Tag Archives: history

I don’t like getting up in the morning and I’m not alone

snowy mountain

Cauld blaws the wind frae east to west,
The drift is driving sairly;
Sae loud and shill’s I hear the blast-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

Chorus.-Up in the morning’s no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.

The birds sit chittering in the thorn,
A’ day they fare but sparely;
And lang’s the night frae e’en to morn-
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.
Up in the morning’s, no for me,
Up in the morning early;
When a’ the hills are covered wi’ snaw,
I’m sure it’s winter fairly.
1788 Robert Burnspoetry, song

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Unsung Heroines:Betty, Flora, Jessie and more

‘There’s the girl who clips your ticket for the train,
And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor,
There’s the girl who does a milk-round in the rain,
And the girl who calls for orders at your door.
Strong, sensible, and fit,
They’re out to show their grit,
And tackle jobs with energy and knack.
No longer caged and penned up,
They’re going to keep their end up
‘Til the khaki soldier boys come marching back.

There’s the motor girl who drives a heavy van,
There’s the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat,
There’s the girl who calls ‘All fares please!’ like a man,
And the girl who whistles taxi’s up the street.
Beneath each uniform
Beats a heart that’s soft and warm,
Though of canny mother-wit they show no lack;
But a solemn statement this is,
They’ve no time for love and kisses
Till the khaki soldier boys come marching back.

Jessie Pope wrote this poem in 1916/7 to let people know about all the jobs that women were doing then that seemed to be hidden from open view. All the jobs that they were capable of, and that men had not thought that they could do.

I thought that I would write about a couple of the type of women mentioned in the poem, that I have found out about. there are a great many resourceso n this topic available now but I could not cover every such woman, so I just picked a few interesting ones – to me at any rate!

The first is Betty Stevenson. She was a YMCA volunteer who went to France to help in the rest huts provided for front line troops. Around 40,000 women served as volunteers for the YMCA during the First World War, providing their own expenses as well as being unpaid.

Betty drove lorries from the stores to the huts providing food, and transporting relatives to injured soldiers. She also drove food out to refugees which was how she finally died during an air raid. The French Govt awarded her the Croix De Guerre.

The only woman soldier enlisted in the British Army managed the feat by passing herself off as a man.  Dorothy Lawrence, a 20-year-old ambitious journalist, joined in 1915 the B.E.F. Tunnelling Company using the alias Denis Smith, aided by some sympathetic men. [http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/womenww1_one.htm]

During the First World War, Kathleen Scott transported cars and ambulances to France, helped in a French Army hospital in a chateau in France – which she located – recruited her friends to war work, worked in the Vickers Factory in Erith making electrical coils and worked with plastic surgeons on the re-creation of badly disfigured faces.

Mary Borden set up a mobile hospital unit on the Western Front that nursed soldiers wounded in Ypres and Somme with her own money. She served as a nurse until the end of war.

Dame Helen Charlotte Isabella Gwynne-Vaughan became the Controller of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in France. She also became the first woman to receive a military Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1918. Dame Gwynne-Vaughan served as Commandant of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) from September 1918 until December 1919.

There was Evelina Haverfield  who founded the Women’s Emergency Corps. In 1915, she volunteered to join the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Serbia as a nurse. in contrast Dr. Elsie Inglis fought against the prejudice against female doctors and started the Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit, one of the few female medical units on the front.

Helen Fairchild staffed a medical unit at the Western front at Passchendaele in Belgium whilst Julia Hunt Catlin Taufflieb converted the Chateau d’Annel into a 300-bed hospital on the front line.

