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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 12/06/2004: "Log fires"
    will warm you well if they re old and dry Larch logs of pinewoods smell but the sparks will fly Beech logs for Christmas time yew logs heat so well Scotch logs it is a crime for anyone to sell Birch logs will burn too fast chestnut scarce at all Hawthorn logs are good to last if cut in the fall Holly logs will burn like wax you should burn them green Elm logs like smouldering flax no flame to be seen Pear logs and apple logs they will scent your room Cherry logs across the dogs smell like flowers in bloom But ash logs all smooth and grey burn them green or old Buy up all that come your way they re worth their weight in gold The clear message here is that ash is by far the best timber for our log fires while the wood of fruit trees will produce a pleasant scent in the room and that of conifers will send sparks flying Elm is probably the worst because it smoulders with little or no heat indeed one verse says is like churchyard mould I have another verse which reads Birch and fir logs burn too fast blaze up bright and do not last Make fire of an elder tree death within your house you ll see It is by the Irish said hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread But ash green and ash brown is fit for a Queen with golden crown Yet another verse says that ash wet or ash dry is fit for a queen to warm her slippers by while poplar gives a bitter smoke which fills your eyes and makes you choke It seems that lime will make an excellent firewood too provided it has been cut and stacked for three or

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000026.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 11/15/2004: "Windermere & Lakes"
    of popularity is not new William Wordsworth the Lakeland poet suggested that Windermere s grandeur can only be seen from the bosom of the lake and so we took a short cruise from Bowness to Ambleside to take in some of the splendid vistas that inspired the poet One of the regular sights on Windermere is the ferry which carries vehicles and people across the lake from The Nab just south of Bowness to a point below Near Sawry on Claife Heights The first mention of a ferry on Windermere is probably 1454 when one crossed the lake at its widest point some distance to the north A tragedy occurred in 1635 when 47 people drowned as the boat capsized after a wedding at Hawkshead and the ferry also features in a folk tale Even at the time of this tragedy the ferry was a rowing boat which carried passengers only no vehicles The ferryman would respond to a shout of Ferry when anyone wanted to cross but after this tragedy it was a long time before any ferryman dared to respond They were afraid of the Crier of Claife a fearsome spectre which lived on Claife Heights and which would falsely call for the ferry so that the crew and passengers would meet their death Needless to say we didn t call for the ferry to return us to Windermere Bowness and the adjoining town of Windermere have merged until they are almost inseparable and both owe their popularity to the railway When the line from London to Carlisle was being built in 1847 it was decided to build a branch line from Oxenholme to Keswick but this was never completed and the line stopped at Birthwaite a village overlooking Windermere Then because few passengers associated Birthwaite with Lake

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000025.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 10/26/2004: "Yew trees"
    this system of growth which makes use of the original root system means that a yew could be everlasting as well as evergreen but its age can be calculated or perhaps estimated by measuring the girth of the trunk In 1796 the Fortingall yew s girth was more than fifty feet and a girth of only forty feet means a yew is 5 600 years old A ten foot girth means 250 years of age a fifteen foot girth means 500 years 20 foot girth means 1 000 years 25 foot means 1 400 years and 30 foot equates with 2 500 years But these ages can only be approximate due to vagaries of climate location and the tree s individual lifestyle It is highly probable therefore that some of our existing yew trees were growing long before Christianity came to these shores We must also remember that lots have been deliberately destroyed for various reasons although one must wonder whether the old root systems of those lost trees have survived So why were churches built so close to yew trees often with the yew on the north side of the building The answer is that ancient peoples regarded the yew as a sacred tree probably due to its evergreen foliage or even because it appeared to defy death It has been revered for thousands of years with Druids and the Celts in particular regarding it as a holy plant For those who respected or even worshipped the yew for religious reasons it made sense to site their places of worship close to the tree and so they did Many such sites were established close to yew trees When Pope Gregory sent Augustine to England to convert the English and become the first Archbishop of Canterbury he was advised not

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000024.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 09/23/2004: "Scotland Visit"
    have died within the last two centuries There is a local legend that the infant Pontius Pilate played beneath this tree He was the son of a Roman officer and a local girl but was taken back to Rome to later achieve a dubious kind of fame That story has never been proved false We took another step into the past by visiting a crannog a type of ancient loch dwelling found in Ireland and Scotland Some 5 000 years ago crannogs were built off shore as defensive homesteads and accommodated extended families and their livestock They were built and occupied until as late as the 17th century Modern underwater archaeologists have found the remains of several crannogs with remarkably fresh remains such as plants utensils food and even cloth all preserved in the cold peaty water There was even an ancient butter dish with the butter still adhering to the inside and lots of hazel nut shells and cherry stones The crannog we visited is a reconstruction on Loch Tay near Kenmore It is circular with a thatched and steeply sloping roof It has been built using an ancient and authentic method of construction on alder and oak piles driven into the bed of the loch The floor is made from alder the walls are of wattle and the roof thatched with reeds inside the floor is covered with bracken there is a central fireplace on stones and sleeping compartments both at floor level and aloft Built several feet above water level it is approached by a gangway part of which can be raised like a drawbridge for defensive reasons The crannog is open to the public and as well as tours there is a hands on opportunity to try your hand with an ancient lathe simple spinning grinding grain with a millstone or best of all making fire by rubbing sticks together easier than you think if you know how The Iron Age dwellers did know how and were masters at inventing simple tools and methods for their everyday needs There are lots of crannogs under Scottish lochs 15 in Loch Tay alone and many sites can be identified because they now form tree covered islands Some are currently being excavated to reveal astonishing evidence of the ancient past We then visited the Ben Lawers nature reserve Ben Lawers 1214 metres high is a massive mountain overlooking Loch Tay You can take in the slopes of Beinn Ghlas on the way up This mountain range is known for its rare wild flowers and is unique in that the higher slopes have been fenced off against deer and sheep I know of no other mountain which is protected in this way but the outcome is that gentians alchemilla mollis Cerastium and alpines flourish along with a variety of mosses and ferns And the bilberries are wonderful One feature of these mountains apart from their Gaelic names is the number of shielings on the slopes These are clusters of small

