Friday, 30 September 2022

Concrete Lemon …

 

Well it's not what I thought … I imagined that this would be a great subject for a We Are The World Blogfest post …


Detailed taxonomic illustration by
Kohler 1897

but no … it is most definitely not concrete in the way we understand it today … the term arose in the early 1500s coming about from Latin (concretus) – having different meanings as the language English progressed – and those grammatical aspects are way beyond me … (I looked up concrete origin of word): the English Language is a dynamic one … always changing …



Right let's get back to lemons … and the Mr Coxwell … who perfected this concrete lemon substance …



An essay by Dr Trotter
Mr Coxwell was a chemist and druggist in Fleet Street, London and was a member of the Committee of Chemistry at the Society for the Promotion of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, and … as you know the inventor of concrete lemon.




Concrete as we know it – it was not - but it did have the appearance of smashed white sugar … perhaps I'll look at concrete dust differently now …



Henry Coxwell's description

However Mr Coxwell had created crystallised lemon juice for use at sea … to ease the disease of scurvy …




Scurvy had been recorded in Ancient Egypt over 3,500 years ago; Hippocrates, the Greek physician, described the symptoms of scurvy; the Chinese recognised it …



Eventually in the early years of the 2nd millennium 'we' started to catch up - that fresh citrus particularly could ward off scurvy …



Produce could be part of the cargo – but would not last … so stop off points were found and then planted with fruit trees and vegetables to be available for maritime travellers …



Very early Cape Town, harbour and 
Table Mountain

Jan van Riebeeck, acting for the Dutch East India Company, arrived in 1792 at what is now the Cape Town area to set up a victualing settlement to grow fruit trees and develop gardens for a permanent supply of fresh produce.



These stop off points developed in places such as St Helena Island, along the St Lawrence River ... and other places as explorers opened up the world …



Communication and the spread of information was not easy in these early days … so it took until the 1920s before 'our world' understood scurvy … now in the 21st century it is virtually eliminated though still occurs amongst malnourished people and there have been outbreaks in refugee camps ...



Back to Coxwell and his concrete lemon that particularly valuable commodity … developed in the late 1700s and early 1800s – at least it could be kept and stored easily in the cargo … as a veritable increase in trade spread around the globe.


Description of his reduced lemon juice
in the Bath Chronicle of 1799
The wonders of life through the ages ... 




On July 10th 1784 … see Crell's Journal in the link … where he notes that 'there is a worm that cankers the bud of all improvement here' … the Naval Service took a while before this ingenious discovery would benefit its seamen.



This subject bemused me … to be found … c/o British Library and its archives … and I learnt quite a lot from reading it …


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 26 September 2022

Bran Tub # 24 … Spoon-billed Sandpiper and its 1869 lithographer …

 

Being behind the curve as usual … I spotted this wonderful looking lithograph of the spoon-bill sandpiper – illustrated by John Gerrard Keulemans in 1869 – which led me to various things …



Illustration by John Gerrard Keulemans
(1869)

Oh dear … my interpretation of the title on this book in my little mind was Eleven Birds in House and Town … but as you can see it should be and is: Our Birds in House and Garden …



Keuleman's publication
volume one


Not sure now how I got to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper … but another name came into the frame … Laysan Island … one of the North-western (Leeward) Islands (originally the Sandwich Islands – so named by James Cook in 1778).




Laysan Island one of the tiny islands in
the long-tail of the volcanic chain

This is part of the Hawaiian Islands … a chain of volcanoes that stretch about 2,700 km (1,700 miles) in a north-westerly direction … these are constantly on the move as new islands are created over tens of thousands of years … about 7 cm (or 2.75 inches) per year …



This bird is critically endangered … the main threats to survival are habitat loss on its breeding grounds and loss of tidal flats … in and around that huge area the Pacific Ocean …


Spoon-billed Sandpiper's distribution -
around the Pacific Ocean

it nests in June-July on coastal areas in the tundra, choosing locations with grass close to freshwater pools.




Head of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper 
c 1890 illusration

They feed on moss in the tundras, as well as smaller animal species like mosquitoes, flies, beetles, and spiders … at times they feed on marine vertebrates such as shrimp and worms.


Captain Cook's three voyages: red in 1768,
green in 1772; his final one - he was killed
in the Hawaiian islands in 1776
The gales and storms above the seas will send many a small animal off course …




Captain James Cook c 1775


On looking at Captain Cook and then his wife through these portraits … we can certainly see some of the cultural changes that have occurred in the last 300 years …



Elizabeth Cook - 56 years a widow (1830)


The storms of life are most definitely still occurring … I digress once again … I think it's time I disappeared back onto my curve again …




Spoon-billed Sandpiper ...

John Gerrard Keulemans - his three volume works ... 

James Cook and his history ... 

National Geographic and the chain of Hawaiian Islands hotspot ... 

Saving the Spoon-Billed Sandpiper site ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Order of the Thistle - a Scottish Order of Chivalry ...

 

A simple post today as we ease towards the 'The Final Journey for Her Majesty', RIP Queen Elizabeth II.


She died in Balmoral, Scotland … giving us an opportunity to understand a little more of our ancient history.


Portrait by Julian Calder


The Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry associated with Scotland.



This is a magnificent photo by Julian Calder, who specialises in portraits … here is Her Majesty up in the heathered landscaped above Balmoral so beloved by her, dressed in the Order of Thistle raiment.


Julian Calder photographer ... 

Information on the Order of the Thistle ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 9 September 2022

For Whom the Bell Tolls … it tolls for Elizabeth, our Queen : 1926 – 2022 …

 

It has all happened rather swiftly … where the death of our beloved Queen was announced less than 24 hours ago …


Queen Elizabeth
1926 - 2022

Preparations for the death of her Majesty were made as early as the 1960s, regularly updated each year … and more so during the pandemic years …




as you'd expect where Kings and Queens have reigned for over 1,000 years these plans have been revised and amended as times have changed …



Royal Arms of Queen Elizabeth 
as used in England (NB Unicorn)

For the Queen – preparations were in place:



Operation Unicorn being the first should she die in Scotland, which as we know occurred;



The details are finalised through the various formal routes of Monarchy and Government … which will be acted upon in the coming days;


Platinum Jubilee event at 
Buckingham Palace for the public


We don't know all the specific details … but as the hours unfold – we, the public, will be informed.





There are many tributes being paid both from people in all walks of life … many being recorded on radio and tv …



She died here in Balmoral Castle yesterday
RIP Queen Elizabeth II

It is a huge shock that our Queen should have departed quite so quickly … but during Thursday it became fairly obvious that things were developing – until the announcement of her death was made at 6.30pm – : RIP Queen Elizabeth II.



The plans for the event of the Queen's death and funeral are occurring concurrently with plans for the accession of King Charles III to the throne.



The Royal Standard


The Royal Standard is never lowered … we always have a Monarch in place … other Union flags fly at half mast …



We are now at this point … the new King will be formally Accessed tomorrow … while other plans will arise as and when. Information is happening quite quickly.



Our new King as he was
back in 2017


The new King has arrived back in London, when he will meet the Prime Minister – herself only three days into the job …



Both houses of Parliament … the House of Lords and the Commons are sitting so that members may record their condolences – these operations will cease at about 6.00pm when the new King will address the nation.



David Austin rose -
Floribunda 'Queen Elizabeth'


There will be a service at St Paul's Cathedral this evening … 'The Service of Prayer and Reflection' – which will be broadcast to the nation ...



The bells tolled at mid-day … for our dear Queen, Elizabeth II, rest in peace after decades of Devotion to Duty … 'The Servant Queen'.



