This weekend my husband and I went to Richmond, North Yorkshire, and we’ve visited Richmond castle and another small museum that I’m going to blog about in the following days.
The castle was built shortly by Alan Rufus, Count of Brittany, after the Battle of Hastings, in 1070, as a reward of fighting along William the Conqueror. The castle remained in the family for 100 years, when a daughter inherits the title and the castle. The castle was controlled by the Crown even after she married. Her son will inherit the castle. During the war with France in the 13th century, the castle was seized by the Crown a few times. The castle will pass back to the Dukes of Brittany at the end of the 13th century. In 1381 the Earl will forfeit his earldom by declaring his allegiance to the King of France. After a few years, Richmond is granted to the Earl of Westmorland.
After 100 years, in 1485, the Earl of Richmond will become King Henry VII. Henry VIII’s illegitimate son is made first Duke of Richmond, only to recover it after a few years. From that point, the castle was held by the Crown. At that time the castle is a ruin. In 1641, Charles I will grant the castle to James Stuart. It’s possible that in this castle Charles I was held prisoner on his way to London in 1646. In the 18th century, the castle becomes a tourist attraction. In the 19th century the castle is the headquarter of the North Yorkshire Militia and a barrack, cell block and reserve armory are built. During the WWI the Non-Combatant Corps are based here and there is a prison for absolutist conscientious objectors. During the WWII military prisoners are kept at the castle.
The Keep was built in the 12th century. In the first-floor room it was a high chamber. Its purpose was to be a great hall, for entertaining.
The post about Kew Gardens is the last one from our trip to London this month. We have another trip to London planned for next month, so plenty of London related posts will follow. Maybe even faster if I’ll have a couple of hours more to spear on Monday, when I’m going to London with work.
Kew Palace looks lovely, although it’s a little smaller than I though. The palace is not open to the public in Winter.
One of the loveliest attraction in Kew Gardens is Palm House. It’s very hot and humid in the greenhouse and there are so many wonderful plants to see, like mango, papaya, starfruit, different types of banana palms. There is a high walkway and seeing the plants from above is beautiful, it offers a different perspective.
We bought an old caravan 6 months ago and it is fab. We’ve been caravanning monthly and we’ve been from big cities like London to small and remote villages near Hadrian’s Wall and in Cumbria. So, I want to share with my readers 10 Things I learned about caravanning.
1. Peace and quiet. While caravanning it’s possible to have this view and be only 30 minutes away from central London, with parking included, and a couple of minutes away from a huge park. I think this is amazing.
2. My husband and I feel we must change the water pipes on each new addition. One of the first things we did after we bought the house was to change the good water pipes with new ones. We did that again, in the caravan. We changed the whole system (including tap and pump). We would probably do the same if we’re getting another caravan.
3. You can cook what you want. Both these cakes were baked from scratch, in the caravan, by estimating the measurements. Now I will weigh the ingredients from home and put them into Tupperware, just the right amount for a cake this size. Or I can buy plastic measuring cups.
I read a couple of articles where the author mentioned is not possible to cook what you want and I can’t disagree more. The worktop is not huge, there are only 2 plates on the hob and the oven is small, but it can be done. The fridge is also small, but that is not an issue for me as I usually cook only 2 servings anyway. See the recipes I shared after our 1st holiday with the caravan.
There are plenty of ready chopped veggies, fresh, frozen or canned. I use quite a lot of canned food while we are away, the pulses are ready baked and I just have to add a little bit of herbs and spices. I cooked saag aloo last time we’ve been caravanning and it took 10 minutes.
There are small plastic jars that can be used for storing&transporting spices and sauces, mustard, pickles and so on. I’m considering getting a small hand mixer and that will open an array of possibilities. I love cooking and I don’t see any reason not to cook when I want to.
4. Everything that is designed for the caravan and camping is expensive. A couple of plastic wine glasses will be £10. We need Champagne glasses too, because we can’t drink any kind of bubbly from a wine glass, obviously. As real glass can get shattered into million pieces, so they have to be plastic and as authentic as possible because I don’t like disposable ones. They are visible in the picture below, I’m really happy with them and they will last forever.
The same with the foldable buckets, sieves etc. The price for them in a camping shop is double what you’d pay in a standard shop. Also, some can be found in discount shops and there the items are really cheap, I take advantage of those to save some pennies. I’ve read that “Caravanning is not a cheap holiday, but an expensive hobby” and I agree.
5. Tupperware is your friend. The more, the better. I have everything in Tupperware and it’s so convenient to bring the leftovers home or to stock the cupboards a couple of days before going on holiday. I have coffee, tea, loose tea, flour, rice, pasta, peanuts, oats and the list can go on and on. It’s very easy to store it.
