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Trip Report---Rick Steves Best of England in 14 Days

The excitement had been building for several months around our household, ever since we had pushed the "Book It" button on the Rick Steves website to book two spaces on the Best of England In 14 Days Tour. As soon as we received confirmation of our booking by email, my husband said "Come in here. There's something on the computer screen you'll want to see!" When I saw the confirmation, I yelled, "We're going on a Rick Steves tour! We're going! We're actually going!" We jumped up and down and danced around the living room. Husband yelled, "We're going to Wales, baby!" Then we went to the kitchen and opened a bottle of wine.

A toast was made to Rick Steves. "Here's to Rick and to all of his books and videos that got us to this point." A second toast was made, "To all of our tour mates and future friends."

I sent an email to a friend from the forum who has taken many RS tours telling her we had signed up and received confirmation, and she wrote back "OMG! OMG!"

Then, of course, the bags were dragged out of the closet and packing began. Over the next several days, many outfits, sweaters were laid out on the bed in the spare bedroom, eyed with suspicion, some made the grade and were put in the carry-on bag.

The day arrived that we packed the car and drove to our hotel near Dulles airport. We like to drive up a couple of days early and stay near Dulles, visiting favorite restaurants and historic sights in the area. Husband had been wanting to see the Udvar-Hazy museum, so we stayed the first night at the hotel, got up the next morning and visited the museum all day, stayed a second night. Then it was time to catch our flight.

Virgin Atlantic direct to Heathrow. Great flight. Arrived at Heathrow, went through the usual entry process. Walked to the Heathrow bus station. Bought tickets to Bath. Walked out to the bus shed, bus was already there. A friendly Indian man wearing a turban greeted us. He ended up being the most skillful bus driver and a great source of information about the towns and villages we would go through.

We zoomed along country roads and through little villages. Soon we were in Bath. The entry to the city of Bath took my breath away. Huge elegant buildings built of beautiful cream colored
stone appeared on both sides of the street. Some had balconies on the second story with black wrought iron detailed railings. Slate roofs. Wide sidewalks and clean streets. Green leafy trees along the streets. Picture-perfect. I was impressed. Bath knocked my socks off. And we had not even arrived at the bus station yet.

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2989 posts

We're in Bath, baby!!
We arrived at the bus station, which is right beside the train station. From my research I knew we wanted the number 4 city bus to get to our hotel. The number 4 was sitting right beside us. So we thanked the nice bus driver and told him we had enjoyed talking with him and thanks for getting us here safely. Hopped onto the number 4, and soon we were arriving at Brooks Guesthouse.

The nice young lady who greeted us as we entered the door smiled and we introduced ourselves and told her we were with the Rick Steves tour group but had reservations for two nights before the tour would start. She said they would have a room ready shortly, and invited us to sit in the living room. The living room was lovely. It had a fireplace and soft overstuffed couch and chairs. We settled in on the couch and were talking about how wonderful it would be to come back in the wintertime and sit by the roaring fireplace at the end of the day. About that time, the nice young lady entered and asked us if we would like some tea and biscuits. We replied that yes, thank you, that would be terrific. She returned shortly with a large silver tray with teapot, cups and Walker's Shortbread cookies. We thanked her profusely and said how very nice she was to do this, as we were very tired after our journey.

The tea and cookies (excuse me...biscuits) were delicious and revived us. There were newspapers laid out on the coffee table, so after we finished our tea, we read for awhile. I browsed the display of brochures nearby of things to do and picked up a map of Bath. Our room was ready, so the nice young lady showed us to it. We dropped our bags in the room, washed our hands, splashed water in our faces, and headed out to see a little of Bath. The hostess told us about some great places to have lunch and marked some locations on the map.

We joyfully and excitedly headed out for the downtown area. An interesting walk, interesting buildings. We soon passed a seafood restaurant, The Scallop Shell, which was not open at this time. We continued on to the Abbey, walking to the south of it to an Italian restaurant where husband got a small pizza and I got lasagna.

Then we walked back to the Abbey and admired the exterior and took photos of the angels going up and falling down the ladders. Walked to Pultney Bridge and admired the river below, that famous view of the weir. Walked past the Roman Baths and around town to browse some shops, then headed back to the hotel. We were off schedule with meals, so we did not have dinner but went to bed early.

The next morning we went down to breakfast early. The breakfast at Brooks was top-notch. Everything from full English to a bagel available and vegetarian and vegan options. All breakfast dishes were perfectly prepared. Not an easy task for a chef when you have 12 to 30 people in the dining room all ordering eggs fixed in different ways. Wonderful coffee and tea served. A buffet table offered croissants, cereals, yogurt, fruit and several types of juices.

We noticed two other guests in the breakfast room and asked them if they were here for the Rick Steves tour. They were, so we introduced ourselves and began chatting about Bath. They were a mother and daughter on tour together and they were looking for something to do that day. They said they were considering the open-top bus tour, and we asked if they would mind some company because that sounded great to us. So we all walked together downtown and hopped on the bus. We had great fun! There were two routes; the city center tour which we did first, and the outer city tour which we did next.

City center tour went by the Royal Crescent and through interesting streets, ending behind the Abbey and Visitors Center. We then got on the outer city bus tour, which went past the train station, the Holburn Museum, then up a very steep hill and past the American Museum.

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When we finished the bus tours, we were again behind the abbey and right in front of The Abbey Hotel. The mother discovered she had lost her very expensive hearing aid when we changed bus tours. So we walked across the street to where she had boarded bus #2, and searched the ground. We were afraid it was lost forever. Then a policeman walked up and said "Are you looking for this?" and he had it. The mother and daughter thanked him, hugging him, then I hugged him. Then the daughter hugged him again. By this time, there were older, proper-looking English people driving by in cars, with looks of astonishment on their faces and mouths wide open. We all laughed at what a spectacle we made of ourselves, and went to Starbucks for coffee, as it had begun to rain.

The ladies all wanted to shop for scarves. Then we parted company, the ladies walked back to the hotel. Husband and I decided to go to the Museum of Bath Architecture, which was very good. Then we walked back to the hotel, using a more northerly route.

The next morning, we were later to breakfast and met two new people who were on our RS tour. We all hit it off right away, talking travel. They entertained us with a trip report on their Rick Steves Ireland tour. We all finished breakfast and went to the living room to talk. We ended up all going to the Abbey that day.

Bath Abbey was amazing. We admired the fan vaulting and stained glass windows. On the exterior of the building, we had seen a plaque that read, "Edgar King of all England crowned here in 973". Inside, we found a window depicting the scene of his coronation. It was in the Chapel of Saint Alphege. There was a stand there where you could light a candle and say a prayer for St Alphege.

I did not know the story of Saint Alphege, so I was standing there reading a plaque. A docent in a robe came up and proceeded to tell me the story. St Alphege had been a monk at the monastery that stood here before Bath Abbey. He had been made Abbot of Bath Abbey, then Bishop of Winchester in 984, then Archbishop of Canterbury in 1006. Before this, he had been a monk and prior at Glastonbury Abbey. In 1011, Canterbury was raided and Canterbury Cathedral burned by Vikings. They took St Alphege prisoner and held him at Greenwich, where they executed him the following year. The docent urged me to go see St Alphege Church, Greenwich, when in London, as that was built on the spot where he was executed.

St Alphege was buried in old St. Paul's Cathedral, London, then moved to Canterbury by Canute in 1023.
Yes, I was taking notes while the man was talking.

He said "We have an American buried in here. Are you American or Canadian?" He was wearing a robe, so I figured I better not lie to him. He showed me the grave of William Bingham, U.S. senator from 1795 to 1801, told me the story of how he happened to be buried there. By now, a concert was starting. I thanked the docent and returned to be seated with my friends. Concert was a men's voice choir from a neighboring village church, and they were great. Then it was time for all of us to get back to our hotel, as tonight was the first meeting of our group.

Posted by
2057 posts

Oh, Rebecca! You are a terrific story-teller and adept at painting a lovely picture of Bath and your pre tour adventures. I have stayed in that particular hotel and enjoyed it very much. You are absolutely correct about the breakfast. :) Can't wait to read more!

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2989 posts

Thank you, Andi. You are too kind.

Day 1 of the tour--The evening meet-up.

So...we were all very excited. We gathered in the dining room downstairs, where the chairs had been lined up in rows. The room was filling up with smiling, happy, friendly people. Some clutched the famous blue book. A distinguished-looking gentleman extended his hand to us. "Hello, I'm Roy Nichols. I'm your guide for this tour." We smiled and husband shook his hand. "Hello, we're G. and Rebecca, and we're very glad to meet you. We've heard great things about you." We took our seats and met two new people with whom we chatted for awhile. He was a retired computer specialist and she was a nurse. Then the meeting was called to order. Roy was telling us a little about himself and what to expect in the next several days on the tour. We were asked to each stand up and tell one or two sentences about ourselves. This was very interesting. Some people told what other RS tours they had been on, and which was their favorite. Many said this was their first trip to England. Which was perfect, because this tour was to be an excellent sampler of all of England with a little bit of Wales thrown in as a bonus.

Roy then asked if everyone was ready for a pub meal, and we followed him out the door and down the street to the Hop Pole. Once inside, he said that "Uncle Rick" was treating everyone to a free drink, so we all crowded to the bar to place our orders. We ordered two Cornwall Lagers and liked them very much. Everyone went downstairs to the dining room where we were seated and some ordered a second drink. We were getting to know each other and talking about travel and Rick Steves tours when our meal was served. We had a choice of roasted chicken breast, roast beef, or a vegan option. We then went to a buffet of steamed vegetables to add whatever we wanted to our plate. Excellent meal; chicken was tender and juicy. We then walked back to the hotel and Roy had posted our schedule for the following day in the entry hall. An early bedtime was a good idea.

Day 2 of the tour.

The next morning, everyone was at breakfast at the same time, very early, then we met in the living room. Roy led us out the door and up the hill to the Royal Crescent. Stunning. He explained about Bath's high society and architecture. Roy's Bath Walk continued as we walked toward the city center. He talked about Roman Bath and Roman Britain. We were by now at the entrance to the Roman Baths, so Roy ran in and bought our tickets, and we bypassed the long line to get in. We were given audio guides by the Museum of Roman Bath. Roy told us he was not allowed to guide in there, and that we were free for the rest of the day after the baths, and that he would see us back at the hotel that evening.

The Roman Baths were spectacular. We went first to the pool that everyone sees in all the travel photos, then through some adjacent rooms--lots of them--where they had had cooling pools, a spa with a massage table, and a small waterfall from the warm spring still feeding the pools. Next we went through a museum area which had the bronze Head Of Minerva archeologists had uncovered there plus a collection of Roman coins. Exiting the Roman Baths, we found our group out front. Some were going shopping for scarves, some were going to Bath Abbey. We announced that we were going across the street to the Cornish Pasty Shop for coffee and croissants and would love to have others go too.

M. was on the tour as a single and she went with us.

Posted by
13730 posts

Well done, Rebecca! Your enthusiasm is infectious, and I'm tickled that you're having such a good time!

Looking forward to the next installment. :O)

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920 posts

Info for newbies on RS tours.....FYI From our 5 RS tours. Your RS guide is generally not allowed to be the tour guide in sites, IE : Churches, museums, etc. Generally you have a local city guide or a guide from the site that you are at. For example in Ireland it is OPW (office of Public works). One exception was on our Barcelona/Madrid tour was Federico was our city guide because he is a licensed guide thru Madrid and I am assuming Joe (who is a RS guide too) maybe the same in Dublin. I don't know if that is thru most of Europe or not..... This was just what we were told on all my past tours. So that is why Roy left. I think this was mentioned in a previous thread on the board.

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961 posts

Oh, what fun! I'm loving the trip report and eagerly awaiting more.

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2989 posts

Day 3 of the tour.

The next day, we were all up early and quickly finished breakfast. We were all excited because we knew we were going to Glastonbury and Wells today. We had to be outside for the bus at 8:00 AM and everyone was 10 minutes early. We boarded the bus and headed off into the countryside. As we got closer to Glastonbury, Roy pointed out Glastonbury Tor on a high hill as we passed it on the road. It was a long way away from the road and would have been a long walk just to begin to climb the hill. As our bus pulled into Glastonbury, we began to see some of the shops selling magical trinkets and the seekers who buy them.

Glastonbury Abbey grounds had a very nice visitors center and museum with a scale model of the abbey before it was torn down during Henry VIII's destruction of the abbeys. We walked out into the ruins of the abbey. Roy gave us the history of the abbey and pointed out the supposed grave of King Arthur and Guinevere, explaining that it's still unclear whether they were real or just a legend. He told us to explore as we wanted and then to meet him under the picnic shed for a picnic. The picnic was a selection of local cheeses, cherry tomatoes, apple cider, crackers, small pasties, and chocolates. Delicious! Thanks Roy! We were told to browse around a bit more, and then be back on the bus. So we went to the abbey kitchen, which was the only structure still intact from medieval days. It was cone-shaped, had a huge wooden door, had a cooking area with hanging pots.

We then made the rounds once more of the abbey ruins, taking photos of the beautiful arches where stained glass windows once were. It was bitterly cold. The wind was out of the north, blowing hard. The dark clouds were low and moving quickly over the ruins. Somehow the gloom suited this place. It was one of the most beautiful places I've been and one of the saddest places. This is reflected in the photos we took that day, and in the photos other tour members took. Grandeur and desolation in the same photo.

The bus was warm and cozy. We soon arrived at the town of Wells and were dropped at the front gate leading to Wells Cathedral. It was gorgeous, and more beautiful on the inside than on the outside. Roy had given us the history of it walking to the cathedral and had arranged for a wonderful guide to take over just inside the front door. This guide was great. He gave us all the history and walked us around to see the medieval carvings that topped every column. One carving showed a man hitting a thief over the head with a stick. Another showed a medieval person removing a thorn from his foot. We admired the stained glass windows, vaulting of the ceilings and the "scissors" arches or St Andrew's Cross arches. We went around behind the cathedral to the Vicar's Close (oldest intact residential medieval street in Europe). It was a short street with a chapel at the end of it. Lovely.

Returned to Bath, walked up to the Royal Crescent one more time, and to group dinner at The Woods, my favorite restaurant of the tour. Large bowls of vegetables were passed around the table for us to serve ourselves family style. I had ordered baked chicken which was delicious. We had our choice of several entrees and desserts. We chose Sticky Toffee Pudding with a sauce for dessert and it was fantastic. Husband spent the rest of the trip raving about that dessert.

Posted by
5157 posts

Rebecca, I'm loving your report. You are so open to having a good time!

We had Roy on two different tours, and enjoyed him very much. We got to meet his wife on our Villages of South England tour! I also like that you took the bus from London to Bath, instead of taking a taxi or hiring a private car. When we did the Village tour, which ended in Bath, we took the bus back to London, and loved it. We also enjoyed the Brooks Guesthouse. The stairs were kind of funky, especially the ones down to the breakfast room, but we also loved the living room.

Keep it coming!

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2989 posts

Thank you Susan, Kathy, Kim, Nance and Jane.

Day 4.

The next morning, we all packed up and got on the bus. It was time to leave Bath. Roy had shown me a Bath I had not seen before. He had shown us the beauty of the Royal Crescent and the lovely Georgian architecture. He had made me imagine how the streets must have looked in Jane Austen's time with the high society folks showing off their fine clothing and carriages. He made us feel at home there. I was going to miss Bath with all its loveliness. I was going to miss the good pubs, restaurants and shops. There were museums I had not yet seen. So I will just have to go back.

A critique of our hotel is not included here because it would interrupt the flow of the report. All hotels of the tour will be reviewed completely at the end of the trip report. Names and addresses of good restaurants and pubs will be given also.

