Sunday drive

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On this beautiful Sunday, took a drive to Point Prim to see the 1845 Lighthouse still in operation as it marks for ships the entrance to the bay of Hillsborough into Port Charlottetown. We usually go to Point Prim every Summer but we did not this year instead going to New London/French river where another lighthouse is located.

This old map shows Point Prim that long extended point of ground at the tip of if since 1845 is the Lighthouse built by private interests and the Colonial Government of the Ile Saint Jean (John) as PEI was then known. The channel for ships sailing in is very narrow though it appears as a wide bay of water the reality is it quite shallow and full of rocks and sand bars. More lighthouses at the narrow entrance again to direct ships. Interesting to watch lakers and barges including cruise ships follow carefully that path.

A beautiful area with lots of trees and farmland all around. Many beautiful farm homes with vast gardens. Point Prim is about 30 minutes from Charlottetown on Hwy 1.

Here are the other lighthouses guiding ships around the Coast of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, all where built between 1807 and 1845 towards PEI. Prior to their construction a lot of ships were lost on the rocks. Storms are frequent on the open seas.

All the lighthouses are now automated and all maintained by the Canadian Coast Guard. In Winter the Ice breakers of the Canadian Coast Guard will open the way for the fuel ships coming to PEI, all fuel is imported since the Island being a sand bar has no natural ressources.

It stands 60 feet (18 metres) tall and is built of brick covered with wood cladding and painted white.

There is also a nice restaurant only open in the Summer time and very rustic. The seafood is great and it is worth going but you need a reservation, they have about 25 seats. The Chowder House sign is also fun, it is made of sliced US licence plates, apparently American tourists are happy to give up their car plates, you can see NY plates, Michigan, Mississipi,

In the distance is the entrance into the Hillsborough river and the port of Charlottetown.

PEI Red sandstone not very good against sea storms. To protect the lighthouse from the waves the Government of Canada imported shipments of granite rock from the Mainland and built a barrier all around the area.

Lots of pine trees everywhere along the coast. They seem to do well as a species.

Looking towards the coast of Nova Scotia around 2:30pm, very quiet, deserted area. Just nice to sit quietly by the sea. The silver colour of the water is blinding.

I also love to drive by this house on the way to the Point, the tree is always decorated with these colourful buoys. This is the road on Mount Buchanan leading to Point Prim. Note there is NO Mount, it is just a fanciful figure of speech in PEI.

This is the view from the road across the street from the Buoy Tree. The land belongs to this family and they have cottages for rent on the coast facing the Strait of Northumberland and the view across the water is Nova Scotia in the general area of Seafoam and Cape John.

and back at home with our Fall flowers and pumpkins.

A lovely Sunday afternoon, fresh air and blue sky.

PEI POTATO CHOCOLATE CAKE

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At the initiative of PEI Tourism, the government of the Provice PEI decided early into the pandemic that as people drove over from the mainland and exited the Confederation bridge in Borden, they would be given a bag of PEI goodies as a welcome gesture. Thousands of bags were assembled and everything was top quality products. Whoever came up with the scheme really thought about how to do this and put their best foot forward. In the bag which looks like a bag of russet potatoes, hey PEI is known for its potatoes, you also found a pound of coffee from Receiver Coffee Co., some jam from the PEI Preserve Co. of New Glasgow, a bar of natural soap from the Great Canadian Soap Co. some COW Chips from the chocolate store on Queen Street. etc… There was also a Potato Chocolate Cake Recipe that I am happy to share with you all.

I am sure that those of you who enjoy cakes and pies will love this one. The following recipe can serve up to 12 portions. The first ingredient on the list is one cup of PEI Potatoes mashed and hot. Enjoy!

Peace Prize

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Today 15 October some 63 years ago in 1957 the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was and remains a towering figure of Canadian Foreign Policy and was a role model for many Canadian diplomat.

Lester Bowles Pearson was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1897. His father and grandfather enjoyed high reputations as Methodist preachers, and the boy grew up in a religious but broad-minded environment in which even athletics played an important part in his training. His father saw to it that he received a good education. He enrolled as a history student at the University of Toronto, but his studies were interrupted during the First World War when, at the age of eighteen, he joined the University Medical Corps as a volunteer. At the end of the war in which he eventually became an actual participant, he resumed his studies and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1919. After an interval in his uncle’s meat processing plant, he won a scholarship for studies at Oxford. In 1923 he took his Master of Arts degree. He taught for some time, becoming an assistant professor of modern history at the University of Toronto.

