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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Walkies with a Sasanach! (What's wrong?)

My wife, Carole and our little dotty dog, Dotty, did not take me seriously when I said, "Walkies!"

It's across the open fenland and I'm wearing something beneath the kilt. I'm no Braveheart. I'm English with Irish and Welsh ancestral line. 

As far as I am aware, there is no Scottish blood, though I do think kilts look smart. Also, I'm very partial to haggis and mash with mushy peas, flavoured with thick gravy plus none-brewed vinegar and pepper. I think the mushy peas and none-brewed vinegar might be the English bubbling to the surface - ha, ha, ha. 

However, to my delight, there are Irish and Welsh tartans too. All copyrighted from the authentic houses of Scotland and a fabulous House of Tartan Kiltmakers in Peterborough Cambridgeshire. 

I'm wearing the Irish County Waterford Tartan, but I can also wear Price-Powell, Howell-Powell and Davidson. Probably others too.

I can't wait to wear the entire suit when we next go on a cruise to the Mediterainian sea. When there are formal evening dinner nights aboard the ship, many will get their tartan colours, complete with Prince Charlie waistcoat and jacket.

It all makes for a grand occasion. However, on a more casual basis, I wanted to take the dog for a walk over the fenland and wanted to play the squire of old.

Carole thinks I'm an oddball and perhaps she is right. I don't worry about that sort of thing, though. I enjoy being an oddball in England's fenland. Just now and then. lol  

Monday, 13 February 2017

How I Left Peterborough's House of Tartan Kiltmakers in My Birthday Suit.

By coincidence, it was my birthday on the day that the House of Tartan Kiltmakers (One based in Peterborough) finished making my Prince Charlie formal suit for the cruise functions my wife and I like to attend when we go on holiday.

So many people like to wear the family colours for their formal evenings during the cruises and the outfits look great, in my opinion. I spoke to a few of the people who attended the formal dinner nights aboard ship and I spoke of my desire to acquire such splendid evening wear. I was informed that the vast majority of British people have ancestral lines plus there are a variety of tartans one can wear. 

Therefore, with great aplomb, I went along my family line and saw a number of tartans I could wear. There was Price-Powell, Howell-Powell, Davidson and along the female line from my Mother's side, there was the County Waterford Irish tartan line. I decided to look up the various kiltmakers and to my delight and surprise, there is The House of Tartan Kiltmakers based close to my Fenland home. They are located in the city of Peterborough. I was thrilled that a place was so close.

I found the website of Stan and Pat Wallace Pope at www.houseoftartans.co.uk  The whole experience of our visit to the kiltmakers was wonderful. I met a Scottish lady called Pat Wallace-Pope and her kiltmakers store was like an Aladin's cave of wonderful Scottish Highland things. She was a true professional and has been involved in kiltmaking since she was a young girl of four. No doubt watching her family elders and learning the trade as she grew.

We were shown books of various tartans and Pat Wallace-Pope knew all of the Irish ones too. I got the complete Highland Outfit in the Prince Charlie style. I was measured up with all of the various other things thrown in like Musquash Sporran, Sgian Dubhs, Ghillie Dubhs, Flashes, Buckles and Belts etc.

After a few weeks, over the Christmas period, I got a phone call to say my Formal Highland Outfit with County Waterford kilt was ready. My fitting date was my 56th birthday and I was looking forward to this with some excitement. My wife joked that I would be me leaving the place with my birthday suit. 

Pat Wallace-Pope also gave my wife a complimentary tartan sash of County Waterford tartan to go with her evening dress. We are hoping to be show stoppers on our next cruise. 

If you are into cruising and would like a formal Highland Outfit then I would like to recommend: 









Brooches, Clan Crest badges & Kilt Pins

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Development Of The Steampunk and Gothic Look


I suppose that Gothic and Steampunk designs have always been around since the Victorian age. However, to this day, there is a multitude of fashions and designs. As quick as one look comes along, it fades and a new one manifests for the consumers of these designs and fashions. 

What fascinates me about the Gothic/Steampunk look is, the design as developed a cult status and within the cult of these designs and fashions, the followers who enjoy the look, seem to have developed it beyond the original realm and propelled it into the future.

I find the wonderful look mesmerising and some of the clothing rather compelling. Some of the ladies outfits are glorious and then there is the notion of the lovely Gothic architecture. Sometimes dark and morose, yet also defying logic with a compelling aspect of it all.

I think I'm drawn to the contradiction of it all. There is this shameless hypocrisy that says, "I'm drab and dark but you still find me alluring."



Saturday, 4 February 2017

What is it about the Gothic look that compels you?


What is it about the Gothic look that compels you? I’m assuming you are allured by such attire? 

It is a collection of old fashions that have been about for some time. Then over the decades, it has become refined and conditioned. 

It makes drab and morose things compelling when coupled with dark elegance. 


I’m no fashion guru by any stretch of the imagination, but there is something about the dark and sinister look. Especially against the feminine power of white skin like that of porcelain. 

It looks overpowering and evocative. Yet almost as though one would not mind submitting the darkness that beckons. Almost creepy but wonderfully acceptable. 




