Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Leeds Castle / Dover

Leeds Castle, about seventy miles south east of London is a lovely location! Dad and I visited there today and had a marvelous time. Flo was going to join us but she was feeling under the weather and begged us to go on without her.

The castle is built in the middle of a lake (rather than having a moat) and had (when it was a defensive castle in the thirteenth century) a fortified mill. The rooms in the keep are all vintage 1920s through 1950s and so it is more of a mansion tour than a castle tour, but the grounds are cool and the ruins of the old mill are enough to remind one that this used to be an actual honest-to-goodness old castle. (Still is, I guess, but I suppose that the original occupants didn't expect that one day they would call the servants with the castle's own telephone exchange.

We spent a couple hours wandering the grounds and touring the rooms, and then headed back to the car to drive on to Dover. (There'll be bluebirds over, the white cliffs of Dover…)

Dover is a bit further-on down the motorway from Leeds and when we got the first glimpse of the Channel from the motorway, it was a sign that we had come to the end of the outbound drive.

The overcast of the day had lifted a bit here on the land, but out over the straits, it was still misty and it was hard to spot even the largest ships out off the coast. We turned south along the B routes looking to find the Battle of Britain memorial.

The memorial is a serene park built on the cliffs over the straits to commemorate those fallen defending England's airspace in The Battle of Britain. A black granite wall shows names of the fallen and pictures of the planes they flew to turn back the Luftwaffe. One can walk around the memorial which takes the shape of a huge aero plane propeller, enclosed in a circular berm.

Beyond the memorial, one can walk along the cliff's edge, remembering all the while (as is pointed-out on signs posted at every entrance to the memorial) the wilderness around the memorial is home to adders (poisonous snakes) and the cliffs are pretty high and falling from one could mean death.

We spent a while paying our respects to the war heroes of a bygone day and then packed-up and headed back northwest and toward home. But Dad had one more thing he wanted to do. We stopped at Sainsbury's to buy groceries for dinner. Dad had never been in a grocery store over here and wanted to see how they differ…

Well, do something new every day is a motto to live by!

I hope wherever you are today you do something you have never done before!

Don Bergquist - 02 August 2006 - Thames Ditton, Surrey, UK

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