Back to paradise! We continued our evening meander through Hobbiton, passing by hobbit holes and enjoying the sunshine.
There were plenty of chances to be goofy.
This one looks like Andy has flowers behind his ear:
Could you imagine a more beautiful spot?
I want to live here forever and ever.
My dad was even challenged to a game by our guide, Mike (“Mike Ophone” as he told us… I think he was going for microphone, but a letter got left out somehow). As I recall, the bet was my dad’s car. Lucky for us, it was in the states and would’ve been pretty expensive for Mike to ship.
How many people can say they’ve played horseshoes (or whatever it was) beneath the Shire’s party tree?
Sam & Rosie’s home was looking especially beautiful.
And the views towards the Green Dragon, where we were headed for our dinner feast, were stunning.
As the sun sank lower in the sky, it was time to make our way to the other side of the pond.
What a perfect evening in Middle Earth.
Time for a drink at the Green Dragon!
They brew their own beer and cider here, and it’s pretty good. Frankly, people would probably drink anything in a location like this, but they make a real effort to provide the full experience in Hobbiton. I don’t think true Shirefolk would accept just any brew.
Finally, it was time for the big reveal. The curtains were drawn between the bar and dining hall, and after a group countdown, they were pulled aside. The most epic feast I’ve ever seen awaited us!
It was SO GOOD. Again, people would probably eat anything and be happy in the Green Dragon, but the staff spent all day preparing this momentous feast and didn’t leave a single thing to be desired. Besides a slight mishap where we confused salad dressing for gravy, everything was fabulously delicious. The after picture, if I’d taken one, probably wouldn’t look much different, since it was hard to make a dent in a spread of this size.
While we sat there digesting the meal, it was the perfect opportunity to try on some costumes.
I spared Andy the most embarrassing one. You’re welcome, dear.
But we weren’t done yet. Out came the dessert!
Even looking at this picture makes me want to drool. The desserts were just as good as the main meal. I only wish we could’ve squirreled some away to take for later. One old lady did try and ask Mike if she could do just that for “the nice German backpackers.” Poor girls must have felt mortified.
During the meal, we had plenty of time to dip outside and enjoy the quiet night. The illuminated hobbit holes across the way reflected in the still water of the pond, and the stars shone brightly overhead. Behind, the lights of the Green Dragon glowed warmly, snatches of laughter drifting from the windows and an outdoor fireplace crackling comfortingly. I tried to close my eyes and just hold on to the moment, something I could always go back to. I’ve dreamt of this very place for years.
It was difficult to capture everything without a tripod, but the magic still shows through.
After an amazing couple hours at the pub to beat all pubs, it was time to journey back through the Shire. We were given lanterns and set out into the still Middle Earthen night.
The hobbit holes looked so inviting, like we could just step inside and sit by a cozy, diminutive fire, then curl up on a short bed for a deep night’s sleep, full of beer and hobbit fare. One can dream.
We stopped in the party field and, after wishing me a happy birthday, Mike had us all dance in a circle. Despite our varying styles, I don’t think anyone could suppress a smile. It was an experience most of us probably never thought we’d have, in a place we only dreamt could exist.
After that, we turned all our lanterns off and closed our eyes, adjusting to the darkness and creating a lasting memory as Mike talked us through our tour of Hobbiton, describing every twist and turn. When we opened our eyes, the brilliant constellations overhead were almost blinding, the Milky Way a cloudy stripe across the inky blackness beyond. Everyone was speechless.
It was hard to say goodbye and goodnight, but I was grateful to have had the most epic birthday I could ever imagine, in a world I only pictured in my wildest dreams, once upon a time. Even now, it feels slightly unreal, fuzzy at the edges and golden-tinged.
As always, and even though I’ve used this quote before, the master said it best.
“I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.” –J.R.R. Tolkien