Trip to the UK – Part 2

So, we’ve been having a great time here – it’s been a relatively quiet one this time as it’s been freezing cold, most cool places are actually closed for the winter and we’re all too busy kicking back.

We did go swimming which was cool.  No, litterally, it was freezing.  The poor boy (who has the physical appearance of the terminally malnourished) went blue and his teeth were chattering uncontrollably.

He did try to swim, but the belly ache he had when he got out indicated that he was actually trying to drink the pool level low enough so he could stand. Read More

castles (part3)

So, the last castle we actually went to visit properly was Hever Castle, only 30 mins drive from my mum and dads house.

Hever Castle is another fairytale castle, complete with moat, drawbridge and portcullis, surrounded by sculpted parklands with a maze and a Tudor village too. Its a fabulously beautiful place. Similar to the others, it has its foundations in 13th Century, with the earliest parts dating from 1270, which is pretty freaking old. The Castle as you see it today dates from Tudor times (1500’s) when it was owned by the Bullen family, who had one famous member, Anne Boleyn, who grew up there as a child. The castle changed hands into Anne of Cleeve’s family after Henry VIII lopped off Anne’s head and eventually into the hands of famous American industrialist William Waldorf Astor in 1903, who completed expensive and probably vastly expensive restorations to leave it in trust in the condition you see today.

So, Ella, Henry and I had a wonderful day exploring – it was a gorgeous warm sunny spring day too, so we had lots of fun in the maze and gardens before wandering around the castle looking at Anne Boleyn’s bedroom, her bedhead from her childhood and even the book she had with her when she was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Ella had been studying Henry VIII last year so she was very impressed with seeing history face to face as it were.

The daffodils were out in force in their formal gardens, so you look across the river that feeds the moat and lake across a sea of yellow towards the castle and Tudor village that the Astor’s built.

All in all, an awesome day – the kids played in the adventure playground until it was starting to get late and were so tired by the end of it that they slept the whole way back in the car 🙂 Job done!

castles (part2)

Leeds Castle was cool, a bit too cool actually, we ended up tired and cold and missed the driving rain by seconds as we got back to the car.

The next day was completely different – sunny and warm with a gentle breeze, so we went about a mile down the road to Ightham Mote, a wonderful moated medieval manor house, dating from 1320, perfectly preserved, and lovingly restored, hidden in a sunny wooded valley

Its an interesting place, as it is relatively modest by aristocratic standards, it attracted a series of modest and sympathetic owners who only subtly enhanced its liability and refrained from major modification. This means it really does look pretty much as it did in the middle ages. Cool!

The kids loved it, they thought it was so magical – and it is – its a marvellous place like no other really. Henry was a champ and managed to get around the place quite happily without touching anything too priceless, Ella did a quiz that the National Trust had laid on and we all got ice creams to finish. Beautiful day.

The best and mist curious thing is that I’ve lived almost next door to this place until I went to university, came back home a few times since and this is the first time I’ve ever paid to go in. Glad I waited, was nice to share something like this with the kids.