Tag Archives: Britain

The ‘Great British’ Haggis?


Great British Haggis

The latest addition to the Stahly haggis family is the Great British Haggis. Made, of course, with the finest traditional ingredients, this modern take on the original Scotch Haggis is dressed to appeal to a wider audience. In a smart new coat of red, white and blue with a subtle hint of tartan to retain its proud Scottish heritage, the new Great British Haggis is a very modern version of a very traditional product.

This company has decided to re-brand the traditional Scottish haggis as ‘British’ haggis, complete with Union Jack. If you would like to send them your feedback, here is their contact link.

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Woods need EU (and you) – Woodland Trust

Two very special European laws play a vital role in keeping some of our most precious woodland species and habitats safe. But these laws are at risk under a new review, and we need your help to prove they matter.

Take action now and have your say.

Deadline: 24 July 2015.

via Woods need EU (and you) – Woodland Trust.

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Winter – Again?

I didn’t get much sleep last night, nor the night before for that matter, just under 5 hours.    I was cold and I had leg cramps for some unknown reason.  Anyways, I noted we had a good frost before I finally found the back of my eyelids.

When I awoke, I didn’t really look outside, I was struggling to just get myself ready for work and feeling alert.    When I stepped out of doors, it was obvious it has snowed.   Typical!  I’d missed it.   It was only a light dusting, already on the melt, but it had indeed snowed; on the last day of January, just as everyone is celebrating Là Fhèill Brìghde and the end of winter.

I hope we get some more, I truly do.   I really like snow, despite the disruption it appears to bring to the lives of those in the south of the country.

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River Cottage – Missed Again

The last time I was in Axminster two years ago, myself and my companions called in at the River Cottage Canteen for lunch, but it was full, and we were told to book in advance if we wanted to eat there.  We were not going by that way again, so we missed our chance unfortunately.

This year, I booked to do a course at River Cottage with the extra little bonus we received at work.   I thought in addition to learning something new, I might treat myself to dinner at the River Cottage Canteen as well, since I missed out last time.    I had planned to book for dinner on one of the two nights I need to stay in Axminster to attend the course.   Alas: The River Cottage Canteen is shut on Sunday and Monday nights, so, once again I am unable to sample the fayre.   

As it happens, I don’t think I will be eating at all the Sunday before the course, because I have to leave home before breakfast in order to arrive at the B&B on time.   I am told I have to arrive promptly as the owners are away and someone else is standing in for them.    The hours I keep means I will struggle to sleep before, and wake in time for the course as it is.  

It appears nothing is open in Axminster on Sundays, food wise, so my only sustenance before the course will be breakfast.  Then, there is after the course, because it appears not much is open on a Monday in Axminster either.

How odd to be attending a food-related course, but ending up hungry because no food is available to consume!

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Musings on the Day

It was a lovely autumnal day today: bright sunshine, earthy colours, a chill in the air, and the overnight rain leaving a fresh feeling to it all.

I do like this time of year, really.  I’m grateful to be living somewhere that has four seasons, each as beautiful, and distinct from the next.




Next time, I might make the effort to take a photograph.

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Britain BC

Book Cover

Author: Francis Pryor
ISBN: 9780007126934

It has actually taken me two years to read this book.   I started it in July 2008, and I remember finding it hard to comprehend.  It seemed all over the place and I had difficulties with the way Pryor went into long, confusing descriptions of various archaeological dig sites.  I felt extremely stupid as I just could not visualise that which he attempted to illustrate with words in detail.   I became frustrated and, instead, found other books to distract.

This year I have made a concerted effort to finish those books I struggled with in the past.  I picked up Britain BC again, but instead of returning to the beginning, I continued from where I had left off  in order to distance myself from the earlier frustrations.  It worked!   I was able to read this book somewhat more comfortably and actually absorb most of the information.

