Tag: travel

A Country Kid’s Post: A Day Out in Dartmouth

Dartmouth along the river

As mentioned on the previous post, we arrived in Dartmouth via the ferry from Totnes on a camping trip a few weeks ago.  It actually felt like we’ve gone abroad and weren’t in England anymore.  It felt more like we were in the South of France, or somewhere else in Europe.  For one, the weather was absolutely warm, don’t remember how high the temperature was, but it didn’t feel like the UK at all.

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Little T and I enjoyed looking at the colourful houses across the river.

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Loved this big imposing blue Victorian house in front of the river.  Look at the intricate design by the door, and the lovely big windows.  They must have stunning views of the river.

 Cobbled Stones and a boat

I love cobbled streets although they aren’t exactly easy to walk on.  I’m glad I was wearing sandals that day.

We headed for Darmouth castle.  It was a bit of a walk from the quay, but the views were stunning and in spite the heat, we really enjoyed just walking and stopping, taking photos or just breathing in the air.

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The view of the river Dart was just amazing.  Who wouldn’t want to stop for that?

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I just loved the abundance of colour whether it was found in the flowers around or the houses. Everything just seemed so vibrant and teeming with life that day.  Wouldn’t it be great if everyday life was just like that?

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We finally reached the 13th century castle and church, although it really looked more like a fort than a castle.  The oldest part dates back to 1380 and was built to protect Dartmouth harbour from a French attack.

Dartmouth cemetery

I love old cemeteries by the river.

Entrance to Dartmouth Castle

Entrance to the castle.

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T and her Dad inside the castle.

There really wasn’t much to see inside, although I can imagine it would appeal to young children, especially the long dark corridors and rooms.  If not for being English Heritage members, I probably wouldn’t think it was worth it, unless I guess you’re a historian like my husband.  T wasn’t really into it.  Thank goodness we found a small beach near the castle and she had a chance to have a little dip and play in the sand. By then it was lunch time, we took a small boat back to the harbour to have a very late lunch.

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 Dartmouth castle as seen on the boat.

We asked the guy who was manning the boat for some recommendations of where to eat in the area.  He recommended the Floating Bridge for seafood which we were all craving for, I guess i had something to do with being so close to the river.  And I’m so pleased that we asked even though it was a bit of a walk from where he dropped us off, it was still so worth it.

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While waiting for our food, we enjoyed sitting by the river and I managed to take a photo of the steam train running across the river.

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That sea food platter was just absolutely delicious and it disappeared not long after it was served.

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 After licking our plates clean, it was time to head back and wait for the ferry back to Totnes.

Have you been visited Dartmouth?

Do share.

A Ferry Ride along the River Dart

Have you learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? – Herman Hesse, Siddhartha

When they told me that the ferry trip to Darthmoor from Totnes was going to take an hour and half, I was worried that little T or even I would get bored and impatient.  The German poet was right of course, time does not exist when on a river, not even on a ferry.

As mentioned in a past post when we went on a spontaneous camping-trip just outside Dartmoor, we had the chance to go exploring around the area.  Our friend suggested that we go on a ferry ride and in spite hesitating at first, I’m so glad that we did.

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Little T enjoying the ferry ride.

The onboard tourist guide also kept us entertained with information about the river Dart and important landmarks found along the way.  It also helped that he was funny and gave little anecdotes along the way.

Small Hamlet along the river dartThese three houses, apparently is the smallest hamlet along the river.

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Dramatic ruins on a steep hill set against a background of grey skies.

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And if you’re a bird-watcher, you’ll feast your eyes on the variety of amazing birds along the river Dart like this Cormorant on a branch.

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There were a lot of interesting looking houses, like this lovely thatched cottage.  Of course, one can imagine how expensive these houses must be!

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Apparently this one, has an indoor pool compete with a bar in it.  I have no idea whether the tourist guide was joking – I can’t even imagine a bar in a pool, but it must be very nice and convenient to have one.

