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The Wetlands Live Up to Their Name, and a Castle Visit Too

Thoughts of bad weather dominated my thoughts before heading to England in October. Mostly that was a complete waste of time, well really it WAS all a waste of time! Except for one small part of a day, we had a mix of clouds and sun, tolerable temperatures, and of course no humidity. Had we been home, we'd have had loads of rain, barely tolerable temperatures, and humidity like nobodies business. So, I'd say we made out very well indeed.

Fortunately Matt is expert in reading bus schedules, because had it been just the two of us, I believe we'd have been hard pressed to figure out which bus went to the Brighton train station for the next part of our trip. Matt kept asking me before we arrived, what I wanted to do, to which I replied "I don't know, outdoor activities?" Knowing my fondness for birds, he found a town combing both birds and a castle --Arundel, in nearby West Sussex.

Stopping to change trains in Ford, home of England's largest model train store, we toured said store and were surprised at how fascinating it was. An expensive hobby from what we could tell.
Although fairly overcast, we kept our hopes up as we rode in a taxi, driven by a very pleasant woman, by the way, to the Arundel Wetlands Center. So far, so good. After the hustle and bustle of the cities, this was lovely and peaceful.

Behind that stone wall is a nice little covered spot to watch the charming ducks swim in the crystal clear water. These ducks aren't just your standard variety ducks, not by a long shot. Icelandic ducks filled the pond and were they ever cute. The orange beak and feet, while not unique, sure make for a wonderful contrast!
The rain begins. Nothing like a Florida rain mind you, but a steady one. With two umbrellas for the three of us, we continued on:
Instead of "Make Room for Ducklings" in this case it was make room for us! One of the best parts for me was seeing all manner of dried flowers still on the plants.
There was a wonderful little building chock full of dried flowers hanging from the ceiling with information on how many of them are used for medicines and manufacturing. Very interesting indeed.

What would a trip to England be without a thatched roof?
Deciding not to let the rain stop us, slowed by now to mostly a drizzle, we walked to the nearby Arundel Castle, along a beautiful path:
We must have been quite a site all spread out as we were, however, I stopped to photograph both this Harlequin duck,
and this:
Who doesn't love the site of an old stone building with a little waterfall?

Our first view of the castle through the trees:
I don't know about you, but as a young girl, reading stories about castles, I never dreamed I'd be inside of one! 
In another few weeks, this sign will not be displayed as they close for the winter months. Begun in 1067, during the reign of William the Conquerer, Arundel Castle is still in use today as the ancestral home of the Duke of Norfolk. Imagine growing up in a place like this? 

Photography is not allowed of the interior; as you can imagine it is pretty spectacular. Climbing a lot of steep, winding steps, we made our way to the "keep," an old name for a prison like area.
None too inviting, right?

Fantastic views to be had from that vantage point though:
Named for the River Arun, you can see it run through the town and out to sea:
Completing our tour, we mosey down the walk towards the gardens, and chapel on the grounds. Bruce, by now, was pretty worn out, so instead of going with us, he took a little nap on a bench. We were free to take all the photos we liked in the gardens, and oh my, were they gorgeous!! 

Picture overload ahead

Fantastic topiaries lined the drive. The photo below shows the blend of the very old, with the newer, in this case hundreds of years new:
Rarely have I visited formal gardens, so it was a real treat, especially now that the weather was pleasant.
Matt seemed to never tire; jacket off, sunglasses on--you'd think he was in Florida!
Dahlias galore!!!
With the Arundel Cathedral thrown in for good measure! Gazebos and a gorgeous lawn. Interestingly enough, they are growing palms here.
A lovely glass house, as they call it:
On the upper right in the above photo, apples are growing on the arbor. 
Pretty much it was all fairy tale like, as it should be when visiting castle grounds.
Bruce and Matt make their way up the hill,
Oh wait, another shot of the dahlias, some of which were the size of lunch plates:
Instead of a taxi ride back to the station, we, you guessed it, walked through town.
And here's what happens after a full day,
on a crowded train back to Brighton. Dinner in the "lanes" at Zizzi,
and an early bedtime. I suspect that announcement comes as no surprise.

Time to head off for today's market---next up, leaving Brighton and back to London and the Shard.
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