Off to the races

adventures., London

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Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a bit of a thing for horses.

Luckily for me, so has the Queen of England.

This week marks the Royal Ascot race, a glorious four days of six races each, all displaying the majestic athleticism of horse and jockey. The event is sponsored by the crown, and generally a great display of horsemanship, wealth, and class systems in an ever-so-English style.

I was unable to afford seats with the posh people in the Royal Enclosure or even the Grandstand, and was regaled to the Silver Lawn, a nice-enough area with plenty of bars and restaurants for the regular people. As a surprise, there were plastic tables and chairs in the section, which allowed us not to stand or sit on the grass for the day’s entirety.

Sadly because I was so far away from the posh people, I couldn’t get a good look at the hats and fascinators on display. Americans will remember these from the Kentucky Derby, Derby Day and the Royal Wedding: they are ridiculously ornate hats and headpieces that women wear for formal occasions. I almost invested in one myself, but then decided against it until I can be sure I attend events that require fascinators more than once in my life.

I was able to view the less-posh fascinators from my own section, and enjoyed the whimsical ideas people had for their fascinators, among them: dead birds, bows and teacups, complete with saucers. Watching the hats while picnicking was entertaining enough before the racing began.

I brought as good of a picnic as I could, complete with chicken skewers, meringue nests with strawberries and Nutella, grapes and oatbakes with caramelized onion chutney. Of course, we also had some prosecco to toast the day with. Half of the day was about picnicking and enjoying being outside while it wasn’t raining, and half was about the horses.

Going through a bit of a Seabiscuit phase as a kid, combined with my knowledge from watching years of the Kentucky Derby on TV has allowed me to know a bit about horse races. I was able to pick up a racecard for the Ascot, which showed all of the horses’ stats like baseball cards and had the jockey’s colors printed out as well as betting odds and instructions on how to place bets. Since it was my first official horse race, I stuck with minimum bets on the most likely horses (most of which just happened to be American-bred).

I still lost.

If I learned one more thing about horse racing from the Ascot, it is that horse racing is never a sure thing. Even if the horse has the best odds, it can still lose in that home stretch or with a photo finish. I think that makes horse racing all the more exciting, although I can see how it would make it all the more confusing, as well.

After losing a few pounds to Totebet, getting some great photos of the royals in the Royal Procession and the horses in the races, finishing off some prosecco and realizing it was starting to rain, it was time to go. Somehow an entire day had gone by in what seemed to be a matter of hours. Between the hats, the horses and the food, it was worth spending the day at the Ascot.

The grandest faux birthday celebration on earth

London

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What’s better than standing outside for five hours to watch a ten-minute parade?

Everything, you say?

FALSE. “Nothing” is the correct answer, especially if that parade is also known as Trouping the Colour and celebrates current British monarch Queen Elizabeth II’s “official” birthday June 15.

The queen’s actual date of birth is in late April, but because April in London usually equals heavy rains and overcast skies, the state has decided instead to celebrate her date of birth in June for a hope/prayer of some bits of sunshine and at the very least, no rain.

Of course, being English summertime, there is no guarantee of any sort of weather at all, and June 15 rolled around promising sun, clouds and rain all in the same morning. (It delivered all three by two o’clock as well.)

Why, you may be wondering, does the entire UK commonwealth come together to celebrate a birthday for their queen that isn’t even her actual date of birth? I do not have a sufficient explanation for that, except this: Because they can.

Essentially, Trouping the Colour is a parade, held in the queen’s honor, in which all of the household guard garrisons are represented until one finally marches in front of the queen’s carriage, until she waves and rolls on. Then there is a ceremony at the horseguards parade grounds in which the queen receives a sovereign’s salute and inspects the troops before parading back to Buckingham palace for another salute there.

The whole thing just celebrates the fact that the UK has a monarch which celebrates a birthday, really. (The most ironic thing, of course, being that her actual birthday is two months earlier.)

After the parading and such the Royal Air Force does a “fly-over” Buckingham palace, showing off their best planes and creating a spectacular display in the sky.

The entire thing is pompously overdone, over-the-top and a bit over-estimated. However, it is undeniably the best, grandest, most spectacular celebration for a day that is not a birthday I have ever seen, and that I believe ever exists. There are few people on earth that have such a spectacular parade witnessed by thousands for their fake birthday.

