Page 155. " He was dressed in tights, a leather jerkin and codpiece "
Archduke Rudolf, wearing pumpkin hose and a codpiece
Public DomainArchduke Rudolf, wearing pumpkin hose and a codpiece - Credit: Alonso Sánchez Coello (1532–1588)

The codpiece was a covering flap or pouch that attached to the front of men's trousers, accentuating the crotch. It was an important item of European clothing in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Portrait of Antonio Navagero (1565)
Public DomainPortrait of Antonio Navagero (1565) - Credit: Giovanni Battista Moroni

In the 14th century, men's hose consisted of two separate legs worn over linen drawers, which left the crotch covered only by a layer of linen. As the century wore on and doublets shortened, the genitals were rather exposed – the codpiece began life as a triangular piece of fabric covering the gap.  As time passed, codpieces became shaped and padded to emphasize rather than conceal. They were at their most ostentatious in the 1540s, but had fallen out of fashion by the 1590s.

Page 158. " I'd settle for a Gainsborough... that one of the kid in the blue suit "
Thomas Gainsborough, 1787
Public DomainThomas Gainsborough, 1787 - Credit: Self-portrait

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was an English portrait and landscape painter.  He was born in Suffolk, and moved toLondon to study art in 1740.  His career took a while to flourish, but with his move to Bath in 1759 he finally acquired the patronage of fashionable society. In 1769 he became a founding member of the Royal Academy.  He painted portraits of the King and Queen and received many royal commissions.  He is credited as the originator of the 18th century British landscape school, while also being the dominant British portrait painter of the second half of the 18th century.

Gainsborough Blue Suit
Public DomainGainsborough Blue Suit - Credit: Gainsborough
His oil painting, The Blue Boy, was painted around 1770, and is one of his most famous works.  It is thought to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall, the son of a wealthy hardware merchant.  The painting was in Jonathan Buttall's possession until he filed for bankruptcy in 1796. It changed hands several times, until it was sold to an art dealer in 1921. The dealer sold it to the American railway pioneer Henry Edwards Huntington, causing a public outcry in Britain.  Before its departure to California in 1922, it was briefly displayed at the National Gallery, where it was seen by 90,000 people. The portrait now resides in the Huntingdon Library, San Marino, California.

Page 162. " a large vat of plaster of Paris "

Classical figure in plaster of Paris
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeClassical figure in plaster of Paris - Credit: Afsar Naqvi
Gypsum plaster, or Plaster of Paris, is employed by mixing water with calcium sulfate hemihydrate, which is produced by heating gypsum to about 150 °C.  When the dry plaster powder is mixed with water, it re-forms into gypsum.

A large gypsum deposit at Montmartre in Paris led gypsum plaster to be commonly known as "plaster of Paris."

Page 172. " Backpacking in the Forest of Dean "
Forest of Dean
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeForest of Dean - Credit: Andy Dolman

The Forest of Dean, in the Wye Valley, was proclaimed as a National Forest Park in 1938. It is a refuge for some ancient woodland, particularly oak, beech and sweet chestnut.

There is a wild population of fallow deer in the forest and there may be some roe deer present. A controversial population of wild boars were illegally introduced, although they were likely to have occurred there previously. Badgers, grey squirrels, voles, hedgehogs, dormice and foxes are also found in the area. There are a wide range of birds that live in the forest, including peregrine falcons and goshawks.