Silly Saturday – Stonehenge’s Stones

A good news item this week was that ‘a new scientific breakthrough has, for the first time, allowed geologists to pinpoint almost exactly where Stonehenge’s giant stone uprights and lintels came from. Scientists from the University of Brighton have traced the stones to a small very specific two square mile patch of woodland just south of the village of Lockeridge, Wiltshire. Builders of Stonehenge probably chose it as their source of stone because of the exceptional sizes and relative flatness of many of its sarsen boulders.

So no one has ever noticed before that in a little wood nearby, there are huge stones lying around that just happen to look like the ones at Stonehenge? Did no one ever trip over them or fall down the holes left when the Stonehenge Sarsens were extracted?

Warning, photo taken before Covid 19 social distancing

The other ‘exciting revelation was this… ‘Professor Nash was able to analyse the Stonehenge sarsens because a core extracted from one of the monument’s giant stones during repair work in the 1950s (and taken to America by one of the engineers involved in that work) was returned to English Heritage last year.’

What! Some chap is tidying up his office and suddenly thinks ‘Now where did I put that bit of Stonehenge sixty years ago…’ Was he embarrassed to return it after all this time?

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/stonehenge-stones-sarsen-archaeology-a9644436.html

Sunday Salon – July 2020

I haven’t done a Sunday Salon for a while ( ages ) and still have reviews to do and lots of interesting story collections I am dipping into on my Kindle. Here are three very different novels I have recently read on my Kindle. I have posted these 5 star reviews on Goodreads and my Facebook author page. As usual it looks like Amazon is going to reject my reviews. I am also featuring a very old paperback I picked up at the charity shop which is suddenly relevant.

Little Big Boy by Max Power

This is a story about a little boy’s first love, his mother. It is not autobiographical, but is so powerful readers might assume it was, with its vivid evocation of early childhood.  It is more than that, a story of families, of Ireland in the early nineteen seventies. There are many things that are dark inside and outside the home, that will make you angry, but the tale also bursts with life, of young boys exploring and having adventures with their friends. I have included a link to one of Max Power’s blogs in which he talks about his mother.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25442729-little-big-boy

https://maxpowerbooks.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/the-space-in-the-break-of-my-heart/

Warning Signs  by Carol Balawyder

More vivid than a television murder drama, this an intelligent psychological thriller with the killer trying to understand why he could be tempted to kill and how he can stop himself. It is also the story anyone will recognise of young women looking for love, the dating game. Everyone is a stranger when you first meet them, when do we start trusting a person and when you begin dating someone how do you know if you are safe? A great story that kept me on edge all the way through.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49733864-warning-signs

Marriage Unarranged  by Ritu Bhathal

I have not been to India, but the pictures the author paints are how I imagine from stories told by British Asians ‘going home’ and others visiting for the first time. This is a romantic story, but also an amusing one, young people on holiday to India without their elders hiring drivers and keeping to an agenda. They want to visit a real cinema, not the new multiplex, travel around like locals. There is glamour, for this is also a business trip for Aashi’s older brother who wants to reinvent the family fashion shop, but solemn moments as they contemplate dark historic events.  As the five visit the Golden Temple there is an insight into the faith of the Sikhs. New friendships are made, Aashi’s broken heart might be mending, but how will life work out when they all return home to Birmingham?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49901585-marriage-unarranged

The Decameron Vol 2 by Giovanni Boccaccio  is the second part of a collection of rather saucy short stories written during the plague of 1348. My paperback copy is not quite that old, published in 1959 and costing three shillings and sixpence. I read it a while back, but when I saw this item in the newspaper I took it off my shelf again. The stories they tell each other are a lot of fun with the ladies often managing to trick the men, but a lot of trickery in general.  I guess this little group had more fun in isolation than lots of people this century.

Game Set Match

Game, set, match are words you will not hear this week as Wimbledon has been cancelled, but there are plenty of games people have been able to play in lockdown and isolation, from real cardboard playing cards on a real table to computer games.

