on castles, class, and feeling like first class: a day in Windsor.

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of castles. Not in the typical princess variety, but of the dark corners, thick stone, and applied protection behind it’s walls. Libraries, kitchens, and velvet tapestries invaded my mind. Maybe a knight or two entered my imagination, but I was never interested in Princes. I was reminded of this on our visit to Windsor. 20140525-042802-16082703.jpg Stroking through cobblestone streets, you could see the small town centre was scrubbed clean for tourists. An elitism filled the air, displayed in part by bartenders and pub owners, but also just as if we were literally breathing something not fit for common man. 20140525-043221-16341957.jpg Even vintage churches had a different class to them. 20140525-043338-16418710.jpg After a nice pub lunch , the sommelier, his family, and I walked down to the Thames, where he bribed swimming birds for our niece, Lily. The swans in the UK are now so plentiful; in Windsor it is no longer appropriate to consume, as they did in days of The Tudors. 20140525-044027-16827629.jpg We hopped on a double decker bus to see the town, mostly to save time, but also because secretly, I am a history nerd, and needed an audio tour. 20140525-044457-17097787.jpg Passing through the small city, we heard unique insight into the upper classes of England: where the princes went to college (high school), where they played football (soccer), and where daughters of duchesses go to ballet lessons. While Eton College was very grand and distinguished, my thoughts questioned the daily uniforms of ducktails and white bowties. It seemed a bit excessive until I learned they rid the “standard uniform of top hats in the 1940s.” 20140525-045032-17432170.jpg Nothing like being reminded of your insignificance in this world then seeing the looks of some of these teenagers, as you past by them on a tour bus, with your Nikon stuck to your eye. Pretty leveling. Yet, their pubs were built in the 1500s, and a statue of the queen stands in town centre, so you know… maybe wisdom is being passed through ancient walls. 20140525-045549-17749640.jpg A drive through the countryside led us past farm houses and rows of grains. The English country is exactly as I remember, with rolling green hills, sheep herds, and dairy cows. 20140525-051113-18673520.jpg After spectacular views of Windsor castle, we headed back to town. Standard black cab souvenirs and royal postcards aside, we made our way back to Reading via train with the other tourists. 20140525-051235-18755807.jpg Our time in England was coming to a close, and to celebrate our short visit, my brother-in-law roasted a lamb, complete with Yorkshire pudding and bitters. Amazingly delicious. Now this was first class. 20140525-050137-18097255.jpg The sommelier and I said our goodbyes to very loved and missed family, packed our bags, and fell asleep early to catch our flight home… but not first with a layover in Istanbul… more to come…tomorrow. Cheers.


visions of Normans in Reading, and a history lesson.

I’ll be honest: this is not my first trip to the UK. Ten years ago I spent quite a lot of time here, sitting in the passenger seat, watching the rolling hills of Wales, England, and Scotland. I even made it to Brighton. But never to Reading.


The city is full of hardworking, innovative people, and it is reflected in the constant change that it has undergone throughout the times. Pubs and shopping center aside, Reading was once home to Huntley & Palmers, a biscuit and cake company. For those unaware, biscuits are cookies in England, and generally come in a tin. They were the first to use the river as a mode of export to London; a pioneer in paying a separation wage to families for employed men serving at war; and one of the first business to employ women. Sadly, Palmers sold the factory after better technology began to emerge in the 1950s…. so I may have paid attention during a museum visit… Shoot me.


The Reading museum also had a number of other fine paintings. During the reign of Elizabeth I, Reading was sanctioned an official city of the crown.


A day spent with the sommelier, my nephew and brother in law brought us to various sights, not only including the first wine tasting shop in Reading (surprise, surprise), a proper pub meal, but also to town center, where the oldest church, built in 979 AD, stands.


My nephew and I had some quality time together strolling through the above ground cemetery, where he cooed and pointed at pigeons pecking at the earth. His spirit was bright and energetic, and reminded me of our own baby… who I missed so very much. It was intriguing to see someone so young surrounded by something so old, and made me see visions of Normans fighting over the rich soils.


The sky became drizzly, as England often does, and we began the walk back to our relatives’ flat. Even though I had seen beautiful gardens the past week, the contrast of greens vivaciously stood out amongst the brick. The bright English doors and turrets on roofs brought me closer to memories of home, as if the past week had been a dream.


I was now beginning to realize my journey was almost over… a few more days in England, a layover in Istanbul, and we would be home.

Back to our reality. Cheers?