England (Days Inn Motel - Warwick)
Aug 15, 2008
|We both slept really well last night. Even though we are just off the motorway one can hardly hear any traffic noise. Breakfast was Continental Style and was delivered to our room. Friendly service and nice food. A good start to the day.
Breakfast done, and us scrubbed and ready to go, we head off out to our little car and head off out on to the motorway. Today we are off to Warwick Castle.
First we have to head south towards a place called Gaydon. Here we can change direction and head north. That done and now north bound we look for the off ramp that will take us to Warwick Castle.
We see the signs to Warwick Castle and take the off ramp that we think is the right one.
Wrong off ramp. We have gone one junction too far!
Back on to the motorway southbound but we now know which is the correct off ramp. The only problem is that this off ramp leads up to a couple of over bridges that form a traffic island over the motorway. This traffic island has something like nine exits and entrances. The one that we want is the one before the motorway on ramp. I certainly do not want to end up back on the motorway as that would mean having to travel the 16 odd miles to Gaydon to turn around again.
We find ourselves heading back towards Gaydon, stupid motorway on ramp.
We have to head south towards a place called Gaydon. Here we can change direction and head north. That done and now north bound we look for the off ramp that will take us to Warwick Castle.
Taking the correct off ramp, and avoiding the motorway on ramp, we still manage to get the wrong exit and find ourselves travelling towards, well, somewhere else. And we definitely do not want to go there. So one more u-turn, one more backtrack and back again at the monster island where, finally, we get onto the right road.
To cut a long story short we make one more unplanned detour before, at last, we park up in the main car park to Warwick Castle. Whew!
Warwick Castle is a tourist place. But it is well set up to handle large numbers of visitors. And due also to the fact that we are there early (being only up the road and, minus the detours, five minutes away) we get in well ahead of the throngs. It costs 17 pounds and 50 pence each to get into the castle, but we expected that.
Walking into the castle main courtyard (the place is huge) and we are surrounded by obviously very old walls and towers. The main building of the castle (the house area) is only a couple of hundred years old. But One main wall and a high tower keep is nearly 800 years old.
We climb up onto the battlements, which give us a pretty good view, but then climb further up by scaling the 560 steps (as advertised by the castle people prior to venturing on our ascent, along with words like, claustrophobic, trouble with heart, fear of heights) and after winding around a circular staircase, in the semi darkness, for what seemed like, well a bloody long time, we get up to the top.
What a view. One can see for miles across the countryside and neighbouring township. Also over the castle grounds and buildings, and nearby fields and associated medieval attractions.
Then, another circular stairway down 560 steps (which scared the crap out of me) and we were back on the ground.
Following our noses out into the adjacent fields we wander passed a bird of prey display that includes a golden eagle, a bald eagle and several different types of vulture. We carry on a short distance and we see a Trebuchet. This is a VERY large slingshot that towers some 20 odd metres into the air. Yeah, this is me. We head over towards it but arrive just in time to be turned away by a staff member who advises that it will be fired in a while and the area is being cleared. The staff member points to an area where we can stand and get a view of it being fired.
As we move away, however, another staff member approaches me and asks if I would like to volunteer to be one of the walkers that wind the rope that pulls the slingshot down so that it can be fired. Is the Pope a Catholic? Damn right.
It means that I get to have a go on the device and Rowena gets to stand right along side when it is fired. There are six of us walkers. We are split into three teams of two and, after a safety briefing and instructions leaving me thinking “what the hell have I let myself in for” we are teamed up with a staff member to wind the six ton weight that will fire a twenty kilo ball some three hundred metres over a field.
We are given appropriate tunic and period style hats and we begin. It is actually quite easy to wind the wheel. One stands, much like a hamster in a wheel, and starts to walk. As one walks around the inside of the hamster wheel it drives a large axle that winds the rope on. Each team of two get to wind for about two minutes. At the end of the wind we area ushered into a safe area as the staff members load the ball.
A further safety talk (run like hell if the ball goes straight up and comes back down towards us) and the team leader fires the thing off. The ball goes bloody high and bloody miles. It is impressive. That done, there is an opportunity for photographs and suddenly it is all over.
But what a great experience. According to the team leader we are now six people out of only 500 in the world that have been Trebuchet Walkers on that device. He also advises that there is a Facebook Group of Trebuchet Walkers, which we will have a look at when w next get a chance.
Excitement done, we walk back to the castle area, passed the bird of prey display, where the golden eagle is doing her bit by low flying over the large gathered crowd as the handler explains a bit about birds, handling and hunting, and we join on the end of the tour through the interior of the very large manor house.
The displays are very well set up and the life-sized wax models, in period costume, are amazing. This keeps us entertained for a good while. We follow the tour to the ballroom area, the upstairs rooms and bedrooms, and finally through the lower floors, that include a dungeon and torture chamber, stables, workshops, armouries and accommodation for the various people that would have staffed those roles.
This place is well worth the money and I would strongly recommend it as a place to go for anyone that visits here.
From the castle it is back to the car and we slowly head down to the nearby Warwick Township. Parking up and off on foot, we soon find a footpath café and settle down to a nice lunch and some drinks. We watch the world go by for a while, then follow our noses back to the high street where we walk up and down the entire length, committing to photographic memory the many old buildings we see.
Delighted we find a second hand book store and purchase some books (very cheaply may I add) and it is back to the car and the short drive back to the hotel.
The very friendly welcome back at the Hotel reminds me of why I like it here. Up to the room and settle in to watch a bit of TV and some last minute packing.
Tea was back at the café where I had a good old English pie and Rowena had roast chicken. Absolutely too full to move we headed back to the hotel for more TV and reality police TV before falling off to sleep.
Tomorrow we are going to my Uncle Jim’s place to spend a week with him and my Auntie Pat.