Tag Archives: Brighton

Windsor Castle : England

Castles have always fascinated me as they always make me wonder about the people who have lived there and their lavish life styles. So I was really excited to visit the Windsor Castle. We hired a car from Brighton and with the help of a GPS navigator, we reached the Windsor castle. Unfortunately finding parking proved to be more difficult than expected but we did manage to find parking next to the train station. It was funny to see that the parking meter didn’t take any cash but only card. Luckily, we had one but there were a few other people who didn’t know what to do as they had only cash.

We then took a short stroll toward the Windsor Castle. As soon as we saw the main gate, we realised that there was a long queue for the tickets. I was bit worried as we wanted to do more than one place in one day. Fortunately a guard came and asked us if we were with a group. I told him that it is only the two of us so he asked us to follow him and to join the shorter queue inside as we had unknowingly joined a queue for groups. So in next 10 minutes, we bought our ticket and we were inside the castle. The tickets cost 17 pound per adult.

Here is some history about the Windsor Castle from Wikipedia:

Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and for its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it has been used by a succession of monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. The castle’s lavish, early 19th-century State Apartments are architecturally significant, described by art historian Hugh Roberts as “a superb and unrivalled sequence of rooms widely regarded as the finest and most complete expression of later Georgian taste”.] The castle includes the 15th-century St George’s Chapel, considered by historian John Robinson to be “one of the supreme achievements of English Perpendicular Gothic” design.[2] More than five hundred people live and work in Windsor, making it the largest inhabited castle in the world.

Inside, in one corner they were handing out a free audio guide so we grabbed them and walked in. After a short wander through the St. George’s gate then onto the Middle Ward, bailey formed around the motte or artificial hill in the centre of the ward, we could see a great view of the Castle complex. We took lots of photos there as that is what I had always seen in pictures as Windsor Castle for a long time. As we were taking the photos, we saw a few guards walking past us and we joined hundreds of people trying to take a photo of the guards.

We wandered around for a while and decided to go inside St George’s Chapel and have a look around. There are lots of tombs of many Kings and Queens buried there as well as many noble men. The chapel is located in the Lower Ward of the castle, which is one of the principal residences of Queen Elizabeth II. The most famous tombs must be of King George V and Queen Mary. They are beautifully decorated and we can see the history of arts of centuries. In one of the side aisles, there is a memorial of Queen Elizabeth II’s parents (George VI and Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) and her sister, Princess Margaret.

 In this chapel, The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie Rhys-Jones were married in 1999 along with many other royals .Also Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles had a blessing at St. George’s Chapel after their civil ceremony in Windsor.

Then we headed to view Queen Mary’s Dolls house. Unfortunately, there was a long queue so we decided to skip that and instead went to the State Apartments. The Queen was not there so we were allowed to go in.

The State Apartments are amazing and was very huge.  As the self-guided audio tour took as to many rooms, it explained about its history and they were really fascinating. The rooms we were allowed to go into were the King’s Drawing Room, the King’s Bedchamber, the King’s Dressing Room,  the Queen’s Drawing Room,  the King’s Dining Room , the Queen’s Ballroom,  St. George’s Hall Paintings  and the Lantern Lobby . I also came to know that they were completely gutted in a fire in 1992 then subsequently rebuilt. There were lots of artworks and many by Van Dyk, and also a self-portrait by Rembrandt. Then there are rows in the wall full of family portraits of the royal families from many centuries.

Also in some rooms there were lots of other priceless pieces from the years ago including guns, swords, crowns from everywhere in the empire as well expensive china dinner sets, clocks. There were also displays of shields of the previous knights of the garter AS was so interested to look in detailed in this room; I literally had to drag him away from there. If you look into detail, you can spend the whole day in the castle but we didn’t have so much time so we had to go around quickly.

In one of the rooms, there were displays of 50 different photos of Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her Golden Jubilee this year. It was really crowded and me and AS go separated. I panicked for a while as I didn’t have a mobile with me so didn’t know how to find him. But I was relieved when I saw him again looking at the photos oblivious that I was not with him. 🙂

It was a really nice and sunny day for our visit to the castle and it was fun to go inside the rooms and walk the pathway which had been walked by famous kings and queens including Queen Elizabeth II.

On the way out we went to one of the shops in the castle and bought a souvenir exclusive to Windsor Castle. There was lots of souvenir merchandise like jewelleries, clothing, books, housewares, toiletries, children’s gifts

There was also a post box of royal mail where we took photos.

From there we made our way to the exit and handed over the audio guide. Outside the castle we saw two police officers equipped with big guns. The palace itself was surrounded by small period houses and looked beautiful.

Please click here for more photos.

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Brighton and Devil’s Dyke : Sussex, England

After we left Dubai, having an awesome time, our next stop was England. We meant to go and visit AS’s cousins for a few days in Brighton and then off to London.

So we bid our goodbye to Dubai and hopped on the plane to UK. We flew Emirates and they had AIRBUS 380 to London. It was 8 hours flight so we had lots of time to watch movies and sleep.  Being small is sometimes a blessing as the seats in the plane was big enough for me to sleep comfortably while AS could not sleep at all. After what seemed like forever and 3 movies and 2 meals later, we landed in Heathrow International Airport.

