Jul 8, 2014

On this Day in History

Today was Carisbrooke day, a day we had been aniticipating for a while. Also Anne's birthday, a day to be celebrated with a trip around a fusty old ruin with sagging walls, I mean an icon of historical architecture that has stood the test of time, with surprises hidden at the end of its many dark passages!

Be that as it may, and I think I may be living dangerously literarily if not actually literally, the Birthday Girl and Chief Celebrant turned up at the house, in the rain, to announce that they didn't really fancy the castle, what with the rain and them being English and all and so not used to it, though to be fair it was her Birthday and what could be worse than drizzle on your big day?

Anyway I wasn't really up for submitting to the elements and neither was Nicole, and soon the weather cleared up, though it was odds-on that it wouldn't be for long. And a day in Anne's caravan looking out of a rain-streaked window whilst young children did rubbish arts and crafts... well frankly that didn't appeal.

So Carisbrooke it remained. My understanding is that the Grandpeople took the dog out to Bembridge again and the weather was lovely (or at least acceptable. I forget the fine detail). We went, chaperoning little Isla, to Carisbrooke. The Islanders. it being a school day, were at work, or school. Bless 'em.

With some trepidation we travelled in our solitary Hocus Focus, flying blind on our way to Carisbrooke, largely owing to the fact that we had forgotten to find out where we were going and had neglected to activate the Voice of Misdirectional Despair.

However as we approached a particularly large intersection with dual carriageway and everything (on the Isle of Wight, who'd have thought it) and breezed past the sign to Carisbrooke, our eyes met, my wife's and mine, and we fumbled for that damned phone while pulling a 1080 degree turn on the roundabout that seemed likely to go on forever as that miracle of modern technology failed completely to establish our location and then, when it did, only established it as it was twenty five seconds ago.

Forced by circumstances to strike out in a semi-random direction (to the extent that this is possible for a person of the male persuasion with the sense of direction that goes with that mixed blessing) that Cursed Voice was able to establish our whereabouts with sufficient certainty to establish that it disapproved of our route. Not to be discouraged, we carried on in our random direction and, as on many other occasions, many of which you'll have noted that I have recounted here in quite excessive detail, eventually we Reached Our Destination.

Nicole pulled off an amazing money-saving coup d'argent, id that's a thing, by purchasing a Foreign Visitor With Oodles of Kids Pass which was on offer, kind of an English Heritage day-trippy thing oly for more than one day and it got loads of kids in free, because we would be off to Osborne House as well with all the cousins and this would represent a significant saving.

We set off up the steep approach to the gatehouse with hope in our hearts.

As we entered the Bailey, pleasantly surprised at the state of the buildings inside we decided that children and food make a good combination, and so headed off to find a spot to pick our nick. On the way we came across a donkey, for some bizarre reason, going off for his team break. I demanded that a photograph be taken, and perturbed by my manly domineering aggression, the donkey-keeper acceded.

See how the children have guaranteed that the skies will remain dry throught their conscientious wearing of the waterproof? Hang on, that Isla looks suspiciously like she is flagging in her diligence...

Next on the list, after eating our sandwiches, crisps, and crisp sandwiches, was to walk the Wall, precariarsely balancing with arms outstretched as we carfully made our way along a pathway that was only several feet wide and bordered with walls that you would need serious climbing skills to escape over. There were steep staircases, however, and we got quite warm, so the raincoats were stashed away.

The heavens opened at this point, or at least made a pretty credible threat, as we drew around the curtain wall and had a look around the ruined keep and then lost interest as the clouds gathered and we realised there were some steep stone steps to get down in conditions of increasing peril owing to the slippery nature of rocks as explained most capably by Bon Jovi.

We were half way there when the rain started for real and we were forced to deploy not only the kiddy raincoats but the grown-up ponchos which did keep us dry, thankfully, though did little for our self-esteem sartorially. Still I'm sure Mum appreciated the sacrifices that might need to be made when she gave us the gifts, like Galadriel, so many moons ago, so many miles away.

I didn't squeal but I can't vouch for the females as we ran around the corner, across the courtyard to retrieve the stroller, then back to the museum to escape that damned downfall, onto a darkened world of stained panelling and veneer, full of things that shouldn't be touched but which looked so inviting especially for the toddler of no literary capability.

Have I explained to you previously that little Lyra has been described variously by adjectives throughout the spectrum (not that I want to bring up The Spectrum, if you understand) from Spirited to Maniacal? And that, even if we were to attempt to restrain her every movement to bring her under control, the only real result would be shattered windows within a twenty metre radius, an outcome I'm sure none of us really wants.

Maybe you can guess where this is going. Aside from disapproving glares from Grey Guardians.

Downstairs in the museum there are some precious things but to be honest they aren't that precious and anything that could be mistreated was fastened down with big chains. So you couldn't try on the helmet, because the chain wasn't long enough to let you do that, and you couldn't practice swordplay, because the chain on the sword wouldn't let you. In that case, I'll grant you, for good reason. Lyra still managed to get a bit of a reprimand when she tried to touch the big cardboard model of the castle and the grounds, but she was never going to do any serious damage.

Upstairs, likewise, not much of value, and anything out in the open was probably fair game, except maybe the attendants.

Off to one side though, there was a bit of history. King Charles' bedroom. For King Charles had been held prisoner at Carisbrooke when the Roundheads - everybody's favourite Puritan killjoys - had had their revolution and banned Christmas and all that. Kind Charles' bedroom had a fireplace that we could sit on if we liked, and a little space to stand and appreciate the contents, those being a period four-poster bed a couple of chairs, a slightly threadbare carpet, a copy of Knave.

All roped off. With red rope. I mean... people talk about a red rag to a bull, but this was a red rope to my child.

Imagine Nicole's squeal when Lyra tried to climb up onto that bed, and the speed at which Mum's finely-tuned action stations overcame her normally visceral politeness to get her over the rope after the child.

Alarm, woop woop bingley bong!

Oh the Silver Guardian was very nice about it and all that as he went off to reset the alarm system but you could tell as we walked shame-facedly back to the entrance that he'd been passing round an APB for my child and that she was very definitely Lyra Non Grata.

We sensed that it might be time to get out of Dodge, but the mystery of the donkeys had to be resolved. It turned out that for centuries donkeys have been working the treadmill that draws water up from the deep well and that furthermore for minutes this had been something that we had to see, and was in fact scheduled to be demonstrated in half and hour or so.

So we went to the Princess' Gardens and had a squizz around there for a bit; then we went and joined the Donkey queue, which had begun to burgeon.

It wasn't long before the clouds began properly to precipitate our heads, calling for me at least to seek shelter in a chapel with Lyra, but the girls to their credit remained outside in the rain, and so gained entrance to the Donkey Gulag to watch the donkey traipse around in its wheel for a couple of moments.

Lyra and I got in part way through and there was a little delighted petting of the beast afterwards. And then we were homeward bound.

In the evening Nicole made a nice meal for her mum. It I spent most of the night trying to get Lyra to sleep, or so it seemed.

No comments:

Post a Comment