We wake to bright sunshine, it bathes the flowers and houses along the street on which we had stayed the night before.
At some time I will write a little update on Colleen and Nevada’s first ½ Marathon which they ran back in October. But now is not the right time to get into that facet of home life. However, due to the fact that Mom and Nevada are runners, I begin the title with a good day for a run. For me, its never a good day to run…………unless some one has a gun and is chaseing me……………however, by the third mile of the run I may beg him to just up and shoot me instead.
Hearst Monsieux Castle
The long walk over the moat bridge to the front entry of Hearst Monsieux
A view of the bridge over the moat at the Castle, water lillies and golden Koy abound
Lordy, I say Lordy, it is sunny and I can feel His warm smiling face bearing down upon me and my family, we have been looking forward to a good bright warm day with no clouds. It strikes me as being rather funny really, my kids always complain about the fact that California where we live has no cloud cover from about May thru October, and when we first hit Ireland they would get up in the morning and just revel in the cool weather and cloud. Hey what gives I ask them over the last few days, you guys are mopping about like a “just kicked” hound, why the long faces I ask? Gee whiz Dad, there’s never any sunshine over here……………..blah,blah,blah blah goes the brain of a youth. Lordy I say, take a look outside boys, its so nice out there this AM, that Mom and Nevada have already went out and had a good 4-5 mile run.
The knarled trunks of Chestnut trees planted way back in 1770
Our B&B gave us a hearty Ulster Fry send off, told us a little about the local color and culture. That Brighton is a town known for its sort of edgy lifestyle, where weekends are punctuated by weekend flings, and its sort of a sinner’s paradise. Nightclubs abound, and health spas are the order of the day, high fashion stores, not just any old brand Outlets. So I figured no sense me hanging around, since I doubted I could find a good pair of Wranglers nor Levi’s, no button collar white shirts from Good Will, nor wild rags from Cap’s………………so hey dude, I and the crew is out of there and down the road.
NO, Colleen is not arguing the cost of admissions, she is discussing the Canadian ownership of the Castle and what is being taught to these young people who attend.
Sorry, but I just couldn't resist this old gate that lead to the gardens......too much character.
We drove a beautiful stretch of country that follows the coast more or less, and in time we arrive at Hearst Monsieux Castle. Now this is a very handsome Castle as they go, and this particular Castle was built at a time when it was stately to build a Castle but not at all required nor shall we say necessary for defenses. None the less, we have a huge Castle here that has been well maintained over the years. Having a full moat surrounding it that is some 25 feet deep at is deepest, and a goodly width for a COWBOY to swim, in some places as much as 100 feet………………so, you can clearly see the danger of an attempted Cowboy Crossing.
Just one of many paths that lead visitors around the abundant gardens
A huge sundial in the gardens
Hearst Monsieux is today, owned by the Queens University, Ontario Canada. This Castle, and the surrounding grounds have been converted into a foreign student exchange program, that invites students studying Agriculture, Horticulture and the Environmental Sciences. The Castle is now the office for the School, as well as housing some of the smaller lecture labs that take place. In addition to the Castle as an exhibit, in a separate area on the grounds they have a hands on type of Science Exhibit that was really quite fun. The kids made a full loop around the small lake which makes up a portion of the moat, and while on the walk, they gorged on the fresh wild black Berries that are in abundance around the Castle. The gardens are massive, and always have been. But since the school also engages in Horticultural teachings, they have added to the gardens as a part of the classes. Along the eastern side of the Castle runs a long row of what must be 50 or so trees planted in 1770. All are still alive, however some are beginning to look pretty ragged, the Chestnut trees have survived beetle blights, drought and flooding. They stand as a good testimony as to the sturdy design of their creator.
From there we move onto the location of the Battle of Hastings, an epic Battle that I guess few school children have ever heard of in USA or in England. In 1066 William the Conqueror made his stand here against an invading Norman force, obviously he won the battle hence the moniker (name) that he was then given. Can you imagine if it had gone badly, we would have William the Walloped, or Wiped Out Willy, but the worst would be Wun Willy Wun. All joking aside, it was pretty cool to look out over that low valley thru which runs a small stream, flanked by tree lined hills to each end of the Battle field……………..to look out over that half mile of ground, and know that some 20,000 men met in a clash of gleaming sharpened steel and a hail of arrows and cannon shot over the right to be free men. It makes you keenly aware of what men around the world will do to keep their freedoms, or attain freedoms that have been withheld from them.