Humans have been playing games since forever. Adam and Eve probably got bored playing hide and seek; Eve for sure, that’s why she went looking for new interests like the tree of knowledge. Our cave dwelling ancestors collected shells and stones and drew lines in the dirt, but got annoyed with their children for time wasting.

‘Will you stop playing with those sticks and stones and go and collect some berries like I told you to.’

…and onward millennia to the last years of the twentieth century when parents would be telling teenagers to get off the computer ( the one household computer bought by fathers across the land because it would be educational for their children, though they really wanted to play with it themselves ) and do their homework, or read a book, or get out in the fresh air. At one stage I was heard to say I would never have got married let alone had children if I had known home computers were going to be invented…

And who would have imagined that their son in his thirties would still be playing computer games with his school friends; not still going round each other’s houses, they live hundreds of miles apart, but playing on line with X Boxes …

Call of Duty Warzone – 150 players in teams of 4   – already my mind is boggled. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E44DClsX5Q&feature=youtu.be&fbclid

‘This game uses something called “skill based match making” which uses a combination of different player statistics to fill games with people mostly of the same skill level. The result is that as you get better you never feel like you are getting better. The advantage is that players do not feel like they don’t stand a chance against very good people. It’s very controversial within the gaming community.’

The world of computer games is a total mystery to me, but one advantage of blogging is that you can write from a position of total ignorance. I do understand that computer games have been made by very clever and creative people and they are just as valid an art form and interest as any other. Now portable personal electronic devices are the latest entertainment for older generations to worry are time wasters and just plain bad. Books, radio and television have all been frowned upon in their time.

I informally interviewed a few of the first generation to play computer games, the first parents to not mind their children playing.

In contrast to Call of Duty fans a professional chap enjoys single-player games such as Batman and Uncharted 4 ( which seems to have ‘real people’ in it ) . ‘I don’t have any online friends to play with, or the time to play online. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is probably one of the best games ever made.’

Lego Harry Potter sounds more fun, a favourite of a lady in her thirties. ‘It’s all about collecting studs and learning spells and defeating He Who Must Not Be Named!’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEQ4ky00L8Q

Lego games are all good for children and parents to play together. Another couple have bought a Nintendo Switch and the first game they are trying is Mario Kart, basically racing, to play with their young children.

Why you play is different for everybody, a mum in her thirties says ‘I like to play co-op games rather than competitive ones, otherwise it’s too annoying.’

Another professional man who enjoys computer games for unwinding says ‘How can they be called time wasters, at least they are interactive, not like slumping in front of the television.’

If I wasn’t busy blogging, writing, reading, gardening; perhaps if I tried some of these games I would enjoy them. It’s never too late to start. On Woman’s Hour this week they were talking to some ladies in their seventies who love playing computer games and their grandchildren love being able to play games with them. They like the challenge of… what are all these game about? Getting out of places, through a maze or something completely different?

 Minecraft is a game created by Microsoft where players can explore a 3D world, discover natural resources, craft tools and build houses or other structures. Now that sounds quite fun. I read in the newspaper that an archaeologist has recreated a Bronze Age landmark – with a great deal of technical help from his eleven year old daughter. Doctor Ben Edwards and Bella have created a digital version of Bryn Celli Ddu, a 3000 year old burial mound on Anglesey, with further help from other experts.

https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/

I think I would like a game where you create your own country estate with beautiful gardens which wouldn’t need weeding. If such a game exists let me know.

A more exciting thought; can authors turn their novels and short stories into computer games, will that be the next thing on Amazon KDP? I think some of my writing would be perfect, I just need a few artists and people who do coding, whatever that is…

You’ve read the books, now play the amazing games.

Do you or your family play computer games? Love them or hate them?

Silly Saturday – Sad Statues

After Nelson was toppled from his column in Trafalgar Square and dunked in the fountains, the Prime Minister announced that all statues around the kingdom would be removed and replaced by more of the ubiquitous figures of Everyman created by Antony Gormley.

