Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70

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[50] Jessant-de-lys Reversed

[50] Jessant-de-lys Reversed – A Blog about Heraldry

I wanted to say a bit about heraldry after a brief allusion in Tewkesbury Banners.

Heraldry used to be for individual men and families but we see it more often now for towns, counties and organisations. [Sorry but heraldry is very sexist. Women were not considered relevant until very recently.]

I won’t say much about where I found these pictures. It’s more of a general introduction to heraldry.

The Arms of Cheltenham

The official blazon granted to the town of Cheltenham in 1877 is as follows: Arms: Or a Chevron engrailed Gules between two Pigeons in chief and an Oak Tree eradicated in base proper on a Chief Azure a Cross flory Argent between two open Books also proper binding and clasps of the first. Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours upon a Mount between two Branches of Oak a Fountain thereon a Pigeon all proper. Motto: ‘SALUBRITAS ET ERUDITIO’

You could write the blazon in more modern English as: Arms: Gold with a wavy red chevron. Two pigeons above the chevron and an oak tree with its roots exposed below it in their natural colours. A blue area at the top has a silver cross with flowery ends between two open books with gold bindings and clasps. Crest: A wreath of gold and red (taken from the arms) with a crest of two oak sprigs and a pigeon on a ball of water. Motto: Health and learning (Latin.)

[The representation of water with wavy blue and white is so common that it has its own heraldicword – ‘a Fountain.’]

You can see the meaning of the arms when you understand the story that the spa waters were supposedly discovered after observing pigeons at a local spring. The blue background at the top represents the spa waters; the cross is the cross of Edward the Confessor who once owned much of the land that is now Cheltenham; and the books incorporate the learning as a result of the establishment of the Ladies College and the College for boys. The oak symbolizes Cheltenham’s position, both historical and today, as one of Britain’s foremost garden towns.

You see these arms around the town, not just representing the town but displaying the authority of Cheltenham Borough Council.

You will notice that colours are not defined beyond a single word. The yellow described as ‘Or’ originally represented gold so it may have a metallic sheen or it may be anything from a pale yellow to brown. You can even engrave the arms in stone without any use of colour!

Hereford Arms

There is a strange division in the Church where the Dean and Chapter hold a cathedral while the Bishop as pastor of his diocese or ‘see’ visits the cathedral only on the invitation of the Chapter. At Hereford Cathedral the arms of the Cathedral and those of the Bishop are given equal prominence.

I can’t trace the arms of the Cathedral (Or five chevronels azure) but the Bishop of Hereford has unusual arms derived from Bishop Thomas Cantilupe in the Thirteenth Century. They are Gules, three leopard’s faces jessant-de-lys reversed Or. [The leopards have fleur-de-lys emerging from their faces and are upside-down.]

As you wander round Hereford you will also spot the arms of the city and its surrounding county.

The City of Hereford has Arms: Gules three Lions passant guardant in pale Argent on a Bordure Azure ten Saltires of the second. Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours a Lion passant guardant Argent holding in the dexter paw a Sword erect proper hilt and pomel Or.

The arms were recorded (without the ‘bordure,’) at the Visitations of 1569 and 1634, and were augmented with crest and supporters in 1645. Hereford bore on an early seal the Royal Arms of Richard I, who gave the City its first Royal Charter in 1189. These were three gold lions on a red background, later to become the Royal Arms of England. [See below.] Hereford seems to have coloured the lions silver to create a distinctive (but unauthorized) coat of arms. The rest of the design, the border with ten saltires, dates from 1645 when the City supported the King during the civil war and kept the Cromwellian troops at bay for approximately five weeks. King Charles I was delighted and visited the City in order to thank them personally. He dined at the Bishop’s Palace and at the end of this dinner he is alleged to have made the Grant of the Coat of Arms, which the City of Hereford now possesses. The lions surrounded by saltires, or St Andrew’s Crosses, represent the Royalist forces hemmed in by the insurgent Scots.

The County of Herefordshire has Arms: Gules on a Fesse wavy between in chief a Lion passant guardant Argent and in base a Herefordshire Bull’s Head caboshed proper a Bar wavy Azure.

The arms were officially granted in 1946 to the Herefordshire County Council and re-adopted in 1998 by the new County of Herefordshire District Council.

The red background is taken form the arms of the City of Hereford and also represents the red earth of Herefordshire. The silver lion is from the arms of the City of Hereford, and in base is a Herefordshire Bull’s head. The silver and blue wave represents the River Wye.

Oxford – City, County and University

The arms of the City of Oxford recorded in 1634 from a Fourteenth Century seal are based on the heraldic device of ‘canting,’ showing an ox crossing a ford! Arms: Argent an Ox Gules armed and unguled Or passing over a Ford of Water in base barry wavy Azure and Argent.

The county arms of Oxfordshire, granted in 1976, represent the Thames and its tributaries with elements of nature (the oak tree) and agriculture. In heraldry a ‘garb’ is a sheaf of wheat. They were still seen in 1976 before automated harvesting machines took over. Arms: Azure two Bendlets wavy Argent between in chief a Garb Or and in base an Oak Tree fructed Or.


The University of Oxford also has its Arms: Azure, an open book proper, edged and garnished Or, leathered gules, pendent from the dexter side thereof seven seals gold, the pages inscribed ‘Dominus illuminatio mea’, the whole between three open crowns also gold.

As for Cheltenham, books are associated with learning. The inscription of the book has varied from time to time; it currently reads ‘Dominus illuminatio mea’ or ‘The Lord is my light.’

You will notice the modern trend to simplify heraldry into simplified logos.

Here we have city and university together.

The University consists of about forty colleges and halls, each with its own arms. I bought myself a postcard to help me with identification but it doesn’t show them all.

I did manage to spot Magdalen College Oxford in this strangely reversed version done in a cut glass pattern on a transparent door.

You can probably do the blazon for yourself. It’s Lozengy ermine and sable, on a chief of the second three lilies argent slipped and seeded or. [Don’t worry about ‘slipped and seeded.’ Heraldry likes to put in tiny details like seeds, tongues and claws.]

I wasn’t sure about the next two. (Ignore the two on the left and right.)

Both are University College, Oxford. Wikipedia conveniently gives the blazon: Azure, a cross patonce between four [sometimes five] martlets or.

If you were wondering about the cross, which looks ‘flory’ like the Cheltenham arms above, then Wikipedia also notes – a cross fleury (or flory) is a cross adorned at the ends with flowers. It generally contains fleur-de-lis, trefoils, etc. Synonyms or minor variants include fleuretty, fleuronny, floriated and flourished. In early armory it is not consistently distinguished from the cross patonce.

