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Trip Report-London to Bath to The Cotswolds

It’s a little late as this is for our trip from September 2018, but I had 15 days off over Christmas, got bored and needed something to do. Because it is a year and a half ago, I haven’t focused on restaurants and hotels because so much can change in a year.

London has been a bucket list item for my wife and I for years, but an important purpose of this trip was to bring my Mother-In-Law along so she could visit relatives she’s never met. Her Dad came from Brightlingsea in Essex and she has always wanted to see where he grew up and also visit her Grandparent’s graves. She has communicated via mail over the years with some cousins, but never face to face.

This was our 3rd visit to Europe in 4 years but our first land vacation as we’d done cruises previously. We loved the cruises but as we got more comfortable with foreign countries we realized just getting a quick snapshot of the daily port visits just wasn’t cutting it anymore, we really wanted extended stays where we could visit in the evening and move at our own pace. Having said that, our vacation pace is usually pretty intense, and this trip was no exception.

My wife and I are planners and love to research. This trip was planned about a year in advance which not only includes the basics such as what to see and where to stay but also researching the area history so when we visit a site, we have a working knowledge of its significance. The research can take many forms from guidebooks to historical fiction/movies to something as simple as Google.
Through our research we decided on a week in London then a couple nights in Bath and 3 nights in the Cotswolds.

Choosing a home base in a place as large as London is a challenge but we finally settled on Covent Garden for our first week as we liked the location and the wide selection of restaurants within walking distance after an intense day of exploring. Typical for us is to be up at 7, out the door and 8 and not back until evening. Thanks to this Forum we found a place via London Connection https://londonconnection.com/.

Travel tip #1. London and the Cotswolds apparently fill up fast in September, we had tentatively decided where to stay about 10 months in advance but didn’t book as we hadn’t found a flight price to our liking and by the time we did book our flight; about 8 months in advance, some of our first choice accommodations were no longer available.

Choosing the flight was simple as WestJet flies direct from Calgary to Gatwick, it was just the price I was waiting for before booking.

To save time, and personalize this report, my wife’s name is Carla and my Mother-in-Law’s name is Gladys. Glady’s maiden name is Addison and so the family we meet will all be Addisons.

Continued below in the comments section

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Day 1

Landed at Gatwick at about 10:30am and sailed through the airport. We’d booked a private driver through London Connections for 75 Pounds. We’d seriously thought of taking the train but as we’d flown all night and had never been to London before we decided a driver made more sense. I suspect the train would have been faster and now that we’re familiar with London we’ll probably do that for a return trip. By the way, loved Gatwick as it was easy to find my way around and everything was quick. My only experience with Heathrow was on a connection to and from Rome and even though we had 2-3 hours between flights, we barely made them. Heathrow is an airport I’d prefer to avoid.

We made it to our apartment about and hour and half after landing and were met by a rep from London Connection who went through the apartment with us and made sure we were comfortable. I can’t recommend them enough for the service we received from start to finish. The apartment was as advertised; however, I wouldn’t stay at that particular location again as it was too noisy. It was on the corner of Shaftsbury and Charing Cross and the street noise overnight was too much, even with the windows closed. The location was excellent, and I still love Covent Garden but will look to be off a major intersection next time. Our apartment is a block away from the theatre that is showing Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, which has been running in London for 66 years and I’ve always wanted to go see it. I don’t know why, but we never made it, but it’s a good reason for a return trip to London.

We were too pumped to bother with a nap and so we made a plan to grab something to eat, visit the London Film Museum and then get some groceries, all were within a 20-minute walk of our apartment. I don’t recall how I heard about the London Film Museum, but they have a permanent James Bond exhibition featuring cars from the movies http://londonfilmmuseum.com/. It’s a fun couple of hours if you’re a Bond Fan. Coincidentally, across the street a restaurant that was recommended by a friend; San Carlo Cicchetti http://www.sancarlocicchetti.co.uk/ , which was probably our favourite restaurant on the trip. After eating, we found a grocery store about halfway between the restaurant and our apartment and stocked up on breakfast food.

Day 2

Out the door at 8:00 and walked to Buckingham Palace. Carla and I are in our mid-50’s and Gladys is 75-going on 55 and all of us are in good shape so walking is not an issue. This was just a morning of exploring, Carla and Gladys are only 5’ tall so waiting crowds for things like the Changing of the Guards isn’t something that we bother with. At the time of this trip, I wasn’t that interested in a tour of Buckingham Palace but now I regret it because I’ve been watching The Crown and love the show. A palace tour is now a bucket list item.

We met our first family member today. Pat Addison came into town to meet with us. She’s the only England Addison that Carla and Gladys have ever met but they haven’t seen each other since the early 1970’s. I didn’t stick around but went exploring on my own. I was the only one that wanted to see the Churchill War Rooms but had no ticket so I thought I’d just take a chance and see if I could get in. In a word….no. There were two lines, a long line for people with tickets and a longer line for people lining up to buy tickets, 2 days in and I already have 3 reasons to return to London.

Travel Tip #2. Buy your tickets for the War Room in advance. I would have, but because of the planning to meet family and not nailing days and times until the last minute, we didn’t book much ahead of time.

One amusing story from today while I was out on my own, I was talking with someone at the Churchill line and he said he was having trouble understanding me because of my accent, which I thought was weird because I didn’t think I was the one with the accent…

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Day 3

Thanks to this Forum I learned about London Walks https://www.walks.com/ which offers daily guided tours of various parts of the city. I can’t recommend them enough. Today was a tour of Westminster Abbey https://www.westminster-abbey.org/. This was an exciting day for me because I’ve become very interested in Elizabeth the 1st over the years thanks to reading historical fiction and then researching her life, in order to separate fact from fiction. I was blown away when I saw her tomb, by the looks of other people on the tour, it was just another dead person’s tomb, but for me….wow.

Travel Tip #3. One of my favourite travel advice phrases is “research is your friend” and I think my research added to the significance of seeing her tomb thanks to understanding her significance in history.

When people on this forum ask for opinions on guided tours vs. doing it yourself, I’ll always sing the praises of a tour, and the guide we had for Westminster didn’t disappoint. He brought the Abbey to life with stories of Royal Coronations, the Coronation Chair and why the Coronations are done the way they are. I could have spent the entire day in there exploring after some of the stories he told.

Day 4

Lots of walking today and a museum that in my opinion doesn’t get the love it deserves. The RS Guide doesn’t give it much love, but we loved the Museum of London https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london. It exhibits a chronological history of London from the time of primordial ooze to modern times. It’s free and well worth the time. We had made our way to the museum because we wanted to see the last remaining Roman Wall in London and the museum was an afterthought, but honestly, seeing the wall turned out to be a non-event, but I highly recommend the museum. *We also visited the British Museum on this trip and while enjoyable; the Museum of London is more to my interest.

We walked from our apartment to the Parliament buildings, across river and then along the south side of the Thames to Millennium Bridge up to St Paul’s and then to the Museum-about 4km (2.5 miles). From there we had our first experience with the Tube to get back to our apartment. This is the first time we discovered the consistent friendliness of Londoners that we still talk about with friends and family. It was afternoon rush hour by the time we were heading home, and the train was crowded but men were jumping out of their seats to offer them to Carla and Gladys. This happened almost every day and it’s something Londoners should be proud of. We’ve never experienced anything like it anywhere else-offered seats, yes, but not consistently like in London.

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Day 5

Most guidebooks I read ranked the Tower of London https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/#gs.p8fh6r as the #1 must-see of London and I agree. This was my favourite site on the trip. I’m not really into cultural experiences and hobnobbing with the locals, I like history, and the Tower packs a solid historical punch. Guidebooks suggest buying tickets in advance to avoid the lines, however since we were trying to time our trip with visits with relatives, we couldn’t nail down a specific day. The suggested Plan B was to get there early before the ticket office opened and be at the front of the line. The gates opened at 9 and so we got there at 8:30 and were the first people in line-this was the 3rd Friday of September on a sunny day and even at 9:00 there was maybe 10 people behind us in line so much fuss about nothing for us.

As suggested by the guidebook, we headed straight for the Crown Jewels. You get on a moving sidewalk and slowly slide by the jewels. The place was still empty and so I was able to view them several times.

Travel Tip #4: When we walked by at about 11:00, the line to view the jewels was out the door, go early, see early.

Travel Tip #5: If you’re looking for a photo with the furry-hatted red-coated guards, take it early as you are entering or leaving the jewels as one is guarding a wall nearby. Again, by 11:00 the guards are swamped with those pesky tourists wanting selfies.

