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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 05/13/2003: "The Green Man"
    some parts of England where the Green Man appears in folk customs during 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

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000009.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 04/17/2003: "Easter"
    crucifixion of Christ and the beginnings of the Christian church For lots of 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

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000008.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 03/27/2003: "Robin Hood"
    he was 25 he married Matilda who was described as a bonny fine maid of worthy degree and for a time they lived at Campsall between Wakefield and Doncaster It is possible that Matilda was surnamed Fitzwalter and the daughter of the Baron of Arlingford Sometime after their wedding the couple leased a plot of land at Bickhill near Wakefield for which they paid two shillings It was ten yards long by five yards wide and there they built a five bedroomed house The site was near a medieval market and is near the present Bull Ring Robin was recruited by the Earl of Lancaster to fight against Edward II 1307 27 he had no choice but to fight because the land he had leased belonged to the Earl of Lancaster Robin Hood was 32 when the battle was fought at Boroughbridge in 1322 the king being the victor Robin now considered a rebel because he had fought against the king had his house confiscated and thus he and Matilda were homeless She called herself Marion a name often given to girls called Matilda and the couple fled into the forest to live as outlaws The dales of Yorkshire were heavily afforested at that time the massive forest of Barnsdale stretching south from the Yorkshire Dales to join the huge Sherwood Forest near Nottingham Robin made two firm friends one being a seven foot high sailor called John Little and another called Will who always dressed in red He became known as Will Scarlet It is known that Edward II began to take a keen interest in Robin and his expanding band of friends because this group of outlaws were rapidly becoming a legend They roamed the forests around Harrogate and Knaresborough the story of him meeting Little John on

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000007.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 03/17/2003: "Spring poetry"
    too well known for his verse to be repeated here but he also wrote about the cuckoo W H Davies wrote about singing skylarks Edmund Spenser featured the sweete violet the pincke and purple cullambine as well as cowslips kingcups and daffadowndillies Browning delighted in the chaffinch singing in the orchard while Gray spoke of the warbler and John Clare liked peewits rooks lady smocks and horse blobs but one poet has left us with a puzzle What is the sea blue bird of March that Alfred Lord Tennyson 1809 1892 mentions in his poem In Memoriam When rosy plumelets tuft the larch And rarely pipes the mounted thrush Or underneath the barren bush Flits by the sea blue bird of March He might be thinking of the swallow which can arrive in some parts of the country in the early days of March although we would expect to see our swallows later in the month or even well into April The nuthatch has a greyish blue back but its colouring can hardly be called sea blue and not even the blue tit fits that description It follows that not many English birds can be described as sea blue perhaps

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000006.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 03/05/2003: "Birds' Nests"
    birds decided on their various nesting habits Once upon a time the story goes all the birds were gathered together for a lesson in nest building The wren paid very close attention to what the teacher said and later built a perfect nest It had a roof it was cosy and it was weather proof The magpie listened intently but it was easily distracted and heard only part of the lesson As a result its nest although rounded with a roof was far from weather proof The pigeon and doves only heard snippets of the lesson because they were far more interested in each other and so they built a very poor nest with twigs which was flat and open to the elements Song birds like the thrush and blackbird decided that singing lessons were more important than nest building and so they managed to built only the bottom half of a nest while the cuckoo who regularly played truant never built a nest at all It laid its eggs in someone else s nest and let its young be reared by others The robin thought it knew more than the teacher and used other things in which to build

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000004.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 02/19/2003: "Wood Anemones"
    the phrase blessed art thou amongst women which some children interpreted as blessed art thou a monk swimming Later there was the wonderful one in which Sir Anthony Eden was brought down by the Sewage Crisis I am sure there were and still are lots more similar joys But back to the wood anemone This is one of the most delightful plants of the new spring and it seems to favour deciduous woodlands where it flourishes among the fallen leaves of the past autumn It is a relation of the buttercup but produces tall flowers with white petals which can vary between five and nine in number It can grow up to a foot in height but is usually six or seven inches 15 18cm although it can rise to only a couple of inches or so Half way up the stem there is a ring of three leaves each with three toothed leaflets The single flower rises from the centre of those leaves and the entire plant has a somewhat delicate appearance In spite of its rather fragile appearance however it is a tough plant which is well able to withstand the rigours of late winter or early spring but if you pick one of these flowers it will wilt and die very quickly The wood anemone loves sunshine and on a fine day the flowers will open on firm stems where they will cheerfully nod in the breeze to present a very attractive sight But the moment night falls or the day becomes dull the flowers will close and their heads will droop in what can only be described as a very graceful manner This will reveal a slight pink tinge to the undersides of the petals Not surprisingly the Greek writer Pliny called them windflowers but he

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000003.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Archived Weblog Entry - 01/17/2003: "Candlemas"
    at this time of year just in case the weather took a real turn for the worse in mid or late February From the weather aspect an old verse is very well known If Candlemas be fair and bright Winter will have another flight If Candlemas be full of rain Winter will not come again But if we look in our gardens parks or woodland we might see an early

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/author/archives/00000002.html (2016-02-17)
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  • Claude Jeremiah Greengrass, played by Bill Maynard
    Greengrass trademarks The facial twitch another trademark was something I got from the actual person on whom I based the characterisation of Greengrass You could always tell when this bloke was lying because he twitched And I use the twitch when Greengrass is telling lies or in a compromising situation The twitch has become such an integral part of the character that the public believe it is something I do all the time There are a number of things that I share with Greengrass most notably his joy in putting one over on authority in a humorous way Nobody has found the answer to the question why is Blaketon so intent on nicking Greengrass We think he might have stolen Blaketon s bird when younger or given him a thumping at school With Blaketon it s an obsession It makes him do absolutely stupid things Getting to know Bill Maynard a bit better is useful in understanding his approach to the role His autobiography shows a man with a rather colourful life and a habit of going against the grain at times The role of Greengrass has grown more important from series to series and Maynard gives an explanation for this success I have been asked many times how you keep a television character going for months or in Greengrass s case for years and still keep him interesting The best analogy I know is to compare it with a marriage you must keep changing yourself slowly but surely or your partner will first get bored and then irritated At first she likes the way you stroke your nose a little gesture I was to use in my early TV days when you are thinking hard By the time the honeymoon is over she is likely to rear up and

    Original URL path: http://www.nicholasrhea.co.uk/heartbeat/greengrass1.html (2016-02-17)
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web-archive-uk.com, 2016-10-25