Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Inn Signs - The Drunken Duck

I took this photo in the early 1960s - 
it is scanned in from a 50+ year old transparency.

The Drunken Duck is the inn which probably started me off being interested in inn signs.  In 1960 when I was about 11 years old my (honorary) Uncle Phil told me the story of the naming of this pub between Ambleside and Hawkshead in the Lake District in Cumbria.  It is one of the best-known incident-type pub names.

Drunken Duck Inn - picture from their website

The name dates back to Victorian times when the landlord's wife found one (or more) of her ducks lying stretched out in the road and concluded that it was (or they were) dead.  Thriftily she began to pluck and prepare it for dinner. The duck, however, was not dead.  Down in the cellar a barrel had slipped its hoops and beer had gradually drained from the floor into the grain in the ducks' customary feeding ditch. Thereupon the duck made good use of its unexpected opportunity, with the result that when it came to it not only had a hangover but found itself plucked and halfway to the oven.

Hawkshead supplied raw flax and linen yarn to Kendal for its linsey-woollen trade and according to local legend, the landlady, full of remorse for the rough treatment, provided the de-feathered bird with a knitted waistcoat of Hawkshead yarn until its feathers grew back again.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Not quite politically correct !

A couple of notices on a wall in Llangollen:-

I always wondered who put the bubbles in lemonade.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Katarzyna Oleska - Artist Extraordinaire!

One of my favourite blogs is Reading and Art which I have mentioned before during my ramblings.  Recently it brought to my notice a remarkable artist / architect -  Katarzyna Oleska.  Her artistic works include sketches, paintings, and caricatures and she is self-taught.

Cover illustration for "Ksiezniczka" (The Princess) by A. Pilipiuk
This is one of my favourite pictures of all time.  

Katarzyna was born in 1981 in Poland and took a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design at Warsaw Technical University, graduating in 2006, before working as an architectural assistant / junior architect with a Warsaw firm of architects.  Subsequently she moved to the UK and since 2013 has concentrated on illustrating books and magazines for publishers and working for private clients as an illustrator.   She lives in Ramsgate, Kent.

She works in a variety of media having started out making pencil sketches of  people at the age of nine.  She is fascinated by human faces, expressions and anatomy and that fascination comes across in her work.

"Man in India" by Katarzyna Oleska

As well as her sketches and digital work Katarzyna also works in oils and acrylics.  Her caricatures are remarkable and if you visit her website or blog you can see a short video on making caricatures or you can buy a full length video from  She also has other tutorial videos available.

Among her recent works are 14 book cover illustrations for the Piper Verlag series of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, published in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Great art and Terry Pratchett - what more could I want?

Cover illustration for "The Science of Discworld 2"

Privately she describes herself as a very optimistic person with a good sense of humour.  I am most grateful to Katarzyna for permission to reproduce the three illustrations in this post.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Chester Town Crier

A town crier is a person employed to make public announcements in the streets or marketplace of a town.   Criers often dress elaborately, by a tradition dating to the 18th century, in a red and gold coat, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat.

In May 2014 I showed some photos I had taken at a town criers' parade in Tiverton, Devon.

Town criers usually carry a handbell to attract people's attention, as they shout the words "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!" before making their announcements. The word "Oyez" means "hear ye," which is a call for silence and attention. Oyez derives from the Anglo-Norman word for listen (modern French, oyez, infinitive, ouïr, but largely replaced by the verb écouter). The proclamations book in Chester from the early 19th century records this as" O Yes, O Yes!"

The Goddess Wiki tells us that in Medieval England, town criers were the chief means of news communication with the townspeople, since many were illiterate in a period before moveable type was invented. Royal proclamations, local bylaws, market days, adverts, even selling loaves of sugar were all proclaimed by a bellman or crier throughout the centuries—at Christmas 1798, the Chester Canal Co. sold some sugar damaged in their packet boat and this was to be advertised by the bellman.

The crier also escorted the destitute to the workhouse, installed minor criminals in the stocks and administered floggings. During public hangings he read out why the person was being hanged, and helped to cut him or her down.  In addition to their official duties town criers would be paid by local tradesmen to advertise their wares. Chester records of 1540 show fees due to the bellman.

