Friday, 22 July 2016

Inn Signs - The Three Loggerheads

When I was very young one of my favourite Sunday excursions involved a bus to Liverpool Pier Head, the ferry across the Mersey and then another bus to Mold or even beyond to Gwernymynydd in North Wales.  The bus terminus was at a place called Loggerheads. 



We used to walk alongside the river through the Ash woods. 


I was always confused as a child when I heard the phrase ‘they are at loggerheads’ when it was obvious the people concerned were at home in Liverpool!  I discovered it didn’t mean that the people were here in North Wales – it meant they were squabbling or in contention over some point of principle.  So where did the expression come from and why does the inn sign for The Three Loggerheads appear to only show two heads?


The word loggerhead had a number of different meanings and in the seventeenth century is said to have been a common inn sign (usually in the form of The Three Loggerheads).  Shakespeare used loggerhead to mean a foolish person; a thickhead or blockhead (a logger being a block of wood used to hobble a horse).  

The idea behind the sign having only two heads is that the visitor was tricked into asking where the third loggerhead was.  He would then be told he was it!

A loggerhead was also a seafaring weapon like a large ladle which was heated and dipped into boiling tar which was then flicked at another ship, its sails and its occupants.  It may be that the idea of being at loggerheads came from this weapon.

One pub called the Loggerheads (at Narrow Marsh, Nottingham) was named for another meaning of the word – a stout wooden post built into the stern of a whaling boat, to which the line was attached.  Whaling relics were brought from Hull to Nottingham by bargees using the River Trent.

Nothing to do with the inn sign, but when I searched my computer for pictures at Loggerheads I came across this one I took last time we walked there, in 2005, of the rare Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria).  



A parasite growing on the roots of a range of woody plants, its common name comes from its fruiting stems, which resemble a row of teeth.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Cottage Loaves

 Cottage Loaves are a traditional type of bread originating in England.  A cottage loaf is characterised by its shape, which is essentially that of two round loaves, one on top of the other, with the upper one being rather smaller: the shape is similar to that of the French brioche and the pain chapeau of Finistère.  We bought this one from a baker’s stall in Abergavenny Market in May.



The origins of the name and shape are unknown but possibly extend back hundreds of years. Elizabeth David who described the cottage loaf in her ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’ (1977), surmised that the shape may have arisen as a way of saving 'floor space' in old-fashioned bread ovens. The name, however, did not first appear in writing until the mid-19th century. In the London area it was formerly possible to find an oblong version, known as a 'cottage brick'.
Cottage loaves, while formerly common, are now rarely found in bakeries, as they are relatively time-consuming and difficult to make, and in common with other round loaves are less convenient for slicing.  
Why am I telling you all this?  Because one of our local inns is ‘The Cottage Loaf’ and this is its inn sign.    



The building in Thurstaston on The Wirral was originally constructed in the late 1920s  as a tea rooms noted for its home baked and cooked produce - hence the choice of name. It had comfortable open plan seating areas and open fires which are retained to this day.   It was used then, as it is still, as a starting and finishing point for ramblers visiting Thurstaston Common and the shores of the River Dee. This was its tea rooms sign in 1955 - simply the name, 'The Cottage Loaf. 

I took the photo below in 1962/3.  Mum only met the man she is talking to, in the foreground, in 1962 and he was to become a friend for the rest of her life. I started taking colour slides in 1963 so that dates it quite nicely.   As you can just about see, the building has a different sign - now depicting an actual loaf - but I can’t tell (or remember) if it was still a café or had become a pub by then.  The word below the picture of the loaf could be 'tearooms' or it could be Thwaites - the name of a popular local brewery.


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

An apple (well, flowers) for the teacher…

One of P-w-l-t’s courses came to the end of its academic year on Sunday and her students gave her this super bunch of flowers.



Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Robin's Pincushion

Robin's Pincushion or Rose Bedeguar Galls on Wild Rose

Back in June the garden had Robins -


And the dog roses were in flower.


Now (unconnected with the Robin!) we have Robin's Pincushions.


When we moved into The Willows ten years ago the first piece of gardening I did was to plant a hedge of natural British species of shrub.  I think there are about twelve different species in it, plus a couple of trees including a Cox Orange Pippin Apple tree.  The objective of this hedge was to divide up the garden and to attract as wide a variety of birds and insects as possible.  This year, for the first time, the Dog Rose has attracted the gall wasp Diplolepis rosae.


This tiny wasp  lays its eggs in Dog Rose buds and forces them to develop into a large red-tinged moss-like gall from which the young wasps eventually emerge. The gall becomes brown as its ages and may remain visible for several years as it slowly decays. 





Robin's Pincushion

Robin's Pincushion or Rose Bedeguar Galls on Wild Rose

Back in June the garden had Robins -


And the dog roses were in flower.


Now (unconnected with the Robin!) we have Robin's Pincushions.


When we moved into The Willows ten years ago the first piece of gardening I did was to plant a hedge of natural British species of shrub.  I think there are about twelve different species in it, plus a couple of trees including a Cox Orange Pippin Apple tree.  The objective of this hedge was to divide up the garden and to attract as wide a variety of birds and insects as possible.  This year, for the first time, the Dog Rose has attracted the gall wasp Diplolepis rosae.


This tiny wasp  lays its eggs in Dog Rose buds and forces them to develop into a large red-tinged moss-like gall from which the young wasps eventually emerge. The gall becomes brown as its ages and may remain visible for several years as it slowly decays. 





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