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Boarding @ Home: Day 64/84: Jour Férié et Café Armagnac svp

Let's call it Spring Bank Holiday .. has been such a Bank Holiday since 1967 when the Labour Government of Harold Wilson 'fixed' Whit Monday and adopted no particular name for the occasion. Late May/ Spring are both now used in common parlance. The justification for no longer celebrating Whit Monday was that it was a changeable date like Easter and often fell in school's summer term interrupting examinations. [There's been much talk of similarly fixing Easter but not so far …] Spring Bank Holiday became a national public holiday in the United Kingdom to be celebrated on the last Monday in May. And we were delighted to receive an invitation to take coffee with the Dolphinstouns and we took along the customary Armagnac - Avril's preference although she no longer imbibes. Henry provided an accomplished display of football as well as climbing the wall into the Lane to retrieve the ball on an occasion or two with persiflage, banter aplenty. He found time to relax in his England strip ….

As with May Day this year, moved to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of VE Day [Day 47/84] the Spring Bank Holiday can alter by Royal Proclamation - in 2012 it moved to June to give HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee a four day run. It was an innovation for Scotland which had never celebrated Whit Monday but had always been a public holiday in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey.
Bank Holidays originated in 1871 replacing 33 Saints Days! The Bank Holidays Act designated four holidays in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five in Scotland. The four were were Easter Monday, the first Monday in August, Boxing Day 26th December and Whit Monday; and the five for Scotland New Year's Day, Good Friday, the first Monday in May, the first Monday in August, and Christmas Day. More days have been added for all but uniquely for Ireland i.e. St Patrick's Day, 17 March, by Act of Parliament in 1903 and 12 July as the Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 since 1926. Saints George, Andrew and David are not thus honoured.
On Bank Holidays banks are of course closed [although with ATMs and online access it's a different world], and there is no postal service. Shops may also follow different trading hours from normal and transport run on different schedules. In our youth until 1971 by when Edward Heath was Prime Minister, August Bank Holiday was always the first Monday; his government changed it to the last apparently to avoid clashes with company summer close downs.
Called Whit Monday or Pentecost? The day falls 50 days after Easter and was the occasion when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles who thereafter shared it with all who believed through the laying on of hands. Whit is from AngloSaxon meaning understanding and Pentikostí is Greek for 50. It was and remains a truly significant moment in the Christian calendar enshrining for many, including this Blogger, the conviction to adhere to Christian values in life. They used to be called St Lubbock's Days after after Liberal MP and banker Sir John Lubbock [later 1st Lord Avebury also famed for the Ancient Monuments Act 1892 and promoting the study of archaeology]. It was rumoured that he was so keen on cricket he chose the bank holiday dates to fall on the days when village matches were played in his home county! True or not the workers were ecstatic with their new found holidays.
Where was Capt James Cook on Whitsunday 1770? Answer: south of Bowen off the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef spotting a cluster of islands of which Hamilton is the centre today. The Dolphinstouns have holidayed there but Avril and I always lingered with Murals Friends in Bowen. Held a Congress there and Bryan and Joan came with us too. Seagulls were deft at catching thrown chips and there was a fantastic beach restaurant next our apartment; and Queensland white wines …..

1770 may well be a definitive moment in the European settlement of the area but the islands have long provided the native aboriginal people with rich lands and sustenance. Archeological evidence shows the islands to have been continuously inhabited for more than 8000 years, most recently by the Ngaro people - roughly translated as ‘the vanishing people'. It's speculated that name comes from the tendency of these nomads to leave the mainland in times of difficulty and take refuge on the various islands effectively disappearing from those unaware of the tropical paradise across the ocean.
Digging for Victory continues .. .. as does the capture of the arrival of the rose blooms at The Lodge. 6/10 runner beans have made their appearance and three courgettes planted in the newly prepared bed, beneath the freshly painted palindromic pickets.

Published Date: May 25th 2020

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