During a recent stay in Cambridge for an academic hooley, Mrs RH visited the University Library. She came across this wonderful multi-locked portable chest (above), and the University’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible. There are only about 40 complete Bibles extant in the world, plus some that are incomplete. I am lucky enough to have seen 3 of them, all in the US (Bienecke Library, Yale; Morgan Library NYC and New York Public Library). However to my retrospective shame, I never once in 3 years of golden opportunities took the trouble to go to the University Library in Cambridge (probably all of 15 minutes walk from my College). Seeing the photograph below made me ponder on youthful time that could (un)arguably have been better spent…




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Gonville and Caius College is one of the oldest colleges of Cambridge University. It was founded in 1348 by Edmund Gonville, who has suffered the cruel fate of rarely being mentioned nowadays; the college is almost invariably referred to simply as ‘Caius’, after John Caius, the man who re-founded the college in 1557 at a time when it had fallen on hard times.

The college has 3 fine gates that represent the stages of academic life: matriculation, with entrance through the Gate of Humility; undergraduate life, with regular passage through the Gate of Virtue during a student’s career; and finally graduation,with students passing through the Gate of Honour to the Senate House to receive their degrees.

The lower part of the Gate of Honourcaius-college-cambridge-sundial-gate-of-honour5

The middle section of the Gate of Honourcaius-college-cambridge-sundial-gate-of-honour4

The handsome modern sundial was installed in 1963 as part of the 400th anniversary celebration of the college’s re-foundation by Caius. There are in fact 6 vertical sundials, arranged in 3 pairs placed round the hexagonal tower. They were designed by an astronomer and fellow Dr Message, and the Junior Bursar Dr Powell. The bronze dial faces are painted with vitreous enamel. Of the original set of sundials dating from 1557, only traces remained.


There is something very satisfying about this set of dials. The symmetry, the proportions, the materials and the design all seem to work in harmony. Cambridge colleges have many sundials between them, many original and ancient. Of the modern dials, the Caius Gate of Honour is adorned by, arguably, the finest.** 


** The principal sundial of my own college is dignified but… somewhat undistinguished in comparison!

Photo credit: All photos Mrs RH during a recent academic festivity

For further reading, track down a copy of “Cambridge Sundials” by Alexis Brookes and Margaret Stanier (available from the British Sundial Society). It can also be found as a downloadable pdf. There is an equivalent book by Margaret Stanier covering Oxford


Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 06

Chinese New Year was celebrated at Chiswick House with a spectacular display of large and colourful inflatable animals from around the world. The same display had previously been used at Longleat. We watched them being installed; and once the event had been opened, it was the perfect place to take children as night fell.

Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 10 Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 09 Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 08 Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 07 Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 05 Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 03 Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 02 Chinese New Year 2016 Chiswick House 01


Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, Dorset Large white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, DorsetGreen-veined white butterfly, Dorset


I met this remarkable-looking bird at an owl sanctuary near Bodmin. I saw a sign to the place on my way back from Cornwall to Dorset, and diverted to investigate. I found a large, well-kept enterprise with plenty of birds, visitors and school parties. There was a very informative open-air display of several species that were explained in turn, and which visitors were in most cases permitted to stroke. A very worthwhile diversion that I’d recommend to anyone trekking along the A30 with a bit of time to spare. The place is called THE SCREECH OWL SANCTUARY.

Great Grey Owl 1Great Grey Owl 4

Many owl species can rotate their necks through 270º or more. This one managed a 180º rotation effortlessly, with its feet in identical positions.Great Grey Owl 5Great Grey Owl 2 Great Grey Owl 6


Sandwich is a cinque port, along with Hastings, New Romney, Hythe and Dover – we had some warm family disagreements discussions about these until someone managed to get a phone signal and look them up. The town has a large number of medieval buildings, and we enjoyed a quick look round recently when we were staying nearby.

THE FISHER GATE (1384) on the quaysideSandwich - The Fisher Gate 1384

THE BARBICAN (and toll house)Sandwich - the Barbican


Although viable vehicles using an internal combustion engine had only been in existence for about 6 years (and were few and far between), steam vehicles were not uncommon. It’s surprising to learn the variety of transport methods still catered for in post-Victorian England. I’d like to have possessed a ‘wain’. And a ‘chaise’, for that matter.

Sandwich - Toll table

RIVER STOUR at the quayside, with the swing bridge road that now leads to the BarbicanSandwich - River Stour

IS THIS FOR REAL? (looking at the modern screws, I concluded not)Sandwich - 'nothing happened'

ST PETER’S CHURCH (C13 / 14), now in the care of the Churches Conservation TrustSandwich - St Peter's Church c13 : 14

MEMORIAL IN ST PETER’S CHURCH with ambiguous tributeSandwich - St Peter's - Memorial

SANDWICH WEAVERS (1500)  a home and workshop used by Dutch workers in the c16Sandwich Weavers, 1500Sandwich Weavers 1500  Sandwich Weavers 1500


The quayside was used for army embarkations for wars with FranceSandwich - Swing Bridge over River Stour

Too good to miss (from a Kent Events website)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 


This gallery contains 19 photos.

Originally posted on The Foraging Photographer:
Actually it’s an incomplete metamorphosis, as dragon and damselflies not have a pupal stage like butterflies. Nevertheless, seeing a fully formed dragonfly emerge from the body of an aquatic nymph is a spectacular thing…


This little Blog has been rather more neglected than usual of late while we have been away. Now back in the UK, and hoping to pay it some attention soon now that all the fun is over… Book launched, fish caught, things eaten and drunk. Reality check starts… NOW.

JACKET GRAB JPGflyer 2Birds of Abaco Verandah1900063_10152069487394482_984358031_nunnamedMahi Mahi 1


There are various websites revealing the weird and wonderful oddities thrown up by the Google mapping projects. Google ‘Google Map Fail’ or ‘Google Streetview Fail’ for examples, including the location of Tessa Jowell inside the Houses of Parliament, complete with directions for reaching ‘Tony Blair’ in the time of 4 hours 40 mins. tumblr_l5i5rzwhj31qa0hs6o1_500The aerial mapping project has similarly revealed amazing vast drawings in remote desert regions, viewable only from the air; jet fighters laid up in municipal car parks; and Coca Cola logos in surprising places. By chance, I found one of my own when I was looking at the topography of the Oxfordshire / Wiltshire border.

Something of interest in a field close to Ashbury?Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 20.59.36

Zoom in – what on earth is that in the field near top centre?Ashbury 4

Mmmmm. Looks familiar, but out of place…
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Good grief – aliens have been at work…
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…and they plainly know all about undersea creatures on EarthAshdown jellyfish