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Sea Glass Beachcombers

New Brighton Beach, Capitola

Having returned to Northern California recently I noticed a new phenomenon on a beach that I regularly walk on when here - people looking intently at the stones and digging about in the sand. I asked one guy what it was all about and he said they were looking for sea glass, and that he had heard about this beach online. People make jewellery with this glass and also sell it online or just wear it. It is attractive stuff especially the more unusual colours (red, blue and the very rare black). So popular is it that people fake it - this type of glass is known as ‘tumbled.’ Some of the glass is not that old - a type of frosted white glass is said to come from Skyy vodka bottles. The best beach is at Fort Bragg (Glass Beach) in Northern California. The photo below is probably from before the recent craze, although remoter parts of the beach still have good yields. The amount found there is something to do with passing passenger ships and tides etc., The best time to look is after a storm. Some sea glass jewellery, especially in fancy settings, sells for $500 plus. See this high end  seller in Santa Cruz.

There are a few shops selling nothing but sea glass rings and bracelets and a few colourful books...

Many thanks Find Sea Glass
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Fat Mary’s brother, a royal sex scandal and a precedent created

As a follow-up to a very recent Jot on Princess Mary of Teck, whose biography was called The People’s Princess, here is a short letter from her brother, found amongst a pile of old letters acquired a few years ago.

 Prince Francis of Teck seems to have followed the age-old career path of minor royalty—public school, Sandhurst, and action abroad -- only this particular royal seems to have been a philanderer and gambler. He had an affair with the beautiful Ellen Constance, wife of the 3rd Earl of Kilmorey, and this together with his ruinous gambling got him sent to India. In the letter, dated March 20th 1893, written when Francis was a lieutenant in the 1st Royal Dragoons, he thanks someone called Mowbray for sending him an ‘ excellent photograph’ but regrets that due to an ‘ exam’ that he is obliged to take on the 4th May, he cannot accept an invitation to visit him. This exam may have been for the rank of captain, and though he probably failed it on this occasion, he was promoted the following year. After India he served in Egypt, and later saw action in the Boer War, eventually retiring in 1901 with the rank of major.

In 1910 Francis died suddenly at Balmoral of pneumonia, aged 39.When his will was read it was discovered to his family’s horror that he had bequeathed to his mistress Ellen the famous Cambridge emeralds, which were part of the family jewels. It was then left to his sister, now Queen Mary, to have this will sealed, thus creating a legal precedent. Previously, royal wills could be publicly examined. The Queen also  negotiated to buy back the emeralds, reportedly paying £10,000 ( around £600,000 today ) for them. Mary then wore them at the coronation of her husband in 1911.

A few years ago actress Sarah Miles claimed that not long after this letter was written, Francis fathered an illegitimate son called Francis Remnant, who became her maternal grandfather. This makes the beautiful Sarah second cousin of the present Queen.

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The People’s Princess

The phrase 'the people's princess'  was not made up by Alastair Campbell for the famous Blair soundbite on the day Diana died but, rather, recycled… This 1984 book found in a box of slow-selling royalty books shows the original 'People's Princess' - Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck (1833- 1897). She was not quite as good-looking as Diana (indeed she was also known as 'Fat Mary') but like Diana she had a knack for popularity. She was also one of the first Royals to patronise a wide range of charities. She is the current Queen's great grandmother. Elizabeth II seems to have thrown off the Hanoverian look…(although Lucian Freud's small portrait has some suggestions of it.)

An interesting piece of tiara trivia… the lavish two tiered tiara that was created for Princess Mary has made its way down the family via the Queen Mother to the Duchess of Cornwall (i.e. Camilla). It has been modified but  was originally a 'diamond diadem' featuring three wild roses separated by 20 crescent shapes and was assembled from various jewels Princess Mary inherited from her aunt, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester.