Showing posts with label French in London. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French in London. Show all posts

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Part 2: Bloody French Exiled in London

An Aerial View of Strawberry Hill

When I was staying with the Italian couple that I mentioned in my previous blog, Sammy and Annielo in Twickenham, (They had let me stay in their house one weekend while they went to Italy. They were so generous and left me their house key so I can enter freely without worry.That same weekend, I believe) I had gone out to see a film, and somehow had to take the last train from Waterloo to London.I remember the night as if it was yesterday, I was very late taking the train. I ended up having to take a bus part of the way, which dropped me off not in Twickenham, but Strawberry Hill, which is an affluent London area in the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames.

House in the Gothic Style Strawberry Hill

I had to walk about 5 blocks around 2 a.m in the morning in the dark all by myself.  It was in the middle of winter,and I was freezing. I steadfastedly focused on getting home and got home in a hurry. I remember walking behind a couple just so I can be partly safe and assuredly told them I was not stalking them. But, what was most fascinating about this walk in the middle of the night, was that it felt like I was not in London at all. Well, I was in Greater London,but the elegant houses that were high on this hill, Strawberry Hill with the River Thames right below made me feel like I was a heroine in an English novel that had just missed her barouche and had to walk hurriedly home under the light of the moon.It was a bit scarey,(in a good kind of England romantic spooky way, if that makes any sense,) because as I was approximating their home where the entrance was the back porch, I had to take this back street which past a children's park that had many tombstones (like many English parks do ). Mr. Twining of Twinings Tea happens to be buried there.

During my sojourn in Twickenham,at the Twickenham station there is a map and information about Orleans House. Orleans House today now is a gallery, but back in the 18th and 19th century was the home to many a Noble French men. I discovered that many French exiled to both Twickenham and Strawberry Hill during the the French Revolution. It just goes to show how interconnected we are and how History tend to overlap.(The English go to France, the French go to England, and call each other names, use each other in times of war ).The fact that the French lived in this part of London which is a famous home for Rugby  intrigued me and lends a bit of glamour and nostalgic mystery. Not to mention, the 18th Century is one of my favorite parts of World History. The grandeur and yet tulmultous lives of Queen Deficit, Queen Marie Antoinette ( Queen Deficit), and Georgiana Cavendish,Duchess of Devonshire respectively intrigue me.

At the turn of the 19th century, Twickenham became fashionable as a refuge for royalists fleeing the French Revolution and the exiled Duke of Orleans, who was later King Louis Philippe, set up home in the house,  between 1800 - 1817. He occupied the house, (1773-1850), from whom the present gallery derives it's name. Forced into exile from France in the period leading up to Napoleon's Defeat at Waterloo, Louis Philippe made this house his home between 1815 and 1817. Attracted to the tranquility of the area he wrote to a friend: "I bless heaven, noon and night that I am in my peaceful house in old Twick". In 1844 he returned to England as King of the French, and visited his former residence accompanied by Queen Victoria.

Orleans House- The Octagon Gallery

When the main building was demolished in 1926 the only feature to survive was Octagon, an eight-sided turret that had formed part of the west wing. Designed by James Gibbs in 1720, this neo-classical room has plasterwork and a black and white checked floor, now used as a giant chessboard. A gallery was later built on the site of the original house and today both this and the Octagon are used for changing exhibitions. These include local and London art, contemporary crafts and local history displays.

The Arts Service at Orleans House Gallery
Telephone: 020 8831 6000
Fax: 020 8744 0501

Admission free
Opening Times
Open: Apr-Sep: Tue-Sat:13:00-17:30,
Sun & Bank Holidays; 14:00-17:30,
Oct-Mar: closes at 16:30,
Tel: 020 8831 6000 for details.

French in London:

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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Muslim Women in London

When, I first came to London I was astonished and surprised by the enormous Muslim population. It is a delicate subject for Americans because so many Iraqi's and Muslims hate Americans. Well, many people all over the world hate Americans,thanks to Bush. And, I am so relieved we have Obama in office.But, living in a Bayswater(5 Minutes to Notting Hill),a big Arabic community, I want to be the first to bridge the gap of peace. Where I frequent, the internet cafes,hoteliers, restaurants, cleaners,store owners all are owned by Iraqis. I have never been in contact with so many Iraqis and Arabs in my life.I just smile and tell them I am American, and little by little, they know who I am, and I have become friends with many of them. They are very kind and warm hearted people, and they always are very nice to me. Once in a while,the Iraqi owner of the Internet Cafe I frequent says some subtle snide comment about Americans, just enough to sting slightly.I take it with a grain of salt and just think whatever. Bush made a mess out of Iraq and maybe he doesn't like Americans because of that.I am not sure. But, I can't blame him. But,what I am sure of is that I want to debunk any kind of ideas people have about Americans.That we are all arrogant, ignorant, pushy,loud,and stupid.So, everywhere I go I try to act as an Ambassador and try to be on my best behavior.Well, I am not a saint, but I do try to remember how I behave is a Cause and it will have it's effects.

I have been fascinated by Arabic culture for a long time. I think it started with my Belly Dance Classes that I took at Berkely and the beautiful exotic Arabic music my Teacher Nana used to bring to class. I want to know much about the Arabic culture as possible.I am learning a bit of Arabic everywhere I go. After all, Spanish is about 60% Arabic. All the words beginning with al in Spanish are Arabic derived. After all,The Moors were in Spain for 700 years and with them left their legacy of culture,architecture and language. If your Spanish, chances are you probably have Arabic blood and likely to be Jewish as well, since many Jews stayed during the Inquisition.

