perfect to the piously paranoid!

This thought caught on like wildfire and soon churches needed new chapels simply to house the new additions to the crypt!

This got SO bad that there ended up being legitimate health concerns... too many bodies crammed into a small space... soon, some churches were terrible with putrifying gas smells (rotting corpses) and even insect infestations! It was NOT good!

The initial answer... BE BURIED IN GOD'S HALF ACRE! Not "in" the church, but in the church yard!

This worked great, but everyone wanted to be on the East side (to be front row at the BIG resurrection) and close to the church (for safety)... The North, West, and South areas... they were for "sorta-kinda-maybe" folks... suspected suicides, unbaptized babies... that type...

Didn't take too long for the church yards to fill up... and soon, even the dreaded North and West sides were being used for the good folks with the "others" being placed outside the church grounds proper...

...then they filled up...

Solution: The church decided that it was your immortal soul, NOT your body that must stay "intact"... and therefore, all was right with the world...

It also didn't hurt that doctors and medical students, finally breaking taboo, also started donating their bodies to anatomists...

So, now the church says it's okay... and the elite are doing it...

It still took a few years, but finally, the grave robbers were put out of business...

...but their stories still remain... BOO!

LAST ONE... (long post, eh?)

Here's a thought I tossed out at a few colleagues from the university of Toronto... and they said, "Perhaps..."

We all know that putrifying flesh is bad... it smells and indeed, the gasses are toxic. Worse yet, CERTAIN types of illnesses (disease) can survive in rotting flesh and can be re-released on the living...

COULD it be that ancient man KNEW this... and therefore knew... "DEAD BODY = BAD JUJU!"

So, for centuries, they get rid of the dead as best and as sanitarily as possible... and avoid 'em after that., in our heads... within our very instinct... we still know that "dead people = bad" and are hard-wired to avoid them... even if they're six-feet under and represent no threat?

Could that "fear" be supplanted by the fear of "ghosts" which justifies what we cannot explain?

Like my colleagues said... Perhaps...

Granted, they may have been humouring me.

Anyway, that's the WHOLE LONG STORY...

I suppose I could add a bit about Eastern Europe's fear of vampires (corpses rising from the dead... and the REAL Eastern European vampire is HARDLY a thing you'd want to be anywhere near... bloated, rotting, smelling foul, blood from it's mouth... it's far nastier than Bela Lugosi in a cape!) but I think you get the point.

Cemeteries are great places... quiet, introspective, beautiful... and great sources of history and even art...

...but ghosts...? In our opinion... not-so-much.


The Bedside Book of Death by Robert Wilkins
Vampires, Burial, and Death by Paul Barber
This Haunted Isle by Peter Underwood
Grave Disturbances: A History of the Body Snatchers by Geoffrey Abbott
Body Snatching: The Robbing of Graves for the Education of Physicians in Early Nineteenth America by Suzanne M. Schultz



Permalink 01:55:49 pm, by Email , 1042 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - Guy’s Cliffe

"A strikingly beautiful manor house, with the moat in the foreground; today it lies in ruins."

A History Of Guy’s Cliffe


This seat derives its double name from a person and a place, the former that of the redoubtable and famous “Guy, Earl of Warwick,” the latter a high cliff which here bounds the western side of the classic Avon.

The story of Guy is thus told by my friend Sir Bernard Burke:—“ Guy, who, like most of his brethren in the trade of knight-errantry, had much to answer for, bethinks himself at last that it is time to repent and amend, for which purpose, according to the most approved fashion of his day, he sets out upon a tedious pilgrimage. On his return to Britain he finds the country being harassed by Danish invaders, so that there was scarce a town or castle that they had not burnt or destroyed almost as far as Winchester. In the midst of their success these ferocious invaders proposed to King Athelstan three things,—either that he should resign his crown to the Danish generals; or should hold the realm of them; or that the dispute should be ended in a single combat by a champion of either side; when, if the Dane was beaten, his countrymen would free England of their presence; but if he prevailed, then the country without more ado should be given up in sovereignty to the Danes. Athelstan accepted the last of these propositions, but not one of his court felt inclined to match himself with the formidable giant Colbrand, the elected champion of the Danes. At this crisis Guy appears in his palmer’s weeds, and is, with some difficulty, persuaded by the King to undertake the combat. What it was that induced Athelstan to place his fate and that of his kingdom in that of a wayworn, unknown pilgrim, is not explained by the chronicler, but the romancer unties the knot by the usual expedient in such cases.

Athelstan had a vision instructing him to trust his defence to the first pilgrim he should meet at the entrance of his palace. The day of battle arrives, when the two combatants meet in the valley of Chilticumbe. Guy appears in the customary armour of a knight, but his adversary, the giant Colbrand, comes to the field with weapons enough to supply a whole host; he was ‘so weightily harnessed that his horse could scarce carry him, and before him a cart loaded with Danish axes, great clubs with knobs of iron, square bars of steel, lances, and iron hooks to pull his adversary to him.’ At this sight, notwithstanding his valour, Guy began to quake, or, as the romancer emphatically exclaims, ‘never he was’n so sore afeard sith then he was born’

It would seem, however, as in the case of the renowned French marshal, that it was his body and not his soul that was afraid, for he fought his battle right gallantly under every disadvantage. His horse is killed, his helmet cleft in two, and his sword broken, but he makes a prayer to the Virgin, and snatching up an axe cuts off the giant’s arm, who, for all that, ‘held out the combat till the evening of the day,’ when he fainted from loss of blood, and Guy incontinently cut off his head.”

At the dissolution of the monasteries Guy’s Cliffe was bestowed by Henry the Eighth on Andrew Flammock, of Flammock. In later times it was possessed by a family named Edwards, and next passed to Samuel Greathead, Esq., who built a new residence, and his son greatly enlarged and improved the place.

After him Bertie Bertie Greathead, Esq., left a daughter and heiress married to The Hon. Charles Bertie Percy, who thus became the owner of Guy’s Cliffe.

Dugdale thus describes the scenery around. “A place this is of so great delight in respect of the river gliding below the rock, the dry and wholesome situation, and the fair groves of lofty elms overshadowing it, that to one who desireth a retired life, either for his devotions or study, the like is not to be found.” Leland also thus,—“It is a house of pleasure, place meet for the Muses; there is silence, a pretty wood, antra’ in vivo saxo, the river rouling over the stones with a pretty noyse, “nemusculum ibidem opacum, fontes liquidi et gemmei, prata florida, antra muscosa, rivi levis et per saxa discursus, necnon solitudo et quies Musis amicissima,” that is, “a thick grove there, liquid and sparkling fountains, flowery meads, mossy caverns, the gentle flow of a river over rocks, and also solitude and quiet most friendly to the Muses.”

