L.L. Diamond

News, Blog, and Stories

Now, most people would travel to Brussels and stay a few days so they can see all the town has to offer, but when you’re travelling with a band of teenagers for a sports competition, that doesn’t happen. Despite this trip being a very short one, there were a number of firsts for me. This was the first time I travelled by any mode of transportation across the channel, or under in this case, and into Europe as well as my first time in France and Belgium; not that I saw much of France but a bit of Calais and the motorway. 🙂

So, the Chunnel was not quite what I expected. I did some research and given that I get claustrophobic in the weirdest of situations was a little concerned over that, the crossing wasn’t bad at all. When you arrive at the Folkestone Chunnel Crossing, you use your reservation to be admitted to the area and as a coach, we went through customs at a small services where there’s a Starbucks, a W.H. Smith, and a Duty Free shop. When the time came for us to board our reserved crossing, we loaded back onto our bus and drove through a maze to reach the train.

It’s amazing really because the coaches drive in from the end and once each car is loaded, glass panes with the train doors fold out and a metal retractable door that descends from the ceiling. There are public toilets in the first and last cars, so you can get out for those or to just stretch your legs, though you cannot walk between the cars in the event a parking brake/hand brake fails.

The descent under the English Channel is really gradual; you don’t notice that you ever really are going down or back up again other than a bit of popping of the ears. I opted to get off the coach and stand along the side because the buses tend to rock back and forth, which can be a bit like being in a boat. It was a much smoother crossing that way. Once the train begins moving, the crossing takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

Brussels was larger than I expected, though a lovely town. We stayed in Grand Place, where there you have a choice of a number of hotels as well as touristy shops for entertainment. We arrived late afternoon, settled into our room, and then decided to walk around and look for a place to eat.

Grand Place is the central market square of Brussels and has its origins dating back to the 11th Century. As early as the 14th century, improvements began being made to the square, but those were destroyed in the late 17th century and the current buildings erected. Grand Place is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you haven’t been to Grand Place, it is a rather large square which has the City Hall and several guildhalls as well as the Maison du Roi (or King’s House) which contains the Museum of Brussels. The buildings are ornate and opulent Gothic and Baroque architecture, many decorated with gold paint or material and are even beautiful at night.

Most of the restaurants in this part of town have their menus outside of the door for people to peruse, but none had a gluten-free menu available from what we could tell. After a search online, we opted for Hard Rock Cafe. I haven’t been to a Hard Rock since I was a kid, but the staff was so nice and the food was very good, so we were happy.

Once we had some fun in the gift shop, we hit the first chocolate shop we found, which fortunately had great labelling for gluten. The chocolates from Bruyere were very good as well. While they had a great deal of places to buy Belgian Beer and Brussels lace, we walked around and enjoyed the area before we returned to our rooms to sleep.

Sorry about the quality of the photos. It was starting to darken and the rain did not help!

 

 

 

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/857

 

 

 

The answers for Part 1 are up at Austen Variations, so don’t forget to check yourself there too!

 

 

Ready? Let’s see how you did!

 

 

  1. What movie and what was the house’s name in that adaptation?

IMGP9020

Norland Park, Sense and Sensibility (with Emma Thompson)

 

 

 

 

2. This could be in more than one adaptation, so tell me the book and the location.

Granny's Teeth

The Cobb, Lyme Regis (These steps are called “Granny’s teeth.”

 

 

3. This one is easy peasy! What’s the name of the fictional house and which adaptation?

IMGP8217

Pemberley, Pride and Prejudice 2005 (Otherwise known as Chatsworth)

 

 

4. Hint: If you name the book/movie, you name the place!

irland_2010-08-18_026

Northanger Abbey

 

 

 

 

5.  Whose house is this and what movie?

claydonhouseswansicht

Mr. Knightley, Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow version)

 

 

 

 

6. Where was this folly and what important scene happened here?

 

Temple of Apollo from a break in the trees

The folly was at Rosings in the 2005 P&P, Darcy’s failed proposal took place here.
(The folly is at Stourhead in Wiltshire in real life 🙂 )

 

 

 

7. This room has been in two of Jane Austen’s books as well as the movies. Which ones?

640px-pump_room_bath_02

The Pump Room in Bath are in both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey 

 

 

 

 

8. What fictional house is this and who walked there?

 

Recognise this?

