A Thorny Problem


Image result for hedge

image: best4hedging

The British East India Company (EIC) had established a salt tax in its Indian territories in 1780.  In the hot climate of the subcontinent, salt was essential to prevent dehydration.  To control the supply of salt, was to control India.  The Company passed laws that only the EIC could produce salt and a levy of 1 rupee per 10 kg of salt was charged.  As the only legitimate source of salt, the EIC became even richer.

The tax was not at all popular with the Indian population, however, and evasion was common.  Some people processed their own in illegal salt pans.  Others would raid Company warehouses and steal what they needed.  Yet others would smuggle salt from areas outside of EIC control.  Illegal production and outright theft were risky and could bring stiff punishment and even death.  But smuggling, at least initially, was relatively risk free.

The Company soon realised that the smuggling was damaging their revenues.  They therefore set up customs stations along access roads to halt the illegal trade.  All this accomplished was to drive the smugglers off of the roads.  Overland routes were far more difficult for the Company to monitor.

In 1843, G. H. Smith, the British Commissioner for Customs in India, set out to abolish the illegal import.  He conducted a study to establish where the crossing points were.  He then set up the Inland Customs Line.  This consisted of raised paths which marked out the boundary between British and Indian controlled lands.  At mile intervals, crossing points were set up, each manned by an Indian army officer and a detachment of ten soldiers.

In 1858, the British took total control of India, and Smith’s boundaries were extended.  This led to the joining up of the barrier to create a 2504 mile long Tax Line.

Later in the 1840s, a hedge was planted along parts of the boundary.   In 1867, Allan Hume was tasked with ensuring this thorny hedge grew the whole length of the barrier.  In the end the obstacle was between 2.4  and 3.7 metres tall, and 1.2 to 4.4 metres thick.

It is amazing what people will do to control the price of salt.


Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The Price of Salt



Eleven Across

Into the Jaws of Death 23-0455M edit.jpg

Normandy Landing – Public Domain

There was definitely something abnormal in the Daily Telegraph.   “Gold,” “Sword,” and “Juno,” had all appeared in the crossword answers in the spring of 1944.  Then from the second of May until the eve of the invasion of France, the crossword answers including “Utah,” “Omaha,” and “Overlord,” appeared in quick succession.

MI5 was convinced that this had to be far more than a coincidence.  Were military secrets being fed to the Nazis, and where was the leaking of code-names coming from?

The crossword designer Leonard Dawe, the headmaster of Strand School was detained and interrogated.  He was determined to be innocent of espionage and released.  He was at a loss, however, as to how so many code-words appeared in his own puzzles.

Was it his compiling technique?  He often called students in and had them feed him words which they found interesting, to which he then decided appropriate prompts for the crossword.  It never occurred to him that his boys spent a lot of their leisure time hanging about near the American and Canadian army camps which were nearby.  Had the students inadvertently overheard soldiers bandying about secret words?

After his release Dawes called the boys in.  Ronald French was then asked where he had got these code-words from.  The lad then showed his headmaster his notebook.

“Don’t you know what you have done?” the man challenged. “This is wartime.”

“But the Yanks use the words all the time over at the camp,” the student replied.

“They may well do so, but we Englishmen know better.  We should never, I repeat never, share what we’re told not to talk about.  Now we are going to burn this notebook, and I want you to swear on the Bible, that you will not divulge any more of these words!” 

“Yes Sir,” the boy relented. “Not another word.”


*Based on true historical events. The Telegraph crossword contained the following in the run up to “Operation Overlord, 6 June 1944:

  • 2 May 1944: ‘Utah’ (17 across, clued as “One of the U.S.”) – code name for the D-Day beach assigned to the US 4th Infantry Division.
  • 22 May 1944: ‘Omaha’ (3 down, clued as “Red Indian on the Missouri”) – code name for the D-Day beach to be taken by the US 1st Infantry Division.
  • 27 May 1944: ‘Overlord’ (11 across, clued as “[common]… but some bigwig like this has stolen some of it at times.”) – code name for the D-Day landings.
  • 30 May 1944: ‘Mulberry’ (11 across, clued as “This bush is a centre of nursery revolutions.”) – temporary portable harbours used during the invasion.
  • 1 June 1944: ‘Neptune’ (15 down, clued as “Britannia and he hold to the same thing.” –  codeword for the naval phase of the invasion.)  


Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: What We’re Told Not To Talk About

FOWC with Fandango — Abnormal


The Chocolate of Leime


Image result for The mascot Mark Kurzem


The trucks were gathered near the clock tower in Riga.  Entire families, men, women, and children, stood with the meagre belongings which they were allowed to carry awaiting their turn to board.  Some of the children were unsettled and began the fuss and cry.  A Latvian SS officer called over his unit’s mascot, a uniformed boy of less than ten.  He was given chocolates to distribute to the doomed children, with the intent of calming them.  What could be more comforting than another child sharing sweets?  The gesture worked and the “transportation” continued.

(94 words)


Based on a true event in Riga during the Holocaust.  While there is still uncertainty as to Alex Kurzem’s heritage, the fact remains that he was the mascot of Battalion 18 of the Latvian SS, and was later made a corporal.  He was also the subject of a Nazi propaganda film.

WHAT PEGMAN SAW – Riga, Latvia

The Facility


image: buffymegaxover.fandom.com

The representative of the Kirk looked on with admiration as Matthew Hopkins, Witch-finder General continued the the tour of his facility near Manningtree, Essex.  If only we Covenanters could be so efficient, the dour Presbyterian thought to himself.

“And here you see the “awake room,” Hopkins said proudly.  “We find that the Satanic Whores” need their dreams to commune with the Dark One.  Once we deprive them of sleep their evil powers fade, and once in the presence of the true light they become repentant and confess.”

“And what is this wee pool,” the Scotsman asked.

“We find that dunking stools are of only limited value, so we have this deep troth.  We throw them in and since they have rejected Christian baptism, the water rejects them and they come sputtering to the surface.  It is a very accurate test of a witch,” the Witch-finder stated, as the Scot nodded.

“And here you see the inspection hut.  Notice that there are plenty of windows, so the light will reveal even the faintest witch-marks, ” Hopkins continued.  “We don’t want any mistakes.  Just think, what if an evil hag escaped because we missed a wart, or an innocent was executed because of a little dirt?  We are thorough here!”

“I don’t see any burning posts,” the Kirk-man observed.

“No, we English do things a little differently from up north, and on the Continent,” Hopkins said. “Unlike in your facilities, the witch doesn’t burn in this one.  We hang them, they will burn soon enough when they arrive in hell.”


Apologies for the historical inaccuracy.  Hopkins (Witch-finder General) was a real Puritan man who terrorised East Anglia in the period of the English Civil War.  The methods described are fairly accurate, as is the fact that English “witches” were not burned.  But he (Hopkins) never had a purpose built facility, nor is their any evidence that the Scots ever visited him in his persecution of outcast women.

Christine’s Daily Writing Prompt: The witch doesn’t burn in this one

FOWC with Fandango — Dirt


Power of Voice

Image result for st crispin's day

image: YouTube Henry V


By confident voice heartened

When all seemed lost and dire

By a firm voice strengthened

When wearied and by long marching tired

No need to surrender

Or from the cold field retreat

With bold words they were encouraged

Removing fears and thoughts of defeat




Quadrille #85 – Raising our Poetic Voices:

“Listen to the voice inside you. Voice your opinion. Give voice to a new thought. Whether you let your inner siren loose, or stick to your usual poetic voice, please scribble us a little something of exactly 44 words, using some form of the word voice. Whether you turn that voice into a shout, a doubt, a wisp of whimsy or a whispered prayer, is up to you.”

