Saturday Short Story – Family Fun

Karly King was not looking forward to her ninth birthday, too many presents and a big party at the local bowling alley. She didn’t even like bowling and everyone would be watching as she sent the glittering pink junior bowl straight into the gutter.

Everyone was up, she could hear her brothers fighting already and Dad was yelling Breakfast Readeee. Karly wondered what concoction he had come up with today; he was having a vegan phase, ever conscious of the need for new challenges. Her mother was exempt from the vegan menus as she was pregnant.

Breakfast in pyjamas as it was her birthday, new pyjamas chosen to look good in the photos. Her parents had gone completely over the top as usual and the big family kitchen was adorned with number nine balloons and Happy Birthday Girls banners everywhere. Why did she have to share her birthday, how she longed to be an only child. Out of habit she put on her video face and smiled.

‘Last one down as usual Karly, just like when you were born. Happy Birthday Darling, our little miracle.’

The breakfast was quite nice. Karly smiled to herself as she spotted the flattened ‘Happy Earth Breakfast’ delivery box peeking out of the recycling bin.

‘Lovely breakfast Daddy.’

She would not give the game away, everything in her family must appear real and of course HAPPY.

At school other children envied her family, either wanting to be best friends or teasing them mercilessly. Karly only had one real friend, shy little Betty who lived in a pokey flat with her abandoned mother. She loved visiting Betty as she was treated like a normal child and neither mother nor daughter asked her how the rest of her family were. Betty was too scared to go round to Karly’s house and Karly guessed her protective mother would not let her anyway. The rest of the family did not even know Betty existed, everyone assuming Karly was with one of the others if they noticed she wasn’t at home.

At the breakfast table everyone was debating who would do best at the bowling alley. They had all been practising so they would look good on the day. Her sisters were arguing as to who was going to wear which colour to the party. Identical outfits, lurid leggings and jazzy tops with matching patterns, but each a different colour scheme, had been made by their personal designer. If Karly ever tried to complain about the family lifestyle she would be reminded it was their living and how envious other girls were and how Karly would not like being poor.

It was not easy being a sextuplet, especially in the middle of a huge family whose lives had been documented since before the girls were born, with a few changes of television channel along the way. Six Children Plus Six More had been a big hit, with viewers fascinated how parents who already had six children had found themselves expecting sextuplets. Then before interest could wain, twin boys were on the way. The six girls were Mrs Knight’s only caesarean delivery; quintuplets had been expected, but Karly had been found lurking at the back, the tiniest of the bunch and not expected to live, adding gravitas to the series.

Mr and Mrs Knight gazed lovingly at their huge family, they did love all their children, even if they couldn’t remember their names. It was not easy competing with all the other Big Family documentaries, Twenty Two Children and Counting,  Twins Every Time, Tripple Tripple Trouble and Conjoined, The Family That Sticks Together. So it seemed natural to keep having more babies and thinking up more domestic dramas. It was unfortunate that the new headmaster at the primary school had banned cameras; rather hypocritical as the production company had given a lot of books, musical instruments and other extra curricular items to the school. But at least the first programme in  series ten would have the annual drama of the birthday party, the Hollywood Bowl taken over completely by the family with two guests for each child.  Excitement on the lanes would be followed by the ‘Fantastic Feast’ then over to the park for the girls’ birthday surprise, a pony each.

Birthday Surprise

It’s my third birthday tomorrow. I don’t know why I suddenly had to come and stay with Granny or where Mummy and Daddy have gone. Maybe they went to buy my birthday present, maybe they have gone to get my puppy. I really want a puppy like Jacob has, a Doodle puppy. I keep asking, but Mummy and Daddy just smile and ask me if I would like a brother to play with instead. I said no, I would rather have a puppy.

Will they be back in time for my birthday?

Granny’s taking me home. We stopped at the petrol station to buy flowers for Mummy. I don’t know why, it’s not her birthday.

Daddy opens the door with his smiley face on.

‘Guess what Luke, we have a really big surprise for your birthday.’

Hurrah, I’m going to get a puppy, a big puppy like Jacob’s. I rush into the living room. Mummy’s lying on the sofa in her dressing gown, maybe we’re having a pyjama day, but I’ve got my clothes on, Granny never lets me have pyjama days. The puppy must be in the garden.

