The Queen’s hamlet

The Hameau de la Reine. Marie Antoniette amusement at Versailles.

Though I couldn’t participate in my high school scholar trip, fortunately, my parents allowed me to attend the French studies exchange the following year.

One of the four days that we were accommodated in Paris, we went to visit “Le châteaux de Versailles”. An impressive palace built in the reign of Louis XVI.

When you leave the house, an impacting vision catches you. A vast perspective, which leads the look from the water to the horizon, reflects the setting sun. Majesty of Versailles’s gardens are equal to Versailles’s castle, where the variety of plants and trees, and fountains and statues’ design immerse you in another unreal and fairy-tale world. Visitors are delighted when they come into the simple and rustic ambiance of “The Hameau de la Reine” or “The Queen’s hamlet”.

I was literally breathless. I took me several minutes to be again myself for it scared me as well. A kind of play village with Normandy-style thatched cottages, small and rustic farm with animals, tower, mill, dairy…It was said that the Queen and her attendants would dress as shepherdesses while they milked cows and harvested fruits. It gives you the illusion that you are deep in the countryside, and Robin Hood and the King Arthur could turn the corner.

If you want to cisit the place, click on http://www.chateauversailles.fr/domaine-marie-antoinette

Reina

Advertisements

MY BUILDING: “NURAGHE”

I was 25 years old when I was living in Sardinia and I discovered the Nuragic culture. Nuraghe has become the most important symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture and is probably the most photographed monument in the island.

The nuraghe is the main type of megalithic edifice dating back before 1000 BC. The typical nuraghe is situated in a panoramic spot and has the shape of a truncated conical tower. Some of them are more than 20 metres in height.

There is a similar type of structure which has a corridor or a system of corridors called “nuragic village”.

The use of the nuraghes has not been determined: they could have been religious temples, ordinary dwellings, rulers’ residences, military strongholds, meeting halls, or a combination.

Today, there are more than 8,000 nuraghes still extant in Sardinia, although it has been estimated that they once numbered more than 30,000.

Susana

THE QUEEN ELIZABETH II GREAT COURT (BRITISH MUSEUM)

Last summer, I spent some days in London and visited the British Museum. I had been told about its magnificent collection and I was aware of the fact that it would be completely impossible to see everything in a day.  Besides, British Museum’s visitors often suffer from a kind of Stendhal syndrome because of the incredible large amount of art, feeling dizzy or even faint after some hours. Therefore, I hoped to live an unforgettable experience.

However, what made me feel most astonished, was not a masterpiece, but the Great Court. As soon as I entered the Museum and found myself into that vast space full of light, I was speechless and amazed. I didn’t expect at all that innovative hall in such an ancient building.

In fact, opening in December 2000, this new heart of the British Museum was built by the architect Norman Foster to commemorate the new millennium. Its most remarkable element is the web-like roof built from steel and glass. It was thought to solve problem of access, circulation and congestion and it has become a sort of urban covered square where the exhausted visitors can rest for a while.

And so did I! When I was completely worn out, I sat there for more than an hour, looking first at the stressed people who tried to see everything and then looking up to see some doves that were walking in a funny way over the glass roof. I felt completely relaxed and inspired. I had been able to avoid the Stendhal syndrome.

Conchi Olea.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host” is the first book of a trilogy, which will have been completed with The soul and The Seeker. These books have caused the same expectation as the preceding debut saga, the international best-seller TwilightStephenie Meyer amazes us with a romantic and science-fiction novel for adults.

‘A nail-biting love and treason story where humanity destiny is at stake. The Earth has been colonized by aliens who invade and take over human bodies. Wanderer, one of the invading souls, has to face indescribable emotions, dreams and regards from Melanie’s soul. She refuses to give up her mind without havifinding Jared. A loving triangle with only two bodies.’

Written in a nice and easy style, immediately accessible to any reader, with a infallible formula that you will get you hooked on it. It is a human story faraway from the language and topics of this genre (spacecrafts, ray guns..), set at our days, where confused human feelings and emotions are told in an elegant and wonderful observed way.

This captivating writer shows us an eloquent form to introduce characters, but baffled at the same time, as they entwine to confuse the reader. Melanie symbolizes the courage, the power and the human devotion, opposite to Wanderer, a candid and insecure creature who must decide between her feelings and carrying out one’s duty.

This is not the best book I have come across, but it is undoubtedly one that catches you all at once, the five books, one after the other.

Reina Pérez

THE FAMOUS FIVE ON A HIKE TOGETHER by Enid Mary Blyton

The famous five are four determined children with a dog who solve mysteries and get tangled up with smugglers and other criminals.

The stories always take place during the children’s school holidays. Every time they meet, they want nothing more than to stroll about the countryside and have picnics, but the adventures just come along.

In “Five on a Hike Together” they have to solve a strange message and a map showing a criss-cross. The story involves their adventures in a burned-out house by the side of a lake where the children have to search for some treasure. However, they have rivals: two unpleasant criminals, Maggie and Dirty Dick.

The five are two brothers and a sister, Julian, Dick and Anne, and their cousin George (Georgina) a tomboy with short hair and boy’s clothes who owns a large dog, Timmy. They are aged between 12 and 10. They are intelligent, responsible and brave. Julian, the oldest, is the leader of the group and sometimes a bit strict. Anne, the youngest, takes care of their domestic duties during the Five’s various camping holidays. Timmy is a very clever dog, affectionate and loyal that provides physical protection for the children.

This book is written in a style accessible to any Spanish reader. The language is easy and the scenes are described with simplicity. The fast pace of the writing keeps reader’s attention. It’s a page-turner full of twists.

If you have been and still are a five fanatic, I recommend you to read this book with your adult view. You’ll discover things you didn’t think about when you were a child and you’ll think how naïve you were!

Nowadays, I’m 35 years old and I have had the same butterflies in my stomach as the first time I read the book. I have let my imagination run away with me again. I was really hooked. It has been very exciting.

Susana

An impressing building

One building that has impressed me is the monastery of Santa María de Valdedios. It is located in the Asturian council of Villaviciosa, and belongs to the Catholic Parish of Puelles.

I visited it last year during a stage of Santiago’s Pilgrimage which I did with other students from the School of Languages.

What strikes me most is how people in those days were capable of carving such big stones and assemble them in order to build enormous vaults and arches’ supported by high plasters with beautiful figures carved in the capitals. From my point of view, it must be God who helped them to do these wonders.

by Manuel