What another interesting and wonderful day! We started it with a lovely English breakfast served by our hostess at our bed and breakfast. After we checked out, we drove into town and parked not far from the castle walk access. There was a fair in town offering all sorts of wonderful treats and things to buy. I love England...they know how to socialize and enjoy time together. In addition to the fair, the castle was offering demonstrations,jousting, falconry and live actors portraying Henry the VIII. He was very good too!
Once again, we were so impressed with what author and traveler Rick Steve's had to say about this castle. He called it the "finest example of a baroque period castle in all of Europe". I have to agree. The wood carving, paintings, gold trim in the rooms and rich tapestries covering the state rooms and the great hall were stunning. Unfortunately, a camera can never fully capture the enormity of a structure as large as this castle.
As we entered, the castle was alive with soldiers and maidens in period dress to make everything realistic. A small encampment outside the castle itself portrayed common people roasting a pig on a spit and going about the daily business of making a living.
We toured the rooms of state where kings and queens entertained and spent their time. The art work on the walls was beautiful and the banqueting hall was enormous. There was also a chapel in the castle where the king could worship. Obviously, no expense was spared when it came to decorating.
Following our tour of these rooms, we climbed a hill (seems like there is a hill or steps everywhere...be still my aching knees) to watch the jousting match. How wonderful it was to watch! Once again, history coming to life before our eyes. I thought of how wonderful it was for all the little children whose parents had brought them to the exhibition. History should never be forgotten.
In another field, we watched a demonstration of a falconer working with an American bald eagle. You cannot imagine the size of these majestic creatures until you see them flying and coming to rest on the falconers arm. I did the best I could to zoom in on the bird when it landed. America has a beautiful bird indeed!
When we had seen all the shows and demonstrations, we packed up our Peugot and travelled to London Heathrow to drop off our car. This week has gone by so quickly and while we have had our moments while driving through England...we both agree it was the best way to see the countryside. In fact, I love the quaint small villages and the lovely every day people we met. They were kind, helpful and friendly. Our stop for lunch in the small town of Barton will be a memory to treasure. The lady behind the counter at this grocery was so sweet. These are the moments that stick with you.
We rode the express train to Paddington station from Heathrow and then, took a taxi to our hotel where we will stay for several nights. Tomorrow begins a bus tour of famous sites in London. It is cool here (64 degrees daytime with 51 at night). In Florida, this is our winter. I am glad I brought some long slacks and sweaters for this trip. It has been drizzling rain off and on too...but we have been prepared with my trusty umbrella.
I will continue to keep you posted as we venture forth to see Westminster, St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace...places that until now seemed so very far away. Stay tuned...the adventure continues.
Still working on the pictures situation...have a Flickr account but don't know how to get blogger to pick it up. I will keep trying!
UPDate: Here is the URL to my Flickr pictures from today so you can see them if you are not on
facebook : http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbarathayer/