The Waddesdon Manor Harp

HARPS. HARPS YOU GUYS. Well, only one harp.

In case you don't know, I wrote about 18th century French harps for my M.A. dissertation and I am obsessed with theses things. LOOK AT IT. It's so unnecessary and unapologetic. And I appreciate an instrument that is a pain in the ass: difficult to play, delicate to move, and expensive as hell. And it does. Not. Care. I love these harps, and I recently(ish) went and visited this one at Waddesdon Manor because I am nosy and like making harp friends.

I went with some friends to Waddesdon Manor in Aylesbury, which is the home of the British branch of the Rothschild family. Basically they were nouveau riche and lookin' to spend some serious cash on all kinds of 18th century stuff that all the fancy people were into, so the house is full of expensive Louis XVI furniture, Sèvres porcelain, and lots of Reynolds and Gainsborough portraits they bought (these are two of my favorite portrait artists and I DIE when I see any of their work). Cue the gasp of horror at having to BUY a Gainsborough of another nobleperson and not just snapping your fingers to get him to come paint you at your house! LIKE A PEASANT!

Can we take a minute to appreciate the soft boudoir lighting they had going on in here?

Anyway, I slunk around the corner of one of the main rooms while cursing the Rothschilds under my breath for hogging all the Gainsboroughs and Reynolds when I spied this golden beauty lurking in the back of the room! I have become such a freak that I generally flinch when I see a vagely triangular shape because I think it's a harp, but I could tell from far away that it was from the 1780s and I wanted to be its friend. So I emailed the curator and asked to come see the harp, and she said to come on a Monday when the Manor would be closed to the public. Cut to me in a black cab at the front gate of the house politely shouting into an intercom that I was not a sueprcreep and had an appointment to come legitimately creep in the house. They finally let me in and the curator met me in front of the house and snuck me along some corriders to get to the offices where I left my things, then we descended into the darkness of the public rooms where all the curtains were shut and lights were turned off. It was dark and spooky and I was alllllll over it. And there were ZERO tourists there, unlike when I visited the first time and it was so crowded in some rooms I almost fainted.

Now, I don't know much about this particular harp because I wasn't able to open it up and take a peek inside the soundbox to check for the maker's plaque. I can tell you that it's a typical single action pedal harp in the French style, which was popular from about 1760 to 1815 or so. Single action means you can press each pedal down once, so there's a starting position and a raised position (natural and sharp notes); each pedal operates a hook on all the strings of the same note to change their pitch. They came from Germany to France at the beginning of the 18th century, and by the 1780s (when this was most likely built) they had become golden Rococo masterpieces. This particular single action had been heavily conserved and was pretty fragile, so I don't blame them for not letting some rando bust it open (or even touch it). But also, OBSERVE THE GOLDEN LOVELINESS.

It's missing a pedal and someone was a little rambunctious with the soundboard and snapped it, but otherwise is in great shape! It can't be played, but that's pretty rare for harps this old; you would normally have to spend a lot of time and money on maintenance generally, and usually what happens with these is that they end up in the attic and get eaten up by bugs or else the string tension slacks and it affects the wood. It's much easier to keep something like a bassoon or violin playing for 200 years because they are much less fragile, smaller, and aren't full of iron mechanisms that get crusty after a while of not playing them. You have to oil that shit! Instruments are high maintenance children. Old instruments are the kid from Problem Child--definitely the Devil but also kind of cute so, whatever.

I would talk more about the history of the harp, but that's another post in itself! I had to try VERY hard not to just copy+paste my dissertation in here, because it's SO INTERESTING. Would you guys be interested in a harp-history post? With lots of pics?? Maybe multiple posts? LET ME KNOW!

Angus Walk: South London Green Chain

On my MA course, we were often graced with the presence of Angus, a visiting lecturer from SOAS. At the end of the course he taught--and as often as we could politely beg him for another--he would plan a history walk around London, where you would learn more from him just talking than you had ever had learned about anything in your life. How all that information stays in one person's mind, I don't know. Anyway, Angus usually takes us on London city tours and tells us all about architecture, companies, politics, and famous people; we'd had a City of London, East London docks, and London cemetery tour already. This time, we asked him to do a South London tour of all the greenest green spaces down there. There is a path called the Green Chain that is full magnificent tree-lined and cemetery-filled walking paths to be had south of the river, and Angus walked (sprinted) with us right through it

Now, to my American friends, prepare yourself for some English pronunciations! As you can see on the sign, we were wandering through Sydenham (Sih-denum) Hill, one of many gorgeous leafy green areas of Southern London which used to be the Great North Wood before it became a trendy neighborhood in the 19th century. We also wandered through the boroughs of Southwark (Suhtherk) and Lewisham. Dulwich (Dull-itch), or Deepest Darkest Dulwich as my friend calls it, is around there as well, and that's where the Horniman Museum and Gardens are. The museum has a musical instrument collection, and I once went to a really awesome ethnomusicology conference on instruments there with my friend who spoke about mouth harps in Norway (and totally shut down some jerk who didn't understand why people liked mouth harps). Anyway, even the suburb parts are green like this, and there are tons of gorgeous cottages, a great place for 18th century paintings called Dulwich Picture Gallery, and all the wonders of English leafiness within Overground distance of all your favorite London things. Why are people so hung up about living or visiting friends 'South of the River'?? EMBRACE IT.

There were lots of hills and stairs involved and I got a good workout because I was stupid and decided to run up all the stairs, so I was sore the next day. But I digress. We passed lots of WWI cemeteries including Nunhead Cemetery, one of the Magnificent Seven of London cemeteries. It's Victorian, like almost everything around here, and was opened in 1840. It came complete with an Anglican church but it lost its roof in a fire, so now it's just open to the sky.

I don't know how many miles we walked but it was probably around twelve, and by the time we got to the restaurant Angus took us to we were so hungry we almost starting eating the silverware. The place is in Peckham and is called Artusi, and let me tell you, I had one of the best meals of my life there. We got a set menu where they just kept bringing out trays of delicious fresh/local/sustainable/seasonal things. I don't remember exactly what was in which dish, but there were cuttlefish and cherry tomatoes and an anchovy emulsion in there somewhere that was to die for. As usual, I was too busy stuffing my piglet face to take any pictures, but just trust me when I say it was incredible and fresh-looking. Also, we had some kind of cake with raspberry sauce and custard, and we all looked at each other like, is this happening? Is this real life?? It was real life, and after we had stuffed our miserably rumbling gullets, we waddled half-drunk to the overground and went off in our respective directions all over London to sleep like we had never slept before.

Bye for now, my friends. There is more Englishness to come!


Sardinia and the Costa Smeralda

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HEY SQUIRRELFRIENDS. Things are rough these days. There are two super shady snakes trying to claw their way into the White House, everyone is trying to keep new friends out of their countries, and the job market for people studying ridiculously niche kinds of history is difficult for some reason. So take a load off and stare at some of these tranquil beach photos and forget all about the impending doom that is part of all our lives at the moment!

So, you probably remember some mumblings about me writing a dissertation. Well, from about the end of February until the beginning of May I was increasingly trapped behind my computer and typing away about harps, fancy French dudes, and REVOLUTION. Not really. But it made my conclusion very scary to go from tiny tinkly harps to guillotines. Anyway, after we submitted the dissertation in early May and were F-R-E-E, we still had all of May and June to work on the final exhibition, symposium, and publication. I was on the Show team and spent a lot of time going back and forth to a print shop saying sorry, actually, can I change this order for the hundredth time? I became BEST friends with the printer guy. Then we graduated on July 1st at Royal Albert Hall, where the Spice Girls perform their concert at the end of SpiceWorld (don't pretend you don't remember). After that I hung out with my parents in London for a while, then my friend and I jetted off to Sardinia to lay on the beach for a week and do less than nothing while eating entire links of salami.

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My friend and I stayed on the Costa Smeralda on the northeast coast of Sardinia. The first beach we went to was Porto Istana, which was one of the few free public beaches around. As you might expect, several years ago all the rich jerks came and bought up all the nice beaches and put their super yachts and/or pricey resorts all over the place, but Porto Astana was still stunning. The first day was overcast and windy, and my friend and I ended up with scalps full of sand, but the next few days were super sunny and everyone was out splashing around. The last day we decided to live dangerously and try another beach, called Le Saline. This place was GORGEOUS and there was hardly anyone there, but for a reason; there weren't any vendors, the sand was jagged and sharp, and it was H-O-T. We had been renting chairs and umbrellas every day but there were none to be had, and my friend and I were rapidly boiling on the sand. But we had some pretty nice views to boil to:

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Are you feeling relaxed? Good. The world is a particularly turbulent and scary place these days, but there are still beautiful places to look at, and it's totally okay to tune out of the real world for a few minutes every day and pretend we aren't living through the end times. It was really nice being at the beach for a week and pretending I had no responsibilities, but then I had to return to London, look for jobs, accept the reality that I wouldn't get a visa, then realize I had to go home, then actually move home. It's been hard coming home, but then I look through my pictures of all the places I went to and feel pretty lucky that I at least had two years to live abroad and see beaches like this. So if you are having a rough time because of the election, immigration, or just a period of change in your life, seek out some pretty pictures or cat videos or drag queen makeup tutorials and zone out for a little while. You deserve it.


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OH HEY! Remember how I used to have a blog? Well, recently I actually deleted this blog in a fit of anger (so many of my life decisions are made this way) but I didn't delete it forever! I am BACK and have so many lovely photos to share with you, as well as some updates on my life: I finished my MA, moved back home to Louisiana, and am now on the job hunt. I had been so busy with the end of year exhibition, fitting in last minute London activities, and packing up all my junk that I kind of fell off the face of the earth, but I have returned for good. First, I have these amazing pics from my trip to Marseille last year, which I thought were appropriate because my friend and I took this trip as a reward for finishing a year of studying and to get away from the cold, wet London weather for a bit. Also, you will now know the truth behind my love affair with madeleines! Read on for dazzling Côte d'Azur snaps and of course, historical happenings!

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Hi. This is Marseille. Marseille is a sea port on the southeast coast of France on the Mediterranean, which is known as the Côte d'Azur (Azure Coast), because the water is so blue and gorgeous it actually is insulting. WE GET IT, FRANCE. You are marvelous at lots of things. Anyway, Marseille has been an active seaport since the 6th century AD, and as such has a history of being a little sketch. But in 2013 the city got the European City of Culture Award and has been polished to a high sheen, although any port or high-traffic city like this one is bound to have some unsavory cargo moving through it. My friend Brittany and I watched The Connection before the trip, which is all about how dangerous Marseille was in the 1970s because of the MOUNTAINS of heroin moving through the city. Remember that movie The French Connection with Gene Hackman? Yeah, that movie was no joke. Most of the heroin in Europe was going through here, and you know everyone was down in the 70s. We were super scared after seeing the movie but it's all good now, I mean, most cities were super sketch in the 70s, am I right? Well, anyway, there were OLD BUILDINGS galore:

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Marseille was incredible. We went to a huge fortress-museum and I took lots of sweeping panorama pictures of the Mediterranean and all the sand-colored architecture. It was pretty hot outside and we were gently baking on all the terraces, but it was worth it to catch all the BLUES!

Also, Marseille is full of actual history and literary history, too. Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo is set in Marseille, and the main character spends almost 20 years at the island-prison Chateau d'If. THIS IS A REAL PLACE. There is actually a fortress/prison on an island off the coast of Marseille that If was based on. Unlike the book, the island is pretty close by, so if you pulled a Dantes and snuck out of the prison in a body bag that was meant for your friend, and ended up getting thrown over the cliff into the ocean when you thought you were getting buried, and you ended up getting out of the chains and swimming to the surface, you wouldn't have far to go to be in the middle of town instead of washed up on an island with some badass new pirate friends that will let you join their gang. Are you following? Also, if you haven't seen the movie they made about ten or so years ago with Jim Caviezel and Guy Pierce, you are missing out on a wonderful life. France! Revenge! Stately homes! Sneering aristocrats! NAPOLEON!  It has everything you could want.

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We really lucked out on where we stayed. Our Airbnb was across from the Opera, and we could hear the singers practicing during the day and hear performances at night. Right around the corner was this LIFE-CHANGING bakery called Boulangerie Aixoise that served the best madeleines on the face of this earth. They were dipped in chocolate, super thick, and I wanted to die every time I had one. Madeleines are shaped like little boats but they do no taste like boats. They taste like all of your hopes and dreams. We went back to this bakery almost every day and I could have lived inside of it. They also served these little anchovy pizza-tarts (lots of Franco-Italian mashups going on) that were crammed with garlic and tasted outrageous.

My only regret is that we didn't manage to get Bouillabaisse! What! The horror! For those who don't know about the glory of this dish, it's a traditional French fish soup with saffron and rouille (fancy French sauce of wonder) and it is everything. Seafood is something I DO NOT JOKE ABOUT.  I had one in Austin, Texas and it changed me as a person. But don't worry. I shall return to Marseille someday (and probably stay in that same amazing Airbnb) and I will eat bouillabaisse and madeleines until the day I die.

Next up, to keep with the Mediterranean/end-of-term theme, my trip to SARDINIA!

Canterbury Cathedral

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This is a special ghost edition of Eve Loves Things: Canterbury Cathedral! This way for 100% real ghosts and ghost photographs which are in no way a result of a smudge on my camera lens.

My friend had finished her MA and was heading back to the States, so we decided to go on one last day trip to Canterbury. It was full of old things and old creepy ghost feelings, as you can see in the 100% authentic ghost photography which is, I repeat, not a drop of water that landed on my lens when it was raining.

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So much scrolling! Listen, Canterbury in incredible. I've seen a lot of gothic cathedrals, but this one was so huge and impressive it was terrifying. Because the crypt is above ground, the cathedral has several floors in the centre, and because they don't get any light it feels outrageously dark and spooky, which if you ask me is half the point. Granted, the point of many gothic churches was to fill them with light by using so many windows and light-coloured stone, but also I think it adds to the whole life and death vibe of a Christianity that communicated more through imagery than text. When you had lots of illiterate churchgoers, you had to remind them what's what by putting gargoyles and stuff on your already horrifyingly large church-tomb.
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Also, Canterbury is actually for REAL haunted with important Christian ghosts. Thomas Beckett was the archbishop of Canterbury and was having a tiff with king Henry II about the churches' rights. The king sent some soldiers to the cathedral and they cut Thomas' head off where he was kneeling to pray, which is a pretty cheap shot. After that he became a huge Christian martyr and saint, and tons of people made pilgrimages to Canterbury to see his relics and hope that some of their voodoo magic rubbed off on them, cause you do NOT mess around with relic-magic.

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Anyhoo, remember when you had to read The Canterbury Tales in high school English and probably regretted your entire life? They were written about people coming to the Cathedral to hang out with the crypt of Thomas Beckett. People came to the cathedral for hundreds of years, until Henry VIII destroyed Beckett's shrine when he was generally pillaging all the Catholic churches in England, because he was a JERK. I mean, take their money if you want, but leave the super old crypt for posterity at least!

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I have to say, my favorite part of any medieval cathedral is the cloisters. I'm fairly sure I was a monk/nun in a former life because when I walk around cloisters I feel like I belong there. This also happens in libraries, which is where you spend most of your time if you're a fancy monk copying manuscripts. And I would have been the fanciest monk, dammit. Or actually, the apothecary monk, because you were basically a witch, and I think I was also a witch.

Coming back to reality, the cloisters were gorgeous and the sun was very polite and came out when we were walking in them. The grass was VERY GREEN, and I think you aren't allowed to walk on it to preserve the greenness. The cloisters must have been hard place to live but also a relatively safe one, since the church more or less protected you and fed you and such, although I can't imagine things were champagne and caviar unless you were the archbishop and you probably ignored most of the rules about humility and poverty and just threw DOWN at monk parties whenever you had the chance. At least that's what I am led to believe after reading The Name of the Rose, which I definitely recommend if you like reading murder mysteries, stories about monastic life, and if you don't mind having obscure mystical text titles in Latin thrown in your general direction whilst you read.

University of Cambridge

 photo Fitzbillies20cafe20exterior_zpsirdmxbfr.jpg I hear a lot of angry British people mutter about people who went 'Oxbridge'. Oxbridge is a combination of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and is basically like saying Ivy League in the States. Just like in the States, there are crazy smart overachievers as well as trust fund babies, but it's really funny to watch people's ears prick up like a dog when they hear OXBRIDGE, whether they hate it or worship it.

I just went for the cheese scones.

In September I went to a musical instrument conference at the University of Cambridge. The conference was hilarious because it was partly organised by the Institute of Acoustics, and apparently a lot of the academics researching and writing about instruments are physicists and astronomers because they know about sound bouncing around in a conical shape and such. Half of the presentations were lots of math equations up on a Powerpoint slide and I was a little terrified, but there were also some insane 3D scanning and renderings going on.

 photo Kings College and pasture_zpsdff4fq2w.jpg  photo University of Cambridge punting boats_zpssdnpgyzg.jpg  photo Punting Univ of Cambridge_zpszl7t4kiz.jpg Now, there are two things I think about when I think of Cambridge. The first is my friend Denys, who studied abroad there for a year and who lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts while she was at MIT. The second is Brideshead Revisited, or else every other kinds of early 20th century novel about sad privileged white boys being super sad because, you know, sleeping on a bed made of money is uncomfortable at times. Of course, now Cambridge is more than simply a posh boys' club; women can go to Cambridge now and it's full of super smart, terrifying geniuses like my friend. But lots of things stayed the same and the whole place is very weirdly historic. The river is a big thing, and there are lots of flat boats you can rent (they call it punting) to pretend you are in Bridget Jones reciting Keats while drinking a Diet Coke. Or so I assume. Anyway, the river and its surrounding bits were really pretty and picturesque, and there were cows everywhere to complete the whole countryside motif.

The most medieval part (I think) is King's College Chapel, which has all the important components of high medieval architecture and what everyone on house-shopping shows on HGTV is looking for: high ceilings, lots of natural light, CHARACTER, and tons of storage. This chapel in particular has really amazing spindly ceiling bits that fan out like a plant. There's also some SERIOUS stained glass going on in there. The glass looks amazing when it's sunny out, and the whole place looks very bright and airy because the stone is light in color and the whole place is basically a glass box, whereas cathedrals are sometimes darker from their shape and exterior things blocking light (or dirty old stonework).

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Another friend who went to Cambridge for undergrad was explaining all the rituals and traditions and such and I got a little overwhelmed, but she said that you sit in your College in the chapel, thus the awesome members only plaque above. She also directed me to Fitzbillies, the cafe in the first picture, where they serve cheese scones. I went back to that place way more times than I should have in three days, but I have no regrets about those delicious damn scones.

I really enjoyed wandering around Cambridge because it had plenty of funky old parts like alleyways and ancient pubs and such. It was nice too because I came right before all the new undergrads would get there, so it was pretty peaceful and I didn't get run over by a swarm of cyclists like I thought I might. I was really into the whole medieval thing. In fact, I met someone at the conference who showed me around Peterhouse, the oldest College at Cambridge with a dining hall that was supposedly the oldest building in England still used for its original purpose. SO MANY MEDIEVAL GOINGS ON!

And there will be even more medieval goings on in my next post: Canterbury Cathedral!

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Versailles exterior

The long-awaited Versailles post is finally here! SUCH GOLD! VERY FRANCE! SO WOW!

When I was in Paris in February doing research, I decided to mosey on down to Versailles to get a look at the golden splendour that is Versailles. Also, they have two very fancy harps that I wanted to get a look at while I was at it. And I've said it before and I'll say it again, the dead of winter is a great time to go to see castles in France because no one else will be there. The palace still had a lot of people milling around, but the gardens and Grand and Petit Trianon were all but deserted. A friend of mine told me that he went in July and waited two hours to get in to the palace. Not so in February!

So anyway, Versailles. There was a hunting lodge in the village of Versailles since the early seventeenth century, but Louis XIV decided to make it a huge sprawling mansion in the 1660s. Twenty years later Louis XIV made all the important court people move there so he could keep an eye on them, and Versailles became the centre of political power for a time instead of Paris. Then of course he started the whole cult of the Sun King thing, and everything got a bit Ancient Egypt, until he died in 1715. When I was there they were having an exhibition on his death called Le Roi est Mort (The King is Dead), all about how he outlived his son and had about 500 mistresses and was generally large and in charge. I was watching one of the Kardashian shows once and Scott Disick went to the Met (I think) and saw that really famous portrait of Louis XIV, and he lost his mind. He couldn't get over the furs and the 'chains' hanging over his shoulders and said, 'I gotta step up my GAME!' You do, Scott. We could all take a page out of Louis XIV's book of looking super fly.

So anyway, after Louis XIV kicked the bucket there were lots of additions and renovations and such, and now the palace is just obscenely huge. In addition to being super huge, the decorators left no stone unturned when it came to putting gold, paint, marble, and other junk on top of junk. I mean, these are the ceilings! CEILINGS!!

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Versailles ceiling painting
Like I said, no stone left unturned.

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There were lots of smaller rooms with all kinds of furniture and arts pieces and such, and of course royal family paintings and busts were everywhere. The painting above is of Marie Leszczyńska, who was Louis XV's wife. I was really into the whole room setup with the red wallpaper and yellow-gold frame; when in doubt, gild EVERYTHING. Also, in general your painting frame should be large enough to write a small novel as the caption on the bottom.

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But let's take a moment to appreciate the bust on the right, which is just swept up in the wind and looking fabulous. I feel like the Beyoncé wind turbine look has always been a classic, and if you really want to impress your guests, you should have a marble bust of yourself in a very visible area looking carefree. Also, this bust is by BERNINI, who is probably the most incredible sculptor of all time. If you don't believe me just take a look through Google images for some of his works and your brain will explode.

Meanwhile, when you walk out the back of this place you really appreciate how big it is. Not to put down 18th century people, but I'm sure they wet themselves when they saw this place for the first time because it is widely impressive. Also, walking around this part made me think of the part in Midnight in Paris when Michael Sheen--one of those pretentious Francophile American jerks you constantly want to punch in the face--gives a tour of Versailles and is just going on and on about the history in the snobbiest way possible, and you just want to push him down the stairs. He would have been fine, just dusty.

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The French sure like their tree-lined vistas, and the gardens are full of them. They are also full of huge amazing fountains, which are of course gilt to death because what kind of cheap jerk would have non-gold figures on their outdoor fountain?? Continuity is key, people.

Sadly it was still the middle of winter so most things in the garden were dead or hiding. But dang, these garden designers did NOT mess around. When you think about it, it must have taken forever to do all that landscaping when all you have are hand tools and horses to do the heavy lifting. But something they did have that we certainly don't is patience. And you would have to have a lot to wait for your palace and gardens to be built by hand from pencil drawings. I remember an industrial designer telling me that he had trouble finding designers to hire for his company because they all knew how to render stuff in 3D but had never built a model in their life. What! They should be put through the seventeenth century school of life for a few months to get their skills up to scratch.

But I digress.

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And because, you know, one outrageously enormous house isn't nearly enough, you should also build some theatres and satellite houses out on your property that extends forever. That way you are so far away from the Big House that you could actually feel like you are in a different village, and periodically shirk your country-running duties. Enter Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon. So many royal people have been in and out of these places that I forgot the timeline, but at one point when Napoleon had moved in to Versailles he would use Grand Trianon a lot. I know this because I bought a Napoleon t-shirt in their gift shop.

Petit Trianon is mostly famous now because that's where Marie Antoinette would go to spend some alone time. In addition to the small palace she had there, she also had a fake peasant village built called Hameau de la Reine (Hamlet of the Queen), where she would pretend to be a peasant because, you know, peasants have a peaceful and carefree life, right? If you think that, go read Peasants into Frenchmen The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914 and you will fully understand why Marie Antoinette was spitting in their faces with the fake village bit. It may be about the late nineteenth century but it talks about pre-Revolutionary peasants too. If you actually read that book in its entirety you are a golden star and deserve a parade held in your honour, because that book is a doozy.
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A WILD HARP APPEARS! Sadly this isn't the super crazy harp owned by Marie Antoinette, but you can see her crazy one here. I think it is part of the Queen's apartment in the main château, which was closed off for conservation/refurbishment. I have to say that I admire that M.A. liked rhinestones on her string pegs because when you are the Queen of France and it's high Rococo time, you get the sparkliest harp in France. Jean-Henri Naderman made that one (or at least his workshop did), and you can certainly see why his harps are always praised as the best decorated. Back then harpsichords had huge scenes painted on the insides, which you could dramatically open for your guests and have them come mingle around your when you played. Harps tended to have more sculpture on them because they had less surface area, but when they put sculpture on they did not mess around. Animal and mythical creatures abound!

The harp in this photo was way in the back behind a barrier so I couldn't snoop on it like I wanted to, and sadly all the harpsichords had their covers down to keep the dust out. When I was doing my research in Paris I met with a curator who used to be in charge of the harps at the Musée de la Musique and he said dust getting in keyboards is a conservation nightmare so they just keep them closed all the time, which I understand, but I wanted to see if they had the reverse-colour keys! Oh well.

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Sadly none of the hamlet cottages were open, and one of them way being completely renovated, but you got the idea that everything was there: windmill, lighthouse-looking thing, gardener's cottage (the last photo), and a little lake. It was very Disney-ish and seemed fake, which was kinda creepy. It made me sad that royal people could be so disconnected from reality that they want to pretend to be a peasant. It's a common story (remember Jasmine in Aladdin?), wanting to be a commoner when you're under the pressure of court life. I mean, being forced to marry someone and leave your home country is pretty awful, but also you get fed regularly? And silk couture and jewels? And servants? I mean I get the whole lonely princess/queen thing, but...the peasant thing is a bit much. But that's none of my business. Also, I wouldn't mind having any piece of furniture that she ever touched. There were some QUALITY pieces in Petit Trianon.

Tune in next week for a special ghost edition of the blog: CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL!

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