Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rick's Roadshow: Back in England

I've been especially quiet on the blog for the past few weeks, primarily because I've been out of town on a few extended trips and didn't want to broadcast that my home was empty. One of my destinations was to the United Kingdom. Welcome to another installment of Rick's Roadshow: Back in England. This trip was entirely vacation, so it was relaxation central! Having lived in the UK many years ago, it is always nice to be back for a visit. Here are some photos of Cliveden House, a luxury hotel in Berkshire, just outside of London. It is a short ride to the famed Eton, where Prince William attended school.
Cliveden House is a grand, stately English estate surrounded by 376 acres of perfectly manicured grounds and formal gardens. It has a rich, interesting history with numerous stories associated with its long list of illustrious guests. The property has great bones and plenty of details. Look closely at this wall, there are dragons on the sides of the posts. Others have lions and a range of other symbols from British Empire's history.
I was also fascinated by the wonderful manicured gardens, including this one at left. Here you can see the hedges trimmed with incredible precision. The photo below shows a side garden with some topiary. It is, however winter, therefore none of the flowers are in bloom as you can see. Nonetheless these grounds are idyllic for garden parties, receptions and weddings.

While in London I also saw the theatre in Leicester Square where Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part I had opened. As one can imagine, there was tremendous fanfare in London for the latest installment in the magical series. There were hundreds of people dressed as various Harry Potter characters- this is a city that seems to enjoy the series as much as here in the US.
 Samuel Pepys once said "A man who is tired of London is tired of life." I couldn't agree more. London is a vibrant city with a huge range of things to do and see. Truly there is something for everyone. After one particularly busy day out and about, I was in need of some soft lighting and a refreshing libation. A delightful  champagne lounge was just the trick- here I finally had a moment to exhale.
I spent a full day in Windsor and started off with a tour of Windsor Castle, the private residence of Queen Elizabeth II. It had been over 20 years since I was last at the castle, and I must say it was wonderful to be back again. 

Here is an exterior view of the Castle, with a nice statue of Queen Victoria, in front of a soon-to be decorated Christmas tree. It was rather chilly this day, thankfully I was properly dressed, including ear muffs! The cold wind was cutting. What I really needed was a nice cuppa.  Windsor Castle has over a thousand years of history with British monarchs. 
If you are visiting London and want to see a real castle, this one delivers- in spades. There is plenty to learn along the audio-guided tour, which one can navigate along at one's own pace and preference. 

I stopped frequently to admire details such as this one at St George's gate. Here he is, slaying a dragon. You don't often find this sort of stuff in the US. The multiple gift shops had loads of tempting wares, to which I succumbed in short order. The city of Windsor itself is quite charming; tea shops, pubs and British tourist trap gift shops aplenty-all of which enabled me to part with my money in short order.
When lunchtime rolled around, we made our way to an old pub, off the beaten path, probably frequented more by locals than tourists, or at least I had hoped. It was nothing extraordinary, and that was precisely what I liked best. It was exactly the sort of place one would go if one lived there. I had a very ordinary lunch, with a very ordinary pint of ale to wash it down. It was indeed, the best lunch of the entire week. Tomorrow I'll share a few photos from Paris...yes I'm back.


A Lewis said...

The very first foreign country that I ever visited ....back in 1982. It still remains one of my most favorite.

kenju said...

I really wish we had continued out trip to France, Switzerland and Italy to include England. I want to go there so badly.Your photos are lovely.

© Karelian Blonde said...

Yeeiii! Good to have you back and I have missed your posts. Looking forward to your Paris photos :)

Anonymous said...

I've missed you -- bunches! So glad you're back to blogging. I loved London. It's such an easy city to navigate.

Look at you all relaxed and cozy...

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

sarge and i went through that in around 1972 i think, i still remember it well! glad you had a vacation rick!

smiles, bee

Jeni said...

I've been a bit (understatement there) lax, lazy, lacking energy -whatever you care to call it -about posting and reading blogs lately. But tonight, when I saw you had a post showing on my reader, I realized you hadn't been around in a while too. That's okay -cause when ever you disappear for a bit, usually your return heralds a bit of a tour (vicariously) for me and I really enjoy reading and seeing you pics of where you've been and what you've been doing there! Thanks again for the great tour in England!

KathyA said...

Yay! You're back! Interesting that it only took mention of our coming out to PS and you managed to grab your passport, pack your bags, and leave the country!! :) (kidding).

The photos are lovely and I hope you're having a great time. I'll let you know where we're staying when I find out.

C said...

Must I tell you again and again how much I love your blog??? I really do! This post is fab! xo


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