Once I had Max parked safely and securely I headed off to find the rest of the family. As we had not been to this estate before we really did not have any idea of what it would be like and I had just sent everyone off expecting to just go in and be able to find them.
How wrong I was!
As the name suggests there are two components to this estate, Belsay Hall and Belsay Castle. You enter the estate just near Belsay Hall.
Belsay Hall is a two storey mansion with a huge cellar underneath – so I headed in to see if I could find everyone else. When Legoboy becomes separated from some of us at any time he will yell out Aussie Aussie Aussie and the rest of us are supposed to respond with Oi Oi Oi so that he can find us. I didn’t think I could do that here, so I just went through every room as quickly as I could all the while looking out of the windows to see if I could catch a glimpse of anyone in the gardens.
Little did I know how futile my attempts were – but I was about to find out.
I headed out of the house and to the garden at the back where there was a path that led to Belsay Castle. The problem was there was more than one path. The path I chose first wound through some pretty gardens past the croquet green; that just took me to the edge of the formal garden for Belsay Hall. Once I had gone through the gate out of the formal garden I came to two paths to the Castle. The paths started off close together and I could see the other path to see if the family was heading in the opposite direction, but pretty soon they diverged. The paths actually made their way through an old quarry which was used to extract the rock for the Hall. I noticed that the gardens were impressive and the quarry gave them an enchanted forest kind of feel, as I raced through.
As I mentioned in my previous blog we had come here on this day because the estate was hosting a special medieval day and the activities were happening at the castle. Everyone was at the castle when I got there – well as far as I could see everyone except my family. I should also mention here that before we left Australia we purchased two SIM’s from Woolworths (yes Woolworths ) that enable global roaming and had been recommended on a number of online forums as being the best for coverage in multiple countries with reasonable rates. So far we have used our phone very little as we are mostly together however we have always had signal and they have worked OK when needed – but not in the UK, we can get no signal at all, and this is the first time we have really needed them to get in touch with each other. That is why I am now running around like a crazy person.
Anyway – so I had a quick look around all of the people and then had a look inside the castle which fortunately was not as big as the Hall. I decided not to go up onto the roof because the stairs were busy and I couldn’t see any of the family up on top (big mistake). So I headed back the 1.5 kilometres or so to the Hall via the other path and then back to the entrance via another path through the formal garden – I was getting a pretty good look around.
So back I went again – I really liked the garden in the quarry each time I went through it. This time when I got back to the castle there were my lovely family playing medieval games. Legoboy was rolling a hoop around like a pro – the medieval group running the games were actually telling other kids to watch Legoboy to see how it was done.
MiniMandM was trying to walk on stilts; they were all having a great time. By this time they had found a staff member to radio the entrance and found out I was un-bogged so figured it was best to stay still until I found them. They had been in this same spot the whole time enjoying the medieval events except for a little while when they went up to the roof of the castle!!
The Castle was the original family home but the hall was built when they need a bigger house that no longer needed to be fortified. The gardens are large and as I said the gardens in the quarry are very interesting.
Once we were all together again we went and looked at all of the places I had seen when I was rushing around. The cellars in the Hall had fantastic acoustics for making loud scary noises and scaring the kids.
Despite our not so great start to our time at Belsay we all had an enjoyable time and the kids especially enjoyed the medieval activities.