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TEA: England’s favourite brew…

Tea, the Englishman’s favourite morning brew was discovered by the Emperor of China in 2737BC, and was drunk because of its herbal medicinal qualities.

In the Western Zhou Dynasty it was used as a religious offering, and during the Han Dynasty (202BC-AD220) tea was only for royalty and the rich. 

Then in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) with more tea plants available, so tea became more widely drank by the masses.  During this period Japanese priests who studied in China, are known to have introduced tea into Japan.

Tea has been associated with Zen Buddhism in Japan, and used in the aid of meditation.  Later these Buddhists created a “Japanese Tea Ceremony” a sacred and spiritual way of drinking tea.

The Emperor of Japan had tea imported from China, making it more widely available.

In the 17th century King Charles II of England married Catherine of Braganza a Portuguese princess, and tea was introduced into England.

This new beverage; tea, became the drink of royalty and was imported through the East India Company, who also exported tea to America, which was heavily taxed and contributed to the “Boston Tea Party.”

England’s common people could get tea at coffee houses from 1657, and the British Government taxed the tea, and coffee houses required a license to serve it.

With high taxes on tea, this led to tea smuggling, as the demand was high.  With “The Commutation Act of 1784” tax on tea was lowered and the demand for tea smuggling ceased.

Anna the Duchess of Bedford introduced the custom of afternoon tea in the early 1800’s a tradition that remains to this day.

Over the centuries, many teas have been blended to meet the peoples need and taste.  We have the Earl Grey and Darjeeling for the connoisseur through to the traditional teas, found in most food stores.

Donald Campbell: A Life of Speed

Donald Campbell was born on 23rd March 1921, in Kingston-upon-Thames, destined to break speed records much like his father.  Malcolm Campbell holder of thirteen speed records attained in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and mother Dorothy Evelyn nee Whittall.

Donald volunteered for the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of World War II, but was turned down on medical grounds.  He then became a maintenance engineer whilst employed at Briggs Motor Bodies of West Thurrock.

Malcolm Campbell, died in 1948, and with the assistance of his father’s chief engineer; Leo Villa.  Donald carried on his father’s work, breaking speed records.

Donald opted to use his father’s old boat, the legendary Bluebird K4, on Coniston Waters in Lancashire in 1951.  Sadly the bluebird suffered from structural failure at 170mph, and forced him to develop a revolutionary new boat, which would exceed this speed and more.

Bluebird K7 designed by Ken and Lew Norris was an all-metal jet propelled hydroplane, with a Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl jet engine.  She was unveiled in late 1954, and following modifications set a record speed of 202.15mph on Ullswater, Westmorland in the Lake District on 23rd July 1955.

Campbell set a total of seven world water speed records in the Bluebird K7, between 1955 and 1964, culminating on the 31st December 1964 at Dumbleyung Lake, Western Australia, where he reached a speed of 276.33mph.

He gained much acclaim for himself and his country, and was awarded a CBE in January 1957.

In 1956, Campbell began planning a car to break the land speed record, which currently stood at 394mph.  The Norris brothers designed the Bluebird-Proteus CN7, completed by spring of 1960, powered by a Bristol-Siddeley Proteus free-turbine engine. Following low speed tests at Goodwood circuit in England, he took the CN7 to the Bonneville Salt flats in America, where his first attempt failed, and he was seriously hurt in the accident.  By 1961 he was well on the road to recovery, planning his next attempt … nothing would stand in his way.

The rebuilt car was completed in 1962, his preferred location was Lake Eyre in Australia, but weather conditions meant the attempt did not take place until 1964, setting a record speed of 429mph.  Campbell was disappointed; he was looking for speeds closer to the 500mph.

Donald Campbell’s need for speed, called for a supersonic car, designed by the Norris Brothers, with the Bristol Siddeley BS605 rocket engines.

In order to increase publicity for his rocket car venture, in the spring of 1966, Campbell tried once again with the Bluebird K7, for a water speed record.  Fitted with the Bristol Orpheus engine, taken from a Folland Gnat jet aircraft.

On the 4th January 1967, the first run achieved an average speed of 297.60mph.  The next run reached a speed of 328mph.  Then the Bluebird executed a somersault, and cart wheeled across the water as the Bluebird K7 broke apart; Donald Campbell would have been killed instantly.  Royal Navy Divers, found Campbells teddy bear mascot and helmet, but after two weeks, the search for his body was called off.

The cause of the crash has been put down to the Bluebird K7 exceeding its aerodynamic static stability limit, complicated by the additional destabilizing influences of loss of engine thrust.

On 28th January 1967 Cambell was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.  For his courage and determination in attacking the world speed record.

Between October 2000 and May 2001 the Bluebird K7 was raised from its watery grave, and Campbells body was found, still wearing his blue nylon overalls. 

Donald Campbell was interred in Coniston Cemetery on 12th September 2001, after his coffin was carried down the lake, on a launch one last time.

Chess: A Game of Wits…

The white pawn
steps boldly forward,
crossing the board
square by square.

The knight leaps forward
to the left and right,
with protection in mind
is the name of the game.

With a cunning response
the Queen bursts forth,
as the King falls
and Check-Mate is called.

The Vicarage Murder’s

I took a seat inside the quaint looking tea shop in Barisgough, as indicated by the waitress, with its white painted walls and old timbered beams.”What can I get you sir” the sweet young waitress asked, in her prim and proper voice.

“I’ll have a pot of tea and a slice of that thick chocolate cake in the window,” I replied.

Let me introduce myself, I am Richard Robinson English Historian, attached to Edinburgh University. I’m on holiday I told the waitress, looking at old churches, but according to this old guide book there should be a church in the area called St.Martin’s.  But I see no signs directing me to it, could you tell me where it is?”

At that moment, the busy tea rooms went quiet, not a sound was uttered, I could have cut the atmosphere with a knife, and I wondered what was wrong?

An elderly woman sitting on the next table, looking rather distinguished, said, “the old church you are inquiring about has been the scene of many bad happening’s there, and is currently locked up,” she replied in a fearful voice.

“Is there anyone in the village who could tell me about the events that took place,” I asked quietly.

“Not here!  But you could seek out the churchwarden he has been around during the good and bad times,” she replied in a quiet voice trying not to alarm others.

“Where would I find him,” I enquired quietly.

“You will find him in his house adjoining the new church, St.Mathews on the Green.  Just down the road, take the left fork, but take heed the old Church and Vicarage should not be entered by any person who fears for their soul,” she stated in a meaningful manner.

Shortly afterwards, I paid for my tea and left the tea shop heading down the road to seek out the church warden, all the time wondering about the warning the old lady had given me and why the mention of the old church put fear in the locals.

As I rounded the corner, I observed an elderly gentleman with a grey beard, sitting in his garden drinking his tea.  I slowly strode over to him.  “Are you the church warden of this Parish?”  I asked in an enquiring manner.

“Yes sir!  I am the churchwarden Mr Bracks, how can I be of assistance,” he asked.

“Brack, my name is Richard Robinson and I am an Historian.  I called in at the ‘Oaks’ Tea Shop, while there I was informed something awful happened at St.Martin’s Church many years ago, and if I wanted to know more I should seek you out,” I said in a thoughtful voice.

“You’re right about bad things taking place there,” he replied.

“Would you tell me about the events,” I asked.

He stood quietly for a moment in deep contemplation about what I had asked of him, rubbing his beard and then he slowly turned his head and said.

“Not out here, come on in and join me for a cup of tea while I tell you what happened there, which leaves a sour taste in the mouth, when you think of the events.” He said in a sorrowful voice.

From all the available information I have attained over the years, St.Martin’s Church has been closed these past twenty years or more.  This followed the death of the last vicar who took his life by hanging himself from the rafters of the Bell Tower in 1972.  The police could find no motive to explain why he took his own life.  However, the local people said the vicar was bewitched of the devil and from that day forth the church has remained closed, and no one dared set forth within.

The events of 1972 forced the diocese into the building of a small church elsewhere in the village by popular demand.  As the residents were travelling eight miles up the road to the village of Brexford to join with them, rather than set forth in St.Martin’s Church.

“Didn’t the diocese try to reopen the old church,” I asked.

“Yes they did but no one dared enter they just stood there, but would not walk onto church grounds, which resulted in the church being closed up for good.  “The site is now overgrown,” stated Mr Bracks.

“To the surprise of the locals, the vicarage that had remained closed for the previous 10 years was sold  off to a Broadmere Housing Association in 1982.”

“But why, taking into account the past events?” I asked.

“To offset the money spent in building a new church.” Bracks replied.

The new owners had the place renovated and made available for short or long stay renting.  Over the next six years, it had many tenants, but no one stayed more than a few months.  They reported they could see the late vicar preparing his sermons in his study, while others tell of ghosts who walk through walls, or items of furniture moving from one side of the room to another.  This confirmed the suspicion of the locals that the building must surely be haunted just like the old church.

Things changed in 1988 when a Scottish family the James’s took up residence with their three children Michael 14, Benjamin 12, and Christina 15.  The locals feared for their safety based on past events, but things seemed to be all right by all accounts.  They were a quiet family who kept to themselves.

Very little was known about them except they both worked for the Civil Service and their children attended boarding school, and were seen walking around the village during the school holidays.

They seemed very happy at the old vicarage for the first few years.  Then came that fateful day in 1991.  The silence of the village was shocked by the sounds of gunshots coming from the old vicarage.  I heard the sounds and immediately rang the police and gradually ventured over there to investigate, wondering all the time what I might find.  The local constable PC Roberts met me at the door to the vicarage and we entered together to see what had been going on.  When we saw signs of blood on the walls, I was informed I could not enter but to wait outside.  PC Roberts entered the property and found that Elizabeth and William James had been shot where they slept.  Michael was found in the hallway, lying in a pool of blood.  While Christina was sprawled across her bed having been shot in the chest.  Finally, the constable entered Benjamin’s room, only to find him holding a shotgun covered in blood.  Young Benjamin sat on the side of his bed in a state of shock.  When the officer asked what had been going on, Benjamin replied by saying the Ghost of the vicarage had told him to do this if he wanted to receive eternal life.

Slowly PC Roberts took the shotgun away from Benjamin and wrapped it in a sheet.  I was asked to enter and stay with Benjamin while he contacted the C.I.D. at Norwich for assistance in this matter.

Within an hour officers arrived at the scene and the area was cordoned off, Forensic Teams and the Medical Examiner attended the site and collected data.  Each body was photographed in the position they lay, also determining how and when they were killed approximately.  Afterwards the bodies were removed to the local Hospital Morgue where the Autopsy would be performed on each of the bodies.

Over the next few weeks, the village became the hive of activity.  If it wasn’t the police it was the press wanting to know what had happened in this peaceful rural village to turn a quiet boy into a murderer over night.

“What happened to Benjamin,” I asked.

The officers had him removed to the local Hospital for examination, but he was eventually detained at the David Rice Mental Hospital under police guard while the investigation was going on.

“Do you know he didn’t utter a single word all the time he was under police guard at the hospital,” he said in a surprising manner.

“I suppose it was the shock of what he had done.”

Following his release from Hospital, young Benjamin was taken to Markham Street Police Station in Norwich to be questioned about the events of the fateful shooting.  Due to his age, he was represented by a Social Worker, but that didn’t really matter because he never uttered a word in response to their questions.  Occasionally he shrugged his shoulders according to what I read in the papers at the time.  The officers

questioning him new it was an open and shut case, and he was charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

The question is, was he a murderer or an innocent victim!  The villagers couldn’t believe what had happened and questioned if this has anything to do with what happened in late 1972, when the late Rev James Patterson took his own life in the church many years ago.  Benjamin was detained in police custody at Malen Juvenile Centre in Norwich.

From the day of the dreadful killings, journalists were hanging around the police station trying to get pictures of the murderer or victim!

During the days, leading up to his trial a large amount of information about the case was not released to the press for fear of the press swaying the verdict before the trial.  Since the prosecution’s case against the boy was so overwhelmingly strong, they believed it would not be fair to all concerned.

But Benjamin was only 15 at the time, he was too young to be tried in an adult’s court; therefore, the magistrates had him brought before a juvenile court to answer the charges being laid against him.  For the whole of the proceedings, he just sat in his chair and said nothing, one after one the police and medical experts were questioned and he had a blank look on his

“Had he any idea what was going on?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” Bracks replied.

It was hard to imagine this young innocent looking boy was responsible for the act of murder on four counts.  What could have driven him to do it, or did he do it, if so why?

Finally, the Juvenile court had to decide what was to be done with young Benjamin?

“Benjamin do you have anything to say before I pass sentence on you?” he asked.

“Yes I do,” Benjamin replied speaking for the first time since that dreadful day.  “The Ghost, the late Rev James Patterson, had told me to commit this act if I wanted to receive eternal life.”

The question left in the villager’s minds, was Benjamin guilty of this crime, or was he another victim?  Only one person can tell us, but alas he has not spoken since the trial.

Benjamin James you are hereby sentenced to life in a Mental Institution with no option for parole.

When sentence was passed on Benjamin, he just smiled, which surprised most people at the proceedings.

“Have you seen him since the trial,” I asked in an inquiring manner.

“Yes, I have, I attend the Hospital once a month, but it is no use he just sits there, occasionally he smiles, but says nothing. It’s a sad sight to see a once happy boy turned murderer now condemned to a life in a mental institution!”

Space: Aegis One

Earth was a dream
an impossible dream,
that surely didn’t matter
for Earth was home.

Nothing was more powerful
than that homing instinct.

Sailing, flying, hitch-hiking
their way towards Earth.

No matter what happens
I had to chase the dream.

After all, that was what
being human, was all about.

Roman Gladiator…

Laid out before me
a fallen gladiator lies,
he leans upon his hand
still grasping at his sword.

He consents to death
as the crowd calls for his blood,
the Emperor, acknowledges the crowd
and the signal is given.

I thrust my sword
into his open wound,
blood gushes from his wound
seeping into the ground.

The arena swirls around him
his life, taken from him,
brutally slain, on Emperor’s orders
for the amusement of the crowd.

Royal Love Affair: Henry and Anne

This poem is dedicated to King Henry VIII and his love affair, his scandalous affair with Anne Boleyn, his future Queen who would betray him.

Henry’s eyes fell upon Anne
this beauty, within his court,
out of lust, he desired her
taking her, to his bed.

A secret alliance took place
much to Henry, and Anne’s delight,
then she announced, she be with child
and Henry, be the child’s father.

Anne sought to blackmail her King
promising him a male heir,
that which his current Queen
had failed to deliver.

Henry cast aside his Queen
as Anne Boleyn, became his new Queen,
she who had promised a male heir
gave birth to a future Queen.

Henry felt betrayed by her
as his interest in her wavered,
eyes wandering around his court
seeking out a replacement Queen.

Anne committed acts of treason
against husband and King,
found guilty of the charges
receiving the ultimate sentence.

Anne paid penance, with her life
for acts of treason, against her King,
walking the lonely path
to the executioners’ block.

English Martyr: Thomas Beckett

Man of God and King
friends to the end,
became bitter enemies
as church, opposed the King.

Loyal warriors of Henry II
carried out, the King’s wishes,
to rid him of this man
one; Thomas Becket.

They killed him
this man of God,
they murdered him
upon his altar.

Penance was demanded
from King and knights,
for the life of Thomas Becket
a true martyr, to his faith.

Jack the Ripper… Strikes again.

Jack the Ripper
walks London streets,
seeking out his prey
a lady of the night.

In the dead of night
as the city shuts down,
fear and panic sets in
as Ripper’s reign continues.

As the morning sun bursts forth
and London, comes alive,
another victim has fallen
to the murderer; Jack the Ripper!

Knights Templar & Scotland’s Freemasons

King Philip IV of France and his puppet; Pope Clement V, successfully brought about the end of the Knights Templar on the 13th October 1307, arresting its members and the seizure of its assets.  It is believed many of its knights, evaded capture, and fled to Scotland.

Scotland was involved, battling against the English, to claim Scotland’s Independence, led by Robert the Bruce against King Edward II of England.

Robert the Bruce, granted these outlawed Knights sanctuary, who took shelter in the Scottish highlands, and would come embroiled into the local lifestyle of its people.

Seven years past, the “Battle of Bannockburn” in 1314.  Historical legend tells us the Scots were outnumbered, and as English warriors had gained the upper hand in the battle, the tide turned in favour of the Scots.  Mounted cavalry men in full armour bore down upon the English, giving victory to the Scots.  Many believed they be the outlawed Knights Templar warriors, saying thank you for granting them sanctuary.

Robert the Bruce had led Scotland to victory, defeating the English at the Battle of Bannockburn,” and achieving Scottish Independence. 

He went on to commemorate that day, with the creation of the Order of Heridom and the Brothers of the Rosy Cross (Rosicrucian), later known as the “Order of Kilwinning,” Scotland’s first Masonic Order with Robert the Bruce as its first Grand Master.

The St.Clairs of Rosslyn we Knights Templar and Scotlands Freemasons re appointed as hereditary protectors of the King and Crown Prince, under the Order of Heridom of Kilwinning, the first Scottish lodge of the Masons in Scotland.

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