Lara has been in the UK – Maidstone to be exact – for nearly a year now. The plan has always been that I go down to visit her at some point. However, the time for her to leave is now here – she is moving the coming weekend – and I hadn’t honoured my promise yet!
This weekend Michael and I were planning to go camping. Unfortunately the camping ground we wanted to go to was full :(. We had to make alternative plans, and I immediately thought of Lara. This was her last weekend in Maidstone so if she had time we could go down and visit.
I received a call from her on Friday night: a friend of ours, Malcolm, who is following a masters in Graphic Design in Cornwall, was visiting her this weekend and they were planning to go to Leeds Castle on Saturday. Do we want to join? Definitely!
So yesterday morning saw Michael and I catch a train (actually missing one and catching the next one) down to Maidstone. Malcolm and Lara met us at the train station, from were we hurried to the bus stop. The bus to Leeds castle arrived and off we went.
Leeds Castle is gorgeous! Lara has been telling us about it for ages, so I was looking forward to it…and I was still impressed. I am not sure the price is justified (£17.50 for an adult, though the ticket is valid for as many entries in a year as you want…), but otherwise it is great, especially in the sunny weather than graced us yesterday.
We started with a tour of the castle, walking through the rooms which have been inhabited by royalty, as well as modern rulers. In the great weather however the longer we could spend outside the better! So we grabbed our blanket and the lunch goodies Lara and Malcolm had grabbed for us while they waited for our late train, and sat down opposite the castle for a good rest, natter and lunch.
After lunch it was then time to visit the aviary and maze they have in the castle grounds. The birds, including a black swan (the symbol of the castle) were gorgeous, and with a bit of ‘help’ we managed to find the end to the maze quite easily. We then returned to resting and nattering and an ice-cream/drink, before watching ‘A World of Wings‘ show.
I really liked the bird show. We were shown birds from preying hawks, to colourful macaws. However, my favourite were definitely the four storks that we saw at the end of the show! They were so CUTE! But it wasn’t just the birds that impressed me. I also enjoyed the fact that the bird handlers took the time to talk to us about how the birds are trained by positive reinforcement. I think that it is always important to be shown what goes behind what you are seeing and to learn more about how and why things are as you are seeing, rather than the show being just entertainment…I guess that’s why I am still in education though :).
From Leeds Castle we then made it back to Maidstone, where we bought the dinner and went back to Lara’s to cook and enjoy dinner together. Malcolm was the master chef, with Michael and me as his underlings. We had salmon with roasted vegetable and potatoes. MMM…delicious!
Soon – too soon – it was time for us to get back to the train station to make our way back to London.
This was an unexpected trip, but so enjoyable! Leeds Castle was the prefect place to go: gorgeous, green, and not packed! Thank you Lara for having us – I finally made it down to you!