Saturday 31 December 2016

Happy New Year

Friday 30 December 2016

Closed for Christmas

Partner-who-loves-tea and I were in Hoylake on The Wirral on Tuesday.  Because Christmas Day was a Sunday the day after Boxing Day was a Bank Holiday.  There is no collection from post boxes on a Bank Holiday. Nevertheless, we did not expect to find that the post box had been gift-wrapped for the holidays!  Very amusing!

Colleen on her blog brought to my attention a brilliant tweet from this week -

“Betwixtmas: the days in between Christmas and New Year when you’re not sure if you should be drunk or at work.”

Thursday 29 December 2016

Scouse, lobscouse and Scousescrapers

Over the last few decades the number of tall buildings in the centre if Liverpool has grow'd like Topsy.  With the usual local humour they are not referred to as skyscrapers but Scousescrapers.

When I was young the waterfront skyline had just three main buildings .  Then during the 1960s other tall buildings began to be constructed.

Now it looks like this:-

Here are some of Liverpool's more recent Scousescrapers.

Scouse is a type of lamb or beef stew. The word comes from lobscouse, a stew commonly eaten by sailors throughout Northern Europe, which became popular in seaports such as Liverpool.  In addition to the dish it is now used as a term for people originating in Liverpool or their accent/dialect.

Having been born in Liverpool, I am a Scouser though Dad and Mum ensured I never adopted a Scouse accent.

The first known use of the term "lobscouse" is dated 1706, according to Webster's dictionary. Smollet refers to "lob's course" in 1750.

The roots of the word are unknown, but there are at least three competing theories. It has been suggested that the dish is "almost certainly" of Baltic origin, and labs kauss in Latvian and labas kaušas in Lithuanian both mean "good ladleful".  Similar dishes are traditional in countries around the North Sea, such as Norway (lapskaus), Sweden (lapskojs) and Denmark (skibberlabskovs, meaning "skipper's lobscouse"). Another theory posits a Low German origin from lappen (dewlap) and kaus (bowl).   An English origin has also been proposed: through "lout’s course", via "lob’s course" to "lobscouse".  

Some of  Liverpool's tall buildings date back to the turn of the 20th century or earlier like the Liver Buildings (below after having been cleaned in the early 1960s).

The dock buildings may not be skyscrapers but they are still pretty tall (the dock warehouses on the right have been converted into a hotel).

There are also a lot of new medium-rise buildings which although not noticeably tall make brilliant use of glass and other material.

And even where that isn't the case the buildings have often been enhanced one way or another.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Inn Signs - The Salutation Inn

In Topsham in Devon is an inn called The Salutation Inn.

Most inns of that name date back centuries and the name refers to the Annunciation - the greeting of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.  In the seventeenth century the Puritans strongly objected to such signs and they were changed in various ways, some to be changed back after the Restoration.
An old print of the Inn in an art shop showed it once had an ordinary inn sign though the content couldn't be distinguished.  But the inn sign for this Salutation Inn is now a broomstick and, being unable to work out why that should be I enquired within.

I obviously wasn't the first person to have enquired and I was told that the broom was a popular sign for an inn, signifying that it was well-kept and clean.  A most plausible answer.  But I haven't found any evidence to that effect on-line or in any of my half dozen or so books on inn signs.  Nor have I ever seen another inn sign of a broom without it relating in some way to witches.  Strange.

(For the answer please see Librarian's comment below.)

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Budleigh Salterton, Devon, November 2016

Partner-who-loves-tea and I had a trip to Budleigh Salterton in early November.

The weather was sunny and, surprisingly, warm enough for her to sit on the beach and relax for a while.

The pebbles on the shore are a source of endless fascination.

Monday 26 December 2016

Christmas Dinner

The gales from Conor quietened overnight on Christmas Day on The Wirral only to resume in earnest in the evening but otherwise all was Peaceful at the Willows.

We had a lie in - a real treat for Partner-who-loves-tea - and then she and I played a word game before Son-who-cooks joined us for the present opening ceremony.  The cats were quite delighted though Annabelle disappeared after jumping into the bag of discarded wrapping paper and frightening herself....    Mac took a far more dignified approach to the process, wondering all the time which parcel was going to contain food.

My presents included a lot of books (surprise, surprise), a beautiful calendar, a jigsaw puzzle, sweets, mugs, a laptop case, a mouse, a Paperblank notebook and diary, sketching charcoals, a lovely wooden dove ornament (now on the window but next year it will go on the tree), and a super Rosina Wachtmeister cat called the Devourer of Books.

The Queen's speech about inspiration was well worth listening to (not something I always feel though Partner-who-loves-tea watches it avidly every year).  And then it was time for Christmas Dinner which as usual was made by Son-who-cooks and was delicious.

For those who want to know what was on that plate there was -
chicken, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, broccoli, sprouts (hiding), carrots, carrot and swede, roast garlic, sage and onion stuffing, gravy and a speciality of our chef - a mix of sprouts, pancetta, garlic and some secret ingredients.

