Castles and palaces were once remote places. But today the Queen’s homes are tourist attractions. We had a brilliant time today touring Windsor Castle. The Royal Standard was flying from the Round Tower, showing that the Queen was at home, although she didn’t say hello.
Owen loved the children’s audio commentary – but it did refer to dragons! We were moved by the account of the castle’s restoration after the terrible fire of November 1992. (The Queen’s annus horribilis.) It’s extraordinary to see how a building can flourish after being visited by that most destructive natural force. I just missed witnessing that catastrophe. I was returning from Cheltenham to Teddington for the weekend. I normally went via the M4, past Windsor, but that night went via the M40 as I was giving a friend a lift to Ealing. (But I did witness Hampton Court’s disastrous fire in 1986 as I was staying with a friend in Twickenham.)
Windsor remains one of our most lovely towns. Aside from Europe’s largest inhabited castle, it’s graced by the Thames, wonderful parks and splendid architecture. I’ve enjoyed cycling here from Teddington, Richmond and Chalfont St Giles: it’s a wonderful destination. And the old Great Western railway station is now a fine mix of restaurants, coffee houses and shops – not to mention a replica of a Great Western express engine of 1894 – when my grandmother was three.
I like coming here. I leave with happy memories and a broad smile.