Sage had just arrived at Balmoral, September 1977.
Shown to a room, with a metal bedstead above the old garages, now dining hall for staff it was small but compact and had everything you needed, sink, bed, light, wardrobe even a desk with writing paper... reminder to sent letter to parents to tell them I had arrived as phone's were as yet not commonplace :-)
Started work that evening, introduced to everyone in the kitchen, which was very compact and my duties explained.. I would be on duty until 9pm when everything shut down until morning... that first year we did split shift, 7.30-13.00 16.00-21.00, followed by day shift 7.30-16.00 on the days including weekends with holiday leave being accrued and given when back in London..
It sounds bad, but reality was that day shift would end at 2pm unless you hadn't finished your jobs or were required to stay on and the split shift would end no later than 8pm as well.. entertainments were on every evening, whether it was quiz night in the bar, a ceiledh, disco, film night or other and drinks were cheap... I remember paying 35p for a pint of lager and lime... well I didn't really know what to drink in those days although very soon my Dad instilled in me a love of whisky.
One afternoon, my first week, I was on a day shift and had finished by 2pm and wanted to go for a walk on the hills - I was a country bred girl and being inside just didn't always suit me - despite the soft rain, I pulled on my dufflecoat, hood up and headed up the trails surrounding the Castle. There was one path that staff were not allowed to take, only when taking the ponies back to their paddock (but that's another tale for another day), and this roadway led directly to the Castle.
My walk took me up above the Castle, and I just wish I had the photo's to display but as ever then a lack of funds meant my old camera just about functioned and it wasn't high on my list to take pictures of scenery so shallow was I when I was young. As I headed back down to the river, I was going to cross this roadway (which was permitted) and I noticed a woman walking along towards me from the Castle.. I had my hands in my pockets to save them from being cold and wet, and I remember thinking, 'She'll be in trouble for using that road' when our paths inevitably were going to cross.
As we met, she lifted her umbrella and said Good Afternoon, me, I mumbled something completed incoherrant as I realised that the woman was actually HM the Queen and now would think that her newest member of staff was no more than an babbling idiot... however, I didn't have a second chance to say Good Afternoon before she swept on her way with a smile on her face... slowly I turned down the track towards the river thinking that my new employment would probably end shortly ....
I got back to my room, changed into dry things and cringed at how tongue-tied I was when facing strangers... something I haven't lost even after all these years... but I have learned to pretend.
It wasn't my only meeting with the Queen, but the others were either more formal or at staff events...
Part 3 will come soon... the Ghillie's Ball