Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Oars at the Ready ... Sporting the Oaks ... 1513: A Ships’ Opera and the Jubilee Horns ... and Lenny!


My brain is telling me the outer door is closed ... yet more information keeps coming at me ...

 
Sporting the Oaks - the
two doors ... the outer
one is open, showing that
occupant inside welcomes
a knock from a visitor 
Sporting the Oaks is a term I had not come across (and interestingly does not feature in Wikipedia ... no I’m not putting it in!) ... but when the Norman Gallery architecture page appeared on the Durham World Heritage site ...


... this phrase popped right out at me ... as too did seeing the oars suspended on the walls in the Norman Gallery – the River Wear has cut deeply, forming an incised meander, into the “Cathedral Sandstone” bedrock on which the Cathedral and Castle were built centuries ago ...



Norman Gallery in Durham Castle - not open on the tour ...
but the oars can be clearly seen hung above the doorways
c/o World Heritage Site
 ... as with the University Boat Race on the River Thames each year between Oxford and Cambridge ... I hadn’t realised a similar race occurs between Durham and Newcastle universities on the River Wear.


My father and uncle were oarsmen at college in Oxford and we had an oar suspended in much the same way at home ... well our room wasn’t a Norman Gallery, nor was it so big!!


Sporting One’s Oaks I feel applies to me now ...I’m betwixt and between ... loving the blogging, yet swamped with ideas to write about ... and I’ve been away again, and go off in a couple of hours to the west country ... and generally have rather a lot going on ...

 
Racing on the River Wear, Durham
Sporting One’s Oaks – a distinctive ‘old universities’ tradition, refers to the precursor of ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs.  When the outer door is ajar, like the one in the picture is, it means that the occupant is in and does not mind being disturbed; but if it is closed ... it means ‘do not disturb’.  I’m so pleased I came across the phrase.


An iphone photo from the
Guide Book of the Black Staircase
In keeping with the theme of oak and the flying staircase from my previous post – that featured very, very dark oak ... with the softer wood being painted black to match ...


... oak wood is very dense with great strength and hardness – with a very high tannin content – which darkened as it aged – hence the name ‘black staircase’ ... softer wood was used for the carving, but was painted black to match. 


Certainly dark wood in houses and buildings of older eras is something I relate to ... personally I prefer light oak, or yellowy-gold colours for my furniture ...


Buckingham Palace paper cup ...
no bone china on offer!
As I mentioned I’ve been around recently!  I went to London to see the Coronation Exhibition at Buckingham Palace last week, and we mellow yellowed looking at some Gauguins at the Courtauld Gallery ...


... then yesterday I went to London again to see a photographic exhibition in the walkway of Tower Bridge ... of 20 iconic bridges in the world.  That trip will be worth doing in the future as they are replacing the floors with glass ... so visitors can see ships passing underneath – and watch as the bascules are raised and lowered.

 
Flags billowing in the wind
above Tower Bridge
I then went to see the “Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum” exhibition at the British Museum ... fascinating and I’m so pleased I went.  I must order the book ... but if I’d bought it there – I’d be on my knees by now ... it was so heavy, lugging it back would have finished me off!


Why I went to London yesterday and not Saturday as I’d originally intended was because this week The Mayor’s Thames Festival is on ... and on Saturday the annual Great River Race took place ...

Lots of craft and people
c/o The Metro

... 22 miles of river racing that starts in Docklands and heads west to Richmond ... it is an incredible event (that I hadn’t picked up on) with 350 boats of all shapes and sizes taking part ...


.... it has become London’s other marathon – and is one of the biggest and most prestigious boating events in Europe with 24,000 competitors ...


Lots of events are occurring ... but what caught my eye was the Opera: 1513: A Ships’ Opera ... a symphonic maritime performance begins at sea ... while an armada of historic vessels from the age of sail, steam and diesel will perform a live, moving, operatic concerto of ships’ steam whistles, bells, horns, hooters, sirens and cannon as the centre piece of the 2013 Thames Festival ...

