Visiting the Queen

Well,………. she was in residence at Windsor Castle while we were there on Saturday morning. The Royal Standard flag was being flown which means that she’s at home, plus one of the toursist wardens said she was spotted riding her horses that morning before the tourists arrived. She spends the weekdays at Buckingham Palace (referred to as The Office) and the weekends in the countryside at Windsor.We had been meaning to tour Windsor Castle for some time, and finally had a very good reason to –  the O’Dwyer family (friends from Alphington) are visiting London and staying with us. They have two charming girls, Kate and Sarah, and their equally gracious Mum, Lisa. It has been lovely having people over and having an excuse to be tourists again.


Waiting to catch the train to WindsorWindsor is over 1000 years old, built initially by William the Conqueror. It’s quite a stark, plain castle on the outside, immense too in size, but amazingly different on the inside. Unfortunately we couldn’t take photos inside, but think of the opulence of Versailles times 5. Gold everywhere, wood panelling and carvings, plush crimson velvets and walls covered in Rubens, Rembrandt, and zillions of other portraits of royalty. The State Apartments continued on and on, each room overwhelming in its size and grandeur. You didn’t know where to look next and the crowds kept urging you on to the next room before you’d seen half the stuff in it.


Walking alongside the castle, maps readyThe reaction from the kids was amusing; Sarah and Jasper enjoyed looking at the guns and swords, deciding that swords with jewels were magic ones. Jasper noticed that even the fire extinguishers were gold, not red as they usually are. The kids approached the tourist wardens in each room, pummelling them with questions and learning about be-headings, living with servants and the fact that a Drawing Room is not used for drawing pictures (they thought the King did drawings there and hung them on the walls). Jasper was very impressed that the Warden had gold buttons on his jacket too. Kate learnt that when Knights were dishonourable, and the King no longer wanted them, they were killed at their family crest was painted over with white paint, wherever it was displayed in the castle. We saw quite a few of those….. and the kids had to be convinced many times over that executions are no longer ordered by the Queen.


The mischevious pair


Another mischevious pairWe highly recommend the Windsor castle experience. After a few hours of walking we had to rest our legs in a quaint tea house nearby. It had a wonky staircase and cute old-fashioned ambience and Nuggets and Chips!! We also walked around the town of Windsor which was full of enticing shops.


Dancin’ in the street to a buskerThe trip home on the train was good too, as a woman brought her King Charles Cavalier dog on board (dogs are welcome in so many places in the UK – cafes, shops, trains, etc). His name was Alfie and he kept the kids amused for the whole journey home. The woman didn’t get to read more than half a page of her book over the 1 hour journey. The kids again pummelled her with questions: Has he had puppies, who are his friends, what is his favourite colour, what does he like to eat, etc.It was a relief to get home and unwind after such a full day!