Pemberley (P&P 1995), Darcy and Elizabeth 

 

 

 

9.  Which heroine grew up in this house? What is its name?

longbourn-1024x768

Elizabeth Bennet, Longbourn (1995 P&P)

and the last one!!!

 

10. Which great fictional house is this and what movie does it come from?

rosings-park-pride-and-prejudice-1995-6175477-708-426

This was Rosings Park in the 1995 P&P

 

 

So, how did you do?

 

 

 

Photo credits:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Irland_2010.08.18_026.jpg by Ingo Mehling
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ClaydonHouseSWAnsicht.jpg by mym
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pump_Room_Bath_02.jpg  Immanuel Giel

Thanks to everyone who submitted their best guesses on this scavenger hunt post!

 

Congrats to Pam Hunter, who won the giveaway!

 

  1. “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey)

 

  1. One shoulder of mutton, you know, drives another down. – Mrs. Jennings (Sense and Sensibility)

 

  1. In essentials, I believe, he is much as he ever was – Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)

 

  1. “My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age! Just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, and to have the gout; too old to be agreeable, too young to die.” – Lady Susan (Lady Susan)

 

  1. “So you and I are to be left to shift by ourselves, with this poor sick child; and not a creature coming near us all the evening! – Mary Musgrove (Persuasion)

 

  1. I do not know whether it ought to be so, but certainly silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way. Emma Woodhouse (Emma)

 

  1. “A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. Mary Crawford (Mansfield Park)

 

  1. “One is never able to complete anything in the way of business, you know, till the carriage is at the door.” Mr. Parker (Sanditon)

 

  1. “What he told me was merely this: that he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage, but without mentioning names or any other particulars, and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort, and from knowing them to have been together the whole of last summer.” Col Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice)

 

  1. “The one claim I shall make for my own sex is that we love longest, when all hope is gone.” – Anne Elliot (Persuasion)

If you haven’t taken the quiz at Austen Variations for Abigail Reynolds’ giveaway, then don’t forget to stop over there and follow the instructions there before you call it a day!

If you’ve come over from Austen Variations, then this is the quiz of locations from Austen movie adaptations! How well do you know your Austen? We’ve tested your knowledge of places from her life, now, to test your movie knowledge! For this giveaway, we have a signed copy of one of my books, this calendar of National Trust properties, two Jane Austen book postcards, and a pack of Austen Variations notecards.

 

 

Don’t forget to send your answers to ldiamond531@yahoo.com when you have them done to enter the draw!

 

 

Ready? Let’s get to it!

 

 

  1. What movie and what was the house’s name in that adaptation?

IMGP9020

 

 

 

 

2. This could be in more than one adaptation, so tell me the book and the location.

Granny's Teeth

 

 

 

3. This one is easy peasy! What’s the name of the fictional house and which adaptation?

IMGP8217

 

 

 

4. Hint: If you name the book/movie, you name the place!

irland_2010-08-18_026

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Whose house is this and what movie?

claydonhouseswansicht

 

 

 

 

 

6. Where was this folly and what important scene happened here?

 

Temple of Apollo from a break in the trees

 

 

 

 

7. This room has been in two of Jane Austen’s books as well as the movies. Which ones?

640px-pump_room_bath_02

 

 

 

 

 

8. What fictional house is this and who walked there?

 

Recognise this?

 

 

 

 

9.  Which heroine grew up in this house? What is its name?

longbourn-1024x768

 

and the last one!!!

