Thursday 31 January 2013

Richard III - the results are almost in...

On Monday, 4th February, at 10am in the University of Leicester Council Chambers, a press conference will be held to announce whether the skeleton found under the Leicester City Car Park is really that of Richard III. [I can't wait!]

On Monday evening at 9pm on Channel 4 a programme called 'The King in the Car Park' will be shown. They'll be explaining all the procedures involved in the dig and subsequent scientific testing. If you can't receive Channel 4 programmes then watch this space and I'll post a follow-up blog about it on Tuesday. 

This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened in Leicester in all the years I've been living here [and as I was born in Leicester, that really is a lot of years!] 

If you're new to my blog and don't know what all the excitement is about then please nip over to my earlier posts about the archaeological dig and the discovery of the skeleton. You can find them by clicking on the titles:
      Digging for a King
      Richard III Part II 

There are people all over the world who are dedicated to finding out the truth about Richard III. The Richard III Society has over 3,500 members worldwide and I met one of those members while I was waiting to view the dig all those months ago. She was from America and I had a fascinating discussion with her as we shuffled along in the queue. She pointed out that there is sufficient evidence to show that Richard III was not the evil hunch-back as portrayed by Shakespeare and that this was merely a Tudor strategy to strengthen their tenuous links to the throne. 

How sad to think that for so many centuries this man has been maligned. If it does turn out to be the King, [and I'm really hoping that it does] I suspect that Leicester Cathedral, only one street away from the dig, will provide him with a respectfully peaceful and sacred resting place...

...Then you could all come and visit Leicester. Now that would be exciting!

P.S. I've just been told that Matthew Ward will be live-tweeting from the press conference on @HistoryNeedsYou. So now we can all be there, [so long as we tweet which I do!]

STOP PRESS: the announcement was made this morning, Monday 4th February, confirming that it is King Richard III. I will be blogging in more detail tomorrow :-)

Sunday 27 January 2013

Unidentified Flying Objects

I have not spoken about this event since soon after it happened but it's on my mind a lot so I decided to share it. I know that people will think I’m being silly, hysterical, that I’m blogging about UFO alien invasions but I’m not. This happened almost two months ago so I’ve had plenty of time to think about it and I know what I saw. It was about 10 pm on Saturday 1st December 2012. Mr A and myself were getting a lift home from a charity quiz evening with friends. None of us had been drinking. We were just approaching our house when our friend, who was driving, said,

      “What on earth is that?” He slowed to a halt and peered up through the windscreen. Then we got out of the car, stood and gawped as three red objects moved across the sky. They were making no noise. There were no familiar aeroplane-style flashing lights, just a dull red light. They were aeroplane shaped but no wings were visible. As we stood and watched them, a fourth one appeared. They were all moving in the same direction from North to South high above our heads. They were not bobbing like a Chinese lantern might have done and at no time did we hear any engine sounds.

I have to admit that it seriously scared me. I have nightmares about drones zooming in to attack me and I spent a good part of the night with the light on. I rang my friends the next morning to see what they thought about it in the cold light of day. 

      “Chinese lanterns,” they said. “It had to be Chinese lanterns.”

Sorry to disagree but these were definitely not little paper lanterns with a candle burning inside. Neither, I suspect, were they alien invaders. Both Mr A and myself think that they have something to do with the military, some kind of testing, a new kind of drone flying with engines down and no flashing lights. Whatever they are, I can’t get them out of my mind.

Have you ever seen anything that has no logical explanation?

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Beware of the Cold

A friend tells of a skiing holiday he had many years ago when he was in his 30s. The sun was shining and he didn’t see the need for his hat. He set off with his friends and all was well until he inexplicably felt the need to sit down in the snow. Fortunately his friends recognised this as the beginnings of hypothermia and cajoled/supported him back to the hotel.