Thank you Chef.

The drink is blackcurrant prosecco with which we toasted both Christmas and the arrival of Toby and Katie in October.  

Then p-w-l-t and I watched 'Strictly Len Goodman' which we recorded a few days ago, and it was off to bed.  The Christmas 'Strictly Come Dancing' show was recorded for Boxing Day.

Saturday 24 December 2016

Friday 23 December 2016

Dear Santa

Thursday 22 December 2016

Jenny Greenteeth

 Earlier this year GB and I went in search of the Pump that gave Pump Lane, Greasby (on The Wirral) its name.  After an adventure or two we found it.

 Next to the pump is a pond which was covered in duckweed.  

It reminded me of Jenny Greenteeth….

 Most of this description is taken from the website of the Fairy Investigation Society

Jenny Greenteeth was a water fairy associated with the Lancashire, Liverpool and Wirral areas. She and her sisters ‘lurked at the bottom of pits, and with their long sinewy arms dragged in and drowned children venturing too near’. There has been, since the nineteenth century, an attempt to rationalize Jenny. She was a form of social control: parents evoked her to keep their children away from dangerous ponds, streams, rivers and later canals (Jenny moved with the times). And certainly we have accounts that tend in this direction: ‘Jenny’ll get you!’ One little boy was brought into the garden and told that the moaning of the wind in the trees was Jenny’s voice: another was shown some enamelled teeth that had been stained green! But Jenny was also a proud boggart with her own agenda and there are parts of the legend that do not serve to save lives. For example, the idea that duck weed was particularly associated with her or even that it was her hair. It should also be noted that even if there was only one Jenny Greenteeth she apparently dwelt in tens of different bodies of water simultaneously.

Home region: Jenny was overwhelmingly a Lancashire bogie, but there are some references from further afield that might suggest she once had a wider kingdom. In 1870 weed in Birmingham was sometimes called ‘Jenny’ or ‘Jenny Greenteeth’, the wording is ambiguous. There is also an East Riding legend about  a drowned girl called Jenny that sounds as if it may be Jenny Greenteeth or a close cousin.

Physical Description:  Duckweed, Pondweed, slime and algae are all associated with Jenny and her teeth were clearly forty shades of green. There is the reference above to long sinewy arms and you did not want to see her teeth. Brian Froud has a particularly effective image of Jenny in Froud, Brian and Lee, Alan ‘Faeries’ (New York, Abrams 2009).  See the head of the post.

Earliest Attestation and Etymology: Nineteenth century? Jenny is a common fairy name

Jenny Greenteeth Locations: Coming to a pool or water pit near you! 

Duckweed, Lemna minor, is one of the world’s smallest flowering plants, but it can form dense mats on still water, and less frequently on permanently damp mud and rock faces. It is common throughout the British Isles, apart from northern Scotland.   In northwest England the presence of duckweed indicated that the bogey Jenny, or Jinny, Greenteeth lurked below the water’s surface. Duckweed is a small floating annual with no stems or apparent leaves but a rounded thallus, 1.5 to 4mm across, floating on the surface of still fresh water in large quantities. 

It mainly appears from May to September though this photo was taken in October.

RoyVickery's website on Plant Lore tells us the following -

 "As a child about 50 years ago in the Liverpool area, I was frightened by Jenny Greenteeth, a sort of fairy, who would drag people down into deep pools. Jenny was particularly associated with pools covered with duckweed. Although Jenny Greenteeth was usually unseen, in about 1920 the bogey which inhabited two pools beside Moss Pitts Lane in Fazakerley, ‘had pale green skin, green teeth, very long green locks of hair, long green fingers with long nails, and she was very thin with pointed chin and very big eyes’.”


Katharine Briggs, in her Dictionary of Fairies, classified Jenny as a Nursery Bogey, one of ‘a group of spirits that seem as if they had never been feared by grown-up people but had been invented expressly to warn children off dangerous ground or from undesirable activities’.

In Jean-Paul Ronecker's ‘Encyclopédie Illustrée des Esprits de la Nature’ we learn
"Jenny Les Dents Vertes is a female Spirit from the race of Noyeurs (Drowners), lurking in the waters of the rivers of Yorkshire.  She manifests herself as a most disgusting. skeletal creature with very long arms, bony hands, crooked fingers, pale skin, bulging eyes, long greenish teeth, and a long green vase full of hair.  She attracts children into the water to drown them. "  Duckweed is not found in rivers so perhaps the Yorkshire Jenny was algae-based.

And the moral of all these stories is ‘Don’t try walking on duckweed!’

Wednesday 21 December 2016

1966 - a Year of Hits

1966 - a Year of Hits.

