Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Wrath of Henry VIII

Henry VIII is one of the most infamous monarchs, but I had no idea that his reign left such a discernible mark.

Below are sites I visited that contained segments of Henry history. 

Henry VIII's reign was a relatively prosperous time for the people of England. The iconic tudor frame building was in response to many merchants and farmers becoming wealthy. Wood was expensive and rare in England, so the tudor style was a show of family wealth and prosperity. 

Little Moreton Hall  
City of Ludlow
Hampton Court Palace was designed and financed by one of Henry VIII's famous advisors, Wolsey. It took many years to build and costed a great fortune. When Wolsey knew he was falling out of favor he offered it as a gift in hopes to please the King. The King took the palace but dismissed Wolsey. He was accused of treason, but died on his journey to London to be tried. Hampton Court was the site of the birth of Henry's only legitimate son, Edward VI. Queen Catherine Howard was confined in the palace before she was later beheaded in the Tower of London. Legend holds that she escaped from her room and ran screaming around the palace begging for Henry to have mercy on her life. Original interior wood work and tapestries still hang in some of the rooms of Hampton Court. When it was decorated by the King, Anne Boleyn was on the throne. Intertwining H's and A's were carved in the elaborate woodwork of the great banquet hall. But when he beheaded her, he ordered for the intimate initials to be removed. Somehow they missed one which still can be seen today. 

Leeds Castle has a legacy of being property of many Queens of England. But when Catherine of Aragon was replaced by Anne Boleyn she was sent to reside there for a period of time. A beautiful castle under more happier circumstances. 
When Henry couldn't secure a legal divorce from the Pope he took his wrath out on the establishments in England. He took away the lands, valuables, and money from many of the Catholic cathedrals and churches. He sacked and destroyed many important church establishments. One of his most infamous acts was destroying the tomb of Saint Thomas Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral. When he was newly married to Catherine of Aragon he did a pilgrimage to the shrine. Interesting that he would later return only to destroy it. The candle in the picture below marks of the spot of the destroyed tomb of Beckett. Today it may not seem like a horrendous thing, but it was one of the most visited shrines in all of Europe at the time. 
St John College of Cambridge was established and built during the time of Henry VIII. He gave the approval of the creation of the college. It is the most magnificent college, in my opinion, in Cambridge. 

Eton College is one of the most famous and successful private boy's high school, (Prince William and Prince Harry attended this school). When Henry was pillaging religious sites, the college did a smart political move and placed the royal coat of arms of Henry VIII on the building. Above the clock is the coat of arms that was erected. My brother is standing in the picture. 
Finally, my brother and my favorite display in the Tower of London was Henry VIII's 'fat' suit of armor. It's hard to tell with just a picture but in person it's easy to see how obese Henry became. 

In spite of all the horrible things Henry did in his lifetime, the museums and exhibitions were only positive in their descriptions about the King. At Hampton Court a video on loop, highlighted the wives of Henry. The commentators kept saying 'Henry had England's best intentions at heart', 'Henry knew what was best for his people', and so on. Facts were not covered up but the narrating was obviously slighted in Henry's favor. But of course the people of England don't hold these same feelings of the tyrant. But still it was shocking to see that the historical sites decisively didn't say anything negative about the old monarch. 

*pictures 2,3,5, 7, and 8 taken by my Dad. The rest of the pictures form Yahoo images

History Bootcamp

Visiting important places of history helped put pictures to historical events and feeling into memory. Our journey around England was also a journey through time. The city of Bath was like stepping into the Georgian period. Hampton Court Palace offered a unique look at court life in the Tudor period, 1600s, and 1700s. Jorvick Viking Museum offered an interactive ride through a reconstructed old city of York during the occupation of vikings. The Tower of London gave a glimpse of the sufferings inflicted on those who opposed the crown or ruling power. 
My British experience could also be coined history bootcamp. In our two week 'holiday', as the brits call it, we visited numerous castles, palaces, museums, cathedrals, historic towns/cities, and manors. 
Here is the list of what we accomplished seeing:

