Friday, April 13, 2012

Recent Book Read

Inside Dickens' London by Michael Paterson.

I have just started this book and it does not disappoint. It accumulates many written descriptions of London in Dickens' time, a time I am fascinated with.

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.

A classic I just read for my bookclub. Short, sweet and entertaining.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman.

This book was nominated for the 2011 Man Booker Prize. The top 5 nominations are always worth a read every year. This one deals with a young immigrant boy who is caught in a harrowing and rough part of London. It is based on a real person.

Mapp & Lucia by E. F. Benson.

This was a book club choice and I found it hard to get into but managed to find it entertaining once in. It is about catty English women in early 20th century. I was astounded to find there is a whole series of books on the characters. I will not be reading them.

Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt.

It turns out the artist in the studio next to mine spent a year writing this fictional account of Churchhill and his depression which was published by Penguin. It is a great short and sweet read.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

This was the Man Booker 2011 winner and well worth the read. Very introspective, philosophical and surprising.

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell.

I thought this book had such a nice flow to it. It was a book club choice and because I didn't manage to finish it in time I learned the surprise ending before I read it. That didn't seem to take away from the book at all though.

I will post books as I read them on the side bar under My Library.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hampton Court Palace

 When he died in 1547 Henry VIII had more than 60 houses, but – in the second half of his reign – none were more important to him, nor more sumptuously decorated, than Hampton Court Palace.
 By the time Henry finished his building works at Hampton Court Palace in about 1540, the palace was one of the most modern, sophisticated and magnificent in England.

 There were tennis courts, bowling alleys and pleasure gardens for recreation, a hunting park of more than 1,100 acres, kitchens covering 36,000 square feet, a fine chapel, a vast communal dining room (the Great Hall) and a multiple garderobe (or lavatory) - known as the Great House of Easement - which could sit 28 people at a time. Water flowed to the palace from Coombe Hill in Kingston, three miles away, through lead pipes.

 All of Henry’s six wives came to the palace and most had new and lavish lodgings. The King rebuilt his own rooms at least half a dozen times. Note the elaborately carved wood detail above.

 The palace also provided accommodation for each of the King's children and for a large number of courtiers, visitors and servants.

 And he used Hampton Court to impress. Most famously in August 1546 Henry feasted and fĂȘted the French ambassador and his entourage of two hundred gentlemen – as well as 1,300 members of his own court – for six days. An encampment of gold and velvet tents surrounded the palace for the occasion.

A year later, Henry was dead, with three surviving children – the 9-year old Prince Edward and his older sisters Mary and Elizabeth. Each would rule England, and Hampton Court would continue to play an important part in the lives of the Tudor monarchs.

 I visited the palace with Sarah and Lenny and had a great time there with them!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Abney Park: The Gothic Victorian Cemetry

Abney Park in Stoke Newington, London, formerly one of the ‘magnificent seven’ garden cemeteries of London, is now a woodland Victorian Gothic cemetry and Local Nature Reserve managed by the Abney Park Trust.
 The park has an old Gothic feel to it and the headstones are graves are allowed to "go wild".
 The cemetery/park is allowed to grow wild and one sees wonky tombstones everywhere.
 Slowly vines creep in among the graves.

 In the middle of the park sits the Gothic style Victorian funeral chapel.
 Here is a peep into the chapel. It is no longer used and is falling apart inside and out, but only adds to the atmosphere of the place.

 What I love about the place is the caretakers look like Goths themselves.

 As I wander around the many paths I get a different view of the chapel.
 Here the graves are soon going to be covered by ivy.

 I love this image of graves head stones now completely covered in ivy.

It truly is a small magical place to visit in London.