In pictures: Take a tour of Scotland's Castle Trail

In pictures: Take a tour of Scotland's Castle Trail
Castles of different sizes and conditions are located all across the country, regularly topping the 'must-see' attractions list for visitors. There are actually more castles per acre in Aberdeenshire than anywhere else in the UK. The area is home to …
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The Swiss Golden Pass features castles, vineyards and hot air balloons
SWITZERLAND, September 13, 2014 — Switzerland's Golden Pass connects three rail journeys into a single trip that combines diverse scenery linking the German region of the country with the French. The first section travels from Lucerne to Interlaken …
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Academy of Art University announces the appointment of Glen A. Schofield and Lee Petty to the Presidential Advisory Board for its School of Game Design.

San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) September 15, 2014

Academy of Art University announces the appointment of Glen A. Schofield and Lee Petty to the Presidential Advisory Board for its School of Game Design.

Schofield and Petty are industry veterans who have contributed generously to the Game Design program over the years through classroom visits and expert critiques.

“Glen and Lee bring decades of game industry experience to our program. They have been very active in our department since its inception and have spoken at many of our game panels and helped judge our spring shows. We are thrilled that they have agreed to serve on our Presidential Advisory Board,” said David Goodwine, director of the School of Game Design.

Glen A. Schofield has been making video games for more than 20 years and is co-founder and CEO of Sledgehammer Games, which produces the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare franchise. Prior to co-founding Sledgehammer Games, Schofield was the General Manager of Electronic Art’s Visceral Games Studio and the creator of the award-winning Dead Space. While at EA, he produced Return of the King, James Bond: From Russia With Love, and Knockout Kings. He has also directed game franchises such as Gex and Blood Omen.

Lee Petty has been involved in video games since 1996 in a variety of art production and leadership roles. He has worked as texture artist, 3D modeler, concept artist, lighting artist, effects artist, lead artist, and Art Director. Petty has worked for a variety of video game developers and publishers including Accolade, Infogrames, Crystal Dynamics, and Double Fine Productions. In addition, he co-founded the video game developer Circus Freak Studios. Petty is currently at Double Fine Productions where he has been Art Director of the Kickstarter adventure game Broken Age, Art Director on Brutal Legend and Project Lead on Stacking.

“Our Presidential Advisory Board members impart invaluable industry knowledge to our Game Design students. The Bay Area is the center of game design and our graduates go on to work at innovative local companies, creating the next generation of games,” said Academy of Art University President Dr. Elisa Stephens.

The Academy of Art University began offering game design courses in its Animation Department in the late 1990s and a dedicated School of Game Design was founded in 2009. The school offers on-campus and online AA, BFA and MFA degrees. Hands-on, interactive curriculum focuses on fundamental game art and design principles such as concept and 3D game art; game engine technology and both pre-production and production team environments. Students develop portfolios that demonstrate skill in traditional and digital drawing and painting as well as 3D modeling, texturing, animation, rigging, level and game design to broaden their conceptual skills for video game production. Graduates have been hired by companies ranging from Zynga and Blizzard Entertainment to Electronic Arts and Sony.

About Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University, the largest private university of art and design in the United States, is educating students for the art and design jobs of the 21st century. Established in 1929, the Academy is an output-based higher education model that provides an inclusive admissions policy to all students, but imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field in order to graduate. Students are taught by a faculty of professionals from the existing marketplace, both online and on campus in San Francisco, who provide them with an understanding of what it takes to succeed in today’s business environment. The Academy’s hands-on curriculum produces graduates who possess outstanding artistic and design skills—and equally as important, the ability to put those talents to work immediately after graduation. As a result, Academy graduates are ready to compete for and win the jobs of the 21st century in the fields of Acting, Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Art History, Fashion, Fashion Journalism, Fashion Styling, Fine Art, Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture & Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, Landscape Architecture, Motion Pictures & Television, Multimedia Communications, Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, Photography, Visual Development, Web Design & New Media and Art Teaching Credential and Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media. Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC, NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) (BFA/MFA-IAD), NAAB (B-ARCH*, M-ARCH), and California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). *B-ARCH program in candidacy status.

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Castles of Ludwig

You shouldn’t visit Bavaria without seeing at least one of the five Castles of Ludwig II. The Ludwig we speak of was officially King Ludwig II of Bavaria, but he was also known as the Swan King, the Fairy Tale King, the Dream King… and a bit more dramatically… as Mad King Ludwig.

There is some dispute about whether Ludwig II was mad or not, but at the very least he was eccentric. He was deposed on grounds of mental illness and died mysteriously a day later… but while he lived he built extravagant castles. There was a family “precedent” to the strange behavior of Ludwig II. His grandfather, King Ludwig I, came from a family of eccentrics and was also deposed.

Neuschwanstein is the most famous of the castles he lived in, and it is high on most tourist lists. He built two others and grew up in two older castles. Touring all five of the castles of Ludwig II makes for a fun trip to Bavaria.