Paddy’s Lamentation

Image result for charge of the irish brigade fredericksburg



Jim Adams has set a challenge to share song lyrics which mention someone famous.  The rules are straight forward:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.
Paddy’s Lamentation
Oh it’s by the hush, me boys, and sure that’s to hold your noise
And listen to poor Paddy’s lamentation
Oh, I was by hunger pressed, and in poverty distressed
So I took a thought I’d leave the Irish nation
Well I sold me horse and cow, my little pigs and sow
My little plot of land and I were parted
And me sweetheart Britt McGee I’m afraid I’ll never see
For I left her there that morning broken-hearted
Oh here’s you boys, now take my advice
To America I’ll have you’s not be coming
There is nothing here but war where the murdering cannons roar
And I wish I was at home in dear old Dublin
Well meself and a hundred more to America sailed o’er
Our fortunes to be made we were thinking
When we got to Yankee land they shoved a gun into our hands
Saying “Paddy, you must go and fight for Lincoln
Well I thought myself in luck, to be fed on Indian buck
And old Ireland the place that I delight in
But with the devil I do say “curse Americay”
For I am sick and tired of this hard fighting
Oh here’s you boys, now take my advice
To America I’ll have you’s not be coming
There is nothing here but war where the murdering cannons roar
And I wish I was at home in dear old Dublin
Yes, I wish I was at home in dear old Dublin
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Linda Thompson / Adam Teddy Thompson
Paddy’s Lamentation lyrics © Chrysalis Music, 1830 Music

The song is a lament of an Irish immigrant to the USA at the time of the American Civil War.  Famine and shortages at home and war in America.  The story is shared by many of the Irish who came to the US in that time.  President Abraham Lincoln and GeneralThomas Francis Meagher of the Irish Brigade are both referenced in the song.


The Surrender

Churchill Fort Prince of Wales 1996-08-12.jpg

photo taken by Ansgar Walk

“Mr Hearne, there are three ships in the bay,” a messenger reported breathlessly.

“And?” Samuel Hearne, the governor of Prince of Wales Fort, replied.

“They are flying French colours,” the man responded.

Hearne climbed the ramparts and looked at the three warships.  He then considered his options.  He had thirty nine Hudson Bay Company men, and no soldiers.  Oh, the Inuits might help, but even with the walls he had no chance to resist the La Pérouse’s French.

“Well let’s go meet our guests,” Hearne said.

Shortly afterwards, he and thirty one British civilians were on their way back to England on the sloop Severn.  The French meanwhile were dismantling the fort.


*Based on events in 1782

What Pegman Saw – Manitoba, Canada



Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

Gunther and Wilm approached the open gates of the town.  All looked as it should, everything tidy, spring flowers neatly tended in their bed.  But where was everyone?  There seemed to be no life.  A couple of loose chickens and a stray cat, but no people or livestock.

“This is really odd,” Wilm said after exploring the market square and some surrounding streets.

The pair had found stable and even some house doors wide open.  On closer examination they could see that wardrobes had been hastily emptied, and furniture missing.  No wagons or carts could be found either.

It was obvious that the entire population of the town had left.  But why?

Gunther climbed the church tower and scanned the horizon to try to ascertain where the towns folk had gone.  He suddenly bounded down the spiral staircase.

“Turks, thousands of them!” he called out as he approached his friend.  “Mustafa Pasha’s whole army is marching this way from the east, and the towns people are all on the road to Vienna to the west.”

“I suggest we go west then,” his friend said grimly.



Haunted Wordsmith: Daily Genre Challenge Aug. 1


Note: In 1683 an Ottoman army of 140,000 men led by Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha laid siege Vienna.

Defiant Islands of the Fjord


Fjord Defence

Oscarsborg Battery

On small islands on the fjord they stood

In face of an onslaught great

Without their courage Norway’s king and gold would

Have met with Denmark’s monarch’s fate


When Blücher sailed into Drøbak Sound

Eriksen’s men held their nerve

Never to surrender Norwegian ground

The nation they proudly served




The Battle of Drøbak Sound was fought on 9 April 1940 in Oslofjord.  Colonel Eriksen’s men fired on and sank the German cruiser, Blücher.  This action thwarted the German Commando attack on the capital, and allowed for the escape of the Norwegian king, Haakon VII and the country’s gold reserve.




