France August 2015 – Fontainebleau

Our trip kicked off with a night in this fancy hotel…

…the Black Eagle.

Instead of wallpaper, the walls were covered with this rather busy fabric.

We skipped the 18 Euro breakfast, and went to a place down the road (the menu has changed a bit).

We were very impressed with the bottle lift…

…and the post office.

The Boy headed of the golf course, while I headed off to the chateau.

It’s absolutely beautiful, especially the horseshoe stairs.

It’s home to all sorts of things that belonged to Napoleon, including his coat and hat…

…tent…

…and all sorts of travel sets.

It was very sad to see his son’s toys, including this little tea set.

The rooms themselves are lovely too, including this fabulous library.

This fetching little chap…

…invites you out into the gardens.

The carp pond…

…the English garden…

…and the formal French garden.

A lovely way to spend a morning.

Milan 2015 – Castello Sforzesco

Despite the Serbian barman telling us that the castle was “nothing special, you need to go to Serbia”…

…we popped up to the Castello Sforzeco

…built in the 15thC for Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, who according to Machiavelli:

With the right policies and great courage, Sforza, a commoner, became Duke of Milan and, having won power with enormous effort, held on to it easily enough”.

Here is his coat of arms, which pretty much shows you what to expect…

…if you were dragged through the gateway…

…into the outer courtyard.

Now the moat is home to a gang of feral cats.

Cornwall 2012 – Falmouth

Dr Bones, Boots and I are just back from a week in Cornwall. We stayed in a lovely cottage in Mylor Bridge.

The day we arrived was overcast, but we made our way to the beach at Falmouth. It was wonderful to see the sea again.

It was Boots’ first encounter with sea, and he wasn’t too impressed.

I don’t think this little chap was either!

This labrador loved the sea though 🙂

We then had a quick trip to the castle

…followed by a modest ice-cream.

France 2009 – Mad, Mad GuĂ©delon

To quote their website, “In the heart of Puisaye, in Yonne, Burgundy, a team of fifty people have taken on an extraordinary feat : to build a castle using the very same techniques and materials used in the Middle Ages.”

And yeah…it’s on a BIG scale….

…it’s the most amazing…

…mad, mad place.

They’ve been working since 1997, and they estimate that they have another twenty years to go.

The finished product looks just like the ‘real thing’.

There are a few concessions to Health and Safety :-).

As well as the castle building they make all their tools, and ropes etc.

Plus some animals…(the wooden frames in the background are for holding up the vaulted ceilings)…

….and a garden…

…and a little stone dressing work shop.

Oh, and yeah some stocks. BTW, I’m not quite this fat, my shirt is billowing out (but yes, my legs ARE that short!).

My Latest Trip to Bodiam Castle

I’m just back from a few days in Kent visiting the APs. As I was there for more than the usual weekend dash, I had time to visit various childhood haunts.

This is Bodiam Castle – when I grew out of children’s parties (for which my Mum sewed me long party dresses – how times have changed!), I always chose a trip to Bodiam.

The castle was built (or rather a house extended and fortified) to repel pirate raids. As the sea has receded it’s hard to imagine that this was in dangerous territory – although the WW2 tank trap is a reminder that invasion was feared not that long ago (although with a sodding big castle, why do you need a tank trap?).

[The Boy tells me that this is because a tank would “Blow the shit out of the castle”.]

The moat is full of huge carp.

I was rather taken by these sheds – they’ve weathered nicely.

Handwash only?

From this angle (where the drawbridge would have been) you can peek through the castle.

As long as I can remember – I’ve loved this place.

Northern Cyprus – St Hilarion

St Hilarion castle is a truely amazing place – and pics really don’t do it justice.

It’s perched on the top of a massive mountian. Most of the apparoach is a restricted military area with lots of signs up saying “Stop and we’ll shoot you” (however, it has to be said that the soldiers we saw yodelled out “Hello” and waved – must the the legendary Traves charm).

The castle just appears to grow out of the rock rather than having been built. Stunning, stunning, stunning.

Walt Disney was very impressed by it apparently, and it’s claimed that the castle in either ‘Snow White’ or ‘Fantasia’ was based on St Hilarion.

Northern Cyprus – Kyrenia Castle and Shipwreck Museum

The castle was built to protect the town against Arab raids. In this shot you can see the annoying couple who kept getting in my shots (he shouldn’t wear tiny denim shorts at his age!).

Inside the castle – no idea who this chap is, but he turned up at just the right time.

Inside St George’s chapel.

Outside the chapel – look at that sky!

I thought that the shape of this palm was fantastic.

Here is the obligatory flower photo!

I wonder who this lady was? I love the drapery across her chest.

This is the remains of a what they think was a Syrian (or possibly Phoenician) ship that went down in a storm ~300 BC. All the literature claims that this is the oldest shipwreck recovered in the world, but Selin the guide says that there is an older on in Turkey (but as my driver said “why is she guide? She from bloody Turkey”.

I felt quite moved looking at the detail of the boat. Thinking of the hands that had made it. I’d better stop or I’ll come over all whimsical.

The cargo was in pretty good shape. As well as fig pips and other bits and pieces they recovered 9,000 almonds.

I’m really pleased that they didn’t totally clean this one up.

Here is the view from the lower Lusignan tower. I wanted to capture the contrast between the light outside and the dark within.

PS Many thanks to my eagle eyed reader who realised that this photo was the WRONG WAY UP. Now corrected 8-).

Skipton – Easter Saturday

Skipton is a lovely market town – it recently won the ‘fave Yorkshire market town’ poll in the ‘Yorkshire Post’. One of its many charms is the Leeds-Liverpool canal that runs slap bang through the town.

This chap looked very happy. Take a close look at the sign on the front of his boat.

The town also has a castle, built in Norman Northern ‘harrowing’ (read genocide) days.

This ginger urchin was having fun as well. This cries out for a caption competition!

But, not as much as this! One of the worst pics of me EVER! Still the ice-cream was good.