Martlets are common in heraldry. They are birds, something like swallows, but without feet.


All Souls College (officially The Warden and the College of the Souls of All Faithful People Deceased in the University of Oxford) is unusual in that all of its members automatically become Fellows. It has no undergraduate members, but each year recent graduates of the university and graduates of other universities now registered as postgraduate students at Oxford are eligible to apply for Examination Fellowships through a competitive examination (once described as “the hardest exam in the world”) and, for the several shortlisted after the examinations, an interview.

Its arms entered at the Visitation of 1574 are: Or, a chevron between three cinquefoils gules.

Royal Arms

As we have seen above, the Royal Arms of England started with Richard I as: Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langued azure. (Red, three gold lions, walking with one paw raised, sideways but with their heads turned to look at the viewer, lined vertically above each other, with blue claws and tongues.)

Since then there have been several changes, adding the arms of France (later removed) and Scotland (the single lion with a very complicated border – a double tressure flory-counter-flory) and Ireland. The arms of the United Kingdom can now be blazoned simply as Quarterly 1 and 4 England 2 Scotland 3 Ireland.

This one dates from Elizabeth I or possibly earlier and is Quarterly France modern and England. (France ancient had lots of fleur-de-lys, not just three.)

Next from the Seventeenth Century, two quarters are Quarterly France modern and England. The others are Scotland and Ireland.

You probably can’t see the details in the next pictures but they are for George V so they have lost the French parts. They must be Quarterly 1 and 4 England 2 Scotland 3 Ireland.

The motif of the England national football team has three lions passant guardant, as in the English arms but the lions are blue. In 1949 when the FA was given an official coat of arms by the College of Arms that includes ten Tudor roses, one for each of the regional branches of the FA.


Bournemouth has an interesting coat of arms using just two colours. The blazon, granted in 1891, is quite complicated (but the important word is ‘counterchanged’) Arms: Quarterly Or and Azure a Cross flory between a Lion rampant holding between the paws a Rose in the first and fourth quar­ters six Martlets two two and two in the second and four Salmons naiant and in pale in the third all counterchanged. Crest: On a Wreath of the Colours upon a Mount Vert a Pine Tree proper in front four Roses fessewise Or. Motto: ‘PULCHRITUDO ET SALUBRITAS’ – Beauty and health.

[OK, I will try to re-order the words and translate and expand the blazon to make sense: Divided into quarters of gold and blue. A cross with flowery ends covers the shield. On the first and fourth quarters a lion holding a rose. On the second quarter six footless birds arranged as two by three. On the third quarter four salmon vertically aligned and swimming horizontally. Everything is just gold and blue with counter-changing.]

The arms are based on the Royal Arms of King Edward the Confessor, in whose Royal estate the area now known as Bournemouth was situated. The four salmon represent the River Stour, which marks the boundary between Christchurch and Bournemouth. The roses in the paws of the lions are the English roses and are also a part of the arms of the county of Hampshire.

The Russel-Cotes Museum at Bournemouth was given by Mervyn Russel-Cotes, who was the Mayor of Bournemouth to his wife – so it has this arrangement with the arms of Bournemouth and, presumably, those of Russel-Cotes. I’m not sure how it manages three helmets and crests!

Diversion – Istria

The Istrian peninsular has a long and complicated history. It now spans the countries of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy but it was founded in 1062 as an independent state, then acquired by the patriarchs of Aquileja, and in the late Thirteenth Century it became part of the State of Venice. It still uses the arms used by the Doges of Venice.

I can’t find a blazon but I would describe it as: Azure a goat Or armed and unglued Gules.

We went to the town of Koper now in Slovenia. Its old city, which used to be an island, keeps the Italian name of Capodistria (formerly Capo D’Istria) and uses its old arms.

It’s not unknown to show a face on a star. This one looks like a Molet of eight points over an Estoile of eight points although I suspect it is blazoned in Croatian as a star. The arms were not granted until 1997 but have been used at least since the Nineteenth Century. In the past it has been shown as a Medusa head, which may either be the original arms (from which the sun was derived), or a misinterpretation of the sun.

They were so fond of this star that they used it on the pavement to mark a walk round the historic city.

More Arms in England

You can find coats of arms on signs in many places. Apart from those for towns, counties and universities they may represent independent schools or even be used as pub signs.


Sadly English pubs are disappearing rapidly or becoming restaurants. Those that are left change their names and very few still have pictorial pub signs – and some of the signs are not very good. The sign for the Kings Arms above does not represent any king. You will be able to do the blazon yourself by now as: Quarterly ermine and gules. An Internet search reveals these arms as appearing in the heraldry of the Bedford Chapel, Chenies Buckinghamshire for a man called Stanhope.

The town of Tewkesbury seems to avoid using its full arms perhaps to concentrate on its displayed banners. I did find this ‘Castle proper,’ which is a small part of the full shield.

I will end with more examples. You may be able to identify some of them.


Heraldic Terms

Here is a brief heraldic dictionary to help you. I have only included words I have used (including some from the Tewkesbury Banners blog post) and I have simplified some definitions.

Achievement – a full set of arms. The shield or ‘escutcheon’ often called the ‘arms’ has a helmet (or crown etc.) topped by a ‘torse’ (a circle of twisted material in two colours) and a ‘crest’ with ‘supporters’ at each side and ‘mantling’ behind. All of this is on a ‘compartment’ and a ‘motto.’ Most of my pictures just show the shield.

Argent – strictly ‘silver’ but in practice usually ‘white.’

Armed – with horns.

Azure – blue. It can be any shade of blue.

Bar – a thinner form of Fess, hence ‘barry’ meaning in horizontal strips.

Bend – a diagonal stripe. (Bend Sinister goes the other way.)

Bendlet – a thinner bend.

Bezant – a Roundel Or, representing a coin.

Blazon – the official heraldic description in a mixture of English and old French often with unexpected word order and no punctuation.

Bordure – a border all the way round the shield.

Caboshed – cut so that only the face shows.

Chief – a block along the top of the shield, hence ‘in chief’ meaning ‘at the top.’

Chevron – an inverted ‘V’ shape.

Chevronel – a narrow chevron.

Counter-changed – a term that normally means that the two sides of a shield are almost identical mirror images but with the colours reversed. (You can also have quarters counter-changed.)

Crest – part of the complex Achievement of arms, usually on a torse covering a helmet.

Cross flory or patonce – a cross with shaped ends. (There are many different forms of cross.)

Dexter – right, from the perspective of the wearer, so left on the page! [Stage Right – Audience Left!]

