The Danish museum group has published a catalogue of their finds, which means 100,000 pictures. It’s freely available, open access, and it includes archaeological glass beads from Ribe, among many, many more things.

Not all finds have pictures yet, and you will have to search in Danish, but it definitely is worth a look. (“Tekstil” is the correct spelling for textiles.) So… go check out the catalogue of the Sydvestjyske Museer!

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I like to travel. I especially like to travel by train – there are comfy seats, you can eat and drink and read or work or knit. There’s no pesky security check circus where you have to empty all your liquid containers, there’s no arriving at least an hour before your transport actually leaves, and it’s much more friendly to the environment.

Yes, it can be a tad nerve-wracking if a train has a delay, but so can a plane. Or a car.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of being invited to a conference in Leiden, and I was utterly delighted to find that I can travel there with a night train. It did take some creative routing (I’m first going south-east, to catch the night train at a sensible place and time, before heading north-west in it), but it turned out to be both cheaper than a flight and, for me, train journeys are always more pleasant and relaxing. So I will be sleeping while magically being transferred from Passau to Düsseldorf…

Years ago, I already used the night train to get to Copenhagen, and that was a wonderful way to travel. So I was devastated when the Deutsche Bahn gave up their night trains; now I’ve found that the ÖBB (the Austrian train service) does run their NightJet across quite a bit of Germany as well. And then I found that there are, indeed, quite a lot of night trains running in Europe. So maybe, maybe I’ll be able to turn the trip to NESAT in Finland next year into a train trip with a daytime stopover to visit one or two of the northern cities…

If you’re curious now, here’s some resources:

The Man in Seat 61 is an info site about train travels in Britain and Europe;
Night Trains has information about the various routes, and most importantly a map of current night train connections;
for those of you reading German, there’s a blog called Train Tracks that offers hints and info on train travel, and some info about night trains;
and finally you can also use the Interrail Website to find out about night trains in all of Europe.

By the way, I’ve read a few weeks ago that the Deutsche Bahn is actually considering to re-introduce the night trains… which would be glorious!

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The last bit of what we did in London – we managed to finally, finally go see a show in the Globe Theatre. I’ve wanted to do this for ages now, ever since I heard about the theatre, back when I was still studying in Bamberg. However, I’m not in London that utterly often, and the times I happened to be there in the past were usually outside the Globe’s season, or there was just no time at all to go there. This time, however, it did work out, and we went to see the Merry Wives of Windsor. The play was nice, there was tea, the theatre was very much an experience as well, and so overall, it was fantastic.

What I found especially impressive was the performance of one actor – Bryan Dick. The actor that was supposed to be on stage was indisposed, so they had to fill this gap with someone… obviously. The audience was duly informed of this by someone coming on stage telling us before the play started, and there was also a note outside (which I didn’t see until afterwards).

What I didn’t realise at first was that the role would be read… either I didn’t catch this bit, or the announcer did not explicitly state this. Anyway, it took me a long while to realise that the man holding a few sheets of paper in his hand did not hold stage props, but they were actually the text in case he’d need it. If not for the paper, I wouldn’t have been able to tell who the stand-in would have been. So – very, very impressive performance, and I’ll happily go see more things in the Globe if I can, in future visits to London. (The only not-so-enjoyable thing was, by the way, the planes going overhead, with quite a bit of noise… but that can hardly be avoided in an open air setting close to an airport.)

We also went to see another thing that had piqued my interest, also already a good while ago: The musical “Matilda”. While I didn’t know a thing about the story, which was originally written by Roald Dahl, I did know that Tim Minchin wrote the music… and since I vastly enjoy his music, that was on my list of interesting things one might sort of stumble into if one could. And we did. With a dash of luck, we got the two last leftover side-by-side seats in the theatre, and it was utterly glorious – the stage setting alone, and how it was used in the different scenes, would have been worth a visit, not to mention the choreography and the music. Ah, the music. Here, have a snippet:

All the song lyrics are very, very much Minchin, and so is the music. I found it vastly enjoyable and now have lots of new earworms.

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So – I told you about the study day, and how wonderful it was. So wonderful, in fact, that I could have easily spent a second and even a third day doing a study day, but alas, it was just that single day.

Which meant that, since it would be a shame to travel to London just for one single day, I obviously had to come a little earlier, and to make up for that, stay a bit longer. Bonus: the most patient of all husbands did tag along with me – so we did some exploring of the city.

On Friday, we went to join one of the Fridays-for-Future demonstrations. This was full, with a huge crowd with lots and lots of different signs. There were quite a lot of speeches (of which we didn’t catch much), and rather a lot of fluctuation of people coming in and going away again. It was good to see a lot of people, with obviously different backgrounds and at many different stages in life stand there and support the movement for greater sustainability in our world, to make a future without an apocalypse possible. It was, however, also a bit sad to see the rubbish bins in the park where the event took place overflow with plastic and single-use disposable cups. When we arrived, we went to get a coffee, and in the line before us, a lady with two small children also got herself two hot beverages – in to-go cups. She then proceeded to join the demonstration.

Incongruencies like this did come up several times during our stay. Like in the V&A, which makes a lot of noise about how they use their coffee grounds to grow mushrooms that are then served in their restaurant, so that the coffee grounds are not going into a landfill. There’s a whole exhibition about sustainable food… and yet, in their garden café, there’s disposable cups only. That was sort of disappointing for me.

On a much more positive note: We happened to meet Ben Wilson, aka the “Chewing Gum Man”, an artist who paints on chewing gum (which is not public property, and thus can be painted on without legal issues…). We had noticed the small, colourful bits on the Millenium Bridge before, so it was extra nice to meet the artist behind them.

Ben paints a lot of different things on the gums, depending on their size and shape – from turning them into little animals…

… to using roundish ones as a canvas for all sorts of pictures…

… to sort of steampunky things.

Ben has run a kickstarter to help fund a book about the chewing gum art; the campaign is over, but you can still have a look at what he does, including pictures that are much better than my snapshots on the Kickstarter page. It also includes links to interviews with him.

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Time to tell you about the things I was up to while I was away – first of all: the MEDATS study day.

I was utterly delighted to be invited to the study day, with its topic “Learning through Reconstruction”. It was a day full of interesting presentations, about various topics.

I finally got to meet, in person, Geeske Kruseman, who talked about the differences between hose and trousers, from the constructional point of view. Her classification included a look at body geometry and garment geometry; though I had been sort of aware of these differences, it was very nice to have it all spelled out so clearly, and made me realise things in a different way.

The second presentation that stuck really out for me was Alex Makin’s paper about her embroidery project – of course, since I was involved in sourcing the silk and some of Alex’ needles, and helping to get colours sorted out. It was wonderful to see pictures from the work in progress.

I also particularly enjoyed Ninya Mikhaila’s stories from behind the scenes of  reconstructing the Arnolfini gown – which was done for the BBC series “A Stitch in Time”, and accordingly had its very own, and very special challenges.


I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with everybody (and I finally got to meet some more people in person, in addition to Geeske, that I only had contact before via the Internet). We had a table to place items related to our presentations, so there was additional things to look at during the coffee breaks. All in all, the day could have been much longer for me!

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Recently, I’ve recommended the travel mug I’m using to someone else. Again. Then I started wondering since when I’ve been lugging mine around… and today I’ve finally looked it up.

The battered trusty mug. 

I bought this mug back in fall of 2012, when it was much more shiny and only available in this one single colour, at least at the place I bought it. I wasn’t too excited about the brown, but really excited about the promises that came in the description: stainless steel (so very sturdy), large capacity, completely leakproof, and holding beverages hot for a really long time. Especially the completely leakproof was something I had been looking for.

It cost me 45 Euro back then, and I did think hard about whether I wanted to spend so much money on a travel mug – but then, the plastic to-go mugs I had before hadn’t been leakproof, and they had given up rather quickly, and they had a theoretical insulation (being double-walled) which was not very good.

So I did buy it. And I used it a lot – when travelling, of course, but also at home when I wanted a large coffee that would keep hot for a long time. The lid gave out in 2015; I got a replacement lid with very little hassle and for about 8 Euro from the German main distributor.

I’ve been totally happy with this thing ever since I got it. The lid can be a little finicky to clean if you’re having milky beverages, but rinsing it out as soon as possible, using a brush or a toothbrush to get into the crevices, and occasionally taking it apart and bathing it in hot water with soda added will keep it nice and eliminate all traces of sour-milk odour, should the dire thing have happened. I’ll usually fill it with coffee at home when I am travelling to have it on the road, and when I need a second one (or when I’m not starting from home), it doesn’t only eliminate the need for a disposable cup, it also keeps my drink hot for long times. Since I tend to stretch out my coffee-drinking, that counts as a rather large bonus. (Downside: if you fill it with boiling hot water, it will take forever for it to cool down enough to drink. Brewing tea in there means keeping the lid off for a while, until cool enough to sip, or else you will have to wait for about 6 hours before drinking…)

When we were in London, I was even happier about the mug than usual, as there were some coffee shops that only had disposable cups, even for the people sitting down in the shop. So out came the mug… which, usually, also meant a discount on the price of the tea or coffee. And I did mention it’s rather large, right? Which means that in most cases, you’re getting a little more hot beverage of your choice for about the same price. Even without that bonus, though, we then did the maths… and realised that getting a pricey thermos mug, if you use it regularly, will amortise itself really quickly.

My mug has cost me 45 €. Say you’re getting an average discount of 0.20 € per cup of hot beverage. That’s exactly 225 hot drinks – a year has about 250 work days, so if you get a cup of something every day you are going to work, this mug has paid for itself in one year. And that’s without taking the bit of extra filling into account.

Soon now, my coffee-holding travel companion could celebrate its seventh workbirthday*, and while I’m not using it every single work day, it has long since gone past the 225 hot drinks. It also has seen a lot of different countries, sat inside my car with me for hours and hours, was dropped onto hard floors (hence it can wobble a little now when it’s standing), and also has seen the wrong level in a dishwasher (it’s okay in the upper level, but the lower one is too hot – which is the reason a lot of the colour has peeled off). I love it, even though it looks battered and not too fancy anymore… and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of coffees and teas in its future still.

Thus, the moral of the story – if you think about getting a travel mug, go ahead and get a good one. Even if it sounds ridiculously expensive at first, it will pay for itself rather quickly!

 

*Probably by having coffee!

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So much for planning – I had planned to post something here yesterday, but things happened. More specifically: a root canal happened.

I had woken up with some dull kind of a toothache on Monday, which was solidly in the “it’s not too bad to ignore, but annoying” category. Since that had not gotten better until Tuesday morning, I did decide to do the grown-up thing and call my dentist. To my sort-of-delight, I did get an appointment right that morning, and it was quickly resolved that the tooth must have died a quiet death a while ago, as there was no nerve action in it anymore. (That, for those of you lucky enough to never have had such an experience, is done with a super-cold stick that is touched to the tooth. A living one will complain quickly, which is not pleasant. A dead one will not complain at all, which is even less pleasant on a different level and in an entirely different way.)

So the dead tooth was duly opened, the pus was drained, it was cleaned of most of the decayed nerve tissues, X-rays were taken, and I was sent home again with a provisional filling and a new appointment for the proper cleaning. All in all, I’m obviously not happy with pain and having to have dental treatment, but even though there is no good time to have something like this (apart from, obviously, “never” due to not needing it), my timing is impeccable. There’s so much action going on these weeks that I could have done far, far worse in finally feeling that pain – at least this week, I’m at home, and though it is sort of mangling my schedule a bit, things are far from really bad. Which brings me to the final two fun facts.

Fun fact number one: After this procedure, which is basically taking away some of the issue that causes the pain (as it drains the infected site), there was much more pain than before. Though the tooth is well and truly dead and thus incapable of causing pain, the surrounding tissue is very much alive, and it seems to have woken up by the preliminary treatment… resulting in a very definitive signal that it was not content with the situation.

Fun fact number two: I spent Thursday to Monday at the Dannenberg Convent – a Living History camp close to a castle ruin (now partly restored). “Tannenberg” was one of my first yearly events, and I was there many times. I’d skipped it the past few years, due to a number of reasons, but this year was their 25th anniversary and, at the same time, the last time the event would take place in its old form. So I spent four days with friends in the rain, and we broke camp and packed up on Monday. That dull ache in the tooth, and some accompanying light pounding that came with exertion, was with me all through my treks up and down the meadow, as I was carrying my stuff back to the car. It really, really heightened my appreciation of being able to get up out of a comfy warm bed on Tuesday, grab the phone, place one call, hop on my bike for a short trip across town, and then get 21st century state-of-the-art dental care, followed by some rather safe and fairly quickly acting 21st century painkiller pill. Yes, there was medical knowledge and medical care in the Middle Ages, too, and it was sometimes a lot more sophisticated than people expect, but it was still a very far cry from dental X-rays, modern drills and modern painkillers. Which reminded me of one of the things that Living History does to its participants: It does remind us both that not all modern things and modern ways are good (or better than old methods), and not to take all good modern things for granted.

Posted in health, Living History | 2 Comments