In 1620, there was a fight at the Chester cross between the butchers and the bakers where the 'Cryer brake his Mace in peeces Amonge them'. In 1607, one public notice read by George Tunnall, the bellman, forbade tipping rubbish in the river. In 1715, a local man recorded that the 'Belman at the Cross ... Reads publicly a proclamation in the Mayor's name, commanding all persons in the City to be of peaceable and civil behaviour, not to walk around the Streets or Rows at unreasonable hours of night'. Chester once had a crier, a day bellman and a night bellman but in 1734, John Posnitt took over as 'Day and Night Bellman'.

A 1701 will of the vicar at Waverton stated that notice was to be given 'by the Belman to the People of Chester, of the time when, and the place where my Corpse is to be buried'.

Salmon fishing season was also closed by the bellman.

The term "Posting A Notice" comes from the act of the town crier, who having read his message to the townspeople, would attach it to the door post of the local inn. Some newspapers took the name "The Post" for this reason.  Liverpool still has a Daily Post newspaper.

Town criers were protected by law, as they sometimes brought bad news such as tax increases. Anything done by the town crier was done in the name of the ruling monarch and harming a town crier was considered to be treason.

Chester Cathedral Cloisters

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Inn Signs - The Devon Doorway

The coat of arms and motto of the county of Devon adorn the inn sign of this pub at Gayton on the Wirral peninsula .  The motto Crescit sub pondere virtus means virtue thrives beneath oppression.

It was built in the style of a Devon longhouse and it has a beautiful story behind its quirky appearance.  The pub was built in the 1900’s by a local man as a labour of love for his wife.  The couple would holiday in Devon regularly and the lady would beg her husband to leave the Wirral and move to Devon to live in a traditional longhouse. Unfortunately, the husband was tied to his job in the North, so instead built the Devon Doorway for his wife as a surprise.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Even the best of friends fall out at times...

Annabel and Mac.  So peaceful -

Uh, Oh!

Cat fight....

No bloodshed - just a lot of hissing!

Friday, 19 August 2016

I'm a bookaholic

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Parkgate, on the Wirral peninsula, Cheshire

Parkgate on the edge of the River Dee is a regular haunt of ours and I have blogged about its ice cream and chips on a previous occasion.
If you enlarge this picture it will tell you about Parkgate.

 When I was little it was possible to buy twists of paper with cooked shrimps in them from the windows of a couple of the local buildings but the shrimp fishing has long gone.  It’s amazing to think that in Mum and Dad’s lifetime Parkgate went from having a fishing fleet that sailed down the River Dee to being the silted up marsh we see today.

Can you imagine the sea breaking over the rooftops of these houses?  That’s what it was like a century ago on stormy nights.  You can read all about it here at

In a century Parkgate went from having a fishing fleet to just gullies and channels in a marsh.

The mountain in the background across the marshes, the Dee and the intervening hills is Moel Famau about which GB blogged the other day.

The two women chatting are Partner-who-loves-tea and one of her students.  Wherever we go P-w-l-t bumps into a student or former student – usually with ensuing hugs and squeals (from the students – P-w-l-t doesn’t do squeals!).

A quiet corner of Parkgate – of which there are not many on a summer afternoon.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Sudley House, Liverpool

Last week GB, Partner-who-loves-tea and I went to Sudley House in Liverpool.  I would have taken photos of the outside but it was raining stair-rods both when we arrived and when we left.
The school that I went to was Holt High School for Boys - a school founded by the Holt family.
George Holt, who settled at Sudley House, came from a family of prominent local businessmen. His father, George Holt Senior, was originally from Rochdale. He moved to Liverpool as a young man and made his fortune as a cotton broker. In 1820 he married Emma Durning, who came from a rich and long-established Liverpool family. The couple were active in local politics and educational and philanthropic schemes.  They also collected art on a small scale. Their diary records some of their purchases, most of them made from local artists.
George Holt married Elizabeth Bright. Their only child Emma was born in 1862. The family lived in Edge Lane and then West Derby before settling at Sudley House in 1884.  Emma, who was 21 at the time, lived at Sudley for the remaining 60 years of her life. Emma was also a noted philanthropist. Like her father she was a strong supporter of Liverpool University. She never married, so with her death in 1944 George Holt's line came to an end. She bequeathed the house and the collection of paintings assembled by her father to the city of Liverpool.  For a time Sudley House housed a local library.

