previously posted on my blog Abroad in London
as a weekly update for family and friends
I decided to join Bunac (my Visa sponsor in the UK) on a weekend trip just before Halloween. This trip was referred to as the Medieval Mayhem weekend. The premise was that we’d make several stops at places in Yorkshire, England that had heavy Medieval elements and then spend the night within the walls of a Castle. There was no way I could pass up this opportunity and even though I knew no one going on the trip I went anyways.
I have to say that I’ve had some of the best experiences here in England since July. Scotland was, by far, my favorite trip to date in my life but this weekend in the Castle had something special going for it too. It was different than anything I’d done and had a lot of fun elements. I had the best time possible and it would rank up there as one of my favorite trips of all time. Can’t surpass Scotland but was definitely worth the time, effort and money spent on the trip.
We started off the trip in London heading towards York. There were two smaller vans and our guides were also our drivers. They were fun and outgoing guys so it made the trip that much more enjoyable. Since I’d already been to York I didn’t know if I was that excited to go back. But the city was steeped deeply in Medieval interests and I knew I at least could walk around the areas I didn’t quite get enough time to explore when I visited previously.
On the ride up I made several friends of the girls sitting around me, they were all interesting and we had a good time. By the time we got to York I’d made the decision to wander by myself simply because I’d seen all the major tourist sites that everyone was going to. So I traveled back to the Shambles and enjoyed the market place, found a bookstore and took the opportunity to take pictures of the old Medieval timber frame buildings. I revisited the York Minster (from the outside this time) as well as some of the other picturesque areas of the city. It was a short trip so I used my time wisely and ended up having a bacon bagel at a quaint bagel shop in the middle of the city.
As always I found the drive through the countryside most fascinating. This time we were traveling up through the Yorkshire Dales. It was stunningly picturesque and I had to say that I was blown away. The day couldn’t have been more beautiful and the sun was shining. Something that was pointed out to us along the way was the structuring of the walls in the Yorkshire Dales. They were ‘dry walls’ which meant that no mortar was used to make them, just the stones themselves.
After York, along the ride, we decided to have a pumpkin carving competition between the buses. It was nearing Halloween, after all. Except no one on our bus was too keen to get their hands all gooey from the pumpkin. So I sucked it up and agreed to carve it.
Kelly created the design, I was handed a dull knife, and off we went. I scooped, I cleaned, I carved. And the end result was Slash, our pumpkin with a slightly disfigured face. I’m
not sure I’d suggest carving a pumpkin on a moving bus even with a dull knife.. so kids..don’t try that one at home.
The next stop was to Wensleydale Creamery (yes, the Cheese place from Wallace & Grommit). I’m not a big fan of cheese but since we were there and there were several free samples I thought it was the place to try my taste on various cheeses. They were.. interesting. I’m still not a cheese person but at least now I can save I’ve tried some rather interesting types of cheese.
From there we continued on to Aysgarth Falls. If anyone’s seen the movie ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ (with Kevin Costner) there’s a scene where Robin Hood is showering in a water fall. The same water fall that we were visiting that afternoon. The very same waterfall I went swimming in. At the end of October. About seven people went in. Two of us actually made it all the way to the waterfall. And I’ll tell you that I was the last one out of the water. It was freezing cold but no worse than the ocean in Maine! The worst part? We changed into our bathing suits on the bus and to get to the Waterfalls you have to pass through a local pub. The general consensus of the pub (and of several people on our trip) is that we’d lost our minds to be swimming at the end of October.
We arrived at the Castle looking forward to a good banquet and having some fun dressing up. We all attacked the dressing area after we got into the place (the Castle was AMAZING, but I’ll touch on that later). Once we were all dressed we posed for several photographs before proceeding to dinner. The dinner was truly a feast. We started with a basic meat and bread course, progressed to soup, to stew and ended with desert. It was delicious and real fun to get to know the people on the trip.
Following the banquet we participated in a game somewhat based on a treasure hunt. We were given the map of the castle and several clues to find items hidden throughout. We raced around the castle collecting the items (a flag, a shield, a crown, and a sword). Somewhere during that I managed to twist my ankle and again later on the same step in
the castle. It didn’t start bothering me until the next morning. No permanent damage but it made for a fun story the next week at work.. “So Jamie, how did you sprain your ankle?” “Running through a castle in the dark.” Oh yes.. and our team won the treasure hunt.
Afterwards we were taken on a ghost tour of the castle, spooky! And finally Sheree and I decided to explore on our own, in the dark, with cameras!
The next morning we prepared to leave and I was sad to say good bye. Despite having to hobble to the bathroom in the middle of the night and freezing in my sleeping bag. I’ll always be able to say that I stayed overnight in a Castle just before Halloween. It was well worth the experience and all those little complaints? Only made it better! In the daylight I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of the inside of the castle and then the outside too. One of the amazing things that happened on the trip was when five of us realized we were members of the same Sorority – Delta Zeta. How bizarre was that?
Then we made our way to Sherwood Forest where I participate in my first (of several now) traditional Sunday Roasts. Which is simply roast beef, gravy, Yorkshire pudding,
pees and potatoes. It was quite lovely and I have to say I’m officially a fan. So we drove through Sherwood Forest, stopped off at Nottingham for some Archery and then headed
back to London.