19 February 2012 (Sunday) - Dover Castle

Only one dead Koi this morning. But the local cats had been at the dead ones I'd bagged up yesterday. I wonder if turning on the filtration system might help, but the water in the aeration splash pool was frozen this morning. It's still far too cold to reactivate the pond. At this rate I might just shut the pond down altogether as another economy measure. Not that I want to, but it might be the pragmatic solution.

Andy and Julie arrived, and we set off to Dover Castle where we met more of our number. Bearing in mind our English Heritage membership is approaching its last month, we thought we'd have a look round one of the better local attractions. On arrival at the castle site our first port of call was the newly opened Casemate-level tunnels. We had to queue for a little while, but it was well worth the wait. The tunnels had been done up very well, and were brought to life by the guide and the various audio and visual effects. At the end of an hour's exploring of the tunnels we found ourselves forced to come out via the gift shop. I wasn't falling for that marketing ploy, but made a point of scoffing the free sweeties they had laid out.
There was an exhibit here where you could try on various military uniforms, so we spent an enjoyable ten minutes playing dressing up before moving on to the next part of the day out.

We did the tour round the underground hospital the last time we went to Dover Castle, but underground tunnels are always good places to be. The guide at this area seemed to be quite new to the job, but she did a very good job. Bearing in mind what a wonderful job English Heritage have made of the tunnels in the White Cliffs under Dover Castle, it's a shame they can't do something with the tunnels over on the Western Heights. It's criminal that those tunnels are being left to rot and collapse, but that is a rant I've done before.

With all of our party finally rallied together we decided to eat. It was a lovely sunny day, so we found the picnic area and ate. And shivered. For all that the sun was shining, the wind was cold. So once scoffed, we set off to the castle itself. Dover Castle is good in that there's a lot to see and do. We'd been on the site for two hours and still hadn't got as far as the actual castle. And once at the Great Keep everyone scattered. Whenever we go anywhere we seem to go mob-handed. And trying to organise everyone is akin to herding cats. A dozen people wandered in a dozen different directions. My direction was that of the toilet.

Once I'd been for a tiddle I spent ten minutes trying to find everyone else. I found two of our number in the Angevin exhibit, two more in the gift shop, and four at an archery display. Eventually eight of our party were at the archery display, and realising that this was as many as we were likely to get together, we moved into the Great Keep. And within five minutes everyone had scattered again. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing: I wandered round meeting various members of our party as I went. I would go up the turret with two of our number and come down with a different three. I would go into the kitchen with two of the ladies and come out with two of the blokes. Everyone seemed as content as I was to wander randomly; and it worked.

It was a shame that the lances, pikes and halberds were all chained down: they looked ideally suited for use in a game of "poke up the a**shole". But this was a game we had to forego. Instead we went to the gift shop where I availed myself of the free samples of mead and wine. The chap behind the counter assured me that after one taste of the mead I would buy a bottle. I had the taste; I didn't buy a bottle. The chap then said the same about the cheery wine. He was again wrong. In fact I proved him wrong about quite a lot of his drinks. I was quite happy to guzzle his free samples, but there is no way I'm shelling out ten quid on overpriced plonk.
We then moved on to the Pharos - the oldest part of the castle. Originally a Roman lighthouse the Pharos is next to an old church, and we spent a few minutes nosing round it.

All too soon we realised we'd seen most of the attractions, and that it was time to come home. We said our goodbyes and came home. Yesterday I mentioned that I was working on a Powerpoint presentation; I came home to spend a couple of hours (and a large part of the evening) carrying on with my preparations. I hope that my efforts are all worth while: time will tell - it always does....

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