The people of the U.K. smoke, a lot. Every town and city we went to had a smokey smell and I had smoke blown into my face multiple times. Maybe that is some kind of compliment over here. Well that's the negative of this trip. The good news is that all the sites we went to were non-smoking areas so with history came fresh air.
We visited a lot of places and did a lot of things, but a definite highlight of the trip for me was wearing the chain mail and getting to hold a Peregrine Falcon. Those are two things I never thought I'd be doing when this trip started. Also going to multiple castles and getting to walk on the walls and even in them was another highlight. It never occurred to me that you could build passages inside the walls, but many castles had done just that such as Caernarfon and Beaumaris. I'm fascinated with military history so castles that were built for military purposes are playgrounds for me. More than once I walked along the top of a wall or in a passage and imagined I was a soldier defending the castle. Some things from childhood never grow old.
Something I will miss, in leaving, is the hands on approach these historical sites take. Many of them had clothes and helmets made just so you could try them on and get a better idea of people who lived in the Middle Ages. I don't recall coming across anything like that back in the States. In York, at DIG, they let us handle the actual excavations that had been discovered. It didn't bother them at all while I know back at home no such thing would be allowed. Of course, my favorite hands on thing was putting on helmets that medieval soldiers and knights would have worn. I have no idea how knights could see out of some of those tiny visors.
While it has been fun over here, there is still no place like home for me. I do wish we had castles, but that is not how history worked out. However, it was fun seeing the land of my ancestors. I know some of my family came over in 1630 from England and the reason why is unknown to me. They did leave about a decade before the English Civil War so maybe they just had good foresight. Still, I got to see castles that were around in their time and cathedrals they might have prayed in. I'm glad I took this opportunity to come to England. I got to see more than I ever dreamed I would. Stonehenge is a place I will always remember. Seeing those huge stones up close really does make you wonder how they got there. Lastly, a final highlight to close out my blog was seeing As You Like It in the Royal Shakespeare Company theater. Great play! It was awesome to see that Shakespeare could write great comedies along with his tragedies. I'm a lover of romance and happy endings, and that play certainly fit the bill for me. Here's to a happy ending to this trip.