Monday, 24 May 2010

Splash!

The  images in this posting were taken last week when my sister decided that I should get out for some recreational fresh air. She insisted that we walk to the swimming pool approximately a mile from my house one way. On arrival she set before me a challenge that destroyed all my thoughts of leisurely lounging in the bubble pool and the sauna and steam room. She challenged me to swim fifty full lengths of the pool and I said, quite rashly without any thought at all, "If you can do it I will do it!" The history behind it is that I have not swam in months and not regularly exercised in years so with no gauge of my fitness level it was a really stupid challenge to fall for...(foolish I know!). So there I was, pride engaged, fiery eyed and determined and I went for it! Three lengths in I looked over to her with exasperation and she laughed and cheered me on, "just get to ten" she said so i went on. When I reached 21 she was on forty or something which depressed me greatly as I could not quit then! I soldiered on to the dreaded fifty and announced I did it! She turned and looked at me and said, "Well done! see, I told you, you could do it!" These words warmed my heart until I asked the question one should never ask of a more worthy opponent, "How many did you do?" I asked her. She broke into this big grin, not an uncharitable grin but it still was unpleasant as the words charged out like a military battalion on a mission to destroy my bride; "70" she said and just like that, the death blow was landed and I was annihilated! In the same amount of time it took me to do fifty lengths, my sister (who is older than me I might add!) did seventy! A sure sign that I am in desperate need of some kind of regular exercise immediately! Maybe I'll improve my swimming...
My earliest memory of  swimming and indeed one of my favourite memories of my childhood is when I was about five or six years old, in our back garden swimming pool where my dad taught my brother and I how to swim. Ever since I have loved the water and have swam in primary and secondary school swimming competitions and it is most definitely my favourite sport. Swimming is essentially movement through water, usually without artificial assistance. Swimming is an activity that can be both useful for health purposes and recreationally for relaxation purposes. 
History behind swimming - Swimming has been known since prehistoric times; the earliest record of swimming dates back to Stone Age paintings from around 7,000 years ago. Written references date from 2000 BC. Some of the earliest references to swimming include the Gilgamesh, the Iliad and the Bible (Ezekiel 47:5, Acts 27:42, Isaiah 25:11). [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_swimming].
Recreational swimming is a good way to relax, while enjoying, or rather gaining the benefit of a full-body workout. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise because the density of the human body is very similar to that of water, the water supports the body and less stress is therefore placed on joints and bones. Swimming is frequently used as an exercise  for the elderly, during pregnancy for some women and in rehabilitation after injuries or for those with disabilities at the advice of their physician. Swimming is primarily an aerobic exercise and  can improve posture and develop a strong lean physique, often called a "swimmer's build." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_swimming].











Fun fairs bring amusement parks to you

funfair or simply fair (e.g., "county fair", "state fair") is a small to medium sized traveling show primarily composed of stalls and other amusements. In the UK and much of Europe, individual rides and stalls are run by different, independent showmen who all converge for the duration of the fair, then often go their separate ways to set up at fairs in other towns. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fun_fairs]. These fairs can be seen across the country in varying sizes and with many different rides and stalls. They are often self-contained and sell food, drinks and confectionery so you can enjoy the rides without having to leave the fair grounds. 
                                                      There was a fun fair in my local park recently and I took a stroll over to see what they had to offer and the pictures below are what I saw there...


   
I love fun fairs! They are brilliant and the rides are far less elaborate (not to mention dangerous) than traditional Theme Parks like Thorpe Park or Alton Towers. The best thing about fun fairs is that they move around the country and therefore you will find one in a part near you at least a couple of times a year, a great afternoon out with the children or for a couple seeking some fun in the sun or for a group of friends wanting to hang out... just about anyone can find something to do and enjoy at a fun fair. 

Windsor Castle and its surroundings Part 2of 2

Windsor (pronounced /ˈwɪnzɚ/) is a suburban town in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. It is best known as the site of Windsor Castle. It is immediately south of the River Thames, which forms its boundary with Eaton. Windsor and the surrounding areas contain some of the most expensive and desirable housing in the UK. The village of Old Windsor, just over two miles to the south, predates what is now called Windsor by around 300 years; in the past Windsor was formally referred to as New Windsor to distinguish the two at that time. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windsor,_Berkshire]. 
Windsor & Eton Riverside station is a station in Windsor in Berkshire, England. The station, close to the River Thames and Windsor Castle, is agrade II listed building. The station building was designed by William Tite as a royal station with a stone- faced frontage with a mullioned and transomed main window, gables and a multi-arch entrance. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windsor_%26_Eton_Riverside_railway_station] Across the street form the riverside is a local pub, and other features including sculptures with water features, greenery and further along, the Windsor Castle itself.
There is plenty t see and do in Windsor from visiting its famous castle to walking by the riverside enjoying the view, seeing the swans and other bird life resident on and by the Thames there, going on a boat trip or indeed hiring a boat and going out on the water at your leisure, go for walks in the extensive parks, enjoy some local sport or simply relax and take in some live music and good food. 
The River Thames at Windsor
The Windsor and Eton bridge

Pre 1870’s there was a toll system in operation on the Windsor – Eton Bridge which also admitted vehicles to cross. In the 1870s a Mr Joseph Taylor of Eton campaigned for the scrapping of the tolls on crossing the bridge and after a long but ultimately successful struggle the bridge tolls were scrapped in 1897. Over the next century cracks in the cast iron due to weight of traffic became a major issue and in April 1970 the Windsor - Eton Bridge was closed to road vehicles. Thirty years later even the weight of pedestrians was becoming a concern and restorations were planned for with completion in time for the Queen's Jubilee celebrations. Work went ahead and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second re-opened the Windsor - Eton Bridge at midday on June 3rd 2002. On the south bank of the bridge (the Windsor side) you will find Sir Christopher Wren's house, now a hotel and restaurant, and on the northern side of the bridge, Monty's restaurant and the village of Eton, with its world famous college. [http://www.windsor-berkshire.co.uk/eton_bridge.php].
On the River
Swan Lake at Windsor on the Thames


The Royal Windsor Wheel


The Royal Windsor Wheel is a non-permanent transportable Ferris wheel installation at Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, Berkshire, England. The current wheel has 40 enclosed and  air-conditioned gondolas, including a VIP gondola.The Royal Windsor Wheel first operated in 2006. In 2009 it operated from April to October and carried over 200,000 passengers. For 2010 it will open daily from 10am to 10pm, from 1st May until 30th August. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windsor_Eye]. Tickets can be acquired from: http://www.pwrevents.com/rww2010/index.aspx].

Windsor Castle and its surroundings Part 1of 2

The Castle
One of the true pleasures of living in England for me (as a foreigner) is experiencing the richness of English heritage, history and culture.there is so much to see across the country and indeed in its neighboring, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Being a lover of architecture (the older the better) one of the things that I am naturally drawn to and that the British excel in is their state homes, manor houses and castles. One such landmark caught my attention when I visited the town named after it... Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is an impressive and indeed grand building, beautifully sculpted and presented as a strong fortress that is impregnable. 

Windsor Castle History
Windsor Castle, in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, is the largest inhabited castle in the world.The original construction, a motte and bailey (an artificial hill with with a fenced area at the top), was built for William the Conqueror around the year 1080. The castle's floor area is approximately 484,000square feet (44,965 square metresOriginally part of a ring of defenses around London, Windsor Castle gradually became a popular Royal residence because of the good hunting in the nearby forest. The Round Tower, along with the original outer wall, was erected for King Henry II.  Further improvements and enlargements took place over the centuries until the magnificent castle we see today finally emerged in 1830. A favourite of Queen Victoria, the castle survived for most of the last century with few changes. [http://royalwindsor.org.uk/Windsor_Castle_history.htm].

20 November 1992 was a black day for Windsor Castle. A fire, started it is thought by a workman's spotlight, caught hold in the Private Chapel. Quickly spreading above the wooden ceiling panelling, the fire raged out of control for hours and gutted many rooms. The smoke and flames were visible for miles around. Flames could be seen shooting out from the roof of one of the towers, almost making it look like a huge firework. Windsor castle is now fully reopened to the visitor after the painstaking restoration at a cost of almost £40 million. The damaged rooms were restored to their original state. The gutted areas were rebuilt to new designs in keeping with the old [http://royalwindsor.org.uk/Windsor_Castle_history.htm].

Together with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, it is one of the principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining. Her other two residences, Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle, are the Royal Family's private homes. Most of the Kings and Queens of England, later Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom, have had a direct influence on the construction and evolution of the castle, which has been their garrison fortress, home, official palace, and sometimes their prison. Chronologically the history of the castle can be traced through the reigns of the monarchs who have occupied it. When the country has been at peace, the castle has been expanded by the additions of large and grand apartments; when the country has been at war, the castle has been more heavily fortified. This pattern has continued to the present day. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windsor_Castle].
The castle is very impressive and the town that surrounds it is very charming, full of lovely things to see and do set against the backdrop of the River Thames, a place well worth visiting for the English and foreigners alike. 

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