1. The town in Belgium near which the Battle of Waterloo (q.v.) occurred on 18 June 1815, at which Wellington and Blücher finally defeated Napoleon. The account of it in An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer is said to be so scrupulously accurate that it is (I have heard) a set text at Sandhurst. The element loo means 'field'.

2. A major railway station in London. It is the closest to the South Bank Centre arts complex, and is the terminus for the Eurostar trains, which go through the Channel Tunnel.

3. The Abba song, of course.

4. The town in Canada, home of the famous University of Waterloo.

5. A cheese made on the Duke of Wellington's estate. It has a chewy crust and a soft interior with a strong flavour. It resembles the French Chaumes. It is best obtained at Paxton & Whitfield in Jermyn St.
Our cheese expert simonc further informs me that it is vegetarian, is 45% fat, affinage is 4~10 weeks, it was created by Anne and Andy Wigmore, and it won silver at the British Cheese Awards.

6. Generically, any great defeat: "to meet one's Waterloo".

The battlefield of Waterloo lies some way south of the town itself - Wellington had a habit of naming his battles after the place he slept the night before, rather than where they were actually fought. The position which the allied troops held was along the ridge either side of the Mont-Saint-Jean crossroads, and the French did for a time refer to it as "Le bataille de Mont-Saint-Jean". In Waterloo itself there is a small museum in the house in which Wellington stayed.

The top of the ridge on the battlefield proper is dominated by the Butte de Lion, a 30 metre high conical mound topped by a statue of a lion marking the spot where the Prince of Orange was wounded on 18 June 1815. The mound provides a good viewpoint, but the excavation of earth for its construction altered the lie of the land considerably in the surrounding area, a much fought-over part of the battlefield, so the perspectives and the dead ground are not exactly as they were for those who fought there. At the foot of the mound a visitors' centre and a battlefield diorama are worth a look; there is also a cluster of restaurants and tourist tat shops around the point where the formerly sunken road along the ridge forks with the track down towards Hougoumont. A cluster of other monuments stand near the crossroads of the ridge road and the main highway to Charleroi.

Much of the battlefield has not changed greatly over the past two centuries; the exception is the right wing of the allied front which is crossed by the southern extension of the Brussels Ring motorway and, beyond it, built over by the suburban sprawl of Braine L'Alleud. Only outlying buildings of the chateau of Hougoumont (now just "Goumont") survive, but la Haye Sainte is almost exactly as it was left after the battle and is still a working farm in private hands. There is little trace of the sandpit on the other side of the main road, however. The Charleroi road itself has obviously become a bit wider and rather better surfaced, but follows the same line as it did. The inn of La Belle Alliance where Wellington met Blücher after the battle was a nightclub the last time I checked; Napoleon's last headquarters at Le Caillou, also on the main road, is preserved as a museum.

The allied left wing, and the area from which the Prussians emerged from Wavre, have also undergone some suburbanisation, but the relatively broken terrain in that direction is still evident.

The old main road can be followed southwards (avoiding the new bypasses) to the Quatre Bras crossroads - the route down which the allies retreated between the two battles, although the bridge over the Dyle in Genappe which was a serious pinch point during the marching and countermarching is no longer there (the river, such as it is, is in a culvert).

Would-be visitors who want a better guide than this to the battlefield or anything they will find in situ - and anybody else interested in the subject - are recommended to read anything on the subject by Richard Holmes and John Keegan (especially the relevant part of The Face of Battle) and Waterloo: New perspectives by David Chandler which corrects some historiographical errors in the traditional British narrative (which tends to ignore the contribution made by Allied troops other than the British, as the majority of eye-witness accounts made public at the time were gathered by a historian who didn't speak anything but English and whose independence was severely compromised).

Waterloo, Ontario: a city of about 90,000 people all on its own, it is face to face and practically the same town as Kitchener, Ontario. Kitchener has another 130,000 people, and runs smack dab into the city of Cambridge. Cambridge has another 100,000 people. Together, these make up the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. There have been attempts to merge the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo into some K/W entitiy (which it already is, really), but so far these have failed.

Waterloo has two universities, both of which are well known in their areas: the University of Waterloo (home to The Death Path, Waterloo, Ontario) is the larger one, with approximately 20,000 students. Wilfrid Laurier University, affectionately (or not) called the High School Down the Street by UW students, has far fewer students, but an excellent Business program, as well as far better music programs.

The Paradox of King and Weber

Waterloo is (or should be) world reknowned for the idiocy of its main streets. There are arguably three or four MAIN main roads in Waterloo (King St, Weber St, University Ave, Columbia St), maybe one or two more, but undoubtedly, King and Weber are the two main ones. They are one block apart and run parallel to one another. As anyone who knows anything about parallel lines understands, these mathematical devices do not cross. Parallel is parallel, yes? Well, in Waterloo, the home to an amazing faculty of Math, parallel lines DO cross! Don't tell someone to meet you "at King and Weber", because they'll be entirely confused. You see, King and Weber do not cross only once. Not just twice, even. No, they cross an amazing and outstanding THREE TIMES. Yes, three times. Once out the edge of town just past the St Jacob's Farmers Market, once at the Starbucks and Chapters near Canadian Tire and East Side Mario's, and once off in the distance down either road quite a way off.

The Uptown/Downtown thingy

Don't tell someone to go to "downtown Waterloo". There isn't one. You see, given that Kitchener and Waterloo are so close together (the two cores are indistinguishable), residents have to use different ways to differentiate between the two towns. So, the core of Kitchener is referred to as "downtown Kitchener", while the Waterloo core is referred to as "uptown Waterloo". Whether this has something to do with geography (altitude? latitude?) or some Waterloo supremist scheme I don't know. The truth of the facts, though, is irrefutable unassailable (why do I try hard words) self-evident.

Other stuff

Waterloo is big enough to have pretty much all the amenities required for normal human life, close enough to other centers like Toronto that things unavailable in Waterloo can still be found, while remaining small enough that the university students make up a quarter of the population. There are parks, like RIM Park, and conservation areas like Laurel Creek, a mall, Conestoga Mall, and a bajillion high-tech companies, like PixStream, Research in Motion, Sybase, Open Text, Waterloo Maple, and others. All together, for a geek, it's a pretty good place to live - that's because geeks don't care that Waterloo is UGLY.

Other Waterloo Nodes

Mel's Diner - a yummy yummy (cheap cheap) All Day Breakfast joint.
Zehrs - an Ontario grocery store chain... I think it's based in Waterloo.
Village I - The first on-campus residence at UW, it is very confusing to navigate.
KW Area, Ontario - another local node.

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