The eighth Rugby World Cup (@) kicks off tomorrow in England (and Wales), contested by twenty qualifying teams. While the All Blacks are unbackable (5/4) favourites to be the first team to retain Bill, the Cup is equally a celebration of the diverse world rugby family, offering the minnows a chance to pit themselves against the best. [more inside]
The Roader’s Digest is ‘the most complete archive of information on the British and Irish road networks on the web.’ from the A1 to the R999; from the B3306 to the B855, they probably have a description of it. [more inside]
Icy weather getting you down? How about a nice relaxing beach holiday? The same weather pattern bringing Antarctic temperatures to America is pushing Himalayan surf towards Europe. With storm swell battering coastlines from Portugal to Cornwall, big-wave specialists from around the world are flocking to the unlikely surf mecca of Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo, Ireland. Apparently it's been pretty intense... "Down there was living repeatedly rabbit punched while diving in the deep!" [more inside]
"This video has been dramatically enhanced in quality, using modern video editing tools. The film has been motion stabilized and the speed has been slowed down to correct speed (from 18 fps to 24 fps) using special frame interpolation software that re-creates missing frames." Watch corrected and cleaned footage of circa 1900s London and Cork (5 min 35 sec). (via)
The Fastnet Race is a biennial sailing race from Cowes to Fastnet Rock to Plymouth, in England. In 1979, it was the venue for one of the most famous storms and greatest disasters in yacht-racing history. [more inside]
CSI: Parthenon: A questioner asks historians how a murder case would be solved and prosecuted in the era of their expertise. Answers for : Colonial Boston, Norman Ireland, 19th Century Imperial China, Ancient Athens, 14th-Century England, 13th century England, Victorian England, Rome. (Via Reddit's AskHistorians; whole thread.)
In advance of Euro 2012, the Guardian has made animated histories of six of the competitors: England, Spain, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Germany and France. (Autoplay video in last six links.)
UK adoption agencies are reporting "huge numbers of calls from 'deeply distressed' adoptive parents whose children have been contacted" through Facebook and other social networking sites, in violation of the traditional, confidential reunion process between birth parents and their offspring who have been placed with other families. Full report from Channel 4. [more inside]
Utopia Britannica is a collection of stories and a gazetter about utopian communes in the British Isles from the 14th Century up until the end of World War II. There are some incredible tales in here, such as 'Free Love' in 19th Century Somerset, St. Kilda, Death of an Island Republic, Percy Bysshe Shelley's attempted communes, Augustus John, the King of Bohemia and many more.
British Women Romantic Poets Project is a collection of poetry written by women from the British Isles between 1789 and 1832. Over a hundred female poets are represented. Women rarely feature in literary histories of the Romantic period but there is treasure if you search (some poems are, frankly, terrible). A few places to start are Charlotte Turner Smith's Elegiac Sonnets, and Other Poems, Christian Ross Milne's Simple Poems on Simple Subjects and Mary Robinson's sonnet cycle Sappho and Phaon. The oddest works to modern readers may be Elizabeth Hitchener's Enigmas, Historical and Geographical and Marianne Curties' Classical Pastime, which are collections of verse riddles (the answers are at the end of the text).
Celebrate the most underappreciated holiday of the year! February 1st is St. Brigid's Day or Imbolc or Candlemas. St. Brigid of Ireland, the woman who some make a good case that she should be the Patron Saint of Ireland before Patrick. Others say she was the pre-Christian fertility or fire goddess of the Celts and that the Catholic Church co-opted her day as they did with many pagan pre-Christian holidays. Whether one celebrates Candlemas as a Catholic holy day or as a one of the Pagan cross-quarter days, it is also the Festival of Lights. Regardless, I have loved February 1st and 2nd since college as Groundhog Day is the most whimsical holiday of the year, thankfully it does not have a 2 month retail buying season building up to it. Tomorrow, I shall take a photo to Puxsutawney Phil to St. Brigid's Well in Kildare to celebrate properly.