Ruined Castles Tour Part II

WW pic 1Christina here and as Nicola was telling you the other day, we had a lovely day out at the ruins of Goodrich Castle recently. I had never visited before and it was a fascinating place. What was more, it had so much in common with my favourite castle ruin nearby – Raglan. Both were established in the 11th century, both held by the Royalists during the English Civil War, then fell to the Parliamentarians in 1646 and were subsequently destroyed. A sad fate for such lovely places! I hope you will indulge our obsession for castle ruins a second time this week as I continue by telling you a little more about Raglan.

Raglan Castle is about 12WW pic 2 English miles (19.2 km) from Goodrich and built on the same sort of principles with a keep, a courtyard, towers, living quarters, a great hall, a chapel and a moat. However, in its final incarnation, it was almost twice as big, and more of a palace than a castle fortress.

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Judging a Gentleman by his Boots

BootsNicola here, musing on the appeal of boots. One of the things I like most about autumn is that I can get my boots out and wear them again after their summer break. I think in an ideal world I would wear boots all the time. I love them. Comfortable, stylish, practical, sexy, they cover just about every option. I was slightly shocked when I discovered I had seven pairs (that said I can’t wear the ones in the photo these days – they are just too high!) It would have been eight pairs but last year I very grudgingly threw away my all time favourite pair of wedge boots which I had worn until they literally fell apart.

A few weeks ago I went to an exhibition at the Victorian and Albert Museum in London called “Shoes, Pleasure and Pain.” The exhibition was stunning with examples of shoes and boots from different cultures going back over 600 years. The power of the shoe or boot is very strong in persuading us that we can be transformed into someone who is seductive and glamorous. It feels as though they have almost magical properties.

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Fine Feathers, Fine Birds

 OstrichNicola here!

I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Africa. Amongst the huge variety of wildlife we saw were these iconic birds – ostriches. I knew that in the Europe of the eighteenth and nineteenth century ostrich feathers were highly prized as fashion items but I had no idea that the demand had been so high that the ostrich almost went the way of the dodo and was hunted to near-extinction. These days most the wild ostriches in South West Africa are descended from domestic stock that were farmed to meet the huge demand. So today I thought I would blog about the illustrious ostrich in history!

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Our Love of History

M4444ewHi, Jo here, unable to resist playing with a medieval shield at Chirk Castle – which refers back to my childhood fascination with history.

Our recent discussion of our first historical romance had me thinking about where my love of history began. I can't remember, perhaps because my father fed me on romantic historical stories from an early age. Hereward the Wake, Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart, Crusaders, Cavaliers and Jacobites, including of course Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Of course I can look back on such stories with a jaundiced eye, but they were just the thing to enthrall. I feel sorry for children today who seem to be mostly taught more recent and "relevant" history. Yes, they need to know about 20th century wars, the fights for social justice and women's rights, but I doubt such subjects capture their hearts at a young age.

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