Chirk Castle

Another weekend and another new place to visit, the weather had been rainy most of the week but the forecast for the Saturday was looking ok. Originally we were going to Llandudno for the day but a late start meant a change of plan. I had promised a trip to Wales so that’s where we headed, I had a quick look at the National trust book and Google maps, and decided to give Chirk castle a try as it was only an hour away.¬†We may have arrived a little sooner if I hadn’t followed the sat-nav, which took us along lots of very narrow, twisty country lanes.

Oscar didn’t want to do any of the guided tours so we had a little wander around the gardens, which were very muddy, and then walked up to the castle for a self guided tour. Every National Trust place we’ve visited has had something for the children to look for, teddies dotted around the building to be counted, but this one was different. They had cards for each room with 3 or 4 questions on, things to find and count, what do you think an item was used for etc. It was really good as it kept us both entertained working them out and who could spot things first. Some of the answers were surprising too.

As usual the staff/volunteers were very friendly and knowledgeable, with lots of interesting little facts. The place was fairly busy so we made our way back outside and I took advantage of a babysitting device to get a few minutes quiet time …..

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After the main house we went into the dungeons, the stairs were terrifying, a spiral staircase with very worn, different sized steps, which led into a dimly lit circular room. It had a very creepy feel and we didn’t stay long. The climb back out was almost as bad as the one down.

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Then into the keep, time to become a knight in shining armour, well for a few minutes. It was very heavy and uncomfortable to wear.

After being indoors for a while it was time to explore outside, however a few things happened. First we had a shoe disaster, when the front of one of his trainers popped open and his toe was sticking out (thankfully they were old ones) then the rain started, just a drizzle. So we decided to head back and get a warm drink. We spotted some cattle in a field, not sure what type but they had big horns. We went to have a closer look but saw a dead sheep so left quickly to go and report it.

We did get a hot chocolate though and the ever faithful Victoria sponge for Oscar, his favourite.

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We decide to call it a day, new shoes were needed and some clean dry socks too. On the walk back to the car we found this…

So we did as asked, photograph, posted it and re-hid the rock (but not too hidden) A lovely little find. If you are round and about anywhere in the Shropshire area keep a look out for these apparently they’re hidden in plain sight everywhere.

A quick stop on the way home for new shoes, socks and some fish and chips. A great day

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Erddig

A lovely sunny Saturday and a need to be outdoors meant a good time to give the new camera an outing.

I decided to try a new (to me) National Trust property, just over the Welsh border in Wrexham is Erddig Hall and gardens. After driving along some narrow country lanes I arrived at the entrance gates and drove up to the car park and some farm type buildings. However I was in for a surprise.

I was a little early and the main house didn’t open for another hour so I made the most of the sunshine and had a walk around the gardens, this was when I saw the house itself. It is beautiful, as are the gardens.

Inside the house was even more surprising, the family was very unusual in that they really cared about and for the servants.

Not only did they have portraits and photographs of the servants, with individual poems written by the family, most worked for the family for many years and when retired had a pension paid to them, some are even buried in the family cemetery.

They were also vegetarian and tee-total although did provide meat and beer for guests and were well known for hosting parties. I had a very informative tour of the ‘below stairs’ servants life followed by a self-guided tour of the rest of the house, although other tours were available.

Back out into the sunshine for another wander around the grounds and the stables to see the donkey’s then it was time to head home.

It was a lovely day and I will return again for see more of the grounds and learn more about the house and family.

Blowing away the cobwebs

Yesterday we decided to get out, after all the sadness a change of scenery was needed. The sky was clear and the sun beginning to shine so outdoors it was too be.

We made our way to Chester zoo, making good use of my sons newly acquired green ECO Blue Peter badge. img_3590

We’ve not been since last summer and wanted to check out the new islands now that the animals are all installed. It was lovely wandering around, seeing the animals basking in the spring sunshine. We took a lazy boat ride through the new section, seeing many animals en route.

 

 

By midday we had completed the new islands and headed for something to eat. At this point the sky starting getting darker and the gloom set in. We carried on as we always have to see the bats and the two-toed sloth as these are our favourites. This time we weren’t disappointed, the sloth was racing around its rope gym as though it’d been given an espresso and the noise from the bats was incredible.


By now we were on the far side of the zoo and the rain started, it was like monsoon rain. Within minutes we were soaked, through our showerproof coats, with no sign of stopping and the sky getting darker by the second we made our way back to the car.

Only a twenty minute journey home but the closer we got the bluer the sky became. We arrived home cold, wet and very bedraggled.

The plus side, with the sun shining our clothes, coats and shoes were washed and dried before dark.

spot the monkeys !