Truffle Hunting

Truffle hunting was a popular rural occupation in Britain in the 19th century. Truffles were most often found under the shade of beech and oak trees. Hunters dug down to a depth of around twelve inches, and then set their terrier dogs free to sniff the truffles out.

On the Continent trained pigs were often used instead of dogs. But the most experienced hunters and their young assistants could smell out truffles without the aid of ‘a brute companion’.

The truffle is a species of edible fungus, some about the size of a walnut. Coloured black or white, truffles have a rough, warty surface and a highly characteristic smell. The truffle was used by Victorian chefs to add flavour to sauces, but considered scarcely worth eating on its own. Most truffles were sent to Covent Garden market.

These days they have a variety of uses. White truffles cane be served raw when sprinkled over salads or fried eggs. They can be sliced and inserted into meat, tucked under the skins of roasted chickens, and used as an ingredient in pâtés.

The Maple House of Ratibor
This huge maple (The Maple of Ratibor), was said to be in Poland. It is not known whether it was a real creation or a fiction.
Stump dancing

California's native big tree species, the giant Sequoia, has long been a marvel of the natural world.


An Advertising Elephant
This odd device would be ideal for distributing election leaflets by political parties out in the hustings, or PR companies in search of the fresh approach. It  was first used in the early 1890s in Continental Europe.
'The slow but sure sort always wins'

A report of a highly unusual race appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 7 December 1902:

‘Seven huge turtles racing at a snail’s pace across a lawn, cheered on by an interested and excited crowd of spectators, and urged to their highest speed by their enthusiastic riders furnished an amusing spectacle on the Hagenbeck Lawn in Hamburg, where the contest was run.

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