After a long and slow journey back to London from Newcastle last night (the snow was the problem apparently) I was looking forward to the shorter journey to Windsor today. I hadn’t ever been there before and couldn’t wait to see the castle and the town – certainly I had an image in my mind from the pictures you see on the television. We were met at the station at Slough by Carol from Waterstone’s Windsor, who is one of those people you instantly adore. Full of fun and ready to give us the cook’s tour and potted history of the place on our journey to the first school, I knew the day was going to be fabulous.
Getting my first glimpse of the castle was exciting and the town close up is even more beautiful than I had imagined. Steeped in history, there is a certain paradoxical charm, knowing that the royal family frequently inhabit the place and a yet a stone’s throw across the road in the High Street, Her Majesty, should she wish, could pop out for a Pizza Express or Macdonald’s. I’m sure that never happens but I like the idea of it! The presence of the golden arches is surely one of the less charming things about Windsor.
We arrived at Queen Anne’s School and were made feel very welcome. Located in a quiet cul de sac close to the Windsor Great Park, the teachers and students were lots of fun. Our lovely publicist for the day was Lisa, who met us there. She was fortunate to have grown up in Windsor and her parents still live there.
The children had some great responses to my questions and I especially loved one little boy’s answer about going to boarding school, when he said that he’d superglue his feet to the bedroom floor so his parents’ couldn’t take him.
We had a little bit of time between schools so Carol kindly took us on a tour of Windsor and Eton. It’s an extraordinary place – ancient buildings and rituals and the only place in the world where the boys attend school in ties and tails. We were hoping to glimpse some of the students and as fate would have it, as Ian and I were standing on the footpath taking pictures of the architecture, two lads exited the library and we were able to get a picture, albeit surreptitiously. I’m sure they must feel like gold fish a lot of the time.
We then went back to Windsor and had lunch at the Duchess of Cambridge Pub; the name is a happy coincidence as it’s an ancient establishment and not named for Kate.
Our second school was a gorgeous place called Upton House. Small and perfectly formed, the school for girls has a lovely mix of old and new buildings. The students were delightful and their uniform, complete with the sweetest little Madeline style hat and coat would have made Alice-Miranda jealous.
I met the students in their dance studio space which has a great view of the playground, which is small but serves its purpose well.
The children were so responsive and fun to work with and the place really had a wonderfully happy feel. I met an Australian teacher from Melbourne working there. Lucky girl.
Our visit to Windsor was far too short and next time we’re planning two days. Carol showed us some more of the sights on the return trip to Slough. I can’t wait to work with her again next time we’re here. I started looking up Windsor real estate on the train – but think that might be out of the question! I think I like Windsor as much as Richmond – which up until now was my favourite part of greater London.
We headed back to the city, tired but having had a great day and looking forward to the final school visist at Royal Masonic School for Girls in Rickmansworth – back to where it all started two weeks ago.