Tag: history

Exploring the Chateau de Compiegne, Picardy, France

We woke up to grey clouds and the sound of rain.  For awhile, I thought we were back in England, then remembered that we left the UK actually in very good sunshiny weather!  I stumbled out of our bedroom, the sight of authentic French croissants on the table didn’t even lift the disappointment I felt.  “Everyone said it was warmer and sunnier in France!”  I whinged to the husband, who raised an eyebrow and said. “Missing England already dear?”  I growled at him and grumpily ate a very delicious and the softest croissant I’ve ever tasted in my life.  Admittedly, that definitely made me feel better!

Not to be defeated by the weather, we decided to explore the very historical town of Compiegne.  I was just so glad that even though I packed mostly summer outfits, I did manage to bring rain coats and even little T’s wellies which I chucked in the car at the last-minute.

I love this town, especially the very remarkable-gothic looking town hall which was built during the reign of Louise XII.    We all loved the Bancloque or the ancient clock which dates back to 1303, where three Picantins sound the clock.  Little T and her dad actually stood in front of the town hall, just to wait for the three little men to come out. Too bad I wasn’t able to catch a photo of them!

Then we headed to probably one of the most famous Chateau’s in France, the Chateau de Compiegne, which was built for Louise the XV and restored by Napoleon.  How to describe this very grand palace?  The words that come into my mind are garish and ostentatious.  But of course, it is still a lovely place to explore, especially since it holds so much history behind every single nook and cranny of that magnificent palace.

One of the few hallways inside the palace.

Little T monkeying around the staircase, I’m not sure Napoleon would be pleased!

Little T listening to the audio in Napoleon’s bedroom.  How on earth did he fit on that bed?  Is that why he developed a complex?

Shh mum, I can’t hear!  

Little T and her dad, doing a little dance in the very grand and long ballroom of the Chateau.

Would you want this very gaud looking gold-plated (?) furniture in your home?  I know it was probably stylish during their time, but uhm… no thank you.

Apparently it is said that “Chateau de Compiegne speaks of Napoleon as Versailles does of Louise the XIV” , oh dear.

And of course, the grounds and gardens were equally grand.  One can almost imagine someone like Marie Antoinette parading in her jewels and gowns, along with her many ladies-in-waiting.

T with her disheveled hair wanted to explore more, but it was getting late and our feet were getting  weary from touring one splendid room after another.  It was time to call it a day.

This post was linked-up with #CountryKids.

A Visit to Salisbury

Salisbury City is known as the city in the countryside.  Perhaps because it is surrounded by the beautiful English countryside, I bet if you live here, it won’t feel like you’re living in an urban area at all.  This medieval cathedral city with its old timbered buildings, world-famous Gothic cathedral and home to the magna carte is an absolute-must-visit when in  the UK.  So it isn’t surprising that after our trip to Stonehenge, a visit to Salisbury was on our next agenda.

Pub Lunch

We were ravenous after our busy morning spent in the ancient stones of Stonehenge.  So as soon as we drove into Salisbury, we were on a hunt for a place to eat.  Lucky for us, the Cloisters, a mid-14th century pub was close to where we parked.  Not knowing anything about this pub, we didn’t know what to expect at all.

What can I say about The Cloisters?  Four words:  good food and great service.  In fact, we would rate this restaurant with a five star rating.  It was way past lunch-time on a Sunday when we visited.  It was busy, but we still managed to find a nice cosy corner to plant our weary selves in.

You’ll see a lot of the lovely exposed beams and other 14th century features inside this lovely pub.  Since it was a sunday, the husband and J were able to sample their sunday roast which they absolutely loved. As for me, I had a mouthwatering chicken dish and T had fish fingers which were obviously made and not store-bought, so was really pleased and impressed by that.

But what really struck us was not the delicious food, there are loads of pubs and restaurants out there that serve really good food too.  What really impressed us was the outstanding service!  The lovely man who served us whom I think was the manager (though the husband had this feeling that he was also the owner of the pub) made us absolutely feel like important people.  After the meal, while on our way to the loo he asked T if she enjoyed the meal.  T said: Yes I did.  But I need a wee now.

It’s just a lovely feeling to go to a restaurant or a pub and there you are made to feel really, really welcome, as if they themselves personally invited you in.  That is priceless!  Wouldn’t it be great if all pubs and restaurants were like that?

So if you’re anywhere in Salisbury and want a lovely meal with superb service, do drop by The Cloisters for a visit.  You won’t regret it.  If you’re lucky enough, this nice man might be there to serve you. If you have an FB account, please like their page here and you’ll also find directions on how to find them on their page.  If not their address is: 83 Catherine Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2DH or phone them at 01722 338102.  If you do get to visit, please tell the lovely man that T sends her regards.  It won’t be difficult to find him, he has white hair and will greet you with a lovely warm smile.  Yes, that’s him.

Around Salisbury

There are loads of things to do and see around this ancient city.  If you’re a National Trust member like us, you can drop by and see the elegant 18th century Mompesson House which was used in the movie Sense and Sensibility.

Mompesson House seen from afar.

And for those Military history enthusiasts, you will enjoy the Rifles Museum which highlights the actions of the regiments over the last 270 years.

If you’re not much into history like I am, walking around this city in the countryside will be enough to give you pleasure.  You will find an interesting building almost in every corner, like this one:

Don’t you just love old buildings with their quirky walls and designs?

And here’s a very old drain pipe.  I wonder what year it was installed?

Ancient door and walls … If they could speak, what would it tell us?

Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner William Golding used to be a schoolmaster in this former school-building.

And I took a photo of this one because I liked what it said “Life is but a walking shadow” and also liked that it was set against a grey sky.

Salisbury Cathedral

And of course, a visit to Salisbury wouldn’t be complete without stepping inside it’s ancient Norman Cathedral.

There it is!  

To be continued…

Exploring an Ancient Village

If we see men and women dressed all in white, I’m out of here!  

I said to no one in particular as we got off the car in the early evening of the first few days of September.  It wasn’t warm, and it wasn’t really cold either, but the temperature definitely dropped so I wore my cardigan and zipped up little T’s hoody as she asked me –

Why mummy?  

I wondered then how could you explain the wicker man to a three-year-old?  So I just said that mummy is just being silly.  But there was certainly a bit of an eerie and mysterious air in the atmosphere as we trundled along to find the ancient village of Carn Euny.

After the hunt for the Merry Maidens, we decided to do more exploring, so  J armed with a map and a book of Cornwall’s archeological heritage directed us on our little quest.  Don’t ask us how we managed with an American guide, let’s just say, we didn’t exactly end up where we wanted to, but the final destination proved to be even better than the original one.  After all, stumbling upon an old hamlet of the Iron Age and Roman-British period isn’t exactly a regular occurrence  in one’s life right?  I didn’t think so at least …

There is still a lot visible in Carn Euny, you’ll find lots of remnants of ancient house walls in a circular and a window like this one:

See how thick the stones are?

I wonder though if it was thick enough to protect the inhabitants from whatever harsh weather conditions they had at that time.

Is this where they grind their corn?

Entrance to underground stone-chamber, T not sure whether she wants to go in.

I guess the most remarkable structure that can be found in this Ancient village is the underground stone chamber which was probably used as storage.

In the end, she couldn’t resist her curiosity and happily went in.

and out, in and out.

Can you imagine what it must have been like in the Iron Age?  I’ll tell you what it was like, peaceful.  Imagine the absence of the sounds of technology, transportation and other 21st century noise pollution.

Bliss.

That’s what it must have been like.

So if you’re in Cornish countryside, come around and visit Carne Euny, an ancient village.  For directions on how to get there, click here.

This post was linked up with Coombe Mill’s Country Kids.

The Charm of Arundel Castle

We were lucky our good friend who hosted our stay in Brighton also happened to live near an 11th century castle named Arundel in West Sussex.  Don’t you think it sounds very Arthurnian or like a place in a Tolkien book?  It certainly is grand.  And inside, you would imagine a medieval castle to look dark with small rooms and look dingy.  Arundel isn’t like that at all.  It is as impressive inside as it is outside.  Large stately rooms, the only dark room was the library with centuries old books.

The castle has also been owned by the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years now.  In fact, some of the rooms are closed-off to visitors because they are being used by the family members. You’ll also see some personal photos of the family scattered in the many rooms in the castle.  Going through the rooms, left me wondering what it’s like to live in a medieval castle in the modern age?   A bit eerie I guess.

It’s also interesting to note that the castle had (still has) a Catholic chapel.  Imagine being a Catholic during the time when it was actually illegal to be one in England?  This was during the reign of Henry the VIII during the English Reformation.

 Arundel castle is a lovely place to visit, not just for adults but for children as well.  As you enter, you will see a few tents up with a story-teller, a pirate’s tent and an archery tent for children who wants to try out archery.

Storyteller’s tent

Duel with a pirate.

And of course, exploring the castle’s rooms one-by-one is a wonderful experience.  For safety and privacy reasons, visitors weren’t allowed to take photos inside, so all the photos I took were taken outside.

Just a small bit of the castle’s wing.

Visitors enjoying the medieval castle’s view.

The keep of the tower, one of the oldest parts in the castle.

I sneaked my camera out of my pocket to take this photo of T looking out the many windows of Arundel Castle.  Notice how small the windows are?

And that’s T playing in Arundel’s garden with her wooden sword, purchased from the Castle’s souvenir shop.

If you’ve just visited Brighton and you’re still in the area, visiting Arundel Castle is a definite must, especially if you are into history and also have children in tow.  For more information about the castle, click here.