Monday, 6 July 2020

A Trip to Windsor #6 :: Trains, Planes & no Automobiles

Hi there everyone 😀

Welcome to the last in the series of posts from our trip to Windsor back in February. It seems such a long time ago now. I'm so glad we went as we've had to cancel our two spring breaks to Scotland and to Yorkshire and we are not away now until September, which seems like forever away.

Having seen all of the major sights ... The Changing of the Guard, The Eton Walkway and The Castle ... we made our last full day in Windsor a nice and slow one with a late start followed by a trains, planes and no automobiles wander.

We started out in the opposite direction to normal ... not heading for the High Street, but out the back way, passing the Office of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the very pretty Western Cottage ... I know, shame about the wheelie bins ...
We'd spotted an interesting looking statue in Bachelors Acre on a previous wandering and we started our walk off with a detour to have a closer look at what we now knew was 'The Windsor Lady' ...
From here we headed back into Central Station to have a closer look at the Queen's Train ...

From the station we headed along the platform for the footbridge and lift down into Alexandra Park Gardens ...

We were on the lookout for the Hawker Hurricane ... point 52 of interest on The Queen's Walkway ... and we were delighted to find it not too far away ...




After photographing it from every angle possible we made our way back along The Thames, with a quick look at The Jubilee Fountain ...
... before heading into Brown’s for a quick pitstop before heading back to The Courtyard for our Valentines' meal in.

Saturday morning and time to pack up and head for home. We were both sorry to leave our cosy apartment and it was the first time we’d actually got in the car since we’d arrived in Monday,

We’d had a fab break ... we’d both loved Windsor and our first Airbnb ... if you’ve not been then we would definitely recommend a visit ... especially if you can get to go out of season when it’s a bit quieter. It was a real treat ... now to get home and get cracking with 2020 ...

... if only we'd known what was just around the corner 😀

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Thursday, 2 July 2020

The Reading Corner :: June

Hi there everyone 😀

Well I thought it was going to be another month with no reading whatsoever. Whilst there has been productive time spent gardening and even getting out a bit there has been far too much screen time ... it seems it’s not only a problem for the younger generation.

Last week I updated the operating system on my iPad and now I suddenly have access to lots of screen time data ... which is a bit worrying. I mean ... I knew I picked my iPad up often during the day ... but by the time you add up checking Facebook, email, Twitter, having a read of the news, catching up on blogs I like to read and the odd gaming session it doesn’t half add up.

And that’s not taking into account any extra time I spend on the 'big computer' doing our finances or blog writing ... which just doesn’t work on my iPad .... Yikes ... I need to get a life.

So it was 28 June and suddenly I just had the urge to have a read. I didn’t really fancy any of what was waiting to be read but opted for ...

The Midnight Line
Lee child

It was one of the Jack Reacher series and Martin had borrowed it from someone at work ages ago. He read it recently and once he had started he couldn’t put it down. Based in the fact Martin hardly ever reads anything at all I thought it was worth a go.

It’s not the first Jack Reacher book I’ve read but it’s the first in ages and it was a different Jack Reacher I found ... I obviously have missed a stack in the series as Jack is now a bit rudderless and seems to be moving around aimlessly ... not really coming from anywhere or going anywhere either ... just moving.

I have to say I was gripped ... I picked it up at tea time and took it to bed to try and read a few chapters ... well it was 3.30am before I could put it down and I finished it off the following morning ... it’s been a long time since a book has had that effect on me.

It was one of those stories which really started as nothing but very quickly drew you in to just having to know what happened next and it continues in that vein right until the very end.

It’s made me want to hunt out some more of Jack's adventures to try and find out how he’s ended up in the state he’s currently in.

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Monday, 29 June 2020

A Trip to Windsor #5 :: Exploring the Castle

Hi there everyone 😀

For today's post we are back in Windsor for more of our February trip.

It was Thursday and it was a big day. It was time for our visit to the castle.

We had been planning on getting there early to see the changing of the guard from inside ... but in the end we favoured a bit of a later get up instead. We were pleased though to catch the old guard making their way back to barracks ...
Before heading to the castle we had a bit of a wander to have a look at the long walk ...
As you can see, after the glorious sunshine we'd been blessed with for the previous couple of days today was just a little bit on the grey side.

We made our way to the castle entrance, via Queen Charlotte Street ... the shortest street in England ...
There was no queue and before we knew it we were in and ready to explore ...
The castle had seemed impressive from the High Street but close up and towering above us it was even more so ...
The first thing we came to was a bit of an exhibition where I was really taken with this image of Her Majesty ...
We then followed the path past the gardens to the main entrance for our visit to the State Apartments and the Semi-State Rooms, which are not always open so definitely best to check carefully before you plan your visit ...
You can't take any photographs inside of the castle, but it did not disappoint ... it was stunning and definitely something pretty special.

We got to see far more than we expected to, including where the fire of 1992 began ... the restoration is absolutely brilliant ... you would never know it had happened.

After we came back outside we were thrilled to bits to get to see a bit of a handover of the guards, having to swiftly move ourselves out of the way of the gate ...
We were even blessed with a little bit of blue sky as we made our way down past the castle and towards St George's Chapel ...


The Chapel is a beautiful building ...
You can't take photos inside but it is definitely worth a visit. It is jam packed full of interesting things and so much history ... I had no idea that so many of our Kings and Queens are buried there.

