Friday, 15 May 2009

Hever - Hip Hip Hooray!

We FINALLY made it to Hever Castle! My goodness all last week Leonore, Miranda and I were debating when to go - where we up to it today? - what about next week? etc etc. But today we went! The weather forecast was rainy which means miserable. Nevertheless we put on our happy faces, armed with umbrellas and caught the train. A simple statement "caught the train" but this was a major event of the day. Every time and I mean EVERY time we go anywhere we plan to get a train, plan a time to meet and then on the home stretch to the train station it flies past us. But today - for the first time - we got the train we wanted! Happy dance!

We had had to change trains twice because this castle is basically in the middle of nowhere. It seems that those who visit this castle are on tour buses because when we got off the train there was no one around and no signs. Great. Luckily, Leonore had packed some directions so off we set into this overgrown town. I use the term "town" loosely given that I saw a few houses on the way there but mostly trees and such. This place (for some unknown reason) has no footpaths so we had to walk on the road and come face to face with death given that the few cars that were around would go roaring around blind corners in this small town - what clever occupants.

But - we made it! Hooray! In case you didn't know Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. The castle was surprisingly small - how modest - but the gardens were pretty big and there was a hedge maze and a water maze - oh this gets good.

First, the hedge maze. Sadly, there was a sign that said the hedge maze was being given "surgery" as the type of hedge takes hundreds of years to grow. This meant that when we walked through the maze we could see straight through it. Oh well it didn't stop us getting lost. Miranda boldly went first - into several cobwebs. We didn't think this maze was so underused given that there were loads of kids on school trips running about but then we realised - school children are quite short and these cobwebs were getting us in the face. Yum. We each took turns and I had taken to walking through the maze as if I was miming wearing cloak with my arm out in front of me. Eventually, we made it to the middle! Thinking there would be an awesome fountain or statue or something in the middle as a reward - we were greatly disappointed as there was a stone block where a statue or something should have been. Brilliant. We improvised.

Jolly good. The trick to getting into the middle of mazes is to put your hand on the left wall and just follow your hand. Seriously, that's how we made it.

Out of the maze and onto the grounds. Very lovely. I can imagine Anne strolling through these gardens with small defined steps plotting how she was going to ensnare Henry VIII in her womanly clutches. The gardens led to a huge lake where you could hire boats. It was all very grand. Take a look.

The funniest thing about this place are the ducks. They were masses of them! And no matter where you go in the place - a duck will surely follow. They came right up to us and quacked for food. We tried tricking them with leaves but they weren't having any of it! Miranda foolishly put her bag on the ground and three ducks waddled up and tried to nibble away the strap of her bag.

Now comes the water maze. This maze is the coolest thing ever. There's a big rock in the middle with waterfalls coming out on all sides which is where you have to get to. To get to it there are stone paths all around it (in maze form). The stones have water in between so you have to watch where you step - they even had an attendant on hand in case you managed to slip off and knock your head - he was reading and didn't look up the entire time we were there. Given that the maze had loads of signs around it saying "be prepared to get wet" we thought - surely it can't be that bad. We even though that after seeing many soggy children. We didn't know what to expect until (thank goodness) there was a group of people in front of us who rushed onto the maze which was when we all realised that when you step on certain stones the weight of your body sets of jets of water to spray on you - tricky! After following the certain path of the other people we made it to the middle, learning that if you walk really slowly onto the stones you can trick them into not squirting you. We still got somewhat wet though. Nevertheless - VICTORY!

Wow - I haven't even got to the castle yet! Well that comes now so let's go. Into the castle. Here's what it looks like...

Yep there's a drawbridge. And a moat! With really really big fish in it. I mean these fish could eat a duck in one go - that's how big they were. Inside we went and - boo - no photography allowed inside. Well... we'll see. The castle was pretty neat inside except that the Astor family (rich peeps who own the Waldorf Astoria and so on) renovated the castle in 1905! Why do they do this? I got to go into Anne's bedroom - yep - it's a bedroom. Then we got to go into the room that Henry VIII would have stayed in when he stayed in Hever. Don't get me wrong I'm not liking Henry over Anne I think it was AMAZING that I got to be in the place where they were hundreds and hundreds of years ago - breathing the same particles that they would have breathed. It's pretty cool. There was another room where behind the panelling in the wall there was a catholic chapel so the occupants of the house (not entirely sure who this was at the time) could pray without fear of getting bumped off by Henry VIII. By this time Leonore and I were lost in a flood of small boys and girls who all clomped into the room shouting things like "CORRRR look at this SWORD!" "No, no look at that BED" before leaning over things and smelling them - ? Strange. This one woman who ran the place kept telling the children to use their inside voices. We went upstairs (despite looking small this place had a lot of rooms) and found that they had got wax models of Henry and all his wives. Miranda knows this clever rhyme about his wives which is "divorced, killed, died, divorced, killed, survived" - how true. Miranda really wanted a photo with Henry so we waited until the lady ran off to remind the children about their indoor voices once more and took the shot! Ha ha! Take that Hever.

Another room contained all these war things like suits of armour and old swords and stuff. There was one thing that caught my eye. This thing. And do you know what the plaque read? "Man trap" Ahh it's what every girl needs... Maybe that's how Anne got Henry... Watch out boys of Oz! I'm bringing this knowledge home...

Out we went and started our walk back to the train station and long journey back to Egham. It's funny because all throughout our trip home we kept getting further and further in our idea for a new children's show called "Kitties on Bins". Seriously. That morning we saw two cats sitting on two different rubbish bins and throughout the space of the day we came up with - names, new characters, obstacles, place, accents and plot development. Brilliant. So whenever there was a silence, really, we would just cry "Kitties on bins!" Patent pending! Not long til Miranda and I jet off to Paris! But there will be more blogs before we go... maybe a video even? Hmm? Anyone interested?

1 comment:

  1. kitties on bins kitties on bins kitties on bins.