A Travellerspoint blog

Windsor - Thursday, 2 May 2019

Afternoon tea at the Australian High Commission, London

semi-overcast 15 °C
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Harte and Garter Hotel - Room No 109

I had a lovely, long warm bath last night (as I do every night) but it was especially welcome last night after our long, long 5 mile walk in Windsor Park. Then into bed reasonably early, out like a light and slept like a baby all night. There is nothing like a good night's sleep!

The weather seems to be changing for the worst. Getting colder.

During the breakfast Gregg and Muriel Button (the Brown Button) sat down with us and we had a big chat. Nice to see them again. They are lovely.

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They came up to our room for a look at the view and then something started happening down in the street. Police blocked off the road and then the guard and band came marching up the street. Great! Everyone loves a band, especially a Scotty band. It was the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle.

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All done.

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Time to get ready for afternoon tea at the Australian High Commission in London.

This Town Crier has just started ringing his bell and shouting out something but I can't hear what he's saying, but I don't think it's about the birth of baby Sussex. The crowd is too subdued.

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Oh yay, oh yay, oh yay, a royal baby is on the way. God Save The Queen.
Sir William and Lady Heseltine have arrived. Sir William was The Queen's Private Secretary for many years during Princess Diana's time.

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At 1.00 pm we met in the foyer and booked a couple of Ubers to take us into the Australian High Commission for our afternoon tea, hosted by George Brandis, the Australian High Commissioner. Maria and Doug squashed into a car with me and Phil and in just over an hour, we arrived at The Strand.
We were a bit early so we went to the pub for a quick beer. Then to the Australian High Commission and checked through security before we could enter. Long gone are the days when Australians could wander in and out of their High Commission and read the Australian papers. It's all high security now.

We all gathered in a room where afternoon tea was laid out on a couple of tables and we helped ourselves and chatted amongst ourselves until the High Commissioner arrived. He made a very nice speech and chatted with each group. Peter Tilley responded on our behalf with a short but to the point speech. Then we were taken on a guided tour of the High Commission. It is a beautiful old building, 101 years old. It was opened on 3 August 1918 by King George V and was Australia's first diplomatic mission abroad. The building is heritage listed inside and out, so not much can be changed, but you wouldn't want it to be - it is a stunning building. They are expecting 15,000 Australians in here over the next couple of weeks to vote in the Australian Federal Election.

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We left at about 4.15 pm and when we checked out an Uber, the price had quadrupled from earlier in the day. It is now getting into peak hour traffic and it is starting to rain. What to do?

So Doug, Maria, Peter Tilley, Phil and I hopped into a taxi that took us to Paddington Station. We arrived at one entry only to find it was closed - due to a fire we were told, so the cab driver decided to drive to the other entrance. I'm not keen on going to the underground, if there is a fire there! The other entry seemed to be working like normal so I asked a policeman if everything was okay. Yes he said, so we bought tickets to Windsor, boarded the train and had a nice trip to Windsor on the train.

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We didn't get back until about 6.30 pm which meant that we had missed Evensong at St George's Chapel. I wanted Phil to go inside to see how magnifcent it was - maybe next time.

We had dinner at the Harte and Garter with Geoff and Caroline Hay, Maria and Doug. It was very nice.

Now to bed and try to sleep as tomorrow is the big day at St George's Chapel.

Posted by gaddingabout 14:27 Archived in England Comments (0)

Windsor - Wednesday, 1 May 2019

semi-overcast 17 °C
View To London, To London, To Visit The Queen on gaddingabout's travel map.

Harte and Garter Hotel - Room No 109

The bed and pillows are lovely, but I had a very bad night. I just could not get to sleep. I must be too excited about the coming week.

We went down for a late breakfast and the eggs were cold and not very appertising. Phil ordered some eggs and they took ages to come and were pretty much inedible. So he ordered some more and tried to explain how to cook eggs over easy. They finally arrived 40 minutes later but by that time, it was too late. He was furious. The tea and toast were cold. He had a quiet word with the manager after breakfast! Hopefully things will be better tomorrow or else we might be poisoned!

Maria joined us at breakfast, just to chat and Peter Tilley walked up the hill from the Sir Christopher Wren hotel for a chat.

After breakfast, Phil and I walked down to the Sir Christopher Wren hotel where Peter is staying and had a lovely G&T on the deck with him, overlooking the Thames. It was just lovely. Phil was trying to help Peter download some apps on his phone. This is a very lovely part of Windsor. I have never been down this end before. But I still prefer the position of the Harte and Garter which serves my needs very well, of getting to Windsor Castle with a minimum of fuss.

