When I visited Hampton Court Palace last Friday, the highlight of my day was being eaten by swans.
Which was a funny surprise because I had so looked forward to visiting the place for the history.
The palace was built during the Tudor period of English royal history, which I have a keen interest in. It was a favourite residence of King Henry VIII, that famous womanising king who had six wives.
So I’ll talk about the swans first.
The palace grounds boasts a humongous garden where swans and geese and seagulls freely roam around large pools of water
And the best thing is that they’re quite tame, the swans especially!
They were mostly swimming in the water, and Piers got the brilliant idea of luring them nearer to us with grass from the lawn.
And it bloody worked!
One swam up and ate the grass right out his hands!
So then I wanted to try it, too, but I kind of put my hand out at the wrong angle and ended up getting the fleshy part of my hand eaten. The swan just bit down on it as if my hand were the offering.
It wasn’t painful or anything; their beaks aren’t sharp. It was more shocking than anything.
Fun like hell.
But I didn’t do it again because I didn’t know how healthy it was for the swans to eat lawn grass.
Then we walked to a part where there was no barrier between the water and us, where we might get even closer to them.
There were some Canadian geese waddling about. I tried to sneak up as close to them as possible so Piers could take a nice photo for me.
They didn’t like me standing right beside them, though, and waddled away, not in fright but more like, “Pah, another tourist. Ima go eat some grass, bye.”
So there were the swans left and I tried to creep up to them.
I squatted down next to one and turned to face Piers, who was on standby with my camera.
When I wasn’t looking, the swan suddenly reached forward and pecked me on my leg!
Startled, I kinda yelped and leapt away, and Piers missed the shot.
I decided to try again.
The swan had swum away while Piers and I were doubled over in laughter at ourselves, but they were continuously swimming up and down the bank, so they would eventually reach the spot again.
I kinda just squatted there, smiling at the camera, ready for the moment when a swan would swim up beside me.
One finally did!
And this one, possibly the very same one, reached out and bit my leg, too!
It was so hilarious, me squatting there, resisting the instinct to leap away when bitten. It wasn’t painful, really, probably because I had three layers of woollen things protecting my legs.
And Piers was brilliant, getting this shot.
The swans are really strong, though. I could feel the force of their bite. This guy then decided that I wasn’t tasty at all and swam away.
But it was really great fun. I would have stayed there to play with the birds a lot longer but it was chillingly cold that day. My hands froze and lost all feeling each time I took them out of my pockets to take a photo or something.
I would really like to go back there again.
The palace itself was, of course, amazing. Most beautiful one I’ve ever seen.
Not that I have seen many, so I guess that’s not saying much. But still.
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
That’s all! It’s a lovely place to visit if you’re into this kind of history. You’ll need about three or four hours to explore the whole place.
Just a bit hard to get to it because it’s a 45-minute train ride from central London.
But it was great. It was so cool meeting King Henry VIII. (Even if he was just an actor.)
We had accidentally encountered this 30-minute tour led by two women dressed in period costumes, gossiping about the king’s next wife while pretending that we (the tourists) were part of the court’s ladies.
So we just followed the crowd without really knowing what was going on.
The king then suddenly appeared and kind of did a monologue for, like, 15 minutes, addressing us and even occasionally asking a few questions.
Really made my day, this surprise.
And the swans.
Having much fun in England and not sleeping enough!