Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Royalty and Castles

How many of you imagined your self as a prince or princess as a child?

I enjoyed reading biographies and watching documentaries on the European royal families. Recently saw the movie, The Young Victoria on the flight back from Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg where I took trips to see various castles and fortresses.

In Ghent we spent two hours touring the Castle of the Counts which dates back to the 1300s. You can see the first part of the building to be constructed, then how they built around that part and expanded to take over more land and build the structure higher.

The museum shows you how boldface the methods of maintaining power were for these dominant families with displays of the torture devices.

The most glamorous castle we saw was in Luxembourg. The area of Vianden was historically involved in wars from the battles among fiefdoms in the Middle ages through World War II.

The sight of the castle looming on top of the hill is impressive.

This is the storybook castle according to a friend.

The bedroom shows that the count believed in the benefit of sleeping upright like most people did in the era.

The view from up top is really amazing.

This was the castle owned by one of the families that became the royals in the Netherlands. King William II sold it in 1820 and the place fell into continual disrepair. Although Victor Hugo stayed there in the early 1870s.

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New Stadiums: In This Climate?

Fox’s football writer is calling for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings because the Metrodome is a “dump.” He notes that nine other cities also need to replace “antiquated” stadiums or risk losing the teams to new cities.

What cities and states have the resources to spend on a stadium right now?

Local towns and cities across the country are shutting down schools for one day a week. They are laying off workers. They are not filling jobs. In some cases their bond ratings are dropping. How could any municipality or state possibly take out more debt to finance a stadium right now.

Years ago they would never even think about spending public money on a stadium. New York City spent on rehabing Yankee Stadium in the early 1970s and was soon asking the federal government for a loan to stay afloat. Are any of the cities “needing” to replace stadiums doomed to repeat this?

Maybe the reporter is right about the stadiums. However, he should atleast be aware of the situation going on in the country!


My partner and I grow vegetables, flowers and herbs in our postage stamp sized front yard and a strip of dirt we have in the back yard. Several other neighbors use pots of various sorts to grew a wide range of things to make Truxton Circle/Shaw nice and green.

The BeneLux vacation we finished last week offered a great chance to see a wide range of gardens. Since we started in Paris we took a short excursion to Versailles. Later we went to Namur to see the Jardin D’ Annevoire and we ended the trip with the tulip farms and tulip gardens of Keukenhof.

Versailles is the classic royal gardens. Half the time there is spent ooohing and aahing over the palaces and places like the Hall of Mirrors (see below)

Since we were there early in the year not many flowers were in bloom. We enjoyed a barer version of the gardens.
We enjoyed the classicism of its alleys, statuary and water displays.

The long, straight lines, guiding the eyes. The mythology of the Greeks and Romans brought to life.

Then there’s the sheer power and technological control of water.

A garden in the south central portion of Belgium has been around for nearly 300 years. It has aspects of the French classicism in it but also throws in English and Italian style gardens as well. Its technology creates multiple waterfalls but all using the water from the area in a natural manner.

The Jardin d’Annevoire had been held in two families for most of its existence and there is still a private section to the public parks. The chateau on site is charming.

The gardens feature both land and water alleys.

The English garden uses the piped in water from a lake on the far side of the hill to create a terraced waterfall.

Like Versailles, Annevoire uses statutes of mythological figures in central positions in water fountains.

Keukenhof is the idea of area flower farmers. It is open for spring and is flush with wild colors. The gardens are enormous and also contain glass arcades named after Dutch royalty. These arcades feature orchids or another single type of flower, medal winners, and also demonstrations and exhibitions.

The colors often appeared side by side.

As impressive as all these gardens were, sometimes the most amazing sight is seeing the plants growing. We spotted many a tulip farm in the area and reveled in the richness of the view.

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