A Right Royal Shopping Spree

Christopher Fowler
HRH likes a tipple, and her choice of poison is of course her own mother's ruin, gin. So it makes perfect sense that the Queen should start selling Buckingham Palace gin, described thusly on the label; 'Lemon, verbena, hawthorn berries and mulberry leaves are among the 12 botanicals hand-picked for the gin in the Gardens at Buckingham Palace, which span 16 hectares and provide a habitat for 30 species of bird and over 250 species of wild flower.' I'm not quite sure why Gardens gets a capital letter but we'll let that pass. Retailing for 40 nicker (steep but OK for a unique brand that's unavailable overseas), it's just one of a list of available shopkeeping items on the Buckingham Palace website. How about Handbag Biscuits for a quid? These are emergency shortbread biscuits that one keeps in one's handbag
in case one is suddenly offered tea with nary a biscuit in sight (gasp!). Or how about the Longest Reigning Monarch Double Chocolate Biscuit Tube? It's a bit shonky but a perfect gift for the care home inmate in your life. The Queen also does dolly mixtures and jelly babies, assuming that in some part of the world it's still 1953. But oh, that's just the start of the dinky pastel retail pleasures to be found here. How about the stationary letterbox hamper (not, not a clue), guardsman socks, Buckingham Palace oven gloves or the world's ugliest teapot for just under six hundred quid? I notice there's an absence of Prince Charles-related tat beyond a 70th birthday celebration charger (who actually has a charger in their crockery drawer?) and as for Prince Andrew it was probably risky finding anything for him to endorse. There are Buckingham Palace metal straws, presumably for coke fiends with delusions of grandeur, and something called the Leonardo Da Vinci Signature Ruler, which appears to be a wooden ruler with his signature scrawled in one corner. I was looking for something more expensive but there are a surprising number of budget items, including tiaras and 'traditional pyjamas'. I like this side of the Royal family. They may be able to trace their bloodlines back hundreds of years but they're not averse to flogging the Buckingham Palace State Coach Fridge Magnet if they have to.
One belongs to a nation of shopkeepers, after all.  


Jan (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 21:15

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This handbag biscuit idea has definitely got mileage in it. This sounds seriously good. A right winner.

A tiara would n't go amiss either - I 've always wanted to wear a tiara. Is Queenie selling Longest Reigning monarch double chocolate biscuit tiaras do you know? It'll be like all me birthdays coming @ once.

snowy (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 22:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I could staple some Bourbons to a 'scrunchie' if you like, but it's not a tiara.

<i>[You might have more joy looking for the two-tailed comet knocking around the skies tonight/tomorrow 'NEOWISE' Comet C/2020 F3]</i>

Helen Martin (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 22:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Like every comet of my life it is as much of a disappointment as Halley's was for my Mother. Apparently you had to have seen it in 1910 to have seen anything impressive. She waited all her life for it to turn up again and then it wasn't really visible let alone bright enough to light up the night. If she could have got hold of an astronomer she'd probably have shaken him to death or beaned him with his telescope.

Brooke (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 22:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

And the Corgi socks are cheap cotton and spandex--not cashmere like the originals! Pooh.

Dawn Andrews (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 05:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

For some reason I keep visualising the old Queen Mum (gawd bless 'er) in one of her amazing hats, with that increasingly sad smile. There's a set of coasters no doubt!

Jan (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 06:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Snows I've been looking for Neowise since last week. I started work really early yesterday
(0530): and was out on the steep field out at the back with a good view to the N.E. @ 0345. View off to the N.E was hidden by clouds. Of course woke up early this morning after yesterday's early get up. Still cloudy!

There's some great photos out on the interwebby taken up at Windwhistle up near Chard looking across the Somerset levels featuring this comet. It's not a double pronged tail is it Snowy? You've got me wondering now. Seems to be ever so bright. Some local folk have spotted it no binos or telescope needed at all.

I don't like bourbon biscuits much or I would go with this plan of yours . Bourbons are awful one of the few biscuits I can't get on with. I would have gone with custard creams or jammy Dodgers (with cream not without). Maybe some biscuit bar in a wrapper would work.....Wagon wheels would be spectacular. Or the ultimate result could be the Crunchie scrunchy.

