The Old Fogies go to Windsor

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

It was that time of year again, when we take our granddaughters away for a few days and we decided to take them to Windsor . We last visited Windsor a couple of years ago when we stayed in the middle of Windsor and went to Legoland Windsor. This time we were staying a few miles outside of Windsor near to Runnymede and staying at a hotel with its own large grounds. To keep the children entertained we thought that on one day we would take them to the nearby Thorpe Park entertainment resort.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

One of the delights of staying in Windsor is that it is in easy travelling time from London and we arrived at the hotel in good time. However our good feelings did not last long when we found out that the two rooms we were expecting was one family room. After trying to resolve the issue, we were told that the problem was the third party we booked through who sent the wrong information. When things like this happen, I always make a mental note to try to book direct.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean

After the initial disappointment, we thought we would get some fresh air and explore the nearby Runnymede. Runnymede is famous in British history for its association with the signing of Magna Carta. As we walked along the very attractive Thames towpath, we arrived at the Runnymede meadow with two National Trust buildings marking the start of the large Runnymede area.

© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
It was on the water-meadow at Runnymede, in 1215 when King John sealed Magna Carta which changed British common and constitutional law forever. The modern Runnymede is an attractive and popular spot to walk or cycle with a number of memorials.
© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
One of reasons we booked this particular hotel was the large grounds that allowed the children to run around and use up their excess energy. The hotel also had the benefit of a large swimming pool which was ideal after a day’s sightseeing.
© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
Although we had enjoyed Legoland Windsor, we thought Thorpe Park would be more suited to our elder granddaughter who is 12.  Arriving at Thorpe Park, we were faced with large crowds trying to get in and we began to think this would not be ideal.
© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
When we got inside, the queues for the large rides were already long so we just went on the rides that had smaller queues. The resort itself is not too large and each area was quite crowded. What was noticeable was that there is a lot more teenagers and a lot less family groups. Part of the reason why teenagers descend on Thorpe Park is the very large rides like Colossus and Nemesis.
© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
The hot weather and large crowds began to try our patience and it was with some relief when we left the resort and  made our way back to the hotel.
© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
Over the next few days, we explored the surrounding area around Windsor and visited the town itself which had lots of visitors hanging around the castle. We made our way around the castle to the Long Walk.
© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
The Long Walk is a path and carriage road that runs for nearly three miles from George IV Gateway at Windsor Castle to The Copper Horse. The Long Walk was created by Charles II from 1680-1685 by planting a double avenue of elm trees. The central carriage road was added by Queen Anne in 1710. The original planting comprised 1,652 trees placed 30 feet apart in each direction. The Long Walk has wonderful views of the castle and the surrounding countryside and many visitors will walk part or the whole route.
© 2019 Old Fogies Travels – Photograph by Alan Kean
At the end of trip, we decided that it had been only a partial success, the mix up at the hotel and our rather disappointing visit to Thorpe Park contrasted with the nice grounds and swimming pool, the pleasant walks and sightseeing of the local area. However, one of the joys of going on holiday with your grandchildren is to talk with them and understand where they are in their own lives. The eldest is becoming a young woman and the youngest is full of confidence and they are both entertaining in their own ways. Their boundless energy of youth was a reminder that we are getting old and after all the enjoyment we would need at least a week to recover.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

The Old Fogies go to Legoland Windsor

It was Mr Curmudgeon’s fault ! Whilst enjoying a family Christmas and helping his two granddaughters with their Lego, he foolishly asked where they would like us to take them in 2017. ‘Legoland ‘ they both said in unison, my stare indicated my disapproval but Mr Curmudgeon whispered they will soon forget.

A few months later and after incessant nagging from the children, we found ourselves outside the entrance of Legoland with two very excited children.

Theme parks have never been our favourite destinations because they tend to be expensive, have long queues and children’s initial excitement often turns tears and disappointment. To be fair to Legoland, they have tried to prevent large queues from the entrance by allowing people into a beginning area in which the kids can have a look around before the main part of the park is opened.

The remarkable Miniland area which features over 40 million Lego bricks which are part of numerous buildings and objects from small scale towns and cities from around the world.  The Lego brick is one of the most amazing toy inventions since the Second World War and proves that any toy that allows the creativity of the child or adult to come through will probably be successful.

Amongst the hundreds of nervous parents and excited children, we waited in anticipation for the park to open. People who had visited before, clutched their maps with plans of which attractions to visit first. We decided to take a more leisurely approach and slowly wander around the park.

The park is split into 12 themed lands, incorporating various attractions for particular age groups. The Beginning, Imagination Centre, Duplo Valley, Miniland, Adventure Land, LEGO City, Pirate Shores, Heartlake City, Knight´s Kingdom, Land of the Vikings and Kingdom of the pharaohs.

Duplo Valley is generally aimed at the 3 – 6 age group with a series of water features including Fairy Tale Brook, Raft Racers, Splash Safari and Drench Towers. The weather was not conducive for this area, so we made our way to Lego City which has transport themes and allows the 6-13 age group to try Balloon School: Experience the ups and downs of a hot air balloon ride. Coastguard HQ: an interactive boat ride for children. Fire Academy: helping the ‘firefighters’ to power a LEGO fire engine and putting out a ‘burning’ building. And Lego City Driving School.

Other areas have their own attractions; popular areas include Land of the Vikings, Kingdom of the Pharaohs, Pirate Shores and Knights Kingdom with the major rides being The Dragon and the Dragon’s Apprentice. This area also has a very popular Adventure playground. Adventure Land is situated around a lake at the far end of the park, where the main attraction is Atlantis Submarine Voyage which features “submarine” vehicles used to travel through the tank of sharks and other marine creatures.

The park’s attractions are a mixture of Lego-themed rides, Lego models and interactive areas where children can build with Lego. Once again, Legoland cleverly incorporates building tables in the queues to keep children’s minds occupied.

Many of the attractions are geared to the 3 to 13 age group and allow adults to join children on the rides. Whilst there is an element of ‘fun’ to this, getting in and out of the rides can be a bit of a struggle for those with creaking bones and expanding waistlines.

In some ways, Legoland Windsor is a victim of its own success, In 2015, the park had 2.25 million visitors, making it the most visited theme park in the United Kingdom. This means it can get extremely busy in peak times especially weekends and school holidays. Queues can be quite long for some rides, although most of the rides are quite short in duration. By the late afternoon, tiredness begins to come into play with some parents and children with a few tears and tantrums.

Legoland suffers from the negatives of most theme parks; expensive admission, queues, limited food and drink options. However because it caters for younger age groups and Legoland does think about entertaining visitors in a number of ways, Legoland Winsdor is one of the better attractions of its kind.

Making our way out of the park, our tired but happy granddaughters ran ahead. I smiled to Mr Curmudgeon and said ‘ It has been a quite enjoyable day, but if you ever promise the girls again to take them to a theme park, you will be in the doghouse’.

‘Woof’ he replied as he nearly fell over a Lego character.

Legoland Windsor generally opens from March to November, but there are closures on some days.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.