A Royal Obsession – Part II

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales at the time of his visit to North America in 1860.

Reading a bit on the life of Albert Edward Saxe-Cobourg and Gotha (Edward VII) one can only imagine the field day the tabloids would have with him in this day and age. Though there were gossip magazines galore in Victorian England they tended to be chary in their handling of royal “affairs”. If Royal scandals surfaced – and scandals there were, I mean did you know he had mistresses???? Including the grandmother of Camillla… well enough said about that – it was in the Welsh, colonial and U.S. press seldom in the English newspapers or journals.

A few weeks ago in Sailstrait, his rich historic site on Island things nautical, Harry Holman told us about the American presses’ reporting on Albert Edward’s visit to Prince Edward Island in 1860. And though they were respectful to the Prince of Wales they were decidedly less so to our fair isle. This past week, to balance the scales, he told us about the visit as reported by the a far more circumspect British chroniclers of the age.


“Thy grandsire’s name distinguishes this isle;
We love thy mother’s sway, and court her smile.”
Banner hanging in the ballroom of the Colonial Building, Charlottetown 1860.

A recent posting on this site featured American accounts of the 1860 visit of the Prince of Wales to Charlottetown and highlighted, perhaps unfairly, the carnival-like atmosphere, overcrowding  and drunkenness which the journalists from the States chose to make a centerpiece of their reporting.  For the Americans, the Prince’s visit was a unique experience and their florid accounts strained to find moments of interest in what was oftentimes a repetition of the rounds of addresses, salutes, dinners and balls which would characterize the events across two nations as the Prince travelled to Canada and the United States.

Prince of Wales receiving addresses at Colonial Building 1860. London Illustrated News

For the English media, royal appearances were less of a one time event and more…

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A Royal Obsession

A recent look at the tabloids – oh come on you all read the headlines at the supermarket and you know it!!!!! – suggests a rather unhealthy obsession with our Canadian (Britian has some claim to them too) Royal Family. The details of suspected peccedillos, fusses and feuds amongst various members of the House of Windsor-Mountbatten seem to fascinate us lower classes as we tug at our forelocks and cry “Will they not leave poor Princess Megan alone?” Most totally unaware that she will never be “Princess” and isn’t exactly “poor” on any level.

But this obsession with British Royalty is nothing new for members of the fifth estate and their readers, particularly our American cousins. In 1860 Queen Victoria’s eldest son Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales visited the British Colonies and it appears that almost every breath he took was recorded by journalists and breathlessly read by their subscribers.

In his, always fascinating, blog Sailstait PEI historian, archivist and writer Harry Holman recounts the heady days in August 1860 when the visit to our Island by HRH was the news not only locally but internationally. Fine proof that the obsession with our Royal Family is nothing new.

March 29 is the 88th day of the year and a piano has 88 keys so naturally today is International Piano Day.


It was not a pretty sight and the correspondent for the New York Tribune made  it the centrepiece of his reporting of the event.  And what an event it was. The biggest thing to hit Charlottetown in its history. The first visit ever of a member of the Royal Family. Today it has become commonplace as every decade one or more Royals cycle through the province. It was not always so.

View of Royal Fleet at Charlotte Town 1860. From Journal of the Progress of the HRH Prince of Wales through British North America and his Visit to the United States. 1860.

When H.R.H. Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, came to North America it was a major event wherever he visited. Not only did he visit the British Colonies, still four years away from becoming a nation, but he also travelled to the United…

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Librarian Pervert

Well my Lusty Librarian Lunedi Lunacy (see what I did there – alliteration!!!) inspired (if that is the right word) my blog buddy Old Lurker to bare his soul about a deep dark secret. I am humbled, if a bit smug, that what was largely a literary lark tapped into his libidinous library lust and led to a true confession much in the manner of the pocket books that inspired it.

And having no sense of propriety I thought I’d share his admission with you.

On this day in 1757: English poet Christopher Smart is admitted into St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics in London, beginning his six-year confinement to mental asylums.

Old Lurker

Willym recently posted some salacious book covers, which is as good an opportunity as any to commence the “shocking disclosures of sexual perversion” phase of this blog. Today’s shocking disclosure is: librarians.

I do not know how I ended up this way. Probably it is because I have an unhealthy fondness for libraries. Libraries are full of delicious books that (in principle) I am allowed to sign out and ravenously consume, provided that I don’t slobber on the pages and/or accumulate too many late fines. I know that some freaks purchase new books and develop long-term loving relationships with them; I do not understand these people. A passionate three-week romance is plenty for me, and then back to the shelves you go, delightful reading material. Maybe we will have a second go-around, but until then there are plenty of books in the sea.

That makes me a bookslut AND a…

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Of Plants and Pantry

In which the poster shares a blog, a recipe and some pleasure at the little serendipities of life.

