birdienl: (History castle)

Hello dear readers! It's been a while (again) since I've written, but to make it up, I've got a big, photo-filled post about my latest holiday from two weeks ago. This time I got on a train to go to Heidelberg, which is in the south of Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Read more... )
birdienl: (Winter1)

In 24 Hours in the Past, six British celebrities go back to the 19th century to live the life of the Victorian working class. They will live and work at four different places: the dust yard, the coaching inn, the potteries and end up in the worst place of all: the workhouse!

Read more... )
birdienl: (Jane Eyre)

As you might (or might not) recall from a previous post, I actually took a trip to England two weeks ago. And since I've been back I've been so busy I haven't even had time to do my 'customary' picture post here! Let's quickly remedy that!

Read more... )
birdienl: (spring 2015)

After a series of 'adventures', the living-history team of the BBC: historian Ruth Goodman and archeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold have arrived in the Middle Ages. At Guédelon in France they uncover the long-forgotten art of building a castle and of the everyday live of the Medieval people involved.

If you've read my blog for a while (that is, before I started on Blogger, sorry...) you know that I'm a huge fan of the living-history series from the BBC. It all started in 2005, with Tales from the Green Valley, in which a group of enthusiastic historians and archeologists actually recreated the life on a farm in the 17th century. I was enchanted; this was an amazing way to learn about history and most of all, about forgotten, everyday history! After that, a part of the team went on to produce the hugely succesful 'Farm' series: Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm and Tudor Monastery Farm. I loved them all! So I was really pleased to hear that another series was being made, this time in the Middle Ages, a time period I'm really interested in, with my swordfighting hobby.
Read more... )
birdienl: (Winter2)

The year 1666 is not a great one for London. In the overcrowded city tensions run high because of conflicts between rich and poor, the last remains of a Plague epidemic, the perilious position of the King and the persecution of Catholics. Thomas Farriner runs a bakery in Pudding Lane. As a widower, he has to take care of his two young daughters and also keeps an eye on his sister-in-law Sarah and her son. One hot September day Thomas' daughter leaves the door of the bakery oven open and so unwittingly starts a fire. Soon, the fire jumps from house to house in the crowded slums, people are trying to flee to safety and street rows are breaking out. Meanwhile, Lord Denton is tracking Sarah who he believes to be a Catholic spy and writer Samuel Pepys tries to convince King Charles II the take some serious measures against the spreading fire.
Read more... )
birdienl: (Extensive reading)

Kate Livingston was just let go from her respectable, though rather dull, position as a government statistician. Then she receives an interesting job offer from a doctor researching tuberculosis. Kate is intrigued, until she disovers the doctor is none other than her school rival Trevor McDonough. Why would he offer a job to her of all people?

Trevor's one big goal in life is to find a cure for tuberculosis. His work would become much easier if he had a competent assistant and he decides to find Kate Livingston, the clever and quick girl he always competed with at school. While working together, Kate and Trevor form a tentative friendship despite their very different characters. But mysterious things happen at the hospital: missing stock, data which have been tampered with. Trevor tries to ignore it, but then whoever is trying to ruin his name starts to target Kate and her family. Kate and Trevor must try to find the person behind this and for that, Trevor must open up and tell Kate his secrets.
Read more... )
birdienl: (Autumn)

This year, the BBC commemorate the centenary of WWI with a host of special tv- and radio programs. After 37 Days (review), The Crimson Field is the second drama offering of the British. This 6-part series shows the life and work of staff and patients at a field hospital in France. We follow the stories of three VADs, voluntary nurses from (mostly) the middle- and upper classes of society. Though extra hands are desperately needed in the field hospital, the VADs are not welcomed with open arms by the professional nurses who think these women are ill-prepared and naïve. Kitty Trevelyan (Oona Chaplin) has come to France to flee a tragic home situation. Her opinionated and headstrong character soon brings her in conflict with the senior hospital staff. Flora Marshall (Alice St Clair) is a sweet young girl who brightens up the wards and has a steely determination to prove that she can be a good nurse despite her young age. Rosalie Berwick (Marianne Oldham) is seen as an 'old maid' in her home environment and comes to France to 'do some good'. But the constant challenges of the hospital frighten her and her social insecurity alienates her from the rest of the staff. Kitty, Flora and Rosalie have to work together under Matron Grace Carter (Hermione Norris) and assist physicians Thomas Gillan (Richard Rankin) and Miles Hesketh-Thorne (Alex Wyndham).
Read more... )
birdienl: (Hello spring)

Two weeks ago, I went for a short trip to the Belgian capital of Brussels. Even though it's quite close to home (less than 3 hours by train), it was still very different (language, architecture, culture etc), so I really felt like I was away from everyday life and I totally enjoyed it!