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Now this was our favourite house by the river Dart.  Isn’t it just idyllic?  Just imagine waking up to the sound of the birds and water.  Beautiful.  Now don’t burst my bubble and mention flooding or storms please.

Agatha Christie's House by the river Dart

And then we spied  the Greenway House, famous novelist Agatha Christie’s house by the River Dart,which is now owned by the National Trust.  Apparently, the author and her husband occupied the house till their deaths in 1976 and 1978 respectively.

Can you spot the man waving by the house?  When I first took the photo, I didn’t even see him waving.  I only noticed when I downloaded the photos to my computer. Looks a bit eerie doesn’t it?

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 We also sailed past Sharpham Vineyard famous for their English wine and cheese.

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Loved that everyone waved to us from their boats as we sailed past them and of course we waved back at them too.

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And then before we knew it, we were fast approaching Dartmouth.  And just like that, the ferry ride was over.

Have you tried the ferry ride from Totnes to Dartmouth?

Did you enjoy it too?

Do share.

A Fun Filled Day at Weymouth Sea-Life Adventure Park

As blog ambassador for Weymouth Sea Life Adventure park, we had the pleasure of spending a lovely day at this fun-filled theme park in Dorset last Wednesday.  And luckily, the sun was out that day, making the experience even more pleasurable for us.

If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you will remember F, little T’s first best-friend, while she has a number of new best-friends, F will always remain special to her, so it wasn’t really surprising when we asked whom among her friends, she would like to take to go on an adventure with her to Weymouth, she chose him.  After all, when on a fun-day out, it’s always best to enjoy it with a friend right?

We left Cornwall about 8a.m. and after countless of “Are we there yets” (that started around 8.20), we finally arrived at 11am at Weymouth Sea-Life Adventure Park with two excited 5-year-olds.  There was already a queue when we arrived and we also had a bit of a delay going in,because of some miscommunication between the Sea-life Adventure park and their marketing department, but when that was settled, we were finally in.  And much to the delight of the two kids, they had a “Finding Dory trail” to do (they’ve just seen the movie).

T and F had fun gazing at the different species including the famous clown fish and blue tang fish first made famous by the movies Finding Nemo and Dory.

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And then they spied the Splash Zone and wanted to play in the water just like the other kids.  I’m glad I listened to one of my blogger friends who advised to bring their swimsuits.  It was a warm day, so playing in the water was actually a welcome idea.

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And also for the adults to have a little rest, while watching the kids have fun in the water.  As you can see, it was a total hit with T and F.  We had a bit of a hard time convincing them that there were still many things to do and see at the Sea-life adventure park.

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They did the trail, had fun touching the star-fish at the rock-pools, loved the New Ideas Zone where they learned which creatures used electricity to hunt or feed and also enjoyed looking at the blue luminous coral.

And of course, an adventure park won’t be one without the rides …

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All in all it was an enjoyable experience for the kids, especially for young children like T and F. Prepare to spend a whole day to be able to experience all what Weymouth Sea-Life Adventure Park has to offer.

Was it worth driving all the way from Cornwall to Dorset?  Definitely!  The look on the kids faces, don’t lie, do they?  Watch the short video below and you’ll see what I mean.

If you’re in the area and have little ones, it’s certainly worth a visit, especially during the summer. Click here for more information about Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park.

Have you visited? What do you think?

*As mentioned, we are a blogger ambassador for Weymouth Adventure Park, but all views in our posts related to them are ours alone.  Also, all photos taken are also by yours truly.

A Return: Hay-on-Wye, The Town of Bookshops

Hay-on-Wye is a little town in Wales, just right beside the English border. And you can find bookshops in literally ever corner, or every where you look, that’s why the place is often referred to as the “Town of Bookshops and of course, it’s also famous for its Hay-on-Wye Literature and Arts festival held every year, usually at the end of May till the first week of June.

The first time we visited, was about five years ago, before little T came along.  Since my husband couldn’t take much time off from work, we came here for our honeymoon and ever since, we’ve always wanted to go back and take little T with us, especially since she also seems to have the same love for books, we just hope she won’t out-grow this though.