 

10. Which great fictional house is this and what movie does it come from?

rosings-park-pride-and-prejudice-1995-6175477-708-426

 

 

Alrighty! Get those answers in to me at ldiamond531@yahoo.com for a chance at the giveaway!

And, if you haven’t taken the quiz for Abigail’s giveaway, do that here!

 

 

 

 

Photo credits:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Irland_2010.08.18_026.jpg by Ingo Mehling
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ClaydonHouseSWAnsicht.jpg by mym
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pump_Room_Bath_02.jpg  Immanuel Giel

So you’ve answered the first set of questions and now you are seeking the last set! (If you’ve happened upon this post first, then backtrack to Austen Variations for part one of the Scavenger Hunt! Once you’ve got these down, email them to me at ldiamond531@yahoo.com, and if you have them all correct, I will enter you in the drawing. If you can tell me which book the quote comes from, I will count it as bonus if you miss one of the others 🙂

 

 

So here we go on the second part!

 

6. “I do not know whether it ought to be so, but certainly silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.”

7. “A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.”

8. “One is never able to complete anything in the way of business, you know, till the carriage is at the door.”

9. “What he told me was merely this: that he congratulated himself on having lately saved a friend from the inconveniences of a most imprudent marriage, but without mentioning names or any other particulars, and I only suspected it to be Bingley from believing him the kind of young man to get into a scrape of that sort, and from knowing them to have been together the whole of last summer.”

10. “The one claim I shall make for my own sex is that we love longest, when all hope is gone.”

 

Alrighty then! Email me those answers at ldiamond531@yahoo.com (I’m going to run to empty my email!) and tell me if I made it too hard below or at Austen Variations!

 

 

From the moment we crossed the first bridge, we followed the signs toward the Rialto Bridge and San Marco. Obviously, by my past posts, we did stop places along the way, shopping and sightseeing as we plodded along. Our main goal was to reach what everyone said we had to see.

img_2866

View from the Rialto Bridge (sorry about my son’s head!)

The Rialto Bridge is one of four bridges that cross the Grand Canal, designed by Antonio da Ponte and completed in 1591. In all honesty, you can’t miss it since it’s rather large and in a rather busy and congested portion of Venice as you pass through the Rialto market to get to it. It also has shops, such as the Hard Rock Cafe, on the bridge itself, so you cannot see the Grand Canal from the interior of the bridge, you have to pass through an archway to an outer ramp to take pictures of the Grand Canal.

 

From the Rialto Bridge, the Piazza San Marco is not far and is one of the main sights of Venice, containing Saint Mark’s Basilica and Doges Palace as well as a few other sites. Our first stop was Saint Mark’s, an Italo-Byzantine church completed in 1092! We’d heard it was a must see and was free to enter, which was lovely. My complaint was it was dark. Not so dark you couldn’t see, but I really would have liked to see the mosaics (Not just regular mosaics either! The background is gold glass tesserae-gold leaf encased in layers of glass.), which cover the wall in more detail, and it was really impossible to see all I wanted. Given the windows in the ceiling, I am certain a bit of it was the poor weather and the time of day since we toured near 5 pm, but we had poor weather both days in Venice. No matter what, our experience would have likely been the same. My other complaint–we weren’t allowed photos.

Now, one thing to note on Saint Mark’s! General admission to the building is free, and you can see most of the mosaic’s and the main portion of the church for nothing, but they do have certain artefacts and portions of the Basilica which require admission. For example, the Treasury has antiquities, even including a small animal mummy (My children found it and I don’t remember the animal. Sorry!) and some Greek/Roman pottery. The Presbytery is another part which requires admission.

Once we’d seen all of Saint Mark’s, we walked back out to take photos and then, walked down towards the water through the Piazetta and past Doges Castle. We took quite a few photos of the amazing view, though with the weather, though it was a bit foggy. From there, we turned left and walked down a ways before testing our skills and our sense of direction by taking whatever bridges we thought were in the correct direction to make it back to the tram. We ended up using the GPS/SatNav! Venice is a maze!