I spent a fair part of the summer of 1966 in hospital after a road traffic accident.  As I recall the prinicpal occupations at the time, for a fifteen year old bed-bound with their legs in plaster, were as follows -
listening to pop music on Radio Caroline - a pirate radio station broadcast from a ship;
watching the pretty nurses;
waiting for visitors' time;trying to catch the eyes of the pretty nurses;
doing crosswords;talking to the pretty nurses;
gambling on the gee gees (the cleaners used to place the bets for everyone);
getting told off by the Staff Nurse / Sister for chatting to the pretty nurses;
gambling within the ward on anything else that moved or could be timed;
falling in love with the pretty nurses (I rationed myself to no more than two at a time);
reading whole series of books (e.g. every Conan Doyle);
watching the pretty nurses and listening to Radio Caroline...

These were the top 100 in the UK charts that year.  I can still sing most of them (or my substitute for singing!)
01Jim ReevesDistant Drums
02Frank SinatraStrangers In The Night
03The BeatlesYellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby
04The Four TopsReach Out I'll Be There
05Nancy SinatraThese Boots Are Made For Walkin'
06The Walker BrothersThe Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore
07Tom JonesGreen Green Grass Of Home
08The KinksSunny Afternoon
09TroggsWith A Girl Like You
10Manfred MannPretty Flamingo
11Herb Alpert & The Tijuana BrassSpanish Flea
12The Beach BoysGood Vibrations
13The BeatlesDay Tripper / We Can Work It Out
14The Beach BoysGod Only Knows
15The Spencer Davis GroupKeep On Running
16The BeatlesPaperback Writer
17The MindbendersGroovy Kind Of Love
18Chris FarloweOut Of Time
19The Small FacesAll Or Nothing
20The Beach BoysSloop John B
21The Spencer Davis GroupSomebody Help Me
22Dusty SpringfieldYou Don't Have To Say You Love Me
23The OverlandersMichelle
24The New Vaudeville BandWinchester Cathedral
25Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & TichHold Tight
26Roy OrbisonToo Soon To Know
27Los BravosBlack Is Black
28The WhoI'm A Boy
29Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & TichBend It!
30The Rolling StonesPaint It, Black
31Dave BerryMama
32Crispian St PetersYou Were On My Mind
33The Lovin' SpoonfulDaydream
34TroggsI Can't Control Myself
35The Mamas & The PapasMonday Monday
36Ike & Tina TurnerRiver Deep, Mountain High
37The HolliesI Can't Let Go
38The HolliesStop Stop Stop
39Georgie Fame & The Blue FlamesGet Away
40Percy SledgeWhen A Man Loves A Woman
41TroggsWild Thing
42Gene PitneyNobody Needs Your Love
43The MerseysSorrow
44Manfred MannSemi-Detached Suburban Mr James
45The BachelorsSound Of Silence
46Chris MontezThe More I See You
47Val DoonicanWhat Would I Be
48The Spencer Davis GroupGimme Some Loving
49The Small FacesSha La La La Lee
50Eddy ArnoldMake The World Go Away
51The SandpipersGuantanamera
52The Rolling StonesNineteenth Nervous Breakdown
53CherBang Bang
54Paul JonesHigh Time
55The SupremesYou Can't Hurry Love
56Cliff RichardWind Me Up (Let Me Go)
57The Beach BoysBarbara Ann
58David & JonathanLovers Of The World Unite
59Crispian St PetersPied Piper
60Ken DoddPromises
61The KinksDedicated Follower Of Fashion
62The Walker BrothersMy Ship Is Coming In
63The Four SeasonsLet's Hang On
64The WhoSubstitute
65Val DoonicanElusive Butterfly
66Napoleon XIVThey're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haa
67The YardbirdsShapes Of Things
68Cliff RichardVisions
69Sonny & CherLittle Man
70Petula ClarkI Couldn't Live Without Your Love
71The SeekersThe Carnival Is Over
72Herman's HermitsA Must To Avoid
73Ken DoddThe River
74Lee DorseyHoly Cow
75Cilla BlackLove's Just A Broken Heart
76The SeekersMorningtown Ride
77Dusty SpringfieldAll I See Is You
78Elvis PresleyLove Letters
79Cilla BlackDon't Answer Me
80Gene PitneyBackstage
81The EasybeatsFriday On My Mind
82Roy CShotgun Wedding
83The HolliesBus Stop
84Bob LindElusive Butterfly
85The Lovin' SpoonfulSummer In The City
86Simon & GarfunkelHomeward Bound
87Bobby DarinIf I Were A Carpenter
88Petula ClarkMy Love
89Herman's HermitsNo Milk Today
90The SeekersWalk With Me
91Cilla BlackAlfie
92Alan Price SetHi-Lili Hi-Lo
93The Small FacesMy Mind's Eye
94Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & TichHideaway
95Mike Sammes SingersSomewhere My Love
96Otis ReddingMy Girl
97The AnimalsDon't Bring Me Down
98Lee DorseyWorking In The Coalmine
99The KinksTill The End Of The Day
100The Rolling StonesHave You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow

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