Christmas Countdown | 21 | The Waterloo Battlefield

While we were in Brussels, we took a day trip to the Waterloo Battlefield. T. is a big Napoleonic history buff, so this was a favourite for him.

As you may know, 2015 was the 200th anniversary of the Battle. There has been huge investment in a new museum and various commemorations, culminating in a series of large scale reenactments in the summer, with thousands of participants and spectators. However, we visited in December on a week day and we had the whole place practically to ourselves.

A note on getting there: Waterloo is not particularly easy to get to on public transport. The site is very much set up for visitors to come by car and by coach. There’s either the W bus from Brussels Gare du Midi (takes an hour or more through Uccle) or the train to Braine l’Alleud and then the W bus going in the other direction. Either way, you end up at a seemingly random traffic intersection where you’ll have to pick your way to the start of the shiny, new, 200th anniversary footpath and entry road.

On the plus side, the Lion Mound is clearly visible above the trees and the bus drivers are helpful, so you’ll know you’re in the right place!

On the bus to Waterloo
Trying to look continental on the W bus.

The Panorama and the Lion Mound are the oldest parts of the memorials at Waterloo. The Panorama dates to 1912 and has a famous immersive oil painting/mural with 3D elements and sound effects.

Inside the Panorama.
Inside the Panorama.

The Lion Mound was completed in 1826 and famously commemorates the Prince of Orange, William II of the Netherlands, who was wounded in the Battle. The views from the top are perfect for taking in the shape of the battlefield and the key sites.

Waterloo Lions Mound
The Lion Mound – you’ll need to be fit, it’s 226 steps.
Diagram of battle lines.
The Panorama from the outside.

The new underground museum was incredibly good and overwhelmingly detailed. I’m sure even the most dedicated military history buff would learn something new. For me, the political, philosophical and economic contexts were more interesting, as well as plenty of human history about the soldiers etc. We liked the interpretation information, which seemed to be working hard to take a neutral/historical standpoint.

Waterloo Council of War

Apart from traditional exhibits, like artefacts and mannequins, there were loads of hi-tech and interactive elements. For example, the audio devices (which we didn’t really use) have various historical figures acting as virtual tour guides to choose between and the highlight of the museum is a 3D movie experience on a 180° screen, which was thrilling – make sure to save time for it at the end.

Waterloo new museum
Hi-tech elements. E.g. the guillotine had a slideshow of those who met their fate!

Waterloo Uniforms

Eventually we moved on to Hougoumont Farm. A shuttle is provided for the short hop, but we opted to walk as we were running out of time before closing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHougoumont Farm jennybegoode.wordpress.comOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We found the video installation, into which we were hustled at Hougoumont, a bit disappointing. It was very loud and bombastic, taking place in a darkened barn and involving a lot of moving parts (which we could see breaking down before long). It seemed very long and unfortunately, by the time it was over, it was almost too dark to see the memorial to the British soldiers who fought and died in the Battle.

In hindsight, I think we should have gone to Hougoumont first and the museum later on, but of course in the summer, it wouldn’t have mattered so much.


Hopefully these notes could be of use to anyone planning a trip to Waterloo this year. There’s also a good Telegraph article about all the various sites you can visit in the area here: LINK. and here’s the website for the Memorial complex itself: LINK. Incidentally, we got a combined ticket – which included entry to the vintage Panorama, the Lion’s Mound, the new Memorial 1815 and Hougoumont Farm – for 16 Euro. There’s a 19 Euro ticket which includes a couple of other museums in the area – I think you’d need a car to see them all in a day!

On the road to Hougoumont

This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒


Christmas Countdown | 9 | Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty poster

Who doesn’t love a fairy tale pantomime at Christmas? Tonight, we’re off to see Sleeping Beauty at the Bristol Old Vic. As you might imagine, it’s not a completely traditional production!

Here are some fab videos from behind the scenes, which tell you a bit more about it:

Tomorrow we’re moving house. Hmmm we could have picked a quieter time of year!

This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒

Links I found interesting this month

Richard Long exhibition at the Arnolfini, Bristol 2015

One of my favourite types of blog posts to read is a round-up of links and stories from around the web. Not only is it a great way to find new and useful things to read, but it also means I’ll be able to find the links to those interesting articles later on! With that in mind, here are some items I found interesting this month:

• An oldie, but a goodie: “Why the modern world is bad for your brain“.

Twitter jokes collated.

• I used to play those point-and-click escape-the-room games online; now there’s a live action version in Bath (Bath Escape) and two in Bristol (Puzzlair-4D and Fathom Escape)! I wonder who would like to try this out with me?

• Last weekend we went to see an exhibition by Richard Long at the Arnolfini in Bristol (photo above) – I first saw one of his exhibitions in St Andrews in 1997 and his work has always stuck with me. Definitely worth checking out and it’s free entry!

