Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Our First Day

The big day came and we once more commenced on the three train journey to Hemel. On the last part of the journey we stopped opposite a ruined Motte and Bailey castle at Berkhamsted. The castle was interesting as it was the place that the English surrendered to William the Conqueror. I found it amusing as William would not accept the surrender until he reached London and was given the keys. I suppose it would not have looked good if he had been locked out of his brand new capital city.

We arrived at the car showroom and FTP was ready to go. We patiently let the nice man tick loads of boxes on a bit of paper. Something to do with making sure we could work the car and had agreed it had the right bits on it. After the ticking was finished we got in to drive FTP home.

Just on the outskirts of Hemel we passed a shop with tents on display. So we turned around and went back to show FTP the sort of thing he might be doing this summer. There were some big tents and lots of lovely things to buy. I am glad we do not have a big tent as it would be tempting to buy lots of stuff to put in it.

Having arrived by train we had actually managed to leave the map book at home, so we were left with a vague idea of where we might be heading. Steve pointed us in the direction of Berkhamsted which is, of course, on the way.

Berkhamsted turned out to be a pretty little town. With a sturdy church and an interesting tree growing on the boundary. As you moved past the exposed roots of the tree the light gave you glimpses of faces and animals.

We drove to the castle and parked FTP. We climbed the Motte, admired the well, and enjoyed the view (which included a cute red Myvi in the distance). The castle ruin was busy with tourists and young people enjoying the bright sunny day. As we left we passed the reinforcements for the PC who was confiscating alcohol from young people who had probably not bothered to bring their ID out with them. Obviously a problem in Berkhamsted but I must say playing football, having a picnic, and a can of lager does not seem that awful.

Back in FTP we followed a road away from the castle that appeared to go in the right direction. What luck! The road took us through Ashridge Forest and past the lovely house built on the site of a Priory by the Bridgewater family.

The undergrowth was dormant and the trees were not in leaf. This gave an impression of distance and space which made me optimistic about taking a photograph of deer from the car. I have a nice photo that has a blur in the distance which I am sure was the deer. The house itself was an interesting building that is now used as a business school.

We had a leisurely drive home with our final stop at Yeldon in Bedfordshire where there is a Motte and Bailey ruin next to the road in a lovely green field. The lambs were having a skip around as we climbed our second Motte of the day. Yeilden Castle had two Baileys but little is recorded concerning its usage and habitation. A gnarled tree winked and smiled at us as we passed him on our way back to FTP.

A good first day.

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