Category Archives: Blog

On Rainbows

(Westminster Pier, 21 October 2014) Yesterday the dying fragments of Hurricane Gonzalo blew over London. I woke in the night. It was about four in the morning and the bedroom window was rattling in its frame. We’re at the beginning of storm season. October and November are typically the worst months for violent weather and […]

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Historical Miscellany #35 – The Sensations of a Drowning Man, 1847

Francis Beaufort: The Sensations of a Drowning Man (Link)

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Gladstone’s Library – Time Lapse

It’s been a very busy month here in Hawarden. But my weather book’s almost finished and I have managed, in my spare time, to put together this time lapse video of Gladstone’s Library. I hope it captures the spirit of a special place. I wrote a post about this spirit on the offical GL website.

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Historically Miscellany #34 The Death of Anticipation [1743]

Here’s my first HM from Gladstone’s Library. The communication revolution of the last century or so has allowed us to discover news almost instantaneously, and so I’ve picked out the letter below from Horace Walpole, the long-serving, Whig prime minister as an example of something that could never be written today. It took three weeks […]

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(Very cheerfully) From Gladstone’s Library

A winter’s spun by, Somerset’s gone underwater, good old Tommy Finney’s died and so has Nelson Mandela, goodness knows how many Italian prime ministers there have been, the vanguard of the daffodils have burst out and the rest are well on their way. I’ve not managed a blog post in all that time as I’ve […]

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Morning walk – Richmond Park

I never used to like the autumn months. The darkening nights, the weeping skies and dead leaves. I preferred the extremes of winter or summer and, best of all, the promise of spring. I knew what John Constable, the artist, meant when he wrote one November, ‘I want to get back to my easel in […]

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Historical Miscellany #33 – First description of a pineapple [1647]

I took a break from my weather books in the British Library on Wednesday and spent twenty minutes with Johnson’s The Gardiner’s Monthly from 1847 – a stern and scrupulous Victorian production. It included this early (apparently the first recorded) description of a pineapple: Annana pineas, the pinia, or pine thistle is a plant having […]

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Photograph: Mam Tor, High Peak

Taken at first light on the upper slopes of Mam Tor. I’ve wanted to try some bigger landscapes since seeing Salgado’s Genesis at the Natural History Museum in April.

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Historical Miscellany #32 – A list of objections: Charles Darwin and the Beagle [1831]

(Watercolour of HMS Beagle by Conrad Martens) On 29 August 1831 twenty two year old Charles Darwin, freshly graduated from Cambridge University and poised to begin a life as a clergyman, received a letter from Professor George Peacock. It contained an incredible offer. Peacock told Darwin that a naval captain, Captain Robert FitzRoy, was seeking […]

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Historical Miscellany #31 – Capell Lofft – Georgian Literary Agent [1800]

Robert Bloomfield’s long poem The Farmer’s Boy was one of the most popular publications of the Romantic period – apparently selling around 100,000 copies in the first three decades of the nineteenth century. One contemporary observed, ‘I have been informed by persons who travel into every quarter of the country, that almost the only books […]

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