1513: A Ships' Opera - by Richard Wilson
(see details here)

... here you can access the Julibee Horns piece (and read more) ... which is a fabulous evocation of life on the water over the centuries, yet through it we can imagine the traffic of trade of the boatmen on the river highway ...


So without further ado ... I’m Sporting my Oaks ... and will get to your blogs once my race is run!


By the way – I’ve just had a lovely email from Lenny, who keeps in touch with Linda, one of the ladies up at the Nursing Centre, who I still visit ... so I copied out his email for her to read ... and when I next go up there will be a package for us too!  Good old Lenny ... he certainly knows how to inspire ... but I thought you’d be interested to know I’d heard from him ... young lads have plenty of other things to do!!

PS:  A bap is a soft bread roll ... so easier to eat - as no crusty crumbs splattering out!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

50 comments:

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I once stayed in a U.K. hotel with an inner and an outer door. Nobody explained it to me. (I was in a tour group and rooming single.) But I found it highly amusing.

Karen Walker said...

Hillary, I so love how your mind works.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Wow that looks like a fun festival. That University Boat Race looks like one we have here in the states between Yale and Harvard every year. Happy Wednesday Hilary!

Lynn said...

I wish one could just close a door still and not be disturbed. :)

Love the thought of that boat race on the Thames. I'll bet that is something to see.

I hope you have a great trip!

Teresa Coltrin said...

First of all, I'm going to stop my mowing :) and come to London with you. What a great adventure that must be.

Secondly, I love the two doors. I can see how that would mess with the brain, maybe not as much as a slanted floor, but it would.

T

Manzanita said...

Hilary
You have become a traveling lady .... trips to exhibits and fesivals. I've never heard of "sporting one's oaks."Oak doors?"
So nice of you to keep us informed of Lenny's action.

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Hilary. I enjoyed stopping by to read your blog post today. Have a wonderful day!

Jo said...

Bringing back memories again Hazel. I haven't heard the term sporting my oaks in years. My father and uncle both rowed for Westminster school in their day. I remember watching the Oxford/Cambridge boat race keenly every year. Great to hear about all the new things you have seen and are doing.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Enjoy being in London! I haven't heard that expression...I'd have been lost if I'd seen mention of it. :) It's good to hear that you've got so many ideas of things to write about...don't worry, focus will come soon, I'm sure!

Suzanne Furness said...

I am not familiar with the saying, thanks for highlighting. Sounds like you are a busy lady at the moment, enjoy your travels, Hilary :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

The Great River race must be a sight indeed. It's fun to see how people decorate their boats for these sort of things. There are always the serious racers and then those who just love taking their boat on the water all dressed up and to be part of the fun.

Glad you're doing interesting and fun things, my dear, you deserve to do so!

It wouldn't matter how my door was standing, they seem to come in anyway. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, that's a lot of boats launching into the Thames!
Sporting One's Oak - I will have to remember that.

Janie Junebug said...

The Hurricane learned to row when she went to Cambridge (Churchill College). She continued when she moved to California, but developed a wrist problem so she took up running and injured a foot. What next?

Love,
Janie

Julia Hones said...

What a nice trip, Hilary!
The shots of that river brought me back to my teenage years, when I had to read "Three mean in a boat" in high school.

loverofwords said...

How do you do all you do in just a few weeks? We are the lucky recipients of your travels.

Empty Nest Insider said...

"Sporting my Oaks" is a wonderful expression! You deserve that special time Hilary. Enjoy all of your sight seeing, and I look forward to a full report when you return. Oh and Lenny sounds like such a wonderful young man.

Julie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Dianne - interesting that you had had the experience of two doors .. but no-one had told you why - perhaps they didn't know.

@ Karen .. it's a bit of a wanderer isn't it - just so glad you enjoy those meanderings in life!

@ Keith - our University Boat Race is a very serious affair in March and has been going on for years ... and interesting to know Yale and Harvard have a similar event .. this Thames festival I didn't realise took place, but since its inception has been when my mother was ill .. so just didn't enter my cognisance ... now it has ...

@ Lynn - the Sporting the Oaks seems such a fun description .. do not disturb, some what more mundane!

