Thursday, 26 November 2015

West Country tour - Laybye stopover 1 ... Granite Ice-cream anyone? ...

Laybye needed … a time to relax – how about ice-cream? … after all that history, granite outcrops, delicious food … I thought for Thanksgiving we might take a wee break and make some ice-cream – Neapolitan flavoured: strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ...

A block of Neapolitan Ice-cream

… taking me back to one of my early childhood treats … and then I remembered something I’d read a few years ago, which would tie nicely in with granite ice-cream.

Geology brought out the comparison of granites being like ice-cream … while in 1963 a young Tanzanian boy, Erasto Mpemba, had noticed that if he put hot ice-cream mix into the freezer, it froze more quickly than the cooled ice-cream mix of his fellow-class mates.

Tanzania shown within Africa

They and his teacher laughed … much as I expect you’re doing now – thinking what on earth is she on about – Granite Ice Cream and the Mpemba Effect

Erasto Mpemba’s ice-cream story fascinated me … he was a young lad in Tanzania who, in 1963, wondered why his hot ice-cream mix froze more quickly than the cooled ice-cream mix of his fellow classmates.

When a Physics lecturer, Denis Osborne, was visiting, Mpemba did the experiment again … and asked the Professor – why?

The phenomenon had been observed by some of the world’s finest minds, and has been used in everyday life for centuries …

In the 4th century BC – by Aristotle …

Roger Bacon in the 13th century …

Rene Descartes also tried to solve the problem in 1637 …

Erasto Mpemba and Denis Osborne (2013)

Erasto Mpemba and Denis Osborne, in 1969, catapulted the question once again back into the public eye …

The ingredients of granites can be
'likened' to flavourings ... 

Surprisingly an analogy can be made about ice-cream and granite … they both start out as liquids which when cooled become solid, and both will melt again if the temperature gets hot enough …

Ice-cream freezes at temperatures below 0 deg C (32 deg F), while granite freezes at temperatures, somewhat colder, ~650 deg C (1200 deg F).

Just to ensure you I’m not speaking through my hat … or that I didn’t lose my marbles when in Dartmoor … the links are below.

(not one of mine!)

Happy Thanksgiving to you all … this is the first of the laybye posts, and I’ll be doing some diversions – while I post about the Emily Hobhouse trail with Jenny around the West Country that we have undertaken …

Have a wonderful family time to all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving … the tradition seems to be spreading, as some families embrace this idea with their friends and family, much as those of you do in the States …

The History of The Mpemba Effect” – his story, and there are other links available …

 A Way Cold Analogy” – Texas University notes on Granite Ice-creams

Here’s another article “An Ice-Cream of a Different Flavour” from a geo-cache …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 23 November 2015

West Country – Food, Glorious Food at The Old Inn … and Dogs … part 3 ...

Thanksgiving is almost upon you … and I was very thankful for this delicious stop over … 

The welcoming sight of The Old Inn

... if you’re ever tempted to visit Dartmoor … this is one place you should visit …

This picture (not the dog) may be the one that visited

… historically very interesting, after your delicious dinner your health will improve with long walks on the Moors, or hikes up the Tors … dog loving trips ... 

A Beloved

...the stone below could well refer to John Hore, Church Warden for Sir Hugh Chagford, who owned the nearby manor of the same name, in the reign Henry III (1216 – 1272).

This was done by John Hore,
Churchwardon ... March
(obviously the rest of the story has
been lost over time)

Jenny and I tried to visit the Church dating from the 1400s … but it shuts at dusk and was duly closed up for the night … so we had a brief wander before going back to prepare for drinks at 7.00pm.  My previous post shows some details re the Church.

You will be satisfied with the company of the owners and their Golden Retrievers, Tyne and Teign, and the subsequent array of delicious dishes forming dinner … 

Brent Tor

... they greeted us again … one with a donation of firewood for the wood burner … the other ‘collopsed’ on the warmed flagstone floor.

Just ready for us to have a drink ... 
There are art works around the Inn … of Dartmoor, animals, Chagford Pony Sales, and Golden Retrievers, who have left us … one painting had even been to Vancouver and back … Jenny, who lives on Vancouver Island, was amused to hear.

The small restaurant was full, but we had booked in for the night … so didn’t have far to go.

