Friday, 31 July 2009

King ‘enry IV

There was much excitement in the local press a few months ago. The castle was to get an important new exhibit for the summer season.
I had my “get into the castle free” card, which I won at the Local car treasure hunt earlier this year, so I waited until last Sunday to play it. It is always better to wait until the initial rush of interest is past. (Although in Bristol the Banksy exhibition still has 2 hour queues a month or so after its opening.) Yes I have a team of informants all over the globe working for me.
It was a lovely, hot day with a clear blue sky.
My ticket got me in safely and I ignored the tourists who were wandering around cluelessly, probably not realising the historical extra a few metres away.
I decided to draw out the anticipation, so I went into the vaulted museum. Bits of masonry from the original abbey, and some bits of reproduction? armour and weapons. Still a bit on the dull side then.
Next stop the round tower. This is a bit nouveau in the architecture front, having been only been built recently, in the first half of the 15th century, and more than 400 years after the first counts of Foix built the original castle. It was built in front of the other 2 towers as a “look at me, I’m very rich and powerful” gesture, and was residential rather than for fortification purposes.
I went up the spiral stone steps, peeping into the rooms as I ascended. No bed.
Bed? What bed? I hear you say. Must I explain everything? Surely word of the movement of this great treasure has reached as far as Indianapolis, Alabama, Nepean and the UK? No? Well you probably read the wrong newspapers and magazines.

Yes King Henry IV’s bed has returned to the castle. Not that it was ever in the castle in the first place nor that the good old king ever spent a night in the castle.

The bed is a bit like Neil Armstrong and those other astronauts who are still alive and who walked on the moon, ie in the case of the astronauts, not a single molecule of their current body existed when they made their epic voyage. The bed has been restored to within an inch of its life. Most of the wood is probably original, but the curtains, drapes etc are all newly authentic.
I enclose some photos of the information cards for those who are heavily into silk thread and fabrics. The words might be visible if you click on the photo to make it bigger. The same goes for the Henry info card. I get so many requests for knitting tips and patterns from readers, that I know that this is the kind of information you want.
Anyway, now that you are all up to speed, back to the round tower. I popped out onto the roof and into the fresh air. I took this photo just to show what the day was like. You are looking roughly in the direction of Andorra in Spain.

While I was up there a bloke appeared, followed by a boy and his Jack Russell dog. How it managed to get up all those stairs with its little legs, I don’t know. The dog must have struggled too. Remember it was very hot. No water for the dog in sight. This leads me to a dog owner observation. Some dog owners are stupid twats and make me cross!
I unspiraled down the stairs and went up the narrower spiral stairs of one of the square towers.
At last the bed and I were in the same place. Not that it was of any use to sleep on, as a young French girl of about 5 discovered as she ducked under the barrier and headed straight for it, setting off a piercing alarm siren. Some parents are also twats! Young children should be kept on leads at all times.
Well, you have suffered enough. I will leave you with the photos of the lit du Roi. He did sleep in it, but in another castle in the Ariege. p.s just a quick note to Jan and her husband David. In principle I have nothing against your plan to knit winter duffle-coats for Shetland ponies. Remember to leave holes for the ears in the coat hoods though!

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