Saturday, 6 January 2018

So 2018's nearly a week old....

Thank you all for your New Year wishes, and let's hope that 2018 is a good year for us all.   I've started it with viral bronchitis, picked up from one of several folk I know who are suffering from this, so I haven't been out much. Apart from the discomfort of the illness, I've been happy enough. I've begun reading Helen Dunmore's "Birdcage Walk," and look forward to reading more every time I take it up. 

I don't know how it ends yet but it's about a young woman in 18th century Bristol who is married to a seemingly respectable man - but the reader (though not the young woman) can see he is becoming increasingly dangerous and desperate.   A very interesting situation! 


Dunmore is a wonderful writer in a literary sense - I admire her use of words, her writing technique, the quality of her research and the elegant way she uses that research to bring her period to life.  She is also a master of plot.  Or, at least, to be more precise, the other books I've read of hers have had terrific plots. I'll let you know if this also the case at the end of my reading of "Birdcage Walk"!

I've also been enjoying blogs. One of my favourites is "The Gentle Author," an anonymous resident of Spitalfields, a once-neglected, now trendy part of London. Her (or his) mission is to reveal as much about this area, past and present, as possible.  Because London is such an old city, there is history everywhere once you start looking and the blog is varied and full of treasures. Today the author shows some of the many wood and stone carvings that used to grace East and central London, as seen in local photographic archives.  I am glad a photo survived of this physician tending his patients, and particularly the matter of fact way he is sawing off the patient's leg in the second picture down on the left. What do you think is happening in the lower right picture? 


These days, one of the best ways to discover ancient carvings of everyday life is to check in old cathedral choirs.  Many of them contain special tip-up seats called misericords.  These often show scenes of medieval daily life, and may be humorous and touching. Others feature the fearsome demons which occur very often on old churches of all sizes throughout England.  I have never known exactly why these demons live in old churches. My theory is that they're imprisoned there so they can be kept under control by God.   Here are a nasty couple of creatures on an archway at Ilkesthall St Andrews, Suffolk. The one on the right with its sharp teeth appears to be muzzled. Let's hope so. 


Many pubs also have artistic and interesting signs. This "World's End" is near Taunton, Somerset has  a nice picture of a punter escaping from the world's cares, but the surround is also interesting.


The badger's a symbol of the brewery, "Hall & Woodhouse" which owns the pub. You can get a better view of the badger here on Street View.  

Talking of pubs, do you know the Lidl and Aldi song?  (In case you are living in a parallel universe, Lidl and Aldi are discount supermarkets which sell a limited range of very nice food at very good prices plus loads of "special buys" which can be anything from fitness mats to drinks fridges, or embroidery kits, or cheese graters,or even the very nice jacket which T. impulsively bought for £15 in Lidl in Belfast when the weather turned cold.) 

This Irish pub song explains how you simply can't go into either store without buying loads of random stuff you never knew you wanted, because the price is so insanely low.  Yes, yes.  

The composer and performer is Mick McConnell,  and the pub's John B. Keane's in Listowel, Co. Kerry. 



A friend from Japan stayed with us a couple of days ago - hope I haven't given him my bug. We've had some wonderful New Year and Christmas presents from Japan. Here are two charming small boxes of sweets from friends in Hiroshima.  Each box, made from papier-mache, is a little work of art. I think they depict characters from Japanese folklore: the Seven Lucky Gods and Hyottoko.   


I've got tickets to something tonight, but I'm not sure I'll be well enough to go. I hope so.  My neighbour's invited us to her Twelfth Night party later this evening so I'd like to go to that too but don't want to infect others.  Perhaps I'd better do some more research into bronchitis and see if I can figure out what to do!   

So that's what I have been up to. I hope you have enjoyed the first week of 2018


58 comments:

  1. Do hang in there and wish you speedy recovery. The book does sound intriguing. And ancient carvings can be fascinating to see. Thanks for sharing and greetings!

