Friday, December 30, 2011

Visiting the Neighbourhood Castle

We have been extremely sedentary during the Christmas school break. Partly because I think Lena needed to recharge her batteries with some time off, partly because there was a 5th birthday and a Christmas to organise and partly because I am lazy. So today I decided was the day we would DO SOMETHING. Lena was keen on going swimming, but I'm not so fond of taking the two swimming on my own. I decided to do something fairly spectacular, but cheap. And that was visit Windsor Castle.

As residents of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, we can use our Advantage Cards to visit Windsor Castle for free. We also get a discount at the local pools, car parks and some shops, but I think free entry to the castle is definitely the best thing. If you have to pay, you can get your ticket stamped and come back any time within the next year for free too, but obviously for lots of visitors, that's not really an option. For us however, I think it's pretty cool.

We've been a few times to Windsor Castle, but this was the first visit where both kids were old enough to get something out of it. I'm not even sure Mitchell had been before; certainly not since he was one, a year and a half ago.

First bit they liked was the Jubilee garden, made nearly 10 years ago for Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee.

Mitchell was also fairly excited by the fact that planes looked quite big here:

Windsor is only 8 miles from Heathrow Airport. In fact, planes landing or taking off take a slight detour as to not fly directly overhead of the castle. Queen Elizabeth must know the right people to pull that one off.

Inside, the moat was admired, along with the now-decorative cannons. Then we spent a good 15-20 minutes looking over each notch in the castellated parapet. Because the view changes from each one, don't you know?

Only 20 more to go!!
We then headed inside to see what there was to see. We skilfully, if unintentionally skipped the line to see Queen Mary's Dolls' House. There was a large line-up to see the dolls' house, which I really doubted the kids had patience for. So I said we would come back another time and instead headed directly for the State Rooms, which didn't have a line. We went inside and I went to check our stroller (you can't check jackets, just bulky things like strollers). As I came up the steps, the attendant told me to come back to him after checking the stroller. When we did, he lifted up a couple of ropes and we were in to see the house! The kids liked it, and enjoyed finding all the little different items in each room. However, they wouldn't have enjoyed it more for having waited 20 minutes in line, so I'm quite pleased we managed to avoid that.

Inside the State Rooms, the suits of armour, the tapestries and the big rooms (that would be great for playing tag) were all admired, but it was the Christmas trees that were the big hit. The one hanging from the ceiling was very cool, but the best was the biggest one inside St. George's Hall. In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we went and bought an ornament from the shop that was the same as the ones hanging from the tree. Everyone should have a crown on their Christmas tree!

We finished off our visit with a little fine dining in the Medieval Undercroft. Windsor Castle just started a cafe in October as a trial measure. I think it's likely to become a permanent fixture, so if you go for a visit, you can say as we now can:

I've dined at Windsor Castle!!

Almost a New Year - Time for Resolutions

I explained before why I wasn't updating this blog much. Things just aren't that new and different here to me anymore. So instead, I've decided to try and just do more day to day blogging on this blog, of the regular course of our lives. Many people have commented that they do enjoy my blog and that makes me happy and also motivates me to keep writing, so I will.

So rather than waiting until January 1st, 2011, to put this into practice, I shall start right now. In fact, you probably will have read that post before this one.

P.S. the only real resolution I make is the same every January and that's to be more AWESOME than I was last year. It's tough, but I enjoy the challenge.