Dulled: No need for change

Firstly, I would like to say thank you to those who participated in the poll posted last week. And if you haven’t, then I would be very appreciative if you would take a couple of moments to fill it in.

Anyway, to get back into blogging I thought I would start with the daily prompt: dulled. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/daily-prompt-dulled/

The drinking of the potion does remind me of Alice in Wonderland, don’t know if that was the intention. My second thought was Harry Potter.

If someone asked me which of the senses I would prefer to be sharpened, at the cost of the others my immediate response would be that I would prefer to have 20/20 vision and no need for glasses. This would certainly make wearing sunglasses easier and cheaper, at the moment I have to choose between my fashion sunglasses which means I can’t see properly or my less attractive prescription glasses. However, repairing sight seems to be a common wish and if I’m honest I don’t mind wearing glasses, after 12 years you get used to it and I think I look weird without them now.

After some thought, intensifying taste would probably be the most enjoyable due to a love of baking and thus eating. Although, this is ignoring the fact that smell and taste go hand in hand and if smell is dulled then taste will also be affected. Then again, would a sharper taste mean you couldn’t eat stronger foods as it would just be too much?

Maybe I’m just happy as I am – no need for change. A good motto for many people methinks.



Henry VIII – Liz’s Historical Blogging Challenge

For full challenge click here.

Henry VIII

Everyone studies Henry the eighth in school (well I’m sure they do in England at any rate), yet it is surprising how little I actually remember. I know he had six wives and they were:

  1. Divorced
  2. Beheaded
  3. Died
  4. Divorced
  5. Beheaded
  6. Survived

However, I can never remember which wife was which and who met what fate. A couple of years ago a series started on the BBC about Henry the eighth and I started watching, expecting a more or less accurate account of his life – if slightly exaggerated and dramatised for  TV audiences. Unfortunately, despite great acting and an interesting, well-written script, it just seemed to go on forever. I think the series is still running though I have no idea which wife they’re on at the moment. I stayed with it up until wife number 2 was beheaded but it was starting to drag. So for ec.cen.tric’s blogging challenge to write a report on a historical event or person I decided to clear up my hazy knowledge once and for all.

Although many well-known pictures present Henry VIII as a portly figure, he was a well-built athletic young man who enjoyed hunting and jousting. I believe it was only later on in life he succumbed to his wealthy life style and, for lack of a better expression, pigged out. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon had been married to Henry’s older brother for a short while until his death; however, she claimed the marriage had never been consummated. Due to her previous marriage there was a lot of drama and the pope had to be consulted as to whether it was proper for Henry to take on his brothers’ widow. Although this was finally resolved Henry was slow in completing the long-awaited marriage and they were only united after Henry became King in 1509. A couple of years later a son was born, who died only two months later. In order to console himself Henry went to war in France (surely there were easy ways to get over it? Must be a man thing).

Mary Tudor

Catherine miscarried another child and had a son who died soon after birth before giving Henry a daughter, Mary, who lived. For Henry this wasn’t good enough, he needed a male heir. Looking for religious reasons that declared if a man takes his brothers’ wife they shall remain childless (at this point Catherine was too old to conceive). He petitioned the pope for an annulment, however Catherine wouldn’t go without a fight and appealed. The ensuing political and legal debate lasted six years until Anne Boleyn became pregnant in 1532. Henry’s solution to his problem was to reject the pope’s power and have Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, grant his annulment. Catherine thus became the Princess Dowager of Wales and was separated from her daughter as she was forced to leave court.

Evidently the ‘treat them mean, keep them keen’ is an old attitude since history tells us Anne Boleyn denied Henry any sexual favours until around 1532, after which her pregnancy caused the King to rush into action. The couple married secretly since Henry’s first marriage had yet to be dissolved, however in his mind it never existed. The Archbishop declared Catherine and Henry’s marriage to be invalid in May of 1533. Anne was pronounced Queen in an elaborate ceremony and preparations were made for the birth of her child, with everyone assuming it to be a boy. In September of 1533 Anne gave birth to Princess Elizabeth. She later lost two more children as either miscarriages or still births and quickly realised her life depended on producing a male heir.

Elizabeth I

Anne’s enemies at court started to plot against her, using the Kings liking for Jane Seymour as a catalyst. Cromwell convinced the King to authorise an investigation which eventually saw the arrest of a Musician friend of the Queens, her own brother and Lord Rochford. There were a few other arrests and at least four men were charged with treason and were hung, drawn and quartered. Queen Anne was placed on trial with her brother on charges of adultery, incest and plotting to kill the King. Both were executed, as were the others whose gory deaths were downgraded to a mere execution. The marriage between Anne and the King was declared invalid and the question of how she could have committed adultery considering they hadn’t technically been married was ignored, as was all other evidence in defence of Anne Boleyn.