We spent up 6 hours at the tower but this was just the start of a long day. We were meeting with another of Gladys’s cousins later in the day. It’s interesting when you start following a bloodline. All of her brothers and sisters are short; the women are all in the 5’ range with the men topping out at about 5’6”, and all extremely outgoing and friendly. Here we are crossing the Atlantic to meet cousins we’ve never met before and the English side of the family are spitting images of the Canadian side. 5’6” Tony Addison came to our apartment and as we introduced ourselves he asked if we were really related, I find it typical of my wife’s family that a stranger could write to say who they were and would like to meet and the that person would willingly show up and suddenly we’d all be best of friends; the resemblances and personality traits were uncanny.

In any event he took us for dinner at La Tasca https://www.latasca.com/venue/london-leadenhall-market/ which is a Spanish tapas restaurant in Leadenhall Market https://www.leadenhallmarket.co.uk/which has had a market on its site since the 14th century; it’s kind of an indoor Mall now and well worth visiting. If I read straight from the sign that I took a photo of, the existing buildings within the market were built in 1881. Loved the food at La Tasca. If I’m being honest, I have to say I found a pattern on this trip that I don’t really care for traditional English food, but London’s take on ethnic food is outstanding.

After we ate, we walked across London Bridge (not to be mistaken with the Tower Bridge) where we got some spectacular evening views and photos of the Tower Bridge. We then stopped for drinks at The George Inn which dates back to 1542 and the current building to 1676. This is the place that I refer to on this forum if people ask about an old Pub to go to. The sign on the building says that Shakespeare and Dickens have both frequented the place in their days. Dickens referred to it in his story Little Dorrit.

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Day 6

Our first rainy day and can it ever rain here. I’m used to evening thunderstorms in June and July that last for about an hour, but here…heavy rain and drizzle all day. My best purchase for this trip was an Eddie Bauer Uplift Rain Jacket which was worth every penny when you experience a London downpour. The rain coincided with our plan for it to be a rest and laundry day, however I’m not one to sit still so with rain jacket on I went on two tours via London Walks. The first was a tour of the City of London which is known to the locals as ‘The City’. The tour was pretty much an architectural walk and included places like the Bank of England and modern buildings with its distinct architecture. What amused me though is how much of London is on a Monopoly game board. I didn’t know that until it was pointed out to us as we walked by the Fenchurch Train Station.

2nd tour of the day was of Old Camden town. It’s not really a touristy area but it was interesting and the highlights for me was seeing one of the buildings that Charles Dickens grew up in as a boy in 1823. I can’t find it in my notes, but I believe our guide said Dickens used this home as a setting for Tiny Tim’s home in A Christmas Carol. The other moment that was noteworthy to me is when the guide showed us a block with buildings from the 1800’s at each end and the middle of the block was post WW2. Just one of many London neighbourhoods that shows pre and post war architecture because bombing turned the original buildings to rubble.

Day 7

Rain again, and I was so glad it did. Until this point we had been on the fence on whether to go to Windsor Castle or Hampton Court Palace https://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace/#gs.pxnw92. We were leaning toward Windsor because it looked prettier, but because of the rain we made a last-minute decision for Hampton Court as we figured there was more to do indoors. Great decision. If the Tower of London was my favourite site on this trip, then Hampton Court Palace is a close second. In hindsight and because of my fascination with Elizabeth I, I’m surprised I was torn between the two. Hampton was Henry VIII’s house and later Elizabeth’s. We followed the audio tour and visited for about 7 hours. Small highlights that amused me was a painting that Henry had commissioned after the Pope rejected his request for a divorce. The painting shows the Pope being stoned to death. I try to imagine how bad his temper must have been that he would go to the trouble to have a painting done, but then I remembered what he did to his wives…

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Day 8

Today is the day that was the primary reason for this trip. London and England have always been on the radar, but we brought Gladys because she had always wanted to go to the town where her Father grew up before he immigrated to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada by himself as an 18-year-old. So, a plan was made to visit the town, her Grandparent’s gravesite and another cousin we’ve never met.

Travel Tip #6. I downloaded the Trainline App to my phone and used it for all train travel this trip. Very handy.

So, it’s off to Brightlingsea, about an hour east of London by train via Colchester. Gladys’s cousin Brian met us at the train station in Colchester and just like the past two cousins, there was an immediate connection like they’d known each other for years as he toured us around for the day. First stop was the church where their grandparents are buried. It was a quiet moment and it’s one of those times when you realize that the trip was worth every penny when we saw the emotion it brought out in Gladys.

Brightlingsea is a sleepy town of less than 10,000 and likely not on any tourist must-see lists. Parts of the church date back to the 13th century, but when I looked into the area history it’s quite interesting. There was a pot discovered in a field dating back to 4000 BC and also remains found from the Bronze, Roman and Saxon ages. It was also a naval base for the war against France from 1798-1810, WW1 and WW2. Our cousin told a story of how when he was a boy, the corrugated metal fence in their backyard backed up against the naval base. One night he heard an air battle going on overhead (back then he and the other young boys would watch many air battles) and had the crap scared out of him when bullets started hitting the backyard fence.

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Day 9

Off to Bath for two nights. Carla has never been one to “economize” when packing; she was even mad at Rick Steves one time after watching a ‘tips’ episode that included packing tips. Her only comment was that clearly Rick doesn’t pack for a woman. However, since we were staying in an apartment in London for a week that had a washer/dryer she did agree this trip that we would all take a carry-on size suitcase plus a small backpack each. *Before I forget, the washer/dryer was a miniature all-in-one apartment sized unit beside the dishwasher in the kitchen. It allowed very small loads, but the dryer was useless, and we hung most of our clothes. But the packing-light commitment came in handy for our train ride today. There was a problem with another train and so the people on that train were transferred to ours for most of the trip to Bath. As a result, space was at a premium, I never got to sit for the entire ride, luckily, our luggage fit under our seats as overhead bins were too small for carry-on and the luggage racks were full.

We arrived in Bath at about 11:00-walked 20 minutes to our B and B-Pulteney House and then walked back into the town centre. I would recommend the B and B but when I try to bring up a link, there is no longer a website and so I have no idea if the place is out of business or not. I had read about a free city tour that runs twice a day http://www.bathguides.org.uk/. There were about 80 people that had read the same thing and we all gathered in front of the Roman Baths. They divided us into three groups and off we went in different directions. For a free tour it’s really good and highlights the main sites as well as a history of Bath. My most memorable moment of the tour was seeing the building where Mary Shelley lived when she wrote Frankenstein-apparently it was memorable only to me as the rest of the group moved on without comment and only got excited when they saw Jane Austen’s house. I’m also a sucker for a good tax-dodge story; look for the homes with windows that have been covered up. In the 18th century many parts of England had a ‘window tax’ where, if you had more than 7 windows in the front of your home it was decided you could afford to pay more taxes, the tax dodge solution was to fill in those windows. To this day, those windows have never been replaced.

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Day 10

Visited the Roman Baths https://www.romanbaths.co.uk/ first thing in the morning before it got too crowded; and it did get crowded, we were glad we got ahead of the crowds.

Travel Tip #7. you can buy a combo ticket that includes the Fashion Museum-which I enjoyed, and Carla and Gladys loved.

The Baths come with an audio guide which enhances the experience and we spent about 3 hours wandering from start to finish. I love museums, especially one like this where the entire building and not just the artifacts is part of the experience. I feel like I was in the minority though as I’d say more than half the people rushed through at a pace that would have had them through the building in less than an hour-clearly only interested in seeing the actual pool deck. But we all have our priorities and our interests.

I’m a guy, and fashion isn’t my thing, but the Fashion Museum https://www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/ is worth a couple of hours. It’s a chronological history of English Fashion from way-back-when to modern times. While Carla and Gladys were studying the clothing in intricate detail I was left to my own pace and I stopped even more times than I thought I would. One exhibit in particular that caught my attention was a beaver pelt top hat. As a Canadian, it occurred to me just how much Canadian history is in that hat. Canada was founded by the explorers and fur traders that trapped the beavers and sent the pelts back to Europe because they were the ‘hot’ item in the fashion industry at the time. You could say Canada was founded by the fashion industry.

