No, not the pub made famous in the BBC soap opera – Eastenders – this ‘Old Vic’ is a recently restored water fountain dating back to 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. After falling into disrepair due to exposure to the elements, the Queen Victoria drinking fountain is back to its former glory on the shore between Hoylake and Meols on the Wirral.
A fabulous looking artefact by anybody’s standards – resplendent on a clear blue day – looking out proudly towards the Irish Sea and the Atlantic beyond.
Here’s a detail showing Queen Victoria .. Empress of India in those days too! The fountain clearly befitting her power and status.
Not quite sure what the significance of the white bird is. Feel free to offer suggestions. Here’s that flower in a little more detail, too.
Tattenhall in Cheshire is the epitome of an English village and on a rare warm and sunny August day it was looking at its best.
The village was still displaying the Union Jack wherever you looked – no doubt the remnants of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the London 2012 Olympics.
It was a perfect setting for summer flowers of all sorts. You could almost imagine the entire village as an exhibit in the Chelsea Flower Show.
Cultivated gardens and borders like this one, while centuries old Tudor buildings provided a wonderful backdrop for wildflowers.
A perfect English village complete with pubs and its own Indian restaurant. Well worth visiting.
Less than a week after the recent Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II and there were remnants of the celebrations all over London. The bunting outside the Nell Gwyn pub in Bull Inn Court off the Strand near Covent Garden was still fresh.
Nell Gwyn was the favourite mistress of the Queen’s ancestor – Charles II – and, curiously, Samantha Cameron, wife of British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is a direct descendant of an illegitimate child of their relationship. See if you can spot any similarities ..
Spent the afternoon watching the weather close in on the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames in London; quite a spectacle in spite of the grey skies. By way of a cheery contrast, I’m posting about a band my son introduced me to. Apparently he thinks I’m hip enough to appreciate them. Hope you are too! The band in question are Tame Impala. Here’s the cover from their album, Innerspeaker.
I imagine the covers to their first ep and their album might give you a bit of a clue about the sort of musical treat you’re in for. If not, how about this description from their website – http://www.tameimpala.com/ – psychedelic hypno-groove melodic rock – now there’s an antidote to the Diamond Jubilee and the gloomy weather if ever I heard one. You might want to check out this YouTube video of Solitude is Bliss – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxvf7gR4-2M – great music and interesting video, too. Enjoy!
Fiction’s hard wired into my DNA – whether it’s the work of Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck or V.S.Naipaul – I’m an English Lit graduate for goodness sake! Endlessly sailing to the shores of remarkable storytellers is all well and good, but now and again, I’m caught with a craving for a political biography – whether it’s Churchill, Thatcher or Blair – and America’s political leaders, too, notably, presidential sparring partners, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. What made our leaders – and the leaders of the free world – tick? What drove them to the top of their respective greasy poles? .
I’d read the amazing, imaginative work of historical fiction – Wolf Hall – by Hilary Mantel – a little while back. When you see her recommendation name-checked on the cover of a piece of historical biography as you browse Waterstones Bookshop, you know it must be pretty good.
So, Henry VII. What did I really know about this rather shadowy geezer? I say shadowy in the sense that what little I knew of him told me he was the dynastic warm up act for those other two headlining Tudors – Henry VIII and his daughter, Elizabeth I – seen below.
What Thomas Penn’s Winter King does is to demonstrate what a pivotal figure Henry VII was. A king who has seized the throne after years of civil unrest and who spent much of his reign looking over his shoulders and dealing with a variety of pretenders to the crown.
I certainly feel like a historical blindspot of mine has been corrected and it’s fascinating to speculate on the fate of the country socially and economically, let alone whether it might ever have declared religious UDI from the dead hand of Rome had Henry VII’s oldest son – Prince Arthur – not succumbed to illness shortly after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
Just as today, with our current Queen – Elizabeth II – a simple twist of fate and suddenly the whole dynastic line of succession can change in an instant. Although the book does present a clear picture of the care and attention Henry paid to his elder son’s preparation for kingship and gave us some sense of the loss on his death, the personal ramifications are never fully explored.
What the book occasionally lacks in the account of the personal aspects of Henry and his immediate family is more than made up for in terms of the high level of detail of the wide range of players on the broader political scene. It reminded me of studying the many novels of Charles Dickens at university years ago; my strategy for keeping up to speed with the heaving mass of characters and the spider’s web of relationships was to keep a running list at the front of the book as one by one the characters took their turn on the narrative stage.
Winter King is, at times. a dense read, and you do need to pay attention. But it’s well worth the effort. What I find fascinating is to be able to draw parallels between our modern constitutional monarchy and it’s modus operandi and this Tudor monarch’s attention to ceremonial pomp, splendour and public relations! I’ll be watching tomorrow’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the River Thames through the prism of history and the life and preoccupations of the current queen’s ancestor.