We landed at about 07H00 (U.K time) and the flight was not half as bad as I anticipated. We had slight turbulence on the way which lasted perhaps 2 minutes. To be honest I was quite glad to be finally on the ground. Oh my goodness for those who have never been to London Heathrow – guys it is massive!! Cape Town airport is tiny compared to Heathrow. We could have easily walked 15 minutes to border control. I have to really commend the security and the border control team. They run things like a tight ship. Though the queues were incredibly long it moved quite fast and orderly .
Just out of interest – London Heathrow received about 80million passengers in 2018!! For a first timer this is both exciting and scary.
All in all, it took me two hours from landing, border control, luggage and finding my family. I was told that I was very lucky to be arriving and departing at Terminal 3, which by the way has 48 gates!!!!!!
Go home and sleep or explore?
After hugs and tears of happiness – a 20 year reunion! Still could not wrap my head that the last time I saw my cousin was in 1999. Now, I finally get to meet her hubby and 2 beautiful daughters. I was then asked if I wanted to go “home” and rest or if I want to go exploring.
I told her that sleep is for the dead – let’s EXPLORE!! So off we went to Windsor Castle.
As I came out of the airport – I was greeted by a typical English day. Overcast with showers. Pretty much the same weather I left Cape Town. I was perfectly dressed!! 🤣 And you know what? I wasn’t disappointing! In fact it was perfectly sublime – exactly how I always pictured English weather. It was as if England was welcoming me home!Guess what? I felt at home. It was the most weirdest feeling!
Welcome to Windsor Castle
One thing that made me realise almost instantly when in the UK, South Africa doesn’t have history! I mean HISTORY. Most of the sites and buildings was built even before South Africa was even discovered. It is crazy to think that a ruin or building was in existence 500 to 600 years BEFORE South Africa was established.
Another thing that absolutely fascinated me was; FLOWERS. Every little town, every street, every lamp post, every shops has baskets and window boxes full of flowers. It is so whimsical!
Right! So do you know that Windsor is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world? Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, (do you see what I mean by history?) and it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Even better it is open to visitors. Now days the Queen spends most of her private weekends at this Castle. Do you see in the picture the flag and that it is raised? When the flag is raised, it means the Queen is at home! She was in when we visited Windsor!
I do however recommend booking and well in advance if you want to explore the castle. Tickets are 22.50 pounds per person. We didn’t get to go into the castle, the queues where just insanely long. Besides, there is actually a lot to see and explore in and around the town of Windsor itself.
The Royal Windsor Public House and Dinning – serving food since 1727. How pretty is this building? Do you see what I mean by the flowers?
As you walk down the street – one cannot help but to be amazed at all the oldness that is all around you. To think how many people walked where we walked over the centuaries. These walls and floors could tell a number of stories if they could speak. I just love how there is so much detail in the buildings. You can even see some Tudor! Just look at these windows.
As you walk towards the town center, you just can’t seem to soak it all in enough. There is so much little details in every little building and corner.
And do you see what I see? A McDonalds and Nando’s!!
Definitely no shortage of deliciousness! 😍😍
There is also plenty of quaint English Shops to feast your eyes on. I had to keep telling myself – The Exchange Rate! The Exchange Rate! The Exchange Rate!
Above is Windsor’s train station – Windsor and Eton Central – used to mark the end of the District line of the London Underground. Between 1883 and 1885, it was possible to travel all the way to central London from Windsor. I can almost envision ladies and gentlemen from the Victorian era walking here. Now the station is a beautiful Victorian Shopping Center.
I was so tempted to purchase these T-Shirts…
Oh and just look at these tea rooms!! 😍 The British do love their tea!
Excitedly we got to see the changing of the guards. Many people in the UK had said that they have never seen the changing of guards. It all happened so quickly, I managed to catch a glimpse. It was quite an experience.
The Loooooooooooong Walk!
The long walk measures 2.64 miles (4.25kilometers) in length and is very popular with joggers and walkers. We didn’t do the walk! But it was nice to see and to ponder about all the history. For example legend has it that at the end of the walk is Snow Hill and this is where King King Henry VIII sat and waited for news of the execution of his second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn. King Charles planted about 1652 Elm trees along the walk way, which now been replaced with oak, and horse chestnuts.