Ben Franklin (7), president of the Greater Philadelphia Kite Flyers Association [1774-77] was just reeling in his latest box-kite, Flash One, when he was approached by four horsemen (1): Paul Revere, a pumpkin headed Hessian, and the two Croissant brothers (11) – baker’s men from the General Lafayette’s favourite pâtisserie.  As they approached Franklin let out a loud sneeze, having been soaked in the recent lightening storm.

“Put the pepper back in the pot (3),” Revere said.

“I shall do just that,” Franklin replied, giving his bifocals a rub on his waistcoat.

About then a Native American passed out of the nearby forest.

“There goes that Sue, fella,” Revere said.

“I think it is Sioux (9),” Franklin corrected.

“Where are you going, my wayward friend, you seem lost?” Ben F. called out to the man.

“I have to deliver this envelope to General Arnold,” the man replied.  “It is a special delivery for Col Ex [Colonial Express], it’s a map of some place in New York (10).”

“That desperado (11)?” Revere snapped.  “He can’t be trusted.”

“Where are you trying to get to then?” one of the Croissants asked.  “Maybe we know the place from out pastry deliveries.”

“It is supposed to be in a cave in the wildwood (5) just past Daniel Boone’s cabin in the Dell (4).

“I think I know the place,” Pierre said, “come with me,” and the two men departed.

As they made their way towards the Dell, they passed Betsy Ross leading a school outing.

“Where are you going with all those kids?” Pierre asked?

“We are on our way to the Old North Church to light a candle (15),” Betsy replied.

“A candle?” the Frenchman asked.

“Yes, just one if by land (16),” she said matter-of-factly.

“Come along children,” she urged, and then departed.

The Native American and the Frenchman continued into the wood, where they came across a Kookaburra perched high in a tree.

“Hello, up there,” Pierre called. “What are you doing?”

“Trying to get a signal (13),” the Kookaburra replied.

“What kind of signal?” asked Sioux.

“One or two candles over at the church tower,” he replied. ” Can’t really see why anyone would want to come by sea though.”

The messenger and his guide took their leave of the old gum tree and came to a river bank, where Michael was paddling his boat back and forth around several crates he had tossed into the water.

“Why are you doing that?” Pierre asked.

“Practice,” Michael replied.  “Just in case I every have to row over the Delaware in the wintertime(14).”

Meanwhile back at the kite field the others were chatting.

Just then John Adams joined them.  “Did you notice there were only three crosses on the road to Sleepy Hollow?” Adams asked.

“Yes, seems there wasn’t enough wood to put up the last one,” Revere said.

“Why not?” The Hessian asked.

“Seems George Washington has been cutting down cherry trees again (6),” Revere said.

“When did he do that?” Franklin asked.

“July Fourth I think (2),” Revere said.

“You know what that means?” Franklin asked rhetorically.

“Cherry pie (8),” they said in chorus and rushed off towards Mount Vernon.



Fibbing Friday – July 5

  1. Who are the Four Horsemen?
  2. What happened on the Fourth of July?
  3. What should you say after sneezing?
  4. Who lived in the Dell?
  5. What was in the wildwood?
  6. Why aren’t there four crosses on the road?
  7. When was Benjamin Franklin president?
  8. What were the American Founding Fathers thinking in 1776?
  9. Why was a boy named Sue?
  10. What was the wayward son supposed to be carrying?
  11. Who was the Baker’s Man?
  12. Who is Desperado?
  13. Why does the Kookaburra sit in the old gum tree?
  14. Where is Michael going in his boat?
  15. Where are you sending the children and why?
  16. Why are you lighting a candle?