Monday, May 11, 2009

Canterbury and Leeds Castle

Canterbury Cathedral

Leeds Castle

Poseidon in the Grotto

This past Saturday I went to Canterbury (like The Canterbury Tales) and Leeds Castle, both of which are is county Kent and no where near Leeds, England. Canterbury was a small English town with a huge Gothic cathedral in it. It's also where Thomas Becket was assassinated, which is way Chaucer's pilgrims were traveling there. However, no one in my group new who Thomas Becket was so the importance was lost to us. Outside of the cathedral was a pedestrian-only shopping area where my friend Claire and I got some of our favorite pub food (Bangors and Mash!) for lunch. After lunch we found a "Canterbury Tales tourist attraction" which featured all of the tales that I read in high school. It was just a tad over-priced so we didn't go in but it looked like it would have been very Disney-esque.

Leeds Castle was beautiful. Much like Warwick, it is surrounded by huge grounds which are a lot more pleasant to walk around when the weather is sunny and warm. Lady Baillie lived in the castle until the 1970s so the interior has been restored and refurbished from its original 9th century design. It is still used for meetings, parties, and wedding receptions. Although the castle felt much more comfortable than some of the other castles I've visited that are essentially a stone shell, Lady Baillie had an obsession with birds that was a little scary. Just about every room had some sort of bird decoration in it. Outside, there was a duckery, and an aviary, and several birds of prey. It was just a little bit intense. In another area of the grounds there was a hedge maze. Claire and I managed to get halfway through about three times for the guy at the end took pity us and told us how to get out. In order to get out of the maze you went through 'the grotto' which was meant to be a creepy underwater cave of some sort. The inside was pretty nifty with seashell and driftwood scupltures, but after coming from "bird heaven" it seemed really random.

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