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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    World War I refer to the ancient practice of bowing to the new moon and turning over any silver coins in one s pocket This was considered a probable means of doubling one s money or at the least substantially increasing one s wealth It was long thought that the custom of bowing to the new moon would double the money in one s pocket provided any silver coins were turned over during the bowing operation People would therefore make sure they completed both elements but one condition was that the new moon should not be viewed through glass To see it through a window or any other glass object was regarded as unfortunate while the most effective way was to catch sight of the new moon over one s right shoulder whilst out of doors This occasion was also thought ideal to begin any new enterprise or venture and a further bonus was that any child born on the day of a new moon was likely to have a long happy and prosperous life It was not considered a good day to become ill however the belief being that the illness would persist for a long period with a lot of discomfort The new moon continues to produce a good deal of weather lore One is that if the new moon is in the far north we shall suffer cold weather for two weeks but if it is in the south then milder weather can be expected In some areas a new moon in the south indicates dry weather which can survive for a long as a month The points of a new moon are said to tell us a lot If the tips of the new crescent are pointing upwards it is believed the following month will be

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-012004.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    within a household after the curfew bell but this was relaxed in 1103 by Henry I who said that lights eg candles could show even though the household fire had to be extinguished As time passed the ringing of the curfew bell each night at 8pm was utilised for other purposes Both Edward I and Edward III made laws which said no one carrying arms should be on the streets after the curfew bell this may have been the first time the curfew bell was utilised in an attempt to maintain public order and reduce crime There is no doubt it became widely used as a means of keeping the peace with the result that the word curfew came to have another meaning Today we associate the term not necessarily accompanied by the sound of a bell as a period during which someone must remain indoors for a specified period as a mean of ensuring they do not break the law The period of the curfew is often during the night say between 8pm and 6am but not necessarily so It can even extend to several days or relate to particular dates and the system was often used in wartime Today the curfew bell continues to be sounded in several towns and villages across England but it demands no particular action from us It is merely symbolic being the continuation of a long established custom Nonetheless the curfew system not necessarily aided by the sound of a bell has been utilised for some interesting purposes In 1918 for example the British Board of Trade was anxious to ensure the people economised on fuel such as electricity and coal and so it introduced a Curfew Order This said that all restaurants had to extinguish their lights by 10pm that no theatre

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-112003.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    the initials of one s future spouse In Whitby however love sick youngsters climbed the tower of St Mary s Church near the Abbey and shouted the name of their intended across the sea Their destiny was assured if they heard the sound of bells from beneath the waves the bells in question having been stolen from Whitby Abbey when it was dissolved by Henry VIII prior to the Reformation As the bells were being carried away by ship a storm arose and capsized it tipping the bells into the sea They have never been recovered Witch Lating was carried out in the Pennines A person went onto the moors between 11pm and midnight on All Hallows carrying a lighted candle If the flame burned steadily it meant the person would be free from witchcraft for the next twelve months but if it went out great evil would befall that person Ash riddling was done by riddling fire ash and leaving it on the hearth overnight If a footprint appeared the person who fit it would be dead within the year My grandchildren have been making pumpkin lanterns and will be dressing up in witch and ghost costumes for their Hallowe en party Sounds much more innocent Posted by Peter N Walker 05 48 PM GMT Link Thursday October 9 2003 A very pleasant walk recently took me along the Cleveland Way via the cliff tops along the east coast north of Whitby I climbed from the little harbour side of Staithes up to Cowbar and onto Boulby Cliff the highest in England at 690 feet 209 metres and past some atmospheric reminders of a former industry of alum mining Alum shale is a rich source of aluminium sulphate which was used as a fixing agent in dyeing cloth for tanning leather and for producing top grade parchment It was mined at several sites around the North York Moors and along the North Yorkshire coastline sometimes with dramatic effect Along this coastline were some 20 sites where alum was processed and they stretched from just north of Loftus down to Ravenscar near Scarborough with further sites inland such as Carlton Bank near Stokesley and even as far inland as Thimbleby near Northallerton It is said that the alum discoveries of this region were England s earliest chemical industry Alum was discovered in the Cleveland Hills around 1595 by Sir Thomas Challoner of Guisborough He had been astute enough on a visit to Rome to notice that the discolouring of leaves on trees near the Pope s alum works was very similar to those near his home He realised the clay of both regions was similar too and this led him to examine the possibility that the Cleveland Hills might be a source of this valuable chemical And so it proved In opening his mine at Belman Bank Sir Thomas effectively set himself up in competition with the Pope who was exporting alum to England at 52 for a ton while

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-102003.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    and the first to actually sit down will then gain supremacy in the home There is also a rock here which is known as St Michael s Chair In England before the Reformation as in churches throughout the world mass was said on this day in honour of St Michael hence the name Michaelmas Day but in rural England there were other events and celebrations Some of these were in the form of fairs or livestock sales often with the hiring of workers occurring at the same time In most cases though hiring fairs were held later in the year at Martinmas the feast of St Martin of Tours on November 11 with the Michaelmas fairs being more of a holiday One of these was the famous Nottingham Goose Fair which is now held on October 3 nonetheless in some areas Michaelmas Day continues to be known as Goose Day and for a long time goose fairs and sheep sales were held on this day in various parts of England The association with geese arises because Queen Elizabeth I was eating goose on this day when she received news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada at the celebratory meal which followed the victory goose was eaten and thus it became customary to eat goose on Michaelmas Day This goose feast continued for centuries afterwards even if the original reason had been forgotten Indeed lots of landlords used to hold goose feasts for their tenants on this day because Michaelmas Day was one of the quarter days when rents were due Among the other curious customs of Michaelmas Day three were associated with wild fruit Rose hips were picked in some parts of Yorkshire and made into a sweet drink the day therefore became known as Hipping Day Another custom

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-092003.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    of wooden buildings the North Pole Hotel and scientific monitoring devices Ny Alesund has been designated a centre for Arctic environmental monitoring and research and the Norwegian Polar Institute s Research Station was established here in 1968 The earth around the settlement looks somewhat barren as the only vegetation is the moss like growth on the tundra where the polar bears prowl Reindeer and Arctic foxes also inhabit the area and we were warned to beware of the Arctic terns which are known to attack humans with white hair in the belief they are polar bears We were requested not to wander from the settlement as there was a genuine risk from polar bears and indeed a girl had been killed by one about three years earlier With snow and glaciers around us and temperatures just above freezing we toured this lonely place and found it fascinating Here we witnessed the midnight sun and enjoyed 24 hours of daylight for the next four days Our slow return south was via a glacier with a nine mile long face through seas littered with icebergs and graced by whales and porpoises We berthed at Tromso where the museum has a fascinating exhibition depicting the life of the Sami people an ethnic minority living mainly in the Norwegian county of Finnmark Their old name of Lapps is now considered derogatory Other highlights are the Wilderness Centre with its 100 Alaskan huskies and the Polar Museum We also visited the Arctic Cathedral an ultra modern building symbolising Arctic ice It is maybe not to everyone s taste but the stained glass is impressive Next came the breathtaking Geiranger Fjord with its seven sisters waterfall and little farmsteads stranded on terraces half way up the rock faces 200 metres above the water Families living there had to tether their small children to stop them falling over the sheer cliffs but the farms are now derelict as the last tenants left in the 1960 s We had another coach trip up into the mountains taking in 13 hairpin bends on the way not for those who suffer from vertigo advised the guidebook Pausing for coffee at the Tystigen Summerski Centre it was strange to see people ski ing in blazing July sunshine And finally we sailed into friendly Stavanger and our giant cruise ship moored right alongside tiny yachts and fishing boats Stavanger has retained its old world charm with narrow cobbled streets of wooden houses and the prettiest of harbours We would have liked to stay longer to take in the majestic Pulpit Rock and Norway s only surviving monastery at Utstein Augustinian monastic life there came to an end with the Reformation in 1537 but in 1930 restoration work began and now this medieval treasure is again open to the public In a short narrative like this it is difficult to portray the sheer scale of the mountains the utter splendour of the fjords or even if huge distances involved Norway for example is

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-072003.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    the English summer is a mere six days long Tuesday mid summer day is also the feast of St John the Baptist and across the continent there are lots of weather sayings which relate to his special day One is that if it rains on the eve of St John s Day we should not expect a good crop of hazel nuts while a German saying advises us that we should not pay too much attention to the crops before St John s Day Even if they look good before June 24 they might not mature into anything worthwhile What the old piece of wisdom is saying is that a lot can happen between now and the maturity of the crops Some ancient forecasters always said we should pray for rain before the feast of St John whereas after his feast day we got it anyway Rain on June 24 however heralds a wet harvest and also means the hazelnut crop and the corn will not be particularly good although apples pears and plums should not be too adversely affected In the north east of England it was always said you should mow your thistles before the feast of St

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-062003.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    late spring he is depicted inside a large wicker cage which completely envelopes him It is covered with flowers branches and leaves so that only his eyes can be seen On those occasions where he is not shown in this cage his clothing is always green and it symbolises new foliage on the trees and new leaves on the other plants The Green Man whether in his guise as Jack in the Green or some other character used to appear regularly in a range of festivals processions mummers plays and dances invariably with a rural setting Oddly enough he did appear in some towns albeit as part of processions involving chimney sweeps Sweeps had their annual holiday on May Day which might explain the presence of the Green Man but it is otherwise difficult to see any connection between this essentially rural character and the rather more urban profession of chimney sweeping When the practice of using small boys to sweep chimneys came to an end so did these processions and thus ended this odd association In some former celebrations the Green Man would appear alone whilst in other places he would be part of a procession of several characters whose function was to chase away winter and prepare a welcome for the coming summer sometimes in his guise as the spirit of new vegetation His role was often shown as a bringer of plenty which is why he appeared in spring with its abundance of new greenery and blossom adding to the mystery of his appearance alongside chimney sweeps I believe he was sometimes depicted in illustrations of St George and the Dragon too another association which appears somewhat mysterious But there are other green men When people believed in fairies a woman at Fryup in Yorkshire s Eskdale

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-052003.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Nicholas Rhea's Diary
    us the harrowing story of Good Friday continues to be relevant With this in mind I was interested to discover that some of our older churches contain what are known as Easter sepulchres In general these can be found on the north side of the chancel and are shaped in the design of a stone tomb Before the Reformation it was the custom on Good Friday for the congregation to process to these sepulchres carrying a crucifix and a Sacred Host The procession was accompanied by lighted candles and upon arrival at the sepulchre the Sacred Host and the crucifix were placed inside with due solemnity They remained within the sepulchre until the dawn of Easter Sunday when they were removed and taken to the altar this time amid signs of joy and praise to mark the Resurrection The purpose of this ceremony was to enact the death and resurrection of Christ in a way that the people could understand One example of this ancient custom was undertaken in Durham Cathedral with the ceremony of the resurrection occurring between 3am and 4am on Easter Sunday It was a most impressive event with a gold crucifix being used and carried by

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/archive-042003.html (2016-02-17)
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