Machu Picchu!

Pat Rice in Machu PicchuPat here:

I spent a good part of October in South America. IT Guy and I are fascinated by ancient civilizations, hence our trip to Egypt last year. This year, we finally made it to Machu Picchu, not nearly as old as Egypt but with a lot of uncanny similarities, which is what fascinates us. As much as I would like to study the origins of the Incas, I simply don’t have the time to devote. Should I ever retire… I’d probably keel over in a coffin. So let’s not go there. We just visit and admire.

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A Taste of the Baltic

Nicola here. Last month I was fortunate enough to go on a cruise of Medieval Baltic Cities of the Hanseatic League with Fred Olsen cruises. We chose this particular cruise because the destinations were fascinating; I’ve been interested in the history of the Baltic region for decades and a number of my distant ancestors came from that area. This was the perfect opportunity to get a taste of the Baltic. Mary Jo has also blogged about her Baltic Cruse experience but a big difference for us was that these days the itinerary doesn't take in St Petersburg. Instead we got …

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Stepping Back in Time Again

Iron Age roundhouseChristina here and I’ve been out and about again doing some research for the story I’m working on. As I think we’ve mentioned before on this blog, there really is nothing better for an author than being able to actually see or experience something for real. One of the best places to do that is at an outdoor museum, where they have reconstructed old buildings and environments so that the visitor can really experience what it would have been like to live there. Going to places like that feels like stepping back in time. Last week I found an excellent one – Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire here in the UK – and took a day trip to see it. Well worth a visit!

Low hangingButser features experimental archaeology with reconstructions of buildings from various different periods of early history in Britain. It was started on a different site in 1972 with the aim of setting up a working ‘ancient farm’ so that archaeologists could test out their theories as to how people lived and farmed in the Iron Age. There are different varieties of ancient crops grown, and they have rare animal breeds. The focus is on education and research, and loads of people visit every year, especially school children coming to learn about the past.

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HuzyefeTuranUnsplashby Mary Jo

When I was a kid in Western New York, tomatoes were just another vegetable.  I didn't grow them in my garden, and while there were plenty of farm stands with great produce, I don't remember tomatoes as being especially prominent. (Picture: Hyzeyfe Turcan))

Now I live in Maryland, where it is warmer and a there's a much longer growing season, and tomatoes are treated as almost a religious experience.  People (justly) rhapsodize about the heavenly taste of perfectly ripe Eastern Shore tomatoes and swap tips on where to buy the very best tomatoes. Which is important because there are a fair number of disappointing red imposters lurking under signs that say "Tomatoes."  (Developing tomatoes that ripen at the same time and are a uniform red might have been good for mass production, but in my experience, the texture is too often like Styrofoam.)


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Priory chapels and perpetual curates

Enrique_VIII_de_Inglaterra _por_Hans_Holbein_el_JovenPat here: I believe I promised you last time to talk about my research into the Anglican Church. We all know the history about Henry the Head Chopper who wanted a divorce and the pope refused to give him one, so he created his own church. That’s not what I researched. Instead, I spent hours trying to figure out if my isolated manor might have a chapel or a vicar or what on earth they did for Sunday services.

I wasn’t researching because I just wanted my folks praying. They were nicely handling that by reading the English Book of Common Prayer on a Sunday morning—in the ancient great hall that was once a priory chapel, before Henry’s men tore it down. But under the Marriage Act of 1753, one cannot marry without a real church and real clergyman (unless you’re a Quaker or Jewish), and that’s a bit of a problem in a mystery series with a lot of romance.

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