I was absolutely delighted to spend some time with my friend Kristy in England at the start of EuroAdventure 2012. In fact, I flew into London with that very purpose in mind. Kristy was so kind as to pick us up from the airport. We were a little delayed because while I barely made my connecting flight in JFK (after a frantic run through the terminals), my bag did not and flew out on the next flight. Luckily it was only an hour behind me, so we didn’t have to wait long.
And then we went directly to Highclere Castle, a.k.a. Downton Abbey, of course. We were arriving in England on the last day the castle was open to the public for the season, so I bought tickets in advance. Perhaps it was optimistic for me to buy tickets for the morning after an international flight. We weren’t sure how awake we’d be, but we didn’t want to waste a second of time. Cristen and I hoped that the excitement of being in England would help overcome any weariness from the flight. And you know, it did. We didn’t even rub our eyes.
It felt strange to walk up to Downton Abbey and stroll inside without introduction. Photography isn’t allowed inside the castle (boo), so I can’t share interior shots. It was quite crowded inside the castle and visiting it was actually a little frustrating. I felt like I was constantly behind very slow, old people looking at every detail of every painting/sofa/curtain/decorative object. I’m currently re-watching Downton (as I type this!) and I will say that it looks exactly like in the show. However, the family that actually lives there does have some personal family photos and other belongings out. I think that intimate touch and the crowds made Downton actually feel much smaller and cozier than it otherwise would have. It almost didn’t feel like a castle at all.
We had some lunch at the cafe and then explored the grounds. It was a brilliant day – so sunny and warm. A very nice welcome, I have to say.
Ok, I did sneak one interior photo through an outside window.
Kristy’s daughter, Tess, joined us on the trip, and we had so much fun watching her run around. She’s such a darling. And don’t you just love those curls?
We walked out to Jackdaw’s Castle – an 18th century folly. You might remember it from the strange episode when the burn victim showed up and pretended to be the heir. (I think he’ll show up again this season. Have you been watching season 3? I can’t decide if I’m going to look for it online or wait for it to air stateside.)
Kristy is expecting her second in a few months. She has that perfect pregnant bump.
We wandered around for a couple of hours and just enjoyed the weather and the scenery, but not the crowds. They are to be expected, of course, but wouldn’t it have been brilliant to have the whole place to ourselves? Check out all of these tour buses…
Of course, they are just the first few of the many, many tour buses to come. But I can’t blame so many people for wanting to visit Downton and pretend for just a little bit to be part of that world. It was the perfect beginning to our trip.