PS I will do an ABC type of post in due course ...   Change of plan - apologies ... I will not be doing a major post on her life.  Perhaps when the Coronation comes along ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 5 September 2022

Am I Allowed …

 

to forget snippets I wanted to put into a post … to just to finish off the Commonwealth Games post in August and Bran Tub # 23 … and the 1972 Olympic Games … that I will write up more when the 2024 Paris Olympics comes along …


Foggy morning

Old age perhaps … brain fog … who knows – but I really do want to write this post …




Princess Anne with Precious -
he is a favourite with the Royals

I doubt you remember the Kenyan Julius Yego – learning how to improve his javelin throw via Youtube that I mentioned in my 2014 Commonwealth Games (3/3) – that year he won gold, but he was back this year coming third. Youtube – the best 'how to ….' ?!?! That's meant to be a positive!




Now we revert to 1972 the Munich Olympics … where a member of the British team was the diminutive (4' 9”) weightlifter Precious McKenzie … my job was to find clothes for him that matched the British Olympic team's style – also for the larger bods too …


Precious lifting Muhammad Ali


Such a gentle soul and so polite – I remember … Precious had come over from South Africa – as racial prejudice had prevailed … he subsequently left the UK for New Zealand where he now lives. His back story is interesting …




But though he was in the lowest weight category – his strength was stupendous for someone of his size … as you can see from the images …



Emily winning her gold this year

He'd come over for this year's Commonwealth Games in the UK – I guess he has many contacts here … and the New Zealanders were competing in many of the events … particularly the weightlifting categories … here he met …




Emily Campbell, 28, who only started weightlifting when she was 21 … now she's already Commonwealth Champion 2022 … having won silver at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.


Precious McKenzie congratulating
Emily on her success this year - and no doubt
some wise words passed on ... 


Nottingham Trent University, where she grew up … awarded her an honorary Doctor of Sports Degree … she now inspires youngsters to try all things – anything is possible if you are willing to pursue your dreams …



One last word on Muhammad Ali that I only came across today … I hadn't realised he had a major fear of flying … and only went to the 1960 Olympics with a parachute strapped to his back …



Paris in 2007

Well that really is my lot on these sorts of Games til they rock around again – in Paris 2024 … but how we can learn, how we can inspire and yet be terrified of jumping a continent …


Thanks for your patience in being here … 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Bran Tub # 23 … wrap-ups general and recent sporting international events …

 

Bran Tub Catch-Up nearing the end of the hot summer – before the 'monthly programme/ course life' starts up again – just like school!


Hot British Summer 2022 The Downs

Lots to get done … but I'm almost on top of things – she says hopefully … the admin elements, making sure dinners work and speakers turn up … all good for the soul …

Hot 


It was, til last week, still hot here – but in the south east we've had very little rain … and life is in a hiatus (to put it politically mildly!!) … a description I have just read: We live in ominous times and this is a sort of a sanctuary from the deluge of horrors in the news.


I've been enjoying all the international sporting events that have been on … the Commonwealth Games; the European Athletics and sports held in Munich – the first major sporting event to be there since the 1972 Olympics – that I had the privilege to briefly visit …



Regatta Rowing and Canoe venue, Munich

International cricket – a family favourite as a child and my mother used to play; International Rowing – my father's sport at Oxford …



The European Aquatics Championships held in Rome … where the challenge for divers – is that the pool is outside surrounded by Roman stone pines – a quite beautiful setting …



while the cerulean blue of the sky, the watery blue of the pool, the darker shade of blue in the shadows … 


... for those 10 metre board and springboard divers it was interesting to see … how they manage – who knows: not me … obviously.



Then there's the high dive – 27 metres up (88.5 feet) … there's a very short clip in this link you'll get the feel of Rome and its setting, as too diving from that height.





Apart from social events and more tennis down here in Eastbourne … I've been to a couple of films worth noting:



'Men Who Sing' … a nostalgic, soft, yet humorous portrait of a male voice choir; the documentary film maker, Dylan Williams, who lives in Sweden, went back to Wales to check in on his 90 year old father – then told the story about his father and the choir … delightful.



