KIDS are walking, talking excuses for fun outings – and any parent who won’t admit that should be thrown in the stocks.
With our falcon-mad son Noah in tow, we set off on a crusade to see the Falconer’s Quest bird display, new at Warwick Castle for 2019.
Thanks to our six-year-old ornithologist, we were veterans of countless bird shows. And excited as we were to see these creatures take to the sky, we assumed it would be standard fare. We were wrong, I tell thee. This is as good as it gets in the UK.
For a start, all the action takes place on a natural bank, sloping down to the River Avon, which creates a grassy stadium with room for a crowd of 2,000-plus.
It is easily the most spectacular setting you could dream up for a display with falconers.
Where a smoke machine failed, rousing music succeeded in filling the air — and we were off.
A barn owl to start then a comedy tawny owl, who refused to budge.
Next, it was the heavy artillery. An Andean condor with a 10ft wingspan soared past, hanging in the air like a pterodactyl.
Then a peregrine falcon bombed from the sky in a 200mph nose-dive before a giant sea eagle menaced into view.
A voiceover telling the story of a young falconer was handy for introducing the species — and made for laughter when the birds decided not to stick to schedule.
But the show, with 150 birds, was arguably worth the entry fee alone.
On a high, we set off to explore the rest of the full-blooded Warwick experience, complete with knights, dungeons and princesses.
It is undoubtedly commercial. It is, after all, owned by the same people as Alton Towers. But the pristinely preserved keep, battlements and moat lend it buckets of authenticity.
Our two-year-old, Erin, insisted on visiting the magical role-play in the Princess Tower three times.
Noah was enthralled by the Kingmaker waxwork-style tour of an army readying for battle.
The atmospheric soundtrack of iron-monger clunks, sword clashes and flagon-swigging troops immerse you in the castle’s history.
The Horrible Histories maze let us time-hop from Slimy Stuarts to Violent Vikings and Vile Victorians.
Warned the Dungeon tour was “genuinely terrifying,” I chivalrously passed my ticket to my wife Joelle.
She returned ashen-faced 40- minutes later.
No spoilers here, but safe to say the lights go out a lot and there is a real witch down there.
We were lucky enough to be booked into a wooden lodge in the castle’s Knight’s Village — a comfortable double, with a separate bunk room on the banks of the Avon.
It offers dinner and breakfast in the Banquet Hall where two good- humoured knights started swinging weapons as we tucked into our steaks.
Then it was time to bend down on one knee and be knighted in time for dessert.
Our one gripe? The castle’s mighty trebuchet — the world’s largest working catapult — was out of season.
We will be back to see it launch a cannonball 150ft into the air.
Oh and another winge — Sir Noah now refuses to have dinner without a sword.
GO: Warwick Castle
STAYING THERE: One night’s B&B in a woodland lodge is from £43pp based on two adults and two children sharing, including car parking and two days’ entry to Warwick Castle.
MORE INFO: The Falconer’s Quest is shown daily until November 3 and is included in the Warwick Castle entry from £19pp.
For more details see warwick-castle.com.