Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Words and Phrases - To Spend a Penny

The phrase to spend a penny means to use the toilet, especially, but not exclusively, a public toilet.

It originates from the use of coin operated locks on public toilets. It was used mostly in the UK and mostly by women (men's urinals were often free of charge).


Such locks were first introduced, at a public toilet outside the Royal Exchange, London, in the 1850s. The term itself is later though. The first recorded citation of it is in H. Lewis's "Strange Story", 1945:

"'Us girls,' she said, 'are going to spend a penny!'"


'Spend a penny' has now largely gone out of use, partly because charges have changed and partly because it was always a coy euphemism, which now seems rather dated. The writing was on the wall for this phrase, so to speak, from 1977, when the Daily Telegraph printed an article headed "2p to spend a penny".  Nowadays it costs at least 20 new pence to spend an (old) penny.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Happy Birthday Dürer

Albrecht Dürer was a painter, printmaker, and theorist of the German Renaissance. Born in Nuremberg on 21st May 1471, he was the third child and second son of his parents, who had at least fourteen and possibly as many as eighteen children. His father, Albrecht Dürer the Elder, was a successful goldsmith, who in 1455 had moved to Nuremberg from Ajtós, near Gyula in Hungary.

Dürer established his reputation and influence across Europe when he was still in his twenties due to his high-quality woodcut prints.   He died on 6 April 1528, also at Nuremberg, Germany.

Some Durer Quotes:-



Some think that they know everybody, but they really don't know themselves.
Albrecht Durer

Love and delight are better teachers than compulsion.
Albrecht Durer

What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.
Albrecht Durer

Dürer created large numbers of preparatory drawings, especially for his paintings and engravings, and many survive, most famously the Betende Hände (Praying Hands) from circa 1508, a study for an apostle in the Heller altarpiece. Dürer created the drawing using the technique of white heightening and black ink on (self-made) blue colored paper. The drawing shows a close up of two male hands clasped together praying. Also, the partly rolled up sleeves are seen.

(This copy of the drawing was given to me 
on my 21st birthday by my then girlfriend.)

The drawing was planned to occupy the central panel of the triptych installed in Frankfurt, which was later destroyed by a fire in 1729.  The drawing also once contained a sketch of the apostle's head, but the sheet with the head has been separated from it. Overall, Dürer made 18 sketches for the altarpiece. The image is thought probably to depict Dürer's own hands.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Did your school have a library?

My school had a library and for a couple of years I was a library prefect which meant I could spend my lunch times and breaks in there.  I was definitely born to be a librarian!  I recently found a picture of myself at an early age...


Just kidding!  (You can tell they are not real librarians.  Real librarians carry twice as many books as that on one arm, leaving the other hand free to shelve them!)

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Skeleton leaves

Have you ever made leaf skeletons?  When I was young |i made a lot of them and used them for making bookmarks and various others forms of craftwork.  Sadly, none of those survive.  But one which my grandmother made - probably well over a century ago - still does.  I covered it in 'sticky-back-plastic' (to quote Blue Peter) and it is still quite happy to this day.


In my early teens I had a pen-pal who lived in Malaysia and she sent me two dyed leaf skeletons with little strings to turn them into bookmarks.

If you want to know how to make leaf skeletons take a look at
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Skeleton-Leaves
It's quite easy to do.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

My worries


Tabor, talking about Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” recently wrote on her blog ‘One Day at a Time’ –I like that it reminds me how I have so little significance on this planet that my worries would not even fill the tummy of a mosquito.


Is that not a wonderful concept!

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