History always repeats itself…

So Dominic Cummings has left No.10 (and I rejoice with the news!). Well, it is always the case, isn’t it? The tail gets too big for the head and as a result, it’s get casted off.

The angry-faced land turtle’s fall from the grace reminds me about another such man, Jacques Cœur. A famous self-made man in the 15th Century Bourges France.

Mum and I visited Bourges during our road trip in 2018 and had an opportunity to visit Jacques Cœurs Palace which was one of the tourist attractions.

Jacques Cœurs Palace on the left!

As the name suggests, the place was built by Jacques Cœurs, who was born as a son of a marchant around the end of the 14th Century. Despite his humble origin, he amassed his wealth through hard work and his knack for successful business dealings.

French château style

Because of his outstanding financial acumen, Charles VII made him master of mint in 1436. The king’s instruction to Cœur was to reform the present coinage system and he must have impressed the king with the end result so much because the king decided to promote him as steward of the royal expenditure three years later.

A huge fireplace!
Simple but beautiful masonry work
All the rooms were huge!
Beautiful decor!

His rise to a position of influence was symbolised by the ennoblement of him and his family in 1441. The king sent him to numerous important foreign missions as ambassador.

Another ornate fireplace…
Overdoor sculpture…
Another reference to Cœur’s wealth through trading overseas…
More intimate gallery with a model of the palace…

With his amassed fortune through his various offices of states, he built more than a few palatial properties and the Bourges’ one was most luxurious amongst them.

Family chapel was most richly decorated…
Beautiful ceiling!
A tour coming almost to the end…

Jacques Coœur’s fall from the grace came in 1451 when the king ordered his arrest.

Is this Cœur himself?

Because of Cœur’s monopoly over banking and trading caused lots of resentment amongst his contemporaries, even the king himself. Around his arrest, the king was planning a campaign for Guienne and the seizure of the accused’s assets was convenient addition to his war chest.

Out of door, out of pocket…

Those people, who ousted from the power, never learn from history, do they? The reality is, nobody is indispensable and if you make too many enemies, you will be pushed out in the cold sooner or later.

The place was confiscated by the king…

In the 19th Century, the place was used as a courthouse and underwent a careful restoration work in the 20th Century.

‘Shall we move on, Mum?’ we decided to head towards the town centre for late lunch.

London half filled

Last Monday, Hubbie and I went to a clinic on Fleet Street for flu jab. Since the jab reputed to reduce the risk of serious hospitalisation from corona virus, it was a no-brainer decision for us.

From a double decker’s window toward Aldrich…

It was still a few days shy of the second lockdown but the city looked like starting to wind down already. The traffic was light and the streets were empty.

‘Let’s have lunch at Shake Shack!’ We walked towards Covent Garden along Drury Lane.

Surprisingly, building works along the street were busy and somehow furious while theatres and restaurants were deathly still. We wondered what kind of landscape would emerge after this COVID-19 saga.

QR codes filled world is a pain!

At Shake Shack, we were told to scan a QR code in order to pay for our food and drink. However, the procedure didn’t work despite we each tried using our iPhones more than five times. In the end, Hubbie donned a face mask went to the inside of the restaurant and placed the order.

Yay, my burger & chips!

During the first lockdown, Shake Shack was shut down completely – even delivery service, and as a result, we were deprived of our small weekend joy (SS burgers & fries with Netflix) for nearly six months. I hope they will keep going with their takeaway service this time around.

Giant mistletoes over our heads…

We found it so ironic that no one would be allowed to kiss under those mistletoes this Christmas unless you were wearing a face mask. Why on earth did they choose mistletoes as this year’s display? Being ironic?…

The clinic was a stone’s throw from High Court of Justice…

A few tv crews were setting up cameras at a traffic island in front of the high court’s entrance and we wondered if it was anything to do with Johnny Depp’s lost libel case.

I must say that the clinic was the busiest place in London! People filed in every few minutes for the jab and a woman at the reception looked overwhelmed by the surge.

I felt relieved that we both managed to receive the jabs before the lockdown. Two weeks ago, when I booked our appointment, I had no idea that the second lockdown would start from the 5th November. The clinic may stay open for emergency but I can’t imagine they open for routine appointments such as vaccination.

After the clinic, we walked along Chancery Lane towards Grey’s Inn Road & Clerkenwell Road junction.

‘Wow, there are so many buildings and premises related to the legal professions here!’ I was excited to find a few men’s clothings shops, like Jermyn Street’s, but a barrister’s wig and a gown in their window display.

This is what I brought home. A Christmas card and a musical box for my mom…

I bought them from Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden. They stock fabulous 3-D cards and also pretty gifts for all ages. The shop floor was reduced to half and most of the items were behind the counter but the display was dense and it was lovely to be surrounded by beautiful and cheerful objects! The owner remembered me because he was a big fan of Bella and we chatted about our experiences during the first lockdown. We both agreed that the past six months were just a blur, despite many local and global crises. It was like endurance swimming without a goal in sight, we mulled…

Hey, I’m still here!

What can I say? I neglected my blog again and I am not proud of it. However, the time has been hard, physically and mentally. And it still is tough.

During time like this, I tend to go on automatic pilot. I stick to routines and avoid thinking about anything too deeply.

When will I be free? When will the world be free? The question I ask everyday.

Still, life goes on, doesn’t it? I have to be alive here and now. And restarting my blog may help me…

Bourges

In spite of our hotel being right next to a large church, their bell stayed silent and therefore it didn’t wake us up in the morning. ‘No Sunday survive, today?’, we wondered as we got ready to check out from the hotel.

A quiet Sunday morning…

I left mum and some of our luggage on a side street and went to the car park and retrieve our car. That morning, we were heading to Bourges, 342km away from Lyon.

Lyon to Bourges!
Bourges, here we come!

After 4 hours on the road, we arrived at Bourges in early afternoon. The streets were virtually empty and the whole place seemed to be having a nap after a Sunday lunch.

Where is everybody?

I left mum in a hotel lobby and moved our car to a cobbled side street. The inside of the hotel was as quiet as the outside. And it took for a while until a receptionist to notice our arrival. ‘So sorry. I didn’t realise that you are here!’, she apologised and handed us card keys.

Our room was on the second floor and it had a large window facing a courtyard.

Sumptuous beds to stretch out!

After unpacking some of the luggage, we decided to explore Bourges’ old town centre.

Only a few people on the streets

Originally, Bourges was inhabited by the Gauls until Julius Caesar’s forces captured and destroyed it in 52 BC. The Romans reconstructed the town in the Roman style with aqueducts, Roman baths and an amphitheatre. Julius Caesar himself was fond of the place and as a result, the place was substantially equipped and fortified as a stronghold.

In the 12th century, Bourges became a royal city. It was because Eudes Arpin, the Viscount of Bourges, sold his possessions to Philip I, the king of France, in order to finance his crusade. In 1137, his second son, Louis VII, was crowned in the old Cathedral of Bourges while his young wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, presided. If you are into history of medieval Europe like me, the name like Eleanor of Aquitaine really excite you, doesn’t it? She ran away from her religious husband and into the arms of Henry II of Plantagenet! And this Henry, his feud with Thomas Becket, aka Saint Thomas of Canterbury! It’s so enticing…

After negotiating a few cobbled streets on foot, we reached at the perimeter of the old town centre.

Over the stair into the town centre

Beyond the stone stairs, there was Palais Jacques Coeur, a palatial house of a (very) wealthy French man. And I am going to write about our visit in my next entry!:)

Dinner at Lyon

What an extraordinary period we are experiencing! The BLM movement which is happening globally is, for me, a very positive event and I love it to continue growing until racial discrimination is eradicated. Yes, we are still in amidst of the coronavirus crisis. But something as important as this can’t wait because it will be inconvenient for someone else. The tide is taking over all of us…

Now, let’s go back to one evening in Lyon two years ago.

In the past, I visited more than a few largish French cities such as Rennes, Strasbourg, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, and they never failed to impress me. Unlike their largest counterpart, Paris, their streets were litter-less and beautifully maintained, and I loved their relaxed atmosphere. And if I were pressed to choose one French city I found the most charming, my answer would have to be Avignon. The city was packed with charm – their pedestrian friendly streets, leafy squares with cafes and restaurants, private boutiques with unique offerings, etc. I loved the place because they had everything I expected from a historic French city in one handy package.

A mellow early evening in Lyon

Having said that, I still recall good vibes which I picked in the late afternoon air of Lyon’s city centre. Lively but civilised, sophisticated yet not snobby, I liked the place very much.

‘So what do you fancy for dinner, mum?’ I asked her as we left our hotel room. ‘Anything. I don’t mind as long as it is not too herby or spicy.’, came her usual reply. ‘Well, it’s very helpful, mum.‘, I sighed.

Can I tell you how my mom can be a real pain when it comes to food? she has so many foods she dislikes, and choosing a restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be very tricky. Her most pet hate is Asian herbs and spices in general therefore Thai or Vietnamese or Indonesian are big no-no. With her, there won’t be any culinary adventure. How sad…

‘Let’s check out rue Mercière. It looks like there are lots of restaurants, according to Google!’

The street was lined with many eateries and some restaurants’ alfresco dining areas were already snapped up by early diners.

Too many places to choose from!

Mum started to say that she wanted Moules-Frites with beer and we sat for a while at one of the outdoor tables of A Belgium restaurant. However, they seemed to be not quite open for business yet and we didn’t see much activities in the inside of the eatery. After sitting around 15 minutes, we gave up and started looking for somewhere else.

‘How about Italian, mum?’ We found anItalian bar/restaurant on rue Thomassin which looked inviting.

Lively but not too raucous…

We were swiftly ushered to a table next the open window by a smiley staff and we eagerly ordered well-earned cold beer…

Ahhh, we missed you!

For dinner, we opted for a platter of antipasto and a plate of multigrain and roasted vegetable salad…

Voilà! Bon appétit 🙂

Mum seemed to enjoy her beer and food. ‘Italian is the safest bet if we are not sure what to eat.’, she smiled as she munched on.

After dinner, we made a detour to a mini supermarket before heading back to a hotel.

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière in the distance

‘Look at these apples!‘

We would have bought a couple of them if the season was right…

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