‘Happy birthday darling, aren’t you going to come and give me a cuddle?

Granny’s peering into a big flowery bag next to the sofa. She has a silly grin on her face.

‘Don’t you want to see your birthday surprise Luke’ says Mummy.

‘Is it a Doodle puppy?’

‘Why don’t you have a look.’

Daddy, Granny and Mummy all have their arms round me, I nearly fall into the bag.

Inside is a blanket, is the puppy wrapped up? There is something pink, a round pink blobby thing.  It’s a squidgy face, yuk…

‘It’s your new baby brother.’

WHAT! They said would I like a brother to play with, they didn’t say he would be a baby.

‘Have I got a puppy as well?’

‘No Darling, we’ll all be too busy looking after the baby to have a puppy yet. Perhaps when you’re both big boys.’

‘I am a big boy, you said I would be a big boy when I’m three.’

‘Do you want to help choose his name’ says Daddy.

‘No, he doesn’t need a name yet.’

The squidgy baby is making a noise, ow, my ears. Everyone is laughing except me and making a big fuss as if crying is clever. What is Mummy doing now?

‘Look, Mummy’s giving baby his breakfast.’

What sort of breakfast is that, wouldn’t he rather have Cheerios. I wonder if I’m going to get any other presents, like Lego. I wonder if Jacob would swap. Perhaps his mummy would like a baby and we could have his puppy.

Tuesday Tiny Tale – Grandma’s Birthday Bash

Grandma’s Big Ate O  WhatsApp group

Anyone heard from Josh?

Am I booking the house?

Yes, all agreed on the date, Gma’s actual bday?

No, that’s when we’re in Portugal.

If I’m doing photo book send me nice pix of Xmas with smiling kids.

No, haven’t heard from Josh.

And smiling adults.

But not the one with Lucy unwrapping sex toys!!!

Sending pic with everyone round the table.

Oh I look awful. Don’t use.

I am not even in it, was in the kitchen… all day.

Who took pic of baby on Great Gma’s lap?

Josh I think.

Have we heard from him yet?

Send the link to this place pls.

Did, four days ago, ‘The Greenhouse….’

All glass?

Not that sort, environmentally friendly, green roof, grey water tanks, straw walls.

Hope a wolf doesn’t come along…

Oh that sounds excellent, get some ideas for our self build.

Y’re not still on about that?

Yes, can’t wait to tell everyone…

If we’re only there for a few days, doesn’t matter what it’s made of.

Thought we were booking for a week.

We can only do four nights, ballet and horse riding.

I want a week and so does Mum, it is her birthday treat.

Who’s working out the cost share?


Anyone heard from him?

Thought Gma was paying for it.

Did you get another date for your operation Tam?

No, but let’s get on with booking.

Did they decide where your Danny was on the spectrum?

Not yet.

Are you bringing the dogs?


And their containers?

Crates, yes.

What about the little ones?

We could put them in the crates ha ha…

We need four more to book the air rifles.

Do they do archery at that place?

Yup and human hamster balls.

What do they do for great grannies?

Garden shop and tea room.

Baz’s girlfriend is allergic.

To plants?

No, dogs.

Tyson won’t eat my baby will he?

Might do, ha ha, certainly won’t realise your handbag fur ball is also a dog.

Fur baby, fur balls are what cats have.

Did we decide whether to get Gma another cat?

Josh was looking into rescue cats, anyone heard from him yet?

Haven’t you lot got beds to go to. Let’s finish sorting this tomorrow if we hear from Josh.

Okay, but who’s taking Gma?

No room in our car.

We’re coming on the train.

We’re bringing the van.

I’m in the opposite direction, thought Josh was bringing her.

Has Josh been in touch with anyone?

Tuesday Tiny Tale – Birthday Girl

Finally the day has arrived, twenty one at last and I am going to have a big party. All the family are coming of course and some of my best friends, not all of them alas. Covid wreaked havoc with our social lives, but now it’s 2024 I think we have put that behind us. Of course the planet is still hovering on the brink of disaster, but hey let’s forget about that for one day, I’m going to have breakfast and open all my cards.

We’re having the do at that new hotel, very posh and a nice place to stay for those who have travelled. Dinner and dancing after, but informal as there will be lots of children. I wanted everyone to come and the visitors will span a century, can you believe that. The newest baby has been named Daphne after the amazing aunt who has just notched up one hundred years.

