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Photo Story: Trail to the Past

"28 years later, the castle hasn't changed. I've changed more than it has..."

At last! Summer seems to have arrived! The lockdown, long winter and unusually cold spring only served to make the arrival of summer even more welcome!

You might remember I took a photo at Kenilworth Castle back at the end of last year that I talked about in a previous blog post here. Well, I decided to return on a bright and sunny day to get some shots from around the outside of the castle walls.

I was very lucky to get a parking space in a small, dusty (and free) car park outside of the usual castle visitors car park. Just behind my car was an incredible view across the fields of the castle on the horizon (you can see an image I took from that vantage point in my gallery any time soon).

A man came and stood alongside me to take the shot on his phone (this happens a lot when you're holding a DSLR!) He told me it was his first time out in 18 months after shielding - it must have felt amazing coming out of hibernation into the bright sun and fresh air of the countryside.

I then headed off on a dusty path in the hot breezeless air towards the castle. Some other people were out doing the same, carrying their water bottles and enjoying the scenery (and looking very warm!) Families, dogs, groups of teenage friends.

As I came around some trees, the scene in the photo emerged in front of me. The very striking thing about it is that it brought back a very strong memory: a school trip to this very castle on a day with weather exactly like this at the same time of year in 1993. I was 10 years old then. After sightseeing at the castle, we trekked as a group across the fields to the village of Honiley, where we stayed overnight.

Dust, heat, teachers herding was a long sweaty walk. A walk of anticipation - not only because the place we were heading to (Honiley Hall) was said to be haunted (by kids in previous year groups who did this trip, may I add) but also as it was a night away from home.

Tired and thirsty, I'd rather have got on the coach and gone back to my own house but it was time to settle into a stuffy dormitory. And no, we hardly slept at all that night! The heat, the fear of ghosts (that was too much for some 10/11 year olds in my room, several of whom climbed into the same bed together!) and the challenge of being away from home at such an age.

An outstanding memory of the trip was the teacher picking each child in turn to be allowed to leave and go to bed, and me being left sat there; the last one. My friend waited impatiently for me outside the room whilst the teacher enjoyed watching me squirm!

A friend of mine looked forward to that trip for months after an older sibling had done the same one some years before. It was certainly sold to us all as an amazing adventure. Myself? I went to not be left out. Would I do it again if I had the chance? Honestly, probably not. The experience probably taught me something, but I'd certainly have preferred my own bed 😀

That said, I can now laugh at the funny things that happened and the character building element of it all!

But the castle? That was the best bit. History, picnic on the grass...oh and the gift shop. I've always loved a gift shop...

I followed the dusty path, following the line of the castle wall. 28 years later, the castle hasn't changed. I've changed more than it has. Now I appreciate the history more than I did then but in fairness, I'm also more confident to do what I like doing without feeling I should follow the crowd 😁

I knew when I got back to the car that this shot would be my favourite one. I hope you enjoy it too! 📷. It will soon be in my Woodlands and Countryside Gallery!

Have you ever done something that was a great and worthwhile experience that you're glad you did? Or that others assume you should have enjoyed, but actually with hindsight you wouldn't do again? 😀 Share about it in the comments and let me know!

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