bunn: (Trust me)

Back in... 1997, I think, my grandmother died, leaving a house stuffed to the brim with a lifetime's carefully sorted junk.   We all took a few bits and pieces and then a house clearance company was called in to deal with the rest of it.   My father in law, who has an interest in photography, took some of my grandfather's old cameras.

Fast forward twenty-odd years, and now my in-laws have developed a newfound interest in having a loft that is not stuffed full of old junk that someone thought looked interesting...Read more... )


Aug. 18th, 2015 02:28 pm
bunn: (Logres)
On Kit Hill this morning, I gallumphed among the heather and the golden stems of dried grass under deep blue skies, surrounded by clouds of tiny fluttering white moths.

For much of my walk. I was tormented by a particularly persistent and malignant horsefly which seemed bent on following me wherever I went, despite my feeble attempts to out-run it, my random irritated flailing and the rich selection of curses that I rained upon it and all its ilk .

It has been suggested that the more clothes you have on, the more savage the bugs.   If this is true, I dread to think what this one would have been like if I had encountered it while wearing a coat.  Possibly I would have had to fight it off with a spear.

Anyway, in between the flailing, thwacking, etc,  I considered this problem and came up with MANY THEORIES:
Read more... )
bunn: (Brythen)
At the moment the dogs do not want to go for a walk on the hill.  What they want to do is stare intently at a gorsebush while wagging.

After a while, they leap over the gorse bush and stare equally intently at the other side of it.  While wagging.  This can go on for hours.
Read more... )
bunn: (dog knotwork)
Was in a medieval mood today, so we went to Cotehele house for an outing.  Here is my mum, demonstrating doorways designed for seriously short people only.  This would probably be more helpful if I could remember how tall my mother is. 5'1-ish ? Less?  Considerably Shorter Than Me, anyway.

This morning as I was returning with the hounds from a morning walk (thankfully, much cooler today than it has been: Oh! the humidity!)  I was accosted by a woman waving the implement whose name causes controversy.  Some call it a fish-slice, others, a spatula, and I think last time we debated this matter there were other suggestions too.  The thing you use to turn stuff in a frying-pan so it browns on both sides.  Anyway...

A tall, grey-haired lady, slim and jeans-clad,  with intelligent aquiline features,  approached me, waving this utensil.
"Is this yours?" she said.
Somewhat baffled and for some reason, feeling rather guilty, I examined the item, and was relieved to see that it was unfamiliar.  At least, whatever the dogs, cats, etc may do, the kitchen equipment is not out annoying the neighbours.
"No!" I said
"I found it in the garden.  We often find things in the garden.  Something brings them.  I think perhaps it was from a barbecue," and she looked at me hopefully.
I admitted that it did indeed look like the kind of thing that someone might use if barbecueing.

"The thing is... I've lost a shoe," she went on.  "You haven't seen a shoe..?  A trainer kind of shoe?"
I shook my head in bafflement.
"Sometimes it brings things, and sometimes it takes them away.  I'm hoping that if I can find where this came from, I might find my shoe."
I assured her that I would look out for her shoe, and if I found it, I would return it to her house pronto.
And she went off up the lane, fish slice in hand, looking for her shoe.

Honestly, this really happened.  I assume, possibly, a fox at work?  All the other explanations seem even less likely.
bunn: (Hiver)
I observe that the children of people that I know, if judged entirely on photography, would appear to be all stunningly attractive. Photographs that I own of people that I know from their own teen and childhood years, and photos of members of my own family suggest that by comparison, humanity up to about 20 years ago was largely composed of odd-looking, grumpy-faced or mad-looking and somewhat furtive trolls.

Either some sort of alien intervention has taken place unnoticed, or nowadays, people get photographed so often, and get to see the results so instantly, they have on the whole, got a lot better at being in photographs.

I expect Future Historians to come up with a complicated theory about nutrition and dentistry. Or to go with the alien intervention thing.
bunn: (dog knotwork)
I was just looking at this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%A2n_the_Blessed

And I noticed the note: Not to be confused with Brian Blessed.

I shall never again be able to imagine Bran the Blessed as NOT played by Brian Blessed. :-D
bunn: (Bah)
I have become very fed up of removing 21 tiny screws in order to open up the back of my laptop, which I needed to do in order to :
Read more... )

So last night I rebelled and after fixing the power jack again, I only replaced 15 screws. Because I'm going to have to take them all out again, aren't I...