Margate’s man only emerges at low tide.

Angry protestors, objecting to Gormley’s exclusive use of the male human body and also the fact he is white and has been middle aged for a good while, gathered at the foot of his Angel of the North. On arrival they called for more supporters to help pull it down as it turned out to be much bigger than it looked when they were driving along the A1.

One art enthusiast gathered to protect the great work and point out that the Angel was androgynous, a heavenly not human body and had led a blameless life, so could not offend anyone.

After a petition on 38 Degrees, parliament passed a motion that all the now empty plinths would be filled with life size replicas of the Angel of the North. Buckingham Palace released a statement saying The Queen was delighted at the prospect of seeing The Angel when she looked out of her bedroom window and retiring Queen Victoria to the back garden.

TV or not TV

When I have mentioned or reviewed television programmes on my blog at least two bloggers have commented that they never watch television. I’m sure they are not alone, but probably in the minority. If you are reading this you obviously don’t spend your life glued to the TV screen; you would not have time for blogging and life on line. But most people watch regularly or occasionally. Is television a terrible time waster or a valid part of our culture and family memories?

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Radio Times was first issued on 28 September 1923 for the price of 2d, carrying details of BBC wireless programmes. I have not been reading it for that long, but I do buy it every week so I can read proper listings and details of radio and television programmes for  my discerning selection!

Those of us in other countries may think the USA was first with television, but the BBC is the world’s oldest and largest broadcaster, its first analogue terrestrial channel, the BBC Television Service, launched in 1936. Not many people had a set or were actually watching it then and World War Two put a damper on things, with wireless being far more important for hearing news, momentous speeches and morale boosting music. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second in 1953 is credited with being the spur for people to rent or buy a television set. In our family a telly did not arrive until I was four, when Mum was expecting my brother and had to rest because of pre-eclampsia; she would have had to wait till 1.45pm to turn it on for Watch With Mother.

Here is a great time waster; you can look at any past copies of Radio Times and even click to see programme details. See what my parents were watching not long before my brother was born. I am glad to say I have not misremembered Saturday evenings in our Twickenham flat.

https://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/39a23af27ebf412690375fe97134556e

So Bill and Ben, Rin Tin Tin , The Lone Ranger and Billy Bunter came into our lives. I thought the people on screen lived in the cabinet underneath the television and was terrified of opening the doors. There were plenty of cowboys, but good English programmes as well, from Emergency Ward Ten, an early hospital drama to Panorama…

With the first episode being broadcast on November 11, 1953, Panorama is the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme and the longest-running public affairs TV programme in the world. 

Cosy evenings in with the telly, but up until the early 1980s all good things had to come to an end; after the last programme had finished a BBC announcer would wish us all a very good night, remind us to turn our television sets off and then leave the national anthem playing. The live screen was sucked into a tiny white dot which itself disappeared.
Now that you can watch any programme anytime on anything we can look back with nostalgia on the snug days of families gathered in their living rooms to watch the one television set. And it was a shared experience in the moment, that you couldn’t experience with books, apart from the golden days of father reading the latest instalment of Charles Dickens. Before the advent of video recorders everyone at school or work had probably seen the same programme the night before and be eager to discuss it. The Forsyte Saga’s 26 episodes were broadcast on Sunday evenings in1967/68 and churches had to hold evening service earlier to keep their congregation. Eighteen million people watched the final episode, a truly shared experience.
That shared experience does still exist. Plenty of households watch the latest drama serial in real time, or at least catch up in the same week before the next episode. I don’t follow dancing or cooking programmes and certainly not celebrities in jungles, but if we have visitors staying or we are at someone else’s place it is good fun to all watch together; I can annoy everyone by interrupting with ‘Who on earth is that?’ or ‘What IS she wearing’.
But even in the good old days there was a downside to television. In one of my many previous incarnations I did silver service waitressing for the money, but an older lady did it to get out of the house and away from the television her husband was glued to. While wives complained about husbands watching sport there would be husbands complaining about wives viewing endless soaps.