He was born in Nymphemberg Palace. The city of Munich has closed in around it, so it now sits in a suburb of Munich making it an easy day trip.

He lived for much of his childhood in Hohenschwangau. This was the 12th century castle his father had re-built near Fussen on Schwanee (Swan Lake). It’s a “homey” castle if you can say that about castles. Ludwig loved the area so much that he had Neuschwanstein built nearby on the top of the hill.

Near Oberammergau you can visit Linderhof. This small castle was Ludwig’s favorite and the only one he completed before he died. It’s surrounded by beautiful gardens with fountains, rolling fields, and forest. See the outbuildings after you see the small castle…. The Moroccan house with it’s brightly tiled interior is quite a sight. Visit the Grotto which is an artificial cave with artificial stalactites and an artificial underground lake. The Mauritanian Kiosk is another small building with an amazing interior.

Chiemsee is the largest lake in Bavaria. On the island of Herenchiemsee in this lake, you’ll find another of the castles of Ludwig II. This was the last one to be built. It’s called Neues Schloss or Konigschloss. It was meant to be a replica of Versailles, but it wasn’t completed because of the “mysterious” death of Ludwig II. Even with only the central part completed, it’s pretty amazing to tour. You have to pay for the round trip boat fare in addition to the entrance fee.

All of the castles except for Nymphenberg require guided tours. You will get an assigned tour time. Tours are available in German, English and several other languages.

You could take a fun driving trip to see all of them. Schloss Herenchiemsee is about 60 miles (96 km) south east of Munich and Schloss Nymphenberg. Loop across southern Bavaria to Linderhof, Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Those three are close together, about 100 miles (160 km) from Herenchiemsee.

So there you have it… tour the Castles of Ludwig, sprinkle in some other sights along the way, drive back to Munich, and you’ve got a great trip.

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Great British Houses: Hardwick Hall – Everything You Need to Know about this Elizabethan Marvel


There are many grand and architecturally significant houses in England. However, there is one in particular that stands out from the rest. Hardwick Hall, which is located in Derbyshire, is the former home of Elizabeth Shrewsbury, also known as Bess of Hardwick. It was built between 1590 and 1597 and designed by architect Robert Smythson.

Key Facts about Hardwick Hall

  • Built between 1590 and 1597 for the formidable Bess of Hardwick
  • Currently owned by the National Trust
  • Most of the furniture and other contents of the house date back to as early as 1601
  • There are 6 rooftop sculptures on the outside that have the initials ‘ES’, which stands for ‘Elizabeth Shrewsbury’.

A Brief History of Hardwick Hall


Bess of Hardwick

Bess of Hardwick came from a humble origin but she later became one of the most powerful people next to Queen Elizabeth I. She was married four times, gaining more power after each marriage. After she married Sir William Cavendish, she convinced him to move back to her home county. As a native of Derbyshire, Bess was very fond of the scenery and the quiet environment. They purchased the property for their well-known home, Chatsworth House, in 1549 and began building in 1552.

Bess married 2 more men over the course of 10 years, her last being the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was one of the richest and most powerful English nobles. The Shrewsbury’s were guardians of Mary, Queen of Scots for many years, while she was held captive at Chatsworth House. Bess is also the direct ancestress of the Dukes of Devonshire.

The story told is that Bess had a terrible argument with her husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and left their home at Chatsworth in 1584. She then organized plans to rebuild the Old Hall at Hardwick to create a new home for herself. However, her plans changed in 1590 when the Earl died, which left her with his inheritance. Due to her new positive financial situation, Bess decided to build a new construction at Hardwick, eliminating the renovation plans for the Old Hall all together and creating the New Hall. She moved into her new house in October 1597.

Her new Hardwick Hall was a true statement for her power and wealth. It contained numerous windows that were exceptionally large for the time period. Glass was a luxury, and the house was described as being more glass than walls. The chimneys were also built into the internal walls, instead of being constructed on the outside. This was done to allow more room for the large windows without weakening the exterior structure. An added touch by Bess was the carved ‘ES’ initials that are present in 6 of the rooftop sculptures at the head of each tower.



Hardwick is one of the first houses in England where the hall was built on an axis directly through the center of the house, instead of at right angles to the entrance. The height of each ceiling is also unique with each floor being slightly higher than the first. There are three main levels of the Hall. With the bottom level being smaller in height than the top floor. This was designed for the occupants of each room: the least important occupants stayed on the bottom floor, and the most important lived at the top. This helped to clearly designate the servants from the noble occupants.

The true treasure of Hardwick Hall is the remarkable contents inside that were collected by the Countess. An exceptionally unique collection of paintings and furniture from the 16th century are still present inside. The Hall is fully furnished, exactly as Bess would have kept it. The second floor of the house contains the largest long gallery that has ever been present in an English house. The most notable features are the tapestries and needlework on display. Much of the needlework art has the ‘ES’ initials and it is therefore assumed that Bess herself created much of it.