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  2. Prayers for Good health in your home

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    1. Thank you, we need a helping hand with getting well. :)

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  3. As always, dear Jenny, you brought us a mix of entertaining and educating, of history and a bigger picture as well as glimpses of your daily life. Thank you!
    Sorry to hear you are not well. If in doubt, I rather stay in and on my own until I am fully well again, which I hope will be very soon in your case.
    My first week of 2018 was mostly restful, as it was too wet and windy to be out and about much. Tonight, O.K. and I shall be hosting a small neighbourhood party with drinks (remnants of mulled wine) and nibbles (pesto bites, dates in bacon and so on) as a kind of end-of-Christmas-season thing. And tomorrow, I have to travel home again...

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    1. I hope you enjoyed your party! I am afraid I had to miss the concert AND the party. My friend said that lots of people were ill so I hope she didn't have too many cancellations. I know how disappointing it is when people don't come to a party. I hope I'll be fullly well again soon, and am taking it easy. .

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  4. I have had Bronchitis often and the effects have been hard to shake. Long after I have felt better, an annoying cough lingers. I hope that you get through this soon. Take care of yourself and take your medicine.

    I enjoyed your interesting post and the Irishman’s song was fun.

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    1. The song really made me laugh! yes, you are right, the cough is proving very hard to shake. Every day I hope it will improve more

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  5. Did you know that Helen Dunmore sadly died in 2017? Birdcage Walk is a book that I too intend to read. Helen was a Bristolian, and her final poetry collection, The Wave, written just before her death won the major literary Costa Poetry Award a few days ago.
    A sad loss to the literary world, she was only 64years old.
    I was surprised when I visited my local Lidl a few days ago as it now resembles an upmarket shop with large cool fresh food cabinets, wall to ceiling freezers, and the ability to check yourself out. My husband bought a navy merino wool jumper there for half the price of other stores.

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    1. Yes, I did know it - so sad. What a wonderful writer she was. I think Lidl stores vary between quite upmarket and nice to a bit tatty, depending on location. I wasn't that keen on the self checkouts because they were both noisy and slow but perhaps they have improved now!

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  6. Oh Jenny, nothings worse than feeling poorly over the holidays when so much is going on -- fun stuff, too. I hope you heal very quickly. It sounds like you enjoyed much of Christmas and how nice to have your Japanese friends with you as well. Those boxes are beautiful, even without the sweets! I hope you could go to your ticketed event and the Twelfth Night party.

    The song is FABULOUS! We have Aldi here in my town but I don't get out there often. I've also heard they own the Trader Joe's which is my very favorite and get to even less (but every time we go to visit the kids -- it's very near where they live.) So, I liked that lots -- and I know what he meant about a shed with lots of stuff he didn't need. IKEA's marketplace can be like that, too!

    Beautiful and interesting about the ceramics and carvings on the churches and in Spitalfields. I'm headed over there now! I've recently read two mysteries set in and near that area. It would be fun to learn more of the history. Seems like I recall a Jack the Ripper connection, too!

    Get well soon!

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    1. Glad you like the song, Jeanie. And you are right about IKEA. I think there is a Jack the ripper connection with the area, a very unpopular museum which many people dislke because they seem to be exploiting the dead, but I haven't been. It is full of atmosphere. Have you read Peter Ackroyd's "Hawksmoor"? that is set there and I enjoyed it although I generally find his books oddly impersonal and don't like them all that much.

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  7. Sorry you've been ill, it's that time of year. I went looking for the blog you mentioned and it really looked interesting. I don't think bronchitis is contagious. I've got pleurisy right now and I know it's not.

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    1. Pleurisy sounds horrible. I don't know if what I have is Bronchitis but it's still not really better and the other people I know who have it seem to be going on and on. Maybe it is what they call Aussie Flu.

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  8. At the moment I am reading a not-great book set in 18th century Scotland and I keep reading because of the setting. I love these images you give us of British history and culture and how it's all still very much alive and present.
    Happy New Year, Ms. Wolff and I hope you are right as rain very soon.

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    1. Thank you Ms Moon! I must say I would probably prefer to be in Florida with that nice warm weather, than in the cold dampness of London, but I admit it does add to the atmosphere! :)

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  9. What a grand assembly of artifacts. My friend bought a plush seat from the Rochester NY Opera House when it was renovated. She got down on her knees to read the bottom of the seat, and found George Eastman's signature.