Engrailed or Invected are like Wavy but with points on one side. (There are many forms of modified edges.)

Eradicated – of a tree, torn up by its roots. (Similarly animal heads may be ‘erased.’)

Ermine – a kind of fur represented as white (argent) with regularly spaced black (sable) tails.

Fess – a block across the middle.

First – ‘Of the first’ means the first colour to be mentioned in the blazon.

Fountain – a Roundel Barry Wavy Azure and Or, usually representing water.

Fretty – with a basket-like criss-cross pattern.

Fructed – with fruit.

Garb – a sheaf of corn.

Gules – red.

Indented – a zig-zag version of ‘wavy.’

Jessant-de-lys with a fleur-de-lys coming from its mouth.

Lozenge – a diamond shape. Lozengy means a diagonal checked pattern.

Martlet – a bird without feet.

Molet or Mullet – a star with straight edges, usually of five points. (An estoile has wavy edges.)

Naiant – swimming. It just means that the fish is horizontal.

Nebuly – a more ornate form of Wavy. It’s even wavier.

Or – gold or yellow.

Pale – A stripe down the middle, hence ‘in pale’ means vertically aligned in the middle. ‘Per pale’ means divided by a vertical line.

Passant guardant – one of many way a lion can stand. (Salient is another.)

Quarterly – it can mean divided into quarters but you can have a ‘quarterly of six’ or other numbers.

Reversed – upside down.

Roundel – a small circle.

Sable – black.

Saltire – a diagonal cross.

Sinister – left. See ‘Dexter.’

Supporters – animals shown at the sides of a shield.

Torteau – roundel Gules (tart.)

Unguled – with hooved feet.

Vair – a blue and white pattern supposedly representing the skins of squirrels.

Wavy – as it says, wavy, not a straight line.


As well as Wikipedia I have taken some of my information from Heraldry of the World at


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[69] What’s it! All About?

[69] What’s it! All About? – A Blog about Blogging

You can leave this one out if you like. It won’t be full of pictures. But I will sneak in a few – some that were too late for their target blogs.

I am going to reminisce about my year spent producing this blog. I knew it would be a difficult task. It was difficult! It was hard to juggle 70 ideas at the same time and keep the flow going through the year. After starting with the idea that each blog might be based on ten pictures I soon found that a hundred was more typical!

I think I survived by always having the next few weeks roughly planned even though I had no idea about how the rest of the year might finish. Even when I had done 62 and the next six were more or less complete I still wasn’t sure about the last two!

Categories and Topics

I spent a lot of time thinking before I fixed my Categories. I wanted to have some structure and I considered ten lots of seven or seven lots of ten. When I started the blog in November 2016 I had roughly decided maybe 65 of my 70 topics but six months later I probably had a less clear idea. I just used the categories as rough guides and found them sometimes overlapping and ambiguous.

This is a quick post by post review of how the year went. I have split the year into three sections so the order is a peculiar mixture of chronological with categories.

[I feel the need to say something about the titles for some of the topics. These comments will be in Italics like this.]


It was difficult as first deciding on how to split [0] Plants as so much of the significance of the seasonal blogs seemed to be about the annual cyclic nature of plants and trees.

[07] Berries was an obvious choice to do very early. The original plan was to do ‘Fruit’ but I found such a variety of coloured berries that I restricted this early blog and left the rest of fruit until later. [‘Red and Yellow and …’ – The best list ever of colours!]

[00] Lichen, Moss and Fungus was an interesting topic. As for many, it was a definite topic in my list before I started and it was convenient as an autumn and winter topic before the leaves and flowers came out. I saw a lot that I would not have noticed except for this topic. I had to issue this in February although I have seen excellent examples later of more lichen. [‘A Rolling Stone.’ Fairly predictable but not much choice.]

I was reasonably happy getting a couple from this category done by winter. The rest would come with spring and summer flowers.


While I had a rough idea that [1] Animals might consist of three or four about Birds, three or four about Insects and three or four others, the exact split was not certain at the beginning.

[11] The Zoo was almost the only time I did something just for a blog topic. This was the sixth one of seventy, just making it into November. It brought home the uncertain nature of my categories as the visit to the Zoo could have been an event or a place![‘You can come too’ – from ‘Going to the Zoo’ with fond memories of Julie Felix, one of the popular folk singers of my youth.]

[12] Waterfowl came in early January, more or less being finished as I did [32] Slimbridge. Most of our ducks, geese and swans either stay with us all year or come here in winter so this made a convenient partition of my bird pictures and something I could do early in the year. [‘The Best in Town’ – from ‘the Ugly Duckling.’ I have memories of Danny Kaye. You can see that I was taking titles from old familiar songs.]

Two in winter was reasonable for animals. I more or less had the rest of my topics decided in this category.


I suppose I thought of the category [2] Times as about events, things that took a day or two. As it happened the events I had in mind never seemed to make a suitable blog topic although some of them made half a blog.

[25] Autumn was the first blog I did. This was a difficult choice, starting in November, already well into the season of autumn, but I needed something to get started. I decided to look at autumn trees and split off other topics like fruits for another blog. I had not considered that now I had set a precedent and I needed to be able to do Winter, Spring and Summer as they came round! [‘Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness.’ There was never any possibility of any other title for Autumn.]

[20] Birthday and Remembrance Day came inevitably early as both took place on the same day in November. There was no intention originally to combine them but I felt they were both worth a mention and neither was quite enough for a blog to itself. [‘Threescore Years and Ten,’ seemed appropriate for both parts. If in doubt look for a Biblical quote. The Book of Proverbs is a good source.]

[22] Road Paving just happened. When I saw the signs on our street I had to do this one. It was an event lasting a week and I could see my original ideas for ten topics needing a bit of re-structuring. [‘Paved with Good Intentions’ – from a saying that reminds me of my mother.]

[21] Christmas Well, it just included a wedding and was about our Christmas stay with relatives.

The category was looking OK with another three seasonal topics to come.


By the end of the year I had done eleven posts but it was looking a bit skew – four about Times, but none yet about

[3] Places. This was a difficult Category. I had lots of ideas of places I might do but I really wanted sunlight for pictures of places. I just assumed that by the summer I would be able to do a day photographing Cheltenham or Gloucester or Stratford or Tewkesbury …

[32] Slimbridge came early in January because I needed to get the last of my seven Categories going. I go there two or three times a month so I photographed my way round the site for a blog. Inevitably it just shows Slimbridge in winter. I couldn’t wait for summer. [‘Make the Boy Interested’ – about Peter Scott. I couldn’t find much about Slimbridge for a title so I went for its founder.]


