Friday, 10 November 2017

A Weekend at Warwick Castle

My most exciting discover of 2017 was that you could have mediaeval sleepovers at Warwick Castle! We spent a brilliant night away in the Knight's Village over the summer, and there's a full post on that coming soon, but while we were there we of course spent plenty of time around the castle too!


Climbing the castle walls 

An exploration of the castle towers and ramparts seemed like a great place to start! 



There were a LOT of steps, but some of the views were totally worth it!



The glimpses we got of the surrounding town were lovely - we didn't have time to explore outside of the castle on this trip but I'd love to get back and have a proper look around!



There s a one-way system in place around the towers as some of the staircases and corridors are a little tight, but of course not everyone wants to follow simple directions so I'd suggest hitting up this section early on in the day if possible, before it gets too busy. Based on the queues visible by early afternoon, I'd imagine uncomfortable squeezes weren't uncommon! 



Inside the Castle

The inside of the castle is stunning, with various rooms decorated to replicate how they would have looked at different points through the castle's history.... unfortunately our exploration of this part of the castle was relatively quickly paced as the little lady has an irrational fear of wax figures and didn't want to hang around them too long!



There seems like so much to see and learn in the castle interiors, so we plan on trying to toughen her up for next year! I was half hoping to visit the Dungeons at Warwick Castle at some point, but at this rate we have no chance!


Still, she felt a little braver with a helmet for protection!



Horrible Histories Maze


The Horrible Histories Maze is new since our last visit, and is something the kiddos were really looking forward to - they're both massive Horrible Histories fans and this looked like a fun way to incorporate even more gruesome historical knowledge into our visit! 



The maze is separated into different time period settings, made with corresponding materials and with various facts, challenges and activities. There was also a card to get stamped at each of the different sections, which once complete could be exchanged for a small gift at the shop afterwards.



We did get a bit lost and confused in there, but I suppose that's the point! We had lots of fun though! 


The Flight of the Eagles Show


Honestly, one of the things I was most excited about on our visit was the Flight of the Eagles show. I have a real love for birds of prey, and we've visited a number of bird sanctuaries and centres over the north so we can see these amazing birds.


But none of them have come close to the birds at Warwick Castle! Not only did they have an amazing array of birds, some that I've never seen before, but the sheer size of them was unbelievable!


A combination of the huge birds and the great space on site resulted in the most impressive flying display I've ever seen. We got to see an array of beautiful eagles, owls and vultures soar from the highest towers of the castle and swoop over the the heads of the crowds.



It's hard to pin down a favourite - but a special shout-out has to go to Rosie, the UK's only free-flying Andean Condor and. With a wingspan of over ten foot, we thought we'd stumbled across a living pterodactyl and watching her ascend the castle walls like steps was a truly astounding thing to see.



They do a show in the morning and on in the afternoon, but they're both different so it's worth getting to them both if you can! (We caught it three times over two days and I regret nothing!) 

Archery


As well as the Birds of Prey show, there's also an Archery Display a couple of times a day. I always wonder how you find yourself on a career path with 'archer' at the end of it - though sadly I imagine it's a bit too late in life to tread that path myself! This guy knows his stuff though and puts on a great display with some very impressive looking historical weapons! 


And then, once their appetite for death and destruction has been whetted, the kids get to have a go themselves! 


Refreshments


We did most of our eating at the Knight's Village, but a day out wouldn't be a day out without a tea-and-cake stop! There's a bunch of places to eat around Warwick Castle, from pizza buffets to sit-down restaurants, with ice cream stands and burger huts between. But I had my eye on The Conservatory and all the baked goodies held within.



It's a lovely peaceful spot in the gorgeous peacock gardens, and a great place for a sugary re-charge. Plus I could send the kids off to run round the fountains and hang out with the peacocks within eyesight of my outside seat and cup of tea. Great scones too! 


And, though the weather wasn't the greatest on the weekend of our trip, we still had to get an ice cream! 


Everything Else


The Mighty Trebuchet is a working recreation of one of the most bad-ass military machines of all time. It's essentially a huge catapult, and (from a safe distance) you can see them fire this monstrosity up to a couple of times a day. It has an impressive range of nearly 1000 foot! 


I couldn't talk about the attractions at Warwick Castle without giving a should out to the adorable baby ducklings in residence! These little cuties weren't shy at all and we spent a great deal of time watching them follow their mum around and pester visitors for food! 


We've seen jousting here before on a previous visit and was really looking forward to seeing it again this time, so I was a bit gutted when I found out that the jousting and other extra activities didn't actually start 'til the weekend following our visit. Despite my worries that without them we'd struggle to fill two days, we actually managed just fine without a hint of boredom - but still I'd definitely check the calendar a bit more carefully before planning another trip! 


Still it's always nice to leave a couple of things left undone to give you an excuse to return and I think we've got plenty of reasons to aim for another trip down next year! Hopefully we can even convince my little scaredy-cat into the Dungeons, but I think that's probably a step too far! 


Have you been to Warwick Castle? Or have any big nerdy days out you can recommend? 
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Friday, 3 November 2017

October Happenings, November Plans

As, I imagine, was the case for many people, much of our October goings-ons were Halloween based. The night itself was spend trick-or-treating around my brothers house, with him and his kiddos. It's always an interesting place to go trick-or-treating as the confused responses to the holiday make for a very eclectic goodie haul. They've come back with apples, cakes, crisps, bottles of pop and cash alongside the expected sweets but my favourite reactions are where the person opening the door clearly has no idea what's going on! 


We popped over to York on one of the weekend days as it makes sense to visit England's most haunted city for Halloween! This year we booked onto the York's Chocolate Story Trick-or-Treat walking tour, a kid-friendly and sugar filled alternative to the evening's spookier ghost walks. This was really good fun and the chocolate was delicious! 


Unfortunately bad traffic on the way over meant we got in late and couldn't do everything wed hoped in the city - but of course we found time to pop into Bettys and stock up on their Halloweeny goodies! Their marzipan pumpkins are sooooo dreamy! 


And speaking of pumpkins, another fun seasonal day out was had at Farmer Copley's Pumpkin Festival - the kids loved picking and carving their own pumpkin! 


The other big thing that happened in October was my long awaited trip to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I obviously don't want to say too much about the play but it was truly special and I couldn't recommend it more! 

The rest of the London trip was a bit more hit-and-miss sadly, with a huge hiccup with our accommodation and then a tragic mishap with my camera going some way to balance out the other wise great food, sights and company! 

Novembers plans are limited - as gets colder it really does seem to take the edge of planning days out in advance as you don't know if the weather is going to be up to it!

The eldest and I have a karate tournament coming up in a few weeks, so a lot of the time before that will be spent in training. Even if we don't end up with shiny medals to make it worthwhile, its a day out in Sheffield that should be fun!

I've also booked a very quick getaway to Bruges towards the end of the month. The 'minicruise' (fancy name for an overnight ferry) from Hull can be remarkably cheap and after all that training I'll need all the chocolate and beer Belgium can offer!
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