The bus traveled to the county of Wiltshire and soon we made a stop in Lacock, a very small village that is frequently a filming location. It was used for the series "Cranford". It is a pristine village with no telephone poles, TV antennae or signs of modern life visible. It is owned almost entirely by the National Trust. We were fortunate to find the 14th-century tithe barn open. Buildings range from the 14th century to the 18th century.

Then onward to Avebury and its stone circle. Some of the stones were smaller than Stonehenge, but the circle was much larger than Stonehenge. We walked the line of the stones. The members of the group gathered to ponder "What went on here? Why was it built?" In the middle of the huge stone circle was the village of Avebury, where we found cafes and shops. M. and I went into a shop to look for scarves. Husband went to the ice cream shop with L. from Florida.

Soon we found ourselves back on the coach traveling toward Oxford. We pulled into the village of Woodstock and through the gates of Blenheim Palace. May I just say oh my gosh, what a place! To say it was gorgeous doesn't do it justice. Roy purchased the tickets and handed them out. We entered the front hallway and began the tour. There was a guide waiting to take us through. We saw opulent rooms, paintings and china collections. We saw the room in which Winston Churchill was born and the two or three rooms that were set up as a Churchill museum. Then we all moved to the lunchroom and had wonderful sandwiches. Went to the gift shop, admired the outside grounds, then back to the bus.

We pulled into Stow-On-The-Wold in the late afternoon and checked into my favorite hotel of the tour, the Sheep Hotel on Sheep street. We stowed our bags in our room and went to the lobby to see who wanted to go to dinner with us. A few of our group were hanging around in the lobby but were not ready to eat yet. We told everyone we would be at the Indian restaurant across the street and anyone was welcome to join us.

The Prince of India was just opening when we appeared in the doorway, said hello to the owner, and asked if we were too early for dinner. He smiled and welcomed us in. We ordered Chicken Tikka Masala, rice, naan, and creamed spinach with cheese (saag paneer). It was all excellent and we told the owner this. We thanked him and went back to the hotel and told others how good it was. We retired to our very cute and comfy room at the back of the hotel and fell asleep when faces hit the pillow.

Posted by
3479 posts

Rebecca, thank you for your excellent description of this special tour. Your enthusiasm is contagious for those of us who have yet to visit this area. So glad it was such a positive experience!

Posted by
1815 posts

I know it takes a lot of work to do a report so thoroughly, so thank you for doing it. I'm looking forward to more!

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2989 posts

Thank you jlschandler and Patty.

Day 5.

Great breakfast next morning. Then everyone was on the bus early. We rode through Cotswold villages and countryside to Stanway House. As we pulled up at the front gate, Roy said there was a guide that would take us through the house. We walked up the driveway to the front door, where the guide greeted us. The house had been built in the 1500's with minor additions later. The guide encouraged us to all sit down in the living room on the well-worn but elegant family furniture. He told the story of the house and how it had been owned for 500 years by the Tracy family and their descendants. He told of the many distinguished guests who had come to visit at the home through the years. He suddenly pointed at me, sitting in a chair by the fireplace. He said, "You're sitting exactly where Thomas Cromwell sat."

This amazed me because Thomas Cromwell is one of the people from English history that I am borderline obsessed with. Huge fan of the TV series Wolf Hall. Have read about 3 biographies of him by different authors. Visited the site of his execution last time I was in London. Another victim of the evil Henry VIII.

We moved on to other rooms, and saw the library where the Earl sits and reads. Then we went outside to explore a working flour mill, the grounds, and saw the beautiful fountain. One of our tour members got to turn on the fountain as it was her birthday that day. I happened to be standing beneath one of the windows of the house, looked up and saw a dog looking out the window. Made me smile. Then the Earl appeared in the window, waved to us, and disappeared. I was sorry to leave. It was a beautiful house, calm, peaceful, quiet there.

Onward to a tiny village where we stopped for Roy to show us the great number of thatched roofs on the cottages. Horses and riders came down the main street. Roy then took us into a tiny medieval church. Sorry, I do not remember the name of this town.

When we pulled into Broadway, we headed for Broadway Deli. We were seated on the terrace in back and served fabulous deli sandwiches. Afterwards, we walked around Broadway, exploring. I met a man and woman who were rolling a baby stroller containing a West Highland Terrier puppy who was as friendly as his owners. I said that was the cutest puppy I had ever seen, and I meant it. They also had two long-haired dachshunds on leashes who were adorable. They were very nice and we talked awhile about the dogs and the weather. Then it was time to board the bus.

Back in Stow, I had a mission.

I was on a mission to find a leather bookmark with "Stow-On-The-Wold" printed on it for a friend on the RS forum who has had several illnesses. This is the only thing she asked me to bring back for her. This took me to several bookstores and gift shops which I enjoyed, but I could not find the bookmark. We walked past Huffkins Bakery but it was closed. This has been mentioned on RS forum as being very good. We ran into B. and D., who were the tour members who went to Bath Abbey with us. We all decided to head back to the hotel for our group dinner, which was fantastic.

Great night's sleep at the Sheep on Sheep. Was sorry to check out next morning. Onward to Wales.

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2989 posts

Day 6.--We're in Wales, baby!

First stop of the day was Stokesay Castle, a fortified manor house, which was very picturesque. We had tea and scones at their little cafe, included as part of the tour. The scones were homemade and were wonderful! Served with strawberry jam and clotted cream.
Long drive, made a stop at an interstate grocery store/gas station/mall with fast food places. People grabbed sandwiches and ate on the coach. It wasn't long before we began to see signs in Welsh.

My husband said, "We're in Wales, baby!" and we hugged. Conwy Castle came into view and everyone was very excited.

Our coach driver put the coach through a narrow arched gateway in the town walls and delivered us to the front door of The Castle Hotel. We collected our bags, went inside and were given room keys. Up the stairs we went. Husband asked "What is the name of this hotel?" I said "The Stairmaster". Dropped bags in room, then joined Roy out front for a walk around town. He took us down to the waterfront. Lovely bay with sailboats. Roy told us the history of Conwy Castle and led us on a walk around town.

When the walk was over, some of us walked the town walls which encircled the town. Husband and I walked down to the waterfront and watched sailboats come and go. The tide went out and some boats that were anchored near shore were left sitting on mud flats. The seagulls were very excited because some children at the other end of the boardwalk were feeding them crackers. We walked up toward the castle, turned onto the bridge, and walked part of the way across it to get some good photos of the harbor and the castle.

That evening we had a lovely group dinner in the hotel dining room. People were telling interesting stories about other RS tours they had been on. We mentioned that we had left the windows open in our room to get some air in there and were hoping the many seagulls would not come in the window. This prompted B., with whom we had gone to Bath Abbey, to tell a story.

The Sausage Story.
B. told a story he had read about. A man went regularly overseas on a business trip. He had a Hilton he always stayed in because it was his favorite hotel in this town. This town was beside the seacoast. The man had bought a dozen sausages to take back to friends at home. To keep them cool, he placed them on a table near the window and opened the windows. When he returned that afternoon and opened the door to his room, it was full of seagulls. They had ripped open all the sausages and were perched around the room eating pieces of sausage and pooping on furniture. He tried to shoo them out the window, which made them fly around and poop more. He finally called the hotel manager and told him he had a problem. The hotel manager came up and was in a rage. He threw the man out of the hotel and banned him for life from this hotel. The man had poop all over him, his bags, and his clothes which had been in the open suitcase in the room. And he had to walk to another hotel and ask if they had a room for him for the night.

We howled with laughter. And then felt very sorry for the man.

Next time you think you are having a bad day, think of this man.

We walked upstairs, still smiling. We went over to the window to make sure no gulls were trying to get in. Husband said "We have a view of the outdoor bar." I said "No, look!" and I pointed. We had a view over the rooftops of Conwy Castle with all the spotlights on.
Life was good. As we fell asleep I said softly, "We're in Wales, baby!"

Posted by
8430 posts

What a wonderful report Rebecca! You’re an amazing writer. Feel like I’m there with you... : )

Posted by
9929 posts

Rebecca!! You know I love detail and am enjoying your report.

Finishing up the Villages tour tonight in Bath and I believe we are eating at The Woods, so I’m happy to know your opinion of it!!

Posted by
2989 posts

Hi Susan and Pam! Thanks!

Day 7.

Everyone was very excited at breakfast because this was the day we were going to the sheep farm and then on to Caernarfon Castle. We were all 20 minutes early for the bus. Off we went and arrived at the sheep farm belonging to Gareth Wyn Jones. He told us the story of the farm that had been in his family for generations. He put the border collies out to herd the sheep. We were amazed at how Gareth gave commands to the dogs and they obeyed. Then he picked two ladies from our group to come to the field and command the collies. It was all good fun and then we were on our way to Caernarfon.

Caernarfon Castle was better preserved and more walk-able than Conwy Castle. Roy had arranged for a wonderful local guide to take us through. Chris had a great personality and was so knowledgeable about English history. She told us all about the castle and its history. She directed our attention to different parts of the castle and told what structures used to be where. Caernarfon is partly ruined in that some rooms are missing altogether. We walked up into some of the towers and through ancient hallways to ancient rooms. Some of the stone rooms seem to be just as they were hundreds of years ago. I looked through arrow slits in the stone wall at the cobblestone streets below. I imagined an archer raining arrows down on the enemy during an attack.

As Chris's lecture ended back down in the courtyard, people had begun drifting away to climb the stairs up to the top of the castle walls. About four tour members stayed with Chris, asking questions about English history. It was great fun. I remarked that it was ironic that Edward I (who built Caernarfon and many of the Welsh castles) was such a tough old bird, yet when his wife, Eleanor, died he had put up the Eleanor Crosses (12) in every town where her coffin rested on its journey to her burial site. Chris agreed the tough old bird must have loved Eleanor very much.

Side note. Eleanor died near Lincoln, and it took 12 nights to get her to Westminster Abbey. The last elaborate Eleanor cross that was erected by Edward I was called Charing Cross and it was in London. It no longer remains, but the name remains.

Now back to that tough old bird, Edward I. Chris told me about some of his other castles in Wales that we would not get to see. I hope some day we can see those. She was answering a question for another tour member, and this was getting interesting. It was about the Welsh background of Henry VIII's father (which I knew about). She was telling that person that although Henry VII had won the right in battle to be king, he did not have the bloodline to be king. She was finished, so I commented that he fixed that by marrying the daughter of Edward IV, who did carry the rightful bloodline, so their children would be the rightful heirs. Chris smiled and said, "Ah but we have always had cuckoos in our nest in the royal family. Someone else got there first." I said "Do you mean...Richard III?" She said "Yes." This refers to the old medieval rumor that Henry VII's bride, Elizabeth of York, was the lover of her uncle, Richard III before her marriage. This would mean their son Arthur was not Henry VII's son. But this has been debated. Henry VII and Elizabeth of York were the parents of Henry VIII for those not obsessed with English history. Then Chris and I chatted about Richard III for awhile. and then the group was gathering near the gate to leave. So I thanked her for a fascinating conversation.

We returned to Conwy and tried to walk around the castle, but it is more ruined and has staircases that are not in good shape. We had dinner in the hotel bar and met a young Welsh couple who had their well-behaved dog with them. Had a great time chatting with them. Then to bed as the next day we would be up early.

Posted by
28145 posts

I woke up this morning to read this trip report and it is the best way to start a day.

I'm with you and your husband and all the others on the tour and your guide, and we're having a great time. I wish I had actually been there.

I know the places you write about quite well and you have given me other ideas for when I go back to them.

Thanks.

Posted by
2989 posts

Nigel, thank you for your kind words.

Day 8.---Journey to the Lake District.

Today we had a great breakfast and showed up to toss bags onto the bus about 20 minutes early. We were sad to leave Conwy behind but vowed to come back one day. Our first stop was Bodnant Gardens. This place was so beautiful. We walked the trails in the garden and sat on a bench near the house. An incredible and huge house. Then we went to the tearoom and had hot coffee, as it was very cold outside.

Back on the bus. The scenery was rapidly changing. We were seeing forests of evergreen trees, streams beside the road where people were swimming. We went through several very small villages tucked into the evergreen trees. The small houses and B&B's were all made of rough stone and had slate roofs. These were most appealing little places. We saw people in hiking shorts carrying walking sticks.

Soon the scenery changed again and the mountains were higher and without any trees or vegetation on them save small scrub bushes. The bus took a side road and parked near a stone wall bordering farmland. We got out and walked through the field until we came to a stone circle on the top of a slight hill.

This was the famous Castlerigg Stone Circle. All around were mountains in every direction. Not a sign anywhere of the modern world. No buildings, no visitors center, no highways, no parking lots. Complete silence. This is a more complete stone circle than Stonehenge. More beautiful. One could imagine that you have traveled back to the Neolithic Age and that there is nothing more out there in Britain except more stone circles. How beautiful it must be there on a clear night with a sky full of stars.

Then Roy passed out small cups of a special treat he had brought for us. It was Welsh Cream liqueur to toast the occasion. Then we returned to the bus.

Soon we were in Keswick and pulling up to our home for the next two days, The Crow Park Hotel.

We were all given our room keys and began the trek up the stairs. Husband said "More stairs." I said "The higher we go, the better the view from our room." We were on the top floor in the back of the hotel and had a fabulous view of the mountains. We dropped our bags and returned to the lobby to meet the group for a walking tour. Roy took us out the front door, turned left, went through a park. We walked by a theatre which he said was very popular in the summertime for plays. We then walked to the lake which was beautiful. We returned to the hotel and many sat in the lobby talking.

Soon it was time for our group dinner, so we walked up the hill to the main part of town. Keswick is a very small town and the city center has many older buildings with shops and restaurants in them. There were many shops selling hiking clothing and gear. We were seated for the group dinner upstairs in the restaurant with a good view of the town square out the picture window. A pint was included with your dinner. The fish and chips were delicious. One member of our group found a bone in his fish which thankfully he did not choke on. After dinner, some tour pals went to The Dog and Gun pub for a pint then walked back to the hotel. There were some very large St Bernard dogs sitting outside the Dog and Gun with their owners. I took a photo but cannot post it here.

To be continued, as I am getting sleepy.

Posted by
28145 posts

Finding bones in fish is good. Means it was real fish.

Posted by
964 posts

Hi Rebecca -

I'm enjoying your post(ings) and like Nigel am travelling with you. Historical conjecture, which my wife advised me of while entertaining me as we strolled through London is that The Eleanor Cross that coined the name for what is now Charing Cross is a corruption from the French 'Cher Reine' = 'Dear Queen'. French was of course the language in use at the Royal court at the time, so while apocryphal, it works.

Did you find the attitude to Richard lll ('this son of York') changed as you went further north? Richard was raised at Middleham in Yorkshire - the ruins of the castle still dominate the village - and there is a thriving Richard lll Society that believes, in short, 'we wuz robbed'! Hence the controversy about the recently discovered remains of Richard and whether they should be interred in his home lands of York or not. Leicester won the day on that, but it probably fuelled the Society's sense of grievance even more!

Waiting with bated breath for the next instalment! To climb Catbells or not?!!

Ian

Posted by
2057 posts

Rebecca, I continue to greatly enjoy your report and I , too, love reading all the details. I particularly enjoyed your (paraphrased) remark about the higher you climb up your hotel stairs, the better the view-a great positive spin on what could have been a grumble about too many stairs! Apparently, you are taking quite a few of us readers along with you on your "Tour Revisited"! Count me in! I'll be sorry when WE come to the end of this tour!

Posted by
961 posts

Loving the historical background you are including!