The Tower of London     Hampton Court Palace      Stoneacre                     Battle
Westminster Abbey         Changing of the Guard      Ightham Mote              Royal Pavilion
The Queens Gallery        Windsor Castle                  Canterbury Cathedral   Brighton Pier
St. Paul's Cathedral          Eton College                    Dover Castle                Portchester Castle
The British Museum        Leeds Castle                      Rye                              Stonehenge
Roman Bath                    Lacock                            Tintern Abbey              Chepstow Castle
Castle Combe                    Bibury                             Minster Lovell Hall     Oxford
Bourton on the Water        Blenheim palace               Warwick Castle            Stratford Upon Avon
Ludlow                            Stokesey Castle                Little Moreton Hall       Chester
York Minster                   The Treasurer's House     Jorvick Museum            Shrine of Saint Margaret 
Cambridge                       Stamford                          Burford                          Bath
Saffron Walden               Bodiam Castle                  Chichester                     White Cliffs of Dover
Piccadilly Circus             Buckingham Palace          Wye Valley                   Roman Amphitheater 

In following posts I will explore my favorite aspects and interesting observations!

British Food: A royal surprise

First entry for my British Experience
Only fitting that I talk about food first :)

Either by myth or deceit, I was led to believe that British food would be rubbish. I couldn't have been more surprised when both cities and rural villages offered succulent dishes. I would argue that the food I had in England was better than anything I tasted in Italy or France. 
Portion sizes were never excessive like American restaurants. British restaurants never boasted free bread or free pre-food before the entree. It was an adjustment for an ardent carb enthusiast! If one wanted to eat bread before the meal, it would cost about 5 pounds for roughly a few pieces. It was harder waiting for the meal with nothing to munch on, and whenever we ordered bread it was gone in only seconds. 
And I can't say enough about the desserts that glistened in shop windows and taunted me from menus. It was like I died and went to pastry heaven. Our first day in Kent we visited Stoneacre, (built in 1488 and owned by wealthy gentry for centuries), and ate the same cake used for Kate and William's wedding. It was a sticky decadent chocolate bar, not a typical cake. We ended up ordering seconds after my family gobbled down the first piece. 
Although England is known to offer fish and chips at every corner, there were so many other wonderful things to eat I only ate them once. Outside of the city limits, the pubs are the place to sink your teeth in. Stews, handmade sandwiches, garden salads, 'pot pies' of all sorts, steak with 'new potatoes', and sometimes Italian and Indian dishes. Most pubs are more like restaurants than bars; with many dishes to choose from. 
Almost every little village had it's own Italian restaurant. I ate as much Italian as I did British food. The Italian restaurants weren't establishments by British people but owned and run by authentic Italians. Eating the food was like going back to Italy but with some improvements. The true Italian dishes in Italy are a little drier with not as much sauce. But England and America have the same appetite for sauce, so the dishes never seemed bland. 
In London, every street is lined with cafes and coffee shops. The Londoners are more in a hurry than any New Yorker I've met. Cafes offer quick breakfast choices like pre-made sandwiches and scones. Don't order espresso, unless you are fine with having a tablespoon of concentrated caffeine. The espresso in France is the size of a small shot glass, but the English espresso is like a spoonful of medicine. 
                          Pret-A-Manger in London (I'm in the pink jacket)
After the third day, we stayed in consecutive Bed and Breakfasts as we toured around England. Our first Bed and Breakfast was in Faversham, Kent. On the morning of June 16th, we had our first Full English breakfast. Full English breakfast includes fried egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, slice of tomato, and toast. It was so delicious and filling. But as the trip wore on we got the same menu at every bed and breakfast. There was no variation and soon we became sick of the Full English breakfast. 
                                               Brendley Farm in Faversham
I rate the food in England (Kent, Essex, Midlands, Yorkshire, and London) and Wales FIVE STARS!

*no sources were used in the making of this post

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are we treating Celebrities like Royalty?