One of the joys of last September’s trip to Ireland, England and the North Atlantic was a chance to spend some time with our friends David and his diplomate Jeremy in London.  Unfortunately it was only an afternoon but as always with these two gentlemen it was one of fine food, good conversation and a great discovery.  Both Laurent and I have come to the conclusion that if David recommends something – to read, to hear, or for an exploration – then it is more than worth investigating.  In this case he suggested a trip to the Chelsea Physic Garden after lunch.

Juan poses with the statue of Sir Hans Sloane in an autumnal Chelsea Physic Garden.

As well as giving us a chance to wander through the streets of Chelsea (David is an inveterate walker/hiker) it also allowed us a peek into a hidden treasure that David has mentioned several times on his blog.  And a treasure it is!  Founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries it was created to train apprentices in the identification and use of medicinal plants.  The oldest botanic garden in London (and second in England only to the 1621 Garden at Oxford) it became internationally important in the study of botany and the exchange of plants.   Amongst those that used the Garden in their studies was Sir Hans Sloane who was to become the first doctor to be granted a hereditary title.  In 1712 he bought the land on the banks of the Thames that the Society had been renting from Charles Cheyne and lease it in perpetuity to the Society for a rent of  £5 annually.

Though it was late fall the Garden was still a pleasure to stroll through and view the late blooming flowers, the variety of medicinal and ornamental plants, and the quiet pleasures of a green space on a Sunday afternoon.  And I should add lavender scones with tea on the terrace of the Tangerine Dream Café and further conversation with David.

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We bid our adieus on Royal Hospital Road and as if we had not walked enough Laurent and I decided a stroll back to the Hotel was in order. I hadn’t been along the Embankment in that area since my first trip to London back in 1969. At that time the statue of Sir Thomas More – perhaps tellingly with his back to Chelsea Old Church – had just been dedicated.

The statue to Sir Thomas More before Chelsea Old Church where he built his private chapel.

Unfortunately Evensong was being celebrated so we did not go into the church.  It would have been the perfect opportunity to see some fascinating monuments and to perhaps take a peek at the only chained books in any church in London: a copy of the Vinegar Bible (1717), two volumes of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1684), a Prayer Book (1723) and Homilies (1683) given to the church by Sir Hans Sloane.  Many of the monuments were damaged when a parachute bomb exploded nearby in 1941 collapsing the tower onto the nave of the church.

A goodly number of the monuments have been painstakingly restored and recently a tablet to Sloane was commissioned and dedicated.  I found the Vicar’s remarks at the dedication an incredible encapsulation of the history of the church.

“We have given this great man the best spot we could find. The new plaque is beside the tomb of the family of the squire who picked up the crown at the battle of Bosworth and presented it to the knight who then handed it to the new Tudor King. The tablet is within a few feet of the tomb which Thomas More prepared for himself and his wives and opposite the capitols designed here in Chelsea by Holbein himself. It’s near the spot where Henry VIII stood with Jane Seymour, where Lady Jane Gray received communion every Sunday, where the “illegitimate” and endangered Princess Elizabeth said her private prayers and where James 1 stood as godfather. It’s a handshake away from the pulpit where Wesley preached when Anglican pulpits were closed to him.”

Just looking over the pictures from our trip and doing a bit of research into Old Church makes me think that a return visit would not go amiss – to have another meal with David and Jeremy, see the garden in spring, and explore this corner of English history.

But in my title I mentioned “pantry”.    What does a garden, Chelsea Old Church and Sir Hans Sloane have to do with food?   Well for many years now I’ve been following a blog called Lost Past Remembered by Deana Sidney – a New York based production designer who also has a passion for history and food.  Deana writes sporadically but when she does it’s beautifully researched and presented and always fascinating. As well as providing – as she always does – an interesting recipe with this posting she introduced me, and I would dare say most of her followers, to Richard Bradley and his book The Country Houſwife and Lady’s Directory in the Management of a House and Delights and Profits of a Farm.  Bradley was an 18th century botanist and one of the few of the period who had not gone to university.  His life was short but he contributed much to many of the practices that we follow to day in the name of ecology.

But back to the serendipitous connection that has me joining the Physic Garden and this obscure botanist:  Sir Hans Sloane.  Sloane was a patron of Bradley’s and seemed to be constantly getting him out of financial scrapes as well as obtaining positions for him.  Sloane was secretary of the Royal Society in 1712 when Bradley was elected at the young age of 24 to the the Fellowship.  He thought highly of the man’s work if not of his constant need for money – including after his death to take his widow and child out penury.

A click on the frontispiece and title page of Bradley’s opus for the good country women of England will take you to Deana’s fascinating post on the life of this remarkable man as well as Another Way of dreſſing Pigeons.