Posted by
526 posts

You are writing the type of tour report I enjoy reading. Thanks so much for the description of the tour, it has brought back many memories. My husband and I took this tour, way back in 05. I can still remember the walk we took while in Keswick. This was where we coined the phrases, "All good walks must begin with a hill" and "Let's stop to enjoy the panoramic view," AKA, let me stop so I can catch my breath!!

Posted by
5157 posts

I can't believe you stayed up so late to file your report, but we're loving it!

Two comments: the sausage story made it on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" recently. Evidently the poor fellow went back and apologized, and is no longer banned from the hotel.

I'm surprised that you haven't mentioned your driver. ??

Keep it up; we can't wait for the next installment.

Posted by
876 posts

"We announced that we were going across the street to the Cornish Pasty Shop for coffee and croissants and would love to have others go too." -- As someone who generally travels solo on RS tours and finds herself at a loose end around meal times, I just want to say thank you for including others.

Wasn't The Sheep on Sheep Street wonderful? Definitely my favorite hotel of the tour!

Enjoying your recaps.

Posted by
8515 posts

Yes, the sausage story was in the New York Times a couple of months ago, on the occasion of the gentleman being forgiven by the hotel. The Times had a lot of vivid details, in case anyone wants to look it up.

Love the report, Rebecca.

Posted by
2989 posts

Hello Nigel. Yes, good point.

Hello, ianandjulie. Thanks for that information! Charing Cross >> 'Cher Reine' = 'Dear Queen'.
You asked "Did you find the attitude to Richard lll changed as you went further north?" Impossible to answer as I did not engage in conversation about him with anyone but Chris the guide. I have been very interested in Richard III and his body being found in the carpark, followed all with great interest. Wanted to come over to the burial ceremony in 2015. It's not often you can attend the funeral of one of the Plantagenet kings.

During the time of all the bickering about where the burial would be, I read every newspaper article online I could find about the latest, and became aware of the Richard lll Society. Yes, they were robbed.
Richard III is one of my areas of interest, so during a future visit to England, I hope to visit Bosworth Field, Leicester Cathedral, and now will add Middleham Castle to that list.

An area of interest to me is(are?) the whole Wars of the Roses, Edward IV and his wife Elizabeth Woodville, their children including Elizabeth of York and the two princes in the Tower, Richard III and his wife Anne Neville who was the Kingmaker's daughter (Earl of Warwick). This includes the history of Warwick Castle as an area of interest. Henry VII and wife Elizabeth of York are also of interest.

I don't think Richard III killed the two princes in the Tower. I think Henry VII did. I have read a biography of Henry VII that said he paid those writing the history of the day to blame Richard III for the murders and paint Henry as the good guy. The Tudors needed a good public relations campaign. Shakespeare pointed the finger at Richard III making him the villain. But who was Shakespeare's patron? Elizabeth I, a Tudor.

Thank you, Andi, Nance, Debra.

Jane thanks for the update on the sausage story! I did not know the man has been un-banned.

Teresa, we are glad to join up with anyone on a RS tour for meals and activities. Yes, Sheep On Sheep, most excellent.

Bets, thanks, I will look up those details!

Posted by
964 posts

Hi Rebecca -

You are one of the very few people other than my wife (and professional historians, but they aren't counting here) who knows anything about Elizabeth Woodville. Actually, you are the ONLY other person! Sounds like you'd get on very well with my wife, lots to discuss!

For what it's worth, Julie thinks that Richard lll didn't kill the Princes in the Tower, but it might have been Buckingham (?) who was trying to consolidate Richards power base and of course his own position. I bought Julie a book recently that posited that at least one of the Princes survived. I thought she might snort with derision, but took the time to read it and said it was well argued - she notably didn't say she was convinced by it.

I understand the actual site of Bosworth Field is now believed to be a mile or so down the road from the site that claims to be the battle site, so maybe a bit of research before you visit might be in order. Middleham is very much where it's always been as is Leicester Cathedral (I had a friend at art college down there and used to visit often but never got around to the cathedral). I also think that it was a bit of a giveaway that Richard lll was buried under the car park bay marked 'R'. Bit of a clue there!

Poor old Richard, he got a bad press because as you note, history is largely written by the winners and he lost. Still the stories about him having a deformed back are borne out by the skeleton they dug up, so not all the stories are due to the Tudors deliberately blackening his character. And we did get a great play out of it from Shakespeare who clearly knew (and probably feared!) his audience!

Hope you make it back here to continue your interest in our history!

Ian

Posted by
2989 posts

Day 9---To climb Catbells or not?!!

We ate our breakfast this morning and walked out onto the front porch of the hotel. It was cold, raining lightly, and a strong wind was blowing. A decision had to be made. The plan was for the group to walk to the lake, board the little boats, cross the lake, walk up to the top of Catbells. I had been having a combination allergy/cold ever since Bodnant Gardens. The Plantar Faciitis had come back to plague my feet, heels, and lower legs. My plan at first was to go on the trip and stop halfway up Catbells if the legs and allergy got me down.

I asked myself if I would be holding others back and slowing down the group. The answer to that was, yes, I realistically could not keep up the pace today. I told Roy what my thought process was on the matter, and that I had decided not to go. I told my husband he should feel free to go, but he also opted out.

So we waved goodbye to the group as they trooped out the front door, dressed in arctic-looking parkas with hoods. I had wanted to go, but we were glad to have a day of rest. We returned to the breakfast room where L. from Florida was just finishing his coffee. We sat down to have another cup of tea and chat with him. L. had problems with his legs too and had opted out this day. We sat there a long time talking. It was good to be off our feet and not out the door at 8AM like every other morning.

I went upstairs and took a nap as the cold/allergy was making me very tired.

Husband sat in the lobby and chatted with the managers who run the hotel. Both had a strong Scottish accent. They were telling him what Keswick was like in different seasons. Surprisingly, some people come there in winter to hike in the snow up to the top of Catbells. After awhile, I came back downstairs.
The rain and wind had stopped, so we went out walking to explore the town. It was beginning to be lunchtime so we walked to a large grocery store, Booth's, to buy snacks for later. Discovered they had a deli and very good cafeteria. We got chicken soup; hot, delicious goodness with lots of vegetables. We shopped in the store and bought grapes, cheese, crackers and chocolate.

We walked into the town square and browsed in shops. Then went back to the hotel. By now, the group was back from Catbells. Some suggested an early supper at the Dog and Gun pub, so a group of us went there. Husband and I had the goulash, which was delicious. About a dozen of us sat at a long table together. People showed us their photos taken with iPhones from atop Catbells. Gorgeous photos.

One member of our group had a professional photographer's camera with lots of lenses to switch out. When the trip was over and he got home, he sent us photos. My gosh, they were fabulous. I'm talking National Geographic Magazine fabulous. He truly has a gift for photography. Light, composition and subject in his photos are all excellent.

My cold/allergy was getting worse, so we went back to the hotel and I went to bed for the night. Husband went downstairs to a group happy hour but didn't stay long because we had to be back on the bus in the morning.

Posted by
2156 posts

Rebecca,
I read two books on English history by an historian, Dan Jones, who wrote The Plantagenet Kings and The Wars of the Roses. It gave me the insight that seems to explain why Henry VIII was so hell-bent on having a male heir!
I’m enjoying your trip report, too. Such vivid writing! Thanks!

Posted by
2989 posts

ianandjulie, Thanks for the information about Bosworth Field! Will keep that in mind.

The love story of Edward IV and his wife Elizabeth Woodville is very interesting, although he had many affairs with other women.

Yes, the life of Elizabeth would be great fun to discuss with Julie! I also think we would get on well.

Was the book about one of the princes in the Tower who survived by Philippa Gregory, by any chance?

There was the theory that Elizabeth Woodville had switched one son with another boy, a commoner, and that the prince went to live overseas. In later years, a young man came back to England from Europe and claimed he was that son. His name was Perkin Warbeck and he was thought to be an imposter and executed. Is that the one, or different?

Judy B, thanks.
Dan Jones is excellent. I have the two books you mentioned and they are great.

Posted by
2989 posts

Day 10---To Hadrian's Wall.

The bags were packed into the coach early morning. We waved goodbye to Keswick and hit the road. It was a fairly long bus ride ahead if us. My cold/allergy had gotten much, much worse. I sneezed, coughed, and blew my nose as people on the bus moved to seats farther away from me. Couldn't blame them.

We came to a remote place on Hadrian's Wall. I think it was Sycamore Gap. The wind had started blowing very hard, 40 MPH maybe. There were dark clouds overhead and it had gotten very cold. So I did not get off the bus. The group walked to the wall, took photos and returned to the bus. Onward.

Soon we pulled into the parking lot of Vindolanda. I wanted to see this very much. We entered the upper museum which had many Roman artifacts on display that had been excavated there. We saw a video in the little theater about Roman Britain and Hadrian's Wall, then went out the back door to the open areas of Vindolanda. Roy had arranged a lecture by an archaeologist from the site. She gave a very good explanation of what all had been here. Soon I realized I was very, very cold and couldn't stay out any more. I took one walk around the area, and went to Roy, telling him I did not feel good at all and might I please get back on the bus. So he walked back with me to the bus.

Coach driver James was sitting in the bus and said I looked very pale. So I took a seat and Roy offered to get me hot tea. "A great many things are made better by hot tea." he said. So true! Much appreciated. Thank you Roy. He asked me if I wanted to see a doctor or go to the hospital when we got to York; I said no. After the tea, I felt a little better. Roy said, "Your color is coming back. Your face is pink instead of white." I thanked him and fell asleep.

When I awoke everyone was on the bus and we were headed to York. We were on a large motorway and I looked to the east side of the road and saw a large sculpture I recognized. The Angel of the North by Gormley.

Soon we were in York. Our driver stopped in front of our hotel, The Minster Hotel. We collected our bags and said goodbye to James the coach driver. Rooms were assigned and we walked through the hotel lobby, out a back hallway, down a driveway along the side of the building to a separate annex. At least there were very few stairs. The room was attractive but not fancy, homey, clean, with a good bathroom. So we dropped our bags and relaxed. We had a picture window that looked out onto a garden, and it had begun to rain.

Soon it was time to meet in the lobby to go to the group dinner. Roy made sure we were all present, then we set off for the Indian restaurant. He said we would go for a walking tour before going to the restaurant. It was pouring rain, but I had expected this in England. We had on raincoats with hoods and had umbrellas. The walk took us past the York Minster and down to the Shambles. Then by the Merchant Adventurer's Hall. We went to the restaurant where they weren't ready for us yet. Stood outside, and finally they took us in.

Posted by
5157 posts

Debra, Hi! I'm not trying to hijack Rebecca's wonderful thread, but your post reminded me: Whenever one of us says "Oh look at the beautiful view!" it means, "STOP."

By the way, Rebecca, did you know that Roy's professional training was in archeology? He's very knowledgeable about English archaeology. (I switched to the British spelling in his honor. The spell checker doesn't like it.)

Posted by
2989 posts

Day 11-- York Minster.
Everyone had breakfast and set out for York Minster. Everyone but me. I had woken with a migraine headache, cold/allergy, and sore throat. I had doubled up on allergy meds but that made me twice as sleepy. Sent husband off with the gang to enjoy York Minster. I was very tired so went to sleep.

I was awakened by something crawling on my leg! I whipped the covers back and it was a large black spider. Knocked it off, stomped it, couldn't kill it so I threw it out the window. Then I saw another one running across the floor, so threw it out the window, too. Closed the window. Then settled in for more sleep.

When husband returned from York Minster and a walk around York, he showed me photos on his iPhone and told me all about it. What he had enjoyed most were the huge stained glass windows. By now, it was afternoon. We had hot tea and cookies, Walker's Shortbread. Husband watched TV, I went to sleep. In a while, he said "Hey, there are spiders in this room!" I said, "I know." Turned over and went back to sleep. Obviously the spiders weren't very harmful or I would have been bitten by now.

For dinner, husband went across the street and got us sandwiches from Sainsbury's. Then we slept.

Day 12--Train to London!

We packed very early and took bags with us to breakfast. Little did I know, there were some hitchhikers in my suitcase. Checked out of Spider Hotel, and took a taxi to the train station. Roy had ordered 3 or 4 taxis to carry all the bags to the station. He asked me if I wished to ride in the taxi and have some bags on my lap. I said yes. Several other people rode in the baggage taxis. We had two tour members that had been in the hospital while we were in York, and they rode in a taxi.

When we arrived at York train station, all the bags were carried in and put on the platform in a big pile while we waited for or train to arrive. When the train puled in, Roy and some of the men put the bags in a holding compartment under the train, as all the tour members quickly boarded the train. Roy had given us our tickets. We found our reserved seats and settled in. It was a fast train and we arrived in London in an hour 50 minutes.

We arrived at Kings Cross station. Bags were grabbed from the hold, and we walked out to the front of the station. We were hit in the face with sunlight. What was this stuff? We had rain in York and dark gray low clouds at Hadrian's Wall. It seemed awfully bright out there.

Roy was on his iPhone, and soon a bus appeared. We hopped aboard and the driver battled London traffic south to Tower Hill. We were let out at the Tower of London. Roy had made arrangements for us to go in as a group. We were given two hours and told to meet outside under the big oak tree then. It was 12 noon. We were all hungry so we grabbed a sandwich in the Armories Cafe.

Went to the White Tower. We admired the suits of armor and moved on. Went to the Cradle Tower, saw etchings in the wall made by prisoners in the Tower waiting to be executed.
We had been to the Tower before; during that visit had spend most of the day there. We knew we didn't have long this time.

Posted by
1955 posts

Rebecca,
I've been reading all your segments of the trip report, and oh my gosh, it sounds like for the most part you had a lovely time. So very sorry you were sick near the end. There is almost nothing worse than being sick on a trip. One only wants to get home, put on bunny slippers, and sleep in one's own bed, but one soldiers on best one can, while also taking time to rest more (and unfortunately, as you did, miss some things). At least it was near the end of your trip, though.

I knew from on-line conversations with you, you were really into English history, but oh my gosh, you REALLY are! Your pre-knowledge really did enhance your trip!!

I'm shocked about the shortage of food in the restaurant for the final night. I'm surprised the guide did not "hop to it," and make sure the restaurant took care of the situation post-haste. Shocking, actually!

I know you were really looking forward to this special trip, and I'm glad you got to see a lot of what you wanted to see.

Your trip report is fabulous and so well written (of course with your writing talents). So many times, it is tempting to just quickly skim typical trip reports, but yours I read word for word. This evening when we returned from dinner (with the new pup in tow....lots of restaurant patio dinners lately), I logged on hoping you would have another segment posted, and you did not disappoint :)

Thank you for the time and work you put into your report -- it's been enjoyed by many :)

Posted by
2989 posts

Hello Jane. Thanks for that info! Yes, Roy told us when he introduced himself.

Hello Emma. Interesting. I do believe that about Margaret Beaufort. She was that kind of person; ambitious for her son above all else. Probably would stop at nothing. Thank you, I will look into the Channel 4 documentary and Horrible Histories!

Hello Maggie. thanks for the kind words. And the link to the bookmark.

Posted by
2989 posts

Tower of London continued.

As I was saying, the last time we visited the Tower (May 2016 trip), we stayed all day. We went through the White Tower last time, stopping to visit one of the Warders inside. Gareth was his name and he was a wealth of information about the Tower. He was in one of the armor rooms, the second one you come to, with less stuff in it.
He walked with us into the next room, St John's Chapel, which is Norman and dates to 1080. It is the holiest of rooms in the White Tower and we could not take photos there. Gareth told us it is the room in which Henry VIII waited to hear the verdict during Anne Boleyn's trial.

During our 2016 visit, we had time to visit the Church of St Peter ad Vincula, which is the little church in the back corner of the Tower. Buried here are Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas More, John Fisher, Lady Jane Grey, Catherine Howard, and Margaret Pole, to mention a few. It is a shame not to have time to visit this wonderful church.

