The next morning we debated what to do. The majority decision was to visit a nearby attraction called ‘The Forbidden Corner’ but due to bureaucratic planning restrictions tickets could only be bought on-line and without communications at the cottage this had been quite impossible.
We drove there anyway and at the entrance they confirmed that entrance was only by advance booking so we took a bagged a spot later in the week and drove off to look for something else to do.
The children thought they might like to visit the chocolate factory in nearby Leyburn and even though all of the signs seemed to suggest that it was open it was in fact closed so we had an empty car park to ourselves to debate what to do.
We decided to go to the town of Richmond. I like Richmond, it was named UK town of the year in 2009. It is the most duplicated UK place-name worldwide with at least fifty-seven occurrences including seven in Canada, five in Australia, two in New Zealand and a massive thirty-seven in the USA with a place called Richmond in twenty-five states.
The list of previous residents include Lord Baden-Powell, Founder of the scouting movement, the author Lewis Carroll, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister and the man famous for my favourite tea – Earl Grey and me. I lived there for about nine months in 1997 when I was managing waste collection contracts in the north of England and the company rented me a nice house in the town to save on expensive travel and hotel bills. I hated working for Onyx UK but this was a very pleasant interlude!
So we arrived in Richmond in the late morning and competed for a parking bay in the busy market place and having secured a rather dodgy spot where I was certain that someone would surely drive into me while trying to squeeze into the space next to it I reluctantly left the car but watched over it while we stopped for ice cream in the town centre before walking away towards the imposing Norman castle which dominates the whole of the town.
I had visited Richmond Castle before, around about twenty years ago with my children …
… and now I was back with my grandchildren.
If we had been disappointed earlier this morning by the failure to find something to do we couldn’t complain this afternoon because although we didn’t know it in advance there was a major English Heritage event today at the castle and there was a medieval afternoon to enjoy.
A medieval event is a historical recreation where historical enthusiasts wander around the country all through the summer and demonstrate re-enactments and tell stories and interpretations about life in the past. I imagine it is rather a sad life but they seem to enjoy dressing up and pretending to be Romans, Vikings and Normans and it is all harmless enough. Personally I prefer to spend my spare time playing golf!
This turned out to be rather an important afternoon for me. I am a history enthusiast myself and have always been disappointed that my two children have never shared my passion for castles and museums; once, about twenty-five years ago Jonathan got me through the York Castle Museum in about ten minutes flat.
Anyway, this afternoon I was so pleased to discover that my grandson William seems to have a genuine interest and once we had established that it wasn’t a playground ‘bouncy castle’ there was no stopping him climbing the spiral staircases and running about the battlements at the top.
He also showed a genuine interest in the toy soldiers and the play castles in the shop at the exit and although we didn’t buy one this afternoon I suddenly became confident about where my collection of toy soldiers will be going when I am next sorting out my will, which is rather appropriately going to William!
We eventually left Richmond, the castle and the entertainment and we drove directly back to the cottage at Thornton Stewart where Kim was shortly to join us for a couple of nights.
I was getting used to the remoteness of the place and beginning to enjoy the company of the sheep. It was a lovely evening and the children played in the garden and entertained a herd of inquisitive cattle that came by the place to see what all of the noise was about!
Cows are pretty stupid animals it seems to me. If you stand at a gate next to a field of cows pretty soon they will amble over and just stand and enjoy your company, they will stay there for hours and expect nothing in return, you can’t even feed them like you would a horse or a donkey. They just stand there breathing heavy and occasionally lifting their tale and depositing a pile of shit onto the grass.
But there can be some danger attached to standing chatting to cows because according to official figures an average of five people a year in the UK are killed each year by them which is about twice as many recorded human fatalities caused by dogs.
Visit my blogging Pal John Knifton for an entertaining post on UK dangerous animals…