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November 2019: A West Country Christmas Ė Dorset in December

Thomas Hardyís celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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Finn McCool and the Giantís Causeway, County Antrim

A geological feature as strange as the Giantís Causeway is bound to have folk tales associated with it: to explain its creation, or perhaps merely using it as the basis for a good yarn. Thus it is that legendary Irish (and Manx) hero Finn McCool is said to have built the thing himself.
The legend has it that the giant Finn had a rival across the sea in Scotland. Finn and this creature, Benandonner, would rage at one another across the narrow straits separating the two land masses, but as they were not tall enough to walk between them safely and could not swim, for some time it remained a war of words. Then Finn was goaded into action: he began to build a causeway between Ireland and Scotland (interestingly the largely hexagonal basalt columns forming the causeway are echoed across the water in Fingalís Cave on the Island of Staffa).
Here the legend divides into innumerable different versions. One way or another Finn fails to make the crossing: he falls asleep; or thinks better of attacking the bigger Benandonner. When Finn fails to arrive his Scottish enemy comes after him, but is tricked into retreat by the swift thinking of Finnís wife Oonagh: she covers her husband in a blanket and tells Benandonner that Finn is out and she is looking after the baby. If thatís the baby, reasons Benandonner... In some versions she disguises Finn in baby-clothes to the same effect. Or she wakes the baby and feeds it on a steak, giving Benandonner a rock painted to look like a steak the same size: Finn devours his with ease; his rival fails and retreats in fear of the father to this child. The frightened Scottish champion runs back home, tearing up the causeway as he goes to prevent Finn from following him.

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If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the inquisition might have let him alone - Thomas Hardy
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On this day:
Start of the Great Smog - 1952, Opening of UK's 1st Motorway - 1958, The Civil Partnership Act comes into force in Britain - 2005
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