Monday, March 26, 2012

Events in March

As this month MARCHed on I realised there were many events that occur which we can identify with.
I searched out a few, but you may know others!


So where did this saying come from?
Well ... first we have to venture back into history (my favourite place) to the times of the Romans, where the ides simply meant the 15th day of four months of the Roman calendar- March, May, July and October!
"That is not so bad." I hear you say.
Then why does it have a sinister ring to it?
Because in 44 B.C. on  March 15 the Roman General, Julius Caesar was brutally stabbed to death by a group of conspirators in the Roman Senate.
Apparently a seer had foreseen that Caesar would be harmed no later than the Ides of March. So on the way to the Theater of Pompey (where the grizzly act took place) Caesar met the seer and joked, "The ides of March have come."
To which the seer replied, "Ay, Caesar, but not gone."

ST PATRICK is one of Ireland's patron saints, who died on March 17th around the year 493. He worked tirelessly as a missionary in Ireland. There are many events and traditions held here in Australia to mark the anniversary of his death as well as remember the Irish settlements in Australia's early history.

The Irish were among the first Europeans to settle here. And although many arrived in the late 1700's as convicts, there were more than 300,000 Irish settlers who migrated to Australia between 1840-1914 as (non convicts) free settlers.                                                   
About 30% of Australians are believed to have some Irish ancestry today. I know my mother's family are from Irish descent. Their family name was McKeirnan.
One way of preserving Irish traditions and customs in Australia is to celebrate St Patrick's Day each year.
According to Legend, Saint Patrick used the Shamrock, a three leafed plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish People. 
For more info:

Managed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Harmony Day is the promotion of tolerance and a celebration of cultural diversity in Australia.
Begun in 1999, it coincides with the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and offers an opportunity for everyone to come together.
There are many organised activities in major cities, towns and schools, where communities can share and enjoy dance, food, parades and festivities.
In 2011 alone there were over 6,500 events registered for Harmony Day.  The colour chosen for Harmony Day is Orange, and Australians everywhere are encouraged to wear something orange to show their support for the cultural diversity and an inclusive Australia.
For more information of events in your area you can visit :

Last but NOT least - My Wedding Anniversary - 1st March .
We chose the first day in March mostly because it was a Saturday, and it would be dead easy to remember.Well one would think so.... and I know exactly what you are thinking. But you're wrong! For it is I who forgot once. So never let it be said we women remember ALL dates ALL the time. Occasionally I am reminded of this one time digression. But that's OK!


Are there any dates that are special to you in March?

Monday, March 19, 2012

A snippet into the History of Utensils in Europe

Ever wonder the origin of what you’re
sticking in your mouth?

The likelihood is that you haven’t and I can’t blame you in your ignorance – it’s truthfully not the most fascinating subject, but I think it’s still rather interesting.
The first fork was brought back to England by a fellow called Thomas Coryate from his travels to Italy in 1608. The English laughed off the fork at first, rumoured to have claimed, "Why should a person need a fork when God had given him hands?".  Still, the reluctant-towards-change English upper-class soon adopted the fork into their dinning ritual. They actually became prized possessions made of expensive materials intended to impress guests. They quickly became dining luxuries and thus markers of social status and sophistication among nobles.
“I say, what a grand device you have here, Lord Pettlebottom. I must acquire one! I will be envy of every gentleman in the district to hold one made of gold!”
The English to me have always liked to show off; grander is better, appeared to be the case in most instances. It looked as if their cutlery was no exception.
Small, slender-handled forks with two tines were generally used for desserts or sweet, sticky foods. Like the foods with berries and such which were likely to stain ones fingers.
Dinner or meat forks were modelled after general kitchen forks with two fairly long and widely spaced tines ensuring that meat would not twist while being cut. However it became rather annoying as small pieces of food regularly fell through the tines and could land in ones lap. Hardly classy, no matter how pretty the fork. Therefore later that century, larger forks with four curved tines were developed. The additional tines made diners less likely to drop food, and the curved tines served as a scoop so people didn’t have to constantly switch to a spoon while eating. What a bother that would have been!
Knives, as I am sure will be little surprise to most of you, had been used as weapons, tools, and eating utensils since prehistoric times. However, it was only in fairly recent times that knives have been designed specifically for table use. Apparently, hosts did not provide cutlery for their guests during the Middle Ages in Europe. Most people carried their own knives in sheaths attached to their belts. These knives were long and narrow with sharply pointed ends used to spear food and then raise it to one's mouth. Yum, yum!
However, long after knives were adopted for table use, they continued to be used as weapons. In other words, the multi-purpose nature of the knife always posed the conceivable threat of danger at the dinner table. I’m sure all of us can attest to sitting at a business dinner and feeling a knife or two etched with our names in it.
Nevertheless, once forks began to gain popular acceptance, (forks being more efficient for spearing food), there was no longer any need for a pointed tip at the end of a dinner knife. In my research it made me chuckle to read that in 1669, King Louis XIV of France decreed all pointed knives on the street or the dinner table illegal, and he had all knife points ground down like those to the right in order to reduce violence. I wonder how many knives had his name on them?
While the above is only a small snippet into the shiny things beside our dinner plates, I wonder how many of you will peer around your dinner table tonight. Hopefully your guests or family don’t hold any ill will your way.
Be kind to each other....
Danielle. XXOO
Danielle can be contacted on her Facebook and Twitter accounts or alternatively comment below.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Historical Hearts Good News