I am getting sleepy and I'm afraid I will get details wrong from here on, so I will sign off for tonight.

Sorry to have included details of me being sick. Boring. Maybe I will removed that part. I promise tomorrow's chapters will be better, because we end up in Windsor.

Posted by
996 posts

Loving the trip report. (And as a huge fan of Philippa Gregory, I've done a ton of side reading about the events described in her books.)

Question - as another middle TN resident, is it cheaper for you to fly out of Dulles? Or just fun because you have friends there?

Posted by
876 posts

"I whipped the covers back and it was a large black spider."

I would have been screaming! I was in the annex at the Minster Hotel too, but as far as I know my room was blessedly spider-free.

The Indian dinner in York was definitely a disappointment. I like your buffet idea.

I hope you're feeling better!

Posted by
9929 posts

Oh my word...I did not * get* who Perkin Warbeck was! How very odd that I was just at St. Michaels Mount day before yesterday and saw a picture titled “Refuge for Katherine, wife of Perkin Warbeck. 1497”. I had taken a picture of the plaque so I could look her up! Thanks for the history lesson.

It’s your report but I suggest you leave in your bout with a cold and allergies. Getting sick happens and it’s part of the context.

Spiders would have bothered me greatly.

Posted by
28145 posts

I wouldn't remove the parts about not feeling well, it is part of the journey and if missing the journey wouldn't be complete.

I love every word.

Thanks for writing it.... all

Posted by
964 posts

Hi Rebecca -

Apologies for tardy reply, it was getting a bit late here to start checking details last night. The book I referred to is called 'The Lost Prince' and is by David Baldwin. His argument is that one of the Princes, Richard, survived to late old age as an Essex bricklayer, his anonymity preserved so he couldn't create any Perkin Warbeck style problems (which as Warbeck's case proved would have had fatal results). His theory, given my experience with bricklayers who are evasive, difficult to track down and who have a propensity to disappear without trace for long periods, seems very plausible!

I should have guessed you would be on the case with Margaret Beaufort! No mere skim through of history on your part!

I'm sorry you were off colour in the Lakes and in York, doesn't help the trip. The spider infestation seems unusual though. The great benefit of wandering through Britain is that with a very few certain exceptions, there is nothing that wants to, or can kill you and little that can bite you and cause great damage or ill health. Generally we encourage spiders here because they eat the other nasties, but it's unusual to find you are sharing a bed with them!

I should add that as regards climbing in the snow, it's a very popular pursuit. I climbed Coniston Old Man clad in crampons and with ice axe last February. It was a weekday, so you would have thought we'd see nobody else, but that wasn't the case! As mentioned on this very website, there's no such thing as bad weather, merely the wrong clothing, or in this instance, equipment!

I'm sorry you are nearing the end of your trip report which I've enjoyed immensely and who would have thought it would lead to an in depth discussion of a mediaeval whodunnit?!!

Ian

Posted by
2141 posts

A lovely report.

You mention Birling Gap at Hadrian’s Wall. Birling Gap is on the south coast https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birling-gap-and-the-seven-sisters

Did you mean Sycamore Gap? https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hadrians-wall-and-housesteads-fort/trails/sycamore-gap-walk

Are you sure the train from York took you to St Pancras – Kings Cross is the usual terminus on the east coast line.

Thanks for taking the time to write this and I hope it’s not too long before you return.

Posted by
1353 posts

Rebecca, I believe this is the most captivating trip report I've ever read! I took this tour in 2010 with Roy and am enjoying reliving it through your eyes. If you're not a writer by trade you should be!

Posted by
2219 posts

Hi, just thought I would chime in to say how much I am also enjoying your report. Impressed by your knowledge of english history too. I am sorry you are sick. Such a bummer......as one who catches every germ within a 5 mile radius, I have been sick on lots of trips! I was with an english friend touring England, and I carried a box of tissue with me everywhere! Ahhh memories!

Posted by
6483 posts

Excellent report. Truly wonderful bit of writing. Thanks for making the time to share!!!

Posted by
2989 posts

Hello everyone! Sorry I am just now getting back home. I had lots of chores to do today, and a wedding to attend. And a child's birthday party. Wow! Thanks for all the comments! Now I will briefly answer things you have asked.

Hi, aquamarinesteph! The Philippa Gregory series is (are?) wonderful. The White Queen, The Kingmaker's Daughter, and others are favorites of mine. The love story of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville is one in which she does her best writing. Queen Elizabeth lived both a happy and tragic life, being very happy and in love with Edward IV, but upon his death her world fell apart when both her sons were killed (disappeared). Then there was much talk about whether her marriage to Edward IV had been legitimate or whether he had been "promised" or married before he met her. All this Richard III used to his advantage.

To answer your question, "Question - as another middle TN resident, is it cheaper for you to fly out of Dulles? Or just fun because you have friends there?" Yes to both. But the first especially. Fares are cheaper. Plus, it is silly, but I don't like changing planes on a trip. And I don't like the Nashville airport at all.

Hi Teresa! Thank you, I am feeling better now! So you were in the annex too! Aside from the spiders, I liked it. Nice garden out the window, very peaceful and quiet for sleeping. We had previously been in hotels with lots of stairs, so I was happy to get a ground floor room. If I had to choose between having 90 stairs to climb to my room or having spiders in my room, I'd choose the spiders every time.

Hi Pam! Oh my, St. Michael's Mount! I am hoping to see that some day! As soon as I get something done about my allergies and these feet/ankles, we will be taking the Rick Steves Southern England tour, and am hoping to see it.
About Perkin Warbeck---Imposter or Prince? Can we ever know for sure? Read Philippa Gregory's "The White Queen" and then decide for yourself!

Hi Nigel! Thank you! You may be begging me to stop writing before it's over because it may all get boring! Haha!

Hi ianandjulie! 'The Lost Prince' by David Baldwin. Thank you! I am fascinated by this! Will order this book. And laughing at your comment about the bricklayers.
About Margaret Pole.......and her son Cardinal Reginald Pole.

I had read a book about her, and was shocked to learn just why Henry VIII executed her. He was afraid her son, Reginald Pole, wanted to be King of England because the Poles had the bloodline of Kings. Plus Reginald Pole was Catholic and had the backing of the Pope all the way to push Henry off the throne. Henry became convinced that Margaret was conspiring with her son to do this, so he had her executed. Never mind that Henry and Margaret were cousins and he had known her all his life. Another victim of paranoid old Henry.

When we went to the Tower of London in 2016 and into St Peter Ad Vincula, I started a conversation with a Beefeater who was in the church. Husband and I were the only visitors in there, so I said hello and did he mind if I asked him a few questions. I asked him some questions about Margaret Pole, since she is buried there. He showed me her place of burial, and then we talked about how lucky Reginald Pole was to have escaped the people Henry sent to Europe to kill him.

Then I asked him which grave was George Boleyn and he showed me. He talked about some of the graves being opened several years ago when ductwork for heating was being installed in the floor. I asked him how they were sure which grave was which person, meaning Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. He said they were identified by the clothes they were buried in because there had been a record of that.
He told me he had recently read a very good book on Margaret Pole and one on Reginald Pole and wrote down the names for me. Then we thanked him & left, and I'm sure he was glad.

Posted by
2989 posts

Emma, thank you! I had written "Margaret Pole" in about 3 places in that post, and then wrote "Margaret Beaufort" one time. Bad proofreading on my part. Now corrected.
I knew better. Brain glitch; was getting tired.

Hi ramblin'on! Yes, you are right. Those are corrections that I need to make! Thanks for the information. Will edit.

Jill and diveloonie, thanks for your comments!

Hi Claudia! Thanks for the kind words! You may regret encouraging me before it's over.

Hi TravelingMom! There you are, girl! If I were your guide, the tour would still be going on and we'd have 20 more castles to see! You would not want me for your tour guide! The Rick Steves "England In 45 Days" tour.

Hi Bets! Thank you for the article and update on the sausage story!

To everyone--At this point, let me apologize for going on and on (about some of the English history bits) to the Brits on here. I know you all know this stuff, and were probably taught it in school or at University, so you may be bored with me droning on. Sorry! I am doing some of the explanations for the Americans who are on here who may want to know more about English history, but don't know where to begin or what time period they are interested in, or what people may be the most interesting to read about. So I hope this helps somewhat. I'm not trying to bore you to tears, really I'm not. LOL!

At the end of this trip report, I will provide a reading list of books and authors I love so anyone wanting to read more about English history will have a starting point. I will ask that whenever possible you order books from places like Westminster Abbey bookshop, the Historic Royal Palaces website or others similar, instead of Amazon. Amazon is a good place to look at the book before you order, but they are rich enough already, and these other places need the profits for the upkeep of their landmarks. Thanks.

Edit: SharYn, Thank you!

Note: I have just edited the "Day 8.---Journey to the Lake District." slightly. Added a paragraph in the middle of that page because I had forgotten to cover the Castlerigg Stone Circle visit. Had been going through photos today and was reminded I didn't include that.

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1165 posts

Rebecca, this is a great trip report!
I love all the details and your positive attitude.
I'm so sorry that you were ill at the end, but it was part of your experience and I certainly don't mind reading about it.
And I look forward to your evals of the hotels.
(I'm just staring to plan a trip to England in October with a friend and all this is giving me more good ideas.)

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2989 posts

I had been thinking about our visit to Blenheim last night while I was going to sleep, and was sorry I had not added a side story about Blenheim way back in the Trip Report. It's much too late to go back and add it where it should be so I will add it now.

A Word About Blenheim, Churchill, and Wealthy American Girls Marrying Englishmen

About Blenheim. As said before, spectacular. During our tour of the place, we saw a portrait of the 9th Duke of Marlborough and his wife, Consuelo Vanderbilt. The subject of them was barely mentioned; just a few sentences. Blenheim exists in its present state today in part because of this marriage.

Consuelo Vanderbilt had been born in the late 1800's in New York City into the wealthy Vanderbilt family. Her father was William K. (as everyone called him, even his own descendants) and her mother was Alva. Her mother was very overbearing and controlled every aspect of Consuelo's life. Her father indulged her with beautiful clothes and jewels. She was said at the time to have been the most beautiful woman in New York. Her mother had many wealthy young men in New York asking for Consuelo's hand in marriage, but Alva was very ambitious, some would say a social climber, and became fascinated with the British aristocratic society. Consuelo had fallen in love with a young man, but her mother would not allow the marriage.

Alva instead arranged a marriage to Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke if Marlborough. It is said that the Duke had considerable debt and, after all, had to maintain Blenheim too. Which I'm sure was horrifically expensive. It is said that he didn't love Consuelo and only needed the money. So the marriage took place and Consuelo moved to Blenheim. The marriage was not a happy one. Many years later they were divorced (an annulment actually). Much to Consuelo's relief, I am sure. My heart breaks for the little rich girl who was somewhat miserable for the first half of her life.

Consuelo had another marriage which was a happy one it seems. She eventually settled in Florida near Palm Beach. She wrote a book about her life,

The Glitter and The Gold, by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsam.

Here I will insert that I have a special interest in the history of the Vanderbilt family, having grown up in North Carolina, a stone's throw from the Vanderbilt home in Asheville, N.C., Biltmore House.

Consuelo became good friends with the young Winston Churchill while she lived at Blenheim.
Supposedly, he came to visit often and they maintained contact after her annulment from the 9th Duke. I'm sure they had much to talk about because Winston Churchill's mother had been American and had also grown up in old New York.

Jennie Jerome.
Jennie Jerome was born in New York City to wealthy parents in the mid-1800's. She and her family were members of New York's high society that included the Vanderbilts, The Astors, and many more. Her father had been, at one time, a business partner of one of the Vanderbilts.
She traveled in Europe as many of the American rich did at that time. There she met Lord Randolph Churchill. It was a love match, not an arranged marriage. They fell in love and were married. Shortly afterwards, they were visiting Blenheim and she unexpectedly went into labor and delivered Winston.

Here I will insert that this age of wealth in New York City was known as The Gilded Age. It was a time of building expensive private houses in Manhattan. It was a time of mansions, yachts, and parties.

It was called the Gilded Age, I would guess, because so many of these mansions had huge dining rooms and ball rooms whose ceilings and moldings around the top of the wall were adorned with carved fancy figures, large flower blooms, and leaves all coated in real gold.

In later years, when the bulldozers came to knock down all the Gilded Age homes from that era in order to build ugly bus stations and office buildings, hardly any of this ornamentation was saved.

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Under the wrecking ball and the bulldozers went the gold ornaments, wood paneling, beautiful hardware on the doors of the homes, and the hardwood floors. In some cases the antique chandeliers and light fixtures were left to be destructed because some were wired for gaslight, not electricity.

So the childhood home of Jennie Jerome eventually fell under the bulldozers. It is a sad day when any historic home sees the wrecking ball coming for it.

If you go to New York, look for where Jennie Jerome's home stood. It was on Madison Avenue, across the street from Madison Square Park. (East 26th St. and Madison) Today that plot of land is occupied by the Merchandise Mart.

I used to pass by there (the site) walking home from work every day. I worked at an ad agency on Madison Avenue for a short while and later for a book publishing company. The home was gone by the time I lived in NYC in the 1980's.

Today the home would be saved and open to the public as the home of Sir Winston Churchill's mother. Many preservation societies in New York now work to prevent the wrecking ball from destroying such historic buildings.
When I lived in New York, I was a member of one such society. One member (and there are hundreds of members) of our group was the actor Tony Randall. He frequently gave speeches to our group about historic preservation and he periodically gave walks around Manhattan, pointing out where historic structures used to be. I signed up for one of his walks one time, and eagerly awaited the day for the walk.

The day arrived, and we met at the New York Public Library. Tony walked us around town pointing this way and that. We must have looked like the Pied Piper of Hamlen and his followers because there were a lot of us. He walked us past the site of the old Jerome Mansion and paused to tell the story of Jennie Jerome. He walked us to another site and paused to tell us the story of the unhappy Consuelo Vanderbilt. There was more on the tour but I have not included it.

He walked us down a beautiful tree-lined residential street full of lovely townhouses. He stopped in front of one and pointed up to a window. He said "There's where Greta Garbo lives." in a loud voice. I wondered if they had some kind of feud going on because she was known for wanting her privacy. We walked on and ended up at the Museum of the City of New York, which was a fitting end. He turned us loose to go inside and see the Museum. He was the nicest, most well-mannered man, passionate about historic preservation and the history of NYC.

Another time, I attended one of his lectures. There were about 300 people who showed up for this. We were all seated for the talk, and afterwards, there were books about the history of New York for sale at a large table. I bought one called "Lost New York". Large old photos of great buildings now torn down. I approached Tony Randall, who was signing things for people and asked him if he would be so kind as to sign my book, even though he was not the author of it. He smiled and said "Sure." I thanked him and told him how much I had enjoyed his lecture and walking tour. Then he pointed to the book and said, "Always remember what was here before the bulldozers came." I smiled and nodded.

I walked away because people were clambering to get to him for autographs. I opened the book to see exactly what he had written. It said,
"Always Remember, Tony Randall"
I will indeed always remember Tony Randall, a kind, gentle, and interesting man.

"Lost New York"-- for photos of Jerome Mansion and Vanderbilt mansions, a variety of new editions, mine's out of print now.

Back to Consuelo Vanderbilt and Jennie Jerome. They are both buried near Blenheim at St Martins Church, Bladon, England, along with Sir Winston Churchill. Two New York high society girls and a British Prime Minister.

I hope you've enjoyed my side story.
This is all written from memory, so if you've got corrections, let's have 'em.

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Back to the Trip Report.---Day 12, continued.

