Monday, October 08, 2007

Ancient Quran

A 400-year-old handwritten copy of the Holy Quran is fetching offers of up to $4.3 million for its sale.The centuries-old copy of the central religious text of Islam belonged to a Yemeni Islamic scholar who gave the book to a Qatari national in Makkah during last year’s holy month of Ramadan, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Monday.Saeed Ali Al Suwaidi told the newspaper he may agree to part with the rare book if he receives a good offer. Three people have so far approached Al Suwaidi for the book, from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.
He was last offered a price tag of $4.3 million.The Yemeni scholar told Ali Suwaidi the book was a great calligraphic work that had taken five years to complete in 1034 Hijri, the Islamic year equivalent to 1624 CE."We began talking after a preliminary introduction. He told me that he had a rare copy of a Holy Quran. It was handwritten and a little less than 400 years old. He asked me if I would accept it for safekeeping," he told the newspaper, calling the manuscript ‘a proud possession’ and the most valuable asset in his life.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Goose Fair Nottingham

I went to Goose Fair today after 3 years with my daughter, there were times when everyone one of us in the family used to go all 3 days, but those were the days.....................!
Here's some history of Goose Fair.
With more than 700 years of history, Nottingham Goose Fair is one of Europe's most famous travelling fairs, and is still a fantastic event to delight all ages. Over 500 attractions await fair-goers, from the latest white knuckle experiences, family rides and favourites including waltzers, carousels and Hook-a-Duck.No one knows where Goose Fair got its name. Legend has it that it comes from the hundreds of geese, which were at one time driven from Lincolnshire and Norfolk to be sold in Nottingham. This may seem far fetched but it could well be true because the fair is held at the time of year when geese are in their prime and roast goose was for centuries a traditional Michaelmas treat.
But just think of the logistics of driving 20,000 or so of them on foot from the fens of Lincolnshire or Cambridgeshire, or even Norfolk! Apparently the trick was to coat the birds' feet with a mixture of tar and sand to protect them on the long journey. The drovers themselves did not have such luxuries and no doubt had the blisters to prove it.
Goose Fair was first mentioned in the Nottingham Borough Records of 1541. There, in the Chamberlain's accounts, is a reference to an allowance of Is 10d for 22 stalls taken by the city's two Sheriffs on Goose Fair Day. In the following year, John Trussell, the Steward of The Willoughby family at nearby Wollaton entered in his books an item of eight pence for the purchase of two pairs of traces at Goose Fair.
The King's CharterNo one knows how many centuries the fair existed before these references were made. The Charter of King Edward I, the first charter to refer to the city fairs, makes it clear that a fair on the Feast of St. Matthew was already established in Nottingham in 1284. It is possible this occasion has come down through the ages to be today's Goose Fair particularly as, until 1752, it was always held on St. Matthew's Day (September 21). On that day there was worship at what was then the tiny church of St. Mary.
The Danes had a settlement in Nottingham and it is very likely they established a market. As markets and fairs are known to have common origins, they may well have also held a fair. So, it is just possible that Goose Fair could have its roots in an event which occurred more than a thousand years ago. When the calendar was revised in 1752, omitting 11 days from September, the date of Goose Fair was switched to October 2 and this remained the starting date until 1875. The year of the calendar change was one of the few occasions Goose Fair was not held. The plague caused another cancellation in 1646 and it was put on ice during the two World Wars this century.
Smells of the FairPicture the scene at the Nottingham Goose Fair hundreds of years ago. The pungent smells and smoke of cookeries are rising above the Great Market Place (Old Market Square), with its sprawl of makeshift stalls and produce, and goods scattered all over the ground, against a backcloth of the Castle and St. Peter's Church, plainly visible because there are no towering buildings to obscure them.
Most of the food on offer is produced locally, much of it in the Vale of Belvoir or Trent Valley, for this is the age of the horse, with poor roads where they exist at all.
Cheese!Like all other fairs, the original purpose of Nottingham's autumn fair was trade and for many years it enjoyed a reputation for, of all things, its cheese! However, every fair contained some element of merry-making and it is very likely that from a very early date there were shows to amuse the crowds.During the nineteenth century, the character of Goose Fair changed considerably. With the coming of the railways, transport became easier and people no longer had to stock up with goods in the autumn against the risk of isolation during the dark days of winter.
Distribution and retailing also improved with shops stocking items all the year round which previously had only been available once a year from travelling merchants at fairs.
Ban on Merry-go-rounds!Gradually, more and more Nottingham folk began to look upon Goose Fair as just an excuse for a good time. However, Merry-Go-Rounds, referred to in a description of Bartholomew Fair in 1729, did not make an appearance in Nottingham until a hundred years later when they were promptly banned by the Town Council!
Some people also began to question the need to continue Goose Fair, they considered in particular that eight days was much too long for what had become a largely pleasure festival. So, in 1876 it was reduced to five days and, four years later, to three. However, these changes coincided with the introduction of more sophisticated roundabouts and amusement devices. Steam and, later on, electricity played an enormous part in their development.
By the turn of the century Goose Fair was already well on its way to becoming something of a national institution. For centuries, Goose Fair was held in the heart of the city on the Great Market Place in front of the Exchange. It gradually spread to other streets in the vicinity and, with the growth of traffic, there were complaints about congestion and disruption to the day to day life of the city.
However, all suggestions that it should be restricted even further or moved to a new site were rejected until the 1920s when the City Council decided to replace the Exchange and the Shambles to the rear with a new civic building, the Council House, and shops. More important, at least so far as the future of the fair was concerned, the civic authorities also thought the existing market place provided an inappropriate setting for such a grand new building.
So, the area was re-designed and in the new scheme of things there was no place for Goose Fair. On the Sunday evening before the last Fair in the Market Place, a public meeting of 12,000 people was held in the Square to protest about the move. Speakers included Pat Collins, President of the Showman's Guild, and a resolution was passed objecting to the move. Despite this public outcry, the Council stood firm and a new site was found in 1928.
In 1990, only the Snake Girl, boxing ring and Mouse Town were left from the tradtional rides. Today, Goose Fair is held on the Forest Recreation Ground, a mile or so to the north of the Old Market Square.
Thousands of people, from beggars and pickpockets to wealthy tradesmen looking for new stocks are crowded into the square, occupying roughly the same area as today but looking larger because the doorways of houses and shops lead directly on to it - there are no pavements or roads. There is a cacophony of noise as the shouts of tradesmen and farmers advertising their wares complete with the moos, bleats and cackle of farm stock and the chants and songs of minstrels and other entertainers.Jugglers, tumblers, dancers and men on stilts are performing wherever they can find the space. Freak animals - a five-footed sheep, a two-headed horse - are on show for a small entrance fee.
Some landmark dates:
1855 - The first big roundabout, Twigdon's Riding Machine, turned by hand, comes to the fair.
1877 - Wombwell's Menageries (see original poster, left) had 20 monster carriages, 57 great cart horses, 7,009 birds and animals and 53 employees
1888 - Professor Baldwin, the aeronaut, made the first parachute jump in Nottingham, from a balloon over Wollaton Park as part of the Goose Fair attractions. World champion trick cyclist W. G. Hurst did 50 tricks on a Beeston Humber bike
1892 - Professor England's Royal Exhibition of Performing Fleas .
Opening Times: Date: Times:
Wednesday 3 October
5.30 pm - 11.00 pm
Thursday 4 October
12 noon - 11.00 pm
Friday 5 October
11.00 am - 11.30 pm
Saturday 6 October
11.00 am - 11.00 pm
Location:Goose Fair is situated on the Forest Recreation Ground on the outskirts of Nottingham City Centre just off Mansfield Road (A60).The site is 11 miles from Junction 24, 9 miles from Junction 25 and 5 miles from Junction 26 of the M1 motorway.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I love "Magnolias" and while I'm learning more about them................

I'm far from being an expert. I'm not a horticulturist or a botanist or a nursery owner. I just love looking and collecting photographs of them. All that I know I've learned from reading and from personal experience.
I love to learn more about things which I like then write about them, so by nature I do research.
Magnolia is a large flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae The natural range of Magnolia species is rather scattered and includes eastern North America , Central America and the West Indies and east and southeast Asia, Some species are found in South America, Today many species of Magnolia and an ever increasing number of hybrids can also be found as ornamental trees in large parts of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The genus is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol ,
Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles . As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised pecimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating back to 95 million years ago. Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals. The term tepal has been coined to refer to the intermediate element that Magnolia has instead. Magnolias are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Giant Leopard Moth.
Magnolia grandiflora is a large evergreen tree which will grow 30 meters tall and 1.8 meters in trunk diameter
Twigs: Covered with rust colored hairs when young, but become smooth and stay rusty with age
Flower: Each 17.5 to 20 cm across with 6 to 12 petals which are creamy white, light & dark Pink, Deep Magenta, Yellow & Peach, Each flower is on a stout hairy stalk. They are very fragrant and appear in late spring and early summer
Fruit: "Cylindrical cone 3 to 4 inches (7.5-10 cm) long, purplish, turning rusty-brown with bright red, shiny seeds hanging from filamentous threads when mature in September and October"
Bark: Gray to brown coloring, smooth when young but becomes lightly furrowed into close, flat plates or scales,Bark is fragrant and bitter.
Form: "Dense, upright, pyrimidal form in sunlight for first 15 to 20 years becoming more irregular with advanced age. Loose open density in shade"
Flowers bloom from April to June, but in general the trees do not begin blooming until their seventh year.
Umbrella Magnolia is a small tree to 40 feet in height that can be distinguished by its very large leaves, which are 10-24 inches long by 6-9 inches wide. It is a rare tree found along the banks of rivers and streams in moist, fertile soil. The large flowers, which apperar in May, are creamy-white and 6-10 inches across with an unpleasant fragrance. Its only location in Indiana is in a ravine in a south-central border county.