Sunday, March 22, 2009

Smuggling Signals

The Horsey Wind Pump located close to the North Sea was an important instrument in assisting smugglers of wool, brandy and other contraband to avoid the Revenue Men as they scoured the area. The taxes imposed on these items were so high; the local merchants did all they could to avoid paying them and so reverted to smuggling their goods in and out of Norfolk in a clever and ingenious way. If the Revenue Men had been sighted in the area, the wind pump operator was notified and he would stop the sails so they made an X (the Cross of Saint Andrew). When the danger had passed, the operator would put the sails in the sign of a cross + (Cross of Saint George) to indicate the “all clear.” In the absence of wind, a boy would be asked to climb to the sail and his weight would accomplish what the wind could not and the operator would lock the sails in place.
Seeing the coast was clear, the wherry captains who had dumped their contraband overboard and marked the site with a pointer known only to them, retrieved their goods and went on their merry way.
The Horsey Wind Pump is owned and maintained by the National Trust and is in excellent condition. On the site, there is a little tea and gift shop that is open for refreshments.
More on smuggling can be found in my book Extraordinary Places...Close to London page #35 as well as stories on Vikings, kings, queens, ghosts, witches and the witch finder general. ISBN 0-8038-2031-3

Thursday, March 19, 2009

St Edmund King and Martyr, Acle, Norfolk

This wonderful church is approximately 1100 years old. It has a round tower and thought to be of Saxon origin dating from between 850 and 950 AD. It sits quietly in the village of Acle, Norfolk, England and is open daily to visitors. It is built mostly of local flint, brick and rubble, but has a thatch roof giving a pleasing look to this ancient church. Inside, the church is in excellent condition with a 15th century rood screen and interesting information relating to the plagues that swept through the Norfolk countryside. The church is a “must see” for anyone visiting the area. It is also close to the river Bure which is frequented by vacationers.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pink Slip & Others

The dreaded Pink Slip - none of us want to receive one. I’ve been unable to find the origin of Pink Slip although the term has been used for nearly a hundred years. We can only assume that termination notices were once printed on pink paper. There are many work-related terms and phrases that have interesting origins. Some of these sayings we hear almost every day, others may be less familiar to you.

A Cushy Job - A great job with little effort
During World War II a cushy job was one that did not involve danger or too much hard work. An Anglo-Indian term, cushy is derived from the Hindi, Khush, meaning pleasant. It was also used in World War I as a slang word to describe trivial wounds.

Get Sacked - To be fired
This expression originated in the Industrial Revolution in England around 1700. In those days, mechanics were expected to supply their own tools while working in the age-old factories of the period. When a worker was discharged, he was usually given a sack to carry his tools away.

Where There’s Muck There’s Brass - Money can be made from hard, dirty work
At the end of the 17th century in England, pennies, halfpennies and farthings were made in brass because it was less expensive than gold or silver. As a result, a farthing (one fourth of a penny) was worth nothing. This led to the saying; it’s not worth a brass farthing. Since that time, brass has become a slang word for money.