wiki link] just over 30 minutes away. It was going to be a family affair as usual, but Alex attended a sleepover birthday party with 6-8 other boys and let's just say he wasn't quite up for it. So, it turned into a nice father/daughter day out.
Coincidentally, my buddy Jay happened to visit the castle yesterday (great minds think alike) and I am going to shamelessly plagiarize his blog for the description (thanks Jay). Any factual errors are Jay's fault. :-)
The castle was built in the 12th century as a fortified manor house. William, Lord Hastings, acquired it in the late 1400's and made improvements to the property, including fortifying it into a castle. (A side note on William was that he was a very generous lord, he paid his servants too much and didn't charge his guests at all which led to massive debt. Generosity was probably not very common in those times.) The castle eventually became an important footnote in the English Civil War. The owners at the time were on the side of the Royalists, or Cavaliers, and housed retreating Royalist forces in 1645. The Parliamentarians . . . caught up to the Royalists at the castle and laid siege to it from September 1645 to March 1646. Terms of surrender were eventually negotiated with the family being allowed to leave because the castle was never breached. (Some kind of chivalry thing I guess - the better the loser fights the more favourable their terms are.) Some of the Royalist forces were killed but the castle was demolished as part of the terms which is why it is in ruins.
The castle is also famous from Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel Ivanhoe. The novel mentions the castle by name [Steve here] and turned it into a tourist attraction in the 19th century.
The audio tour didn't take itself too seriously and actually featured some role play acting between the 2 characters that both Nicole and I enjoyed (better than a dry monologue).
On to the photos . . .
Sunken gardens and more frost.
at the top as promised
view of the [former] gardens below
semi-artistic shot #1 -- I liked the funky moss at the top
semi-artistic shot #2. Nicole requested this one.
arches from long-ago vaulted ceiling
School next door. Wouldn't that be creepy? It's only 100 years old or so. Modern even.
semi-artistic shot #3
self shot -- if only my arms were a little longer -- happy days
very cool tunnel within the complex -- very dark, most of the light is from the flash
good shot of Nicole and the castle ruins from across the grounds
Greyhound Inn. Had to stop and take a photo given our history with greyhounds. Too bad there's a tacky curry night sign up.
Quick tangent on the drive. It wasn't that far away but it was painfully slow through many towns. I actually like the roundabout system here in the UK for the most part, but this route had lots of mini-roundabouts with painted circles rather than a median in the middle. Very difficult when you aren't familiar with the area. Don't care for the mini-roundabouts.
Burton upon Trent has quite a brewery tradition and the National Brewery Centre is located here. Two of the larger breweries were Worthington and Bass which merged back in 1927. In the early 2000's it was purchased by Molson Coors! From the Burton wiki page:
For centuries, Burton has been associated with the brewing industry. This is due to the quality of the local water, which contains a high proportion of dissolved salts, predominantly caused by the gypsum in the surrounding hills. This allowed a greater proportion of hops, a natural preservative, to be included in the beer, thereby allowing the beer to be shipped further afield. Much of the open land within and around the town is protected from chemical treatment to help preserve this water quality.
a very large can o' Bass
only 4 ingredients in most beers -- barley, hops, yeast and water (cool beer wiki)
The photo above is an example of what they have in the museum (stressing the more manual aspects of beer making before mechanization). Given the off-season, I should have tempered my expectations, but I was a little disappointed. They still have guided tours at 11 but we missed that by a lot. The shire horses, steam engine and actors are off until spring. There was a decent amount of info for a self tour. It was okay but not great. I'd recommend waiting until spring for those interested. No actual brewing on the tour either, btw.
A rare Coors Light tap. Don't know that I've seen one here but I haven't been looking either.
very cool beer bottle car in the not so cool winter shed
The White Hart. Kuk had a seafood pizza for her main. Notice the rocket (arugula) in the middle. Very British.
shared dessert of another local treat -- sticky toffee pudding
That's all for this week. Thanks for reading.