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Trip Report 3 Weeks w/ 6 year old in UK (The Trip)

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With many thanks to many posters here who commented in my earlier thread:

I didn't want to disappear into the ether and i wanted to let you all know that you were very helpful, both in the above thread and many others which I read. We are currently about a week into the trip at a B&B on a farm in the Peak District. It's been a great time so far. I am writing this up as I get the chance. Right now, it's laundry (we have access to a washer at the B&B) while my wife rests and my daughter plays on the Wii.

Day 1: Some dozing but no sleeping on the connecting flight Philadelphia to Heathrow, Terminal 1. Looked dated and tired – not a great first impression. Bag had apparently arrived on an earlier flight as it was waiting beside the carousel. After stopping for some cash, got a ticket on the Oxford Bus via credit card and fell sporadically asleep on the coach ride into Oxford. Found our way to the hotel (The Buttery) and dropped bags as the room was not ready. Took a walk out to get some lunch and try to fight through jet lag. Ate at a completely forgettable (but not bad) cafe in a courtyard off the Cornmarket.

We noticed we had packed our clothes too light. While wife and daughter slept, I went out and found a sweater to work in as an additional layer and walked around most of the afternoon. Scouted out a place for dinner (Turl Street Kitchen – recommended and just around the corner) and just basically wandered around getting a bit of a feel for the place.

Collapsed into bed around 8:00, put the white noise program on the laptop to mitigate the street noise, and slept. Everyone woke up at about 2:00 AM, but we all managed to sleep again and got up (a bit slowly) a bit before 8:00 AM.

Stayed at The Buttery. Great location, a little bit of street noise. Very roomy bathroom. A little expensive for what you get, but I think that is the norm in Oxford. A special treat: The Wi-fi actually worked in our room, but we were on the first floor, very close to the reception. This has not been the case since.

Day 2: (Oxford to Hay-on-Wye) Starting off a bit cold and dreary, downstairs to breakfast – I just couldn't face the prospect of a full English breakfast yet. Despite being what might be charitably characterized as a "man of girth" (barely avoiding "man of great girth" status) I really have never liked heavy breakfasts. Then it was time for a stroll about Oxford again. Picked up extra layers of clothes for wife and daughter, and then got a taxi out to the rental car place to pick up our car.

And the fun bit – driving on English (and Welsh) roads. I found that it didn't take me long to adjust to keeping to the left. The things that took me longer to adjust to were driving from the right hand side. I would keep drifting left, had to concentrate to shift with my left hand, and kept forgetting where the rear-view mirror was – looking in the wrong place. My wife, who is not all that great in British geography, was my navigator and off we went – randomly more or less. We finally made it to our first stop – Bourton-on-the-Water – though I am still not quite sure of the route. We ate at a tearoom, took a stroll around the town and over the bridges to see the ducks and picked up rain jackets for me and my wife. There was a school fundraiser going on and my daughter found three pony storybooks for 50p each to entertain herself in the car.

After lunch, some shopping and a pleasant stroll, it was off to Hay. After many twistings and turnings and somehow going through Tewkesbury three times in a valiant but ultimately unfruitful effort to stay on the A438, we still somehow managed to get to Hay and checked into our B&B. Based on a recommendation from the B&B owner, we had a pub meal at the Blue Boar, just up the road. Had a walk around Hay in the cold and rain and got the layout of the town. Then back for an early night.

Stayed at: St. Mary's B&B. Reasonably nice place in a convenient location at a fair price. Very pleasant hostess (and presumably host as well, although we only saw him briefly) and a good breakfast. Pretty easy street parking. Would likely stay there again in the event we stop in Hay-on-Wye in the future.

(To Be Continued)

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