Saturday, March 12, 2011

Betty and the Real World

St. Martinikerk, Groningen
A Matter of Chance:
Giles takes Cressida to church at St. Martin's Church (Groningen), which she describes as 'lofty' and 'splendid' with a 'five-storied spire'.  The English wiki page is woefully slim but thank heavens for the 'Translate page' feature on Google.  We get wonderfully intriguing sentences like these: By expanding to the west, the existing tower in the Church.  This solution proved unsuccessful, in 1468 the tower collapsed, taking the ship damaged. 

During WWII, Giles' father is taken to a concentration camp and I tried to figure out which one was closest to Groningen:
On 15 December 1938, the Dutch government closed its border to refugees. From then on, any refugees would not have any rights. In 1939, the Dutch government erected a refugee camp, Centraal Vluchtelingenkamp Westerbork, financed, ironically, partly by Dutch Jewry, in order to absorb fleeing Jews from Nazi Germany. The Jewish refugees were housed after they had tried in vain to escape Nazi terror in their homeland. During World War II, the Nazis took over the camp and turned it into a deportation camp. From this camp, 101,000 Dutch Jews and about 5,000 German Jews were deported to their deaths in Occupied Poland. In addition, there were about 400 Gypsies in the camp and, at the very end of the War, some 400 women from the resistance movement.
As Giles' father was a male in the resistance movement, it is likely that he would have been taken here temporarily and shunted off somewhere else more awful.  Anne Frank stayed there for a month before her final destination at Auschwitz.
While this is all very interesting, I'm not going to include a picture. I do like it when Betty includes these little details that hint at what life was like for a woman of her age (instead of the age of her heroines).


A Suitable Match:

They take a visit to the Kew gardens orangery:
As its name suggests, the Orangery was designed as a hothouse to grow citrus plants but the low levels of light made it unsuitable for this purpose. In 1841, Kew's Director Sir William Hooker shifted the building’s ailing orange trees to Kensington Palace and installed large glazed doors at either end of the Orangery to improve its effectiveness. Thereafter he used the building to house plants too big for other glasshouses.
It became a tea room in 1989 and a restaurant several years later.

I couldn't resist this picture of Dutch Queen Beatrix and the Sultan
His brother and sister-in-law met their maker in conjunction with a trip to Brunei--whose official name is Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace: The head of state is  His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, though the country is under 'hypothetical martial law'. ( I wonder what that means?) Anyway, I don't think of Brunei without thinking of the over-sexed Sultan, which is a shame as it might be a perfectly lovely place to vacation...