Sunday, 9 February 2014

Ordnance Datum Level

I must say that one of the benefits of writing this blog over the last diddly-dum years has been an increase in my general knowledge.  I've learned all sorts of things and now know, for instance, what pulled pork is.  Coincidentally, despite that not having been something generally known in England, there have been a smattering of mentions recently.  The latest is in a booklet of Heston Blumenthal recipes distributed with yesterday's newspaper.  Now if you are a reader from across the sea, that name quite possibly means sweet Fanny Adams to you so I'll explain.

Mr B is a chef (yes, you had already worked that one out) who owns a restaurant - The Fat Duck - which was Michelin's restaurant of the Year back in 2001.  There is a tasting menu offered at the restaurant - allow three and a half hours - priced at £195 per person.  I've not eaten there.

And here's another thing: sweet Fanny Adams.  The origin of this phrase is actually quite gruesome as it refers to the abduction and murder of 8-years-old Fanny Adams in 1867.  The culprit was quickly found and tried and executed in December that year.  (You can read the whole story right here if you have a mind to.)  But I will quote the last couple of paras from that link:
Poor Fanny's headstone which was erected by public subscription and renovated a few years ago still stands in the town cemetery on the Old Odiham Road. It might have been our only reminder of the tragic affair had it not been for the macabre humour of British sailors.

Served with tins of mutton as the latest shipboard convenience food in 1869, they gloomily declared that their butchered contents must surely be 'Sweet Fanny Adams'. Gradually accepted throughout the armed services as a euphemism for 'sweet nothing' it passed into common usage.

As an aside, the large tins in which the meat was packed for the Royal Navy, were often used as mess tins and it appears that even today mess tins are colloquially known as 'fannys'.
But what of Ordnance Datum Level - which is where we started out?   Well, that is connected with the recent spate of flooding.  Although some of the problems have arisen as a result of strong winds and very high tides and others because swollen rivers have burst their banks, the level of the water table has been causing concern as well.  It would seem that the ordnance datum level is the average level of the water table.  Here in Patcham ground water was reported last week as being 40 metres above ODL - that's 130 feet higher than average.  No wonder water has been seeping up out of the ground into some houses.  I was surprised to find a spring gushing water in the park the other morning - something I have never seen before - and water was pouring out at least as fast as at the spring which is considered to be the source of the River Loire!

If I manage to keep blogging for another diddly-dum years, who knows what else I might learn?


I took a detour on the way home from Stanmer Park on Friday afternoon into the village of Falmer.  This is the church.

1 comment:

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

"The Fat Duck"

Now I have to do some surfing...
...because you mentioned a duck.