Five Things on a Friday

  1. Two wonderful people have worked out the legal position if you have fallen victim to sex pollen in modern US law, and in 13th century canon law. Thank you, o benefactors.
  2. Ten historical Hungarian castles for you to admire!
  3. Of course one of the oldest handwritten documents discovered in Britain discusses beer deliveries.
  4. Down Goes Brown is on the Graun. For those of you who aren’t entirely certain what this Stanley Cup thing is…
  5. And, if you are wondering how to keep your pearls happy, The Court Jeweller is here for you. Selflessly, I volunteer to wear pearls around the house. You know, to perk them up.

Five Things For A Friday

  1. I made chicken chili over the weekend. This is another recipe that hits the sweet spot of being 90% things which you already have, though we tend to bulk by things like chicken when they’re on offer. This was useful when I realised that I had picked up drumsticks instead of skinless and boneless chicken.
  2. The short, but eventful, life of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey.000sp73chenry-cyril-paget5th-marquis-of-anglesey
  3. Ella Risbridger on the importance of BBC Food.
  4. A zoo in Nagasaki has a Guinea Pig Bridge. And some sweet genius has written a song. 

Tredegar House, and the Morgans of Tredegar


I am currently visiting my parents in Gloucestershire, and we took the opportunity to visit Tredegar House, near Newport. Tredegar House was the home of the Morgan family, as in the famous Captain Morgan, but I’m not going to discuss him today– or William Morgan, builder of the house, who married two fabulously rich heiresses, one of whom was his cousin. The second, Elizabeth Dayrell, absolutely hated him; she used to call the maids into the bedroom to show them ‘how much he looked like a monkey’, and they had furious rows. Eventually, she attempted to stab him, and was committed. Nor am I going to discuss Lady Rachel Morgan, who nearly bankrupted the family by the simple expedient of refusing to die, or their famous horse, Sir Briggs, which served in the Crimea, and took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade. (So did two of the sons of the house, one of whom was Sir Briggs’ owner, but Sir Briggs outlasted him on the field)

No, instead, this post is about Evan Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar, and his sister Gwyneth.

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Five Things on a Friday


    1. I made paneer and potato curry last night, mostly using things we had already. That is the pot after we had eaten half of it. Hurrah for BBC Food, recipe site of my heart!
    2. “Further Arguments in Support of Yudah Cohen’s Proposal to Bluma Zilberman” by Rebecca Fraimow.  I am better-looking than Hershel Schmulewitz. This is not vanity; it is plain fact. Isn’t it much more pleasant to have a man who’s decorative around the house than one who isn’t? I read this short story recently, and made happy noises. Short and sweet and perfect.

    3. John Rykener Revisited: Transvestite Male Prostitute or Biting Political Satire? by Jeremy Goldberg. A really interesting look at John/Eleanor Rykener, who may have been a man who dressed as a woman, may have actually been trans, or may, as this article suggests, not have existed at all.

    4. A thought provoking review from Smart Bitches Trashy Books.  The comments are actually worth the read!
    5. And, if you have been watching Eurovision, and wondering just how to win the elusive prize, Sweden has it all in hand, with this useful guide.


Reading Wednesday: Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner

Last night, I stayed up until midnight, waiting for my Fairy God Kindle to give me the gift I have been waiting for FOR WEEKS, and then stayed up longer to read it. This was not my best plan ever, but I made the dentist in the end, and I can totally stay up late to do the stuff I meant to do, but didn’t. Totally.

That book was Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner, the third in the Fly Me To The Moon series. The series takes place in not-quite-our 1960s, where American Space Department is attempting to put the first man on the moon.

The first two books in the series, Star Dust and A Midnight Clear, focus on the astronauts to be. I really enjoyed Star Dust, and at the end I let out a squeal of joy when I found out that Book Three featured 1) Snarky Chief Engineer Dr Eugene Parsons, 2) A sneaky workplace affair, and, following on, 3) a look behind the scenes.

Earth Bound delivered in spades. Parsons’ heroine is Dr Charlie Eason, Deputy Director of the Computing Science department. Charlie’s worked her whole life to get where she is, in the face of opposition from all the critics who think that a woman can’t, and from her parents, who wish she was a theoretical physicist like the rest of the family. (Including her mother, who worked with Charlie’s father at Los Alamos). She wants, desperately, to get this right.

Luckily, so does Parsons. If I were to describe this book in two words, those words would be ‘competence porn’. Our leads aren’t attracted to each other on the basis of physical attributes– though those are nice, they’re attracted to the other’s brain, and both of them get moments where they express how much they love the other’s,dedication to their shared work, and how much effort they put in.

In addition to that, we also got a POV that astronauts don’t get: the astronauts dismiss the enormous work going on behind the scenes to get them in the air and keep them there, including the contribution of people like Charlie’s two computers, Bev and Dot. We also get a look at the potential first female astronauts, the Virgo Three, who open whole new stories to tell, if anyone will treat them as anything but performing dolphins. (And when I got to the leads of Book 4, I made a noise so high pitched I think it took out a wineglass).

I am awaiting Book 4, Star Crossed, with interest, and I am eager to see where Barry and Turner take us next.

Quite a lot has been happening to me since I last posted. I would say that I have come to tell you all about it, but I have actually come because right now, I will do almost anything to avoid actually looking at my BA dissertation. Oh, a year ago, how fresh and exciting an idea it seemed! Now, as the deadline approaches, I can only conclude that I have been the subject of months of gentle coddling over my scholarly failures, and it is terrible and boring. My mind goes off on wild tangents. (Comparisons of Helena as a mother but not a wife and Theodora as a wife but not a mother! The records of Late Antique Imperial pregnancies and what it says, or does not say, about the state of an imperial marriage!)

Today was supposed to be a day in which I got down to hard graft. So far I have watered my window boxes, (I am a bad plant mother), called a man to ask him to come over and give us a quote for house painting (I am so organised!) had a lot of tea, and answered the door to the postman with a delivery of what the packaging promises are LIVE PLANTS. And done a small amount of editing, and phoned my mother to flail. My poor mother. She doesn’t deserve this.

Oh, and I have spammed my nearest and dearest with emails about everything under the sun, from the Smart Bitches Trashy Books series of posts on Making your life wonderful with Google Calendar, to an Exciting New Project which you probably won’t hear about again for another year. And I sent a few personal emails which, having been on the ‘…I should look at that’ list have now become vitally urgent. Maybe while I reheat my lunch, I will make another Vitally Important Telephone call.

Oh well. I appear to be three quarters of the way through the damn thing all the same.

(British) Pancake Recipe

Yesterday, I called my mother up for her pancake recipe, today being Fat Tuesday, and therefore Pancake Day. (For my friend in New Orleans, it is Mardi Gras, and I imagine her reclining on a throne of beads and silks, eating King Cake. I hope she will not tell me if this is wrong.)

So, I called my mother up for the family pancake recipe, and she reeled it off, and then noted that two of the recipe books we used for it have disappeared, including the Usborne Children’s Book of Cookery. This house does, actually, have a different Usborne Children’s Book of Cookery, but we’d amended the, extremely smeared and begrimed, pancake page of ours. Nonetheless, here is a recipe for pancakes, proportions provided by my mother off the top of her head (but from Delia Smith originally. I know this, because I called again to check, and my mother walked in halfway through and was indignant): Continue reading