Here I am then, ready to greet all the guests. What nobody knows yet is that Charles and I are going to announce our engagement tonight, that will be a surprise for quite a few guests; all part of the excitement, life doesn’t get much better than this.

That meal was wonderful and now I must make my little speech before we release the children to let off steam.

Thank you everyone for joining me to celebrate my twenty first, it’s so wonderful to see everyone together after those Covid years and to be here with five generations of my family. I do have a little surprise for you. We have not known each other very long but Charles and I have decided to get engaged and we plan to have the wedding very soon, we don’t want to wait as he is ninety one. But Charles wants to add a few words… ‘

‘Well I never thought I would be getting married again, especially to a girl of twenty one, but that is the advantage of courting a young lady who was born in a leap year, 29th February 1940. How many great grandchildren we have between us we have lost count, but it’s wonderful to see both our families here. Here’s to the future.’

Tuesday Tiny Tale -565 – Uncle Brian

It didn’t help that Uncle Brian was six foot four and an ex rugby player. The fact that he had a glorious bass voice that sent ladies aflutter was a distinct disadvantage. Perhaps if it had not been the annual family Halloween party we would have taken Brian more seriously. Uncle Brian had always been a joker, so we were used to his larger than life pranks.

When we were young we always went to Uncle Brian and Aunty May’s summer barbeques, but when he and his rugby mates had had a good few bevvies and the ribald jokes started we were quickly rounded up for home time. Once, when we had Granny squashed in the back seat as well, I said ‘Mum, is Uncle Brian very rich?’

Dad laughed. ‘You must be joking.’

‘So why do his friends say he’s well endowed?’

Granny let out a sort of choking sound and Mum shushed me.

The Halloween party was one social occasion my husband did not try to avoid, he said you never knew what was going to happen when my family got together. He certainly wasn’t disappointed this year.

It wasn’t actually Halloween yet, but any time in October was good enough and it was my cousin’s turn to have it at their place. Just about everyone had turned up except Uncle Brian and Aunty May. The children ran around dressed as pumpkins and skeletons and the adults caught up with the gossip. We were just murmuring that Brian and May were a bit late when the door bell rang and we heard Brian’s loud voice in the hall. When he walked into the sitting room, strangely the first thing I noticed, he had shaved his beard off. The second thing I noticed, he was dressed as a woman; completely, from his high heels to his coiffured hair and perfect make up.

He stood poised elegantly as the room fell silent, we waited for him to laugh, then the children started giggling, but Brian wasn’t laughing. My cousin grinned. ‘Daad it’s not fancy dress, that was last year.’

‘It’s not fancy dress, from now on I’m Bryony.’

Ha ha,’ said his brother ‘next thing you’ll be telling us you’re gay.’

‘Not gay, just in the wrong body, always have been, now the real me has come out.’

‘You mean this isn’t one of your jokes…’ said his daughter tremulously.

‘Nope, no joke, but I’m still your Dad, nothing’s changed.’

I risked a glance at my husband who was relishing every moment and opened his mouth to speak.

‘Have you had it chop…’

I dug him in the ribs and jumped up before he could say any more. I had heard all the programmes, read the magazine articles, I was well up on the LGBTQ scene, I knew what to say. I clasped Uncle Brian’s hand.

Well done, if this is what you want, we can go shopping for clothes together and we’ll support you all the way.’

I paused waiting for him to let out a loud guffaw and say ‘I really fooled you all this time’ but he didn’t.

Then someone else piped up.

‘So where’s Aunty May, just realised she isn’t here.’

‘Ah, erm, well she wasn’t feeling at all well and sends her apologies… Anyway isn’t it time for some food and I must sit down, my feet are killing me.’

Naturally Laterally

I had a hospital appointment the day after our delayed Christmas, for planning, which sounds more like a council department, but is to measure up for radiotherapy. Handy hint – always re-read your hospital letter the night before. I was supposed to do a lateral flow test. I had never done one as I have had regular PCR tests at oncology outpatients during chemotherapy. Luckily Team AK had half a dozen boxes someone had given them as the tests were hard to acquire over the Christmas season; the whole country had been told to do them frequently before visiting. Luckily Team H were still with us, with school and work they do them all the time. Fortunately I wasn’t on my own as chemotherapy has left me with peeling finger nails and peripheral neuropathy, making undoing or peeling open anything difficult. I read the instruction booklet carefully, set the kitchen timer and announced I must not look at the test result for thirty minutes. ‘No, twenty minutes’ said someone. ‘You have to check for the pink line after five minutes’ said another.

