Friday, 2 December 2016

"A History of Christmas Food" now available in print




My book "A History of Christmas Food" is now available in print.You can order it now in time for delivery by Christmas.

90 pages
130x180mm
Published by Bretwalda Books.

Price £5 per copy, plus £3 for UK postage and packing for up to 5 copies. (£6 for overseas postage).

If you would like the book signed or dedicated to a particular person just let me know.

Payment by cheque or paypal. Make paypal payments to Rupert@bretwalda.demon.co.uk and follow up with an email to the same address. Cheques made payable to Rupert Matthews and sent to me at 8 Fir Tree Close, Epsom Downs, Surrey KT17 3LD.

Christmas today is a time of feasting, drinking and all round merrymaking. We serve vast meals that cause our dining tables to groan with the weight and our families to gasp at the luxury.
But it is not just a matter of serving huge meals. Christmas - more than any other time of year - is associated with its own special foods, drinks and eating customs.
Most Christmas foods are widely recognised. Roast turkey graces most tables, which also feature sprouts, roast potatoes, parsnips, bacon rolls, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and bread sauce. All that is in due course cleared away to be replaced by Christmas pud and mince pies.
Others are very personal. I grew up in a household where supper on Christmas Eve was always sausages and mash, and where the adults began Christmas Day by trooping down to the kitchen for "Grandma's Special Christmas Tea", which was consumed with much lip smacking and joking. As a tot I found this early morning ritual a bit odd, but when I grew older I learned that "Grandma's Special Christmas Tea" involved my grandmother tipping a healthy dose of whisky into each mug before pouring out the tea.
We take so much of this for granted as part and parcel of our Christmas traditions that we indulge ourselves without thinking. And if we do spare a thought we probably imagine that Christmas has always been like this.
But it hasn't. Christmases of years gone by were very different. Oh, there has always been plenty of eating and drinking going on, but what has been eaten or drunk has varied enormously.
So what did our ancestors eat and drink on the greatest feast of the year?
Read on.

Ebook available via Amazon.

Santa Book now available in print






My Authorised Biography of Father Christmas is now available in print.You can order it now in time for delivery by Christmas.

90 pages
130x180mm
Published by Bretwalda Books.

Price £5 per copy, plus £3 for UK postage and packing for up to 5 copies. (£6 for overseas postage).

If you would like the book signed or dedicated to a particular person just let me know.

Payment by cheque or paypal. Make paypal payments to Rupert@bretwalda.demon.co.uk and follow up with an email to the same address. Cheques made payable to Rupert Matthews and sent to me at 8 Fir Tree Close, Epsom Downs, Surrey KT17 3LD.

Some people call him Father Christmas, other people name him Santa Claus, but whatever name he goes by we all know him.
He is the jolly, fat man who comes out only on Christmas Eve. He loads his sleigh up with toys for all the good children in the world. He wraps himself up in a warm, fur-lined suit of red cloth with matching hat and warm black boots. Then he hitches up his magic flying reindeer, leaves behind his workshop at the North Pole and takes to the skies. For hours he gallops across the wintry, frozen landscapes to bring toys to millions of excited children around the world.
He has become the living embodiment of the Christmas Spirit. But where did this loveable old boy come from? How old is he? Has he always been so jovial? And what about the elves, reindeer and North Pole?
Many people think that Santa was invented for an advertising campaign by Coca Cola. Others date him to Victorian times. A few may place him back in the 18th century or even Tudor times. But they are all wrong.
He is much, much older than that.
This book traces the development of our favourite Christmas character from his origins many centuries ago down to the present day. We learn when and how he started giving presents to children, why he is so fat and where the reindeer came from - among many other things.

Ebook available via Amazon.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A History of Christmas Food - ebook out now

- With over 20 historic recipes





Buy the ebook HERE


Christmas today is a time of feasting, drinking and all round merrymaking. We serve vast meals that cause our dining tables to groan with the weight and our families to gasp at the luxury.
But it is not just a matter of serving huge meals. Christmas - more than any other time of year - is associated with its own special foods, drinks and eating customs.
Most Christmas foods are widely recognised. Roast turkey graces most tables, which also feature sprouts, roast potatoes, parsnips, bacon rolls, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and bread sauce. All that is in due course cleared away to be replaced by Christmas pud and mince pies.
Others are very personal. I grew up in a household where supper on Christmas Eve was always sausages and mash, and where the adults began Christmas Day by trooping down to the kitchen for "Grandma's Special Christmas Tea", which was consumed with much lip smacking and joking. As a tot I found this early morning ritual a bit odd, but when I grew older I learned that "Grandma's Special Christmas Tea" involved my grandmother tipping a healthy dose of whisky into each mug before pouring out the tea.
We take so much of this for granted as part and parcel of our Christmas traditions that we indulge ourselves without thinking. And if we do spare a thought we probably imagine that Christmas has always been like this.
But it hasn't. Christmases of years gone by were very different. Oh, there has always been plenty of eating and drinking going on, but what has been eaten or drunk has varied enormously.
So what did our ancestors eat and drink on the greatest feast of the year?
Read on.

