We took our time getting up the next morning. After a pleasant breakfast of tea and English muffins with butter and cheese, we packed a lunch and set out for Warwick. There was slight confusion about which train station we needed to arrive in, but we asked for help like mature adults and made our way to the right stop. From there, it was an easy walk through the nice town of Warwick (with a stop for lunch) to Warwick Castle.
We got combo tickets for the castle and the Merlin Tower. First, we wandered outside the castle and stopped in to see the birds of prey. Mary Cate was very excited to see them, and I did my best to get nice pictures. (I was stupid and forgot to bring my extreme zoom lens.)
After that, we went to loiter outside the Merlin Tower for our time slot. There was a guide there who was telling stories/facts to another tourist, so we sort of joined them to eavesdrop. At one point, the guide was talking about Henry VIII, and how he owned the castle but actually never visited. The guide was struggling to remember the name of the palace where Henry actually lived. He turned to me, snapping his fingers as he struggled for the name, and I was like, “Hampton Court, right?” He was like, “Yes! That’s it!” Impressing guides: A typical day in the life of me. (Disclaimer: Hampton Court was the first place I visited the first time I set foot in England (during Project Petticoat), which is the only way I would have known that fact.)
Some families with small children showed up. The guide was like, “HELLO, small children!” Which I found highly amusing. Luckily another could of adult pairs showed up as well, so it wasn’t just Mary Cate and I and the kid families. (However, I think we were the ones grinning and giggling as much as the kids.)
We were let into the Merlin Tower. After a brief stop to get our pictures taken with a blue screen (the gold dragon, don’t remember his name), we were ushered upstairs into Gaius’ study. It wasn’t the actual filming location (which I believe is in France), but they did a good job setting it up. There was a character in the room who was Gaius’ new apprentice, who amused us talking about Merlin and revealing Merlin’s secret multiple times by accident. The kids found this highly amusing. He was making a potion, but messed up, tried to find a book to fix it. One of the books on a shelf started glowing and moving out. The guy caught it and was like, “Oh! Someone here has magic!” Later the magic person made a shelf break, and he was like, “Hmm, mischievous magic person.”
Gaius shows up (video in the wall) and tells us we need to visit the gold dragon to be sure the magic person with us is/will be okay. But to do this, we need a dragon lord. (Merlin’s out gathering herbs.) Luckily there’s a dragon lord amongst us! Merlin has left his magic staff, which will give us a sign about who it is. The guy calls one of the little kids up and hands him the staff to hold while he looks for a clue. Immediately the staff starts glowing. The little kid is the dragon lord!
With the dragon lord to guide us, we go upstairs and take a room in what appears to be a vault of treasure under the castle. The dragon lord kid has to repeat a magic chant to summon the dragon (which he does quite enthusiastically). The dragon shows up in a magic mirror. He swears the dragon lord kid in as a knight of Camelot. The kid is so freaking cute, Mary Cate and I are in the back sniggering with the adorableness.
Then the dragon’s all, “Hmm, one of you has magic. I can sense it!” Then he’s like, “It is the girl sitting farthest from me on the left, by the stairs.” Which, well, happens to me. “Stand up!”
I stand, folding my hands behind my back. He had me introduce myself. Then he’s like, “Hmm. Your magic is strong. Have you ever met the Lady Morgana?” I was like, “No.” Then he says, “I sense you have a heart like her. Beware dark magic!”
Then he turns his attention to a fellow in the front and accuses him of being a goblin in disguise. It was quite amusing. In parting, he sets the room on fire. We all exit quickly. Mary Cate is giving me suspicious looks.
I expected it to go on through an entire live episode, like in the Doctor Who Experience, but that was actually the end. A little anticlimactic. However, we got to see some props from the show and a wax Merlin (didn’t get a picture with him, sadly). Then we came into the castle proper.
We explored the rooms for a while. There was a really cool great hall, with lots of weaponry. Then there were wax figures of Henry VIII and all his wives. Special.
We also visited the gaol, which was creepy and gave me some ideas for ways to torment characters. We went into an exhibit called “Kingmaker,” which was the story of… a kid who almost became king but then didn’t. That’s really specific but I don’t actually remember who it was about. However, it was really cool! I learned that seven year old boys would be sent into the battlefield to retrieve arrows for the archers. Definitely going to have to use that sometime.
After exploring the castle for a bit, we went to the birds of prey show. It was pretty awesome. All the birds were various kinds of eagle. I got some good pictures, but it would have been cooler with my zoom lens. Oh well. The birds were impressive anyway.
From there, we wandered some more in the castle. Then we went down to the old mill. Wasn’t as cool as Berry’s, but still pretty interesting. As we were walking around the castle, we passed a guy in a blacksmith tent. We stopped to socialize. I asked him about the arrows he was making. He let me hold his sword, and we chatted some about historical fencing. It was fun.
After that, we left the castle (with a pit stop in the shop, where I got a plushie mace (yes)) and went to get tea at a cool looking teahouse. It was delicious. Loose leaf tea is amazing. If I had money, I would switch over. Alas to be a poor student.
Refreshed from our tea, we made our way back through town. We stopped in a model shop that had a Dalek in the window. Therein we found little Dalek plushie key chain things which yell at your when you push them. We both got one, and geeked out about the more expensive action figures and such.
We went on to the station and caught a train back to Reading. After printing off tickets for RyanAir, we went to the Queen’s Head for dinner because the dining halls were already closed. We had a good dinner, then retreated to my room to repack and to go bed. A very successful day.