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Aw, now, ain’t that purty?

This week is predicted to be sunny and warm — and we haven’t gotten a lot of THAT this Summer — so we decided to go out and roll around in it.

This glittery bit of postcard-perfect Disney fru-fru is Bodiam Castle, one of the prettier ruins in the neighborhood. You may know it as the Swamp Castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, where they deliberately cropped out the moat and made it look…less than fabulous, on account of it was the establishing shot for:

All the kings said it was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same! Just to show ’em! That sank into the swamp; so I built a second one, that sank into the swamp; so I built a third one, that burned down, fell over and then sank into the swamp; but the fourth one…stayed up!

It’s roofless and spent a lot of years as a ruin, but it’s about the prettiest ruin I know (possibly after Battle Abbey). You’re allowed full access (the bridge over the moat is ’round the back) including to the surviving upstairs rooms. It’s covered in graffiti which, being hundreds of years old, is worn illegible but laboriously carved in tidy Times New Roman.

We ate sammiches by the moat, much of which went to the ducks. I wish we’d thought to throw a bit in water, where there were carp the size of toddlers. On the other hand — considering how many ducks tried to follow us back to the car — maybe not feeding the big ugly fish was a smart idea.

Oh, hey, we passed about TEN trucks on the road, loaded to the overflowing with hops. This area (and particularly Kent) were once gigantic producers of hops, but after the war, most were bought in from other countries. So what does a big local crop of hops mean? ARTISAN BEER!


Comment from Redd
Time: September 5, 2012, 9:56 pm

I’m a big fan of that 6 episode documentary, Castles. Bodiam was featured in one of the episodes.

Have you been to Hever Castle?

Comment from Hutch
Time: September 5, 2012, 10:12 pm

I’m pretty sure that Swamp Castle is actually Doune Castle in Scotland, as well as Castle Anthrax and the interior of Camelot.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 5, 2012, 10:27 pm

Ooooh! Tell him the Hever Castle story, your Stoatliness…..

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 5, 2012, 10:35 pm

Internet seems to confirm it’s Bodiam, Hutch. So either that’s right, or it’s an urban legend that has seen considerable spread.

We went to Hever when we were courtin’, Redd. It was one of my most memorable days here to that point — we went on the first day they opened it for the season, and it was drizzly and cold and hella atmospheric.

Sadly, Hever (and to a certain extent Bodiam) has seen considerable renovation. And not so much shoring-it-up-to-preserve-it-for-future-generations renovation, but more like gutting-it-and-remaking-it-in-our-own-image renovtion.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: September 5, 2012, 10:49 pm

You’ll have been to Leeds Castle, of course. Looks ancient; isn’t. I still love it though and will acquire it when I am crowned God-Emperor.

Comment from Oceania
Time: September 5, 2012, 10:57 pm

Hmmm parts of your image are badly out of focus – what gives?

Comment from Redd
Time: September 5, 2012, 11:02 pm

We went to Hever when we were courtin’, Redd. It was one of my most memorable days here to that point —

You left out telling us why it was so memorable, stoaty…

So, tell us “the Hever Castle story.”

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: September 5, 2012, 11:18 pm

I’m fond of using Kent Finishing Hops in my homebrews.

(Aromatic leaf hops that get strewed on the fermenting wort, as opposed to the bittering hops that get boiled in the wort.)

However, with so many new varieties of American hops to try…

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 5, 2012, 11:31 pm

Oh, well, mostly just that it was very drizzly and atmospheric. It’s an amazing old place with an amazing old (but not that old) garden.

The most memorable thing, though: we were in the tower that had been the dungeon. It was stuffed full of torture implements — not the originals. These had been bought from Germany, but the guide assured us they were like unto the originals.

Anyhow, as we were chatting with her and she was holding (I believe) a pincer of the red-hot variety, there was a flash of lightning, a roll of thunder and -=BANG=- the power went. It was only dark for a few seconds, but it was goddamned memorable, I can tell you.

Oceania, when I started this blog, I knew it was going to be picture heavy. And I knew that was going to present a loading problem (particularly six years ago, when I started it). So my technical goal was to keep all sidebar graphics under 10K and all main graphics under 50K.

I’ve let the sidebars get a little more complicated, but I still try to keep the main graphics under 50K, so a whole ten days worth doesn’t take forever.

That’s one reason the blog is black and white — no color information = smaller files. It’s also why I deliberately blur bits. Large areas of single colors are a very small graphic burden. Blurry areas area a medium burden. The worst thing (for .jpg’s, at least) are lots of bitsy flecks of different levels of gray, like foliage.

But once I started selectively blurring bits of the image for the sake of file size, I decided I really like the slightly spooky effect.

So. There you go.

Comment from Oceania
Time: September 5, 2012, 11:31 pm

Nigggger Me Timbers!

NZ politicians are using the Negroid word! http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/7623209/Harawira-drops-N-bomb-on-water-hui-debate

Comment from Oceania
Time: September 5, 2012, 11:33 pm

Spooky Indeed!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 5, 2012, 11:40 pm

It’s late. I’m tiddly. And I think that’s funny enough I’ll let it stand as written, O.

