By George- History Is Trending

Last year, many of us submerged ourselves in the Regency times whilst watching Bridgeton created by Chris Van Dusen and Shonda Rhimes and based on the romance novels of Julia Quinn. Whilst not strictly historically correct, it was visually pleasing, very entertaining and totally watchable escapism. It also created an interest in the history of this period. The Georgians witnessed the birth of industrialisation; radicalism and repression and extreme luxury alongside extreme poverty. Bridgeton, shows the formalized courting season in London in 1813, as wealthy high-society family’s scheme to pair off their eligible offspring. Showing the Ton, from the French phrase le bon ton meaning in the fashionable mode, or the In Crowd in our modern terms, at its best and worst.The Regency is the period of social and cultural development seen by many as a glorious epoch in British history. As the First Gentleman of Europe the Prince Regent actively encouraged many of the new movements in painting, sculpture, decoration, literature, music, technology and science.

In the last decade many historians have become fascinated by the similarities between the eighteenth century and our own times. The free-wheeling commercial development of the Georgian era, its unabashed enjoyment of consumption of all kinds and the importance of newspapers and magazines in everyday life. This also was the beginning of the culture of celebrity, as Georgian’s held an obsessive interest in all kinds of fame.  

The Georgian era is from 1714 to 1837 and named after the Hanoverian Kings George I, George II, George III and George IV. The Regency period was from 1811 to 1820 when George, Prince of Wales, governed the country as Regent during the madness of his father, George III.

This was a period of great change, as cities grew, trade expanded and consumerism and popular culture blossomed. Known for its lavish fashions, sumptuous food and decadence. In high society, the more over the top the better, best shown in Sofia Coppola’s film, Marie Antoinette in 2006 which was the retelling of France’s iconic but ill-fated French queen. The excess of the period ended with Marie Antoinette’s head been lifted off by its pomaded pomp for a Republican crowd. The Georgian era was a period of ostentation and inequality when it was fashionable for both men and women to flaunt their wealth with excessive displays of hair and beauty products. The more elaborate it was, the longer it took to do, and the more expensive the ingredients, the better. Men’s fashion was equally flamboyant to match the liberal period they lived in with powdered wigs, collared frock coats, and the early to mid-1800s Beau Brummel provided a fashionable figure to follow in terms of what to and what not to wear. It was the last time in history that male attire was as elaborate as women’s making Harry Styles appear quite conservative by comparison.

 On BBC’s twos Make-up a Glamourous History, with Lisa Eldridge, a professional make-up and Global Creative Director for Lancôme, explores what the beauty of the time reveals about the era. Discovering how in this period of extreme wealth in Britain, the rich entered an arms race of beauty. Eldridge tries out all sorts of Georgian recipes with crushed beetles, seashells and bear grease. (Which she substituted with a vegetable oil) Later, she recreates an authentic Georgian look on a 21st century model, with towering hair and whitened complexion. (Without, using toxic lead powder like the Georgians). It had been known for a time that some ingredients such as lead and mercury were very harmful to health, but were still used by many. Pale skin was considered a sign of wealth as it meant you didn’t have to work outside.  Eventually, zinc oxide and talc were used to whiten the face, which was less opaque and relatively less harmful.

Sometimes, additional facial adornments were used to emphasize a fashionable pallor included a small black mole, little clippings of dark velvet, silk or glossy silk applied to the face as a flirtatious embellishment, sending a possible suitor a message about yourself. However, it was said that a promiscuous manner of patching may be productive of ill consequences and ruin many a fair character. These also had the advantage of concealing unsightly pox scars or blemishes. For women, cosmetics were an essential fashion accessory, enabling them to express their status and cultural refinement by emulating the latest modes in female beauty. Members of the aristocracy were often criticized for their heavy-handed use of face-paint. The Georgian look might be ravishingly beautiful but was insanely time -consuming. That was the point. Only the very richest could afford the time and products and this was a period of staggering inequality.

The French Revolution (1789-1799) had the biggest impact on women’s Regency makeup. For a start, it swept away the widespread and extravagant use of makeup that was associated with the decadent aristocracy. The Regency period had a more delicate appearance which extended to the hair, with wigs and enormous headpieces falling out of fashion, curls, feathers, and natural hair were prized. The upper classes wanted their daughters to look respectable and be pleasingly natural, think of Jane Austin.

Beauty and fashion can be seen as a frivolous subject, but what we believe to be beautiful is a window on the world we’re living in and a reflection of society and social history. Personally, I find it fascinating. I worked in a Georgian House Museum, and therefore learnt a lot about this period. If you are interested in finding out more: Amanda Vickery, Lucy Worsley and Annie Gray all write interesting accounts of the time.

Park life

During the last year, many of us have found that what we miss the most are the small things that we took for granted. Going for a walk in or sitting in our local or city park, is something we didn’t give much thought to. But when we were no longer able to do this as our parks were closed, you realized how important these are to our health and wellbeing.  This year’s theme for Mental Awareness Week was Nature, which encouraged going outside, walking in parks, the countryside and forests and been more aware of the beauty of the nature that is all around. Direct exposure to nature has its own benefits on mental health, reducing stress and increasing happiness. And these effects take place almost immediately. A study by Finnish researchers found that ten minutes in a park or green area could tangibly reduce stress.