Within the house is a splendid collection of paintings, many of them from the easel of a young artist, Mr. Greathead, a son of the then family. The talents of the youthful painter were of such high promise, that when he visited France during the short peace, instead of sharing the fate of the other detenus, he was allowed by the special grace of Napoleon to retire to Italy. There, however, he unfortunately died of a fever, at the early age of twenty-three. In addition to his works, many paintings by the most eminent masters are to be seen here, such as Cuyp, Canaletti, Spagnoletto, Holbein, and others of no less celebrity.

The family of Percy, Earls of Beverley and Dukes of Northumberland, of the former of which is the present owner of Guy’s Cliffe, descends from Sir Hugh Smithson, who married Lady Elizabeth Seymour, the heiress of the Percies, and was created Duke of Northumberland in 1776.

The House of Percy had derived from William de Percy, one of the Norman chieftains who accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066, and deduced his name from the village of Percy, near Villedieu.

I do realise that this is not very wordless in fact it's quite wordy! However, I thought that perhaps some of the visitors here would like to know more about this exquisite image.

Happy Wordless Wednesday, and thank you for stopping by!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

To view similar images please click here

Permalink 12:54:47 pm, by Email , 296 words   English (CA)
Categories: Institutions Of Higher Learning

Student Loan Debt Consolidation

The majority of the regular readers of this blog are students, and while it is an exciting time in one's life, it can also be one that is fraught with worry, particularly in regards to finances. Higher education costs can be expensive, and the majority of us are in need of borrowing money in order to pursue or educational goals. We too have been there, and why I believe this topic to be of interest to our readers, and quite appropriate to this blog.

I'm certain you've come across some horror stories on the subject of student loans. I have most recently while preparing for my daughter's post secondary educational pursuits that will commence next year. While Matthew, and I certainly had no problem with managing educational based debt, I can share in these horror stories by telling you a bit about my sister. She too borrowed money for college, but was not able to land a good job in her field immediately upon finishing, therefore unable to pay off her debt until several years after graduation at a much greater cost than expected.

Had my sister at the time been able to take advantage of student loan debt consolidation via a company such as her stress, and financial burden would have been greatly reduced if not eliminated all together. gives student borrowers the ability to consolidate their debt at a very low rate, and the flexibility to lengthen the term of their loan, while at the same time not incurring penalties for prepayments.

You can apply online (will take about 10 minutes) and no credit check is required. For further information on student loan debt consolidation please click on the link provided to you within this entry.

Thank you to our sponsor.

Permalink 11:15:52 am, by Email , 158 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, African History

Emperor Menelik II - Biblical Medicine

Emperor Menelik II (1844 - 1913)

Thought to be a descendant of the legendary Queen of Sheba and King Solomon Menelik II of Ethiopia maintained his country's independence against Italian aggression. He won the decisive battle of Adowa over Italy in 1896.

Menelik II had a few odd quirks though. For instance when he felt sick he would eat pages right out of the bible?! He had convinced himself that by doing so he would get better. This bizarre habit did him no harm, and who knows perhaps on a psychological level did him some good?

In December 1913 he decided to treat himself by eating the complete Book of Kings from the Old Testament. He was recovering from the effects of a stroke at the time. His doctors fed him page by page, but he did not consume more than a few chapters before dying.

For Further Reading and Image Credit:

Menelik II


Let Them Eat Cake, By Geoffrey Regan (c) 1994

Permalink 10:04:56 am, by Email , 227 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Travel & Tourism, Central & South American History

Puerto Peñasco - Rocky Point

For many years Rocky Point a small fishing village was a well kept secret. It wasn't until the Prohibition era that it was truly discovered. Johnny Stone, an American businessman visited Puerto Peñasco, and realised it's absolute potential as a dream vacation hot spot. He built the very first hotel, and opened up for business.

Soon Rocky Point was attracting a whos-who of the 1930's including the infamous Al Capone who along with cronies raved about the fabulous climate (it rarely rains if ever), the beauty of the landscape, and the fantastic deep-sea fishing it offers.

Another little known factoid for the history buff is that NASA trained it's astronauts for the lunar mission in the nearby Pinacate Mountains.

Rocky Point is well known today for it rich history, culture, fishing, swimming (very safe swimming conditions), and ideal weather.

Planning a dream Rocky Point vacation is made easy through Oceano-Rentals which offer beautiful accommodations that will suit everyone's travel budgets.

With their knowledge, and expertise of the region, not only will you save money on Rocky Point Vacation Rental Homes, but you will also insure you are being taken care of by a well-established, and highly reputable company.

Have a look through their website for further information and accommodation listings including ocean front views, fully furnished, and equipped holiday rentals.


Thank you to our sponsor!



Permalink 12:05:13 am, by Email , 123 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, European History, Period Clothing & Uniforms

Frederick II - Buttons & Snotty Sleeves

Frederick II, of Prussia, aged 68, by Anton Graff

Frederick the Great was an interesting man, and the fashion world does owe him even today ....

You see it was Frederick that first ordered all of his soldiers to sew buttons on the sleeves of their coats. You might be wondering why?

Simple, it was to prevent them from wiping their snotty noses on the sleeves. And that is how men's coats got sleeve buttons that do not button.

You might want to point that out the next time you are in the company of a gentleman in an expensive suit with buttons on the sleeve. You can ask him if the seemingly useless buttons have helped him out with an otherwise rather gross habit!



Glacier Girl To Return To Britain

A fighter plane which took off from the US during WWII is set to finally land in the UK after being buried under a glacier. The BBC is covering the arrival of this lost WWII plane, and I have added in a snippet below:

An American fighter plane will be arriving in Britain from the United States next week - 65 years after taking off.

The P38 Lightning was one of eight aircraft forced to land in Greenland after encountering bad weather while en route to the UK in July 1942.

The planes became buried under 300ft of ice but 15 years ago the remains of one, renamed Glacier Girl, were dug up.

The aircraft is due to take part in an air show at Duxford, near Cambridge.

The plane is expected to land within the next few days to prepare for the Imperial War Museum annual Flying Legends weekend on 7 and 8 July.

It has previously flown at air shows in the United States.