Our aperitivo

We were settled in front of the wood burner, dogs nearby … glass of Verdicchio to hand – to find an aperitivo presented to us … Herb Risotto on a slice of local hog’s pudding (Devon sausage) with tomato topping …

Our starters came with three breads  (looks like I had a blank here and forgot to post the photos!! - they were delicious too ... I'll give them light of day soon!)… one I remember was onion flavoured – I’m not good with breads, as I rarely eat them – but these looked so good … still I resisted.

We both had meat ... Jenny had the local Grilled Loin of Venison with Black Pudding and assorted vegetables ….

While I had Roasted Calves Sweetbreads (not something I’d do for myself – and a dish I hadn’t eaten in decades, which took me back to my roots of cooking) with oxtail, smoked bacon and port - so it was a real treat … 

Desserts were just as good … a Puff Pastry Cream and Strawberry Balsamic with basil ice-cream ...

... while I had Vanilla Crème Brulee with a tuile, or round pane of lightly burnt-sugar topping it off, with a basil sorbet on some sugared apple slithers …

We thought that was it … we had enjoyed more Verdicchio … Jenny was looking forward to her coffee – then the Petit Fours arrived, I let Jenny have them both … they did look very delicious, but I had had an elegant sufficiency.

Now to bed for a good night’s sleep and happy remembrances of our busy first night away ...

The sheep from my bedroom

...we seem to have found out lots of interesting things … and were very well satisfied with our restaurant style Old Inn.

… but I had cheekily asked to snap a couple of other diner’s main dishes … these, a saffron lasagne and grilled fillet of sea bass, which I will post later on …

Chagford Pony Sales late 1800s

We were contented souls … one blogger was rife with ideas!  This post as you will have gathered is dotted with lots of pictures …

A review of The Old Inn – by TheGuardian food critic, Jay Rayner … it’s rather good … you can drool some more!

Tors on Dartmoor
You may wonder why Tyne and Teign are the names for the dogs … Duncan Walker, the chef and owner, comes from the north-east of England, while he spent time in Chagford on the Teign … both are rivers … before joining up with Anthea at The Old Inn.

The Old Inn, Drewsteignton website, where you will find plenty of other information ... 

PS - we had our first snow flurry on Saturday morning, while yesterday morning our first frost ... we are due for some warmer weather again by tomorrow ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 20 November 2015

West Country – Drewsteignton, coach roads … part 2

Our first night was in this village at the very good restaurant with rooms – The Old Inn – highly recommended by us.
Looking into the village square from The Old Inn

The pictures and photos I took of artwork in The Old Inn, and other interiors … I’ll show in the next foodie – drool post!

Looking from the Church towards The Old Inn (side view)
beyond the red cars

Drewsteignton was on the Old Coach Road west from Exeter into Cornwall, via Okehampton.  

Spinsters' Rock

There’s a lot of history here with settlement going back to the Neolithic period: Spinsters’ Rock is a chambered tomb from that period, dating about 3,000BC … I’ve some more dolmen and stone circles to show you later on.  I’m just glad to escape the spinsters …

Granite Altar in side Chapel
in Church

The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), and by the medieval period was relatively prosperous … as a wool producing area, the quarrying of limestone and the mining of tin at a small local mine.

Spectacular granite pillars - each pillar is one piece of
granite and carved as such 

The east-west coach road, crossed another north-south one … an essential cross route in those days of horse and carriage travel … which gave further prosperity to the village shown through the high quality of some of the buildings – The Old Inn, the Church (1400s origin), the Drewe Arms (pub) and the now closed school.

Carved Pew End

Coaching inns provided a vital link to inland transportation from early medieval times until the arrival of the steam engine, replacing the tired teams of horses and extending hospitality to those travelling the road.

The pub's sign

While coaching inns were normally spaced seven miles apart, distances could vary, particularly in more inhospitable or remote areas such as Dartmoor.

Henry VIII started the network of Posting Inns in 1516, when he arranged for mail to be delivered from London to wherever he happened to be at the time. 

The Post Inn a few
miles west of the village
A ‘line of posts’ was set up where the King’s courier could get fresh horses – the coach road – Turnpike as it became - formed part of the London to Penzance route.  Henry didn't make it to Penzance, but his daughter Elizabeth I knew about the town in Armada times.

