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Sleeping in Queen Anne’s Bed, Avebury Manor, Wiltshire #travel

Whenever we travel to Britain, I like to explore some of the historical properties and imagine what it was like for the people who lived in these homes.

This visit we went to Avebury Manor, a National Trust property in Wiltshire, England. The BBC filmed a series here called The Manor Reborn where nine of the rooms were decorated to depict different styles such as Georgian, Tudor, Victorian, Queen Anne and 20th century. What I liked about this property was that we were allowed to touch most things, open drawers and try on clothes.

The Queen Anne bedroom is named after Queen Anne Stuart. Although historians aren’t positive if Queen Anne actually visited Avebury Manor, it is entirely possible since Queen Anne often traveled from London to Bath to take the waters for her gout, gynaecological problems and dropsy. Her route would have passed through Avebury. BTW, she had 17 pregnancies between the ages of 18 – 34. Only 6 of her 18 children (since she had one set of twins) survived childbirth and of those 6 children only 1 (William) lived to age 11.

There are three rooms to the Queen Anne suite – the bedroom, an antechamber and a withdrawing room.

When we walked into the bedroom, the employee stationed in the room asked if I’d like to try the bed. “Yes,” I said, excited about touching. (I’m the person who desperately wants to touch whenever I see the “no touching” signs).

I took off my shoes and climbed up into the bed, then the lady proceeded to tuck me in. It was easy to see why they needed help to get into bed. I have long legs, and getting onto the bed was a stretch for me. It was very comfortable though and the silk dome, visible once I was in the bed was beautiful. I think I could sleep comfortably in Queen Anne’s bed.

Queen Anne Bedroom, Avebury Manor

A shot of the bedroom.

QueenAnneBedroom_Shelley

Me tucked into the Queen Anne bed. Very comfortable!

The other rooms were equally fascinating and my favorite was the Georgian dining room, but that’s a story for another day.

A Visit to the Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre, England #travel

I’ve always been a big reader. Although I read primarily for entertainment, I learn all sorts of random facts and pieces of trivia. The moment I read historical romances featuring falconry, I was fascinated.

I’ve never mentioned my fascination to anyone, but when we were planning our recent trip to Britain, I decided I’d do some research. I was delighted to discover the Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre, which not only offered the chance to fly birds but bed and breakfast accommodation too.

The Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre is situated in a beautiful part of the world, in the Exmoor National Park and not far from the small village of Portlock.

Exmoor Bed and Breakfast

According to their website, the some of the buildings date back to medieval times. It was certainly a beautiful spot and very peaceful.

Bedroom at Bed and Breakfast

This was our bedroom, which was very comfortable. The breakfast the next morning was delicious and set us up for the morning of owl and hawk flying.

Hubby and Owl

We were given gauntlets plus a pouch full of chicken wings/legs to feed the birds as a reward when they flew to us. You can tell by Mr. Munro’s expression that he was enthralled with the birds. I was too, and would repeat the experience in a heartbeat. This little fellow was beginning to molt, which is why his feathers look a bit ruffled.

Hubby and Barn Owl

This is a barn owl. He was very pretty, but not very cooperative. Not long after this photo, he flew up into the rafters and refused to return to either of us.

Barn Owl

A close-up. Isn’t he handsome?

Shelley and Hawk

We moved outside and flew this hawk. I thought the birds would be heavy, but it was easy to hold their weight.

The owner of the center answered all our questions, and when he learned we were from New Zealand, he told us about his New Zealand owls. We have only one, commonly called a morepork. Mr Munro and I have seen one when we visited Little Barrier Island, but most New Zealanders have never seen one, although we often hear them call at night. We were allowed to have photos with the morepork or Ruru.

Hubby and Morepork

They’re quite a small owl. I’d call them cute.

Shelley and Morepork

Exmoor Countryside

This is a photo of the narrow country lanes and the beautiful countryside. If you’re ever in the Exmoor area I highly recommend a visit to the Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre. It was a holiday highlight, and a true bucket list experience.

Loose With Llamas in Dartmoor National Park #travel

Llamas originate from South America and are closely related to the camel. They are domestic animals, used for packing supplies. Their feet are padded, which allows them to travel easily over rocky terrain without disturbing vegetation, and they’re capable of navigating very narrow paths.

Llamas are gentle animals, and this good temperament combined with their ability to pack supplies has birthed a new type of eco-tourism tour—Llama trekking.

