Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A foggy day in North Norfolk

We decided to have a day out on the North Norfolk coast - unfortunately the day we chose turned out to be less than ideal as it was cold and foggy.  As we had been on holiday to Cromer as children, we decided we'd take mum back there to see if she could remember any of it.  On the way there we stopped at the run of Baconsthorpe Castle.


The weather had improved slightly by the time we got to Cromer.  We had a short walk down the pier and then went for fish and chips.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On the trail of Duleep Singh

The search for the story behind the Koh-i-Noor diamond continues. One afternoon we went in search of more facts from local history about Duleep Singh, the last Maharajah of the Punjab. We started at Elveden church, where Duleep Singh is buried.

Basically the story is that the British forced Duleep Singh to resign his throne and exiled him to England.  The Koh-i-Noor diamond was "passed" to Queen Victoria and ended up in the Crown Jewels.  Duleep Singh settled at Elveden Hall (up the road from mum's).

Duleep Singh wanted to be buried in India, but the British refused to honour his request and brought his body back to Elveden where he is buried in a Christian graveyard, despite the fact that he had re-embraced the Sikh religion. Duleep Singh is buried next to his wife, the Maharani Bamba, and his son.

There's a statue of Duleep Singh on Butten Island, Thetford, so we went there next. Duleep Singh wanted to return to the Punjab but was not allowed as the British feared it would cause unrest.  He tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade the Czar of Russia to invade India from the north and reinstate him as the ruler of the Punjab. Until his death, he struggled to reclaim his throne.

"To this day the Sikh nation aspires to regain its sovereignty."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ice-skating at Hampton Court

A bit of a foggy day at Hampton Court Palace, but a wonderful backdrop for ice skating.

This year for our Christmas holidays we flew overnight to London from Mumbai, arriving on the Saturday morning early.  We picked up our hired car and drove to Rachel's where we were joined by Joal and Jenny.  Our plan was to go ice-skating for the afternoon.  Hampton Court is not far from where Rachel lives, and they were all keen to go there.  I didn't actually go on the ice myself, however I went and investigated the story of Sophia Duleep Singh, who was the daughter of Duleep Singh (of the Koh-i-noor diamond fame). 

Duleep Singh's daughter, Sophia, was a suffragette and a revolutionary. She lived in a grace and favour apartment outside the gates of Hampton Court Palace (unfortunately it's not open to the public - I checked when I was there . There has recently been a new book published about her life. My research into this amazing family continues.  My aim is to go back to Hampton Court with Rachel in the summer when we have time to explore it fully.  However this was a good activity to do on a winter's day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A BIG Indian Wedding

One of my colleagues got married this month. The wedding was absolutely huge! Almost an entire Rajasthani palace was built (for just one night!) and it seemed as if thousands of people were invited and attended. Even my Indian friends said this was the largest wedding they had ever been to. The wedding took place over 3 days and I attended 2 of them, but all these photos are from the second day.

We started at school, and then were bussed a short distance to the grounds. We sat around in a sort of "holding area" for a while until the bridegroom was ready to leave. The idea is that the bridegroom's party go along with him to meet the bride - there is a lot of noise (drums and music) and dancing on the way and the bridegroom traditionally goes on a white horse or in a horse-drawn carriage.

Here comes the bridegroom!

As there was quite a lot of waiting around in the "holding area", a couple of us decided to walk straight to the wedding grounds when the bridegroom set off.  These grounds and the constructions in them were absolutely magical.  

Walking up to the entrance of the wedding venue

Walking to the wedding grounds.

Inside the grounds itself it was also amazing - for example at one end there was an entire orchestra on a stage.  All around the edge were food stalls serving very delicious Indian food.  

A red wedding with millions of rose petals everywhere.