Europeenses

Nevsky Prospekt: Part 2 – Obelisk to the Hero City Leningrad

Граждане! При артобстреле эта сторона улицы наиболее опасна Citizens! During shelling this side of the street is the most dangerous (Inscription stencilled on walls along Nevsky Prospekt during the Siege … Continue reading

May 28, 2019 · Leave a comment

Nevsky Prospekt: Part 1 – The Alexander Nevsky Monastery

There is nothing better than Nevsky Prospekt, at least not in Petersbug; for there it is everything. What does this street – the beauty of our capital – not shine … Continue reading

May 27, 2019 · Leave a comment

Kotletki

Russia, as Churchill opined, may be, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”, but if you’ve not had these the only mystery you’ll be left with after tasting … Continue reading

May 19, 2019 · Leave a comment

Bergh’s, ‘Nordic Summer’s Evening’, 1899-1900

It all must be so beautiful in old Sweden now – Midsummer time – one almost chokes up thinking about the long, light nights; the still clear bays where birch … Continue reading

May 19, 2019 · Leave a comment

Kalops

Sweden, the land of Ikea and the ubiquitous Swedish meatball. Those bite sized balls of meaty goodness formed from beef, pork, onion, bread crumbs, egg, water, salt, and pepper, and served … Continue reading

April 4, 2018 · Leave a comment

Norwegian Fjords: A Select History

The defining feature of Norway’s coastline are the many fjords that cut into the interior of the country providing waterborne access inland. Fjords are so characteristic of Norway that two, … Continue reading

March 23, 2018 · Leave a comment

Svartedauden: The Black Death in Norway

In the Summer of 1349, Magnus Eriksson, King of Norway and Sweden, wrote to his subjects appealing to them to offer prayers, to fast, and to pay a penny to … Continue reading

March 10, 2018 · 1 Comment

Rosemåling

Rosemåling, with its distinctive stylized depictions of flowers, scroll forms, lining, and geometric elements, is Norway’s best known decorative folk art form. Its origins lie in eastern Norway during the … Continue reading

March 3, 2018 · 1 Comment

Fårikål

Depending on the source consulted, sheep were first domesticated 8,000, 9,000, 10,000, or 11,000 years ago in either the ancient Levant, Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent, or Southwest Asia. Testament perhaps to the … Continue reading

April 5, 2016 · Leave a comment

Góða Ólavsøka

“On the one side of Kalf Arnason stood his two relations, Olaf and Kalf, with many other brave and stout men. Kalf was a son of Arnfin Arnmodson, and a … Continue reading

February 28, 2016 · Leave a comment

Skerpikjøt – Faroese Wind Cured Mutton

Preserving food has always been an issue for mankind and one of the earliest methods that is still in use today is air drying; the gradual dehydration of cuts of … Continue reading

November 21, 2015 · 3 Comments

Beer, Bans, and Brennivin: Prohibition in Iceland

Late at night on May 10, 1988, and a dozen joyful Icelanders flash victory signs outside the Alþingi as the upper house votes to bring an end to a year long … Continue reading

October 14, 2015 · Leave a comment

Móðuharðinðin – “The Hardship of the Fog”: The Human and Environmental Disaster of the Laki Eruption, 1783-4

On 8 June 1873 the Laki mountain in the Grímsvötn volcanic system of southern Iceland was ripped apart by a volcanic eruption that opened a massive fissure and scores of craters. Over a … Continue reading

May 14, 2015 · Leave a comment

The First Cod War

London, 1883, and the respected biologist Thomas Huxley rose to address the assembled delegates at the International Fisheries Exhibition government. Since 1858 Huxley had been closely involved with the British … Continue reading

May 6, 2015 · Leave a comment

‘Iceland’s Pompeii’: Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng

In 1104 Iceland’s most famous volcano Hekla erupted, covering the local area with tephra and destroying an entire district of farm complexes in the Þjórsárdalur valley. Among them was the farmhouse named … Continue reading

April 12, 2015 · Leave a comment

Kútmagar – Icelandic stuffed cod’s stomach

This is apparently an old Icelandic dish that uses cod offal to make a savoury pudding a la saumagen, haggis, or any other of the world’s variations on a stuffed stomach lining. … Continue reading

March 31, 2015 · 1 Comment

Scotland invented the bicycle (?)

Back in 2005 the British Broadcasting Corporation invited the listeners of its You and Yours programme to vote for their favourite invention. The winner by a country mile was the … Continue reading

March 21, 2015 · 1 Comment

The Soldier’s Wife by Jean Guthrie-Smith (1895-1949)

Jean Guthrie-Smith was 22 years old when she married the love of her life, Laurence Neal, on 1 May 1918. Her husband was wounded twice in the war, surviving a … Continue reading

March 14, 2015 · Leave a comment

‘The Apprehension of Sundrye Witches’ : The Prosecution of Witchcraft in Scotland, 1590-1727

Sixteenth and Seventeenth century Scotland, along with the rest of the British Isles and Continental Europe, saw a previously unparalleled increase in the number of people brought to trial and … Continue reading

March 3, 2015 · Leave a comment

The Antonine Wall

The Vallum Antonini or Antonine Wall runs for 39 miles west to east from Old Kilpatrick on the Firth of Clyde to Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth. Built between 142 … Continue reading

February 20, 2015 · Leave a comment

Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties

January 25 is Burns Night, a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759-1796). The celebration is marked by a Burns Supper, an evening … Continue reading

January 25, 2015 · 1 Comment

The Belfast Outdoor Relief Strike of 1932

Yes! We have no bananas, We have no bananas today. We’ve string beans, and onions, Cabbages and scallions And all kind of fruit, and say, We have an old fashioned … Continue reading

January 21, 2015 · Leave a comment

Sí an Bhrú: Newgrange, marvel of Neolithic engineering

A few minutes after sunrise during the Winter Solstice sunlight illuminates the 63 foot long passage and chamber of the Neolithic passage tomb at Newgrange, County Meath, in Ireland. The … Continue reading

November 29, 2014 · 2 Comments

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God, by Tom Kettle (1880-1916)

In 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Over 200,000 Irishmen fought in theatres across the … Continue reading

November 11, 2014 · 3 Comments

Two Irish ‘Ghosts’

The supernatural has always held a fascination for mankind. Unexplained phenomena, often combined with gullibility and superstition have given rise to stories of ghosts, spooks, and spectres, many of which when … Continue reading

November 3, 2014 · Leave a comment

Colcannon

“Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream? With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream. Did you ever make a hole on top … Continue reading

October 27, 2014 · Leave a comment

Muir Éireann (Irish Sea)

The Muir Éireann or Irish Sea is the arm of the North Atlantic that separates Ireland from Great Britain. It’s northern limit is marked by the North Channel. St George’s … Continue reading

October 22, 2014 · Leave a comment

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael, Welsh Cycling Champion: Part 5 – Middling Jockey, Divorce, and Early Death

While 1898 was to see Jimmy continue to train as a jockey his ambition to race in silks was not to be fully realised for another year. There was still … Continue reading

October 18, 2014 · Leave a comment

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael, Welsh Cycling Champion: Part 4 – Trouble with Officialdom and the Hour at Last

By early February 1897 Jimmy had settled his affairs with the National Cycling Union (NCU) and with ‘Choppy’[1], returning to the States on the 13th via Paris where he visited … Continue reading

October 15, 2014 · 5 Comments

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael, Welsh Cycling Champion: Part 3 – American Dreams and the Race that Never Was

Jimmy’s reinstatement and return to racing did not see the end of his tribulations in 1896. In late July he failed to turn up at a meet organised by Leeds … Continue reading

October 12, 2014 · 4 Comments

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael, Welsh Cycling Champion: Part 2 – Successes and Scandals, January-July 1896

Sunday 15 December, 1895, had seen Jimmy suffer a rare defeat when he fell during the fourth lap of a 100 kilometre race at the Velodrome d’Hiver.[1] The winner, Willie … Continue reading

October 11, 2014 · Leave a comment

James ‘Jimmy’ Michael, Welsh Cycling Champion: Part 1 – Delivery Boy to World Champion, 1877-1895

Herne Hill, Saturday 30 June, 1894. Twenty-two competitors line up in the Summer heat for the Surrey Bicycle Club 100 Mile Invitation Race. Among them is a seventeen year old … Continue reading

October 9, 2014 · 2 Comments

The First Humans in Wales? Neanderthals at Pontnewydd Cave

Pontnewydd Cave in Denbighshire is the site of the oldest known human habitation in Wales and the most north-westerly hominin site of its period in Eurasia, dating back to 230,000 … Continue reading

October 8, 2014 · Leave a comment

Bikes, Dancing, Picnics and Races: Rhyl Cycling Club, 1879-1906

Picture the scene: North Wales, the seaside town of Rhyl on a sunny Whitsuntide Monday in 1885. Outside the Royal Hotel a group of cyclists from clubs in Rhyl, Oxford, … Continue reading

September 26, 2014 · 9 Comments

Miners, by Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Wilfred Owen is rightly regarded as the leading poet of the First World War. Dulce et Decorum Est and Anthem for Doomed Youth have never been bettered as war poetry in … Continue reading

September 24, 2014 · 1 Comment

The Miners’ Strike in South Wales, 1984-85

“The policies of this government are clear – to destroy the coal industry and the NUM.” Arthur Scargill, President, National Union of Mineworkers “History will record that the British miner … Continue reading

September 21, 2014 · Leave a comment

Donetsk, isn’t it Boyo!

I wonder how many Russian nationalists know of the Welsh heritage of the industrial city of Donetsk, birthplace of pole-vault legend Sergey Bubka, shoe banging Nikita Krushchev, and Yevgeny Khaldei, the photographer … Continue reading

September 20, 2014 · 1 Comment

Welsh Cawl

As Autumn begins in the Northern hemisphere thoughts turn to hearty winter fare. Warming soups, rib-sticking stodge, and satisfying stews. What better than a Welsh Cawl to warm your cockles … Continue reading

September 15, 2014 · Leave a comment

The Cucking Stool at Wootton Bassett

While browsing through the contents of archive.org I came across a copy of The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, Volume I, 1854, and my eye was drawn to a chapter … Continue reading

April 23, 2014 · Leave a comment

Anglo-Saxon Easter

Easter, as for all Christians, was the most important ceremony in the Anglo-Saxon liturgical year. For monastic communities abstinence and penitential repentance began on Septuagesima, the ninth Sunday before Easter … Continue reading

April 19, 2014 · Leave a comment