It’s been quite a while since I last posted about the frustration of rental applications in the UK and there are many reasons why there has been no writing since then – the final couple of weeks leading up to us finally moving into a flat in Tooting Broadway was fraught with many problems not least shonky, lazy and stingy real estate agents (*cough* Time2Move *cough*) and then we have had no internet in our new abode and have been fairly busy since. Theatre, dinners out, attempts to visit Ikea… And I went down to Windsor with A to visit the Queen and walk along the Thames. Spring arrived with a burst of bloom, daffodils popping out everywhere, blossom on the trees, it’s truly wonderful and I want at least a few more springs in England before I go, it makes the long grey of winter disappear into that wintery place in your mind.
Windsor was lovely. A beautiful spring afternoon with hazy sunlight and warmth, we strolled up to the castle and through the gates with nary a problem. There was a slight security risk with my Swiss Army knife but the guard wasn’t too concerned. Apparantly there are far more impressive knives that are conviscated than my travel friend.
The Royal family use Windsor as one of their major places of residence, keeping the state rooms open for visitors throughout the year. It wasn’t too busy, considering it was a fantastic spring Sunday afternoon. We followed some sort of trail provided by the audio guide, narrated at times by members of the Castle staff and Prince Charles. It was fairly stuffy and pompous, but this castle is a proud monument to the Royal succession, a home to monarchs for a thousand years.
I think because Windsor is a ‘working’ castle, there are a lot of areas and aspects that are completely closed off to the public and it’s difficult to grasp the feel of the centuries of history that lurk in the glamour & fabrication of royalty. The gilded state rooms of George III (Mad) and the refurbished state room (the fire of 1992) were incredible, but it was Queen Mary’s Dollhouse that I loved the most. A beautiful Victorian house in min-at-ture, complete with cars, crystal chandelier’s and a tiny vacuum cleaner, it is the doll house of Princesses. This one isn’t meant to be played with, but I think most of the fun would be designing and decorating. No photographs permitted of course, which is a shame, as the postcards were sadly lacking in this area. I know several small girl children and LOADS of grown up girl women who would love an eyeful of Mary’s fantastic house.
As it was Sunday, St George’s Chapel was closed to visitors, so an outside view was all that was possible. Several monarchs are entombed here, but if I want to really pay my respects, I will have to come a day that is not the Lord’s. I’m reading a biography of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother at the moment and have a greater understanding and respect for her and her stuttering husband, enhanced of course by the lovely Colin and Helena. She led a fascinating life, as most who lived through two world wars did. Wife to a reigning monarch during some of the most difficult years of the 20th Century, her husband the focus of a beautifully made movie and placed in a position that was not of his making. The Royals of my lifetime have their own stories, but I don’t know whether Wills & Kate will ever be as interesting and redoubtable as Bertie & Elizabeth.
After a walk through the castle, the next best thing is a stroll by the river. The railway station is called Windsor/Eton Riverside after all! The late afternoon sun was golden, the river tranquil, it was very English, very Windsor. One could almost feel at home here…