[4] Outside was for landscapes and buildings but I had other ideas for inclusion from the start.

[48] Statues was a topic I wanted to do early and I found that I had enough to get the blog going as my third topic. The original plan was to allow for the addition of more statues through the year but I soon decided that most blogs would not be changed once they were issued. (I allowed only two exceptions to this – [68] Skies and [55] House Numbers.) [‘Here am I’ – A Biblical quote related to one particular statue. A very difficult topic to title.]


I always knew there would be hundreds of pictures for [5] Signs but deciding how to split into blogs was not easy.

[55] House Numbers came out early on. I pass lots of houses every day on my walk so this was easy and I really enjoyed it. I just did a couple of early updates and then decided that I had enough pictures. [‘Home, Sweet Home’ – the best I could do for something about houses.]

[52] and [53] Pavement Signs and Road Surface Signs. The markers for fire hydrants and gas pipes had always fascinated me and a lot of work went into these. I added manhole covers and all the signs that are almost at ground level. It was only the need for continued research (and the search for one of everything) that delayed this topic. Eventually I split it into two posts issued almost simultaneously. [Fortunately one of the songs of my youth provided a title that I could also split as an indication that the two were linked. ‘The Concrete and Clay (beneath)’ … ‘My feet begin to crumble.’ Two of my favourite titles.]


I had several ideas from the start for [6] Other.

[68] Skies was a subject that I foresaw as continuing through the year. So I started it early on with a few pictures and did several updates later. It was the first of the blogs that I considered as just a collection of photographs with little in the way of comments. [‘The Fourth Day.’ My first Biblical quotation but I couldn’t find anything much better. It’s quite a tenuous link.]

[61] Walls came early. Not everyone’s choice But I always knew this would be a topic. I could have done a lot more by issuing it later in the year but the blog remains as it was issued in Early December. [‘Joshua Fit the Battle’ – I could have done a Biblical quote but went for an Elvis Presley link!]

[60] Pillar Boxes and Telephones. What can I say about this one? It was on my list before I started and I loved doing it. I was lucky to find so many different ones. [‘Wait a Minute’ – the Beatles – I had to get in some modern songs.]

By the end of winter progress was OK but I needed flowers and insects and sunlight to get going with many of my remaining topics …




[0] Plants

[05] Bulbs was an opportunity to keep going with a plant subject before the other flowers started emerging. It might have been something for the topics about Winter or Spring but I had already decided how to do them. [‘Lonely as a Cloud.’ The poem chose itself. I just had to decide which tiny bit to use.]

[06] Leaves was a topic that I thought would come much later. But there were so many in this Category that I had to do it quite early.[‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves.’ I strayed a bit from the usual literary and musical sources for this book title.]

I had six topics about plants still to do and I was waiting for summer to end for each one of them.


[1] Animals

[13] Pigeons was a topic that sort of formed itself. I had allocated three slots for birds and had done Waterfowl already. A few of my favourites made up this one and I could wait for a final one on birds a bit later. [‘Kila ndege huruka na mbawa zake.’ I was running out of ideas and I love the sayings of Swahili, especially this one.]

[18] Croatian Wildlife. This one started a new approach. I couldn’t just take two weeks off from blogging. I took lots of pictures while on holiday and managed to get three blog topics out of them.

[14] Other Birds. An easy one, using up the rest of my bird pictures. The insect ones would have to come much later.

[15] Butterflies. I was so surprised with how many different insects I was seeing. I knew I would never get them all in and I had seen quite a few butterflies. The split into three sections for insects had always been problematical but the decision was made by the end of June. I put the big pretty ones together – butterflies (and moths) and dragonflies (and damselflies.) To be honest part of the split of insect orders was motivated by the need to have some suitable quotations for titles. [‘Bright Elusive Butterfly of Love.’ Another fondly remembered song from my youth.]

I knew I would miss some. Here are a Marbled White, another Mint Moth from my garden and a Golden-ringed Dragonfly from Wales.

[2] Times

[23] Bournemouth. I knew that this would be a topic as it was a regular short holiday. I didn’t know whether it would be a time or a place. I picked the one that at the time seemed more difficult to fill.

[26] Winter. Having committed myself to seasonal blogs all I could really think of for winter was the trees without leaves. I found a few odds and ends and moved the pictures of ice and snow that I had tucked away ready for a blog about the weather! [‘Winter of our Discontent’ was another familiar saying that somehow picked itself.]

[27] Spring. The format for seasonal blogs was fixed by now. I had selected two subjects that could be borrowed from elsewhere. I took tree blossom from the plant world and lambs from the animal world. [I had several thoughts for the title starting with ‘Spring is sprung , the grass is ris. I wonder where the birdies is!’ But I went for ‘Spring is in the Air,’ a deliberate misquotation of the song ‘Love is in the Air.’]

[29] Brownsea Island. A day out with the Bird Club made a suitable topic. [Fortunately the island had associations with Boy Scouts so I could use ‘Be Prepared’ as a title.]

[28] Summer I had been juggling topics between seasons, plants and animals and managed to keep young birds for summer, with some other odds and ends. [‘The Living is Easy’ from the song, ‘Summertime.’]


[3] Places

[31] Pittville Park. Very similar in style to [32] Slimbridge already done.

[39] Croatia. I had enough pictures from my holiday for two blog posts, divided arbitrarily between this one and [47] Istria. [All I could find in Croatian was its National Anthem.]

[38] France. Another holiday made two blogs, this one and [46] Antwerp. [‘I was Born for This’ – inspired by Joan of Arc and our visit to Rouen.]

[27] Thames Path. This came from desperation about finding topics for this category. We had done a few walks on this path so I had lots of pictures. [‘Liquid History’ – a quotation about the Thames, the best I could find.]


[4] Outside

[47] Istria. See [39] Croatia above.

[46] Antwerp. See [38] France.

[49] Water. Always a topic I wanted to do covering seascapes, rivers, lakes and reflections and fountains. I felt ready to do this after seeing the sea on our cruise to France and Antwerp. [‘Working His Purpose out,’ from a familiar hymn final won out over the competition. ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’ was a contender as was ‘Water Water, everywhere …’]

[45] Streets. An easy pictorial blog. [‘Digging for Gold’ – from the Mountains of Mourne – about the streets of London.]

[44] Quenington. It just happened. I went to see this exhibition of sculptures and this pictorial blog extended [48] Statues, one of my first blog posts.

[41] Churches. It was almost a last-minute change when I decided to do this. Instead of looking at one church at a time I put them all together in a sort of generic architectural order. [I deliberately avoided a Biblical quotation. I wanted to stress that it was about architecture, not religion. ‘Transcendant Beauty and Poetry’ – I moved my explanation of the quote to the beginning for this one.]


