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The History of Confetti

Wedding Confetti

It’s thought that the throwing of confetti started in Greek times when locals would shower athletes and those getting married with flowers and leaves. It was a unique way of sprinkling people with love and excitement and made for a brilliant spectacle.

But it was the Italians who we can thank most. The word confetti is of Italian origin and means small pellets made of lime or soft plaster. It is also the word for sweetmeats.

The Italians had a similar custom where the nobles threw coins, nuts, sweets, and flowers at the crowds. The confetti contributed to a festival-like atmosphere and got everyone excited. It seemed too excited since some of the masses became riled and tossed back stones, rotten eggs and vegetables, and other nasty items. Because the custom upset some and fights broke out, authorities banned confetti tossing for many years.

Paper confetti is more modern, and around 1875 a man saw an opportunity in silkworm farming. The farmers lined the worms’ home with thick paper. As the larvae hatched, they burrowed out of the paper and created small discs. One man saw possibilities, and instead of trashing the paper discs, he sold them for use at festivals and wedding celebrations. He informed people this was a safe and fun way to party.

The British used to throw uncooked rice, or sometimes wheat and barley, to signify fertility. Pelting a couple with rice was meant to bring luck and children into their lives. Having uncooked rice chucked at one can be painful, and the practice fell out of favor when paper confetti came along.

Flower Confetti

These days, many churches and towns dislike the mess of paper thrown everywhere. Clean up can take lots of time! People use flower petals as a natural alternative, which is where Ada from Operation Flower Petal comes into the picture!

Here is the blurb for Operation Flower Petal.

He falls for her…literally.

Since her husband’s murder, Ada Buckingham’s life has comprised one calamity after another, and the hits keep coming, yet each day, she picks herself up and begins again.

Military man Matt Townsend, AKA Frog, expects a challenging assignment when he agrees to train soldiers in tough country terrain. The rules: stay away from the old lady’s flowers and notify her of days or nights with flash-bang.

Easy, right?

On arrival via parachute, he plummets into the lady’s flowers. The sexy spitfire who confronts him isn’t the maiden aunt-type he imagined, but man, she intrigues and entices him, and he’s eager to learn more.

Matt is quick to insert himself into her life, and his mission evolves once he learns something is hinky and dangerous in the world of Ada. While he fell arse over teakettle, Ada is slower to believe or trust, but Matt is confident in his charm and brings his A-game. Now all he needs to do is keep her safe.

You will love this latest addition to the Military Men series because it contains a charming, confident, and audacious soldier known for his singing voice—not!—and a brave and determined heroine with a love of flowers. You’ll also find skullduggery in a country town, danger, and gossip aplenty. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the romantic adventure.

Get more Operation Flower Petal Here

Sources:
https://ultimateconfetti.com/blog/the-history-of-confetti/
https://hoorayweddings.com/for-the-bridal-couple/the-history-of-confetti/
https://www.etymonline.com/word/confetti
https://www.brideandgroomdirect.co.uk/blog/2020/05/everything-you-need-to-know-about-wedding-confetti/

Scottish New Year Traditions

New Year Traditions

We have lots of people of English and Scottish descent in the community where we live, so I’ve been hearing a lot about first-footing and mutters of lumps of coal.

I had NO idea what they were talking about, so I decided to find out so as not to appear dim-witted.
Here are some Scottish Hogmanay traditions:

1. At midnight, most sing Robbie Burns’s poem, Auld Lang Syne.

This song refers to old or times past, which makes it the perfect song to sing at the beginning of a new year when we are looking back and also ahead to the future.

2. First-footing refers to the first person to enter the house after midnight. There are specific requirements for first-footing. The person should be a dark-haired male. He should carry with him a piece of coal, a dram of whisky, shortbread, salt, and black bun. It’s thought that this tradition relates back to the time of the Viking raids. If a blond Viking came to your door, it was more likely he was carrying an enormous sword and intended the residents’ harm, therefore it was luckier to discover a man with dark hair.

The purpose of first-footing is to bring good luck for the rest of the year.

Happy New Year to you. May 2021 bring you joy and prosperity.

Sources:
https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/The-History-of-Hogmanay/

Mt Vesuvius Erupts, this day in history #travel

Mt Vesuvius erupted at midday on 24 August in the year 79AD. The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed and thousands of Romans died during the eruption.