Two hemispheres, one line

adventures., London

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As my time in London rapidly draws to a close, I am rapidly running out of touristy-things to do. I would not consider this a bad problem to have, although it has forced me to become a bit creative with my spare time.

Because I only have a week left in London, I don’t really think watching Netflix from the comfort of my bed is a great idea. Instead, I’ve come up with things to do and places to see that wouldn’t usually make it on any tourist (or native’s) must-see list.

One of such places is the borough of Greenwich, known internationally for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) from which all other time zones are measured against standard. Locally Greenwich is known for being a historical home to the British navy and maritime pursuits, especially astronomy and those tracking time accurately and cartography, or accurate map-making. (I suppose the international astronomy/historical/maritime communities would be aware of this as well.)

Greenwich used to be a small town to the east of London in which the Royal Astronomers would live at the Royal Observatory (until the 1990s). Of course, by then (and today) Greenwich is very much a part of ‘Greater London’, albeit very south and east, but it is still on the Thames and across the river from East London, where there is much construction, growth and wealth expansion happening right now.

My trip out to Greenwich centered on the observatory and the market, although it also has the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich University, The Queen’s House, and Greenwich Park among other things. The town itself is also very cute and still in a 1700s style, which is great for walking around and wandering the high streets.

The high point of the Greenwich Royal Observatory is by far a thin strip of copper set into the ground: one, thin line.

This line is the Prime Meridian, and from it all Earthly latitude is marked. Its coordinates are 00˚/ 51° 28′ 38” N. The man who invented Latitude was an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, and 0˚ (the Prime Meridian) is the coordinate of his telescope in Greenwich.

More importantly, the Prime Meridian divides the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Meaning, that when you straddle the small copper inset line, you are in both the Eastern and Western Hemisphere at the same time.

My first reaction was that “this is just like as a kid, when you would drive to the state line and take a photo, just to say you’ve stood in two places at once”. Or, “when you stop in the middle of Indiana to say you’ve stood in two time zones at once”. It’s kind of like that, but a lot bigger and more important – we’re not dealing in state lines or time zones, but hemispheres.

Apart from the mind-blowing experience of standing in two hemispheres, the Observatory is also home to a large array of clocks, as time was the main reason for and use of the longitude scale. The observatory also sits at the peak of Greenwich Park, and offers a lovely view of the Thames, The Queen’s House, and London City in the distance. After looking at the clocks and Prime Meridian, there isn’t much else for the Observatory to offer during its tour.

I therefore set off to Greenwich Market, which is just across from the park at its base along the Thames, and conveniently next to a DLR train station. Although a considerably small market, the whole thing is covered, neatly organized and a bit quirky, but in a good way. After wandering around a bit it was time to head home, but not before one last look at the Observatory on the hill. After all, how many times can you see two hemispheres at once?

Shakespeare’s ‘Shrew’, traditional and flipped

London

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Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend my second-ever show at the recreated Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank. As the theatre is about 10 minutes from my house, I’m slightly ashamed to admit it was my first production in the past five months.

The Taming of the Shrew has be done and redone many times since its Shakespearean inception. Most notably for my generation would have to be the modern(even if slightly inaccurate) interpretation of 10 Things I Hate About You starring Heath Ledger in the 1990s. Thanks to this and some other adaptations, as well as my reading the play at some point or another during my English literature career, I was pretty familiar with what was supposed to play out.

I was, however, a bit skeptical about the interpretation of the performance, for a few reasons: 1. It was a travelling troupe, and usually liberties are taken with texts to make the performances adaptable without sets or in varied locations; 2. It was an all-female cast performing roles traditionally done by an all-male cast. Each scenario requires actors to dress up as the opposite gender, but this rendition had the classic “men dressing up as women” flipped on its head to have “women dressing up as men” which, to this day, is still not as shocking, but it was something to consider. This latter point was very clever precisely because the King’s Men were all men and provided a modern take on Shakespearean performance.

After the actors came to stage, however, my qualms went away. The cast began with the frame story of a drunk made to think he was a lord watching a production for him, and included old English ditties not originally in the play which all the women sang together. They were clearly skilled singers and musicians, which is always useful in one of Shakespeare’s comedies.