Jan (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 06:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

No it's not a double tailed comet Snowy I have just checked.

This from pictures published in various places showing only a single tail it's not like the Star Bucks mermaid!
There have been two tailed comets though not at all unknown.

Warner Vision published some pictures on Facebook, with some fantastic lenticular clouds in the background, taken on the 11th July. They are the ones from The Windwhistle Inn car park looking across the Somerset levels just up the Road from me.

If he's not hiding behind clouds Neowise will be visible at its brightest on 23/7 but will be spottable until early August. Tons of time yet folks in fact he might still be bustling about toward the N.E. horizon while the Perseids the shooting stars start to put in their appearance..

Summer stargazing lovely jubbly.

Peter Dixon (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 07:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Where's the Queen Mother set of commemorative wooden teeth? Or the Prince Phillip Book of Etiquette? Or the "I visited Buckingham Palace and all I got was this lousy God Save The Queen T-shirt?"

Ian Luck (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 07:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Viz Comic is the place to look for Royal tat. Best of all is their touching tribute to Diana, a year after her death, entitled: 'The Full English Breakfast Plate Of Hope'. It's a plate printed with an image of a fried breakfast, with a picture of Diana in the yolk of the egg. Then there is '32 Glorious Teeth', a set of discoloured and manky choppers to celebrate the Queen Mum's 99th birthday. A bit more up to date, is their Diamond Jubilee 'Grumpy Queen' Jubilee coin, depicting a gloweing monarch in headscarf, with arms folded. Utter tat. Which some poor deluded soul would buy.

Liz Thompson (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 08:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Well, I suppose it's some sort of contribution to the economy. Or are they running out of money again?

chazza (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 08:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How about a corgi-shaped door stop and Prince Andrew-endorsed childrens underwear?

snowy (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 09:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm not going to disagree with you Jan, [wouldn't dare]

I was working off this source from 'The Register'.

Solar radiation vaporizes the ice in the comet's nucleus. Gas and dust are freed as a result, and it all forms a cloud, or coma, around the comet's body as well its two tails. One of the tails contains ionized gas, and the other, brighter, one is made up of dust. The comet made its closest approach to the Sun on July 3. Now, it's making its way towards Earth and will eventually cross our planet's orbit and return to the outer edges of our Solar System by August.

The best chance of seeing the comet is a few hours before sunrise until about July 14. Find some place with a good open view of the sky and not too much light pollution. It's best viewed with a telescope or binoculars, though the naked eye may do just fine. After July 14, you can look for it after sunset though bear in mind it may be too faint for the naked eye.

[I think you should trade-mark the 'Crunchie-Scrunchy' it could be this years must-have Xmas present].

Jan (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 10:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Now that is weird way to put it I wonder if what they are alluding to is a sort of candle flame effect with a brighter inner core and a much more disparate outer layer less concentrated than the central element. Am foxed as to what they are driving at here.

I have had a proper good look @ the photos from up at Windwhistle (Its a great name for a pub on such a breezy ridge the
"Windwhistle Inn" cos it bloody does every time someone opens the front door!) And still I don't understand what they are driving at. Probably just me being proper thick. I have seen telescopic photos of comets where there's one sort of plume almost at a slightly different angle to the rest of the tail. Like with a blowtorch or a Bunsen burner that sort of effect you know the central bit being a blue flame surrounded by a pinky orange. I dunno this will be another addition to mysteries I can't solve.

I really like all the old representations of comets you see in paintings and pictures Halleys comet (Such a disappointment to Helens mam!) actually crops up in the Bayeaux tapestry doesn't it? I reckon that's wonderful. It is interesting that the ancients believed the appearance of comets as strange and evil portents....

This Neowise has turned up in the same year as plagues of locusts, the pandemic,+ record sales of suntan lotion in the Artic regions. Is that thundering of hooves I can hear the four horsemen of the apocalypse hurtling around the corner?

Ken (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 10:46

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A 'stationary letterbox hamper'? What is the point of a hamper if you can't take it anywhere? (I know. That's low, especially as I cannot compose a simple Tweet without at least two spelling mistakes, but I couldn't resist.)

snowy (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 10:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Perhaps this might help:

Why do comets have tails?