I think I must make a plan re the Thames Festival next year .. sounds a great ten day festival ..

@ Teresa .. it is certainly a dash around town (as we call London) and I'm exhausted ... but we'd have much to look at and many laughs .. so would be delighted to have you around! Pop on over ....

Of course you're right - the flying staircase and two doors could easily disturb the brain - both at Durham.

@ Manzanita - yes suddenly needed to get out and do a few things before Summer completely disappeared ... and it was good to hear from Lenny ...

@ Suzanne - good to see you ..

@ Jo - interesting you'd heard of Sporting the Oaks .. and at least you know what I'm talking about ...

@ Elizabeth .. so pleased you're enjoying the reads of my eclectic travels ... and thanks re the focus aspect ... !!??

@ Suzanne ... I really want to get to Cornwall for a visit - but for now .. it doesn't seem an option .. soon sometime! Sporting the Oaks amused me too ...

@ Sia - I think the River festivities must as you say be enormous fun ... and there were lots of trophies up for grabs ... while the carnival atmosphere must be wonderful to be a part of ..

Thanks so much .. I'm getting out and about rather a lot, which is a total pleasure ..

I think I'd come in to see you whether the door was open or closed ... lots going on in your house!

@ Alex - the Festival does sounds lots of fun and entertain many ..

So pleased you like the term .. Sporting One's Oaks ...

@ Janie - I imagine rowing is a great sport to be involved in .. especially at University - I learnt to row at aged 8 or 9 .. but haven't done it since ...

I hope the Hurricane can remain uninjured?!

@ Julia - Three Men in a Boat is a great classic .. that's been revived as a tv serial, and a few other series ... seeing the rivers from a boat is always fascinating ...

@ Tasha - getting off my backside and leaving my south coast retreat - I think is the answer to your query!

Just so happy to hear you enjoy my postings of the eclectic travels!

Cheers to you all .. it's lovely being down with friends .. I'll be reporting back .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie .. thanks so much .. I shall definitely report back on lots of trips and tricks as I travel around .. Cheers to you .. Hilary

juliet said...

Sporting the oaks - it's an expression I'd never heard of, but how fascinating. Useful to be able to give a signal using the doors. Interesting to hear about the rowers in your family, and all the different things you are doing. Thanks Hilary.

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

Hi Hilary, you have a great mind of information, It's great to read about home life and the way you write brings it all to life.

Yvonne.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I never realised there was a northern boat race - they keep it quiet, don't they?

Sherry Ellis said...

That's a beautiful stair case!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Boy, you've gotten to be quite the gadabout, haven't you? I LOVE it! Life is meant to be lived, isn't it, and you're squeezing the most out of it these days. It sounds like you've had some wondrous adventures. Thanks for taking the time to share some of them with us. I love the story and meaning behind the two doors. That would be quite handy at times, wouldn't it? (I wonder if today's brazen salespeople would simply ignore it and pound on the door anyway?)

I thought of you last weekend. We went to our local British Fayre. English and Scottish accents all around us, and lots and lots of beautiful British cars. I think you would have enjoyed it. Alas, no Irish band or bagpiper playing this year, but the air was filled with the scent of fish and chips.

Cheers! (I'm posting about the Fayre tomorrow, so maybe you'll enjoy that more than the one about football.)

Mark Koopmans said...

Al'right Hilary, he said in his proper Cockney accent:)

I seriously think the Mayor of London should make you his cultural advisor or travel rep., because your blog is so chocker full of awesome to do things in London and beyond :)

PS: If there was a special election, I'd vote for you :)

PPS: Love the idea of the Great River Race, but with 24,000 contestants, I bet it's more like a leisure cruise than a "race."

PPPS: It will be fun being an hour ahead of you instead of 11 behind - at least while I'm on my trip :)

Romance Reader said...

Beautiful stair. And loved the post.

Nas

Val Poore said...

My, you are busy these days, Hilary, but thank you for always blogging about something really interesting that I haven't known before. I love the 'sporting the oaks' term and I also didn't know there was an 'other' boat race! I enjoy watching rowing as well, so I'm now intrigued to know more about it. Thank goodness we have Google!