A science class, in which you reach inot a hole that has a curved mirror laid inot the bottom and the reflection of your hands appear to be reaching back out at you, pretty cool.
just proof of my shocking personality
The Castle, Hastings Castle has been turned into a Tourist site now at one end, while the housing portion of it is today a Private High School and Boarding facility. It was a very pretty town with many homes which had been dated for the tourist to attest to, bearing dates as far back as 1066 when the battle took place. Most however ranged from approx. 1275 and forward, the downtown was a busy place with many shops for tourists, and a number of shops selling the everyday wears required to stay alive. I was sent in search of those items required to “Stay Alive”. I found a great Bakery, bought a Potatoe Farm Loaf, which weighed 65 ounces, having a total length of about 16 inches and maybe 10 inches tall. Quite a loaf of bread with a good thick crust on it, cooked right there in the 600 year old stone oven. I topped of the bread with some homemade Lemon Butter, which as I have said before, the preserves over here are less sweet and more tart in there making, usually having a slight rind when things such as Lemon are used. I also bought a little cheese to go with the meal that we would eat while we are driving to the next stop. I have to take a slight detour here, and ask how many of you are avid Red Wall Abbey readers with your kids, these are books written by Brian Jacques who hails from the UK and are just the greatest books to read aloud with your kids. Anyways in reading the books, you will find mentioned such drinks as “Dandelion & Burdock Cordial”, which we had always taken as being one of those items that live in story form only. Well not so, as I found out. There on a shelf in the cold drinks of the Cheese shop was a bottle called “ Dandelion & Burdock Cordial”, well by JO, I was not going to pass that up. I got to looking and noticed that the Company that bottled the Cordial also bottled some other very unusual drinks such as Curious Cola, Ginger Jumper etc. Well we had a small selection to sample for fun.
A home built in 1410, called a half timber and mud type.
This is the actual Battle Field of HAstings as it looks today
We are headed sort of East by North East now, to give you a little Nautical lingo since we are along the southern British coastline it only seems fitting. The Castle Dover is our intended destination, and we are passing thru an area of England with huge grain fields that are ripened and ready for harvest as soon as the weather co-operates. Its picturesque country, rolling on over these low lying hills like a gentle roller coaster, passing thru waving golden grain which is so close to the road they brush you car as you pass. When ever we pass thru what you may call a small settlement we usually see a single building with a tall white cone shaped appendage off of one end of a roof line…………..and I am wondering what the heck is that for. I finally can’t stand it any longer and decide the time has come to get a picture and ask someone just what this strange building is used for.
He is contemplating the value of Socialized Health Care, 9 months for a Hospital bed and 1.5 years to get inot an old folks home.................its enough to make you scratch your chin over.
Well, they are called Aust Houses”, and the cone is a vent port to allow smoke to escape. Each tall cone is mounted on a turntable affair that is unseen by the passersby, but to each cone is also attached a long tail such as you would see on an old type windmill. When the wind blows, it catches the tail and in doing so it then sets the opening away from the prevailing wind. Inside the Aust House, the local farmers gather there HOPS, and place them on screens or racks that fill the house and the cone to the top. Under all of this the farmers then light a small fire using peat, and they basically dry and at the same time infuse a smoke flavor to the hops being cured…………..not a lot unlike the Tobacco Farmers I stopped to visit back in Tennessee. There you have it, and are now a little smarter about the “OOST” hose as it is pronounced.
Do you smell that sea air, I do. We actually took a bit of a detour at this point of the trip. AS many of you know, England/France has jointly built a tunnel under the English Channel thru which vehicles pass while being piggy backed on a low slung rail carriage. We stopped to look into the cost of crossing over to France for supper, maybe staying in France for the night and then return in the morning. But our lack of pre-planning made it financially reprehensible……………in other words to cotton picking expensive for this buckaroo. So on to Dover Castle we went.
This an actual train station we passed out in the country side, they had parked the older cars as places to wait in case of rain. It was a pretty quaint affair, and take a look at that deluxe Pram. Thats a keen set of wheels for a baby buggy.
