Our first successful (meaning without any car troubles) family day trip outside of London was to Warwick Castle (about 2 hours from our home). We went in our trusty little loaner car while the car dealer fixed the car we had just bought (that’s a story I won’t bore this blog with). While the castle was a bit gimmicky (owned by Madam Tussaud's who I dislike immensely) it was beautiful and dreamy for the kids and packed full of interesting things to see and do. This was the first iconic castle (aside from Hampton Court and the Tower of London) we visited here in England and the kids were taken in. It was perfectly out of a story book, with a moat and turrets and a portcullis and knights and princesses walking around. What kid doesn’t want to spend a day at a real castle? While Charlie went on a little daddy date with Jeff to shoot a bow and arrow and learn about knights and catapults, Hazel and Emmeline and I visited some of the fancy places in the castle. Ever since we arrived in England Hazel has pretty much decided that she belongs among all this fanciness. Oh, I see so much of myself in that dreaming little girl. They let us dress in some fancy night clothes and lounge on the window seats (love the drama, don’t you?)
Ever since we visited Hampton Court Palace Hazel has been totally into Henry the eighth and his six wives. She was stoked to find that she could take a picture with them here (thanks Madam Tussaud!).
On our little girl date we also went to the Princess Tower. Gag me with a spoon, it was horrible! This funny actress dressed up as a really poorly made up princess told us some stories which weren’t really stories and then made us help her decide which dress she should wear for her friend's wedding. Her friend came alive in a magic picture on the wall that talked (a tv). She mostly talked about the prince that she was in love with (another talking tv picture on another wall with a prince that looked like Justin Bieber). I know, it didn’t make much sense while we were experiencing it either. I don’t think anyone was too taken in by it all, the kids were confused and the parents all looked like they wanted to get out. Wedding dresses? Tacky talking tv princesses? Fashion? Justin Bieber princes? Who do they think these little girls are? They just wanted to see a princess in her tower. You win some and loose some I guess. I think the bow and arrow and catapults were a little better (though much to Jeff’s dismay we don’t have picture of these….).
Another part of the castle took us through what the castle might have been like during medieval times. We saw where they made cloth and weapons, how they cooked, we got to try on some costumes and meet some more wax figures.The grounds of the castle were lovely and so fun to walk around and explore. We got to talk with ‘peasant’ women in their tents outside, tending their fires, telling us what their lives were like. We got to learn about the castle's defenses and even see a real trebuchet get fired (a big catapult like thing that shoots balls of fire). We got to see the dungeons (always a favorite for my kids….they are pretty entranced with prisons and torture and dungeons).Emmeline and Charlie and Peter and I climbed the “Mound” to see the view while Hazel and Dad went on a little date. Peter should get a medal for all the time he has spent patiently watching the world go by in his stroller. I’m pretty sure he is usually cold and hungry and bored but he hardly ever makes a peep of complaint. We also walked through the peacock gardens. The gardens were beautiful with peacocks everywhere, like flowers. What a wild animal!Emmeline and her “poses.” I can’t help but post a series of these poses….she comes up with a new one for every click of the camera (when she’s in a good mood). Here is Charlie with his archer friend in the back ground. Little Charlie’s mind is firing like crazy at places like this….trying to figure out all the defense and battle and knight parts of the castle. More Emmeline poses. Wish I had one of these at home for time outs. We were surprised when we came out of the Castle after a long day to find that the town of Warwick was every bit, if not more lovely than the Castle. It is OLD and lined everywhere with buildings that are older than anything we’ve seen in the US. (So funny how your perception of old changes when you come to England!) Tudor shambles leaning every which way, their overhanging timbers all wonky, looking like they might fall over with the next stiff wind. I loved the town maybe even more than the castle. It felt so real and steeped with history. We even found an awesome Pizza Express (a pizza chain here) to eat in. Perfect place to eat after a day like that.
And, we made it home with no car trouble (just some pretty tired kids and deteriorating moods….which was almost as bad).