Quite a lot is known about the day and the aftermath since Pliny the Younger witnessed and wrote about the eruption. 14 – 17 feet of ash and pumice buried the city of Pompeii while mud and volcanic material devastated Herculaneum. Locals, who had escaped, returned later to salvage their belongings but mostly the cities were forgotten. It wasn’t until the 18th century when a well-digger discovered the ruins of Herculaneum. In 1748 a farmer found traces of Pompeii beneath his grapevines.

Mount Vesuvius remains active but hasn’t erupted since 1944. It is the only active volcano on mainland Europe.

Pompeii

Pompeii with Mt Vesuvius in background

Main street in Pompeii

The above photos were all taken at Pompeii.

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum and Mt Vesuvius in background

I enjoyed wandering around Herculaneum. It was quieter and less touristy with more to see. The volcanic mud preserved the buildings better than the ash did at Pompeii. The above five photos are from Herculaneum, and you can see Mt Vesuvius in the background of the fifth photo.

View from top of Mt Vesuvius

This is the view from the top of Mt Vesuvius. You can see how dense the population is in Naples. I’ve visited Naples three times and have yet to get a truly clear shot of the mountain. Every time I go, it’s hazy. Below you can see the crater plus me posing at the top.

The crater

Me at the top of the mountain

We caught a bus from Naples that drove almost to the top of the mountain. We walked briskly for almost an hour to get to the summit. If you’re ever in the vicinity, I highly recommend a visit to all three sites.

Get Ready for Dunkirk #history #giveaways #IARTG

Dunkirk Image 1

Are you ready for Dunkirk? So are we! And we’re not just talking about Christopher Nolan’s upcoming summer blockbuster movie. Beyond the major motion picture, there is Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novel Sale.

Discounted Books for 99c each

40+ authors of the Facebook Second World War Club have joined together for the "Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Novels Sale". From July 21-27 (the opening week of “Dunkirk”), we will discount a selection of our books to 99c to bring you more riveting tales of WWII from around the world.
This is a great chance to discover some awesome WWII stories. To find out more, go to: http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/
We have tons of fun and interesting online events planned including:

Prizes & Giveaways

Join us too for:

6/26 A viewing Dunkirk Promo Official Trailer

6/29 A viewing of the book trailer for “Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/3 A viewing of the book trailer for “The Yankee Years” by Dianne Ascroft

7/5 A viewing of the book trailer for “45th Nail” by Ian Lahey

7/7 Our Authors’ Pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies of all times.

7/10 A viewing of the book trailer for “Unrelenting” by Marion Kummerow

7/13 A viewing of the book trailer for “Luzon” by Richard Barnes

7/14 The Book Speak Podcast reading of Roberta Kagan’s “All My Love, Detrick”

7/17 Part One of our special two-part blog series on Dunkrik by Suzy Hendersen

7/19     A viewing of the book trailer for “Eternal Flame” by Alexa Kang

7/21     Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale begins with The Book Speak Podcast reading of “The Girl at Dunkirk” by David Spiller

7/22    Part Two of our special two-part blog series on Dunkirk by by Jeremy Strozer

7/24    Movie review of Dunkirk by Alexa Kang

Bookmark this page and be sure you won’t miss out:  http://alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/

Vintage Cars Are Sexy #travel

One of the things I enjoyed during the Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand, was the huge number of vintage cars. The vintage cars always draw my eye. The muted colors – hunter green, burgundy and cream. The gleaming paintwork and proud owners. They are reminders of an earlier age, and with my love of history, I like that.

Some facts about Vintage Cars:

  1. The serious collector or enthusiast considers any car from the period 1919 – 1930 to be a vintage car.
  2. The Ford Model T was the first mass-produced automobile and dates back to 1913. The Model T was the first affordable car for the average man.
  3. Vehicles from the pre-vintage period are often referred to as Horseless carriages.
  4. Francois Isaac de Rivaz designed the first car in 1807. It was powered by an internal combustion engine and ran on fuel gas.
  5. Automobile trips were normally short, but in August 1888, Carl Benz’s wife, Bertha Benz, became the first person to drive a car over a long distance. She set off with her sons without telling her husband. Girl power!

Here is a selection of vintage cars photographed during the 2017 Art Deco Festival in Napier.

Vintage1

Vintage2

Vintage3

Vintage4

Vintage5

And this is the car we went for a ride in around Napier.

Vintage_Car

Vintage_Paul

Vintage_Shelley

Are you a fan of vintage cars?