Comets develop tails as they approach perihelion–the place in their orbits when they are closest to the Sun. The Sun's heat vaporizes some of the comet's material, releasing dust particles that were trapped in the ice.

A combination of solar radiation pressure and solar wind blow away gas and dust from the comet's nucleus, forming two separate tails: the ion tail and the dust tail.

Two Types of Tails

Ultraviolet light ionizes the neutral gas blown off the comet, and the solar wind carries these ions straight out from the Sun to form the ion tail, which typically glows blue. The dust tail on the other hand is neutral, composed of small dust particles (similar in size to those found in cigarette smoke). Pressure from the Sun's radiation pushes these particles away from the comet's nucleus. These particles continue to follow the comet's orbit around the Sun, and form a diffuse, curved tail that typically appears white or pink from Earth.

Quote from skyandtelescope website.

What it says is one tail is being dragged behind the comet like the wake from a steamer, while the other tail is being blown out by the solar wind, like the smoke from the funnel. If you can imagine the ship it sort of makes sense.

The old images of comets came from a time when dark was really dark, the brightest man-made light source was a chandelier full of candles, [and there was probably a big dollop of artistic license as well].

Ian Luck (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 11:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I do remember comet Hale-Bopp from many years back 1997, I believe, and there had also been comet Hyaketuke before it. It was visible for ages, as it chugged across the sky. Very bright, too. Coming that close to the end of the millennium, all the nutters were calling it a 'Star Of Ill Omen'. No. It was a 'Dirty Snowball Of Ill Omen' if you must. A planetary alignment a bit later on, and a total solar eclipse in 1999 - Oh, my god, it's awful.(SARCASM).

Jan (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 12:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

No that makes a lot more sense snowy. I see it a bit more clearly now. I think...

Llight pollution does make whoppa difference. It's only since moving into the countryside that I've really got into stargazing having lived in a couple of places where on a clear evening the Milky way is clearly visible across the sky.

Oops we're heading back into Scrunchy territory...

Christopher Fowler Tue, 14/07/2020 - 12:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How on earth did we go from biscuits to comet anomalies? I love the Comments Section!

David Ronaldson (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 14:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm sure an old friend used to get her dog Cupid and Comet biscuits.

Dawn Andrews (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 15:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I wish the term crunchie scrunchie hadn't come up, I ican magine having lots of crumbs in my hair now. Descriptions of comets I like and the Windwhistle Inn. Does it have a stable?

Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 17:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My husband was up at 4am yesterday and says he saw that comet. Did he tell me to come look? Of course not. Well, I'll just have to set the alarm or something because I do want to see it. Those ones in the nineties were obscured by clouds and the eclipse wasn't visible here. (Grind, grind.)

Peter T (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 23:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A bit more on comet tails. Both tails are generated by forces that act along a line from the sun. The elements of one tail travel out from the comet so fast that the comet effectively hasn't moved; the other travels at a speed closer to that of the comet. The ionised gas (plasma) tail is the one that moves at very high speed. The comet has hardly moved forward on its path while an element of the plasma has travelled a large (clearly visible from Earth) distance. Thus the plama tail sits (almost) exactly) along a straight line directed from the comet and away from the sun. The dust tail moves more slowly, a similar speed to the comet. When an element of the dust has moved some distance from the comet, the comet itself has moved a similar distance forwards on its path. As a consequence, the dust tail trails a bit behind the comet.

Imagine the path of the water jet from a hose pipe that you are holding. What you see as the trajectory of the jet if you stand still, or walk very slowly forward (in a direction at right angles to the jet) or move faster forward.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 02:46

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Ian don't forget the millennium bug, it's the end of computer calendars as we know it. I almost went out to party like it was 1899 as Weird Al put it.

If you want Charley tackle you can always pass over the Duchy.

Good luck with the Sons of Perseus, sad we won't get to see Swift-Tuttle just the debris shower.


Ian Luck (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 06:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

But what about the turnips?