Apparently one of those screws I didn't replace was the screw that was causing my Windows updates to fail?

Read more... )
Now I am installing update 12 of 37, and wondering whether this Toshiba would be a useable replacement.Read more... )And I am absolutely, definitely never buying a Vaio again.  Not only is this power jack socket cheap and horrid, (and bending it back into place so it works is starting to knacker the plastic around it) but I can't even find anyone in Europe who will sell me a replacement for it. *rage* 
bunn: (dog knotwork)
I was told today that when foundations were being laid for the new road bridge across the Tamar in Launceston some years ago, the excavations uncovered a set of Roman bridge foundations. (Launceston may, or may not, be the same place that is called Uxelis in Ptolemy's Geography). The internet knows nothing of this intriguing fact(ish)*. My source is the business partner of the coordinating civil engineer on the bridge (now retired).

This sort of thing is the reason that I still haven't got my 'Marcus Goes To Dumnonia' story into any kind of order despite having started it about a year and a half ago. I am almost tempted to ditch it as fiction and issue it as a local history leaflet instead. :-D

*factish is a word I think I have just invented for something that may, or may not, be a fact. 
bunn: (Wild Garden)
I did finish Bride of the Spear in the end instead of pitching it into the charity shop pile. (And OMG, look at that cover on Amazon.  My copy does not have that cover.  I nearly fell over laughing when I googled it just now.)   And goodness me, she almost won me back as a loyal reader.  Almost...

 Owain of Rheged comes good and rides heroically in a Theoden-like manner to the help of Pict-besieged Bamburgh!  Loyalties are confused because the king of Lothian has some Pict followers who look at everything from a matrilinear perspective, whereas the British are patrilinear, and although everyone knows this, it's still hard for them to understand each other!  Healing happens not just with 'herbs' which magically make everything better -  but with specific, named herbs with specific properties! And the healer is very conscious of all the stuff she can't fix, and the difficulty of measuring an accurate dose!

(This is probably the kind of thing where many people will be thinking 'who cares!' but I do love heroic rescues and accidental cultural mixups and accurate herb-descriptions.)

I can't remember feeling this conflicted about a set of books... probably ever.    If only the characterisation /plotting was different!  I love the worldbuilding so much, but...
bunn: (Trust me)
I'm reading the last of three historical novels by Kathleen Herbert, who I first encountered as an authority who had written academic studies on Anglo Saxon religion and culture.   The last book is titled 'Bride of the Spear' and -  that title really should have warned me.   The spear in question belongs to the god Lugh, and you really don't want to think about the novel's premise about that spear, fertility, and a ritual involving 8 year old virgins.    This may possibly be accurate, or at least, supported by the available evidence, what there is of it - but still.  Ewww.

It made me think about what makes me go on reading and why I may actually give up on this book half-way, even though it is fluently and carefully written with many beautifully descriptive passages, and is set in a period that greatly interests me (late sixth century) and full of fascinating side details.
Read more... )
bunn: (dog knotwork)
"Ecgfrith sent an army under his general, Berht, to Ireland in 684 where he ravaged the plain of Brega, destroying churches and taking hostages. The raid may have been intended to discourage support for any claim Aldfrith might have to the throne, though other motives are possible.

Ecgfrith's two marriages—the first to the saintly virgin Æthelthryth (Saint Audrey), the second to Eormenburh—produced no children"  (Wikipedia)

1) a general called Bert!  Bert the warrior!  Bert the slayer!  All hail Bert!
(That little h really makes all the difference).

2) 'Other motives are possible'.   I love that.  Stag weekend that got out of hand...?  I Know I Put My Keys Down Here Somewhere?

3) Only in one period does someone called Ecgfrith marry someone called Aethelthryth and we are expected to be able to untangle them.  Maybe Bert's parents chose his name because they were reacting against the whole 'tongue in celtic knots*' problem.    Also, wikipedia thinks Oswy had two sons, one called Aldfrith and one called Alhfrith. If this is true, it just seems like asking for trouble.

*perhaps more appropriately, Northumbrian Renaissance knots, but nobody ever says this.
bunn: (Smaug)
By far the most popular version of the story of 'The Hobbit' is the version loosely translated from the Thain's Book copy of the Red Book of Westmarch by Professor JRR Tolkien in the mid-20th century.  Professor Tolkien was of course an entertaining writer with a strong grasp of the Old Westron sources for the late Third Age period, but it is most unfortunate that his translation, riddled as it is with pro-Gondorian sentiment, has taken such a firm hold of the popular imagination that the other sources - not available in convenient English translation - have been forgotten.  

