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I have seen the future . . .

April 12, 2009

. . . and it is disturbingly full of the past.  

On our holiday in Northumberland we went to see some of the rarest animals in the world, as you do.  They’re not as obviously rare as pandas or rhinos, in fact if you didn’t know they were special you would just say: “Oh look, a white cow!” and move on.  But these are the rare wild, white cattle of Chillingham, and jolly interesting they are too.  Anyway, having been to see the cattle we thought we might as well see the castle that goes with them, and that proved fascinating too, in a slightly unnerving way.

The castle has clearly been the home, for quite some time I might add, of people who like to collect and just don’t know when to stop.  Obviously a fondness for acquiring old arms and armour sits quite well with the whole “opening your castle to the public sort of thing,” and if you get a bit carried away and end up with the head armour of an Indian elephant hanging on your wall, well that’s nobody’s business but your own.

It was in the “museum” room that it all got somewhat out of hand.  The propeller of a great-uncle’s sea plane; a letter from Jools Holland; three old sewing machines; two old Eton uniforms; two life-size model horses; a dog sled another great uncle used to travel across the Antarctic; the list goes on.  So far, so fascinating, particularly if you happen to have read Eva Ibbotson’s charming children’s book “The Beasts of Clawstone Castle,” clearly based upon the place and the herd.

No, the disturbing bit is that with deeper pockets, and (in some cases) even more questionable taste, that could be us.  I really do need to get back to the clearing out when we get home!

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