A little bit of history!

It’s hard to believe, but we have lived in this house for nearly twenty years! Situated on the east side of the city centre, it’s not like  the districts to the west of the city, which have some lovely old houses, many of them quite grand. But it does have its good points. A friend once described this house and others in this road as faded Edwardian splendour. The Edwardian is not quite true as the house was built in 1913, making it just over one hundred years old, and strictly speaking it was built in the reign of King George V. As for the faded splendour, well that makes it sound a bit like Satis House, the home of Miss Havisham in Dickens’ novel Great Expectations, and I assure you it is not!

But it is a good place to live. The local Residents’ Association works hard to improve the quality of life for all of us in this corner of the city which includes Gosford Park, Stoke Green and Stoke Park.

It’s a place full of history too. Just a couple of hundred metres from this house is Gosford Green! And it was there in the fourteenth century that a famous incident took place which involved single combat between the Duke of Norfolk and the Duke of Hereford. I quote from the website of our Residents’ Association: The dispute arose after one of the dukes was said to have uttered treasonable remarks against King Richard ll. Large numbers, including up to 10,000 soldiers, gathered to witness the event on Gosford Green, but at the last moment the king halted the duel and both dukes were banished.

The Duke of Hereford, otherwise known as Henry Bolingbroke, (remembered in a local road name) returned, took Richard prisoner and forced him to abdicate. The king was subsequently killed and Bolingbroke took over the monarchy as King Henry lV. This treacherous act led to the Wars of the Roses and during this period Parliament sat in Coventry.

Henry lV‘s son, Henry V, in later years won the Battle of Agincourt. So the duel that nearly happened at Gosford Green in Coventry proved to have a significant part to play in English history.

We can see Gosford Green from our house, and it is fascinating to imagine those thousands of soldiers gathered where this house now stands, and the importance to the history of the Succession of the English Monarchy and British history in general that this little corner of Coventry has played.

The photographs shared from the website of Gosford Park Residents’ Association show something of the very attractive nature of the place that I am pleased to call home, and are reproduced here with permission. Just click on “Pictures” below, and you will be taken to the GPRA website.

Source: Pictures

Pray for Manchester

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London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Cairo, Istanbul, Nice, New York, Saint Petersburg, to name just a few.

Then there are cities and towns in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the list goes on.

Now the city of Manchester is added to that list.

I have no words to add to the thousands already spoken.

Just thoughts and prayers for those who have died.

For those who have suffered bereavement or injury.

For those who are confused or traumatised.

When will it end?

I simply share the words of this prayer that I saw on Facebook this morning.

Lord have mercy,

Lord have mercy on the people of Manchester,

Lord have mercy on all caught up in the bombing,

Lord have mercy on all who are injured and traumatised,

Lord have mercy on all who are bereaved and bereft,

Lord have mercy on all who are providing care and solace,

Lord have mercy on those who must investigate what has happened,

Lord have mercy on us all as we struggle to understand why this can happen,

Lord have mercy. Amen.

Listening to the news reports today, we should also be grateful and proud for that spirit of coming together that the people of Manchester have shown, as well as the spirit of defiance in the face of evil and terrorism. It is the same attitude that has been shown in cities around the world, and is the only thing we can do. We have to continue with our daily lives because we cannot allow evil to win.

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Paris is a Beloved City

Having recently returned from a five day visit to Paris, and with thoughts of that beautiful city still buzzing inside my head, I want to share these words from a fellow blogger with my readers, to share her love of the city, and to share her sadness for what has happened.

Glover Gardens Cookbook

I am very sad about yesterday’s shootings in Paris. It is such a beautiful, magic place, populated with wonderful, friendly people who enjoy life and rich with history, architecture, art, cuisine and culture.  My heart is heavy for the victims of the shootings and their families, and for all Parisians as they struggle to recover from the shock and horror of the violence.

My tiny contribution to the healing process and return to normalcy is to reinforce the positives. Today’s post is just a quick couple of photos I snapped on my iPhone as part of a texting dialogue with my son while I was walking along the Seine. He traveled with me to Paris 5 years ago and we had an amazing experience, but that is literally another story (click here for “The Thankful Foreigner”).  He has great memories of Paris, and longs to return.

Me:  “I’m at the…

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The real Paris

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Almost a week has passed since our trip to Paris. As tourists do, we did the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, the Latin Quarter, Sacré Cœur, and outside Paris we visited the Château of Versailles. We walked the Champs-Elysées and the Grands Boulevards, saw the Palais Garnier, travelled on the Metro and literally walked miles in our quest to show our godson the city we fell in love with over thirty years ago.

But there is so much more to Paris than these great tourist attractions and famous buildings. It is the place where tourists seldom go that show you what the real Paris is like. Wander the streets of the Île Saint-Louis, and you could imagine yourself far away from the centre of a capital city, when in effect you are just a few hundred metres from the great cathedral of Notre Dame. Unlike its big sister, the Île de la Cité, this smaller island contains almost everything that you could want from a village community, and moves at a much slower pace than the streets on the opposite banks of the Seine.

Or take yourself to the Marais or to Montegueil, village communities bustling with cafés and bistros where Parisians eat and drink after work, where every kind of food shop imaginable is to be found, and where the Jewish community rubs shoulders with designer boutique hotels and Paris’ gay community. A different atmosphere can be felt as you tread the streets in the northern districts of Menilmontant and Belleville, birthplace of Edith Piaf, and close by the fascinating Cemetery of Père Lachaise, where Edith Piaf, the little sparrow, and Oscar Wilde, that great figure of literature, share a graveyard with a million other people, and where the remains of the famous twelfth century lovers Abélard and Héloïse were transferred at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

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Montmartre is another of those places. The steps of Sacré Cœur and the Place du Tertre are always busy with tourists, youngsters who sit and sing on the steps as they look down over the city lit up below, or where artists try to sketch your portrait as you wander by the restaurants and souvenir shops in the Place. But step just a few metres away and you are in a different world, where vines grow and windmills turn and narrow streets are home to houses clad with ivy, and where quiet flights of steps lead to unexpected  views of the surrounding districts.

I love Paris. I love its grand monuments and its famous places. I love to relive the history of the city, even though I shudder when some of those places remind me of the bloody Revolution and its aftermath. But I have a deeper affection for those less well known places, where Parisians go about their daily lives, and where the real Paris is to be found.