The "Thain's Book" translation is often read by non-specialists in the period as a complete and accurate description of events at the end of the Third Age.  More accurately, it should be considered as a group of sometimes self-contradictory sources, none of which survive in the original.  This group of texts had at least three authors, one of whom later admitted he had lied in his original account, and later amended it.   The material has certainly been recopied and 'corrected' several times by much later writers.  It occasionally deals with matters, such as the history of the dwarf-kingdoms and the political organisation of Northern Rhovanion, of which none of the original authors had much understanding or experience. 

In this context, it is pleasing to discover that the recent movie based on the life of Bilbo Baggins (or Mad Baggins, as he is usually referred to in later Westron sources originating from the Shire)  has called on material beyond Professor Tolkien's English translations.  I believe this to include material available until recently only in Khuzdul, and now of course, translated into modern Croatian as the nearest equivalent modern European language. I also noted elements of a version of the legend that to my knowledge, is preserved only in material written in the most obscure dialects of Sindarin, and now held in the archives office in Machynlleth.   

The sources for this period that originate from outside the Shire are of course also problematic in many ways.  Like the Thain's book, they are often self-contradictory, particularly on the important but almost undocumented area of Dwarf military organisation and economic development. Source preservation has been poor, particularly in the case of the document that is thought to be Balin's personal diary, available today only in the most fragmentary and puzzling form.  Re-copying has added errors, particularly to the Khuzdul sources which are notoriously difficult to transcribe quickly or accurately.  The Sindarin material probably glamorises life in Rivendell and accentuates the military power of the Sindarin-Noldorin remnant living there - but it may still be more accurate than the Shire-version, which was very clearly written by a hobbit who had at that time no grasp at all of any of the Elvish languages. 

None the less, such attention to detail is most unexpected in a movie made for the entertainment of the masses, and deserves to be recognised and commended.  I look forward eagerly to the planned future works, and particularly to the release of the full bibliography. 
bunn: (Bah)
How many people really want to read this article I desire about crime in Roman Egypt, published 1963 - and are able to do so?  I'm guessing maybe 6, but I think that might even be an overestimate.  And there isn't even a way to pay an exorbitant fee and get access to the bloody thing!   I know it is there, but it might as well be sealed inside a capsule on the bloody Moon.

I was reading a 'success story' article today about someone using Google Adsense to successfully monetise content, and it occurs to me that rather than stick all these bloody paywalls everywhere and make it next to impossible to get through the sodding things, it might be a better thing for everyone involved if they just bunged them up - past a certain date in the past maybe - as freeware on cheap hosting, and ran a really good properly structured set of ad campaigns against them.

Is it over-suspicious to suspect that universities wouldn't like this as it might mean people actually learning stuff and drawing conclusions without their expensive mediation...?  Or is is just OMG, advertising!  That's like... TRADE!  OH THE HORROR!!!  We'll be knighting the grandchildren of mill-owners next and then where will we be?
bunn: (Dark Ages)
I'm reading 'Britannia : The Failed State" by Stuart Laycock.  No, it's not modern politics ;-)

The premise is that the tribal groups within Roman Britain were much more differentiated than most histories assume, and that they were never effectively submerged into a coherent Roman province.  Even in the second and third centuries, he thinks there was a lot more intertribal raiding even in Southern England than is documented.  In particular he thinks the Iceni came West to raid the Catuvellauni (around London and the Southeast) and the Brigantes (biggest tribe in Britain, remember)  regularly came charging South to loot Corieltauvi land around Leicestershire from about 140AD onwards.
Read more...and more! and more! )
bunn: (Default)
Deerskin -  Robin McKinley
Read more... )

The Fall of Rome - Bryan Ward-Perkins
Read more... )

The People of the Sea - David Thomson
Read more... )

Gullstruck Island - Frances HardingeRead more... )

Bloodline - the Celtic Kings of Roman Britain - Miles Russell
Read more... )
Song for A Dark Queen - Rosemary Sutcliff
Read more... )

The Silver Branch - Rosemary Sutcliff
Read more... )

Frontier Wolf - Rosemary Sutcliff
Read more... )
The Lantern Bearers - Rosemary Sutcliff
Read more... )
Sword at Sunset -  Rosemary Sutcliff
The Shining Company - Rosemary Sutcliff
Read more... )


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