We arrived at Chirk Castle on the Mother’s Day morning and I noted immediately how very grey and ‘castle-esque’ it was in stark contrast to the lush green landscape in which it nestles. The car park is vast and has more trip hazards than a three-year old’s playroom. Suffice to say we had to do an arm each for Mother; who is only just recovering from an operation to plate her wrist. It was a sunny and clement morning with fields full of teeny-tiny spring lambs encrusted in their own faeces basking under a clear blue sky. We moved quickly through the vestibule where I showed my NT card; this made me feel grown-up and like I am part of this community of similarly cultured beings with a love of Kendal Mint Cake and woodland printed earthenware. My young-adult children were financially ambushed here and emerged seconds later with a thin information booklet and a shell-shocked look on their faces. By way of diffusing their chagrin I immediately suggested a latte and warm sausage roll at the kiosk next to the park. The sausage roll didn’t disappoint. I was savvy enough to add a little English Mustard to mine and devoured it like the little piggy from whence it came! The play area was enjoyed by the children and endured by the adults; in my case the bark mulch proved hideously irritating as it gathered in my open shoe despite repeated ’emptying’. Eventually I had a little hissy fit and kicked off my shoe at high velocity into the air much to the amusement of the children. Unfortunately it disappeared from sight and I was then forced to commit an ungainly scaling of the perimeter fence to retrieve it from an area completely unbecoming to the National Trust.
After which we ventured forth in the direction of the Castle itself. We ‘ooh’d and ahh’d’ at the sheer majesty of the building. We mused over which royalty might reside there? Small Fry was insistent that Madame Gazelle must live there and kept calling it ‘Windy Castle’ from Peppa Pig….oh how we laughed! We all agreed that it would be a shit place to live, horribly chilly, damp, expensive to run and with pants Wifi; something no amount of intricate plasterwork or gilt edging can make up for. As we headed in through an overly dramatic high archway into the courtyard there stood some wacky fella in an old-fashioned outfit! He was pretending to be something medieval and ‘history-esque’; but in truth he was merely hindering our movement towards the tea room by entertaining the kids. Wanker. The bright courtyard was buzzing with an irritating amount of ‘general public’; all basic, no-frills and the type that shop at Aldi. Either way we were right at home! We joined a queue as long as John Holmes’s ‘John Thomas’ and raised eyebrows at anyone who attempted to retrieve a tray from the stack we were carefully guarding then waited…and waited. The servers were young enough; all appeared perfectly physically able yet were moving at the pace of centipede in heels. Not wishing to lose my ‘day out’ spirit I tossed the now dripping Calipo’s back into the freezer and elbowed a couple of ‘OAP’s’ out of the way so I could view the cake selection. It only took an hour in the end and we were finally all seated with 30 quid’s worth of tea and cake. “Sweet Baby Jesus; this fucking scone better be moist at that twatting price!” I said aloud; then instantly regretted It as 20 grey heads; atop 20 anorak’s all turned to view me like I was the last pariah. Still reeling from the bill I style it out and mouth ‘wtf?’ whilst raising my shoulders as high as they’ll go just as my own anorak-bearing Mother shrinks so low in her chair I can only see her disappointed eyes viewing me above the table.
Who knew Calipo’s could move so fast? Well they can; believe you and me after some serious ‘lickage’ they’re like a couple of slippery fish and I fear during the eating of which they touched virtually every surface of the tea room. So much so that I made a note to myself to pick up some ‘Dioralyte’ from the little Sainsbury’s on my way home. Important public announcement; never, ever buy a scone from the National Trust, or pre-sliced cake, sandwiches or anything that’s been sitting on the counter since early that morning and been poked and breathed all over by on average 3,000 other paying customers. Despite the potential coverage of Joe Public’s spittle or OAP phlegm it’ll still be DRY. Almost as though they were made in olden times and perhaps I wouldn’t have whinged if they’d only charged me a couple of farthing’s or even a quick feel-up with the ‘Master’. Instead I handed over enough money to buy 3 ‘Pornstar Martini’s and a packet of Pork Scratching’s. What did I get in return? A scone you could kill a swan with and indigestion I struggled to shift till early evening. But no matter; there was still the garden’s to view!
Leaving the Tea Room I felt they should hand out crisis leaflets for mental anguish; after all I’d just been victim to a daylight fucking robbery. Either way; the sun was still shining and the kids needed to run off a gazillion e-numbers at least before the probable diarrhoea kicked in! The gardens are indeed glorious; a well-manicured bush around every corner. Lush vegetation played host to fat National Trust bumble bees and a myriad of delicate butterflies which only served to make this Summer-like day all the more perfect. We walked, sat on benches, admired the vista, took in the view, trod in the odd unmentionable; used a stick to flick poo out of shoe grooves and doc leaves to sooth nettle rashes. All-in-all it was a quintessentially English day out with a dollop of history, culture and not nearly enough clotted cream. Heading back we had no choice but to finish in true NT style. The Gift Shop. There is really no choice I believe it’s some sort of law. Must check the terms and conditions of my membership…
So with another 23 quid shelled out for a cross-eyed furry fox, pen with four colours and ‘Chirk Castle’ imprinted on it and 3 bags of fudge we made our way, weary yet happy after a lovely family day out.
So how to sum up Chirk Castle? Strangely this is not difficult; in fact it’s extremely simple, it became more and more obvious as the day played out exactly how to put this succinctly; in a nutshell if you will.
It is a ‘Castle’ in ‘Chirk’.
Thanks for reading!
*Note – No diarrhoea was forthcoming after the Calipo fiasco; which I think says more about my children’s hardy constitution than the cleanliness of the Tea Room floor.