Saturday, September 29, 2012

England Day 1 + 2

James thought it would be nice to celebrate his birthday with his siblings in England. So here we are! We left Wednesday at noon and drove to Washington Dulles Airport. Hurray for GPS because I-95 can be a parking lot. James had decided to avoid that and cut across another road but before he came to that exit we saw the traffic stopped. Luckily there was an exit only 100 yards before that and we could still quickly get off. Press the "detour" button on the GPS and all was well. Found the Crown Plaza Hotel with no problem where James had made arrangements for parking the car and their shuttle was just leaving and took us to the airport.

Check-in, security, all went rather quickly so we had plenty of time to sit down and relax. James knew of a wine place close to the gate and vacation started. Smoked salmon rolls on crab salad topped toasted bread with pickled figs went very well with a glass of light Italian red wine. We knew what would come after this in the plane, ha-ha.
Yes, airline food!













Thursday September 27

We arrived Heathrow Airport  at 6 am. The biometric passports were scanned automatically and it went very fast. But still the suitcases were almost faster because they came as soon as we arrived at the belt. We called the Windsor Taxi company. They told us "about 15 minutes" but James' telephone rang before we could make it to the meeting point. All went so smoothly that the rest of the story was that we had to "tip James' sister Jane out of bed".
After getting settled and a cup of tea we walked up the town but we were too late for the soldiers. We just heard the last bit of music when they disappeared into the castle for the changing of the guards. So we did a bit of shopping (my sister Ute had wished for some tea and  Jane bought rolls for lunch). Here James and Jane are walking through King Edward Court (shopping area). 
This is supper. Jane made a most delicious cottage pie which is similar to shepherd's pie but cottage pie is made with beef and shepherd's pie is made with lamb. The "decoration" was a special thing remembering one of his birthdays MANY years ago.
My sister-in-law really likes me. She had also made a rhubarb pie.












Friday September 28

I forgot to mention that we found England VERY COLD  when we arrived yesterday but thanks to Jane's guest beds with heated blankets we had a wonderful good night's sleep. After breakfast we took a stroll through her garden. Here are her tomatoes loaded with fruit but they probably would like some warmth to turn red.

Flowers and veggies all mingle. There is the rhubarb in the back on the right.
 Above my first panorama photo with my new iphone 5. It was fun taking it.

England has plenty of moisture so container growing is not a problem. Here Jane is trying raising carrots in a pot.
The cherry tomatoes are just too cute. Or are they grape tomatoes?
Jane's weather vane on top of her roof.












A few weeks after James and I had met 37 years ago he had arranged a trip to London for his  friends in Singen and since I was now his girl friend I joined in too. Of course since he was in England, he had to take time out to see his father and sister. The rest of the group went to see Hampton Court while James and I took the train to Windsor. The first time to meet my future family ... without really knowing the language yet. - - - To make a long story short, when James asked what we might want to do today I suggested Hampton Court which I did not get to see 37 years ago.
We borrowed Jane's car and brave James drove. What a traffic! We took Cui so he could tell William all about it when we are back.
I was very impressed with our visit to Hampton Court. Here is the link if you like more information. I took many pictures but it is really difficult to capture it.
Through the first gate was the court yard where arriving guests were ushered to one of the suites even with there own 'bathrooms'. Some life-size wooden people were standing, sitting or laying around looking like they were from the 16th century. 


We claimed our (included) audio guides and started with Henry VIII kitchen! That almost was the most impressive part for me. It was a vast part of the palace since they had to be able to feed sometimes 600 or more people.








In the first kitchen was this fireplace which when you went up the steps and looked around ...











... you could see this vast copper kettle where meats and stews were cooked.
 
This was fish court ... a refrigerator. Here were little rooms left and right for storing fish. The alley was very narrow so sun would shine to far into it and make it too warm.


A huge kitchen to prepare for all the food to be ready at the same time. Serving the food hot was very important.
The displayed fish and meat was of course rubbery plastic but these veggies and all the herbs were fresh and we could touch and feel. Lots of classes of little school children came through and they were so cute.
Here we could into a pantry with lots of pies.

It was very interesting to learn that at that time the pie crust was not really a crust and was not eaten. It was just flour and water made into a 'pot' so the food could be cooked in the oven ... in lieu of real cooking vessels. The 'pies' were opened and the food spooned onto plates for 3 or 4 people.






