history

John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

July 10, 2020 0 Comments
John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

In his time Foster Powell was known for mighty feats of pedestrianism.  But his achievements pale in comparison with those of a rather younger contemporary, John ‘Walking’ Stewart (1747-1822).  While Powell’s stage was mainly limited to England and Scotland, Stewart walked over large parts of the globe.  As well as his wanderings he was known […]

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Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

June 26, 2020 0 Comments
Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

When he was 21 years old Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to Wales for a walking tour with his Cambridge friend Joseph Hucks.  In a letter written in Denbigh in July 1794 to Robert Southey he summarises the trip so far, and writes, From Bala we travelled onward to Llangollen, a most beautiful village in a […]

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Time and Johannes Vermeer

June 6, 2020 4 Comments
Time and Johannes Vermeer

Today’s the last day of my imaginary return visit to the city of Delft.  As always, it’s been a time of rest and contemplation among the canals and step-gabled houses facing them.  And as usual I’ve been thinking about Delft’s most famous citizen, Johannes Vermeer, and his paintings – this time, the early works that […]

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The assassin waits

May 29, 2020 0 Comments
The assassin waits

In my lockdown tour of Europe I’m still enjoying my virtual stay in the city of Delft.  I’ve walked a little way from the Nieuwe Kerk to the Prinsenhof in Sint Agathaplein.  Today the Prinsenhof is a museum, and a very good one, but in the late sixteenth century it was the government headquarters of […]

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Thucydides on the plague in Athens

March 13, 2020 0 Comments
Thucydides on the plague in Athens

In the bath the other morning I happened to catch an interview with the novelist Kamila Shamsie.  She was asked what books she’d want to have with her if the coronavirus forced her to self-isolate for a lengthy period.  She had some interesting choices.  And she recommended that, instead of raiding supermarkets for toilet rolls […]

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Llangeitho mewn lluniau

February 7, 2020 0 Comments
Llangeitho mewn lluniau

Digwydd bod yn Llangeitho y dydd o’r blaen, ac yn y pentrefan gerllaw, Capel Betws Lleucu.  Pentref digon tawel yw Llangeitho heddiw, ac fe welais neb bron ar y strydoedd.  Ond ganrif a hanner yn ôl roedd pethau’n wahanol: llawer mwy o bobl yn byw a gweithio yn yr ardal, llawer mwy o Gymraeg i’w […]

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Down the rabbit hole: an early example from Gower

January 31, 2020 0 Comments
Down the rabbit hole: an early example from Gower

Alice’s adventures in Wonderland – in Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript it was entitled Alice’s adventures under ground – is probably the best-known of all tales about a child passing through a hole or tunnel in the ground to reach another world populated by strange, small creatures.  It’s a common motif in fairy stories around the […]

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At Strata Florida: Gerald’s vision of male beauty

January 10, 2020 0 Comments
At Strata Florida: Gerald’s vision of male beauty

I’ve been reading the account written by Gerald of Wales of the tour he made, on horseback and on foot, around the perimeter of Wales in the year 1188.  The manuscript – there are actually three versions – is usually called the Itinerary through Wales, and it’s the earliest account of a long journey in […]

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Greening Swansea: a forgotten pioneer

November 1, 2019 0 Comments
Greening Swansea: a forgotten pioneer

Greening cities and towns, we might imagine, is a contemporary concern – a response to the realisation that we’re rapidly destroying the earth’s environment and depleting its non-human lifeforms.  Swansea has its share of green activists and agitators working to raise awareness and press for action. It would be fair to say, though, that those […]

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Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn, selenophotographer

October 29, 2019 0 Comments
Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn, selenophotographer

If you visit the Penllergare Valley Woods, as we did last week, you can’t leave without developing a strong respect for the estate’s chief creator, John Dillwyn Llewelyn.  Photographic pioneer, astronomer, botanist, orchid collector, landscapist, inventor – he used his wealth, leisure and connections, after inheriting the estate as a boy from his grandfather in […]

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