My maternal great-great grandfather sailed from Portsmouth in Hampshire, England for Tasmania in 1844 aged 26...he died suddenly at Port Arthur in 1870, just prior to his long anticipated return to Britain with his wife and ten children...my life story would have been quite different if he had lived a little longer...
When considering my plant for this week, I decided on the Scotch thistle, Onopordum acanthium. It is a very common plant here in Tasmania, having accompanied early settlers from Europe and taken to the place with gay abandon. I cannot believe it was a deliberate import, like gorse, which early farmers liked to use as paddock hedges, but imagine it came along in animal feed and other crop seeds...not much in the way of quarantine back then, as regards plants anyway. Like last week's oregano, the thistle is not endemic to Scotland, I imagine it is found over all of the United Kingdom.
One of the reasons this is the plant of the week for me was the history stories I read as a child, including the story of the Scottish invasion by King Haakon of Sweden, during the rein of Alexander III (1249 -1286). As the Norsemen crept barefoot at night towards the sleeping Scottish camp, one of the invaders trod on a thistle...his shriek alerted the Scots who won the ensuing battle...I can still relate to the unexpected shock of treading unwarily on these prickly little lawn sneaks. Other reasons are I have a Scots brother-in-law, I love Scottish whisky, (especially Glenfiddich, hint hint boys, Mothers Day is next weekend!), Scotch eggs for picnics, and grew up enjoying my mum's Aberdeen Sausage, something my BIL had never heard of until he joined the family! I made this recipe each Christmas when the littles were small, mainly to have something plain in the refrigerator, it is great for making quick sandwiches...I think Simon still hankers for it from time to time.
The thistle is the National floral emblem of Scotland, and it is also the emblem of the Encyclopedia Britannica, one of my oldest literary friends...long before the internet, these encyclopedias were my go-to for information at the library, my personal "Enquire Within Upon Everything"...we did not have copies at home, although my children had a set of the Children"s Britannica when they were young.
I like to see Goldfinches tucking into the thistle seed heads, they really seem to love them. I also saw a white cockatoo in a nearby paddock the other day, doing just the same although it did not have to perch on the prickly plant to get at the seeds, as the smaller birds do...just standing and munching like someone at a salad bar...eat away I thought, it will mean a few less plants next year.
The Magna Carta (originally known as the Charter of Liberties) of 1215, written in iron gall ink on parchment in medieval Latin, using standard abbreviations of the period, authenticated with the Great Seal of King John. The original wax seal was lost over the centuries. This document is held at the British Library and is identified as "British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106". One of four known surviving 1215 exemplars of Magna Carta. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
Reading about this has taken me off on an interesting tangential search for information about iron gall ink.
It is a lovely sepia brown colour and is obviously very durable if this document is any example...my searches tell me it is made from oak galls which are used to produce a tannic acid solution which is mixed with iron salts, and also that it was the common form of ink used in Europe for over fourteen hundred years...
I used to sing in choirs, well, during all of my school life anyway, and attending local eisteddfods with some of those choirs was in exciting event for us all.
Rhyfelgyrch Gwyr Harlech was one of our all time favourites, and one of the most stirring songs in our repertoire. We even sang it in Welsh on one memorable occasion when we actually won our event, but I doubt we did it well. The result was probably more in rewarding the aspirations and sheer gall of a very youthful music teacher I fear! I certainly only remember the English version these days...
Singing is such a wonderful Welsh tradition and the eisteddfods date back to the twelfth century...the annual National Welsh event, Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru, is one of the largest European music and poetry festivals...I would so love to attend one...
Oopsie! Sally's comment has reminded me that I have forgotten Northern Ireland in this United Kingdom post...so sorry! Ireland has had a galvanic history, politically and culturally speaking, for such a small, beautiful island.
During my young days, reading reports of sad and tragic events during "The Troubles", I found it very difficult to understand these events, having absolutely no exposure to the complexity and longevity of such things in my sheltered little corner of the world. Seemingly trivial things such as the reading of political symbolism into the use or non-use of a mere word, one's name or religion, that the choice of language and nomenclature could be taken to reveal the cultural, ethnic and religious identity of the speaker and a host of intrinsic references was well outside my ability to understand.
The literary contributions of many Irish authors and poets have always been a source of pleasure, although not these are not only from Northern Ireland, such as Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, C. S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, G.B. Shaw...the list goes on and on...and where would we be without the music and songs of Ireland. My mother sang a lot when I was a small child, and many of the folk songs of Ireland and Scotland are familiar to me, and there is always Van Morrison...again I am probably lumping the whole of Ireland together here...I will stop now before I get myself into hot water by offending a reader.
Moving on, we have had a fairly uneventful week hereabouts, still no rain but things are getting a bit windy. I had a trip to town late last week for another dental appointment and we drove home the long way as Tim needed to call briefly at a mates place at Tea Tree...
Here are some images of cards I made from my first efforts. These made from my own background papers, some bokeh backgrounds made by Chris and purchased elements from The Graphics Fairy and Mischief Circus...such fun!
I am back to week eleven in the pattern now, having arrived at this point a week or so ago, then sitting down to unpick the whole thing...I hadn't been keeping an accurate eye on the numbers of stitches I was working with, so the ends of the rows and the patterns didn't line up as they should. Crochet is a bit more problematical than knitting in this regard for me, I find. Maybe it is my eyesight or my lack of crochet competencies, but I find counting these stitches far more difficult...I have also decided not do this while I am watching a programme in the evening...I need to concentrate to keep things accurate so I have decided that I will knit socks in the evening as I can do these in my sleep almost, and focus on this project during the day when it can have my undivided attention.
I ignored the mistakes for a while, being very keen to get on with the ensuing pattern rows, but found I couldn't live with the discrepancies and so started again. I don't do a lot of crochet where the number of stitches is so important, mainly restricting myself these days to Afghany type rugs...anything to avoid stitch counting and sewing pieces together! But the blanket is looking much better, still no way near to perfect but better, with the waves and bobbles from Week Two all lined up neatly and the edges "straightish". I have really enjoyed playing with the variety of patterns Eleonora is including in this project. I particularly like the long alternating wave rows...a complete blankie or cot cover in these would look lovely...
Well, that's it for this week, it is our wedding anniversary today...it is scary how quickly these roll around!