One more cousin to meet on this trip, Matt Addison is Tony’s son and lives in Bath. Another stranger who was willing to meet with the Canadian arm of the family. He suggested a local pub which I can’t recall the name of, but we talked like old friends. Turns out he’s a huge sports fan and so we hit it off immediately. Even though he’s never seen a live hockey game he was so excited to find out he’s got a cousin that is a draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bragging for a moment, Calen Addison is currently playing for Canada in the Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

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Day 11

Oh my, the day I’ve been excited about/dreading/planning for. Renting a car to tour the Costwolds for the next few days. I’ve driven in the chaos that can be Mexico so how hard could England be? My default car rental place is Enterprise, but I’m not so loyal that if the price isn’t right that I don’t shop around. But Enterprise had a good price and picked us up at our hotel. We had a Nissan Qashqui which is called the Nissan Rogue Sport in the US, I believe it’s considered a compact SUV and it fits that happy medium of wanting a small vehicle for the narrow Cotswolds roads while being roomy enough for 3 adults with luggage. Best piece of advice I got was from the guy at Enterprise when I mentioned that I was a bit nervous about driving on the other side of the road; he said that if you’re a good driver at home, you’ll be a good driver here. Good piece of advice and he was right, while I did have to concentrate more than I usually would, driving on the left was fine, my biggest challenge was the narrow roads and tight parking which as the days went by, also got easier and easier.

Travel Tip #8. I’d never heard of it before, but our car had an emissions control that shut off the motor when the vehicle wasn’t moving. The guy at Enterprise didn’t mention this and when the vehicle kept shutting off at traffic lights, I had no idea why and thought I was going to have to take the vehicle back. Something I saw on the dash triggered something in my mind and I realized what must be happening and so we did some googling and realized what it was.

The Driving Gods weren’t through messing with me yet though, our first major intersection; about a kilometre from the rental place was a 6-point roundabout. I managed to get through to the proper exit on my third trip around…

Travel Tip #9. I have a TomTom GPS that I brought along, but it was suggested by Enterprise to use the vehicle’s GPS instead (no charge). He said we’d have more success searching for a location by Postal Code than by address. My TomTom will only search by address and since we were more familiar with it, we decided to give it a try first. The guy was right though, postal code is the way to go in England and we quickly switched to the vehicle GPS.

First stop was Bibury https://www.bibury.co for the obligatory photo of the famous row houses. I believe I read somewhere that this was the most photographed site in England and it is also a photo in the British Passport. It’s a very pretty town, but parking was hard to find, we stayed for about an hour and then were off.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy the Cotswolds as much as I’d hoped. I’m more into history than scenery and I didn’t really prepare myself for this portion of the trip. In hindsight, I should have looked into some tours that could have brought the areas to life for me. It’s very pretty and we stopped at Bourton-on-the-Water and Moreton-in-Marsh on our way to our hotel in Chipping Norton, but I should have done a better job at planning this portion of the trip.
I waited too long to book at hotel in the Cotswolds and I ended up with the sloppy seconds in a town that isn’t that exciting. It was fine, but not up to Carla’s standards as it was old and dusty but had incredibly friendly staff. We stayed at The King’s Arms in Chipping Norton in a room above the pub.

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Day 12

Today, the 8 year old boy in me came roaring out. I loved castles as a young boy and today we headed to Warwick. We weren’t sure what to expect; the photos we’d seen were fantastic and exactly the kind of castle I’ve always dreamed of visiting, but quite a few reviews we’d read and some comments on this forum painted Warwick Castle https://www.warwick-castle.com/ as almost amusement park-like. I couldn’t disagree more; I was running up the turrets and along the ramparts like an 8 year old boy, but the adult in me was also impressed with the historic parts of the castle and the display and history described, such as a basement display describing the day-in-the-life as soldiers prepare to go to war. Some of the best photos I took of on this trip are from Warwick.

We spent about 4 hours at the castle and then another couple of hours exploring the town. There is one section of the city centre that still has the original Tudor style homes that were fun to look at. Another fascination for me but probably to nobody else was a plaque I found on a wall of Lady Aetheflaed who was daughter of King Alfred. Warwick was founded as a town in 914 and she is credited with helping lead the conquest of the Danes and ‘Dane Law’ to help create the Kingdom of England. I was familiar with her thanks to Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series where Aethelflaed plays a major role in some of the books.

Travel Tip #10. in our usual fashion we got to the castle about half an hour before opening but parking was already hard to come by. The castle itself doesn’t have a large parking lot and we ended up finding a local TI office to ask for advice and we were directed to St Nicholas Car Park which is about a 10-minute walk to the castle.