Lucy London has created a great list on her blog of the Inspirational Women who worked during World War One. which I am copying here. http://inspirationalwomenofww1.blogspot.co.uk/2013_09_01_archive.html

Anna Airy (1882 – 1964) British Artist.  One of the first women to be commissioned as a war artist
Mildred Aldrich (1853 – 1928) America writer.  Lived in Paris for 16 years prior to WW1, retired to the Marne in July 1914 and wrote about her “Little House on The Marne” in the early days of the war.
Clare Atwood (1866 – 1962) British Artist
Gertrude Bell – British spy (and a lot more – do read her biography , it is fascinating. Lots of stuff about deserts and sheiks!
Lady Blomfield (1859 – 1939) born Ireland
Maria Bochkareva – Russian woman soldier – recruited over 2,000 women into the Russian Army
Mary Booth (1869 – 1956) – Australian Pyhsician and Welfare Worker
Maude Bruce – forewoman at Munitions Factory in Gretna, awarded medal for extreme bravery
Lady Elizabeth Butler (b. 1846) – military artist/illustrator – sister of Alice Meynell the poet
The Dick Kerr’s Ladies Football Team – Dick Kerr’s Factory, Preston – raised large sums of money for the war effort by playing football, organising matches after their factory shifts were over
Dora Carrington – artist
Edith Cavell – British nurse shot as a spy for helping British soldiers to escape after the early battles of the War
Dorothy J. Coke – artist
Maria Corelli (1855 – 1924)  – British novelist who sold more books than Conan Doyle, Wells and Kipling combined;  9 films were made of her novels
Dorothy Crewdson (b. 1886) – British nurse
Marie Curie – created mobile radiography units for use in WW1
Margaret Damar Dawson – woman police officer in munitions factory
Janet Daniels – Munitions factory worker – awarded medal for extreme bravery
Joyce Dennys (1893 – 1991) – served as a VAD in Cornwall – War Artist for the “Daily Sketch”
Jessica Dismorr (1885 – 1939) – British painter/illustrator (Vorticist Movement) served as a VAD, nursing in France
Olive Edis (1876 – 1955) – Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society 1914 – Official War artist
Helen Fairchild (died 7th July 1917) – American – assigned to duty as a nurse in France 7th July 1917, died 18th January 1918
Elsie Mabel Gladstone – British nurse, killed in WW1 (buried Belgrade Cemetery, Namur, Belgium)
Norah Neilso Gray (1882 – 1931) – war artist
Margaret Haig Thomas (1883 – 1958) – Welsh – saved with her Father from the Lusitania
Mary Riter Hamilton – Canadian artist who went to paint the Aftermath in Flanders
Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960) – American writer
Dr. Elsie Inglis (1864 – 1917) – Scottish doctor and suffragist; founded Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service in WW1 (France, Serbia and Russia) and went to Serbia to run a hospital
Elsie Janis – American entertainer who went to entertain the troops in France/Belgium
Gwen John – War Artist
M. Jones – nurse – described air raids in Salonika
Lucy Elizabeth Kemp-Welch (1869 – 1958) – military artist
Bahiyyih Khanum (1846 – 1932) daughter of the founder of the Baha’i Faith – imprisoned in 1867 at the age of 21 and freed in 1980.
Olive May Kelson King (1885 – 1958) – Australian.  Funded and drove ambulances in France and Serbia.
Dame Laura Knight (nee Johnson) – (1877 – 1970) – British war artist
Ellen La Motte – American nurse who wrote about her experiences in WW1
Dorothy Lawrence – British Journalist – enlisted in BEF Tunnelling Company as Denis Smith in 1915
Flora Lion (1878 – 1958) – British artist commissioned by Ministry of Information to paint factory scenes
Elizabeth Lucas (wife of poet E.V. Lucas) – founded a children’s home behind the lines in France WW1
Misstanguett – (1875 – 1956) French entertainer and spy WW1
Olive Mudie-Cooke – British artist – drove ambulances in France and Italy WW1
Rose O’Neil (1874 – 1944) – American sculptor, suffragist, inventor, novelist, poet, musician, creator of Kewpie dolls
Gabrielle Petit (1893 – 1916) – Belgian spy – executed
Ellie Annie Rout (1877 – 1936) – New Zealand – pioneer in sexual transmitted diseases in WW1
Helen Saunders – artist
Kathleen Scott ((1878 – 1947) – sculptor. Wife of the explorer Captain Scott of the Antarctic (later Baroness Kennet).  Among other things, she worked on innovative plastic surgery treatments WW1
Nellie Spindler – British nurse killed i WW1 on the Western Front (buried Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium)
Mabel Annie St Clair Stobart (1862 – 1954) Founder of The Women’s Sick and Wounded Convoy Corps who organised hospitals in France and Belgium for St. John’s Ambulance  in WW1
Elizabeth Ann Slater Weaver (1878 – 1956) – housewife/weaver who lived in Burnley, Lancashire
Bertha (Betty) Stevenson (1896 – 1918) – British – YMCA volunteer killed in the line of duty May 1918 and buried with full military honours in Etaples Military Cemetery
Mrs Mary Humphrey Ward (1851 – 1920) – first woman journalist to visit the Western Front trenches
Maria Yurlova – Armenian Cossack Soldier
Clara Zetkin – Founder of International Women’s Movement