Sally Lunn Takes Bath by Storm

Solange Luyon, a French Huguenot, arrived in Bath, England in 1680. She gained employment in a bakery and baked her own special recipe – a brioche bun, which was a dough enriched with egg. The buns were sold in the bakery where Solange worked and out in the street. Customers started to call in at the shop to request the buns, and they became fashionable amongst the wealthy Georgians who ate them cut open and spread with butter.

The buns were named Sally Lunn, and it is thought that this was an Anglicization of Solange’s French name.

These days the Sally Lunn is still a very popular treat. The Sally Lunn shop still exists in Bath and operates as a teashop. It’s a busy place and hubby and I were lucky to book a table for an early dinner.

Sally Lunn Shop Bath

This is the outside frontage of Sally Lunn’s. Diners can sit either downstairs or upstairs.

Sally Lunn Shelley

This is me with part of a Sally Lunn to go with my soup. The bun is very light and tasty.

Sally Lunn Paul

The Sally Lunn bun was used as a trencher (an old-fashioned plate made of bread) with the main course. Hubby had chicken and vegetables on his trencher.

Sally Lunn Window

This is a photo of the shop frontage and shows a basket of Sally Lunn. The tops are rounded and the bottoms flat. Of course, once I tried my first bun, I decided I needed to find a recipe. Mission accomplished. As soon as I get a free weekend, I’m going to attempt to bake my own Sally Lunn buns. Watch this space!

Have you tried a Sally Lunn?

Roll Over! Beds & Bedrooms Through History

Black and Blue Master Bedroom

The other day I picked up a copy of IF WALLS COULD TALK, an Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley. It’s a fascinating read, full of all those small social details that we often don’t hear about when we’re reading about history.

Here are a selection of things I’ve learned about beds and bedrooms.

1. Medieval people led more communal lives than us. At night they would sleep in the great hall, glad of the safe place of rest. The hall reeked of smoke and body odor, but it was safer than sleeping outside.

2. Medieval people who held jobs within the manor would sleep in their place of work. e.g. laundry maids would sleep in the laundry and the kitchen lads would sleep next to the fire in the kitchens.

3. A bed during medieval times usually consisted of hay stuffed in a sack, hence the saying hitting the hay.

4. A big bed would be shared, sometimes with strangers. Customs and etiquette developed regarding the communal bed. Families would lie in order of birth. If guests came to visit and stayed overnight, the father and mother would sleep in the middle of the bed between their children and strangers to prevent any naughtiness during the night.

5. The lord and lady of a manor would sleep in an adjoining room called the chamber or solar. It was a multi-function room but it usually contained a wooden bed.

6. During Tudor times the four-poster bed was the most expensive item in the house.

7. Tudor four-posters had bed strings on which the mattress sat. These would sag under the weight of the bed’s occupant and required constant tightening. This is where the expression, “Night, night, sleep tight.” comes from.

8. Housewives would accumulate lots of bed linen, enough to last a month so that laundry only needed to be done once a month. I’m glad I’m not responsible for the laundry!

9. During the 17th century bedrooms were on the upper floor. They led off each other, which meant the owner of the first bedroom had people trooping through all the time to get to the rest of the bedrooms. That would make for a restful night…

10. Corridors appeared toward the end of the 17th century, which meant the Georgians started to treat their bedrooms as more private spaces than those people of earlier ages. Their bedrooms were used as social rooms where they received special friends, conducted business and study.

11. During Victorian times privacy became paramount. Even husbands and wives had separate bedrooms and bedroom activities were confined to sleeping and sex.

12. Bedclothes consisted of many layers of sheets, blankets and eiderdowns until the 1970s and the introduction of the duvet. I, for one, am glad of this invention. Bedmaking takes mere seconds each morning.

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I get to have a modern bedroom with my own bed. Sharing it with hubby—no problem. That seems minor when I think of those medieval great halls!

What does your dream bed/bedroom look like?

Lucien St Clare, The Spurned Viscountess @CarinaPress #historical

Meet the hero from The Spurned Viscountess, a historical romance set in 1720 England.

Lucien

Name: Lucien St Clare

Title: Viscount Hastings

Age: mid-twenties

Appearance: Tall, over six foot. Long dark black hair. Mahogany brown eyes. Tanned skin since he spends a lot of time outdoors. His face is scarred, the puckered scar running from his left eye to his jaw.