More.... )
birdienl: (History castle)

This year, it is 100 years ago since the Great War started. All around the world, this fact will be remembered this and the coming years. The BBC partakes in this centenary with the production of new television and radio programs about WWI, both documentaries and dramas (you can find an overview of all the programs here). First among the dramas produced by the BBC was the three-part series 37 days, which tells about the prelude to the War.
Tell me, what does it take to lead a democracy into war? )
birdienl: (Winter)
While the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896, it wasn't until 1924 that the first edition of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix in France, at the foot of Mont Blanc. Winter sports had been a part of the 'normal' Olympic Games on and of before they got their own special event. Alternatively, there were the Nordic Games, held for the first time in 1901 and then every four years afterwards, but these were very much a Swedish affair.

Because of the difficulty of hosting winter sports at the 'normal' Olympics held during the summer, the IOC asked of the Olympic host country of 1924, France, to organize a separate 'Winter Sports week' in the same year. This proved to be a great success, as over 250 athletes from 16 different countries competed. Finland and Norway won 28 medals, more than all the other countries combined... The 9 sports practiced during this first Winter Olympics were ice hockey, speed skating, figure skating, curling, bobsleigh, ski jumping, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined and military patrol (a predecessor to the current biathlon).

The IOC did not yet call this 'Winter Sports week' the first Winter Olympics until retrospectively. In 1925, they decided to make the Winter Olympics separate from the Summer edition and designated Chamonix, 1924 as the first Winter Olympics.

Also: check out this really funny interview in which one of our Dutch speedskating coaches has a lively discussion about Olympic success on American TV! (I don't necessarily agree with everything he says, but I do like to see how passionately he defends The Netherlands and the Dutch sports system)

birdienl: (History castle)

The Great Exhibition (or, more officially Great Exhibition of the works of industry of all nations) was the first worldwide exhibition. It was held in 1851 in London, in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, an enormous cast iron and plate glass building. The Exhibition was organized by a committee led by Prince Albert and it's goal was to celebrate modern technology and design. Although countries from around the world had displays at the Exhibition, it was clear Great Britain sought to showcase its own superiority in all things.

Six million people, equivalent to a third of the of the population of Britain at the time, visited the Exhibition in the 5,5 months it was open. Among them were many famous people of the day: the French royal family, Charles Darwin and authors like Charles Dickens and George Eliot. Admission prices varied according to the day of the visit, the lowest priced tickets were just one shilling and were very popular among the industrial classes. The profits of the Exhibition funded the foundation of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, all three still popular museums in London today!

There were 13000 exhibits at the Exhibition in total, many of them focusing on (at the time) modern technology, such as a reaping machine, electric telegraphs and microscopes. Visitors could watch the complete process of cotton production at work, from spinning to finished cloth. Non-scientific exhibits were among others the Koh-i-Noor diamond and an 8th century Irish broach. The Great Exhibition also had the honour of being the first event with public toilets! For one penny people could make use of the Retiring Rooms and they even got a comb and shoe shine!

The Great Exhibition sparked a tradition of similar world fairs. Other famous world fairs are the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris (for which the Eiffel Tower was build) and the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. World fairs, now called Expo, are still being held approximately every three years around the world. The last of these was in 2012 in Yeosu in Korea, the next Expo will be held in 2015 in Milan, Italy. 
birdienl: (Extensive reading)

With her aunt Neda, Amalia boards the Titanic. In America, they plan to visit her niece and Amalia hopes to be introduced to a man she has been corresponding with, a man she hopes might become more than just a pen-friend to her. When boarding, Amalia sees a stowaway being dragged from board. Spurred by her kind nature, Amalia offers her nephew's leftover ticket to the hapless young man, Quentin Walpole. What she doesn't know is that Quentin is the estranged son of a wealthy American businessman, whose life has come tumbling down of late. As Amalia and Quentin enjoy the luxury of traveling with the Titanic, they grow close. But there is also a man from first class vying for Amalia's attention and when Quentin's secret comes to light, all their lives are drawn together.
Read more )
birdienl: (LBD Jane and Lizzie)
 photo 11Mirabellgarten_zps6c411c87.jpg

