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lilaki's very short trip to slough/london

lilaki's very short trip to slough/london

Jul 21st, 2010, 09:40 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
lilaki's very short trip to slough/london

hi fodorites,

i was shipped off to slough for work recently and decided to tack on a weekend in london (with family). i had originally hoped to spend a few nights in slough followed by a weekend in london ... but juggling priorities resulted in a SINGLE night in slough and three nights in london. this was my fourth time in london ... and the third in the last three years so i finally got to do some things that are lower down on my 'must do this next time in london' list.

some background - i'm in my early 30's, from toronto, love to travel, and love food. DH couldn't get time off work so i made this trip solo.

as many of you already confirmed, slough is not exactly a great destination. however, since i was only there for one night and my office is IN slough, i decided to suck it up and stay at the copthorne hotel. the copthorne was fine for a short stay ... any longer, and i think i'd find different accommodations.

on my first day in slough, i decided to skip out of the office around 2 pm and head to windsor castle. i hadn't been to windsor since i was a kid and since it's only 10 minutes from slough, i decided it was worth the trek. the cab dropped me off right at the castle entrance and i joined the throngs of tourists making their way into the castle. entrance was 16 pounds and also included an audio tour. i stayed about an hour in total ... a combination of jet lag (having just arrived at heathrow a few hours prior) and annoyance (sooooo many tour groups crowding the castle/grounds) likely had something to do with it.

after the castle, i headed into the town of windsor ... i wandered up and down the pedestrian streets and popped in and out of some shops. really, at this point, i was trying to keep myself occupied and awake! luckily, i stumbled upon a waitrose (i LOVE going to grocery stores in different countries) and spent a good 45 minutes strolling up and down the aisles. this was also a good opportunity to stock up on the list of british food stuffs that i had intended to buy later on in the weekend.

i had planned to stick around windsor for dinner (the driver who met me at the airport resoundingly told me to avoid slough for dinner at all costs) but jet lag was setting in quickly around 6 pm and i was loaded down with cadbury bars and maldon sea salt from waitrose! i also had a very big day at work the next day and really just wanted to head back to the hotel and settle in for the night.

to me, the interior of the castle/church were just so-so. (note - no interior pictures allowed!!!) i also didn't particularly enjoy the fact that planes were (loudly) flying overhead. i wish that i could've purchased a separate grounds-only admission as i quite enjoyed the exterior. i'd like to spend more time in the town of windsor as well ... if i'm returning to slough for work for a longer period of time, i'll grab a hotel in windsor.

to be continued...
lilaki is offline  
Jul 21st, 2010, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 5,141
Awaiting your dinner in Slough 'ordeal' I hope you just ate some Cadbury chocolate instead

Smart move to only stay there for one night and Waitrose is always worth a trip!
sassy_cat is offline  
Jul 21st, 2010, 10:17 AM
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after a very busy friday in the office, i hopped into a pre-arranged car and headed to pinner to stay with my cousins. it was so nice to see family ... i much prefer to stay in a HOME over a HOTEL.

i had booked the car with london heathrow cars and would really recommend them. i used their service on my return trip to heathrow as well. both drivers were prompt/timely and the fares were really reasonable (especially when i compared them to all the other car companies out there). the only catch ... you've got to have cash on hand. even though the website says they take credit card etc., neither driver accepted plastic.

on saturday morning, my cousin dropped me off at the wembley central tube station (she was on her way to work and lent me her oyster card). it was perfect timing as i was headed to borough market and wanted to beat the rush. i was at london bridge station in no time and made my way to the market. i got there before 9:30 am and took my time perusing the stalls and vendors. some folks were still setting up but since it was quite empty, i got lots of samples and spent loads of time talking with the various vendors. i had intended to spend the morning at the market and fill up on goodies for lunch but by 11 am, i was done wandering and the crowds had descended upon the market. so, i made a beeline for the tube station and made my way up to covent garden.

for some reason or other, DH and i had never been to this area before and i decided to use my 'free saturday in london' to explore. as expected, it was fairly crowded/busy but not in a suffocating way. i wandered in an out of shops that we don't have back home (specifically radley and camper) and then made my way over to pages catering on shaftesbury. i had been guided to this shop by some folks on chowhound. i wish i didn't have to worry about baggage weight limits and a long tube ride home ... i could've done much more damage at pages!