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Then homes began to get more than one television set, TVs appeared in young children’s bedrooms, satellite dishes and cables appeared. Theoretically you could watch rubbish on television 24 hours a day, civilisation was under threat…


The advent of home computers brought more change. Husbands retreated to other corners of the house to play with the new toy, leaving their wives in peace to choose what to watch. Later on, wives discovered the internet, social media and blogging and did not even notice if their husbands were glued to the telly. The previous two sentences are of course sweeping generalisations – feel free to correct them…

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Tune in to some more of my thoughts on TV…

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/silly-saturday-slowly/
Do you watch television?
What are your earliest memories of TV?
When did your family first get a TV set?

Sunday Salon – Fact and Fiction

I am enjoying several books on my Kindle, one novel, two short story collections, poetry and a cutting humorous slice of real life, but no new reviews since the January’s  Sunday Salon… in the meantime we have been to the theatre and seen some excellent programmes on television. Here are two stories that have stood the test of time…
Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and has been running continuously ever since then. It is the longest-running West End show, the longest initial run of any play in history; there is a twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre.

The play began life as a short radio play called Three Blind Mice, written as a birthday present for Queen Mary, The Queen’s grandmother and broadcast on 30 May 1947. The theatre play is based on a short story based on the radio play, but Christie asked that the story not be published as long as the play ran in the West End of London. The short story has still not been published within the United Kingdom, but it has appeared in the United States in the 1950 collection Three Blind Mice and Other Stories.
When she wrote the play, Christie gave the rights to her grandson Mathew Prichard as a birthday present. In the United Kingdom only one production of the play in addition to the West End production can be performed annually. Under the contract terms of the play no film adaptation can be produced until the West End production has been closed for at least six months. So don’t expect to see any time soon a block buster movie brought into the 21st century and set in Bollywood or Hollywood, or perhaps on a space station. The play was set in ‘the present’ but has been left safely in the 1950’s.

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I first saw The Mousetrap in London in the seventies while over from Australia on the ‘working holiday’ that never ended. As for many visitors to London it was a must see and my mother had always talked about the audiences being sworn to secrecy; how amazing that no one has ever given the game away! I enjoyed it and was proud to have guessed who dunnit.

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This time we were at The Lighthouse in Poole, an early stop on the play’s 2020 UK Tour. I remembered who dunnit from last time, but recalled nothing of the plot so it was a fun evening. There is one set, the interior of Monkswell Manor, recently converted to a guest house run by a young couple. On the radio we hear of a murder and the police looking for a suspect in a dark overcoat; as each character appears on stage they are all wearing dark overcoats. Heavy snow leaves Monkswell cut off from the rest of the world, so of course when a murder occurs we know the murderer is in the house… A plot happily repeated on islands and trains etc. by Christie. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep us guessing and the second half especially moves along at a good pace. I’m not going to tell you what happens and if you know, don’t mention it in the comments.

https://www.mousetrapontour.com/uk-tour/
We move along a few years into in the early 1960s for an excellent six part BBC Sunday evening drama ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler’. This is a story that never seems to lose its fascination, there have been documentaries, books and a film; the scandal has been examined with 21st century eyes. When I was a child it seemed to be on the news all the time, though I had no idea what The Profumo Affair might be. John Profumo was the Minister for War in the turbulent times of the Cuban Missile Crisis; not only did he have an affair with the naïve ( perhaps not sexually naïve, but in every other way ) Christine Keeler, who also slept with a Russian spy; to make matters worse, he lied to The House of Commons, his chums and presumably to his wife, who happened to be famous actress Valery Hobson. Stephen Ward the society osteopath was another leading character, a ‘libertine’ who mixed with the aristocracy and politicians, groomed Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler and was responsible for Keeler meeting these men in the first place. The press had a field day.
It is a tribute to the actors that our sympathies were with the two girls and Stephen Ward. They enjoyed living at his flat, looked after them is hardly the right term, Keeler was only seventeen when Ward met her, but to them he was a friend and they were having fun. When Profumo suggested he put Keeler in her own flat she replied ‘But what about Mand?’ She didn’t want to live by herself, she wanted to stay with her friend at Ward’s.
The six part drama was able to explore a lot more about Christine’s early life and the ex boyfriend dramas also going on at the time. Most viewers probably knew Ward ended up committing suicide, perhaps making all the more poignant the lead up to the sham trial of Ward. He was expecting his many important friends and clients to step forward as witnesses for his defence, but in the end they all deserted him. James Norton was brilliant as Stephen Ward. So too were Sophie Cookson and Ellie Bamber as Christine and Mandy, two girls who were real people, not just two dumb models to be exploited by everyone. From Stephen Ward’s elegant mews flat to the sixties clothes, makeup and hair do’s this was a polished production.

