2010 Vacation Day 9 [ G I ]

On August 7 we had a great day in Windsor area. Windsor castle is obviously in Windsor, and as such dominates both the skyline and local economy. The thing to do in Windsor is of course to visit the castle, assuming the Royal Family is out. We got there at about the right time, and the line was not too long.

It is sort of nice to realize that all the trappings of royalty actually serve a purpose, to bring in boatloads of tourists. One thing I never noticed, and I have been in Windsor castle before and seen the outside one other time, is that the walls have jagged flint chips set in the mortar. This is designed I imagine to either cut the ropes or certainly the soles of the feet of would-be attackers. We did hear that one of the reasons Windsor castle was spared in WWII, was that Hitler wanted to use it as a summer home. Wow, talk about "counting your chickens."

There was only one set of "line-cutters" today, as opposed to the unwashed hordes of Spaniards at the Greenwich Observatory. From some former Soviet-bloc nation (another reason to bemoan the fall of communism and the end of the cold war) they appeared to be taking a photo, then got in line in front of us across a driveway (as the line was not allowed across the driveway, and the Windsor Castle line attendant was distracted; guess by which senior member of our entourage). Once we caught up with them, we did try subtle hints like, "I guess some people don't know the line goes back that far." However, I do not think that the sound waves from our voice could penetrate the strong odor barrier that clung to these lummoxes.

Windsor castle is as one would expect - a castle. However it is the swag inside that makes one almost swoon being overcome with the grandeur. This includes absolute one-of-a-kind works of art such as hand painted china from the mid-1700s, to jade baskets once owned by the emperor of China. And that's just what's in the "loo." Note the English - even though they speak English, it is not our 'merican English. They say "loo" for "toilet," "lift" for "elevator," "crisps" for "potato chips" and "knee trembler" for "happy ending."

There were some good pictures outside of the castle; I decided - since it would be probably more felonious and considered espionage - to forgo the use of my "spy pen" or iPhone to video tape inside Windsor. We bought a book. We also got to see some of the strapping young guards marching about. These guys were making women from 15 to 50 flush, and they had a great way of calling out before marching "Make way for the Queen's guards." A lot of tourists would stand (or crouch) in their path, intent on getting a picture. Unfortunately we saw no one trampled (which the guards will do), as enough of the castle staff kept warning people to move.

We had planned a teatime (with ale) in the early afternoon, and unfortunately the pub I had been to before would not let Avery stay, as he was under 14. It was a shame as it is next to a green that is sometimes used by the Royal family when in residence, as well as the "long walk" and "Elizabeth's walk." We went to another place, and Cindy and a few others broke off to get tea in the "crooked house" of Windsor. Some then went shopping, and some went over the Thames to Eaton.

Later we went back to the hotel, and then to dinner. We weren't sure what to do, but then decided on this small Italian place we saw. What was odd (yet I suppose in retrospect true of the many pushy Italians we met) was that we were met at the door, and the maitre de just said "no room" and walked away, even though it appeared to be 50% empty. We settled on the same place we ate the night before, the Royal Stag. The food was great, ales were great, even appetizers like "whitebait" were great. Then it was back to the hotel, where along the way I learned never to eat blackberries growing along a public sidewalk near a pub, to pack for tomorrow; as it was a 3:00 PM flight, there would be no rush.

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