Margate by the Sea: an unexpected delight

We went to Margate to visit the new(ish, 2011) Turner Art Gallery and the Grayson Perry exhibition.

We were slightly disappointed by its architecture – not the shape but the colour – dull grey. Apparently when opened it was coloured by banners but not now and whilst the sun was shining – quite remarkable for this end of summer this year, we could envisage it being very dull indeed on a wet grey day by the sea.85-turner-contemporary

It is positioned right at one end of the huge series of bays that form the Margate sea front. By the harbour wall of what was once Meregate a small fishing village . it has been inhabited since probably pre-historic times and certainly the Romans lived there but constant invasions made life difficult during the 8th, 9th and 10th century.

Margate is situated on the coast of the Isle of Thanet, which of course, hasn’t been an island for a long time. But it was still an island when the Romans lived there and a bridge wasn’t built until the 1400s. In the 1700s you could still reach it by ferry, but the channel silted up and Reculver is now on dry(ish) land. The land still needs to be defended against the sea trying to gain its channel back and so there are sea defences all along the coastline.

Margate – which is on the outer edge and thus faces the English Channel, was part of the Cinque Ports through the control of Dover, but became independent from their control in 1857.

It is claimed to be one of, if not the first, coastal resort for sea bathing which greatly changed its status from a fishing (smuggling) harbour to a fashionable bathing town bringing with it not only boats carrying traffic down river from London but eventually also the railway. Turner lived in Margate for some years coming down by boat from London and then leaving by boat to cross the channel from there. Very convenient – and thus the Turner Gallery was built here.isle of thanet

However, after the flush of post war holidays in seaside resorts within Britain and then the holiday camps of Butlins  and Pontins etc decline in the 1970s, when cheap Spanish holidays came in for the masses, Margate declined.

I went to this area of coastline often as a child staying at Broadstairs, just along from Margate in a bed and breakfast establishment of which there were huge numbers. These high terraced houses are now in sad repair but, since 2011 and the Turner Gallery, some are being bought up and refurbished and becoming boutique hotels such as the Crescent Victoria where we stayed, just along from the Gallery.

The Isle of Thanet has a most amazing coastline. It is really all sand and yet more sand. Great depth of beaches that are shallow in slope so good for kiddie play which is why the area was so popular when I was a child. And now there is a seawater pool in the middle of one beach for safe swimming.

Margate is tatty round the edges but has some interesting areas around the Old Town where they seem to specialise in vintage clothes and furniture. We found two really nice places to eat – Harbour Café which did the most amazing chips; and the Ambrette which is a modern Indian – even does roast Sunday lunches with venison and other exotic meats. However, rather lacking in vegetarian food which was a shame. Still good reviews from the meat eaters – even some suggesting it is worth a Michelin Star!

And then of course there is the Shell Grotto. No visit to Margate is complete without a visit to this very interesting but unexplained and without know history, underground cavern.shell-grotto

Stories about when it was created range from the Phonoecians in very early history (yes they did trade with the UK) as a religious place – with an altar at the far end of these underground passageways. Or a Folly of course. Or something else entirely.