Many people do walk to the top of the hill and enjoy lovely picnics on a “clear” and sunny day. The view from there is spectacular, you can see London’s city skylines, Wembly Stadium and Heathrow.
Walking in and around Windsor town, there is so many little hidden treasures. Cute little alley ways, another pub established in 1615!! Dreamy shop windows, cronky old buildings with a spiral staircase, roses and flowers on every corner, gorgeous details to a staircase, perhaps the Queen of Clubs once ruled? Statue of Queen Victoria at the top of a building, and plenty of red doors!
I personally would not like to stay near Windsor, the airplanes alone would drive me crazy. Literally every 5 to 10 seconds there would be a plane flying low as it is right on the flight path to Heathrow. Remember I flew over Windsor castle myself?
Warrant of Execution of King Charles I
Now I want to share something really extra special with you. Look at this sign below!!
Now if you love history like I do – this is kind of a big deal. On this very spot King Charles I was executed by being beheaded for treason! Are you not glad we don’t live in those times, I mean seriously, heads were flying off left, right and center!
Right; so the story goes like this! King Charles was executed for treason as mentioned earlier. He did so many things that offended his subjects. First of all, in his first year he offended the Protestant subjects by marrying a French Catholic Princess. (We all know from History how the Protestant and Catholics really don’t like each other.)
Secondly, he didn’t like political opposition so on a few occasions he dissolved Parliament, and in 1629 he decided he was going to rule without the help of Parliament.
During 1642, the bitter struggle between King and Parliament led to the outbreak of the first English civil war which lasted for 4 years. Looooooong story short in the end King Charles was forced to appear before a high court who by the way, was controlled by his enemies…. They convicted him of treason and sentenced to death. That sign above is his warrant of execution.
Windsor’s Blue Post Box
As we continue to explore Windsor, we stumbled upon a blue post box. Friends and family were surprised to see a blue post box! As England is full of red ones, finding a blue one is a real gem! As you can see this box is marked “GR” – which stands for George Rex. This is referring to King George V, indicating that these were in and around during his rule. (“G” stands for George and the “R” stands for Rex, which is the Latin word for King. As you can see on the Red Box it has EIIR – the “E” indicates Elizabeth II and the “R” in this case stands for Regina meaning Queen in Latin.)
The blue post boxes were introduced between 1930 and 1938 in certain locations to receive air mail post for Europe. Lasting only 8 years having separate air mail boxes proved to be too expensive. The build up to World War II didn’t help either and it was then in 1938 that the Royal Mail decided that the public could use any box to post air letters.
The Crooked House of Windsor
All across the UK you will see many crooked homes, some are built deliberately for Tourist. However the Crooked House of Windsor is a commercial building in fact dating all they way back to 1592 .The building had to be reconstructed in the late seventeenth century.
So why the reconstruction? Well in 1687, the town council ordered the house to be demolished to make way for the new Guildhall next door. A land dispute obviously erupted. In the end the council was ordered by the court to rebuild the building in its original spot. The house then re-built with much haste or care. Using unseasoned green oak wood to rebuild and obviously when the wood dried it buckled. Amazingly it stayed grounded. This was when the Market Cross House became the Crooked House of Windsor.
This commercial building has been so many different things over the years from starting originally as a butchery, brewery, antique shop, a gift shop, a tea room and now a jewellery shop.
And a few more interesting pictures…
To end the day: A carnic!
So as you can see by the weather, it was pretty wet and miserable. The goal was to walk to the top of Summer Hill and have a picnic but it all wet. In the end we had a carnic, a picnic in the car. My cousin made sure I was welcomed with all things traditional such cucumber sandwiches, scotch eggs, pork pies, jafta cakes. What a treat indeed. If pork pies are done correctly they are absolutely delicious!!
One thing I did notice that if the Brits wants to do something come rain or sunshine they will go ahead, even if it means a picnic in the car, which by the way is something that is not unusual in the UK because the weather is always wet. The first thing I noticed upon arriving back to SA, we were out and about and a cloud burst, people scattered seeking for shelter as if they were going to melt. In the UK if a cloud burst they don’t even notice they continue to walk in the street, as is or some may even open up a brollie!!
Coming soon – Waddeson Manor, so stay tuned and don’t forget to subscribe on the right so you don’t miss out on my UK adventures.