‘What pink line?’

There was no pink line, the test was null and void. It was suggested there was not enough magic fluid in the squeezy phial. Two more test kits were opened so we could use two phials. The pink line appeared and in half an hour I had a result. My son-in-law said I had better photograph the result in case I needed proof. It had taken a team of five, three tests and two self assaults on my throat and nose to get a negative result. Thank goodness I had not left the procedure till the morning.

Not all tests are exactly the same I gather and they probably have different names according to where you live. I wonder how anyone living alone with bad eyesight or hands that don’t work one hundred per cent manages to do these tests, let alone busy parents who are expected to test their children every time symptoms or contacts occur. I have also concluded from my limited circle of family and friends that we are divided over testing, the same as we are divided over mask wearing. Some families test continually and demand the same of visitors while others have never taken a test.

Parents with school children are testing frequently. Fortunately a positive result in children usually means mild symptoms and time off school, yet again…  A recent survey reveals that since the school term started three out of four grandchildren now have Covid…

Friday Flash Fiction 650 – Life Sentence

Hanging’s too good for him, that’s what my grandfather would have said.

‘Have you had enough time to think?’

I blinked and tried to focus on my latest family liaison officer, ‘call me Nessa’. I had already lost two, one to Covid and one to stress, not surprising, talk about a poisoned chalice. Time to think, I had done nothing but think. But decisions? All decisions had been taken from me that night, our lives reduced to forensically sealed bags.

‘I have to ask you this again, I must be sure you understand, you cannot tell anyone where you are going, you cannot contact anyone at all. One slip and someone will find you, not her family, but some low life… We can inform your family that you are fi… okay.’

As if I would want to contact anybody, even if I did have the means. I don’t know where I am, let alone where I am going, though the ends of the earth would not be far enough.

‘Just please tell me Nessa, did he have any message for me? Are you keeping it from me, did anyone hear him say anything?’

‘I’m sorry, he would not open your letter and he had no message for you or the children or any family…’

There wasn’t anything in that letter, no hate or anger, just one word, I almost felt like writing it in blood, WHY? I know what you are thinking, I must have known. I used to think that about the wives of murderers. We were a normal family, not perfect, he wasn’t around much, but we did things together when he was here; the kids miss him and their toys and our home, keep asking. There was his shift work, overtime and going out with his mates, I knew when I married him he needed his own space, to chill out. On the computer at night if he was home, everyone’s husband does that, don’t want to watch soaps on television with their wives, do their hobbies, photography, plan the next holiday, order DIY stuff from Amazon, do the Tesco order.  Okay so occasionally I felt, wondered… but liven up your marriage, nothing wrong with fantasies those on line articles say. I dismissed those thoughts, must be me, just imagining those occasional looks from his colleagues on the rare occasions he took me to a Work Do. And I thought if there was anything they would know, his work colleagues, his superiors. A couple of times there was some sort of trouble at work but nothing came of it.

‘Why didn’t you lot confront him, you had the most evil man in the country serving as a police officer and you did not confront him. Don’t worry, you can’t feel as guilty as me, but I will not bear it alone.’

At least Nessa did me the service of not trying to answer. What I do have to bear alone is giving birth to Satan’s spawn. I have even been tempted to smother them in their sleep.

 An adventure, we’re going to pretend to be a different family and I have reached a decision; I will choose a country that does not have English as its first language, rural life out in the provinces, hopefully few will speak English.  If the children forget and start chatting about the past no one will understand them. They are young and they will forget, we will learn a new language together, refugees do that all the time. Other families must have done this before me, I’m not the only murderer’s wife. But no amount of pretence can change their evil DNA.

Nessa’s speaking ‘What have you told the children?’

We’re going on a big adventure to a new country safe from Covid. Yes I know, pathetic, but what would you have told them if you were in my place?

Friday Flash Fiction – 707 – Coffee Break

‘Claire, Claire, where are you?’

The back door flew open to reveal my husband dressed in his bright holiday shorts and business shirt and tie.

‘Where did you think I was, I told you we were going to fill up the paddling pool.’