Last week, I went on holiday. First, I visited the Austrian city of Salzburg, for the second half I went to Munich in Germany. Here I met up with a friend of mine who lives there. I had a really lovely time with lots of history, culture and beautiful nature and it was really nice to spend time with my friend.
I want to share with you some of the best sites I saw, I hope you enjoy it!
More pictures under the cut! )
birdienl: (Books)

Allie Miller is engaged to her father's business partner. She doesn't love him, but wants to obey her parent's wishes. During the wedding of her best friend, she meets bomber pilot Walter Novak. As Walter will be posted overseas, he and Allie decide to write each other. Trough their letters, they strike up a friendship which gives Allie the courage to search for a more fulfilling life and rethink her faith. But is friendship really all there is between them?

World War II is one of my 'favourite' eras for fiction. I've read many good books set in the '40s, such as The Liberator series by Tricia Goyer and the Women of Valor trilogy by Elyse Larson. But it's been a while I've seen any new authors in the Christian fiction market trying out this era. Until I found Sarah Sundin, that is.

All her life Allie had longed for the look in his hazel eyes, but she never guessed how splendid it was to truly feel lovely and special. )
birdienl: (History castle)
Last week I enjoyed a short holiday in Belgium, mainly in the lovely city of Bruges. I wanted to share with you some of the interesting (mainly historical) things I saw. Hope you enjoy the photographs! (The weather was very bad, it rained at least part of every day, so the pictures are unfortunately sometimes very grey....)

Bruges is sometimes called 'Venice of the North'. This relatively small city was once the chief commercial city of the world! It's heyday was between the 12th and 15th century, when Bruges got extremely wealthy by trade in cloth and wool. Many of the buildings erected in this era have survived to this day in a beautiful state, making the city a popular tourist attraction. The historical city center received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2000.

More history under the cut ;-) )
birdienl: (History castle)
Kaiser Wilhelm II was the last emperor of Germany. He was also only the third of that rare species, as the German empire had not been established until 1871. He was crowned emperor in 1888 and used his power to try and make Germany as great and important as Great-Britain (Wilhelm was the grandson of Queen Victoria and looked up towards the British Empire enormously). Because of his militaristic style of government, after WWI, the defeated Germans blamed Wilhelm for the war. He was forced to abdicate and asked for asylum in The Netherlands. This country had been neutral during WWI and queen Wilhelmina was a distant relative of Wilhelm.

Wilhelm was granted asylum and in 1920 was able to buy the small manor house Huis Doorn in the middle of The Netherlands. He was allowed access to his possessions in Germany and decorated Huis Doorn with 59 train-wagons full of furniture and art objects from his palaces in Berlin and Potsdam. This was a great deal too much for Huis Doorn and most of the things were put into storage.

Wilhelm lived in Doorn first with his wife Empress Augusta-Victoria and after her death in 1921 with his second wife princess Hermine and her children from her first marriage. Wilhelm was only allowed to go 15 km beyond the boundaries of his estate. If he wanted to go further away, he had to ask permission from the Dutch government. The reason for this was that, as a political refugee, the government had in fact promised to protect him. Wilhelm hardly ever went from the terrain of Huis Doorn, where he spent the largest part of his time with chopping wood and writing his memoirs.

Wilhelm died in 1941, at which time The Netherlands was occupied by Hitler's Germany. He was buried in a small mausoleum in the garden of Huis Doorn. He did not want to be buried in German soil until the monarchy was re-established. His wish was also that no swastika's were shown at his funeral (he was opposed to the Nazi rule of Germany), but as the occupying German forces controlled his funeral, it still became a show of Nazi pride.

After WWII, the Dutch government confiscated Huis Doorn (as they did with all the properties of Germans) and the house has been a museum ever since. In June every year, a small but devoted band of German monarchists comes to pay their respect and lay wreaths at the mausoleum of Wilhelm.

If you want to see how the house looks, I went there last week and you can check my post at [ profile] all_castles here

birdienl: (History castle)
As you might know, today was a pretty special day in The Netherlands. Our Queen of 33 years, Queen Beatrix, abdicated in favor of her son, the now-King Willem-Alexander. He is the first King of our country in over 120 years, as we've had three successive Queens and a Queen Regent before him. It was a wonderful day, filled with ceremonies and festivities. I'd like to share some of this with you, so I picked 11 pictures of what the day was like. Enjoy!
Long live the King! )

birdienl: (Default)
This year, 2013, in the region where I live, we celebrate that 300 years ago, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed. Now, I must admit to my shame (as I almost live in Utrecht), that I hardly knew anything about this Treaty, leading to the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. I think not many of you know about this episode of history either, so I thought this to be an interesting subject for my 49th '100 things challenge'-post.

The Treaty ended the War of Spanish Succession, which had raged all over Europe between from 1701 onwards. It started with the death of Charles II, King of Spain. Charles II did not have an heir and the Kingdom of Spain (with dominions in Italy, Asia and the Americas) was a force to be reckoned with. Multiple candidates to inherit the throne of Spain stood up. First and foremost of this was the heir apparent to the French throne: dauphin Louis. Another candidate was Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor of the Habsburg empire. Both these men were cousins in the first degree to Charles II, but for both candidates a similar problem to their inheriting the Spanish crown arose: it would combine two large empires under one crown (either France-Spain or Austria-Spain) and offset the precarious balance of power in Europe.

Forces supporting either candidate fought all over Europe. Great Britain and the Dutch Republic sided with the Holy Roman Empire, while Bavaria fought with the French. Battles were won and lost by both sides of the argument, with none gaining the upper hand. In 1712, the new Conservative British parliament, seeing that a quick victory was unlikely, started negotiations.

Why Utrecht was chosen to be the place of this negotiations is not entirely sure. Perhaps because the Dutch Republic wás a part of the conflict, but not a very powerful player, so negotiating here would not humiliate or exalt any of the parties. Previous treaties had been signed in Dutch cities, such as the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678) and Treaty of Rijswijk (1697). Interestingly, the 1,5 years of the negotiations were a golden time for the city of Utrecht. A great number of parties, dinners and cultural performances took place to keep all the international guests satisfied. Economic growth and employment soared. The Calvinistic city of Utrecht had a ban on theater, but for the duration of the negotiations, this was lifted!

The most important provisions in the Treaty of Utrecht were that Philip (grandson to the King of France, son to dauphin Louis) would become King of Spain, but had to renounce his rights to the throne of France. There were also territorial changes to Spain's empire, the Spanish Netherlands and Kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia were given to the Holy Roman Empire, Gibraltar and Minorca to Great Britain.

Georg Friedrich Händel wrote a festive piece of music to commemorate this Treaty: the Utrecht Te Deum

Now I'm just happy that the inheritance of 'our' Dutch throne is a lot simpler and we have an interesting and festive day tomorrow with the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander!

As you can see, I'm nearing the midway-point of the 100 things challenge! To make the 50th post a little more special, I'll let you choose the subject! Be as broad or as specific as you like in the comments!

[Poll #1911239]
birdienl: (Extensive reading)
Hello everyone,

Its been quite a while since I've posted a meme, so here are two - for your enjoyment - and some other things I've come across and wanted to share!

Found this meme via [ profile] litlover12

1. One book that changed your life?
I can't say 'changed my life', but I've learned a lot and been very impressed by Arena by Karen Hancock

More bookish questions )

And this second meme I got from [ profile] moonplanet who provided me with the impossible letter 'U' and wasn't even sorry for it ;-)

The idea is to post five things which make you happy and start with the given letter. If you also would like a letter, please comment.

1. UK
I'm an Anglophile, I don't know why... I've loved the English language, culture, history and books and movies coming from the UK since I was a young teenager. I've been to the UK 6 times now and enjoyed each and every visit. It's a joy to see the beautiful countryside and the interesting historical monuments and to hear the lovely British accents around you. And ofcourse to buy the best chocolate chip cookies in the world at Tesco's!

Happiness meme )

Are you all still missing The Lizzie Bennet diaries very much? I know I am. And even though we get a new story (Sanditon) from the producers already in May, I was still excited when I found this other vlog-adaptation of a classic novel: The Autobiography of Jane Eyre. I can't predict if it's going to be anywhere near as good as LBD, but I'm loving these first vids.

So, this is apparently one of the movies Dan Stevensleft Downton Abbey for
Looks nice and only for the cast I would want to watch this, but I don't know about the story. Might get pretty intense. But am I the only one who wasn't thinking about Downton, but about Sense and Sensibility '08? I mean, Edward Ferrars, Elinor Dashwood ánd Willoughby reunited!

February 2017

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