Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ireland in the Regency

by Michele Ann Young
Actually this is not really about Ireland in the Regency. These are holiday snaps.

Our last port of call in Ireland was a small fishing town called Clonakilty and we stayed at the headland known as Inchydoney in West Cork, at the very South of Ireland.

The town itself is an old one and a fishing town. It apparently played a significant in the rebellion in 1798m but our main reason for travelling there, apart from walking on the beach was to see where my husband's great great grandmother was born. She left Clonakilty in 1830 and travelled to Wales, were she met and married and stayed for the rest of our life.

We were very taken with the town, with its picturesque house painted in all different colours,

it is also a centre of music for the region and there is alway one pub or bar or hall on any partular night with a live band.

We spoke to the warden at the local church, which was built in 1880, long after my husband's relative left and discovered that the priest still has the earlier records, so we have a letter in the post.

We saw the last name we were looking for on many of the store fronts and we discovered that it is a very common last name in Clon (locals call it Clon). So who knows, perhaps we may actually be able to find that we still have some relations there.

I will let you know should anything come of our further inquiries.

I was interested to watch the housemartins building their nest in the eave of our hotel. And yes the sky was really that blue.

And the flowers in that seascape are those of the wild blackberry, just in case you were wondering.

These last two items belong in Flora and Fauna, but we enjoyed seeing them so much I decided to post them.

Interestingly enough I had the feeling that spring comes a little later here than it does in England, because while the May was finished when we drove from Heathrow to Cardiff for our flight to Ireland, it was still in full bloom everywhere we went.

This is a picture of a martin on the wing, with the gorgeous countryside below. It is clearer on my computer, but it is still worth including, if only for the scenery.

The other interesting thing was that the sun did not go down until after 10pm, because we were so far west. The evenings were deliciously long and we did not miss a moment.

We will go back to our regular monthly articles next week, but we still have one more wonderful treat from our last trip to Britain. This time from Dorset.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ireland in the Regency - continued

This is me having dinner at Durty Nelly's which was a pub at our next stop ~ Bunratty Castle.

Actually, the pub is so near you can sit on the wall around the castle and have your beer while you listen to a live band. And the weather continued to be sunny and hot, which everyone was constantly amazed at.

Durty Nelly's was established in 1620 and has an interesting history including the original owner being the creator of poteen. An Irish cure-all.

It is clearly a very old building and I enjoyed looking around. The food was excellent and the service and the people extremely friendly.

My second picture was taken in a tiny room somewhere in the back that I thought looked interesting and old.

On to Bunratty Castle

Once a castle of the O'Briens, Bunratty was acquired by the Studdart Anglo-Irish family in 1720 and they lived there for about a hundred years, so through the Regency.

They eventually moved into a smaller house located in the grounds in around 1804 and gradually the castle fell into decay.

I'm not going to say very much about the castle, since we focus on Regency, not medieval, except to say that it was lived in at the very beginning of our period and has been beautifully "done up".

If you want to get a good feel of a medieval castle, this would be one to take a look at as it has floors and furniture. If I ever write a medieval story, I will find this visit of great help.

And that Jackie Kennedy visited it during a visit to Ireland.

There is also a folk park with farms and houses or ordinary people which would not have changed much through our era.

I did take one picture of a wall, which is very unusual though apparently typical of stone walls in the Moher area of County Clare, and thought I would share it with you.

I thought they looked like old gravestones with the names worn off lined up in a row. But no, it is a regular form of wall for a particular district. I guess this kind of stone was readily available.

Notice how green everything is. And yes, that is a palm tree. Not sure what it is doing there.

The house the family moved into in 1804 is also in the grounds. A classical Georgian dwelling, almost. Because the windows are not quite symmetrical and bits were added.

This was called a Regency walled garden. I have seen nicer ones, but thought you would like to see it. The walls did go all the way around.

So that is it for Bunratty, unless I get huge requests for some of the pictures I took inside the castle and some of the cottages.

More on Ireland to come.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Regency Food - Part III

Well, RWA was wonderful. The drive to Washington DC from Toronto was long, but beautiful scenery and lots of conversation, during which time a short story came to fruition.

The best part of the conference was meeting writers and editors in person who I talk to on line all the time. Here you see Tessa Shapcott from HM&B and the famous Julia Justiss, and of course me. We had a fascinating discussion at lunch.

I also attended some interesting workshops, some about the business side of things, some on craft and then of course we partied. Oh how we partied. But was happens at RWA ..... well you know.

Partying reminded me of food. Which reminded me of a promise to put up more information about regency food.

I decided to look up all of the food in Georgette Heyer's books and provide the information as a regular monthly feature. Today's reference comes from The Talisman Ring.

As we know from our Regency slang, all things "green" are young and innocent. For example a "green girl" might well be taken in by a rake. Or a "green'un" would be fleeced by a card sharp.

So it is with our goose. If the goose is a green, it is young, about four months old. Its feathers were probably white. They would most likely be eaten in May, June, and July i.e. later in spring, before they grew up. Mention of a green goose for Sunday dinner appears in Samuel Pepys' diary for July 3, 1664, so this goes way back.

In case you wondered, an older goose would be known as a fat goose.

