Posts Tagged ‘keys’

Day Trip 3

It’s Wednesday everyone! Which means it’s time for Rambler5319 to take over with another story from his holidays. Enjoy.

I thought I’d do another of my days out from a recent holiday.

This time I was visiting Castle Rising just a few miles north of King’s Lynn in Norfolk. The castle in the village of the same name has a very interesting history going back to about 1138 and its current owner is actually an ancestor of the original builder! That’s nearly 900 years of ownership!

It is the place where, in the 14th century, Queen Isabella (wife of Edward II) was moved after some problems with the monarchy and its (including her) allegiances.

Cutting a very long story short it goes like this. Isabella was brought to England as a 12 yr old from Paris. Her marriage, in 1308, to Edward II (of England) had been arranged some years before by her father. As was the case with many royal marriages it was meant to try and overcome conflicts between warring countries or sides in an argument. In this case the dispute was over French lands which had been captured by England. In 1312 the future Edward III was born. In 1324 Edward II & his supporters began to confiscate Queen Isabella’s lands. Because of hostilities with France, and Isabella being French, Edward II put people in to run the royal household as well as putting her French staff in prison. Her youngest children were taken away from her. She then went to her brother King Charles IV of France and began to take back lands which Edward owned in France. She started bringing together opponents of Edward II in France, some of whom were English, to form an army. At this point she formed an alliance with and later took as a lover, Roger Mortimer. (He had previously escaped from prison in England in 1322.) Isabella betrothed her son (future Edward III) to Philippa of Hainault (an area of Belgium which bordered France) and with the dowry was able to raise a mercenary army. They came back to England and forced Edward II to give up the throne. (Some believe Isabella was later responsible for Edward’s murder.) Isabella became regent and she and Mortimer ruled for 4 years until 1330. During this time both had amassed large amounts of money and land and two years prior to this Edward had married Philippa of Hainault. Edward III, then deposed Mortimer and put him on trial for treason and had him executed. Isabella escaped punishment by apparently being portrayed as the innocent party. After being under house arrest at Windsor Castle until 1332 Isabella was moved back to her own place at Castle Rising. Even though she had lost her lands she was still given a large income to live off. She was able to employ a good number of staff and enjoyed other luxuries. She remained at Castle Rising until her death in 1358.

Before setting off for my tour of the castle I decided to get one of those audio guide things. Naturally you had to leave a deposit but I was given an unusual choice – either £20 or my car keys! I worked it out that £20 was probably a better deal. It turned out to be really good as instead of just wandering round looking at the bare signs and stone walls you had the commentary going on and it was very well done I thought.

Ok so here we go with the pics:


Note it’s rather cube-like appearance which just goes to show that sometimes medieval architecture could be rather uninteresting just like some of today’s “modern” buildings. You can see the entrance at the bottom right corner in the lower section.


This was looking back down towards the front door.


Remember we learnt about what garderobes are on 19.6.13 in 10 Words (Part 3). What is interesting is the location of them in this castle: although you can’t see it in the pic I was standing in the kitchen, the next room to them!


In the pic above you can see the two places where users have to crouch down with the dividing wall for a bit of privacy. I was curious as to what happens when say the person in the far one finishes first and has to walk past the other one which may still be being used. Maybe there were curtains or something. Hmmm….. And I suppose you’re wondering where the waste goes. Check out the next pic.


The two arches in this picture are where waste (no.2s especially) from those using the garderobes inside would drop down – quite a height! No flush toilets in their day.


This pic is showing what would have originally been the basement area but the upper floors have rotted away. The hole you can see with the grill was actually a well and here’s the sign.


The next pic shows clearly a number of arched windows at different levels which must have been for each of the floors.


In the castle grounds there are also remains of a Norman Church which was built in the 11th century


And a view of what remains of the inside


Here’s a view looking back towards the castle through the gatehouse entrance.


And just in case you were wondering how they cut the grass round the moat and fields around the castle – here’s the answer:


I returned to the ticket/shop place to hand in the audio guide machine. I was asked if I paid £20 or left my car keys. When I claimed I’d left the keys to the Rolls Royce now in the car park it didn’t work but at least I got my £20 back.

I did buy something in the shop. I don’t know about you but I struggle to remember more than a few significant kings and queens of the past 1,000 years so I thought something to help me remember them would be useful. I bought this:


Now check out the other side of it


You might have to enlarge it a bit but it’s really useful.

So, if you’re ever in the King’s Lynn area I would recommend a trip to Castle Rising but don’t forget to pick up one of the audio guide things as it makes it so much more interesting.

One of the strangest girls ever

I once went to Aylesbury, to a young offenders’ centre to train as a mentor for young men at the prison who were about to be released, to encourage them to not come back, essentially.

So I had a phone interview, then an interview in person then two days of training. Everyone else there had also had two interviews so I’m not sure how this girl made it to the next stage.

She was one of those people who is totally socially unaware. When the woman running the session asked us to take a few minutes to write something, like why we wanted to become a mentor, we would all fall silent. But this girl didn’t seem to realise what was going on. She was sitting, talking aloud and sighing and huffing and puffing.

“Why do I want to be a…. *loud sigh* …. hm… a mentor… hffffff… Why do I….. Erm…. *sigh*.”

It was bizarre! We were all silent, scribbling away and she was talking aloud to herself as though it was the most normal thing in the world.

When we were asked to each read one thing off our list it went as such…

“To help people.”
“To help reduce crime by repeat offenders.”
“Because I’d like to do criminal defense work so feel this would help me understand the issues involved.”
“Because I just retired and would like to do more voluntary work.”

And then it gets to her at the end of the line and she is asked for a reason. She looks at the list of things other people have said, which have been written up on a board and sighs, then picks one.

“To reduce crime by repeat offenders.”
“O, haven’t you got something off your own list that you wrote?”

She continues looking up at the board, not even glancing down at her own paper and goes, in a vacant type of way, “Yeh, it’s the same. All the same ones.”

Erm. It doesn’t make any sense. How can she have those same same things? The whole day went like that, talking aloud, sighing, saying odd things, copying whatever anyone else said.

When we left at the end of the day, I was offered a lift to the station by a woman who then offered the strange girl a lift too. It was hilarious. Five minutes in to the journey, she freaks and goes, “I’ve lost my passport! I’ve lost my passport.”

So we pull over and she talks v e r y slowly through what she might have done with it. And she figures out she has thrown it in the bin in the prison! Yes. That’s right. She has thrown it. In the bin. The BIN! How stupid is she?

I forget how she worked it out. But she ended up calling the prison to ask them to go and check in the bin. Of course, in a prison, you do not just run around different buildings looking in bins. Every door is opened and closed by keys. You never have two doors open at a time. You open one and close it behind you and it all takes a long time. We had been in the admin building, the staff of which had all gone home when we left. No-one was allowed in the building when the staff left. The security measures were tight.

She tried persuading the officers to go in the admin building. They obviously said no. She was going, “But my passport is in the bin!” like an idiot.

It was unbelievable.

I forget if she got it back. I just remember that I had to stare out the window really intently when we were in the car and try not to laugh out loud.

When we got to the train station, she got the same train as me! It was awful. She said, “I can’t believe I’ve left my passport in the bin,” about a billion and four times.

Now I’ve met strange people in life but I think she might have been the worst.

P.S. It’s Danda’s birthday today!

The big 200 and an Italian feast

So it’s my 200th post! Very exciting. I haven’t been swimming in a little while as I’ve had a cold so I’m going to try, from next week, to swim 200 lengths in honour of it. Not all at once. I’ll try a bit each day. I need to do 30 each day, right? Wish me luck!

I’ve got lots of birthdays and excitement this week so am going to give it til Monday to start the challenge. Thanks for staying with me or joining me along the way. It has been lots and lots of fun. To celebrate this milestone and to embrace my recent trip to Italy and in honour of seeing a friend for the first time in ages, I prepared an Italian feast!

