On This Day – 2nd February 1709

Alexander Selkirk

On the 2nd of February 1709, Alexander Selkirk (born Selcraig) was rescued from Juan Fernandez Island, now known as Robinson Crusoe Island.

Alexander was born in Lower Largo in 1676. He was the seventh son of the local shoemaker John Selcraig and Euphan Mackie. As a youngster he was so unruly that he was summoned before the Kirk Session for his “undecent carriage” . He took off to sea before the case was concluded.

Alexander enlisted in a privateering expedition led by Captains Dampier and Pickering whose intention was to profit from plundering the Spanish galleons and the rich Spanish colonies. Privateering expeditions were given approval by the government but were, in fact, little more than legalised piracy which was very profitable if the expeditions were successful. Alexander was a first class navigator and was appointed sailing master on the ninety ton vessel “Cinque Ports” which had sixteen guns and a crew of sixty three. Continue reading “On This Day – 2nd February 1709”

20 years ago today

F.W.De Klerk and Nelson Mandela celebrate the end of apartheid

20 years, not that long ago. Frederik Willem De Klerk announced the unbanning of the ANC, PAC, S.A.Communist Party and a host of other political and labour groups, also that Nelson Mandela would be released from his incarceration.

Today’s youth don’t know any different. I was with a 30 year old yesterday he has no recollections of life under the National Party.

In one way it’s mission accomplished for our children, not being the pariah of the Continue reading “20 years ago today”


Marmalade time of year…..

I shall post my marmalade recipe, since it’s that time of year again –

Here it is.

The Marmalade Recipe.

3lbs Seville oranges, 6 pints water, juice of 2 lemons, 6 lbs sugar.

Half the oranges and squeeze, pull out pulp and pith.

Put all this juice, pith pips and pulp into a muslin bag suspended over the pan. Juice will run out, all other bits retained by bag.

Slice skins into fine pieces and add to pan with the water.

Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours, until peel is soft.

Lift out the bag containing the pips etc. and squeeze as much as possible back into the pan. Then discard the bag contents.

Add the lemon juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then boil rapidly until setting point has been reached. (Test by putting a small amount onto a saucer and pulling a spoon through it. It should wrinkle if it has reached setting point)

Warm jars in the oven to 110c along with the jam funnel, if you have one, so all super clean!

Remove the marmalade pan from the heat and skim to get rid off any scum.

Cool for 5-8 minutes then stir to make sure peel is distributed evenly, then fill pots to top,

Seal and when cool label.

This year I added some mulling spices to the bag, but probably not enough as there are barely discernible!

Davos – A Grand Delusion

Well the cream of capitalism has had its week of wonders at the dreamlike fantasia of the Davos resort in Switzerland. One might even be forgiven for thinking that the whiteness of the snow was designed to cleanse the dirty image of a grubby economic system that has gone out of control.

 The Davos conference is now billed as a veritable ‘who’s who’ of senior business managers, captain’s of industry, bankers and government representatives and their various hanger’s on; all puffed up with their egotistical self-importance and their ‘save the world’ arrogance.

 Yet in tangible terms what does all this high-roller back-slapping actually mean for the man on the street?

  Continue reading “Davos – A Grand Delusion”

On This Day – 1st February 1587

Warrant for Mary Queen of Scots Execution

On the 1st of February 1587, Elizabeth I, Queen of England, finally signed the death warrant for Mary Stuart, former Queen of Scots.

On the 19th May 1568, Mary landed at Workington in England. She had fled Scotland after an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne that she had been forced to abdicate the previous year. Mary said that she sought the protection of  her cousin, Elizabeth, but she probably also hoped that Elizabeth would help her regain her crown.

There was a slight problem: Mary had previously claimed Elizabeth’s throne, a claim she refused to renounce, and was considered by some English Catholics to be the legitimate heir.  Mary was swiftly taken into custody and never released. Continue reading “On This Day – 1st February 1587”

FIFA 2010 – 2 million tickets sold

There are approximately 3million tickets on offer for this years Football World Cup to be held in South Africa during June and July.

Having already sold two thirds of them must surely be a feather in the cap for the organisers. I of course have applied for 14 of them

Continue reading “FIFA 2010 – 2 million tickets sold”

On this Day – 31st January 1606

Guy Fawkes Signature on His Confession

On the 31st of January 1606, Guy Fawkes was taken from the Tower of London to the Garden of St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster, where he was hung, drawn and quartered.

Guy Fawxe was born on the 13th of April 1570 and baptised on the 16th of April that years at Saint Michael-le-Belfrey, York. He was the only son of Edward Fawkes and Edith Blake. Edward was proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York.  Guy’s paternal grandmother was the daughter of a merchant, one time mayor of York. When she died in 1575 she left Guy her ‘best whistle and an angel of Gold’.

Guy went to St  Peter’s School in York, where possibly  John and Christopher Wright, both conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, were also educated.  At St Peter’s, Guy was taught by John Pulleyn, who was a suspected Catholic. How much influence he may have had on Guy cannot be determined at this stage, but it is clear that Guy’s parents were staunch Protestants and brought their son up in that faith.

Edward Fawkes died intestate in 1579 and his property went to Guy.  Continue reading “On this Day – 31st January 1606”

The rain in Spain

The weather has been awful in Gibraltar for most of this past week with a very rough sea  which forced those ships anchored off-shore to move farther out. The odd thing is that there was almost no wind here, so obviously somewhere else in the Med was getting a good blow. There was also some torrential rain, which the ladies at the bus stop assured me “non es normalo”. When the sunshine returned a couple of days ago we could see that there was snow on some of the Spanish hills much closer than the Sierra Nevada.

Yesterday’s visit to Europa Point was disappointing, apart from the bus ride which gave us a look over the western edge and the harbour to Algeciras, and the view over to North Africa.

Too many tatty breezeblock buildings labelled MOD property.  No attempt to make the area attractive for tourists of whom there was a steady stream in sight-seeing minibuses.

On this Day – 30th January 1649

Execution of Charles I

On the 30th of January 1649, Charles Stuart, was beheaded at Whitehall, London.

Charles was the second son of  James VI (of Scotland) and James I (of England) and Anne of Denmark. He was born in Scotland in 1600 and was unable to walk or talk until he was three years old. Charles became heir to the throne in 1612 after his older brother, Henry, died of typhoid. He ascended the throne in 1625. Continue reading “On this Day – 30th January 1649”