Monday, September 01, 2014

British Isles trip, part 3: Windsor Castle

Link to photo dump.

Just about everything that could go wrong, in terms of interfering with good picture-taking, did go wrong at Windsor Castle. It was cold, windy, and intermittently rainy. The crowds of people were impossible. We had flown all night and then gone straight from the airport to the castle, with no stop at the hotel for either sleep or freshening up, so I was cranky and sleep-deprived. Worst, you're not allowed to take any photos inside, where all the goodies are.

Not surprisingly, then, I have no photos that I'm proud of. Still, here's a sample of...

What We Saw 

N.B.: I won't keep reminding you of this, but you can see much bigger versions of any photo by right-clicking on it and opening in new tab or window.

Windsor Castle is stunning in just about every possible way. It's simply enormous--far bigger than you would ever think by looking at pictures. It's gorgeous. It's impeccably maintained. It's stuffed to the gills with the most obscenely ornate and expensive art and antiques. Its centuries of history ooze from every stone and furnishing. I would love to be set loose on its ground for about a week--with nobody else around--to take it all in and make some nice photos. Alas, that's not the circumstances I had. Not even close.

The only reason I have even one interior picture is that I snapped it before hearing the announcement that no inside photos were permitted.

Before I forget, let me mention that the staff here, and just about everywhere else we went, were absolutely first-rate about going out of their way to be helpful to our situation, which was usually one of us three kids (we're all in our 50s, but I still think of us that way collectively) pushing Dad in a wheelchair. He doesn't usually need it, but he was only three weeks out from major surgery when we flew to London. Frankly, it was a minor miracle that he was recovered enough to go at all. He needed the chair less and less as more days passed and he visibly regained some strength. But when we showed up anywhere with the wheelchair, the staff didn't wait for us to ask for help; they would assertively approach and escort us behind cordons to the lifts. (I actually got to see some cool stuff that's off-limits to the general public as a result of this, but obviously I couldn't whip out the camera at those spots.) Much gratitude to the employees at all the places we went who were so courteous. Windsor Castle was our first exposure to this kind of special treatment, and though the staff at the other sites came close, nobody else quite rose to the exceptionally high bar the people at Windsor set in this regard. Centuries-old buildings are intrinsically nightmarish for accessibility, but they did everything in their power to get us everywhere they could, without us even asking for the assistance.

I leave you with what I think is an amusing video clip of part of the changing of the guard. As you'll see, I unexpectedly found myself in the way of the regiment and had to scramble a bit to get to where I was just barely out of their marching line. In fact, that's really the only reason this video is worth sharing.


NT said...

Those are some no BS guns they're toting. But how would they see to fire them?

Rakewell said...

Well, they can apparently see well enough to march in a line, so I'm guessing they could see gun sights, too. But who knows?

I had wondered what the rifles were. They're definitely something that's not common in the US. With a little work, I tracked down the answer. They're Heckler & Koch L85. See Definitely "no BS guns." And definitely not the traditional ceremonial rifles. I don't know when they changed over.

Of course, they might be unloaded, or even modified to prevent firing (e.g., remove the firing pin), for these ceremonial functions. But maybe they're fully live. Again, who knows?

I just know that it felt like a really bad idea to be in their way....

mrben09 said...

Nice to see the other way round from me blogging about Vegas trips from the UK.

They are loaded. And there are quite a few about who aren't in ceremonial garb hiding in the wings "just in case".

Glad you enjoyed it. If you get the chance, the Tower of London is way better, but bits of it aren't wheelchair friendly, with it being nearly 1000 years old !

mrben09 said...

UPDATE: Just saw pt2, looks like you already did the TOL ! Apologies. Looking at all the selfies, outside of St Pauls Cathedral, you did pretty much everything !

Rakewell said...

Tower of London was, in fact, our next stop, and will therefore be the subject of the next post (or possibly two).

Memphis MOJO said...

I have no photos that I'm proud of. Still

There are quite nice.

Rakewell said...

Thanks, Dave. I'm afraid that my standards for what constitutes photographic beauty have evolved faster than my ability to achieve it. I still think these shots are just your standard tourist fare, though at least they don't have glaring technical problems with focus, exposure, tilt, blur, clutter, etc.