I got a beautiful cookbook the other day. The most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever seen.


It’s full of Venetian recipes and the antipasti section is amazing. In an effort to impress, I insisted on making one of everything!

I finished work at 3pm and had timetabled in when to start everything so that I’d be ready by 7pm. I suddenly realised, at 3.35pm, that I didn’t have almonds for the cantuccini biscuits. I set my white wine and white wine vinegar and juniper berries to boil (for the pickled chicory) then I quickly grabbed my purse and ran down to the shop. I got the almonds and ran back to the house…. When I said ‘I quickly grabbed my purse’, that’s exactly what happened. I grabbed my purse AND NOTHING ELSE! I was locked out. There was no-one else with keys who would be back before 6pm. We had taken the spare key from the next door neighbour because it didn’t work anymore, it was always getting stuck. We kept meaning to get another cut, but didn’t. O no! The next door neighbour walked by and I explained my predicament. We went in her garden to see if I could climb over her fence into my garden and try and figure a way to get in. It’s not really a climb-over-able fence so I was stuck outside, pan boiling inside, on a tight schedule for preparing dinner, with no way into the house.

We eventually got in but another neighbour played a very risky game of almost falling through a roof to do so and it all took about an hour. I was VERY behind schedule.

When I was back in the kitchen, I pickled my chicory, made my duck stock, grilled my aubergines and dressed my rocket. I was back on track. As I was whizzing the almonds in my food processor for the cantuccini, it popped and stopped working! This was NOT on my schedule! It wouldn’t have been a very big deal had I not needed to whizz the duck breast fillets for my duck and porcini mushroom meatballs. My only option was my handheld whizzer thing. You know the type that you stick in a pot of soup to whizz all the lumps out?

So there I was, with a handheld whizzer thing, trying to whizz duck breasts. I got it done in the end but it wasn’t easy and bits of mashed up raw duck kept flying about and sticking to my face and arms.

I threw together an apparently Italian drink, minus the alcohol – elderflower cordial with mint, lemon and ice, then topped up with ginger beer.

I was nervous about attempting the Carta di Musica (music paper) as it needed to be rolled really really thin. It’s basically a paper thin cracker made with semolina. It went surprisingly well. I had some rocket and walnut pesto I had made that morning and after grilling some aubergines with parmesan, mozzarella and basil then rolling them up, I was almost ready to go. I just wrapped the end of a few grissini sticks in salami and pickled chicory and stuck them in a glass, put some dressed rocket into the braesola and rolled it up and put some truffle butter in a dish and we sat down and dug in. (Yes, you heard me right, truffle butter! I finally got some! And it was totally worth it.)


At this point, I noticed that the caster sugar was on the side, unopened and realised that in my panic over the food processor breaking while I was making cantuccini, I had forgotten to put the sugar in! What I had was a savory almond dough! I whipped the biscuits out of the oven and binned them then mixed some sugar into my remaining dough. It didn’t really mix in very well though. I just wrapped the dough in clingfilm, fridged it and hoped for the best.

Next was the main course. We had a parmigiana, a roast tomato risotto, a duck and porcini meatball in a duck stock and tomato sauce, and scallops and pancetta on a bed of minty pea stuff.


The parmigiana looks quite large and intimidating, I didn’t realise that when I cut it!

After eating everything and having a bit of chitchat and sneaking another meatball or two, it was time to address the cantuccini disaster. I cut my dough into six pieces and put it in the oven. It did not go well. Because there wasn’t enough dry stuff in the mixture, it didn’t bake hard enough. It also wasn’t sweet enough. I made us espressos in a percolator, which were really strong, and we dipped our biscuits in.


I felt a bit feeble, with my savory, slightly soft almond thingys. So I implemented a back up plan. There was ice cream in the freezer! Mascapone, cherry and pistachio. Score! The dinner was rescued and we tucked in.

All in all, a success, I think.

Happy 200th post to me! What a fabulous way to celebrate.