Castles, Motorhomes, and Mappa Mundi…

Well, I struggled through eleven days at home before it was time to head off again…..

We left on Friday morning, stopping to visit Denbigh Castle and Caergwrle Castle en route. Both are 13th century. Denbigh Castle was bigger and better than either of us expected:

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I’d come across Caergwrle Castle when looking up nearby Hope, Flintshire, where one of my Cheshire ancestors ended up (having unhelpfully married a local lady called Mary Williams – not easy to pin down as there seem to have been several born every year in every parish). This one was smaller and more ruined:

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Here’s Mark modelling the medieval privy…..

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From there we drove down to our campsite at Kingsbury Water Park, just off the M42. Unfortunately, it was dark by the time we got there so we didn’t get to see much. Well…. until there was the inevitable sudden exclamation of “ooooh… Tenty Folk!”. This was on a campsite absolutely rammed full of motorhomes and caravans, with not a tent in sight when we drove in. There was a very insincere “I hope it doesn’t rain for them…. much” and then Mark settled down in darkness to watch proceedings.

I did take some photos to document the more extreme behaviour experienced on these occasions. The flash worked well, but we were in pitch darkness before I pressed the button – this is what the camera found him up to….. Firstly, the initial stages of the putting up of the tent, and the extreme glee with which Mark now greets such Tenty Folk encounters…

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We then have the very embarrassing “Tank Commander” impression where Mark stands on a seat and pops his head out of the skylight to get a better view of what’s going on. Yes, he deployed this strategy frequently in Germany and Austria last year……

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He then went a step further than ever before. The lady of the pair left the tent manoevres and got into their van. Mark apparently needed to see what she was doing….

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Words fail me at this point, so it’s probably best to just move on…..

On Saturday we had a full day at the Motorhome Show at the NEC. We didn’t find a whole lot of competition for Kampington. We would have produced a motorhome top 3, but we only found 2 that were worthy of inclusion on any list. We really liked one of the Frankias and there was a Hymer that was ok.

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Kampington doesn’t have anything to worry about as the Frankia we liked was just over £80k and the Hymer we thought was ok was just under £80k…. Ouch!

We stayed overnight at the Warwick Racecourse campsite. We expected to be somewhere near the racecourse, but hadn’t quite reckoned on ending up parked right next to the Winning Post….

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On Sunday we visited Warwick Castle. The blurb promises all kinds of superlatives. It must be England’s most expensive medieval castle, though strangely that was one accolade not mentioned in the brochure…. The castle itself was good if overly touristy (it’s owned by the same people as Alton Towers and Madame Tussauds, and it shows).

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We saw a demonstration of the firing of a trebuchet:

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We also saw a very good bird demonstration. We saw two bald eagles (mother and daughter), a vulture, an owl, and an Andean Condor. The vulture specialised in undoing shoelaces as well as buzzing very low over the crowd. The owl was a young bird and being trained to “hunt” pieces of chicken thrown onto the ground. On the two attempts we saw, the chicken was thrown, the owl flew down from the tree, completely missed the chicken, then nonchalently wandered across the grass to grab it……

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By far the best bit though was Rosie the Andean Condor. Another young bird, Rosie was apparently a bit of a novice at flying. We were told that if she flew towards us and looked as if she was going to hit us, like the vulture did, this bird really WAS going to hit us…… Rosie set off from a platform as did the other birds but couldn’t do a complete lap and land back on the platform – she had been trained to land on a castle wall then hop up the wall to a suitable height before setting off again flying in the other direction…..

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It was all going well until the third lap when the show had to be cut short when Rosie failed to land on the castle wall and crash landed onto the path below. She had to be grabbed fast in case any particularly dim tourists decided to go up to her to see how sharp her beak was…… (there was no danger of her disappearing as she couldn’t have taken off from there if she’d wanted to). So that was the end of our viewing of the jumbo jet of the bird world…….

On Monday we had a look round Ross on Wye.

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We then stopped in Hereford to go to the cathedral and see the Mappa Mundi, which was fantastic…..

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From there we reluctantly headed home 😦 😦 😦

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