A Travellerspoint blog

London to Windsor - Sunday, 10 April 2011

We've arrived! London here we come!

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!)

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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.

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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.

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Posted by gaddingabout 04:36 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Sydney to London - Saturday, 9 April 2011

We're off!

I left Canberra Airport on the 3.30 pm flight to Sydney, where I was meeting my brother, who was flying in from Brisbane. By pure chance Maria was seated next to me on the plane, which was quite wierd as the plane wasn't even full. Maria was also attending the RVO Service and was booked into the same hotel in Windsor as Peter and me.

She flew Emirates while we flew with Etihad. She arrived in London about an hour before us and was waiting to greet us when we arrived at the Clarence Hotel in Windsor.

Peter and I hooked up okay in Sydney and made our way over to the International Airport via the shuttle bus. We had hours to kill before our flight left so we wandered through "duty free", had some dinner and then boarded the plane for our 14 hour flight to Abu Dhabi. The food was okay on the plane except they ran out of the lamb dish that we both wanted. Our seating was good - we had two seats on our own at the side of the plane. Watched a couple of movies and then had a good sleep. Arrived in Abu Dhabi at about 6.40am and then left for London at 8.30 am - a 7 hour flight.

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The happy travellers!

Posted by gaddingabout 06:23 Comments (0)

London, Scotland and Abu Dhabi - Background

A bit of background for the trip - a Royal Invitation!

In The Queen's Birthday Honours List 1996, I was very fortunate to receive an MVO from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. At the time I was working at Government House, Canberra and received my award for my services to the Australian Governor-General.

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Receiving my MVO from the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, at Government House, Canberra.

The Royal Victorian Order is given by The Queen to people who have served her or the Monarchy in a personal way. These may include officials of the Royal Household, family members, perhaps those who have helped organise a State Visit to a particular country, or people who have served Her Majesty by working for her representative, in my case, the Australian Governor-General. MVO stands for "Member of the Royal Victorian Order". This is a very special Order, founded by Queen Victoria in April 1896 as a way of rewarding personal service to her, on her own initiative rather than by ministerial recommendation. The Order was, and is, entirely within The Sovereign's personal gift. The anniversary of the institution of the Order is 20 June, the day of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne.

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Every four years, The Queen would host a reception at Windsor Castle for members of the Royal Victorian Order in April. I was always too busy to attend - besides you can't just go all the way to London for a week! And the unwritten rule was, "if the Governor-General is here, so are you!", which was fine, because that was my job as his Personal Assistant.

After 21 years of working at Government House, Canberra, I left in September 2008 when General Jeffery retired as Governor-General and moved to a much smaller, but very busy office in a lovely old leafy suburb of inner Canberra, to work with him until one of us decided it was time to retire permanently. (Will never happen but that is another story!)

So, at the beginning of 2011, the letter arrived announcing that the Royal Victorian Order Church Service would be held at St George's Chapel, Windsor in April, followed by a reception in the State Rooms of Windsor Castle. Yes! I was going!

My husband and I had already booked an overseas trip to Europe in July/August, so with a quick bit of grovelling to the boss, I secured another three weeks leave to travel to the UK to attend the RVO Church Service and Reception in April 2011. Yeah!

My brother had been recently widowed and had never been overseas before and was keen to come with me. Although he wasn't able to come to the RVO Reception, he was still keen to see London and then we planned to travel to Scotland, so I could show him where our ancestors came from.

So the planning began in earnest!

Posted by gaddingabout 05:42 Comments (0)

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