Our group met up outside the Tower of London and Roy led us down to the pier on the River Thames. We boarded one of the river boats and began the journey toward Westminster. We saw The Shard on the south side of the river and could now get a good look at the Cheesegrater and the Gherkin on the north side of the river. St. Paul's soon came into view and then we looked south to see The Globe Theatre. Soon we were arriving at Westminster Pier and our group got very excited seeing Big Ben and Parliament buildings. We exited the boat, took photos, and then boarded our bus which took us to our hotel.

The Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt in South Kensington had a beautiful front facade and an elegant lobby and dining/breakfast room. It was composed of Victorian era townhouses joined together, which made for an interesting maze of hallways and old stairways. It was clear that these townhouses had been very posh and expensive back in the Victorian era. We all grabbed our bags from the bus, received our room keys from Roy at the front desk, and went to find our rooms. Husband and I dropped our bags in the room, then lay down to rest. The train trip, the Tower, the boat ride had been fun. It was time to get off our feet for a minute or two.

Soon it was time to meet downstairs in the lobby for Roy to teach everyone how to use the tube. He gave each person an Oyster card and we all followed him to the Gloucester Road tube station. He explained outside of the station how one purchases an Oyster card and how to tap in and out and how to navigate the tube system and connections of the different lines. Husband and I knew how to use the tube, as we had been to London several times before, but we picked up some additional tips from Roy. The Gloucester Road tube station has three lines running through it; the Circle, District and Piccadilly lines, making it possible to get just about anywhere in London from there.

We then returned to the lobby of the hotel. Many of our group were sitting around in the lobby of the hotel for awhile. There was a little sitting room off the lobby, and some were sitting there. People were making plans for the evening. Some were thinking of getting last minute tickets to a show, some were talking about getting a group together for dinner. TOUR TIP: One thing I learned on this tour; if you want to find some friends to go somewhere with, sit in the lobby and wait for the other tour members to walk through or to gather there. The other place to make plans for the day is at breakfast. You'll always find someone (or several people) who want to go somewhere with you.

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13730 posts

You are one of the very few people other than my wife (and
professional historians, but they aren't counting here) who knows
anything about Elizabeth Woodville. Actually, you are the ONLY other
person!

ianand julie, you now know another person!
I've read "The White Queen" (and "The Red Queen") and numerous other books about the Lancaster/Tudor families. It's a tangled web at best. Alison Weir writes some very good biographical books, if anyone is interested.

Nope, I don't believe Henry VII's eldest, Arthur, was a son of Richard III. Richard was killed at Bosworth, 22 August, 1485. Arthur was born Sept, 20 September, 1486 so poor Elizabeth would have been preggers a loooong time if her uncle had left that bun in the oven.

English history is pretty darn interesting: would make a fun thread, eh? :O)
More super reports, Rebecca!

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20 posts

Rebecca— a wonderful report, thank you. I do have a question, hate to interfere with the review, about the Indian Restaurant. Did anyone talk to the guide about it during dinner— food for 8 served to 10?

I’ve called several friends who have done RS tours (have always been a RS book self tour traveler) and they have expressed shock saying their guides bent over backwards helpi g tour members at restaurants. Thus wondering if a guide or just a bad (cheap) restaurant issue.

Again, thank you so much for the detailed review.

Sid

Posted by
5157 posts

Rebecca, I want to go on a tour with you! Our tour mates often say to us after a tour: "Next tour I take I'm going to prepare as much as you do." Well, I think we'd be soul sisters. So where are you going next? :-)

Just a chauvinistic note: Tony Randall is from Tulsa, which is the big city (big for Oklahoma, anyway) in our part of the state, only about 12 miles from our small town. Great museums, great ballet, opera, and two (really) symphony orchestras! (Just thought I'd get in a plug here.) Randall grew up and went to high school here. I think he was in the same graduating class as Paul Harvey, if any of you remember him... "And now, therest of the story...."

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2989 posts

Day 13 of the tour---Westminster Abbey.

We were all downstairs at breakfast early that morning. Everyone was excited because we were going to Westminster Abbey that day. After breakfast, we met in the lobby.
Roy led us out the door and to the tube. We all hopped on the tube and soon were at Westminster Abbey, by a back entrance I had not been to before. Roy had arranged for a special guide to take us through the Abbey. She was great. She began with an early history of the Abbey, talking about the many times it had been rebuilt. She told us that since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, all coronations of English and British monarchs have been in Westminster Abbey. She talked about the weddings that had taken place there. She then took us through the Abbey to some of the side rooms and then back to the room where Elizabeth I's tomb is. She listed some of the kings and queens who are buried there, then we saw the Coronation Chair, and she was finished with her lecture. We thanked her. Some exited the Abbey immediately, some went back for another look around.

We went back to see the tomb of Edward I. The guide had not pointed this out to us, had mentioned him in a quick list. We had visited Edward I's tomb in 2016 when we were here. In 2016, there had been little plaques with the names of each king on the wall beside their burial site. The plaques were no longer there. But we knew where he was.

Edward I, as all of you know, built the castles in Wales including Caernarfon and Conwy. He was also called "Longshanks" and "The Hammer of the Scots". He was the king who executed "Braveheart", William Wallace. If you want to see what he looked like, watch the movie "Braveheart". The actor who plays Edward I is a pretty good representation I think, and his costumes are pretty accurate.

It was on this spot that we were standing during our 2016 visit, and G. and I were talking about the information in the preceding paragraph. I heard a voice say "Are you interested in Edward I?" It was one of the vergers in his robe. "Yes, very much." I replied. He introduced himself and began telling me about the Eleanor Crosses. Eleanor is buried there beside Edward.

The Eleanor Crosses. (Yes I took notes while he was talking)
When Eleanor died near Lincoln, her body and coffin were put on a wagon to make the journey to London for burial. It would take 12 nights to get her to Westminster Abbey. Each night the procession stopped and rested. Edward I later put up the Eleanor Crosses in each town where her coffin rested on its journey. The crosses were in:
Lincoln,
Grantham,
Stamford,
Geddington (still standing and best preserved of the 3 surviving crosses),
Hardingstone (still standing),
Stony Stratford,
Woburn,
Dunstable,
St Albans,
Waltham Cross (still standing but original statues of Eleanor removed to V&A Museum)
Cheapside.

The last elaborate Eleanor cross that was erected by Edward I was called Charing Cross and it was in London. It no longer remains, but the name remains.

The verger talked about several of the other kings and queens buried there.

But this was in 2016 and I should return to the trip report of 2018. We walked around and revisited some of the other kings. We saw Henry VII and his queen, Elizabeth of York. A service was beginning; we sat and listened to the sermon. Then we went upstairs to the Shrine of Edward the Confessor for a prayer. He was a king of England who had built Westminster Abbey in 1060. He performed healing of the sick and was made a saint. I had wanted to see this shrine for a long time.

Then we went to the cafe for coffee and cake.

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9929 posts

Sorry to break the train of thought but where do I sign up for the RS 45 day All Castles, All Cathedrals, All the time tour??

Perhaps Emma can be a local guide relating what It was like to live thru the Great Fire, haha! (Even though no castles or cathedrals are involved!) Ahhh, nephews, gotta love them.

I love your history anecdotes. Interesting about Tony Randall (and Paul Harvey for heavens sake??). I love talking to the Vergers ( and other docents). You have to figure they love to answer different questions from “Where are the toilets”!!

Thanks for taking all this time to write up your trip!!

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2989 posts

We took the tube back to South Kensington and went to the V&A Museum. We had been before, but wanted another look around. We saw the Great Bed of Ware, Henry VIII's writing box, and a very good carved painted wooden bust of Henry VII that had been done back in his day. We saw a fabulous collection of rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings from all time periods, but mainly medieval and Tudor England. We saw a collection of miniature portraits, some in lockets, of Tudor era lords and ladies.

Then we went into the tapestry room. The ceilings were high, maybe 20 to 25 feet high, and the tapestries covered the wall from floor to ceiling. They were almost as wide as they were long.

They were all from the medieval period, perfectly preserved. The colors were brilliant and rich. Lots of burgundy, navy blue with highlights of cerulean blue, emerald green, with cream details. One tapestry was of lords and ladies out hunting. They were dressed most elaborately. Yellow-gold chains hung around some of their necks, especially the men. Some ladies had on pointed caps, their dresses had embroidery and pearls pictured, with actual gold threads woven through. There was a virtual menagerie of animals around them; hounds underfoot, foxes, badgers, pheasants, hares, a unicorn. There were plants, flowers, rocks and streams underfoot. There was so much to see, you didn't know where to look next.

A different tapestry had the Tower of London pictured. There was a knight in armor on a horse carrying a lance as if he were on his way to a jousting match. There were hills all around behind the tower and part of a city wall could be seen. More lords and ladies. More animals and plants.

Another tapestry depicted travelers along a road, some walking, some on horseback, one in a carriage. Behind the carriage stood a woman in ornate dress, with a pointed hat. A man was standing behind her reaching his arms around her to feel of her chest. The man in the carriage was looking out the window at this. I wondered if this could be some depiction of The Canterbury Tales.

There were perhaps 14 of these tapestries. All different. There were benches in the center of the room, so we sat while we looked. There was a small sign by one of the tapestries that said the tapestries had been taken from some estate in lieu of inheritance taxes.

We were worn out from looking at the tapestries, so we went back to our hotel. Tonight was our final group dinner together with all the tour members. And we had to meet in the lobby at a certain time.

Roy counted heads and made sure everyone was there. Then we walked to Bumpkin, our restaurant for tonight. It was a very cute little restaurant, with French doors in the front. We walked in and that room was small. We were taken upstairs to a very large room and seated at long tables. We were served champagne and toasts were made by Roy to Rick Steves and to all present. Roy had taken our orders for food the day before. We were served chicken. The other choices had been salmon and ox jaw. The food arrived and was delicious.

Talking and visiting was taking place, as well as the drinking of wine. More toasts were made. Funny stories about the trip were being told. People were exchanging email addresses and taking one last picture of themselves with their travel buddy. Then we walked back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

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2989 posts

Day 14 of the tour---Breakfast, goodbye to friends, and then RS tour is over, then we have two more nights in London on our own, and then on to Windsor, the part of the Trip Report I'm looking forward to.

Not everyone was at breakfast this morning. Some had early flights and were already gone. We sat at a large table with our travel buddies. The breakfast at the Radisson was excellent. Buffet with scrambled eggs, sausage links, bacon and beans. Croissants, toast, muffins, jam and honey were on a side table. Delicious coffee and tea served. Then we went up to the room to pack.
Some in the group were staying on for a night or two at the Radisson but we were moving across town. We had a special hotel that is special to us, so we were moving there, for sentimental reasons. We said goodbye to our travel friends, but were going to stay in touch by email and phone while we were all still in town. And maybe do things together.

We headed for the tube and it was an easy ride on the Circle line to Tower Hill. Checked in at the front desk of our hotel. They said our room would be ready shortly. It was still very early. So we sat in the lobby, had coffee and read the newspapers. Soon our room was ready. We went up, dropped our bags, freshened up, and set out for the British Museum.

We arrived at the British Museum. The line to get in was out to the street and down the block. Down several blocks. We finally got to the security check point and then had a long wait to get in. When we got in the front door, we went straight up the stairs to Sutton Hoo helmet. I had seen it years ago and wanted to see it again. All the grave goods that were found with it were displayed near it. They had a replica helmet near it that recreated what it had looked like originally before being in the ground aged it.

The Sutton Hoo Ship Burial was found in Woodbridge, England. It was the burial place of an ancient Anglo-Saxon king. It was their custom to bury a small ship, put the body in, include personal items, such as swords, shield, purse, helmet, and bury it all in a mound. It is estimated that this burial happened around 625 AD. The Anglo-Saxon archaeological finds are an area of great interest to me.

The ship burial site can be visited and has a small museum/visitors center. I have been wanting to go there to Woodbridge and see this for about 10 years. This is in the county of Suffolk.

We looked at the other things in the room, some Viking artifacts. Then we went to see the Battersea Shield and the Wandsworth Shield, both Celtic, both bronze Iron Age. These are from the second and third centuries. The Celtic archaeological finds are an area of great interest to me. Both of these items were found in the Thames River when digging was being done to build footings for a bridge in London.

Posted by
13730 posts

Sorry to break the train of thought but where do I sign up for the RS
45 day All Castles, All Cathedrals, All the time tour??

Me too, Pam!!!

Rebecca, you have outdone yourself. Truly. What a FUN read; am enjoying everyone's comments too.
Applause, Applause! 👏

Posted by
28145 posts

Standing ovation!

This thread is just so interesting, so informative, so much fun, I just love it.

More more please. Encore.

The two surviving Eleanor Crosses at Northampton (not in good shape but about to be restored or at least preserved by somebody (political wrangling continues while it continues to deteriorate) and at Geddington (in very good shape and just down from a really lovely ancient bridge and ford in a beautiful little village) are both just a few minutes away from where I live. I regularly visit the Geddington one; the Northampton one is on a main road on a hill and not easy to reach.

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2989 posts

Thanks everyone, for the encouragement! I just added one paragraph to the tapestries in the V&A.

Nigel, thank you! I find the story of the Eleanor crosses to be fascinating and touching. Edward I must have loved her very much. Thanks for the additional information! You are so fortunate to live in England where you can go see these things any weekend.

Pam, You wrote, "Perhaps Emma can be a local guide relating what It was like to live thru the Great Fire, haha! (Even though no castles or cathedrals are involved!) Ahhh, nephews, gotta love them."

To that, I will just say, I heard a rumor that Emma once dated Samuel Pepys.

Kathy and Pam, thanks for your interest in the "England 45 Days" tour. My joke was that I will drag you all over the place, and you will soon be sick of my tour. LOL!

Kathy, so glad to hear of your interest in Elizabeth Woodville! You wrote,
"I've read "The White Queen" (and "The Red Queen") and numerous other books about the Lancaster/Tudor families. It's a tangled web at best. Alison Weir writes some very good biographical books, if anyone is interested."
Tangled web, indeed.
And yes, I love and am addicted to the Alison Weir books!!!
I am delighted that all of the English history buffs and fanatics have "come out" on this thread, so we can have some interesting discussions.

Posted by
1353 posts

Rebecca - I've been to London more times than I can count and have never been to the V&A. We will only have a day and a half this trip, but after reading your descriptions I'm going to fit it in one way or another!

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1353 posts

Thanks Emma - and Rebecca! I just went to the website and made notes of some of the rooms which look particularly interesting. It looks like it could be easily overwhelming!

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9929 posts

Kathy and Pam, thanks for your interest in the "England 45 Days" tour. My joke was that I will drag you all over the place, and you will soon be sick of my tour.

Well, funny enough I’m touring my brother, SIL and her sis around now. We had time in London, then met up with a Rick tour, now time on our own in Bath. Oddly, They seemed way more willing to follow Robert the Awesome RS guide than me!! I’ve lost total control and had to leave them to their shopping this afternoon while I slunk back to the hotel and took a nap, hahaha!! Guiding is exhausting!

I did better with the V&A after I took a London Walks tour of it. I agree with Emma that it will go better with a bit of research.

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2156 posts

Pam,
I agree that guiding is exhausting, as I planned, navigated and researched activities on my recent trip to Paris/Amsterdam. My friend’s contribution was to leave almost all decisions up to me. When I didn’t know which way to go to get to a sight, she would say, “I can’t find my way out of a paper bag”. So, she was no help. It was a lot of responsibility! We did have fun but it made me appreciate the RS guides all the more with all they have to do to organize and keep safe a group of 24 or 28 people!

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2156 posts

Rebecca,
I love the V&A! On one trip to England, my friend and I were so immersed in the exhibits that we almost missed our train to Bath. We had to dash to our hotel, then to Paddington station and bought our tickets during rush hour, very expensive! We didn’t know any better and had reservations at a B&B in Bath. There was a problem with the train and we didn’t arrive till 10 pm that night. A funny story in retrospect!