[5] Signs

[54] Plaques. This one was more difficult than I expected. I didn’t want to go too much out of my way looking for pictures and Cheltenham was a bit thin on plaques. I just happened to have a day visiting Cirencester and found lots of plaques there.

[57] Picture Signs. I had always hoped to get better pictures of the pedestrian traffic lights with red and green men but these were difficult to photograph. By the end of June I had enough to do this one while still undecided about other blog posts for signs. [‘Worth a Thousand Words.’ It was disappointing to discover that this was not a Chinese proverb but it still made a good title!]

[56] Information Signs. This came from a pragmatic decision about the pictures I had collected. In a fairly unspecific way I split them into interesting ones and unexciting ones and these were the unexciting ones. [‘SO 651 014.’ In the absence of anything else I took the ‘wording’ from one of the signs for a blog title. Similar titles would come later for Signs.]


[6] Other

Textures. Planned from the start I was reluctant to issue this too early. It was a complement to [62] Walls and [68] Skies. [‘Neither Beginnings nor Endings’ comes from The Wheel of Time, a long science fiction saga that always presented its story as part of a repeating cyclic pattern.]

[64] Cheltenham Trio. Somehow this one split and diverged from [54] Plaques. Read them both to see why.

[66] Clocks. There from the start with statues and pillar boxes! One of those things you might miss without looking at the tops of buildings everywhere. [‘Striking Thirteen,’ from Nineteen Eighty-four. I found this one easily.]

[65] Transport. Another obvious topic. I had to wait until after my holidays to include aeroplanes and ships. [‘Trains and Boats and Planes.’ Another one that was obvious from the start, another song from my youth!]



From the end of July I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I looked at the remaining topics and tried to order them sensibly. I found that I had enough pictures to do almost all of the rest and I could do several of them very quickly by just bunching up the pictures with some prior selection and ordering. The next ten posts came out quickly building to a queue of scheduled posts so that I could spend more time on the last dozen or so more difficult topics.

[36] Wales – came easily after a short holiday there.

[59] Interesting Signs – was just what was left over from [56].

[40] Landscapes – One of the easiest. I had just the right number of pictures ready and didn’t sort them.

[10] Farm Animals – I had to some arranging and wrote some notes to accompany a relatively sparse set of pictures.

[30] Cheltenham – I knew I could not give full justice to everything about this town so I decided to do an extended walk around the town and keep photographing. Fortunately I very soon had a sunny day and took the opportunity. It worked. The blog used the pictures in strict order with very little commentary.

[04] Garden Flowers – a simple collection of pictures with just a few words.

[33] Forest of Dean – a fairly easy topic after a visit to collect pictures.

[08] Fruit – some grouping of the pictures I had been gathering.

[58] Cheltenham Signs – using pictures, in order, taken at the same time as [30] Cheltenham.

[02] Wild Flowers. Lots of pictures. Just a bit of grouping.

[With so many titles based on Biblical and other literary quotations I was keen to keep to cryptic titles – using the text of some signs. I certainly had titles in mind and would not have done posts without suitable titles.

[36] ‘Sgod a Sglod’ was a fortunate sighting. It had to be something in Welsh. [59] ‘Get a Free Sausage’ was another lucky spot for me. [40] ‘Green and Pleasant Land’ and [10] ‘Old Macdonald’ were both fairly obvious. All places are difficult and for Cheltenham I had to use its Latin motto, [30] ‘Health and Education.’

For garden flowers it had to be from English Country Garden, so I picked [04] ‘Daffodils, Hearts-ease and Flocks.’ The Forest of Dean was almost impossible until I thought of the wild boar there. [38] ‘Caput Apri Defero’ must be one of my more convoluted choices.

For fruit it had to be the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, [08] ‘The Serpent Beguiled me.’ [58] ‘Danger of Death’ was another sign but Wild Flowers was difficult. I wanted something poetic or Shakespearian but went eventually for the Bible again. ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.’]


[16] Bees and Beetles. As expected this one took a long time. To fit in all my insect pictures I included beetles and bugs into this one. It was more or less one picture of for each species. Even without saying anything about many of them I was up to 2 500 words. [‘What a Wonderful Thing.’ I am just about old enough to remember Arthur Askey singing the Bee Song.]

[01] Grass and Fern. I had been collecting pictures and for a few months I had just been waiting for some corn ready to be harvested. [I probably spent more time deciding on a title than actually writing the blog. Again with a lack of alternatives I found a Biblical quotation. ‘All Flesh is as Grass.’]

[34] Tewkesbury and [63] Tewkesbury Banners came from a successful visit to the town, a single day visit like [30] Cheltenham. When I found out about the banners I just had to do that one. [By now I was scouring the Internet for quotations before undertaking anything. So I had ‘As Thick as Tewkesbury Mustard,’ from one of Shakespeare’s histories before I went there. A book about the banners provided ‘The King apparelled himself.’]

[19] Other Animals. Even putting wild animals and pets together made a short blog. [I looked hard for something about Noah’s Ark but ended up with Animal Farm, ‘Some are More Equal than Others.’]

[43] Old Buildings. A difficult split of my pictures of buildings into two. [‘Afterwards Our Buildings Shape Us.’ I took longer trying to find a title than I did doing this blog!]

[51] Pedestrian Signs. Straightforward. Pictorial. [I was getting used to some of the songs from my youth and I remembered Helen Shapiro, Walking Back to Happiness.]

[03] Roses. Just a collection of pictures. [It had to be from Juliet, ‘By Any Other Word.’]

[35] Lakeside. I had to wait to see if this late holiday would provide enough pictures. It had too many. I had to do lots of pruning.

[67] Food and Drink. Fairly limited because I don’t normally photograph what I eat. [‘Let Them Eat Cake’ was another misattribution to expose.]

[17] Flies and Spiders. As for the other insect ones, a lot of work! [‘Walk into my Parlour’ defined the topic! The title came first.]

[24] The Year. I knew this was coming because I had been taking pictures all year. [Another song from my youth, ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’]

[09] Trees. Just pictures but selected and ordered. I filled up my allocated space in WordPress and had to go back and delete about 300 pictures from earlier blogs! [I was really stuck for a title and could find nothing specific about trees in general]

[42] Buildings, What was left after [43] [I engineered the topics a difficult so that this could be ‘Life, the Universe and Everything.’]

[50] Heraldry. I would have liked to say a lot more about the heraldic arts, the language of blazon and the places and institutions that still use heraldry.