As predicted, their costumes and staging were rather simple for a Globe production. Costuming went with a turn-of-the-century look as opposed to traditional Elizabethan, and all props were hand-held, other than a large circus tent in the middle of the stage which I assume also acts as a stage in more remote travelling locations. The actresses did well with such limitations, however, and they arguably weren’t limiting at all but an interpretational opportunity to ensure the audience knew which character was which (i.e. the ones with books were tutors) and when.

Eerily enough for me, the actress playing Petruchio, Leah Whitaker, had short curly hair reminiscent of Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You, which was perhaps a great coincidence and perhaps a deliberate choice. Either way, it helped link the traditional to the modern and the even more modern in this performance. Whitaker’s performance otherwise was brilliant, just arrogant enough and commanding – everything Petruchio’s character should be.

The actress playing Katherine, Kate Lamb, did a stunning job, being outspoken when supposed to and clearly broken down later in the play. Most audience members (including some of my friends) aren’t expected a broken woman to appear in what is billed as a “comedy,” and I think that is part of Shakespeare’s genius as a playwright: nothing is perfect. Her costuming changed from a pristine wedding dress to one splattered in mud and her demeanor matched the character perfectly.

The performance was dotted with ditties similar to the first one, and ended with a beautiful sax solo by the actress playing Katerina and vocal accompaniment.

Overall it was clear the women were just as capable (if not more so) than an all-male cast of producing a lovely production of The Taming of the Shrew. As a Shakespeare student I am always skeptical of theatrical interpretations, but the cast, crew and director nailed Shrew on the head with this production.

Part of the Family

London

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I am a sucker for family dinners.

Because I am so used to them when at home, going for long periods of time without family dinners, or at least the semblance of home cooking and good conversation at a table, is rather saddening.

So when one of my friends (let’s call her Giada), invited me to her family home for a Sunday dinner, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

As Giada’s mother is Thai, we were promised a Thai feast that was rather difficult to turn down (not that I ever really imagined turning down a free meal that was also promised to be delicious).

So with good food and a pleasant afternoon promised, Sunday I made my way to Columbia Road Flower market to pick up some thank-you flowers and then met the crew at Waterloo Station for our trek to Surbiton, where Giada lives. Surbiton is in Zone 6, which nowadays is theoretically ‘Greater London’, but is actually Surrey, which is just south of London.

The first thing that surprised me is how close it was to where we lived in South East London (SE1). The second thing that surprised me was how green everything is about thirty minutes outside the city. Vines, trees, shrubbery, flowers, garden plants: everything was bathed in a viridian hue for summer. The houses were typical of the area surrounding London and Surrey: many semi-detached houses sharing a wall and chimney, each with a carefully maintained back garden and a small drive in the front. It was all of my Harry Potter Privet Drive dreams come to life, and what I’ve learned is just common English architecture, much like bungalow houses in the U.S.

Almost immediately after arriving at Giada’s (and handing off the thank-you flowers) we were ushered to the table to eat what became one of my most extensive and certainly most Asian meal of the past five months. Homemade spring rolls, chicken skewers, sushi, steamed rice, fried rice, curry, noodles and cashew chicken were piled high on the table and then on my plate. I got second and third helpings, much to my poor stomach’s detriment because it was not used to eating so much in such a sort period of time.

After two breaks and eating as much as possible, there were still strawberries, merengues, melon, coffee cake and pomegranate for dessert, which was equally delicious and filling.

After dinner consisted of a thoroughly normal session of watching the French Open on a giant, HD flat screen TV. The whole afternoon thoroughly reminded me of Sunday dinners at home and how much I do miss them. Being on my own for so many weeks forced me to forget what being in a normal home was like, the luxury of just relaxing on a leather sofa and watching sports on an obnoxiously (and amazing) large TV, and just chatting and enjoying the day.

It was so nice to be a part of such normality, even if for a day, and I am glad I was lucky enough to get the invitation. The leftovers were a nice bonus, too.

London Zoo: adults only

adventures., London

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As a rule, zoos are usually places for children – small children – and their parents, babysitters or caretakers to see exotic animals and learn the noises they make or to imitate their favorite ones.

The Zoological Society of London and the Regent’s Park Zoo decided to flip this concept and create a zoo atmosphere that is strictly anti-small-children. It’s anti-non adults, actually, because only 18s-and-over are allowed in the zoo at all. Considering my aversion to large groups of small children because they make me nervous, Zoo Lates seemed like the perfect way to experience the Regent’s Park Zoo.

