Chaps! We come to the last leg of my holiday journey, and I am going to attempt to cram three days worth of photos into one blog post. I fear it will be very picture heavy, I hope you don't mind. Isn't the stained glass window beautiful? I definitely have a thing for coloured glass. This particular window is to be found at Goodrich Castle (we visited an awful lot of castles this holiday!!).
I think it is really strange to walk into a part of these ruined castle towers and have window seats and fireplace surrounds all the way up the walls. How different it all would have looked when actually in use! Imagine walking into a room and sitting on this cosy, sunlit window seat...
...looking out over the impressive view. Probably most of which would be owned by the owner of the castle.
The view in the panoramic photos can only be obtained by going up some very tiny staircases. Although I read the sign that said 'Dark and narrow stairs', you still think that you will be perfectly fine, how dark and narrow can they be? I will never ignore the sign again and will always approach with extreme caution! The stairs were little more than an uneven ladder, and dark actually means, you will arrive at a point halfway up the stairs where no light will penetrate and you will be totally blind, grasping around with your hands looking for the next step up. It was an interesting climb to say the least! (And coming back down was worse!)
On the Friday, The Sister got to choose where we went, and she opted for Hampton Court Castle. Often confused with Hampton Court Palace, lots of tourists end up here rather than there (if you see what I mean) which causes lots of confusion. We definitely meant to be at the castle though so all was well.
Originally built as a posh manor house, at some point it was realised that the very threatening Welsh were creeping closer and defences were needed, so it was built into more of a castle with defence plans and turrets and watch towers, which only add to the atmosphere of the place.
It has a very surprising interior style inside, as during it's long history, it was bought by an American millionaire, who restored it (the previous owner having let it go to rack and ruin) and decorated it how he thought the English would decorate a castle. So it was very over the top, with lots of objects he bought to look the part but wouldn't have actually been used in England- Hollywood guns nestled next to Indian knives and a full taxidermied lion who died of natural causes at Chester Zoo. It all looks very impressive though.
My favourite bit was one of the hallways, and the incredible windows at the top. Isn't it beautiful?
The light fixtures were sometimes very odd as well. The American chap had a slight obsession with chess, and a lot of the replaced chandeliers or larger light fittings are inspired by chess pieces, with shapes of castles and knights and pawns, and the colours arranged in a checkered pattern.
In the ballroom and library though there were some magnificent chandeliers.
The gardens were very lovely. Mostly walled, there was a Dutch garden, kitchen garden, rose garden, water gardens.... a tunnel made out of Wisteria which would be simply incredible when in flower.
There were lots of Swallow nests around, some in every castle we went to, and also in the little pagoda type things in the gardens of Hampton C Castle. We watched them for ages, waiting for the parents to come in and out to feed them, seeing the little beaks open wide, hoping that it is their turn for a juicy morsel. The noise they make when they see Mum or Dad is amazing for such little things. This particular nest had five babies very precariously perched in it. It was a bit of a nail biting palaver when one wanted to go to the toilet and they all had to shuffle round. They were so cute though, especially with the little tufts of fluff on top of their heads.
Also in the garden is a great maze with a tower in the middle. You can go up and see the view from the top of the tower, and also down into a tunnel that is as dark at one point as the staircase at Goodrich Castle but that eventually brings you out next to a lovely waterfall.
That you can go behind!!! This caused great excitement, for everyone who discovered it, although for small people it can be slightly daunting being behind such rushing water and I did make a little friend who appeared and clung on to me for a while until his confidence returned. Very sweet.
The kitchen garden was full of colour and giant sunflowers!! They went up up up into the sky, much taller than any of us, and some of the flower heads were of gigantic proportions!
The day was rounded off with some slightly less exotic, although no less beautiful, butterflies in the herb garden.
Saturday heralds the start of our journey home, and we headed for the city of Gloucester, wandering around the town centre (which smelt awful!!! It probably doesn't always smell like that, but obviously somewhere a farmer had been spreading manure and the wind had been bringing the smell into town. It made The Mother feel ill!). We ended up in Gloucester Cathedral which is very very impressive!
It has hundreds of stained glass windows, one of which is the size of a tennis court!! The cloister is beautifully carved and ornate (I would have a photo but you had to pay for permission to photograph inside), and several family members went on a tour of the crypt. The Mother and I went in search of the Whispering Gallery which was truly astounding. You stand at either end of a passage that curves around behind the biggest glass window, so on either side of the nave and several metres away from each other. You then whisper into the passage and the person at the other end can hear you like you are standing next to each other. Jolly good fun!
When we had finished whispering things and exploring the damp depths of the cathedral it was time to head home. And here ends my holiday story! I hope you enjoyed it, maybe you will go and visit some of the incredible places we did- they are certainly worth the trip. =D xx