Llama and Hubby Looking at View

I’ve wanted to go llama trekking ever since I saw a special interest piece on our local television a couple of years ago. I was thrilled to discover they did llama trekking in Dartmoor National Park in Devon and immediately showed hubby.

“We should do this,” I said.

After discussing the tour and how to fit it in to our schedule, we duly booked. As our tour approached, I watched the weather and crossed my finger it wouldn’t rain.

There were four of us trekking plus the two owners. Each of us had a llama each plus there was one alpaca. I volunteered to be in charge of the alpaca. I mean, who can resist their adorable faces.

Llama Trek Shelley

The tour was two and a half hours long with an afternoon tea break—a Devon cream tea—at the halfway point.

Llama Start at Trek

This is the start of our tour where we met our llamas and my alpaca. We were given a quick talk then off we went.

Llama on Dartmoor

We walked up hill and down hill…

Llama Trek Dartmoor Ponies

We came across some of the other wildlife – a herd of Dartmoor ponies.

Llama and View

We took in the glorious views then stopped for a delicious afternoon tea of home made scones, jam and clotted cream with a cup of tea.

Llama Trek Shelley and Paul

The walk over (3 miles of walking), we posed with our companions and said goodbye.

Those rumors about spitting llamas…evidently, they only spit at each other and are well-behaved with humans. Our llamas were well-behaved and high with the cuteness factor.

I’m a llama trekking convert, and would happily recommend trekking to any animal lover. I can’t wait to repeat the experience!

Sally Lunn Takes Bath by Storm

Solange Luyon, a French Huguenot, arrived in Bath, England in 1680. She gained employment in a bakery and baked her own special recipe – a brioche bun, which was a dough enriched with egg. The buns were sold in the bakery where Solange worked and out in the street. Customers started to call in at the shop to request the buns, and they became fashionable amongst the wealthy Georgians who ate them cut open and spread with butter.

The buns were named Sally Lunn, and it is thought that this was an Anglicization of Solange’s French name.

These days the Sally Lunn is still a very popular treat. The Sally Lunn shop still exists in Bath and operates as a teashop. It’s a busy place and hubby and I were lucky to book a table for an early dinner.

Sally Lunn Shop Bath

This is the outside frontage of Sally Lunn’s. Diners can sit either downstairs or upstairs.

Sally Lunn Shelley

This is me with part of a Sally Lunn to go with my soup. The bun is very light and tasty.

Sally Lunn Paul

The Sally Lunn bun was used as a trencher (an old-fashioned plate made of bread) with the main course. Hubby had chicken and vegetables on his trencher.

Sally Lunn Window

This is a photo of the shop frontage and shows a basket of Sally Lunn. The tops are rounded and the bottoms flat. Of course, once I tried my first bun, I decided I needed to find a recipe. Mission accomplished. As soon as I get a free weekend, I’m going to attempt to bake my own Sally Lunn buns. Watch this space!

Have you tried a Sally Lunn?

13 Events From This Week in London History

 

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently reading The London Book of Days by Peter de Loriol. For my TT this week, I thought I’d give you a quick rundown of some of the things that happened this week in London history.

Thirteen Events from London History

1. Nov 24 1434 – There was a severe frost. The cold snap continued until Feb 1435 and the river Thames froze over. Frost fair alert!

2. Nov 24 1740 – A man called William Duell was hanged at Tyburn. His body was prepared for dissection by surgeons, but they found he was still breathing! They ended up deporting him instead.

3. Nov 25 1944 – World War two is in full swing. By this date 251 V2 bombs had been dropped on London. The first V2 bomb was dropped on 8 Sep 1944.

4. Nov 25 1952 – A murder mystery play called The Mousetrap, written by Agatha Christie, opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre. This show is still running in London at St Martin’s Theatre. I’ve seen the show twice and loved it both times.

5. Nov 26 1703 – A hurricane struck London. It ripped off roofs, destroyed spires and turrets and forced ships from their moorings.

6. Nov 26 1962 – The Beatles recorded their single Please Please Me at the Abbey Road Studios.

7. Nov 26 1969 – Margaret Thatcher said in an interview, “No woman in my time will be Prime Minister…Anyway, I would not want to be Prime Minister, you have to give yourself 100 percent.”

8. Nov 26 1983 – Gold bars worth 26 million pounds were stolen from Brink’s-Mat security warehouse at Heathrow Airport. The resulting investigation took almost 10 years and most of the gold was never found.

