A Secret History

. . . . . . or Kenilworth Castle and the Right-handed Camera

As soon as we drew up to Kenilworth Castle After we drove around the town of Kenilworth for 15 minutes looking for somewhere to park our Chevy unsuitable-for-tiny-villages truck, I leapt stumbled out of the passenger seat and grabbed my camera to fight with the zip to release it from its case. The parapets of Kenilworth Castle stood out in stark relief to the azure blue sky of a perfect English summer day.

Tiny specks of tourists wandered the parapets putting into perspective the enormity of the castle. If I was quick I could capture the scene. I managed to flick the lens cap off – it dangled on its safety cord – and held my camera clumsily in my left hand. I held it up to my face but daren’t even switch it on for fear of dropping it. Himself draped the neck cord over me and my hastily donned, stupid-looking Dora the Explorer hat and I tried again.

Kenilworth Castle, Keep on the left and window...
Kenilworth Castle, Keep on the left and windows of the Great Hall on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With no fear of dropping the camera I might have been able to awkwardly press the shutter button but the framing was wrong and I couldn’t possibly pull on the zoom lever.  I let the camera drop on its cord, whipped my dumb hat off in disgust and himself pulled the camera off over my head. I could have asked him to be my cameraman for the day but I was so annoyed with the whole ordeal I thrust the disgraced and useless piece of equipment back in the truck.

A right-handed camera. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. I had taken for granted that it fit neatly tucked in my right 3rd, 4th and 5th fingers leaving my index finger free for the zoom lever and my thumb for the shutter. It was a perfect fit in my right hand and clearly unusable in my left hand.

If you’ve just happened on my blog and haven’t heard me whining before, my right arm is in plaster.

English: Kenilworth Castle, panorama taken fro...
English: Kenilworth Castle, panorama taken from the east (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a lighter note, I was free (as free as you can be with your arm in sling) to enjoy the delights of Kenilworth Castle and its Elizabethan gardens without the pressure of recording each scene at every step.

The following information comes compliments of a mature PhD student who was holding court with a history teacher and her family at the next table in the tea room. Naturally I eavesdropped.  After a quick restorative nap I committed as much as I could remember to print.

English: Gaunt's great hall in Kenilworth
English: Gaunt’s great hall in Kenilworth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He let us them know that much of the information was not available on the internet. You would need to go to the Tower of London and read and copy out documents by hand as he had done as you cannot borrow or photocopy any of these ancient documents. He also let us them know that this was privileged information that would be divulged in his dissertation. Am I about to reveal . . . ?

According to Mr. Not-Quite-Doctor, Kenilworth Castle is mentioned in the Domesday Book – a survey of much of England and parts of Wales ordered by William the Conqueror and completed in 1086.

Kenilworth Castle was the most powerful castle in the land, much more so than its neighbour Warwick Castle, at one point housing 6000 troops as compared to the 2000 troops at Warwick.

Killing pits with weight sensitive trap doors were used at entry points. Attacking troops would fall in and be at the mercy of the castle troops. Lime mixed with water was a form of torture that would cause eyeballs to burst and fatal burns. It was a political stronghold.

English: The restored Elizabethan gardens at K...
English: The restored Elizabethan gardens at Kenilworth Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I knew of Warwick Castle but had never heard of Kenilworth Castle until I picked it off the road atlas map as being the nearest garden to our campsite near Coventry. You revolutionaries in the US may not have heard of either castle.

John of Gaunt, 1st  Duke of Lancaster, turned the medieval castle into a fortress late in the 14th c. He was one of the most powerful men of his time owning 30 castles and land in virtually every county in England. His legitimate heirs included Kings Henry IVHenry V, and Henry VI.

Rulers were always wary of castles as they were seats of power so according to Mr. NQD the very first Act of Parliament was to destroy Kenilworth Castle as it was a threat to the seat of government.

Part of Kenilworth Castle was destroyed by Parliamentary forces in 1649 but I can’t substantiate this as a first act of parliament and that is way past John of G’s time. In fact, the dates are completely wrong. Is this one of Mr. NQD’s secret facts or did I zone out after a dose of sunshine? If he’d known I was listening he’d have kept his voice down. If I hadn’t had a tantrum over my frustrating (albeit temporary, yes I know that) disability I would have had my phone with me and could have recorded him verbatim and could wow you with many more fascinating facts.

English: Kenilworth Castle The ruined keep beh...
English: Kenilworth Castle The ruined keep behind the formal Elizabethan gardens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have padded this post out with some Google images but none of them are as perfect as the pictures that are in my mind’s eye: the jutting ruin and every space within filled with families picnicking, children frolicking, couples courting, teens bounding, all on the green, green grass under the blue, blue sky. The fact that it was at odds with the gory, impromptu history lesson made the present day scene even more delightful. It was a lost photo opportunity. I just hate that.

Do you have any missed photo opportunities that play on your mind still?

Do you have a right-handed camera? Is there such a thing as a left-handed camera?

52 thoughts on “A Secret History

  1. You got me curious so I had to google it – and yes there are actually left handed cameras! That is for sure one thing I hasn’t thought about before. Not suggesting you should buy one as that would be a costly temporary affair, I just got curious:)
    Well back to the castle – so great getting the history lesson. Always fun to get some facts when you wander around these places. Though I would be surprised if none of this information is on the internet. Everything seems to be on the internet now. The castle is beautiful, I can just imagine how it was back in the days with 6000 soldiers and the battles where soldiers would fall into the lime infested waters. Oooops…not a secret anymore!

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  2. I had to laugh (painfully) at your opening. I can’t tell you how many photos I missed because I was fumbling with my camera, or didn’t notice that it was set on X instead of Y. And every one of them would have been perfect. Of course.