Zoo Lates are a creation of ZSL that keeps the London Zoo open after hours for adults to come, drink, picnic, see some animals, play games and have fun. They are billed as “Wild Nights” on their Tube posters, which were interesting enough (and bright yellow enough) to catch my attention on the commute home and have me Google the event.

After proposing the idea to my friends, a group of us decided there simply was no other way one could possibly see the zoo, and we must go. Friday we set off for Regent’s Park with picnics in hand ready to see some penguins and giraffes.

Upon arriving at the zoo and realizing that hundreds of other adults would also be attending, we decided to eat our picnics first so as to not carry them and set up blankets outside of Penguin Beach on the grass that people are apparently just allowed to walk and sit all over, unlike the (marvelous but picky) Cleveland Metroparks Zoo which I am used to.

After leisurely eating snacks and sandwiches, we realized if we kept up our pace we’d never see animals before their 9:00 bedtime, and set off to find some exotic things at once.

We started with the butterfly exhibit, housed in a giant blow-up caterpillar, in which butterflies are free to roam around and sometimes land on people by accident. The greenhouse was humid, muggy and full of colorful winged creatures – everything a butterfly exhibit is expected to be. We then wound our way around the pavement paths of the zoo, seeing monkeys, tigers, meerkats, anteaters and lions in the process, and stopping for some Pimm’s and to play on the jungle gyms, of course.

We then made an unsuccessful dash for the giraffe exhibit before being ushered back to our starting point at Penguin Beach where we saw some rather un-Antarctic looking penguins before wandering around a bit more. We watched grown adults wrestle in sumo suits, sing horribly to karaoke, play regulation beer pong and screech/dance during a silent disco in which everyone was outfitted with light-up headphones that played the same song simultaneously. Unfortunately none of us were willing to part with the £1o deposit, but we had just as much fun poking fun at those who were participating, because they looked completely ridiculous.

We stopped by the ‘Find the Animal Within You’ booth to try on an array of penguin, panda and lion caps before accepting that the zoo (and Zoo Lates) was, in fact, closing, the animals were, in fact, all asleep, and we did, in fact, need to leave.

It was a great way to spend a Friday night – definitely an “experience” worth having.

Watching hundreds of adults roam around a zoo without any children at all was both eery and entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed not being anxious at dozens of youngsters running about, but the entire thing had an air of being off without them as well. Zoos, as we all know, were meant for adults, children and families to enjoy together, and while no one can deny that being able to order Pimm’s at the zoo is awesome, I’m sure the little kids trying to see the penguins enjoy it more.

The London Literature Experiment

London

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Being the English nerd that I am, when I found out there was a Literature Festival going on this summer a half-mile away from my doorstep, I naturally jumped at an opportunity to see what it was all about.

The South Bank, where I live, is home to the Royal Festival Hall and hosts dozens of festivals every summer. Currently it’s hosting a ‘Festival of Neighbourhood’ all summer long, which encompasses smaller festivals as it goes. For example, the Udderbelly Comedy Festival, The Street Food Festival, and (of course) the London Literature Festival.

What I did expect at the festival: books, authors and, well, literature.

What I did not expect at the festival: pricey tickets.

You see, while the festival itself was “free”, all events with big-name authors or workshops required an entrance fee, therefore making it nearly impossible for a broke college student such as myself to see keynote speakers or attend stort story workshops as I would have liked.

The festival itself included keynote talks, literary award ceremonies, workshops, plays, poetry readings and more. I happened to visit on Sunday, when they had some creative writing workshops and outdoor stalls set up.

To be honest, when I got there I didn’t know what to expect. I knew about the kinds of events but was unsure what was happening that day, as each weekend yielded something different and the festival technically lasts all summer.

I was fortunate enough to catch the aftermath of a creative writing workshop in which participants were given cartoon-like pictures and required to write a few sentences creating a story to accompany the pictures. The results were hung clothesline-style to see the different ideas participants came up with. I had the chance to wander among the clotheslines, where it became apparent all of the images were done in a WWI-cartoon style, inspiring many war-related stories. I forgot how fun such exercises can be, since I really haven’t tried one since grade school, and wished I could have shown up earlier to partake. Regardless, it was just as entertaining reading others’ writing than coming up with my own.