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    1. Wow! That is amazing! What did she do with the seat?

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  10. I do hope you feel better soon - but at least you have some wonderful reading whle you are stuck at home.

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  11. Happy 2018, to you too. Wonderful to catch your post this morning. You always offer such a delightful and interesting post, complete with photos. Your review for the book for author Helen Dunmore has my attention, do let us know later. Enjoy your weekend!

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    1. \Thanks Karen. I have now finished the book and it's really good, I'd recommend it.

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  12. I hop you feel well enough to go to the party without feelings of guilt...whatever you do , don't pass on the bug to Adullamite...he says he will be collecting new ones for the New Year!
    Lovely to hear Lidl and Aldi again! You couldn't leave Leo alone in there when we lived in France...

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    1. It does seem to be a common problem! Sorry for late response, I'm still ill :(

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  13. I'm sorry to read you've begun the year with bronchitis. An interesting post. I love the Japanese gift boxes.

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    1. Thanks, e. The Japanese boxes are so beautiful I feel I should keep them to use for something else when the candies have been eaten.

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  14. What a wonderful post except for the bronchitis.
    Adore your heading photo, so beautiful.
    Hope you are better soon.

    cheers, parsnip and mandibles 

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    1. thanks Parsnip. The photo is of the sun rising through the trees in my friend's garden.

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  15. I can sympathise. I've only had a severe cold but I've been in Purdah and have not seen my new grandson since he was two days old on Christmas Eve.

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    1. I hope that by now you have been able to see him! He might be a little bit more awake when you do. :)

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  16. So sorry that you’ve been under the weather, and i hope you are feeling well enough to get out soon.

    That song is so funny! Yes, it’s amazing the stuff you didn’t know you needed until you saw it in the shops.

    We do not have Lidl here that i know of, but some states have Aldi stores and i’ve been in them, they are fabulous! We will never get one in Louisiana, though, a friend of mine called their headquarters and asked. She was told they will not even try to play Louisiana politics, end of discussion.

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    1. Oh my goodness, that makes me wonder what Louisiana politics must be like, but I can imagine :) I'm interested that Aldi has made its mark in the US though because you have such good supermarkets compared with many of ours.

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  17. So sorry you are sick. I started out last year sick. :(
    No, you don't want to give it to others or press yourself into feeling worse. I hope you did your research and came up with a solution that worked well.

    I loved the song!!! :)

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    1. Thank you Rita, and I am glad you enjoyed the song. I didn't get to the party or the concert, but the weather is at least a bit less chill.

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  18. I am so grateful to be alive now and not in those days when surgeons used saws.
    There's nothing quite like an Irish ballad for lifting the spirits. I enjoyed that, thank you. I have to confess that I have never visited Lidl and only once popped in see what Aldi was like. Hope you feel better soon. Enjoy your outing.

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    1. It is the way they both look so calm about it which caught my eye. I suppose his advertisement sign couldn't really show people writhing in agony. Yes, a funny song always lifts my spirits too.

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  19. Jenny and I have just spent several days at London art exhibitions - Jean Michel Basquiat, Wade Guyton, Rachel Whiteread, and 9/11 art at the Imperial War Museum. Some wonderful stuff. So that was a good start to the new year.

    Helen Dunmore is a great loss to the literary scene. I've greatly enjoyed several of her books. I must read Birdcage Walk now you've so loudly recommended it!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Nick. I am glad you enjoyed your trip to London and saw such good stuff. I look forward to seeing a bit more when I can get out comfortably again. :) :)

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  20. Dear Jenny.
    You had the wonderful new start for 2018 with the book and then with a friend from Japan. I like Hyottoko masks and I am happy to see you like it. Sometimes it might be odd to people from other countries, I thought.
    Happy New Year to you and your family!

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    1. Dear Tomoko, I am sorry not to have replied sooner but this illness seems to keep people feeling sick for about a month! Happy new Year to you!

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  21. Even sitting sick at home you offer a wonderful tour.
    Churches often have strange carvings, not all theologically correct it must be said.
    Spitalsfields is an interesting area, however it was not trendy last time I visited.
    That blog looks interesting however.
    Hopefully you are fit soon, we need these tours.

