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The most famous spider in history, y’all

An estimated five point two billion people saw this little eight-legged ham today. And almost no-one saw Meghan.

You can’t tell me that was chance. Nothing at these ceremonies is by chance. At every turn she was behind a candle or a pillar or a tall guy blocking her face. Also, spider bro got closer to the crown than she’ll ever get.

Seriously, however you feel about monarchy, if you weren’t part of the 60-some percent of the planet that supposedly watched this thing, do watch some of the footage. Brits do these pageants brilliantly, always.

Also, your girl got the day off!

September 19, 2022 — 5:49 pm
Comments: 8

It’s complicated

I know you can’t really read that. Click here for the graphic and the article that goes with.

The death of the queen triggered Operation London Bridge, the super-secret plan everyone knew existed but we didn’t know what was in it. They couldn’t really tactfully give us any hints in advance, could they? It’s released a whole torrent of ceremonies, regulations and suggestions upon the country.

So today was a wild scramble to find out if, like, our flag should fly at half mast.

Yes, today. No, tomorrow – Accession Day – then half again tomorrow night and it stays up at half mast day and night until the funeral. There is some sort of Accession ceremony tomorrow at town hall, but I don’t have to be there, so I didn’t bother learning more.

I keep trying to call Accession Day “Ascension Day” which is wrong. Funny and wrong.

Yes, BulldawgGirl wins another one. True story: yesterday – possibly at the very moment the queen passed over – I was at the post office, mailing BulldawgGirl a very overdue package. She will now go to the back of the shamefully long queue. I thank everyone for their patience.

Have a good weekend, and Happy Accession Day!

September 9, 2022 — 7:13 pm
Comments: 4

It’s going to be a rough while

At 6:30 this evening, the BBC announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Rumor is she died some hours before.

No, the picture is not a disrespectful Photoshop, it’s an actual portrait I found online. It’s a little eerie because the site it is from is mostly dead picture links. I can’t tell you the backstory.

I don’t know how to describe what this will do to British morale. Even those who were strongly against the monarchy will feel the loss of someone whose very public presence spread over eight decades – seven as queen, but she was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service as a teenager in WWII. She trained as a driver and mechanic, for real.

There have been storms all across Britain today. It’s suddenly cold. It’s symbolic as holy hell. We’re headed into what everyone expects to be a brutal winter of shortages and deprivation.

This is going to be hard.

September 8, 2022 — 6:05 pm
Comments: 22

Why do they call them bluebells when they’re purple?

What? Oh, I know. It doesn’t make sense in black and white. Here’s the same shot in color.

As I don’t think we have bluebells in the States (I don’t remember them and I grew up in forests), they’re kind of a neat optical illusion. You can look down and see individual flowers, but when you look in the middle distance they meld into a carpet of color. It’s extraordinary, though it doesn’t really translate in photos.

The picture is from the county council newsletter and they don’t identify the location, but I’m willing to bet it’s Hole Park. Family estate with an open garden, famous for bluebells. We went there once. It was amazing, but there were almost more tourists than flowers.

This is the peak bluebell season. I told you this was the best time of year.

April 28, 2022 — 7:42 pm
Comments: 6


Today’s Adventures in British Architecture: Chesworth House. It was the childhood home of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, but it’s much older than that.

The picture is the banquet hall. I love this about the Medieval great halls: it is simply a continuation of the ancient Viking long hall or Sussex round house. A big open room with a long firepit in the middle (well, it would have had a firepit in the middle) and a high peaked ceiling to draw the smoke away. It’s a design so successful it stretches back to prehistory and didn’t change much until late Tudor times.

The Clergy House in Alfriston is a much smaller house on the same plan. This was the National Trust’s first property, by the way. It was falling to bits and they paid £10 for it. A short but very cool day trip.

It’s also the plan of all the inns and Breezehome, your first house in Skyrim, though game designers didn’t have to worry about where the smoke was going to go so they put a floor directly above the fire.

Badger House was innovative because, you know, chimney. But the mantlepiece is a great beam of wood flush with the wall. They hadn’t figured out they could keep their Christmas cards on it if it stuck out a little.

Anyway, back to Chesworth. It’s a private home. In fact, it’s only Grade II listed – same as Badger House. Last time it was on the market, in 2018, it was up for £6 million. Do have a look around.