Our second day in Venice was rainy and more relaxed. We decided to play tourist shopper and walked through a lot of the gift shops and even boutiques (some felt no bigger than a walk-in closet!). I believe I warned everyone in the initial post to beware of the “Made in China” knock-off souvenirs. The handmade Carnivale masks are impressive and if you are looking for something small, not terribly expensive by comparison. There are also many shops touting, real Italian leather handbags. We found a distinct difference in the feel of the bag after shopping in one boutique rather than the touristy shop. Just be aware of what you are buying!

If you are celiac or gluten intolerant. Do not worry about finding food! Many restaurants offer either pizza or pasta, and sometimes both you can eat. We actually had a more difficult time finding bread and other “Sensa Glutine” items at the grocery store. Just beware the bakery windows! They look divine and I kept taking photos! I did enjoy the coffee and espresso drinks immensely, however, much to the chagrin of my nerves. 😉

We opted not to take a gondola ride as they were rather pricey for five people, though from what we discovered, you can haggle the price of the ride. 🙂

 

 

Sources for historical info:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rialto_Bridge
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mark%27s_Basilica
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_San_Marco#Description_of_the_Piazzetta
Photos St. Mark’s courtesy of:
tango7174 of St. Mark’s Basilica: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Veneto_Venezia2_tango7174.jpg
Dennis Jarvis of Pentecost at St. Mark’s https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Venice_SMarco_Vault2.jpg

Seriously! I feel like New Year’s 2016 was just a few days ago and now it’s 2017. Does time have no sense of patience? My children are growing entirely too fast and I never have enough time in the day as it is without speeding things up. Oh well! Father Time

clueless-whatever

I’ll get over it. I always do.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. They always sound nice and I’ve tried to make them in the past but in the end, I forget about them within a few weeks. I have a terrible memory as it is, so it’s just one more thing to try to remember. Though I suppose my vow to get this holiday weight off could be called a resolution. I went to spin last night, but was thwarted in my attempt at exercise this morning by my son. Can’t get to cross-training with an ill child at home–well, some days I can. Just not today. Grrr!

Particular Attachments is up to Chapter 14. I haven’t decided a definitive length yet. I suppose it depends on how the story progresses. I know where I want it to go, but not whether I will use my characteristic  30 chapters to tell it.

Don’t miss Jane in January this month at Austen Variations! I have no idea what I’m going to do, but hopefully, I’ll figure it out soon!!! If you have a suggestion, then feel free to put it in the comments below. I’m always open to suggestions 😉

A few of us also have something special we’re planning on unveiling in February near Valentine’s day at  Austen Variations as well, so look out for that, too!

The expat has one more post on Venice left, and then she needs to find somewhere to travel!

Gotta get back to writing, but I’d love to hear if you made any New Year’s resolutions this year. If you did and you can share (TMI not accepted! 😉  ) then please do!

As you follow the signs to the Rialto Bridge and Saint Mark’s Basilica, you’ll definitely pass a small square with the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, the Chiesa (church) of San Rocco, and a da Vinci Museum. Now, I can’t comment on the da Vinci museum other than the understanding we had from the description was that it was a compilation of da Vinci’s inventions that were built and on display. I love da Vinci, but I would prefer to see his actual drawings and paintings, so we skipped the da Vinci museum. I was very intrigued, however, by the Chiesa di San Rocco and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

San Rocco (or Saint Roch) was the protector against plague, which had devastated Venice in the 15th century. In 1478, a group of wealthy Venice citizens founded the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

When I was studying for my art degree, I took a class that I loved called Women in Art and Culture, and one of the artists we studied was Marietta Robusti, also called Tintoretto. Both the Church of San Rocco and Scuola Grande di San Rocco have works from Jacopo Robusti or Tintoretto, her father, who was commissioned in 1564 to produce paintings for the interior. I was curious to see the work of the father as I’d never really studied him in depth, and I didn’t regret the visit!