Edward VI

King Henry would have met Jane Seymour in 1535 when he stayed with her family but it wasn’t until 1536 that he began to develop feelings for her. There are debates as to whether Jane realised she was being used by her family or whether she merely formed a mask to hide her fear at being the Kings latest object of desire. It is not evident how she really felt, although she did play her role perfectly and actively sought out the Kings affections even in front of Anne whilst she was alive. Within 24 hours of Anne’s execution Henry and Jane were formally engaged and were married soon after. Jane never received a coronation; it is wondered if Henry wished for her to give him a son first. Jane fell pregnant in 1537 and was doted upon by the King who considered her to be his one and only ‘true’ wife. She gave birth to a baby boy who was christened Edward; Henry’s two daughters played a role in the ceremony. Unfortunately Jane died only two weeks after the birth and was buried in Henry’s tomb as he had been preparing it at the time; she became the only one of Henry’s six wives to be buried with him.

Henry remained single for two years after Jane’s death giving the impression he really did mourn for her, however, it has also be suggested Cromwell began to search for a foreign bride for the King shortly after Jane’s death. Henry sent painters to bring images of the women who were considered great matches for an alliance. In 1539 Hans Holbein, a Tudor painter, was sent to the court of the Duke of Cleves, who had two sisters. The family was seen as an important ally. Henry decided to draw up a contract between him and Anne of Cleves, however, due to political and personal reasons Henry was already looking for a way out before the marriage even took place in January of 1540. It is said Henry did not find her to be attractive and had taken a liking to Kathryn Howard, also Anne was not suited to life in an English court. Her life in Cleves focused on domestic skills and not the music and literature so favoured in Henry’s court. Anne was smart enough to realise nothing good would come of protesting against an annulment so she declared the marriage had never been consummated and that her previous engagement hadn’t been properly broken. She accepted the honorary title of the Kings sister in July 1540 and was given the former home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle.

Kathryn Howard caught the Kings attentions when she came to court at age 19 as Anne of Cleves lady in waiting. She was a lively spirited young girl and it is believed her Uncle encouraged her to respond to the King so he could increase his own influence. Sixteen days after he was separated from Anne, Henry married Kathryn. By this time Henry was 49 and gaining in weight, Kathryn brought back his lust for life. A year after their marriage rumours of her infidelity began; eventually the Archbishop had enough evidence to present to the King. At first he didn’t believe the accusations but allowed for an investigation, evidence came to light that she had probably been promiscuous before and after her wedding. She was executed in 1542 and buried next to Anne Boleyn, her first cousin.

Katherine Parr’s mother was in court at the beginning of Henry’s reign and named her daughter after Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Katherine Parr’s first husband died only a few years after they married. She married again and became a step-mother for the first time, her second husband died when she was 31 in 1543. It was around this time that the King noticed her, along with Thomas Seymour, Jane Seymour’s brother. Although Katherine expressed a desire to marry Thomas she felt it was her duty to accept the Kings hand, they were married in July 1543.

Katherine supported the reformed faith, giving her many enemies from the Conservative side of Henry’s court. In 1546 there was a plot to get rid of her and enough evidence was gathered to issue an arrest warrant. By sheer luck the warrant was dropped and consequently picked up by someone loyal to the Queen. Katherine, having learnt of the warrant, claimed to be very ill. This may have been caused by fear or as a stalling tactic. When Henry approached her and chastised her she played up to his ego and was thus forgiven.

Katherine was close to all three of her step-children and organised the education of the two youngest, Elizabeth and Edward. Henry died in January 1547 and Katherine probably expected to have some role in the nine-year-old King Edwards regency, however this did not happen. Soon after Henry’s death Katherine secretly married Thomas Seymour which subsequently caused a scandal. Katherine fell pregnant at the age of 36 and gave birth to a daughter, Mary in August 1548. Unfortunately Katherine became very ill and died of puerperal fever in September of the same year.

So, there we go. Henry’s six wives in brief. I wonder why any of them married him, especially after the beheading of Anne Boleyn, who really didn’t actually do anything wrong, it was all fabricated. I hope now you can all think of Henry VIII as an athletic, if fickle, young man rather than the fat King he is most commonly portrayed as.

A Metaphorical Message in a Bottle

For the full challenge click here.

I was strongly reminded of this film whilst writing this (if you haven’t seen it you should) 🙂

It may surprise some to learn that the modern internet based email system was only invented in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson (a bit of trivia for you). Today it is mainly taken for granted, with people surgically attached to their blackberry or I-phone, constantly checking their various email accounts. Even on weekends you cannot escape the world of work as your fingers are itching to log onto messenger despite knowing you might not like what’s there. Customer/client complaints; the boss sending the usual high-handed demanding directions; pushy family member you’d rather avoid; Amazon with their new deals; a reminder that your eye test is overdue because you keep postponing or cancelling appointments etc. To make matters worse, some emails can no longer be ignored as the sender is informed once the recipient has seen it.

Email has forced us into social beings. No longer can we hide away from the world for a few days, wireless internet ensures you are shadowed by your accounts. Of course, you may choose not to use email, but then it seems you don’t exist. Lots of people will invite friends or family out via email, rather than ringing everyone up individually. Quickly type the place, the time and instructions to reply asap, press send and done. It’s the work of a moment.

No, email has become essential to many in the western world, letters are obsolete, phone calls are arduous and prolonged, whereas emails are quick, simple and cheap. No contest, right?