We had booked a coach to take us to Brighton so it was going to be 2 more hours before we could rest. We went to the coach stop and still had 20 minutes for the bus. I was feeling really cold coming from Dubai. It was a bit windy as well but luckily no rain. I was really glad when the coach finally came and we hopped into the warm coach.

At around 10pm, the coach pulled up at its last stop in Brighton and we make our way out with our suitcases. Within a few minutes, we saw his brother in law waiting for us to take us to their place. Brighton is a famous seaside resort and charming city on the south coast of England.

The family we were meeting were AS’s cousin and her husband ( U didi and N Bhinaju) and her kid. I had never met them before so I was a bit wary about staying with them but as soon as we met I felt my doubts melt away. They made us feel welcome and made sure that we were comfortable.  As it was Monday evening, they had to go to work the next day so we had dinner and went off to a warm bed. It was really nice to eat home cooked meal after so many meals in restaurants and hotels. They told us that it had been raining for the last few days and they hadn’t seen proper summer yet. I was really tired but at the same time I was praying for the weather to clear up for us for the next day at least as I didn’t want to stay home and waste a whole day if it rained.

The next morning when I woke up, the room was pitch black. In my mind I was thinking it was so dark because it was raining outside. I realised later that the curtains in the room were really thick and good so as to block the sunlight in the morning. I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw the sun shining up in the sky when I opened the curtains. As I was a sister in law (buhari) in the house, I was worried in case  I had slept in late but I was really relived to see it was only 7am. I went to freshen up and then for the first time I got to meet our niece, little N. She had already been asleep when we reached the house the night before. She was a bit surprised to see a new person in the house and was a little shy when I approached her for the first time but within a few minutes we became best buddies  🙂

I helped U didi cook breakfast and we started making plans for the day. N Bhinaju was taking a half day off while didi had the day off. So until mid-day we decided to walk around Brighton and then when Bhinaju caught up with us, we would go somewhere else. They reminded us that we were lucky to have such a good day in our first day there.

While I had been packing for the trip, in Sydney, I had packed some of my winter clothes for England; but I was happy to be able to wear my summer dress to go out that day. It was our first time in Europe so I was really, really excited.

So the first stop was the famous Brighton Beach. While making our way there I noticed that the roads there were really narrow but big double-decker buses were travelling in both directions. Also, compared to Australia, the houses looked so small reminding me of doll houses. I really enjoyed the walk looking at old buildings and small shops before we reached the beach.

The first thing I noticed at the beach was that it looked nothing like the beaches in Australia. There were pebbles on the beach instead of sand .The beach area was really small so once the pebble area is finished, it is straight into the deep water, unlike in Australia, where there is a nice slope going into the water.

We went to the beach just to feel the water and my feet really hurt due to the pebbles. The water was very cold so we decided not to stay there long.

The beach was busy, little shops and bars with food were to be found throughout the length of the beach, and various other activities were going on too. We thoroughly enjoyed walking along the seafront, admiring the period buildings and stopping along the way for a drink. The building were really old and most of them were apartment buildings at least a 100 years old.

At one end of the beach there were remains of the burnt West Pier. Didi explained to us that it used to a concert hall once but due to an unfortunate incident the place caught fire. Now it is just sitting there.  After walking for a while, we decided to go shopping so we went to Churchill Square Shopping Centre.

I was surprised that the shops were cheaper than in Australia so I ended buying some stuff. If our suitcases were not as full as they already were I would definitely have done more shopping, but that is for the next time  🙂

After a while N Bhinaju caught up with us and we went to have a typical English lunch at a pub. Didi and I had burgers while AS had fish and chips and Bhinaju had a steak. It was in a really nice pub with music playing in the background and people enjoying their beer in the very elusive UK sun. We had some rest and then we went to our next stop, the Royal Pavilion.

Royal Pavilion was built by Prince of Wales which is an extravagant Regency building. It is often referred to as the Brighton Pavilion. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent in India for most of the 19th century, with the most extravagant Chinoiserie interiors ever executed in the British Isles. It cost £9.80 for adults and £5.10 for children to get inside. There was a very long queue so we decide to just enjoy its garden and the sun.

There were lots of people in the garden even though it was a weekday. We saw lots of young people in their bikinis getting tanned. Little N was also loving the outdoor.

After that our next stop was Devil’s Dyke in Sussex. N Bhinaju wanted us to go there as he loved the place and I am so glad he took us there. Devil’s Dyke is a 100m deep V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way in southern England, near Brighton and Hove. The Devil’s Dyke V-shaped dry valley is the result of solifluction and river erosion. It was such a beautiful place that makes you feel like you are in English town with such a wonderful view. The hills surrounding the valley offer views of the South Downs, The Weald, and – on a clear day – the Isle of Wight. It is the site of ramparts, all which remain of an Iron Age hillfort, and a pub. At nearly a mile long, the Dyke valley is the longest, deepest and widest ‘dry valley’ in the UK.

While we were walking along the green path, I noticed that there were so many butterflies all around. It is also one of the most popular hang gliding spots in the country. There were so many people in the sky, gliding, that it made sky very colourful. I really wanted to take a photo with one of the gliders so we asked one of the guys who had just finished. He was nice enough to show us how the things work and even let us wear the equipment and take photos.

We went for a long nice walk after that and enjoyed the fresh air before getting back into the car to go back to U didi’s house. We had a really great time on our first day in Europe.

Please click here for more photos.