Christine Rains said...

Thank you for taking us on your adventures again. I love the peeks we get into your travels.

Theresa Milstein said...

I think you're more than qualified to set up a Wikipedia page on this subject now!

Lenny is really amazing. Remarkable.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

Oh my, can I relate. Sporting my own oaks, here. Hope that sounded right.

You certainly do get around. Hope that sounded right, also!

I hope during all these spectacles, you per chance, got to have a chin wag with Boris Johnson. Um, maybe not.

And Lenny is one heck of an inspiration. Bless him and bless you.

Gary

Jannie Funster said...

Well, you are certainly getting your art in! Gauguins would hit the spot for me, as would watching ships pass under a glass floor. Would love the latter!

My husband's brother was a rower somewhere in Wales and his son continued it on in Eastern Canada, when went to some meets in New England.

And you are sporting around Old England, marvie!

Thinking about you a lot, of course!!

xoxoxoox

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Juliet - thanks .. it was fun finding out about the term, while remembering back to our early house with its suspended oar ..

@ pleasure Yvonne .. it’s interesting reminding us our old life ..

@ Well Annalisa - that’s what I thought .. I suppose other races occur - as in Henley .. and the teams must have come from somewhere … but I’d never thought about Newcastle v Durham either …

@ Sherry - I’ve used the photo twice now .. it just is an amazing piece of architecture ..

@ Susan - well the rubber is hitting the road, or the train is hitting the tracks .. but it’s fun - at least I’m getting out and about as you say … and I can regale you with ‘my stories’ .. Sadly those sales people wouldn’t stop at the double door .. they’d be right on in … wish they would though!

Re the fayre .. that sounds fun - we have car events here too - great fun for one and all. You wouldn’t notice my accent if I came over one year then!! Must be fun though .. as I know you both love your cars … looking forward to reading the post …

@ Mark - hope you’re having a lovely time in Amsterdam … and yes I could wave at you across La Manche (is it la and not le?!) … thankfully someone else does the ground work for my posts I just pick snippets that I think everyone will enjoy …

Boris would be a bit surprised I think to find me on his team … he’s rather clever … and my Latin and Greek are very poor or non-existent! But many thanks for the thumbs up and idea … I’m happy blogging!!

@ Nas - yes the staircase has impressed, but so it should being so old …

@ Val - well you’re truly a water-boat-woman … with your canal boat in Holland … and glad you’re interested enough to have a check out the other rowing races .. there’s Henley of course … and I’ve see them row on the sea at Eastbourne, and in the Pevensey Levels … and Gig racing in Cornwall …

@ Christine - thanks .. I enjoy opening the doors to our British world .. with its quirks ..

@ Theresa .. my excerpt was from the World Heritage Site’s notes .. wonderful descriptions of the castle and its architecture and history … but appreciate the endorsement!

Cheers ... 2nd part coming up .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gary - yes I’m getting around, but not putting around I hope! Though might need to Sport my Oaks when I get home .. and get on with some projects and blogging!

As I mentioned to Mark above .. I think Boris is out of my ken .. Latin and Greek being slightly beyond me! But he might be interesting to listen to at some stage …

Lenny is great isn’t he … I’m lucky that he wants to email and chat with me …

@ Jannie - you’d have loved the Gaugins .. there weren’t very many of them - but I’m delighted we got to the Gallery … as it was insufferably hot that day … we’d been to see some of his works at the Tate a couple of years ago … and I do want to write a post at some stage …

That’s great that Jim’s family are rowers too … and interesting to hear they kept the tradition going when they went to Eastern Canada … and managed to get down to some events in New England …

Thanks - I am rather getting about a bit … lovely to see you here ..

Cheers everyone … off on another visit today … Hilary

deborahjbarker said...

Well, I learn something new every time I come here Hilary. "Sporting the Oaks"? Not a phrase known to me!Fascinating blog as always.Enjoy your away time :-)

Julie Flanders said...