Anyone who read my “X” post during the A-Z this year might remember that the Romans traded with the Cornish for their tin … the Guide/Gate post at Trethevy in Cornwall near Boscastle and Tintagel indicating this wealth in trade … ancient routes linking the main trading stations.

Medieval Carved Window in cob walls
So we had started our journey encountering really early times … but also moving into medieval eras of lime rendered cob walls … the buildings of which can last 1,000 years … which would indicate that some had been occupied by Celts, prior to the Anglo-Saxons arriving.

My sister-in-law gave my mother one of these Olive Wood
Crosses, which she enjoyed holding ... 

Historically over time these changes can be seen – 5,000+ years of history … much recorded in writing, or can still be found in the surrounding landscape.

Dusk came quite early … but after a brief walk to Holy Trinity Church we were ready for a drink, by the fire … and some sustaining fare – it was stunning too!

Drewsteignton Clock in Church
tower - lightened up .. it was nearly

The church clock duly told us it was time to move along … and I gather from a local magazine in 1890 that “Discussions were being held over the erection of a clock in the Church tower.  £5.10s.6d. was raised towards its cost and George Aggett was asked to measure up” …

Yew tree in churchyard - large girth

The Sun had gone well over the Yardarm … at which time we were permitted to have a drink!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

West Country ‘historical’ tour …part 1

Jenny’s trip round Devon, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset … where I chauffeured, and happily joined in, as my mother’s cousin and I traversed parts of the West Country …

This is an incredibly professional map?!  Each splodge marks a town we stayed in!
We started west of Exeter, at Drewsteignton village, south to Torquay-Paignton,
on via Dartmouth to Salcombe, Liskeard and the artist lady, next to Bude, then
Ilfracombe, then Minehead and finally into the Somerset countryside, near
Taunton and Wellington.  (The "H" marks Hartland Point - incredible geology).

 … these are some of my favourite things was how I started last year’s posting, when I drove Jenny ‘around’ and up to Derbyshire before coming back via Malvern andOxford …

… this journey’s postings will be shorter but there will be lots of them – as I’ve plenty to tell you about … this time we started at the same point west of Windsor Castle and London … then drove to the Old Coach Road west of Exeter and further into Devon and Dartmoor.

The Old Inn 19th century

Jenny’s objective, who lives on Vancouver Island, was to see parts of the UK she hadn’t seen, to visit places where her father’s family had lived over the centuries … and to check on things re Emily Hobhouse – her father’s aunt – as Jenny has Emily’s papers and has written three books on Emily from different perspectives.

A typical footpath and bridleway sign
To meet and greet some relatives and a new friend, who is writing a novel sort of based around Emily, South Africa, Italy and Cornwall – the artist lady concerned lives outside Liskeard, where there are panels in the Museum dedicated to Emily.

Jenny had given me a list of places she wanted to visit … and so I booked the hotels – all 8 being one night stands … I’ve no idea how Jenny does it – I have some of the genes, I know … but I do wonder sometimes!!  

Cottages in Drewsteignton
Six nights in hotels, all very different, and two nights with the artist lady and her husband (wonderful) and the last night for us both with another near cousin of Jenny and my mother's vintage ... also a pleasure to meet and see the family.

I book-ended the trip with a night in Chichester and another in Wellington, where we were already, after I dropped Jenny off at the train for London: visiting English South African friends ... i.e. I met them out there ... and now I see them here.

Mobility rage - not that I think my
relatives would engage!  Just a fun photo

I will start at the beginning … I arrived on time this year! … to find my two elderly relatives had taken themselves off to look at mobility scooters … husband and daughter were surprised to find me laughing… such is life – the elderly have minds of their own!

It was a chance to catch up with them … and I’d never met their daughter before – we are cousins once removed.  Then we stayed and had a lunch of soup, salads,
cheese and fruit to sustain us.

Drewsteignton village and the pub,
which we didn't visit.
We didn’t have that far to travel – about 3 hours – just beyond Exeter … so set off to reach the village in daylight.  Jenny had wanted to visit this area as the family lived there in the 15th century …

The Old Inn

I had booked into the Old Inn in the village, only to find it was really a restaurant with rooms … but too late, I later found out there was a pub we could have stayed in.

Frankly – I’m glad we stayed where we did … it was an experience: it really was an experience: next but next post gives these details ... be ready to drool!

