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Downton Abbey aka: Highclere Castle

A visit to Downton Abbey/Highclere Castle

overcast 39 °F

We have been Downton Abbey fans since it began, had Downton dinners, 7-9 course dinners, hired kitchen help complete with aprons, and of course dressed the part. So today, after buying tickets to visit 2 other times, we were really going to Downton (Highclere). They call it Highclere, but we all really know it is Downton Abbey.

We didn’t realize when we bought the tickets, they were for a Special Guided Tour. We found out today that it included a gift bag and tea, complete with sandwiches and cakes.

We were to arrive at Highclere at 1 pm and since we don’t have a car we got a taxi. We went to the front desk this morning to reserve a taxi and the dispatch was sure we should leave by 12noon. We thought it was a little early as it is only a 28 min drive, but dispatch wouldn’t go for 12:15.
As it turned out, Google maps led the driver to the wrong entry so we ended up arriving at about 12:55. Just in time to enter the gates. The gates opened at 1 pm and we were to be at the door of the castle at 1:30. We had ½ hour to tour the gardens but as it was really cold we had enough after ½ hour.
At 1:30 the staff opened the door. We didn’t see a footman and never saw Carson. Alas! We were given the instructions that there were to be no photos taken in the house. Hence, no interior photos are included in this blog.
We were welcomed into the entry, where we left our coats, and on into the Saloon. The Saloon was smaller than it comes across on the show but ceilings are just as high.

Lady Carnarvon met us there and welcomed us and she gave us a brief history of their home. The history was very condensed as the home has existed since the 700’s.

From the Saloon we went to the library, seeing the couch where Lady Mary, Lady Grantham, and Lord Grantham sit, the fireplace where Matthew stood up, and many other scenes took place. It was much like the program with a couple of pieces of furniture moved around.

To get to the drawing room you must go thru a music room which is a small room for small gatherings. According to the tour guide, there hasn’t been any music in the room in the recorded history. On the walls are embroider tapestries, and I checked to see, sure enough, they are actually embroidered from floor to as high as I could see. There are a desk and chair that had belonged to Napoleon. When there is a wedding on the site, Highclere has the bride sit at the desk to sign the marriage certificate.

The drawing room is much like the show, with furniture moved to different places. There are lovely antiques in the room, not shown; for example, a tea holder.

A smoking room was where the men gathered after dinner parties and look quite comfortable. There are 3 game tables, one with inlaid gems which are quite lovely.

We went to the dining room which is much like the show, only a small portion is shown. I noted that the table did not have a cover and appeared to have scratches and marks on it much like ours. I did not feel so bad after seeing that table.

The dining room is very long and the table, which has many leaves, opens to seat about 30. I could just imagine our dinner in that dining room, what a dinner we could have. I did note that there was no chandelier. Hence, the candelabras on the table during the dinners.

We went upstairs using a back stairway. We got to see the bedrooms of Lady Grantham, Sybil, Lady Mary, and Lady Edith. We could picture them in those bedrooms! We could also picture Lady Mary and Lady Grantham carrying poor Pamuk down the hall as we walked down it. We had quite a laugh over Pamuk. Dale and I commented on how the fire that Edith started was all repaired! There were other Downton Abbey fans in our group and it was fun to share these moments.

As we went down the wonderful staircase back to the Saloon, I thought of Lady Mary. I ran my hand down the banister the entire length imagining myself as a lady in a beautiful gown descending elegantly into the saloon.

We were able to spend some time in the Egyptian exhibit. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun with Howard Carter. Dale and I saw many of the original items in L.A. back in the ’70s but it was interesting to see this. Many of the items here are recreations as the originals went back to Egypt.
We went on to the gift shop to collect a gift bag then to the coach house where we were treated to a special tea. Gluten-free was not a problem as they brought me my own sandwiches and cakes, and very good cakes I must say.
Our taxi was waiting for us after the end of the afternoon. We went on back to downtown Winchester for a last mulled wine and evensong in the Winchester Cathedral.

What a wonderful stay we have had.

Posted by Miss Chris 12:26 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel castle international_travel dpwnton_abbey highclere_castle Comments (0)

Orebro, the Most Romantic Castle

sunny 90 °F

Next stop Sweden; we’d hoped to make both Orebro and Stockholm but alas…. Time was not on our side. Too much time was taken in the journey and not an emphasis on the destination. We chopped out Stockholm; I’m sure it is a great place to visit but there you have it.

