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A Works Day Out to Warwick Castle

The main courtyard at Warwick Castle

The Director of the business stream I work for wanted to thank his staff for the efforts we’ve put in over the past year, so invited his entire extended team, and their partners and children, to a “Mediaeval Family Fun Day” at Warwick Castle. All in all, several hundred of us took him up on the invitation, travelling to Warwick in coaches from the Malvern and Farnborough sites. It was a good choice of venue – not quite equidistant between the two sites, but not far off, and with plenty to do for a full day out for both children and adults. I’d been to Warwick Castle a long time ago with Christopher, and really enjoyed it, but even twelve or so years ago we were absolutely horrified by the admission price, so it wasn’t somewhere I had any plans to go back to on my own and at my own expense. But with work paying, and the Director’s PA organising it all, that was a different matter!

We had a full day out yesterday, arriving as the castle opened at 10am (which meant being at work on a Saturday morning to meet the coach a full hour earlier than I normally get into work during the week! Groan) and not leaving until after the Firing of the Trebuchet at 5pm. The castle is owned by the same group that run Madame Tussauds, and is a pretty much operated as a theme park, designed to ruthlessly separate punters from their money. But that does mean that there are plenty of attractions, and things that would appeal to most tastes – including gory dungeons, a girly Princess Tower, a wax-work recreation of a Victorian weekend house party, walks on the ramparts, birds of prey shows, and a restored hydro-electric plant which supplied the castle with electricity 100 years ago.

A falconer with Archie, an American Bald Eagle

I think I saw almost all of the attractions, with the exception of the Princess Tower (as a staunch feminist, I really can’t condone encouraging little girls to imagine they’re princesses!) and the face-painting (I didn’t think I’d ever live that down!). I particularly enjoyed the birds of prey, with a falconer flying a number of huge birds, including Archie, an American Bald Eagle with a 6 foot wingspan, which clearly wasn’t relishing the conditions at the castle yesterday and was rather grudgingly going through the motions of his flying display, going so low over the audience that I actually had to duck!

I had taken a book with me, so that I had something to read if I ran out of things to do before the coach left, but in fact I spent almost all the day wandering around the castle and grounds. It was quite odd though – at pretty much every turn I bumped into one of my work colleagues, often accompanied by their children, and looking quite different in an outside-work context. I enjoyed myself far more than I thought I would, and am very pleased that I made the effort to go. But I don’t think I’ll be going back in a hurry – certainly not under my own steam and at my own expense.