A dedicated recovery team spent months working to retrieve the single P38 when the lost aircraft were re-discovered, immediately christening it Glacier Girl.

Full BBC Article Here

The P38 Lightning is due to fly alongside more than 50 other vintage aircraft, including Spitfires and P51s, and should put on one helluva show! I would love to attend if only to see Glacier Girl with her remarkable story fly!



Permalink 02:44:07 pm, by Email , 129 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News

Heritage Sites To Be Named By UNESCO

The UN's cultural organisation Unesco is meeting in New Zealand to discuss which sites to add to the list of most valuable natural or manmade treasures according to a BBC news item. Here is a snippet:

Around 45 sites are in competition to be added to the World Heritage list.

The committee will also decide if any heritage sites are in danger from war, tourism, overdevelopment or neglect.

Those that could be deemed endangered include the Tower of London, the Galapagos Islands, Dresden in Germany and Machu Picchu in Peru.

The committee is also expected to reach an opinion on controversial Israeli excavations near the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Full BBC Article Here

Pictured above is the Sydney, Australia Opera house which is a candidate for the heritage list.



Permalink 06:02:43 pm, by Email , 115 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, Who Am I

Who Am I

Illustration from a 12th century codex

Although I lived a fairly short life, (42 years) and ruled for only ten years, I became a hero of legendary proportions. During my reign I spent all of my time, but six months away from my realm. My fame was assured during the third crusade when I won victories at Cyprus, Acre, and Messina against the great Saladin, but I was not able to recapture Jerusalem, which of course was the big prize. While returning to my kingdom I was captured by Leopold, Duke of Austria, and held a prisoner until a very large ransom was paid for me.

Who Am I?

The answer is in the comments section.



Permalink 10:32:57 am, by Email , 95 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History

Wordless Wednesday - The Duke Of Wellington

The Dukedom of Wellington, derived from Wellington in Somerset, is a hereditary title and the senior Dukedom in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The first holder of the title was Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852), the noted Irish-born British career officer and statesman, and unqualified references to the Duke of Wellington almost always refer to him. He is most famous for, together with Blücher, defeating Napoleon at Waterloo.

Further Reading: Wiki entry

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

Permalink 10:27:32 am, by Email , 98 words   English (CA)
Categories: General

Curtains For Beauty & Function

Window treatments of some sort including the use of curtains for privacy, blocking light, to maintain heat, and to decorate have been recorded to have been in use since pre-biblical times, and they are still very much needed for these various purposes today.

Granted at this point in time we may shop for our curtains from the convenience of our own homes online. Terry's Fabrics offers a terrific selection of window treatments, at very good prices. You may browse their collections via the computer, and make safe, and secure online purchases through them.

Thank you to our sponsor!



Permalink 10:12:14 am, by Email , 309 words   English (CA)
Categories: Heroic Women

Vilma Espin Passes Away Today

April 7, 1930 - June 18, 2007

The BBC has reported that Vilma Espin, wife of Cuba's acting president Raul Castro, has died in Havana, she was aged 77. Here is a snippet:

She was a key figure in the Cuban revolution and the long-standing head of the Cuban Women's Federation, which works to advance women's rights.

Born into a wealthy family, she fought as a guerrilla alongside Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

She married Raul in early 1959 and was often described as Cuba's "first lady".

Espin reportedly died after a long battle with illness.

The Cuban authorities have announced an official mourning period, which will last until 2200 on Tuesday (0300 GMT Wednesday), with national flags on all public buildings and military bases being lowered to half mast.

Full BBC Article Here

Vilma Espin was an industrial chemistry engineer who was married to Raul Castro, head of the Cuban Armed Forces and brother to Cuban President Fidel Castro. She had been President of the Federation of Cuban Women since its foundation in 1960. The organization is an ECOSOC-recognized NGO with membership of more than three and a half million women.

A member of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba, Vilma Espin headed the Cuban Delegation to the First Latin American Congress on Women and Children in Chile in September 1959. The mother of four and grandmother of seven was a member of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the communist Party of Cuba. She headed the Cuban delegation to the Conferences on Women held in Mexico, Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing.

In my opinion whether you agree with her politics or not Vilma should be recognized for standing up for her beliefs, and championing the rights of ALL women to be considered equal throughout the world.

Further Reading:

Vilma Espín Guillois

Spouses of Heads Of State



Permalink 04:50:36 pm, by Email , 161 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Prehistoric

Dino-Bird Found In China

I love reading about discoveries such as these! I like to ponder about what the earth must have been like back then, and the majesty of these creatures that once inhabited it. Read on:

This artist's rendering puts feathers and flesh on the fossil bones of a massive birdlike dinosaur recently unearthed in the Gobi desert in northern China.

The newly discovered dino, Gigantoraptor erlianensis—shown looming over much smaller dinosaurs—probably represents the largest feathered animal ever known, Chinese paleontologists say.

The beaked creature weighed about 1.5 tons (1.4 metric tons) and is the biggest toothless dinosaur found to date, according to a team led by Xing Xu from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing.

Full Article Here

Thankfully we have artists who through the work of the scientists can combine their talents to create such stunning images as the one above. It really is amazing how they can bring to life that, which has long been buried. Awesome!

Permalink 04:43:50 pm, by Email , 97 words   English (CA)
Categories: Sports & Sports Entertainment

Fantasy Football

One of the hottest growing entertainment pastimes on the internet today is fantasy sports. And if this is something you enjoy, particularly fantasy football then you should go have a look at They offer the ability to form teams, and compete for large pay-out prizes, in a safe, and secure online environment. You can take a look at The American Fantasy Football League prize list for 2007 by clicking on one of the links provided in this entry. I think you'll agree that they are leaders in online fantasy sports entertainment!

Our thanks to our sponsor!



Permalink 12:12:54 am, by Email , 251 words   English (CA)
Categories: Holidays And Traditions

The History Of Father's Day

"It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was."
~Anne Sexton

The creation of a national day for Dads began back in the 1900s when a grateful daughter wanted to express her deep appreciation for her own father. A gentleman by the name of William Smart, a civil war veteran, was widowed when his wife died in childbirth. Mr. Smart raised his six children on a rural farm in eastern Washington State. When Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, one of Mr. Smart's children, was grown she wanted to show her appreciation for her father. He had shown her a great love and strength in raising her and her siblings as a single parent. So, in 1909, she proposed a day to honor her father in June (the month of her father's birth).

