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Our washing machine died with a clunk and a whine last Thursday, we were able to secure a new washing machine almost within one hour. The drawback delivery takes 7 days, oh my! So the clothing has been piling up as well as sheets and towels. We are really dependent on this machine, now we know. But the delivery will be made by Friday so patience and no panic.

I really miss good conversation with friends face to face and the laughs and gossip. Zoom is NOT the same thing.

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Scaffolding coming down this week at the main gate portal of the City Palace. Friday is the capping off of the building which can be followed on webcam. Starting at 6 am Berlin time, weather permitting.

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For the last few postings I have been writing about the City Palace in Berlin and its final phase of re-construction. You may have wondered why so much interest in this one building. In fact I have been following several other projects in Europe.

One such projects is Buckingham Palace in London, the Official Residence of the Queen. There is little info on what is going on, but it is a major refit of the place from plumbing to electrical system to cleaning and painting and general repairs. Rooms have been dismantled and furniture and paintings removed for safe keeping. The Queen left London because of the pandemic but also because her London Residence was under repair and not fit to live in due to all the noise and workmen etc… Windsor is her real home, private and comfy. She and her husband only live in a suite of rooms in one wing of the Castle and not in the entire place as you might see it from the outside, still it is pretty grand. Many other people live at Windsor in what is term Grace and Favour apartments. The Queen also has other relatives live in London at Kensington Palace and St-James Palace again in apartments, all are at the pleasure of Her Majesty.

Another project is the Alexander Palace built in 1793 in an Italian/Palladian style in Tsarkoye Selo outside St-Petersburg, the work is now reaching completion after many years of complete reconstruction of what was essentially a ruined building. The last private home of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife and children before their arrest and deportation in 1917. This has been a massive work of research and archeology, restoration of furniture, original fabrics, flooring, tiling, etc. all this made possible because of voluminous archives kept on the building. This site has a huge following in Russia and around the world.

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The Roman Forum is another place I love to explore and read about, about 95 years ago it became the pet project of Benito Mussolini who poured financial resources and had the best academic work on unearthing this area of what was ancient Rome. To this day several Universities and team of archeologist work for years and sometimes a life time on one area. Even now with the building of the new Metro Line crossing the Forum under Via Dei Fori Imperiali more treasures are discovered. I had the good fortune to visit some of those sites being under study and excavation, it is a real marvel.

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While in Beijing, I visited various sites around the former Imperial Capital, temples, palaces and the Forbidden City compound. I lived there about 3 years prior to the Olympics. The City itself was under massive construction and re-building. Entire neighbourhoods of 3 million people each would be vacated in a matter of 48 hours with the help of the Police and Army. The Temple of Heaven and the great park around it was a favourite site. The Communist Party with the increase in tourism re-discovered the roots of Chinese culture and its historical past. So recreation was the name of the game, unfortunately so much had been lost between 1967-1976 under Mao ills advised but politically convenient cultural revolution, that doing studies and repairing the damage proved difficult, so the repairs were done very quickly and often of poor quality. What really mattered to the Communist party was money from Western tourists and pushing a re-written history of China always glorifying the Party and the leadership.

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In Jordan, I would visit just outside Amman about 35 km away the antic city of Jerash or Gerasa in the Bible. Built by the Romans and prospering as an important commercial link and military city, the Jordanian Government had archeologists work at restoring the extensive ruined city, its temples and theatres. There was a lot of archeological material artefacts just lying on the ground forgotten by time.

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Istanbul and the Topkapi Palace grounds is also well worth exploring and how well preserve it is, including the treasury with its incredible amounts of precious stones. If you take a look in the once private areas you will discover a Polo Pavilion and grounds enjoyed by the Sultan, the entire place as a very Oriental feel. The Turkish people migrated from Central Asia one thousand years ago, keeping their Oriental culture.

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I am endlessly fascinated by architecture, archeology and factual history. It has always been a hobby of mine.