‘Nice to be some…’ said Tom.

‘Come and join us later, surely you’re allowed a break?’

‘Depends how long the conference call goes on for, I just came to tell you we’re out of coffee.’

Covid had a lot to answer for, especially the idea of working from home.

‘Can’t you get it, I can’t leave the little ones with the water. Why don’t you have a cup of tea or a smoothie for now?’

Tom spluttered in disgust.

‘A green broccoli smoothie is not going to get me through that conference call… anyway you know what we always get.’

‘Okay, you stay out here and keep an eye on the hose and the children… and put your phone away.’ I dropped my voice and mouthed  ‘it only takes a minute for a child to  D.. R.. O..W.. N.’ then raised it ‘Oscaar… hose in the paddling pool not on Daddy.’

‘Don’t be long’ pleaded Tom.

‘Do you want the variety box, latte, expresso, americano…?

‘Yes, yes the biggest box they do.’

 I went upstairs, pausing on the landing to look out the window and make sure Tom had not forgotten he was in charge. The hose was now snaking out of control across the lawn. In my so called office I logged in to Coffee Zone, repeat order, multi pack, check delivery times… Yes, coffee would be here in time for his bloody conference call. What did they actually do on conference calls? Probably played X Box like my forty year young brother. I had no idea what Tom actually did at work when he went to the office every day and now he worked from home I was still none the wiser. Whatever he did he had been head hunted a couple of times and with the amount he got paid I didn’t mind spoiling him. My on line upcycling craft business hardly brought in enough to feed the dog and the cat.  

I looked at my watch, twenty minutes to get ready for the coffee. I dashed back into the garden.

‘Tom, where’s the dog?’

‘You only told me to look after the children.’

‘ZEUS, ZEuus…’

 I waved a packet of dog treats and Zeus bounded out of the herbaceous border, he was soon locked in the laundry. The children would be harder to get under control.

‘Ten minutes then indoors.’

‘But we haven’t done paddling yet.’

‘Why don’t you come in and watch Octonauts and have some parsnip crisps while the sun is warming the water. Then you can come back out after the coffee has arrived.’

With the children safely indoors I still had to find the cat, but there was no time to look. Hearing Zeus’ frantic barking I rushed back in and locked the door, the dog always heard it before me. Keeping watch through the patio door I saw a glint over the trees. 10.45am, exactly on time. The Coffee Zone Drone circled, I hoped it’s aim would be better this time. My stomach lurched as, too late, I saw a familiar black and white shape slink across the lawn then freeze as the warning siren started. The drone was higher than usual when its undercarriage opened, the large bright orange box dropped down onto the lawn, narrowly missing the paddling pool. I dashed out, but as I got close my mouth went dry. Sticking out from under the hefty box was a black tail. I knew from previous deliveries the box was too heavy to lift on my own and I was thankful to hear Tom’s voice. I turned to see him holding the cat and laughing.

He’s a quivering wreck, he doesn’t like drones does he?’

My relief was short lived, had we killed the neighbour’s cat?

‘Quick, lift the box.’

I closed my eyes. When I opened them Tom was holding up the squashed body of the shabby toy cat the children had insisted on buying from the charity shop.


Friday Flash Fiction – Fall


There was a word that made Mary shudder; she seemed to hear it everywhere she went. It was a four letter word beginning with F… FALL. In conversations it was usually preceded with phrases such as;

Did you hear Mrs. Burton had a nasty…

Of course she was never the same after her…

He had just got off the bus when…

The Waitrose staff were very good when she had her…

Most infuriating of all was her own daughter’s loud voice as they negotiated National Trust Gardens.

Mind you don’t…

Like death, falls were something that happened to other people, usually The Elderly and Mary did not include herself in that category. Why, she was the same age as The Queen and David Attenborough, Her Majesty wasn’t elderly and Sir David certainly wasn’t. There were other terms and words that Mary avoided; stairlifts, wheelchairs, mobility aids and that condition Mary couldn’t even utter to herself, frequently referred to in advertisements during daytime television.

As Mary briskly walked down the high street, she noticed with distaste that Betty was cheerfully pushing a shiny red three wheeled contraption.

‘My son bought it for me last week, after my fall’ explained Betty proudly.

But however sprightly Mary felt, she found herself being very careful, not wanting to end up like that woman on Tuesday.