The drive from Chipping Norton to Warwick-and back is a combination of country roads, towns and freeway. I was a bit nervous of driving on the left-hand side on a freeway, but as it turns out, once I was on, I was just following cars like any freeway. Just remember to exit on the left and not the right. Also, by this time my wife and I had become a pretty good driving team, she would navigate and use reminders when I got to an intersection that a left/right hand turn in England is like a right/left hand turn at home. Back seat drivers turn out to be useful when driving in a foreign country.

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Day 13

Last full day in England. We left Chipping Norton and took the entire day to meander back to Gatwick and drop off our car. First stop was Stow-on-the-Wold which may be the prettiest town we visited in the region. I think I remember reading in this forum that RS tours stay at a hotel here. Next stop was Upper and Lower Slaughter, we drove between the two and wish now we had hiked between them. It is very peaceful and pretty. The road between the two takes the one-lane-road definition literally; in parts there was a stone fence on both sides and I have no idea what I would have done if a car had come the other way. However, this was early on a Saturday morning and all was quiet. I wish I could post photos because we drove through a few tree canopies on this route that are indescribable. The last town we hit was Burford which was incredibly busy by the time we got there at lunch time. We found some parking about 10 minutes away and just window shopped until bored then headed toward Gatwick.

Most of this driving to Gatwick was on the M40 and M25 which takes us past London. This was a Saturday afternoon and as we got closer to London the traffic was ridiculous. The drive was about 2.5 hours and I’d say about an hour of that was getting past the outskirts of London. In any event, it was easy to find the rental car drop-off at the airport and we stayed overnight at the Hampton by Hilton which is connected to the terminal for our flight home the next morning.

I get asked a lot by friends and family which vacation is my favourite, and I can’t give an answer because I’ve found a lot to enjoy wherever I’ve been and there is nowhere that I can’t wait to go back to. However, this trip is particularly special because of the family element and how much it mattered to my Mother-in-Law. We will be back to England, but because there is so much to explore that we haven’t touched on yet, I’m pretty sure it will be some time before I can retrace my steps.

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1782 posts

Allan, thank you for this well written and interesting report on one of my favorite cities! Been twice, but still so much more to see and do. We love the Crown too!

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8244 posts

Allan, thanks for the Trip Report. I love your level of detail but it's probably because like you, I am a planner, lol!

So very happy Gladys (and you and Carla) had a good trip and that you met cousins.

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519 posts

What a wonderful trip report! England is one of my favorite countries and I haven’t been since August. Reading your report makes me want to book a trip now! 😊

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Allan, it sounds like the three of you had a marvelous trip — and how wonderful that you made this happen for your mother-in-law. I love the stories of meeting up with various cousins and seeing the ties right away.

It certainly seems to that you did a lot of serious planning, which bore fruit for you on your trip.

Thank you for taking the time to write up your trip. I see a return to London is in your future! Glad you enjoyed several London Walks.

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234 posts

Really enjoyed your detailed report, Allan. Now that you have a "land" trip under your belt, will you try another one for your next trip?

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Now that you have a "land" trip under your belt, will you try another
one for your next trip?

Since that trip we also did a 'land' trip via the RS tour Loire Valley to the South of France; which I've also done a trip report for https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/rs-loire-valley-to-the-south-of-france-part-1, this is part 1 of 5. In hindsight I should have put it all into one report like this one.

In June we're heading to Scotland on our own; a couple of bucket list items on that one. I've always wanted to visit Calgary on the Isle of Mull which my home town is named after, and also staying at a haunted castle (let's hope the ghosts aren't just someone's marketing idea).

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Also enjoyed your trip report, particularly because we were in England ourselves last summer.

We also went to the Museum of London and enjoyed it very much. It is not crowded and really it is the history of England through the eyes of London.

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Thanks for this, Allan, it was clearly a lot of work (the report, not to mention the trip). But I'm sure it was fun to relive your journey. I love history too, and I try to read as much as I can about places I'm going to visit. And I agree with you about the Museum of London, it's a real gem. Don't tell anyone! ;-)

It must have been fun to meet all those cousins, and I'm sure they enjoyed you too. I've enjoyed almost all my interactions with British folks (and Canadians too). I hope you and your family have many more happy trips in the future. BTW, I'm Gladys' age and her energy awes me!

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1173 posts

I very much enjoyed your trip report, well written, entertaining, filled with great insite and information and concise. Looks like you had a wonderful vacation and learned all new things as it should be. I learned some new things too by reading your report. As I am going back to London for two weeks in May, to do all the things I have not done even though I have been there several times now. I can't wait to go back and have been planning to go to the Museum of London as I have not hit that museum yet. I love museums so this was nice to hear you enjoyed it. I will also check out some of the resturants you went to as I am always on the lookout to find good places to eat.

