Monday, January 30, 2012

The Battle of May Island, Jan 31st, Scotland 1918.

The Isle of May; Firth of Forth Estuary. Tranquil. A bird and seal sanctuary.

But on the evening of 31st January, 1918, it was the site of one of the biggest Royal Naval disasters in Scottish history.

On this dark and foggy night, two fleets of ships and submarines set out from Rosyth naval base, bound for Scapa Flow, and exercise "Operation EC1". A mission so secret, even the normal Royal Navy minesweepers had no idea it was happening.

To avoid German u-boats, they travelled dark, just one light on.

The line of ships and submarines on the surface stretched thirty miles.

But as they passed the Isle of May, submarine K-14 veered to miss a minesweeper, and was hit by K-22, and sank. Then the Battlecruiser, HMS Inflexible, hit K-22, taking her bows clean off. HMS Fearless led the next flotilla, and hit submarine K-17, which also sank immediately. Fifty-six men made it to the surface, waiting to be rescued. Battlecruiser HMAS Australia narrowly missed K-12, then K-6, swerving to avoid, hit K-4, cutting her in half, sinking with all hands, only after being hit by K-7 on the way down.

Then, as if there hadn't been enough bloodshed, a whole fleet sailed through the area, battleships and destroyers, churning the surviving men of K-17 to pieces.

270 brave sailors died that night. 2 submarines sank, four severely damaged.

On their way to an exercise.

This whole macabre disaster was kept secret till the 1990's.

It reads like a scene from the Whacky Races, but what a tragedy.

For a complete list of the K-class (Kalamity) submarines, and their mishaps, take a look at this blog...

Thank you all for your interest.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ancient Rome and the Scottish Celts

Scotland 80AD. We read in the writings of Tacitus, that the celts were a backward, barbaric race.

Anything civilized in the country came from Rome.

Yet look at the craftsmanship in this beaten copper shield. (Dated 200BC)

It was obviously nailed onto a wooden back for strength, maybe even had a spike in the middle boss.

The celtic swirls and leaf pattern is mirror image perfect.

The simple act of making the beaten copper sheet to begin with is quite astonishing for something that is 2200 years old.

Friday, January 20, 2012

FBI, Assault Rifles, and Salem Witch Trials

As a writer, I am usually very particular when it comes to detail. I remember researching Colt AR45 assault rifles one day. The cost, manufacturers codes, cost on the second hand market.
Then! It suddenly occured to me that I might be getting monitored by the FBI or something.
Just because I wanted my writings to be as correct possible.
So... I am currently working on a vampire novel set in Boston, 1700. (Yeah, I know, everybody does one, but to qualify, I have to do one too).
My main character had to find help to track down his latest vampire foe. So, looking for inspiration, I researched the govermental figures.
Who did I find?
Governor of Massachusets, William Stoughton.
Might not ring an instant bell, but here's what excited me.
William Stoughton was the primary Judge in the Salem Witch Trials, in 1692/3. So, not only had I settled who was the governor, but also... my vampire-hunting character in Boston, 1700, might have a friend in high places.
And, let's face it, all vampire-hunters need one of those.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Romans Invade Lowland Scotland

"Women, Children and Minorities effected most."
In two separate incidents, two legions of the Roman Empire invaded Lowland Scotland yesterday.
The local tribes were given no warning in this unprovoked attack, and a written protest would have been submitted if they'd had a written language at the time.

Cries of "Terrorist" were screamed from the southerly ramparts as thousands of Scots were unceremonially put to the sword. Scholars cried; "Nemo me impune lacessit." and stonemasons immediately sprung into action to record the phrase.

In a statement to the Scottish press, their leader Julius Agricola said this; "We don't care; you are as carrion, who should be swept from this glorious Isle"
I paraphrase, of course.

On a more local level; Ian Hall's fourth volume of the Roman invasion will soon be available in Kindle form.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Traditional Scottish Lentil Soup. (Curried) Curry.

A healthy choice, but no foo-foo. This is repeated for the fans who flock to the recipe.
Just a great recipe for traditional Scottish Lentil Soup.
Great for the cold winter nights.
Ingredients; 1lb carrots, 1 lb Rutabaga (turnip/neeps), 1lb potatoes, 4oz RED lentils, 1 Onion, 4 chicken stock cubes (if in the USA, buy Knorr Pollo mexican, they're cheaper.... see, told you I was Scottish)
(For Tomato and Lentil soup, just add two tins chopped tomatoes at the start, and reduce water by 1 pint)
Method; Bring to boil 3 pints of water with the stock cubes. Chop Carrots, Rutabaga, and onion; add to the boiling stock, cover, and boil sharply for an hour. Turn down the heat, add chopped Potatoes and RED lentils, boil gently for an hour, stirring frequently.
(NEW PART) Liquidise half the soup. Just half. You can do it with a full food processor, or just a plunge blender.
So now... That's the soup ready..... for wimps!
(Or traditionalists; The soup is actually ready to eat at this point, and totally traditional Scottish fare.)
Now for the 'special' ingredients;
You can add....... 2 tablespoons curry powder..... for Curried Lentil Soup.
You can add....... 5 tablespoons curry powder..... for REALLY Curried Lentil Soup.
You can add....... a huge dollop of A1 sauce, Worcester sauce, (or any other stuff you might think appeals).
Parmesan cheese is good, ginger spice, turmeric, saffron, absinthe, ground mammoth tusks, whatever warms the cockles of your heart.
And whatever you do, DON'T listen to the idiots that think you can make this with any old lentils.... I'm a Manchester United Supporter.... THEY HAVE TO BE RED LENTILS!!!
(Please trust me on this... I don't have shares in the "Red Lentil Co.")
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