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This is little T in front of the Castle bookshop which is believed to have one of the oldest towers in Wales, dating back to 1121.  Today, it is a second-hand bookshop known for its antiquarian books. When we first came here years ago, you could still go inside the castle, but now it’s either being reconstructed or they’ve just closed-it off to visitors, because you’ll find the books at the side of the castle.  They’ve also added some little gift shops.  And of course, they still have their honesty bookshop on the castle-grounds.

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And there she is, peering inside the castle which is empty now.

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Inside Addyman bookshop where she bought a “Spooky Book”.

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Browsing through the thousands of books at the Hay Cinema Bookshop.

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And this is the Richard Booth bookshop.  He’s also known to be the “father” of Hay-on-Wye, the town of books and in 1977, he declared it an independent kingdom.

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I love his bookshop.  There are loads of comfortable chairs you can just sit on and read a bit, or even just rest your weary feet as little T is doing in the above photo.  They’ve also added a lovely little cafe inside.

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And upstairs, you will find shelves upon shelves of beautiful Folio books.  If you come and visit, this book-shop must be on the top of your list!

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And for those who love Murder Mysteries,  this is your stop.

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This is mine.  Had a lovely conversation with the bookseller at the Poetry bookshop about the poet Bernadette Mayer.

I love this little town of books, in spite feeling a bit disappointed with a couple of things. 1.  The Kilvert’s Inn where we stayed somehow felt a bit run-down.  The room was lovely though.  Weeks before our trip, we actually had to chase them-up to book our accommodation.  We couldn’t do it online, and every time we phoned, no one seemed to know anything.  As for the food, let’s just say every time we asked for something, they didn’t have it.

The room was lovely though.  It had the beautiful views of the Welsh countryside and the most enormous king-sized bed, the three of us actually fit in – comfortably too!

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Little T reading her new book.

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The lovely view outside our window.

And the other thing we didn’t like was that, some of the booksellers didn’t seem too keen to have little ones around their shops.  One even said, just as we paid and were about to step-out of her shop and reminded little T to use her umbrella because it started to rain outside – “Little girls always make that sound.  I find it really annoying”.   We just looked at her and left.  I was shocked and felt that it was a really rude thing to say to a costumer!

I know there really are some people who really can’t stand children.  That’s why there are holidays with the “no kids policy”, or some restaurants with the no children under 5 rule.  I hate that.  As if kids are vermin to be avoided at all cost.

Anyway, of course we won’t let this little incident cloud our love for Hay.  Would we come back?  Definitely, perhaps when little T is older!  Hopefully, by then that bookseller has retired.

Have you been to Hay-on-Wye?

Would you be interested to visit a town of books?

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Have a lovely week folks!

W is for Wall

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This is Clovelly’s 14th Century Harbour wall.  Apparently they started building it in the 13th century and then extended it in the 16th, and lengthened it again in 1826.

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For those who aren’t familiar with Clovelly, it is a small village in Devon, the county beside Cornwall where we live.  What makes it different from the many sea-side villages here in England?  Well for one, it’s the only village that is privately owned and has been associated with only three families since the 13th century.

So yep, you can’t buy a house here in Clovelly, nor rent.  I think you have to apply to live there (that is, if there are any vacant houses at all!), and be approved by the custodian of the village.

Clovelly is a beautiful village.  It’s as if time has stopped ticking here.  The streets are cobbled and the old cottages still  stand the way they stood hundreds of years ago.  If you’re in the area and haven’t visited, this is one place you simply have to visit!  Though a word of warning, they do charge and admittedly, I found it a bit of a turn-off they way they’ve commercialised the village.  But that’s just me.

W is for Wall.

#alphabetphotographyproject

P is for Paris

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The Eiffel tower, probably one of the most photographed structure in the world.

Our Paris adventure was a chaotic one.  If you’re thinking of visiting and value your sanity, especially when travelling with a little one, don’t visit during the peak season.  It’s just pure utter madness.

