Pietro Aretino: The Scourge of Princes

Imagine, if you will, a writer coarse and crass, bitingly satirical, outrageous, and, when the letters weren’t paying the bills, he’d dabble in a little (okay a lot) of blackmail. Even better, imagine if he was the son of an … Read More

The finer points of Rhabarbarum

This blog post is brought to you by the seven well fed mosquitos who bit my arm whilst I was dodging rain and storm in the vege garden… Brief History of Rhubarb Rheum palmatum is mentioned in records as early … Read More

A Florentine Arm’s Length

So… in Florence, pre 1860 (when all of Italy went metric), the length of stuff and things was tricky to measure consistently. Not that people just lived out their lives happy and free of the tyranny of meters…

The Polymath from Pisa’s Mum

Villa Basilica LigaDue, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons Galileo’s mum, Giulia di Cosimo Ammannati, was born in January 1538, in a tiny mountain village called Villa Basilica, in the province of Lucca, in the Tuscan region of Italy. … Read More

Curse for a Bike Thief

Devils wielding implements which may include a fork, from Breviari d’Amor, Southern France (Toulouse?), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Royal MS 19 C I, f. 185v So some lowlife stole my beloved purple mountain bike… as its Halloween I … Read More

The Polymath from Pisa: Ancestors

So most of us have heard of Galileo… the father of modern science (well according to Einstein and Hawkins… and really they’d know, right?). Galileo is known as … well… Galileo. Like Michelangelo, Napoleon and Jesus, he doesn’t need a … Read More

Elderflower Cordial

My Elder trees are in flower. So, naturally, its time to start doing something with these delicious blooms. First up is Elderflower cordial. Elderflower Cordial 2½ kg white sugar, either granulated or caster 2 unwaxed lemons 20 fresh elderflower heads, … Read More


Elder is sometimes called THE herbal remedy… all of its parts can be used for a huge variety of ailments, from cold and flu to provoking the flow of urine (and lady fluids), good with inflamed skin, soothes eyes, purgeth … Read More

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