I'm not a fan of our country's obsession with celebrities. But I should also acknowledge that I do LOVE reading gossip about them from time to time. The country's fixation on people in the spotlight is not a new phenomenon but seems to be imbedded in human history.
                                                            (Prince Charles and Cheryl Cole above)
Every great civilization, big or small, has been intrigued by people of power and position. One only has to flip through the pages of history to see that the rulers, warriors, popes, wealthy, and great thinkers monopolize the focus. The people who have the power and influence to change and shape history will always be distinguished amongst others. They are the ones who make a significant mark in their world, and if they are lucky, remembered in history. NOT all figures of history earned their prominent position, some were just born into great power.
Nothing seems more unfair as people earning their spot in society for having the right 'pedigree'. haha
Our ancestors immigrated to America to escape a world which gave all the advantages and opportunities to people born to wealthy/noble families. America offered a land free of a caste system and a chance for people of talent/ambition/vision to make their way regardless of their last name.
BUT in the last few decades our country has given more reverence and respect to those born to celebrities and the wealthy. The media and paparazzi are consumed with watching children of hollywood stars. Even a lot of huge hollywood stars today got their first break because of having a famous parent. Examples (Angelina Jolie, Miley Cyrus, Liz Minnelli, Liv Tyler, Carrie Fisher, Michael Douglas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Drew Barrymore, Charlie Sheen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, and so many more) 
(Tom Cruise and daughter Suri)
The enormous attention given to celebrity children has only gotten worse. Celebrities are taking more precautions and steps to protect their brood, but the focus is unavoidable. The media treats celebrity offspring as little 'gods and goddesses'. They become famous even before they become adults. The attention isn't good for the children, but it's also not good for our nation.
(Portrait of Charles I of England's children)
We didn't leave Europe to only create a new caste system in the new land. We should continue to give credit and recognition where it is truly deserved.  Sure children of wealthy and powerful will have more opportunities than others but they shouldn't be lifted up by our society. A person should EARN their position in the spotlight not be born into it. Our nation was the first to step into the light but we are slowly regressing back to 'believing' those born of privilege are better.
Or we could continue placing people like Paris Hilton on pedestals....


*no sources were used in the making of this post, pictures from yahoo*

Friday, June 1, 2012

Do we give Men all the Power?

Gah it's so frustrating, so I had to blog about it to feel better. Some women give the power in the relationship to men so freely. Many women will get really upset by this post, but it's the truth. Today women will date and live with men for years and not get a marriage proposal and then later be dumped for a younger and more attractive version. We have won our rights and our niche in the working world, but are we demanding respect in our relationships as well? 
Women make it too easy for men. Guys are simple creatures and if they can have the milk for free they will never buy the cow. What's worse is women are paranoid not to 'scare off' their men by seeming too eager to make serious commitments. What kind of world do we live in? Women are more worried about not being seen as psycho/crazy/clingly than insist on respect (for whatever stage the relationship is at). 
If a woman doesn't demand respect she will not receive it. The women who do expect to be treated like a goddess are more sought after than women who will be doormats. And the women who bend over backwards for men don't understand why they don't get what they want in return. 
Men are being held up on pedestals by women because they are afraid of being left in the dust for another woman. The options today in our world seem endless, divorce is more common, people have kids out of wedlock, men are accustomed to having multiple partners, and society doesn't hold high moral standards for men anymore. So, I suspect women inherently are more concerned about keeping their men around. But the key to holding a man is having his respect and love. It isn't about being compliant; it's about having balls. 
The sad truth is that jerks treat women poorly because they find success in treating them that way. Women make jerks, jerks are not born. Men respond to what women like. Human behavior is shaped by positive and also negative reinforcement. If all women wanted guys with blue hair every guy in the world would dye their hair blue tomorrow. Why do guys wear tight pants and sing with a girlie voice in front of millions of people? Not because they think it's cool (they do) but because girls respond to it. If every girl were to stop being attracted to rockstars men would pick up on that and do something else. In the middle ages, men wore really long pointy shoes because women believed that it meant their 'members' were longer and thus more attractive. Jersey shore guys spike their hair up and go tanning to get the jersey chicks. Men are biologically programmed to do whatever it takes to get women. And the process of courting hasn't changed much since we swung in trees, we just dress it up a little. 
Congratulations to us, we mold what men do! So, our micro interactions with men in our lives has a cascade effect in how they treat other women. The problems we face with men were either created by old relationships or shaped in childhood/by society. We have more power than we give ourselves credit for. Some of us just don't use it to its full advantage. We can't change men directly but we can change how they treat and interact with us. And if a man refuses to be respectful to a lady then well NEXT

A Woman Every Man Respects
1. Never allow men to date other women when committed
2. Have her equal say from little to big decisions (what toilet paper to buy and where to live)
3. Be proposed to when they are serious for a few years, old enough, and financially secure
4. Talk about where the relationship is heading and set time limits
5. Informs her man when he is out of line or wrong about something
6. Not afraid to voice her opinion on any matter
7. Must be courted !!
8. Requires romance at every stage of the relationship
9. Is treated with respect and reverence 
10. The man puts his lady first, and she in return does the same
11. The man keeps his lady in the loop of all events and decisions once they are serious and committed 
12. Open communication about feelings and emotions
13. Is treated as an equal

*no sources were used in the making of this post, photos from yahoo*