England 2006

July 17, 2006 – Day 4

Castles and Pubs

Here, here, and here are all of today’s photos

Day 4: Castles and Pubs

The British comedian Eddie Izzard said:

We got tons of them, ‘cause you think we all live in castles, and we do all live in castles! We all got a castle each. We’re up to here with f***ing castles! We just long for a bungalow or something.

Wellllllllllllll…. okay… that may be a *slight* exaggeration, but hey! It’s funny.

Melanie and Andrew ready for The Knight's MazeOKAY! We’re off and about today, with a full day of castle exploration ahead of us! Our destination is Eastnor Castle, which was built in 1810 as a country manor, but in the style of a medieval fortress. The drive from Julian and Jenny’s takes us past the beautiful Malvern hills again, and through the narrow and winding tree-lined roads that are typical of this part of England.

When we first arrive in the car park (“Englishism” for parking lot) and go into the grounds, there’s a really cool-looking hedge maze that the kids drag us towards. The hedges that make up the walls of the maze, itself, are at least 7 to 8 feet high, so it’s not like any of us can see over them. So… we plow right into the maze!!!

Andrew makes it through the maze firstAndrew storms past me on the last leg and makes it to the wooden fort at the center of the maze first.

Kathy's not lostKathy comes up behind me:

Melanie's lost in the maze
Melanie, though, gets herself lost when she breaks her flip-flop.

We hear this pathetic “Hellllp?”… and we tell her to stick her hands up in the air.

THERE she is!!!!

PortculisSo… with that fun out of the way, we head up to the castle itself! Through the woods and the portculis/gatehouse:

Eastnor Castle… we get our first view of the impressive front of Eastnor Castle:

The Balettie Bunch at Eastnor CastleUnfortunately, they don’t allow photography *inside* the Castle, but we take a nice family picture with a suit of armor in the entrance hallway:

Eastnor Castle lakeThe interior was really beautiful, and decorated with tapestries and other “castle-like” trappings. A huge dining hall, a library with dark wood bookcases that stretch floor-to-ceiling with books, and high ceiliings give a feeling of grandeur in this imposing building. As we walk around the back of the castle, there are some really fantastic sights of the grounds. A scenic lake and forest stretch into the surrounding hills:

Eastnor CastleThe view of the castle from lakeside is really impressive:

Starting'our walk through at Eastnor forestWe start our walk through the tall trees of the Eastnor forest, following a footpath that takes us deep into the cool, cool shade, which was a welcome break, as the temperatures today were approaching 90 degrees!!!

Eastnor CastleAfter a nice walk through the trees, we come back out to the back-side of Eastnor:

There’s a children’s park nearby where we stop for a brief rest. Andrew, Melanie, and Sam make good use of the equipment:
Andrew chilling at Eastnor CastleMelanie on the tire swing

Show me your teeth!

Julian's world at pole trick… while Julian performs his “World Famous Pole Trick ™”

So, after a brief water break and a couple of souveniers, we’re heading off to dinner at one of Julian and Jenny’s favorite pubs — The Rose and Crown. In the second picture below, Julian actually thought we were taking a *serious* picture.

The Rose and Crown PubJulian and Melanie - being goofy in the pub

Andrew helps Sam onto the castle slideIt’s a traditional pub, with the timber and mortar construction native to this part of England, but they also have an outdoor seating area with a kids’ playground — look… another castle!!!

St. Denys' ChurchAfter we order our food and drinks, Mel and I walk down the road a bit to look at the old church that’s near the pub. St. Denys’ church is an old C-of-E church with an equally old graveyard.

Melanie and the huge tombstones
Some of the tombstones are *MASSIVE* — the one Melanie’s standing next to has a date of 1860 on it, although I’ve actually seen some grave markers on previous trips from the 1300s!!! You can imagine how spooky this must be on a foggy moonlit night!!!

A pint of Pedigree, please!So… a couple of pints of Pedigree and a lovely steak-and-kidney pie later, we relax as the day winds down, watching “the kids” play.

Crane technique - if do right, no can defend!“Crane technique — if do right, no can defense!”