A very efficient oven situation. Charcoal fires with drafts from bellow. Fiery coals could be easily added or taken away for heat control ... several stations in a row.
 More fresh herbs.
The fire place with spits. We learned that meat was most important to be served because since it was expensive it showed how rich and important the King was. It is said that King Henry's diet was so unbalanced (too much meat) that he might have had scurvy.   Here servants had to pile the wood 6 feet high and rotate spits, one with each arm each the weight of himself.
Sample meat! Of course they were very religious at that time observing the rule of no meat on Fridays or in lent etc. But sometimes they decided that geese really grew up on water and beavers in water so they were really considered to be more like fish. Oh yes?
This was a little room for the man in charge. He had to take care of the bills and of course the inventory of the food. How many eggs do we still have? How many do we need? Fish? Cabbages? Wine? Oh, yes, even children drank beer or wine at every meal. Water was too unhealthy.
Close-up of the shoes. No, thank you!
Right next the room of the keeper of the silver and pewter plates, cups and spoons. Not one can go missing. Would that mean: off with his head?
The wine cellar. It came in big barrels from France, was very young, strong and very rough. It was deluted with water a little (I hope they boiled the water first).
Back in the court yard.
There was lots more to see. A whole section about young Henry. Once in a while we peeked out of the window. Lovely gardens. Several different styles. It had started to rain.
This stair case was to impress visitors. Again, you have to show to your enemies and friends how important you are.
Since I could not step back far enough to take the whole picture I took a panorama picture sideways. I think it worked (?) Got a gost in it though ha-ha because another tourist went past me. The painting was truly remarkable. The king succeded: Impressive!
It was sad that anybody dressed properly could come and visit the king but you had to walk through a succession of rooms. This was the guard room. Weapons on the walls just to show off. Somebody was in charge to keep them shiny. 
 Another peak out of the window.
Lots of wonderful tapestry on the walls. And you even could get close to take a real look.
These were actually the rooms of Henry's successors, Queen Mary II and her Dutch husband William III (1688-1702). William was a very private person. He liked to read and liked art. He had a great way to hang pictures on red velvet covered ropes from rods along the top of the walls so he could easily rearrange or exchange them. Might have to addopt that for one of my picture displays.
Another section of the palace was the older part of Henry VIII. Here is his great room for banquets and such.
We overheard a guide tell his people the meaning of "eavesdropping".  There are figures carved into the eaves. These were a reminders of the King to the people that whatever they say might be overheard and reported to him.
Here is what Wikipedia says.
See the eavesdropping head?
When Henry married his third wife in 1536 he had to make sure that all traces of former wives were removed not to offend new bride Jane Seymour. But there were lots of intertwined A&H (second wife Anne Boleyn) carved in wood. In the haste some behind curtains were overlooked. Wonder whether Jane ever saw them? Probably not because the curtains are gone now and you can see the originals.
We came to another room where people would wait hoping to get an audience. There were big pillows on the floor, chairs and table with board games.
I recognized this game right away. I played it as a child in Germany. Called Merrills in English the rules are here.

 This game I do not know.
I found the rules here but  on several sites the board always looked differently. Don't know.














Of course the visitors waiting might need to use a special room. It was called 'The Garderobe' which is funny because that's were German guests hang her coats when they visit. 
There was a sign on the wall stating: The Orders devised by King's Council for the Garderobe, since to retain urine is hurtful to health:
ITEM no person shall make water or cast annoyance within the precinct of the court whereby corruption may breed.
ITEM being all alone to let it go, otherwise you must disguise the sound by coughing.

There was another wing of the palace which was called Georgian. The Queen of that time loved her bath. A huge linen cloth was laid into the tub so not to get any splinters in the royal you-know-what since it was a wooden tub. At that time bathing every day was thought to be very unhealthy but the queen thought otherwise and made the king and her children do it too.
This is a royal mailbox. It reminded James of the ones in Windsor castle he had to empty when he was a mailman during his vacation.
We could have seen and learned much more but we were on sensory overload. It was after 3 and we hadn't had lunch. So we decided that a hot tea would be nice. Cui found the tea room.
 Scones and clotted cream and strawberry jam. And a big beaker of tea. Can it get more British? So good. And concidering it was a palace ground not even expensive.
 Memories to treasure, ha-ha.
Better hurry on the way to the car. Wished we had time for all the different gardens.
We decided that Jane didn't need to cook and, after some rest, the three of us walked up the town and found a nice restaurant. We wanted English food. Windsor has by now a lot of tourist places ... which also have good food ... but that is what we can get at home.
I had a fish pie. So good.
James had beef and ale pie ... and licked the platter clean too.
Jane had calves liver with chips (french fries!)
 Of course we had desert. Berry crumble with custard for James.
Can't remember Jane's but mine was devine. It was called 'Eaton mess' and a blend of (real) whipped cream, meringue and berries. 
On the way home a picture of entrance what used to be Windsor train station.
When we went to bed we called Jane in and had a good laugh. The time is truly different here in England.

2 comments:

  1. Be still my heart. England. My favorite place that I’ve ever been in my life. That cream tea. Beef and ale pie. Eton mess. I’m utterly entranced.

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