Making our way north up the Grand Union, we're now moored not far from Hemel Hempstead railway station.
Tuesday 14 September
Despite being up and about just after 0800hrs, we still didn't manage to leave the boat till 1030hrs and I'd hoped we'd be back on board by midday in case we had to pay another mooring fee! It was unlikely that would happen anyway, it's rather expensive to visit the Queens pad so we needed to get our money's worth then speed away as soon as we were back on board.
After a quick trip to the Post Office to send Andrew Denny's 'The Travelling Man' DVD (sorry it was delayed Andrew!) back to him, we walked up to the public entrance of Windsor Castle. Sharing the pavements with us was a motley crew of steam cleaners removing the ghastly chewing gum patches -Barry reckons you can tell the status of a town by the amount of gum on the pavements. One would hope that Royal Windsor would be fairly high in the status stakes!
As previously stated, Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, boasting around 900 years of British Monarchy in residence. Admission was £16.00 per adult, and £14.50 for Tom (as he's a student) - no wonder the Queen's so rich!
This tower looks a little Rapunzel-like Sandra has to tickle tired Tom to make him smile!
Ornate decorations all clean and polished
I think the guard wanted to have a second look at us - but we survived all the security checks and made it through along with a few other lucky tourists
Slits for arrows to defend the castle from intruders Delightfully different windows
Tom and Barry a little in awe of the experience so far; the only vaguely similar building which springs to mind in New Zealand would be Lanarch Castle in Dunedin, which pales into insignificance, but has an breathtaking location
Obviously some parts were sealed off from the public - maybe Charles had left his room in a mess?
It's not difficult to see why some people are anti-monarchy, there really was obscene opulence in the 'State Apartments' and 'St George's Hall', and I can't make my mind up whether I'm proud to be British and have such an old and established 'institution', or whether it actually makes me quite ashamed that this astounding wealth is locked away while the vast majority of the world's population live in poverty.
Of course you're not allowed to take photographs inside the buildings, but believe me, the grandeur of the furniture, furnishings, painted ceilings and armoury collection is quite unbelievable - but then I suppose it does have to be 'fit for a Queen/King'!
Some of the castle gardens - understandably not open to the public to trample on
You can imagine soldiers at the top watching for enemies ...
Unable to see who this represents with his sword ready - and there's still canons poking through
And you think you've got a boring job? We did ask permission - a slight tilt of the head said 'yes'
One of the royal lions being regally sick!
There seems to be monograms everywhere - I guess she has to put her initials on everything in case someone nicks it!
Sandra and Tom filling in postcards to New Zealand - then straight into the royal box
Hope this box isn't just for mail to the queen - she doesn't need postcards from Windsor
There's a bit of graffiti around the walls that hasn't been cleaned off for a while i.e. 296 years
A touch of autumn colours the buildings
A lot of the walls are studded with bits of flint - I guess it's an early form of anti climbing paint
The usual British sign - it's only for show A spectacular (or eclectic?) mix of architecture
No chance of movement blurring here!
St George's Chapel - a fine example of Gothic architecture
The lavish brick-work of the castle Armed police guard the main entrance
Arriving back at the boat we were horrified to discover that the plank to board from the high bank had disappeared! Had someone taken it? The more likely scenario was it'd fell off after the boat had moved a little as boats passed by, and was floating somewhere down the mighty Thames. It was a little precarious getting on board as we had to 'jump', so Tom and Barry jumped over the gap without problem then assisted the less agile or courageous Sandra on without mishap! We set off and soon saw it washed up on the bank a few yards from where we'd been, so turned around and Tom jumped off the front and brought it back, a little dirty from it's river swim, but otherwise sound - thank goodness!
Apart from visiting the castle, we had no time for any other explorations of Windsor due to our tight schedule, so were off towards Teddington, though unsure whether our plan of cruising the tidal Thames through London was going to come off. We'd heard some bad news this morning. Having understood from reading the information on the tidal Thames on the internet that boats of 45 foot length didn't need a VHF radio to navigate the tidal Thames, we were then informed by the lock keeper when Barry phoned him, that was the case only if you're under 45 foot. Most confusing. So we're going to have to find another boat to travel with who do have a VHF radio (and license to operate one) or we can't go through London. Let's hope there's still some people around on boats doing the journey - narrowboat, barge or cruiser, it makes no difference! If not we'll just have to do the short trip up to Brentford and then east along the Grand Union.
We didn't start moving till after 1400hrs, and stopped around 1800hrs following a very grey and wet afternoon. As I had a horrendous headache, I missed half journey as I was sleeping inside, leaving Tom and Barry to it ...
'The House on the Bridge' restaurant beside Windsor Bridge
The Crown lands seem to go on for some time with quaint buildings and signs everywhere
The cottage at Bell Weir Lock and our fellow boater (an empty trip boat), down through Penton Hook Lock
What do they say? 'Buy the worst house on the best river' - well I think this is definitely it
... though this is interesting - is it two flats or a two up two down?
We moored just short of Weybridge Lock, 11 miles and 5 locks from Windsor. In the evening we watched some of 'The Life of Brian' - but once again the jet-lag overtook Tom and he was asleep within a few minutes, so we all had another early night - a good job really as tomorrow could be a big day!
A little something in a royal blue!