Tuesday 27 August 2019

Bit of a bird theme today

Following its world-wide cynical norm, on the day that most people went back to work after the holiday weekend, the weather peaked today: a sweltering 35 degrees, clear and sunny. But it suited us, you'll be glad to hear, regular 😃 reader. After a lovely breakfast at the Windy Café up the road - where they are assertive about their making a fine flat white, and aren't wrong - we headed off to Leeds Castle which is, confusingly, nowhere near Leeds but is across the Downs near Maidstone.
It was chosen as a suitably do-able castle, which it is, though we were glad to have the mobility scooter as there's quite a long, but lovely, walk through the grounds to the buildings. There are lawns and trees and flowers, swans and ducks and a lake, and then the castle and keep in their moat, elegant and stately. It's also well set-up for disabled people so nothing stopped us from enjoying our stroll through the rooms, that had been extensively re-designed in the 1920s by its lady owner, and had fine furniture, fashionably karate-chopped cushions, and ornamental birds everywhere.
It also had, during its 900 years, plenty of history: Henry VIII lived here with Catherine of Aragon, burnt airmen recuperated during WW2, and both Camp David preparatory talks, and Northern Ireland peace talks with Tony Blair, took place here. There are novelties like carved beams, double-dovetail joints in the floorboards and an ebony floor which momentarily shocked me, getting confused with ivory (thanks for that, Paul McCartney).
We ate our packed lunch by the moat, bullied by gulls and ravens/jackdaws/crows (never got them straight, in all the years I lived in England) and then set off for the falconry demonstration. Except, a) the mobility scooter suddenly lost most of its power, and just chugged along; and b) when we got there the master falconer announced that it was too hot to fly the birds so we could have a meet and greet with them instead, under the trees.
That was actually better, seeing them close up, all sorts from a dinky kestrel to a massive Russian eagle. My favourites, though, as ever, were the owls, which are always so solemn and serious-looking, with boo'iful plumage - even though Twitter's latest discovery, that their legs are inordinately long, did somewhat interfere with my appreciation of their dignity. Stella was especially impressive.
We thought we'd need help getting the scooter back to the carpark then, and easily found help from the obliging staff, but then it suddenly rebooted itself and we managed fine. And that was it for the day, really. We returned the scooter to Canterbury, giving up on the idea of exploring that city, and retired to the Airbnb at Whitstable for a rest. This travelling lark, it really can take it out of you, especially when you're still in recovery from the flu - all that walking and talking and paying attention, it's tiring.
The restaurateurs in Whitstable were tired, too, after their long weekend, and not much interested in another tableful of diners after 7.30pm, so we ended up with cheese and wine back at the Airbnb and a pleasantly quiet wind-down after a busy few days.


the queen said...

I think if it is too hot for birds then it is too hot for man and scooters.

TravelSkite said...

Never underestimate the sense of duty of a travel writer...


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