Eton, Berkshire: Extra Bread for Swans, Queen


News Editor

You won’t believe this, but the Queen of England is going broke just like the rest of us, according to Robert Booth in The Guardian. Booth, who has also been a Sunday Times reporter, and editor of the architecture publication Building Design, learned from the keeper of the privy purse that

the Queen needed to spend £4.5m redecorating the state rooms at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle and £13m renewing lead and slate roofs at both palaces…urgent repairs are needed to the roof of the Buckingham Palace ballroom, which has leaked for the last 18 months, causing water damage to the upholstered banquettes that are used for investitures by the Queen.

This sounds serious! But if you want to see some real numbers in the astronomical range, check out the Royal Family’s travel expenses, which run to about 5.5 million pounds a year – about $9 million. Don’t you wish you had that travel budget?

Windsor Castle, one of her majesty’s many homes, is near the town of Windsor, which is right across the river from Eton. This is convenient for the Queen, who is the titular owner of all the swans in England, when she attends a special yearly ceremony called Swan Upping, which is part of the yearly swan census conducted by functionaries in red coats. Windsor is also where the home of renowned architect Christopher Wren can be found. He is famous for designing a plethora of churches and other buildings, especially after the Fire of London wiped out so many structures.

Eton is, of course, the site of one of those famous schools from which snob credentials may be obtained, for those who care about that sort of thing. The town is said to be very cute, in a Ye Olde Englande sort of way. And it has a dessert (or as the Brits say, a pudding) named after it, one so scrumptious that it traveled to Canada from the old country. In Nova Scotia’s Chronicle Herald, Nadine Fownes gives a recipe for Eton Mess, which involves strawberries, whipped cream, and baked meringue.Eton Mess

Why this sudden interest in Eton? Well might you ask! This just happens to be one of the places mentioned in The Third Tower Up From the Road. It’s not so much the town that attracted Kevin Dolgin’s attention, as the swans and the ducks, or duck-like creatures. No ornithologist, he urges the reader to “Cut me some slack… anything that has wings and says ‘quack’ is and will always be a duck to me.” Okay. They inhabit the Thames River in a very picturesque manner, and this is why you should bring extra bread – to make up for a certain travel writer not having any in his pocket that day. Tell them Kevin sent you.

swans photo courtesy of Damian Cugley, used under this Creative Commons license

Eton Mess photo courtesy of Merle ja Joonas , used under this Creative Commons license


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