Yesterday Dabrah a fellow Brit' who blogs from across the pond, shared piccies from her recent visit to Eton & Windsor. First I have to credit her with the photo above and then I urge you to go and see her other Windsor piccies, you'll love them.
So I worked in Windsor for many years, right next to the river and the bridge between Eton and Windsor. That building above on the left with the blue awnings, is an extremely posh restaurant that I used to frequent with my clients for lunch. They were always impressed by the riverside setting and wonderful view of the castle.
The building I worked in was just over the bridge on the left, I can actually see it's slightly higher roof in front of the castle. We were directly opposite the smartest hotel in town, The Christopher and during Ascot week we would have a great view of all the wealthy patrons heading to the course all togged up in big hats and stunning frocks.
I was a Customer Service Manager for a corporate relocation company, basically we arranged for large relocating business' employees to sell their old homes fast and move to the new location. I started off as part of the customer service team and after a few years, ran my own team with our own big clients, like The Post Office, British Airways, Eastern Electricity. It was a great job, a young vibrant company and in a fabulous location.
The benefits of working in Windsor were numerous. Fabulous historic and natural beauty all around me everyday. The castle literally towered over our building and we had a balcony on the top floor with stunning views across to it. I was a stones throw from the Eton River and got to watch boats and swans drift past and coxless rowers from Eton practicing, as I ate my sandwich on the riverbank at noon. We would have regular 'Riverboat Shuffles' from work, when we would hire a big open boat for a party with music after work on the river - fun days.
We had the town centre of Windsor a short but steep climb up the hill, with an excess of great department and independant stores to while away a lunch hour. There was always somewhere great to go for lunch with work colleagues, or friends visiting the town who would meet me for lunch.
Across the bridge I could escape into the 'olde world' charm of Eton's narrow winding main street, with it's wonderful choice of antique shops, artists and pubs. The Eton schoolboys were on lunch at the same time, and they would stride past in their tail-coats and top hats. A few times a young Prince William walked past me with friends and twice I passed him alone, exchanging a smile.
The day Windsor Castle caught fire our office was at the centre of it all in 1992. One of my collegues had a very well-known newscaster father working for the BBC. The very first interview about the fire was given by Andrew down the phone to his father and we watched it in a newsflash. The rest of that day was surreal, I have never heard so many emergency sirens going on for so many hours, I think eventually there were over 100 fire engines present.
The fire was on our side of the castle and we all watched in shock, sadness and horror as the fire spread gradually lighting up the windows as we watched. It was so odd to stand in our boardroom watching all the news on the big TV and then look across the street and see history happening in front of us. Later that night I actually drove my then husband back to Windsor and we stood in the park opposite in awe of the sight before us. It's hard to put into words how much that day affected me, seeing a building I loved and our history burning uncontrolled for hours.
I walked straight past Prince Philip one day in a narrow street by the castle and got to go out and wave a flag during the Garter ceremony, as the Queen went past in her carriage.
Of course then there were the summer days when every trip into town was a nightmare as I fought the throngs of Japanese and American (sorry!) tourists blocking the pavement as they took piccies. Many times I was called upon to take a picture and give directions.
But there's just something very special about working in the shadow of one of your country's greatest and best-loved sights. It was one of the very first places I took the hubster to see on his visit to England. He loved it and was just in awe of the castle and it's surroundings, and it was great fun to introduce him to my favourite old work stomping grounds. Plus my stories mean't I could give him an insiders insight into his surroundings.
I have to say the scenery has never been quite so inspiring, from anywhere else I have worked since!