There had been a circle of concerned people outside Somerfield’s and a young man with a mobile phone had taken charge. Sprawled in the middle of the pavement was an old lady, her skirt up past her knees in a most undignified manner. Mary had scurried by, making a mental note to always wear slacks when she went out.

At the door to the ‘Cosy Teapot’ she took the two steps up carefully to make a dignified entrance. Her daughter Catherine was already there.

‘I thought we’d sit downstairs mother, you don’t want to have a fall on those rickety stairs.’

Mary ignored that remark.

‘You’re looking very tired this morning Catherine, perhaps it’s the menopause’ she said, as the young waiter came to their table.

‘Well,’ said the younger woman, obviously keen to relate a drama ‘we were fast asleep last night when the phone suddenly rang; I looked at the clock, it was three thirty a.m. my heart was thumping, I thought it must be bad news from Australia or you taken ill.’

‘Why would you think I might be ill?’ Mary interrupted.

Catherine carried on regardless. ‘To my relief it was only Careline; Miss Brown next door had fallen out of bed and couldn’t get up. We had to go round with the spare keys to let the ambulance people in. Next time we’ll take a torch; it took us ages to find the light switches… and Miss Brown, she was wedged on the other side of the bed. When the ambulance men finally came they asked if she was my mother! I’m sure they thought it was our fault her house is such a mess. But they were quite jolly, checked her blood pressure, got her back into bed, filled in lots of forms and declared she was fine. By that time it was five a.m.’

‘That old woman should have gone in a home years ago’ said Mary unsympathetically.

‘She’s younger than you Mother… hmm you could have one of those Careline buttons, just in case.’

‘Certainly not.’ Mary cringed at the idea of neighbours and medics tramping round her bedroom in the middle of the night and changed the subject. ‘Rita had her own drama the other day, when it was so hot; her daughter took her shopping and they were outside Asda when her daughter suddenly fainted. After much kafuffle, they were both sat on chairs inside Asda and the manager came rushing over and patted Rita’s hand, asking if she was alright. She told him indignantly she was fine, it was her daughter. We had a good laugh over that.’

The two women tucked into their cake.

‘…anyway, what have you been doing this week Mum?’

‘The old people’s lunch club started back yesterday and we had a new volunteer. You’ll never believe what she said to me “Here’s a spare seat dear.” I told her in no uncertain terms. “I’m serving not eating.”

She wondered what Catherine found so funny.

That afternoon Mary was pottering in her garden, glad she didn’t require a gardener. Her grandson mowed the lawn, put her hanging baskets up and did some of the heavier jobs; he enjoyed doing it. The garden was one of the many reasons why she refused to be shoe horned into some pokey flat

Mary was a compulsive dead header and was tidying her favourite basket which hung from the shed wall. One dead bloom eluded her, but if she just stretched a little… suddenly her foot slipped off the edge of the path.

She couldn’t believe she was lying on the ground, but was greatly relieved no one had seen. This wasn’t a fall, just a slip and she was sure she could get up; with the help of the wall and the trellis she pulled herself triumphantly to her feet. Not a fall, not a drama, but perhaps it was time she went indoors to have a nice cup of tea and watch Countdown; she could rinse that spot of blood off her hands while the kettle was boiling.

As she moved cautiously up the path to the back door she heard sirens screeching. This used to be such a quiet street she mused, someone must be causing trouble. Loud rustling noises caused her to turn round; a policeman was climbing over her wall, he must be chasing a burglar.

‘Wrong garden’ she tried to call, but he rushed over to her.

‘Are you alright madam?’ he asked, before replying to his radio. ‘PC476, re. report of elderly lady collapsed in garden, I’m dealing, ambulance in attendance.’ He turned to Mary. ‘Lucky for you an old man over the back saw you out of his bedroom window, knew he couldn’t help, so he dialled 999. Now, we’ll get you into the house and open the front door for the paramedics.’

The opening of the front door revealed two men in green and several concerned neighbours. She tried to protest.

‘I’m fine, there’s been a terrible mistake.’

To her horror she heard the ambulance man say to her neighbour ‘Does she often get confused or have falls?’     


