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Take a Two-Gallon Stewpan

Take a Two-Gallon Stewpan

People have often criticized Mrs. Beeton for the enormous quantities she recommended in her recipes: take six fowl, two dozen eggs, 4 lbs. sugar and so on. When we started work on The Shorter Mrs. Beeton, we were pleasantly surprised to find that her recipes were mostly modest in scale and perfectly suited to a modern family. In the case of her medium stock, however, you do really need a two-gallon pan.

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Grand Opening of the Heath Robinson Museum

Grand Opening of the Heath Robinson Museum

The opening of the Heath Robinson Museum on 15th October was a delightfully parochial event.

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Jubilee Rhymes

Jubilee Rhymes

Cavaliers and Roundheads

Ollie Cromwell, aged just three
Just loved the Diamond Jubilee,
He’d wear a saucepan for a crown,
But soon it stuck there, upside down.

His Mother tugged, the boy turned pale,
Her efforts were to no avail,
The problem was, his Mother said,
That Ollie had such a round head.

After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes

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Jubilee Rhymes

Jubilee Rhymes

Henry’s party in the street,
Would be a lovely royal treat,
To celebrate the Jubilee,
With flags and music, games and tea.
The food was good, he could not stop,
He ate until he went off pop,
From looking much like Henry Eight,
He ended up just Henry. Late.

After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes

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Jubilee Rhymes

Jubilee Rhymes

Royalist vs Republican

A royalist simply through and through,
Fred turned his house red, white and blue.
It really was a sight to see,
All dressed up for the Jubilee.
But Mabel (maybe with good reason)
Showed inclinations close to treason.
Then with an axe found in the garden,
Fred refused to grant her pardon.
He smiled and said ‘Off with her head,
I’ll buy a corgi pup instead.’

After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes

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Winner of the Wild Escape Competition

Gorkhaland’s Wild West

The freshly brushed floor of compacted cow dung was smooth and cool under foot. I crossed the room, climbed into the heavy wooden bed next to Jamie and blew out the candle. Night crept in through the open window bringing with it the intoxicating scent of gardenias, and quietening the moths and insects that had been dive-bombing the candle’s flame. Curling up under the blanket, my body relaxed on to the hard mattress, while outside pale moonlight whispered through the forest on the other side of the valley. Somewhere on the horizon Kanchenjunga’s five tiger-toothed caps glinted silver against the black sky.

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Second in the Wild Escape Competition

Wild in Cressbrook Dale

‘Wake up, little fellow. It’s time…’
 My child of four sat bolt-upright in bed, eyes glassy from dreams of wild things.
 ‘…It’s time for our wild night out,’ I whispered.
 It was a warm summer’s evening in June, the light of the day gently fading out; the air beginning to cool. Jamie’s small chubby hand fitted perfectly in mine, like a Russian doll within a Russian doll, as we slowly descended the stairs. On the kitchen table, a rucksack sat ready, the items needed for our adventure laid out beside it.

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Third in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition

Third in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition

A New Year’s Hobby

Margot declared, ‘new year, new me!’
Her new interest? Taxidermy.
She caught and stuffed her children’s rat,
Posed on a plinth the family cat.
Their guinea pig she slit in half;
Her husband lowered his Telegraph.
‘You’re making quite a mess, my dear.
Perhaps just join the gym next year?’

After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes

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Second in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition

Second in the Ruthless Rhyme Competition

Aunt thought she’d make a contribution
to uncle’s New Year resolution.
She put his bottles out of reach
amongst the polish, soap and bleach.
How on earth could she have guessed
that in his alcoholic quest,
without his specs his sight was dim.
It was the bleach which finished him.

After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes

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The Winning Ruthless Rhyme

The Winning Ruthless Rhyme

George’s New Year’s Resolution

New Year, he thought, was just the chance
To buy a little place in France.
When Mavis once again said no,
George knew that she would have to go.

His beating heart was all a-quiver,
As George pushed Mavis in the river.
And as she floated down the stream,
George shrugged and muttered, ‘Vive la dream’.

After Harry Graham’s Ruthless Rhymes

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Brave New London Bridge?

Brave New London Bridge?

The practitioners of the modern architectural establishment are on the march again. Like matron, they are determined to force another dose of utilitarianism down our throats.

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Should Architecture Be Attractive?

Should Architecture Be Attractive?

In our Architectural Mini-Quiz, launched on 23rd August, we asked you to say which of these three buildings you preferred: (from left) A, B or C. We can now report that 71% of respondents chose A, 20% B and 9% C. There is a lesson here.

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Walter Crane (1845-1915)

Walter Crane (1845-1915)

Walter Crane was born in Liverpool on 15th August 1845. His prolific career reached its zenith with his brightly coloured toy books, created for children but prized by connoisseurs of design. The popularity of these books was hardly surprising, given the care that went into their production and the colours which glowed from every page.

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Walter Crane (1845-1915)

On this day in 1845, the artist and designer Walter Crane was born in Liverpool. A Utopian Socialist, Crane aimed to bring art into the homes of the people with his designs for wallpaper, pottery, fabrics and ceramic tiles. He founded the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888. He was also one of the leading children’s book illustrators of the 19th century, along with Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott.

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The Regeneration of King’s Cross Station

The Regeneration of King’s Cross Station

Last Thursday, as a member of the Railway Heritage Trust Advisory Panel, I toured the works at King’s Cross, where Lewis Cubitt’s 1852 terminus is being restored and a new concourse added.

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Sir George Gilbert Scott

St_Pancras_Hotel
Today is the bicentenary of the birth of Sir George Gilbert Scott, the architect who designed the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens and the soaring hotel at St Pancras station. The hotel re-opened on 5th May, with many of its original features restored.

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Star-Gazing Frog

Star-Gazing Frog

In Japan, frogs were thought to bring good fortune, allowing money to return to a person (the Japanese word for ‘frog’ is the same as ‘to return’).

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New Tiles for Old

New Tiles for Old

A front entrance with original tessellated tiles inevitably looks tired after more than a century of use, as this house in Dagnan Road, south-west London, demonstrates (below left). Replacing like with like will generally produce the best result, as can be seen from the front entrance of a neighbouring house.

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Wooden Sash Windows

Wooden Sash Windows

Workmen have started installing new windows in the house next door. What a relief: they are putting in the correct, wooden, box-sash windows! These closely match the originals and will raise the value of the house, unlike UPVC replacements, which would have lowered it.

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Traditional Front Paths

Traditional Front Paths

Two of our neighbours in Cavendish Road have relaid their front paths in true Victorian style, and what an entrance they have made! They have used the right tiles with square-cut edges, not the rounded modern alternatives which never look as good.

‘I do like the traditional look,’ says the owner of the house on the right, who acted as project manager. He has found Victorian rope-top border tiles to trim the sides of the paths and commissioned new railings, complete with decorative pineapples to top off the gate posts. ‘The visitor had to be left in no doubt as to the owner’s position in society,’ wrote Robin Guild in The Victorian House Book, discussing the importance of the front entrance. Attitudes have changed since this south London house was built in 1893, but the truth of the statement is still evident more than a century on. Use the right architectural detail and you will impress.

These tiles were laid by the Victorian Tile Co., 07976 937 667.

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Literary Links


The humorous verse of Harry Graham was an early hit with several 20th-century literary figures, including W. H. Auden, George Orwell and Agatha Christie. The hilarious rhymes they adored as children remained with them, popping up unexpectedly in their heads during their writing careers.

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