6. People will ask silly questions. When I mentioned we are camping for 10 days I was asked if there is a toilet block. I found this funny, as the toilet blocks are well equipped, the big campsites have 2-3 toilet blocks, hair dryers, washing machine and so on. In smaller sites the facilities are basic, without hair dryers and washer-driers, but still good and clean.
7. You can dress up and put on make-up. Living in a caravan for a few days doesn’t mean make-up is out of the question. We have decided to transform the caravan bathroom into a wardrobe. We took out the fittings and installed a canvas wardrobe. It was easy to set up and the cost was very low, less than £30 for a relatively big storage space. We still use the built-in wardrobe, but I needed more space. The 2nd wardrobe is longer than 1m and it has also an additional shelf. I can fit in my caravan more than in a standard hotel room, that is for sure.
With the help of the mirror my husband installed on one of the doors, I can do my make up easily in the caravan. Again, I’ve read that is not possible to do that. I think that if it’s something you want to do, it can be done.
I have samples that I can take with me and also small travel bottles for the products I use usually. I have shower gel and scrub, shampoo, conditioner, heat-protective hair spray, hand cream, face cream, lip balm, makeup remover, cotton buds, nail polish, nail polish remover, all the makeup I need for that time. All fits in one of the cupboards, it’s not even a hassle, I just put them there a couple of days before we’re leaving and that is it.
Caravaning doesn’t mean messy buns and jeans if you don’t want to. For me, it’s a mixture, depending on where I’m going or what I’m doing.
8. Don’t try to remember if you took the toothbrush. I tried for the first time and it didn’t work. I have a set of pans (1 frying pan and 2 pans), a couple of tins of soup, a 2nd set of toothbrushes and toothpaste, pens, pillow cases, bedspread, a few socks, a couple of towels, tea, coffee and other things we need. It’s pointless to make a huge list every time we go somewhere. I know what I need to change/replenish and I will do that a few days after we are back from a trip.
9. Caravan storage is very important. At the moment the caravan is in a storage facility only 10-15 minutes away from home. We were lucky to find this place, the security is great, access is with a key, by night there are guard dogs patrolling the site. I am happy with the way the dogs are kept when they aren’t working and they look happy and well cared for. We wouldn’t have taken the space if the dogs weren’t happy.
The downside is the cost. Depending on where you live, the prices can be anything from £300 to £800, maybe more for London. Around Liverpool the annual fee is £400-£500. Our storage facility is fully booked and we found a spot because the guy that wanted that spot before us had a caravan that was too big. Of course, this means that if we want to change our caravan for a bigger one we might need to look elsewhere for storage and to travel more to the storage facility. Another option, if we change the caravan is to just wait until a bigger place is available at this site.
We could have kept the caravan in front of the house, but it takes a lot of space, it’s big and some neighbours can complain. In some areas is not permitted to keep it in front of the house, I’m not sure if that was an option for us, we didn’t check. Besides, keeping the caravan in the driveway and going on holiday it’s like saying to any unsuspecting burglar: “Look, we are going away for at least 3-4 days. Enjoy!”.
10. Size does matter. We wanted a caravan that was big enough to go on longer trips, but at the same time, we don’t want a big caravan that is not easy to maneuver. Our caravan is just the right size. We have the space we need inside, but it’s not big and hard to maneuver on narrow roads in the countryside like the ones we’ve been to on our trip to Cumbria, Essex and Hadrian’s wall. It also helped having an old caravan and not crying over a new scratch (from trees&bushes). It happens, unless you are driving it only on the motorway.
11. Bonus: It doesn’t take a lot of time. Making the bed takes 5 minutes (on the clock), transforming it from 2 sofas into a double bed, tuck away the table under the bed and put everything on: mattress protector (to make it more comfortable in the middle), bed spread, pillows, duvet or in the morning, to do everything in reverse. Setting up the caravan (lowering its legs to make it steady & flat), connecting it to electricity and turning on the gas takes 5 minutes too.
I mentioned I’ve been to Kensington Palace in my post about the Household Cavalry Museum. Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and in front of the palace is a beautiful statue of her, designed by one of her daughters, Princess Louise. I saw this in a documentary about Victoria and I find it fascinating.
Currently, Kensington palace is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In the 17th century, King William and Queen Mary asked Christopher Wren, the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, to turn Nottingham House into a palace.
The Palace looks magnificent. It was quite busy, so it was hard for my husband to take pictures while trying to avoid photographing people as well.
In the weekend we’ve been to a local farm, just 25 minutes away, to pick our pumpkin. My husband and I talked before going to pick up the pumpkin and we’ve decided to take just one. We’ll get another closer to Halloween.
It was the first time we’ve been to Kenyon Hall Farm and we thought it will be a small farm. Well, it’s not. There is a farm shop, tearooms, pick your own pumpkin, plant centre and a huge car park (which was full). There is also a maize maze. As they organized the PUMPKIN FESTIVAL, there were other activities too, like face painting for kids and pumpkin carving.
