The day before we flew back home we went to Windsor Castle. The queen still lives here part of the year. The castle itself is pretty huge, and unfortunately none of the rooms/churches we visited inside the grounds allowed pictures.
Oliver and Elora were excited to listen to the audio guide. Elora really loved listening to every word it said and whenever she saw a number for us to type in, she jumped up and down for us play it.
The castle is very beautiful and holds the distinction of being the largest, oldest continually inhabited castle by a single family. There's quite a few qualifiers there to almost make it meaningless, but I guess the marketing department had to come up with something? Not the largest? Not the oldest? Apparently not even the oldest inhabited. But add all those together, combined with the fact that it's been "in the family" for 1000 years.
It's definitely one of the prettier castles we've been to, but like the Tower of London, doesn't seem to hold a candle to castle we visited in Rhodes in terms of being able to withstand siege against 50,000 soldiers. The British castles seem much more "invadeable".
Everyone lined up nicely for this photo. Oliver was happy with the street sign, Elora was listening intently, and Karen was hamming it up.
The kids were really happy to run around. Fortunately, it wasn't raining, but the castle would have looked better if the skies were blue like on the previous days of our trip.
The castle and grounds looked like a scene right out of a movie. It's almost Disney-esque. Or does Disney look Windsor-esque? Headless King Charles is spinning in his grave at the thought.
Since the Queen still lives here, naturally we could only tour a small faction of the grounds. It was still very nice just to walk around. One neat thing they had was a large doll house collection. The "doll houses" were probably about 1/4 scale of a normal size house!
Elora and Ollie were having fun sharing and running around together. We toured the cathedral, as well as some of the old rooms and art galleries. There were quite a few suits of armor or various items from conquests of the UK's glory days. One interesting story we found out about was from a battle in which Queen Victoria's favorite general, Charles Gordon was killed in Khartoum, Sudan.
The following interesting story was not listed in the audio guide, and only given to you word of mouth if you asked one of the curator about a certain bible inside of a shrine. The bible belonged to General Gordon, and was returned to the Queen on his death. His forces were surrounded and holding out for help. On the last day of battle, he was reading in the Old Testament in Ezekiel chapters 7-10. He wrote in the margins that he prayed to the God of Isreal that He would protect them until help arrived. Unfortunately, help didn't arrive until two days after they were overrun and all killed. Ezekiel 7 seems like an unfortunate chapter to read when you're in a battle for your life:
"And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee...Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain...The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him..." Maybe he was hoping this verse would apply: "But they that escape of them shall escape, and shall be on the mountains like doves of the valleys". I imagine he probably found some hope in that verse in the midst of all the destruction...and he did escape the world as a dove indeed.
Finally! One of these guys to pose next to. Elora and Oliver really liked his hat. Looking at this picture, I (Chris) realize I'm a little too close to him. Lucky he didn't give me the bayonet! But really, what do you think is going through his head after standing there all day? I'm thinking it's... "I knew I shouldn't have turned down Afghanistan....."
At one of the tourist shops, Oliver stood outside for 10 minutes turning this cart and happily point out the coat of arms that said his name on it. He would turn away from it, and then spin it around until he found the right crest and would point and say, "All-Ver!"
Elora went to town with all the little bears and magnets.
We stopped for lunch at a little pub, and read Elora's new book about St George (the mouse) and the Dragon, who was afraid of mice. Elora really likes it, along with her new book about castles.
This fireplace looks old and dirty. Maybe we'll model the one in our house after it.
Hmmm....the good stuff. Karen and Elora got Fish and Chips. I got the ale-meat pie. Hole cow, it was awesome. Anyone going to the UK, make sure you order meat pie!
On the way home, there was a Tesco near the train station. It's like a super-Walmart and Karen just wanted to go inside and enjoy the little taste of home.
The funny thing is, we went in, wandered around aimlessly for 20 minutes, remembered why we don't like shopping at super walmart, and left after buying a couple snacks.
And later that night, we heated up some frozen meat pies. This one got a little burned in the oven, but it was still tasty, but seriously, what person in their right mind names a brand "Pukka Pies"?