View of Church from churchyard

So our journey starts out … we are particularly interested in areas where Jenny’s father’s family had originated from 500 to 750 years ago, to recent family homes … but also found ourselves considering Neolithic settlements of over 5,000 years old ... a Damien Hurst (born 1960) 20 m (66 feet) high sculpture ...

Come and join us for a drink ...
we very carefully skirted
well south of the Prison!

I will, I hope, take you along with me as we view parts of England I have never seen and learn some interesting historical, geological, archaeological and family stories along the way – while we sustain ourselves with local fare.

These may well take me happily towards the A-Z next year ... but I will break my journey for some other posts ... in the meantime - cheers!!

A link to Wikipedia's page on Emily Hobhouse ... there are parts of this that Jenny finds are inaccurate (as she has her papers, I believe she would know).  

But I need to write a dedicated blog post on Emily as I see her ... I have said I'd give a talk about her, early next year, at our Social History Group.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 14 November 2015

White Feathers – First World War …

From my last post “Remembering” a number of you noted or brought to our attention in the comments other aspects and I thought I’d mention one in particular and ‘tell the story’ of why White Feathers were given out …

… this post came to mind, when I realised that I couldn’t write a ‘normal’ post after last night’s events in Paris.

Some of the ‘White Feather’ information has come from a Guardian article of 11 November 2008, which can be read in full here: an evocative and important read …

… particularly in relation to the writer’s mother and the dementia her mother suffered in her last years in the 1980s – you need to read what she ultimately remembered … desperately sad.

It’s interesting how an action, such as 'white feathers' by the masses is often misguided in its approach … though at the time, of course, we/they don’t realise … it’s only years later the reasons and effects become apparent.

How often do we criticise or form an opinion about something … that we’ve no idea about, or cannot see the full picture with all its ramifications.  We don’t think about the other side of what we see, or might be the cause.

Cowards for not serving … were they?  As we know John Kipling had been medically rejected … any man rejected by the authorities had no way of showing they had tried to serve.

The Tower of London
Conscientious objectors … some were taken to the Tower of London and locked up … in 1916 … but were not cowards – they were conscientious objectors.

A White Feather has been a traditional symbol of cowardice, used and recognised within the British Army and in countries associated with the British Empire since the 18th century …

… it also carries opposite meanings, however: in some cases pacifism, and in the US, of extraordinary bravery and excellence in combat marksmanship.

... you coward - why don't you enlist
I quote from Wikipedia‘a private who was on leave, was riding a tram, when he was presented with a white feather by a girl sitting behind him.  He smacked her across the face with his pay book saying: “Certainly I’ll take your feather back to the boys at Passschendale.  I’m in civvies because people think my uniform might be lousy, but if I had it on I wouldn’t be half as lousy as you”.

Sadly humans tend to form an opinion, without perhaps taking the time to ask a little more, or understand the circumstances.

The words "The Glorious
Dead" on the Cenotaph

I was thinking about the phrase ‘The Glorious Dead’ inscribed on the Cenotaph in Whitehall … it perhaps appears ‘a strange phrase’ now – yet I guess refers back over centuries to the fact we fought for King and Country ...

... and in the eras gone by … that was the way the world was lived.   Today we live somewhat differently and think differently … we want our lives to remain as they are, but don’t expect to serve our country - unless we chose to.

The White Ensign, the Union
Flag and the Blue Ensign
In an article in History Extra I found some further information about the Cenotaph and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior …

… the monument with the words “The Glorious Dead” was kept deliberately simple … but had been checked with religious leaders throughout Britain’s empire.

Mark Connolly, professor of modern British military history, has written this article on The Cenotaph …  again an informative and educative read.

Yesterday’s cruel mayhem in Paris, where over 120 have died, and another 100 are seriously injured, is something I cannot bear to think about – as a French bystander remarked … so many are my own age – young.

 This post is intended for reflection of damage done … and to remind us all to forget our own troubles – please just remember and consider others, give thought to all things – be caring, be understanding, live in peace … life could be too short.

My thoughts to all who mourn for Paris at this time …

PS - Diana Wilder has commented and left us a note on a Photographic Exhibition, and book, that I completely missed and had not heard about ... by Chloe Drewe Matthew entitled "Shot at Dawn" ... it is definitely worth having a link here to the Guardian article.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories