Thursday, 29 September 2011

18th Century Drinks

New drinks were invented in the 18th century. Vermouth was invented in Italy in the 18th century. Guinness was first brewed in Dublin in 1759. Bourbon whiskey was first distilled in 1789.

In the 18th century tea became cheaper and huge amounts were imported from China. The British became a nation of tea drinkers.

Carbonated water the first fizzy drink was invented in 1772 by Joseph Priestley, who discovered how to trap carbon dioxide in water.  

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


The Romans liked condiments and they made many sauces for their food. One of the most common was a fish sauce called liquamen. The Romans also grew mustard and they introduced it into the parts of Europe they conquered. They also made mint sauce.

In the Middle Ages mustard was a popular condiment in Europe. At first English mustard consisted of coarse powder and it was not very strong. However in 1720 a Mrs Clements of Durham began making a much smoother mustard powder. When mixed with water to make paste it was very hot but it proved to be popular and Durham became a centre of the mustard industry. (For centuries mustard was used as a medicine as well as a food).


Monday, 26 September 2011


Recently oil was discovered off the coast of Cambodia. That country suffered terribly under the tyrant Pol Pot but it is recovering and hopefully oil and tourism will boost the economy. Cambodia does have a long and fascinating history. I wrote about it at I also wrote a timeline of Cambodia at

Saturday, 24 September 2011

24 September

On 24 September 1960 the first nuclear powered carrier the USS Enterprise was launched. On this day in 1852 the world’s first powered and controlled flight took place when Jules Henri Giffard flew a hydrogen filled airship powered by a steam engine. If you were born today you share your birthday with F Scott Fitzgerald. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Meanwhile in Britain during the Second World War women sometimes used the silk from parachutes to make knickers.

Then in 1949 an American tennis player named Gertrude Moran or Gussie Moran (1923-) caused a sensation when she appeared at Wimbledon wearing frilly knickers. She was called Gorgeous Gussie and it was very daring in 1949!  

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Historical Life Expectancy

I get tired of reading this nonsense: In the past 9 out of 10 people died before the age of 40. Historians think life expectancy was about 35 years in the Middle Ages. However that does not mean that people dropped dead when they reached 35!  Average life expectancy at birth was around 35 but many of the people born died in childhood. We don't know exactly what percentage died but probably about 25% of people died before they were 5 years old and as many as 40% died before they reached adulthood. However if you could survive childhood and your teenage years you had a good chance of living to your 50s or your early 60s and even in the Middle Ages some people  lived to 70 or 80.  

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


I have written a history of London at It was said that the story of York is the story of England but I would say that was true of London. Its history very much reflects the history of the whole country.