In 1928, when he was thirty-one years old, Lester Pearson entered the service of the Canadian Department of External Affairs. This step marked the end of his academic career and the beginning of his life as a civil servant. He was first secretary at the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa until 1935, when he was appointed counselor at the Office of the High Commissioner for Canada in London. He returned to Ottawa in 1941 as assistant undersecretary of state at the Department of External Affairs, and in the following year he was appointed Canadian minister in Washington, where he stayed until 1946, for the last two years as ambassador. Then followed two years as undersecretary of state at home until – at the age of fifty-one he became secretary of state for External Affairs in the Canadian government in 1948.

Pearson worked at the creation of the United Nations and its Agencies like the FAO. He opposed the creation of a Veto measure at the Security Council for the Great Powers, USA, USSR, France and UK. He drafted Resolution 181 for the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 with the help of a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. He also suggested the creation of the UN Peace Keeping Corps to monitor conflict zones. He also developed the policy after 1945 of an inter-dependent world and a multilateral approach to relations between States to avoid further world conflicts.

The first really important conflict which the UN had to deal with was the question of Palestine. This matter was considered in a special session in 1947. Mr. Pearson was elected chairman of the Political Committee, and the Special Committee on Palestine recommended that the British mandate over Palestine should be discontinued and that the country should be divided into a Jewish and an Arab state. The recommendation of the committee was considered at the Second General Assembly. The question of division was then dealt with by an ad hoc committee in which Mr. Pearson participated very actively. And indeed the recommendation had a positive result. The two State solution to ensure peace was a Canadian Idea.

At the end of July, 1956, President Nasser of Egypt suddenly proceeded to nationalize the Suez Canal. The Suez conflict was brought before the Security Council in September, and it seemed that it might be possible to find a solution.

Then, on October 29, Israel marched into Egyptian territory. On the 30th the French-British ultimatum was handed to Egypt, and the next day both these countries proceeded to the attack.

The Security Council, which immediately called on the aggressors to cease hostilities, was made inoperative by the veto of Great Britain and France.

The matter then came up before the General Assembly, and on November 2, a resolution was put to the vote which required the aggressors to stop fighting immediately.

Before this resolution was submitted, Lester Pearson had been working unceasingly night and day, through conferences and informal talks, to give the resolution a wider scope, sufficiently comprehensive to form a real basis for a solution of the conflict and for creating peace. With his rich experience, his positive attitude, and his determined vigor, he pointed out that the resolution lacked any provision for solving the problem itself. He felt that this was a matter of decisive importance in that critical phase of the developments when the world was at the very edge of disaster.

But Lester Pearson did not give up his efforts even though the Resolution of November 2 did not contain what he had wanted. In the acutely dangerous situation other ways out would have to be found. On November 4 he submitted to the General Assembly a resolution in which the Secretary-General was requested to put before the General Assembly within forty-eight hours a plan for an international United Nations Peace Keeping force to be employed in the area of fighting to secure and supervise the cessation of hostilities, this was done.

Never, since the end of the war in 1945, has the world situation been darker than during the Suez crisis, and never has the United Nations had a more difficult case to deal with. However, what actually happened has shown that moral force can be a bulwark against aggression and that it is possible to make aggressive forces yield without resorting to power. Therefore, it may well be said that the Suez crisis was a victory for the United Nations and for the man who contributed more than anyone else to save the world at that time. That man was Lester Pearson.

In Ottawa, the building of the Department of Foreign Affairs is named after him, his statue stands on Parliament Hill and the Airport in Toronto is named after him. He is buried in the Gatineau Hills at the MacLaren Cemetery in Wakefield, Quebec across the river from the Capital Ottawa. His wife Maryon Elspeth Moody 1901-1989 is also buried there and they had one son Geoffrey 1927-2008 who was also a Canadian Diplomat and author.

Rt. Hon. Lester Bowles Pearson, known as Mike Pearson 1897-1972. Was Prime Minister of Canada from 1963-1968.

