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It was my first visit to the UK, and we spent a week in a rental car, driving west from London through England, staying a few nights at a seaside bed and breakfast where we walked through beautiful countryside to a small village. I was enchanted with the countryside, the flowers, the historic cottages.
Then we drove through Wales, where the landscape was wilder, visiting a magnificent manor on a lake in Snowdonia. We rounded the northern coast, visiting Caernavon Castle, then stayed one night in a scrummy working class town where rowdy drunken punks (the cultural kind) caroused late at night at the pub across from our inn.
The next day, we drove to visit friends in Birmingham, and on the way, on impulse, we stopped at Stokesay Castle.
It was a beautiful little jewel, a 13th Century manor house cobbled together with a fortified octagonal tower, and a 17th Century half-timbered gate house, set in the remains of a wall and a ruined moat; its inner court filled with cottage flowers in bloom. Beyond the walls, and from the tower's windows, the Shropshire Hills and Welsh Marshes stretched away. It all looked a little "Cold Comfort Farm" - ish.
This picture is the gate-house, with its warm ochre plaster and timbers. You can see more photos of Stokesay Castle HERE.
It was nice to stumble on this image from the past as I browsed through my folders. Just weeks ago, I stood in the sere, dry and fantastic landscape of California's Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea. What a contrast this beautiful English castle is.
And how lucky I am to have been able to visit and experience both places.