Sunday, 26 December 2010
Saturday, 25 December 2010
Monday, 13 December 2010
If it's steampunk action and adventure that they're into, try my Pax Britannia books.
If they love gamebooks and fantasy adventures, try my Fighting Fantasy gamebooks.
If it's Doctor Who or Star Wars, try these, and remember that you can have a Clone Wars story, written by me, personalised.
If it's non-fiction they enjoy, try Match Wits with the Kids, or one of my Miscellanies.
And if its the grim darkness of the far future where there is only war, or the grim darkness of a quasi-Medieval world that gets them buzzing, then try one of my Black Library novels.
Friday, 10 December 2010
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
To get Ebenezer's Carol, by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, to No. 1 in time for Christmas. A proper steampunk Christmas song for Christmas No. 1!
What we need to do to achieve this:
1) For Ebenezer's Carol to chart it needs to sell roughly 8,000 copies. The single needs be downloaded as a single, and not as part of the A Very Steampunk Christmas EP. It's available now from iTunes, eMusic and Amazon.
2) So, forward this message to all your friends (be they steampunks or otherwise) but remind them that they must buy the song by itself for it to get into the singles chart.
3) Blog about this, post a link on your Facebook page, Tweet about it, but most importantly - buy the single Ebenezer's Carol!
4) Arrange events themed around this, call the local press, use your contacts - whatever you've got - and we could really make this happen!
This is a chance for steampunk fans to really make themselves heard and make a difference for the future of Christmas. The fate of Ebenezer's Carol and Christmas music itself is in your hands! Let's make Christmas 2010 a Very Merry Steampunk Christmas!
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
So, I've decided to merge the two blogs for Christmas Miscellany and What is Myrrh Anyway? in one, easy to manage, dot com, called...
Sunday, 7 November 2010
Friday, 5 November 2010
1 ¾ cups flour
2/3 cups brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup butter
½ cup chopped nuts
1 jar (10 ounce size) maraschino cherries
2) Drain the cherries, reserving 4 tablespoons of juice, and roughly chop.
3) In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.
4) In a separate bowl cream together the butter, sugar, eggs and the 4 tablespoons cherry juice. Mix well until fully combined. Add the butter and sugar mix to the flour mixture and mix well. Then gently fold in the chopped cherries and nuts.
5) Scoop the batter into the loaf pan, and spread evenly.
6) Bake bread for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until golden and baked through. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Monday, 1 November 2010
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Friday, 24 September 2010
So, set it as one of your favourites, along with the new www.PaxBritannia.com which is the new official way to reach the PB blog.
See you round!
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Saturday, 10 July 2010
Friday, 25 June 2010
Today is the 25th June, which means that it's time to celebrate PGL Christmas!
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Even better than that is the fact that a number of people have already entered (and been very generous into the bargain). But if you haven't entered yet, don't be put off - any donation will do, no matter how small. After all, it is for charity. Just remember to tag your donation with the comment 'Jon Green sent me' to qualify.
Good luck and (if you've already entered) thank you.
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Sunday, 4 April 2010
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
St Paddy's Day was once purely a Christian holiday and it didn't become an official feast day until the early 1600s. However, it is now much more of a secular celebration of Ireland's culture, and the Guinness brand in particular.
Did you know...?
2009 was the 250th anniversary of Guinness and by 2001, almost 2 billion pints a year were sold worldwide - that's over 10 million glasses every day. Unsurprisingly it is Ireland's best-selling drink, but in 2006, more Guinness was sold in Canada than in Ireland. Guinness is brewed in more than 150 countries worldwide, including Nigeria and Indonesia, and 40% of all Guinness sales are in Africa. Over the years, much slang has come about when ordering a pint of Guinness and here are just a few examples: 'Arthur G'; 'Pint of black stuff'; 'Arthur Scargill'; 'Pint of plain'. The 'Guinness is Good For You' slogan is still used in many places worldwide, and some research has apparently shown that Guinness has heart health benefits. However, Guinness now officially states that they make no such health claims.
Little is known of the early life of St Patrick, although it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the fifth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon in the Church, like his father before him, but at the age of sixteen, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. He was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity and escape to the coast, where a ship would return him to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church and studied to be a priest.
In 432, now a bishop, he found himself called back to Ireland, to save the native populace. He was successful in this task, focusing on converting royalty and aristocracy as well as the poor. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people.
After nearly thirty years of teaching and spreading God's word, Patrick died on 17 March 461. He was buried at Downpatrick, or so tradition says. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.
Legend has it that Patrick banished all the snakes fro
m Ireland. When people first discov
ered the fossils of ammonites, they took them to be the snakes, curled up and turned to stone. The truth is that post-glacial Ireland probably never had any snakes in the first place. However, the legend may have come about that because of Patrick's missionary work, when, in professing the Christian faith he came up against the local Druids with their serpent symbolism.
The colour originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. However, over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick's day has grown. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. During the 1798 Irish Rebellion, wanting to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniform
s on 17 March in hopes of attracting attention with their unusual fashion gimmick. The phrase 'the wearing of the green', refers to the wearing of a shamrock on one's clothing and derives from the song of the same name.
Did you know...? The Chicago River is dyed green each year for the St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Whatever you're doing today, have a Happy St Patrick's Day!
Thursday, 25 February 2010
I'm onto the final stretch of my newest non-fiction book. Entitled Scottish Miscellany, in the best-selling tradition of What is Myrrh Anyway?, it answers all the questions you never knew you had about the Land of the Scots.