Also an adaption of Delia Owens' murder mystery 'Where the Crawdads Sing” - fascinating, beautifully acted in the marshy landscape … I loved it – but oddly it was the rolling of the credits that have captured my memory bank and all the art, included as the storyline progressed …




The paintings were by Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876 - 1958), now part of The Johnson Collection in Spartanburg … as well as …



Taylor Swift's beautiful theme song 'Carolina' for the film …




I highly recommend the film 'When the Crawdads Sing' … One last thing … Delia Owens, the author … wrote an autobiographical book with her then husband about their time in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana in the mid 1970s. Delia Owens is also a zoologist and conservationist.



This book was a major introduction for me in the early days of my time in Southern Africa, before I had a chance to visit Botswana and Namibia as the years passed.



One of Smith's works at
The Johnson Collection
I guess that's rounded up some of the things I've been 'busy' doing or idling to enjoy – before 'the terms' of the various groups I work with start up again - and now I need to get my work-motivated hat on!


Thanks for reading …


Men Who Sing - film trailer from Dartmouth Films ... 

Official trailer of 'Where the Crawdads Sing' ...

Taylor Swift's theme song 'Carolina' for the film ... 

The art used in the film ... this links to The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg - here we see Alice Ravenel Huger Smith's ethereal art of the marshes; while the beautiful ones of the natural inhabitants (birds, seafoods, insects) where she uses richer colours - I sadly! could not find ... thus please see the film!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 19 August 2022

Write … Edit … Publish … Bloghop / IWSG hop: Moonlight Sonata ...

 

Our son was happily doing his own thing in the garden, he'd wander in and out – sometimes helping me in the garden …


Father and Son sculpture
by Bruno Lucchesi

other times reading or playing in the house near his mother … as she enjoyed herself practising the Beethoven – she so loves …




My wife's father was a brilliant concert pianist … yet his daughter was happy being at home with her son and me … reminding herself of those recitals, she had shared with him.



Moonlight Sonata -Autograph score;
the first page has evidently been lost

Today – the balmy weather had allowed us to be outside … to picnic lunch in the garden, and no doubt we'd have a glorious supper later in the evening.



Our son was a quiet lad – always thoughtful … happy in his own world, yet an easy going kid with a ready smile.



Valley View ... 

Twilight was falling, soon dusk would arrive as the sun finally set on this beautiful clear evening … the moon would be so bright tonight …



Suddenly our son screamed out … "Dad ..., Dad …

come quickly … hurry up, hurry … Daaad …"




Moon rising over 'The Needles', south England

He was at the end of garden looking out over the valley … I rushed down wondering what on earth was happening …



In the background I heard my wife playing her Moonlight Sonata … but I couldn't stay and listen … I had to find my son …




All was well - he was sooo excited … he too was listening to his mother's playing …




yet felt he had to call me … “Dad, Dad … look there's the moon” …




Milky Way c/o and by John Fox, East Sussex
looking at Birling Gap

Such an appropriate ending to a fabulous family day … my son moved in to lay his head against my shoulder as I put my arm around him … then we sat very happily watching the moon come over the horizon, as his mother's Moonlight Sonata drifted down the garden …


All was well with us …



Tag Line:  Allow Family Time ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 14 August 2022

My Icon for the Commonwealth Games 2022 is the Raging Bull ...

 

It has become the focal point in Birmingham (UK!!) of our Commonwealth Games … where other sports also featured …


Commonwealth Games Seal -
The Friendly Games and most inclusive Games
 - para sportsmen and women also compete

Perhaps before I start this post I'd better explain where I'm coming from … I was a (hockey, tennis and eventually only squash) ball player – definitely not any other sport … especially running …



but way back in the 'Ark' … I was fortunate enough to get a job working for the British Olympic Association as a clothing administrator (another no – no – clothes do not interest me) – but the lure of the Olympics definitely did … Munich 1972.


Munich Olympic Park - photo
taken in 2014
I've found my bumph on that era – so once Paris 2024 comes around I'll get my act into gear and see what's in the pile … and post some info … for example our Dickensian offices … wooden stair treads worn by 200 years of toil …


It was at this point I became interested in all sports and have been ever since … the nod back to the 1972 era will become obvious in my next post …


I enjoy watching as I can get about doing other things … while people swim, somersault, cycling, run rings round friends, bash balls about … today: move like lightning – my heart is still palpitating after watching the competitors play … way better than our day and in London and Johannesburg where we had some of the best squash players in the world at the club … I'm quite glad I lived through the slower pace of life!


Soweto Kinch - who played
at the Opening Ceremony; there
was a festival going on in and
around the Birmingham area

I wrote three comprehensive posts I 2014 on the Games held in Glasgow … so I won't belabour (a better word than bore!) you with much info here – the Birmingham Games came about, after Durban, South Africa pulled out and the UK accepted the Challenge – we compete as England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Island, Guernsey Jersey and the Isle of Man – not combined under the UK/British banner.



These Commonwealth Games came very soon after the World Athletics Championships had been held at the new Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon … where only athletics was featured … following on in unseemly order due to the pandemic – the Commonwealth Games …



Concept of the new stadium and track
Eugene, Oregon

The new stadium falls under the remit of Oregon University … but I was interested in seeing the new design … also I'd never heard of Eugene as a centre of sporting achievement/excellence – I guess not living in the States allows for this omission of knowledge – not any more …



Showcasing Oregon's lumber in all
its glory - the Eugene concourse

So before another week disappears into the hot ether we're in (or I am in the south of England) – I'd better get this post finished and up … as we're into another sporting event in Munich … the European Championships …



Back to the Commonwealth Games - The Brummie Bull isn't really raging … he's a Steampunk 'concoction' for the 2022 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony/(The Friendly and most inclusive Games – para-competitors too) … and has captured many a person's heart.



The not so (at this moment) Raging Bull

The Opening Ceremony gave us a ceremonial view of Birmingham from its humble beginnings as a Saxon settlement (mid 5th century), to a market town in the 12th century, until the 1700s came around …




The gathering place at the start of
the Jewellery Quarter - as it is today

when the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution began in the 'Midlands' and Birmingham became the city of a thousand trades … including its Jewellery Quarter from the early 1900s …



Imaginery industrial heartland

nearby over half a century ago … an emerging bard made his appearance ensuring that Stratford-on-Avon would remind us of our creative arts … which now includes a ten-day literature festival.



Creative image for the Raging Bull

Back to the red-eyed, steam-threatening bull as he made his entrance onto the Commonwealth Stage – a creative masterpiece …




made from re-cycled aluminium tubing, foam and plastic – painted over to resemble metal and armour …



Mike Kelt - Chairman of the Special Effects
team at Artem Design Company

It took sixty workers over five months to create and was pulled into the Alexander Stadium by a gang of female chain-makers representing the Industrial Revolution … the chains were made from very high density foam machined on a computer controlled cutting machine.



Raging Bull arriving for the 
Opening Ceremony

What next for the Raging Bull – well he'd wilt when it rained again … so for now he can be outside … then as a home has been found – he can remain in Birmingham as a cultural icon – somewhere …



The copy-cat dog ...
empathising with
the Raging Bull!

This is long … but there is more – via the links (should you wish to visit) … and I'll elaborate (I hope more succinctly) in my next but one post – as WEP has caught up due next week.




William Blake - dark Satanic world

Life ticks on … I am so glad I live at the coast! Many of my verbs should be in the past tense … days have gone by! I've been somewhat overwhelmed with over commitment this year … so these idle days are helping … everything starts up again towards the end of the month …



The plays of William Shakespeare by
Sir John Gilbert 1849

My posts … Commonwealth Games three posts from August 2014 - the first is here ... they follow on ... 

Artem Special Effects and Innovative Solutions ...

Mike Kelt - c/o BBC talking about the innovative bull ... 

History and Culture of Birmingham ... an interesting overview of Birmingham and its surrounds ... 


Forbes - the new Hayward Field ... 


PS - Apologies for length ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories