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Archive for January, 2012

Travels Through Africa

Today I’m taking a trip down memory lane and posting several photos from my African trip.

sw baby elephant, Kenya

We spent seven months in Africa,  starting our journey in Harare, Zimbabwe. From there we travelled down to Botswana before returning north again. We visited twenty-five countries including Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zaire, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco then on to Spain with a quick flit through Europe on the way back to London.

Our trip was an overland one with a company called Dragoman. We mainly camped with the odd hotel thrown into the mix. After suffering through many cold washes and more than a few cold showers, I grew an appreciation for hot water and specifically hot and cold running water.

I’d always wanted to visit Africa, the animals and the wilderness being the main attraction. I was certainly spoiled for choice when it came to seeing animals.

giraffe

While in Nairobi, we visited a giraffe sanctuary. I love giraffes, but their tongues were a real surprise. They’re so long! We had lots of fun feeding them a few snacks from the feeding platform.

sw Batering in Zim

Part of the overseas experience is interacting with the locals. It’s always interesting visiting the local markets and shopping for meals. This photo was taken in Zimbabwe, and I have fond memories of the avocadoes. They were delicious!

sw Ballooning in the Serengeti

Hot air ballooning in Kenya. As is traditional with hot air ballooning, we were up at the crack of dawn to get ready for our ride. Notice the pith helmet? We finished our flight with a champagne breakfast. So civilized!

sw elephant & buffalo, Kenya sw gazzelles, Kenya

sw lion Kenya sw hyena, Kenya 1

The above photos were all taken in Kenya. Top left: water buffalo and an elephant “butt” shot. Top right: Thomson Gazelle. Bottom left: Lion enjoying the sun. Bottom right: Hyena and pup.

 

Given the choice, which African country would you most like to visit? Which animal would you like to see?

Thirteen Useless Facts about Romans

Thursday Thirteen

During my latest library jaunt I picked up a copy of The Mammoth Book of Useless Information by Noel Botham. Some of the useless information relates to Romans, and since hubby and I are off to Europe later this year, I thought this would make a good TT topic.

Thirteen Useless Facts about Romans

1. Romans used to believe that walnuts could cure head ailments, since their shape was similar to that of a brain.

2. In Ancient Rome, the law stated that prostitutes were to either dye their hair blonde or wear a blonde wig to separate themselves from the respectable brunette female citizens of Rome.

3. Wealth Romans, both men and women, would have all their body hair plucked, including pubic hair.

4. Slaves generally came from conquered peoples, but even a free man unable to pay back his debts could be sold into slavery.

5. One Roman ‘cure’ for stomach ache was to wash your feet and then drink the water.

6. The Romans were the first to create sculptures that actually resembled the people they were supposed to portray.

7. In ancient Rome, it was considered a sign of leadership to be born with a crooked nose.

8. The ancient city of Rome was on the site of the present city of Rome.

9. They invented numerals that are still used today.

10. Capital punishment was often carried out in the amphitheatre as part of the morning entertainment. Condemned criminals faced wild animals without the benefit of weapons and armor, or had to fight other prisoners to death with swords (also without armor)

11. Rome’s Circus Maximus was the biggest stadium, with seating for 250,000, and was used mainly for chariot racing.

12. Some Roman dishes were very exotic and included teats from a sow’s udder, or lamb’s womb stuffed with sausage meet.

13. Asparagus was a prized delicacy in ancient Rome and was rushed by chariot to the Alps, where it was deep frozen for six months to last until the Feast of Epicurius – God of Edible Delicacies.

Do you think you’d like to live in Ancient Rome?

Stink to High Heaven: Baths and Bathing

Thursday Thirteen

One of my recent library reads has been If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley. An excellent read BTW, and full of interesting social details about beds, underwear, child birth, marriage etc. If you’re writing historical romance or you’re interested in all things historical this is the book for you.

Thirteen Factoids about Baths & Bathing Through the Ages

1. Medieval people mostly washed their hands and faces rather than taking baths.

2. That said, Medieval people weren’t afraid of baths. Knights used to indulge in something called a Knightly bath, which involved decorative sheets, flowers and herbs placed around the bath. A servant would take a basin of hot herbal potion and use a sponge to scrub the knight’s body. The knight was then rinsed with rose water and rubbed dry with a clean cloth. He was then dressed in socks, slippers and a nightgown and sent to bed. Doesn’t that sound luxurious?

3. Baths were made of wood and lined with a linen sheet to prevent splinters in the bottom!

4. The English embraced the idea of the Turkish hammans after reports from returning Crusaders. Records show the presence of 18 bathhouses in London in 1162. They were known as stews and were communal with men and women sharing them. Most were in Southwark. Wow, imagine the potential for an erotic romance…

5. The communal aspect did cause problems and some became houses of ill-repute. Henry VIII closed the bath houses down in 1546.

6. From around 1550 to 1750 baths were considered dangerous and weird. Bathing became medicinal rather than cleansing. People feared that bathing spread disease such as syphilis. Hot water opened the pores, allowing illness into the body.

7. During the 17th century medical understanding improved. People started to understand perspiration and a bath in cold water was considered beneficial. A full bathing, despite recommendation by doctors, was slow to catch on. The ballrooms at this time were pretty stinky.

8. Beau Brummell and other gentlemen of his ilk popularized bathing, making it classy, and soon everyone was doing it. Victorian etiquette books started to state bathing was good manners.

9. Water was usually carried from the basement up to the bedroom, then once used, it was carried down again by servants. Hard work!

10. Around 1860 some houses started to receive piped water to first-floor bathrooms, which made bathing much easier for all concerned.

11. The en suite bathroom was first seen in the New World. American heiresses sent to secure an English nobleman as a husband were horrified by the primitive bathing conditions.

12. The Methodist minister John Wesley would not preach in a place without a toilet and thus came the idea of cleanliness becoming next to godliness.

13. By the end of the 20th century thinking in the bath/reading in the bath becomes a way of relaxing and relieving stress.

Personally, I’m a shower girl and seldom have a bath. The bath doesn’t get much use in our house. I’d love to own one of those sleek wetrooms with tiles and lots of shower heads. Maybe one day…

Bath or shower? What does your dream bathroom look like?