Hello all! Kristin here…it’s been awhile since Justine’s injury (she’s feeling much better!) brought us to the ER so I figured it was about time I created a little drama. About halfway through enjoying our awesome day out I started getting the funny vision changes that are usually associated with my migraine aura. Admittedly this freaked me out a bit but I figured I’d just wait it out and see what happened. Justine drugged me up (luckily you can always count on her to be carrying some Tylenol) and we went on with our day. Eventually my vision returned to normal…Yay! But then about an hour later my hand went numb, which is my second migraine warning sign. At this point I panicked a bit but we quickly left and went back to the hostel. In no time at all I was able to turn out the lights, put in my earplugs and go to bed…the whole thing had been very slow moving compared to how my migraines used to progress so I was asleep before my head even really hurt. After 4 hours of sleep I am feeling a little shaky but much better! I didn’t even got a full migraine in the end, but it was nice to be able to sleep through anything that did happen (& the general stress of the situation). So to wrap up, all is well again!
Now on with our day…
After a delicious warm breakfast at the hostel and waiting around for an hour for the hop-on hop-off bus, we were off! The bus tour ticket was actually good for 48 hours and two different tours. Yesterday we did the in town your and today it took us in a loop around the countryside. We saw a nice estate and a place Kristin would have visited if she were with her Daddy…the Heritage Motor Center.
We however were on our way to Warwick Castle…described on more than one occasion as an electrifying day out!
Warwick Castle was built in 1068 by none other than William the Conquerer. The castle traditionally belonged to the Earl of Warwick and it served as a symbol of his power. The castle was taken in 1153 by the future king Henry II. Later, under the ownership of Richard Neville – also known as “Warwick the Kingmaker” because he had so much influence over any royal decision – Warwick Castle was used in the 15th century to imprison Edward IV. It was used as a fortification until the early 17th century, when it was converted into a country house. Presently the castle is open to the public and is pretty much an awesome theme park!
The castle almost doesn’t seem real! It’s large and imposing and made of grey bricks like all fairytale castles should be.
When we entered the grounds there was a demonstration going on at the entrance to the castle. The men of Lancaster under Henry II wanted into the castle to prepare for battle with the evil people of York. The two sides of the War of the Roses. The Wars of the Roses were a series of civil wars for the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the houses of Lancaster and York.
Entering the walls of the castle we were greeted by a wide open green courtyard and so much excitement and things to see in every direction. Worth noting and probably the cutest thing ever was the numerous children dressed as knights with swords or princesses. Adorable! Just like how kids dress up at Disneyland.
First we entered the gaol. Here prisoners were kept and tortured. We made our way into the gaol through some old narrow stone stairs. On display were torture devices from the 1400’s. Not pleasant in any way. There was also a small window which led to a hole in the ground where some of the worst prisoners were kept and forgotten about.
The next area contained displays on how the people of Warwick prepared for the Battle of Barnet against the people of York. There were many very real looking fake people in this display. There were many very real looking fake people in all of the displays! Like seriously real looking! Like you jumped when there was actually a real person because the fake people looked so real you couldn’t tell them apart! We got to see the Warwick folk making weapons & armor and rallying the troops.
The most exciting exhibit was Royal Secrets & Scandals. The premise of this exhibit was you were attending an evening party at the castle when it was the home of Daisy, Countess of Warwick in the late 1800’s.
As you walked through her lavish rooms you were introduced to her distinguished guests. There was a write up about each person that described who they were and why they were famous and the scandalous gossip of their lives. Basically we learned that affairs were ok as long as no affection was displayed in public. For example, Daisy herself had an affair with the Prince of Wales, two illegitimate children each with a different father who was not her husband or the Prince. Winston Churchill’s mother was also a harlett, also involved with the Prince of Wales and a man 20 years her junior. Scandalous!
Finally we got to walk through the lovely state rooms. Every castle and palace has staterooms and all of them are wonderfully elegant and extravagant. In one of the staterooms there was a display of Henry VIII and his many wives. It was kinda funny to see them all in wax person form. It was also kinda funny how difficult it was to get a picture containing all 7 of them…there’s just too many people to fit in!
