Tag Archives: History

Fountains of wishes

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Bertie and Croc were feeling a little hot in the comfort of the black camera bag. Every now and again, Bertie would waft the corner of the bag open in an attempt to create a slight breeze…..it didn’t work very well and usually resulted in more warm air coming into the bag.

Bertie lifted the flap of the bag for the third time. There were lots of voices and noise outside, which was different from the honking horns he had heard the last time he had attempted to let some air in. He braved a peek out of the bag and realised they had stopped.

There were crowds of people. He had not seen this many people since they were in the Vatican. “We must be somewhere important” Thought Bertie and went to nudge Croc. Croc was already beside Bertie, which made him jump a little. “That was unexpected!” Bertie said to his friend. “I usually have to come hunting for you at the bottom of the bag.” Then Bertie noticed something. His friends eyes were wide and Croc was staring in the direction of all the people. Bertie strained to see what he was looking at and as his eyes adjusted to the bright light he could see water.

“Oh no!” Thought Bertie, “Here we go again!”

Being a Crocodile, and being from the tropics, Croc had a certain fascination with water. Especially when it was as warm as it was today. They began to move again. This time they were making their way towards the water and Bertie could see that it was actually a fountain. The fountain had the most magnificent sculptures behind it. The water was the most beautiful turquoise blue and Bertie had to admit it did look very inviting.

Bertie began to look around for some clues as to where they were. Croc began to look around for an escape route to the fountain. He wasn’t quite brave enough to make his way out of the bag and pick his route through the crowds. Bertie saw a sign. “Oh my” He thought. “This is the Trevi Fountain.” He explained to Croc. “It is one of the most famous fountains in the world!” Croc continued to look at the crystal clear waters. Bertie carried on explaining that if you throw a coin in the fountain you will return to Rome. Some people even believe you can make a wish and it will come true! Croc thought, if you throw a crocodile in the fountain they will be very happy indeed and that would definitely be a wish come true!

They were achingly close to the water now and Croc, in a fit of bravery, made a leap for freedom. He tumbled down onto the railings. He began to make his way towards the water and away from Bertie’s shouts. A man, not noticing the small crocodile knocked Croc and sent him sliding further along the railing. He bumped into the arm of a lady and then fell a few inches onto the concrete below the railings. He began to feel scared. He started to forget about the water as he tried to dodge the people who were crowding around him.

“Eek” Croc squeaked as he was nudged again, this time back towards the direction he had just travelled from. He covered his eyes then felt a soft pair of hands on him guiding him to safety. It was Bertie. Croc grabbed onto his little friend in a fit of relief and let himself be led back to the safety of the camera bag! Thank goodness for good friends, thought Croc as he snuggled bac into the safety of the bag. Bertie closed the zip just in case Croc got any more ideas and they felt themselves being carried away from the crowds and the magnificent fountain.

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Gladiators and crocodiles

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Bertie and Croc were looking forward to a restful day. They had spent an entire day touring the Vatican in Rome and being wowed round every turn at the amazing art work. Bertie had been so excited to see the Sistine Chapel that he had completely worn himself out! Croc was silently pleased when his best friend fell into a deep slumber and didn’t awake until the next day. Croc liked his quiet time, it was when he did all his best thinking! He did find that having a friend as excitable as Bertie was brilliantly motivating but he didn’t get much time to think.

The next day both friends were awoken by the hustle and bustle from outside the camera bag. The walls of the bag had heated up in the morning sun and Croc had, subconsciously, moved towards the warmest wall and was snoozing contently.

As they peeped out of the zip in the bag they both realised they were about to exit a busy train station. They blinked as they came out into the bright sunshine and then Bertie’s jaw dropped at the sight in front of him. Looking at his friend, Croc could feel the excitement buzzing from Bertie. Bertie tugged at Croc’s paw!

“Do you know where we are?” Said a wide eyed Bertie. Croc shook his head, confident in knowing that Bertie was fast approaching his tour guide mode and he would soon find out without having to use any brain power what so ever. “It’s a very, very important historical place.” Started Bertie.

As Croc looked at the crowds of people around him, milling around the large, ruined building in front of him he began to notice everyone forming orderly queues at the entrances like little ants going into an ant hill. He didn’t fancy standing in those queues and was relieved when they turned off down the side of the building and began to explore the outside.

As Croc half listened to Bertie’s excited chatter he picked up some words, such as Gladiators, fighting, Colosseum, entertainment. It didn’t sound very entertaining to Croc, exhausting yes, entertaining not so much. Then his little crocodile ears picked up…..Bertie said “bears” and “even crocodiles”!

“What?” Thought Croc, people would fight animals like him and his best friend in this large, circular structure? He shook his head in shock. He looked at the flimsy metal fence around the Colosseum and thoughtfully wondered was it there to keep the people n and the crocodiles out or the other way around? People really were weird he decided as he sat comfortably next to Bertie to pose in front of the magnificent and extremely interesting round building behind them.

A Bishops Castle

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Croc had learnt quite a bit about history and religion in his short visit to Wells. He was surprised how the two often went hand in hand. Darwin had a completely different kind of history to this country, and the Northern Territory certainly wasn’t the place for grand Cathedrals and huge, ancient buildings, more rock paintings and lots of red dirt! The cyclones in Darwin would flatten the stone structures he had seen so far and the heat and red dirt would stain the walls, like it did with everything in the desert regions. White was never really white in the Northern Territory!

As they rounded a corner, Bertie and Croc peeped out from the zip in the camera bag eager to see where they were going to next. They heard the birds before they saw them! Now if you have been reading Bertie and Croc’s adventures for some time you may recall Croc had a nasty introduction to swans (click here to read the post)……he wasn’t quite over this. There, in front of him, as they rounded the corner were……SWANS!

Croc tried to drive deeply into the bottom of the camera bag but he got wedged between the lens of the camera and the wall of the bag. Bertie, seeing his friend was in trouble, gave Croc’s tail a tug and pulled him loose. Bertie held Croc’s trembling claw and pointed to what was beyond the swans.

Croc’s eyes widened……it was a castle!!! He suddenly forgot the swans. Bertie explained that while Croc was wedged in the camera bag, they had stopped by a sign which told the story of a swan learning to ring a bell for his tea. The castle wasn’t a castle. It was called the Bishops Palace and the Bishop would often come out and feed the swans when he lived there a long time ago.

Croc was confused. Why would a Bishop need a palace? From what he had learnt from history so far, only Kings had palaces? Bertie explained that the Bishop was VERY powerful and that is why statues of the Bishops were next to those of the King of the Cathedral in Wells. The Bishop was worried that people would try to kill him so he built a palace with a proper portcullis and moat and EVERYTHING.

Croc was relieved when they moved away from where the swans were located. He relaxed and began to enjoy the view. It was a truly beautiful day. He began to wonder what it would be like to live in a palace……..?

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