The church is small and has more artists featured than Tintoretto, but the works are all lovely and the church is by no means unadorned. It is beautiful in its paintings and detail, but doesn’t really hold a candle to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

We exited the church and walked across the square. My husband was hesitant due to the admission, but we soon realised children were free, which is always welcomed with five of us–especially as my children aren’t always excited about art museums.

The downstairs (Salla Terra) is a columned room containing a nave and two aisles nothing but the works of Tintoretto adorning all of the walls, depicting scenes from Mary’s life. It’s a lovely room, but once you’ve looked at all of the paintings, which are gorgeous, you walk up a stone staircase with a domed roof to a room that will take your breath away. I find the downstairs deceptive when you first walk in and it makes the upstairs (Sala Superiore (“Upper Hall”)) all the more grand.

The ceiling and walls are covered by Tintoretto’s paintings trimmed in gold and with sculpture adorning the walls beneath it, including a wooden rendering of Tintoretto himself by Giuseppe Angeli and allegorical figures by Francesco Pianta. The ceiling in the Sala Superiore are from the Old Testament and the walls are depictions from the New Testament. There is also a room off to the side which has paintings depicting Christ appearing before Pilot to Calvary, which adorns an entire wall.

Scuola San Rocco was not something we planned, but was my favourite part of the trip. If you go to Venice, you shouldn’t miss it!

 

Next: Saint Marks Basilica and the rest of Venice

 

 

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scuola_Grande_di_San_Rocco
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/venice/attractions/scuola-grande-di-san-rocco/a/poi-sig/400371/360029
img_2798

Nameplate on exterior

When you cross that first bridge in Venice, La chiesa di San Nicola da Tolentino is at the opposite side of a small square across from the German consulate. The temple facade caught our eye, so we decided to investigate and boy, am I glad we did!

La chiesa di San Nicola da Tolentino translates to The church of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and has been a Catholic church since the 16th or 17th century (I had to translate the Wiki page on it’s history, so sorry for any issues arising from that!). It was named for an Augustinian friar, who was proclaimed the patron saint of souls in Purgatory by Pope Leo XIII in 1884.

The church was erected between 1591 and 1602, and designed and built by Vincenzo Scamozzi. Between 1706 and 1714, Andrea Tirali added the portico, the tympanum, and six Corinthian columns to the exterior, which had been unfinished.

I wish I could’ve taken my own photos inside this beautiful building, but they do not allow it. Thank goodness for Wikimedia Commons, who actually has photos of the stunning insides. I must admit that though the outside is nice, I was not prepared when I entered and caught a glimpse of the interior.

 

Next stop in Venice: Scuole Grande di San Rocco

 

 

Photo credits:
Chiesa di San Nicola da Tolentino in Venice. General view of the interior of the church. Photo by Didier Descouens.
Chiesa di San Nicola da Tolentino in Venice. Ceiling : “Glory of St. Gaetano” of Mattia Bortoloni Photo by Didier Descouens.
Chiesa di San Nicola da Tolentino in Venice. The maine altar alla romana polychrome marble, with a large tabernacle in the shape of small allegory temple of the Holy Sepulcher directed by Baldassarre Longhena. The two worshipers angels and six angels caryatids by Josse de Corte. Photo by Didier Descouens.
References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_of_Tolentino
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiesa_di_San_Nicola_da_Tolentino_%28Venezia%29
img_2866

My son’s head at the Rialto Bridge

Can you believe it? We finally took a trip out of the U.K.! Not that I don’t love it here or that there is a lack of things to do or places to see, but we’ve been putting off a holiday that requires us crossing a body of water and we finally managed it. Thanksgiving holiday was a bit different when in Italy, but I’m certainly not complaining!

There two are airports you can travel into when travelling to Venice: Marco Polo and Treviso. We booked our tickets into Treviso, which is a bit farther away (only about 30 minutes), but not inconvenient by any means. It is also A. Canova airport, so for this art lover, that was a plus since Antonio Canova is one of my favourite sculptors.

