Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
160Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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The inside was as impressive as you would expect.
The galleries, halls, chambers and vaults. The floors, ceilings, fireplaces, doors. The paneling. I'm no good at describing those things, but it's fun to imagine people living here, going about their daily routine, amongst the elaborate furniture, the paintings and sculptures. Children laughing, running through the halls, playing tag, hide-and-seek.
They could hide forever and never be found.
I was shocked to hear a large part of the castle's interior had been destroyed by fire in 1968.
Two of the owners children had sneaked away during a banquet to secretly smoke under the roof of one of the great towers, leaving the cigarette end to smoulder in some sawdust.
The wind did the rest.
A few blown-up, amateur photos on display reveal the tragedy.
I stood in front of these shabby pictures, staring in awe, for longer than at any of the carefully spotlit, priceless old paintings - all gifts from the gentry. They pulled together and helped refurnish the restored building.
But the image remains, horrifying and beautiful, in a way I can't explain. Such a proud, ancient, solid, stronghold of history - ablaze, helpless.....
The destruction of irreplaceable treasures, memories of bygone times.
What about the children, teenagers, probably? Have they lived the rest of their lives in guilt, having this terrible accident on their conscience? Did people point at them in the streets? Were they punished? How? How do you punish a child for a stupidity that effects history?
The restoration was perfectly done, without doubt, but still, you know.
Such a sad, sad shame, such a loss.
Outside again I was overjoyed.
The views. They certainly knew how to pick their spots in those days. And these views I know so well. Everywhere I looked, I recognized the meadows, the lake, the roads and villages. From a different point of view now, looking down instead of gazing up at my castle.
The weather couldn't be better, we walked around the famous boxed hedged gardens.
I studied the stonewalls, thinking you could try and capture the beauty of each stone in a painting, and none would be the same.
I touch, I stroke the warm, honey coloured stones. Centuries ago some strong man, a mason, has put these massive stones together. What was he thinking of at that time? Was it raining, was it hot? Did he realize the impact of his adding on this stone, hacked out of the nearby rocks, would have over the ages, maybe forever?
For how can this monumental building ever crumble and cease to exist?
At night, sitting in the garden dwelling on my castle, I saw a falling star.
Really, really - no mistake.
I sat there in the cooling night for the longest time, in the moonlight, watching the glowworms, the bats swishing by, so close they scared me. I turned my head and saw it fall, just like that. A big, bright star, leaving a golden trail as it fell.
And it was gone. In a flash.
Did you make a wish?, Peter asked me.
No, it never crossed my mind. But if it had, what would it have been?
What we all wish for; world peace, no more sickness, poverty and famine?
Oh, that would take more than one star. If all the stars fell from the heavens, it would still not happen.
I wish I could meet someone who saw it too, someone unknown and far away, yet who felt the same.
I wish I had turned my head just a little sooner and had seen it from the start; would the star just suddenly begin to drop?
The scientific explanation of this marvel is probably not so romantic.
I don't really want to know, I want it to be magical.
I have to start packing. Been putting it off.
But I don't want to go.
I want to see the next star fall, I want to be here to watch over my castle.