My first Nice Day Out of 2015 was actually two half-days, as I took a couple of small local trips.
First up my mum and I spent a morning in Windsor. On my last visit to Windsor Castle back in 2013 one of the staff had recommended I return at Christmas to see the decorations... I'd not got round to it last Christmas so I was determined to manage it this time!
Looking up their Christmas opening times I spotted that they were running tours of the Great Kitchen, which is something that's usually only available for tour groups. A behind-the-scenes peek at Windsor Castle? Yes please!
It was nice to see the town decorated for Christmas...
... and the Castle is always a fantastic place to visit. We explored St George's Chapel then headed to the meeting point for our tour. It was rather thrilling being able to go into spaces that are normally off-limits to tourists - not just the Great Kitchen itself but all the rooms we had to walk through to get to it - and our guides were friendly and informative, sharing lots of tales of the history of the building and the people who had lived and worked there over the centuries (you can watch a short video about the kitchen tours here).
After the tour was finished we visited the dolls house (always wonderful) and the state apartments which were looking wonderfully festive with tables laid for Christmas feasts and huge, beautiful Christmas trees in several of the rooms. Then we headed back into town for a cuppa and some cake and chatted about all the great stuff we'd seen.
I'm hoping to pay another visit to Windsor Castle this summer for one of their Conquer the Tower tours - I love the idea of climbing the Round Tower! As local residents we're lucky to be able to visit the Castle for free (though these tours are extra), it's such a spectacular place with so much to see I definitely want to take advantage of it while I'm living here.
For my second half-day-out I took a trip to Reading. Awesome arts organisation Jelly were having a moving sale, which I thought was a great excuse to have a wander round the town, stretch my legs and do some shopping!
It was lovely to see how much-loved-but-now-closed department store Jacksons is now being used as a creative community hub. Jelly will be running workshops and other crafty events there soon (in the department where I got all my school uniforms many years ago!), there's also a crafty gift shop, a workshop space and the very cool Reading Bicycle Kitchen where you can access the tools and expertise to fix your own bike.
You can't tell from the photo but the legs on that bike were cycling :)
P.S. You can read about my previous Nice Days Out in Reading here, here and here and my trip to Windsor & Eton here.