London, England (40 Sutherland Ave.)
We were up early and out of the flat by a little after 9:00 a.m. to begin our journey to Windsor Castle. We took the underground to Paddington station, one stop away, and I collected our tickets while Corrine got us some coffees to enjoy on the train.
We transferred at Slough for a train that brought us into Windsor. We bought our tickets and began our tour of Windsor Castle.
We saw that the changing of the guard was starting and walked down to get a better look. We didn’t stay for the whole thing, but walked into St. George’s Chapel to get warmed up, and to look around.
Changing of the Guard:
St. George’s Chapel:
St. George’s Chapel is a place of worship at Windsor Castle and is the chapel of the Order of the Garter. This is the highest order that can be awarded by the Queen to those who she feels deserve special recognition for their service to her and the country. Only 24 people can be members at any one time. Corrine asked if anyone from the United States have been a member (seeing a few from other countries were made members) and the answer was no, not yet.
We saw where Henry VIII was buried and several other monarchs as well. A beautiful building that has be around since the 15th century.
Next we toured through the state rooms in the palace portion of the castle. (No pictures allowed.) This year marks the 25th anniversary of the devistating fire in 1992 that ruined several of these rooms. We learned about the extensive restoration work as we toured each room. The guides in the rooms were very knowledgeable and answered many of our questions. We met on guide who had just received, within the last hour, a special Christmas gift from the Queen and the Duke just an hour before. She told us how she curtsied and shook the hand of the Queen.
Each room was presented in the historical context of the period of a particular monarch. We were able to see the semi-state rooms which are only on tours in the off months when the Queen is not using them on a regular basis. So I got to see rooms that I hadn’t seen before. I was very excited about this! The state rooms are connected to the Queen’s private quarters a short distance away.
Windsor Royal Palace:
After touring the state rooms, I happened to see someone from Portland who was visiting the London area. I had seen from Facebook that he was in town and had a feeling that I’d see him at some point, and here he was.
Mr. Bill Dickey (and me):
We walked out of the castle and turned in our audio guides. We were both hungry and found a nearby pub where we had just the opposite of what each of us had the day before. Corrine ordered a meat pie and I had the fish and chips. Corrine made friends with a some dogs who were brought into the pub by their owners.
I wanted to walk to the gates where the Queen enters the castle, especially when she receives her guests. I had walked the Long Walk earlier this year and enjoy the simple grandeur (a word a seldom use, but appropriate in this case) of the setting. Must be quite an impression for guests of the Queen as they approach the castle!
Long Walk (Windsor Castle):
Driveway up to Windsor Palace:
Royal Palace from Long Walk:
Light Post with Crown on Top:
We then walked around the town of Windsor before taking the train back into London. I even took Corrine on a tour of a large grocery store to see the various items being sold. We had only visited small grocery stores since she arrived. There were many shops, mostly for tourists, but was a good walk and Corrine popped in several along the way. I was looking to find a shop that offered some hot chocolate and found just the place as we were heading towards the train station. I should have taken a picture of our cups of hot chocolate and each had heaps of whipped cream on top.
After a quick ride back into London, and a few transfers, we were at Covent Gardens, which was next to the church where tonight’s performance would be. We walked around for about an hour looking through some of the shops and admiring the Christmas decorations. I bought a new wallet at one of the stores to replace the one I was using. Wanted one where I could easily find the cards I use for travelling.
Covent Gardens Market Area:
Corrine found us seats (St. Paul’s “Actors” Church) in the front row just before the concert began. These were great seats! Tonight’s performance was the Vasari Singers, a well-known chamber choir. We met a few people during intermission (called “intervals” here). They were very interested in these Americans who were visiting London. One asked what we ate during Christmas dinner. We got the impression that dinners are more traditional here in England, with their mince pies and Christmas pudding.
We were both tired and walked to a nearby underground station and were home within about 40 minutes. We stayed up and watched the latest Graham Norton show and then with was bedtime.
Tomorrow is Portobello Market in the Notting Hill area, Oxford Street, high tea at the Corinthia, then Handel’s Messiah at St. Martins-in-the-Fields.