Once again, the two brothers and their wives embarked on a 10 day vacation. Last year, we went to Glacier National Park in Montana. Please add that park to your must see list, it is beautiful. This year, we went to England. Deciding where to go with a limited amount of time, was difficult. We finally settled on two days in the Cotswolds, two days in Plymouth and the rest in London. You might find the locations strange. We are Doc Martin fans and really wanted to see North Cornwall. Plymouth was a good compromise to venturing too far into Cornwall.
We booked with Kooky Cotswold Day Tours. Lee was wonderful. We corresponded via e-mail discussing trip options. Lee suggested staying at Seymour House in Chipping Campden. Sarah, of Seymour House, was wonderful, as was Claire. We had the Playroom and the Duck Room. The B&B was right on High Street in the center of town. The breakfast was wonderful - homemade granola, fruits, yogurt, eggs, bacon (better than American bacon), sausages, tomato, mushrooms, dry cereals, toast, with homemade jam. Oh, of course, English tea. I think I'm switching from Starbucks to tea.
But I get ahead of myself. We were picked up the first day by David. Even though the plane was about 30 minutes early, David was there to greet us at 6:30 in the morning! We were off the plane early, having learned to pack everything for our 10 day adventure in carry on luggage. We flew British Air. Since it was so early, David took us to Windsor and Oxford. We were able to see the castle from the outside. We had our first tea in Oxford, an Oxford brew. We walked around the town, in a light rain, looking at the outside of the buildings. Since it was early on a Sunday, we could not get in. Even though we could not get in, looking around was lovely. After tea, we went to Blenheim Palace. Blenheim is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and was built by the Duke of Marlborough. The current Duke was at the palace that day, we saw his Range Rover (I think that was what it was) on the grounds. After Blenheim, we headed to the Cotswolds. We went to Bibury, Burford, Lower and Upper Slaughter (drive through), Stow-on-the-Wold (we were too tired to get out and walk around). We had lunch at the Swan in Swinbrook. At Burford, we toured the 'Wool Church' of St. John the Baptist built between 1160 and 1475. In Bibury we viewed the lovely Arlington Row and communed with an otter. After a very long day, we were delivered to our B&B, Seymour House. Sarah had booked Sunday dinner at Eight Bells for 7:30. However, we were so tired we headed over around 5:30 and were able to be seated. We had a lovely Sunday roast dinner followed by a great nights sleep!
Monday, we had Lee as our tour guide. Lee, as well as David, is very informative. Lee also has a great sense of humor. If you are considering visiting England, especially the Cotswolds, I highly suggest contacting Lee to see what he can do for you. We had a walking tour of Chipping Campden. Since we were too tired to walk through the Slaughters the day before, Lee made a point to take us back. We were able to walk between Upper and Lower Slaughters through a field filled with sheep. We went to Broadway and saw the folly, Broadway Tower. A must see on our list was Sudeley Castle. Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's last wife is buried at Sudeley. The castle and grounds are beautiful. We also visited Snowshill, but alas the Lavendar was no longer in bloom. Sigh. Thanks to Lee and David for wonderful tours of the beautiful Cotswolds.
Tuesday found us on a train from Moreton-in-Marsh to Plymouth via Reading. Even though we were new to the English train system, the process was simple. I had purchased the tickets in advance so as to get the best fare possible. We toured Plymouth on foot, through the rain. Dinner was at Mitch Tonks Rockfish Grill. After dinner we met a local named Ian who gave us advice as to where to sit for the first night of the British Fireworks Championship. We stayed at the Grosvenor Hotel, within an easy walk to the Hoe. The room was nicely appointed and we had a comfortable nights sleep. The next morning we were met by Keith Black of Plymouth Ocean City Tours. Keith took us to Watergate Bay and Bedruthan steps, both very beautiful. We had our first Cornish Cream tea. We then headed to Padstow for lunch at Rick Stein's for Fish and Chips. They were very good, both the fish and the chips. The chips or french fries, were thick and a creamy yellow potato, different than the fries over in the states. Keith very kindly took us into Port Isaac! Oh my, the show doesn't do the road justice. It is so narrow. We had a look around before Keith came back for us. I applaud Keith for attempting the drive. We were then off to Dartmoor to see the moors and the prison. The wild horses were out and much easier to see then on the Eastern shore. Alas, I didn't get any photos because we didn't stop near the horses. Back to Plymouth where Keith made sure we saw the Royal William yard. Thanks Keith for a great tour.
Thursday we managed the trains again and traveled to London. We used our train tickets for 2 for 1 prices at the Churchill War Rooms. Since it was raining, we skipped our planned London Walk and went to Evensong at St. Paul's Cathedral. St. Paul's is beautiful and the service was lovely. Friday took us to a state room tour of Buckingham Palace. During the summer when the Queen is not in residence, you get to see more of the Palace which is extremely amazing. The afternoon took us on another train ride to Watford Junction and Warner Brothers Studio. The Harry Potter exhibit was amazing. The sets, the props, the clothes, all very magical. The rest of the trip took us to: Notting Hill, the British Museum, Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Tower of London, The Original Hop On/Hop Off bus tour, Thames River Cruise. I was amazed at how easy it was to get around London either by Tube or Bus. I wish the transportation in Washington DC was as good.
My photos of the trip can be found in England 2014. I will do my best to get the photos edited and uploaded as soon as possible. Below is a video of Billy Beefeater, from the Tower of London. He was great fun.