Eight days after the royal wedding we are in Windsor to catch up with friends, not at the castle, though they are staying opposite the castle. We are down the road in a pub bed and breakfast. Flags are flying everywhere and Windsor is busy, like it is every weekend, especially a bank holiday weekend. A sunny Sunday afternoon and everybody is happy, except the odd crying child; crowds, sightseeing and family outings don’t always work. We hear a father saying to his young son ‘We are here to discover the town, not to go to Legoland.’
Legoland is way out of town, though you can catch the bus near the castle. We had already seen signs for motorists saying Legoland was full. But Windsor is not about plastic bricks, the castle is made of real stone with thick walls to keep out the aircraft noise; along with many other people the Queen lives under the flight path to Heathrow. The blue sky today is heaven for plane spotters. We sit on the footbridge over the River Thames, the bridge links Windsor and Eton, the little town is part of the school rather than the school being in the town and is well worth a wander. Today the river is busy, you can dine aboard a big boat or hire a little boat and get in the way of the sightseeing riverboats. You can also ride in the Windsor Duck for an amphibious tour.
On Bank Holiday Monday morning the sky is heavy, the air misty. We can hear the roar as we step outside, but the clouds are so low the aeroplanes above us are invisible. We stroll the same way the royal wedding carriage drove and arrive at Windsor Great Park. The scaffolding is coming down where the cameras were last week and the Long Walk is back to normal, no crowds, just people and dogs enjoying The Queen’s back garden. If you wanted to you could keep going towards the bronze horse, away from the crowds; beyond lie gardens, forests and lakes. We walk up to the castle gates, open for royals, locked to the public. Everyone is taking photographs. Round the town side there is a queue for the castle, but only for ticket holders. There is another queue for people wanting to buy a ticket, it stretches down the hill out of sight, but all is civilised, plenty of people in uniforms to direct or advise you to come back first thing in the morning. Everyone wants to see the setting of the wedding.
Opposite the castle is Windsor and Eton Central railway station, the branch line from Slough was built for Queen Victoria. The three carriages go back and forth all day, curving across the river. Below the station is the main coach park; visitors are funnelled in through the station concourse and out onto the busy street. We sit with our coffee just inside the entrance and people watch. Tour guides now have microphones and their followers have earpieces and a receiver hanging round their necks. Each guide has their own flag or totem to wave above their heads, we wonder if there will be jostling or fighting for the best spots.
Down by the river the sun has come out. In the gardens there are fountains and children’s play areas, lots of families are having big picnics, or big families are having picnics. We buy an ice cream and watch a chap potting up plants for the roof of his narrow boat. The scene is peaceful and far removed from the tourist frenzy at the top of the town. On the other side of the river boat owners enjoy picnics on the fields of Eton.
You can see more pictures of Windsor on my Beachwriter’s Blog at my website.
As it’s Windsor Week at Tidalscribe look out for Flash Fiction Friday
and Silly Saturday – Not The Royal Wedding