This bicycle, designed by Benjamin Bowden, was included in the “Britain Can Make It Better” exhibition of 1946.
Known simply as the Classic (and later the Spacelander), Bowden’s initial design for the bicycle included a motor that gave riders a little extra oomph while traveling uphill.
Bowden’s streamlined design was said to represent what the bicycle of twenty years hence was supposed to look like.
And appropriately, it wouldn’t go into production in the United States until 1960.
The only problem was that nobody wanted one. They were both out of style and terribly expensive ($90, or about $730 adjusted for inflation).
Only about 500 were ever produced. But the Spacelander is a big collector’s item these days.
There aren’t many authentic Spacelanders existing outside of museums, but there are plenty of reproductions—many of which are passed off as the real thing by dodgy folks targeting collectors.
“Just by sitting down in my office and thinking about it, I said to myself I should select a product that had not been made before,” Bowden told interviewers in 1993, reflecting on his work at the age of 87.
Stretching from the West End to the City, the coffee-houses of 17th and 18th century London formed the capital’s intellectual and social heartbeat.
Coffee, a relatively new and exotic import, was only half the attraction: coffee-houses were forums for intellectual discussion, havens for dirty business deals and places where lords and sharpers won and lost enormous fortunes.
When coffee-houses first appeared in London in the mid-17th century they were largely indistinguishable from one another.
However, as they faced ever-stiffer competition over time, each coffee-house developed its own character, playing host to diverse clienteles and catering to different needs.
Some coffee-houses became so closely identified with specific groups or interests that Tatler, an early newspaper-journal, decided to group its stories under the names of coffee-houses.
The first issue, in 1709, proclaimed that “all accounts of Gallantry, Pleasure, and Entertainment shall be under the Article of White’s Chocolate-house; Poetry, under that of Will’s Coffee-house; Learning, under the title of Graecian; Foreign and Domestick News, you will have from St James’ Coffee-house”.
There were many coffee-houses frequented by literary men, the first famous one being Will’s Coffee House in Covent Garden.
John Dryden and his literary circle, known as the ‘Wits’, gathered there to discuss and review the latest plays and poems, and to read out their own work. As well as serious literary criticism, much amusement was to be had over the latest scurrilous pamphlets.
Samuel Pepys records having heard a “very witty and pleasant discourse” at Will’s, though whether this was about weighty matters of allegory and hexameters, or gossip about Charles II’s latest mistress, he doesn’t say.
After Dryden’s death, Will’s began to decline: in April 1709, Steele lamented in Tatler that “this place is very much altered since Mr. Dryden frequented it; where you used to see Songs, Epigrams, and Satires, in the Hands of every Man you met, you have only now a Pack of Cards, and instead of the Cavils about the Turn of the Expression, the Elegance of the Style, and the like, the Learned now dispute only about the Truth of the Game”.
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Tea and Damper by A . M. Ebsworth. Image Credit: From Digital Collection of the State Library of Victoria
by Blake Singley,
The first European settlers in Australia used a dizzying array of flora and fauna in their kitchens – but they cooked them in a traditional British style.
The relationship between European settlers and native Australian foodstuffs during the 19th century was a complex one.
While the taste for native ingredients waxed and waned for the first century of European settlement, there’s ample evidence to demonstrate that local ingredients were no strangers to colonials’ kitchens or pots.
British settlers needed to engage with the edible flora and fauna of the continent almost immediately upon arrival.
The journals of First Fleet officers record not only their reliance on native food, but the relish with which they enjoyed it.
For example, First Fleet surgeon George Worgan noted in his diary a feast held to celebrate the King’s birthday:
We sat down to a very good Entertainment, considering how far we are from Leaden-Hall Market, it consisted of Mutton, Pork, Ducks, Fowls, Fish, Kanguroo, Salads, Pies and preserved Fruits.
The Lamington, Australia’s famed dessert, was actually invented in New Zealand and originally named a “Wellington”, according to new research published by the University of Auckland.
Fresh analysis of a collection of 19th-century watercolours by the New Zealand landscape artist JR Smythe, shows that in one portrait, “Summer Pantry” dated 1888, a partially eaten Lamington cake is clearly visible on the counter of a cottage overlooking Wellington Harbor.
The first known reference to a Lamington before this was a recipe published in 1902 in the Queensland Country Life newspaper.
Historians had believed the Lamington was named after Lord Lamington who served as governor of Queensland between 1896-1901.
But experts at the University of Auckland have examined archives which show records of a visit Lamington undertook to Wellington in 1895, before beginning in his tenure as Queensland governor.
According to a New Zealand Herald news report of the visit, Lamington was “much taken with the local sweets provided him by local bakers A.R. Levin.”
Among those sweets, the article states, was a “Wellington – a double sponge dessert, dressed in shavings of coconut intended to imitate the snow capped mountains of New Zealand.”
Dr Arun Silva of the centre for academic knowledge, excellence and study at the University of Auckland, said the news clipping and Smythe watercolour made it “inconceivable” that the Lamington was an Australian invention.
“What we have here is conclusive evidence that the Lamington cake was in fact a product of New Zealand.
The documentation of Lamington’s visit and the pictorial evidence in the watercolour prove it without a doubt.
“I wouldn’t exactly say it was a rewriting of history, more a realisation that our culinary past is much more entangled than we’d previously believed,” Silva said.
Silva, an expert in food history, said the dramatic discovery was likely to blow debate around whether it was Australia or New Zealand who invented the Pavlova “out of the sky”.
via Lamington invented in New Zealand, new research proves ‘beyond doubt’ | World news | theguardian.com.