The detailed and wordy descriptions of various artefacts and archaeological digs sites still left me reeling, but pictures and illustrations are provided (more frequently in the second half of the book) which help to clearly demonstrate what Pryor is tries to describe in words.  In some cases, I still skipped the details in favour of understanding how the site/artefact furthered the understanding of a particular time, people, community or way of working.

Britain BC did provide me with insight in the world of archaeology; its progress over the years; and an idea of how archaeologists work today both in terms of learning about our past and in preserving it for the future.  I marvelled at the amount of speculation involved in seeking to put finds into context, giving the impression that the purpose of a site or artefact can never be certain where archaeologists are involved.   This was quite a lesson for me.   I found it disconcerting that as Pryor dismantled the ideas of others, he sought to replace them with his own imaginings, a few of which I thought less credible than those he had just rejected.   Still, what do I know?

I was taken by the idea that, immediately prior to the arrival of the Romans, British society was not necessarily a cohesive whole but rather made up of small community groups, some of which had banded together to form larger societies. Pryor also speculates that some of these communities did not have a formal structure, but were loosely banded together, and there may not have been an elite class as previously thought or imagined by rich burial sites.

Prior to reading Britain BC, I was unaware the Iron Age extended into the early part of first millennia CE with crannogs and brochs being in use in 600 CE, but only in those areas where the Romans had not tread.  Although I have gained some insight into what is known about the various “ages” of prehistory, I might have assimilated more if the author had refrained from flitting between archaeological dig sites, with a quick tangent into the future of one or another site “… but we will explore that further later in another chapter” (to paraphrase) and back again. As a reader, I felt disconnected from the finds or how they corroborated what was known about the people and/or communities of the age and how they lived in the landscape. I was lost quite a bit of the time; I needed lots of breaks from reading this book in order to take my bearings.  I know the author is enthusiastic – I can read it in his text – but I think more careful editing might have made the evidential information more accessible.

Overall, the book did provide me with a basic knowledge of prehistory in Britain and it’s all in one place instead of the myriad of bits and bobs floating around in my head from reading news updates from various archaeological websites.   I have definitely learned more than I ever did at school about the subject.  It’s just Britain BC is not a book I would, or even could, use as a reference to with which to check my understanding.

I am not sure what is says about the book when the first thing I can say about it is: “I now know the difference between pre-history, proto-history and history“.

Rating: 4/5.

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As the television, and radio, appears to have been overtaken by the false idolatry of the football and that grisly programme “Big Brother”, I have been watching history documentaries on DVD.  I started purchasing DVDs last year, at heavy discounts, in preparation for what I knew would be a dire summer in terms of entertainment. 

I get home from work in the early hours of the morning, at which time, all (available on freeview) is given over to analysis of sporting games or snoring fame hunters, but I like to be able to watch something decent while I have my dinner, as I unwind before going to bed.  

A  History of Scotland“, presented by Neil Oliver, is a 10 part series exploring the birth and life of that nation.  It is more about how Scotland came to be and how it is governed to this day rather than an exploration of it’s people, customs and culture.  I found it fascinating, as I knew very little about Scotland.  I had learned much about English history in schoool, but not much on the other countries that make up the British Isles.

A History of Britain” by Simon Schama follows the same lines as the series on Scotland, or so it seems.  I have only watched the first of six discs.

As I am enjoying these visually pleasing, potted histories, I was hoping to find more of the same on Ireland, or even Wales, but it seems no-one has produced these yet.  If anyone has recommendations, please be so kind as to pass them on.

I did find a curious thing at the end of the “A  History of Scotland” series, tucked away on the last disc.  It was “How the Celts Saved Britain” presented by Dan Snow.   Not so sure the title was apt, though.  It seemed more about how Irish Christianity lifted Britain from the dark ages more than anything.   I must admit, though, I can’t be sure where it went, as I kind of tuned out; it just couldn’t hold my attention. 

Now, I am looking out for a suprise at the end of “A History of Britain“, but I am refraining from peeking ahead.


Filed under Britain, Reviews, Scotland