by now, i was getting pretty hungry so i decided to trek over to maison bertaux. this little cafe was listed in the fodors so i decided to give it a try. i had a quiche and salad for lunch and have to say that it was a really disappointing meal. the salad was drenched in a horrible mustard vinagrette (so strongly flavoured with mustard that my eyes watered). the quiche was bland. and service was really slow. the pastries are apparently very good but i didn't stick around to find out.

i headed toward picadilly with my sights focused on fortnum and mason's. i love F&M ... i don't normally buy much but i just love going in and looking at all the different food/beverage products. by now, it was pretty hot outside and i thought i might find some refuge in an air conditioned F&M. well, i was in for a shock. i'm not sure if the a/c was broken or what but the place was sweltering! the lights above the confectionary and chocolate areas were also turned off so i suspect they were trying to keep the place as cool as possible. unfortunately, i didn't last long and decided to retreat to the burlington arcade. i had read about this arcade before and wanted to check it out. i love the history and detail in these structures. the burlington arcade was really beautiful.

there's a laduree right at the entrance and to make up for my dismal lunch, i decided to have a blackcurrent and violet religieuse. it was pastry heaven! as i sat at the table outside laduree (forcing myself NOT to lick the plate), i noticed another arcade across the street called the picadilly arcade. i'll have to go there next time i'm in london.

i wanted to be back home by mid-afternoon to spend time with my cousins so i beelined down picadilly to the green park tube station. when i got there, there was smoke billowing out of all the entrances and people were running OUT of the station. i decided to walk to the bond street station instead ... passing through some incredible neighbourhoods with high end shops/restaurants ... and the italian embassy!

the rest of the day was spent with family ... catching up, sharing stories and pictures, eating good food, etc. it's always the highlight of my trips to london!

...a surprise day at hampton court palace next
lilaki is offline  
Jul 21st, 2010, 10:32 AM
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i didn't have anything planned on sunday ... i just assumed that i would spend it with my cousins and their kids (three rugrats under the age of 10). on sunday morning, my cousin asked me if i would be interested in going to hampton court palace.

i was THRILLED! i really wanted to go to hampton court several times before but we always ran out of time. turns out, DH called the cousins before my arrival and asked if they would mind taking me to hampton court because he knew how much i wanted to go (and he also knew that i would NEVER ask)! awwww ... yeah, DH is awesome!

after a proper english fry up (SOOOO much better than the breakfast i had at the copthorne!), we all (three adults and three kids) piled into the car and headed off to hampton court around mid-morning. a flower show was also on at the same time but the grounds were surprisingly NOT crowded. touring the palace took about two hours ... i thought the interiors were great! this really made up for windsor castle! we had a picnic lunch on the grounds (i'm shocked that we were allowed) and then toured the gardens. we also did the hedge maze (not sure i understand the big deal here??). by 4:30 pm, we were all pooped and a bit overheated so we made our way back home. the world cup final was on and my cousins had some friends coming over that evening.

i was SOOOO happy to have gone to hampton court ... i wish i could tell you details about parking/admissions/etc. but i wasn't allowed to pay for a thing ... i do think that we got some sort of family pass though. and i was surprised that parking was so plentiful right on the grounds (although, i suspect my cousins may have paid a premium for the location!).

i will note that hampton court was really great for the kids ... i can't really imagine them going to windsor castle ... as it didn't seem as child friendly. there were several events going on at the palace throughout the day (i.e. re-enactments etc.) so if you timed things properly, the kids could be easily entertained.

as always, my time in london was super rushed and monday morning (departure day) rolled around too quickly.

i really hope i get sent back to the UK for work sometime soon!
lilaki is offline  
Jul 21st, 2010, 10:33 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 651
hey sassy_cat,

there were NO restaurant options near the copthorne and really, i was too pooped to bother so i just ordered room service. i know - big groan! but i have to say, sitting in the room, eating dinner in my PJs made up (somewhat) for a really crappy hotel meal! and yes, i enjoyed a cadbury bar for dessert!
lilaki is offline  
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