Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #6

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.  This is a collection of some of the most popular items from the contest I held recently.


1) Looking at the spines covering this European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), it certainly seems as though mating would be uncomfortable, to say the least!
"If you’ll not let me be spiritual about it, you’ll have to put up wi’ my baser nature. I’m going to be a beast.” He bit my neck. “Do ye want me to be a horse, a bear, or a dog?”

“A hedgehog.”

“A hedgehog? And just how does a hedgehog make love?” he demanded.

No, I thought. I won’t. I will not. But I did. “Very carefully,” I replied, giggling helplessly. So now we know just how old that one is, I thought.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a brief BBC video about the mating habits of hedgehogs, narrated by David Attenborough.

2) The objects shown above are gaberlunzie badges, like the ones carried by Jamie's friend Hugh Munro. The one on the left is from Huntly Parish, Scotland, and the one on the right comes from Old Aberdeen. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)
At one point, Jamie jabbed a thumb at the rectangular bits of lead that adorned Munro's strap.

"Gone official, have ye?" he asked. "Or is that just for when the game is scarce?" Munro bobbed his head and nodded like a jack-in-the-box.

"What are they?" I asked curiously.


"Oh, to be sure," I said. "Pardon my asking."

"A gaberlunzie is a license to beg, Sassenach," Jamie explained. "It's good within the borders of the parish, and only on the one day a week when begging's allowed. Each parish has its own, so the beggars from one parish canna take overmuch advantage of the charity of the next."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Here's a video showing how to put on a great kilt, or belted plaid.  And here are step-by-step instructions, with pictures.  (Please note, I can't vouch for the accuracy or the authenticity of either of the methods shown!)

Even Roger seemed to have some difficulty with this:
"All right," he said with resignation. "Laugh if ye must." Getting into a belted plaid wasn't the most dignified thing a man could do, given that the most efficient method was to lie down on the pleated fabric and roll like a sausage on a girdle. Jamie could do it standing up, but then, the man had had practice.

His struggles--rather deliberately exaggerated--were rewarded by Brianna's giggling, which in turn seemed to have a calming effect on the baby. By the time Roger made the final adjustments to his pleats and drapes, mother and child were both flushed, but happy.

Roger made a leg to them, flourishing, and Bree patted her own leg in one-handed applause.

"Terrific," she said, her eyes traveling appreciatively over him. "See Daddy? Pretty Daddy!" She turned Jemmy, who stared openmouthed at the vision of male glory before him and blossomed into a wide, slow smile, a trickle of drool hanging from the pouting curve of his lip.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23, "The Bard". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Diana Gabaldon has said that the actors in the OUTLANDER TV series will be wearing this type of belted plaid.


4) Here's what a bodhran sounds like when played by an expert. Thanks very much to my sister Alice, who found this video several years ago. The performer's name is John Joe Kelly, and I think he's terrific!
I sat up, listening hard. It was a drum with a sound like a beating heart, slow and rhythmic, then trip-hammer fast, like the frantic surge of a hunted beast.
I could have told them that Indians never used drums as weapons; Celts did.  It was the sound of a bodhran.
What next? I thought, a trifle hysterically, bagpipes?
It was Roger, certainly; only he could make a drum talk like that.  It was Roger, and Jamie was nearby.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, chapter 28 ("Curses"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 

5) Here's an astrolabe from the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England.  Click on the photo to see a bigger view.
It was a flat golden disk, about four inches across. Goggling in astonishment, I could see that the rim was slightly raised, like that of a plate, and printed with tiny symbols of some kind. Set into the central part of the disk was an odd pierced-work arrangement, made of some silvery metal. This consisted of a small open dial, rather like a clock-face, but with three arms connecting its outer rim to the center of the bigger, golden disk.

The small silver circle was also adorned with printed arcana, almost too fine to see, and attached to a lyre-shape which itself rested in the belly of a long, flat silver eel, whose back curved snugly round the inner rim of the golden disk. Surmounting the whole was a gold bar, tapered at the ends like a very thick compass needle, and affixed with a pin that passed through the center of the disk and allowed the bar to revolve. Engraved in flowing script down the center of the bar was the name "James Fraser."

"Why, whatever in the name of Bride will that be?" Mrs. Bug, naturally, recovered first from her surprise.

"It's a planispheric astrolabe," Jamie answered, recovered from his surprise, and sounding almost matter-of-fact.

"Oh, of course," I murmured. "Naturally!"

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 77, "A Package From London". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's some more information about astrolabes, including how to tell time using an astrolabe and instructions on how to make your own astrolabe.

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts, and please come back next week for more.

Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #1
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #2
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #3
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #4
Best of the Friday Fun Facts: Collection #5

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