It is detail which brings history to life. In Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder, biographies of contemporary scientists are linked to form a panorama of exploration, invention and discovery against the background of the Romantic movement in art and literature. In one of the chapters on the great astronomer William Herschel there is a description of his audience with Napoleon in the Malmaison Palace in 1802. Nothing much of significance was apparently said by either of the two men - one of whom had conquered half of Europe and the other discovered the planet Uranus - but it was noted that it was extremely hot, 38 deg in the shade, and that ice creams were served in a variety of different flavours.
There are still a few sunflowers on the wind blown stalks in the vegetable garden but they are small and neat, not much bigger than dandelions, and friendlier by far than he extravagant disks of their brazen youth.