 Some of my fondest childhood events, were going to the park, with my parents, grandparents or my sister. In fact, many of our childhood memories often happened in parks, as they have a significant impact on the development of children. By providing a free, safe place for families to connect with nature outdoors. Children who spend a significant amount of time in nature also experience better emotional stability and improved mental health. Where, I knew up, I was fortunate to have a small park within walking distance from by home and also some much larger parks, complete with cafes and play areas and sports areas etc in my home city. But many children have no access to a green space.

When I lived in London, sitting in a local park, large or small, and reading a book, or just watching the world around me was my preferred way to spent my days off.  These were often, peaceful, contemplative moments, the sun shone, the sky was blue and I was surrounded by plants, flowers and trees. A perfect antidote to the stress of working in London, the hours spend commuting on dirty tubes and life in general. I lived near Hampstead Heath, which although not a park as such, is a safe, green space to walk, sit or swim. I didn’t have my own garden at the time, so It was one of the few ways I get outside and exercise, as I couldn’t afford to go to a gym. Our open spaces are a powerful weapon in the fight against obesity and ill-health, encouraging us to walk more and to play sports, for free or with a low cost. A sedentary lifestyle can cause a number of health problems.

Access to good-quality, well-maintained public spaces is vital to everyone, as more and more parks close, fewer people have gardens. Where I live, any new building projects are mostly apartment buildings which are packed in closely with no green spaces. Has nothing been learnt about housing requirements? Parks and green areas are crucial to the healthy development in our cities and towns, also making a neighbourhood more enjoyable to walk through and should be a major part of any city planning moving forward. Parks and green spaces benefit everyone in the community. As a place where people are able to make connections and meet new friends. As cities grow, more and more animals find themselves without homes. Parks provide habitat for wildlife. Most importantly, they help to improve the quality of the air we breathe. Even a small increase in the number of parks can make a big difference to air pollution.  Air pollution is an important health concern that can lead to unpleasant symptoms and long-term health issues. This affects all of us and anything that can be done to repair the damage should be done. So, let’s hope that green spaces like parks, are the future and not the past.

To simply enjoy a green and natural environment, what could be better than a park, these are one of my pleasures, I hope they become yours too.  

Tulips for Mental Health Awareness

Paul Cummins is on a campaign to spring us all into creative action. Paul is an internationally renowned British artist and ceramicist, best-known for his floral ceramic creations and large-scale landscape installations, most notably 2014’s Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation at the Tower of London, which was made up of 888,246 handmade red ceramic poppies, one for each life lost on the frontline in the First World War.

Paul has donated a unique illustration of a tulip to Mental Health UK. During this week, you can download it or draw your own tulip, colour it in blue and stick it in your window as a symbol of mental health awareness.

Why the simple tulip? The tulip has a colourful past. Having withstood a virus, it flourished brightly against all odds and flowers each spring. Quite simply, the tulip is a timely emblem of hope and rebirth through adversity.

The link is below. I have added some Tulip images to inspire you!

https://mentalhealth-uk.org/blog/plant-a-tulip-and-seed-a-conversation-during-mental-health-awareness-week/

Nature and Your Mental Heath

During the pandemic, millions of us have experienced a mental health problem, or seen a loved one struggle. If ever, there was a time that your mental health was essential it’s now. The upheaval of the last year, the uncertainty, stress, loneliness and in many cases financial hardship as been difficult for everyone. Depression and Anxiety has been on the increase, quite understandably. While the support networks have disappeared and the support needed just was not out there.

In a recent tweet from the Samaritans, they say: We all have mental health, and it’s just as important to look after as our physical health

In a recent survey of over 500 people severely affected by mental illness, an overwhelming majority of 88% said that discrimination towards people severely affected by mental illness is widespread in England. This is been talked about more but there is still a long way to go. In a way, mental health problems are often invisible in a way that physical health problems are visible. You would openly be asked if your cold was better or had a back injury improved but rarely would a mental health problem be discussed in the same way.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021(is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation) and takes place from the 10th May to the 16th of May. This year’s theme is nature. They are inviting us to immerse yourselves in the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, while reconnecting with nature across the week. During Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mind community is been asked to speak out and share why fighting for mental health is important to them.

After a year, where we’ve seen more of the four walls in our homes than the great outdoors. It seems the perfect theme as well as a much-needed opportunity to reconnect with nature and the environment. As the nation eases out of lockdown and spring time is starting to bloom, this is a perfect time to reflect on the positive, the beauty and power of nature. To savour the moment, by sitting in your garden, a park or taking a walk. Having a greater awareness of the world around us helps us see the unusual and notice simple pleasures like the changing seasons. To been present to our feelings. It’s time to re-balance our relationship with nature, from forests, to parks and gardens, to window boxes or even house plants. Interacting with nature can enjoyable and beneficial to our mental health and wellbeing.

The benefits of connecting to the environment around us can stimulate our senses, help us to gain a sense of peace which helps our minds rest, whilst improving concentration. New and exciting research is happening all the time that adds to our understanding of how our natural environment affects the health of our bodies and minds. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. To thrive and for nature to thrive around you.

Many people find nature inspires them to create, be it through painting, drawing, photography or writing. Many famous artists and writers attribute their masterpieces to nature.

There is good evidence to, that people who spend time gardening experience a wide range of positive results. An important link has been found between spending time outdoors and how physically active you are.

The world of nature is truly incredible; inspiring, soothing and enchanting. Connecting us to something far bigger.  A true medicine for mental health and a balm for our souls.

Visit the link https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/thriving-with-nature/guide