May 2021 - Day 5 - Windsor, Eton & Cliveden
A lovely cool nights sleep in a big comfy bed. What an improvement from the last place that shall no longer be named.
At 8.30am we headed down for breakfast. The previous night we had noticed that there seem to be lots of primary aged kids with parents in the hotel. It wasn’t until this morning we realised that this must be one of the closest hotels for Legoland. There was a number of excited children in breakfast which was quite busy. Why do children feel the need to shout and scream?
The hot buffet breakfast was still available although it had to be served to you but this was no real bother. I had a decent plateful and it was jolly nice. We were also given free rein over the toaster although the slices of bread were sealed in individual plastic wrappers to protect us all. We took our tea back to the room.
Todays plan was to visit Windsor. I had researched various car park options and settled upon one at Romney Lock which was 10 minutes walk from the centre. This still cost me an eye watering 164 shillings for 5 hours. That is more 30% of my first weekly wage from Norwich Union, just to park. The money went to the crown as it was on their land. I hope Lizzie spends it wisely like on a Netflix subscription to watch The Crown.
As we walked towards the Castle we could see the Royal Standard flying above it. I think I saw Lizzie peering out of top floor window giving me the thumbs up for paying the car park fee and keeping her off the breadline for another month.
It was already very warm and yet again was expected to be the hottest day of the year so far. By the time we got to the centre Karen was already in need of a caffeine boost so we decided to find the local Cafe Nero. Despite having on the map on my phone this proved far more difficult than it should as we both missed it. Eventually we managed to get Karen her Skinny Latte and she became almost human again for a while.
Then we decided to walk around the castle the best we could. That didn’t take long as it was closed because Lizzie was didn’t want to be disturbed whilst presumably working on her tan and picking out her horses for Ascot, which was a shame. Mind you I’m not sure I would have been happy paying the admission fee. I think UK citizens should not have to pay to get in. Just charge all overseas visitors treble instead. They would still pay to go in and everyone would be a winner.
What I didn’t understand though is why they built the castle on the edge of the town so close that it butts up to it.. They had all that great park to build upon…….
There were lots of overpriced cafes and pubs surrounding the castle but we spotted a M&S along the main high street and decided to buy some sandwiches for lunch from there. We intended to take them to eat along the Long Walk.
As we headed off to find the Long Walk we passed Lizzie’s local Wetherspoons which conveniently for her opposite the castle and next to a MacDonalds. This means perhaps as treat after walking the corgi’s each morning she can get herself an Egg McMuffin breakfast and then wash it down with a cheap pint next doors. The call though of a cold lager was too loud for Karen to resist and we found a table outside on the terrance. It took a while for me to sort out the app and after a false start our order was swiftly delivered. I had a cup of tea whilst Karen had Kronenburg.
After this we headed towards the Long Walk. Or rather I thought we were heading in that direction, but I got my geography completely wrong and was 180 degrees out. This would have been bad enough at the best of times, but in the heat it was even worse. After about 10 minutes, it finally dawned on me that we were getting further away not closer. We had no option but to retrace our steps. Karen was genuinely quite sympathetic for my mistake tfor once.
Instead, we decided to sit upon a shady bench on the bridge over the Thames between Windsor & Eton. We sat a while after eating putting together stories to all the people who walked past us.
I wanted to see Eton, so we went over the bridge and walked along the High Street. It was a decent walk and to be honest there was not a lot to see. Karen couldn’t decide if it was something she should be looking at. On one part it is part of our national heritage but on the other it is still condoning the elitist element of the country. The annual fees are currently about £47k per year. We wondered how much money talks in gaining boys actual entry into the school.
After this we wandered very wearily back to the car. We still had 54 minutes left on the car park ticket which was quite a number of shillings worth. Karen said we were not to just there in the car to get full value though.
Instead we thought we would drive to the Long Walk and park up to walk along it. Much easily said than done. We found it quite easily and crossed it in the car. But despite trying every road around there was no where whatsoever to park within a semblance of reasonable distance from it without going back into the centre of Windsor itself. It was very frustrating and annoying and after 20 minutes we just gave up. When I get home I may write and complain to Lizzie about it.
As a back up I had book timed tickets for Cliveden House so we made our way in that direction. The drive reminded me why I could not live here. It was stop start all the way with traffic lights seemingly every 100 yards. We arrived a full 50 minutes before our allocated slot, but managed to blag our way in which was impressive as again we had to use a copy of Jo’s NT pass on my phone. Karen’s first concerns were to find a toilet and a drink in that order. The toilet was easy enough but there was an enormous queue at the drink kiosk in the car park, so instead we decided to look around what is one of the National Trusts most visited places.
There was a rather understated enormous water feature at the end of the drive up to the house devoted apparently to Love. We walked towards the house which is famed for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is the ancestral home of Nancy Astor and subsequently the ‘Cliveden set’ and secondly it was here that the Profomo scandal occurred in the 60’s. Whilst the grounds are managed by the National Trust, the house is leased to a company that runs it as very posh hotel. We walked round the house to the back terrace which gave an impressive view over the large set gardens that led down to the Thames. As we stood on the terrace we turned round and looked at the house. On the ground floor all the windows were open. We could see a small wedding breakfast taking place in one room. In the restaurant area it was full of people taking afternoon tea. Karen moaned I should have booked it for her, but when I looked up the cost on my phone it was £81pp plus NT entrance fee! Still it was nice watching rich people eat through open windows. I think it made their day being able to watch me watching them.
Instead we went and sat along the side of the house in the conservatory area and Karen fetched us some tea and scones for a much more reasonable £7.70 in total. Whilst we sat there, a few drops of rain came down but not enough to make us move.
We slowly trudged back up the drive, thoroughly worn out by the day. We had walked well over 5 miles so far today in what was a very hot day. Neither of us could be bothered to make the effort to wander round the Japanese Water garden and instead made our way back to Hotel. It was slow progress again during rush hour.
Although I would have been happy not going out this evening, Karen was hungry and keen to eat at The Boathouse on Ray Mill Island that we had seen last night. We made our way there and were delighted with the table we were given. We were just about inside but with patio doors wide open had perfect views up the Thames. It was a lovely restaurant, a lovely meal and lovely evening. We both had the 14 hour slowly braised beef and ale pie which was delicious. Karen followed it up with a sample of Banoffee Pie with a tea. This was the type of restaurant we would like to frequent at home.
My conclusion with this part of the world is that its kind of OK, but again its just not Norfolk. It has a London feel and edge to it and for me that’s a bad thing. I think everything is over hyped and over priced. There are far too many people and traffic about as well and on top of that everything is so expensive.
It had been a long tiring day and we spent some time over dinner analysing it. We are not sure that Hotel holidays in the UK are fully working for us. This hotel is better for us than the last but we want to be able to chill and sit out at some point and you cannot really do that in a IK hotel room. It maybe we are unfit or maybe just not used to being on the go all the time, but are finding all very tiring. Anyhow we will take sometime to review what we have booked for later in the summer to see if we can up with any better options.