Travelling Bunny

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One thing that often surprises me about Starsky is her ability to travel! From a young age, I could pop her in her travel case (the blue box of fun!) and away we go.

Normally, rabbits are very nervous travelers. So please don’t be surprised if your experience differs to mine in a large way! However, I have learnt 3 things from travelling with Starsky I wanted to share:

01: Always have hay and water. 

Starsky is meant to eat hay, all day, every day and so it’s super important she is surrounded by the stuff when she travels. She sometimes likes a little snooze on it, but if she’s peckish, hay will relax her and make her feel like she’s not travelling! Plus, I always provide her water during journeys. Fussy pants has recently started turning her nose up at water bottles (greaaaaat) and so she now enjoys water from a metal bowl. It literally seems to be the only thing she’ll choose to drink from. Well, unless she’s chucking it about!

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02: Keep cool.

In the temperature sense and the emotional sense. 

Rabbits can be easily panicked, so no sudden movements or big jolts helps!! Plus, if she’s too hot she lets me know! I always keep air-con on in the car or make sure she’s not in direct sunlight etc.

03: Rewards. 

After a long car journey I always try and plan for Starsky to have a massive runabout with fresh food and water the moment we arrive. It’s good to stretch her legs and it allows her to feel at home straight away. I have a flat-pack run she can use for outdoors and a flat-pack hutch I can erect (sniggers) when I arrive at my destination. It’s her holiday too. Fresh fruit for everyone! (In small quantities!)

 

Happy travels!

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Book Review: My Fair Lady

my fair lady

My Fair Lady: A Story of Eleanor of Provence, Henry III’s Lost Queen by  J.P. Reedman

Eleanor of Provence, Queen to Henry III , is a little unknown in history.

She is often only remembered through her husband and sons… because she was mother to Edward I (Edward Longshanks), who other than being a giant for this period of time (over 6ft!), he was an excellent solider who had a thing for battles with rebels in Scotland… Braveheart anyone? And her husband, Henry III of England, who was the son of King John and assumed the throne when he was only nine!

Although there was a big age gap between Henry and Eleanor, it is apparent that she really did love her husband. She always tended to him when he was sick and they were known to discuss running the country together – which is unheard of involving a woman! Shock horror. Although, I’m not sure she makes that many great decisions.

Unfortunately, her faults lay when it came to money and she was known to spend large amounts on herself and her foreign family, which was not popular at all. So, even though she was obviously devoted to her husband she was very much hated by the Londoners. With one event meaning she was pelted with stones, mud and rotten vegetables whilst sailing on a barge on the river Thames.

This book also follows Simon de Montfort, from Eleanor’s perspective. She really didn’t like him!! With good reason in some ways, as Simon led the rebellion against Henry during the Second Barons’ War and ruled England in his place! He not only stripped the King of unlimited authority he started to form the beginnings of a parliament that would make decisions in his place. However, in a plot twist, SPOILER ALERT… a year later Simon was killed by forces loyal to the King in the Battle of Evesham and she did reclaim the throne.

Overall, this book was a good description of Eleanor’s life, it’s not my favourite but it was interesting to read. The sad thing about Eleanor is nobody knows where she is buried. She is one of the only Queens without a proper burial and that’s why I feel sad for her!! Let’s hope she’s a little bit more appreciated through books like these.

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Book Review: Watch the Lady

watch the lady

Watch the Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle

Let’s begin simply… this was a great read. It’s got love, battles, family rivalries and Elizabeth I all mashed together so, for me, it was a hit.

It centers around a lady named Penelope Devereux. Penelope was beautiful, clever, well-loved and also skilled in politics… a dangerous but winning combination. Penelope is mainly known in history because she was also the muse of the poet Philip Sidney, who wrote love poems about her, so this was a nice way to learn more about her life.

Unfortunately, Penelope’s married was unhappy. The book hints at a number of reasons why, but it was commonly known that Penelope was openly having an affair with Charles Blount. In Elizabeth’s court this happens all too often, with lots of nobility all marrying ‘in secret’, which becomes less secret when children are involved!! Although *plot twist*, the fact Penelope’s husband never took action against his wife through the affair and illegitimate children, suggests their marriage was not as it seems! Dun dun dun. So, Penelope rules her own household.

In complete contrast, Penelope’s mother, Lettice Knollys, who married the Queen’s favourite Robert Dudley in secret, was hated by the Queen. Lettice was banished from court, all because of her marriage, which meant her children had to make their own way… Penelope did exactly that.  She was close to the Queen, putting her in a powerful position in court and then, after her step-father Robert Dudley dies, Elizabeth becomes equally obsessed with Penelope’s handsome brother, also called Robert (Earl of Essex). Essex, was a bit of a wild child. He falls in and out of favour of the Queen, which all ends in a very climatic way (no spoilers here!). Yet, Penelope keeps her scheming and influence cleverly at a distance.

There is also one more key person in the book, called Robert Cecil. Unlike Penelope and Robert, he was not beautiful and was noted to have a slight deformity. However, he too holds a lot of influence with Elizabeth. He quickly becomes an enemy of the brother and sister duo, even though he might secretly fancy Penelope.

So he stage is set and all the young members of court compete for Elizabeth’s attention. In a court of lies and love affairs, with no obvious heir to the throne, who is going to win the game?

I would definitely give this book a read, a five stars from me!

If you want to read more about the Tudors, have a look at my best reads for the Tudor period.

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Book Review: Conqueror Trilogy

Conqueror Trilogy

Of the Ring of Earls (Book 1) Henry of the High Rock (Book 2) The Lion’s Legacy (Book 3) by Juliet Dymoke

Three books set from William the Conqueror to Henry II. I love to read about a period of history that is not very well documented. Plus, it does not follow the typical “main character” but focuses instead on the underdog of the time! From an earl to the youngest brother to a woman!

01:

The Ring of Earls follows an English Earl  called Waltheof of Huntington when William of Normandy (William the Conqueror) has successfully taken the throne of England in 1066. This is based on a true story of this Earl’s life as he… SPOILER ALERT… becomes the only member of the English nobility to be executed during the reign of William.

As many English nobles had conflicted loyalties once William was crowned, with many seeing the king as a “foreigner”, Waltheof is found in the center of a treasonous plot on the King’s life and must face the consequences.

Interestingly, the same man is covered in a book called The Winter Mantle by Elizabeth Chadwick which takes a more romantic view of the love Waltheof had for his wife, Judith de Lens and subsequently his eldest daughter’s marriage.

Both books were unfortunately, my least favourite, even though it had such promise! I wish we had seen a bit more into Judith’s deception and Waltheof is certainly a charismatic character, but some parts were slightly dry and I was left a little disappointed.

Winter Mantle

02:

Henry of the High Rock is the second in the Conqueror Trilogy. This book is centered around William’s youngest son, Henry. Henry was the youngest of three sons with his two eldest brothers Henry’s elder brothers called Robert Curthose and William Rufus. After their father’s death, Henry’s brothers became kings of Normandy and England and he is left with nothing. As both brothers are not favorable kings, Henry needs to bide his time and be patient for his opportunity! Maybe he can rule it all!

I loved this second book in the trilogy and there were some moments of page-turning pace! I really engaged with Henry’s strife with his useless brothers!!

03:

Lastly, The Lion’s Legacy is set after Henry I’s reign, when he dies with no heir or sons, and fleaves everything to his fierce daughter, Matilda (known as Empress Maude). However, without his authority, a second heir emerges, her cousin Stephen Count of Blois and Mortain. A war rages over England with both Stephen and Matilda desperate to secure the throne for themselves. This is also tangled with her forbidden love for an English Earl, Brien. Although married to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, Maude is a force to be reckoned with on her own and her courage and personal life is played out among the civil unrest.

What I though was sad about this tale is Matilda was never officially crowned Queen of England. Plus, although the love affair with Brien could be fictional (who knows!) it does seem she had an unhappy marriage with Geoffrey. However, her legacy lived on with her son Henry II and his wife Eleanor (probably my favourite Queen ever!!) and I enjoyed seeing a powerful medieval woman portrayed in the way Juliet described. You would need some serious balls to do what she did!

If you like Medieval history maybe try The Swan-Daughter which I reviewed here.

 

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Book Review: A Hollow Crown

Hollow Crown

A Hollow Crown by Helen Hollick

Not much is known about our history before 1066, so I get excited when I see a book about Emma of Normandy, who was Queen of England (twice!) in the 11th century. I also recently read The Price of Blood about Emma and was hooked, but luckily “The Hollow Crown” covers much more of her life.

Emma was sister of Duke Richard II and when she was only a little girl (roughly 13 years old) she is sent to England to become King Æthelred’s second wife – but, importantly, his first Christian wife. This marriage meant, for the first time, there was a link between England and Normandy which paved the way for the famous conquest of William the Conqueror in 1066. However, this was a loveless marriage. She was often the victim of Æthelred’s abusive nature and his cowardly attitude to subduing the countless uprisings of this period. During the marriage, she has two sons and a daughter by Æthelred called Edward, Alfred and Goda but unfortunately, she struggles to love her children due to the horrible way they were conceived!

10 years later, things start to move super quickly… when King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invades England, so Emma and Æthelred have to flee to Normandy with their children. Whilst in exile, Emma (who is now a grown woman and becoming more confident by the day) vows never to leave England again. As a result, when Sweyn dies only a year later, she returns. Only for Sweyn’s son, Cnut, to also invade England. Whilst trying to defend London both Æthelred and then his eldest son and successor, Edmund Ironside, die. So many deaths! Now, Emma is now in charge of her own destiny.

In a bizarre twist, she chooses to marry, Cnut (Sweyn’s son!). For Emma this meant her sons were safe and for Cnut, it prevented the Norman court from intervening in England. However, this marriage proved to be more successful than either party would have hoped. Emma falls madly in love with Cnut and he realises how to work with his clever wife to keep England secure – proved by the fact he would allow her to govern whilst he was in Denmark. A number of happy years of marriage, Emma gives birth to two more children with Cnut, Harthacnut and Gunhilda. Unlike before, peace reigns.

It is not until Cnut dies suddenly, when Emma’s world comes crashing down. Her son, Harthacnut, is in Denmark and the throne is left bare. This is when Harthacnut’s half-brother Harold “Harefoot” makes his move and steals the throne without any need for a fight. Desperate, she asks for her two sons from her first marriage (Edward and Alfred) to return but when Alfred does arrive he is captured and killed horribly. She is forced to flee again.

The end of Emma’s life sees her son Harthacnut become King of England followed by her other son Edward “the Confessor”. She dies peacefully after being Queen of England twice, with her two sons being made King of England (and Denmark) during her lifetime.

What I found so amazing about this book was the fact over roughly 50 years (Emma’s lifetime) there were 6-7 Kings of England! Therefore, as you can imagine, this book was one of the longest and most thorough portrayals of her life. Unlike some historical novels I have read, this was not so focused on some of the ‘romantic’ elements of her life but still showed her as a powerful medieval woman. Hooray!

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