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    1. Yes, I often wonder where the images for these carvings do come from, I can't imagine any theologist thinking they're a good idea. Thanks I am glad you enjoy the tours!!

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  22. Oh, so sorry about the bronchitis, Jenny. Get well soon, and in the meantime pour boiling water on to eucalyptus leaves and inhale the steam - antibacterial, decongestant, anti-inflammatory. No wonder koalas look so healthy!

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    1. Ah! what a pity! A large eucalyptus down the road has just been cut down! Not that there are any koalas roaming around London .... but anyway I have already bought some Vick, so you see I am making the best of it :)

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  23. everything that has to encounter with has it's excuse anyway dear Jenny!

    so you are being little oversensitive for your bronchitis ! flu ,choking or bronchitis all these diseases seem to ride over the senses and one feels lost and low without any problem around so please stay positive and strong , don't let your short term (i believe) test (bronchitis) ruin your beautiful mood .


    i found birdcagewalk really compelling ! my type of story it sounded through your words .

    these boxes of sweets are most fav tome as i am huge sweet lover though can't eat unfortunately anymore :(

    i am sure through your digging on net you will find the solution of this flu soon and be fine and fit again hopefully :)

    i think you must go to the party of your neighbour and hope this way you feel much better

    Hugs!

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    1. Thank you Baili, for your kind and cheerful wishes!

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  24. Here's to a good 2018 and a full return to health...don't rush it!

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  25. Sorry you started out the new year with bronchitis! Look at the positive side - it can only get better from here on. If you have that lingering cough, drink thyme tea (google for instructions and information how it helps with coughs). Once you get over the "is there a chicken roasting in the kitchen?" feeling, it's actually quite good.

    I regularly visit Aldi, but we don't have Lidl in Florida yet. I just visited my son in South Carolina and he has two Lidls where he lives. I bought a lot of calories...

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    1. Glad your comment has appeared on my post, though it's still disappeared from my dashboard! There is a thyme bush in the garden - I am finding eucalyptus also helps. Lidl is my favourite of the two stores

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  26. Sad to hear you have begun this year with viral bronchitis Jenny and do so hope you are on the road to recovery.
    Your question of what is happening in the lower right picture: perhaps the physician is removing a tooth, as this art was practiced by barbers or doctors in years gone by. So glad I live in the present as a barber removing a tooth does not bear thinking about!
    I do so love The Ballad of Lidl & Aldi - many thanks for sharing.
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

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    1. Anyone removing a tooth doesn't sound that great to me! Glad you liked the song. Thank you for your kind wishes, I will catch up with blogs when I am fully recovered.

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  27. I'm sorry to hear that the new year has greeted you with bronchitis. Hopefully you will feel better soon and have much brighter days!
    That stone carving of the physician is as frightening as it is fascinating. It's difficult to figure out what he's doing to some of those patients (victims) - but perhaps it's best if we don't know...
    I love that muzzled creature on the archway. For some reason it made me laugh.
    I also enjoyed the Irish ballad.

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    1. Thank you John. I think sometimes that being treated by a doctor of that period is worse than actually being ill! I think the muzzled thing is a kind of hunting dog, or perhaps it is just an early effort by Maurice Sendak!

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  28. Hi, Jenny! Hopefully you're getting better, I'm glad. Bronchitis is a dangerous illness. Take care and stay in warmth. As they said in old times : drink more hot milk.
    I think the old woodcarvings can tell many interesting stories, for example about this awful doctor.
    Have a nice weekend!

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    1. Many thanks, Nadezda. I am drinking a lot of hot drinks, here in Britain we are told to put honey in the drink but actually I don't like honey! but the liquids are helping.

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  29. Oh Jenny, get well soon! I'm glad it's giving you some time to read, though and Helen Dunmore's book sounds intriguing, as does the blog about Spitalfields. Take care of yourself and I'll look forward to more of your blog posts this year.

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  30. The boxes are so cute, full of friendship.

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  31. My period of feeling ill started as you were writing this blog. 6th January is Three Kings Day here and I knew I was going downhill with a cold. I hope you feel much bette rnow and have caught up with all the wonderful stories by the Gentle Author.

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