[69] Summary. This is it!


You have to go back to 1966 to understand my title. There was a film called Alfie starring Michael Caine, a sort of romantic comedy adapted from a novel and play by Bill Naughton. [It was remade in 2004 starring Jude Law]

It tells the story of a young womanizing man who leads a self-centred life, until events force him to question his uncaring behaviour, his loneliness and his priorities.

There was also a song, Alfie, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to promote the film. The song was a hit for Cilla Black who sang it in the UK version of the film. In the US a version by Cher was sung over the closing credits. It was also a hit for Dionne Warwick in America.

The words of the song were quite poignant and it is probably much more memorable than the film.

It has absolutely nothing to do with this blog apart from the opening line …



What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give?
Or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess it’s wise to be cruel,
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie,
Without true love we just exist, Alfie,
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie,
When you walk let your heart lead the way,
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.


For each blog use the links in the Full List of Posts.

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[42] Life, the Universe and Everything

[42] Life, the Universe and Everything – A Pictorial Blog about Buildings

It was hard dividing ‘Buildings’ into two separate areas for blogs. I have done one about Old Buildings. This one will cover the rest of my pictures of buildings – some more modern ones but also some small, curious or unusual buildings.

I start with three very new buildings. The shopping development at the Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham has only just been completed; the brand new Cotswold stone house is somewhere in the Cotswolds and the other new houses are beside Pittville Park.

Next are Waitrose and a nearby office block, both at Cheltenham and the Roses Theatre and Library at Tewkesbury.

Two school buildings and what used to be the headquarters for Gloucestershire Police. (Now it’s a ‘Development Opportunity.’)

A nice house seen on one of my walks.

A few recognisable Cheltenham buildings next. The old fire station and three from Pittville Park – Café, Scout Hut and Public Conveniences.

The Art Gallery in Montpellier Gardens and the nearby bandstand.

Three slightly unusual Cheltenham buildings. First, an electricity sub-station at the strangely named Westal Green – It hasn’t been a green for at least fifty years, it’s a petrol station in an odd-shaped roundabout. Then a bridge linking Cavendish House to the Regent Arcade – and an unassuming building, next to the old Fire Station, that claims to be the oldest purpose built primary school in the country.

Away from Cheltenham here are a large orangery belonging to a country estate; a racecourse; a small Post Office shop and a collection of miscellaneous buildings, some of which are somewhat dilapidated.

I have saved a few. Here is a little lighthouse at RSPB Newport, followed by a collection of boathouse pictures.

Some houses by the sea and a steelworks.

A house at Newnham-on-Severn backing on to the river Severn. It’s been unoccupied for about seventy years but the owners don’t want to sell it.

Finally two pairs of houses at Taylor’s Yard in Cheltenham. When I started this blog this area was a large wholesale and retail building supplies shop. The old buildings have gone, the land has been flattened and about a hundred new houses are being built. The first ones completed are the show homes. The rest may take another two years to complete.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a radio series that became a five-volume series of books by Douglas Adams
In the radio series and the first novel, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be … … 42. Deep Thought points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was.



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[09] From Little Acorns

[09] From Little Acorns – a Pictorial Blog about Trees

I love everything about trees – their trunks, branches, leaves and flowers; their seasonal changes; silhouettes and mistletoe … You can see some of my tree pictures in my posts about Spring and Autumn and Winter. Most of what you will find in The Year is also trees. But I have lots more!


Well, it was impossible to define Grass very clearly in taxonomic terms and it won’t surprise you to know that Trees are even more difficult. We think of trees as tall plants with a woody trunk and branches. We may sometimes loosely include tree ferns, bananas and bamboos as trees and because of their structure we may exclude palms.


The top-level classification of plants is into Angiosperms (producing flowers and seeds within fruits) and Gymnosperms (producing unenclosed seeds such as cones.) Taxonomy in the plant world is developing and there are many levels. To find most trees we go down from Angiosperms to Monocots, Eudicots and Rosids to the order Rosales where we find roses, strawberries, apples, almonds, hawthorn, figs, mulberries, breadfruit, nettles, hops and cannabis – some of which are trees and some are not.

On the other side, coniferous trees form the largest group within the Gymnosperms!


This blog is about trees and when I use the word ‘tree’ I mean a large plant with a woody trunk and branches. I don’t know enough about them to be able to identify species. Here are some pictures of trees of various types and sizes, closer views of tree trunks and even some pictures of dead trees, some cut to reveal tree rings. Pictures are vaguely ordered but still a bit random.

‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ is a well-known saying that means ‘Great things may come from small beginnings.’ It has been a proverbial saying for many centuries in several forms. The ‘mighty’ oaks can be ‘great’, ‘tall’, ‘sturdy’ or just ‘big.’

Chaucer in 1374 said “as an ook cometh of a litel spyr,” where ‘spyr’ or spire is a sapling before the word ‘acorn’ had developed.

Originally ‘akerne’ or ‘acharn’ meant ‘fruit of the enclosed land,’ and it was applied to the most important forest fruit, the fruit of the oak tree. Chaucer called them ‘achornes of okes.’ Eventually they were seen as cognate with ‘corn’ or ‘oak-horn’ and the modern spelling ‘acorn’ emerged.


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[24] Turn! Turn! Turn!

[24] Turn! Turn! Turn! – A Pictorial Blog of a Year.

Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title, which is repeated throughout the song and the final two lines, are adapted word-for-word from the English version of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The song was originally released in 1962 as To Everything There Is a Season. It became an international hit in late 1965 when it was adapted by the American folk rock group the Byrds.

The words come the King James Version of the Bible Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, though the sequence of the words was rearranged for the song. Ecclesiastes is traditionally ascribed to King Solomon in the 10th Century BC, but it is believed by a significant group of biblical scholars to date much later, up to the third century BC

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The lines of the Biblical text are open to many interpretations, but Seeger’s song presents them as a plea for world peace because of the closing line: “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” This line and the title phrase “Turn! Turn! Turn!” are the only parts of the lyric written by Seeger himself. The song is notable for being one of a few instances in popular music in which a large portion of the Bible is set to music.

Well, this blog is about the cycle of seasons WinterSpringSummerAutumn – and back to Winter again.

I planned to take pictures from exactly the same positions once a week over the year. I missed a few weeks and at times of rapid change I took pictures more often but here they are – not quite in chronological order.

There are four sets of pictures and each set starts at the beginning of January and goes on to the end of December – so you may spot where they flip from 2017 to 2016.


I see this tree every day. It’s a sycamore just over thirty years old. Every few years it is pollarded.


This tree is a bit older. You can see its impressive blossom in the spring.

