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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

UK & Canary Islands Travelogue | Windsor Castle

Because mum belonged to the Copthorne Club, we got to make use of the club room for breakfast instead of heading to the regular dining room like all the other guests of the hotel. Whilst we didn't make use of the regular dining room at all, I was told that the food selection between the two rooms were the same, just that the club room is a lot more exclusive and quieter. Also, if you're a club member, you get to make use of the room for tea and biscuits as well.

The breakfast selection was sufficient and has the usual scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages, mushrooms, bacon and tomatoes. There was also a selection of cereals, juices, yoghurt and bread spreads. What I wished was that they changed up the items offered. The first time we stayed there, we stayed for 4 nights and by the fourth day, I was pretty sick of eating the same things every single day. But I digress.

Mmm, a (almost) full English breakfast. Prior to this, I haven't had a proper English breakfast in ages and it was such a sweet treat to be able to do so.

We took the tube to Paddington Station before changing to the train towards Windsor & Eton Central which is one of the two stations near Windsor Castle.

As soon as you reach the station, you will be greeted with a view of this lovely old train. Coming from a country which doesn't have centuries of history (we are only 50 years old as a nation), I really appreciate all the little bits and bobs which showcase a country's history and legacy. Also, I'm a huge fan of all things British so little touches like this probably fascinates me a lot more than the average person.

Because we reached the area at about 10 ish, and wanted to spend proper time inside the castle without rushing out because we were hungry, we decided to spend time wandering the streets and shops outside the castle and have lunch before heading inside.

We were really lucky to catch a glimpse of the changing of guards. We walked out of TK Maxx and happened to notice that there were a lot of people waiting around the street so we decided to stay around and see if we could find out what was going on. I managed to catch it down on video but didn't manage to snap a photo so do view the vlog if you're interested in watching the parade!

We wandered into this church and I have to say that I like the churches in England a whole lot more than the ones in Singapore. There's just something about the architecture, the old pews, stained glass windows and stone everything that makes the whole atmosphere a lot more solemn and legit. Churches in Singapore are so modern and practical. 

Spotted your usual red telephone booth and I knew I had to snap a picture with it. It is something so classic about England, that and the red London buses.

There's something about travelling overseas and looking at vast empty spaces that gets me every single time. There's so little space in Singapore, everything's cramped together and huge empty spaces just for aesthetic purposes are far and few between. Travelling overseas makes me appreciate these huge empty spaces, they make me feel... free.

We had lunch at Clarence Brasserie & Tea Room which is located in one of the small alleys around Windsor Castle and this place served really delicious food. We were walking around, trying to decide where to have lunch and the owner walked right up to us and sold us the menu within a few short sentences. He is definitely a good salesman.

They had a lunch set, two courses for only £9.95 which wasn't too bad because the food was amazing. We opted for 3 different starters and 3 different mains just so that we could try everything.

My favourite dish was definitely the Minestrone soup. I love vegetables and this soup was done to perfection. The Arancini was pretty good as well, though it definitely didn't taste of rice at all. The Bruschetta was pretty good as well but the taste of goat's cheese was pretty strong, so if you're not a fan of goat's cheese you'll definitely have to give this one a miss.

Sicilian rice balls with mozzarella cheese and herbs, drizzled with pesto

Tomatoes, fresh basil and crumbled goats cheese on toasted Italian bread

Soup of the day
Minestrone Soup

The mains were just as good as well. Dad ordered the pizza, and got to choose 3 toppings and he went for bacon, pepperoni sausage and olives. I got the mousakka which was amazing. Give me some baked vegetables any day and I'm good to go. The fish and chips that mum got was pretty decent but not the best we have had.

Focaccia style margarita pizza with a choice of  bacon, pepperoni sausage, and olives

Fish & Chips
Beer batter cod, served with salad, chips and a homemade tartar sauce

Grilled vegetables and potato layers with cheddar and feta cheese, baked in the oven

We had coffees after that but we were so stuffed by then. The size of the starters in England are large enough to be a main course for myself (I'm not usually a big eater) so having both a starter and a main to myself got me feeling insanely full.

Cappuccino (£2.55)
Latte (£2.75)

After lunch, we finally headed over to Windsor Castle. Mum and I had discounts so our tickets were £18.20 and dad's was £20.00

Security was really strict so we had to go through one of those airport sensors and our bags had to be scanned as well. 

When the flag is up, it means that the queen is in and the flag was up the day we were there. Sadly, we didn't manage to catch a glimpse of the queen during our stay there.

We weren't allowed to take photos inside the castle so most of the photos I took were of the exterior of the castle. Mum said I went to Windsor Castle once when I was little but I don't remember much of that trip so it was great to be able to enter the castle and fully appreciate the beauty of everything inside. It must be amazing to live in such grand surroundings and have a whole army of people at your beck and call.

So thankful to these two amazing people who brought me up and gave me everything I ever wanted, and dreamt of. I love you, daddy and mummy. Thank you for bringing me on this amazing trip to the U.K.

I also managed to snag myself a picture with a guard! I've always wanted to take a photo with a guard ever since I saw Mr Bean when I was younger and I feel so blessed to finally be able to do so.

There were some kids who were trying to make the life of the guard miserable by pulling funny faces and gesturing to him, kind of what Mr Bean did to the guard, and I felt sorry for the guards who had to endure such behaviour from the the public. Not only do they have to stand still for long stretches of time, they probably have to do so regardless of the weather as well. Instead of making life easier for them, some people decide to be childish and do the exact opposite. I can only imagine how difficult it is to maintain a straight face and not give in to the urge to tell people like that to shut up and cut if out.

After we were done wandering around the castle, we decide to head to Costa Coffee for a coffee break and it was very much needed. I believe we have Costa Coffee in Singapore but I've never been in one before. The coffee was decent, but not fantastic which was the slightest bit disappointing for me. 

Since it was still early when we reached back into High Street Kensington we decided to walk around and have a nosey around the shops. I had a good time poking around New Look and Zara, clothes are just a lot cheaper every where else than back home.

Decided to pop into Pret A Manger to pick up some stuff for dinner because most of the places were either closing or crazy crowded. Pret sells your usual sandwiches, salads and coffees that are freshly made every single day. I know, because my mum saw the staff checking the sandwiches on display and taking down those that didn't look fresh.

I do have to say that the salads there tasted amazing and they weren't even that expensive. They had loads of ingredients inside and tasted super delicious. If they made salads that tasted like these in Singapore for the same price, I definitely wouldn't mind grabbing one every other day.

Chef's Italian Chicken Salad (£4.50)
Chargrilled chicken thigh, cucumber, tomatoes, salad mix, roasted red peppers, caesar mayo, Italian matured cheese, pistachios, kalamata olives

Wiltshire-cured Ham & Greve Cheese (£3.15)
Wiltshire-cured ham, greve, English mustard mayo, salad leaves

Tropicana Orange Juice (£1.40)

Walker's Salt & Vinegar Chips (£0.65)

Our first full day in England was magical and I really can't wait to share the rest of our trip with you guys. I fell in love with England since the moment we touched down in Heathrow airport and I feel so blessed to be able to embark on this amazing journey with my parents. 'till the next post!

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