Another busy day

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I cannot say that I stay home and eat Bonbons like another blogger friend of mine in AZ. My days are filled with incidents. Today I had the car detailed inside and out. The shop who did it are on Mount Edward near Sherwood Drive, South end of the city. I first saw their ad on Instagram, they are called SUDS. I wanted to have the car thoroughly cleaned for some time though as it was pointed out to me at the shop, your car is fairly clean, nonetheless they did a beautiful job, it looks brand new.

It was a heavy rain day today but it was all over by 4pm when I returned to pick up the car. Happy I did it.

I am still looking for someone to clean my oriental rugs, found a shop in Halifax who can do it, though this means I would have to travel to Halifax 3 hours away by car. It would take about 8 weeks to clean them and they send them to Toronto some 1500km away for the job. The pandemic is still on and the province next door, New Brunswick has seen many new cases in the last week. It is strongly advised NOT to go to Moncton and avoid anywhere near the Quebec border area. However if I drive to Nova Scotia once I am off the bridge I turn left and avoid all of it. I could technically drive back from Halifax same day though it is a lot of driving for one day.

Winter is coming and already we are starting to have wild storms with high winds, meaning that the bridge is closed during the storm, you really do not want to drive over to the mainland with winds howling at 80 + Km per hour, its white knuckle driving. The ferries stop their crossings in a storm and in Winter. So I will have to think about the logistics of it all.

Tomorrow I have a vernissage of a good friend of ours Don Andrus who has a new show on Grafton Street. Then I have to return to the printer to look at proofs for a printing job and then a meeting in the afternoon with the new Club President.

Every day seems to be loaded with stuff, some of it is mundane, like shopping or taking care of our puppies which demands a lot of time and commitment.

Bye Bye Flughafen Tegel, TXL

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If you plan to fly to Berlin next month you will arrive at the new Berlin Branderburg Airport, BER also known as Willy Brandt Airport, BER. Tegel is closing and already its functions are being transferred ahead of the opening of the new Willy Brandt Airport, BER.

Historically Berlin had 3 airports, Tempelhof the first airport to be build in the South, then Tegel in the North West in 1948 and in East Germany, Schonefeld airport, South East, serving the Communist regime. Berlin being a divided city after 1945 and occupied by the French, British, American and the Soviets everyone got a piece of the cake.

Until 1975 Tempelhof was the West Berlin Airport, after 1975 international traffic was diverted to Tegel, TXL in what was then the French Sector the divided city. Tempelhof handled domestic flights from West Germany.

Tempelhof we know today with its gigantic terminal was built by the Nazi Regime in 1934 as Hitler’s World Capital Airport. After the Second World War in 1948 a new airport was created to handle increasing air traffic and so Tegel was opened. The Tegel airport you see today with its two post modernist Hexagonal terminals was built in the 1960’s and will now become a museum and the air strips will be a large green space.

Tempelhof was closed as an airport in 1996 it became a large green park. The site of the airport was originally Knight Templar land in medieval Berlin, and from this beginning came the name Tempelhof. Later, the site was used as a parade field by Prussian forces from 1720 to the start of World War one. In 1909, Frenchman Armand Zipfel made the first flight demonstration in Tempelhof, followed by Orville Wright later that same year. Tempelhof was first officially designated as an airport on 8 October 1923. The airline Lufthansa was founded in Tempelhof on 6 January 1926.

The old Tempelhof terminal, originally constructed in 1927, became the world’s first with an underground railway station, known as Paradestrasse. Tempelhof was in the American sector of Berlin and was the site of the air bridge during the Cold War.

On 25 October 2020 on the site of the former Schonefeld Airport, in what was East Germany in the Soviet Sector, a brand new terminal will open after major scandals and 11 years of delay and massive cost overruns. It will be the only airport in Berlin and it is hoped it can handle the ever increasing air traffic, though the pandemic has severely cut flights.

BER, Berlin Brandenburg, ” Willy Brandt” Airport, finally opening 25 October 2020.

Bonne Action de Grâce!

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Well this weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving, despite the Pandemic and numbers of sick people surging in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta and a new and developing situation in New Brunswick, we can be thankful in Canada for so many good things we enjoy. First and foremost everyone has access for FREE to Healthcare, Covid 19 tests are Free and easily accessible. You need healthcare it is available and you have no worries about it. Even the Seasonal Flu Shot are FREE. When you have your health, you got it all.

Here in PEI we have no COVID and anyone who has been sick total 61 have stayed at home and have received help and follow-up from Health PEI. No deaths and no hospitalizations.

We live in a peaceful and stable country, the Government of Canada has numerous programs for help and support financially anyone who needs help during the Pandemic. This is more than we can say if looking at other countries where people are left to fend for themselves.

We live in a nice house, we have friends and a good social life. We have our two puppies who are demanding but we love them, hey their Dachshunds, what do you expect.

So we have a lot to be thankful for and appreciative of our blessings in this life.

Happy Thanksgiving! Bonne Action de Grâce!

Pumpkin & Toads

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At this time of the year the harvest is coming in and the variety of vegetables and produce is plentiful. There are lots of places to buy pumpkins and small gourds and the prices are all over the place. I went first to the Riverview Market on Riverside drive, this is a good market for produce and high end food products. I took a look at their pumpkins and they were priced at $5 for a medium size one. Then the small gourds which are only good for display or arrangements with fall flowers, they were selling at $5 for one. Given how small they are, smaller than an apple, I thought this is silliness. So I went across the river to Mackenzie farms on Hwy 1 in Stratford, only 5 minutes by car from where I was and found an incredible array of pumpkins and gourds and other fresh produce. This is a large farm specialty is cabbage and other root vegetable, they also produce corn. No middle man to muck up things and no transport cost.

I bought 6 small gourds for $5 and larger gourds for another $4. They also had green tomatoes and Will has a recipe for Green Tomato Pie. So got a basket of those. Better quality and better prices. I did not know it but they also have 35 Mexican seasonal workers. This is a big farm. They also make 4 tons of coleslaw per year that is sold all over this Maritime region. Lots of families came to choose their pumpkin looking for the best shape traditional pumpkin. I like the odd looking ones, they have more personality. All over the Island there are farms who do direct sales to the public just off the main road. Same for eggs and meats, we buy our meat from a producer who is just 25 minutes from us on Drake Road on the way to Montague. You can ask for any cut you would like and he is very accommodating.

I just love this type of Farm direct sale market where the Farmer and his family are present and serve you directly. We have a 58 vendor Farmer’s Market near the University but it is very different and it tends to be pricey. What was nice about the Farmer’s Market on University ave. was the socializing but in the age of Covid that is gone. We are encourage to shop local but often that may mean you pay more, we support our favourite spots and the merchants we know. If you go to the large Super Markets the produce is not good quality and expensive, per examples a bunch of mediocre looking asparagus is $7 and one avocado is $2.

Recently I find that prices in grocery stores have exploded, it is difficult to find anything under $5.99, it appears to be the base price. Of course everything has to be trucked unto the Island and often some 1100 Km distance. So there is something to be said about shopping with smaller shops locally, you can buy all dairy products, breads and cakes, meats and vegetables right here on the Island, it may mean shopping at several different stores but the prices can be better with fresher quality.

Every night we have a different menu for dinner, last night was homemade Lasagna for two, tonight it’s Toad in a hole, now I have to go shop for toads I need 4 nice big ones. Served with roasted potatoes. Yummy! In French it would be Crapaud dans un trou not to be confused with a frog which is grenouille. PEI has a village called Crapaud (toad) and we also have another village called Souris (mice) no one seems to know where these ancient names came from. We also do wine pairing for each dinner.

Did I mention this is a British recipe. My friend Sheryl in Scotland provided this recipe. Disclaimer no toads in PEI were harmed in anyway for this dish.

With our changing tourism scene due to the Pandemic, new festivals have been created for local consumption. This week it’s Scarecrow in the City. The hope is that locals will go out and shop and use venues like Founder’s Hall who has been faltering for the last 2 years.

Good weather will help a lot.

Scarecrows across the street.

This and That…

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Well we got our FLU shot, it can be administered by pharmicists, nurses at the clinics, doctors. It’s FREE and anyone over 65 yrs of age gets a super boost shot. The Government is really encouraging everyone to get their shot and it is so easy, it takes all of 15 minutes, no waiting. What I call civilized!

I also went to Mackenzie Farm across the river from Charlottetown, it is one of many farms selling fresh vegetables and pumpkins usually you can buy a small one for $2 and the big ones are $4. I also bought other produce, its fun and we have had a lot of really nice cool days with sunshine.

We still only have 3 cases of Covid 19 in PEI, all from travellers who came back from other parts of Canada and who isolated upon return, the Health Dept and our Health Chief Dr Morrison is in daily contact with them.

Pretty lucky when you think of Quebec with 1400 new cases today alone, Ontario with 600. Alberta is not doing much better. Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tam says that some parts of Canada are in un-chartered waters and things could get really bad meaning that hospital system could be overwhelmed, Quebec is almost at that point in the Montreal region. Most cases are under 40 yrs of age and young people who a few months ago were laughing at the pandemic are now coughing. What is most disturbing in Quebec with a population of 8 million people, is the popularity of QAnon amongst certain segment of the population and the conspiracy theories. Anti-mask demonstrations in Montreal attracting 10,000 people when in the rest of Canada such demonstrations would attract at most 200. There is also in Quebec City the phenomenon of Radio poubelles (garbage) stations with their shock Jock hosts, one such station is CHOI-X who has for a long time promoted every nut job and conspiracy theory on the air. It got so bad 2 weeks ago that Mayor Regis LaBeaume pulled all City publicity from the station after CHOI-X refused again to air public health messages on Covid19, the owners stating it was propaganda. Now many other private sponsors have pulled their publicity. So the owners of CHOI -X are suing City of Quebec for diffamation instead of simply airing the public health messages. It shows a sad side of society and this anything goes attitude, selfish and self-centered, pampered society.

New Brunswick which has the border with Quebec unto the Maritime region has closed its border to prevent Quebecers coming in. As for the border with the USA it remains closed until 1 November but it is not likely to re-open before 2021 or until the USA has a firm control on the pandemic.

In other news: Thanksgiving weekend is coming, Monday 12 October being Thanksgiving. We had thought of doing a different menu this year for our Annual T-giving luncheon, but turkeys are on sale and I got a nice one, 12 lbs for $20. I think we will start with smoked Salmon and shrimp, for dessert, Monsieur Will is going to make is roasted bread and Irish whiskey ice cream and a bread pudding. It will be a small affair this year, we celebrate on Sunday.

Taking a lot of walks around the neighbourhood, in the last 3 years owners and developers have slowly but surely gentrified old Charlottetown. Many of the old homes built around 1820-1880 period are being renovated usually for $1 to 2 Million dollar budget. The area which is 9 city blocks by 6 city blocks is saturated with 825 Air B&B mostly illegal or under the radar., though this year many have been converted to long term rental. Several Bed and Breakfasts have also changed hands and bought by Chinese investors who cater mostly to Mainland Chinese tourists. This year was bad, no tourists and many businesses restaurants, bars, hotels are really struggling if not dying out right. Some hotels downtown and in the suburbs have closed until May 2021. It is going to be tough for the service/hospitality industry. If the cruise ships do not return in May 2021, and borders are still closed, PEI will have to think of a Plan B for tourism. The so called Atlantic bubble did not produce the economic results businesses were counting on. The Atlantic region in Canada has a total population of 2.5 million people spread over 4 provinces. It is not a wealthy area, the average income is about $40,000 per family or less, many are Seasonally employed. So the whole service industry sector needs out of province visitors, PEI alone gets one million visitors between May and October in a normal year. It does not affect us living here in retirement but I can see how anyone who is working now is worried. It seems however that dentists/doctors, our 2 plastic surgeons, our 2 psychiatrists, pharmacists are busier than ever.

I have been posting a lot on Instagram and enjoy this new medium much more than Facebook.

Here is our Nora enjoying the deck this morning.

Here they are Nora in the background and Nick, waiting for their dinner, it’s the look dachshunds are known for, where is my dinner!!!!!

Love this view of the Hillsborough river from the boarwalk looking towards the opening to the Strait of Northumberland and Nova Scotia coast beyond. On the right is Rocky Point and Port LaJoye the original French fort. On the left is Keppoch (pronounced Keppick) both are affluent out of town areas.

Misconceptions

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I have studied history almost all my life, I enjoy reading on specific topics, I am not one for generalities in history or the facile comment or anecdotes to explain an event. I think that it is worth knowing exactly what happened or what was said from reliable sources who did their own research. I also love archeology and spent a lot of time studying ancient ruins to discover their secrets.

Last year a new book on Emperor Nero was published by Professor John F. Drinkwater, in his 457 page book he presents a very different picture of Nero who was Emperor of Rome for 14 years. He took every myth about Nero and goes about deconstructing it and presenting a narrative that throws doubt on what we have been told. It is fascinating reading,

Drinkwater shows that after the death of Nero who had fled Rome taking Via Nomentana, a street I know well since I lived just off it, he failed to kill himself and ask his servant to please help him out as the pretorian guards were closing in. Nera was the last of the Julio-Claudian line who were the first emperors of Rome the dynasty that succeeded him, the Flavians had good reasons to paint a black picture of him and went to great lenghts to do so, thus the awful dark image we have. To make things worse the Christian Church decided for propaganda purposes to make him out as the devil personified despite the fact that he did not persecute Christians as it as always been claimed.

Knowing historical facts is important to help us understand the world we live in and how we got here. There are numerous other events and historical figures who have suffered at the hands of popular history.

One woman who suffered to this day, is in fact a Hollywood favourite in movies and several movies have been made of her in the last 20 years. I speak of Queen Marie-Antoinette born Imperial Princess of Austria and who at the age of 14 was engaged to marry the Dauphin of France, Louis.

When she arrives in Versailles in 1770 after having travelled from Vienna in a great escort befitting her rank with many stops on the way, she had left behind her mother Empress Maria-Theresa and her family, she comes from a relatively relaxed Imperial Court to the most archaic and stultifying strict and arcane protocol laden Court of France. She is 14 years old, she is naive but also bold and thinks nothing of asking for what she wants to the horror of the Minister of King Louis XV, grandfather of the future Louis XVI.

At the Palace of Versailles she is given a room, her entire apartment is ONE ROOM which can be seen today after years of meticulously correct restoration. The room is a State Bedchamber and it is also the room where every morning all the ladies of the Court will gather to wake her up and dress her up following a complicated protocol she is quite unfamiliar with.

The decor of Versailles and her room, (she only has one room to live in), is the same since 1715 some 60 years previously and is faded and old reminiscent of the era of the Sun King Louis XIV. Being a precocious 14 year old she did not hesitate to ask the superintendant du Palais to redecorate and modernize her room. The royal architect was brought in and what followed was a lot of effort to try to twart her plans. The women around her who were ladies in waiting where much older than her and many were ancient, they had no patience with the young women, she was constantly criticized for not accepting French ways at Court. Her life was extremely boring and her fiancé Louis was not really interested in her and more in study of sciences and in build locks of all kinds. Their marriage would be for political alliance and military reasons. Madame du Barry the mistress of King Louis XV did not like her and she had her group around her who opposed the new alliance of France with Austria. However Marie-Antoinette was very popular with the common people.

Marie Antoinette portrait of 1771, age 15, said to be the favourite of her Mother Empress Maria-Theresa.

In May 1774 King Louis XV dies suddenly and she becomes Queen and with her accession to the throne she receives the Petit Trianon in the Park at Versailles from her husband King Louis XVI, where she will spend most of her time. The period 1774 to 1778 is problematic since this is the period of the greatest extravagance and spending on hundreds of dresses, jewels, etc all at enormous expense to the Treasury. Her husband doubles her annual budget to 280,000 French Pounds (Livres) which is a great sum. But all this stops suddenly in 1778 when she becomes a mother with the birth of her first child Marie-Therese Charlotte known as Madame Royale (1778-1851). Even her taste for dresses change into a new fashion from London, she also abandons jewellery and becomes a doting mother. She will have one other daughter Princesse Sophie who dies in 1787 and the ill-fated Louis XVII who will die under mysterious circumstances and disappear at age 10 in a dark jail cell in 1795. He had another brother Louis-Joseph who dies as an infant just before the revolution in June 1789.

However despite all the crisis leading to the revolution the biggest problem was one of the Kingdom’s budget and the ballooning deficit caused by 2 wars which ruined the French treasury and bad harvests causing famine. The first war with a deficit of 2.5 million pounds was the Seven year war between France/Austria against England/Prussia 1756-1763 and then the American War of Independence 1776-1783 creating another deficit of 1.7 million pounds for France, though this war was wildly popular in France and Lafayette was a National Hero. If these deficits did not exist many political problems would have been avoided.

Probably the greatest cause of the unpopularity of Marie-Antoinette was her resistance to any idea of change or political modernization proposed by the leaders of the various parties at the time. Since she had been brought up in a system of Absolute Monarchy, she could not imagine any other system of government, despite was she saw in America and in England with the Constitutional Monarchy with a Parliament. She also adopted the same strict religious Catholic attitude of the religious bigots at Court. This did not help her at all and her glacial austere attitude towards the revolutionaries made her a marked woman.