Pittville Trees

This group of six trees have been planted on the last year or two.

Pittville Lake

Pittville Park has a bridge over one of its lakes conveniently placed so that I could use is centre as a fixed point. As for the other pictures you can see that differences are due as much to the weather as to seasonal changes.

The Wheel of Time

I did consider a quotation from the Wheel of Time about the cycle of life but I used this for one about textures and patterns.


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[17] Walk into my Parlour

[17] Walk into my Parlour – A Blog about Flies

(This post mainly covers Diptera but also includes Spiders and other small invertebrates that are not insects.)

This is one of three blogs about insects. See also [15] Lepidoptera (and Odonata) and [16] Hymenoptera (and Hemiptera and Coleoptera). Blog [15] also has a general introduction to the world of insects.

I have taken pictures of insects over the spring and summer in many locations. I won’t say much about where each picture is taken and I will more or less stick to a sort of taxonomic order.


The insect order Diptera are flies but sometimes we have to call them ‘true flies’ to exclude many other insects that use the word ‘fly’ (such as damselflies, mayflies, scorpion flies …) The word ‘diptera’ comes from the Greek for ‘two wings’ because these insects use just one pair of wings to fly. The hindwings have become ‘halteres,’ tiny stubs that can help the insect to perform some advanced aerobatic manoeuvres.

It’s a large order with about a million species (only about 125 000 formally described) in dozens of families. To a non-expert most of the ones that are large enough to be seen more or less look like flies – although crane-flies with their elongated bodies are not so typical and some hover flies try to look like bees or wasps (or other insects.)

Flies have a mobile head, with a pair of large compound eyes, and mouthparts designed for piercing and sucking or for lapping and sucking. They have great manoeuvrability in flight, and claws and pads on their feet enable them to cling to smooth surfaces (including ceilings.) They undergo complete metamorphosis. The eggs are laid on the larval food-source and the larvae, which lack true limbs, develop in a protected environment, often inside their source of food. The pupa is a tough capsule from which the adult emerges when ready. Flies mostly have short lives as adults.


Syrphidae, normally called Hoverflies, are the most obvious flies throughout summer with about six thousand species. They vary in size and are generally seen either feeding on nectar from flowers or hovering nearby. (The larvae may feed on decaying plants and animals or other small insects.) Many of them are brightly coloured and mimic more dangerous bees and wasps.

[I won’t attempt to explain the difference in usage between ‘Hoverflies’, ‘Hover-flies’ and ‘Hover Flies’ etc. and I may not even be consistent in my own usage!]

There are several anatomical differences that distinguish hoverflies from other flies. Apart from the colourful bodies there are usually two identifying features in the wing veins. Hoverflies have a false rear edge to the wings and a spurious longitudinal vein. I find that the best ways to tell hoverflies from other flies and identify them is to post pictures on Facebook where UK Hoverflies and UK Diptera both have excellent groups. I normally get species identification within hours although some male insects can only be identified to genus without a detailed microscopic examination.

Here is a typical hoverfly, Syrphus Sp (male.) Males are generally recognized by larger eyes that almost touch at the centre.

I have cropped and enlarged the picture above to show one wing and I have marked the key features – the spurious vein (RED) and false rear edge (BLUE.)

Most hoverflies just have a scientific name. Common names when they exist are not standardized. In no particular order here are another Syrphus (S Torvus,) a Parasyrphus (P punctulatus) and an Episyrphus (E balteatus, sometimes called a Marmalade Fly,) then Eristalis Pertinax and E Tenax, Epistrophe eligans, Melanostoma scalare (two pictures) and Syritta pipiens.

I won’t attempt to identify the differences in these flies, which are basically yellow and black in appearance. Next we have Chrysogaster solstitalis, Meliscaeva auricollis, Helophilus pendulus (sometimes called a Sun Fly), Parhelophilus Sp., Cheilosia illustrata and Myathropa florea.

Sphaerophoria scripta, Xanthogramma pedissequum, and Merodon Equestris (Narcissus Fly) will be immediately recognizable for you.

I have left some of the large prettier ones until last. Here are Leucozona glaucia, L laternaria, L lucorum (two pictures), Volucella pellucens and V zonaria (two pictures.)

This last fly, known as the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly is the largest of those found in England.


Tipulidae – called ‘Daddy Longlegs’ in Britain, but not elsewhere – have elongated bodies. Most of them do not feed once adult. We have about 300 species, generally very small. The larger ones are species of Tipula or Nephrotoma.

A closely related family is the Ptychopteridae, Phantom Crane-flies. Here is Ptychoptera contaminata.

Other Flies

We have about 5000 species of flies in Britain from many different families. Without a microscopic examination of a pinned dead specimen you can generally get to the family and sometimes the genus. I have about twenty more families to show you. I will do them by family (briefly!) in alphabetical order.

Here are representatives of the families Bombyliidae (Bombilius Major, the Bee Fly); Bibionidae (Bibio sp, a St Mark’s Fly); Calliphoridae (Calliphora vicina a blue bottle); Chironomidae; Chloropidae (Thaumatomyia notata a tiny grass fly); Dolichopodidae (Poecilobothrus nobilitatus the Semaphore Fly) and Empididae (Empis livida a Dance Fly or Dagger Fly with its long mouth.)

Next we have Micropezidae; Muscidae (Mesembrina meridiana, the colourful Noon Fly); Psychodidae (Pericoma sp, the Moth Fly or Drain Fly); Rhagonidae (Chrysopilus asiliformis, the common Snipe Fly); Rhinophoridae, woodlouse parasites (Rhinophora lepida); and two from Sarcophagidae (a female and male Sarcophaga sp.)

Now we have Sepsidae (Sepsis Fulgens, an ant mimic fly); Stratiomyidae, Soldier Flies (Chloromyia Formosa, the Broad Centurion, two pictures); Tabanidae, Horse Flies (Tabanus sp); Tachinidae (Estheria cristata and Tachina fera) and Tephritidae (Terellia tussilaginis.)

I didn’t want to leave out the next four but I haven’t been able to identify them even to family level.


We have seen that Insects are included in Arthropods, the phylum that also includes lobsters and shrimps. If we go down another branch via Chelicerates and Arachnids we get to the order Araneae or Spiders, terrestrial animals with an exoskeleton but having eight legs unlike the six of an insect.

There are other differences. In spiders the head and thorax are fused into a cephalothorax. They do not have antennae but have a pair of pedipalps (much larger in males) a pair of chelicerae and spinnerets producing silk. They have eight eyes and the patterns of the eyes often identify the family. Almost all spiders are predators eating insects and other spiders. [Sometimes the males are much smaller than the females and they have to be careful to avoid being eaten.]