Please note that in producing the recipes included in this book I have adapted original recipes found in books and manuscripts dating back to the times in question. Earlier recipes often did not include either precise measurements or detailed instructions, so I have experimented to find what seems to work best for me. I have generally sought to avoid recipes using ingredients that might be difficult to find these days or have suggested easily obtained alternatives when I have - how could I possibly miss out Mrs Beeton's original Christmas cake of 1861? Enjoy trying out these recipes and your taste of the past.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Dambusters Raid 1943

The most famous raid of the Second World War and the subject of perhaps the greatest war movie ever made - the Dambusters.
This great raid of 1943 marked the pinnacle of precision bombing by the RAF during the war. The dropping of the bombs called for enormous skill and expertise by the aircrew on the raid, while getting to these targets deep inside Germany and back again required courage of the very highest order. The technical problems to be overcome were no less tricky. Dams are enormously strong structures, but tiny when seen from the air. How to place a bomb in the right place had defeated the finest brains of the world - until Barnes Wallis came along with his revolutionary idea for a bouncing bomb.
This is the story of the raid and of the meticulous planning that preceded it. Seen the film? Now read the true story.

Contents
Prelude - The Trouble with Inventer Chaps
Chapter 1 - The Dams
Chapter 2 - The Bouncing Bomb
Chapter 3 - The Squadron
Chapter 4 - The Raid
Chapter 5 - Aftermath
Acknowledgements




About the Author
Leonard James is an author of military books. He comes from a military family that has fought in every major war since at least the Crimean War, and probably before that. His forebears were mostly cavalrymen, though his father served in RAF Bombver Command during World War II.

Buy it HERE


Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Suffragettes - a talk for your group

I am adding a new talk to my repertoire of speeches, talks and entertainments.

The Suffragettes - As we approach the centenary of women gaining the vote in Britain, this talk looks at the long history of women's suffrage disputes in this country. The talk highlights the tumultuous years of 1906-1918 when "Votes for Women" dominated politics and constitutional arguments. Includes display of Suffragette memorabilia.

Hitler's Forgotten Secret Weapon - After dinner speech

"Dear Rupert, I just want to pass on our thanks to you for delivering such an interesting and surprising presentation to us yesterday. I don't think any of the group saw the "twist" at the end coming - what a surprise! (I guess we should have known Hitler/Goering were so very cunning)."

Feedback on my talk "Hitler's Forgotten Secret Weapon". Want to know the surprise ending? Book me for your event.
http://rupertmatthews.com/index.php?p=Speaking
 

Monday, 19 September 2016

RMS Titanic : The Rescue Mission

While the RMS Titanic was sinking more than a dozen ships were racing to the rescue. This is the story of the rescue mission, including the search for bodies that followed.
The story of the tragic sinking of RMS Titanic is well known, but less well known today are the frantic efforts made by more than a dozen ships to get to her to rescue her passengers and crew. Although the Cunard liner “Carpathia” was first on the scene, she was joined by three other ships within a couple of hours, and others were on their way.
We read about the Russian cook preparing vast gallons of vegetable soup for survivors, the rescue ship that nearly hit an iceberg itself and the confusion over the radio waves as messages were sent, lost or misinterpreted. Above all we read of the gallant efforts of hundreds of seamen desperate to obey the rules of the sea and go to the rescue.
Oliver Hayes has gone back to contemporary newspaper reports, personal letters and the official inquiries held on both sides of the Atlantic to research this book. The result is a meticulously researched volume detailing the exciting story of the rescue mission to save the Titanic.
The original painting “Carpathia to the Rescue” featured on the cover is available as a print signed by the artist.


CONTENTS
11pm
Midnight
1am
2am
3am
5am
7am
Following Days
The Search for Bodies

About the Author
Oliver Hayes is an experienced writer of history with a large number of books and magazine articles to his name. He previously worked in local newspapers, but is now concentrating on writing books.