Woodland Walk

Here are a selection of video clips from our weekend in Brittany – we had good weather and went for a walk in the woods around Lac de Guerlédan (an artificial lake which powers a hydroelectric plant!)

 

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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 jennybegoode.wordpress.com
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 jennybegoode.wordpress.com
The Lion Mound – you’ll need to be fit, it’s 226 steps.
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Diagram of battle lines.
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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 jennybegoode.wordpress.com

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 jennybegoode.wordpress.com
Hi-tech elements. E.g. the guillotine had a slideshow of those who met their fate!

Waterloo Uniforms jennybegoode.wordpress.com

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.

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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 jennybegoode.wordpress.com


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 ⇒

A day trip to Burnham-on-Sea

Burnham-on-Sea blue sky 2This weekend I had the feeling it was time to see the sea. It was a beautiful clear and sunny day and pretty mild too. So we drove out to Burnham-on-Sea.

Unfortunately the sea was out for the afternoon – somewhere out there, beyond a very wide, silty beach and a channel and a sandbar!

Burnham-on-SeaWe took loads of photos of the wave patterns instead of the waves.

Burnham-on-Sea silhouetteSilhouettes and shadows.

Burnham-on-Sea diptychThe beach wasn’t as empty as it may appear. There were a lot of dog walkers and families about. We even saw two girls with rolled up trouser legs, paddling in the tide pools. In February! The enthusiasm of youth, eh?

Burnham-on-Sea fogAs we turned back and back onto the esplanade, the sea mist rolled in and everything got very atmospheric. In Scotland, they call the sea mist the ‘haar’; I wonder what the old Somerset word would be?

Burnham-on-Sea is an easy 45-minute drive from Bristol – perfect for summer day trips I think.

A week in Oman

Oman hot springsWe’re just back from a week in Oman, where we were visiting T’s sister.

As usual, we packed our holiday to the max. A few highlights included: trips to forts, wadis and beaches; paddling in hot springs (above) and sailing in a dinghy; afternoon tea in a grand hotel and a visit to the Grand Mosque.  Wahiba Sands dunesProbably my favourite part was the night we spent in the Desert Nights Camp at Wahiba Sands. We went ‘dune bashing’ (driving forwards, sideways and backwards over the dunes in a souped-up 4×4), watched the sunset from the top of a sand dune and rode camels!

Here’s a bonus picture of Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque.

Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque

I might write a bit more about some of the things to do in Oman, if there’s interest?

A Project Life page

Project Life week 36I recently did a big catch up on Project Life, completing 5 weeks of pages over the course of two evenings. This page is part of our sailing trip to the Isles of Scilly. The photos are from early September, which would be week 36 if I was numbering my weeks!

I used some photo collage templates from Tracy Larsen and some official Project Lifeproducts (grid card, photo sleeves and folder).