And, I love your report!!!

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2989 posts

Hey you guys!! I am enjoying your responses so much!! I love the enthusiasm for the V&A. It's my favorite museum in London. The British Museum comes in a close second place.

Jill, Emma, Pam, Judy B., thanks for your comments!

To go way back up the thread and answer a couple of people.......

Jane, thanks for the information about Tony Randall and Paul Harvey. Tulsa sounds like a lovely place! I love the symphony!
You wrote,
"Rebecca, I want to go on a tour with you! Our tour mates often say to us after a tour: "Next tour I take I'm going to prepare as much as you do." Well, I think we'd be soul sisters. So where are you going next? :-)"

To all of you guys: I think a bunch of us on here should sign up for the same Rick Steves tour and then do some "Before and After" excursions. That would be fun!

Where am I going next.......by boat to Southampton, to Salisbury, Winchester, then east to Chartwell (Winston Churchill's home),
Hever Castle (home of the Boleyns), Penshurst Place, Leeds Castle, Canterbury, Dover, fast train to London. London for a week. Then to Oxford, Warwick, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Cotswolds, then try to see one of the Eleanor Crosses.

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2989 posts

Hey Pam, Lucky you, in Bath!
Have you been to Bath Abbey yet?
There is a good Chinese restaurant near the Abbey. Good vegetarian dishes, I don't know about vegan.
Just checked the menu. They have tofu; that's a good sign.
Peking Restaurant. 1-2 New St, Bath.
Lunch 12 to 2:00. Dinner 6:00 to 10:30. Every day, except Closed Sunday.
Reservations:phone: 01225 466 377.
But we had no reservation and just walked right in and they seated us.

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2989 posts

Trip Report---British Museum Continued.

We moved on to the Roman Britain exhibits and saw tombstones, column fragments, Roman coins.

We headed for the Egyptian rooms. It was more crowded than the tube at rush hour. Not kidding. There were people smashed up against the glass cases like smashed bugs on a car windshield, trying to see the mummies. Faces and palms pressed up against the glass. People behind them, pushing and shoving, trying to get a glimpse. No room to walk through the room, wall-to-wall bodies.

OK, time to leave. We tried other exhibits, but now it was really getting crowded. We walked back to the front door where people were streaming in. It was the weekend before May 1, and it seemed as though all of Europe had come to the British Museum.

It was mid afternoon. We walked south to Covent Garden and walked around. We walked to Fleet Street and found Temple Church built in the 12th c. by the Knights Templar. We saw the knights' effigies lying on top of their graves. Some figures had their legs crossed at the knee, some had their legs crossed at the ankle. This has to do with the number of crusades they went on. Outside there was a sculpture of a horse with two knights riding it instead of one.

We were suddenly tired. So we hopped the Number 15 bus (good old Number 15) back to Tower Hill.

We sank into the comfy banquet seats in the executive lounge of our hotel. Coffee, tea, sodas, beer, and wines were free. Being American, I grabbed a Coke. Ah, sweet. Husband grabbed a pint. Then our second drink was bottled water. Snacks were being laid out on the bar. Cheeses, grapes, crackers, french bread. We sampled this with some wine. Plates of small appetizers appeared. Miniature pasties, sausage balls, chicken satay skewers. It was like an answered prayer. We were too tired to walk anywhere for dinner anyhow. So we sampled the goodies.

A voice said, "This is great, isn't it?" The couple sitting at the next table over were very friendly. He was Scottish, she was from Yorkshire originally, and they now live in Yorkshire. We talked about the food. They were a married couple celebrating their anniversary, and had come to London on a weekend holiday trip. We told them we had been on a tour and were now on our own for several days. We told them all the places we had been on the tour, including York. They told us where their favorite places were in Scotland and England to go on holiday and why. We enjoyed talking with them very much.

Soon it was time to call it a night.

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Hello again, Rebecca. You wrote: "To all of you guys: I think a bunch of us on here should sign up for the same Rick Steves tour and then do some "Before and After" excursions. That would be fun!".....Please count me in! I double majored in English Literature and English History in college so have (almost) an obsession with both. Sounds like we enjoy reading the same authors, exploring the same sights and I absolutely agree with your theories about Richard III. I have always thought he got short shrift in the history books. Isn't it said history is always written by the "winners" (aka the Tudors?)? Not quite the accurate quote but you know what I mean! I have thoroughly enjoyed your writings and am sorry your actual tour is just about over as so then your trip report will be also :( . I know you enjoyed the remainder of your post tour time in England and I am hoping you will be writing about that as well. If you haven't taken the Villages of South England tour, I am fairly certain you would enjoy that one, too! I am off for London and Scotland in the fall. I enjoy Scotland travel as much as England-their histories are so intertwined. Thank you again for a wonderfully entertaining and informative trip report.

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andi, Thank you. A major in English Literature and English History is a wonderful combination.
"history is always written by the "winners" (aka the Tudors?)"--So true.
I hope you have a great trip in the fall.

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9929 posts

Thanks for the restaurant suggestion for Bath. We’ve got one more dinner here!

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28145 posts

Rebecca

any time you want to see the crosses or the beauty of Northamptonshire (similar to the Cotswolds but different and with no tourists) just let me know and if I can I will show you round.

Do you know about Fotheringhay Castle and Fotheringhay collegiate church? http://friends-of-fotheringhay-church.co.uk/

Loads of history there:- http://friends-of-fotheringhay-church.co.uk/about-fotheringhay-church/

Maybe by the time you are back it will have reopened. I hope. The light inside is fabulous.

It is just down the road from me.

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Hello Nigel, thank you so much for your kind and generous offer! I will happily say "Yes." to your offer of taking myself and husband 'round to see Northamptonshire.
Seeing the crosses, a little of Northamptonshire, and meeting you and your wife would be a real treat!
About Fotheringhay Castle--I know that Richard III was born there, but not much more.
Would love to see the castle ruins and the Church that you mentioned someday.
Many thanks again for your most kind and generous invitation.
Best regards, Rebecca

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Hello Emma, thanks! That sounds fabulous! "A Stitch in Time" presented by Amber Bushart. by BBC. I am very interested in historical garments. I will definitely find it if I can, at the BBC website and buy the video/DVD of it.

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To everyone who is still reading this trip report, thank you for sticking with it.

The next entry will be about a Sunday afternoon walk around the very old City of London, landmarks, Thomas Cromwell, Samuel Pepys, medieval churches in the City of London and the old Roman walls around the original City of London which was known as The Square Mile.

The day after that will cover our moving hotel to Windsor, visiting Windsor Castle, St. George's Chapel and some of the Kings and Queens buried there, including Edward IV, his queen Elizabeth Woodville, Henry VIII, and his beloved Queen Jane Seymour.

I write these entries as a document on my computer, then proofread, make changes, copy and paste into the trip report, so it will take me awhile to gather my thoughts and do this. So there won't be anything additional to read for at least an hour or two. But I promise to put up several new pages tonight.

Then I will do my hotel and restaurants of the Rick Steves Tour.

Then I will give a reading list of books for anyone who is interested.

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Oh my gosh Emma. Thank you for that website. Amazing period costumes. Surely she has made costumes for all the TV and movie productions, such as Wolf Hall, Elizabeth I, and The Tudors.

For awhile there was an exhibit of the costumes from "Wolf Hall" that was touring around England. A year ago it was displayed in York for 6 weeks, I think.

I will tell you something amazing. About six months to a year ago, the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon had a sale to get rid of their old costumes. They were running out of room to store current costumes for current productions. Into the sale went all the old costumes that had labels sewn into the inside back, "Lawrence Olivier, Hamlet", "Peter O'Toole". These were put out, yard-sale fashion, and sold for from 10 pounds to 20 pounds each. What I would have given to have known about it ahead of time and headed over there with cash in my pocket!

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Emma, can I come with you? Literally, a dream "date"! Rebecca, I will be waiting to read about your stay in Windsor. I am planning on taking my sister there (only for a day trip, I'm afraid) when we are in London in the fall. I have been a couple of times but each time I visit (any place really), I see everything with new eyes and from a new "place/time" in my life. So looking forward to September! This ALL has been so rewarding to read; apparently that's true for many of us who are eagerly awaiting every new installment of your journey!

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13730 posts

OMG, so many stories and great tips from so many of you!

OK, can't resist....
Westminster Abbey (my fave pile in London). Crawling about some dark corners I ran into the tomb marking of Catherine Carey Knollys: very exciting. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary, who had been Henry's concubine before he was bewitched by Anne. Catherine's brother, Henry, Lord Hunsdon, has the tallest, possibly most opulent monument in the abbey. Because of uncertainty around the the date the affair ended and the extraordinary favoritism shown to both by Harry VIII and Elizabeth 1 (their first cousin), it's long been speculated that Harry was their sire and not Mary's husband, William Carey.

Anyway, Catherine served Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and cousin Elizabeth, and married well: Sir Francis Knollys was Treasurer of the Household for Elizabeth 1 and keeper of Mary Queen of Scots during her confinement in England. They had a right passel of children including the scandalous Lettice Knollys, mother of Elizabeth 1's great - but beheaded- favorite, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

Ooh, that Lettice got herself tangled up in all sorts of trouble!

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9929 posts

I’m in with Emma and Andi on meeting up with Maggie and Judi for drinks. Perhaps Rebecca will include that activity on her 45 day All Castles/All Cathedrals tour??

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2989 posts

Pam, sure!

Trip Report--Sunday in The City of London

Sunday morning is the perfect time to begin a walk around The City of London, because the streets are almost devoid of traffic. The businesses are closed. Tower Hill area is the home to many large insurance companies, such as Lloyd's of London, and several others.

We began by walking down to the riverfront in front of the Tower of London for a view of the River Thames. Then we walked back up to the area known as Trinity Gardens. It is across the street north of the Tower. If you weren't looking for it, you'd miss it.

There is a small square with a concrete edging on it. This marks the spot of the scaffold where many were beheaded.
Thomas Cromwell was beheaded here, where I was standing.
There are very small metal plaques attached around the sides of the low concrete edging to this sad little square. They bear the names of the persons executed here.
Thomas Cromwell, Sir Thomas More, Bishop John Fisher, to name just a few.
There were more than 125 executions here, beginning in the 1300's and not ending until the mid-1700's.

Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher were very brave and devoutly religious men who would not sign an allegiance to Henry VIII when Henry left his wife Katherine for Anne Boleyn and turned his back on the Catholic Church. The brave Sir Thomas More said his allegiance was first and foremost to God. They would not condone what he was doing and they were executed for it. Both were executed in 1535.
Thomas Cromwell lasted a bit longer, being the faithful servant of Henry. He was a Lawyer and Chief Minster to Henry VIII. He was given many titles by Henry including 1st Earl of Essex. He was executed in 1540.

Across the street and to the east is a church we visited during our 2016 trip, All Hallows By-The-Tower. In 2016, we were given a tour by one of the docents there. He took us into the crypt where there is a small segment of Roman road, a segment of mosaic floor from a Roman townhouse that is in its original location, and a Celtic cross and altar left right where it was found. Founded in 675, it is one of the oldest churches in London, and contains inside a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon arch incorporated into the interior. Remodeled in the medieval period.

We left Trinity Gardens and walked north up Seething Lane. Here you will see another medieval church. On the left side of the street, look for St Olave's Church. This is where Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist is buried. Look to the right and you will find a blue plaque that says across the street from the church is where Pepys lived.

Samuel Pepys is famous for the diary he wrote in the mid-1600's which covered the Great Fire of 1666. He was keeping a diary of what everyday life was like back then, and then the fire happened, so he wrote about that in his diary. I believe it is the only eyewitness written account of the fire, day by day. He was a Member of Parliament and he was Chief Secretary to the Admiralty in the mid-1600's.

When we were in London in 2016, we went into St Olave's Church. If you go there, notice the arch of sculls over the entrance gate to the churchyard. Sometimes this gate is chained closed. We went into the church. It is a very small medieval church. The interior is beautiful. Samuel Pepys is buried here along with his wife. She is probably keeping an eye on him, even now. If you read his diary, you will know what I mean. The diary is still in print, if anyone is interested in reading it.

Then we moved on walking north up Seething Lane, turned left on Hart street, turned left on Fenchurch St., right on Lime Street. We passed a really nice pub on the left of Lime Street called The Bunch of Grapes.
Soon we were looking at a modern building straight ahead that looked like a bunch of stacked tin cans and metal pipes. This is the headquarters of Lloyd's of London, the famous insurance firm. We walked to the west and arrived at Leadenhall Market.

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We walked to the west and arrived at Leadenhall Market, a lovely old Victorian market. It had an ornate high roof and Victorian storefronts that are now shops and restaurants and pubs. I highly recommend a visit to Leadenhall Market.

We walked northward under Leadenhall Market to the Waterstone's bookstore, where we browsed for an hour. Then we we walked north, went to Starbucks and got coffee, turned right coming out of Starbucks onto Leadenhall Street and found a bus stop and waited for the Number 25 bus. It would take us westward to St. Paul's Cathedral.

The bus ran along until we were on Cheapside St. When St. Paul's came into view, we hopped off at the next stop. We walked west on Cheapside, turned north onto New Change, and continued north on St. Martin Le Grand. Soon we saw the round building that is the Museum of London.

We went to the Museum of London when we were here in 2016 and enjoyed it. So came back to see the exhibits on Roman London, the Roman mosaic tile floor that had been excavated from a Roman townhouse nearby, miniature model Roman buildings, prehistoric exhibits, and more. We had lunch in their very good cafe and browsed in the gift shop/bookstore.

There is a huge section of the Roman London wall beside of the Museum. So we walked outside and looked at that. The Museum of London sits in the north-west corner of where the wall was.

The London Wall was a Roman Wall built around the City of London to keep out intruders and invaders. Which is ironic because at this point, the Romans were the invaders.

Anyhow, the entire Roman city of London was contained in this area enclosed by the walls. This is why many of the Roman archaeological finds in London are in the City of London. One of the Roman things that was not within the city was their graveyard. They preferred to bury the dead on roads leading out of their cities. This graveyard in London was to the east of the Roman Wall. Roman headstones and things have been excavated there. There were gates in the wall, with roads going to the east (where they buried their dead), north, and west.

The wall was maintained through medieval times, when it was useful for protecting the Tower of London. Some medieval stonework was added to the Roman wall here and there. There were several gates leading out of the City of London.
To the east was Postern Gate, at the north edge of the Tower of London. The Tower of London was in the southeastern-most corner of the City of London, the "Square Mile."

North of that gate was Aldgate. The city wall curved, ran westward, and then there were Bishopsgate, Mooregate, Cripplegate, Aldersgate, Newgate, and Ludgate. The last 3 were in the part of the wall that turned south and ran downward just west of St. Paul's Cathedral, all the way to the river. In Roman and medieval times, the city gates were closed at night to protect the city.

The Museum of London sits in the north-west corner of where the wall was.

You can see fragments of the Roman Wall today in several places. Part of the original Roman Wall is inside the Tower of London. A section can be seen as you go down the stairs to the Tower Hill tube station, with a statue of Julius Caesar in front of it. A large portion can be seen by walking into the parking lot beside the Grange Tower Hill hotel.

Other very large sections can be seen walking south from the Museum down in the general direction of St. Paul's.

We went to one more very small church in this area which I will not describe because I am getting very tired and cannot do it justice.

We returned to the hotel, had appetizers at the executive lounge, and hit the sack.

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Windsor.

Next morning we packed our bags, had a good breakfast, and headed out to Windsor. We arrived at our hotel. Fortunately they had our room ready so we dropped our bags and headed for the castle.