https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2020-01-26/trial-of-christine-keeler-cast/
Have you seen the Mousetrap?
Do you prefer fiction or real life drama?

Landing Airside

When our family took off for Australia from London Airport ( soon to be called Heathrow ) in 1964 I never imagined I would be returning nine years later, let alone that I would spend years living very near the airport and end up working there.
With perhaps the exception of China, Heathrow must be one of the most continually changing spots of land in the world.

London got its new airport in 1946. The site included the Vicar of Harmondsworth’s back garden, bought for £15,000 by Richard Fairey in 1930 as a site for testing his planes.
The village of Heath Row was bulldozed in 1944, plans were steamrollered through by the plane-mad air minister Harold Balfour. He persuaded Churchill’s War Cabinet in the 1940s that an RAF base was needed on Hounslow Heath, when actually he wanted to push through plans for a post-war civilian airport. An old lady told me years ago that when they saw a few tents going up near their home on the Bath Road they did not think it would make much difference to their lives.

https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/the-history-of-heathrow-2228431.html

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In 1964 we walked across the tarmac to the steps and turned to wave to our relatives standing out on a balcony. In the seventies and early eighties you could still stroll on the roof gardens of the Queens building, children could play and plane spotters listened in to their radios.
In one of my many incarnations I was a lounge hostess for eight years either side of the turn of the century. Even since then everywhere I worked has either been demolished or changed completely. But passengers and the 80,000 ( guestimate, but it’s a lot! ) staff who work there are no doubt much the same.

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With the children all at senior school it was time for me to leave behind my various pin money jobs and find properly paid part time work. A few hours in the middle of the day, Monday to Friday in the Terminal Three Qantas  Lounge seemed perfect for someone who had missed out on the computer revolution; all I had to do apparently was work the coffee machine and put out a few sandwiches and I spoke the same language as the passengers. Two of us just had the morning flight out to Australia to look after. It turned out my senior colleague was a right… not easy to work with, but luckily she spent most of her time talking to the Qantas girls on the desk or to her twin daughters on the phone in the kitchen. The main lounge was Business Class and a select corner was for First Class passengers. There were cheerful Australians often meeting up with friends and British holidaymakers in a good mood. Another great feature of this lounge was the wonderful view of the south runway and Concorde taking off at 11am.
This little oasis of peace and quiet was down a corridor just before The Gates and up a flight of stairs. I don’t like lifts and could see no reason why I would need to use the rackety metal box that was always being repaired. When it was time for passengers to go to their Gate they could choose stairs or lift. One day the Qantas lady asked me to escort a nervous passenger because she was afraid of lifts; so am I wanted to say! Worse was to come. I was asked to fetch the papers… the Australian newspapers just arrived on the in bound flight. It turned out this involved going down in the same lift, but with the magic key which took the lift down to hell, or at least the outside; real airside where planes park; dark concrete undercover places passengers never see. I was petrified I would be stranded there if the lift doors closed… which they did because I had to walk a few feet to reach the bundles of paper. When I returned trembling to the safety of the lounge my colleague said I should never have agreed to do it as it wasn’t our job!
Companies, jobs and uniforms were to change as frequently as the buildings, but I did not know that at the time.