What a great phrase! I'd never heard that before but I love it. Enjoy your time away, Hilary! :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I love to sightsee as well, but find it more difficult these days. The other day, I commented to my Mom about how I could shop all day years ago, but no more. If plenty of walking is involved, there better be lots of places to sit and rest!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deborah - thanks so much - I love finding new things out .. and I'm back now!

@ Julie - it's a fun phrase isn't it .. and I had a lovely time away ..

@ Susan - long walks can have their moments I agree .. and as for shopping I was never very enthusiastic (thankfully perhaps!) ..

Cheers to you all and have lovely weekends - Hilary

Jen Forbes said...

It's as if i can take a little trip, get a bit of a history lesson a a lot of enjoyment with every visit to your blog dear lady. What enjoyment!

Chatty Crone said...

What great and awesome information that is - I hope I can absorb and remember some.
You have so much great history there.

I thought the two doors were for adjoining suites.

You sure do have more going on and you are a busy gal!.

sandie

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You lead such an interesting life, Hilary. And your love of all things British is contagious1 Hi to Lenny.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jen - thanks so much .. lovely to read your comment ...

@ Sandie - this little island is full of history, language, things to do and see, which many of us love ..

Two doors should be for adjoining suites and usually are - but I just loved this idea.

I have been doing a lot .. but it's fun!

@ Joylene - thanks so much .. I'm lucky to be living back here and can experience what Britain has to offer ..

It was good to hear from Lenny ..

Cheers to you all - Hilary

Morgan said...

Hilary, I always love your posts. It's so fun to know I'm going to learn something new whenever I venture here. :)

Milo James Fowler said...

I'll have to use that phrase as soon as possible -- thank you for expanding my vocabulary!

Clarissa Draper said...

What a cool life you lead. You research is so exhausted. Thank you.

Elise Fallson said...

I never knew that about the inner and an outer door but I like it. Another wonderful post filled with new things for me to learn. Thank you Hilary. (:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Morgan - just delighted you enjoy being here - thanks ...

@ Milo - definitely not one to forget .. perhaps we should set a trend in hotels to use the phrase!

@ Clarissa - I just make sure I enjoy life and learn at the same time ..

@ Elise - I was surprised about the phrase .. but thought typically British! Love the quirkiness of our language ...

Cheers to you all - Hilary

Amanda Trought said...

This is such a rich post Hilary, so much information to mull over, I really enjoy reading about your travels...its also lovely that you can get to visit Linda, Im sure she'll enjoy hearing from Lenny!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Amanda ...thanks so much - it's a little light relief, but with that touch of added extra - delighted you enjoyed it ,,, and yes Lenny and Linda appreciate the connection .. and they give me so much too ... cheers Hilary

Sara said...

Google erased my comment, but I'll leave it again as much I can remember.

I think bloggers can also use the idea of "sporting doors." There are times when life keeps us busy and we don't have time to post and so, we leave both doors closed.

When we return, we open one with a new post and our visitors come back.

Most importantly, it's time for you to enjoy your travels and not worry about your site. It's time to have fun and collect those historical morsels that only you find, which then delight us.

Have fun, Hilary and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

If this comment was duplicated, well just erase one:~)

Tina said...

The doors open or closed thing reminds me of the (and this may be universal, but at least it's american college life...) hang a tie (in the days when men wore ties with more frequency) or a pair of pantyhose (insert same parenthetical comment) on the doorknob of the shared room, it meant "occupied". Also, wow, I'd have liked to have heard the ships playing the opera...fantastic concept.
Tina @ Life is Good

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara - what a good idea .. a simple code for bloggers being busy and tied up displayed on our sites ...

Thankfully I'm not disappearing for weeks on end at the moment, so the blog and I are ticking over nicely!

Great to see you - the Sporting the Oaks idea is a fun precursor to the "do not disturb" sign on the door knob ...

No the comment only appeared once - sorry you had to repeat it .. but I'm grateful and appreciate the time taken ..

@ Tina - interesting about the tie and the pantie on the door ... probably indicating something else happening - not studies.

I haven't seen anything else on the Ships' Opera .. but glad I noted it .. and am sure it's on the net.

Cheers to you both - enjoy your weekends .. Hilary