Monday, August 29, 2005

Final vacation update

Well I have to go back to work tomorrow. Today is the traditional end of summer Monday off.

We did do a sightseeing thing plus I did one of the chores I've been meaning to do all summer. Our kitchen is floored with quarry tiles which are kind of like terra cotta and are very traditional here. I stripped and repolished them today.

Our tourist thing was a trip to Hampton Court Palace. It's about a half hour (non rush hour) drive from our house and we'd never been in all the years we've lived here.

The palace is made of brick and at first approach it seems like a rather grand school. The inside is no Versailles, but you'd hardly expect an English monarch to be that over the top. However, it's plenty oppulent enough within.

The palace originally belonged to Cardinal Woolsey an advisor to Henry VIII who then seized the palace when the Cardinal fell out of favor. Henry did it up in grand style and subsequent monarchs namely William and Mary and the early Georgians added their personal stamps. We toured several of the state apartments but by no means saw them all.

The most amazing room is the Chapel Royal which is still in its original Tudor style with absolutely fantastic painted timber ceilings. It is also still a working chapel though I don't think many services are held there.

Hampton Court also has beautiful formal gardens and an ancient yew hedge maze (except the yew was planted in the 60s to replace the genuinely ancient hornbeam hedge). The maze is quite famous and was featured in a book I read at Easter called Larry's Party. (here's a link to it at Amazon, I really enjoyed it) The character Larry is inspired on his honeymoon trip to England by the countryside hedges and the Hampton Court maze to become a maze designer. Like many things in life featured in novels and built up by expectation it was a little smaller and less exciting than I imagined it to be.

I abandoned the book when I finished it at the Aberdeen airport but I wish I'd kept it because it had the solution to the maze printed within. I would have never got it except we followed a kid who claimed to have found the center, the key, within 30 seconds (it is small) and we followed a group that he was leading in. So I guess I'm saying that even though it was smaller than I imagined and somehow less grand it was still hard.

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