Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dracula - Medieval & Modern!

Here's a post from one of our admin team here at who doesn't often share his thoughts - so enjoy!

Sitting round the fire when all outside was covered by the recent snow storms, we felt rather like Mary Shelley when she started "Frankenstein"at the Villa Diodati overlooking Lake Geneva. The winds howled outside and the clouds blew quickly across the skies. We had a group of friends with us. One family were self catering in the Eden Valley (Heather Glen Country House). Conversation turned towards the articles on about Dracula and what he would be doing now - other than being a vampire! Well, what we didn't know was that an American lady had already dreamed of this - Elizabeth Kostova. Out of these dreams came her 1 book: "The Historian".

It took her 10 years to write and, like Bram Stoker's book, is written as correspondence. Basically it envisages Dracula living on across the years with his disciples by his side but the novel twist is that he has an academic bent, collects books to make a great library and is something of a scholar.

The book is based mainly in Bulgaria and neighboring Transylvania. However, time in Istanbul is also important to the plot as well as, intriguingly, the South of France.

Now this is where it gets even more interesting. Let me first quote from the book:

"Helen wanted to visit the ancient monastery of Saint-Matthieu-des-Pyrenees-Orientales .... the monastery had been built in the year 1,000 and was the oldest surviving example of Romanesque architecture in Europe"

"We climbed the road from Les Bains on foot, like pilgrims .... two monks showed us around the exquisite cloisters"

What became apparent was that one of our group had actually been to this monastery! They had started off by staying in the ancient city of Carcassonne but had then travelled down to Vernet les Bains and from there up to the Abbey St Martin du Canigou. It is exactly like described in the book - winding road, cloisters, sheer drops and a crypt.

So perhaps Dracula is closer than we think!

Taken on the visit to Saint-Matthieu-des-Pyrenees-Orientales in Southern France.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Medieval Valentine's Day

Here's something different to contemplate for Valentine's Day - make it medieval!

There are many people who love all things medieval - from medieval style jewelry to medieval clothing and costumes to medieval architecture and medieval music. And why not? Medieval history is an era which evokes strong, unique atmospheres - from the heroics of medieval knights through to the harshness of medieval life with little medicine and few home comforts. Not that we're suggesting you try and emulate some of that harshness for Valentine's Day! No, what we have in mind is to 'go medieval' in a fun way that will make the day extra special.

For example, you could:

There are even medieval recipes you can try out! None of us have yet tried these but on reading them they sound delicious, especially the spinach tart and chicken with orange and lemon!

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