The very first Fathers' Day followed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge showed support of this becoming a national holiday. However, it wasn't until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson officially proclaimed Fathers' Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of June.

Harry C. Meek, president of the Lions Club in Chicago, was also a component in establishing Fathers' Day. He gave several speeches around the United States expressing the need for a day to honor our fathers. In 1920 the Lions Clubs of America presented him with a gold watch, with the inscription "Originator of Fathers' Day".

Source: Father's Day History

Have a Safe & Happy Father's Day!

Matthew & Sue



Permalink 12:00:00 am, by Email , 1348 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Kings And Queens, European History, British History

The QUEEN RULES ALL! (Sorta...)

The concept of the British (Canadian) Monarchy still baffles people a bit in today's age... and perhaps I should tell ya kinda how it works... and why...

Most people assume "Kings" and "Queens" of England (and the British Commonwealth of which Canada is a part,) had effectively omnipotent powers of a sort... total control and dictorial "rights"...

Well, they pretty much did... until 1215... and I don't mean quarter-past noon...

King John was pretty much acting the tyrant... high taxes and some bad decisions with geo-political things in France... so his Barons rebelled.

They did so very well and took London by force and then there was an agreement... The King's Will MUST be governed by the laws of the land. It also gave a lot of powers to the people... or so it's believed. To be honest, it gave a lot of power and privilege to the nobles... and neglected the lower classes... but hey, it was a start.

So, as of then, if a Royal wanted something, he had to get Parliament (the elected government) to say it was okay.

In exchange, Parliament would get Royal "Assent" on any bills they could pass... granted, if the Royals refused, they knew it could be bad...

...and things went on from there... until one Parliament fiercely loyal to the King and wanting to make him happy kept passing things for him... and raised taxes because the King was spending a LOT of money.

The King was Charles the First and it didn't take too long for people to get grumpy... what with his spending ways and worse yet, a Catholic for a wife! Soon, a bunch of folks led by this fellow, Oliver Cromwell, decided that it was time for a regime change.

...and in 1642 they started... with most of the general population FIRMLY behind these Parliamentarians.

...and in 1652, there was no more King... but Britain had a "Lord Protector" in Ollie Cromwell...

...and King Charles? Well, in the end, he didn't have to worry about headaches or head colds since Cromwell and his supporters felt his head just really didn't belong on his shoulders anymore and "choppy-choppy", no more king.

Granted, the good news was that Charles' son, oddly enough named "Charles", managed to get out of England and over to France to live in exile... his head stayed put.

So Cromwell ruled... and the general populace really didn't like it. Taxes didn't change all that much and Cromwell, a staunch puritan, really wasn't all that much fun... and ensured that misery got company. (He banned gaming and theatre for one thing... this, in the land of Shakespeare didn't go over too well...)

When Cromwell finally shuffled off this mortal coil, the Brits basically let it be known that Charles Jr. was welcome back whenever he'd like... and we had a "Restoration of the Monarchy"... but the lessons had been learned and Chuck the Twoth stayed out of running the country. In fact, he REALLY stayed out of it... Oh sure, he didn't like SOME of the things that Parliament did... especially when it reduced his spending... but the guy who was supposed to take over for him (James the Second) was so bad for the people (and still kinda too Catholic,) that they welcomed a pair of Protestant distant relations in William and Mary... who jointly "ruled"... but they were the start of what we have as a current monarchy.

Pretty much, with their powers reduced, the Kings and Queens of England are, by birthright, pretty much "figure heads"... they acted as "officials", but with no sweeping powers.

In fact, King George the Third of England was a STAUNCH constitutionalist... his parliament, however, not-so-much.

"The pride, the glory of Britain and the direct end of it's constitution is political liberty."

Those words were uttered by the "well known tyrant", King George III of England.

Anyway, in these here modern times in the British Commonwealth, the "Commonwealth Nations" all have "Responsible Government" (A Canadian Idea!) where the Royals are TRULY just a figure-head and not much else... We have a person appointed to be kind of a "British Royal Family Ambassador" to officiate things but little else referred to as a Governor General...

Heck, the "Speech from the Throne" delivered by the Governor General is written by the leader of the ruling, elected Government (the Prime Minister in Canada) and not by the Governor General or Her Majesty...

We have a lot of "Crown" things too... "Crown Land", "Crown Attorneys", and "Crown Companies"... this is fancy-talk for "Owned by the Government".

Trust me, the Queen doesn't even get royalties from her picture being on our stamps!

So, what are the modern Royals?

Just like I said... "Figure heads"... a "Family to look up to" who by dint of an ancient heritage, have titles within "public affairs" that mean little.

Since John, Charles, and James... the royals role in "running a country" have been limited to simply having a rubber stamp.

In fact, when Prince Charles once made what was considered a "legitimate political statement", there was hell to pay in parliament for his words! He's NOT ALLOWED to make comments, after all...

Now, why we bring this up is because of our little quiz a while back... where we mentioned that blaming King George III for the taxes on the American colonists that led to the revolution was a little like blaming the dog on the front of a Mack Truck for a road accident... and this was called into question.

Well, the American Founding Fathers kinda fibbed.

They knew it... and they fibbed to the people of their soon-to-be country.

You see, what sounds better...




...and to the common folk, "crown" = "King".

This isn't the case now... and wasn't the case back then either... but jingoism beats facts in the "vox populi".

Ergo: Easier to paint George as a tyrant than try to hand-pick which parliamentarians you didn't like...

...also, would that kind of REAL logic get people to pick up arms if you told them that it was a select few they should blame... or might they simply write to friends and family and try to turn an election? If they did that, you don't get your own glorious nation!

...and remember, the founding fathers knew that 1/3 of their population was patriotic to their cause... 1/3 was indifferent... and 1/3 loyal to that evil and tyrannical crown... so they villified the easy target and the one who's name WAS on everything (but mattered little to what was actually going on!)

Yup, sorry to say, "The Tyrant King George" is an accepted historical myth born or political gamesmanship... for better or worse.

I know this may be difficult to hear for some down South of us, but ask a University or College historian... they'll tell you...

Granted, be thankful I didn't tell you about Ben Franklin only wanting to give the vote to the elite and learned and withhold it from the lower classes as they were too dumb to know who to vote for!

Oops. Sorry about spilling those beans too. :D

Sue wanted me to tack on a little note here as a "For Instance..."

England and Britain is in the "Coalition of the Willing" and has troops in Iraq.

Have you ever heard Queen Elizabeth giving a "Ra! Ra!" war speech?

