Zebedee Peskett

LITTLEHAMPTON 25 APRIL 2015 (8)What a wonderful name, Zebedee Peskett! In Sussex where he lived, Peskett was not a common name, but there were several families who had it, spelled in slightly different ways. Zebedee was born  in 1811 to Edward and Susannah and had several brothers and sisters, including Frederick, maria Frances, Mary  Ann, Matilda and Philip. He was a smith; his wife was Eliza and he had several children and he died in 1892 at the age of eighty!


How times change!

When I find an old cookery book, it isn’t just the recipes which are interesting, it’s the introductions and instructions which fascinate. They so often show how times have changed, much more than the recipe which often seems very contemporary in many ways. In this book, published in 1935, the first page is about kitchen equipment; I can’t imagine a modern cookery book having a section like that. ‘The gas stove’, ‘The Electic Stove’. Oil Stoves’, ‘Coal Cookers’. ‘Slow Combustion Stoves’, and ‘An Open Fireplace’ – because of course in 1935, many people would still have been cooking over an open fire.

When it is desired to economise, it is possible to do a certain amount of cooking by any open fireplace or with some gas fires  by means of a new kind of trivet. Instead of the usual small and wobbly concern, this trivet has legs which support one end while the other rests over the front of the grate. If desired, two of these trivets could be used, one holding a steamer with pudding or vegetables or both, with the other holding a casserole with a joint of meat. In this way cooking and heating are done at the same time.

It is interesting that in this economical way of cooking, there might be a joint of meat as the meal – these days if we were economising we would do without meat completely, whatever our method of cooking our meal. I would guess that very few of us have an option to use an open fire, with or without trivets!




Free tree?

I never intended to write more than a single novel about the Radwinter family, and yet somehow, there are now three novels about their searches for their family history… and actually, there are a couple of unanswered questions, unsolved mysteries, loose ends in the last novel which may suggest there is more to come…

What has occurred to me is that with the novels being genealogical mysteries, there’s an awful lot of reference material which it’s not possible to include, especially as I write e-books, published on Kindle. It would be my dream to have real books published, how I’d love to see my titles on a shelf in a bookshop! So what I was wondering in a fuzzy way, was whether to gather all the family tree information together in a readable and understandable form, and publish it as an accompanying booklet. In the first novel, Radwinter, there is also a lot of information about census returns, and the process one might use to search genealogical sites and do research – obviously I have a fictitious genealogical site, and the census information on my characters made up, a complete fiction…

Publishing a free Radwinter handbook is a really fleeting thought but I may return to it and consider it more seriously… when I have time, of course!


One of the first longer things it wrote was a science-fiction story; it was about space travel and the length of time it would take to travel anywhere, generation after generation maybe. I can’t remember it all now, but it was written when the only place to research anything was the local library, so I spent a lot of time there, looking up such things as the speed of light, and the sort of hormones which make people age… at least, I think that was what I was doing.

I’ve never been tempted to write science fiction again, and I don’t even read it,although growing up it was my favourite genre. However, when I see the strange pattens that lichen forms itself into, I often think it looks like a sort of map; I begin to ponder on the sort of place it would be, the country and its terrain and nature and animal life… I can see seas and lakes and rivers… I see all sorts of features.

Here is a stone globe from Chiddingstone Castle… maybe the world is suffering an ice age since the seems vast empty spaces, maybe it has been decimated by its inhabitants carelessness with their environment, maybe it is just a very watery world… I don’t think I will be tempted to write about it, but if I ever get bored with what I’m doing, well, you never know!


We visited Lewes

We visited Lewes while we were on our family holiday; I once had a friend who moved there from Cambridge when we were eleven, and we kept in touch for many years from the age of eleven. Unfortunately we lost touch before the internet…

Lewes is in Sussex, a pretty little town, and like many places along the southern part of the county there is evidence that there were people living here from earliest times, followed by the Romans. However, it may well have been the Saxons who gave the town its name. The castle was built in 1067, the year after the Norman Conquest, and it was built by King William’s brother Odo – obviously Odo wasn’t there actually constructing the castle with his own hands, he was Bishop of Bayeux and he no doubt planned and supervised the building. Maybe he didn’t do very well, because the King himself took over. It is an unusual castle as it has two mottes, and strategically it was very important to the King, securing a route to the coast.

KENT 2015 (83)

I have written before about the  Battle of Lewes which was fought 750 years ago on 14 May 1264, between King Henry III and Simon de Montfort. Henry lost the battle and for a while de Montfort was in effect the ruler of England. Another terrible incident was the burning of seventeen Protestant martyrs during the reign of Queen Mary – known as Bloody Mary, and for good reason!

KENT 2015 (80)An attractive little town which I’d love to go back to and explore some more!

KENT 2015 (81)

Elfish, elfin, elvish…

I was busy writing when I had to stop to think whether I meant elfin or elfish… was there a difference? If there was, what was it? What I meant was that a character had a strange sort of smile, like an elf might have. I am not very up on fairies and elves and pixies, and other such creatures; what I do know mostly comes from when I was in the Brownies and we were divided up into ‘sixes’ each with a different name – I was fairy and we had to sing a little song ‘We’re the fairies bright and gay, helping others every day’… I somehow think that lyric might not still be sung today! The elves in my Brownies sang ‘here we come the laughing elves, helping others not ourselves’. This clearly shows the plural of elf to be elves, but does that mean the adjective should be elvish?

The word ‘elf’ comes from distant times and is Germanic, meaning originally a supernatural being; it appears in Old English meaning a sprite or a fairy, and there are quite a few Anglo-Saxon names which include it,   Alfred, Alvin, Alfric, for example. There might have been another meaning ‘white’, someone with pale skin or pale hair, maybe.  From the sixteenth century it began to have a human connotation, meaning a troublesome person.

A big change in the understanding of the word happened when Tolkien published his work; suddenly not only did elves come to prominence in our consciousness, but they had a language too, created by Tolkien. This language is Elvish… maybe that is where I am getting in a confusion between elfish and elvish; I think I will describe my character as ‘elfin’… I’m sure bno=-one will comment on it!