By the way, when the Artie-facts I bought arrived this past week, I was in alt. They'd survived the transatlantic shipping unscathed. I breathlessly unwrapped the figurine - the piece de resistance, the jewel in the crown - and held it up for my husband to see, awaiting his enthusiastic hand clapping, squeals of delight and many exclaimations of joy.
"We need a bigger house," was all he said before turning his attention back to the t.v.
(And he doesn't know the half of it)
One day Brooke and I headed south of the River to Southwark to have lunch at a pub called "The Wellington at Waterloo" - it's just outside Waterloo tube station.
Inside, there's a fabulous mural of the Battle of Waterloo on the curved, barrel ceiling.
It seems that in the 21st century, the Duke lends his name to as many pubs as eateries, as evidenced by the Wellington Cafe, below, at the real Waterloo. One can only imagine what the Duke would make of eating his dinner to the accompaniment of a French marching band.
I spent several minutes walking the cobbles, gazing at the wooden door to the inn and the stone horse troughs, imagining what it must have been like for those present in 1815 when Wellington and Blucher met on that spot. Incredible.
Next day, we attended the re-enactment of the Battle and, afterwards, headed to our last stop - the Wellington Museum. Oh, how I was looking forward to this. Those sites we'd already visited that had gift shops only had items for sale related to Napoleon. Nothing, and I mean nothing, related to the Duke of Wellington. Really, Wellington might just as well have stayed in bed and not been at the Battle of Waterloo at all if the souveniers were anything to go by. Hello? He's the man who defeated Napoleon. At Waterloo? Jeez, you'd think they'd at least have a postcard . . . . So it was with eagerness that I anticipated the Wellington Museum gift shop because, really, a girl can never have too much Artie memorablia.
The museum is housed in the building Wellington used as his headquarters. Where Alexander Gordon died. Where Paget's leg was buried. My first glimpse of the building was promising.
(Yes, that is my finger in front of the lens)
Well, the first room you enter is the gift shop. And it was absolutely chock full of . . . . Napoleon stuff. No, I'm not kidding. Believe me, I searched every item in the joint for something Artie related. Nada. Nil. Nuttin' Honey. And all of the display signs are in French. As far as I could tell, there was no indication as to which room Gordon had died in. Upstairs, there's a room where there's a desk and seated behind the desk is a wax figure that looks like Wellington if Wellington had been a crackhead who had been on a four day bender. I'm assuming this was the room Wellington used as an office, but who knows?
The redeeming portion of the visit was what lay out back - Paget's leg. Okay, okay, it's really only the spot where Paget's leg once lay. It seems that when he died, his family had the leg disinterred, sent to England and buried with the rest of Paget - or Lord Uxbridge, who became the Marquess of Anglesey. But still . . . Paget's leg. I mean everyone who was anyone who travelled to Waterloo after the Battle made a pilgrimage to see the grave. And now I was there, too.
So here ends the Wellington Trail. I didn't pursue Artie-sites in Paris, as I figured the British Embassy had probably undergone many changes between now and then. And I found nothing Wellington related at the printsellers in Paris. Although they did have much Napoleon stuff. Sigh. Talk about revisionist history. All in all, I can't complain, because you have to admit that Vicky and I pretty much fulfilled our intentions of doing all things Artie this trip over. We're already thinking about our next visit, which will take place sometime between now and 2015, when I/we attend the next Wellington Conference held in Southampton, England (will also be doing Walmer Castle and Stratfield Saye). And 2012 is obviously out, as we don't want to have to contend with Olympic Fever in London. In the meantime, watch this space for many more posts related to our Tour.