19. Diary Entry: Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

Before the excursion I promised myself not to write about Leeds Castle as my diary entry. I spend so much time researching facts and working on my chapter that I got kind of sick of it. But since so many people did not even visit the castle and probably therefore did not read my chapter or listen to the audio guide AND because Leeds Castle just completely blew me away… I decided against my initial hesitation to dedicate my diary entry to “the loveliest castle in the world”.

Like I said I was not too excited about going to Leeds Castle, but because of the work I put into my chapter and mainly because of the food festival (for some surprising reason food is always very motivating) I decided to go anyway. We arrived after about a one hour drive if I remember correctly, and after buying our tickets we were immediately greeted by a peacock. We made our way through small woods which lead us to a beautiful park with lots of ponds and flowers, swans and geese. We took a lot of pictures and enjoyed the view for a little while. Walking up a hill we could already get a peek at the booths of the food festival to our right. It looked like a little farmers market with locals selling their products to the tourists. But before enjoying the culinary delights the food festival had to offer, we went to explore the castle. The brochure did not exaggerate calling it the loveliest castle. It is truly beautiful and it felt a little bit like travelling to the past. The furniture of Lady Baillie was still there and parts of her personal belongings were on display. I especially liked the old dresses and shoes that were still hanging in the closet of Lady Baillie’s room. It seemed as if she could have walked through one of the doors at any minute. It was really interesting to look at the interior and design of the castle, it is unbelievable to imagine that it is already that old and yet so well preserved and taken care of. We took our time going through each and every room.

After the castle tour we all were really hungry, so we decided to finally take a closer look at the booths of the food festival. I was amazed by everything they had to offer!! And the best thing of all: You were allowed to try EVERYTHING they were selling. So I was making my way through various fruit and vegetable smoothies, pizza, shakes and teas, a BBQ, cupcakes, which I bought 2 of, cheese, olives, freshly baked bread with butter, some very lovely marshmallows in all of the colours you could imagine, flaming hot sauces, craft beer, traditional cider and liquor.

I bought two little wheels of cheddar cheese, one infused with whiskey and the other one with brandy. They were absolutely delicious especially with the chutney that was served with it. I thought it would make a pretty good present for my parents. Fortunately they did not like it as much as I did, so there was more for me. At the hot sauce stand I looked for a little something for my brother. I immediately set my mouth on fire, when I tried the first hot sauce. But I ended up buying dried Caroliner Reaper peppers, which are the hottest peppers in the world with over 1.6 million scoville, which is insanely hot!!! For myself I bought a bottle of rhubarb vodka which tasted absolutely amazing and a craft beer with a weird and long name, which I can’t remember, for the way to the falcon show.
The falcon show was interesting to look at. The staff showed us three different birds of different sizes and made them fly some stunts for the audience. They demonstrated how the birds catch their prey, how they kill it and told us about some general facts on how they raise their birds and how they teach them to behave like they would in the wilderness.

After that we rushed through the maze, as far as we could, since we got lost more than a hundred times taking the wrong turns, until a very helpful employee pointed us the right direction. I think we just looked incredibly lost and without his help we would have died in the maze. It was a lot of fun finally making it out of the maze through a grotto, which was very pretty and sparkly and made you feel as if you were under water. Celebrating our victory and our sense of directions we ran back the whole way to the entrance of Leeds Castle and got onto the bus on time, it really seemed like a miracle.
I really wish that we would have had more time to explore the grounds of Leeds Castle and maybe enjoy the food festival some more, because at the end of the day I had the feeling that I did not even see everything that was there to see.

After returning to Canterbury we did a bit of grocery shopping and then walked up the hill to our accommodation. We continued the culinary delights of the food festival with a wonderful frozen pizza and our helplessness toward English gas ovens.
Later that evening we decided to go downtown for some pub hopping and tried to each drink different kinds of beers and rate their taste and appearance. So it was one beer in each pub and then we went on to the next one. At the end of the night we had quite the list. It was a whole lot of fun going through all of the pubs and extending our beer horizon.
The way back up to University was really interesting and we got lost a couple of times (I see a pattern here :D) until a very friendly local (who actually going into a completely different direction) noticed that we needed some help and chose to walk with us so we would find our way. After a very long day we finally made it into our beds.