London–Day 2: Windsor Castle & some rugby

windsor panorama
panoramic view of Windsor Castle

Ellen had gotten us tickets to Windsor Castle in advance, which was very smart. It allowed us to bypass the long queue of people who were buying their tickets onsite. But it still took a while to get through security, which made us late for our tour of the great kitchen. The tour had already begun, but we were welcome to come back in 45 minutes for the next one, which was fine, as there was a lot to see.

The doll house was an amazing array of precisely created miniatures, and the two “French dolls” that had been given to the princesses circa 1940 had an extensive wardrobe made by top fashion designers of the day, including a real ermine coat. One tween remarked to her companion, “Those dolls were more spoiled than any human girls!” Although I’m sure the princesses themselves did not suffer for lack of lovely frocks.

Our guide was delightful and clearly loved her job. She knew more than anyone should have to know about the castle andwindsor turret the royal family. We were not allowed to snap photos in the kitchen or in any of the special rooms we toured, so I had to content myself with outdoor pics. Because of the current celebration commemorating Queen Elizabeth reigning longer than any of her predecessors, there was a special exhibit, and more of the residence was open for view. We saw the state apartments, St. George’s chapel, the grand dining hall, and so many rooms I couldn’t possibly remember them all. The most curious one was the king’s bed chamber, which indeed featured a bed with elaborate purple and gold curtains, but it was not actually where the king ever slept. It was where he went to after he awoke for the official rising ceremony. Imagine having such pageantry before you’ve even had your first morning coffee…

In what used to be the building where the royal fire engine was housed is now a gift shop with royal jams, commemorative trays, and furry slippers, all with big price tags, as well as royal guard teddy bears that are priced at £250.00. You could even buy a royal corgi iPad cover. Even the smallest items were beyond the budgets of most tourists, with small fabric crown Christmas ornaments going for the equivalent of $22. I did splurge on a double-decker bus fridge magnet for my friend, Evey, but that was the extent of my shopping spree.

windsor castle pubAfter touring the castle, we launched on the famous “long walk” trod by many state visitors over the centuries that was a straight path that was a five-mile round trip to the Thames. But my feet were tired, so I detoured to the Windsor Castle pub, where I had a pint and watched a rugby match on the telly while I waited for the others to join me. From the pub’s parking lot, a wedding party crossed the busy street to the wooded park area that bordered the pathway to take wedding photos. I don’t know where they had the ceremony though.

We were hungry and couldn’t find the eatery that had been recommended, so we dove into a place and took our chances. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it didn’t.

The last stop of the day was at a cute little neighborhood pub where we drank some beer, watched Wales play England on the big screen TV with a few regulars, and contributed to the good-natured banter around the question of how much longer the human race would survive.What better way to end the day?


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