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Did you know that The Queen owns all the swans in the UK?

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Phil and I were meeting Maria at 2.30 pm to go on The Long Walk and when I went down to the foyer to check that she had moved into her new room, a man in the reception area kept looking at me. Finally he approached me and introduced himself as Gerry Warner, LVO, the Mil Sec/Comptroller from Government House days in the late 80s. And his wife Gerri. My, how we have all changed! It was lovely to see them both and we chatted for a while but had to leave them as Maria, Phil and I are attempting to walk the Long Walk through Windsor Park. I have always wanted to do this.

On the way to the start of the walk, we came across the local Anglican church in Windsor. We went inside and took some nice photos. There is a lovely photo of the Last Supper in there.

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Also a magnificent tree in the church grounds.

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And a typical English pub. Patrons enjoying a pint in the sunshine.

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We walked on to the start of the Long Walk. It was a very long way to the end where there is a magnificent statue of King George III. We walked, and walked, and walked - about 8 kilometres - up and back!

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Phil came the whole way too. Very proud of him. It took 2 1/2 hours and we got back at 5 pm with very, very sore feet. Don't you just hate these kids - running all the way - up and back!

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A very well deserved G&T and an hour's rest before dinner.

We went to dinner to a pub down the road called the King and Castle. Peter Tilley and Maria came with us. Maria and I wanted to have salmon but that wasn't on the menu so we settled for chicken and avocado salad instead. The weather is changing and it is starting to rain a bit.

I am so tired after broken sleep last night and the Long Walk today, so it is time for a relaxing bath and into bed.

Posted by gaddingabout 13:25 Archived in England Comments (0)

Windsor - Tuesday, 30 April 2019

From London to Windsor

semi-overcast 16 °C
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Harte and Garter Hotel - Room No 109

Slept in, had breakfast, packed our bags and phoned for an Uber to take us to Windsor at 11 am. Our driver was a lovely young Greek guy and we chatted for the hour and a quarter it took us to get to Windsor. Our room wasn't ready unti 2pm so we went for a walk around lovely old Windsor. It is Phli's first time here and he loves it.

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We had a beer at the Carpenters Arms and then we wandered down the street and found a Cornish Pastie shop! Is there no getting away from them?

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While we were walking around Windsor, a TV crew came along and interviewed us about Harry and Meghan's baby, whether we thought it was going to be a boy or a girl. A girl, I said. Maybe we will be on TV tonight.

This guy is all set up on the corner, hoping the baby will be born today as it's his 84th birthday.

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We receive our room keys and I ask for my invitation to the Royal Victorian Order Church Service and Reception being held at Windsor Castle on Friday, 3 May. "We don't have any mail for you", they said. "Yes you do because I received an email from Ivanka at the end of March saying that mine (and others) had arrived". Great confusion ensued with phone calls being made, Ivanka arriving to participate in the search, safes being searched - the whole works!

Meanwhile, Amanda O'Rourke had phoned me to say that she had phoned the Harte and Garter and they told her they didn't have her invitation either! Good grief. Here we go again. In 2011, the Clarence Hotel sent our invitations back to the Central Chancery, even though we asked them to hold them for us.

However, all's well that ends well, and after a little while, Ivanka had found ALL our invitations. Thank goodness.

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Now to the room. It is lovely. It is on the first floor, we have a lift AND a bath and a balcony overlooking Windsor Castle. The bathroom is HUGE - we could hold a party in there. The balcony needs some attention so we are not supposed to stand on it, but we can open the balcony doors for fresh air, and street noise!

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The room next to us has been taken over by the media. They are training their cameras on the gates of Windsor, waiting to see who comes and goes, re the new Royal baby.

We walked down to an Italian restaurant for a quick snack so we could come back to our room and watch the semi finals of the World Snooker Championships as there is an Australian who is doing quite well. In fact he was leading when we went to dinner.

We had just settled into a restaurant when two women arrived with seven very noisy boys! The waiter moved us to a different part of the restaurant but we really didn't mind. We had been reading the menu in the restaurant earlier this afternoon and the owner came out and gave us a 25 per cent off voucher, so we were definitely coming back. The pizza was quite nice.

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All the tourists and baby watchers have now gone home and the street below us and the front gates of Windsor Castle are now deserted. I guess it will be full on tomorrow and every day until the baby Sussex is born.

Posted by gaddingabout 15:30 Archived in England Comments (0)

London - Monday, 29 April 2019

Last day in London

semi-overcast 16 °C
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Goodenough Hotel - Room 491

As I mentioned yesterday, Phil has discovered WhatsApp and encouraged his mate in Australia to install it and use it. Well he did, didn't he - at 3.30 am London time!!! (Which was a surprise that they would make such a mistake because they are world travellers and know all about time differences).

