1
The Gift of the Gab
Music: Ignaz Moscheles
There was one form of power that self-taught engineering genius George Stephenson never harnessed.

ONE evening, when staying with Sir Robert Peel at his country house in Derbyshire, Stephenson fell into animated conversation with William Buckland, the eccentric geologist and palaeontologist, about the formation of coal.

Buckland, a veteran debater, loftily dismissed Stephenson’s theories, but the tongue-tied engineer was certain he was right.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Veteran. Veterinarian.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Gift. Garden. Lead.

Use together in one sentence: Formation. Rub. Country.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

More like this

The Battle of Nechtansmere
Music: Scottish Traditional Song
King Ecgfrith of Northumbria dismissed repeated warnings about his imperial ambitions.

WHEN Ecgfrith became King of Northumbria in 670, his realm had never been stronger. The ambitious pagan King Penda of Mercia had fallen at the Battle of the Winwaed in 655, and though Penda’s Christian heir Ethelred rebuffed Ecgfrith’s advance southwards in 679, lands to the north looked promising.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Advice. Advise.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Advance. Fall. Battle.

Use together in one sentence: Soon. Add. Herald.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

Crayke Abbey
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.

WHEN St Cuthbert was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarne in 685, King Ecgfrith of Northumbria gave him an estate at Crayke, some twelve miles north of York, as a place to stay on his journeys to the capital. Cuthbert at once founded a monastery there, and appointed the first abbot.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Tour. Visit.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Gift. Stay. Place.

Use together in one sentence: Rather. Neighbour. Journey.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
Music: Sir John Blackwood McEwen
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.

CUTHBERT was once addressing a crowd gathered in the street of a small Northumbrian village, when he broke off in mid flow to say:

‘Whatever happens, never let yourselves be distracted by the devil’s trickery.’

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Town. Village.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Roll. Comfort. Try.

Use together in one sentence: Away. Ignore. Instead.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
Music: Sir John Blackwood McEwen
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.

IN about 882, the little band of monks who cared for St Cuthbert’s coffin boarded a ship at Workington, seeking refuge in Ireland from the Danish invasion. But three miles out a storm arose, washing their cherished, hand-painted copy of the Gospels overboard, and tossing their little ship ashore at Whithorn in Galloway.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: There. Their. They’re.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Storm. Band. Settle.

Use together in one sentence: Bright. Shipwrecked. Fitfully.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.

Cuthbert and the Mystery Guest
Music: John Garth
A young monk was rewarded for taking his duties as guest-master seriously.

ONE freezing cold winter’s morning, after a night of snow, Cuthbert was surprised to discover a footsore traveller in the guest-house. He bathed the man’s feet, and suggested breakfast, but it seemed his visitor’s home was a long way off, and he was eager to be gone.

Continue reading

Grammar and Composition

Distinguish using sentences: Cool. Chilly.

Use as a noun and also as a verb: Call. Breakfast. Go.

Use together in one sentence: On. Baker. Batch.

More games: Précis. Sevens. Jigsaw. Confusables. Spinner. Opposites. Verb or Noun? Active or Passive? Subject and Object. Adjectives. Word Classes.