She can't.

She is duty-bound to England first... and must abide by the decisions of "her" parliament. (Heck, she don't even get to vote!)

Whether the Queen is pro or anti Iraq war we will probably never truly know... because she is a constitutional monarch.

...and in all honesty, a very good one in my personal estimation who's been through a lot!

I wish I had the time to tell you that she's a qualified auto-mechanic as during the last parts of WWII, she "volunteered" and fixing jeeps was her gig... but I've gone on a little too much already.



Permalink 12:00:00 am, by Email , 867 words   English (CA)
Categories: Interesting Lists

QUIZ TIME! Fact or Fiction? - THE ANSWERS!

Yesterday's blog entry asked you to tell which of the ten statements were fact and which were fiction... below are the answers...

#1: King George the Taxer

FALSE - King George III was a "constitutional monarch" which meant he pretty much had zero say in political matters... it was the British House of Parliament that brought in the taxes. Blaming King George was the equivalent of blaming the dog on the front of a Mack Truck for a road accident.

#2: The War of 1812 ended in the pivotal battle of New Orleans.

FALSE - Bloody, yes... Pivotal, no. The battle was fought after peace had been declared and a peace agreement signed by the Americans and British... but that was done in Ghent, Belgium... and took a while to get back to America... and during the trip, the battle was fought. It was an American victory and a very nasty defeat for the British, but it was fought to no end really. As for who "won the war"? Well America attacked Canada with thoughts of conquest and didn't succeed... Canada and Britain only wished to maintain the border as was and managed to do it (although did eye the "New England States" returning to the fold)... but the British and Natives wanted a "buffer state" under Native rule between America and Canada... and that didn't happen at all. So, no one won, no one lost... except the natives. The peace treaty agreed to by Britain (and Canada) and America was "Status Quo Ante Bellum".

#3: Olympic mud throwing.

TRUE - ...and it happened in 1904 at the games in St. Louis, Missouri. During the third "official" Olympic games, it was "decided" that certain events would be added to make them "truly global" and allow "primitive tribes" to compete... so "Mud Fighting", "Greased Pole Climbing", "Rock Throwing", and "Spear Throwing" were added during special "Anthropological Days".

#4: Pablum is Canadian Horse Food

TRUE - Doctors Alan Brown, Theodore Drake and Fred Tisdall from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children invented it... and gave it the whacky Latin name. Why? You'd have to ask them (...but likely, it's because of the high alfalfa and wheat products used in the making of it.) The royalties they received for the product were put back into research of bone and mineral deficiencies within children.

#5: Columbus Flat-Earth...

FALSE - Bugs Bunny lied to us. Although there may have been a few "flat-Earthers" around (as there are today), they were few and far between. Think of the ancient carvings of Atlas... have you ever seen one of him carrying a plate?

#6: English Pilgrims meet Ex-Pat Brit-Native.

TRUE - Squanto existed... He was taken to England in and around 1605 by an English Captain and lived there for nine years... somehow, he was sold into slavery and ended up in Spain in 1614, escaped, went back to England, and ended up back home in America after securing passage in 1619 and was on hand to meet folks as they got off the Mayflower.

#7: Henry wrote Greensleeves.

MAYBE - He is "credited" with the song, but some historians figure he had a LOT of help... and besides, if the king said HE wrote it, HE wrote it!

#8: Roswell, 1947.

FALSE - ...and not for the reason you're thinking... The crash actual took place seventy-five miles away nearer the town of Corona... but the crash investigation set-up shop in Roswell and the debris was sent to the Roswell Army Air Field. As to what happened, something did... and as it was "flying" and it was "unidentified", it does qualify as a UFO... but was it aliens? That will be another post.

#9: Shorter People a Century Ago.

NOT AS TRUE AS YOU MIGHT ASSUME (read: FALSE) - Actually, the average height of Europeans (and really, et al,) has only deviated up by about an inch or so... the "short beds" were because, up until late Victorian times, it was thought to be healthier to sleep in a slightly "sitting up" position (to allow the fluids to move down, not up). Small doorways were a combination of cheap heat-efficiency (heat rises, lower the door and heat doesn't escape too easy) and protection (it's difficult to get a group of people with bad intentions through a small doorway).

#10: Britain and Canada Supported The North!

FALSE - Since both sides had slavery, the British and Canadians really backed the side they did the most business with... The South (The Confederacy). Both Canada and Britain put STRONG pressure on both sides to abolish slavery, but when the chips were down, cotton beat trade goods. Top this off with The Confederacy "courting" England saying that they were not like those "upstarts" in the North... and used a pejorative that was used to describe ALL Americans right up until The South used it to alienate their brethren... "Yankees". (Remember: Yankee-Doodle was NOT just a Northern Song in the 1700's and early 1800's...) Granted, after The Union under President Lincoln finally brought into existence the Emancipation Proclamation, Britain (and Canada) vowed to simply stay out of it and NOT support the South.

So? How'd you do?

No matter what, give yourself ONE point for the Henry the VIII question...

SCORE 0 - 2: You watch too much television!
SCORE 3 - 4: Excellent!
SCORE 5: You must have cheated... or you're BRILLIANT!



Permalink 11:40:01 am, by Email , 265 words   English (CA)
Categories: Interesting Lists

QUIZ TIME! Fact or Fiction? - THE QUESTIONS!

Below is a series of historical statements... your job, if you choose, is to tell which is fictional, and which is fact...

No prize, just for interests sake! But, it still ain't going to be easy!

#1: King George the Third brought down harsh taxation on the American colonists leading to a revolt and the eventual independence of The United States of America.

#2: The pivotal battle of New Orleans in 1815 (where Andrew Jackson made his name) was a decisive blow to the British and allowed America to win The War of 1812.

#3: Throwing mud was an official Olympic event in the 20th century once.

#4: Pablum is a Canadian invention and translated means "Horse Food".

#5: When Columbus made his fateful journey to the New World, a lot of people funding him thought he was crackers and would fall of the edge of the flat planet.

#6: When the English Pilgrims landed in the New World, one of the first native Americans ("Indians") they met had lived in England for many years before they arrived.

#7: Henry The Eighth wrote the ballad "Greensleeves".

#8: A UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.

#9: People were MUCH shorter two and three hundred years ago as shown by doorways and bed (sizes).

#10: As they had already put in place strong anti-slavery laws, England and (therefore) Canada were strong and constant supporters of the North (the Union) Army in the American Civil War (1861–1865).