We walked along a narrow street going uphill. There were strings strung high above the street, from one side to the other, with little triangular flags hanging off of them with royal crests on them. Some streets were being paved. Some buildings were being painted.

The wedding of Prince Harry was 20 days away. In a couple of weeks, the news media would come to town with all their cameras. Windsor was getting ready for her close-up.

We purchased our tickets and entered the gate. We walked up a cobblestone walkway that had a lovely garden to the right side of it. We turned left and soon were in the Middle Ward. We were now in the Middle Ward, below the Round Tower. The Round Tower had a low dry moat at its base that had been turned into a garden area.

The Round Tower was built by William the Conqueror in 1070 to guard the western approaches to London. In 1170, it was rebuilt by Henry II in stone. It now houses the Royal Archives and Photographic Collection. There is no access to the Round Tower during the tour of the castle.

We followed round the Round Tower, went through a gateway (the Norman Gate built by Edward III), and then entered the State Apartments. Queen Mary's Doll's House was exquisite, with even the tiniest detail being perfect. Moved on to the entrance hall and stairway which had knights' armor and suits of armor displayed. We saw many opulent rooms including St. George's Hall which had burned in a fire in 1992 and been rebuilt.

Then we left the state apartments. There were buildings behind the state apartments which were not open to the public. This entire complex is the Upper Ward.

We now walked down toward St. George's Chapel. This area is the Lower Ward. We entered St. George's Chapel at the side door. St. George's was built between 1475 and 1528 in the Late Gothic style. Ten monarchs are buried in the chapel, the most famous of which is Henry VIII. In the same vault as Henry is his beloved Queen Jane Seymour, who gave him the son he always wanted. In the same tomb with them is King Charles I, who was beheaded. This grave is underfoot marked with a simple slab with thier names engraved on it.

St. George's Chapel is opulent, with a fan vaulted ceiling. I was looking for another grave, the one I came to see. On the left side of the chapel were the graves of Edward IV and his Queen Elizabeth Woodville. Their marker was black marble, highly polished and smooth. Engraved into the stone and inset with gold letters it said "Edward IIIJ". The numbers are not in the Roman numeral form. Buried nearby are the coffins of two unidentified children suggested to be the Princes in the Tower.

Around the corner from them is buried Henry VI, whom Edward bumped off the throne twice. Starting in 1453, Henry began suffering a series of mental breakdowns, which led to him being vulnerable to this happening.

Buried nearby are the parents of the present queen, George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Queen Mother.
Numerous other royals are buried here.

Windsor Castle was originally a motte and bailey in 1070, but was remodeled by most successive monarchs who called it home, mostly by Henry II, Edward III, Henry VIII, and George IV.

We exited the castle through the Henry VIII gate, and headed for a nearby Cornish pastie shop for a hot supper. The weather had turned bitterly cold and windy. Walked back to the hotel and hit the sack. The next day, we would go to Heathrow and head home, saying goodbye to England.

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Hotels and restaurants of the tour.
Brooks Guesthouse, Bath.
Lovely old home with lovely living room/lobby. Staff eager to please.
The breakfast at Brooks was top-notch. Everything from full English to a bagel available and vegetarian and vegan options. All breakfast dishes were perfectly prepared. Not an easy task for a chef when you have 12 to 30 people in the dining room all ordering eggs fixed in different ways. Wonderful coffee and tea served. A buffet table offered croissants, cereals, yogurt, fruit and several types of juices.
Lots of stairs up to some of the bedrooms. Steep winding staircase down to the breakfast room; just be careful & no problem.
Bedroom sizes varied. Some had one piece of furniture for hanging or storing clothes, some had none.
Some beds were fine, some beds were like a hammock, and need to be replaced by the owners.
Very good updated modern bathrooms.
Very clean in all rooms.

The Hop Pole, Bath---Nearby pub for first group dinner. Excellent.
We had a choice of roasted chicken breast, roast beef, or a vegan option. We then went to a buffet of steamed vegetables to add whatever we wanted to our plate. Excellent meal; chicken was tender and juicy.

The Woods---Nearby restaurant for second group dinner. Excellent with 5 stars added!!
The Woods is my (and my husband's) favorite restaurant of the tour. Large bowls of vegetables were passed around the table for us to serve ourselves family style. I had ordered baked chicken which was delicious. We had our choice of several entrees and desserts. We chose Sticky Toffee Pudding with a sauce for dessert and it was fantastic. Husband spent the rest of the trip raving about that dessert. This was fine dining. The room we were given was casually elegant but not fancy. It was peaceful and quiet there and we all had plenty of room at the table. No crowding or noise. The servers were polite and attentive.
One of my favorite restaurants I've ever been to in my life.

The Sheep on Sheep Street, Stow-On-The-Wold.---Cotswold Country Elegant.
My favorite hotel of the tour. Posh little hotel of Cotswold stone. Cozy lobby, dining room, and sitting room with leather furniture, stone and hardwood floors.
Our room was away from the main street out front, so we heard no noisy during the night. Beds were five star hotel quality. Brand new mattresses, just soft enough and supportive enough for a perfect night's sleep. Bedroom and bath freshly painted and immaculately clean.

The Sheep on Sheep Street dining room---Third group dinner.
Excellent food, excellent decor. Quiet and roomy dining room. Quietly posh.

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6513 posts

I have read some of this trip report but I admit I have not read it all. And I wasn't going to respond, but decided somebody had to tip it to 100. So, there you have it. Enjoyed the part I did read, very detailed, and sounds like you had a great time.

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2445 posts

Weren't you on the same tour with Surfdog? I'm waiting for your take on the Indian restaurant from hell.

Thanks for being such a good travel writer. I love a well-written trip report.

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2989 posts

The Castle Hotel, Conwy, Wales.
Lovely old hotel. Great location near the waterfront, Conwy Castle, and city walls.
Elegant lightly worn lobby, bar area and restaurant.
Good bedroom, with two wing chairs, writing desk and bureau for clothes.
Comfy bed. Very clean bed and bath.
Bedrooms are upstairs, which means lots of stairs for the ones on the top floor.
Quiet at night; we got a great nights' sleep.

The Castle Hotel dining room.
Our fourth group dinner. Excellent food and service.
Dining room was spacious and no one was crammed in.
Dining room was nicely furnished and quiet.

The Crow Park Hotel, Keswick. The Lake District.
Excellent hotel. It is an old Victorian house or inn.
Rooms are clean, comfy and adequate, not posh.
Mattresses are comfy but supportive. No backaches in the morning.
Problem for some people was the number of stairs up to their room and
lots of stairs out front. But if you take it slowly and carefully, all should be OK.
Some people had a great view out the front windows, one couple had a view of the
dumpster out back. All the luck of the draw what room you get.
Great breakfast.

The Fish and Chip Restaurant.
Our next group dinner. Fish and chips and free pint all great.

The Minster Hotel, York.
Great old hotel, great location, easy walk to sights and York Minster.
Nice lobby. Great breakfasts. Comfy beds.

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Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt in South Kensington had a beautiful front facade and an elegant lobby and dining/breakfast room. It was composed of Victorian era townhouses joined together, which made for an interesting maze of hallways and old stairways. It was clear that these townhouses had been very posh and expensive back in the Victorian era.

Bumpkin, S. Ken.
Our restaurant for the final group dinner.
A cute little restaurant, with French doors in the front. We ate upstairs to a very large room and were seated at long tables. But unlike a previous restaurant, we had plenty of room. No tables were squeezed up against one another.
We were served champagne and toasts were made by Roy to Rick Steves and to all present. Roy had taken our orders for food the day before. We were served chicken. The other choices had been salmon and ox jaw. The food arrived and was delicious. The only improvement that could be made would be 1. more choices of entree to choose from 2. vegetables and bread might be served with the meal. There were no veggies, no bread. I did not really want dessert, but it was served; gave mine to another tour member. Many people enjoyed the dessert, so that was good.

Talking and visiting was taking place, as well as the drinking of wine. More toasts were made. Funny stories about the trip were being told. People were exchanging email addresses and taking one last picture of themselves with their travel buddy.

End of Trip Report.
In conclusion I will say that this tour was so much fun. Our guide Roy and tour companions were super nice people and I hope to see all again on another Rick Steves tour.

Reading List for England--
I will give a page of this if anyone wants it.
I don't know how many people are still reading this (some dropped at the New York stories).
Say so if you guys want it, and I'll post it.
Otherwise, I won't post it.
Thanks for reading and thanks for all the kind words.

Rebecca

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Thank you for such a wonderful trip report. I have really enjoyed it. Please post your reading list!

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9929 posts

I’m still enjoying your travels! Reading list? Yes, please.

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9929 posts

Not wanting to on about the indIan meal but regarles of whether someone complained or not the guide should have spotted that people weren't actually getting food. It's his job!

Yes, I completely agree with this. Even with the crowding (and I have had a group meal here) the guide should sit on the end and at least stand and scan the tables. He should have noted the lack of food.

I was sitting next to my Southern England guide one night and most had been served but me (vegan). I encouraged him to start eating and he said he never takes a bite until everyone is served and eating. That way if someone is unhappy he can give them his plate of untouched food. He walked around at each meal at the beginning and during dessert service.

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2057 posts

Yes, please publish a book list! I would love that. Agree with Wray-you are clearly an optimistic person! Why would anyone want to travel any other way? Pam, I have noticed every guide I've ever had doing the same thing-making sure everyone is happy before sitting down to enjoy his/her own meal. I can't imagine RS would want to use this restaurant again. On the other hand, Rebecca, I am fairly certain The Woods (Bath) is the restaurant in which we enjoyed our last group dinner after the Villages South England tour. Agreed! It was fabulous and my favorite meal of that tour!

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Book list:

The Kings and Queens of England, by Ian Crofton. ISBN Number: 978-1-84724-141-2
Begins with Alfred The Great. A quick page or two on each king or queen. This is an easy read and reference book. Lots of good information but you don't get bogged down by coverage of the wars, etc.
Read this and know who you are looking at (what they did, and what time period in which they lived) in Westminster Abbey or St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain, by Peter Salway.
ISBN Number: 0-19-822984-4.
Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Begins by giving some background of early Britain, including the Iron age and the Celtic people.
Includes photos of ship models like those used during Caesar's 54 BC invasion of Britain.
Complete coverage of Roman Bath and Hadrian's Wall.
Includes the end of Roman Britain and tells what happened next.

Roman Bath, by Barry Cunliffe, published by English Heritage.
Books also by Barry Cunliffe:
Ancient Celts, Penguin Press.
Iron Age Communities In Britain, Routledge Press.

A History of Britain; At The Edge Of The World 3000 BC-AD 1603, by Simon Schama,
ISBN Number: 0-7868-6675-6.
talk miramax books; Hyperion Publishing, New York
Begins with the Neolithic period, includes Stonehenge and Avebury, Iron age and the Celtics, continues on through the medieval period; about mid-way through covers King Edward IV and King Richard III, the two sons of Richard Duke of York. Covers the Tudors, ends with the rule of Mary and Elizabeth I. Explains The Babbington Plot and Elizabeth's spymaster, Walsingham, who acted as her "secret service" agent.

A History of Britain, Volume II, The Wars of the British 1603-1776, by Simon Schama,
ISBN Number: 0-7868-6752-3
talk miramax books; Hyperion Publishing, New York.
Simon Schama, was Professor at Cambridge, then Oxford, now Columbia University, New York City.

A History of Britain, Volume 3, The Fate of Empire 1776-2000. by Simon Schama.

The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe, Edited by George Holmes.

The Wars of the Roses, by Alison Weir.
A very good telling of the battles and families of this period; the Beauforts, the Nevilles, to name two. Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known as "the Kingmaker" for his ability to put kings on the throne and take them off and replace them. Owner of Warwick Castle at that time. He was the most fierce knight and jouster of his day.

This book covers John of Gaunt (the ancestor of most all English royal monarchs from the medieval period on down to today.)
Also King Henry V, King Henry VI (the weak king with periodic bouts of insanity), Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, and King Richard III.

The Princes In The Tower by Alison Weir.
About the two sons of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville who disappeared after their father died, presumed murdered by Richard III.

Note to any interested in Perkin Warbeck. It was said that Elizabeth Woodville had a premonition (she frequently did) and dream that her sons would be murdered. So she sent one of the sons away to the Netherlands to live with a family there, putting an orphan boy in his place at the castle. Years later, after the sons had been murdered, and Richard III put on the throne, a man returned to England, claiming to be that prince that had been sent away, the son of King Edward IV. This man was Perkin Warbeck, and he was immediately called a pretender, and executed. Elizabeth Woodville was known for having premonitions and being clairvoyant.

Other books by Alison Weir:
The Six Wives of Henry VIII. (As though we need to hear any more about all of this.)
Britain's Royal Families; The Complete Genealogy.

Any book by Alison Weir is going to be excellent.

King Henry V, a biography, by Harold F. Hutchinson. This was "Prince Hal" of Shakespeare's play. The father of the poor weak King Henry VI, who was to be deposed not just once, but twice, by Edward IV.

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Rebecca, your trip report was delightful I took this tour in 2015 with Roy as my guide and it was wonderful re-living the whole adventure through your eyes. Roy was so much fun and we had James as our driver. We sat at the front of the bus on the day that we went into Wales. We just told jokes and enjoyed "British humor". One of our tour mates remarked that "after being around Roy for 2 weeks he finally understood Monty Python!"

After walking around a small town I asked Roy about the memorials to the war dead. He explained that by the end of World War I that over half of all the young men in England had been killed. There were not enough men in England (or France) to fight in WWII. It made a lot of sense when I visited the battlefields of Verdun and Normandy last September.

I'm sorry that you got sick. There was a man on our Best of England tour who got sick, but luckily no one else on our tour got sick. It sounds like you were back to "feeling human" again by the end of the trip.

I'm one of those that plan out everything ahead of time as much as possible. That's one of my biggest joys. Thanks so much for your report. I enjoyed every bit of it.

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2989 posts

Not done with reading list yet....adding more....

The following are historically correct novels, not dry history books, and are a fast, fun read.
This series is called The Plantagenet and Tudor novels:
The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory. About Elizabeth Woodville and her mother, Jacquetta, also known as the mystical lady of the rivers.
The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory. About Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, who marries Henry VII and gives birth to Henry VIII.
The Kingmaker's Daughter, by Philippa Gregory. About Anne Neville, daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker. She married King Richard III.
The Red Queen, by Phillippa Gregory. About Margaret Beaufort, who believes that her Lancaster house is the true ruler of England.She does everything in her power to put her son Henry Tudor, Henry VII, on the throne. She is the grandmother of Henry VIII.

The Last Knight; The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era, by Norman F. Cantor, Emeritus Professor of History, Sociology and Comparative Literature at New York University. The story of John of Gaunt, the ancestor of most all royal monarchs of England from the medieval period on down to today.
Also by Norman F. Cantor:
The Civilization of the Middle Ages.

The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy, by John Cannon & Ralph Griffiths. ISBN Number: 0-19-822786-8. A complete history, including family trees, burial sites, and photos of royal tombs. 727 pages, Not a quick read. Excellent for reference.

History of Britain and Ireland; The Definitive Visual Guide. By DK Books. ISBN Number: 978-0-7566-7555-4. Begins 800,000 BCE, with the Stone Age and Stonehenge and ends in modern day. Heavy on large pictures, including items in the British Museum. Gives information about all time periods, but moves on fast for a quick read.
400 pages of the most interesting information to be found in one books.
This is a brand new book, published in the last 3 years, whereas some of the others I have mentioned are older.