Pulp Reading and Retro Science Fiction Covers



I have read a very wide range of books on many topics and genres. My most prolific time of reading was when I first left school. I read some classical things and lots of historical documentary books too. I was also into all sorts of pulp science fiction and fantasy. I would always have my nose in a book while travelling to and from London each morning, where I worked in the reinsurance companies and later the Royal Mail.

These were grand times and I read many books that inspired me. I wanted to write stories of my own. I knew I was no literary genius but I had the belief that I could at least do something along the pulp line. I enjoyed some pulp stories. Especially science fiction. I was so often sucked in by the elaborate cover designs and on more than one occasion, I would read the novel and wonder how on Earth the front cover depicted the actual story.

Sometimes the novels were a total let down. On other occasions, the novel and front cover had nothing in common, but the read was still good. There were all sorts of variables and I was honestly inspired by some of the authors who I did not regard too highly. I thought to myself, “If they can do it writing this sort of thing; surely I could do such things too.”

There was also the very good writers who I know I could never get near, but still, I was encouraged by thinking, “I wish I could do this sort of thing.”

Good or bad writers in one’s personal opinion have things to offer. I once read someone who gave a bad review score for a book. He said, “There are no bad writers, just fussy readers.” I thought this was a fair comment. I’ve read some novels I thought were unentertaining, but they were written well. I’ve had some that were not written too well (In my humble opinion.) but they still managed to flick a switch.  

Cover designs of science fiction books always grabbed me, but I quickly learnt not to judge a book by its cover. Even with this in mind; I still enjoyed walking around the science fiction section and looking at book covers. This was another form of art I enjoyed. I have no desire to do such art myself because it is beyond my ability or desire to learn. I cannot and would not want to do this sort of thing. When faced with this type of thing, I like to be the dazzled spectator. It’s a bit like good music or the type of music I enjoy. I have no musical ability but love to listen to musicians who make great sounds. Some modern and some old style in all types of musical genres.


It is the same with book cover retro science fiction designs. I love to look at them. One can even see the change in style over the decades as futuristic and science fiction design as advanced and changed so much.










Friday, 3 February 2017

The Young Common Buzzard



After deciding to go home from Cromer in Norfolk, we were chatting leisurely about the scenic little villages we were passing through in the car. We went through Sheringham and Clay Next the Sea. There were other small coastal towns too. All the cottages were made of pebbled stone and had wonderful and quaint character. Even the new builds are done the same way.

We passed the outskirts of Wells Next the Sea and then Holkham Hall. As we drove on towards Hunstanton, Carole noticed a buzzard gliding over the sand dunes. As luck would have it, there was a gravelled clearing with a gateway. It was big enough for me to park off of the country lane. I got out the camera and began to click away. At first, I thought it was a Red Kite, but upon further inspection, it looks more like a Common Buzzard. It was a very fine creature whatever. 


















    


The Greedy Little Sandpipers of Cromer.

Little Sandpiper
As we wandered around the shops of Cromer, the little seaside town was full of pedestrians on this fine winter day. There was no strong wind from the North Sea and the day was bright and mild. We went to a coffee shop and took some refreshment. Then we ambled down the lane towards the cliff top overlooking the stony beach area. There was a small pier and as we walked along the promenade, a group of Sandpipers landed in front of us. It was obvious they were looking for some food. My wife through some of the malt biscuit onto the road and the little Sandpipers needed no second invitation.

It was a grand little day out. One of those mornings when I got up and said to Carole, "Let's go for a drive. I can't be sitting in all day."

On the way back we bought some crayfish and set off along the coastal road passing through many picturesque little villages.









The Family Heydon of Baconsthorpe Castle



Today was a fine clear blue winter day. Very mild for February. My wife and I decided to get out for a drive. We decided upon a trip to Cromer in Norfolk. It is not far from where we live in the Fenlands. Along the way, we passed through Sandringham and made a note that we would need to visit the stately home one day in spring or summer. There were various nature reserves tempting me with my camera, but we held true until we passed Fakenham. At this point, there was a little congestion ahead and a sign pointing to a small castle along a country lane turn off. It led to a village called Baconsthorpe. Also, there was a Baconsthorpe castle. Carole and I decided to investigate.

The castle remains were upon some farmland and we found ourselves driving along a muddy old pathway passed a farmhouse in the fields and various barns. Ahead, in the distance, we could see what looked like a dilapidated stone house. As we got nearer and drove into the gravel yard, I realised the grand old building was no more than an elaborate gatehouse. At least it used to be. There was a picture on a mount outside the pathway leading to the gatehouse. Beyond this was the dilapidated castle of Baconsthorpe with a surrounding moat.

It had been built by a successful wool merchant family called Heydon. This family became successful during the time when John Heydon was head of the wool merchant family group. They were of humble beginnings but had supported various nobles during the Wars of the Roses. In doing so, John Heydon had amassed considerable wealth and decided that his family would have their own castle. The construction of which began around 1450. John Heydon died in 1479.

The fortunes of the Heydon family lasted 200 years when their wealth decreased and debts began to grow. The castle was literally dismantled in stages as the stones were sold off to building merchants to pay off debts. Eventually, all that remained of the castle was just the broken outer wall and grand entrance. The family retired to the gate house and people continued to use the former servant’s house until 1920 when one of the two towers collapsed. From then on castle Baconsthorpe was deserted – echoes of a bygone family who climbed to the peak and declined over the centuries. Now it is just a relic of a former glory.