Sunday, November 07, 2010

London Part VI: Windsor Castle

I had never been to Windsor Castle, so I was quite excited about this days plans.
It involved catching a tube to Paddington station (where Paddington Bear was found), catching a train from there to Slough, then catching a small branch-line train to Windsor castle.
It was rather an enjoyable journey- Great Western has a nice quality train service, and the trip was comfortable.  Paddington is undergoing major refurbishment (probably for the 2012 Olympics) like King's Cross, so it was a little confusing there.

I had checked online to make sure the State Apartments were open- and there were no scheduled closures for the date in question.  Alas, it appears that some Sheik from the Middle East was staying there so he could buy Christie's Auction House, and they WERE closed.  We had come ALL that way, and all we got to see was Queen Mary's Dollhouse and some crockery- oh and some paintings/drawings (they had a Da Vinci which I found exciting).
I was pleased we did not have to pay- but the first thing we knew about the state apartments was when I read the sign while in line.  Yeah, like I am going to turn around right now!  DUH!
In hindsight, I should have, and gone on to Hampton Court Palace that day instead, but we persevered.

Windsor, is arguably, one of the prettiest castles around.

The day we chose to go there, we had beautiful blue skies, fluffy good weather clouds, and rather nice temperatures.  The autumn foliage had begun to change, and it was all very, very pretty.

Windsor has a marvellous collection of Gargoyles and faces on its walls.  I was rather taken with them, and have many pictures of them!

The streets were mainly paved, and a surprising number of cars drove down them,  I supposed it is because it is a working castle.

Sometimes you just have to look up.  My photos are usually things that *I* see, that capture my attention- this day it was all that I really got to photograph.

The little doorways in walls are things I find fascinating... ancient walls, modern benches :)

This particular face was hidden up into an area... I loved it :)

Like the Tower and the Stations, Windsor is undergoing cleaning and painting.  This was such a typical English painter look, I photographed it so I could draw it later :)  I have yet to do so, but I am fairly sure it well get done.  I still like the idea ;)

The gardens there were beautiful.  I would have dearly loved to go into them and take a look...  this was a rose garden.

This terraced hillside sported an apple tree and Mediterranean inspired plantings... but I could not see what else.

I think this is the Chapel of St. George- but I am not sure :)  If it is, inside you can find the graves of Henry VIII, Catherine Parr, an infant child of Queen Anne, the Queen Mum, George VI (the Queen's father) and other famous personages I now forget.  It is a beautiful chapel.

Having passed the chapel, we went around where there were more beautiful gardens to see- including this fantastic little waterfall- which if you looked closely, trickled past a grotto...

Inside of which, water dripped in an echoing trickle.  I really wanted to go in there, but the gardens are private.  I did see one lady there, picking flowers.  I assumed she was staff and decorating the castle the way the staff have for generations.

More faces.  I wonder what the two outer ones are...

I am reliably informed by friends and family that this is the Queen's own standard, indicating that she was in residence.  So at least there is the consolation that it was the QUEEN keeping us out of the state apartments ;).

The flag flying was so picturesque- because there was enough wind to send it fluttering all the way out.

I think these are the private, state apartments.  I have no idea really, I just thought they looked pretty :)

This is another of those scenes that caught my eye.  Below it is a gift shop.  They were actually rather disappointing there- nothing like the wonderful gift shops at the Tower and Hampton Court Palace.

Windsor is right under the flight path of one of the airports.  You can see the plane in the top left of the picture ;)  I kept trying to capture planes in my photos... don't ask why, it was another of those things I just liked the look of LOL.

I think these are all ornamental stones decorating the Georgian portion of the castle.  They are quite fantastic, and are symbols of the royal family.

One thing about Windsor that did not disappoint, were the views.  Somewhere out there is Eton College.

This is such a view of England as it looks :)  The clouds, the trees, the fields...

Even the gateways at Windsor are pretty!

Now this building, is what made the day great.  Leaving the castle, we went into the tourist shops and bought things.  Things that cost the same everywhere apparently, but can only be found in tourist places LOL.  Like the "Mind the Gap" t-shirt, or the one with the map of the Tube on it.
By this point, we were starving, and looked at the restaurants closely.  This one is called The Three Tuns, it had "Children Welcome" prominently placed on the board outside, and inside it was a typical, old fashioned English Pub.  We were sold.  DH and DS got Fish and Chips to eat, DD had chicken nuggets (typical kid fare) and I had a Steak and Ale pie, mashed potatoes and peas.  For pudding/dessert we had 'Sticky Toffee Pudding'.  It was delicious.  I wish I had their pudding recipe.  OK now I am hungry just thinking about it!

The staff there were very nice and friendly, and the barkeep/waiter was kind enough to take a photo of us.  DH says the pub dates from c.1515.
After we finished, we went outside to take pictures of the pub, and the waiter/barkeep came rushing out with DD's silver cross, which had managed to come off of her chain!

I spotted this Victorian pillar box... don't get to see these often.  You can tell it is Victorian, by the V in the crest on the box ;)

We walked down the street some, stopping in another touristy shop, where DD bought a 'Paddington Bear' for herself.  We took a walk around the town of Windsor, peering into the shops, before heading back to London on the train.

In Paddington- I had to get a photo of DD with her Paddington at the Station!

Aren't they cute? :)  This day ended early, which was a shame, because we could have used that the following day- which I will tell you about later ;)

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