Hangouts: He currently lives at Castle St. Clare in East Sussex, England. Prior to this, he lived in Italy, near Naples on the Bacci estate with his wife, Francesca.

Reason for the move: Fragments of his forgotten memory have started to return to him, memories that place him in England. He can’t remember much about St. Clare at all. Yep, he has nasty amnesia.

Reason for staying: Someone from the area murdered his wife and their unborn child. He’s desperate for revenge.

Big problem: The Earl of St. Clare expects him to go through with an arranged marriage to Rosalind, a small English mouse of a woman.

In Lucien’s words.

“Everyone tells me my name is George, that I’m the long lost heir, Viscount Hastings. I could leave and return to the Bacci estates in Italy, but I burn for revenge. Those bastards who murdered my wife and unborn child must pay for their crimes. Someone called Hawk ordered her murder. It seems a coincidence there’s a Hawk operating the smuggling ring—too much of a happenstance in my opinion. I’m investigating, looking for clues, but meantime I have to deal with my new wife. She’s small, blond and reminds me of a mouse. I tried to put her off the idea of marriage to me, but she was set on the marriage.

She’s not very good at following orders and I’m forever running across her in places I told her not to visit. Trouble is her middle name. She’s stubborn, frustrating, irritating and she’s getting under my skin. I find myself thinking about her at the oddest moments…”

The Spurned Viscountess Blurb:

The Spurned ViscountessShe must marry him.

Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.

He wants nothing to do with her.

Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.

Dark secrets will bind them.

Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…

Currently on sale for 99c at some retailers.

Purchase at: Carina Press| Amazon Kindle| All Romance eBooks| Kobo| iBooks| Nook|

World War 1 and ANZAC Girls

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of World War 1.

Earlier this year, Mr Munro and I visited Flander’s Fields in Belgium. It was a sobering and emotional experience seeing Tyne Cot, the Commonwealth war cemetery, and also the Menin Gate Memorial. There are so many unmarked graves at Tyne Cot—all from Commonwealth countries. The Menin Gate memorial commemorates 55,000 men who died and do not have graves. So many names, many of them very young. Just heart-breaking.

MrMunro_TyneCot

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium

Tyne Cot

A few of the many headstones. Some have names while others show the country with the name unknown.

TyneCot

The cemetery is beautifully kept.

Menin Gate

This is the Menin Gate memorial. The Last Post is played here every night and our guide said the crowds get bigger every year.

Menin Gate Top

Menin Gate again.

Menin Gat Interior

This is a shot of the interior of the gate and some of the 55000 names engraved into the walls.

Tonight we watched a new TV series called ANZAC Girls. It’s set during the time of the Gallipoli campaign. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch it, because I knew it would pull at the heartstrings. The series focuses on the nurses who traveled from Australia and New Zealand and who worked on hospital ships off Gallipoli or in Cairo. The show is based on fact and is fairly graphic and real when it comes to the medical scenes. I thought the first show was good and time will tell if I can make it through the entire series.

Golden Square, London

Visitors to London will notice there are lots of green areas in the Westminster and central city areas. Some offer workers a breath of fresh air and a place to while away their time during a lunch break while others are a private oasis available to the surrounding homeowners.

London’s squares date back to the mid 17th century. They were an English concept, copied by other cities and countries.

Golden Square (thought to originate from Gelding Close when the land was used for grazing horses) began life in 1673 when John Emlyn and Isaac Symball initiated development here.

Early residents of the thirty-nine houses that surrounded the square were the Duke of Chandos, the 1st Viscount Bolingbroke and the Duchess of Cleveland. During its early years the square was a political centre and a sought-after address. This changed by the 1750s when newer and more fashionable addresses to the west on the Burlington estates became favored.

Foreign diplomats moved in from 1724 to 1768 and later 18th century residents included dancer Elizabeth Gamberini and singer Caterina Gabrielli.

Charles Dickens used Golden Square as a setting for one of the houses in his novel Nicholas Nickelby in 1839. The woollen and worsted trade moved in toward the end of the 19th century.

During the Second World War an air raid shelter was dug beneath the garden and the iron fence taken for salvage. Restoration work took place after the war and the garden was opened to the public in November 1952.

We visited on a sunny weekday and the square was full of workers eating their lunches. Not a bad place to be during a lunch break.

Golden Square

Golden Square Sign

Golden Square

Sources:

Informational sign at Golden Square

The London Square: Gardens in the Midst of Town by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan