October 2 – 3: Windsor to Singapore
Wednesday dawned bright and clear and was a gorgeous crisp, sunny, autumn day. We motored out of Windsor but with some time to kill before a night flight, we decided to explore just a little more. We made our way to Runnymede, the place that has been called the birthplace of democracy. It’s at Runnymede that King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215, enshrining in law a series of clauses, many of which are still upheld today, such as rights to justice and a free trial, trial by jury and the right to freedom.
The site is also home to a memorial to JFK, constructed at Runnymede because of its connection with freedom, justice and human liberty. We walked across the field and through a gate and once passing through the gate, a visitor is considered to be on American soil. From there we walked up the steps to the memorial, there were fifty steps, representing the fifty U.S. states. It was a beautiful place to walk, through trees and under a gloriously bright blue autumn sky.
Back along the field, through a gate and in another field stands the Magna Carta memorial.
It was a lovely place to walk, apart from walking on the land where some pretty significant historical events took place, it was just a glorious day. The sun shone, the air was crisp and the trees dazzled in their autumn colours.
We walked back beside the river and then we passed The Jurors, an artwork by Hew Locke commemorating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta. This was an amazing piece, made of twelve bronze chairs standing on the meadow where the Magna Carta was sealed. The chairs stand as an invitation for visitors to sit and reflect on the events and issues represented on them. Each chair had an image on the back and front, representing concepts of law or struggles for freedom, rule of law or equal rights, those rights enshrined in the Magna Carta.
It was such a powerful piece of art, with images that were reminders of the rights and freedoms we are entitled to, yet so many are still denied or continue to fight for.
It had been a wonderful walk through a gorgeous autumn landscape, with so much to see and think about. A perfect place to visit, as we say goodbye to this part of the world. Before leaving, we stopped for elevenses in the tea room and then made our way across the river to Ankerwycke.
We had another lovely walk across paddocks, along an avenue of trees and through more fields to the ruins of a priory, but the special thing to see, was the Ankerwycke yew tree that is 2,500 years old. I can’t wrap my feeble brain around that. A tree, still standing, still green and thriving that is thousands of years old. What it would have witnessed in that time. Apparently, it’s under this tree that Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn. I walked under its branches and stood looking up, then patted its trunk, feeling like I almost had to thank it, or congratulate it, or something. What a feat of resilience to be there after all that time.
It was beautiful walking through the autumn colours and across the green fields. I have loved our time in England and it had been a beautiful send off. But, all good things must come to an end and end it did, in the form of a speedy trip down the motorway to Gatwick.
After some challenges navigating our way to the airport terminal and some moments of breath holding at check-in over the weight of all our luggage and bikes. This was relieved by our explanations of having an additional allowance, which was confirmed by a phone call from our very nice check-in lady. We were eventually through without problems and ready to board.
Many, many, many, many hours later and a pass through Dubai, we touched the ground in Singapore. We waited, with fingers crossed, at the baggage carousel and then breathed a sigh of relief when all bags appeared, followed by two bikes safe and sound and fully intact.
We then had a welcome stretch of the legs and walk through Changi airport to an airport stopover hotel, since it was now approaching 10:00 pm and we’d been going thirty three hours straight. I made my way up the elevator with a fully loaded trolley and then waited in the lobby for Steve to elevator his way up with the two bikes. As I waited, a young man from the hotel staff saw me.
“Are you waiting for someone? Is someone coming? Which floor is he coming from?”
I was explaining to him that Steve was on his way with two bikes, just as the elevator doors opened. This brilliant young man leapt into action, disappearing into the elevator to help carry the bikes out.
“I will store these for you during your stay.” Then he looked at everything I had. “Do you need to get into any of these bags?”
I told him it could all be stored, just as it was, and he took care of everything right there on spot, taking all our bags and bikes off our hands. Then another young man came and took the trolleys and returned those for us. It was super service, friendly, helpful and action stations right when we needed it. With the load taken care of, we could make our way to the room, have a cuppa, freshen up and then collapse into a far more comfortable sleeping surface than a cramped airline seat. We had arrived in Singapore.
- Plane landed with no drama (always top of my wish list as a scaredy-cat flyer). – CHECK
- Cleared passport control and customs with no drama – CHECK
- Luggage and bikes arrived unscathed and at the same time as us – CHECK
- Room for the night to lay our weary heads – CHECK
- Kettle in the room (not always a given) so a restorative cup of tea could be had – aaaand CHECK!
So, with travel plans thankfully completed successfully to this point, we are now in Singapore and ready to explore. We’ll make our way into the centre where we’ll stay for another few days, while we look around somewhere completely new to us. Fabulous! More to see, more to discover, more to learn. Can’t wait!