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Windsor to Bray: Messing about on the River

July 12, 2015
Windsor to Bray (C) Jane Risdon 2015

Windsor to Bray (C) Jane Risdon 2015

Windsor Castle (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Windsor Castle (c) Jane Risdon 2015

I’ve been feeling chained to my writing desk since the start of the year, and by the end of last week I’d had enough.

 So, I got seriously radical (for me these days) and decided to take the day off and escape somewhere lovely.

I didn’t fancy a lot of hassle, so I got a bus to Windsor for a day trip.

Leaving home early I hoped Windsor wouldn’t be too busy with tourists at that hour, leaving me long enough to stroll around and enjoy myself before the streets thronged with occupants of our Global Village.

I know, I often have adventures on buses as many of you might know, but this time I went upstairs (double-decker buses have their uses), to escape the maddening crowd.

Being up so high afforded a fantastic view of huge country houses with their large landscaped gardens, endless green and cultivated fields, and little chocolate box villages.

The countryside on the way was beautiful, lush, and green, and with a cloudless sky overhead; not even the endless take off and landing aircraft at Heathrow (flying overhead every 30 seconds or so), was going to spoil my escape.

Not having my usual Canon camera with me – it is on the blink – I had no option but to take my phone camera.  I was uncertain as to how any photos I took might turn out.

I’ll let you decide.

Changing the Guard at Windsor (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Changing the Guard at Windsor (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle was about to take place when I arrived and the main road leading to the castle was closed off.

Rather than wait about 20 minutes for it to be re-opened, I got off the bus and decided to walk the rest of the way, 

stopping long enough to watch the Coldstream Guards leaving their barracks (The Victoria Barracks) to march to the castle. 

Guards Marching to Windsor Castle (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Guards Marching to Windsor Castle (c) Jane Risdon 2015

 I strolled towards the castle in the rising temperature wondering how on earth the  Guards coped with their uniforms and busbies.

Too late; the tourists had arrived early as well.  I was not going to manage to take photos unimpeded by strangers popping into them.

Windsor Castle from a side street (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Windsor Castle from a side street (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The last time I visited Windsor, and had a proper look round, including inside the castle, was when our son was about six years old.  I can recall the visit really well for a few reasons: 

Our son thought he was going to turn into a Knight once inside the castle.  Only knights were allowed to go inside them after-all.  

The Queens Doll’s house impressed the heck out of him but he couldn’t understand why anyone would want one. 

The car broke down on the way home, and we had to wait for  few hours until the RAC (Royal Automobile Association) turned up to fix it.  Thankfully we were saved from the indignity of a tow home.

And, it was the day Elvis Presley died.    

I wandered up the main street but after a while gave up trying to take photos, the crowds were already swelling,

and so I retraced my steps and headed towards Eton.   

I’ve not been to Eton for many years either, and was surprised to see the town a little worse for wear, and many favourite pubs and restaurants gone.

Some of its old charm seems to have been lost, which is a pity.

On the Bridge over the Thames (c) Jane Risdon 2015

On the Bridge over the Thames (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Old Fashioned Street Signs (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Old Fashioned Street Signs (c) Jane Risdon 2015

On the whole it was still enjoyable however; some of the buildings retain their magic. 

I was sad to see that The Cockpit, an ancient pub I recall from many moons ago, was boarded up and for sale.  

Notice the pair of stocks still outside the building.

 

The Cockpit (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The Cockpit (c) Jane Risdon 2015

 Here are some photos of Eton, which was still quiet when I was first there.

A Courtyard Entrance (c) Jane Risdon 2015

A Courtyard Entrance (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Eton (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Eton (c) Jane Risdon 2015

One of the older buildings (c) Jane Risdon 2015

One of the older buildings (c) Jane Risdon 2015

  I noticed, looking in one  Estate Agent’s window, that the average price of one of these riverside apartments (below) is £1.2 million.  

