Local Heart, Global Soul

December 6, 2013

Grand Duke William II Rides High…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuation of  the day before yesterday’s post, we find ourselves in Luxembourg’s City’s central city square called “Place Guillaume II”

Laying in the heart of Luxembourg’s historic Ville Haute quarter Wikipedia tells me that “It is colloquially known as Knuedler, from the Luxembourgish language’s word for ‘knot’, referring to the knot in the belt worn by Franciscan friars.

The western half of the square is dominated by Luxembourg City Hall in the southwest, whilst the equestrian statue to former Grand Duke William II, after whom the square is named, is the prominent feature of the eastern half.

The Grand Duke of Luxembourg is the monarchical head of state of Luxembourg. Luxembourg has been a grand duchy since 15 March 1815, when it was elevated from a duchy, and was in personal union with the Netherlands until 1890. Since 1815, there have been nine monarchs of Luxembourg, including the incumbent, Henri.

The square was originally the site of a Franciscan monastery, hence the colloquial name. However, in 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, the monastery was dispossessed by occupying French soldiers. In 1804, the visiting Napoleon presented Place Guillaume II to the city as a gift.

In 1829, plans were put in place to build a new town hall on the square and that same year, the deconstruction of the former monastery was completed, the material from which was used in the new building which was completed in 1838, and first used by the city council.

However, due to the ongoing Belgian Revolution, the official unveiling could not be held at the time. Instead, the town hall was officially unveiled on 15 July 1844 by Grand Duke William II, as was the statue in his likeness in Place Guillaume II.

Place Guillaume II is used as an open air music venue, hosting the Rock um Knuedler rock concert each year since 1991.”  Not only a slice of  history but also some beautiful  details both on the statue and the plinth for my art inspiration file… artistry on all levels.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_Guillaume_II

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Duke_of_Luxembourg

September 11, 2013

This Imposing Gateway Makes a Grand Entrance…

Filed under: Canterbury Cathedral,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer we could be found standing early one morning  at the door of Christ Church Gate, which is the entrance  building to the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral in the city of Canterbury, Kent, England.

The gate is an imposing structure and ornately decorated, I learn from the web that:

“The Norman gateway was built in 1517 by Prior Goldstone

The christ figure and the original gates were destroyed in 1642(48) *Richard Culmer (“the battlements were removed in the present century to allow some residents in the vicinity to see the time by the Cathedral clock.”)

The original turrets were taken down in 1830

The carving and artwork of the gate was restored in 1932/33 and the turrets rebuilt in 1937″

The detail of the carving and decoration in the gate succumbed terribly to forces of weather and became very indistinct  (the link to the website at the end of this post shows old photos and drawing of the gate before and after restoration) but at least some of it has been beautifully restored. We have only had a glimpse of the Cathedral tower from further away over the rooftops so far… with a magnificent gate like this to herald our entry our anticipation grows as the doors open and we pass though…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking back from the other side…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://www.machadoink.com/Christ%20Church%20Gate.htm

July 29, 2013

Getting Up To Monkey Business at the Grand…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Folkestone,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page from my last’s summer’s diary, where we are talking our Singaporean friend (we will call her here by her internet nickname“Velvetinenut” for internet privacy reasons) on some European adventures.

We’ve met up with friends in Folkestone and one of them is showing us the sights. After attempting to see France from the cliff tops here, we now turn our attention to the other massive chunk of man-made scenery behind us, the majestic form of Folkestone’s Grand Hotel. Our host suggests we go inside so that we can get a cold drink, so we get to see the inside of this beautiful building as well.

Velvetine requests a large glass of water and is a little surprised find that they take this very literally, serving her a pint glass full of iced water.

The Grand Hotel sits just a short distance from the former Metropole Hotel and together they make an impressive pair. If you like architectural detail, and character buildings you’d be most happy to stare at these buildings for a very long time.
Maybe it’s just me but I find this views just as enchanting as the grand views of the cliffs on both sides of the channel (that we could have seen this day if only the sea mist would clear)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

“When The Grand was built just over 100 years ago, it incorporated many novel features which have since become the norm but it had a rival: the Metropole…

At the time Folkestone was one of the most fashionable and prosperous coastal resorts and The Metropole, which standing immediately next door, had just been constructed. A local builder who had been disappointed not to secure the building contract became determined to build a rival establishment which was better in every way.

The builder, Daniel Baker, was in the forefront of innovative design;  he had already developed the use of cavity wall ties, and went one better with The Grand – waterproof cavity wall insulation.   He used a steel frame – one of the first – to give the large clear spans to the main reception rooms, and – said to be a world first – infilled it with reinforced concrete.   And he used suspended ceilings for improved soundproofing. Not only was he innovative, but also he was able to utilise new techniques to excellent effect. The steel frame allowed his formative use of curtain walling, resulting in the windows covering almost the entire width of the elevations to make the most of the sunny location and the fabulous views and a by-product of the concrete floors was one of the first examples of wall-to-wall carpeting.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The place to be – The building was constructed as gentlemen’s residential chambers, and immediately established a reputation as the place to be and be seen. The King, Edward VII, became a frequent visitor, so much so that the locals would wander along The Leas in front of the building peering into the glasshouse to catch a glimpse of him;  apparently because he and his friends were heavily bearded, it became likened to looking at monkeys in a cage, hence the sobriquet “Monkey House”.