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  3. Sorry to read about your frustration with the camera. But there is something to be said about finally being able to just enjoy a site and not have to worry about getting those photos. Adding a few borrowed photos worked perfectly because the story is improtant here. How neat that you got to be part of Mr. NQD lesson!! You had great ears and an even better memory. The part about the lime was so gross!! Boy, humans can be so very cruel. Thanks for sharing the castle story.

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    1. I listened intently while looking the other way. I don’t think he knew! There was much more of interest that I couldn’t commit to memory. The fact that a lot of it wasn’t in the public domain really made me prick my ears up!

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  4. Wow. We really do take so much for granted when we’re totally healthy and able to just get on with things, don’t we? I’m so sorry for your frustration in all this. Most especially sorry that Himself is still cutting up your meat. For an independent girl like you (and me) that has to feel so demeaning……but fear not, you are going to come through this and you’ll be even better than before. Perhaps you’ll even snap of few pix of Himself in one of his more dire situations (and you know he’ll find one soon….he always does) just to console yourself that everyone has their less-than-stellar moments. At least you can blame a medical issue on yours right now……LOL.

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    1. Thanks for your consoling thoughts Torrie. I really don’t mind having my food cut up. Just consider – I’m having three meals a day prepared, served and cleared away! My very own slave! Don’t you dare tell him I said that.

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  5. I hust tried out my cameras with my left hand – no go! I think though that your problem was having no right hand at all, so you were trying for one handed lefty photos…Mr NQD would have been able to explain the problem in detail I’m sure!

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  6. I have many missed photo ops, some I didn’t realize I could have captured until after I had seen some savvy photographer’s take on the exact scene I just viewed. It’s interesting how our eyes see different things. That’s why I still buy postcards and other people’s photo notecards!!!

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    1. What you say is true. We were in San Antonio and I saw a postcard of colorful umbrellas alongside the river. I thought I know where that was taken so went back to the bridge and took my own postcard shot. At the Chihuly glass exhibit in Phoenix I saw someone taking a photo. I could see it on their pad and liked their framing so waited for them to move and took the same pic.
      On the other hand I’ve carried my camera all day and not taken single pic. :-/

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  7. You’re tugging at my heart strings again, Carol! 🙂 And haven’t you become proficient at left-handed typing! Mr. Know it All would have sent me to sleep (do hope he’s not one of your readers 🙂 ). I’m so much more into the romantic, visual side of castles than the gory history. (I’m a wuss really!) Yes- frustrating in the extreme! And if you can get over the camera-lessness, there is a freedom to it, which, just occasionally, I can enjoy.
    Can’t remember if you were around when I left my poor little digital in a cooler bag and the bottled water in there leaked? What a sulk there was that day! And, of course, we were high on the Moors on a path I had never trodden before, on a beautiful clear day. You can feel my pain. 😦

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    1. I can feel your pain over the camera but sometimes it’s nice to see things with my whole field of view and not just through the lens. That’s what I’m telling myself. I’m having to be careful when I’m out, especially on uneven ground and steps so it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t juggling a camera as well. And I’m sure I would have dropped my phone.
      It’s also a good thing you weren’t with me as there was a lot more gory detail about the castle history that I wasn’t able to commit to memory. :-O

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      1. I hate gory detail! I just skipped 20 pages of it in an excellent book I’m reading. 🙂 Yes- I was a bit concerned for you because these old sites are always full of uneven surfaces. I can trip over a hole sticking up in the floor 🙂

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  8. Welcome to life as a leftie. Being left-handed, I used to make a mess of my copies in school when we had to use a nib and ink to write with (remember those desks with the built-in inkwell?) showing my age now, I am.

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  9. Well… YOU are healing, I can tell. Typing, picture taking and history lessons to boot!

    Very cool history about the castle. I need to visit… and it may happen one day. There have been some whispers of conversation from Myself and sweet, sweet man… hee hee hee

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  10. Now you come to mention it both my cameras are right-handed, which is fine as I am, but how difficult they must be for a leftie to use. I suppose the controls on a phone are pretty much central. I must visit Kenilworth for the gardens of course – are they worth the trip?

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    1. Try taking a photo with your left hand. No touching with the right. Any luck?
      You can see three quarters of the Elizabethan garden in one of the photos in the post. They are very pleasant but not large. Worth a visit for the garden alone? Hard to say. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the castle ruins. Apart from being annoyed that I couldn’t take photos. 😉

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    2. So sorry Jude. I just trashed your most recent comment about Sudeley Castle. I held my phone up to give my bored right index finger something to do and it missed and hit the trash button. Whoosh! Your comment was gone! B****r.

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      1. Haha… no worries, it wasn’t that scintillating! I do the same using the mouse pad on my Surface tablet – I hover over a message and next thing I know it has vanished! Technology eh!

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  11. Gosh, how frustrating not being able to use your camera, but more so not having the full use of your arm. I’m with Nancy though… pretty impressive typing out this post. Thanks for the fascinating history lesson. What a beautiful structure and it must have been rather imposing in it’s hey day.

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  12. Now that you mention it, cameras clearly are geared to the right-handed market. I have 2 left-handed sons and this type of *discrimination* has popped up numerous times over the years.

    I can just imagine your frustration. I would be grinding my teeth through the entire tour.

    Today was the first time I’ve gone for my daily walk without my camera in a month. Nothing ever happens on my walks. Guess what? … this morning I saw baby ducks, a groundhog frolicking in the grass, a traffic light propped up against the pole it’s supposed to be attached to, and a massive piece of construction equipment being moved with a police escort.

    Go figure.

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