I’ve been meeting my friend Nina for lunch in Windsor fairly regularly for a few years now; sometimes she comes to Richmond. It’s only recently that I’ve realised it’s just as quick to go by train as car – and certainly easier, especially as the Windsor & Eton Riverside station is so central that as you come out of it you immediately see Windsor Castle rising above you.
I’d parked at Whitton, the next station down from Twickenham on the line as that’s where my son lives and as I was picking grandson Freddie up from nursery at 4, it seemed easiest to travel from there. The Windsor & Eton Riverside line is a semi-fast from Waterloo station, running every half hour.
It’s an easy 30-minute journey to Windsor and almost immediately one is out of crowded London suburbs with their densely populated streets and into the country (or country by London standards!). I spied pretty villages like Datchet and Runnymeads as we stopped briefly and on past woods and fields and lakes. I spend so much time jumping on trains into central London it’s easy to forget greener places are not that far away from me in the other direction!
I had a little time to spare before lunch so wandered round the town, past the entrance to the castle, then a fairy tale little crooked building, and the Guildhall where Prince Charles married Camilla.
Unusually for a castle, it is very much in the centre of the town, which seems to be built round it. Then on to the shopping centre where I was meeting Nina at the local Carluccio’s Caffè. The entrance to the shopping mall proclaims its royal heritage.
It’s built within an old railway station – and the Windsor central station inside is still a working station.
A replica of an old steam train – ‘The Queen’ – is displayed near the platforms. Built in 1894, the original used to pull the Royal Train.
And not far from it, clearly under a railway station arch and roof, sits Carluccio’s.
I’ve eaten outside in the summer, but we opted for inside today. Despite the sunny weather, it was cold; temperatures having plunged to freezing in the night. Carluccio’s has been a favoured venue to meet for some time, both for its convenience and reliability. Though, I’ve felt of late its reliability is less certain and the food isn’t as good as it used to be. I had a new dish – roasted stuffed butternut squash.
It was OK, but not brilliant. Their flat white coffee is more reliable (though Italian friends will have to forgive me for ordering a white coffee after lunch. I wouldn’t have dared order it with an Italian!).
It was nice to spend a lazy couple of hours over lunch talking to an old friend (we were at school together!). Windsor itself is a great destination from SW London, not too far away and offering a true ‘out of London’ feeling. It’s a pretty town and it’s really rather wonderful to have the castle at such close quarters. For shoppers it offers pretty much any shop you could think of; all the usual ones rather than any unique and exciting, but easily explored in the mainly pedestrianised area. And on a beautiful sunny day such as today, a great trip out of town.