Last week, we spent a few days in leafy Warwickshire (Shakespeare Country) and, since we lived in the area about thirty five years ago, took the opportunity to visit some of our old haunts. Stratford-on-Avon, where we spent many happy hours showing visitors around Shakespeare’s town (especially his birthplace, pictured), then on to Leamington Spa, where I used to work, and a day spent in the city of Coventry which, for me, was the highlight of our trip.
Coventry is probably best known for it’s medieval cathedral, which was bombed in November 1940 and left in ruins. At the end of World War II, it was decided to build the new cathedral beside the ruins of the old one as a symbol of hope, peace and reconciliation. Unfortunately, the photo I took is too blurry to post, but there are many great images on Google if you’d like to check them out.
Another reason for Coventry’s fame is the story of Lady Godiva. According to legend, she was the wife of a powerful tyrant lord who demanded high taxes from the people of Coventry. Lady Godiva asked her husband to stop this tax since she knew it was causing such hardship amongst the people she loved. He allegedly told her that he would do so if she rode naked through Coventry.
Lady Godiva took him at his word, and with only her long blonde hair covering her naked body she rode through Coventry on market day. Pious and modest, Lady Godiva is said to have sent word to the townspeople that they should go inside their homes and not watch as she rode by. Because they loved her and knew she was doing it to save them hardship, they complied. Except one young tailor who couldn’t resist looking. He became known as Peeping Tom and was blinded by heaven for not adhering to Lady Godiva’s instruction.
On the plinth below the statue are words from Tennyson’s poem:
“Then she rode back
clothed on with chastity.
She took the tax away
and built herself an everlasting name”
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Jillian here. Happy February. I, for one, was happy to see January leave. I literally was sick the entire month. Kept the cough until February 5, but at least wasn’t sick. Today, I had the privilege of being part of … Continue reading
Jillian here. I hate to say my life is dull compared to some of you. Laurie with her cider making, Jane with her bike/car adventures, Lavada with her hidden state treasures visits, Kit’s gardening and Tricia’s trip all sound so much fun. I’m here trudging along with the day to day grind. Working the day job and writing on a new story for NaNoWriMo on my lunch hour and at home in the evenings. I was supposed to go to New York City in October but my traveling companion had an emergency arise with her mother in law so we postponed.
My older son is in for a visit this weekend so that’s a very nice thing. He’s always a pleasure to be around. We both have long been Liverpool football fans and usually both watch the matches and text each other while they are being played. This week, at 6:30 am central time, we’ll be up and watching in the same room for the first time in ages. Looking forward to it.
I have a new Christmas anthology out that was a lot of fun to write. I am working on this NaNo story that’s a pretty heavy subject matter and is much slower going as the level of angst is pretty deep. My inspiration for the story is the true experiences of Oney Judge. She was a slave owned by George Washington. She escaped and he never freed her -even after his death, so she technically died a slave even though she’d been living in a free state for years at the time she passed away.
The law in Pennsylvania at the time George was president was that if a slave lived there for six months, that slave became free. A lot of owners removed their slaves just before the time ran—even for a day or two—as that act would start the six months running again. George did the same thing. It was a shameful time in our history and I’m tackling it in this story. It’s clearly not a romance though she does eventually find happiness as the true life lady did. It’s difficult to write how the slaves were treated as less than human. I can only hope I’m doing them justice.
Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate. And bless the families who lost loved ones in WWI as we come up on Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Would that their sacrifices in the War to end all Wars had been true.
Posted in Fall, Family, History, Jillian Chantal, Thanksgiving
Tagged Family, George Washington, history, Jillian Chantal, NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving, Veteran's Day, work
We took advantage of some glorious late summer/early autumn weather this month to grab a few days away on the south coast of England. Sidmouth in Devon has been a favourite spot of ours ever since we moved to the south west area well over thirty years’ ago. The town is considered the gateway to Devon’s Jurassic Coast. Sidmouth has amazing beaches situated at the foot of prehistoric red cliffs and surrounded by the beautiful green hills of the Sid Valley.
During one of our mega walks along the coast we stopped off at Jacob’s Ladder Beach and managed to find enough puff to climb the Ladder itself up to a rather splendid tea shoppe. Afternoon Devon tea served with a huge slab of coffee and walnut cake helped give us the energy to walk back to our hotel.It had some lovely views, too.
The hotel we stayed in was incredibly interesting. Some parts of the hotel date back to the 13th Century and boasts connections with Sir Walter Raleigh and the Prince Regent. It has fabulous gardens where you can sit and enjoy the sunshine under the shade of ancient trees like the one in the photo. The hotel was one of the first buildings in the UK to achieve listed status in 1951. During renovations in the 1970s, archaeologists discovered some of the oldest structures in the town consisting of a spooky network of ancient tunnels and a domed subterranean chamber. Alas, we didn’t experience any spooky goings-on while we were there, just a lovely relaxing and enjoyable break.
Unfortunately, Ms. Vivvy couldn’t join us, although the hotel was incredibly dog-friendly, because she is not the best traveller. But we know how much she’ll love the beaches, so we’re going to dose her up and take her with us when we visit again over Christmas. She was pleased to see us when we got back, and as the autumn chill set in, she snuggled up with me under our furry blanket. The very best welcome home after a great trip away.
Recently, while my mum was staying with us (she lives a couple of hours away on the coast), we decided to spend the day in the nearby Georgian city of Bath. The weather was absolutely glorious, so instead of focusing on shopping as we usually do, we decided to act as tourists for the day and take in some of Bath’s major attractions.
First we visited Bath Abbey. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past the Abbey and enjoyed various concerts inside it, but acting the tourist I discovered that it’s one of the most visited places in the south west of England, and one of the largest examples of perpendicular Gothic architecture in the country. It was founded in the 7th Century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th Century, and has been a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. In 973, the first king of England, King Edgar, was crowned here, and the service set the precedent for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England.
After admiring the Abbey, we decided to treat ourselves to morning coffee and a Bath bun at the Pump Rooms just across the grounds. Built in 1706, the Pump Rooms form part of the Roman Baths, and still retains some of the original Georgian features. While dining, visitors are treated to music provided by an excellent pianist, and there’s the opportunity to ‘take the waters’ of the hot springs still poured via the original marble vase, now over 200 years old. The waters are said to have curative powers. (sidenote: it tastes foul).
The Pump Rooms were very fashionable amongst 18th Century high society. Jane Austen mentioned it in some of her novels “Every creature in Bath was to be seen in the room at different periods of the fashionable hours”, and it provided inspiration for other notable authors, namely Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein while staying nearby.
As we wandered around the city, my mum was fascinated by the living statue street performers. But on such a hot day she was very concerned that they were out so long in the sun without a break. Knowing my mum’s caring nature, I had the impression that at any moment we would be heading along to the nearest supermarket to order a supply of water for distribution amongst Bath’s outdoor performing artists! 🙂
We thoroughly enjoyed our day as tourists, but we did manage to get some shopping done, too. Why change the habit of a lifetime?
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During our cruise one of the ports of call was Limon Costa Rico. During a river tour we stopped and our tour guide came back on board the bus with what looked like a giant nut. He asked if we … Continue reading
I love napkins/serviettes. Not just the crisp white linen varieties found in restaurants and at formal dinners, but the pretty paper versions. They make me happy. I know that sounds daft but sometimes it’s the small things scattered throughout the day that bring a smile. I tend to pick up packs of paper serviettes while out and about, and almost always bring them home from trips away, both home and abroad.
While at lunch last week, Jane (after looking at me sideways when I admitted my fetish for paper napkins) helped me demonstrate a particularly pretty variety used by our eating establishment. And no, we hadn’t imbibed too much wine 🙂
Napkins/serviettes have been around a long time. The first napkins were used by the ancient Romans who used pocket-sized pieces of fabric to mop their brows while eating. The Spartans used lumps of dough to wipe their hands, a practice which morphed into sliced bread used by the ancient Greeks. Paper napkins came into use after the invention of paper in ancient China during the 2nd century BCE.
The practical soon became an art form, too. Elaborate napkin folding techniques date back to the time of Louis XIV of France and to 16th century Florence. Today, it is not uncommon to find intricate folding designs both in restaurants and at private functions.
Who knew the simple napkin/serviette could have such an interesting history?