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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    firm friends of both me and my wife and with other buyers and so a signing session at Holman s is really a happy re union of old friends There is always an exchange of news much good humoured banter and lots of books to sign even some out of print titles my readers have managed to unearth from obscure places One feature is that some of my readers will

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-012007.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    drinking establishments and did not offer accommodation In medieval times some inns appeared on pilgrims routes established either by the lord of the manor or the church and a charge was made for staying there This was often beyond the reach of poor pilgrims who found themselves sleeping on the rush covered floor along with many others but as the great monasteries flourished so they began to include inns within their boundaries And as the roads became more widely used terrible though they were so more inns were established often by the monasteries and the churches in our villages and so began the tradition of the rustic inn Inns were also established near busy places such as ferry terminals main thoroughfares or on crossroads town centres markets pilgrimage routes and places of business Unfortunately they attracted low life customers described as robbers quacks mountebanks and undesirables of every kind In the fourteenth century the situation had become so bad that the king imposed closing hours on inns because such offenders as aforesaid going about by night do commonly resort and have their meetings and hold their evil talk in taverns more than elsewhere and there do seek to do mischief That sounds very familiar today It was around the fifteenth century that inns began to improve with high class establishments being constructed for travellers and merchants These were not part of monasteries or the church but were built by private enterprise in all our major towns and cities with smaller inns blossoming in villages It was perhaps the famous Golden Era of Coaching which led to the creation of some splendid inns along our glamorous coaching routes and many of these remain today Not only did those coaching inns provide food and accommodation they also catered for the teams of horses which were needed to haul the stage coaches Many coaches changed horses at these inns and so the coaching years brought immense wealth and prestige to many of our coaching inns and indeed to many village inns along their routes With the festive season well under way our inns and hotels remain a focal point for a range of activities including parties by office workers businessmen villagers families and others In many cases the inns will have no spare accommodation just like that first Christmas when there was no room at the inn for the family whose Child has given us more than 2 000 years of constant celebration One of the older traditions at Christmas is the use of candles In our modern times of course they are not an essential part of the domestic scene as they were in some rural areas even within living memory They were necessary to provide light both indoors and in outbuildings but now they have become popular as decorative items I am sure there are now more varieties of candles than ever before and they make excellent Christmas gifts Giving candles as Christmas gifts is not a new idea In many

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-122006.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    me a copy of some monastic suppression notes These concern Jervaulx Abbey Coverham Abbey and Bridlington Priory with most of the letters being written in 1537 One is from the Duke of Norfolk to Henry VIII dated May 10 1537 in which the Duke writes concerning Bridlington and Jervaulx I think most convenient that I should be at the suppressing because the countries about them be populous and the houses ie the abbeys greatly beloved with the people and also as I think well stored with cattle and other things profitable that will not come to light so well if I be absent Sir Arthur Darcy wrote to Henry VIII s agent Thomas Cromwell on June 8 1537 saying he was at the suppression of Jervaulx adding that the abbey was covered wholly with lead and referring to the richness of the grounds and the fine breed of horses at the abbey On November 14 1537 Richard Bellycis sic wrote to Thomas Cromwell saying I have taken down all the lead of Jervaulx and made it in pieces of half fothers which lead amounteth to the number of 365 fothers with 34 and a half fothers that were there before and the said lead may not be carried until next summer for the ways in that country are foul and steep that no carriage can pass in winter I think 364 fothers was just under a ton in weight The destruction of Coverham Abbey makes sad reading if only in an account for Henry s receiver Between February 4 1536 and Michaelmas 1537 he received 980 18s 8d for goods sold including 27 oxen 78 cows 33 stones of wool 36 0s 8d for church ornaments 156 2s 0d for plate 403 6s 8d for 124 fothers of lead obtained in pulling down the monastery and 16 13s 4d for six bells weighing 2000 lbs I wonder where some of those items are today Posted by Peter N Walker 10 56 AM GMT Link Friday November 10 2006 Kingfisher photo by Marek Szczepanek Most of us rarely consider the kingfisher to be associated with this time of year and yet one of its old names is St Martin s bird It is not the only bird to bear that name martins such as house martins and sand martins are thought to have been linked to the saint because they could often be seen migrating through France around his feast day Similarly in France hen harriers were also known as St Martin s birds les oiseaux de Saint Martin because they could be seen migrating on or very near the saint s feast day Although St Martin was not French by birth he is always associated with the town of Tours in central France he became bishop of Tours in AD 371 following his conversion in Rome The kingfisher s associations with St Martin arise because this bird is also linked to his feast day Here in Britain that day is

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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    suggestion that it is superstition which is irrational I found no definition that suggests religion is irrational What seems to be true is that even in this twenty first century age of the computer superstition remains a powerful force within our society Many of us continue to believe in the irrational perhaps because a host of superstitious beliefs have been passed down to us by our ancestors But if religion has also been passed down to us in this way why have so many of us abandoned religion whilst continuing with superstitious practices One interesting aspect of this close association is that the major events in our lives are surrounded both by superstition and religion Think of birth marriage and death In these matters superstitious belief and religion exist side by side The act of baptism is one example our pagan ancestors used purifying water and various rituals as they named a child whilst giving it the full protection required to grow into an adult The Christian faith does likewise There are lots of superstitious beliefs about the time of birth with some believing our destiny is governed by the stars Others believe the time of day is important a birth in the morning ensuring a long life ahead An old saying said The later the hour the shorter the life and it was also thought that an early morning birth guaranteed intelligence and success in the person concerned I had an aunt who always put a silver coin into the hand of a newborn baby to ensure good fortune for the child People who live on the coast used to believe that one s birth should always be as the tide is coming in That is a sign of good fortune whilst to be born as the tide is

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-102006.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    two men o war the Seraphis and Countess of Scarborough and they were trying to reach Scarborough harbour for protection by cannons positioned in Scarborough Castle They didn t make it In spite of Jones superior strength and firepower the two English ships fought bravely and indeed the Seraphis was more manoeuvrable than Jones Bonhomme Richard Crowds stood on Filey cliffs to watch this most remarkable of sea battles with Bonhomme Richard ramming the Seraphis until the two were locked in what was described as a deadly embrace The crews then engaged in hand to hand fighting and close cannon fire Although the Countess of Scarborough was beaten the gallant Seraphis continued to inflict severe damage on the Bonhomme Richard so much so that the ship s master gunner hauled down her flag But Jones fought on until fire from the other American vessels followed by a cruel explosion on Seraphis caused her master Captain Pearson to surrender Jones then abandoned the Bonhomme Richard with many injured crewmen still on board and commandeered the Seraphis to claim victory For more than 36 hours Jones tried to save his stricken ship but badly holed and damaged by fire she sank on September 25 with her pennant still fluttering Paul Jones watched her sink thus making this the only known occasion when a maritime commander won a battle and then left the scene in a beaten ship Some reports say Jones left his injured crew members to go down with her Since that time attempts have been made to find and recover the wreck of Bonhomme Richard One problem was that there were no legal controls over divers recovering valuables from wrecks but in 1973 the Protection of Wrecks Act became law This was designed to prevent the wholesale plunder of wrecks

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-092006.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    excellent with sunshine and clear skies Our first venture was a ski lift to Schlegelkopf just below the summit of Kriegerhorn 2173m As the chair slowly ascended with our feet dangling in space we began to appreciate the sheer beauty around us Our ascent took us up what is in winter a ski slope but in summer an Alpine meadow I have never seen such a massive variety of wild flowers in one place spread across the entire mountainside even at high altitude there were flowers galore many being rare in our country while others grace our domestic gardens Where we have heather in Britain the Alps have flowers and a walk which should take an hour took us three hours simply because we stopped to admire photograph and hopefully identify the different species brilliant blue gentians edelweiss primulas buttercups galore several species of wonderful orchids Alpine clematis woolly thistles vetches and saxifrage various poppies and geraniums anemones louseworts lupins asters hyacinths and pasque flowers cotton sedge butterwort and many many more some of which are found only in Alpine regions All the footpaths are clearly marked and well maintained Discreet signposts point the way to distant summits valleys villages and refuges but do not give the distance Instead they give a reasonable time that is required to reach the destination thus a signpost will say Zug 40 mins On our climb to the final summit of Kriegerhorn we paused to photograph cows grazing near a pond and when we saw the ski hut nearby advertising glasses of fresh milk we just had to try it As we sat drinking the cold creamy milk listening to the tinkle of cowbells we reminisced that this was how fresh farm milk tasted when we were children On our second day we took a cable car to the summit of Rufikopf 2382m where there is a café and a platform from where we could look across to other summits even London Paris Rome and New York were recorded along with their distances From there we decided to walk down to Zurs a village below The walking time was given as two and a half hours and it took us via a small lake called Monzabonsee with snow upon the paths and in the hollows slowly melting As we descended from the summit we heard a piercing whistle sound In some ways it sounded like the call of a buzzard but even with my binoculars I failed to see it And then as I scanned the rockier regions of the mountain I spotted the culprit It was about the size of a domestic cat with greyish brown fur clearly a rodent judging by its strong front teeth It was on a prominent rock sitting upright on its haunches with its front paws clutched before its chest as it produced its curious call A passing walker identified it for me it was a marmot a herb eating rodent found only in the higher reaches of

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-072006.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    range of routine but important jobs often with a display of amazing strength He asked for no reward except a full jug of cream to be left in the barn at the end of each day However when Mrs Gray died and Jonathan remarried his new wife could not understand the need to put a full jug of cream in the barn each night Secretly she substituted a jug of skimmed milk Thereafter things began to go wrong The hob stopped his work and became mischievous the milk turned sour foxes attacked the poultry the cattle became ill fire burnt down a building and all manner of other things happened so that the once thriving farm was facing ruin Jonathan decided to leave and so with several cart loads of household goods he prepared to depart from Farndale A neighbour saw him and asked what was going on We re flitting said Jonathan And at that point the lid of a tub on the cart was lifted as to his horror the brown and wizened face of the hob appeared from inside and Aye we re flitting This is just one of several stories of hobs in and around the North York Moors their presence being perpetuated in the names of locations like Hob Garth Hob Thrush and Hob Meadow A hob was an elf like little fellow whose entire body was covered with coarse brown hair and he worked with no clothes on Versions of this familiar old story appear in several countries which make us wonder how when and why these tales originated Posted by Peter N Walker 09 48 AM GMT Link Monday June 5 2006 Malahide Castle My wife and I recently spent some time at Malahide a small Irish coastal town a few miles north of Dublin Upon our arrival Ireland was magnificent with its flush of emerald green vegetation and its almost tropical display of palm trees and wild flowers which would grace any garden Imagine fields with golden hedges of thick gorse in full glorious bloom and country lanes whose borders were of wild fuchsia and geraniums daisies and vetches The astonishingly vivid and varied green shades of vegetation both wild and cultivated have to be seen to be believed Not without reason is this island known as the Emerald Isle Malahide with a population of around 13 000 has a thriving marina which makes use of the only natural inlet along the country s east coast and this attracts yachts from all over the world The town has also acquired a reputation for the quality of its food With more than forty restaurants and some wonderful Irish pubs often with music and other entertainment one never need be hungry thirsty or unoccupied A pint of Guinness in an Irish pub is something anyone will remember it is truly nectar from the gods The town dates to around 6 000 BC the Danes arrived in the eighth century and in the twelfth the

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-062006.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    knowing that very few predators can reach them inside that thorny refuge The blackthorn s fruit is the sloe but in its raw state it is virtually inedible It looks like a beautiful little plum with a delightful blue black skin and its attractive appearance belies its bitterness However it can be made into a very palatable sloe gin and some country women manage to produce tasty jam and even wine from it The wood is also useful because it is tough and polishes up well Because the tree is rather small it can only be used to make small items such as the teeth of rakes It also makes useful walking sticks Irish cudgels known as shillelaghs are fashioned from this wood whilst another of its uses is in marquetry Not surprisingly a good deal of superstition surrounds the blackthorn with some believing that a blossoming branch should never be brought indoors because it is an omen of death I think this arises from an old belief that Christ s crown of thorns was made from this thorny wood and so it has acquired a reputation for being unlucky In some districts there was a curious ritual where a crown of thorns was made from the blackthorn on New Year s morning and then scorched in the household fire The charred remains were then hung with mistletoe to ward off bad luck The blackthorn is often confused with the hawthorn which is very common as a hedgerow plant and was used extensively in early land enclosures It has strongly scented creamy white or pink flowers in May hence their wellknown name and the song Here we go gathering knots of may The Holy Thorn of Glastonbury is a variety of hawthorn known as biflora which continues to flourish in

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-052006.html (2016-02-17)
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