Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Day We Ate Lunch At Downton Abbey - Touring Tuesday

The M25 is a motorway that rings the greater London area.  To some Londoners, the world does not exist outside of this road.  Up until August, we were content with touring within the border of the M25.  Partially because there was so much to see in London and because we don't own a car.  

Just before the kids went back to school we rented a car for a day trip to Stonehenge.  As you can see from the map below, it's way outside of the M25 ring.  I'm sure some were not sure if we'd ever return from the unknown.  Like good Brits we planned ahead and booked entry tickets for late afternoon to give us time to get lost or take any detours we chose.    

Matt rented a car from Heathrow which meant that's where he had to go to get the car.  It took a bit longer than expected because he had to travel on the Underground to Heathrow and then drive back to our house.  Lesson learned on that one.

As we crossed over the invisible M25 barrier, a sign caught my eye.  (I did not get a photo of the first one because I was slightly dumbfounded after reading it.)  Did that sign say Highclere Castle?  No, it can't be this close to us.  It is not the same Highclere Castle.  Or is it?  However the Rampant Cat seems intriguing, but that's for another time.  
A quick search confirmed that this was, in fact, the actual Highclere Castle.  It is home to Lady Mary, Anna & Mr. Bates, and the always overlooked Lady Edith.  We did not have tickets for the tour because all the online tickets were sold out, but a detour couldn't hurt.

Our effort was rewarded.

The parking lot was free, and we pulled in to take a few photos.  As we talked to the parking attendants they told us that it was a slow day at the castle and walk up tickets were available.  Unfortunately our timed admission to Stonehenge kept us from going in.  Fortunately for a small admission, the family could walk in the gardens of Highclere Castle, and we could bring our picnic!

I know that the rest of the family did not care if we ate lunch at the castle, but there was no way I was leaving without getting somewhat close.  We grabbed our gear and plunked down in the middle of the lawn.  Whether or not you watch Downton Abbey, the gardens of Highclere Castle are amazing.  

The gong rang to tell us it was time to leave for Stonehenge, but that did not stop me from taking a few sneaky photos through the window.   

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