Waterloo 424 (Small)Gazing across the calm, colourful, cultivated flat Belgian landscape it’s impossible to picture the manic mayhem that was happening here 200 years ago!

I would have been watching hundreds of troops, some of them dressed in elaborate uniforms, either on foot or on horseback, attacking each other. The air would have been filled with the booming of pistols and cannons, the banging of drums, the screams of injured and dying men and horses, while a thick cloud of cannon smoke wafted around them.

 

Hougoumont Farm

Hougoumont Farm

Arrangements are in full swing for the Commemoration.

Buildings are being frantically renovated. (They’ve had 200 years to do the work, so why the sudden rush?!)

A lot of the work is being done by enthusiastic volunteers, which is marvellous. But some of the work reminds me of mature American women who’ve been under the surgeon’s knife. The signs of ageing can be attractive and sometimes it’s possible to overdo the smoothness, trying to turn back time!

There’s a temporary exhibition next door to the Wellington Museum. It’s divided equally between Napoleon and Wellington, displaying items from their private lives.

3 trees with bullet holes

3 trees with bullet holes

I found it fascinating, and I was surprised at how much the two men had in common – including two of their mistresses!

All of the items are on loan, with more than 40 from London.

(I’d hate to be the Insurance Company responsible for it all. The collection is absolutely priceless!)

There are over 124 places called Waterloo in the world. After the Battle, soldiers went abroad and named various places Waterloo.

ABBA has visited the Wellington Museum; no surprise there, I think!

I wonder if any of them will appear at any of the 200th Commemoration events?

Not far away is Hougoumont Farm.

This is one of the most important sites of the battle.

There are three trees at the back and they still have bullets embedded in the trunks.

Somewhere near the farm is a mass grave with around 5,000 French and 800 English bodies in it. It’s never been excavated.

Napoleon's Last HQ

Napoleon’s Last HQ

The farm was sold in 1816, but as it had tenant farmers there, it has hardly changed.

It was bought from the owner’s family, who never lived there, in 2003.

What remains is the farm. The chateau caught fire and collapsed.

It’s all being renovated and will be a Gite with accommodation for a night or two.

Napoleon’s Last Headquarters is also undergoing frenzied renovations.

We were shown round, stepping over buckets and beams, and standing aside as workers rushed past with sacks of cement on their shoulders.

Hut filled with bones

Hut filled with bones

Our ‘Elf & Safety would have gone absolutely berserk, flapping clipboards around like 19th Century fans! No hard hats or luminous jackets, no steel-capped boots, no-one shouting, ‘Be careful!’ all the time; just our own brains and eyes. Wonderful!

I love being treated like a normal, intelligent Human Being!

Of course, this will all be cleared away when it’s open to the General Public.

bones

bones

At the end of the garden is a small hut with a metal grille at the front. It’s piled high with human bones. They’re all unidentified and it’s not known if they’re English or French bones. They’ve been collected from the battlefield, dug up by farmers and locals, and they’re stacked there, awaiting future archaeological progress.

 

God knows what collections are in local houses!

La Belle Alliance

La Belle Alliance

Our coach screeched to a halt as some of our group wanted to see La Belle Alliance, which was beside the duel carriageway.

Wikepedia says;

La Belle Alliance is an inn situated a few miles south of Brussels in Belgium.

On the morning of June 18, 1815 the inn became Napoleon Bonaparte‘s headquarters for the Battle of Waterloo.

After the battle, at around 21:00, the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard Blücher met close to the inn signifying the end of the fighting.

Belle Alliance farm. West Facade Ouest along the N5 in 2012.

Blücher, the Prussian commander, suggested that the battle should be remembered as la Belle Alliance, to commemorate the European Seventh Coalition of Britain, Russia, Prussia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Sardinia, and a number of German States which had all joined the coalition to defeat the French Emperor. Wellington, who had chosen the field and commanded an allied army which had fought the French all day, instead recommended Waterloo, the village just north of the battlefield, where he himself had spent the previous night, commenting that it would not do to name the battle after the loser’s command post. Nevertheless in 1815 the Rondell plaza in Berlin was renamed Belle-Alliance-Platz to commemorate the victory.

The building is currently used on Friday and Saturday evenings as a night club

Actually, it’s a bit more than a nightclub. All the windows are blacked out!

Lion Mound

Lion Mound

Built on the Battlefield, the Lion Mount is a grass-coated pyramid with a statue of a lion on the top. It can be seen for miles in the flat Belgian landscape.

Wikepedia says;

The Lion’s Mound (French: Butte du Lion, lit. ‘Lion’s Hillock/Knoll’; Dutch: Leeuw van Waterloo, lit. ‘Lion of Waterloo’) is a large conical artificial hill located in Waterloo, Belgium and raised on the battlefield of Waterloo, to commemorate the location where William II of the Netherlands (the Prince of Orange) was knocked from his horse by a musket ball to the shoulder during the battle. Its construction was ordered in 1820 by his father, King William I of the Netherlands, and completed in 1826. The prince fought at the preceding Battle of Quatre Bras (16 June 1815) and the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815).

View from top of Lion Mound

View from top of Lion Mound

It says that there are 226 steps to the top, but I beg to disagree.

I climbed to the top, pausing to get my breath after every 10 steps, and there are definitely 225 steps!

It’s a pretty steep upwards climb, but well worth it for the view. And I found it easy to come down again.

Just a few yards away from the Mound is the new 1815 Museum, which is mainly underground.

I was very privileged to be invited to the Official Opening.

 

Waterloo 437 (Small)A band in authentic costumes greeted us and Napoleonic/Wellington troops lined the way inside with swords raised.

It’s good to see that they’re all chums now!

In my job, I see a lot of museums. Some are old and impressive, although I can’t digest rooms full of paintings and sculptures for long. I get Artistic Indigestion.

But there’s a lot to do and see in the 1815 Museum, and it’s full of surprises.

Waterloo 427 (Small)I won’t tell you it all, Dear Readers, but you can walk along glass cases full of life-size soldiers; English on one side and French on the other.

There’s a replica of an 1800s balloon. You look out of the ‘basket’ and watch the battle below you. Then you get the feeling that the balloon’s flown higher, and it floats lower over another part of the battle.

It really feels as though you’re flying!

In the 3D Cinema, they play a 15-minute film of the battle re-enactment.

I put my finger over the end of Napoleon’s telescope, and the lady in front kissed a horse’s haunch as it trotted past her, although she wasn’t aware of it!

Balloon

Balloon

Absolutely mind-blowing was the verdict, and everyone applauded when it finished.

On its own is a glass case with the skeleton of an unknown soldier, found on the Battlefield.

He lies there in dignified death, and I’m sure that his family would be proud.

But oh no, there’s always one.

Someone (they know who he is) has been encouraging people to send hatemail about the skeleton to the Belgian Tourist Office, and they’ve had to waste a lot of time sorting it all out.

Waterloo 401 (Small)Waterloo 403 (Small)We’re all entitled to our own opinion, but it’s hate that starts wars in the first place!

I suppose that a lot of people are little dictators at heart, thinking they can order everyone around, and they often have gullible followers, which is sad!

Waterloo was a Battle and thousands of men lost their lives.

The Museums are Memorials to Commemorate, not to Celebrate.

What do these people expect to see, Mickey Mouse?!

Waterloo 390 (Small)

There are events from 12th-16th June, 2015, although some exhibitions will carry on throughout the year.

On Sunday 14th June at 10.30, there’s a Re-enactment of the Battle, with a 1500 Cast of different Nationalities, 20 guns and 60 riders.

We met some of the actors. They’re all volunteers. Their costumes are completely authentic copies, with the most amazing detail.

It will be an unforgettable occasion!

Waterloo 436 (Small)

www.whybelgium.co.uk,

The Wellington Museum  http://www.museewellington.be/

For the Waterloo memorial and other events and Napoleon’s last headquarters

http://www.waterlooandbeyond.be/en/actualites

http://www.waterlooandbeyond.be/en/inauguration-napoleons-last-headquarters-june

 

http://www.martinshotels.com/en/hotel/grand-hotel-waterloo

The Waterloo restaurants in Waterloo were

http://www.lamusoir.be/resto

http://www.restaurant1815.be/

http://www.lapepiniere.be/EN

 

http://www.waterloo-beer.com/

 

http://www.projecthougoumont.com/introduction.html

Sophie BOUALLÈGUE

Press & PR Manager

Belgian Tourist Office- Brussels & Wallonia

217 Marsh Wall, London E14 9FJ

Tel : +44 (0) 20 7531 0392

@Whybelgium

www.belgiumtheplaceto.be

 

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.