With the age of email, social media and technology no one sends letters anymore. Remember the time when you anticipated letters and got excited whenever one arrived addressed to you? Now all you get through the post are bills and junk mail, advertising or asking for money.

I’m in their somewhere, in the last ‘0’ of the 2010 I think. 🙂

When I was on staff at Peak 2010 my friends and I shared a campsite with some guides/rangers from Hong Kong and although we exchanged email addresses and added each other on Facebook, exchanging one or two letters or postcards a year is more rewarding. Sometimes the old-fashioned methods of communication are the best. The crisp, neatly folded paper tucked into an envelope with your address handwritten on the back. The thrill and as your eyes are immediately drawn to the bottom to see who would send such a precious, caring gift, then the gentle thrum of happiness as you compose a reply in your very best handwriting and finally the satisfaction as the letter drops into the post-box ready to begin it’s journey.

Today I was thinking wouldn’t it be nice if there were more opportunities to create connections like this. Blogging may create connections between nations but there’s nothing better than the sheer joy of receiving an international message in a metaphorical bottle courtesy of the royal mail.

For some great message-in-a-bottle stories check out: http://blogs.static.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/36541.html (where my picture came from)

So here’s a challenge for you, this week send someone a proper letter – on fancy paper and everything. You never know, you may just get one back. Or, if you happen to be by the sea why not actually send a message in a literal bottle? 😀

The Liebster Blog Award

So surprised (and immensely grateful) to be nominated for the Liebster Award 😀 Thank  you, thank you, thank you to the audacious amateur blogger for nominating me.


  • Answer the questions your nominator posed to her/his nominees
  • Pass the award on to others
  • Ask five questions for one’s nominees to answer

Simple right? Answer questions, ask questions, nominate. The thing is this award actually requires thinking and at the moment I have no idea what questions to ask. Let’s just see where the wind blows us shall we? Great, on with the show. 😀

Answer Questions:

  • Where in the world to you feel most “at home” and why?

Feeling ‘at home’? Trickier than it sounds really. I currently live ‘at home’ with my parents and little brother but am I too old now to consider this ‘home, home’? Of course it’ll always be home in a sense but it doesn’t provide the same comforts as it did five years ago. The thing with being 19, on the cusp of being a grown-up, is that little bells start ringing as if to say “you need independence!” whereas, at the same time, you’re desperately clinging onto the mothers apron strings. I have yet to move into this years house at uni so am unable to say whether I feel ‘at home’ there, although I do wonder whether you can feel at home in a place you’re only going to spend 8-9 months.

  • If you could have lunch with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you order?

This is quite a tricky one, I think it would have to be Jane Austen for several reasons: one; she wrote Pride and Prejudice and two; it would be fascinating to experience luncheon as it was during her time. A typical British afternoon tea perhaps? Cucumber sandwiches and scones. Is that what they ate then? Of course, I’m assuming I could be the one to travel back in time and that she wouldn’t join me in the 21st century 😀

  • A place you have traveled to that MOST surprised you.

Paris. I think it was because it didn’t yell ‘city’ at you. At least, it was nothing like London which seems cramped. Paris is truly beautiful, I hate cities – too many people – but I could see myself living in Paris for a little while though I would probably have enough and come home after a couple of years.

  • What villainous character do you most admire and why?

Severus Snape. Ok, so I’m a bit of a Harry Potter nut. Professor Snape, the potions master, is such a complex character when you start to think about it. His entire life revolves around love, and yet he seems to be the least likely man (apart from Voldy) to even know what love is. Maybe these books left such a great impression because I was quite young when they were coming out and I was reading them, in a way I grew up with them throughout the majority of my school career (especially if you count waiting for the films as well). Anyway, at first you dislike him and his attitude towards little 11-year-old Harry, then you HATE the bloke for killing off Dumbledore and finally you feel guilty for all of this as all becomes clear after his death. Also, Alan Rickman plays a spectacular Snape 🙂 Although, since he is effectively cleared of all charges in the end, is he really a villain?

  • Item on your “bucket list” that you would be MOST upset if you didn’t accomplish.

I don’t have a bucket list but I would love to go to Venice  one day 🙂 Anybody been?

Ask questions:

  1. What is your favourite book? Which character do you identify with most and why?
  2. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
  3. Who is your hero/heroine?
  4. What would it take for you to make friends with an old enemy?
  5. What keeps you writing when that dreaded monster known as ‘writers block’ strikes?


MY nominations:

The Miracles of Toothbrush Writing

Every night I stand in front of the bathroom mirror brushing my teeth and for some inexplicable reason an array of blogging ideas come to me. It’s not that I mind new inspiration but couldn’t it happen when a notebook and pen are handy? Perhaps I should start keeping one in the bathroom.

This must happen as a symptom of my recently acquired blogging addiction. Does anybody else go to bed at night, close their eyes and see a little orange box in the top right hand corner? Am I the only one who gets inspiration at impromptu times?

Also, I am constantly checking the stats page wondering what people have been reading and whether I could write another post along similar lines. Personally the sociology and education articles are my favourite; though I have to be careful, I don’t want to be accused of plagiarising my own work when it comes to assignment submission 😀