Visitors can pick their own or chose the pumpkins they like. There were loads of pumpkins, all looking beautiful.
We went on one of the fields and it was quite empty, not surprisingly with the amount of people that were there. We managed to find two pumpkins we liked and we took them.
A few months ago, in May, I’ve reviewed Timeline and Dobble. I loved those games and I was delighted to be sent the newest Timeline game: British History. I learned British history mostly by watching movies (The Tudors, Outlander), documentaries and visiting museums and locations managed by English Heritage and National Trust. It’s an amazing way to learn new things, it’s so much easier to remember them. I wasn’t too keen on history at school and anyway, British history was just a small part of European history. As a teenager I had no idea back then that I will move here, so it wasn’t something I particularly paid attention to.
That being said. Lets talk about the game. These aren’t the type of games that you play only once, they are so much fun. We’ve played a few times in the last months and not only while caravanning.
Timeline British History covers a range of events, from the formation of the islands to modern history like Prince William & Catherine wedding, the vote to leave the EU and the London Olympics. As with the other Timeline games, some events are so close that it’s very hard to place them in a timeline and it makes playing the game so much fun.
As we were familiar with the game, we chose 6 cards each and we’ve started playing. It was so engaging that we forgot to take pictures for the review. It just meant we had to play again and again.
If you have other Timelines, they can be mixed up and you can use all the cards. It will make the game harder, but that’s the fun.
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My reading challenge is more than half way through and it’s something I sometimes struggle with. I wish I could read more, but I don’t have enough time or mood for reading. Even so, I managed to read a few books, and, more importantly, books I wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t for the reading challenge. The last update was a few months ago. Since then 4 months had passed and the themes to the reading challenge were: May – Folklore Month; June – Epic Tome Month (over 600 pages); July – Biography Month and August – Horror Month.
Green Men & White swans. The Folklore of British Pub Names by Jacqueline Simpson
This was so interesting, much more exciting than I’ve anticipated. I should make a disclaimer: you will not be able to look at the pub names as before. Joking aside, it’s quite fun to read it. The meaning of some of the pubs are interesting, like Good Woman, Green Man, Blind beggar, Cheese rollers, Childe of Hale, Royal Oak.
Some of the pubs are closed, like Jane Shore, a pub in Shoreditch, named after a notorious medieval beauty, mistress of Edward IV. After the King’s death, she became destitute and is believed she died in a ditch, hence the name Shoreditch. That is not true, as Shoreditch is documented before her time, but it makes an interesting story.
The World’s Heritage. A complete guide to the most extraordinary places. UNESCO
I took this book for June, as it has almost 800 pages, with pictures, but many more than my original 600. I am delighted I’ve chosen it. It might seem like a unusual read, but it was quite fascinating and I learned a thing or two about history. For example, I’ve read about L’Anse aux Meadows in Canada. This was the first cultural site on the list of the World Heritage sites and it’s located in Newfoundland. Is the oldest known European settlement and the only Viking site on the American continent. I had no idea the Vikings made it to America, I don’t know if this is taught in schools or maybe I wasn’t paying attention to that lesson. Anyway, I was surprised by this. In Canada the archaeologists have discovered signs of European explorations before Columbus. In the 60s, remnants of eight buildings made of wood similar to the ones in Iceland and Greenland were discovered.
The book I’ve read was published in 2009. I wasn’t sure I would want to write about this, as I’m avoiding negative subjects. In the book Palmyra has its own page, there is a picture of part of the ruins and it’s described as an oasis. After the book was published, the war started in Syria and ISIS blew up temples in Palmyra. Their reasoning is that the temples was dedicated to a false god. This happened in 2015, a few months after they killed a 83-year old professor who was protecting the secrets of Palmyra. I think we have a duty to protect the legacy our ancestors left for our children, but this happened and a 2000 years old history turned into rubble within minutes. I can only hope that this will not happen again.
Coco Chanel (Critical Lives) by Linda Simon
I am interested in fashion and I love Chanel N°5 and I wanted to read her biography. I didn’t know a lot about her, so it was a captivating book. Chanel’s life was fascinating, but she is not painted in a very good picture, considering her love-life, how she was acting towards her employees. At the same time, she was glamours and had amazing ideas that promoted her designs. I loved reading about the story behind Chanel N°5.
I don’t want to say too much about the book, as I consider it a must-read for everybody who loves fashion.
Being Human: Bad Blood by James Goss
For Horror month I picked a random book from the library and it was Bad Blood, the 3rd in the Being Human series. I mentioned I don’t like horror movies, so a horror book it’s not something I would chose to read, unless is a challenge. I can’t say I was blown away by the book. It was fine, maybe a 3 out of 5.
This is what I’ve read in the last few months. Did you read any good books?