Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Candy Baa

I am not sure which is the more colourful, Shaun the Sheep as Candy Baa, the little girl dresses for sale in the background or the floral handbags to the right.
But Shaun in his guise as Candy Baa does look good enough to eat as painted by Emily Golden (see Painting Candy Baa here).  This was temporarily on display at Covent Garden before a gathering of 300 different Shauns arrived in the Piazza and they were all sold off for charity.
The west Piazza is also where street performers come to put on a show and here the crowd is enjoying the sunshine and those on the balcony of the Punch and Judy pub, the beer.  It is thought that the Punch and Judy pub takes its name from the puppeteers who put on performances here and indeed Samuel Pepys makes mention in his diary of 1662 of "Italian puppet plays".  For this reason Mr Punch's birthday is celebrated on the 9th May (the date of Pepys entry)
The annual gathering of Punch and Judy Professors (as the puppeteers are known) takes place by Covent Garden's St Paul's Church at the same time as the 'May Fayre and Puppet Festival'.  The pub sign (where you can spot another 'C') shows when the pub arrived here, 1787, which would have been when Covent Garden was famous for its flower sellers and
although the wholesale of flowers moved location in the 1960s to the New Covent Garden a few miles away, the statue to Flora the Goddess of flowers and Spring still reigns supreme on the roof top
The statue is by Robert Sievier (1794-1865) and is made of Coade stone, an artificial but hard wearing stone resistant to both frost and heat created in 1769. There are many statues made of the material around London which Eleanor Coade called  Lithodipyra (Greek for 'stone fired twice')  and promoted heavily for its ability to be able to be moulded into complex shapes. Eleanor died in 1821 when the factory passed to other family members but ceased to trade in 1840. It was said the 'secret formula' had been lost at this time (although people knew that one of the main ingredients was Cornish white china clay) but this is not true and Wikipedia lists the ingredients here but marvels at the skill needed to manufacture it which is probably why the Coade factory was the only one to produce it.

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at C here

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Beetham Hall Farm

This is a place I would love to have a wander around inside and out, Beetham Hall.  Its span of history means that it has evolved, crumbled and expanded through the centuries.  Today it is a private dwelling and farm owned by the Wilsons of Dallam Tower.  The buildings to the right have not been lived in since the 17th Century but its origins are a 14th Century hall-and-cross-wing house.  There may originally also have been more storeys carried up into towers. This is the view from the footpath that runs behind the buildings however
Photo from: Old Cumbria Gazetteer
 for those coming in to the south Lake District Peninsula the view from the A6 road is the most familiar and it also gives a better view of the Barmkin Wall, which is a defensive enclosure around Pele Towers.  Not to be confused with Barm Cake, a large soft bread bun found in Lancashire or the slang term 'you barmpot' when someone has done something idiotic.  No-one knows the origin of any of those words, like the building they have just evolved, but Barm itself is a fermenting yeast.
Here you can just make out the arrow-slits for any marauders coming into the area and the sturdy chimneys on the house for those cold winters of the past.
Here is the full patchwork of buildings with the farm buildings on the left.  There are blocked doorways, doorways that used to be windows and dates inscribed of 1693 and 1799 and so much going on that the description in  Pevsner Architectural Guide to the county calls it a "complicated site" 
Photographs taken it was time to resume our walk and we left behind the limestone farm and stronghold and headed for the woods.  Matthew Emmott of 'Castles, Towers and Fortified Buildings of Cumbria' took a more detailed close up photographic trip around the site here

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at B here


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Analemmatic Sundial

No watch or mobile phone and wondering if the Lady Lever Art Gallery pictured in the distance will be open yet?  No problem. At ones feet is an Analemmatic Sundial.  Stand on the appropriate month on the marked
  indentation and a shadow will be cast across an hour pillar.  The inner circle is British Summer Time and the outer circle is winter's Greenwich Mean Time.  This analemmatic sundial was installed for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 at Port Sunlight on the Wirral and was, I thought, the first I had seen, although that was not true, it was just that I didn't know they had a name.  Here is my assistant demonstrating the one near the Houses of Parliament in London 
 where his shadow tells us it is 11 O'clock (my camera's date stamp may be a little more precise at 11:30).  

An explanation of the word Anelemmatic without any bamboozling mathematics:
 "The more common sort of sundial has an angled post (usually called the gnomon, or sometimes the style) which casts a shadow on a circular dial. Its analemmatic cousin, on the other hand, has a vertical gnomon, which casts a shadow on an elliptical scale. For it to tell the time with adequate accuracy (you may recall Hilaire Belloc’s verse complaint: “I am a sundial, and I make a botch, of what is done much better by a watch”), the gnomon must first be moved to the correct position along a north-south axis according to the season. Though a small sundial of this type is rather fiddly to make and use, large ones laid out on a flat area permit a person to act as the gnomon (my local one is of this sort). Earnest enquirers after chronological intelligence then need only position themselves at the appropriate spot along the axis for the time of year and — weather permitting — they can then read off the time by noting where their shadow falls on the scale".  Source: World Wide Words
 An entry to ABC Wednesday, starting another journey through the alphabet here

Tuesday, 5 January 2016


I knew when I took this photo back in 2014 that it might come in handy when I had few ideas for the last letter of the alphabet so it is now making its appearance - a  T11 Zaunkönig 2 Torpedo, one of only 38 built towards the end of World War 2.  It forms part of the 'U Boat Story' in Birkenhead.  Zaunkönig means wren in German (literately 'king of the fence') but our example is a acoustic torpedo with an electronic guidance system designed to track ships by the sound of their propellers.  The Allied code for the torpedo was another small creature, GNAT (German Navy Acoustic Torpedo) and they deployed a decoy (the Foxer) which contrasted to the sophistication of the torpedo by being two metal pipes which banged together when towed to create a noise.   The Zaunkönig was 23' 7" long (7.186m) with a speed of 24 knots and a range of 6230 yards (5700m) was designed to be able to differentiate between the Foxer and propeller noise. 
The torpedo was one carried by the U534, the damage on the side done by depth chargers dropped by RAF aircraft when it sunk in the Kattegat between Sweden and Denmark (most of the crew survived) at the end of World War 2.  There were rumours it was carrying gold but when it was raised in 1993 it was discovered to be just a myth. One only four surviving U Boats (two in Germany and one in Chicago) it was almost sold for scrap but the Warship Preservation Trust brought it to Birkenhead.  In 2008 it was cut into five pieces

and moved to the Woodside Ferry Terminal and became part of the U Boat Story museum
where one can peer back through time into its claustrophobic interior.  The rusted interior contrasts with the painted exterior
Here is the part of the U Boat the German Navy call the wintergarten (the winter garden) our word of the bridge or conning tower is quite boring by comparison 

An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet coming to its end here