As I have previously reported on this blog, my boyfriend is a fan of castles. That was fine by me, until we started visiting them. I soon realised that I don’t like castles much. As far as I’m concerned, if you’ve seen one castle, you’ve seen them all. They’ve all got a gatehouse, a portcullis, a drawbridge, tricky spiral staircases and slitty windows for shooting arrows out of. Some are just ruins that you still have to pay to get into, then imagine where those features were. I’m rarely bored, but I am bored by castles, and find it difficult to hide – so much so that when we visited Caerphilly Castle (one of my boyfriend’s favourites, one of my least favourite ever) I couldn’t hide my desperation to get out of there. It has given rise to the term ‘Caerphilly Face’ in our household.
As Christian gamely trudges around gardens with me without complaint, I have vowed to never again show my Caerphilly Face when visiting a castle. To lessen the chance of it happening we have agreed that it’s best for all concerned if the castle has a tea shop, and, ideally, a garden. Which is, of course, the case with Arundel Castle. So off we went to coincide with the Tulip Festival.
Judging by the Caerphilly Faces of the French and Dutch teenagers trudging around the castle I am not alone in my castle-phobia. But actually, I quite enjoyed this one. For starters, it’s intact. It has lots of life-size models and recordings that give you a sense of life in the castle. It even has soft furnishings.
But of course the garden was the main draw for me. It’s awash with tulips at this time of year – over 20,000 of them. Some of the displays were a bit too garish for my liking (I guess you have to go for the wow factor in a garden like this) but here are some ideas that I could see myself replicating in my own garden.