We all laughed at the anecdote and I thought nothing more about it until last week. Our boiler broke at the start of one of the coldest weekends we’ve experienced in a long time. British Gas couldn’t send anyone out for two days [We pay monthly into their Service Plan too. Outrageous, isn't it!] and so we were left to cope. It was miserable but at least we had a gas fire to huddle around.

The snow fell continuously. The temperature dropped to -5. Every surface of our old, drafty house froze beneath my fingers. After 24 hours I felt strangely detached. I didn’t want any lunch. I didn’t want to move out of my chair. I didn’t want to do anything. I thought about old people living alone. How easy it would be to continue doing nothing, to allow the cold to enter my bones, to slip into a chilly sleep. Fortunately for me, Mr A was there to cajole and so, with hands that wouldn’t quite co-ordinate and oats tumbling to the floor, I made myself a bowl of porridge.

It was only a brief incident but I can’t stop thinking about the detachment and the way my hands couldn’t open an ordinary packet of oats. It was scary and so if our heating fails again [and I do hope it won’t] I’ll try and do something active [or book into a hotel!] while I await those elusive British Gas people because you don’t have to be old to suffer from hypothermia.
I decided to include a photo of today's view from my writing den. It may be pretty but it's also cold and inconvenient. Roll on summer!

Wednesday 16 January 2013


Some fountains are majestic, some are dainty, others are modern and flashy. This fountain doesn't quite fit any of those descriptions. It's fun. It's unique. It's the sort of fountain you have to visit more than once [and I did. I dragged Mr A back there several times during our brief stay in the town.]

The elephant fountain is in Chambery, a lovely French town at the foothills of the Alps. We stayed there overnight on our way by train to Italy last year. [You can just see the French Alps rising up at the end of the street behind the fountain.]

My Mum loved elephants. She used to collect them. At one point most of the surfaces in her house were covered with elephants of various colours and sizes. As she downsized to a care home and then to a nursing home she discarded all but a few and finally lost interest in them altogether.

I've kept some of her elephants to remind me of her, not that I need elephants to help me remember, but somehow I couldn't bring myself to part with them.

Do you cherish an item that belonged to someone close to you?

Thursday 10 January 2013

Richard III receives my award

This week I received an award from Anne Mackle at Is Anyone There? Thank you so much, Anne. In accepting the Award I have to announce my highlights from 2012. Last year was a year of mixed fortunes for me, many of which don't deserve further blog post space, but there is one event that is screaming to be talked about some more... Richard III.

For those who missed the news, and my blog posts from September 2012, archaeologists found the remains of what is thought/hoped to be King Richard III who died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. His body was brought back to Leicester but there was no record of its precise internment. You can read all about it in my September blog posts which I've linked here, here and here. Going along to view the dig was, for me, one of the most exciting highlights of 2012 and so it is to him that I dedicate this Award.
Archaeologists implied that there was little doubt that they had found the remains of this much-maligned King but for the last few months scientists have been studying DNA to see if it can be irrefutably confirmed. An announcement will be made in the first week of February and this will be followed by a television programme on Channel 4 which documented the entire dig and the subsequent investigations.

I can't wait to hear the news, watch the programme and find out what will be done with his body. Rumour has it that he will be buried at Leicester Cathedral and although the Cathedral is Church of England and Richard III was Roman Catholic, it would be a fitting place for him, especially as it's in the next street to the car park where his remains were recovered - assuming, of course, that it is his remains!

Watch this space for more news as it emerges!

Sunday 6 January 2013

Is it Spring yet?

I've had a lovely holiday. Lots of family and friends came to visit. I've eaten more food than was sensibly necessary. I've done lots of chatting and hugging grandkids and now it's over. Yesterday  morning I took a New Year stroll down the garden. The sky was a solid grey. The ground was muddy to the point of being squelchy. There was nothing particularly inspiring...

...until I reached the very end of the garden and looked up at the Mahonia bush with its display of bright yellow flowers. They may look mediocre in this photograph but they put a smile on my face.

Spring isn't far away!

Are there any flowers appearing in your garden yet?