Monday, October 29, 2012

Mountain Goat, part 4

Our next stop was Muncaster, and here I confronted my main problem with tours. My purpose in signing up for this excursion was to see Muncaster, yet we had only about one and a half hours to cover everything—house, gardens, and World Owl Centre—nowhere near enough time. So I had to make some hard choices. I concluded I couldn’t do the house justice in such a short stay—and the weather was wet, so the gardens weren’t really an option—so I went for the owl show.

As part of my compromise, Mr. M and I did scamper over to take some photos of the castle and buy the house guidebook so I could see what I was missing. Here I am with the castle. Sadly the hat/coat clash is rather evident, so I apologize for offending anyone’s color sensibilities.

goat muncaster castle and me

And another picture.

goat muncaster castle view and me

Reading through the guidebook—which was written by one of the family—it sounds like there was a pack rat (or even a hoarder) somewhere in the family tree. Of course, I understand completely. Imagine having all that room! No need to weed out possessions--much easier just to stick another box off in a corner. (Reminds me a little of a scene in my Bedding Lord Ned, actually.) Of course, when they rummage around in their basement, they come upon some priceless treasure! I just find old crayons and orphaned board game pieces.

Muncaster Castle is reputed to be haunted, so I guess it’s appropriate to be posting this close to Halloween. One of the ghosts is Thomas Skelton, or Tom Fool. The story, which you can find here, is that he would sit under a chestnut tree and, when asked directions, would send anyone he didn’t like off to follow the path down to the quicksand. Creepy!

Here I am, under Tom’s tree.

goat muncaster me and tree again

This is one of the views, looking out from about this point. I particularly liked the bridge, but I don’t know its significance, if any.

goat mucaster distant bridge

I also took a picture of a bit of one garden that was near the castle.

goat muncaster garden

We then went off to learn about owls. I can’t say the program was terribly extensive, but it was fun—and we learned something that we could apply when we got back home. They had two owls at the presentation—and clearly I should have taken their pictures. One they described as a flying feather duster. He looked quite stout—but he was mostly feathers.

The tidbit we learned? That sometimes baby owls will fall out of their nests. You should leave them alone—they’ll be fine. If you bring them home, they will think they are people. And when the are returned to the wild, they will attack people, thinking they are competing for their territory. When we got back to the States, we read an article in the newspaper about a jogger who was attacked by an owl when he was out jogging two days in a row—and this was exactly the explanation.

After the show, we toured the owl center. It was a little hard to get good pictures—I’m not much of a photographer, so the fences defeated me—but I took plenty of pictures anyway. We weren’t quite sure what was up with the owl on the right. We thought he might be wet—but his companion isn’t having such a “bad feather” day.

goat muncaster wet owl

And of course I couldn’t resist trying to get a picture of the tiny owl.

goat muncaster tiny owl

From Muncaster Castle, we headed back to Windermere and Bowness. We stopped for another photo opportunity at Coniston Water.

goat coniston water

Mr.M took my picture—how nice of them to coordinate the sign with my hat.

goat coniston water me

One of our last stops—Malcolm pulled off the road, but we didn’t get out—was Yew Tree Farm. It played “Hill Top” in the movie Miss Potter, which neither Mr. M nor I had seen. (We got it via Netflx shortly after we got home.) The other interesting story Malcolm told us about the place had to do with its “spinning gallery.” It was the unmarried women's job to make thread. Instead of using a spinning wheel, they would drop the fiber from the spinning gallery--at least I think that's what he said--and this is where the term “spinster” came from. According to this site and this one, there is a link between spinning thread and the term for an unmarried woman.

That’s it for the Mountain Goat tour. Next up will be one of my favorite sites, Levens Hall.

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