After the death of Bess in 1608, her son William Cavendish, the 1st Earl of Devonshire, inherited Hardwick Hall. His great-grandson, also named William, was titled as the 1st Duke of Devonshire, which began the Dukes of Devonshire dynasty. Chatsworth was and is the primary seat for the Dukes of Devonshire. However, Hardwick Hall remained as a secondary home for the family to escape from the attention of the public. The family donated the house to the British government in 1956 in lieu of Death Duties, who then transferred the house to the National Trust. The house still stands, and is surrounded by a walled garden, which includes an orchard, an herb garden, a café, and a National Trust gift shop.

What Makes This House Famous

The Old Hall

The Old Hall

Other than the exceptionally unique use of windows throughout the house, another fact that makes Hardwick Hall famous is due to the ‘Old Hall’ being listed as an official ruin. It is present beside of the New Hardwick Hall, and was the original home of Bess before she built the new house. The property is owned by the National Trust, and administrated by English Heritage.

TV & Film Appearances

Hardwick Hall is most popular in the TV and film industry as the location for the exterior scenes of Malfoy Manor in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2. The property was also used in the Connections TV series which illustrated changes in home design, as well as the TV series Mastercrafts.

Further Research on Hardwick Hall

Venus in Winter: A Novel of Bess of Hardwick is a novel by Gillian Bagwell and is a fictionalization of Bess’s life.

Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder - From the author of The Sisters, a chronicle of the most brutal, turbulent, and exuberant period of England’s history. Bess Hardwick, the fifth daughter of an impoverished Derbyshire nobleman, did not have an auspicious start in life. Widowed at sixteen, she nonetheless outlived four monarchs, married three more times, built the great house at Chatsworth, and died one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in English history.

Visiting Information

Hardwick Hall, as well as the gardens, the shop, and restaurant are open most days of the week with the exception of bank holidays. They also have a period of time after Christmas when the house is closed. According to their website, the house opens back up to the public on 16th February. Before planning your visit, it is best to refer to their website in order to verify that they are open, as well as hours of operation and ticket prices. You can find the information at

Relevant YouTube Videos To Watch

Hardwick Hall – Various Scenes

Bess Hardwick First Lady of Chatsworth – Lecture – 1 Hour

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The Kings Speech 2010

What Worked?

Public speech probably makes the list for top 10 worst fears of practically everybody. For people with speech impediments, that fear grows teeth. For a king with a speech impediment, that fear turns into a monstrous wall. In the Kings Speech, Director Tom Hooper weaves the story of Bertie/King George VI and his problem of dealing with his stammer. A dialogue-driven period piece about a stuttering King-to-be seems like a film tailor-made for the elite elderly, but the team involved makes it an enjoyable, inspiring ride.

Coated in muted colors, the tint of the film matches the low-self esteem of Bertie, as well as the way he is silenced by his stammer and resides in the shadows of his family. Hooper captures the perspective of Bertie rather well, closing tight on his quivering lips or taking the camera low for an ants-eye view of the colossal audience. Everything about the direction works well, and enhances the mood of the film.

Colin Firth playing Bertie/George VI is achingly genuine, as we constantly see him bursting with frustration because of his verbal shackles. Despite his harrowing speech impediment, his warm-heart beams, especially when he interacts with Lionel Logue, played amazingly by Geoffrey Rush. We feel for Bertie, as he is trapped by his lack of voice and we feel his determination as he is climbing out of a dark hole. We even see the envy in his eyes when he watches footage of Hitler rousing up a crowd through his oratory talent. Firth gives a thoroughly magnificent performance, and its equally matched by Rushs performance as Lionel Logue. Logue is an eccentric, brash and rather clever speech therapist. He becomes a trigger for Berties confidence, and guides him as a friend and a teacher. The chemistry of both is the heart of the film. Helena Bonham Carter also gives a touching performance as Queen Elizabeth, feeling Berties pain and standing by him to see thing through it.

This is a character driven piece, and not once does the film get swept up in the major historical moments; rather, it keeps the story intimate to Berties problem and realistic triumph over it. The film is about a man trying to be the best version of himself that he can possibly be, and the start of that is getting over his speech impediment. If he can successfully deliver a speech to his people, he can lead them through the horrors of WWII.

Potential Drawbacks:

Despite all the praise this film has received, it does not leave a lasting impression. Theres nothing special or memorable enough about the film that will preserve it as a true classic.
What helps the film may also hinder it: sometimes it is too intimate. For example, the speech King George VI finally gives is not very engaging because the film audience is not concentrating on the words being said, only how theyre being said.

For those who do not enjoy dialogue driven films, this film is probably not for you.

For more movie reviews, visit Reelworth.

Richard the Lionheart

Prompted by Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187, King Richard I of England’s key ambition was to join the Third Crusade to regain the Holy Land for the Christians. Richard, the third legitimate son of King Henry II of England, was born on 8 September, 1157 and showed skill in military endeavours from an early age.? In 1174, Richard and two of his siblings, Henry and Geoffrey, reb… Site Updates