Last week I was in the English countryside with Dragan and some friends. This week, I’m in Ohio with my parents. lol. The world is indeed a small place. As those who saw my little video know, I absolutely love England. I’ve always held a fascination with the British and having visited now several times, it lives up to what I expected. There is a formality there that I appreciate because it is so different, but there is also a community that I find very welcoming. Our friends’ kids have the cutest accents and much to my delight ask for “afternoon tea”, and although I discovered this simply means “afternoon snack”, it makes it all the more amusing to have it phrased so sophisticatedly.
This time, we were taken by our friends to visit Leeds castle, which is truly enchanting and romantic, as it is set on over 500 acres and is surrounded by a moat. Yep, a moat……just as you imagine. I HEARD, though this could be debatable, that there is a dragon who waits under the moat protecting his treasure and waiting for the right time to venture back out into the world. He is hundreds of years old and very grumpy, although who knows if this is true. 🙂
Walking the grounds in Fall was a sight to see, as the whole setting is pleasing to the eye…….little bridges making their way over streams, interesting trees bedecked in an array of colors, kids dressed up as goblins and Elsa’s and Batmans, all sorts of varieties of birds-including black swans, and the castle finally arising around a bend to loom over you. I found myself steeped in history, wondering who else had wandered those grounds and what they had been thinking or dealing with at the time. The whole place reeks of secrets and magic!
Built in the 1200’s, it is OLD. Older than most of us Americans can fathom. It has survived the centuries and has been passed down through monarchy to monarchy, can be traced back to 6 queens staying there, and finally bought by the private sector in the early 1900’s. King Henry VIII made many moderations for his first wife Catharine of Aragon (I wonder if she could imagine what would happen in her life) and there are pictures of the Tudor family throughout.
The revitalization is evident in the restored rooms which are very fun to explore. At the start of the tour, the rooms are smaller, older and with a faint smell of age……the kind of smell you experience when walking into a very old cellar that hasn’t gotten much light…….dampness; and then as you go further in, there is much more modernization occurring with high ceilings and brightly colored walls. It’s so fascinating to see it progressing thru the times…..to picture the care that those at the time invested into this place. I love to imagine those people…….did they fight over colors in the bedroom??? How many swatches did it take to pick the bedding fabric?? lol.
The castle is not the only aspect though of the tour. How do I describe it? It resembles, to me, a Renaissance Faire here in the States. They have several activities for kids happening…….Face Painting, Archery, Scary and Historical Story Tents, a playground Castle, and a giant Maze. We got lost in the Maze and found some poor kid crying in a corner b/c he had lost his family and couldn’t find his way to the middle, where there is a secret exit for those who make it. Geesh! It was very fun and I’m happy to say we made it and so did the kid!
Dragan and I were able to mosey our way back alone and it was just so romantic. We saw a family of peacocks that I chased slowly trying to make them expand their wings, which they didn’t……I guess peacocks are stubborn. 🙂 I just get such a kick out of walking around castles. I mean who doesn’t? The history, the romance, the air skullduggery and of a time gone by………I love it so much and definitely recommend making your way there if you can.
Sweater: J.Crew Boots: Stuart Weitzman