Filed under conservation

Fresh Fish in Elizabeth’s London

This is an oddity on food from Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599. This suggests ways of supplying fresh fish when the fleet were unable to sail, especially in bad weather.  At the fishmarket, in a long street, I saw a quantity of pike up for sale; they are very fond of this, and call … Continue reading



These are my favourite birds – maybe along with starlings, but they always seem to be alone, which is why this group of 6 seem so startling – all lined up on their concrete – what are they? podiums? Like dudes in tuxedoes, they don’t care who’s watching them posing. I love the different poses … Continue reading

‘The Good Life’ or Malnutrition?

Saturday’s i had an article featuring Monty Don, tv gardening presenter, who criticised the popular 1970s sitcom The Good Life, based on a suburban couple played by Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers who trie d to be self sufficient. Don claims: “No one seriously waned to know how to separate curds from whey  or render … Continue reading

World’s Oldest Treehouse

World’s Oldest Treehouse

Kids like having a special place to play away from the prying eyes of adults. When I was a kid we went underground, or under the house. It was too low for adults, and we got pretty dirty crawling around, but that’s what made it special. My brother, the future techie, hooked up tin cans … Continue reading

Hunt Saboteur Does U-Turn

I have always struggled with the practice of fox hunting; as a vegetarian I respect all animals, but as a historian I value the survival of country traditions, and as a realist I respect the need for farmers to protect their animals from predators. That said, it is odd that fox hunting is only in … Continue reading

Strawberry Hill House

Strawberry Hill House

This country house at Twickenham is often mentioned in literature of 18th century England, but I thought it had been lost long ago. Incredibly, it has been rescued and is now open to the public. This gem was built by Horace Walpole, youngest son of Britain’s first Prime Minister. It was the first modern gothic … Continue reading

Offa’s Dyke

This is a wall – or monument, barrier, that is generally believed to have been built by the Mercian king Offa to separate Wales from England, and that, like Hadrian’s Wall, to have run from sea to sea. But the story is far less clear or straightforward. This is from an article by Chris Catling … Continue reading

Koko the Gorilla

Last week I watched a documentary on Koko and her 45 year relationship with Dr Penny Patterson formerly of Stamford University. When Dr Patterson was working on her thesis, she planned to train a higher ape to learn sign language, after earlier work had shown that apes did not have the physical characteristics to learn … Continue reading

The Cost of Extinction

The poaching of endangered species is driven by the high profits to be made from them, and a recent article in the i gives  list of the value of many wild animals when dead, and the white rhino is top of the list, followed by tigers. These animals are in a “double jeopardy of extinction” … Continue reading

Gorillas and Children

Here’s a great story from yesterday’s i paper: In his book The Best of Friends, John Aspinall tells of an incident at Basle zoo related to him by the director Dr Ernst Lang. ‘One evening, after the zoo was closed, a young girl employed to clean the service e corridor tested the door to Stefi’s … Continue reading