Category Archives: History

Full steam ahead

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Croc had seen several amazing sights since he had started his travels with Bertie and today he was in for a treat!

Croc and Bertie were becoming experienced travellers. Bertie, especially, has travelled by plane, car, van, camper van, 4 wheel drive, tuk-tuk, motorbike, boat and helicopter, and those are the ones he can remember. Today he was to show Croc the one thing he was yet to travel on.

As they emerged from the camera bag, Croc could see they were on a platform at a train station. He began to wonder where they were going today. Bertie had been distracted by the huge, green train which was opposite them. This was not the normal kind of train he was use to seeing. It was rounder, fuller and had huge wheels.

A sudden toot made both friends jump back into the safety of the bag. “What was that?” Whispered Croc. Bertie bravely when to have a look. He could hear a weird noise and couldn’t see much at first for some smoke. As the smoke cleared Bertie’s eyes grew big. Excitedly, he leapt into the camera bag and grabbed Croc before he could protest. He pulled him into the light and pointed.

There was a cloud of smoke and as it cleared a huge, steam train pushed its way through the smoke and began to move towards them on the tracks. Croc wasn’t sure about this huge, iron beast and tried to sink back into the bag, but Bertie wouldn’t let him escape this time.

Bertie explained they were perfectly safe as long as they weren’t on the tracks. He pointed to the safety lines marked out on the platform and explained to less than convinced friend, that the trains couldn’t come up here and they would be fine. Before Croc could argue, Bertie had dragged him onto the platform to pose for a photo in front of the train. Croc looked at his friend with some confusion. What had got into Bertie? He could hardly stay still. He was so excited he was hopping up and down on the spot.

Croc looked at Bertie’s happy face and shrugged. “Oh well” He thought, “if it makes him happy.” He followed the hopping and excited Bertie around the platform as he tugged at Croc whenever they came near one of the huge engines. At one point, a train made an long toot on its whistle and Bertie started clapping his hands! That made Croc laugh.

By the time they had made their way back to the safety of the bag, Bertie was all worn out. He slept all the way home!

Would you be excited to see a steam train?

Prehistoric rocks

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It was a warm, sunny day and Bertie and Croc knew what that meant, an adventure!

When they finally peeped out from the camera bag they could hear seagulls calling and the crashing of waves. They were on a long stretch of beach. Croc was mesmerised by the grey looking ocean. It had been a while since he had seen the sea. As Croc stared at the sea, Bertie was watching the people on the beach. They were crowding around the cliff’s and the many large rocks which had come to rest on the sand. He wondered what they were all looking at and why they found the rocks so interesting?

As they moved further down the beach the cold, biting wind had forced Croc to sink deeper into the bag. Bertie, being a little more hardly and use to the cold, braved the wind and watched the people crowding around the rocks fade away.

Bertie and Croc came to rest on a small rock, sheltered by the cliff face. Croc, being closer to the ground than Bertie, began to study the rock they were sat on. He nudged Bertie and pointed at a mark on the rock. Bertie looked in the direction Croc was pointing, and then did a double take! It was a FOSSIL!

Bertie had heard of fossils but never seen one! Croc slid down the rock to a lower ledge and pointed at another shape in the rocks….the fossils were everywhere! Croc looked confused. Bertie explained that a fossil is a the impression or remains of a prehistoric plant or animal which has been embedded in the rock and has been preserved. These little swirls and shapes were animals which were millions of years old.

Croc stared in disbelief at the small patterns in the rocks.

Bertie was scooped up and gently placed in the camera bag. Croc didn’t want to leave, he wanted to keep looking for more fossils. As he was scooped up he grabbed hold of a piece of rock in an attempt to stay. The rock broke away and Croc was lifted, rock and all, and placed in the camera bag. Bertie was shocked. He didn’t usually like the idea of taking things from beaches. He preferred to leave things for everyone else to see. He had to admit though, the fossils embedded in Croc’s rock were pretty cool.

Croc clung to his rock all the way home. In fact, Croc is laid on his windowsill spot right now, on top of his fossil covered rock!

Vicar’s Close

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It was a cold, crisp day and Croc was beginning to feel the chill. The one thing he had noticed about the UK was when he was in the sunshine it was pleasantly warm. As soon as he went into the shade, it was icy cold. He became very aware that there was a lot more shade than he would have liked in this country!

As they hopped back into the camera case, Bertie and Croc peered out at the huge, gothic Cathedral as they walked past. Croc noticed a small, stone archway and nudged Bertie to get his attention. Bertie shrugged and indicated that maybe they should have a little explore. After spending a lot of time with Croc Bertie was now very good at speaking in a silent code of points and nudges.

The camera bag had been put down carefully and it looked like Bertie and Croc’s companions were distracted by ice cream, so they took the opportunity to hop out and make their way through the stone arches.

Both of them never expected to find a small, cobbled street with house lining each side. The lampposts were old and black. The cobbles worn smooth by thousands of steps and people were scattered around taking photographs. How unexpected and odd? Thought Bertie.

Croc was distracted by the size of the chimneys on the small houses. He had never seen chimneys on houses until he came to this country. In the tropical climate he was use to there was no need for fires or heating in houses. You wanted to keep the heat OUT not IN in Darwin!

As Croc was looking around him, he noticed a sign. He nudged Bertie and pointed. Bertie had always been better with his letters than Croc was. As they read they discovered that this was Vicars’ Close, a historic street which was built over 650 years ago. The houses were used for the Vicars Choir to live in. Bertie explained to a puzzled looking Croc that a Choir was a group of people who sang in Churches and Cathedrals. As they walked down the street, Croc trying his hardest to remain on the sunniest side, they tried counting the houses but got too distracted looking at the shields which were in the stone work above each door.

How many houses can you count?

 

 

Bertie’s tour of Wells…..

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Croc woke with a sudden jerk. This was because Bertie had poked him with his paw. For a teddy bear, with soft stuffing and fur, Bertie had quite a solid paw when he wanted Croc’s attention!

Blurry eyed Croc dragged himself out of the bottom of the camera bag and peeped into the bright sunshine. He let his eyes adjust so he could see where his travelling buddy had disappeared to now. Bertie was sat proudly on a stone wall. Croc was beginning to get use to the fact that everything in the UK felt slightly cold to touch. He was use to the heat of the Australian sun warming everything until you would get serious burn marks if you dared to plant your bottom on it!

Croc was impressed with the sharp blue skies in this country. There was something about the crispness of an early morning that he liked.

Wearily Croc gingerly stepped onto the cold wall and made his way quickly to his travelling companion. Bertie pointed at the huge, gothic building in front of them and explained it was a Cathedral, called Wells Cathedral. It was built between 1175 and 1490. Croc thought that was a really long time to build something!

Croc had never seen a Cathedral before. They didn’t have structures as grand as this in Darwin and he began to wonder how a building this ornate and detailed would stand up to a cyclone or an earth quake.

The more Croc looked the more he could see. There were statues of Kings and Bishops nestled in their own crevices in the buildings architecture. Croc giggled as he noticed some of the  statues were now faceless after years of weathering, and they looked a little weird and slightly intimidating. Bertie explained that the statues alternated to show the historical relationship which the church and the rulers of the country had. Croc was too busy wondering why the building needed so many windows!? He kept loosing count of them all? How many can you count?

Bertie and Croc on Tor

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Bertie and Croc woke up to find themselves in the familiar camera bag. They could feel the motion of a car and looked at each other excitedly….they were going somewhere. It was then our observant friend Croc realised Bertie still wasn’t wearing the red ribbon they had searched high and low for. Croc looked at Bertie’s face, he had a huge grin on it and excited eyes. Being the wise Croc he was he decided now wasn’t the time to point out missing ribbons. Instead he engaged Bertie in a conversation about where they could be going?

When the car finally stopped, the intrepid friends had a little longer to wait until they could peek at where they were. There were voices outside the camera bag, which turned to huffing and puffing and Bertie decided he was glad they were where they were, because outside of the bag sounded like hard work!!!

When they finally stopped, and had played paper, scissors, rock to see who would open the bags’ zip first (which was an interesting game considering neither one of them could make a flat palm for paper), Bertie won and opened the zip slowly to reveal…..

Bright sunshine, but a cold, crisp day. They peeped out together and saw lots of people and a HUGE stone tower. Mesmerised by the tower in front of him, Bertie realised Croc was tapping him and he looked round to see the most spectacular view! Croc had a big grin on his face and sat happily on top of the camera bag admiring the panoramic scenery.

Bertie had heard of this place, it had been mentioned a few times. They were at Glastonbury Tor! Bertie knew this to be a very historical site, where artefacts from the Iron Age and Romans have been found. Bertie explained to Croc that the Tor has lots of myths and legends surrounding it, especially in relation to King Arthur. It is considered a very spiritual place by some people even now. Croc wasn’t sure about spiritual, as he glanced at a funny looking chap dressed in rainbow colours playing the guitar sat at the entrance to the Tor. He was sure that the view was pretty awesome! It wasn’t the same as the Dreamtime stories Croc was use to but he was beginning to like some of these historical sites in England.

Can you spot Bertie and Croc in the photo?

The Shambles

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As our two adventurers began to make their way away from the York Minister and towards the busy streets of the town centre, Croc began to crane his neck to watch the Minister disappear behind a mass of smaller buildings and busy people. Everyone seems to know exactly where they are going, thought Croc. Croc thought that the people rushing past him looked like bees buzzing around in their own worlds seemingly oblivious to everything and everyone else around them.

Bertie had saved the best for last. As they were making their way back to the car Bertie took Croc down a narrow street. The houses here were higgledy piggledy, lopsided, and so close together Croc could hardly see the sky. It gave the whole lane a sense of darkness and spooky gloom.

This is The Shambles, explained Bertie. It is one of the most famous streets in York. It is said to be the best preserved medieval street in the world. Historically, The Shambles was a street of 26 butchers shops and houses. The paths beside the narrow road are raised up to create a channel which would have allowed the butchers to wash away the blood and offal. Croc felt slightly sick.

Bertie also pointed out how the fifteen century buildings lean into the middle of the cobbled street which would have meant that the roofs would have nearly touched. This was a problem in London and allowed the historic Great Fire of London to spread quickly from house to house.

Croc felt a cold shiver. Growing up in the Northern Territory he had never seen so many houses squashed into one place. There is so much history here, thought Croc as he continued to peep out of the pocket as they made their way down The Shambles. He was relieved to be going back to the car for a rest as his little Crocodile brain felt much like the street he was walking down…..busy and ready to burst with such an overload of information.

The Shambles

All images and text copyright of Samantha Key 2016