Friday, July 22, 2022

Day 15 - June 14 Dukes Lane and a few ducks too

I love being able to spend my birthday in England and do something royal.   I am off to Waterloo station to catch a train to Brookwood, Surrey, where my friend Katrina will pick me up.   Our first stop is her home in Brookwood for a quick cold drink before getting back into the car to drive to 

  Today is the first day of Ascot so Katrina and I head to Duke's  Lane to watch the Ascot carriage as the carriages make their way to Royal Ascot.  We settle in a good viewing area.  Each of us has brought food to share - a mini-picnic.  

I am still not good at taking photos of people in carriages!

drivers of the cars always have puppets to entertain the crowd as the cars drive by

the first carriage: the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Peter Phillips

Camilla  -wave to us -- there is no one on the other side except for a policewoman. 

The second carriage: the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent

The third carriage : The Princess Royal , The Lord de Mauley,  Mr. William Nunneley and Mrs. William Nunneley

Fourth carriage:  Lady Alexandra and  Tom Hooper, the Earl and Countess of Hopetoun

As the carriages make their way to Royal Ascot,  the cars and the puppets follow

Katrina asks me if I want to see Virginia Water.  Yes, please.   We had planned to visit Virginia Water in 2019  as a part of our trip to Savill Gardens, Cumberland, the Prince Albert Statue, the Guards Polo Grounds, and the Cumberland Obelisk.  But plans were abandoned when the rain started.  After seeing the Obelisk, we headed back to the Savill Gardens parking lot and got out of the rain.  

No rain today.  Virginia Water, which is manmade and probably named for Queen Elizabeth I, is at the southernmost end of Windsor Great Park.   Fort Belevedere and Coworth Park are not too far away.  Windsor Castle is eight miles north of Virginia Water.

Cascade Waterfall

Lepis Magna Ruins

the Lepis Magna ruins 

Male Great crested grebe

Helping build a nest

Mrs. Great Crested Grebe on the nest ... I bet the eggs have hatched by now

I wanted to do that too  .. it was hot

Virginia Water is free to enter, but parking is not.  There are also several cafes and souvenir shops.  We headed back to Katrina's home for a cup of tea and a time to sit down and chat.   Our final stop was Pirbright in Surrey as Katrina had made a dinner reservation at the White Hart pub.

First things first, park the car and walk to the Duck Pond which is a part of the village green.


No idea what this bird/duck is

Egyptian goslings

don't you get any closer to my babies!! 

A  lovely place for a birthday dinner.

my birthday dinner  -

And then it was time for Katrina to drive me back to the Brookwood Station.  Thanks and hugs.  I had a great time today .. well, actually, the entire two weeks catching up with friends: Mark, Ed,  Lauren, Michael and Alison,  Ilana, Coryne, Alexander,  and Katrina and Sissi.

Air BnBs are amazing.  Read the reviews, look at the photos, and where it is located.  I knew I wanted to stay somewhere different.  In 2019, I stayed in Battersea in an Air BnB.  Walthamstow is lovely.  My hosts, Fabien and Damien, and their pup, Tayto, were awesome.    I realized that I had run out of cereal and thought about going to get breakfast before the car came to take me to Paddington.  Damien said they had several open boxes of cereal.  Help yourself.  Very kind.  I used up the rest of my milk and ate breakfast outside, sitting on a lounge chair in their garden overlooking the water.  I also did a quick walk to the Walthamstow Wetlands.

British Airways sent me an email stating my flight was delayed for 2 hours.  I decided not to change the car pickup. time, which turned out to be the right decision.

Damien carried my suitcase downstairs and put it by the door.  Fabien recommended GETT, a black taxi app.  Perfect.  The driver was right on time.   I hugged both Damien and Fabien, a final pat for Tayto, and then got the car for the ride to Paddington Station.

Shortly before I left,  the cleaning lady arrived.  A new guest, booked for two months, was arriving the day I after left.  

Thank you to the royal reporter Victoria Murphy who recommended several restaurants in Walthamstow, unfortunately, both were closed during the days that I was planning to eat in Walthamstow. 

This was the sunset over the Walthamstow Wetlands on June 14.

The Gett driver and I chatted all the way to Paddington.  He pointed out different neighborhoods, recommending  Primrose Hill for my next visit.   After arriving at the taxi stand, I got a luggage cart (£1) to bring my bags into the elevator and down to the Heathrow Express.   A quick 15-minute ride to Terminal 5.  

Checked in, and handed over the suitcase, praying it was under the weight limit.  It was!  By 2 ounces.   Phew!  The BA check-in lady laughed as she slapped a HEAVY sticker on the case. 

Placed my carry bag onto the luggage carrier and headed toward security.  OMG  This is where I let my guard down and took off my mask because it was so crowded.  It took more than two hours to get through the line.  BA staff would ask if people had flights before 3:30 p.m.   These people were pulled from the crowd and taken to the front of the security line.

I was in the South line, and BA took a number of us to the North line, saying it was moving faster.

Dear British Airways  -- please describe faster.  Thank you.   

COVID-19 is largely responsible.  Fewer workers, the virus on the rise, which has led to long lines throughout European airports. Heathrow is not an exception.  Patience is important.

Finally, free and into the main area of Terminal 5.  This place looks very familiar as I had a six-hour layover here in October, traveling from Bucharest to Washington, D.C.

I headed first to Gordon Ramsay's for lunch, which included a very refreshing Camden Ale. I also picked up a few things at Smith's and Boots (more things stuffed into my carry bag) and settled down in a chair with a cup of coffee and a book to read.


Eventually, it was time to gather my things and head down to the escalator to the train to the departure area.    Captain Nigel announced there would be a further delay as one of the jetties was too amorous with the plane and would not let go!  It took time to break them up.

I walked into my home close to midnight.  Cats were happy to see me.   I rested the next day.  Unpack, do laundry, open mail, and go to the grocery store.  On Friday, I had two baseball games, the first a day game - and it was 97 degrees.  By the evening, I noticed I had a minor sore throat.   Another game on Saturday.  That evening, I felt warm (low-grade fever) and I still had a sore throat.   Before going to bed, I took a rapid test.  Negative.   Went to bed, and woke up feeling good on Sunday.  A friend was taking me out to brunch as a belated birthday treat and then the Nats game.    

The fever returned Sunday night (100F) and I was achy and tired and my throat hurt.   The fever was gone in the morning.  I pulled out another Rapid Test.   Woosh . went Positive.  Oh no.

Called my doctor and we chatted.  A mild case.  Five days of quarantine,  take Mucinex DM, Zinc, and rest.  I was fatigued.  I could resume normal life on Days 6-10 but had to wear a mask outside and inside.  Okay.  
Day 11 took another test.  Negative.

I am fully vaccinated and double boosted,  Grateful, and thankful for science.

Thank you for enjoying my vacation!

Virginia Water

If you liked my travelog, perhaps you can buy me a coffee


Christina O. said...

Hip, hip, hooray! Wonderful, enlightening, and extremely entertaining travel log!

JohnF said...

Thanks for all the reports, made me feel quite envious (says someone who stayed at home & watched it all on the TV). You certainly seemed to have a great time.