After a stroll around the festival hall and realizing there was little else to do with no money, I wandered back outside to find the Poetry Takeaway, a take-out-food-like caravan that had three poets sitting inside with scribble pads, pens and small slips of finishing paper. I had heard about the idea before, but wanted to see what it was all about. More accurately, understanding how difficult it can be to make up poems with words or ideas someone else gives you, I wanted to see how much fun I could have by giving these poets difficult subject matter.

Speaking with one of the poets, I realized how seriously they took the volunteer work and lost the heart to challenge the writers. I instead requested an ode to London, and, after a very intense and thorough line of questioning about my time here, was instructed to return in 45 minutes.

After wandering around South Bank (and tasting delicious food from the Street Food Festival) for about an hour, I returned to my only remaining encounter with the Literature Festival to see the result.

The result was a clever, writer-appreciative non-rhyming poem that encompassed many things I loved about London while not saying very much at all. It was a good souvenir, however, and I will always appreciate the thought, effort and energy of the Poetry Takeaway crew. The Literature Festival is one of the many reasons South Bank is awesome, because there is always something going on, and something to take away from it.

Mayerling at the Royal Opera

adventures., London

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I’m not sure my friends and family would necessarily describe me as “spontaneous”.

I like to think things through, have a plan, have a pro/con list to accompany my decision in choosing that plan, and have another list and/or spreadsheet to execute such plan, if it happens to be important. (Ok, admittedly, that is the opposite of “spontaneous”).

While my travel plans are completely opposite of such neurosis, generally I do not make other decisions lightly, especially when it concerns spending money.

As a broke college student living in one of (if not the) most expensive cities in the world, sometimes I’m forced to make real-life decisions: do I want that sandwich from Pret for lunch, or can I buy an equally sufficient one at the library cafeteria for half the price? Do I want to go out tonight knowing there is a £20 cover charge? Is this fascinator really worth £40? While I clearly want for nothing, budgeting can (admittedly) be tough, especially for someone who has essentially taken vacations every few weeks for the past six months.

But sometimes, deals are just a little too good to pass on, and the decision to take it or leave it is one that must be spur-of-the-moment.

Saturday morning, fresh from my final exam the day before and basking that is the glory of eternal summer (also known as every student’s first day of summer), I set off online to look up the Royal Ballet. I had passed the Opera House the day before and remembered vowing to see a show sometime before I left, painfully realizing I was quickly running out of time to live up to such a promise.

Minutes ticket away as I found out “what’s on” for June: two showings I could attend, one a double-feature matinee with a ticket price starting at £45. The other was for that very evening, one seat, AA1, in the back of the theatre in the “slips”, also known as the nosebleeds. But it was a seat, which is hard to come by in the slips, and the Price Was Right at only £9. Seconds ticked away as I internally debated with myself, as going to the ballet alone is quite a strange thing to do.

In the end I couldn’t pass up the £9 price and there was a promise of a full-stage view, something also hard to come by in the slips, which are “restricted view” only.

After arriving for what I thought was a 7:30 show that actually started at 7:00, I was kindly ushered to a hallway TV monitor where I caught Act I. Even from the TV screen the ballerinas were wonderful, and I only wished I could see and appreciate the costumes more, because the harsh stage lighting on film made everyone appear in bright white.

After shamefully sneaking in for Act II with all of my fellow latecomers, I knew it was worth the wait.

My seat, AA1, was the last in a row bench, making it easy for me to maneuver in and out and lean as far forward as I liked without bothering those “behind” me (in the same row). As we all had to sit at an angle to get the best view of the stage, the entire row was leaning at a 45 for the performance. Because I was the last person, I was leaning closer to an 85 degree angle, something which was both painful and necessary.

Although I had to lean on my elbows to see, watching the Royal Ballet primas dance out the tragic story of Mayerling was inspiring. The orchestra accompaniment was a breathtaking ensemble of strings, brass and drums, and the emotion of the storyline was evident in each dancer’s movements, assisted of course by costume and staging.

The choreography took my breath away, which I later learned was thanks to Kenneth MacMillan since 1978.

The marvelous dancing was mostly in part to Johan Kobborg, who took the lead role in what I also later learned was his last role for the ballet, which the 40-year-old has been dancing for with his partner, Alina Cojocaru, since 1999.

All in all, it was a perfect snap-decision. I couldn’t make it to any other show, but I’m glad I made it to the one I did. After about 15 standing ovations for individuals and the cast, I made my way back home just slightly more aware of my posture and foot turn out.

#abroadlessons: I still go to school?

London, reflections

Unfortunately sometimes priorities have to be created.

For the past several weeks, I had to make a tough decision: blogging or studying for my exams.

Luckily for me, I chose the latter and did rather well on all of my exams.

Unluckily for my documentation of my trip/ writing, I haven’t been able to update my adventures thus far – because while I’ve been M.I.A., I’ve still managed to take advantage of England!

There will be many posts to come, but this month has reminded me bitterly that I am, in fact, still in school. While I’ve theoretically had class all semester and a bit of homework, and while I’ve spent dozens of hours in our castle/library working on essays previously, nothing quite prepared me for King’s exam scheme.

Except for the hours of studying over the past several weeks.

While deciding to focus on my schoolwork wasn’t necessarily fun (especially over the bank holidays in May), it was definitely worth the effort. There will be a bombardment of updating going on A.S.A.P., as well as a plethora of adventures to come!

Hopefully I can make these last three weeks in London count.

Royalty for a day at Hampton Court and Windsor

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I’ve never been as obsessed with the royal family as some people I know, but I do keep a close eye on them.

It’s always fun to hear about the hospital wing speeches or cruise ship dedications or garden parties attended, and (more importantly) I love looking at the pictures of everyone in smart dress and fascinators on special occasions. I read the papers like everyone else, so I’m also familiar with familial faux-pas (say that ten times fast), and the latest antics of people (usually Harry).

Although I keep up-to-date, I have never been one to hunt down the royals outside Buckingham/St. James’ Palace, or at state funerals, garden parties, etc. I enjoy the fact that they exist because they are entertaining (I will not get into the politics of it all), but that is about it.

I also, of course, am interested in the history of the English monarchy because it’s fascinating. With so few linear monarchies left in the world, it’s amazing the current state still exists, even if it is just a formality.

Because of all this, when I was offered the opportunity to visit both Hampton Court, home to the infamous Henry VIII, and Windsor Castle, weekend home to Queen Elizabeth, I couldn’t say “no”.

Imagining life as a royal is much easier when you go to their “house”, so-to-speak. Especially in Henry’s time, to contrast the grandeur of the Hampton Court ‘weekend lodge’ with what homes I know would have been typical of peons such as myself is astounding.

The masonry work on the castle is breathtaking, especially the Tudor chimneys, which all have different designs. The palace is designed around several courtyards, each with dozens of plate-glass windows and fountains with running water from pipes, which (at the time) would have been not only expensive but also feats of engineering.

The inside of Hampton Court is just as much so, if not more so, impressive than the outside. The ‘Great Hall’ is filled with tapestries that are virtually invaluable, because they are so well-preserved and maintained. Paintings are abound and part of the palace is in the Baroque style thanks to William and Mary, who wanted to redecorate upon their ascension to the throne, built a new palace behind the existing palace, and then never destroyed the original. The painted ceilings and large windows of the Baroque quarters are magnificent.

Not to be outdone by indoor decor, the outside gardens are also lovely, complete with topiaries, wisteria vines and the world’s oldest grape vine. The gem of the gardens is the Hampton Court Maze, the oldest existing maze on record. Overall Hampton Court makes you feel like royalty walking around, imagining the place as a great big house.

Windsor Castle is no different, with perhaps the exception that it is someone’s house – the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. As we were there on a weekend, the regent’s flag was raised, notifying us that the queen “was in”.

It also happens to be the largest constantly occupied castle in Europe. The castle is simplistically beautiful with its self-cleaning multi-tonal grey stone. There is so much to see, from the guards on duty to the old private apartments to Queen Anne’s Doll House. We were only given a few hours, and were certainly sad to see them tick away so quickly.

After a rather lengthy tour through (literally) every corner of Windsor and Eton, it was time to head home. While walking into my flat reminded me that I am not, in fact, royalty, or anything close to it, the day of pretending was nice all the same. At the very least, it allowed me to understand royals a little bit better by assuming what it  must have been like to grow up at Windsor Castle.