ANSWERS POSTED TOMORROW... (No cheating!) Good lucks, and don't worry if you blow some of the answers. There are at least a couple, which are trick questions! See if you can spot them!

Permalink 11:28:53 am, by Email , 201 words   English (CA)
Categories: Americana, Science And Technology

Bathroom Scales

Have you ever wondered about when or where bathroom scales originated? They are relatively modern, because even just a hundred years ago scales were far too large to fit into anyone's actual bathroom! The first coin operated scale was brought to the US from Germany in 1885, and within a few short years they were being mass-produced by the National Scale Company. These were still way too big, and weighing over 200 lbs to even be considered for home usage.

Fast forward to now!

Virtually everyone's house has at least one bathroom scale, and in just the last couple of years they have become a marvel for managing one's weight, and health. No longer just measuring weight alone, they now can determine body fat vs water vs good tissue weight. Incredible when you think how far they have come from the coin-operated scales of the last two centuries! offers a wide variety of digital scales, for various purposes within the home, and business. Their products are very well priced, and have a life-time warranty within the United States.

Please do have a look at their state-of-art scales by clicking on the links provided in this entry.

Thank you to our sponsor!



Permalink 12:31:07 am, by Email , 82 words   English (CA)
Categories: Wordless Wednesday, British History, Religion and Spirituality

Wordless Wednesday - Hawker's Hut

In 1843 the Reverend Stephen Hawker, the eccentric vicar of Morwnestow, founded the modern day Harvest festival service. He was also a poet, and wrote much of his poetry in this hut which he himself built into the cliff edge from timber salvaged from wrecks along the coast.

Read more about Robert Stephen Hawker - And His Cats

Image Source

Our thanks to Nicola

Happy Wordless Wednesday! And Thank You For Stopping By!

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.



Permalink 08:33:26 pm, by Email , 327 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture

Past Times With The Police

Win a New York fly-away to see The Police live.

Earlier today I had a lot fun unscrambling the following song list from the brand new Police cd:

1 ualtofl
2 ouon ttxey
3 oylselno
4 nnebhg ttrhigoni
5 e etvekruaeyrhta boy
6 ycirysotnicn
7 irs a kut tnepwyonoifglos
8 as poidi sit larhitletrmernw
9 c rtdeleganbat a
10 esblnvisiun i

Doesn't look easy now does it! However, I did it! Well I hope I did! Here are the rescrambled songs, please note that they are only a sampling of the goodies to be found on the 2-disc compilation Police cd:

1 Fall Out
2 Next To You
3 So Lonely
4 Bring On The Night
5 Every Breath You Take
6 Synchronicity
7 Walking In Your Footsteps
8 Spirits In The Material World
9 Reggatta de Blanc
10 Invisible Sun

Past times with this awesome band are fondly remembered indeed! They were the music of my teen years, and I must say that I do love them as much today as I did back then!

Wow! Listening to The Police, and anticipating the purchase of this new Police cd is like a trip down memory lane for me. I remember being in grade nine, and being so happy to be attending my very first high school dance. I felt so grown up back then, and I knew everything! Well at least I thought I knew everything. When the DJ spun Spirits In The Material World everyone was on their feet, the Police were hot, and I felt like the music was carrying me still is one of my all time favourite Police songs.

Gosh, that seems so long ago...but with this newest Police cd I'll be able to revisit all my old faves, and the memories they inspire like waiting at a bus stop on a cold raining day, and belting out Roxanne, or crying over a nasty break-up with someone whose name is forgotten while listening to Every Breath You Take, and they will now be the music of my present too...



Permalink 10:51:18 am, by Email , 308 words   English (CA)
Categories: European History, Book Reviews

Eva and Adolph By Glenn B Infield

This past weekend in Toronto was a glorious one, and Saturday morning found Matthew, and I walking through our neighbourhood, and checking out the garage sales. Garage sales are one of my favourite ways along with trolling used book stores to pick up reading material on the cheap.

At one of these sales I came across a book in a dusty, old box called Eva and Adolph by author Glenn B Infield, who I had never heard of before. With some hesitation I paid 25 cents for it, and brought it home to add to my summer reading pile. I say with hesitation because there are books on serial killers that I find less repulsive than the thought of reading this book.

Here is what the back cover has to say:

Eva and Adolf met in a photography shop in Munich in 1929. They parted in a flaming Berlin bunker in 1945. The years between, the years of their extraordinary love affair, altered history beyond recognition.

Throughout those years, Eva was Hitler's most passionate mistress, most trusted ally, most willing victim.

She shared his strange excesses, his often hideous pleasures, and in the end although she could have escaped, she chose to share his death.

What bound a pretty, strong-willed, ordinary girl into a slave relationship with a master villain?

Here, for the first time, is the tragic, totally unforgettable story of a woman in love-- and of the evil presence who ruled her destiny

The book was released in 1974, and I have no idea at this point how factual it is. There are some rare photos included that would in my opinion make the purchase price of a quarter worth it to a WWII history buff.

Still, I am not sure when or if I will get to it.....or if I'll have the stomach to finish it. We'll see....



Permalink 10:57:36 am, by Email , 1044 words   English (CA)
Categories: History In The News, Museums And Historic Sites, Adventurers

The Clunies-Ross Family - The Kings of the Cocos

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean some 2750km north-west of Perth, and 900km west south-west of Christmas Island, its closest neighbour. Cocos lies approximately 12° south and 96.5° east, locating the islands in the humid tropical zone.

For many, living on an tropical island away from the cares of everyday life is the ultimate dream. But, for a family of British merchant adventurers, the dream became a reality when they ran a group of islands as a private fiefdom for 150 years.

Today, the BBC is featuring an article on the the Clunies-Ross family, and the Cocos Islands. Here is a brief snippet to whet your appetite:

"From the air, they look like a chain of pearls wrapped around a giant opal. Twenty six tiny islands enclosing a turquoise and jade lagoon.

Stepping out of the aircraft, I was enveloped by tropical heat.

Palm trees rustled in the breeze and there was the distant sound of surf crashing on a reef. The locals were either barefoot or in flip-flops.

Adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Cocos Keeling Islands lie halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Home to just 500 people, they are an Australian territory, but on many maps of the continent, they do not even feature.

Which is a shame, because the islands have an intriguing history.

They were uninhabited until the 1820s, when a small settlement was established by a Scottish adventurer named John Clunies-Ross.

