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Published: July 10th 2008
pinched from WA
It's been a little quiet on the tripping around front, too many things to do in London and surrounds, but headed out of London to visit lovely Leeds Castle on Saturday with my photography club.
Now, I had been looking forward to my trip to Leeds and it's famous Castle ... only to discover I was misled. Leeds Castle is in fact nowhere near Leeds, instead it's about an hour south of London in Kent. Add to that the term 'castle' is perhaps a little generous. OK, to be fair there is a moat, it has been around since the 1100s, did belong to various royalty at different times (Henry VIII used to visit), but personally I think it should be referred to as the 'slightly more fortified manor house'.
Built of stone and set on a little island in the middle of a lake, it has had many uses - garrison, prison and convalescent home - but was owned lastly by the (obviously) seriously wealthy Lady Baille who did it up to her tastes and then bequeathed it to the nation in perpetuity once she kicked the bucket! The interior design is plush and feels quite homely for
the 70s, but what is spectacular are the grounds, gardens and various bird enclosures including a duckery!
Birds seem to have been a passion for Lady Baille who wasn't content with local fowl, but fell in love with Black Swan on a visit to Perth, Australia and then decided to nick a couple for her own fancy. Everywhere you go in the estate is a recurent swan theme including the birds themselves floating around on various waterways. Also wandering the grounds are your obligatory peacocks (noisy buggers!) including one rather lovely white one who decided to put on a bit of a show for the camera. The 'slightly more fortified manor house' also has some extensive aviaries of exotic bird types and my favourite ... a true to life maze!
You see people who get lost in mazes and you think ... geez ... how hard can it be? Well after going round and round for what seems like and extraordinarily long period of time, all the while being heckled by other members of the photography group who found their way to the centre a little easier than we did - I guess it can be quite tricky.
Luckily the way out was through an underground grotto with a very weird light show, so no getting lost on the way back.
A run for the bus, a trip to the pub and a nap on the train back to London ... all in all a successful day!
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