We nearly made it to Orebro when we found a campground and stopped for the night. We were all hungry and it seemed like good timing.

The campground is located on a lake, tent camping is along the lake with motorhomes behind the tents. We found a site and also found a table located at the lake side that was empty.

We had our dinner and watched a beautiful sunset.IMG_20140723_215916_095.jpgIMG_20140723_224115_041.jpg

I woke up at 2:30am and it was light already, the sun wasn’t up but there was enough light to read a newspaper.

We drove into Orebro late morning as it takes us forever to get out and about. We went straight to the castle and signed up for a tour. The history is interesting: King Karl was no angel, that’s for sure. He would walk around the city with a stick with a silver ball on top. If he deemed that someone was not doing right then he’d give them a good swat. I thought I should get something like that to knock people upside the head!

It was really hot, probably in the 90’s, so the tour thru the castle was a welcome relief. IMG_20140724_111214_713.jpg

From the castle we walked out to the side streets and found a food court, buying cheese and sausages. Then had lunch with a little white wine.
From lunch we walked along the river to a little village, Wadkoping, which has actually been relocated to preserve the buildings. Buildings are from the 1700’s, and open for looking at your own pace. Doors are small and walls uninsulated. Some interior walls still have the decorations from so long ago. Some houses are furnished others buildings empty.

We walked back to the castle square, saw the church where Jean Bapististe Bernadotte was chosen to be king. The church is a simple church next to the many grand churches we’ve seen.

We went back to the campground for another dinner by the lake.

So now it was time to head south, back to Brussels. This would be about a 14 hour drive with a stop in Copenhagen.
We had to drive thru Orebro so we made one last lunch at the food court, bought ice then started driving south.

Posted by Miss Chris 19:46 Archived in Swaziland Tagged food walking travel sweden castle tour europe orebro Comments (0)

Festivals and Ruins

rain 66 °F

We had originally planned to go to Munich today but Dieter suggested a new plan to visit a festival in a little town called Ransbach. This festival is a week- long festival to celebrate the church with traditional dances, food and drink. We thought that it would be fun to go to an authentic festival as Munich will always be there.

We packed up kids and followed Dieter in his car, taking a scenic route to the town; passing fields of golden yellows and greens with trees all around.
The town is very small, located SW of Amberg, unfortunately I could not find any link to this city. A small road led up to the town, and parking was along the very rocky field of potatoes. We walked down to the tent which had been set up as it was raining off and on. The tent had a stage on one end and lots of tables and benches set up throughout.

Outside were 3 food booths; 1 large selling many different types of homemade desserts and collecting money for the meats, 1 booth grilling sausages and steaks, 1 booth grilling fish.

We went and got our sausage sandwiches, just sausage for me, and kids got cake. We got back inside to lots of yelling, clapping and the dancers walking up to the stage.

The dancers were young people probably in their 20’s for most of the dances, all from this town. There were dances that you think would take place but then others too. One dance, a version of musical chairs, which involved a large pretzel on a ribbon. The couple holding this pretzel when the music stopped had to take a bite of it together then the woman would wear it. This went on until the last couple standing was crowned something.

Another dance involved 2 long logs and 4 men to each log, marching and chopping. I will try to attache a video to my facebook as it will not attach here.

All dances involved lots of beer drinking. The audience was quite involved; singing along, clapping and drinking.
Other dances included the younger kids.

From the festival we drove to the Kallmunz Castle ruins, a place I’ve explored before. It is located along the river. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgruine_Kallm%C3%BCnz IMG_20140629_184721_829.jpgIMG_20140629_184512_256.jpgIMG_20140629_190815_626.jpgIMG_20140629_191001_412.jpg

To get to the ruins one must walk up a stair way, up the side of the cliff. At the top is a wonderful castle and tower. Unfortunately it is not possible to enter the tower any longer as it is unstable. Outside of the north entrance is a 30 meter high earthen wall built by the Celtics.

We walked on the Celtic wall, looked at where the village was located so many years ago. Wondered about the people who lived here.

Posted by Miss Chris 01:19 Archived in Germany Tagged travel ruins castle festival europe ransbach Comments (0)

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