The beams! That kitchen!

I’d hate to have to heat the place, but I suppose whoever bought it is a creature made entirely of money.

January 12, 2022 — 7:13 pm
Comments: 6

Another choice bit of British real estate goes on the market

For a mere £925,000 English pounds, you can own Willy House.

No, that’s not its official name, but I didn’t make it up, either. Schoolchildren did, it says here.

It looks like a perfectly nice 17th Century house of some size. Five bedrooms, stable block, separate one-bedroom cottage.

But it is all rather overshadowed by the topiary. The shrubs are at least a couple hundred years old, though nobody knows how long they’ve been carved into giant tallywhackers. It predates the current owner, who’s lived there for 20 years.

It isn’t on the estate agent’s site, for some reason. Looking around, somebody paid £279,000 for this (guide price £60,000 – £70,000). That will be a property developer. Say farewell to Potato Cottage.


October 14, 2021 — 4:45 pm
Comments: 7

Body Part Heist

This lady rents out mannequins for a living. When she first advertized mannequins for rent, she didn’t actually own any. But calls began to come in immediately, so she ran out and got some.

No, I don’t get it, either.

Eventually, she amassed so many mannequins, she threw the excess in a heap in the yard. ‘Yard’ here is an industrial space, FYI. Like a junkyard.

She still rents them, but she also sells them in bulk. For £50, a customer can drive up and fill the trunk of his car with as many mannequin bit as he likes. She calls it the “Body Part Heist.”

This is in Lincolnshire, which is over 100 miles away.

To be clear, I don’t mean, “over 100 miles away, which sadly is too far for me to drive for a trunkful of fiberglass body parts.” I mean, “over 100 miles away, which is not enough clear space between me and that creepy pile of anthropomorphic plastic.”

I’m not sure why they didn’t run that story closer to Halloween. Good weekend, everyone!

October 8, 2021 — 5:53 pm
Comments: 11

It looks a wreck, to be honest

Behold, Poohsticks Bridge. Or a replica. It’s really hard to tell from the article which is the original and which is the later reproduction built on the same spot for tourists with the help of Disney. And I get the impression both of them have had continual repairs.

This is the bridge where A.A. Milne played Poohsticks with his son, which inspired the first Pooh book. The game of Poohsticks is where you drop something (or two somethings) in the water and observe them coming out the other side. I guess. I was never a fan.

Anyway! The original bridge (I think) is up for auction, guide price £40,000 – £60,000. “Being offered in situ in East Sussex. Viewing strictly by appointment”

So, you also get the land? Or you get a disassembled bridge and you have reassemble it somewhere else? Or you’re bidding on the privilege of owning the touristy one? It’s all very confusing.

Whatever. I found the rest of the auction catalogue more interesting.

September 30, 2021 — 6:06 pm
Comments: 4

Well, that’s horrible

Well, that’s. Hm. Really ugly.

According to the auction listing, it was made in Sussex in the Thirties, not licensed by Disney, and was therefore subject to a vicious patent dispute. Hence, they are rare (£80 – £120 kind of rare).

Where have I seen this nightmare-inducing figure before? Oh, yeah. My blog.

August 31, 2021 — 7:23 pm
Comments: 3

Beautiful fake

This is supposedly the most-viewed house in Sussex at the moment and it can be yours for £1M. It is part of the old Tudor Close Hotel and it was the inspiration for the board game Clue (Cluedo in its native Britain).

The hotel was a popular stop for Hollywood celebs in the Thirties. Management often hired actors and put on elaborate murder mysteries to entertain guests. Anthony Pratt hosted one, and then went on to develop Cluedo. Seems a bit of a cheat, really.

The setting is actually still called Tudor Mansion in the game. The house is a fake, kind of. It was built in the Twenties but with original materials – old ship’s beams, Tudor fireplaces. So an authentic fake, I guess.

There is a lot of that kind of architecture around and it really should have its own name. What do I know? It probably does.

Have I played Clue? I so. Is that the one with “Colonel Mustard, in the library, with a candlestick”?

You can get it on Steam now, if you’re so inclined.

August 11, 2021 — 8:45 pm
Comments: 6