I remember talking to the teenage daughter of the lovely Irish woman we met at the camp, who also travelled with us on the same bus to Paris, she said, “I didn’t think Paris would be like that!  Somehow I imagined that it would be different”  I interrupted her and said “You mean like in the movies?”  She immediately agreed.  I said I think we’ve all seen too many romantic love stories set in Paris.  Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful city and certainly worth visiting … just not in the tourist season…  More on our Parisian adventure later.

P is for Paris.

Linking-up with PODcast’s #Alphabetphotographyproject.

 

Walking around Vic-Sur-Aisne

The Eurocamp where we stayed at for ten days was located at the La Croix du Vieux Pont at Berny-Riviera, which was conveniently located right beside the very quaint French town called Vic-Sur-Aisne in Picardy (about 100 kilometres northeast of Paris).  The husband specifically chose this site because of its location – not that far from Paris and Disneyland.  As for me, the location was perfect because I was more interested in the French countryside.

Come and have a little walk with us around this very pretty little town:

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 First stop:  A little patisserie and boulangerie.  There’s little T pointing at the huge meringues by the shop window.  It was too big for her, she never finished it!  We bought very delicious and the softest croissants I’ve ever tasted in my life.  Sorry folks, I can never be a food-blogger – when it’s in front of me, taking photos is far from my mind.  Eating is more important!

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The Chateau de Vic-Sur-Aisne dominates the town with its very presence.  Unluckily for us, it was a bank holiday Monday, so we couldn’t go inside to have a look.  So instead we just took some photos outside, which actually was enough.

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Would’ve loved to try out this restaurant, but it always seemed shut!  One thing I’ve noticed, they don’t seem to open really long.  I’m wondering how businesses survive in France with what seems to me, very little opening hours?

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 I love walking through small towns in France, everywhere you look is pretty and quaint.

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Love the shutters and flower-boxes.

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And there’s little T of course, doing her funny dance in the middle of the plaza.

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The Town Hall.

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More shutters and flowers….

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Even this rusty shutters look pretty!

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We kept walking until we reached the Vic-Sur-Aisne French War Cemetery.

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This is another moving WWI cemetery/memorial where hundreds of French soldiers lay buried.

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I didn’t notice, until my husband pointed out to me that the crosses were actually back-to-back.  Two graves, not one.

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And if you look closely at all the names listed here, most of them died really young – men in their late teens, early 20s.  My husband said that just like the Somme, the place, Vic-Sur, was also a frontline in both WWI and WW2.

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I find it so surprising that inspire of being ravished by both wars, somehow France still managed to preserve so many of its lovely and historical buildings.  Thank goodness for that.  Like I mentioned on this post about the war memorial in the Somme – the sad and frightening thing about all this, is that war is still happening today as I type this.  As if we have never learned our lessons from our past. Will we ever?

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The walk ended in a lighter note as little T spied a playground near the woods.  Of course we had to stop and she had to play.

This post is linked-up with #CountryKids

And also:

Family Friday

 Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

N is for Notre Dame

Completed in 1335, the Notre-Dame de Paris is certainly a sight to behold.  According to my historian husband, during WW2, Hitler ordered the destruction of Paris, but the Commander in-charge (probably thinking of the Notre Dame, Eiffel and all other beautiful historical buildings in Paris), just wouldn’t or couldn’t do it.  Thank goodness for that!

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We spent a manic day in Paris and since it was peak-season, it was just sheer-utter madness and chaos.  The queue to go inside the Notre Dame was probably a kilometre long.  None of us had the patience to wait, especially in the heat.  Yes, you heard it right.  By then, the weather improved and summer was back with a vengeance.  I’m used to heat, in my country 30C is the norm and I’ve also lived in Ghana where it’s even more humid.  But that – the heat almost rivalled Manila’s temperature!

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I’m not really sure who these greenish statues are, but I just love the contrast against the Cathedral’s otherwise brownish facade.

