ONWARDS WITH THE BIG TRIP – VICTORIA’S FERTILITY

We drove to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand to visit the Bang Pa-In Summer Place which was stunning. Like most places it is a complex of buildings formerly used by the Thai kings. I think the pictures speak for themselves and it was one of the most beautiful places we went to with very few chattering tourists to disturb the peace.

While Queen Victoria was expanding so was the Empire and her reign of 63 years, 7 months is the longest of any other British monarch until Queen Elizabeth who became queen in 1952.

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It was during this time that England went to war against all kinds of other, interesting people in interesting places, such as China, Afghanistan, the Seiks, the Burmese, Abyssinia and the Zulus. This kept Parliament very busy pouring for hours over maps to find out where these places were.

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Two downloadable back stories for free in the newsletter – find out more about Amie’s early life and Ben’s coming of age.

BANKOK AND ALMOST THE END OF ESCORTED BIG TRIP

The summer palace at Bang Pa-In was truly special and as I can’t put too many photos in each blog, I’ll spread it out over a couple of weeks. No words from me are necessary, the pictures speak for themselves.

HISTORICAL NONSENSE

Well of course all this frolicking around in the bedroom had consequences didn’t it? (Urban legend has it that Albert put locks on the doors – that’s how serious it was).  I’m still puzzling over that letter from last week, do you think Albert ever got to read it?  The Queen hated being pregnant, viewed breast-feeding with disgust and thought new born babies were ugly. She compared them to frogs.

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In November 1840, three doctors and a nurse were installed in Buckingham Palace. When the Queen went into labour, she was worried that she might cry out and be heard by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and other important ministers who were all waiting in the next room.

This was referred to as the first silent birth – and you thought it might be fun to be a princess? Think again.

The reason for this almost public exhibition? Years ago, many had believed that James II’s son was a changeling and had been smuggled into the queen’s bedchamber in a warming pan, so it became practice to have state ministers on hand to view a new royal baby immediately it was born.

Stay safe until next week.

A FEW MORE TEMPLES ON THE BIG TRIP

We were still reeling from the sheer size of the Gold Buddha, these are a few pictures of the exterior of the building it’s housed in. Pure gold, can you imagine? You might expect it to be surrounded by armed guards, trip wires, mine fields and so on, but although it was out of reach on a huge platform, no one could lift it or remove it easily – even if it wasn’t a sacred monument.

A picture of the exterior of the building and the ceiling inside.

The Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is a Khmer style Buddhist temple on the west banmk of the Chao Phraya River and we went to Wat Po, the largest and oldest temple in Bankok also known as the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage.

The afternoon was spent at the Royal Grand Palace, the official residence of the kings of Siam (now Thailand) which is in the historic centre of the city since 1782.  The king and his court lived there until 1925. It was quite sparse inside, but interesting.

More pics of this next time.

HISTORICAL RUBBISH

Now I forgot to mention that Victoria, deprived of her favourite Lord M, was ripe for the picking and sneaky Albert had been well coached in her likes and dislikes and was ready to ingratiate himself.

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To begin with he pretended to like dancing (he didn’t), he lied and told her he liked staying up late (he preferred early nights) and he was full of fun (he was a boring, lack lustre old fart).  But of course the stupid queen fell for him and the rest, as they say is history.

Stay safe till next week.

PLOUGHING ON THROUGH THE FAR EAST

We landed in Bangkok on 2nd February. Honestly their idea of a 3 star rating hotel would equal about 15 star in Europe, it was amazing. Once again we were upgraded to a deluxe suite, not sure why, but we were not going to complain.

Our guide took us to the following places and I’m not sure now which is which. Yes I’m ashamed to admit it but I didn’t want to spend all my time writing stuff down as I had in the past, but use my eyes to wonder, gape, drool and take it all in. There was so much to see, so many details, and we moved at such a fast pace to get it all in that it would be either the pictures or the script, and the photos won. We visited Wat Traimit, Wat Arun (Dawn Temple) and Wat Po.

Wat Traimit is the temple of the golden Buddha, famous for its 900 year old five and a half ton solid gold image of the Buddha. This week I am just going to post ONLY pictures of this as it just takes your breath away.

It was impossible to get it all in in one shot. I just love the one where they are working on the feet, using Mother of Pearl, as the man was showing us.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now I could write a book about Queen Victoria, but I don’t like her enough and I would probably be very rude. Before Christmas I left her slobbering over Lord Melbourne, but her Uncle Leopold (the Belgium king who annexed the Belgian Congo as an extension to his back garden) and various other members of the family had other ideas. this is his photo.leopold-of-belgium

Of course they wanted to bring in a German suitor on the excuse that he would be Protestant and not a Catholic. (Frankly by now I’m sure Henry VIII wouldn’t have minded too much). Enter Albert (yeuk), the one with no sense of humour and every intention of being king.

This time he did the slobbering to get the young queen’s attention and it wasn’t too long before they were an item, frequently seen at the local bowling alley on a Friday night.

Till next week, stay safe.

THE BIG TRIP, THE TEMPLE COMPLEX ON THE HILL AND THE QUEEN I DON’T LIKE

I left off last time in northern Thailand at the top of the hill at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. I’ve just noticed on the notes that visitors can climb the 309 steps for free to reach the pagoda. Free! Are they kidding! As I posted last time, we took the cable car up there and viewed the panoramic sight of Chang Mai city.  We watched lots of people ring bells, there were rows and rows of them. We weren’t sure of the ‘why’ for all this, and our guide had wandered off, but just in case, we also rang several of the bells. Some were really large and their tonality to my ears at any rate, was pitch perfect.

I think this is a delightful picture of DH finding the clapper on one of the larger ones. I know I posted the other one before, but I can’t help giggling.

The whole area housed several temples, and worshippers were performing different rites at each of them. I didn’t manage to get a full explanation as to what was happening.

I took so many pictures, I’ll have to show you the rest next time.

While Queen Elizabeth is my favourite queen – a Virgo like me, we share a name and my latest colouring product also turns me a slight shade of auburn –  my least favourite monarch either male or female, is the one I have reached now – Victoria, although that wasn’t her first name.vic-haema

I started out having some sympathy with her- also a mum who wasn’t kind, and she lost her father when young, but that is where the similarity ends.

I cheered when she got her own bedroom and practiced walking down the stairs all by herself, what an achievement!  But, as soon as she realized she was queen on one hand she started throwing her weight around and on the other, turned into a silly giggly girl over a man much older than herself. Find out who later. (That’s supposed to be a cliff hanger). Definition of cliff hanger … writer cleverly writes exciting bit without completing all the knowledge leaving the readers wanting to know more, so they eagerly wait for the next episode or chapter.  And no it’s NOT Prince Albert.

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BIG TRIP CHANG MAI – ENTER THE QUEEN EVERYONE KNOWS

The last place we were taken to in northern Thailand was at Doi Suthep to visit Wat Umong and Wat Phrathat Doi. We had driven up into the forested foothills and stopped in a busy street.

and then whisked up in a cable car to the top of the hill

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Which gave us amazing views over Chang Mai

and a vast temple complex.

More pics next week.

APPALLING HISTORY LESSON

By the time Victoria ascended the throne – yes, it’s Victoria, did you guess right? – royalty did not have a terribly good name. George III had been mad, all the fathers and sons had been at each other’s throats and all those extraneous children sired by William did not impress the public either.

She began with flirting with her new Prime Minister Melbourne who was dashing, romantic and dropped compliments like leaves in autumn. No wonder she insisted on seeing him every single day.

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Till next week.

THE BIG TRIP, A COUPLE MORE TEMPLES AND THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION

Now I’m not really here doing my Monday blog – no, I’m in Miami and due to clever technology this will be scheduled to pop into your mailbox on the right day – well maybe – you may have noticed my dismal record for techie wizardry.

I was impressed with the marketing techniques in the Far East. In the western world any attraction secular or otherwise would be surrounded by stalls, shops and hawkers selling cheap, tatty souvenirs. Often there were no retail sales near the temples, and on the occasion there were, these were low key and very discreet.

The temple complex we visited had once been the home of the emerald Buddha which has a fascinating history. It was discovered in Chang Mai in the 15th century when the covering stucco began to peel off revealing it was made of semi-precious green stone.

Today it is housed in the What Phra Kaew chapel in Bangkok, and 3 times a year the king of Thailand changes the costumes adorning the statue, for the cool season, the rainy season and the hot season.

We were taken to a workshop where they worked aluminium, and I began chatting to a young man from Johannesburg who had travelled over to learn the art.

MORE HISTORICAL INCORRECT INFORMATION

The next queen was informed in her nightgown. That is to say the visitors had arrived very early in the morning after William IV has passed on during the night, so she didn’t have time to get dressed. The dear old sovereign had lasted until his successor was eighteen years and one month old. There was be NO regency!

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Of course Mummy was simply furious, especially as her previously biddable daughter’s first command was to have her mother’s bed moved out, in future she would sleep alone – well for now.

Have a great week.