I loved the Churchill War rooms and spent a day inside Buckingham Palace. Being a fan of The Crown I think you will find both interesting. London walks is the best way to get to see London and I have taken the daytime walks along with the pub walks and both are excellent. Can't wait to take more walks in May.

The next time you go to London go on the Little Venice London walks and see the Sir John Sloanes house museum. This year I am going to the Museum of National History and back to the British Museum.

You may also enjoy the National Portrait Gallery as it houses some wonderful paintings of Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry. I loved my day trip to Hampton Court and this year I am going to Kew Gardens and to see Highclere ( Downton Abbey).

Thanks for sharing your trip report.

Posted by
679 posts

Thank you for the report. I have been to most of the places you discussed and loved reliving it. I am glad your Mother in Law visited relatives. When we were in Scotland last May, we visited an old friend of mine. I was so glad we did as she was jolly as ever. She passed away two weeks later and her daughter said that our visit really brightened her day. It brightened ours also. Happy travels in 2020.

Posted by
1862 posts

You may also enjoy the National Portrait Gallery as it houses some
wonderful paintings of Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry.

That's another thing we ran out of time to see. It was on the list if we would have had another rainy day. Since we're relative newbies to Europe-4 trips in the past 5 years with a 5th trip coming in June my wife doesn't want to go back to places we've already been, but I can't wait to go back to everywhere we've been. London, however is one place I'm pretty sure I'll win out, I can see a 30 day stay in the future once we're retired.

Posted by
2627 posts

Excellent trip report! Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us. Enjoyed it very much!
For a future trip, I recommend Rick Steves tour Best of England in 14 Days.
https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/england-scotland/england
We have taken this tour, and it was great. You visit two castles in Wales, stay in the Lake District, quick stay in Stow-on-the-Wold, among many other things. You see Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born.
Toward the end of the tour you're in York, which you really must see some day; great medieval buildings and York Minster. Then the group boards a fast train to London.
You may want to see Hatfield House on a future trip. Childhood home of Elizabeth I. It is a short train ride out of London.

Posted by
1862 posts

You may want to see Hatfield House on a future trip. Childhood home of
Elizabeth I. It is a train ride out of London.

You people need to stop. Now 5 reasons to go back to London....

Posted by
938 posts

Allan - loved the trip report and how exciting for your mil that she got to meet several cousins and that nice hospitality was shown to your family by them. I became interested in Elizabeth I as a child as she was featured in one of the Time Life books. I remember being amazed at her dress and that she seemed to hardly have any eyebrows, so light were they in pictures. Hatfield House is on my radar for next trip but I'm also interested in Kenilworth Castle ruins - owned by Robert Dudley during Elizabeth's reign. He really ramped the place up to make it fit for her but then it was allowed to fall to ruin. Tourable with gardens, this is my cup of tea. It's located up near Coventry, about a two hour trip from London by train and bus. Kenilworth Castle

Thanks again for an interesting trip report.

Posted by
1862 posts

For a future trip, I recommend Rick Steves tour Best of England in 14
Days.

Thanks for the recommendation. We did our first RS tour last May-Loire Valley to the South of France. It was outstanding and further RS tours are on the radar. We're going to Scotland in June and we did look at that RS tour but it didn't meet enough of our must-see sites to make it worthwhile. The Best of England tour seems to hit on a couple of places we want to visit and some that I had not considered but look interesting. All I can say is that based on my one RS tour, I'm sure I'll love it.

Posted by
980 posts

I’m so glad you were bored and decided to write your trip report which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I’m going back to England and France this April, planning on staying in Bath for a few nights and renting a car. Thanks for the tip about Enterprise. Will they really deliver the car to you? I will read your other trip report as we’re planning to head to Paris and the Loire Valley. We’re renting a car to drive to the Loire and will be staying in Ambois.

Posted by
1862 posts

Claudette, I'm happy that you see value in my Trip Reports. If you call the day before and give about 24 hours notice they will pick you up and take you to Enterprise.

Our RS tour in France was outstanding. I can't recall what I said but the Dordogne to Carcassonne portions of the trip were my favourites. Hopefully you can make it that far.