Category Archives: Blog

Historical Miscellany #38 – An Essay on Blockheads [1802]

(Image: “Punch Cures the Gout” by James Gillray) (The following essay we copy with much approbation from the New York Evening Post) A blockhead is neither an ideot, nor madman. He is one who goes on through the broad road of life with the rest of mankind carrying a load of follies at his back, […]

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Podcasts: The Weather Experiment

Clouds over Filey Bay -June 2015 It’s been a busy/brilliant summer so far with trips to literary festivals at Hay on Wye, Greenwich, York, Harrogate and Buxton. Thank you to anyone who has ventured out to listen to me talking about Robert FitzRoy, clouds and meteorology. There’s a few more things coming up before I […]

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Clouds, Storms & Music Event at City University

In the performance space at City University I’m really excited about this event that’s happening at City University in conjunction with WAM. WAM (Weather Art and Music) was set up in 2012, as a special interest group of the Royal Meteorological Society. Their aim was to “bring meteorology and climate science to a wider public” […]

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The Weather Experiment on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

Last week The Weather Experiment was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week. It was superbly done – Tim McMullan makes a very fine, poised FitzRoy – and for the next few weeks the broadcasts will be available on iPlayer. Here’s a list with links to the five episodes: Stormy Weather The Weather Report Shipwreck and […]

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Historical Miscellany #37 – To a Drop of Dew [1833]

(Image credit: noahbulgaria) In 18/19th century Britain a love of nature was considered a healthy expression of Christian piety. The famous Georgian love of nature – symbolised by figures like Gilbert White and John Constable – always had this religious edge. After the Bible Nature was treated like God’s second book. Watching, recording or describing […]

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On Robert FitzRoy and misremembering history

(Cloudscape over the Thames, 04-05-15) I’ve been listening to George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier on my daily walks recently. Something that he wrote reminded me of the tendency of big events to overshadow everyday history. He was, he pointed out, visiting Yorkshire in 1936 when Adolf Hitler ordered his troops into the Rhineland. […]

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The Woman in White – #1 of my #tbr20

This post is part of this reading project. (Plot spoilers ahoy) At last I’m writing up the first book in this project. At 700 pages long Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White is the kind of sprawling Victorian novel that I rarely get around to. But it was on the reading list of an evening […]

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The Curious Case of the Devil’s Foot-Prints (or the Great Devon Mystery of 1855)

Devon, 8/9 February 1855 Of all the strange weather stories I have read about over the last few years, I remember that of the Devil’s Footprints above all. It happened exactly 160 years ago, on the night of 8 February 1855. It is a mystery of Sherlockian proportions. It remains unsolved to this day. The […]

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Historical Miscellany #36 – A Roast Dinner Cooked on the Ice over the River Exe [1855]

(From The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser, 23 February 1855) A singular occurrence in gastronomic science was tried on Tuesday week, on the ice in the centre of the River Exe, at St Thomas. The severity of the frost having coated the surface of the river with a thick crust of ice, […]

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Filey Bay: Rain shower over Flamborough Head

I spent every other childhood holiday on the east Yorkshire coast visiting family. I’ve long wanted to go back and take a decent photograph of Filey Bay – the syrupy morning light, the vast skies reflecting in puddles on the sand (which is especially suited for cricket) – and I was happy to get this […]

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