Today Sudley House is one of the few period homes decorated in a Victorian style that still has many of its original features. It is also the only surviving Victorian merchant art collection in Britain still hanging in its original location. Some of my favourite pictures were the following:-

A Treatise on Parrots by Henry Stacey Marks (1829-1898)

Love’s Palace by J M Strudwick (1849-1935).  
This painting was commissioned by Holt himself.  The subject is based on a poem by G F Bodley.

Mrs Sargent by George Romney (1734-1802)

The Windmill by Thomas Creswick (1811-1869)

A Lake Scene by Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873)

Return from the Mill by Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)

Landscape, Hampstead (1848) by John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

Monday, 15 August 2016


Today is the ninth blogivversary of Rambles. I had various blogs before this one  including ones on Angelfire before Google came along but this has been the longest-lasting and most popular one.  During those nine years I have done 2850 posts and had 835,000 page views.  Of those page views 251,212 were from the USA and 210,537 from the UK.  Germany and Russia each had around 40,000 pageviews and the rest were predominantly from Canada, France, Ukraine, Australia, India, and The Netherlands.  Nowadays I average 300 to 500 pageviews a day.  I suspect my comment moderation puts some people off commenting but it has proved necessary because of the unpleasant spam I get.
The most popular search terms that have brought people to Rambles include starlings, new penny, wink, creepers, Buddy Holly, snowing, banana split, Rosa Bonheur, thank you, butterfly, trail, tattoo…  I wonder how many people found what they imagined they would?
My most popular posts – judging by pageviews – have been Eggheads (with 10,000 views);  Brothel Creepers (I’m sure the majority of the 9336 folk who visited that didn’t get what they wanted!!);  A Wink or a Wimble;  Eugene Grasset - Librairie Romantique;  Starlings; Buddy Holly - 1936-1959; A New Penny;  and that well known Bart Simpson phrase Eat my shorts.
Probably my most serious posting and one which still today brings comments and e-mails is “When my child has died please…
If asked which was the funniest posting I ever did, I would have to go for “Women are from Planet X…

I’ve had many other blogs in the past including ones for Words and phrases, the Wirral, my garden, the Hebrides, Exeter, Wildlife, Recipes, On This Day, Memories, Postcards…  Nowadays with the exception of my postcard one they are all incorporated into Rambles so I occasionally post about all those subjects.  But past posts on those blogs can be seen by clicking on my profile and looking down the list of blogs. The other great thing about “Rambles from my Chair” is that it has a list of my blogging friends down the side and that’s very important to me.
In 2012 I did a blogiversary post (how many 'v's are there in blogivversary?) and in it I mentioned some of the people that blogging had brought me into contact with.  "Some of them, like a Girl from Vermont (Heather) – I met early on and have kept in touch with ever since. Another reader of my blog – Canadian Chickadee (Carol) in Seattle doesn't have her own blog and yet we have become firm friends using both e-mails and snail mail.  I've visited friends and acquaintances all over the world and unlike my blogging brother, GB, I don't use aeroplanes and the car.   I just sit in my swivel chair at my desk and say hello from there."  People like Dawn Treader (Monica from Sweden), Heleen (from The Netherlands) and Hawwa (Eva from Morocco/Spain) are not only blogging friends but also fellow postcard lovers and we share our news by snail mail.  MessyMimi, Librarian (Meike), An English Travel Writer (Jenny) and A Georgia Girl with an English Heart (Kay) have visited and commented upon my blog for years now.  Fhina (Carol), the most inappropriately named Woman of No Importance, and Adrian, whose images sometimes leave me drooling with envy, are among the other friends I have made. 

So many friends I have been fortunate enough to make.   And in a month's time Partner-who-loves-tea and I will be meeting Friend-uber-special from Long Island when she and her husband come over to Scotland for a visit.  The thought of that is so exciting. 
Rambles from my Chair has given me enormous pleasure over the years and I hope it has brought you enjoyment (and possibly even education) as well.   

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Some more Raptors

I blogged about the Kestrel when GB and I visited the Falconry Centre in Chester recently.  In the centre of the ‘parade ring’ was this marvellous statue.
There were, of course, a number of other birds at the Centre including the following:
Red-tailed Buzzard – North America’s most common buzzard, also known as Red Hawks or Buzzard Hawks.

Golden Eagle

Gyr Falcon

Indian Eagle Owl

Barn Owl

Black Vulture

This brave woman was handling the vulture to overcome a fear of birds.

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