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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Category Archives: Things I will take with me…

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The brits take their dog’s family tree seriously, like this example at Stanway House, Gloucestershire.

I think I have now officially passed my Countrification Diploma… I supervised the mating of our dog.

In the end it took us 3 tries to get the job done. But I can assure you that is has given me an entirely different perspective on the whole world of procreation…

Firstly, both dogs are entirely chosen for their bloodlines.

Secondly both dogs are mostly picked on their looks, soft mouth and kind character.

Thirdly both dogs have to get checked by a vet to rule out any possible defects.

And then on top of it all in order to assure conception, the poor dears get stuck to each other for at least a half hour. Talk about a passion killer!

It makes me snigger to think to apply this to my next dating experiment.
I am sure you could write an excellent short sketch about this.

Will be tricky to find out about the soft mouth though…

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They don’t make ’em like that no more…

Last month I have been clearing out the stables of the small victorian farm behind the house.
Just a general rummage to get rid of general grot and grime, and to generally find out if there was really anything worth conserving.

While sorting through I found many things…
Canisters with strange names, spagettied wirls of leather tack (left behind by an old saddler who used to rent the cottage), old buckets with names of a different house, a tricycle… etc etc. I also found the most amazing old sickle. I decided to clean it up and look after it.
When digging through piles of stuff, finding old tools are like nuggets of gold. You can imagine someone using them, even making them to a clear end.

But one of the things I found, wondered at then left… was a spoon, tied to a long stick…

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Here bunny, bunny, bunny…

As it was found amongst many things in a stable, so I imagined it to be a specially made tool to feed horses (?!) or to medicate something at a distance… Bah. I gave up and I moved on to shoveling out the grot on the floor.

Then yesterday, looking at some old country footage from UEA’s East Anglian Film Archive, I finally saw that spoon in action…

http://www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/219226
(sorry, can’t embed the video here)

It is a short documentary from 1961 about the old gamekeeper at Elveden. The good man is in his 90s… and as you see him gently totter about on the estate, his assistants go about their business, spreading out feed for the game…

…and poisoning rabbits with cyanide…

Hmmm.

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Only rabbits and rats?

So that’s what’s in that friendly looking yellow bucket called Cymag…

I doubt you would see anything like that in modern day video’s, eh?

(And yes, this is probably a response to my last post on rodents…)

 

Later addition:

… Off course… how could I forget to add:

Oh the good old days…

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This morning I was surprised to find something I had not seen since my childhood.
A sight I only remember from early mornings after sleep-overs at my grandparents….

Everyone with central heating will probably not know what I am going on about.

Frozen florals...

Frozen florals…

Ice flowers…
or: IJsbloemen, as we call them in the Netherlands.

I haven’t found a similar name for it in the UK. Here it is simply called frost on the windows, or slightly more poetic ‘Frost ferns’.

Beautifully intricate crystal patterns are formed from the condensation, blooming gradually up onto the glass.. As the sun gently grew stronger, they slowly melted down onto the window sill…
The sight was so pretty I almost forgot how freezing my bedroom had gotten…
Brrrrrr and chattering of teeth.

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This place will never be the same again...

This place will never be the same again…

On a friend’s facebook page (Gijs Nagtegaal, thank you dear for the link) I found this rather haunting picture.

It is a digitally collaged picture of a streetscape in Amsterdam’s Dam Square, mixing the present day with a real view of old.

It is the work of Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse, who is a historical consultant, living in Amsterdam. You can find more pictures on her Flickr site called Ghosts of History or the Facebook group, where she writes short descriptions for each of the juxtaposed collages.

I find it an inspired way to help people understand about the life and context of a building, recreating the sense of place. Old buildings have not always been used in the same way they are used now. Some have quite horrific chapters as part of their building biography. Others have been left for dead for decades…

It is impressive how a building will quietly bear their scorn and in some cases even pay any retaliation from the mob afterwards… Some survive, others do not. Those are left forever in the mists of history.

Work like this shows you quite aptly how in the end it is the people in the place it that bring the space to life. Like a stageset seems fake until the actors come onto the stage…

Are you looking at me?

Are you looking at me?

During my building conservation diploma this thought has never been far from my mind. If you consider a building a living being (anthropomorphism in a long word), with the windows for eyes (aren’t the eyes the windows to the soul?), the hearth or fireplace as the heart, the door as the mouth, and the sewage drains, well…
In a way you could see the people in it as it’s soul.
A house left empty loses it’s gloss and shine, and after a while may be even die entirely…

So show me how you live, and I can tell you who you are.

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Pompom showdown...

Pompom showdown…

This post is for everyone who will receive a hand-knitted sweater from an aunt or granny this Christmas.

Please remember there is love and care in every stitch.
(however hideous the design might be….)

Loes Veenstra from a quiet street in Rotterdam has knitted over 500 jumpers since she started in 1955.
In this video the people from her  neighbourhood showcase all her hard work, by wearing her sweaters that had never been worn before…

Only in Holland!

In a way it is sad this craft and tradition is slowly disappearing…

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Today I realised the deep rooted ambition of every Dutch country girl…

Well heeled…

I got a pair of clogs.

 

And in case you were wondering…
Yes. They are comfortable, very lightweight and strangely keep my feet extremely warm without getting sweaty.
They are available at the Boerenbond. (Farmers union), where they are sold as work wear. Apparently they are according to working safety regulations… And it is nice to support the clog craftsmen…

So I dare anyone who wears crocs in their garden to try this.
Plastic really ain’t all that fantastic…

Can’t wait to take them for a spin in the UK… 🙂

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Salvaged from the shed…

One of the reasons I am a little bit odd, might be that my parents let me play with lead when I was small… And I don’t mean lead as in the ‘lead pipe with Colonel Mustard in the Library’ kind in the Cluedo game, I mean molten lead!

Our lead was sourced from the bottle tops of my grandfather’s wine bottles (mostly Nuit St. Georges). My brother was most interested in playing with the end result, Lead soldiers…
I mostly enjoyed doing the actual casting.
The moulds we used were from Ireland, Cork. But we also had a pre-WW one from our grandfather.

Bad pic, but see how this headless soldier is trying to outrun it’s pretty red and white lead oxide. Bless!

What I loved most were the miscasts… The little un-soldered soldiers, with the strangest parts missing. Sadly most of those were simply remelted, instead of being sent to war.

We soon became experts in the typical character of each of the moulds. And what would be the special ways in which to work them to get the best result. How to tilt them, tap them or press them together while pouring in the lead.

I remember that the guns were always the trickiest. They took longest to cool, and the round barrels could have all kinds of dents and glitches due to shrinkage….

I guess I never really considered how much this game actually taught me about the manufacturing process. Not in the least the lesson that melting lead in the shed would give you a pretty good headache after a while.

Looks like a rainy day…

It also taught us to tell the weather. Pouring molten lead into water at room temperature would result in a wonderful (and in this case just forget dangerous) ballet of spluttering steam. We would be left with either a wildly shaped stream of lead, caught in action… or a pile of loose drops at the bottom.
In case of the latter there would be rain!

Pity children aren’t allowed to play around with this kind of thing anymore…

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