15 Jun 2017

Of Castles and Kings (to be)

A few months ago, I blogged about Wool Week and headed the blogpost with a photo of Prince Charles, who launched the Campaign for Wool in 2010.

Little did I know that only a few months later we would get to meet him in person! The photo above was taken by my husband Tim when Prince Charles came to speak to us at Chartwell, the former home of Winston Churchill and now an important National Trust property in the south of England.

The Prince had been touring the house and seeing the recent renovation work. He told us that he was keen to encourage people to visit from the United States, as we were. 

So I thought I would take a brief divergence from knitting for this post and say about some of the wonderful places that we visited on our recent trip.

We were in the UK for my mother-in-law's 90th birthday, but took the time on the return journey to meander through the Welsh borderlands and explore some of the rich treasures in the area.

The first of these was Chirk Castle, a National Trust property near Wrexham in Wales. This is a large structure with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. I have to admit that I sat for quite some time, knitting a cowl and listening to the bleating of the lambs in the fields below. It was delightful. I am truly blessed that I get so much knitting time in these amazing locations while Tim is taking photos. 

Of course, in addition to Tim taking photos of the castle, he also took one of me knitting! If you'd like to see it, then please have a look at the "Where I like to knit" slideshow on my website. Just scroll down to the middle of the "About" page to find it. There's also one from our previous visit to Chartwell!

We then went to a village just north of Oswestry to visit Whittington Castle, which is surprisingly managed by the local community — quite an undertaking! The Castle Keep dates back to the 12th century but it was built upon a much earlier structure so the history can been traced back over 3000 years.

The scenery in this area is stunning, and the following day saw us walking along by the Montgomery Canal which was built to transport limestone, coal and other materials but is now a haven for wildlife and much used by locals walking along the towpath.

We then arrived at another castle, Powis Castle, also managed by the National Trust. The gardens here are amazing, forming terraces ablaze with colour down the side of the slope. I found another perfect place to knit under an archway overhung with wisteria, nicely sheltered from the super-hot sun (a comparative rarity in Wales!)

We so enjoy visiting National Trust properties and have a membership from the USA through the Royal Oak Foundation, so were able to enjoy free visits and parking at all these locations. If you have not heard of the Royal Oak before, it is well worth exploring membership if your future plans include a few days in the UK. There are occasionally discount codes that you can find, too, so keep a watch out for those if you are thinking about joining.

We hadn't planned on visiting any more castles on that trip, but what to do when you see a sign saying "Stokesay Castle 1/2 ml"... We had always wanted to visit there but hadn't realized that it was on our route! Even a spot of horizontal rain didn't dampen our enthusiasm and we happily explored the various nooks and crannies of this fascinating building. Tim's photo shows the magnificent gatehouse — now also the location for the castle tea-rooms. 

Well I hope you have enjoyed seeing some more of Tim's wonderful photos and if you do ever get the chance to retrace our steps, then you will not be disappointed. These are only a few of the many castles and interesting sites in this area, too, so if you have a few more days then you could easily locate some more wonderful places to visit!

Next time, I will return to writing about knitting and some exciting news about Anna's new website, Kiku Knits.

Happy Knitting!


Photo credits: All photos by Tim Ravenscroft. If you'd like to see some more of his photos, please visit his Flickr site.

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