Saturday, May 29:  Warwick Castle

I woke up with a start when the light came in through the window. I jumped out of bed and then walked down to breakfast and had the Full English Breakfast again. Then we walked back upstairs, where I grabbed my bag, and we walked down to the car, and got in. Today we were going to see Warwick Castle, just nearby. There wasn’t a real “main” attraction, just things like a water wheel, a torture chamber, a wax museum, etc. I got carsick in the car, but when we got there it was OK. We were in a grass lot about ten minutes walk away from the actual castle, so we followed the signs. Then we came to the village, and eventually the eating and ticket building. We bought four, and then continued out. Ahead of us we could see a huge stone building, on a hill with a main gate and an empty moat. We followed the path and went over the moat, and into a big courtyard. It was like a big circle, with one part the main indoors of the castle, opposite across the lawn was an exit, a small hill with all kinds of flowers to the left, and the main entrance, where we were standing. We walked over to the exit area, where there was a booth where two people dressed up like a medieval count and countess, and the show was called “court”. They were questioning some kids about whether they obeyed the ten commandments, but in a nice and funny way.

After that we decided to go to the main part of the castle, so we crossed the lawn and went inside, where there was a private mini-chapel inside. We looked at the beautiful stained glass, and then went on into the main part, all of the rooms. The rooms had VERY creative names, like “the red room”, and the “blue room” and even the “drawing room”. But despite that, the rooms had beautiful ceilings, furniture, and everything matched. Then we came to a huge banquet room or something, with deer heads on the wall, a stuffed bear, decorative swords, and more. One deer’s antlers were huge! Twice as big as I’ve ever seen. After that the path led us out, where we emerged in the courtyard again. My dad spotted a sign that said something along the lines of wax figures, so we walked back in through another door to check them out. All of the rooms that we were led into had 3 or 4 figures in them, and were amazingly real, and were the same size as they normally would be, and was a bit eerie! One was cool because it had a twenty-year-old Winston Churchill, not yet famous. After that was over we came into the courtyard again, where we decided what to do next. A show was playing in 10 minutes, called “Fighting Knights, in the courtyard near the main exit, so we walked over and joined the crowd. It started with a man taking a kid from the audience, and putting him in a suit of armor, and then taking him and his mom captive, and he was very funny. Then the bold knight came up to rescue them, and it was very hilarious when he mocked the man with the long hair who started out, while he described himself as handsome, but the knight replied back by grabbing his hair and calling him Shirley Temple because of it! Then it was over, so we quickly decided to go and rush to the cafe’ at the building where we got our tickets, before everybody else did.

So we got there quickly, and it turned out not to be crowded. We were in a restaurant, actually, and we ordered from the desk and then sat at a table. I ordered the kids meal, with a pizza on French bread, and strawberry milk. When it came I ate it, and was very good and different. The strawberry was Nesquick, so it was great. When we all had finished our meal, we payed and then exited. Now we decided to go to the peacock gardens, where there was supposed to be real peacocks strolling around! We walked along the river, and then we came to the conservatory, and the gardens right outside. And then we saw some! It was a male, so it was blue and had the amazing feathers. He just trotted around, dragging his tails behind him, and then hopped up on the bush! Only then did I notice that there were about five more, sleeping. Some were females, and brown and not as pretty. Then, we noticed that another show was going on soon, so we left the garden and went to another courtyard, on an island in the middle of the river. We crossed the bridge, where there was a huge area with tents and a big field, for jousting. We found seats on some hay, and it began. It started out with a jester on a donkey and a big stick hitting the target quintains, targets that spun when you hit them. Then the knights came in and started the real show, with the real lances and all. There were four of them, and one evil black knight. They started by running and hitting the targets like a competition. The jester ran around, and was like a commenter. When that part was over, the “princess” challenged one of the knights for horse riding. She started, by galloping, and then flinging her leg over and hanging upside down with no hands, and then coming back up! Then the knight did it, by jumping off but still holding on, and the speed popped him back up on the other side, landing in the saddle! It was so amazing! They did more stunts, the next one more amazing then the next, and in the end the princess won. After that was the real jousting, but it was acted out, but had the lances and purposely dismounted the other guy. It was fun to watch the evil knight try to hit the jester playfully. After all the events were done the jester introduced the actors as who they really are, and practically all of them were on TV and movies! One of them just got back from filming Troy as a stunt man! How cool!

It was then finished, so we left and walked along the river, only up against the backside of the castle, and came to a dam. This was where the mill was, that used to grind corn, but when electricity was invented, it was used to make just that. We walked into the mini-museum, where we could see all of the machinery in action, and they made the light bulbs on the ceiling look like the old kind. Then we went on the little walkway where you could see the wheel up close, and it was still working. Then that was over, so we all went to the last stop, the torture museum. We hiked to the courtyard again, and into the main part through yet ANOTHER door, marked “dungeon”. It turned out to be just a small little room, and the only cool thing was the stretch rack, so it wasn’t that exciting and a little disappointing. We got back out where my mom was lying in the grass, because she was too tired to go in and met up. We walked out to the exit area, where we saw another peacock. This one was on a big circular area of the ramparts where the arch was below it, with all of its feathers spread wide, and twirling in a circle! It was like a show, and a crowd gathered. It was amazing! By that time everybody was aching to go, so we walked back to the car and drove off. Now we just wanted to go to a town, called Stratford-on-Avon.

That was where Shakespeare was born and died. We parked in a lot behind some buildings, and then walked to what we wanted to see first, his grave. It was in a church, and we could find it easily because of the loud bells. We went inside, and it was a pretty nice church. To see the grave we made a donation and then walked up to it. There was a marker and flowers, with a clever poem written by him that said something like “whoever moves my bones will be cursed.” A plaque was on the wall too. We looked at it for a while, and then left. We were planning on looking for something to eat, but were distracted by a sign. It said that you could do brass rubbings. We thought it sounded like fun and was worth it, so we walked along the trail and into the buildings. I picked out a horse design and brought it up to the desk, where a woman showed me how to do it. First you put paper on the brass design and trace out your image with your finger. Then you take a silver wax thing and rub it lightly, and the image shows up only on the brass. Now that you see your image, you rub very hard with colored ones to make it beautiful. We thanked her and went to the tables outside and went to work. It was fun to do, and my horse turned out great. I made it a golden color, with a mahogany mane and tail.

We took our creations in (Robert did a dragon), and they wrapped it up in a tube and gave it to us. It was so cool! We thanked our parents, and then resumed walking. Eventually we came to our dinner spot, a fish and chips place, and we walked inside and grabbed a table. I got a sausage and chips, with baked beans. As a drink I got milk. I ate it looking out the window overlooking the river Avon, and it was very good. Then everybody was done, so we walked back outside. The last thing we were going to do today was see a play, from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)! It wasn’t actually by Shakespeare though, but was playing there. The title was “The Dog in the Manger”, and was supposed to be OK for kids. We got our tickets and was directed into the theater. It was different, with three balconies wrapping a semi-circle, and not very many seats. We were right on the edge of the second floor, so we found them and sat down, waiting for it to start. Eventually the lights dimmed, and it did. It was a love comedy set in the 1600s, in Naples. It was confusing, with him loving her, her not, changing her mind, loving him instead of him, and so on. But in the end it wasn’t bad, but I think I like the London ones better. We applauded as the actors bowed, and then it was over. We exited the theater, called the Swan, and walked back to the car and drove home. I was exhausted, so I fell asleep instantly, awaiting going to York tomorrow!