Witley Court

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

As I mentioned in my post about Goodrich Castle, I love a day out to somewhere historical with my mother. We took advantage of my English Heritage membership in October and went to Witley Court.

Witley Court is very unusual as stately homes go. It's actually now only a shell of the home it used to be. Part of the home was destroyed by a large fire in 1937, after which the estate was split up and everything remaining was sold off. English Heritage took ownership of the property in 1972 and a lot of restoration has been done on the remains of the house over the years. What is left is - to borrow the words from the Wikipedia page - "a spectacular ruin."

The ruin itself is huge and we could only imagine how fantastic it was back in the home's heydey. The gardens and grounds are equally beautiful. The Perseus and Andromeda Fountain was in the process of being restored when we visited, which was disappointing in one way as it meant that we weren't able to see it 'firing', but it did mean that we were able to have a close up view - there was something quite creepy and haunting about seeing it that close!

Possibly the best part of the whole property - well, in my opinion anyway! - was the amazing adventure playground that was there. It was all wood and ropes and like a proper adventure to climb over. I may be in my late twenties (that's a horrifying thing to type!) but I absolutely adore a good playground. Though it does get a little embarrassing when I'm scrambling over parts looking a little terrified and some kid waltzes past me with no fear. I miss that no fear aspect of being young!

I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Witley Court. I'm planning on going back in the future to hopefully see the Perseus and Andromeda Fountain in action!

Penderyn Distillery

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

For Justin's birthday in October, I treated him to a tour of the Penderyn Distillery in the Brecon Beacons.

Penderyn is a relatively new distillery - it only started selling in 2004 - and is the first whisky distillery in Wales in over a century. The water used in the process comes from the Brecon Beacons themselves, from a source that sits far below ground under the distillery. The distillery specialises in single malt whisky, but also produces gin (Brecon Gin), vodka (Five Vodka) and a cream liqueur (Merlyn).

I'm not one for whisky but I am nosy and do like seeing 'behind the scenes' of how things are made, so although it was a present for Justin I was also quite interested. While the tour was interesting enough, it lacked a LOT. For instance, until the tasting at the end there was barely any mention of the gin, vodka and cream liqueur - I wanted to see how all of the items were made, not just the whisky. There seemed to be a lot that was missed out, such as where all of the casks are stored (the ones above were just for display purposes), and the bottling process. I don't even know if those things are on site there or somewhere else - it was never mentioned!

The girl doing our tour was lovely, but it was quite clear that she'd been employed as a tour guide and didn't have any knowledge of the distillation process beyond the tour spiel that she had learnt.

There was a lot of emphasis put on the tasting at the end but, given that I had no desire to try any of the whisky, it meant that the tour fell a bit flat. We had so many unanswered questions! The most interesting part (to me at least) was actually the mini museum at the beginning, which served as a waiting area for the tour to begin.

At the time we both enjoyed the experience. It wasn't until we were driving away afterwards that the slight feeling of being underwhelmed set in. A shame really, as the complex itself is very modern and lends itself to a great day out. As it was, the whole experience was very short - we were in and out in under an hour and a half! Hopefully they'll add more to the visitor areas and tour over time.

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