liebster-award

Silly Saturday – Quexit

Buckingham Palace announced today that Britain will be leaving The Commonwealth. The news shocked many of the 53 member states who believed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second and The Commonwealth of Nations would last forever. A spokesman for Charles, Prince of Wales, who in 2018 was appointed The Queen’s designated successor, said holding a referendum on this important change would have been too divisive for the United Kingdom; learning lessons from Brexit the exit will be swift. The spokesman denied that this monumental decision had anything to do with yesterday’s news that The Royal Family will be leaving Britain.

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Although commentators initially believed The Queen was influenced by Prince Harry’s recent emigration, the shock news was later revealed that The Royal Family are not actually British. After receiving Ancestor DNA kits for Christmas, members of the family discovered they were 99% related to Europe Royal, a unique and entirely separate genetic group whose origins date back more than a millennium. One possible theory put forward by geneticists is that the kings and queens of Europe could only marry each other.

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No statement has been issued about the future of the royal family, but it is believed Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja have issued a warm welcome to any royal wishing to take up residence in Norway. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have not commented on reports that their new Canadian home includes a granny flat.

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The Windsors will not be the only family leaving the United Kingdom. The roll out programme that started with all residents not born in Britain has now been extended to all Britons who cannot prove the ownership of four British grandparents. Shocked Leavers vented their worries on social media.

No one told us this would happen, we wanted to leave the European Union, not Britain.

Hang on… even the Prime Minister wasn’t born in Britain…

I wouldn’t have voted for Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson if I had known his 5x great grandfather was King Frederick I of Württemberg!

I’m going to get one of those Ancestor DNA kits and prove I’m British.

I don’t even know who my father is let alone who my grandparents are.

If Leavers were also worried they put on a brave face.

Didn’t we say Brexit would be a disaster?

blogger-recognition-2019

 

Worrying on Wednesday

The coronavirus has brought back memories of SARS and other health scares:
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is caused by the SARS coronavirus, known as SARS CoV. Coronaviruses commonly cause infections in both humans and animals.
There have been 2 self-limiting SARS outbreaks, which resulted in a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening form of pneumonia. Both happened between 2002 and 2004.


Hmm, it looks like coronavirus is SARS replayed. For those of us who are not scientists what the initials stand for is the scary part – you can breathe it in, it floats in the air.
Thinking of SARS reminded me of a visit to my doctors at that time, as an afterthought I asked him about TB. A while before, I had a medical for a job application for a council run playgroup ( for my sake or the children’s I’m not sure ) and passed, but was told I had no immunity to TB. I don’t think we were immunised when I was a teenager in Australia, TB was a thing of the past? Up until then it had not occurred to me to be worried about TB, now I asked what I should do. Go along to my local health clinic was the suggestion; the receptionist at the clinic looked at me as if I was mad, they only did it in schools – until 2005 the BCG vaccine was administered to all children in Britain at the age of 13. I certainly was not going to line up with giggling adolescent girls at the senior school.
Meanwhile back at my GP’s surgery early in the 21st century – He said immunisation was not effective for adults and anyway, I had more of chance of catching SARS than TB – not that I was likely to catch SARS he added hastily.

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At the time, I was working at Heathrow Airport, in the Singapore business and first class lounges, but as we only saw the outgoing passengers there seemed little risk. In fact the only thing that happened was that we had hardly any passengers, nobody wanted to go to Singapore with the SARS SCARE on. Singapore Airlines, usually impressive with their high standards and passenger care, were worried about loss of revenue and somewhere up the chain of command it was decided to cancel the deluxe ice cream for passengers. I could see little saving in that and why should their few remaining loyal passengers be punished for turning up? It was we catering staff who had to explain why their treat was missing in the chiller cabinet!

