Not only had the heavy rain persisted all afternoon and evening, it was forecast to continue until mid afternoon the following day. With that in mind, we figured that we would be staying put another day and perhaps venturing out in the late afternoon. When we awoke the next morning, the rain had passed over and the forecast had been modified to reflect this so we got up and moved on.
It was a dull day and a little cool as a result but we were only intending to travel for a couple of hours, hopefully getting a mooring in or around Windsor. Everything went to plan and we found some space on an island near the railway bridge which carries the line into the central station. It is only a short walk from there to what is probably classed as the main commercial area of Windsor and when we got there it was absolutely heaving with tourists. We had been going to visit the castle but decided that we would leave it until the following morning when it would hopefully be a bit quieter. The road that wraps around the town side of the castle is full of pubs, restaurants and shops selling tat to the foreign tourists. The railway station must have been a grand affair when it was originally built but today most of the concourse has been converted into an area with more restaurants and shops although in fairness, it’s all a bit more upmarket than the main street and it looks pretty good.
Later in the day we walked over the bridge, into Eton and along the main street toward the famous school. It was tea time and consequently the street was becoming busy with the boys emerging from their classrooms. All wore uniform of course, some in blazers and the rest in tail coats. Having done our little bit of sightseeing we returned to the boat and had dinner.
Our mooring was against a bank which was a little higher than the gunwales of Caxton so the fenders had been carefully placed to make use of some wooden uprights below. The ropes were tight so we hoped that we could withstand a bit of movement as other boats passed by. This turned out to be a forlorn hope! Boats on the Thames never slow past moored boats and that’s fine because the water is wider and deeper than that of the canals. Trip boats seem to be exempt from the 5mph speed limit and with the amount of water that they move, it wasn’t long before the fenders had been pulled out of position and we were being banged against the wooden side. When I mentioned the speed to the mooring warden, he acknowledged that there was a problem and he blamed it on the fact that the trip companies were employing young people to captain their boats. Eventually the trip boats stopped running for the day and we were able to settle down for the evening, the peace only being interrupted by the aircraft taking off from Heathrow, luckily there are only two of them every minute! The trains were noisy but there are only two of them every hour so not too bad. Just to complete the noisy and bumpy picture, the parkland island mooring is the overnight resting place for geese and Canada geese, well until 4.30am when they wake up and make a racket that sounds like a pack of dogs barking. They only quieten down when they jump into the water and that makes waves so the boat starts banging again.
On our second morning we got up and made our way to the castle for opening time at 9.30. We were a little taken aback when we saw that there were hundreds of other visitors all with the same idea of beating the crowds.
Well we stood in line, paid our money and spent the next couple of hours touring the castle and I’m happy to report that it was well worth the visit. The standard of workmanship throughout is excellent and the quality of the items on display is the highest to be found. It’s all very well organised but they have to be to cope with the vast number of visitors who attend each day. We took pictures of the outside of the buildings but there is no photography allowed in the state rooms or St George’s chapel.
After our visit we did a bit of supermarket shopping before returning to our mooring where we sat out another afternoon on the noisy, bumpy mooring.