Oceania House was the original home of the Clunie-Rosses
He was originally from Shetland and must have delighted in exchanging his frigid homeland for these balmy, sun-kissed isles. He set about planting hundreds of coconut palms and brought in Malay workers to harvest the nuts.

Successive generations of Clunies-Rosses built up a business empire based on copra, the dried flesh of coconuts traded for its oil. Their tenure over their exotic adopted home was confirmed in 1886, when Queen Victoria granted them possession of the islands in perpetuity.

They styled themselves the "kings" of the Cocos.

Remarkably, their rule lasted right up until 1978, when the last "king", also called John Clunies-Ross, was forced to sell the islands to Australia for £2.5m ($4.75m)."

Full BBC Article and Photos Here

A well written, and thoughtful article, I enjoyed learning about this family, and it's intriguing history!

Here is a brief historical timeline:

1609 - discovery of the islands is generally attributed to Captain William Keeling during one of his homeward voyages from Java to England, although he did not record it in his journals.

1805 - the British hydrographer, James Horsburgh, called them the Cocos-Keeling Islands in his sailing directory and named one of the islands after himself.

1825 - Captain John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish trader, sailing the Borneo for the Trading House of Hare made a brief landing on the islands on his homeward voyage from the East Indies. He had orders to investigate Christmas Island on Alexander Hare's behalf as a possible site for a settlement. Bad weather prevented these plans and he surveyed the Cocos-Keeling Islands instead.

1826 - the first settlement was established on the islands by Alexander Hare. Clunies-Ross delivered him and approximately 100 other people to the islands in May. Hare set up a settlement on Home Island and subsidiary camps on most of the other larger islands.

1827 - Captain John Clunies-Ross returned to the islands with his family and a small party of servants, seamen and tradesmen. Relations between Clunies-Ross and Hare became strained.

1829 - the total population of the atoll was 175, with 20 Europeans and 155 people from the Indies, New Guinea and the Cape.

1831 - John Clunies-Ross was in sole possession of the islands as Hare had departed following disagreements with Clunies-Ross and financial trouble in the House of Hare company. Hare never returned to the islands.

1834 - John Clunies-Ross moved his small group to Home Island, assumed control over the remnants of Hare's people and turned his attention to planting out coconut palms and teaching the islanders shipbuilding. A schooner called the Harriet was built on South Island and launched in 1835.

1836 - Charles Darwin, aboard the HMS Beagle, visited the islands on his round the world voyage. They were the only atolls he visited and from which he formed his theory of atoll formation.

1837 - John Clunies-Ross had succeeded in recovering his investment, trading in coconuts, coconut oil and copra, mainly in Java. his increasing prosperity was boosted by the visits of whaling ships on their return trips from the Southern Ocean. The crews from these ships played havoc in the Cocos community however, and Clunies-Ross sought help from the authorities in Ceylon. HM Sloop Pelorus visited in December. The problems were solved, a code of law and order established and better pay and conditions for the Cocos workers secured.

1841 - Captain Clunies-Ross's eldest son, John George, married to a Javanese girl named Supia Dupong, returned to Cocos.

1842 - Captain Clunies-Ross's brother, James arrived to settle on the islands.

1845 - Captain John Clunies-Ross died and John George assumed control of the settlement and his father's debts.

1857 - in a bureaucratic blunder, the islands were annexed to Britain. The annexation made J.G. Clunies-Ross a Governor under the Crown and responsible for the conduct of the colony. The settlers began in earnest to develop the islands' coconut plantations.

1862 - a disastrous cyclone struck the islands and Clunies-Ross' eldest son, George, was recalled from studies in England to assist in running the estate.

1871 - John George Clunies-Ross died and his son, George, assumed control of the estate.

1878 - Responsibility for administration of the islands was given to the British governor of Ceylon.

1886 - Queen Victoria granted all of the islands to George Clunies-Ross in perpetuity. The Straits Settlements acted in a supervisory capacity.

1901 - A telegraphy relay station was established on Direction Island. Up until this time the islanders rarely saw people form the outside world. The islands became a vital link in world communications.

1910 - George Clunies-Ross died and his son, John Sydney, assumed control of the settlement.

1914 - November 14, the German light cruiser, SMS Emden, was scuttled on North Keeling following a sea battle with the HMAS Sydney 1 in the waters off the islands. Survivors were picked up but some perished on North Keeling trying to evade rescuers. This battle was Australia's first naval victory.

For Further Informations And Sources:

The man who lost a 'coral kingdom'

Travel To The Cocos Islands

Permalink 10:53:18 am, by Email , 226 words   English (CA)
Categories: Going From Here To There, Science And Technology

Air Ambulance Services

Did you know that the history of air ambulance services is a lengthy one? It all began in the USA with the very first air ambulance florida flight at Fort Barrancas in the year 1910. This the very first test flight, flew only 500 yards at an altitude of 100 feet before crashing to the ground, but it was the beginning of a great concept that was the brainchild of Capt George H. R. Gosman and Lt A. L. Rhodes.

Air ambulance services played key roles in both WWI, and WWII. And this long standing tradition of excellence in aviation, and emergency medical services continues on today. is the ultimate resource, and guide to air ambulance services in the United States. They are (considering the history of air ambulances) appropriately located in Miami Florida, USA, and can arrange for safe, and expert air ambulance transport anywhere around the world. They are considered leading experts in this exciting field, and have over 21 years experience at the time of this writing!

It is fascinating this evolution of air ambulances in what amounts to historically speaking such as short period of time, and I do encourage anyone interested in this subject or perhaps may require a service such as this to visit the for further information on their staff, and their state-of-the-art fleet.

Our thanks to our sponsors!



Permalink 12:51:04 am, by Email , 306 words   English (CA)
Categories: Heroic Women, European History

The Virago - Caterina Sforza

Born as the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza in 1462, Caterina Sforza became a unique woman for her time. Caterina left her home for Rome after her father's death. She began her life fulfilling her duties as wife and mother of eight, but then she began to fulfil roles usually reserved to men.

With her husband, Caterina seized control of Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome during the turmoils of 1484. In Forli it was Caterina who issued justice, especially after the revolt in 1487 in which her husband failed to do anything.

Caterina was also involved in a plot and tried to poison Pope Alexander VI. Caterina was then captured and imprisoned in Castle de St Angelo for one year.

During a siege of the Castle de St Angelo she strode around the battlements wearing armour over her satin dress. When the besiegers threatened to murder her children, she lifted up her skirts, and bluntly replied, "Look, I've got the mould to make more."

