Yes, I know it’s an incredibly touristy thing to do…but I’m okay with that! And our son absolutely loved it. And I like to think that only the locals are crazy enough to dress their kids in costume, which we did! So on Sunday morning we boarded our embassy-rented coach at Grosvenor Square and set off for the country.
It took forever to get out of London, but eventually we made it into a series of country roads that were so small that the hedges on either side of the road scraped both sides of the bus…at the same time. We also managed to scare one car and two cyclists who literally had to back up or turn around until they found a pull-out because there was not a hair’s breadth to squeeze by us.
We arrived around noon and headed straight for the Moat Restaurant for an overpriced hot dog, pulled pork sandwich and chicken Kiev. After grabbing a quick bite to eat we continued over to the castle itself. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow photos inside, but I imagine you can take pictures of the fancy rooms that are separated out as accommodation if you want to stay overnight in one of those, which would be pretty cool.
The castle itself “began as a country house, built in the 13th century. From 1462 to 1539 it was the seat of the Boleyn family. Anne Boleyn, the second queen consort of King Henry VIII of England, spent her early youth there, after her father, Thomas Boleyn, had inherited it in 1505. He had been born there in 1477, and the castle passed to him upon the death of his father, Sir William Boleyn. It later came into the possession of King Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. In the 21st century the castle is a tourist attraction.” (Wikipedia)
We were determined to have a pleasant and fun family visit this time and hurried our son through the castle to avoid any meltdowns. Obviously we hadn’t learned our lesson the last two times. But he actually did really well (although he still tried to touch everything)! As a reward we let him run around the grounds for another 30 minutes and feed the ducks in the river.
The joust officially started at 2:15, so before that we all gathered in front of the castle to meet a couple knights as well as the king and queen. After a quick photo op we all hiked over to the playing field. The joust itself was lots of fun to watch…very Medieval Times. But the best part was when they called out all the children.
Once we gave him the okay, our son was off like a shot racing across the field. And I must say that my heart jumped a bit as I watched him run headlong into the unknown without even a backward glance at us. And he looked so small. Probably because he’s THREE.
So they rounded up about 25 children, formed them into some semblance of a line, armed them with wooden pikes and spears and a few foam severed heads (seriously!) and marched them around the ring. It had started raining but the kids loved it. And once they were done yelling and cheering, our son ran back to us with a huge grin on his face.
To avoid the crowds, we left the joust a tiny bit early, to visit an ice cream stall and then head back to the bus. Definitely a great family adventure. :)