How do you play the bagpipes? What's the deal with men in skirts - sorry - kilts? What should haggis really taste like? Why is the thistle the national flower of Scotland? How do you toss the caber (and why would you want to)? When does a broth become Scotch Broth? Why is Scotland called Scotland? And is there really a prehistoric monster living in Loch Ness?
All these questions - and more! - are answered in the book, which includes recipes for traditional Scottish fare and even a beginner's guide to Gaelic. And to support its publication in the autumn, I've started a dedicated blog, which you can find here.
Scottish Miscellany is being produced by Skyhorse Publishing, who are based in New York. They were the guys behind the American edition of What is Myrrh? entitled Christmas Miscellany. (Do you see a pattern forming here?)
Here's Bill Wolfsthal to tell you a little more about the company...
Sunday, 31 January 2010
If you have little ones who might like to show their love for the grown-up in their life, then you should check out these Valentine's crafts.
Alternatively, if you One True Love has something of a sweet tooth, you could do a lot worse than buy them something from this range.
Monday, 11 January 2010
Between 1400 and 1814 (which was the last time it happened) the Thames froze over 26 times. And when it froze solid, Londoners made the most of it, holding Frost Fairs on the ice itself.
The tidal, somewhat salty Thames is a deep, fast-flowing river today, but before the Old London Bridge was demolished in 1831, the river’s waters were pooled slightly behind the medieval arches, which probably helped the ice take hold. It was also the time known as the Little Ice Age, when winters were colder and more severe than they have been since 1800.
The embankments had not yet been built, either, and so the River Thames was wider, shallower, and probably a little slower moving.
The Thames froze several times in Tudor England. Henry VIII is known to have travelled from Whitehall to Greenwich by sleigh, along the River Thames, in 1536. In 1564, Elizabeth I practised her archery on the frozen Thames, whilst menfolk played football on the ice.It was said of this winter:
On the 21st of December, began a frost, which continued so extremely that on new year’s eve people went over and along the Thames on the ice from London Bridge to Westminster. Some played at the foot-ball as boldly there as if it had been on the dry land; diverse of the court shot daily at pricks set up on the Thames; and the people, both men and women, went on the Thames in greater numbers than in any street of the city of London.
On the 31st day of January, at night, it began to thaw, and on the fifth day was no ice to be seen between London Bridge and Lambeth, which sudden thaw caused great floods and high waters, that bare down bridges and houses, and drowned many people.
The first frost fair, in terms of full-scale activity and commercial stalls and sports took place in 1608. It was a cheerful and spontaneous affair.
The Long Freeze or Great Freeze of 1683/4 was one of the coldest-known English, and European, winters. The Thames froze solidly, and the ice was up to a foot deep. The frost began six weeks before Christmas, and lasted well into February.
Streets of stalls and booths stretched from bank to bank; all London’s normal entertainments made their way on to the river. A whole ox was roasted at Hungerford Steps, bear-baiting and puppet-shows were held on the ice. Skating and chair-pushing events were also set up.
A pamphlet published about the Long Frost included this passage:
A whole street of booths, contiguous to each other, was built from the Temple Stairs to the barge-house in Southwark, which were inhabited by traders of all sorts, which usually frequent fairs and markets, as those who deal in earthenwares, brass, copper, tin, and iron, toys and trifles; and besides these, printers, bakers, cooks, butchers, barbers, coffee-men, and others, who were so frequented by the innumerable concourse of all degrees and qualities, that, by their own confession, they never met elsewhere the same advantages, every one being willing to say they did lay out such and such money on the river of Thames.
The Great Frost of 1709, probably Europe’s coldest winter for 500 years, saw another large-scale frost fair. Not only rivers but huge chunks of the North Sea froze during the terrible cold of the winter, and in France, an estimated 500,000 people died of starvation and malnutrition later in the year. A London paper said:
The Thames seems now a solid rock of ice; and booths for sale of brandy, wine, ale, and other exhilarating liquors, have been for some time fixed thereon; but now it is in a manner like a town; thousands of people cross it, and with wonder view the mountainous heaps of water that now lie congealed into ice.
On Thursday a great cook’s-shop was erected, and gentlemen went as frequently to dine there as at any ordinary. Over against Westminster, Whitehall, and Whitefriars, printing presses are kept on the ice.
The last proper freezing of the River Thames in London took place in 1814. The frost set in at the start of January, and by the end of the month, the River was frozen solid. An elephant was even led across the Thames by Blackfriars Bridge to demonstrate the safety of the ice!
Hordes of traders and entertainers rushed to set up shop, and the fair was in full-swing. It was shorter than many, as the solid ice lasted only a week. Writing 20 years later, Charles Mackay said of the 1814 fair:
Each day brought a fresh accession of pedlars to sell their wares, and the greatest rubbish of all sorts was raked up and sold at double and treble the original cost.
The watermen profited exceedingly, for each person paid a toll of twopence or threepence before he was admitted to the fair; and something also was expected for permission to return. Some of them were said to have taken as much as six pounds in a day.
Many persons remained on the ice till late at night, and the effect by moonlight was singularly novel and beautiful. The bosom of the Thames seemed to rival the frozen climes of the north.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you, and send you
A happy New Year,
And God send you
A happy New Year.
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Pius VI, pope (1717)
Conrad Hilton, hotelier (1887)
Humphrey Bogart, actor (1899)
Howard Hughes, businessman, film director and aviator (1905)
Tony Martin, actor and singer (1912)
Kenny Everett, comedian (1944)
Sissy Spacek, actress (1949)
Annie Lennox, singer (1954)