On this day in 1976:  The Troubles: Gunmen shoot dead ten Protestant civilians after stopping their minibus at Kingsmill in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, UK.


Back in the old days of regular blog postings I would share some of my favourite bloggers and their words of wit and wisdom as well as random photos with a bit of theme thrown in. As I look over the old list on the side bar I see that many of my old friends no longer post regularly and in some cases not at all. Many of them have graduated to Facebook where we still are able to keep in touch with the comings and goings in our lives, if in a slightly more concise manner.

April 23, 2012 – Springtime comes to Ottawa!

However a few of my longtime blog buddies are still around, one has – to my immense joy – started blogging again and at least one of my dearest friends has begun her own blog.   Sadly one of my longtime favourites has announced she is closing down her blog.  So I’m back to sharing both favourite blogs and I thought, that given our return to winter yesterday,  I’d post a few photos of the “winter of our discontent” here in Ottawa. Now some of you may recall my “bitch slap” threat – well if one more person tells me what a “mild” winter its been this year I will personally make sure they are incorporated into an ice sculpture for next year’s Winterlude – some pictures of this year’s entries follow.

A recent addition to the many memorials to Canadian politicians, warriors and notables that dot the landscape of Ottawa is this remarkable statue of jazz great Oscar Peterson.  Unveiled by Queen Elizabeth in 2010 the bronze figure of Peterson, seated at his piano, observes the pedestrians and cars at the corner of Elgin and Slater in front of the National Arts Centre.  And passersby are treated to Peterson playing some of his most famous melodies.  I took this picture and short video late one evening after a January snow storm as I was walking home from the NAC.

My darling Jacquie Sue is still kicking ass over at Yellow Dog Granny – though with all the great things she’s been doing for the folks over at the Rest Home plus old Dexter fussin’ and a fumin’ I’m not sure how she does it. And now that she’s the youngest Great-Grandma I know she’s got a budding YDG to take under her wing – Olivia is one lucky little girl. But we still get our Monday Morning chuckles, updates on the doings in West and whatever else strikes her fancy. And one of these days I’m going to accept her invite and get my butt down to West and try one of those world famous skunk eggs!

One of the most popular features of Winterlude, after the 10 km skating rink on the Rideau Canal, is the International Ice Sculpture Contest. The first weekend of the annual winter festival was perfect for viewing some spectacular pieces of ice carving.  Unfortunately by the time we got to them the second weekend and an evening or two later many of the details had been eroded by a turn in the weather.  But there were still spectacular.  Many had an Inuit theme to them though there was a odd bit of commercialism.  And a sidebar to my friend Marco – that’s what would happen to your Samsung smartphone if you came to Canada in the winter!

You may recall that in January I headed over to London for a few days to see Dame Edna in her first – and sadly given her announced retirement, last – panto and to spend a few days with some friends.  Though time was tight I was able to have a lovely meal with my dear friend David – after having been royally entertained by his diplomate at the Garrick Club.  It was good to see David again, howbeit briefly, and even better to see that he has taken up blogging again at I’ll Think of Something Later.  David has been my guide to so many things through his blog and my meetings with him and his current postings are once again giving me untold delight.  Wonderful to have you back caro!

When we lived in Poland we were lucky that we had a great group of people at the Embassy, not always a given – a group that 12 years later many of whom we see for the occasional lunch, dinner or breakfast.  And one or two who have remained close friends – almost family actually.  Among the later is my darling Bev.  It would take a book to tell her story – she always seems to be on the run not from but to danger.  In the past 10 years I’ve lost count of the places she’s lived but I know Islamabad, Kabul, Darfur and Colombo are on the list.  Currently she’s living in Bangkok – thats when she’s not on the road to all manner of exotic places with strange sounding names like the up coming tour of  Nepal, India, Beirut, Bhutan, Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka, Nairobi.  Now my Bev is a person who does everything with passion and commitment both work and play and her latest passion is physical training.  And she loves sharing her passions and what better way than through a blog.  Her adventures as she checks out gyms and other cool sports stuff can be found at The Diesel Diva.  Welcome to blogdom darling good to have you with us.

Sadly Lotus Green over at Japonisme has announced that she is closing down her blog.  I’ve always enjoyed visiting her and being entertained, educated and often astounded by the wonderful wedding of image, word and sound.  She will be missed.

And what could be more Winter than a “Mountain of Lost Mittens” – this fun sculpture was actually made up of mittens that had been left in various places in Ottawa.

So enough of winter now – it is now almost the end of April and spring could make a more permanent appearance if it so desired?????

25 April – 1849: The Governor General of Canada, Lord Elgin, signs the Rebellion Losses Bill, outraging Montreal’s English population and triggering the Montreal Riots.

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