This was a really successful day. Starting with a visit to BBC Leicester where they have the most comprehensive selection of brand products we've seen to date. It was all I could do not to purchase heaps of DVDs and CDs, in fact I managed to come away empty handed by considering the potential weight issues with my luggage at Heathrow
Next door Leicester University has established an exhibition based on the archeological investigation at Grey Friars Abbey. For many years the exact location of Abbey buildings was supposition. However, very soon after they began digging, not only was the site confirmed, but the team had the bigger news that they'd very quickly managed to locate what could be the remains of King Richard III who'd died at the battle of Bosworth. Once his remains were identified by DNA matching, the bun fight over ownership of his corpse began. York would like to bury Richard in York Minster; some people believe he should be interred at Westminster. Personally, I think he should be left in Leicester, not only because that would be an incredible boost to the local tourist industry and a huge reward for those who've worked so hard, but also because I see no reason to move someone from their final resting place
Since the University made the announcement on television a year or so back, we have watched the developments with interest. I am thrilled to announce that today I stood on the very spot under which Richard was found. An unassuming archway leads into the carpark at Grey Friars. A No Public Admittance sign was posted at the entrance. Feigning ignorance we wandered through vaguely, past workers who were leaving the building, giving them plenty of opportunity to tell us to nick off. We quietly posed for photos, being as respectful as my dancing feet would allow. Although the dig trenches have been filled and asphalt has been laid over the area, you can clearly see the strip that was excavated.
Onward to Bosworth field! This is a sensational heritage centre with something for everyone. As you enter (having paid and displayed of course),you pass the old tithe barn, restored and converted into a warm dining hall for visitors. We've noticed that English families bring their own lunch to these places and therefore you often have very little to choose from on the menu. It's more likely to be a pasty or a bit of cake, rather than a full meal. I guess by the time you pay for the whole family to get in, it's costly to buy food too. Yet we find other places like galleries selling pizzas and pasta. You enter the exhibition Centre which covers every aspect of the battle, including the armour which you can try on. A helmet is incredibly heavy and a chain mail hauberk weighs 8kg. No wonder it was easy to slay a knight once he'd been knocked off his horse!
This exhibition also tells the story of an archeological investigation, this time of Bosworth field itself. There are heaps of hands on activities-you can use a metal detector over a cross section of soil which brings up Roman coins, Saxon objects and a 20thC ring pull from a can.
Full sized replicas of Richard and Henry in their battle armour stand opposite each other. The armour and that made to fit a horse are meticulously crafted. The centre management have called upon modem day crafts people to make accurate depictions of items used in Richard's time. Dioramas with exquisite figures on horseback show knights riding into battle. They've thought of everything. Again, this is a marvelous place for kids. Whilst you can buy a timber sword with which to impale your brother, you can also pick up great books for beginner readers or a miniature tin knight on a horse.
The best part of this day was the 2km walk around the battle environs. Our guide Eddie is a retired Leicester policeman with a passion for Bosworth matched only by that of the local residents and Centre staff. Many of the people in our group of 20 walkers were from close by.
As we walked along the path, there were information bollards and memorials very tastefully designed. We saw the field where is believed Richard fell, but also understood more of how both armies came to the battle field. Above the bollard text may be a helmet of similar design top that worn by a foot soldier or mercenary, or a longbow may be imbedded in the post. At these or guide stopped to tell a story.
I'd come here again in a flash. Eddie describes the battle of Bosworth which would probably have lasted minutes rather than hours, as the Day of Two Kings. In the morning Richard was King. By the end of day, the legend goes, Henry had been crowned King by a nobleman who'd found Richard's Crown hanging in a hawthorn bush.
As the walking tour concluded, we looked across golden fields of rapeseed to where the barn stands that marks the spot where Richard fell and where 2000 men lost their lives. Beyond, we could see the spire of the church where many of them are buried. Suddenly the view was interrupted by the smoke from a steam train passing through the fields. Then a canal boat glided into view although you couldn't see a river. The irony of this is that you'd never know that idyllic scene was occurring in a place with such a sad brutal history.
It's Easter Saturday and we're now in Chipping Campden in a quirky old cottage in the Cotswolds. We've come to the conclusion that the owner was going for Shabby Chic, but has succeeded in just plain Shabby. Mostly clean, the cottage could however, do with a thorough spring clean and the replacement of tired old furniture.
We can forgive the long black hairs in the wash basin ams the four flights of stairs up to my bed loft, not to mention the handle that came off in my hand as I stepped into the bath....Because there is WiFi here!