Thursday, 29 April 2010

Leeds, Colchester, and a hedgehog.

Last Thursday morning, bright and early, I headed down to Gatwick Airport to pick Mom up. Hers was the first flight into the UK from Charlotte, so needless to say, it was a PACKED airplane and not that great of a flight. But, she made it here in one piece and after a day or two of relaxing, we've been out running around!

We went to Leeds Castle on Saturday and had a great time!

Leeds Castle was built in 1119 to replace the Saxon Manor Esledes. King Edward I and his wife, Queen Eleanor of Castile made it their home in 1278. It is a HUGE castle surrounded by a large moat. We went during their tulip festival, so every room in the castle, along with all the gardens were absolutely covered in tulips of all different shapes and sizes and colors! It was beautiful!
The Queen's Bedroom

GORGEOUS tulips!
Some were HUGE (that's Mom's hand)
Me and Christopher in the best room in the Castle... the library (although, it still doesn't hold a candle to the Library at the Biltmore House)

Walking the grounds of the castle was as amazing as the Castle itself. They had a HUGE aviary with TONS of different types of beautiful birds. We even saw Toucans!
Past the Aviary is a maze that was built in 1988. It took us a good twenty minutes or so to get through the maze. Christopher left Mom and I behind and found his way to the middle...
I was none too happy about him beating us up
Underneath the center of the maze is a grotto. It was super neat! It was constructed of all different shells and was gorgeous!
Close up of one of the shell statues
As we were leaving
Sunday night, our friends Liz and Tim came over for dinner and when we let Angus out that night, Liz came inside and told us she thought there was a hedgehog in the backyard. Sure enough, there was... and Angus was trying to play with it.

Christopher put some gloves on and picked the little guy up... and then he promptly tucked up into a tight little ball (the hedgehog, not Christopher).
Monday and Tuesday, Mom and I kind of took it easy and just hung around close by; shopping in Cambridge and Peterborough.

Wednesday we went and picked up Liz and headed down to Little Maplestead to find one of the 4 Round Churches that are in England and then to Colchester, a town near the coast, in Essex. We never managed to find Little Maplestead or the round church, so we headed on to Colchester. It wasn't that great, honestly. It was a little on the...ghetto side. We had a pretty good lunch at an Irish pub and then walked around the town a little bit.

Right outside an old church that they turned into their natural history museum. That sign says "Stay and Play"... inside the cemetery... creepy.
After we went into the Natural History museum, we found the Castle. Colchester Castle is the oldest Norman Castle in England. It originally was a Roman Temple built in honor of Claudius (Who conquered the early Celtic town, Iceni that is now Colchester). However, when the King of Iceni died, he left half of his will to his Queen, Boudica and the other half to the Romans, to play nice since they were invading and taking over most of Southern Britain.

The Roman's refused to give Boudica anything, they beat her up and raped her daughters, and then, as they say, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". Boudica led a huge revolt against the Romans. She and her people left nothing Roman alive in Iceni; no one was spared.. no women, children, elderly... no one. They eventually burned down the temple, as thousands of people were taking refuge inside and the fire raged so hot, you can still to this day, dig down so many meters in Colchester and find blackened, burned soil. Its estimated that nearly 30,000 people lost their lives in that battle. No one knows for sure, but legend has it, Queen Boudica, took poison to kill herself before she was to be captured by the Romans.

Around 1076, William the Conqueror ordered fortresses to be built on all the coasts, so Colchester Castle was built on top of the Roman ruins, since the foundation had already been laid.

In the 1600's it was used as a prison and was used to imprison and interrogate suspected witches!

The view from the top of the Castle

Statue outside of the Castle gates
The priory of Colchester. It was closed, so we didn't get to really see it or find out much about it. But it looks


  1. It's amazing how large those tulips were! If I were to just look at the picture, I would've assumed they were fake! Nifty.

    Haha, I laughed out loud when you distinguished who (between Chris and the hedgehog) curled into a ball.. Funny stuff :)

  2. Glad to see you and your mom are having a blast!!! England is so beautiful! I can't wait for our visit! :)

  3. Okay, I want the Queen's bedroom, to see the castle, to run through the maze (a dream since childhood), and to paint the shell picture (the blue and turqouise (sp?).