Having watched Harry and Meghan's wedding on the TV it was fascinating to look and see where everyone sat and the guides were brilliant at explaining the Order of the Garter and the symbolism of all of the flags and banners.
So that was it then ... another thing ticked off my list of the 50 things I want to do before I hit 60. I couldn't resist one last photo before we left ... though I have to say watching tourists pose with this poor chap for selfies did make me feel a little uncomfortable ...

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Thursday, 25 June 2020

Random Ramblings :: Feeling Hot, Hot Hot!

Hi there everyone 😀

Well I don't think there is going to be much on the agenda at all for today ... we are expecting temperatures to reach over 30 degrees. Whilst we like it warm ... for us that is just too flippin' hot.

We have spent this morning doing all we can to prepare for a BBQ this afternoon ... otherwise I think it would be a case of being too hot to bother.

What we should be doing is digging out the turf and leveling the bricks for the second of the vegetable beds, but I'm not sure that either of us can face that today ... we have got it all laid out ready though ...
We got very lucky with the bricks. Having mentioned to a friend that we were looking for some they called us a day or so later to say a neighbour was looking to get rid of some and did we want them. We thought the chances of them being what we were looking for were slim, but we were very lucky and were soon off in the car to pick up about 30 lovely 3" Victorian bricks, which match the others perfectly ...
There was an afternoon of sitting in the sunshine chipping off the old mortar and generally cleaning up for Martin, but we were well chuffed.

Yesterday was a scorcher too ... we'd got a day out on the cards. We'd managed to book tickets to visit Calke Abbey for the afternoon, through the current National Trust pre-booking scheme. Tickets are released on a Friday for the following week and sell out like hot cakes ... we'd managed to book a slot to arrive between 2.00pm and 2.30pm.

As it happened we were up and ready pretty early so decided to head to the garden centre at Staunton Harold in our quest to find some smallish terra cotta pots to place on the bricks around the vegetable beds. We didn't hold out much hope as we'd tried quite a few places to no avail.

Well we got quite lucky ... again! Whilst they didn't have a massive selection we did manage to find enough to get us started ...
And ... just look at these ... I just couldn't resist ... I love anything William Morris at the moment and just had to pop a few of these in the trolley ...
I have no idea where they are all going to go, but I'm sure we'll manage to squeeze them in.

We'd finished at the garden centre by 1.00pm so still had an hour before we could go to Calke so we decided to head to the visitor car park at Staunton Harold reservoir and have our picnic lunch there. We found a lovely spot in the shade and set up the camping table and chairs and enjoyed our Al fresco lunch.

Lots of people had the same idea and it brought back real memories of childhood when that was what a day out consisted of. A drive to somewhere pretty, a picnic lunch out the back of the car and a bit of a wander ... a really cheap day out.

The temperature was really cranking up by now and we were both a bit apprehensive about how much walking about we'd want to do but we headed off to Calke to see what we would find.

Checking in was easy and contact free with no queue. We were quite surprised to see the number of cars we did on the car park though ... to us it didn't really look any quieter than it would on a normal visit.

Chatting to one of the National Trust staff I think she said that there were a maximum of 1000 visitors allowed each day, which was a fraction of their normal capacity. They will be increasing it a bit from next week, but the plan is to continue to operate in this way for the forseeable future.

Our first stop was the cafe for an ice cream, where the set up is really easy to follow, with plenty of space and reassuring measures in place. It did seem a little strange, but comforting at the same time.

We headed for the gardens in the scorching heat ... there was plenty of signage making sure that the likelihood of having to pass others on narrow paths was considerably reduced and, though the car park had seemed full on arrival, it was easy to maintain social distancing from other visitors.
The gardens were looking lovely ... this was our first view ...
... followed by the auricular theatre, from which we took the inspiration for our own plant stand ... not on quite such a grand scale obviously ...
It was very strange seeing lots of the garden gates closed ... but this did make sure that everyone was heading in the same direction ... and the NT had done their best to make it look pretty ...
The borders were looking full of planting and colour ...
From this part of the walled garden we were chanelled out through the back into the more natural area ...
There was not an ounce of shade and we were soon heading back into the second of the walled gardens ...
Now the last time we visited Calke in the Summer it was also a really warm day ... not as hot as this time though. We'd visited with our good friends Jackie and Phil and Jackie and I had really enjoyed dipping our hands in the water by the old pump ... Martin and I were both a bit gutted that we couldn't do this today ...
By now we were both feeling pretty hot and bothered ... you can tell I didn't want to hang around as I couldn't even face waiting to get this shot with no people in ... but at least the lady's dress matches the lavender ... 
We didn't even walk round the narrow paths of this part of the garden. We just kept to the outside and headed for the way out in the opposite corner ...
It was lovely to get into the shade of the woodland at the back of the garden walls and we found a nice bench and sat for a while, just watching the deer ... just grazing lazily in the sunshine and the shade of the trees ...


Isn't he an absolute beauty ....
We broke up the walk back with a stop off at the grotto ... which we'd never seen before ...
... and another sit in the shade at the side of the house ...
... before slogging our way back up the hill to the stables and on to the car park ... where the air conditioning was the best thing ever.

It had been lovely to get out and the National Trust really have done all they can to open their spaces safely ... I think I will be waiting for it to cool down a bit though before I arrange another visit 😀

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