I don’t like large spiders indoors. I normally trap them and release them outside. Just for you I photographed this Giant House Spider, Eratigena atrica before taking it to the garden.

Cellar Spiders, Pholchus phalangioides, are not so bad. They are bigger if you count the very thin elongated legs but the body is much smaller. Here is a close-up.

All of my other spiders were seen outside. Here are Agelena labyrinthica; Amaurobius ferox Black Lace Weaver; Araniella cucurbitina Cucumber Spider; Diaea dorsata a Crab Spider; the Garden Spider Araneus diadematus; Philodromus dispar a Running Crab Spider; Pirata Sp a Wolf Spider and Salticus scenicus a Zebra Spider, one of the jumping spiders.

[As for all animals the scientific name is more standardized than common names.]

Other Arachnids, Arthropods and Others

All Arachnids have eight legs (with pedipalps and chelicerae sometimes almost acting as legs.) Harvestmen (Opiliones) differ from spiders in having a single body that combines the cephalothorax and abdomen. They have just two eyes and quite poor eyesight. I see them sometimes just waiting on a leaf. (They do not make silk.)

Here are Platybunus triangularis and Leiobunum rotundum.

Because of their very long thin legs Harvestmen are sometimes called ‘Daddy Longlegs,’ a name also given to crane-flies and cellar spiders.

Like harvestmen, this tiny Velvet Mite, Trombidium sp, is quite loosely related to spiders and has eight legs. Gardeners call these tiny pests ‘red spiders.’

I just have a few more small animals to include. Here are two woodlice, Armadillium vulgare and A depressum.

Finally a pair of Grove Snails, Cepaea nemoralis.

[Of course snails are hermaphrodites so the word ‘pair’ just means that there were two of them.]

The woodlice just about come in as arthropods but entomology sometimes loosely includes all small invertebrates like these snails.


I have to admit that I put spiders and flies together to fit my title ….

Mary Howitt published a poem called The Spider and the Fly in 1829. It tells the story of a cunning spider who ensnares a naïve fly through the use of seduction and flattery. It’s a cautionary tale against those who use flattery and disguise their true evil intentions.

The opening line, ‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ is one of the most recognized and quoted first lines in all of English verse. Often misquoted as “Step into my parlour” or “Come into my parlour”, it has become an aphorism used to indicate a false offer of help or friendship that is a trap. The line has been used and parodied numerous times in various works of fiction.

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,

‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,

And I’ve a many curious things to show when you are there.”


“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,

For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;

Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.

“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,

And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”


“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,

They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”


Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend what can I do,

To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?

I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;

I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”


“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,

I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”


“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,

How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!

I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,

If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”


“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,

And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.”


The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,

For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:

So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,

And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.


Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,

“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;

Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head;

Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”


Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,

Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;

With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,

Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue —

Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing!

At last,

Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.

He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,

Within his little parlour — but she ne’er came out again!


And now dear little children, who may this story read,

To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:

Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,

And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.



[When Lewis Carroll was finishing Alice’s Adventures Under Ground for publication he replaced a parody he had made of a negro minstrel song with a parody of Howitt’s poem. “The Mock Turtle’s Song”, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is a parody of The Spider and the Fly. It mimics the metre and rhyme scheme, and parodies the first line, but not the subject matter.

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,

“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail …]


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[67] Let Them Eat Cake

[67] Let Them Eat Cake – A Blog of Food and Drink

The first thing to say about this familiar saying is that it is a mistranslation. It never meant ‘Let them eat cake.’ We have to see it in the context of French culture and French cuisine.

‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’, meant, ‘Let them eat brioche,’ and what the French call a brioche is not a cake. It’s a luxury form of bread enriched with butter and eggs, perhaps more like pastry.

(You may have a pain au chocolat as a nice treat with your coffee. If this is your only experience of this delicacy you would think of it as a cake. You may not think of it as a breakfast item. But the French have croissants and pains au chocolat with their breakfast where we have toast and marmalade. The word ‘pain’ even means bread or it can mean a loaf. Sorry about the correct French plural.)

So if the French peasants didn’t have baguettes or croissants for their breakfast it wasn’t quite so outlandish suggesting brioches. It didn’t mean ‘Why don’t they have Black Forest Gateau?’

The other important thing to note is that it was almost certainly never said by Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI. It’s not the only popular saying to be misattributed!

It appears in the Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and was written when Marie Antoinette, then Archduchess Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, was nine years old living in Austria. He attributes it to ‘a great princess.’ It may have been said a hundred years before Marie Antoinette by Marie-Thérèse, the wife of Louis XIV.

It is unlikely that Mari Antoinette would have made such a callous statement.


I looked at various possible titles for something about Food and Drink and its provisional title was ‘Food, Glorious Food,’ from the musical ‘Oliver.’ You will see soon why the emphasis on cake seemed appropriate.

It’s going to be a relaively short blog post. You have already seen some of what I had to eat on my Birthday.

And you have seen some of my cooking skills at Christmas.

I don’t only do desserts at Christmas.

The first one is a sort of Bakewell Tart – the same recipe as Christmas but a few weeks earlier. (It’s a posh Bakewell. Officially it’s a frangipane.) The second one from a couple of months later is completely different – with rhubarb. (I’m an unbiased commentator. They were all delicious!)


There is something about the ‘English Breakfast’ that keeps its name even though we hardly ever have it at home now. It is still offered routinely in hotels and until recently it was always sold at Motorway Services and at Slimbridge.

Very recently it has disappeared from many places. Motorway Services now just have the familiar Costa or Starbucks coffee and national burger chains. Slimbridge now just does Bacon sandwiches.


I sometimes have lunch out and I have to admit to Fish and Chips as a favourite. If it come with posh ‘Fine Dining’ presentation it soon gets tipped on to the plate!

There are other options and sometimes it’s a toasted sandwich or even just a sandwich. [Toasted sandwiches can have foreign sounding names like ‘Panini’ or ‘Croque Monsieur.’]

You may notice the odd cake or biscuit in the background of the pictures above. To complete my research for this blog I had to try a proper dessert.


I have a lot of coffee out and this almost always includes a cake of some sort.

Marks and Spencer do a nice apple turnover but I think they only have one each day. It I miss it there is always something else.

Waitrose is my more usual haunt. I have a free coffee every day but I have to buy something to get the coffee free with my My Waitrose card. Sometimes it’s a couple of toffee waffles but I am sometimes I am tempted by pastries and cakes.


Here are some more from my travels around the country and abroad.

You may recognize some of them.