Day 14–Windsor Castle

We grown-ups had originally thought we were just going to have a ‘local’ day today-but Hazel had other plans. As Windsor Castle had been one of our ideas of a place to visit—she just assumed we were going there today. So as the kids were already getting upset about the end of the visit—to Windsor we went.

Michael took the day off-so we both drove and we set out about 11:30. When we got to Windsor we had some chicken for us, fish for mom and chips for all at a snack shack near the Thames for lunch. Just hope Mr. Chickenout didn’t have a spy around—we were sure it wasn’t free-range chicken-but the other options were fairly dire. After we ate we headed to the castle: We have been to the town before, but had never toured the castle. To say we were all impressed is an understatement—it is really impressive, and you feel that it’s lived in while you are walking around. The Round Tower is still impressive today—I can’t imagine what anyone would have thought about it hundreds of years ago. We also enjoyed the landscaping around the Round Tower-very beautiful.
We managed to do the full tour—but you really need to spend more time there. It is also a help to read more about what you are going to see before you get there. We did have the audio guides-I always try and listen to the info before I get to the next room—but they are a bit distracting to me. One rant of the day—the men at the desk gave the kids ones set to the ‘kids audio’. I was a bit surprised they didn’t seem to know what they were looking at till I listened to Hazels—I so wish the world would stop talking down to kids. Instead of talking about the history of the Queen Mary Dolls’ house—it was telling them how to behave and what to do on a tour. Useful-maybe, informative-no. I’ll have to check those in the future.
The State Apartments must be amazing to see when they are in use. It was great timing that Prince William was invested into the Order of the Garter the week before—we knew what the rooms were and saw a bit of how they were used for before we got there. The kids need to learn more about the history of the country a bit more before we go again-much of that went over their heads. Especially all the military tools and the knight’s armour—they still don’t get why people want to fight—they have barely caught onto the fact people hurt each other. But—I’m in no hurry for that to be something they need to ponder.

The Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is just wonderful. I’m sure my mom could have spent an hour there alone—she likes miniatures. Though-the glass case does make looking at it a bit harder. Hazel and I enjoyed the dolls that Queen Elizabeth II and her sister received as children from France. The clothes for those dolls probably cost more than an average middle-class family’s income the year they were made.

On the way to the chapel some of the guards passed us by. Kieran didn’t like that very much and was very wary anytime one of the sentries moved. I’m happy that my mom liked St. George’s Chapel—she thought it was better than Westminster Abbey. (We did suggest going there whilst in London-but did the quick tour instead.) This felt like a family chapel—I know that’s what it is—but it did feel like it. Once again-the timeliness of the recent Order of the Garter ceremony was brought to life while we were there.

Throughout the day Michael and I kept wishing we had more knowledge about what we were looking at-and that we had more time to digest what we were seeing. On the way out of the Castle grounds, Mom noticed a sign to have your tickets validated for free entry for a year–talk about a find! I had no idea we could do that and would have left without having had the tickets validated for free entry. Kudos to Mom!!

Mom wanted to buy a few more souvenir gifts to bring home to friends, so she and I shopped while the guys took the kids for an ice cream. On the way home both children fell asleep at about the same spot on the M4—so neither slept too long. We women stopped off at the shop and bought a few things for a quick supper, while the guys went home to light the barbecue. Mom had fish for lunch-so it was sausages for dinner. She, and I have to say I, have never liked sausages in the States—they are so much nicer here. I also picked up some pre-made salads as well—yet another quick meal. I think we’ll start regular cooking services soon!

Hazel and Kieran helped Mom & Jim with a bit of their packing. I let the kids stay up till about 9pm. They were a bit sad in the evening—so was I. I came into the kitchen to see the four of them sitting together and chatting and had to choke back some tears when I realized it may be the last time for another year before they’ll be like that again. Sometimes being this far from them hurts like hell.

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