Here is a recipe from The British Housewife or, the Cook, Housekeeper and Gardiner’s (sic) Companion (1756)

Chop some sweet Herbs, and grate some Bread: grate in some Nutmeg among the Herbs and strew upon them some Salt and Pepper; moisten the Bread with rich Cream and mix all these together.
Then cut small the Liver of the Green Goose, mince some fine Bacon, mix these together and add them to the rest; when all is mixed fill the body of the Goose with the stuffing then spit it and warp it round with Bacon ; lay it down at some distance from the fire and when it is nearly enough, strew over it Crumbs of Bread and brown it up. The proper sauce is very rich gravy; and see it be sent up throughly hot.

And there we are. A new monthly feature for you to look forward to and lots of reading and re-reading for me. Until next time ~ Happy Rambles

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


by Ann Lethbridge

I'm not talking about where I get my Inspiration, but the occasions when one manages to inspire someone else. I gave a talk recently on the why's and how's of writing short stories. I thought it might be timely given the several new opportunities available. And because I have published several short stories and had thought long and hard about how to do it.

I thought it went reasonably well, we talked about the theory and we developed a fun plot of our own. Last week, one of the participants came by to say she had been so inspired she went home and finished her short story. The first piece of writing she'd finished in quite a while.

It made me feel as if I had paid back all of those writers who shared their expertise with me. I felt inspired. I also felt inspired to write a short story myself. Inspiration comes from many source.

If you are wondering where we are? We are in Washington DC at the RWA conference. Normal programming will resume next week.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - July

by Ann Lethbridge

Busy busy with edits for my third book with Harlequin. I should have a cover for number two any day now for a sneak peek for you. But in the meantime, here is some Flora and Fauna for your collection.

As always, we turn first to our Naturist's Diary which tells us with a mere passing reference that July is the time when lavender is in blossom.

English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications.

European royal history is also filled with stories of lavender use. Charles VI of France demanded lavender-filled pillows wherever he went. Queen Elizabeth I of England required lavender conserve at the royal table and bunches of lavender in her rooms.

Yardley first started business in the City of London in 1770. At that time, lavender was the herb chosen to perfume an exclusive range of luxury soaps and, as I am sure you are aware, are still in business today.

Lavender had the reputation of being a miracle plant during the 19th century. It was the most important remedy in the first aid kits for anyone in the provence.It was used for everything from dizziness, nerves, stomach problems, poor vision, infections, convulsions, viper's bites, swooning fits, and palsy.

Lavender is also the stuff of songs of course and one we all know. Lavenders Blue Dilly Dilly......

The earliest surviving version of this song is in a broadside printed in England between 1672 and 1685, under the name Diddle Diddle, Or The Kind Country Lovers, with the first of ten verses being:

Lavenders green, Diddle, diddle,

Lavenders blue

You must love me, diddle, diddle,

cause I love you,

I heard one say, diddle, diddle,

since I came hither,

That you and I, diddle, diddle,

must lie together.

It emerged as a children's song in Songs for the Nursery in 1805 in the form:

Lavender blue and Rosemary green,
When I am king you shall be queen;
Call up my maids at four o'clock,
Some to the wheel and some to the rock;
Some to make hay and some to shear corn,
And you and I will keep the bed warm.
Similar versions appeared in collections of rhymes throughout the nineteenth century.

It seems we got far off course, and lavender is to be our only topic for today, but clearly Lavender deserves a page all of its own. Which reminds me that my lavender is blooming and deserves to be picked and brought indoors. If it was good enough for Good Queen Bess, 'tis good enough for me! I just wish I could scent this post so you can enjoy it too.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Regency Fashion For July

by Michele Ann Young

The Season is over in London and Ladies have retired to their country homes, or those of others. There are still evening entertainments to be had as the following gowns will show.

This is an interesting picture.

It is evening wear from La Belle Assemblee, listed as Parisian Fashions, Taken from a Group of Conversation Figures at the Frescati, in Paris.

Only the lady's gown is described, but I just love the gentlemen.

A white Italian crape robe, over a white satin slip, ornamented round the bottom and drapery with a border of shells, painted to nature. Plain scolloped bosom cut very low, and made to sit close to the form. Waved sleeves, easily full, formed of alternate stripes of crape and pink satin. Hair, bound in smooth bands, confined on the forehead, and ornamented behind with wreaths of wild roses. Earrings and necklace of pearls. Shoes, pink satin, trimmed with silver. White kid gloves, rucked.

We have seen this print before, in a comparison of the old and the new, but the the new is a July gown and is charming and very much in the classical style. The two silhouettes of the ladies are so very different, the new styles must have been quite a shock to the older generation.

Appearing in the Ladies Monthly Museum as a Full Dress, the hair seems to take prominent place as the description reads:

Hair fashionably Dressed ornamented with white Flowers and Ostrich Feathers.

A Train of clear Muslin over a Dress of Lilac Sarsenet; round the Bottom of the Train a deep White Lace; the sleeves made very full, and looped up with a Diamond Button. White Gloves, and Lilac Ridicule.

Well that's it for me for this time. I don't know how your weather is doing this summer, but this past week has been nothing but rain. Until next time, I hope your Rambles are Happy, even if they are soggy.