It is a bit overcast today and a bit cool, with a max of 16 degrees. We will be out and about today for our last day in London.

Receiving phone calls and messages as the other Aussies start arriving in the UK for the Royal Victorian Order Service this coming Friday.

We caught an Uber taxi into the London Eye. We had the most miserable Bulgarian Turk that I have ever met. He was morose and negative and nothing made him happy. Up until now, all our Uber drivers have been happy and talkative - not this one!

There are quite a few people around but the queues are moving quickly. We bought a ticket for the Eye River Cruise and the London Eye. The cruise was time specific so we lined up and went on the 40 minute cruise along the Thames first. It gives you a different perspective to view the lovely buildings from the river. And in one of the photos, if you look very hard, you will see the only piece of London beach!

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Here is the beach photo and these red pylons once belonged to a railway bridge that has since been pulled down, but when they tried to demolish the pylons, they discovered they were just too well built and would have to use dynamite to get rid of them and that option was too dangerous for the other bridges nearby, so they decided to leave them.

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After the river cruise, we lined up for our ride on The London Eye. The queue wasn't very long either and in no time we were stepping into the capsule and off we went. The views from up here are lovely.

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We decided to walk to the corner and catch an Uber back home and then we spied the "find" of the century - Gail's Bakery. It is light, modern and welcoming and we took ages gazing at all the delicious food, trying to decide what to order. Finally, we decided on two coffees, a sausage roll, a cheese stick and a berry and custard brioche. Oh wow! It was simply delicious. If I lived in this area, it would be my "go to place", for sure.

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My 28 degree card has had about three rejections (last night and today), so we came home and checked on our statements. Seems my credit is sailing a bit close to the wind, so we paid our account, so now hopefully everything will be okay until we reach home in a week's time.

Spending this evening packing, as we are checking out tomorrow and heading for Windsor.

Posted by gaddingabout 12:09 Archived in England Comments (0)

London - Sunday, 28 April 2019

semi-overcast 14 °C
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Goodenough Hotel - Room 491

Late breakfast at Freddies again this morning. It is semi overcast and the wind has a bite to it. Freddies is quite small so there is always some searching for a table. This morning there was a lot of chaos and they ran out of fruit and mugs for tea and coffee. But all was replenished eventually.

Phil has discovered WhatsApp and has started phoning people at home! Watch out.

We caught a taxi to the theatre to pick up the tickets for The Lion King and with an hour to kill, we popped into a French cafe and had coffee and carrot cake.

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We have great seats again - in the Royal Circle - second row - in the middle. And we are sitting next to an Australian girl from Sydney. They're everywhere. The theatre is old and dark but quite ornate. In a couple of the boxes, there are bongo drums and drummers set up, waiting for the show to begin.

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The sets in the show were stunning. Pity photos aren't allowed. Sometimes the set was so busy, you just didn't know where to look. All our shows in London are done now and the verdict is:

In order of our most favourite - Tina Turner the Musical and Les Miserables are in a tie for first; Aladdin a very close second, followed by The Lion King and last of all, All Our Sons. We have had a great time in the West End, attending all these fantastic shows. Phil dozes during the first half but stays awake for the second half. I think I should only have to pay half price for his tickets!

After the show, we wandered along Drury Lane looking for somewhere to have dinner. We stumbled across the most unique restaurant in Drury Lane called Sarastro. It was gorgeous. There was stuff everywhere - hanging from the ceiling and instead of tables and chairs, there were boxes and booths . It was all very romantic. The table cloths were crushed velvet and a lot of the memorabilia came from shows that had been performed in the Drury Lane / West End area. Fantastic place.

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The restaurant is named after a character in Mozart's Magic Flute and first opened its doors in 1996. It was once a public house. The owner was Richard Niazi who died in 2008. His funeral was "the show he wanted after the show he had lived" with gypsy musicians playing samba music in the street as his cortege was led down Drury Lane. He was laid to rest in Nicosia, Cyprus. The restaurant was left to his daughter Sibel and her uncle Murad. A very unique place and one dinner we will remember for a long time.

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While we were waiting for our taxi, these girls came along, all set for a big night. The girl second from the right had run in the London Marathon this morning and did it in three hours. She looked great - not like she had run in a marathon at all, and now they were going to celebrate.

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The wind has dropped and it's not quite as cold, so hopefully we are heading for the high teens tomorrow - our last day in London.

Posted by gaddingabout 11:22 Archived in England Comments (0)

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