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Contagious diseases can bring on something more contagious, Xenophobia, fear of Johnny Stranger. Irrational, hidden fear of others can soon become a not unreasonable fear of disease spread by Strangers. When you consider how many people travel, most cities less than a day’s flight from each other, it’s a wonder any of us are still alive! Joan Smith might see a Chinese looking chap in the street and steer clear for fear of catching coronavirus, but he was born in England, never been abroad. At the supermarket Joan Smith stands at the checkout queue with Betty Jones from up the road who has just been on the holiday of a lifetime to China.
How to keep safe? Medieval plagues managed to spread without aeroplanes, but you don’t have to be a scientist to work out you wouldn’t want to sit next to someone with coronavirus on a plane and with that shared air being recirculated, the other passengers are also at risk. Then on landing at a busy airport all the workers are exposed and take the virus home to their families. Best to retreat to the internet as your sole contact with other humans, the only lurking viruses will be in your computer.

sunshine-blogger

Silly Saturday – Happy Haggis

Tonight is Burns Night, celebrated each year on Robert Burns’ birthday, 25 January. The first Burns Night was held back in 1801, on the fifth anniversary of his death, when a group of Burns’ friends held a dinner in his memory at Burns cottage. They ate a meal together and read his poems in a night of celebration and remembrance.
Formal Burns suppers have a piper piping in the haggis. The host will say Burns’ Selkirk Grace: “Some hae meat an canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit”.
We know Robbie loved haggis because he wrote an eight verse poem ‘Address to a Haggis.’

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang ‘s my arm.

https://inews.co.uk/news/scotland/burns-night-traditions-2020-haggis-poems-supper-scotland-national-bard-1371705

Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and cooked while traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing.
Main ingredients: Sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, and stomach (or sausage casing), onion, oatmeal, suet, spices.

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Is it delicious? YES
My first ever haggis was at a Burns’ supper when my friend and I decided to attempt skiing in Aviemore, Scotland. The skiing was a disaster – not broken bones disaster – just not successful. But we did catch a haggis. As we were staying at the Youth Hostel we had to be in by midnight so couldn’t stay to see how wild it got.
When CyberMacSpouse first took me back to his home town in The Borders I didn’t assume everyone in Scotland would be eating haggis, but the local fish and chip shop served battered haggis and chips, yummy but fattening.
In the early years if we wanted haggis we had to wait until someone was coming down to London or coming back from Scotland. It then had to be simmered for a couple of hours in the pressure cooker base ( the only saucepan large enough ) and in our cold flat condensation would be streaming down the kitchen walls – actually, all the walls.
Nowadays cooking a haggis meal is much simpler, pre-cooked versions are probably available all year round in your supermarket or butchers’ and you can get a sachet of whiskey cream sauce to go with it. Unceremoniously chop it in pieces and put in the microwave. Potatoes are already on the boil as are the neeps, which in England is a swede, but called turnip in Scotland. Lots of mashing with butter and ground black pepper and it’s ready. You can also get vegetarian haggis, which rather defeats the object of it being a poor man’s meal using left overs of sheep!
We always buy Macsween – this is not an advertisement, I’m just telling you what we eat and I have to say our homemade meal is better than some we have had out. Worst meal was in a small northern Scottish town that shall remain nameless. We thought to support local business rather than slipping into Wetherspoons and dropped into Morag’s Café. Lumpy mashed potato and dried up haggis. Our most unusual haggis meal was delicious, found in a pub on the Isle of Skye – Haggis Strudel – I guess that will be off the menu when we leave the European Union next week. Wetherspoons let me down this week when we needed a quick dinner before going to the theatre. They had a special haggis menu; I don’t know what the haggis burger was like, but my traditional small portion had potatoes that looked like they had just had a bit of a rough and tumble, rather than mashed to creamy smoothness.

https://www.macsween.co.uk/
Carrying on family tradition Team H are having a Burns’ Supper and apparently the four year old is going to recite Address to a Haggis as a surprise for his father. Perhaps he is cheating and learning an abridged English version.
Have you had haggis, do you like it?

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