Comment from Deborah
Time: September 6, 2012, 1:07 am

Husband and I visited Dunstaffnage Castle in Scotland, and I was quite rightly impressed. But the chapel truly stunned me—seeing a skull and crossbones set into the stones of the crypt literally stopped me in my tracks.

I bought some wooden shortbread molds in the gift shop, and the sales clerk wrote out a shortbread recipe for me on the back of my receipt. But it never baked up right—didn’t hold its shape—even though it was delicious. Years later I set down and recalculated the recipe again (from UK metric to US standard) and discovered that I’d been using twice as much butter as the recipe called for! I loved Scotland—I ate salmon everyday, and put Devonshire cream on everything that wasn’t salmon.

Comment from Mojo
Time: September 6, 2012, 5:23 pm

“Smoeday,Son, all this will be yours…”

Comment from Redd
Time: September 6, 2012, 5:40 pm

It was only dark for a few seconds, but it was goddamned memorable, I can tell you.

Was there any bodice ripping involved?

Have you been to Knole House?

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: September 6, 2012, 6:37 pm

I had some of that Hobgoblin ale when I was in Incheon of all places. They are doing it right I must say!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 6, 2012, 9:45 pm

We haven’t been to Knole, Redd, but it’s definitely on the list. Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst is one of our favorites. It’s a spectacular place but Vita, had she been born with testicles, would have inherited Knole…and it drove her a bit mad (IMO). I mean, she was undoubtedly mad, but that’s my theory for why.

Hobgoblin is my favorite, Bob. Which irritates me a little, as it’s obviously marketed to a certain youth segment of which I am not a part, but it’s an awfully good beer.

Comment from Redd
Time: September 6, 2012, 10:21 pm

This idea of a “calender house” is intriguing but I don’t understand what it was suppose to achieve. Recently, I re-watched Portrait of a Marriage . (The screenplay was by Mrs. Rumpole, herself an interesting character.) I also read a couple of books about Vita and about Violet. I admit I do not like Vita and her gang of lesbians. Today, they try to portray them as “victims of society” but hell, they did whatever they wanted to do and everyone else could be damned. They really expected their husbands to not only grin and bear it but to financially support their escapades. Vita was often violent in her relationship with Violet, too (not that Violet wasn’t a little manipulative bitch). However, it was difficult to watch in the television dramatization. Lesbian rape? No thanks!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: September 6, 2012, 11:02 pm

Oh, you and Uncle B will have to talk, Redd. He’s got a bit of a thing for Vita. (So I guess you worked out right away why our second two chickens are Vita and Violet, hm?). We have a whole bookshelf of Vitania. He thinks she was a monster, but he has a soft spot for her (and he would agree that Violet was probably unfairly maligned).

As for a calendar house — way cool. Readers are advised to click the link.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: September 6, 2012, 11:03 pm

Artisan beer makes me think of horrifying things that violate the Reinheitsgebot.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 6, 2012, 11:31 pm

Bob Mulroy – Hobgoblin, eh? One of the Stoatly favourites!

Redd – I tend to agree about V and V. The only thing I would say as a plea in mitigation for Vita was that Harold was every bit as bad. Trefusis, OTOH, really was treated appallingly by Violet, but what was he thinking marrying her in the first place and under such peculiar ‘conditions’ (assuming they ever existed)?

There is definitely a ‘spirit’ at Sissinghurst. It is set in some of the most exquisite countryside I have ever seen and I keep finding myself drawn back to recharge. I can easily understand why Vita and Harold felt about it as they did. If not about each other!

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: September 6, 2012, 11:32 pm

Oh, yeah, I read that thing about calendar houses. Sounds like something they used to make architecture students do as an exercise, & then some dad blamed fools actually built them.

Comment from Carl
Time: September 7, 2012, 11:14 am

Hutch – Yes, Doune Castle featured as the Sand Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail but Wease is referring to the use of Bodiam in the the establishing shot for the Sand Castle.

Comment from Redd
Time: September 7, 2012, 2:05 pm

Uncle B — I was under the impression that Harold was at least discrete in his “affairs.” However, something I read gave me the impression he liked ’em young – very young. Is that correct? I believe Violet dallied with men when it benefited her. Violet might have seemed like a catch to Denys with her mother’s connections. He probably thought Violet would eventually settle down. Rosamund Grosvenor was quite a contrast to Vita/Violet, in that she was killed by a V1 rocket on her way to the hospital to nurse wounded soldiers. It just occurred to me…Vita, Violet, V1…oh dear! Stay away from the Vs, Uncle B!

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: September 7, 2012, 10:27 pm

I suppose I am a bit of the Mujahadeen persuasion, Redd – discrete or not, he was still unfaithful – and with consequences. Of course, he had to be. Vita could bring the temple down on their heads with social disapproval, but Harold could have wound-up in prison.

As for the youth factor, I don’t know but you could be right. I find it desperately hard to think nice thoughts about Harold, though I have his diaries to read and perhaps that will change my view.

I shall regard our two senior chickens with extra caution in the light of your warning 😉

Comment from Carl
Time: September 8, 2012, 7:35 pm

Wease- If you like Hobgoblin then I am sure you would like Theakston’s Old Peculier. Have you tried it?

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