I often find the women dressed in full hijab amazing, how do that do it. It's written in the Koran, that women are supposed to cover their head, because they don't want to tempt men. I don't understand how women do it, in full hijab, in the hottest of summers in Saudi Arabia. Speaking of Saudi Arabia, I was befriended a woman from Saudi. She was the most interesting and intelligent woman I met. She was a French translater in Saudi Arabia and originally of Lebanese descent. She told me,"Sabrina, go to Lebanon, go to Palestine, go to Egypt, go to Hell, but dont' go to Saudi Arabia." Apparently,she told me that the women are still treated very badly.It doesn't come to much surprise to me.I have always heard that,but hearing it firsthand from the horses mouth had more resonance to me. According to her,if you want to get a divorce from your husband Saudi Laws make it very difficult. She said,"Your husband could be a firstrate abusive jerk, and STILL may have a very hard time divorcing him.

Will the Laws in the 21 century in Islam ever favor women?
Are Islamic Women content with these laws? Some, I spoke to said they were.
Some said they get better treatment and more respect in Saudi Arabia than they would in London. I spoke to a few Islamic women and they ALL concurred that the Koran considers women very precious, which is why they need to cover themselves with the full hijab.In Saudi Arabia, they are not allowed to drive. The men have to drive them everywhere. I heard from one man that in Saudi Arabia the population of women is much higher than of the men, and that if the women were given power that eventually they would end up taking over the country.Anyway, I am not an authority, and I am just going by hearsay. I would not be able to tell you my real thoughts on Saudi culture,until I visited Saudi Arabia myself and learnt about the culture firsthand.

A Market on Edware Road

A Family Man shopping for food on Edware Road

A Muslim woman walking through a thick crowd by medieval London Bridge Horror museum

For some reason, I am not supposed to be taking any photos of Muslim women. So, all of these had to be taken very quickly. If your Muslim, and reading this, please don't be offended, this blog is meant to act as a breach of peace and to build understanding between cultures. And, hopefully trust and friendship.

This is my Gorgeous Goddess Dance Teacher Nana Candelaria

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Part 1: The Bloody French in London

So What do the bloody French have to do with London? Well, a lot monsieur et madame. During the eighteenth Century many French aristocrats were exiled in England. They choose in Twickenham and Richmond for their hiding place. The Duke of Orleans lived in Orleans House in Twickenham which now a public museum. I will write more on the Bloody French in London Part 2. In the meanwhile, most recently, I went to the Wallace Collection, I saw some of my favorite eighteenth Century French painters, Fragonard along side his teacher,Boucher .

Fragonard's, The Swing

Take a Good look at this painting. The story behind it is that the man is looking up at the ladies dress and she doesn't even have any knickers on. How Cheeky !The Swing is Fragonard's best-known painting, encapsulating for many the finesse, humour and joie de vivre of the Rococo. No other work better demonstrates his ability to combine erotic licence with a visionary feeling for nature. According to the poet Collé, the history painter Doyen was commissioned by an unnamed ‘gentleman of the Court’ to paint his young mistress on a swing, pushed by a bishop with himself admiring her legs from below.

Boucher - Venus and Cupid

The setting of Venus and Cupid is suitably ethereal, with Cupid handing his cloud-borne mother a golden apple, the prize she had won from the shepherd Paris.

Venus was the Roman goddess of love and fertility, and often symbolised visual beauty. Beauty and desire were central concerns of eighteenth-century French art. Venus often appears in decorative painting of the period, sometimes accompanied by her son, Cupid, and with her attributes, which include a pair of doves or swans, roses, dolphins, a scallop shell, and flaming torches.

Boucher- Daphne and Chloe

Boucher- Spring

The Wallace Collection is a national museum which displays the wonderful works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard's widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897.Most famous for our old master paintings and 18th century French porcelain and furniture, the collection also includes one of the finest collection of princely arms and armor in Britain as well as gold boxes, miniatures, sculpture and Medieval and Renaissance.

In addition,I saw Marie Antoinette furniture that she used in her apartment at Versailles.

Claude-Jean Pitoin (active between: c. 1778)
Gilt bronze and blue enamel

Chest-of-drawers- René Dubois (1737 - 1798). France c. 1765
Brecciated Sarrancolin marble; oak veneered with Japanese lacquer, purplewood stained black and mahogany stained black (on the legs); gilt bronze; silk, paper and gimp (lining drawers)

A Portrait of Marie Antoinette

Perfume Burner-Attributed to Pierre Gouthière (1732 - 1813),Jasper and gilt bronze


I know Marie Antoinette or Queen Deficit, as the French called her
wasn't the most exemplary or virtuous Queen, but on the other hand
she was just a horny teenager when she came to rule France.
I don't think her nor Louis Qatorze knew what the hell they were doing
and it's not fair to judge otherwise. It is, what it is.
But, the face of France has never been the same since her.
Queen Deficit contributed much to French History with her
love of macaroons and her tall outrageous hair.(They used to hide their
fortunes and jewels in there).
She will always be known as a fashion icon,if nothing else.

Modern Video of Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette .
The scene where she is driving to Versailles at dawn in her horse drawn carriage is majestic.Immediately, I am transported to the aristocratic court of 18th Century France,with it's glamorous balls and masquerade parties.

Public Tours

Wallace Collection Public Tours
The Wallace Collection
Hertford House
Manchester Square London
W1U 3BN United Kingdom
Telephone +44 (0)207 563 9500
Fax +44 (0) 207 224 2155

Take Bond Street Tube.

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