What is certain is that all the shells apart from 4 are English, it has been around a few hundred years and has been open since the 19th century to the public, and the shells have been added, altered etc at different times but some are clearly very old. Many of the patterns are symbolic eg A Tree of Life; A Corn Goddess; A Ganesha; A skeleton; A Perseus and so on….

Spooky as it is all underground and quite large – 104 feet.

What is a really nice thing to have is the Viking Trail. This is coastal path for bikes and pedestrians which is very smooth and wide and goes all around the island’s coast passing through Ramsgate and Broadstairs and Reculver too. It is 25 miles in length so you can run a marathon if you wish – but the one running when we were there did a figure of 8 and came back to its start!viking trail

The Irish Experience: Cork and Blarney

Well I guess Ireland lived up to expectations in that it was largely wet. And green.

We visited three towns whilst we were there: Cork; Limerick; and Dublin. Each town being very different in its culture and thus experience.

We actually stayed just outside Cork in a country hotel  set in a golf course with weddings every day – it was certainly wedding season! This meant that we had to drive to get to our experiences which included a wonderful wild-life park: Fota Wildlife Park. http://www.fotawildlife.ie/.  As you can see from the webpage they were great fun to visit. We saw herds of giraffes, flamingos, orang utans, tigers and other large beasties. and generally had great fun.

There was even a wallaby mum who brought her baby onto the general path and just lay there and sun-bathed.20150814_121632-1-1 20150814_120951 20150814_120958 P1030982 P1030949 P1030950

One of the more interesting areas was their newly laid out seal enclosure, where you could go downstairs to an area which was at water level to see the seals and penguins. it looked very weird from the path of course as they appeared to be in the water…

This wildlife park is only about rare and endangered species and breeding. Some animals have become incredibly rare in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching etc.

We also went to Limerick whilst in Ireland as well as Blarney and Dublin.

Blarney Castle is great. They have made a wonderful garden and generally a good experience for all the family especially those people who knit! Now why would that be you wonder?

And to explain you would need to see what the knitters have done – a group of ladies have wrapped the tree trunks in fancy knitted cosies, some embroidered, some crocheted and others just multi-coloured.

And then the kicker – they went into the garden and adorned an arbour with pom poms!

Apart from the pom poms the garden is really nice with a wetland area and other good features including a witch’s cavern and children’s activities and nice planting.

There is even a poison garden which sends you aware paranoid about what you are growing!

And no, none of us kissed the Blarney Stone!

 

P103099320150806_124033P1030961 P1030965 P1030977

Deception and secrets again: small towns interbreed

Letting You Go

by

Anouska Knight

A Review for Netgalley.

This book is set in a fictional town in the far north of Scotland where the Vikings once settled – or did they? Are the people really related to Vikings? Or not? And just who was their ancestor? And just where did family lines cross? Perhaps not where you thought they did.

In fact, there have been genetic tests of people living in the far Scottish north that show just who was descended from a Viking and you have to remember that many of the far islands were actually owned by the Danes until late in Scottish history.

http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/vikingorkney/ says that in the 13th century Orkney was actually run as a Norwegian earldom using Norwegian language and following a Norse way of life. This had begun before the 9th century and was well established as the Vikings raided further south. The evidence for Viking heritage has been established by DNA testing in 2000/2001 demonstrating that the Orkney inhabitants were very similar genetically with modern Norway despite having inter-married with local women. Indeed 60% of the Northern Isles male population showed Viking ancestry.

And is this interest in ancestry that forms a central pillar of the book.

Who was related to whom? Who had fathered whom?  Who belonged in which family?

And who fathered whom was part of a small town secret that festered as they so often do. gossip and secrets corrode relationships. Secrets are guessed and gossip distorts and lives are impacted to their detriment.

The story centres around a local Viking festival loosely based on the ‘Up Helly Aa’ festival of Lerwick in Shetland which takes place in January. It began in the 1880s to celebrate the end of the festival period and has Guizer Jarl and his Norsemen marching through the town. The author then adds in a Viking boat race similar to the one on the Isle of Man except with home-made boats instead of longboats. vikings (2)

 

 

 

 

 

I found this to be a straight forward read with a clear and easy writing style. I would have given it four stars except I got very irritated with the heroine for being such a wimp and thought the author could have given her a stronger character so that we actually empathised with her situation rather than saying ‘Oh get over yourself’ to her!

 

Canaries out of work

The Major’s Faux Fiancée

by

Erica Ridley

A Netgalley review

This author is definitely the successor to Georgette Heyer in writing Regency romances but with a soupcon of sex.

There is a well portrayed female who takes up ‘causes’ but actually doesn’t quite understand the full consequences or the complete reasons behind the sad stories, but rather follows and champions those who shout the loudest eg about income tax.

Additionally she was naive about how to achieve successful societal change – not realising that you need power and influence. She knew that she, as a women writing letters, would not be considered so rather she gave herself male names to sign her letters. But a sheltered clergyman’s daughter of that time did not have a full education about politics and economics, and did not realise what was really needed – and this was brought out later in the story.

I would have appreciated a little explanation, for the uninformed reader, as why these issues had arisen. I knew some of them. For instance home weavers’ jobs had seriously declined due to the automation of weaving in mills, and that income tax had been needed to pay for the Napoleonic Wars. But what was the problem with the Davy Lamp? Other than that canaries were no longer required?

So off I trotted to the Internet to find out about the Davy Lamp.davy lamp

I knew that the Davy Lamp was used in coal mines to detect the presence of gases which could harm the miners. The gas that was detected  was methane and tended to occur in small pockets as the mines grew deeper.

The final design was very simple: a basic lamp with a wire gauze chimney enclosing the flame. The holes let light pass through, but the metal of the gauze absorbs the heat.  The lamp is safe to use because the flame can’t heat enough flammable gas to cause an explosion, although the flame itself will change colour. [http://www.rigb.org/our-history/iconic-objects/iconic-objects-list/davy-lamp]

Once the lamp was put into production, deaths in mining decreased dramatically, however, deeper mines could then be dug which increased the danger although but not as much as before. One can only assume that the complaints were coming from miners who had to then dig further into the mines, but the lamps were not faulty nor directly at fault.

There were also the protests about income tax.  This was a result of the changes that had been implemented in the late 18th century. Previously, tax was paid on land and everyone who had land whether gentry or tradespeople or innkeepers all [aid it. Additionally indirect tax was paid in the form of excise duties – custom duties we would think of them now or VAT. Household necessities such as salt, candles, soap etc were all taxed as were luxury items such as horses, silk, wines etc. These excise duties varied according to the need for money by the Govt and during the Napolenic wars of course, many items could not be shipped into the UK legally – hence the increase in smuggling during this period.

With the coming of war and the ideas of Adam Smith, taxes were rationalised and new taxes introduced. There was some protest but as corruption was also dealt with revenue for the Govt increased until 1793 when the first Napoleonic war started. To pay for this war higher taxes were required. An inheritance tax and an income tax were introduced and were very unpopular as you can imagine. It was considered intrusive and impolite to know what people were earning – and it is still not something people in Britain are happy to share with others – but after a time it was realised that the war needed financing and it became a sign of support and patriotic duty to pay the taxes.

I give this 3 stars with the potential for 4 r even 5 if these real historical issues are properly discussed rather than alluded to and requiring the reader to enquire further.

 

Time Travel Romances: adding an element of je ne sais quoi?

Time Travel Romances: The Big  Book of time travel romances with 9 authors.

Sarah Woodbury: After Cilmeri series

Well who doesn’t love a good romance and add in an element of a different time in order that a hunky hero can be extracted from that time – see Outlander’s popularity both as a book series and TV series – and the scene is set…

Yes, I am great Outlander fan and am still working my way through Season 1 on the TV – not quite as I remember the books but I’ll forgive them. Interesting choice of actors for the leads – Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan  – clearly not going for well known though they use the more well-known in smaller parts. I am not really sure about all the muscles on Sam but that just emphasises what is expected of a time travel hero. He has in fact ousted David Tennant – who is perhaps more the thinking woman’s hero style? – as the top actor for women – the heartthrob of the moment. The good thing about these 2 actors is that Sam is genuinely Scottish and so the accent is good and also they actually use Scotland and Culloden Moor and so on for the settings. Expect to get a lot more tourists following their story from Inverness  to castles to moors..

So I bought a collection of books all about time travel and haven’t yet got further than the first book in the collection. That is because the first book lured me into buying 9 more! Yes 9 books in this series – about Wales in the medieval period and the book in the collection was a prequel. I was actually very glad that I came across the prequel first as it set the scene very well indeed.  Again, I am sure it will encourage tourists and vote this series as the next to be televised after Outlander – has a wonderful storyline that even brings in Arthurian legend so ideal TV fodder.

This series of books by Sarah Woodbury about Wales in the time of Edward I of England – 1239-1307, posits an alternative history. Remember that at this time the Barons were rather feisty and were forever in rebellion against their king(s) as they wanted more power over their lands, less taxes, and more land generally.  Wales at this time was not easy under an English king and there were 2 rebellions – 1276 and 1282. The second rebellion led to Wales being completely conquered by the English, the building of some very fancy castles and English people being settled into new towns and villages to ‘subdue’ any further ideas that Wales could be different. The Welsh language declined in use as a result and the English heir to the throne became the Prince of Wales and received the monies and land etc from this Principality which was then recognised as a separate entity with its own laws.Carreg_Cennen_Cast_2622615b cardiff

Many of the issues that bedevilled the English throne came from the Marcher  Lords – these were Anglo-Norman  nobles appointed to guard the Welsh borders with a strong sense of their own independence from the English Crown.  The Earls of Chester, Gloucester, Hereford, Pembroke and Shrewsbury were the Marcher lords. They were originally established as earldoms after the Norman Conquest with a great rights and privileges that other nobles did not possess. Marcher lords were tricksy – they often deceived and spoke carefully, letting few actually know their ral intent – Machiavelli would have approved. Their overall intent to increase their power – even down to trying to take the English (or Scottish) crown if they could. Alliances were fluid and each mman considered themselves first even before family. Counsins fought each other and brothers too, sons and fathers were often on different sides. Sometimes even the women joined in and raised armies – which of course, they then had to find a man to lead as there was very little real power for women at this time. The Marches – or borders of Wales were effectively a frontier country with violence an everyday occurrence – the Welsh, as with the Scots, did not want to be governed by the English and made their feelings known.

So these books imagine we are back in the time of Llywelyn ap Gruffiudd who was the prince of Gwynedd the major last remaining territory in Wales. A number of people appear to have a genetic predisposition to time travel   ie it runs in families, and travel to and fro the modern world, beginning with Meg, and the world of Llywelyn.   The prequel story stops just before the what-if history starts with Llywelyn about to have a change in his future which will impact the future of Wales and England and in due course, even Scotland.

The strength of these stories are three fold. 1. They are set in medieval romantic Wales 1284Wales, with, as far as I can tell, accurate descriptions of life as it would have been there, and set in the wonderful countryside of Wales, damp and rainy notwithstanding; 2. Each chapter is told through the eyes of a different character, and as you progress through the books, each book relates the story of a different pair of characters and their interactions with the others; and finally 3. The historical events are real but set within the story and therefore with a twist. There were Welsh rebellions, but in our world they failed, in theirs they don’t; in our world the king was always Edward and he was asked to ‘interfere’ or intervene in the Scottish succession, in their world it was David but still the King of England who intervened.

Do I recommend them? Of course… after all I have spent a lot of money in buying all 9 books…

However, having looked at the abstracts from the author’s other books, I shall leave her other series for a while – after all I can’t afford to keep buying sets of 9 books every few weeks or days in this case!  I think I need to go back to the box set I originally bought and read some more of them!