Thursday, 24 January 2013

Galileo, Balaclava and a Vinegar Museum - what more could you want?

Balaclava Heroes
I have been going through Uncle Eric’s stamp album to see if there is anything worth keeping (not a lot) or selling (nothing) and sorting it into different batches to give to some of the postcrossers who mention that they collect used stamps.
In the album were a couple of items not related to stamps.  This was one of them (if you click on it the picture should enlarge) –

Presumably it was a handbill from an event he went to see.  It gives an idea of the amount of time his and our generations spanned between them when you think that he met a survivor of Balaclava who saw the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Museums on my Wish List
Partner-who-loves-tea believes we should compile a ‘wish-list’ (she won’t call it a bucket list) of things we want to do either this year or some time.  I can’t think of many things I particularly want to do - I’m too realistic about money to include some of the more exciting things like have the gutters replaced, the windows double-glazed or buy the original of Francine van Hove’s 'Les dimanches de La Rochelle' (1993) from the private collector who owns it.  
 Francine van Hove’s 'Les dimanches de La Rochelle'
But I did manage to think of one thing – I want to visit more museums and art galleries.
Among those I would include are Cuckooland in Cheshire (a cuckoo clock museum) simply beacuse it isn't very far away; Barometer World in Okehampton, Devon which is near my daughter's;  and The Land of Lost Content, Museum of 20th century life, in Craven Arms, Shropshire. 
There seems to be some debate about whether the Land of Lost Content allows photos.  I have e-mailed to ask them if they do and whether I visit or not may be dependent upon their reply.  One person got permission from a man on the phone only to be told when they got there that they couldn't and that 'the man was my husband and he works for me'.  Strange!

National Mustard Museum
  Museums I shan’t be too bothered about missing are the Dog Collar Museum in Maidstone, Kent; the National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin; Leila’s Hair Museum (jewellery made from human hair) in Missouri; the International Vinegar Museum in South Dakota; the Guanajuato Mummy Museum (dead bodies not mothercare!) in Mexico; the Shin-Yokohama Ramen (noodle) Museum in Japan;  the Sulabh Museum of Toilets in New Delhi; or the European Asparagus Museum in Schrobenhausen, Germany.  Does the fact that it is the 'European' Asparagus Museum suggest there is an American or Asian or African one, I wonder?  How many Asparagus Museums can one have?

Galileo’s Dream
I thought I had already reviewed this book but according to the search engine I don’t seem to have done. Renaissance Italy is not my preferred setting for a novel but the book ‘Galileo’s Dream’ by Kim Stanley Robinson has gone straight on to my top 100 list.  It mixes the exploration of a scientific discovery with tremendous characterisation and a real joy in the use of words.  It also takes Galileo, and us, well into the future to explore the planets on foot. The quotations from Galileo’s writings are most enlightening while the plot is a science fiction and time travel novel with a difference. 
My favourite quotation from the book – out of many – is :-
“We all have seven secret lives. The life of excretion; the world of inappropriate sexual fantasies; our real hopes; our terror of death; our experience of shame; the world of pain; and our dreams. No one else ever knows these lives. Consciousness is solitary. Each person lives in that bubble universe that rests under the skull, alone.”


  1. The museums look interesting CJ. Quite a lot to be done this summer! Photos are important though!

  2. You have a top 100 list?

    I like Jo's idea very much. We were thinking of doing something similar, but haven't got round to it yet. All we came up with so far was visiting the Hebrides (which we have already booked) and climbing a mountain or two.

    1. Of course I have a top 100, Helen. I think there are about 426 books on it....

  3. The Museum of Lost Content sounds like a fascinating place! To be allowed photos or not would not influence my decision to go there; I'd simply want to see it all for myself.

  4. So many food museums, who knew? My desire is nil as well on the ones you mentioned you did not want to attend.

  5. The Land of Lost Content is an intriguing name! The European Asparagus Museum... Not so much! except of course for your question about how many more there may be in the world. I don't think I've even heard of another museum dedicated to a particular vegetable before.

    1. You've never lived, Monica. The 'Strange Museums' book I've just acquired (on sale at £1.00 from my local independent bookstore) tells me there are all sorts of vegetable and foodstuff museums. Most of them are in Germany. There's even a Horseradish Museum - just around the corner from the Dunmpling Museum, I think.
      The one that probably gets lots more visitors than the others is the Chocolate Museum in Cologne.

  6. Those are some good choices. I really like cuckoo clocks. We had one when I was a mere sprout, and I named the cuckoo bird Charley. Charley's only fault was that at 12:30 he'd cuckoo once, at 1:00 he'd cuckoo once, and at 1:30 he'd cuckoo once. By 1:00 I'd always lose track of the time and have to go and look at the clock.

    The mustard museum is in Middleton, Wisconsin which is very close to Madison (or Mad City, as the locals call it) where I lived for two years. I never got around to visiting the museum, but it was within bicycle distance of my apartment. You would not want to visit Middleton during the winter anyway; winter is brutal in that part of the country, and worse the further North you go. I don't know how the place was ever settled.

    The vinegar museum is in Webster, South Dakota which is in the North East section of the State. I lived in Pierre, SD for about a year, but never got over as far as Webster. One thing I can tell you about that area is that people wave to each other as they pass on the highway - there are so few cars, you see. If you get out that way be sure to stop in and see Commander Cody at the Teton Rivers gun store. He'll give you the five dollar tour and may take you out shooting. Hands across the water and all that. You'd probably like Webster, SD as the area is pretty and mainly undeveloped. Beware of the Indians, though. Yes, I'm serious. No, I haven't been drinking. Yet.

    Please provide some pictures of the cuckoo clock museum if you decide to go. I'll bet it's a right lively time around noon.

    1. I never thought of the timing of my visit, Jack. You'd be scuppered if you turned up at one minute past the hour and there wasn't much to keep you amused until the next hour came around. I hope the clocks are all set slightly differntly or you'd only see a few of them in action before they all stopped again.

  7. Does your museum book mention the Carrot Museum? It's a virtual museum and a virtual delight! Some fun while you wait and plan for spring.

    And, I love your quotation from Galileo's Dream. Thanks!

    Take care,

    1. No, the carrot museum doesn't get a mention but I suspect the book may be pre-virtual museums; starngely it has no date or copyright info in it. I must check.

  8. I think I would enjoy a visit to the Cuckoo Clock museum.
    I grew up with an old grandfather's clock that my Dad built. The parts arrived almost a year after he had ordered them due to the war, he had almost given up on them. Every Sunday my Dad would wind the clock by pulling those weights back up to start the process all over for another week. I will never forget the first Sunday he allowed me to pull one of the weights back up, very carefully avoiding the pendulum. I was ecstatic. Can you tell I was the apple of his eye??


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