Jan (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 07:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Think I understand what you are saying Peter this accords with the comet photographs I have seen. One part of the "tail"projecting at a definitely different direction. What you are saying does account for this. This is how I interpreted a double tail looking and why I thought Neowise was a single tailer.

Here can I ask folk another ? as my tablet isn't playing with Google this morning. (Perhaps they've had a fallout. ). Is Neowise a new name for a comet that's been here before? Is this a return visitor who is travelling on a very very large /long orbit? Has he been round before but so long between visits we've forgotten his old original name? Or is he a proper stranger?

I can't grasp this I thought comets all engaged in return orbits but this doesn't always seem to be the case.

I must put me hands up I love watching the shooting stars which shower throughout the year and I get the planet's now and can spot them and have seen them align across the sky once or twice (which was fantastic) but the mechanics of it being a bit of a nump I don't always get or understand.

snowy (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 08:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A simple and quite reasonable question, the short answer is it has a long orbit, longer than written history. [Pursuing the question further will drop you in the realm of Kepler's laws of planetary motion].

Peter T (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 09:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Jan, I could have made the analogy clearer. Attach a laser pointer (one of those horrible things that some lecturers use supposedly to point at a screen, but actually to blind someone in their audience), attach a laser pointer to the end of your hose pipe so that it's aiming in the same direction as the water jet. The 'jet of photons' from the laser move at the speed of light, much faster than the water or you can move. So long as you keep still, the water jet and the light from the laser follow the same line. However, if you start moving (you're the comet following its orbit), the two jets follow different lines. The plasma tail of the comet behaves like the photons from the laser; the dust tail like the water from the hose.

This might make a physics exercise for some children; could even start a nice fight.

Jan (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 09:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Still mulling over both replies here. Thanks gents.

snowy (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 10:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oh, and we have not run out of treats for you young lady!

If you are going to see your friends in that dreadfully hilly bit West of London at some point this year, the boys and girls building the jumbo train-set that nobody wants have found some skellys and a 'henge'.

[If you search for 'HS2 Skeletons' it should lead you a Guardian article which will give you a gloss].

[I don't think it is a henge, that is perhaps a bit of journalistic shorthand, it more resembles and enclosure with a palisade.]

snowy (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 12:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Anything involving things happening in three dimensions gets complicated try looking at this quick sketch I 'dun':


[Peter will check/correct me if I'm wrong.]

snowy (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 14:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

6/4 the next Twiiter post will say something like:


[But with a more polished writer-ly style obv.]

Peter T (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 16:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Well Snowy, thinking even more about it, I'm of the opinion that we are both a bit mistaken. We have to keep in mind that what we see as the tails aren't particle paths, but the present positions of particles that left the comet at different times in the past. The dust and the plasma both leave the comet going in the same direction relative to the comet (on a line away from the Sun). Initially, that's close to the comet, both tails are in the same direction. So the red tail should be adjusted to coincide with the blue close to the comet. Further away, the dust gets left behind. So the red tail should be more of an arch kind of shape.

I think this is the arm waving while sitting in the armchair explanation. The other starts with Newton/Hamilton/Lagrange and ends somewhere I can't reach. Patrick Moore or his grandson Brian are never around when you need them.

Now, I'll have to have another cup of tea and ice cream to recover. Before that, congratulations, Snowy, on producing the picture and posting it. That kind of thing usually takes me at least a week of effort.

Peter T (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 16:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)


I should have looked there in the first place. I dunno about the discussion, but it will be better than mine. Certianly, the pictures are nice!

The odds are now closer to 100/1 on.

snowy (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 18:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I take all your points, my daub is an approximation, [slightly fudged to make the boat analogy work].

Comets are always sort of falling towards the Sun on a curved path and missing, which causes all-sorts of other non-obvious side effects. Space is hard, I'm glad I don't live there.

snowy (not verified) Wed, 15/07/2020 - 23:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Breaking News!

I've just heard from the Maudsley Mental Health Unit - Rehabilitation Kitchen, and the 'Fig Roll Fascinator' is definitely on for the Spring collection!

But I had to put my foot down - with a very firm hand about the 'Cumberland Sausage Yarmulke', that is just so wrong, on so many levels! [Are they completely insane?]

[Salt Beef, I said, Salt Beef! Go meshuga!]

Jan (not verified) Thu, 16/07/2020 - 04:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Like those comet pictures PeterT. That's pretty much along the lines of the pictures I'd looked at. Thanks for putting the link in. Thankyou!

Had a quick look at the HS2 stuff there was a really interesting article a couple of months back shortly b4 lockdown where a virtually intact shrine was discovered close to a pre-existing railway line. Very odd. Near a tunnel or something it was.

There is tons of stuff over Wendover way. Big ley hunters paradise the Chilterns. Probably going to a big thing for at least the next 20 odd years now the tech. exists they will discover more and more woodhenges which sort of begs the ? How many did we miss before having the right tech equipment?

Cloudy again up at 3a.m. no view of comet. 0520 can't get b back to skip. Need to as I am working a late today. Right pain.

Jan (not verified) Thu, 16/07/2020 - 04:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Kip not skip bloody spellchecker it wants checking

Ian Luck (not verified) Thu, 16/07/2020 - 07:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Lasers. One of the few things that, when I was a kid, were in the far future, but we actually got. I bought one simply because it looked like a Dalek's gun. To my joy, it will actually burn holes in things. I use it to light joss sticks with. Oh, the ignominy! Future tech. Used solely to light incense. Too dangerous for anything else.

snowy (not verified) Thu, 16/07/2020 - 10:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think I've been through Wendover, ages ago... going to RAF Halton. Lovely 1920's lecture theatre, banks of long desks on a steep rake, but the benches are a bit numbing on the seat. [And when a shouty man with 3 stripes on his arm tells you "this is a crashed plane", it's a crashed plane].

[Pointing out it is not bent, on its wheels and sporting rather natty canvas prop blade covers really doesn't go down well.]

[Argosy, for all the plane spotters out there.]

Bonnie Ferguson (not verified) Thu, 16/07/2020 - 16:20

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was going to leave a comment about my tour of Buckingham Palace in 2013, but I found myself plopped in the middle of a comet discussion group. There is a shop just as you enter for the tour, I bought nothing, but enjoyed looking at over-priced china, tableware and so forth. Enjoyable afternoon all in all. Guides were so kind.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Fri, 17/07/2020 - 00:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bonnie I quite like nosing around, I particularly liked the shop at Edinburgh Castle, got nice discounted bottle of Scotch. At Windsor Castle I love the dolls house with stories especially written and bound for the Library of the dolls house. M.R. James did The Haunted Dolls House for it. Blimey back row actual fiction. I need to go and cook some meals and tofu, the secret is using chili pepper.


Jan (not verified) Sat, 18/07/2020 - 10:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Snowy and Peter T

Just to make you aware tomorrow night 19/7 and probably to an extent tonight (this is another thing I don't properly get). There will be a planetary alignment and the planets should fall into line close to the crescent moon.

Looks worth getting outside to see and staying up a bit longer should be provide a view of
Neowise in the North Eastern Sky.

Touchwood there being no cloud cover.

snowy (not verified) Sat, 18/07/2020 - 11:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

*Quick, Quick distract Jan with something that means I don't have to go on epic treks at silly O'Clock*

When you have finished, star-gazing and sploshing around Stop-lines, there is a new layer of mysterious 'doings' out your way, the old hidden Aux Unit, Operating Bases, [there were 39 in the county].

https://www.staybehinds.com/counties will take you to the UK counties list, [the top menu will give more background].

[If that doesn't work, I'll start listing the 5 wild fruits and 1 wild herb, I've harvested since the start of the month!]

Helen Martin (not verified) Sat, 18/07/2020 - 21:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Jan, I have trouble with that "tonight and tomorrow night" business, too, but I think it has to do with continuous movement and blocked visibility due to earth rotation. You're saying north east and that's what we were told (same earth after all) but now they're saying north west an hour after sunset until July 22. Which planets are aligning?

Ian Luck (not verified) Sun, 19/07/2020 - 12:47

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen, at a rough guess, I'd say Mars, Pluto (good luck seeing that one), Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon. Clear sky all day here yesterday. Got dark - 96% cloud cover. Perfect. Perfect for being able to see 100% Sod All.