Thursday, May 28, 2009

C is for Castle, College and Cousin

We slept until 9 this morning and so missed breakfast. Kind of get the feeling that we actually didn't miss too much. So we wrap parcels, change light lamps in the car and generally have a slower start to the day.

About 11 am we leave to drive over to Windsor to see the Castle. When we arrive we are now very hungry and decide to have lunch first. There are a lot of fast food outlets in High Street in Windsor and then we pass a Wetherspoons pub so we dash in. Both choose the Beef and Ale pie served with vegetables (carrot and broccoli) and mashed potato with gravy. Certainly far from being the best pie we have had, but is sure beats any of the mc meals that are available at the other outlets.

By the time we are finished it is now 2:30 pm which would only give us a little over 2 hours in the castle complex (and we are about to miss the last Changing of the Guards) so we opt instead to do the red bus tour this afternoon and return to the Castle in the morning. So, just outside the Castle we buy tickets for the bus that is just about to leave and jump on.

This bus tour does Windsor, Eton and Datchet. The commentary, while taped, is excellent and ties in the development of these three towns with the history of the castle and the English monarchy in an easy to understand way. It also puts the Castle into context for our visit tomorrow. The Castle was built by William the Conquerer shortly after winning the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and was one of nine built at the time around London.

But Windsor is not only the home to Windsor Castle, it is also home to Victoria Barracks which houses the Coldstream Guards. We were lucky enough to see some of the Guards marching the quarter mile to the Castle as we drove by. Windsor and the surrounding areas were developed greatly by each of the subsequent monarchs with George III and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert leaving significant legacies to the communities.

Datchet Village is one of those quaint little villages that you conjure up in your minds eye when anyone talks of England. The town can date its existence to about 990 AD but flourished with the establishment of the Windsor Castle on the opposite bank of the Thames River, being on the road to London. The river was first crossed by a ferry that was later replaced by a bridge. Datchet was the setting for the novel Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome published in 1889, a humorous account of a boating holiday on the Thames. This novel is one of Aunty Catherine's favourite and a great read - I highly recommend it. Datchet also features in the Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare.

And on to that seat of learning - Eton with its famous College. Established in 1440 by Henry VI, it has borne 20 Prime Ministers as well as countless other notable old boys. Each of the Houses are named after their Tutor who gives his initials to the house names. The Headmaster is know as the Head Man (reminding me of the MERG names for the HMTC radio call names!!) and the teachers are known as Beaks - gosh, wonder how the hell they got that name! The College is closed today as they held their annual Speech Day yesterday and the boys are on school holidays. We did get off the bus and had a coffee in a small parlour at the front of the local hairdressers. We will endeavour to visit the College tomorrow when part of it will be open.

So back into Windsor we go. It is time to collect the car from the parking station where it has cost us £6 for a mere 2 hours! We are visiting A
nna and Gary and the boys for dinner tonight so we stop off at Tesco for wine and little pressies.
It was wonderful to see them again (although Nathan had just fallen asleep) and we spoke of family events and past gatherings as well as our travels. They are hoping to ungrade to a larger house while the interest rates are low and property prices subdued. They have a house viewing this Saturday and have been busy getting their home ready for the best possible presentation. Good luck guys - we will be thinking of you.

We had offered to take them out to dinner, but a better option was takeaway (I should have remembered the challenges of little boys!) so Indian it was. Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Korma along with plain rice, pilau rice and lemon rice made a really nice meal - all the better because it was home delivered. We finished it off with Krispy Kreme donuts - yu-um. Anna graciously let us do a load of washing - takes a load off!! LOL

Thanks Anna and Gary for your friendship.

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