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000023.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 08/05/2004: "Bempton Cliffs"
    Even though we were well outside the normal nesting season there was plenty of interest not only with the spectacular birds and breathtaking views but also with a range of wild flowers butterflies and the possibility of spotting seals and porpoises at sea The best time for seeing the birds is between April and August when they are breeding but any visit to this fascinating place is memorable Tragically the number of kittiwakes that nest on these cliffs have had their worst breeding season since monitoring began in 1985 This year s figures show that only one chick out of every four or five nests is surviving and the numbers are down from 45 000 chicks to 8 000 This is being blamed on the fact that the sand eel population has dropped dramatically Sand eels are small silver fish which lie buried just below the seabed and are a vital food source for the kittiwake In turn the sand eels feed on plankton but as the temperature of the North Sea rises the plankton which is the food source of the sand eels is moving further north to cooler waters and the sand eel population is migrating with it Another factor is that the birds on Bempton Cliffs breed at the same time as the sand eels are being taken by fishermen The oil of sand eels is used to power electricity producing generators and agricultural feed but because of the risk to the sea bird population there is now pressure to impose a ban on sand eel fishing in certain areas of the North Sea This situation is not confined to Bempton Cliffs as breeding sites in Lincolnshire and East Anglia have also been affected and in the Orkneys and Shetlands the situation is at crisis level A

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000022.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 07/02/2004: "Kissing the Bride"
    giving her away for marriage and it seems to have been his right to be the first to kiss the new bride Apparently there was the occasional dispute about this as some vicars claimed the privilege because it was they who tied the proverbial knot Whether the act of kissing the bride was a nationwide practice is rather uncertain but it appears to have been widespread in the north i e Scotland County Durham and the North Riding of Yorkshire in particular In the area around Stokesley and Guisborough it appears the person who gave away the bride was the one who could exercise this privilege whilst in County Durham it was the vicar who claimed the right although it was not unknown for some Yorkshire vicars to enjoy the custom In his book Folk Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders published in 1866 William Henderson tells two delightful stories about kissing the bride One was in Yorkshire when the clergyman who was a stranger to the county found the wedding party waiting around outside the church after the ceremony as if expecting something else to happen When he asked what they were waiting for the new bridegroom said Please sir you haven t kissed Molly Henderson does not tell us whether or not he obliged The second tale concerns a bride from County Durham who got married in the south of England After the ceremony she expected the vicar to be the first to kiss her and was very surprised when he didn t Not to be outdone however she strode up to him and planted a handsome kiss upon a rather surprised clergyman I ve no doubt he thought there were some funny folks up north So far as Scotland is concerned it seems

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000021.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 05/25/2004: "Knebworth and St Albans"
    his earnings from books plays and poems enabled him to refurbish Knebworth House in 1843 Set in 250 acres of parkland it was transformed from a red brick Tudor mansion to the Gothic fantasy it is today but in addition to his writing Lord Lytton also found time to be MP for St Ives and Lincoln a cabinet minister and founder of Queensland and British Columbia He is also said to have written the first crime novel and the house remains a family home From Knebworth we visited the market town of St Albans where we saw a clock tower which was built between 1403 and 1412 now the only medieval town belfry in England It was permitted to sound its own hours and curfew and the original bell known as Gabriel is still in place The town itself is considerably older for its origins date to Roman times when the city was founded as Verulamium Verulamium Park is now a beautiful attraction on the edge of the town and there is a stylish Roman museum too plus a Roman theatre on Bluehouse Hill the only one of its period currently open to visitors in Britain There are other museums too including one specialising in organs and another displaying Mosquito aircraft We found plenty to see and do in St Albans but pride of place must go to the splendid Cathedral It stands on a hill which has been the site of Christian worship since Saxon times and in fact some of the bricks from which it is built came from the old Roman city of Verulamium The mighty church owes its origins to St Alban He was a pagan a prominent citizen in Verulamium when Christians were being persecuted and he sheltered a priest called Amphibalus After talking to

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000020.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 04/06/2004: "Fixing the date of Easter"
    rarest date for Easter Sunday is March 22 and it last fell upon that date in 1818 If the present system is maintained it will not happen again until 2285 The last time Easter Sunday fell on its latest date April 25 was in 1943 In England prior to AD 664 there existed two methods of calculating the date of Easter One was the system used in the rest of the Christian world and which had been introduced here by St Augustine who was sent by the Pope to be our first Archbishop of Canterbury This was the Roman method and it was used widely in the south of England The Celtic branch of the church which had been established in the north by St Columba used a slightly different system This meant there were two different dates for Easter in this country and the problem was highlighted when King Oswy of Northumbria married Queen Eanflaed of Kent She was a southerner while he was a northerner The king wanted a single date for Easter and so he called for the Synod of Whitby to discuss the matter His wish was to unite both traditions of the church in England one matter being that all the monks should have the same style of tonsure and another being that both sides celebrated Easter at the same time It was an important meeting and after a good deal of complicated discussion Wilfred of Ripon said his piece He pointed out that Christ had given the keys of the kingdom of heaven to St Peter so surely the method used by Rome was the right one The Synod agreed and so the whole of this country adopted the Roman method which is still used today It is that Easter Sunday falls on the

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000019.html (2016-02-17)
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web-archive-uk.com, 2016-10-27