Saturday, July 3, 2010

Friday, July 3, 2010 Hampton Court, Part 2

    Looking back over the Tudor knot gardens towards the back of Hampton Court.
Cozy, don't you think?

Today, I returned to Hampton Court. Isn't it amazing what lots and lots of money can do! This palace is just ridiculously beautiful. I went to Hampton Court last summer on a Saturday for a highly publicized celebration on Henry the Eighth's wedding to Anne Bolyen. It was great and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but there were easily a thousand people there that day. I was sure that I didn't get to see everything. So, I decided to go back on a weekday when nothing else was scheduled. This year it was a completely different experience. There were maybe a hundred people there. The docents were friendly and talkative. I could think and check off each part of the palace as I saw them. I like to be an organized tourist.  I even got to see a photographer or journalist taking detailed pictures of some of the gorgoyles in the palace.

Although they are still celebrating Henry, (He is a rockstar among kings!) yesterday the emphasis seemed to be on William and Mary. I'm sure I don't have all this straight, but they were crowned king and queen after William III was run out of the country. Mary was English and had some claim to the throne, but not really a strong enough claim. The powerful men in the country had had enough of King William, so they sent a letter to his BROTHER-IN-LAW, William of Orange that said, "Please come invade us. We'll help you if you will rid us of this useless king." They didn't actually promise William that they would make him the new king, he was already to king of Holland after all. But, William also had a claim to the English throne, so they sort of left the door open. After William saved England from Cromwell, they worked a deal. He and Mary would marry and become co-rulers. So, it was an arranged marriage, but they grew to be very fond of each other. When she died, he was genuinely distraught. They never had any children, however. Ah oh...more trouble for the English throne! What is it with these English monarchs? They either can't or won't have children, like Henry and Elizabeth, or they have way more than needed like Queen Victoria or Queen Anne. Anne had eighteen children! One out of the litter is bound to be a trouble-maker!

One of the many cherry trees in the orchard.  Each magpie staked a claim
to his own personal tree and defended that territory with the vigor of
a Jack Russell terrier!
Anyway, Hampton Court was truly lovely, especially the Tudor gardens and orchard. There were cherry trees covered in fat cherries with big black and white birds fighting over them.  I found out that the birds were Magpies and they are related to Blue Jays. That explains their aggresive personalities.  Never get between a Blue Jay and his fruit tree!  The cherries were shiny and glossy just like they are in those old master, still life paintings. I always thought the painters must have exaggerated those cherries, but no. They're really that transparent and delectable. I spent about 45 minutes sitting on a bench under a tree in a remote section of the fruit orchard just absorbing the peace and imagining that I was some grand lady and the gardener working close to me was my servant. Oh well. I don't think I would want to wear those Elizabethan dresses.

I ended my tour in the Tiltyard cafe. Yes, even the Royal Palaces are not above a little tourism. I got some short bread which was O.K. I can make better. But I also got a slice of Victoria Sponge Cake! Wow! It was delish. I thought sponge cake was tasteless yellow cake with big holes in it. Wrong! It was tasty and light textured with a little sugar coating on the top. It had a slight lemony taste to it. They split the cake and spread a layer of jam and English custard in between the layers. They put a little whip cream and powdered sugar on top. Wonderful! I really don't know why people complain about English food. The puddings are so good, they make your eyes roll back in your head.

Tomorrow I'm taking a tour of The Houses of Parliament. That should be interesting. Hope everyone is well!


A better picture of the photographer and his assistants preparing the gargoyles for their close ups.

See those round balls hanging down from that ancient tree.  That is MISTLETOE, real mistletoe!  It's not the same as our mistletoe, at all!!!

Looking back from the rose garden towards the Chapel Royal.  This chapel has the most beautiful Tudor ceiling I have ever seen!  But since it is an active parish church, we weren't allowed to take pictures.  Look at all the chimneys.

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