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Friday, April 27, 2007


(click on image to enlarge)

Have just finished making two Roman Cavalry Shields (copied from a design on Trajan's Column). These are about 1.2 metres high to give you an idea of scale. This is a special commission that The Ermine Street Guard was asked to do for English Heritage's Special Events Unit.

I started them at Easter and played around with them in my spare time. The shields are cut from heavy plywood and the designs painted on in matt colours (to replicate ancient paints). The edges are finished with leather. This is cut into strips and glued around. The edge is then drilled all round and the leather is stitched via these holes. The centre bosses have been spun from sheet brass (Romans used bronze). I made the four studs which hold each boss from English 2 pence pieces (which were made of copper until 1992 - so I tend to save the old ones!) I dish the coin, solder a spindle on the back so I can hold it in a lathe and then polish off one side as seen.

This is the best they will ever look as they will be used for battle re-enactments with Roman mounted cavalry and will soon be knocked around.

You can see our Roman cavalrymen, with such shields here (just click on the images you see to enlarge them.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The Journal of the Veteran-Cycle Club is called "The Boneshaker". Its front cover for the Spring number sports a photograph suitable for such an austere publication:

However, this delightful picture appears inside the front cover - just to show we also ride (fairly) recent bikes as well:

(Perhaps this one should really be on Lee's "Curate after Dark"!)
I am pleased to see that she is a fellow Raleigh fan!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Philip Larkin
was often perceived as being a bit of a miserable old curmudgeon. But this poem gives the lie to that, I think. It breathes Spring, regeneration and hope. I particularly like that last line (read it aloud, lingering on that last "sh" in each "afresh" ). It came to mind the other day when my grand-daughter and I were cycling through some local woods. Looking it up for this blog (I just had to write it out, rather than just giving a link address) has made me sit down to enjoy his complete works once again. They have been gathering dust on the bookshelf for some time.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I have been tagged by Chief Biscuit (who has passed this on) to give the following that happened on my birth date (18th December):

1. Abolition of Slavery in USA 1865
2. Death Penalty abolished in U.K. 1969
3. Abel Tasman is first European to land in New Zealand 1642 (especially for you, Chief !)

1. Grimaldi (the clown) 1779
2. Francis Thompson (poet) 1859

1. Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans 821

1. Roman Feast of Epona (Goddess of horses and fertility) during Saturnalia. (But I would choose that, wouldn't I?)

The idea is now to pass it on to 4 other nominees to have a go - and I nominate:
1. Nea
2. Judith
3. Lucy
4. Granny J.

(Wikipedia is a great help and it is good fun looking!)