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From Hogwarts to the Holy Grail

This is Harry Hotspur, alias Henry Percy, eldest son of the first Earl of Northumberland. We encountered him on Tuesday at Alnwick Castle

Alnwick (pronounced Annick) is, and has been for 700 years, the home of the Percy family. The current Duke, Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland is 248= on the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated wealth of £315 million.

And this is chez Ralph:

Hmmm £315 million? As we wandered amongst the rooms (where photography wasn’t permitted) I contemplated the net worth of the art collection, comprising paintings by Van Dyck, Titian, Canaletto and Turner amongst others, alone. The sale of one of these paintings would keep you or I comfortably for the rest of our lives.

The more observant amongst you may recognise Alnwick Castle as none other than ‘Hogwarts’ the setting for the seemingly interminable and vacuous highly imaginative and innovative films of the boy wizard Harry Potter. Certainly this was what interested my girls more than any of the historical stuff.

This apparently was the arch which Harry flew through in some film or other:

The Potter connection is of course completely played up, with broomstick building etc. for the kids. I looked for reference to the fact that the castle was also used as a set for the first series of Blackadder and for the Kevin Costner movie Robin Hood – Men in Tights Prince of Thieves.

I mused on the fact that one of the characters in Blackadder was Lord Percy Percy, first Duke of Northumberland and was portrayed as an aristocratic buffoon, and that Robin Hood was reputed to have robbed the rich and distributed amongst the poor. I wondered just how Ralph Percy would embrace these concepts.

Anyway, Ralph and co aren’t slow at a bit of daylight robbery themselves. The charge for admission to the castle for a family of four is £34;that rises to £50 if you want to include a visit to the gardens (run as a charity if you please)

A few miles north east of Alnwick, on the coast, is yet another infeasibly large castle at Bamburgh:

The more observant amongst you may recognise the castle:

Bamburgh beach is busy this time of year:

But we found some space to enjoy:



Magical Powers



It seems that Gordon Brown has wasted no time in getting ready for an early election.

As the new P.M. says,


"I can also announce that Douglas Alexander will be the general election co-ordinator so that we are ready not just to fight but to win a general election”


Could it be that Gordon is relying on Doogie to cast his spell so that people cast their vote?










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