I was really content just taking photos of the famous Cathedral by the river Seine, far from the maddening tourist crowd.

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A day in Paris isn’t enough.  But the next time we visit, it definitely won’t be in the summer!  Will do a different post on our rather un-pleasant experience in Paris.

Linking this post-up with PODcast’s #Alphabetphotographyproject.  Do check out the other lovely photographs in this link-up.

N is for Notre Dame.

Lunch at Chimay, Belgium

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The day after that much-needed R&R, since we knew the weather was going to be bad again, we decided to drive into Belgium just for the day, hoping that the skies over there were blue and not grey!

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We drove to Chimay, a lovely town in Belgium not far from the French border.  As you can see, the weather was no different in France!  It was lunch time by the time we arrived and the plan was to look for a restaurant where we can have some mussels, frits and Belgian beer.  I love the Belgian Belgos restaurant in London, you see.  I wanted to have a taste of it in its home country.  But was in for a disappointment.  It was a sunday and the few restaurants that were open, didn’t serve them.

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But all wasn’t lost.  Had a taste of Chimay beer and it was delish!

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We went around the little town in the rain and took shelter inside this very old church.

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And when the weather improved, headed out doors once again.

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There really wasn’t much to see, because it was a Sunday and most shops, restaurants and tourist places were shut.  But in spite of that, still enjoyed our little drive into Belgium.

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On our way back into France, I just had to take a photo of the old, boarded-up border control between Belgium and France.  I wonder, when was the last time this was used?

Linking this post-up with PODcast’s #WhatsTheStory.

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Have a lovely week ahead folks!

Exploring the Chateau de Compiegne, Picardy, France

We woke up to grey clouds and the sound of rain.  For awhile, I thought we were back in England, then remembered that we left the UK actually in very good sunshiny weather!  I stumbled out of our bedroom, the sight of authentic French croissants on the table didn’t even lift the disappointment I felt.  “Everyone said it was warmer and sunnier in France!”  I whinged to the husband, who raised an eyebrow and said. “Missing England already dear?”  I growled at him and grumpily ate a very delicious and the softest croissant I’ve ever tasted in my life.  Admittedly, that definitely made me feel better!

Not to be defeated by the weather, we decided to explore the very historical town of Compiegne.  I was just so glad that even though I packed mostly summer outfits, I did manage to bring rain coats and even little T’s wellies which I chucked in the car at the last-minute.

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I love this town, especially the very remarkable-gothic looking town hall which was built during the reign of Louise XII.    We all loved the Bancloque or the ancient clock which dates back to 1303, where three Picantins sound the clock.  Little T and her dad actually stood in front of the town hall, just to wait for the three little men to come out. Too bad I wasn’t able to catch a photo of them!

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Then we headed to probably one of the most famous Chateau’s in France, the Chateau de Compiegne, which was built for Louise the XV and restored by Napoleon.  How to describe this very grand palace?  The words that come into my mind are garish and ostentatious.  But of course, it is still a lovely place to explore, especially since it holds so much history behind every single nook and cranny of that magnificent palace.

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One of the few hallways inside the palace.

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Little T monkeying around the staircase, I’m not sure Napoleon would be pleased!

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Little T listening to the audio in Napoleon’s bedroom.  How on earth did he fit on that bed?  Is that why he developed a complex?

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Shh mum, I can’t hear!  

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Little T and her dad, doing a little dance in the very grand and long ballroom of the Chateau.

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Would you want this very gaud looking gold-plated (?) furniture in your home?  I know it was probably stylish during their time, but uhm… no thank you.

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Apparently it is said that “Chateau de Compiegne speaks of Napoleon as Versailles does of Louise the XIV” , oh dear.

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And of course, the grounds and gardens were equally grand.  One can almost imagine someone like Marie Antoinette parading in her jewels and gowns, along with her many ladies-in-waiting.

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T with her disheveled hair wanted to explore more, but it was getting late and our feet were getting  weary from touring one splendid room after another.  It was time to call it a day.

This post was linked-up with #CountryKids.