Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Leeds Castle

Not having been to London for almost four months(!), it didn't take much motivation to make the trip up after work on Friday.  The factor in choosing that weekend was to see (childhood friend) Levi, who I haven't seen since Prague in August, before he goes back to New Zealand.  Contrary to what I thought, he is in fact coming back to Europe - so that's good news.  With the first spell of proper southern-England winter weather finally arriving, London was a little chilly but not unpleasant as we generally hung out around Hyde Park (the Christmas market was as packed as last time I visited three years ago), Oxford St, Marylebone and Kensington and caught up on all the recent news & future plans.

Fantastic to see Trish after a few months, I was well fed with some scrumptious meals, caught up on all the family news I've missed recently and was surprised to look out my window in the morning & see the back garden looking very different.  I was about to say Sunday dawned stunningly clear & bright, but then I remembered that I caught up on a fair bit of sleep after an exhausting week at work.  So, by the time I got up Sunday was still very frozen but wonderfully clear & bright.  That played right in to my plan of finally going to visit Leeds Castle - which, confusingly, is only thirty-odd minutes down the M20 in Kent and most definitely not in Leeds.

From the entry it's quite a walk up to the castle - which is all very nice when it's sunny & there are plenty of birds to see (especially the ice-skating & ice-breaking varieties), but I imagine is downright miserable if it's raining.  That must be what the fake-train is for.

Leeds Castle has been around in some shape or form since the early twelfth century, but most of what is there now is less than two-hundred years old.  Pleasingly, it's built on two islands (now joined by the castle) so it has a proper moat - which may not be so useful for defence if it was much colder, and the ice thicker.  The castle survived the Civil War well and a long connection with America developed as the owners were granted massive land rights in Virginia.  The last owner (for most of the twentieth century), an Anglo-American heiress (Standard Oil money if anyone cares) spent a lot of money on remodelling & upkeep.

All the Christmas decorations were up - this was probably the least impressive, but I didn't take any photos inside as there were massive Christmas trees everywhere (& I forgot to).

Finally, a photo of me - thanks Trish.
 As well as the castle to look through we enjoyed a hearty lunch in the restaurant that looked like an old tithe-barn (or so I'm told), a small falconry display, got lost in a maze and wondered just how cold the people were in the WWI-era biplane that was buzzing overhead as the sun quickly sunk.

A pleasing & beautiful day out; trips to London never disappoint.

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