Another fun book is:
Crown and Country; A Personal Guide To Royal London, by Edward Wessex (Prince Charles' younger brother). He takes you inside all the royal buildings and there are photos of rooms the public can't go in, because he's the Queen's son, and he could go there and take pictures. His thoughts also on the history of the historic royal palaces and houses and the people who lived in them. A quick read, beautiful pictures. He made this book into a PBS series. Universe Publishing. ISBN Number 0-7893-0478-3. 192 pages. Covers some areas outside London, such as Hertford Castle, Guildford Castle, Brocket Hall, Hatfield House, St Albans, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Hampton Court, Windsor and the site of the old Richmond Palace.

Excellent:
Best of Britain's Castles; 100 Of The Most Impressive Historic Sites In Britain, by AA Books. ISBN NUmber 0-7495-4046-X. 144 pages. Just what the title says; all the best castles with a map in front of where they are.

Had a request for a quick history.
The Timeline History of England, by Robin Eagles. ISBN Number: 0-7607-7974-0. Publisher: Barnes and Nobles. Excellent small book.

Posted by
359 posts

Absolutely. Amazing report on your trip.

Have you read Josephine Tey’s “A Daughter of Time”. Great story about a Scotland Yard detective who looks at the Richard III story from a relatively modern day perspective - actually written in 1951..... An interesting book about Richard III is “Digging for Richard III” the story of the excavation and the arguments regarding the reburial.

I hope you and other members of the tour will let the RS office know about the disappointing dinner in York. Presumably the Guide/Tour Manager was at the dinner and was no doubt aware that everyone was unhappy with the meal and will/has communicated with the office about the restaurant.

Posted by
2057 posts

Rebecca, thank you for the book list. Do you suppose I will have time to read (and absorb) all these before I leave for London? 😉

Posted by
2989 posts

Pam, thanks for your comments. I wish someone had said something to our guide so he could have taken care of it. But I was pinned into the back corner of the restaurant and could not get to him. He was by the front door.
Really great that your guide took such good care of you and your group!

Emma, thanks for the details about the flags! AKA, bunting. And the details about Queen Mary! Yes, the doll house is amazing!
About the Indian dinner...you wrote,
"The waiter you couldn't understand might have been saying "if you want more just ask".
No, he only talked when he was setting down a small bowl of vegetables. He would point to the vegetable dish and say something like "Goo Aloo" and then leave. Sometimes it sounded like just a mumble ( like "Rowr") when he pointed at a vegetable dish. Then the waiters ran away, never to be seen again. No waiters ever returned to my table (cannot speak for the other tables---don't know) after delivering vegetables.
But thanks for you thoughts on the matter.

Let me answer some posts that have come in while I was posting books.

Hi Andi! You're welcome. Haha, better start reading to get them all done!

Hello lanlubber. Thanks for the mention of the two interesting books! Have not read either of them but I will!
About the York dinner.....I think the tour leader was unaware that anything was wrong. He was sitting by the front door of the restaurant, a long way from where I was sitting. He was chatting with the tour members sitting right beside him, and I have no way of knowing what he thought about the situation.
Yes, I have let the RS office know about this.

Janet, thanks for your sympathies about me getting sick! Good to hear you had a great time on this tour! How great that Roy revealed his sense of humor to you guys on the trip! What fun! He was a lot more serious with us.
Thanks for sharing the historical details about WW1 and WW2 that he told you. A very sad thing that over half of the young men in England had been killed in WW1.

Posted by
2219 posts

I have been wanting to read a Phillpa Gregory book ( love historical fiction). Is there a certain order I should read them in??
And, is there one book called The Short History of England?? Lol

Posted by
2989 posts

diveloonie, Yes.....the short history of England coming right up.....Let me locate the book on the shelf in the other room, so I can give you guys the exact title. I was going to put it on the book list anyway, because everyone wants a quick read to get the basics.

Some of the books I listed in the long list were for people who really, really want to dig in and read a complete history. More reference books, really, but some are very detailed.

Now back to that quick history..........have put it on at the end of the list.

The White Queen would be an excellent place to start. It's the love story of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. There was a TV version of it made, was on "Starz" network, so you might be able to buy a DVD of that, too. Very well done TV series, but lots of love scenes.

After you read The White Queen, you can go back to read the story of her mother, Lady Rivers (another book) and then read the story of Margaret Beaufort The Red Queen, to get the background.

Then maybe go forward and read The White Princess.

Posted by
2989 posts

Had a request for a quick history.
The Timeline History of England, by Robin Eagles. ISBN Number: 0-7607-7974-0. Publisher: Barnes and Noble. Excellent small book.

Posted by
3479 posts

Rebecca,
Best detailed trip report I've ever read. If their was a RS trip report contest, you would win 1st prize! Like others have mentioned, your optimism and enthusiasm is to be commended. Thank you.

Posted by
5157 posts

Oooooh, there's an idea! A trip report contest.

Naah, maybe not. Rebecca, thanks for a wonderful, informative, and entertaining report. I still want to go on a tour with you. We're headed to France next year....

Posted by
43 posts

Rebecca - loved reading your wonderful report. Thank you for sharing every aspect of your trip and also for being so kind to the "single traveller".

Take care and be well......

Posted by
2989 posts

Emma, Ianandjulie, jlschandler, Jane, and Holly, thanks for you comments!

Thanks for the invitation Jane!

Posted by
442 posts

Rebecca, you are such a good writer. I was also thinking there should be a RS contest for Best Tour Report. Most of us cannot compete with the professional digital artists who either create or edit the current scrapbooks. There should be a prize for travelers who study, read and share their knowledge as only prose can.

Posted by
2989 posts

Thank you, Traveling Mom. I've been reading about English history since I was 15 years old. Always interested, or obsessed with it. Started collecting books back then. I've been reading about the history of England (and biographies of kings and queens) for about 50 years. Interesting stuff. There's always more to learn.

Posted by
2989 posts

Because I have been asked for paperback books, short read, lots of information, I will post this:

The Story of England, by Christopher Hibbert. Phaidon Books. ISBN Number: 978-0-7148-2652-3. Paperback. 222 Pages.

Kings and Queens of England and Scotland, by Plantagenet Somerset Fry. DK Books. ISBN Number 978-0-7566-1771-4. Paperback. $10. 94 pages.

Paperback books, very thorough history, but each one a quick read: Volume 1 is the best.

The Birth of Britain; A History of The English-Speaking Peoples. Volume 1, by Sir Winston S. Churchill. Barnes and Noble Books. ISBN Number 978-0-7607-6857-0. Paperback. 421 pages.

This starts the history of England with the coming of the Romans, with some information later about the Celtic people that had been there before, and concludes with the start of the reign of Henry VII.

There are three more volumes in this series, but the one I have given is of the most interest to anyone wanting a history before the Tudors. Sir Winston Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for this series.
The other volumes are:
Volume 2: The New World.
Volume 3: The Age of Revolution.
Volume 4: The Great Democracies.

Posted by
382 posts

Rebecca, I have to share one more story from our Best of England tour. We had our Indian dinner in York at the Viceroy restaurant. (This was a good experience for our group, sorry that yours wasn't pleasant). One of our tour mates asked for a cup of chai tea with her meal. When it arrived, she proclaimed it to be a very good cup of chai. The next time the waiter came by, I asked: "could you bring me a cup?" He nodded his head and a few minutes later he brought a "cup". There was no tea, just a cup! We all laughed. When the manager came by, we explained that I would like a "cup of chai tea" and he brought a cup of tea for me. I guess I learned that I needed to be specific. Ha Ha.

Posted by
2989 posts

Hello Janet, I love your story! This is a great tour! So glad you enjoyed it! Ours was the first RS tour group of the year to come to the Indian restaurant. I now think they were a bit overwhelmed by the crowd that night. It was mid-April, and just the leading edge of tourist season. So I will say this was the beginning of tourist season in York, and staff at the Indian restaurant may have been caught by surprise by the number of people they had to serve; all of our tour group, plus 40 to 50 other customers in the restaurant.

Posted by
64 posts

Janet, your experience was SO different from mine at this restaurant. After they brought the food, all servers disappeared. I had asked for water with my meal, and when I decided I would also like a cup of tea I had to carefully extract myself from my seat, go over to the bar area and order a cup, and of course pay in advance. Then I took my cup of tea back to my seat. Different nights, different experiences. But I will never go back.

Posted by
20 posts

Rebecca- again thank you for your wonderful report. I’ve been debating between 2 trips for 2019- my first with a RS Tour- Best of England and Southern England or Southern Italy and Sicily. I have decided to “give up” trying to chose and do both trips (4 tours). Italy in the spring and England in Sept. I know London, Paris, Rome- time to explore the countryside a wee bit.

My guidance in this are 2 friends (actually couples so make that 4), They are not forum people but RS tourers; about 25 tours between them. I’ve been filing them in on this thread— and had them read some off my ipad. They (all 4) are stunned. They all say the guide circulates during dinner, the restaurant owner/chef will often appear. Their guides make sure everyone is fed. These tours are all well planned, the guide just doesn't show up..... the restaurant knows how many to expect, at what time and should be “properly” planning for it.

I was asked, to ask you, to write to RS about this dinner. Not to get anyone in trouble but HQ must be advised of “field conditions”. And not just in a tour report- they get thousands of those. But write a real letter, invest in an envelope and stamp. Real letters are getting rare these days and they do attract attention when received—much more attention then a quick flash of an email.

I can only hope that in 2019 I can report back as well as you did Rebecca. I am far from a grump (complainer about trivial matters) but if something is seriously wrong I do get it fixed. If the restaurant is reading this—a new sherriff is coming to town in 15 months...hahaha.

Sid

Posted by
13730 posts

Rebecca, your reading list is just great! I'd LOVE to see you publish it in the "Recommended Books and Movies" forum so it's all together!

Sometimes I wish there was an easier way to see, country-by-county and city-by-city, a complete and regularly updated list recommendations by so many readers on this site. Some of those would be lengthy, I know, but like Rebecca's offerings here, threads which include them tend to get lost as new threads push them down the pipe, and the search function may not pick them up.

A couple others which may be of interest?
"Dr. Johnson's London", Liza Picard. A look at everyday life in 1740-1770 London.

"Hubbub; Filth, Noise & Stench in England"; Emily Cockayne. City life in pre-industrial England (Yikes!)

"In Search of London"; H.V. Morton. Written in 1951, it's a fascinating journey as the author takes us walking about London and offers stories and descriptions of historical places, people and events along the way.

Posted by
511 posts

Wow, what a great report and great reading list! Thanks so much for taking the time to write it all up for us! I'm definitely saving the URL so I can find it again later.

Posted by
2989 posts

Kathy, thanks for the additional books. They look very interesting. Yes, I will see about making some postings over on the books and movies forum!

Posted by
2989 posts

Marty, thanks for your kind remarks. I enjoyed re-living my trip through this report! And I like to share books about England with others.

Posted by
9929 posts

If I were planning to do this tour I’d probably have a chat with the guide before we got to the York Restaurant. This is toward the end of the trip so you’ll know the guide pretty well by then and you’ll know if they’ve done this itinerary during the current season.

Your prior stop is in Keswick with free time so plenty of time to connect with them to discuss the problems with lack of food and overcrowding. To me, most guides prefer to be proactive rather than reactive.

I would not bring up the issue too far ahead (such as the first night’s meet up) but I would bring it up before you are walking to or actually in the restaurant. Give them enough lead time to address the issue but not too much so other more immediate things don’t crowd it out, if that makes sense.

Rebecca, sorry to post advice to others on your TR!!

Posted by
2989 posts

Hey Pam, that is good advice! No problem with you posting it here, LOL! Thanks for posting a good solution.

Posted by
442 posts

Rebecca, we sat right next to the tour leader and that strategy didn't get us any more food. Fortunately, one of the tour members sitting near us was vegetarian so she had all her own dishes and didn't eat any of ours. That left us plenty. I thought the quality of the food we did get was excellent. It was unusual to be in an Indian restaurant and not have them constantly refilling dishes and plates of naan. Usually you have just the opposite experience, with more food than you can possible eat.
The restaurant probably sees every RS tour all season, so I doubt it was a surprise to them.
I think the real failure here was that the tour leader was not circulating to see how everyone was doing. On our 5 previous RS tours, the tour leaders spent a lot of group meal time walking around, chatting, checking in...establishing a personal relationship while making sure everyone was getting what they needed or wanted. This was the only tour where the tour leader sat by the same couple at every breakfast and most dinners, and never got up to "work the crowd". Had our tour leader been circulating (which would have been easy since he was at the end of a table) he could have instructed the waiters to bring more food/bread or meat of a specific type.

Posted by
2989 posts

TravelingMom, I agree with everything you said. It's too bad the tour leader didn't get up and check on how everything was going. I do agree that what very few morsels of food we had were delicious. In my tour evaluation sent back to the Rick Steves company, I did suggest that a buffet at the Indian restaurant, with each food item labeled, would be an improvement. Our experience at other Indian restaurants was, as you said, that we were served more food than one could eat

Posted by
1331 posts

The problem has been resolved.
We are currently on the Best of England tour and have just gotten back from the Indian dinner in York. There was plenty of food for everyone and there was even leftovers on the tables.

Posted by
9929 posts

Bob, it's good to hear you had a better experience and that there has apparently been some intervention.

Posted by
2989 posts

Hello Bob, glad to hear you had a good dinner at the Indian restaurant in York. Apparently someone did get the message that more food needed to be served for the group. I hope you have enjoyed this tour. We certainly did.

Posted by
1331 posts

Rebecca,

The tour guide did not have to do anything. As we sat down the waiters brought out two platters of food per table. Never the slightest hint of a problem.

Posted by
64 posts

That's good news, Bob. Great to hear. Tell me, did they still squeeze 5 people per side where 4 should have been, or were there just 4 now? And the two plates of food, was that for all the people at the table (either 8 or 10) or was that for fewer people? How about the naan? Still just two pieces for 5 people to share, or did they bring more? After they served the food, did they come back to check on things, or did they disappear for the evening?

Posted by
1331 posts

They still squeeze in 5 people per side. I agree it should only be 4 but I guess we have to accept a bit of progress at a time. There were 2 plates of each course. I did not count the number of pieces of each type of food but there were left overs so it was sufficient at least for our tour group. They brought out 2 large piece of Naan on a post (never seen it that way before) and everyone tore pieces off. Again there seemed to be plenty. After serving they were not on top of you like we are used to in the USA. It did take some determination but people did get the water pitchers refilled. However, I have found that to be "normal" in Europe.

Posted by
1000 posts

I really enjoyed reading your trip report. I would freak out if I woke up with a spider crawling on me, yikes! I just got back from a week in London (6th visit) and thought I’ve done everything I would want to do but your stories makes me want to go back again!

Posted by
2989 posts

Claudette, good! I'm glad to have given you some ideas!
Thanks for liking my trip report!
The spiders were the least of my worries by that time, as I had caught a cold and was suffering from allergies.
I always expect glitches (such as spiders) on trips.
There are some great day trips out of London.
I prefer to go to towns like Windsor and stay several nights to really look around. There are always good neighborhood pubs and cafes to be discovered in every little town or village.

Posted by
1000 posts

We stayed 2 nights in Windsor last year and loved it. It’s such a treat to see Windsor on TV with all the royal wedding coverage and seeing all the places we were at including the Long Walk. This trip I stayed 3 nights in York and also did a few daytrips outside London and York.

I’ve gotten a UTI and a bad cold on previous trips so now I’m armed with antibiotics when I travel. There’s nothing worse than being sick on a trip. I have bad allergies too and boy, did they flare up when I walked thru the parks in London. I had to buy extra Claritin at Boots because I had needed extra doses!

Posted by
2989 posts

Hi Claudette! Good to know that Claritin works for your allergies!
I'm glad you had that time in Windsor. Charming little town.