Last minute, we decided to go away for a few days. Our kind neighbour agreed to pop in to feed the cats, we each threw a few things into a bag, and we got up very early to drive down to the South coast.
We were headed for Poole, and it was raining and raining and raining. A perk of an old job still gives us the privilege of going to visit a castle on an island, just across the harbour. So at 10am* we were huddled under umbrellas, with hoods up, waiting for the castle’s boat. Luckily the boat had an inside area, but we were still soaked through by the time we arrived. Our socks were soggy and our raincoats wet.
I don’t know anything about the castle’s history and I’ve never been bothered to find out. I’ve only been there on holiday – I’ve never wanted to do research. What I can tell you is that it’s like being in a novel. It’s not public, so it feels like you’re in an old fashioned private club (which essentially you are, I suppose). It’s all very grand, and yet ultimately cosy and comfortable and welcoming. The sort of place you can sink into a huge sofa and read the papers and pretend you’re in 1920 and there’ll be cocktails before dinner.* It’s not real life, and it appeals to my romantic whimsy.
Below stairs, my favourite part, there are lots of fascinating little rooms – the boiler room, the games room, the room with the piles of deckchairs and garden games… and best of all, the drying room. A dark, walk-in cupboard, with a huge radiator and pipes, and racks for wet coats and boots and sailing gear.
We took off all our wet stuff and hung it up, and went round the castle in our stockinged feet all day, as though we lived there.
In the back of this drying room cupboard was hanging a giantsize black wetsuit. It didn’t have a giant in it, but it had rubber feet attached, and the feet had solid soles, so it sort of stood on the floor in a most unnerving fashion, even though it was hanging on a coat hanger.
My children thought it was the freakiest thing they’d ever seen, and it was so funny hearing their tales of all three of them squeezing in to the drying room, giggling, and then barrelling out along the stone floored corridor in panic when the automatic light went out. All day long, they took great delight in scaring each other silly about the wetsuit in the drying room. I must admit, when I went in there alone to get my coat, I had to hold it together, one eye on the ‘giant’, in case he came to rubbery life.
It was quite possibly the most fun you can have in a drying room.*
We had a delicious lunch, and a walk round the island (in the pouring rain), we played cards and games and had some tea and cake at 4 ‘o’ clock. Then we got the last boat back to the mainland (still raining), and walked 20 minutes (still raining) to our hotel. We hung up all our wet stuff (again), and Alex went out in the car for crisps and wine and Coke, and then we all crammed into our little room, drinking from plastic cups and trying not to get crisps in the bed.*
It was so hot in that hotel, and we didn’t sleep much. Or maybe that was too many crisps at bedtime!
And I had wetsuit related nightmares, and woke up in a tangle of sheets, trying to fight off a giant man with rubber arms and legs. 🙂
That was Day 1 of our few days away. More tomorrow!
*Getting there for 10am was no mean feat!
*We’ve stayed over before. There are rules: in the evenings, one must dress for dinner, and there *are* cocktails in the bar beforehand, and coffee served in the drawing room afterwards. It’s wonderful.
*But not quite 😉
*Kids! PLEASE don’t get crisps in my bed.
Brownsea Castle – do the research here, if you like, and fill me in.