The apartments overlook where the river boats moor, and operate their businesses, so I’m not sure if I’d want one; looking out on all the boats and tourists queuing for them is not something I’d pay that amount for. 

The boat rides go to various destinations and back.  You can take a 40 minute ride or a 2 hour ride.  You can pre-book a seat on several trips going up and down the river in both directions.

I decided to go for a 2 hour ride from Windsor (Boveney) to Bray and back.

Taking in almost 5 miles of picturesque Thames scenery with lots of historic sights along the way.

Very high end apartments (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Very high end apartments (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Riverside businesses on the Eton side of the river (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Riverside businesses on the Eton side of the river (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Setting off on board The Lady Ann Margaret (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Setting off on board The Lady Ann Margaret (c) Jane Risdon 2015

 Passing little islands with some fabulous houses belonging to the rich, and sometimes famous, their grounds sweeping down to the water’s edge, the boat glided along peacefully, the sound of the water lapping the sides and the birds singing overhead, it was sheer bliss for me. 

The boat comes in (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The boat comes in (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The boat was not crowded and I sat on the top deck – on the right had side going down and the left coming back.  We passed river boats, barges, and the higher end of the market vessels; chic white and slick. 

Picnic by the River (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Picnic by the River (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Some anchored alongside the banks where their owners disembarked to picnic under the afternoon sun.

Barges on the river (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Barges on the river (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Afternoon tea (cream tea), could be taken on board, if pre-booked – which I didn’t – and all manner of drinks and beverages were available including Pimms and various ciders. 

I treated myself to a long cold cider and it was really welcome as the sun grew hotter.

I took dozens of photos but cannot add them all here obviously. There were some amazing houses – Jimmy Page (Led Zep) had one on the river until not too long ago. I could just about see the red brick building through the trees, but I missed getting a photo as someone’s head kept bobbing up in the way.

Suffice to say it was something else! 

The house on the left (below), once belonged to the Ballet dancer, Dame Margot Fonteyn.  Her mother purchased it for her in the 1950’s.  Sadly some years later the M4 motorway was situated a stone’s throw from her home.  Not her idea of peace and quiet I am sure. 

Dame Margo Fontein's House (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Dame Margo Fontein’s House (c) Jane Risdon 2015

On the right (below), is Monkey Island Hotel.  The island was originally attributed (apparently) to the paintings of various monkeys on the ceiling of a pavilion on the island, erected by the 3rd Duke of Marlborough; or a fanciful corruption of ‘Monks Ait,’ since there was believed to be a monks’ cell there. It is now a 1st class hotel.

Monkey Island Hotel (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Monkey Island Hotel (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Somewhere in these parts Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K Jerome) had their sad lunch of beef with no mustard and an un-openable tin of pineapples, which was consigned to a watery grave.

We came across an Indian Wedding celebration on the lawns, sweeping down to the river, of a huge house. I think we’d missed the ceremony and were passing during the reception.  It was so colourful, with lots of red and gold sari’s and the white of the men in their outfits.  The water was filled with rose petals – confetti I guess.

Indian Wedding (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Indian Wedding (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Confetti on the river (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Confetti on the river (c) Jane Risdon 2015

               If you look closely you will see the petals floating on the water in the second photo.

Going through the lock (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Going through the lock (c) Jane Risdon 2015

We went through a Lock on the way there and back.  I’ve never been on a boat going through one before and it was magic.  It took quite a while for the water to drop and rise again and other boats were queuing behind ours.

We sailed past Boveney Church, dedicated to Mary Magdalene, dating from the 12th century. It is rarely used as a church now, but more by Movie and TV companies who like the Medieval religious setting.

St Mary Magdalene (c) Jane Risdon 2015

St Mary Magdalene (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The 1990 Robin Hood movie with Kevin Kostna and ITV’ Inspector Morse were filmed there.

We sailed on past The Bray Film Studios – now derelict – where so many Hammer Horror Movies were made.  The buildings are an extension of an old house called Down Place, which was taken over by Hammer Films in 1950.  The original house stood there from about 1518 – records of the property purchases go back to then. 

Bray Studio (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Bray Studio (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The present building to which the studios were added dates from 1750.  The most famous occupant was Jacob Tonson, a London bookseller, and founder of the Kit-Kat Club, at first sight a gathering of men of influence, letter and the arts, but in fact a society formed for the defence of the House of Hanover at a time when it was feared there might be another Jacobite claim to the throne.

Way back when (in my other guise in music) I recall meetings with Hammer Films regarding music for soundtracks and other matters.  It’s sad to think of the buildings being demolished soon and the links with Bray gone forever.

I could list the sights and add photos for so many lovely and historical points of interest on this trip but that would mean pages and pages…I don’t want to bore you.

Here are a few more photos I took on the trip.  I do hope you enjoy them and that if given the opportunity to visit Windsor, Eton and take the boat trip, you will grab it.

Messing about on the River (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Messing about on the River (c) Jane Risdon 2015

The River Thames(c) Jane Risdon 2015

The River Thames(c) Jane Risdon 2015

I had a fab day out. 

I got lots of fresh air, enjoyed the sunshine, and tranquillity of the river, and managed to blow away lots of cobwebs from my fogged-up brain.

Windsor to Bray (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Windsor to Bray (c) Jane Risdon 2015

Now it is back to the writing desk and

my novel.  Refreshed and ready to go.

Thanks for being here.

Catch up again soon. 

All photos are (c) Jane Risdon 2015 All Rights Reserved.

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25 Comments
  1. Sue garden permalink

    England at its best, beautiful scenery, wonderful stories and facts of your journey. Wish I had been there with you Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes we do have the most wonderful and beautiful scenery with lots of history attached. Thanks for popping over, there are a few trips I have written about and shared photos from, on my blog. Have a good nose round. 🙂 xx

      Like

  2. I’ve danced tango on the bridge in your photo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow that is some achievement. Day time or night time? Alone with a pretend partner, or with someone special? What was the occasion? Intrigued. 🙂

      Like

  3. Day trips are wonderful! It’s always nice to be a tourist in the area where you live or not far away, and we all need a break sometimes. Thanks for sharing your experiences and the photos to go along with them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, I am glad you enjoyed this. I’ve been away for so long, it is lovely to travel around and re-acquaint myself with the beauty of England. Every time I go on a jolly, I try and write a little about it here, with photos 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely day out and thank you it’s been a while since I visited London great write up and pics and thank for the like on my blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another lovely and interesting journey Jane, and, of course, those amazing photos. I loved it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah Jo thanks. So lovely to have you pop in. Your own photos and information is always fun, interesting and lovely to behold. I enjoy them so much. I do this now and again when I have been somewhere nice and fun…going to Waitrose isn’t as exciting. Though I should take photos, because sometimes life shows me prunes! 🙂

      Like

  6. Ot sure where I comnented. But lovely. Long long time since I was anywhere near Windsor.
    Evelyn. Reblogge,asbyou know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much. Really appreciated. Yes I had not been there for a few decades…it has changed lot. So many curry houses and such. 🙂

      Like

  7. It’s lovely when you get a chance to be unchained from your desk isn’t it? And it looks as though you had a wonderful time and you did get some great photographs. Now get back to it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL I am back at the desk…,I am honestly. It did me good and I suggest you try it too. Be naughty soon…it is fun. 🙂

      Like

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed being with you on this trip, Jane. It was good to breath the fresh air and see something other than my keyboard! Photos turned out well, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah thanks so much, they weren’t half as bad as I feared. The day was fab and I really needed it. Glad it lifted you too. Do it…go out and leave the keyboard behind. 🙂

      Like

  9. Reblogged this on evelynralph and commented:
    Heritage of England. And a lovely lot of sunshine.
    Evelyn

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful pictures, Jane!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Heartafire permalink

    very beautiful photographs, enjoyed your text, very interesting! Love the photo of the Thames!

    Liked by 1 person

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