Thursday, August 5, 2010
After the long drive of yesterday, we planned less time in the car today. Knowing that we didn’t have far to go, we took our time getting together this morning and didn’t leave the house until after lunch.
We stopped in Reeth to make a purchase at the gift shop (FatSheep?) and try to get some cash. There is an ATM inside the pub, but it wasn’t working, and the Post Office can give cash on British banks, which we don’t have, so we didn’t get any cash. Nevermind, as they say.
On to our final destination: Bolton Castle. We found a spot in the parking lot (a car was pulling out, and I stood in the space while Bob got the bus turned around) and headed up the stairs to the entrance. I noticed right away that my right knee wasn’t going to work for me, so I took all the stairs by just bending my left knee. Entrance was 20GBP and included the use of children’s medieval costumes, and several activities throughout the castle. Well worth it. This isn’t a famous castle; it wasn’t on my list of things I’d found to do up here, but it is very big, well kept (the intact parts), and lots of fun.
The first room we went in was the chapel, and Gregorian chants were playing over a hidden speaker system. A sign on the wall said that a nearby church paid to keep 6 priests at the castle to pray for the soul of the recently murdered Richard II. (As the builder of the castle was a Richard, I’m not sure if this meant his son, or the King; forgive my ignorance of history.) It gave the priests daily schedule as waking up for prayer at 2:30am, praying every 3 hours or so all day, and to bed at 7pm. In between prayers they kept a herb garden, tended the sick, and taught the noble boys how to read and write.
Next we went into the Solar – a sort of ladies sitting room, which was part of a suite of rooms in which Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned. There was a bit of info on her stay there (6 months), her attendants (over 50 people), and her activities (sewing and writing letters). On the table was an activity – make your own cloved orange. I forget what they call it. So we did that for a while, and then on to the next room, where we made nosegays, and then the next room, where we tried the stocks, and then… (I’m assuming you don’t want the details of every room. There are 5 floors or more to explore, with toilets and information and a trip out on the roof.) We wanted to stop at the tea room, but it was full, so off with the costumes in the gift shop/entrance, and out to the gardens.
There was some information on the side of the castle about its location. Said it overlooked the Wensleydale Forest, the high stone walls of which can still be seen. Well, there are plenty of stone walls around here, and some are taller than others, but I don’t know which ones are 800 years old and which were built last week. The close ties with heritage here are both constantly in view and often just out of reach. 97% of the buildings are made from local stone, so anything with plaster or siding looks very out of place; even wire fences look very odd. Anyway, there were a hedge maze, a rose garden, and a formal herb garden that were all very nice. And then we were done.
We came back home for chicken tacos that I’d made in the crock pot (dump in frozen chicken, a chopped onion, two chopped garlic cloves, a can of green chilies, salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin; when it’s done, shred the meat with two forks and return to the juices while you get the table set). While the girls and I finished preparing, Bob took the boys and the little ones across the street to a campground and played Frisbee.