Windsor & LEGO II

Woke up to a late start this morning after a late supper at The Jekyll & Hyde. Three of us didn’t feel like taking a long train with connections in London, so we traded one Hampton Court for a Windsor Castle + LEGOland (again). Megan, by the way, seems tireless and up for anything.

We got to Windsor just in time for the changing of the guard. The red coats were marching in and playing their instruments. After they passed into the castle walls, we went to the efficiently run ticket counter, passed our bags through x-ray and our bodies through metal detector, and got our ever-trusty audio guides. Windsor’s guides were cool because there’s a kid’s version and an adult version. We could still hear the band, so we followed the path inside the wall and got to watch for a further 15 minutes as they played “Glad Time Rag” and “Reaching for the Stars” while the gold-clad guards with swords switched places. A man from the UK standing near us remarked on the music being played during the solemn change of the guards, “That’s a bit mad, isn’t it?”

We skipped Queen Mary’s dollhouse because the line was just too long. We instead breezed right into the state apartments. The kids really enjoyed seeing a castle with intact walls and ornate furniture. Megan prided herself on finding the hidden servant doors while Ian stared for a long time at the Tudor period portraits. We watched a guard near the rear (where the toilets were) march up and down on patrol then reposition himself near his booth. The pavement was worn smooth in his path.

We then went into the chapel where we saw a Who’s Who of grave markers, including Henry VIII’s. They actually allowed us to sit in the benches that line the ornately carved choir gallery. Looking up at the ceilings were almost the best part. We also found out that the queen isn’t at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle right now – she’s in Manchester (???) for the Maundy Thursday services. Oh well – all that waving yesterday for nothing.

We ate a quick lunch at Burger King (I know, I said I wouldn’t) before hopping on the bus to LEGOland. We managed to get in and out of there without any more offending incidents. Lots more international visitors today. We hit the discontinued bins today and got some random LEGO pieces. Great fun.

Once again, Kurt is swimming with the kids and I am here. No time for tea, though, since we’re having dinner shortly.


Quote of the Day:

Sorry, my brain is fried. I can’t remember at the moment what the kids said apart from “OOOh, a gift shop. Can we go in and buy something?”

Trains & LEGO’s

Our journey to lodging #2 took nearly all of Sunday. First a two hour train from Hastings to London Charing Cross followed by the Bakerloo Line on the Tube to Paddington Station, finishing on the NON-express train to Reading. Fortunately we had room for our luggage and to sit on the two proper trains. On the Tube, however, Kurt and I stood tending the luggage while the kids acted very grown up on seats 1/8 of a car away (trust me, I had my eye on them the entire time).

A one block walk had us to our hotel – a swanky new place called the Novotel which just opened in October. You have to love European culture. All the employees at the hotel wear name badges with flags on them – with each flag representing the languages they speak. I surprised myself with my flag knowledge. So far I haven’t not-known which languages an employee can speak. I’m a little afraid though that they might think I’m odd, not looking at their faces but their lapels…

Choices are very hard for Ian. He also tends to narrate everything he does or thinks when he’s in a room alone. In the loo, there are two stainless steel ovals on the wall – flush buttons. The large oval is for a large flush, the small oval for a small flush. Kurt and I were in hysterics listening to him narrating his daily duty and then the quandry which followed on whether or not it merited a large flush. I’m thinking of sketching up a flow chart before the week is through!

Monday opened warm and semi-sunny so we chose that as our first LEGOland day. It’s the first large amusement park we have brought the kids to (yes, even though we live in the state that houses Disneyland). What an affair! We stood packed like sardines in the space that connected one train car to the next from Reading to Slough, then sat on the branch line to Windsor. After turning circles a few times, the information agent told us how to catch the dedicated £11.75-for-family-round-trip bus to the park (thats $23.50 by the way). But it was loads of fun hearing the kids as they discussed all the LEGO figures we passed in the driveway – as well as hearing OTHER parents saying to their offspring “Do you want a smack? Keep it up and you’ll get a smack.” Our kids were rather well behaved, if I say so myself.

We got our exit passes with no problem. This enabled Ian to actually get on rides instead of melting down halfway through a line. We hit 5 rides in 2 hours then stopped for lunch. We finished the day in the Discovery Center where Ian and Megan made mechanical LEGO animals, and in the 4D movie with no words. The gift shop blew the kids’ minds – the size of a large Blockbuster filled with only LEGO items.

We drove by, but didn’t stop at, Windsor Castle. I think the kids were relieved to see a castle that was actually intact. We’ll have to get them to Hampton Court… The train journey home was uneventful, that is until the announcement came through that the trains brakes were faulty and it would be stopping in Reading to be serviced instead of going on to Oxford. We wondered if we would have to leap out, but we managed to stop without crashing.

Neither Kurt nor I are amusement park people, so we were exhausted when we got back to the hotel. The kids, on the other hand, are drooling to get back. Oh well, that’s why we bought the annual pass – isn’t it?


Quote of the Day:

Ian, racing a car against a UK native in Miniland and creating the other child’s first impression of Nasty Americans: “Woohoo, I won!” to which the crestfallen opponent said, “Well you don’t have to tease about it.”

Megan, hungry for once, “Can we get some more of those Worcester and Sun-Dried Tomato crisps?”