So, yes, Saturday’s “distraction” came in the form of a return trip to Ashby de la Zouch, this time specifically in order to visit the castle.
I can’t recommend this castle strongly enough for a day trip. Its an English Heritage site, but even for non-members like me, the £3.90 entry fee won’t break the bank. With entry comes an audio tour handset (which makes everyone appear to be rudely on their mobile phones when in fact they’re listening and learning!), and the tour is hilarious. Seriously, we’re talking giggle aloud funny – a kind of Monty Python silliness that directly appeals to my own sense of the daft. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole tour – even the bits where I got a bit lost for laughing…
When someone asks you as a child what colour a castle is, or even what colour stone is, you say grey. What struck me about this castle in the late afternoon winter sun was just how greatly mistaken we are in this notion.
Although most of the castle is in ruin, you can still climb to the top of the tower, added to the original 12th century manor house (thereby aiding its ascension to castle status) by Lord Hastings circa 1480. It’s worth the oppressively narrow spiral staircase – even if you’re the dizzy type, like me!
Having climbed to the top of the tower and back down again, Dapper decided a photo of him at the top taken by me at the bottom would be an excellent idea. So, y’know, he just ran back up again. Yes, I said “ran”. I know.
Hold onto your hat!
19th century graffiti… “T Ainsley woz ere 1877”
(Not really – I mean, he was, and did carve his name, but he didn’t use txt spk!)
Listening to the tour in the Great Hall’s fireplace
– NOT being rude on the telephone!
Dents left by musket balls during the English civil war
My least favourite part of the tour was the secret passageway beneath the castle, another civil war feature. Send me up a tower and I’ve no fears, but send me down into the darkness with the sound of dripping water and narrow stone walls and I’m… uncomfortable.
See how happy I am to be out?!