Due to a commitment we had about an hour from Venice, we rented a car. I was advised to use a major company and not one of the smaller outfits you find online by someone who had gone before us. Great advice as the smaller local companies seem good at the outset, but then have smaller charges which appear once you’re there–at least that was how it was explained to me. 🙂

Mestre Town Centre

Mestre Town Centre

Since we did have to drive an hour away, we did not stay in the middle of Venice, but instead stayed in Mestre. Mestre is the mainland portion of Venice and very populated. It has its own town centre of sorts as well as several supermarkets and restaurants. In fact, trying to find parking in the centre of Mestre on a Sunday evening for dinner is insane!

We opted to rent a flat for a few days. With a larger family, we have to pay for two hotel rooms when we travel or find a flat/apartment. In this case, the apartment was significantly less expensive and we were very happy with where we stayed.

742px-tramvia-sandona

Tram

Transport into Venice from Mestre is, in fact, extremely easy. From the flat, the tram was less than a five-minute walk and our temporary landlord showed us where to purchase tickets so the tram was less expensive. We were between the centre of Mestre and Venice, so a trip from our location took between 5-10 minutes and was fairly easy, though the tram did get rather crowded, so be prepared to stand if you are on one of the later stops. If you purchase tickets in advance, they act like a declining balance when you scan them on scanners on each car of the tram.

The tram brings you just over the water and to the edge of Venice. From there, you can follow the signs to the Rialto Bridge and St. Marks Basilica (San Marco), or you can wander. We did a bit of both and had a great time. Restaurants, bakeries, and shops line each and every walkway. Carnival masks and Murano glass (made on an island near Venice) colour many of the windows. It was always fun to go through a line of souvenir shops and boutiques to find a hardware store or something similar. Just that reminder that while it’s a touristy place, people do still live there.

One word of warning on souvenirs. It didn’t occur to me when we went, but some of the touristy shops are more legitimate than others. My daughters especially enjoyed the Carnival masks, but while there are a lot of shops that carry masks made in Italy or handmade, some carry ones made in China. Fortunately, the larger more expensive ones we purchased for ourselves and a gift, were both handmade, but one or two of the smaller were made in China. We were a bit disappointed when we arrived home and found that sticker on the inside. I’ve heard that can happen with Murano glass as well, but we only purchased one piece as a gift, and it was well-marked as “Made in Italy.”

Alsoimg_2893 be warned that public restrooms/toilets are not a common thing to find in Venice. I knew they cost money to use, so we all made a point of visiting the ones in the restaurants prior to exploring again; however, we did have to track down the one we could find at one point during our visit. I never dreamed it would cost €1.50!

The restaurants each had something different to recommend them. Some servers knew more English than others, but we did look up a few phrases before we went. Most importantly was “sensa glutine.” One server even looked at us and said, “Or you could say gluten-free.” Hey! We did try! Between what little French and Spanish I knew combined with Google translate, we did muddle through. My husband laughed at me when I told the lady at Starbucks “grazie” when she handed me my coffee upon our return to England. Four days of Italian had created a habit!

img_2801I will say that I rarely take photos of food, but I did on this trip. Just about everything I ate and saw in windows that I couldn’t eat were photographed. It was rather funny and not surprising that I gained four pounds over those few days. Imagine what I would’ve gained if I had free rein on the bread and pastries! Yikes!

Now, I know I usually give a low down on everything we do while we travel, and I will; but for this post, I wanted to give overall impressions, advice, etc. Next post will start what we saw while there. 🙂 I’m going to have to hunt down photos of some since they don’t allow photos in some of the churches 😦

 

Photo Attributions:
Tram: Gabriele Foltran, Wikimedia Commons
Piazza Ferretto: William.kimmerle, Wikimedia Commons
%d bloggers like this: