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Alice -- Victoria!

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Welcome to the 2012 Victorian Extravaganza in Llandudno, the largest street entertainment event in Wales.

My Dearest Cousin Anne,

Have been invited to Llandudno in Wales first week of May to participate in the town's annual Victorian Extravaganza celebrations. Shall also be doing book signings at Waterstones book store for my book, The Real Alice in Wonderland. Wondering if you would be interested in joining me?

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My Dear Cousin Cathy,

I'm in! I assume when you say Victorian Extravaganza, you're referring to Victoria as in the British Queen (24 May, 1819 - 22 January, 1901); real name: Alexandrina Victoria; nickname: Drina. Born in England, only spoke German until age 3. Married first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, at age 16 (she had to propose to him because as Queen that was the protocol). Ascended British throne in 1837 at age 18. Had nine children who produced 42 grandchildren. Married them all off to members of European Royal families. Became known as the Great Grandmother of Europe (FYI, cousin -- the present Queen, Elizabeth II and husband, Prince Phillip are both her great-great grandchildren!) Her 63-year, 7-month reign (the longest of any female monarch in history) is known as the Victorian Age, noted for great industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military innovation. Britain became most powerful country in the world, and Victoria, the ruler of one quarter of the world's population. And she was only 5 feet tall! Hence her famous quote, "Everybody grows but me!"

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My Dearest Cousin Anne,

'Tis the one and same Victoria. I recall reading that a pair of her royal bloomers measured 50 inches around the waist (a 28 inch increase from her accession dress) in the 1890s. Alice in Wonderland might have commented, "Don't talk nonsense. You know you're growing too."

Some historical trivia on the real Alice and Victoria: Alice Liddell and her family regularly spent holidays at their holiday home in Llandudno. Alice was actually romantically linked to Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold... it's all in my book, The Real Alice in Wonderland!

On the subject of Llandudno, some interesting things two cousins should know: Kate and Wills (Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) live close by in Anglesey. The town's origins go back over 4000 years, thanks to some of the oldest and finest copper mines in the world. We could visit the oldest mine on Llandudno's mountain, the Great Orme. We can take the tramway to the St. Tudno church at the summit, from which the town takes its name. The great Victorian transformation of the town into the largest seaside resort began in 1809. By 1864, it was known as "Queen of the Welsh Resorts." Along its North Shore runs a wide curving Victorian promenade. An award-winning pier was built in 1878 (Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova appeared here). Building the pier had the same effect as building an airport. Holiday seekers begin arriving in droves to enjoy the beautiful scenery and breathe the clean sea air. We should check out Professor Codman's Punch and Judy show, which opened in 1860 and remains open today near the entrance to the pier. The Happy Valley, originally a quarry that became an area of landscaped gardens (a gift to the town to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Victoria in 1887), has two miniature golf courses, a putting green and a popular open air theater. There are so many interesting hotels along the promenade. Where shall we stay cousin?

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My Dear Cousin Cathy,

Naturally, where the most famous have stayed. Some options...

The St. Georges Hotel: Past guests include Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81), The Right Honorable William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98), The Right Honorable David Lloyd George (1863-1945), Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), and Lady Margaret Thatcher (1925 -). Other guests: French emperor Napoleon III and wife Eugenie, and Otto von Bismarck.

The Grand Hotel (featured in the film Yanks with Richard Gere): Past guests include Sir Winston Churchill, The Right Honorable David Lloyd George, Sir Oswald Mosley, The Right Honorable Clement Atlee, The Right Honorable Harold Wilson and Sir Edward Heath.

The Castle Hotel in Conwy: Past guests include the 18th-century author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, Victorian poet Charlotte Brontë and poet William Wordsworth.

What about the St Tudno? Alice Liddell and her family stayed there before building their holiday home, Penmorfa.

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My Dearest Cousin Anne,

Please surprise me! On other Victorian Extravaganza matters -- some one million people are expected to descend on the town over the three day period. WE have been asked to join the town's VIPs at the Queens Hotel for refreshments prior to commencement of the opening ceremony on May 5 and grand parade, after which WE shall be returning to the Queens Hotel for a light luncheon. Might I RSVP that WE shall indeed be honored to accept?

My Dear Cousin Cathy,

WE are honored to accept! Let street entertainers, steam engines, arts, crafts, vintage cars, parades, rides, theatrical performers, barrel organs, Victorian costumes and town criers transport us back in time to the age of Queen Victoria at the 2012 Victorian Extravaganza in Llandudno, Wales.

Are you nervous about having to speak at the opening ceremony Cousin?

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My Dearest Cousin Anne,

To answer your question, allow me to share one of my favorite Queen Victoria quotes:
"Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves."

See more of the Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza

All photos are courtesy of Allan Cuthbertson.

With special thanks to Ffion Llwyd-Jones, Margaret Lyon, Cllr. Mayor Greg Robbins, Deborah Thompson, and Kimberley Barr.