Monday 25 October 2010

Jane Franklin, Tasmania and John's Piano - and Toast and Vinegar in a Sock

Thank you for all your emails telling me about your local museums - it is going to be a very exciting draw on Saturday. Some of you may have read Claire's comment about her local museum - The Tasmania Museum & Art Gallery in Hobart. It is too interesting to miss - so please do visit. I was especially taken by this basket, stitched as a gift to Lady Jane Franklin, who the more I read about, and find artifacts such as these related to her, the more she grows in my admiration - I would dearly love to have met her. Thank you to Claire again for giving us this link to Jane's biography. She first came across my radar some years ago when I was looking at early trade and attempts at the North West Passage. Jane was the second wife of Sir John Franklin and when he went missing on one of his expeditions to find the North West Passage, she refused for years to give up hope. She fund-raised and lobbied for rescue attempts on his behalf. In Cambridge, I used to live a short walk away from the Scott Polar Institute, and from time to time I would pop in to visit. One of the pieces there I loved the most was John Franklin's piano which he packed on board for on one of his expeditions (and which unlike him did return safely). He took this piano to bolster moral amongst his men in the deep cold and bleak days. As my granny would say: there is no-one so down as a good sing-song around a piano cannot cure. I suppose I should also mention that her cure for colds was vinegar on toast inside a sock tied around your neck - the smell of which is something best left undescribed. But, to be fair, it did cure colds - after the first sock of vinegar and toast, you certainly never, ever complained of a cold again, at least not to her.


  1. I now want to find out more about the Orphan's School as I live in New Town- where it was located.

    I have a memory of being told that Jane Franklin was the first european woman to climb Mt Wellington in Hobart - so it seems she was quite plucky :-) Though I think a sedan chair may have been involved LOL

  2. PS I found this interesting biographical article about Jane Franklin which may be of interest

  3. "....cure for colds was vinegar on toast inside a sock tied around your neck. ....."

    Golly, do I remember the days! Where I lived (midwest US) it was a big spoonful of asafetida paste and 2 crushed cloves of garlic in the bag around the neck.

    Made a great friend repellent.


  4. Asafetida and garlic! That sounds like a cure from the Roman Empire - probably not,as you say, for first dates.... though I had a friend whose mother gave her heavily garlicked dishes before she went out on dates, I suppose the dates kept a good distance - that is, unless their mums had done likewise.

  5. Absolutely stellar title - I was cracking up when I read your grandmother's cold cure! I'll have to try it. Or... well. Maybe not!