Catarina died in 1509 at the age of 46. Renaissance men referred to Caterina as "the Virago," or woman warrior, for all her accomplishments."

Caterina Sforza in popular culture

An episode from the third season of the Nickelodeon game show Legends of the Hidden Temple was entitled "The Jeweled Scabbard of Sforza." However, in the episode, she was portrayed as the queen of Forlì and extremely skilled with a sword, and the legend only focused on her battle with the Venetians.

A fictionalised version of Caterina Sforza appears in the 2006 film Los Borgia, played by Paz Vega.

A character by the name of Caterina Sforza appears in the manga and anime series Trinity Blood. She is most likely based on her real life historical namesake, as she holds the title of Duchess of Milan.

Sources: Let Them Eat Cake, (1994) Geoffrey Regan

Women's History Resource Site

Wiki Entry



Permalink 06:00:14 pm, by Email , 72 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday - Jester and Monk

A woman in a red jester's outfit, including a jester's hat with bells, and a black-robed monk wearing sandals, and with a black hood, hold hands as if preparing to dance.

Source: Mumford, Ethel Watts, Herford, Oliver and Mizner, Addison: "The Cynic's Calendar" (1905)

We have also added a peace globe to this week's entry.

For a list of other Wordless Wednesday participants please click here.

To view similar images please click here

Permalink 12:35:44 am, by Email , 147 words   English (CA)
Categories: British History, Religion and Spirituality

Robert Stephen Hawker - And His Cats

Robert Stephen Hawker 3 December 1803 – 15 August 1875

Robert Stephen Hawker was an idiosyncratic poet, and antiquary who lived in Cornwall during the 19th century.

When attending church, Hawker was usually accompanied by nine or ten cat, which entered the chancel with him, and played around during the service. Whilst saying prayers Hawker would pat, and stroke his kitties, and give them a scratch under their chins.

He normally would bring all ten cats with him until one was found to have killed a mouse during Sunday service. This cat was excommunicated, and banned from going to church with him.


Source: Let Them Eat Cake! (1994) By Geoffrey Regan

Further Reading:

The Vicar of Morwenstow (1875) by Sabine Baring-Gould
The Life and Letters of R. S. Hawker (sometime Vicar of Morwenstow)(1906) by C. E. Byles,
Hawker of Morwenstow (2002) by Piers Brendon, Random House
The Wreck at Sharpnose Point (2002) by Jeremy Seal



Permalink 04:59:44 pm, by Email , 162 words   English (CA)
Categories: Kings And Queens, British History

The Voice Of Reason

Bronze bust of George Cadbury, British philanthropist, and chocolate maker.

When George V, and Queen Mary visited his chocolate works, George Cadbury led them around on a tour himself. It was very cold, but George removed his hat as a sign of respect while in the presence of her Majesty. Poor man was just recuperating a nasty cold though, and the Queen was concerned that he would take a turn for the worse, and become very sick again.

Queen Mary asked George to please put back on the hat, but he refused. She then ordered him to do so or she would have the King himself command it! George hesitated .....

Until he heard a loud voice coming from behind him saying, "George, put your hat on!" That voice beloged to Elizabeth Cadbury...his wife. He quickly jumped to it, and replaced the hat back on top of his head.

Blue plaque at George Road, Edgbaston

George was a very smart man, indeed!



Permalink 08:48:16 pm, by Email , 97 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, Who Am I

Who Am I

The artistic director of the Royal National Theatre in London has called me the best actor of my generation, but in America I am best known as the man on the Infiniti automobile commercials.

I won a Tony award for my role in the 1976 production of Comedians, was the original Engineer in the London production of Miss Saigon, and was the 1995 Cannes Film Festival's choice for best actor for Carrington.

I really hope I am eventually remembered in America as more than just a car salesman.

Who Am I?

Look for the answer in the comment section.



Permalink 11:15:20 am, by Email , 428 words   English (CA)
Categories: Arts And Culture, History In The News, British History

Forty Year Anniversary Of Sgt Pepper

Can you believe it has been 40 years? Today is the fortieth anniversary of the release of the iconic Beatles album Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Wow!

Widely regarded as one of - if not the - greatest music albums of modern times, here are some of the BBC provides some interesting stories today about the Fab Four's music. Here are a handful:

* It was the band's eighth album.

* The album was recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios over a 129-day period, at a cost of £25,000.

* Pink Floyd were working on Piper at the Gates of Dawn in the next studio at the same time.

* The idea of making the whole album as if Sgt Pepper was a real band was believed to be Paul McCartney's.

* It was a completely self-contained album which was meant to be played from start to finish.

* One critic described the album as "a decisive moment in the history of Western civilisation".

* Within weeks of the album's release, Jimi Hendrix started performing the title track in concert.

* It was the first rock album to win Grammy Awards for album of the year and best contemporary album.

* Rolling Stone magazine rated it number one in the list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

* Sir Peter Blake designed the front cover. It featured a colourful collage of life-sized cardboard models of famous people, including Marlon Brando and Karl Marx.

* Mae West originally refused to appear on the front cover, but changed her mind after the band wrote to her.

* The initial design was altered, deleting Hitler and Jesus from the image, before the album was released.

* It was rumoured that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about the drug LSD. Lennon always denied this, insisting it was inspired by a drawing done by his young son, Julian.

* The song was still banned by the BBC.

* The lyrics to John Lennon's Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite were adapted almost word for word from an old circus poster which he bought at an antique shop in Kent.

* McCartney's vocals were sped up for the song When I'm 64 to give it a unique sound.

Full BBC Article Here

As a kid I loved all the mystery, and conspiracy theories surrounding the Sgt Pepper's album, I'd listen to it forward, and try to play it backwards looking for clues to validate the rumour that the "real" Paul had died ... LOL! It was a lot of fun to be a kid in the late sixties, and seventies, and this album in particular brings back some fond memories.


Pastime with Good Company

Pastyme With Good Companye

Welcome to the blog of amateur historians Matthew James Didier and Sue Darroch. Partners in life and in crime, we endeavor to entertain you with snippets from our combined historical research. Past time with good company indeed, as we shall introduce you to Kings and Knaves, Queens and Mistresses, Cons and Heroes, from our collective past......from events well known to those perhaps all but forgotten, we will do our best to bring you interesting historical factoids from around the globe. It is our belief that through understanding our past we will all gain a better perspective on our future.

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