In the end her name was blackened by the revolutionaries who really had no case against her, the trial was a farce with trumped up charges. After the death of her husband in January 1793 the revolution had achieved their goal. So a case had to be made and political events in Europe with foreign armies massing on the French border from Prussia, Austria and England was enough to convince the population that she was the author of their misery. However on the day of her execution instead of taking her directly to her place of execution, the revolutionaries thought they could parade her around in the street to rouse public anger. They soon realize this was a big mistake politically speaking, the people in the street were silent, many kneeling in prayer for the Queen and men taking their hats off. For the people she was a mother and public opinion was not in favour of killing a woman who had children. She died age 37.

Marie-Antoinette lived in the age of Enlightenment, in England Queen Charlotte was a close personal friend. In Prussia, Frederick II the Great ruled, in Russia Catherine the Great was Tsarina. The age of Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. Napoleon Bonaparte was still an unknown Corsican.

Here is some music composed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Le devin du Village which would have been familiar to Queen Marie-Antoinette, she may have seen a production of this operette.royal

Friends of Versailles

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Friends groups exist everywhere and they are useful to raise funds and promote a site. Friends of Museums, Opera Houses, Theatres, Palaces, Gardens, etc. All have in common raising funds and promoting a place and attracting others to their project.

The Palace of Versailles was built between 1631 and 1715. Then after 1792 when it was closed by the Revolutionary government, it’s furniture and all its fixtures where sold off to foreign collectors. The Wallace Collection in London has an incredible array of furniture and objects from the Palace and it is all beautifully presented at Hertford House in Manchester Square, the former townhouse of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. It is named after Sir Richard Wallace, who built the extensive collection, along with the Marquesses of Hertford.

During the 19th century the Palace was remodelled to accommodate the French Senate and Legislative assembly. Great painting galleries were built from the former apartments of the Great Princes. Other buildings like Trianon and Le Hameau de la Reine were left to decay, this including the fountains and the extensive gardens and statuary.

When I first visited Versailles in 1969 with my parents, the palace looked a little sad and neglected. Yes, you could see the great rooms of the palace like la gallerie des glaces and the royal bedrooms, but they were empty of furniture, no candelabras or curtains on the windows. It was difficult to imagine how the King lived in such a place surrounded by a large number of Courtisans. The guided tours only gave the most perfunctory information mostly the major dates and details well known to all. My father remarked that the way the tour was given you had the impression that everything had been sent out for cleaning but would be back next week.

Les Amis du Chateau de Versailles is more than 100 year old association. In 1998 a group of wealthy Americans formed what is known as the American Friends of Versailles. Their goal was simple, raise funds to promote and support major restoration projects for the Palace and gardens and to support the French group of Les Amis, promoting friendship between France and the USA.

It goes without saying that any restoration work at Versailles requires experts in many fields, including archeologists, artists, historians and scholars plus artisan builders. The cost is always in the millions of Euros and the French Government and the European Union participate financially. Versailles is a UNESCO site.

The American Friends of Versailles being hosted at the Elysée Palace by Madame Macron, wife of the French President.

In the last few years restoration projects were done or are under way at Le Hameau de la Reine, which is this little farm built for Marie-Antoinette so she could play the Bergère and pretend she lived a simple life. The Royal Gate was rebuilt in front of the Chateau, it had been torn down at the Revolution, the roof top of the entire palace was re-gilded in gold leaf as it was in the 18th century. Major fountains in the park were totally restored. Now the Royal Chapel completed in 1715 is being restored and repaired, this multi-year project should be completed in the Spring of 2021. It is the first major restoration of the Chapel since its construction. The roof with its giant wood beams and slate roof had not been touched in 300 years.

These are only some of the numerous projects underway at Versailles. The last time I visited was 1989 for the sad anniversary of the so called French Revolution which now is called a Civil War by historians, at that time some furniture had returned and some restoration had been done.

In recent YouTube videos you can see the work being done on the Palace. It is nothing short of breathtaking. There is also an active program to recover some of the original furniture of the Palace, however the Wallace Collection in London is not parting with any of its royal furniture.

Restauration de la Chapelle Royale de Versailles.