• This article about living on a ketch made me want to stop house hunting and buy a boat.

• I recently rediscovered Kerstin Rodgers’ blog and alter ego ‘Ms Marmite Lover’. I love the way she writes about the places she visits – blending a whirlwind of sensory impressions with contextual information and her personal reactions, all delivered in a matter-of-fact tone – evocative but not gushing. It’s exactly what I need to get enthusiastic about travel.

• Finally, I can’t stop watching this astonishingly beautiful tilt shift video of Bristol:

“Fashion on the Ration”

“A decline in clothing standards may be accompanied by a decline in self respect and a consequent slackness of the mind.”

– Memo from the Women’s Group on Public Welfare regarding the Make [Do] and Mend campaign, as displayed at the Imperial War Museum London ‘Fashion on the Ration’ exhibition, which is on till the end of the month. I visited earlier this week with my Mum – a rare chance to get away.

Links I found interesting this month

Lanhydrock, CornwallOne of my favourite types of blog posts to read is a round-up of links and stories from around the web. Not only is it a great way to find new and useful things to read, but it also means I’ll be able to find the links to those interesting articles later on! With that in mind, here are some items I found interesting this month:

• This blog post from Slow Your Home inspired me to delete all the social media apps on my phone last week.

• I sent this article about gender-neutral dress to my friend whose twins don’t have ‘his’ and ‘her’ clothes.

• Fantastic illustrations of Bath by Perry Harris, shown to me by the Mayor no less!

• Bristolians are loving the Shaun in the City sculpture trails.

• The Great British Bake Off starts next week (Wednesday, 8pm)!

• An enormous list of minimalism resources.

• Terrifying article about rescuing women from Isil (and women’s own testimonies).

• Finally, am I the only one with a bit of a crush on Mhairi Black?

An ambitious project and a leap of faith

Helen Pack GDS 2015 landscapeWhat do my little sister, a Shakespeare/zombie mash-up and the Edinburgh Fringe 2015 have in common?

Answer: Thread Theatre Company!

My sister Helen (that’s her in the boater) is making a brave move into freelance theatre production. She’s been working in amateur theatre for years, producing multiple shows annually, making money for the company and gaining loads of experience at the sharp end of theatre. I’ve been to several plays she’s been involved in and the production values are very high. I know she can make a success of this career, if she can get a foot in the door.

This summer she has a big opportunity to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and work on two plays with Thread Theatre Company. This is huge because it means a professional credit on her CV – as with many professions, theatre production has the chicken and egg situation that you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job!

Thread sounds like a fantastic outfit.

It was set up by a self-starting, feisty gang of women who are taking big risks to help themselves carve out careers in professional theatre. An “emerging company producing new writing and innovative takes on classic plays”, Thread made their Edinburgh debut last year with “Much ado about Zombies” – a death-defying take on the Shakespeare love story.

“With such an intriguing name, the cynical part of me was almost prepared to be let down. How could this show possibly live up to its title? Happily, Thread Theatre Company has done an admirable job of delivering on their premise…there are many laughs to be had”

Participating in the Fringe is great experience and exposure for young and talented theatre groups. But here’s the rub – it costs a bomb and groups are much more likely to lose money than to break even on ticket sales. To make sure the show goes on, Thread have launched a fundraising campaign on indiegogo.

*** As I write, they are just £610 away from their fundraising target***

I think it’s testament to my sister’s skills of persuasion and ability to leverage contacts that she not only got me to donate to the fundraiser, but to help publicise it all over social media!

If anyone reading this would like to learn more about Thread and the productions they are taking to Edinburgh or would like to donate a few pounds to help them get there, then please click through to indiegogo below:

Not only would you be helping Helen and Thread Theatre (a female-led company who are “particularly passionate about new writing which gives women a voice both on and off stage”), but you would also be helping to support anti-human trafficking charity “Stop the Traffic”  for which the company will be fundraising whilst in Edinburgh. One of their plays is a new piece of writing dealing with the issue of sex trafficking in Europe.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they have a really successful season!

Update (29.07.15): Thread Theatre beat their fundraising target by some way and are off to Edinburgh! Hooray!

I wonder if I can get a cheap flight…? 


Austentatious poster jennybegoode.wordpress.comJane Austen-themed improvisational comedy at the Bath Literature Festival – what’s not to love?!

The improvisation comes from asking audience members to suggest the title of a ‘lost’ Jane Austen novel. One is drawn out of a hat at random and then acted out in a series of short vignettes by the cast.

Austentatious programme jennybegoode.wordpress.comThe title we submitted was “Fear and Loathing in Leamington Spa”, but the one which was picked was “Nobody cares what colour that dress is”. Extremely funny!