The House of Windsor

We never lived in Windsor, but the town, in the Royal County of Berkshire, was one of our favourite days out when we lived by Heathrow Airport. As the American tourist said ‘Why did they build a royal castle so close to the airport?’ – old joke. Along with many tourists and local families we enjoyed all it has to offer. ‘Long Walks in the Great Park’ – From the Castle gate to the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse) The Long Walk measures 2.64 miles in length. But the Windsor Great Park extends far beyond what you can see from the castle.

Walking at Windsor Great Park | Windsor Great Park

Windsor also has a theatre, a swimming pool, good shopping and the River Thames. A foot bridge takes you over the river to Eton where the famous school is spread out as part of the little town. You can also take a peaceful walk along the riverside very different from the bustle on the Windsor side.

You can go by train from Waterloo and arrive at Windsor and Eton Riverside station, or take the little line built for Queen Victoria, a one stop ride from Slough station  ( direct line from Paddington ) which takes you into the heart of the designer shopping centre and exits opposite the castle.

Tourists the weekend after the wedding of Harry and Megan!

Windsor Castle | Windsor Castle Tours and Tickets

Before the terrible castle fire in 1992 more of the castle grounds were free to the public to wander. We used to take our young children for a walk and show Australian visitors around. Under the archway, past the chapel, stroll up the hill. Our two year old once dashed into the guard room and was chased out by the guards. One side of the castle faces the town, but walk downhill to the river and the castle is high above you on a steep bank. When our daughter was a toddler she nearly gave a Japanese tourist a heart attack; he gasped in horror as she raced towards the turreted wall on the steep side of the grounds. She didn’t topple over, it was a safe height. Another time we peered through a gate and saw Princess Diana bring her two little boys out to watch the soldiers parading.

When we moved away from Heathrow we still visited Windsor on mini breaks to see our friends, usually staying at The Windsor Trooper, a great little old pub with bed and breakfast; bedrooms slightly crooked with sloping floors. 

‘In 1917, the name of the royal house was changed from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the House of Windsor since then: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II.’

Windsor Castle made the perfect setting for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, especially for the many of us who know Windsor well. The Duke apparently did not want a fuss and got his wish as the long miles of procession and crowd lined streets had to be scaled down to a ceremony within the castle precincts; a dignified walk down the hill with socially distanced military bands lined up with precision on the immaculate green.

The Band of the Grenadier Guards led the funeral procession and family members followed, Princess Anne in a long black coat and the men in morning suits. Following a coffin on foot seems dignified and respectful and it’s always good to see men smartly dressed. The Queen followed in her limousine.

I get nervous when I see The Queen walking unsteadily by herself, especially that day as she stepped out of her car and I wondered why she could not have formed a new bubble. Any other very elderly lady with strapping sons and grandsons would surely have been offered a strong arm to lean on. The Duke was her bubble, but she still has HMS Bubble, the loyal staff who have been on duty three weeks on three weeks off at the castle looking after the royal couple. Dog lovers will be glad to hear that The Queen, despite deciding a while ago not to breed or acquire any more dogs, has done what lots of people have in covid lockdown and acquired two puppies, a corgi and a dorgie, which she enjoys walking.

Inside the chapel were the regulation thirty guests and the emptiness perhaps enhanced the beautiful singing of the choir of four and the playing of the trumpeters. The royal family stuck by all the current funeral rules; we cannot compare their splendidly choregraphed event with bleak funerals at the local crem., livestreamed from one camera, but like other grieving widows The Queen sat by herself. After the service the family all strolled up the hill in the sunshine, ignoring the unnecessary fleet of cars lined up for them, though of course The Queen returned in her limousine. I like to think that once back in the royal apartments they all ripped off their masks and didn’t bother with social distancing!

Whether you watched the funeral avidly live on television and followed the highlights in the news later, or avoided all mention of it, there was more to the Duke of Edinburgh than most of us realised. The blanket comprehensive coverage of his life revealed a refugee from a broken home who saw real active service in the second world war. A life that did become privileged, but how many of us would want their whole life mapped out? Unlike lots of rich people he used his position to make a difference. He highlighted the plight of wildlife long before others were interested and created the Duke of Edinburgh Award to give ordinary teenagers the chance to take on all sorts of challenges. Those from a variety of countries who have spoken about meeting The Duke and how the award changed their lives will remember him and not the many politicians and world leaders who come and go.

Did you watch the funeral? Have you visited Windsor? Have you met any of the royal family?