More great news for our Historical Hearts members.
This week we congratulate...

Annie Seaton who is celebrating not one,
but two book releases in March.
available March 19
available March 15

Congratulations Annie!!!

Erin Grace's novel
Made number 1 on Amazon's
Scottish, Time Travel Bestseller List


Erin's novel
Fantasy Romance category.

Congratulations Erin!!! Fantastic!!!

And last but certainly not least
Maggi Andersen's novel
Was released today and is now available!!!

Congratulations Maggi!!!

So, until next week.
Happy writing and editing!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Society of Thames Mudlarks

A few years ago...okay twelve years ago I married my high-school sweetheart. And after much begging, cajoling and in the end telling, we went to London England for our honeymoon. I’d always wanted to go, because who wouldn’t (my husband for one) and enjoyed every second while we were there. I’ve now created a monster (said husband) who’s the one always saying ‘we should go...’ and it’s me who now has to say ‘no!' All very funny but not really relevant to my post today...or is it?

While in England we did a tour with Trafalgar. Wonderful company and great tour guides. As they bussed us around the capital our noses plastered to the windows a story of a group of people made my ears prick up and take note. Not that I wasn’t already listening to the tour guide beacuae I was. During our stay there I soaked up every aspect of London and imprinted it on my brain permanently. I just love the place.

But, back to the tour guide who was explaining a group of people called Mudlarks who once searched the banks of the Thames at low tide. Just another name which means a beachcomber who searches the mud at low tide for anything of value. I wanted to be one of them. Just the thought of digging in mud and maybe finding some lost treasure hundreds of years old sent my blood to...okay I’m starting to sound like a romance writer. But let’s just say I was excited. The tour guide went on to say that only a few permits were allowed each year and that they were a well sought after article. I could only agree, as I now wanted one, even though I lived in Australia.

Eventually we went home and continued on with our lives until one day only four years ago I started to write. Then I started to write romance novels with a twist - time travel. And what a better way than to send my heroine catapulting through the ages but by having her find a piece of jewellery long buried in the banks of the Thames which does exactly that. You’ve guessed it; my heroine is a Thames Mudlark. In fact they are actually called The Society of Thames Mudlarks today. Anything they find they have a month before they must forward it to the Museum of London for cataloguing. After that time the item is returned to them, to either sell, (to the museum or elsewhere) or keep. The Port of London Authority issue the permits for them to fossick the ancient shores.

Although being a Mudlark today is for hobbyists and history lovers alike, back in the Industrial Revolution it was all that stood between starvation and food for some families. Should they find something, anything, a button even, it could be sold for food for them to eat. Most Mudlarks were widowed women and children. These poor souls had to deal with raw sewage and corpses of humans and animals that often washed up with the tide. Take the tower of London’s moat, need I say more on what a mess that was for a while. Not a very nice working environment for them, even if necessary.

So, a story told offhandedly years ago stuck a cord with me, and was the basis of a major turning point for my heroine in my manuscript. It’s true I suppose, that stories evolve by events in our own lives. That, when we hear tales of the past we writers see a plot somewhere between the words. I certainly did and will continue to do so.

Perhaps one day if I’m lucky, The Society of Thames Mudlarks will make me an honorary member. I can only dream.
Tamara Gill
This post originally featured on my blog 2010