Sunday, 13 March 2011

We Visit The Queen!

Well ...... alright ....... not exactly! For John's Birthday on the 4th March, we had a long weekend in Windsor. We stayed at a hotel called Saville Court which is part of the MacDonald chain (and no ...... not the beefburger people!!) just on the outskirts of Windsor Great Park.

On the Friday we walked into Windsor, through Windsor Great Park. Now, it may be customary to approach a person's home by walking up their garden path, but in the photo above we approached Windsor Castle by walking up The Long Walk. This is a Grand-daddy of a Garden path, I can tell you, at over 2 1/2 miles long!
In some people's front gardens, you may find the odd garden gnome or possibly a little statue, but before you start walking along The Long Walk, you pass this enormous statue known as the Copper Horse which is actually a statue of George III ...... you know, the mad one! Quite an impressive garden gnome don't you think  :)    And, yes, that is Windsor Castle in the distance; it does look a long way off!!

I've never visited Windsor Castle before and it is lovely. I can quite understand why it is the Queen's favourite home.

How about that for impressive detailing! A crown above the lamps!

Also, around the interior castle ramparts are some lovely secluded gardens. Given the time of the year, there was only a limited amount of colour but I'm sure they look stunning later in the year.

The interior of the castle is equally impressive, although you're not allowed to take photos. Of particular note is the Queen Mary's dolls house and the two large dolls given to the Queen and her sister, when they were young princesses, by the people of France. These dolls had a complete wardrobe of the most exquisite couture clothing ........ although I did wonder whether they had ever been allowed to play with them.

After a brief walk round Windsor itself, we did contemplate trying to work out how to get back to the hotel by bus, but decided it was quite easy just to walk back the way we came. I am so glad we did! Once back in Windsor Great Park, we were rewarded by the sight of the herd of deer in the park. What a splendid sight! There must have easily been about 150 deer! We couldn't get too close to them so my little camera couldn't really capture any spectacular shots but they were a marvellous sight.

Although we hadn't really intended our walking to be over the top, in the end we walked 10 miles in total. By the way, don't let all those blue skies fool you! Although we were very lucky to not have any rain, it was perishing cold all day!!

On the Saturday, we decided to walk round Windsor Great Park and also walk round Virginia Water, a very large lake at one end of the Great Park. At the start, I wasn't sure exactly how far I'd be able to walk. Although I didn't mention it, after the previous Saturday's training walk, my right ankle felt really tender and all week it had been hurting. The walk we did into Windsor was done wearing my usually footwear, not walking boots, and my ankle did not appreciate that at all! When I first put my boots on ...... it hurt!! However, I thought I'd give it a go and see how I got on and it wasn't too bad, providing I kept walking!!

As a total aside, one thing about the Park ...... I have never seen quite so many joggers as we saw over that weekend!!

Whilst walking round Virginia Water we passed this man-made water feature called The Cascade. The wild-life we saw on the Saturday was equally spectacular; several close sightings of buzzards, sightings of the wild parakeets that live in the Windsor area (that was a surprise sight, I can tell you) and, once again, we saw the herd of deer.

I couldn't resist posting the picture below of quite a cheeky little tree we passed on our walk .......

..... well, what does it remind you of :P

Because of my ankle, we were not walking as fast as usual. However, we still covered 13 miles and I thoroughly recommend walking round Windsor Great Park.

On the Sunday, we went to Runnymede and walked round the National Trust pathways, visiting the Runnymede Memorial.

We then walked up quite a steep hill, through woodland to an RAF WWII Memorial to all those RAF and associated personnel that died in the Second World War but have no known grave. It is quite sobering walking round, looking at all the names carved into the walls. For several of them, relatives have placed photographs and other mementos underneath where the person's name is to be found and I find these really sad. I am just grateful that all these people had the courage to give up everything so that we can live in freedom.

The photo below is of the inner courtyard.

You are allowed to walk up to the top, and below is a close-up of the decoration on the top of the tower, followed by just one photo of the spectacular view down to the Thames below.

We actually walked down to the Thames and followed it along to Old Windsor. Sunday was a lovely day and so this was a really pleasant walk. Mind you, I very quickly found I felt very tired. On asking John how far we'd gone, I was disappointed to hear him say that we'd only gone 4 miles! I couldn't believe it! If I can get this tired, this quickly, how on earth am I going to be able to do 42 miles by the end of April?However, we ploughed on and, in the end, covered 8 miles ...... before getting back in the car and heading back home :)

We had a lovely weekend. Our main aim whilst away wasn't really to 'clock up' lots of training miles, although we did feel we aught to do some walking. However, we always have walked quite a lot when we are on holiday so, in the end, all the walking we did was just an extension of what we'd normally do.

So ..... 10 miles on Friday, 13 miles on Saturday and 8 miles on Sunday ..... although I did feel very tired when we did get back home!!


joy said...

hi elaine, sounds like you had a lovely weekend. when we lived in surrey and our boys were younger we often went cycling around windsor great park - did you see the totem pole?
also in surrey we had a flock of parakeets which used to visit the garden, they are quite endemic in that part of the country and are really noisy with their constant squarking.
how lucky to see the deer, they are magnificent.
joy xx

Elaine said...

Hi Joy,
Yes, we really had a lovely weekend. The park is so quiet with hardly any cars that I can well imagine it is a brilliant place to take children and their bikes.

We did see several people on bikes, as well as the very numerous joggers. Not forgetting the horses which I love to see (I was pony mad as a girl and still love seeing horses).

We did see the Totem pole and the ruins at one end of Virginia Waters that came from Italy (I think?).... and there's a pretty garden nearby .... forgotten the name!!

The parakeets were very noisy, as you said. It was their noise that alerted us to them ...... their alarm calls when the buzzards flew over. I did know they were to be found wild in this country, but it is still quite odd seeing such a lot of them in the English countryside.

All in all, a really lovely place that we'd like to visit again. Although, with the constant planes going over, don't think I'd want to live there.

Rachael said...

Kev and I have had two boating holidays on the Thames kicking off from Datchet and we have viewed the Castle from the water and moored up at Windsor and walked around the town. I have been to the town many times (I used to live in Fleet, Hants so nearer than I live now) however, I have never been in the Castle and would love to do so.
Your photos and description of your weekend away are very interesting Elaine as always.

Elaine said...

Thank you Rachel. I'm glad you like my blog entries :)

The castle is definately worth a visit.

Funnily enough, it was on a boating holiday arranged by a mutual friend, that John and I got to meet up back in 1979 when I was 20. Goodness, your comment just brought back some memories :)

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