Monday, November 7, 2011

Windsor Great Park

If you look out of my classroom, beyond the autumn leaves dropping soundlessly from the trees, over an expanse of green and some chocolate box houses you can see Windsor Castle. It’s a nice thing to look at, the standard flying above it snapping in the wind, the stones resolute against the granite sky.

Windsor is an unusual town. The castle is right beside the train station. You walk out of it, turn left and there it is. It dominates the town, so much so that you know the town would not exist without it. There is the usual number of tourists snapping happily away at the castle. You can almost imagine Lizzie stepping out to the corner store for a bottle of milk and some jaffa cakes.

The real star of Windsor is not the castle. It is the 5000 acres of woodlands, lakes and gardens that form the Great Park. It is huge and only 50 minutes outside of London. It was glorious in spring when I took these photos, stunning in summer when a fresh breeze makes you forget London’s humid fug, and now, in autumn, the colours of the leaves paint out the significance of harvest and Halloween in a way that evergreen NZ just can’t seem to do.

Appropriately for the season, on dark winter nights in times of trouble, Herne the Hunter, the antlered spirit, rides again in Windsor Forest...

Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.
William Shakespeare The Merry Wives of Windsor

Windsor Castle Henry VIII is Startled by Herne the Hunter While out Riding
by George Cruikshank