Monthly Archives: April 2013

Cambridge and the mystery of the table leg


Cambridge and the mystery of the table legCambridge is known as the home of the University of Cambridge, founded in 1209 and ranked one of the top five universities in the world.

Settlements have existed around Cambridge since before the Roman Empire. The earliest evidence of occupation is the remains of a 3,500-year-old farmstead discovered on the site of Fitzwilliam College.

After the Romans left, the Saxons took over the land on and around Castle Hill and renamed it CambridgeGrantabrycge – ‘Bridge over the river Granta’. Over the years the name of the river was changed to Cam. Hence the name ‘Cambridge’ it comes from the river name of CAM and the word BRIDGE. Some very old buildings are still scattered around the town, St Bene’t’s church is the oldest building in Cambridge. The Vikings ruled the area for a time in 875, later Willam the Norman conqueror built a castle on Castle Hill in 1068. Cambridge was made a town by Henry I in 1120 and the first college to be founded in the University of Cambridge was Peterhouse.

CambridgeThe Black Death came to Cambridge and nearly killed off the North part of the town in Cambridge1349, at the time, there were two parishes in Cambridge, these were merged as there weren’t enough people left to fill even one church, also, since over a third of the clergy had died, four new colleges were established at the University over the following years to train new clergymen. One of the most well-known buildings in Cambridge, King’s college chapel, was begun in 1446 by King Henry the sixth and was completed during the reign of King Henry the VIII.

Henry VIII made many changes in the educational institutions and a lot of colleges began teaching classical science instead of “scholastic philosophy”. Under the reformation, church lands began to be confiscated and that affected the Cambridge colleges. Trinity-college was opened in 1546 thanks to the sixth wife of Henry the VIII, she saved the land of two colleges from confiscation after convincing the King to unite two of the colleges into one called Trinity college.

Henry the VIII holding a table leg in his handThat’s why there is a statue of Henry the VIII in a niche above the doorway of the Great Gate, which is the main entrance to Trinity College. The statue had the King holding a sword in his right hand, but today he stands there holding a table leg in his hand instead of the original sword. Nobody really knows how the switch was carried out and by whom. The funniest thing is that most visitors do not notice this as they look around the college, unless someone points it out to them. Many stories have been told about this but to this day nobody knows how or when it happened.

At certain times during the student season you can make excursions to the colleges, there are Cambridge31 of them in the Cambridge University. Among the graduates from Cambridge University there are some 31 Nobel prize winners. One of the most famous known graduates is Isaac Newton, who discovered Gravity after an apple fell on his head as soon as he finished college.

The Science park of Cambridge is on a par with the Silicon Valley in the United States, the largest in Europe; it exists thanks to the scientific knowledge developed at the Cambridge University. But for some reason they call this park the Silicone bog, probably for fun.

CambridgeWalking along the streets in Cambridge you have to stop and admire some great architecture among the buildings, which cannot be compared with any other town in Britain. Cambridge city center is made up of commercial and historic Cambridgebuildings; it also have some very large green spaces and parks. As one of the “most beautiful cities in the world” it generates over £350 million a year from tourism. The city uses a lot more bicycles than any other in Cambridgethe UK and punting on the river Cam is a very popular recreation which generates great competition for the tourists among the punters and boaters on the river .

Finally, let us not forget that the future King and Queen of England are the current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Reflecting back to Henry the VIII and his statue above the entrance to the college, we would love to know the secret of that table leg in his right hand. May be some students did this as a funny joke many years ago, should any one alive today really know the secret, please do not tell as the mystery will vanish forever.

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Marlborough, Merlin the wizard and cigarettes


MarlboroughThere are a lot of myths and legends about Merlin the wizard. Did he ever exist? Who knows? Not only is Merlin’s name surrounded by lots of stories but often history is being written on the basis of myths. But the history of a small town called Marlborough is positively connected with the legend of Merlin the wizard. Apparently, this magician from the days of King Arthur is buried in a barrow (ancient name for grave) situated in the grounds of Marlborough College. Hence the name Marlborough derived from the words Merlin’s Barrow.

marlboroughOn an old map of Wiltshire dated 1611 the Marlborough town’s name is mentioned as Marlinges Boroe. You will also find that the motto of the town is written in Latin as (Ubi nunc sapientis ossa Merlini) – So where are the bones of the wise Merlin now? A legend will always remain a legend forever. However, we can find some historical facts from various documents mentioning that on this barrow near the town of Marlborough in 1067 William the (Norman) Conqueror built a wooden motto and bailey castle and we also find that Marlborough is mentioned in The Doomsday book of 1087.

MarlboroughAfter a medieval fire destroyed the town of Marlborough it was completely rebuilt and to this day itMarlborough, Merlin the wizard and cigarettes has the widest High street in the UK. Today there are many old buildings which create a peculiarly unique atmosphere of ancient times. The shape of the old city has not changed a lot, same as some of its traditions. In the middle Ages an annual Mop Fair took place where farmers came to hire workers. Today that same traditional event is still held annually when the high street is closed and turned into a fun fair.

The town of Marlborough is not widely known around the world. But a brand of cigarettes called “Marlboro” is world renown. The coincidence with the name is not Marlborough, Merlin the wizard and cigarettesaccidental. In 1847 the son of an emigrant from Germany called Philip Morris, opened a tobacco factory in London. The factory existed only until he died in 1873.

MarlboroughIn 1902 the name of Philip Morris was taken up by a tobacco company in New York which decided to name their brand of cigarettes “Marlboro”, after the street Great Marlborough in London. Unfortunately, the street name commemorates General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650 – 1722) who became famous during the Spanish wars. (From this heritage line we got Winston Churchill, the WW2 Prime minister, and Diana the princess of Wales).

So we can now say that the name of “Marlboro” cigarettes, is indirectly related to the Marlboroughtown of Marlborough and more so to Merlin the magician. Sometimes we come across some really unusual stories. Personally, I do not smoke nor do I like Marlboro or any other cigarettes but I like visiting this lovely small town to admire its originality, enjoy a drink on a cold evening by the fireside of a Public house and dream about the many stories I have heard of Merlin’s wizardry…

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Eilat – an oasis in the desert


Eilat (6)From all my travel over the warm countries and different sea resorts I remember a trip to the city of Eilat on the Red Sea
with vivid recollection. I came with my friends to a holiday at the green-blue sea with velvet sand. It was the excellent idea to go to the place with a lot of sunshine when winter nearly coming to Europe to prolong the fairy tale of summer. Eilat affectionate from tourists and lazy vacationers welcomes the late guests without vanity.

Eilat (5)The hotel where we stayed is situated further from the town center on the bank of the Red Sea Eilat (8)and has his own beach that creates a number of advantages. What a pleasure to lie on a chaise lounge or sand when the hundred first foot of the lazy sunbather tired of a solar scorching heat doesn’t try to cross over you! There is an opportunity to swim for a while in the sea among motley multi-colored small fishes who weren’t dispersed by numerous swimmers. In the evening in ringing silence under rare splashing of waves you can dream, it doesn’t matter about what you dreaming, just relaxing. If there aren’t enough entertainments in your local area, you can for a walk and find the amusement you like. All coastline is occupied only with hotels, cultural life boils in each of them.

Eilat (9)In the first evening we had a walk to the hotel executed inEilat (3) style of the Thai village. All wooden lodges and exotic trees were highlighted by multi-colored lights. Pools with azure water, curved bridges for lovers through artificial small rivers, wattles chaise lounges at water, the romantic atmosphere everywhere. Is it a fairy tale? Having taken pleasure in a charm of Thai landscapes, we glanced in some more number of located “oases”. In night with lights all surrounded area was fantastic and bright!

Eilat (7)Only one small disappointment we were not serve in cafe, so we did not get any coffee or beer. It was Saturday, and in Shabbat religious Israelis not only don’t take in hand the tool for opening of bottles, but also don’t press a button of coffee-machines. But some Arab cafes invited tourists admirers of other east culture to them tents.

In the morning we went to a small cruise to look at the underwater Eilat (1)world with picturesque coral reeves, alga’s, small fishes. Through transparent walls of the sea ship everything was in blue and green tones with gray shades. I expected bright colors, having seen enough earlier beautiful videos with illumination about underwater depths. But where can you find such picturesque view in reality? But anyway it was so beautiful!

Eilat (2)Eilat is a dream place, you are convinced, walking on its palm avenues, the sea embankment, looking in landscape exotic Eilat (10)parks of hotels with not repeating designs, magnificent architecture, azure pools. Music of orchestras, rock groups, singing of bards pour in the evening atmosphere of the city. Every each new corner gives you a pleasant surprise!

I take off a hat before the Israelis who have created such oasis in the desert! I would like to come back there again!

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