9. Nov 29 1814 – The Times newspaper was printed by steam instead of manual power. The steam printing press could print 1100 sheets an hour.

10. Nov 29 1855 – A public meeting was held at Willis’s Rooms to raise funds for what became the Nightingale School of Nursing.

11. Nov 29 1934 – Prince George, Duke of Kent married Princess Marina of Greece at Westminster Abbey.

12. Nov 30 1016 – King Edmund II of England was reputedly stabbed in the bowels whilst in the outhouse. He died on the same day.

13. Nov 30 1936 – A small fire at Crystal Palace, Sydenham raged out of control and destroyed the entire building. 88 fire engines were deployed to fight the fire. Melted glass was everywhere.

The London Book of Days is a really interesting book full of snippets about London history. If you enjoy history, you’ll love flicking through this book.

13 Facts Learned from Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently reading Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England, How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago by Roy & Lesley Adkins. While the title mentions Jane Austen and there are excerpts from her correspondence, this book really deals with birth, life and death during the period of Jane’s life – 1775 to 1817. I find some non-fiction titles a bit dry, but I’m actually reading a lot of this one. A good sign!

Thirteen Interesting Facts Learned from Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England

1. Armed with the might of the Bastardy Act (1733) parish overseers would take unmarried mothers to the magistrate where they were forced to reveal the name of their baby’s father. The father was then offered the choice of marrying the woman or paying the parish with the costs of raising the child or a prison sentence

2. Forced marriages were commonplace – either in the case mentioned above or one arranged by parents to ensure their children were secure. Happiness was secondary to wealth.

3. Finding  a suitable husband was difficult and stressful since men were in short supply due to war injuries and fatalities.  Also those in apprenticeships weren’t allowed to marry.

4. Weddings took place in the church, and they were low key compared to our modern day weddings.

5. Weddings took place in the morning due to a canon law, which endured until 1886

6. Divorce was difficult. There was, however, a poor man’s version of divorce where a man could sell his wife. It was thought if a man tied a rope around his wife’s neck and led her to a public place then sold her this was a binding and legal transaction. Sometimes these sales were pre-arranged. Sometimes the wife was agreeable to the sale.

7. When a woman lost her husband she could be thrust into dire straits because property and wealth was generally passed to a male heir. Therefore many widows remarried fairly quickly.

8. A successful marriage was one that produced children. Women were constantly pregnant and many women died in childbirth.

9. Multiple births were rare and were to the people of the time, remarkable. The news of a multiple birth would make the paper.

10. Living conditions were crowded and privacy scarce since most of those with modest incomes housed their servants. Life was a constant round of banging doors and chatter.

11. Servants could be found at hiring fairs or by recommendations from friends or family members. In 1777 there was a tax on male servants and in 1785 those who employed female servants were also taxed.

12. Coal was the main fuel for households and a fire was the central point of each room, providing heat and light. Smoke could be a problem, filling rooms on windy days or if the chimney became blocked.

13. Unattended candles caused a lot of house fires. In larger towns there were fire brigades who mainly dealt with insured properties (those with a fire mark to prove they’d paid their insurance). 

I’ve only read a third of the book so far, and I’m sure there are many interesting facts in store for me. I really need to write a story featuring a wife sale! If you’re interested in checking out this book here is the link to Amazon – Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England

13 Facts About the Tower of London

Thursday Thirteen

If you’re a tourist in London chances are you’ll spend some time at the Tower of London. I’ve wandered through the tower, gawked at the crown jewels and checked out the ravens and beefeaters. It’s a place that breathes and sighs history.

Thirteen Facts About the Tower of London

1. The Tower was originally build by William the Conqueror and used as a palace and fortress.

2. It was never supposed to be a prison, but the inhabitants discovered that the fortress kept people in as well as keeping people out.

3. During World War II the tower was used to house prisoners of war.

4. Ravens have always been kept at the tower. At least six ravens are kept and they’re replaced if they die. It’s said if the ravens leave the tower bad luck will arrive.

Tower of London Ravens

5. The Tower of London is home to the crown jewels and has been for centuries.

6. Every night at 9:53 pm the ceremony of the keys takes place where the Queen’s Guards and the Chief Yeoman Warder lock all the gates.

7. On 6th November 2012 the keys were stolen. *gasp*

8. Only 22 executions have taken place inside the Tower of London. Most took place at nearby Tower Hill.

9. The last execution was of Lord Lovet, a Jacobite, on 9th April 1747.

10. The Tower housed the royal menagerie, which included lions, an elephant and a polar bear. The polar bear was allowed to hunt for fish in the Thames while on a leash.

11. The Duke of Wellington closed the menagerie in 1853. The animals became the first in the London zoo, which is in Regent’s Park.

12. Several ghosts haunt the tower, including Anne Boleyn, Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, the Princes in the tower and a grizzly bear. I didn’t see any of these during my visit.

13. The Tower has been a tourist destination since Elizabethan times.

Source: www.royalcentral.co.uk

Have you visited the Tower? If not, what would you like to see?

Holidays and History

In around six months we’re off on holiday. This time we’re flying to London and catching a cruise ship from Southampton. Part of the joy of traveling is the research, the deciding where to stay and what to do. We have long discussions about various alternatives, and recent topics have included the New Forest, transport in and around Southampton, and places to stay in Southampton and also things to see in Winchester.

We’ve decided to stay at an old hotel in Southampton called the Dolphin. It’s said that the earliest references to the hotel were found in 1454. During Elizabethan times it was frequented by foreign merchants and seaman. Guests were entertained by minstrels and other entertainers.

The hotel is said to have six resident ghosts, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them. One of the ghosts named Molly walks down the corridors with only part of her body showing because she’s walking on the original medieval timbers.

Jane Austen lived in Southampton for part of her life (1806–1809) and she celebrated her 18th birthday at the hotel.

The hotel was also a coaching inn and was used for winter assemblies. The writer William Makepeace Thackary wrote part of his novel Pendennis at the hotel. He used to sit in the large bow windows and write.

While much of Southampton was destroyed by bombing during WWII, the Dolphin escaped destruction, and it recently underwent a 4 million redevelopment. Mr Munro says just as well since that means we won’t need to use chamber pots.

Since the Dolphin is an old building some of the floors are on a bit of a slant—according to the reviews.  It all adds to the charm, and I can’t wait for our stay.

Do you enjoy planning trips or are you a more of the spur of the moment traveler?

Lets Take Tea With Jane Austen

Thursday Thirteen

During a recent visit to the local library, I came across a copy of Tea With Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. I’m a big fan of tea, so I picked up the book and checked it out.

Thirteen Things About Jane Austen and Tea

1. Jane Austen was responsible for making the family breakfast each morning and also the morning pot of tea.

2. Tea was very expensive during Jane’s time and was kept locked away to avoid pilfering by the servants.

3. Young ladies of the time used to decorate tea caddies with filigree work (rolled strips of paper applied in decorative patterns)

4. Jane took sugar in her tea, but probably not milk. The sugar was also locked up due to its expensive nature.

5. The sugar came in large cone-shaped loaves and someone had to break it up before it could be used. Sugar cubes came much later.

6. Shopping was different in Jane’s time. For example if she wished to buy tea she could buy it from a pedlar, she could walk to the local shops or wait until she visited a larger town or city.

7. Visits to the city were rare. Whenever Jane visited the city, friends and family would give her a list of their requirements and errands. Items such as jewellery and material were common additions to Jane’s list.

8. During Jane’s time a pound of tea sold for six shillings. Better quality tea fetched even higher prices. This was double the wages received by unskilled workers.

9. The quality of the tea varied widely. Legal tea was usually a decent quality as was smuggled tea, although it sometimes smelled a little of horse. Some tea was adulterated, which could be quite dangerous.

10. Some shops, such as dressmakers and milliners, offered tea to their customers. Tea contributed to a genteel atmosphere.

11. Twinings tea warehouse on The Strand probably hasn’t changed much in appearance since Jane’s visits to purchase fresh tea.

12. Riding in a carriage was considered exercise. Sometimes it was difficult to remain in a seat due to the bone-jarring roads. Tea was often the first refreshment called for on arrival at a destination.

13.  Gentlemen and some ladies too, took to spiking their tea with spirits, especially in the morning after a hard night. If that didn’t work to fix a hangover, they’d move on to normal tea.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Which one of her novels is your favorite?

A Quick Trip to Brighton

For a change of pace I thought we’d visit Brighton in England today.

Brighton Beach

This is the Brighton Beach and the pier. The beach consists of lots of pebbles, which makes the deck chair business very profitable.

Brighton Pavillion

Above is the Royal Pavilion, a seaside retreat for the Prince of Wales. The palace started off as a small farmhouse. The prince gradually added land to his plot, as money allowed, and created the oriental palace and grounds we see today.



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