Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘England

It has been ten years since we published Amanda in England: The Missing Novel. So I thought we should celebrate with some cake!

I based this book on my numerous visits to England, a place I love. On one visit we stopped at Windsor Castle. The Queen was in, but we did not see her as we explored her fascinating home. Although I thought I saw a curtain twitch as we watched the changing of the guard.

I enjoyed the castle very much but one of the things that really caught my attention was Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. It was well worth the wait in line to view it. A few months later, when browsing a local bookstore in Canada, I found an amazing book all about the Dolls’ House.

I have spent hours pouring over this book and its wonderful pictures. It clearly depicts the details that were put into creating this miniature palace.

The doll’s house was built between 1921 and 1924 and presented to Queen Mary (the current Queen’s Grandmother) as a gift in 1924. It is now a piece of history. It depicts life between the two World Wars and has a very Upstairs Downstairs/Downton Abbey feel about it. There are forty rooms and vestibules on four levels, with two staircases, two elevators that stop on every floor, hot and cold running water in all five bathrooms, toilets that flush, electric lights, a cellar, a garage and a garden. No detail was missed; from the tiny books in the library, paintings on the walls, toys in the nursery and cars in the garage. It is a delight and I’m so glad I have the book to revisit it as often as I want to.

The elaborate entrance

The opulent dining room
My favourite room – the library
I also love the nursery
Toys in the nursery
Items in the pantry
In the housekeeper’s room, a Singer sewing machine
a motorcycle in the garage
and a baby carriage in the garden
Of course, there is a throne room!

I found this delightful video which will give you a better idea.

I just had to include a visit to this place in Amanda in England: The Missing Novel

Here’s the excerpt:

Amanda squealed with delight. Before her stood a replica of Windsor Castle, in miniature, completely furnished. The entrance with the marble staircase, the dining room with the long table set for dinner with tiny dishes, the paintings hanging on the walls and the sparkling chandeliers were all there. A library with mini books on the shelves, the nursery with toys scattered about and even a puppet theatre, caught her attention.

“Look here,” Liam shouted. “There is even a garage with six fancy cars, a bicycle and a motorcycle too. They’re all in perfect scale too. Blimey, I bet they even run.”

“There is so much to look at,” said Leah. “Look at the little paint box and book of nursery songs, the teeny mirror and hair brush set. It’s so adorable.”

“This would have been so much fun to play with. Do you think the princesses were allowed to play with it?” asked Amanda.

Rylee looked at the miniature garden with three-inch trees and small shrubs. “Here’s a baby pram and look, birds in the trees and – even a cat.”

“Oh, I do hope Rupert is all right in the car,” said Leah.

Mesmerised by the scene before her, Amanda felt like she had entered the land of Lilliputians. She wanted to disappear into the miniature building or become a princess who could spend hours playing with it.

“Amanda, Amanda,” Leah tugged at her sleeve. “We should go now.”

The sun shone fiercely when they emerged from viewing the doll house. Amanda rubbed her eyes. “This is bright, isn’t it?” She rubbed her eyes again. “Is that her?”

“Is that who?” asked Liam and Leah at the same time.

“I swear I just saw that weird lady go into the castle.”

“Well, I don’t know what you saw, but I saw those two blokes who were at the hospital, sneaking behind a statue in the garden,” said Rylee.

“And there’s Rupert. Now, how did he get out of the car?” Leah ran into the garden after him.

Join me in wishing Amanda in England: The Missing Novel a very Happy Birthday!

I am a guest over at the wonderful blogsite, A Bit About Britain. Thanks, Mike for this opportunity to share my love for this amazing city.

A Bit About Britain is delighted to welcome author and traveller Darlene Foster, as a guest writer explaining her affection for the city of York.

Shambles, York

The charming city of York in North East England is steeped in over two thousand years of history, harbouring many stories within its ancient walls.

Forty-four years ago, my first airplane trip took me from my home in Alberta, Canada to York, England to marry my Yorkshire hubby. I fell in love with the city, walked the medieval walls, visited the fascinating museums and enjoyed tea and cream cakes at the many teashops. At the end of my month-long stay, I gave friends from Felixstowe a guided tour of my favourite city. I have returned several times and it never disappoints.

Eboracum, the name the Romans gave the city, was the capital of the Northern part of what we know as England, two thousand years ago. Parts of the sturdy walls built by the industrious Romans still stand. I love walking the medieval walls that surround the old part of the city, offering fabulous views and photo ops. I believe anytime is a good time to visit, but my favourite time is in the spring when cheerful daffodils grow along these ancient walls.

It was also the capital of a Viking Kingdom later in the 9th/10th centuries, when it was called Jorvik. Many York residents can trace their DNA to Viking roots. A visit to the Jorvik Viking Centre is a must.  

Read the rest of the article here

I wrote about my recent visit to Winchester Cathedral here, the final resting place of Jane Austen and King Canute as well as other notables. I spent a couple of days in this enchanting part of the UK with friends who took me on drives full of pleasant surprises.
Winchester itself is an interesting city full of history and stories. It was made the capital of England during Saxon times by King Alfred The Great. Whether he let the cakes burn or not is debatable but when I read that story as a child, I was always intrigued by this man. In the center of town is a statue of one of my childhood heroes and the only monarch in England to be called Great.

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Winchester is a perfect place to wander around, with many historic buildings and interesting shops, including many bookstores.

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I love the boot above the Clark’s Shoe Shop

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At the university sits a bench dedicated to Jane Austen and Phillis Wheatly displaying the importance of literature to this city. It was at the University of Winchester that I attended a writer’s festival that weekend.

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Driving through the New Forest made me think of days of yore and those who would have traveled by horse and buggy down these same paths.

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And then we came upon a thatched-roofed village – right out of a book!

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The village of Wherwell

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Can you imagine living in a house like this?

Later, on the way to a pub for dinner, we came upon a wonderful old church with an awesome graveyard. Since I have this fascination with cemeteries, I had to take a few pictures.

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And to my delight, we passed through yet another thatched-roofed village. My friends were kind enough to stop so I could take pictures.

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The charming village of Monxton

 

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The following day we went to the seaside city of Bournemouth, a place I had not been to before. I loved the casual elegance of the place and the lovely gardens in the center of town.

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Bournemouth seafront

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A fabulous building housing a LUSH store

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Lovely gardens in the middle of the city

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A huge lilac bush with the cathedral in the background

I discovered that Mary Shelly, although she never lived there, is buried in Bournemouth.

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St. Peter’s in Bournemouth where Mary Shelly is buried, along with her parents.

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Yes, that Mary Shelly, the author of the novel, Frankenstein, and wife of Percy Shelly. Did she ever imagine there would be a pub named after her?

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We stopped for an ice cream and had a stroll along the seafront before I was dropped off at the airport. A perfect couple of days with good friends.

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Making memories with friends.

Forty years ago, this farm girl took her first ever trip on an airplane to York, England, where I married my dear hubby. We recently celebrated our ruby anniversary by returning to York. We had a marvellous time retracing our steps in his hometown, enjoying the history, walking the cobblestone streets, relaxing in the many teashops and visiting relatives we hadn’t seen for some time. We’ve been back a few times since January 1977 but it had been awhile since our last visit. I fell in love with the city all over again.

The Dean Court Hotel

The Dean Court Hotel

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The York Minster

We stayed at the Dean Court Hotel overlooking York  Minster, in the very centre of the city. The Hotel was originally built in 1865 to house the Clergy of the Minster and is situated on the corner of the main Roman road that ran through the city. Waking up to the lovely bells of the cathedral was such a treat.

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I love the old Tudor buildings scattered throughout the downtown. We had lunch in one of them called Gert and Henry’s.

 

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The Shambles, once the street of butcher shops

 

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Gargoyles are everywhere

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Clifford’s Tower

Clifford’s tower is the largest remaining part of York Castle, once the centre of government for the north of England. Although there has been a tower on the site since William the Conquerer the present 13th-century stone tower was probably used as a treasury and later as a prison.

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Tons of book shops to explore

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The original Roman walls, still intact. They built things to last in those days.

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I walked the Roman walls as I did the very first time I visited this city.  Eboracum was the name the Romans called the city, the capital of England 2000 years ago.

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York was later a Viking town called Jorvik and I encountered a number of Vikings while there.

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You never know who you will meet in the towers. Richard III was eager to tell his side of the story.

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The Teddy Bear Tea Shop. How cute is that?

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I went on a ghost walk and encountered a few remains of the dead.dscn7395

We enjoyed a proper tea at Betty’s Cafe Teashop, the same place we bought our wedding cake all those years ago.

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Wedding 1977 in York, England. The wedding cake was a Dougal the Dog cake.

It has been a great 40 years. Can’t believe he put up with me all these years! Looking forward to more adventures.

York is steeped in history and there is so much more I’d like to share but will leave it for another post.

 

If you would like to know what sparked my dreams as a child, read my guest post at March of Time Books, the new blog site of my dear English blogging friend Barbara Fisher.

What sparks a child’s dreams?

Guest post by Darlene Foster dreamer of dreams, teller of tales.

When I was little, my dear grandmother gave me a colouring book filled with pictures of children from around the world dressed in traditional garments. I loved that book and while colouring each page, dreamt of visiting those fascinating places. Growing up on a farm in the Canadian prairies, we didn’t venture far.

Read the rest of the article here  Pop over to Barbara´s blog and you might see me in a sombrero!

What sparked your dreams as a child? I would love to know.

 


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