The King came not only with the Queen but also his intimate friend Alice Keppel, an hour-glass blue eyed beauty the epitome of elegance, lively wit and discretion, popularising the expression “monkey business” and his favoured three piece suits are still known as monkey suits in America.

A drink problem – Although the area now known as Keppels was then surrounded by an earth bank to keep out prying eyes, which Mrs Keppel’s great grand-daughter the Duchess of Cornwall might appreciate, this was more to do with the absence of a drinks licence!

When the local landowner, the Earl of Radnor, granted the lease for the building of The Metropole, he accepted a condition that he would not allow another hotel to be built within 600 yards.

Hostilities commenced even before the laying of bricks, and became so acrimonious that Lord Radnor and Daniel Baker fenced off The Leas to prevent Metropole patrons gaining access!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A solution – To overcome the liquor problem, patrons’ requirements were summoned from the local purveyors by telephone, and a lad would deliver them by bicycle! A subterranean cavern was excavated below Keppels accessed by hidden stairs to secrete customers’ own supplies, incorporating another new invention – refrigeration.

Another solution And to further assist discrete communication, a telephone box – in rustic style – was installed outside on The Leas, said to be yet another world first.
The chef, M Dutru, came from the Savoy, and the manager, Gustav Gelardi, from the Walsingham, both friends of the King. A descendant of the latter’s family, another Gelardi, is now manager of the Lanesborough.

In 1909 the King opened the new ballroom containing the first sprung dance floor in Europe. The first dance he took with the Queen, and the second with Mrs Keppel. A medal was struck to commemorate the event, and the King allowed the royal coat of arms to be used to publicise the establishment.

During the Great War the building was used as a refuge for the Belgian royal family and military hospital; thereafter the Prince of Wales’s patronage, later Edward VIII, assisted its resurgence, although Mrs Simpson stayed a little way away. Ward Lock’s guide described The Leas outside the front door as indisputably the finest marine promenade in the world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Robert Morley made his stage debut here, as did Michael Caine – not a lot of people know that! Albert Sandler started the Palm Court Orchestra in the Monkey House, but all were driven away from Frontline Folkestone by the fall of France. The building was badly damaged by shelling from the French coast.
In the 50s it was Princess Margaret’s turn, and Agatha Christie, who had been writing Murder on the Orient Express at the time she stayed in one of the suites before the war, still came regularly. But by the 60s rail travel was being supplanted by air to more distant climes for the beau monde, and rent controls were such that the sale of leases of the apartments became the favoured option.

With the ending of rent controls and the vast improvement in communications in the wake of the Channel Tunnel, the apartments are again being let; but whereas they cost two guineas a day in 1903 – probably equivalent to £200 today – some can now be had for a week or more for under £200.

Once again – enjoyment for all To complement this, the unrivalled public rooms have been restored; Keppels, at one time decked out as the Seventies Disco, has had its years of accretions stripped away, and once more exudes its Edwardian ambience as an intimate bar/bistro.
The Palm Court alias the Monkey House has acquired a tented ceiling, a magical array of plants illuminated by over 5000 lights at night, and fine food and service to match, and the adjacent oak paneled Tudor Room has a bar, sumptuous sofas and a collection of massive old oil paintings catalogued as part of the national archive.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 19, 2012

Ducking Past Formula One….

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,SINGAPORE,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix motor race has been held in the Marina Bay area annually since 2008.

The Duck Tour guide tells us that Singapore has an ingenious way of supplying an area suitable for the cars (pit stops, team areas etc) as well as catering for numberous V.I.P. Guests and thousands of spectators.

This building on the waterfront was especially designed so that the lower level can be opened up to become the cars pits and team crew areas, and the upper level houses private and corporate box areas … these rooms are hired out for an eye wateringly huge fees but enable the mega rich to have have the best seats available to watch the race.

The Singapore race is Formula One’s first night race, which has multiple advantages.

Since the event takes place on Marina Bay public roads,  there is less traffic disturbance to cordoning these off at night as well as the time advantage meaning  that the race can be broadcast “live” at a convienent time for European TV aduiences.

I’m no Grand Prix fan …for me a car is a car, four wheels, motor and steering wheel are about as technical as I get, and I don’t “feel the need for speed”  but it’s interesting to see how Singapore manages to make space to stage such a massive event when space is such a premium and the race itself is run on public roads.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

.. and the view from around the other side of the building…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… and on that note we go wroom wroom towards the next item on the itinary…

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