Posted in June 2014

Entombed Machinery

When tunnels for the latest London tube tunnels have been built, the giant diggers are left there as it is too expensive to retrieve them, and they are often custom made anyway. I just discovered one of the stranger effects of London’s housing boom is that many large mansions are getting basements dug, leaving the … Continue reading


Smuggling X-Rays

There were lots of strange stories in the Cold War, but this one, about how banned pop music was smuggled through the Iron Curtin on old X-Rays is one of the oddest. They were chosen in part because they could be rolled up or hidden in other things, and were incredibly light. Shows how hungry … Continue reading

An Unmissable Course

This is from an old country house near Cardiff that has been used for many things since it was last in private ownership. In this timeline shows that in 1948 it was used for a parrot sexing course. I am assured that this really happened. I love the combination of the youth orchestra that followed. … Continue reading

Spooky Tree

This is in a park on central Cardiff. I think it might be waiting for the park to close so it can misbehave.

The Bells Speak

One of the things I love about medieaval history is the sense that people saw inanimate objects as being alive. A carton shows a man talking to a bog, asking mr bogman to give him back his shoe. Bells often had messages often warnings or blessings, as if the ringing of them could spread the … Continue reading

In a Far Away Field

Over the years I have gathered a huge collection of pamphlets and information on places I have visited; this is an article on Clevedon Church, to the south of Bristol on the coast. Once a tiny fishing village, it became a Victorian resort and is now commuter belt. The graveyard is large, with the oldest … Continue reading

No Ordinary Loss

The first newspapers were little more than lists of overseas events, but decline of wealthy patronage led publishers to seek alternative funding, so began to carry ads. The first of these were for books, as publishers were generally also booksellers, and sometimes perfumes and medicines for the same reason. By the 18th century, much of … Continue reading

Tulipmania Misreported

The 17th century speculation in tulips in the Netherlands and the spectacular collapse of prices is generally presented as a time of madness that resulted in many people becoming bankrupt, but this is to misunderstand how the economy worked. The people who grew the bulbs were a small group who knew each other, and investors … Continue reading


This is a highly commended book by poets Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts, subtitled Journeys into England’s True Wilderness, about the regions that divide towns and cities from the countryside They make an interesting point in terms of these regions being a sort of pressure release for teenagers, where parks, school playgrounds and gardens … Continue reading