Monday, August 29, 2011

Leeds Castle, Part 1

Well, my last batch of Hawaii photos didn't exactly set the blogosphere on fire, but luckily I have some new photos to share for the next week or so : ) Lee had a 4-day weekend so we took the opportunity to take a little trip to explore southeast England for a couple of days.  This was a Missy-Approved Excursion (R) as there were stairs and hiking and climbing galore.  We always invoke Missy's name when we have to climb more than two flights of stairs...k, while I complain about climbing so many stairs.

So anyway, our first stop was Leeds Castle near Maidstone.   We hit surprisingly little traffic even when we skirted London on the way down, so it took us less than two hours to get there.  Somewhat unfortunately, this weekend was full of your stereotypical English weather so we got rained on several times, but we still got some good photos anyway.  To get to the castle, we first had to traverse part of the rather extensive grounds, and it turns out that Leeds hosts several bird colonies, including some black swans:

Once again, Lee insists that I take almost all of the photos since he's trying to force me to learn how to fiddle with the settings on the camera.  What that means is that probably at least 90% of the photos I'm going to share for the next couple posts were taken by yours truly : )

I love the look of weeping willows, and they look even cooler when reflected in water.  They also remind me of a Patsy Cline song, "I saw a weeping willow cryin' on his pillow, maybe he's cryin' for me..."  My great-grandmother introduced me to the music of Patsy Cline.  My favorite song of hers is "Stop the World and Let Me Off".  But I digress.

Lee requested I take this shot.  They had a few fountain-y type things around the grounds but we didn't really walk too close to any of them.  Still, we both liked the bright orange leaves of that one young tree.

Another denizen of the castle grounds...we saw a sign when we first came in that mentioned the peacocks so I wasn't surprised to see this one.  There were actually two but we think maybe they were both peahens as they didn't have the big fantastic tails.

We (mostly I) took about 120 photos at Leeds, including LOTS of photos of the exterior of the castle.  Parts of it date back to the 1100s, after William the Conqueror, but for once here's a castle that was *not* built by Henry II.  It was extensively remodeled in the 1800s and looks much more like a country estate with castle-y features than a defensive keep, although it does have a moat.

Lee liked the reflections of the arches : )

And the castle, kind of fun how it's a mirror image.  We were wishing the skies weren't so overcast, but I do have to admit that it was funny how Lee followed me around with the umbrella while I took pictures.  Not to keep me dry, but to protect the camera, ha!

Finally getting up towards the keep itself.  Since we took our time on the way up, it was pretty close to lunchtime when we got to the castle itself, so we decided to take a break and eat lunch before we explored the grounds more.  Plus it rained pretty hard while we were having lunch, so it was a good time to be inside for a bit.  Everything on the menu at the restaurant where we ate was locally sourced; Lee and I both had gammon (ham), cooked carrots, and potatoes and it was totally delicious.  Seriously, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven, YUM.

After lunch, we went across the courtyard to see what has to be the weirdest thing ever:  the dog collar museum.  For reals?  Who has a museum of DOG COLLARS?!  I mean, I totally love Sadie and Vader, but a museum of dog collars seems a bit extreme even to me, yet here it is.

Some of them date back to the 1700s, pretty crazy huge affairs made out of brass or silver and they looked like they'd be rather uncomfortable for the dogs to wear.

These spiky ones are really old, and they're for hunting dogs; the spikes were to protect the dogs from bears or wolves which would attack by grabbing the dog around the neck.  They also had some more recent dog collars made out of plain ol' nylon from the UK's version of the ASPCA or Humane Society, an organization that promotes the adoption of pound puppies like my two sweet lil doglets.

In an effort to drag this out as long as possible (haha) that's all the photos for today.  I'll post some more in a day or two with more Leeds Castle shots, and I should have enough pictures left for several more posts before I have to resort to the last of the Hawaii pictures.  Meanwhile, it's back to work for Lee tomorrow and I'm getting back to the baby books before Tiana and Sarah have their babies.  No rest for the wicked!


Giffysk8s said...

Christy, your water reflection photos are incredible! Please tell Lee that he is an awesome photography tutor. I may need to take lessons!

I am so glad you are doing all of this touring. You're going to be the best travel guide ever! Much better than the Chinese guide who didn't know jack! :)

What is up with the dog collars? That's bizarre. I bet Abby from NCIS would love it, LOL!

Amber Hight said...

Awesome pics, honey! I Love the castle reflections and your purdy water fall picture! So are you finding that it's rainy and cloudy alot in England? Seems like it's overcast in most of your pics.

I miss you!!!!!!!

CCsMom said...

You know, sometimes I think the overcast makes better photos. I mean, do you see many shaddows when it's overcast? It doesn't look like it in these photos. LOVED those black swans and the peacocks!!! You KNOW I love those, too. Isn't that castle something? Wow. They have a site on the internet if you put in "Leeds Castle Pictures" and it's over 200 -- very gorgeous. LOVED IT!!! Mom

Liz Guidry said...

Great photos of the castle! I think my fave one is the flowers with the castle in the distance and the weeping willow.

Glad you guys had a fun weekend, you deserve it!

Andrei said...

Very nice photos and a lovely Castle !