Queen Victoria and some of the monarchs to follow once dined here in the wonderfully large great hall. All of the decorations in this room were old weapons and military equipment. It seemed a style of the day to decorate your grand rooms with weapons of the past. We saw this previously at the Edinburgh Castle. Kristin thinks this is how Justine should decorate her Tudor style cottage.
After all of the exhibits it was time for our entrance to see the Merlin and Dragon of the Tower exhibit. Merlin is a BBC TV show that was then picked up to play on Canadian networks which, naturally, focuses on a young Merlin discovering his powers and a young Prince Arthur destined to be King. We climbed the tower and met a young man working in an apothecary. When one of us apparently showed our magical ability we were sent off to visit the one and only dragon. This was adorably carried out with the use of a young girl who was the one to make the torch light and became the leader of our group. Meeting the dragon was slightly anticlimactic, he was only a 3D image on a screen. The dragon at the theatre in West Ed is more believable! Again there were adorable little kids given important parts to make it all really cute. On the way out we saw some props that have actually been used in the show. Kristin’s seen the first season and now Justine wants to watch it when she gets home.
Once we left here we climbed the mound on one side of the courtyard. The mound is pretty much a big hill incorporated into the side of the castle. At the top of the mound was peacocks….random! It became slightly less random when we discovered there was a bunch of peacocks roaming around the grounds. From the other side of the mound we got a great look of the river and water mill driving steam engine beside the castle. We also got a decent view of the jousting!!! Actual jousting on horses with a lance. Our view from up here was slightly limited due to the trees but we got to see the main idea. It was like you would see in the movies…very A Knight’s Tale. Unlike the movies, they were not trying to dismount each other from their horses or injure them in any way. Instead they simple just aimed for their shield. Still, how often do you get to see live jousting???
After the jousting was finished we wandered out of the castle walls down towards where the show had occurred. On the way we spotted people learning archery, children learning to become a knight and where kids could decorate their own shield. We saw a people trying to remove the sword from the stone. Many men failed! But finally a little boy, naturally named Arthur, stepped up and removed the sword, becoming Arthur the Once & Future King.
Along the way we spotted a place called Waffle and Ice Cream. Justine could not believe it was actually referring to real warm breakfast waffles…but it was definitely referring to real warm breakfast waffles. Needless to say, we enjoyed a waffle with a scoop of caramel and a scoop of strawberry icecream on top. Yum, Yum, Yum…Delicious!
Making our way back into the castle we noticed everyone sitting around the central courtyard. Curious, we joined in. It turned out to be story time! One of the castle’s knights recounted the story of Guy Warwick and the dragon who once plagued these lands. He was extremely into it and the story was pretty gruesome for it’s audience of young children. As you may have predicted, Guy won out in the end and slayed the dragon.
Story time was followed by a demonstration by the Warwick Warriors. This began with a sword fight between two people from Warwick and the evil villain from York. The show went on to inform us of the differences between a real fight in the 15th century and what Hollywood has made us believe about sword fights. For example, real shields were not made of metal. The shock of metal hitting metal would have resulted in vibrations that were likely to injure the holders arm. Instead they were made of wood. As well, real sword fights did not last for 10 minutes and involve sword clashing. The swords were razor sharp and the clashing would instantly ruin them. In this time you were not aiming for the other persons sword, you were aiming for the other person. Aiming to kill them quickly.
They showed us how swords have progressed over the years and became bigger and bigger in the 14th and 15th centuries. We also saw a really big axe.
It was at this time we decided to quickly leave because Kristin was not feeling well. We grabbed a taxi right outside of the castle. The hop-on hop-off bus had just left, but it was probably better we grabbed a taxi. It got us back quicker. While Kristin slept Justine was able to entertain herself. She had nice long chats with her parents and sister. She’s also very good at getting distracted on Wikipedia.
Once Kristin woke up, which Justine was very glad to see her still alive we realized supper had long passed. Being our crafty selves we turned our leftover crackers and cheese into nachos (and added some treats from the vending machine). And that brings us up to now!
Love, Luck & Lances,