This is an Aust House, pronounced "Oost" House
What a huge Castle, which by the way you can see for miles off, as it sits jutting up into the surrounding skyline. The Castle is a huge on, and was of strategic importance for the defense of England during the days of the Tall Ships and the wars with France. We park and head out to explore this vast stone fortress, which runs for some ¼ mile of length along the coast. No telling how many men are crippled from packing all those rocks to the top of the imposing hill on which it sits, with the beautiful green/blue waters of the Atlantic to the south, Gulls mew and waves break along the Limestone cliffs. To the north, lay rolling wooded hills. To the East and West are steep hillsides, and at each valley runs a rippling stream which empties into the Atlantic. This is Dover Castle. It houses within its walls a Regimental Museum, dedicated to portraying the campaigns and artifacts of each British Regiment. It wasn’t a Museum that was filled with Armour and the like, but rather a Museum that contained Regimental Standards, the Regimental Field Drums, the Bugle Corps Uniforms and Bugles. A full description of every Medal of Honor , Campaign Service Ribbons, gifts from a far off Regimental Outposts, things like silk handkerchiefs, Indian Tea Sets and Ivory items from South Africa.
We are on the coast, over a place which is well known to all of those pilots who flew during the War and longed to see upon their return home from a bombing run over Germany. We are standing atop the White Cliffs of Dover, huge Limestone cliffs that fall precipitously into the Atlantic Ocean below. The Limestone that breaks away and or erodes over eons, does strange things to the color of the water along this portion of Britains coast. The whiteish sediment from the Limestone imparts a soft green color to the chilled waters, making it look much more tropical than you may expect to find. I and my family stand amazed at how pretty these white cliffs are when seen in person. I try to imagine what they would have looked like if you were approaching in a sputtering fighter, or a Bomber which had been badly shot up by German anti-aircraft fire……..just the sight of them would give you a bit of moral boost.
The Chaple as it sits in the very center of Dover Castle on the highest piece of ground within the stone wall compound.
just one of many stacks of drums used at many British Campaigns around the world.
We headed into town, and easily found our guest house for the night. Not a bad spot, not to far from down town and not to far from a nice walk along the shore. We dropped our luggage, and headed down to the car to hire 4 fella’s off the street to help with carrying Darrens up the stairs. If you have ever watched Toy Story, Darren packed a little like Mr.Potatoe Head………….a plastic pork chop, some red rubber keys, a twisty tie, and monkey chow just in case. We head out for a nice walk along the coast, the sky is going to be just gorgeous tonight with the high cloud forming out to the west and the clear sky over head, it should be perfect for the painters.
I just loved the soft light that came thru the windows in the Cstle. MOst of the panes are the hand poured glass panes, and the light does not go thru them as it does our new glass.
It’s a busy little town, this Dover is, and the streets that run down to the Atlantic are lined with shops and Restaurants. The path that you walk is about 100 feet or so above the actual coast, the beach is at low tide and the water along the shallow coast is a fair ways out. Many gulls are busy finding what ever it is that they find to eat out there along the surfs edge, still others sit idly by waiting instead to be fed by the strolling tourists. Reminds me of our city streets, while some portion of its inhabitants spend their time working to live, others have found an easier existence in simply begging for their daily living. It gets me to thinking……..maybe, just maybe, man has descended from Sea Gulls and not monkeys after all…………I mean, I have never yet seen any beggar trying to hang by his tail, but I 've seen plenty eating out of dumsters like the Gulls??
Our walk takes us the length of the Pier district in Dover, and then almost back again. The hungriest one amidst the crew, most often Nevada, asks the most poignant question of the day………………”My God, when are we going to eat”? Well what do you guys want Mom asks, shall we find a Pub, shall we try another Tandoori (Indian Cuisine”), how about Chinese ………………..say what about Italian. Now I voted the Italian thing down, since for most teenagers’ Italian means……….something that tastes and looks like a cardboard box with pepperoni and cheese on top…………..sorry my Italian friends but that ain’t this fellas idea of a meal. Okay, Okay, I get the picture, I understand, just back off Mom or I will forced to go into evasive action here……….YES I will eat Italian. Dang I hate losing a battle with that women, now i'll have to eat my Crow with tamatoe sauce on it......
L-R, we have Nevada, Darren and Pine. Standing on the very edge of the White Cliffs of Dover.
Me and my darling bride of now 25 years, couldn't think of a better way to celebrate it than with my kids & Darren............thanks Mom for getting us there.
Bon Jour No, booms a loud voice ........ come’onna in and seet down, what a you gunn’a eat’a tonight hey? The big burly fella was just plumb full of smiles and conjoviality, he had the kids number in about 10 seconds…………they were on him like Budgies on bird seed. This guy could’a fed Darren Anchovies on a sweet roll and kept him happy. Le’mme getta you a glass of wine for da leetle lady…………….okay its starting to look bad for me, cause he just won my wife over…………I am totally on my own here it seems. All I see are smiling faces looking back at the large Italian who swept them off their tired feet and settled them into his culinary concern with his conviviality
Soon enough we had drinks around, mostly Ginger Ales, and a Burgundy Wine for Mom, and at this fellas recommendation a fine red from where else…………….slap me and tell me I am lying…………yessiree Bob, from California. “Somm’a da besta Vino ee’s coming from Cowleefornia no” ...........I took a close second look to make sure this was not Arnold moonlighting. Mom tasted the red, giving her nod of approval, which seemed to delight him. So, ( long pause for theatrical effect) now whats’a you going to eat ya, let me help you jus a leetle becuss’a we hav’a some house a’specialtees no! We take his advice and order Pizza……………just kidding. Kids had Calzone, with carmelized Onion and ham. I think Mom had a Bowtie Pasta and seafood dish in Garlic & Safforn Sauce which she claims was better than Macn’Cheese………….I know, hard to believe but hey she’s my wife right. I had a Cannelloni dish which was also just great. Now I am thinking that I have seen the best from this guy who sat us, as he made quite and effort to sell us on what are dishes that he felt were special only to his fine Restaurant, to his credit he made a huge effort.
We begin dessert with a feinting appeal on his part, a smart marketing ploy for someone in the food business, and it goes like this………. You guys’a look so hell’ty no, jus look at dose tall strait’a boys no. And da girl she hass’a such long’a hair no………….I guess you don’a eet a deesert and luke like dis no. My boy hes’a smart boy to eh, heer you like’s look at’a my boy…………hes’a go to skool in’a Ocs’furrd………….luk’a him he weel be a La’wyer next’a yeer no. Heer, let me show yu’s hee’s best’a dish…………..right heer eh…………dis is a Teera-Missu dat will jus melt’s ina you mouth…………..das right, my boy hee comes’a home jus to eat his Daddies Teera-Missu. ( great flourishing of the arms, and finger waving, I can't tell if hes a cook or a THESPIAN ) ee’s da best NO..........and he looks at me...... Shoot, how do I know how to answer……..one slip of the tongue in my answer and I could be in a fist fight or in bed with this guy. Okay, you lik’a dat for desert’a eh, lemme shoe you somting maybe just’a as fine no. Now dis, it falls from heaven no, dis is my brothers’a Chees’a “K”ake no, dis is make wit only fresh milk from “K”ow no, he makes’a to peek only wild’t Strouw-beree’s no…………..ya look heer, you see yes how small are StrouwBerries no.
Black'a Bearee Truffle'a.......... NO
Da best'a Leemown Tart'a you ever eet ..............NO
Okay,okay, enough already, just give us one of each along with a four-up of coffee. This guy blew smoke up our tiny hinny till we were fully digested and ready for something else to eat. We bought 4 deserts, when we only intended to buy 2 and do the “poor boy split”. I want to tell you though that the visit was real fun, the kids just ate it up like they did their meals. He made our entire meal for the night fun and entertaining, he was in no way obtrusive in his selling of the deserts, he just wanted to emphasize how good each of his deserts were. And they were, just as good as he promised they would be. Darren even got by the fresh cream that was poured over his dessert. An ample application of fresh cream is something that you are offered a lot of over here in the UK. You can ask Darren today, and he will attest to what a great addition to an otherwise great dessert it was.
Leetle leady, dee's da best'a Chees'a K'ake wit wild StrouBerrey ever......NO
Its almost 11 when we leave the Italian Restaurant that had been our sanctuary from the toils of being a tourist for the day, the only real meal that we ate out and it was one we all enjoyed. I work on the Blog for an hour or so, Mom and kids have a cup of Tea and call it a day
Good Night and God Bless
An dee's a for da best'a yung man too-day no, He's a fin'a boy NO. For you da Teera-Miisou and some'a Kow Kream NO