We've arrived! London here we come!
09.04.2011 - 30.04.2011
We arrived at Heathrow Airport, London at 1.15 pm. Luggage arrived too and we cleared immigration and customs and hooked up with our transfer driver without any problem. (I am ALWAYS very happy to pay for a personal driver as after a long flight from Australia to anywhere, it is so nice to be met by a driver, rather than having to find a taxi or catch a train or an airport bus!) He was in a lovely BMW. Windsor is only 15 minutes from Heathrow and we whizzed along at 100 mph, which I later discovered was 160 kph. Thought that was a bit too fast!
We arrived at The Clarence Hotel in Windsor, safe and sound and met up with Maria. The Clarence was okay - just as we thought. Our bedroom was small, but adequate with an ensuite. Peter found a spare bathroom down the hall and used it all the time. The Clarence was only two stories high, which was just as well because there was no lift, so we had to drag our suitcases up two flights of stairs. Just as well I was travelling with my well mannered brother who lugged my bag everywhere for me (more on him and his manners later!)
Pauline (a barrel of laughs) was on reception later that day. We had been dealing with her via email to secure our bookings. We also mentioned that we would be receiving two pieces of mail and could they please hold them for us. One were the tickets to the musical "Queen - We Will Rock You" and the other, most important one, were the tickets to the RVO Church Service and Reception at Windsor Castle.
Joyce had met us on arrival and handed over the musical tickets but no RVO ones. We were mortified to discover that she had sent them back to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood!! The best laid plans of mice and men ... We then discovered that Pauline had phoned Tracey Watkins at the Central Chancery and asked for them to be returned to the Clarence Hotel. Have we booked into Fawlty Towers, or what!!
Maria, Peter and I went for a walk around Windsor. Had a coffee and spent some time at the Information Centre getting bus and train timetables etc. I should say here that my travel agent let me down a bit by not pointing out how far Windsor was from the centre of London. Even though I had been to London before in 1998, this was Peter's first time, so we were going down the tourist trail again and all the tours left from central London. Had I reaslised that, I would have only moved out to Windsor the night before the Church Service, which would have prevented two hour trips in and out of London every day, before we had even started our touring.
We then checked out the Front Gate at Windsor and the police told us that Evensong was starting in St George's Chapel at 5.15 pm and we could go in if we wanted to. We were all still in our travelling clothes, 24 hour old jeans (and undies!) He said we would be fine and that most of the congregation were tourists anyway. We went right inside the Chapel and sat in our own little cubilces. It only lasted 30 minutes and unfortunately the choir wasn't there, but it was nice to be in there anyway. They passed around the collection plate and as we were fresh off the plane, we only had Australian money for the plate.
As we were leaving the inner sanctum of the Chapel, we saw where Henry VIII and Jane Seymour were buried in the floor of St George's Chapel, Windsor. So amazing. The history in the UK is wonderful. On the way out, we saw all the chairs being put in position for the RVO Church Service on Wednesday - 1200 of them. Wednesday was going to be huge.
Maria, Peter and I went for dinner at an Italian Restaurant in Windsor and then finally into bed after a very long 24 hours and slept like a log.