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"Tom, You Bloody Idiot! Maitai Needs Help On England

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Feb 13th, 2013, 01:07 PM
  #1
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"Tom, You Bloody Idiot! Maitai Needs Help On England

I've been playing Beatles' songs every night after Tracy falls asleep, and I guess my subliminal message worked, because this morning she said, "Let's go to England this autumn."

After saying, "OK," I have been looking at a tentative two-week itinerary, and as is my usual state, I am now totally confused, so any help you can give me would be appreciated.

My initial plan is to fly to London and spend six or seven nights there. I then thought we might take the train to Bath, rent a car and explore Bath and the Cotswolds, before returning back to London. Is there anywhere else in that general area we could/should explore? Stonehenge perhaps (or is that better as a day trip from London)? Oxford? Stratford-Upon-Avon? We would have four or five nights for that part of the trip.

I also know that while in London, there are some day trips we could take like Windsor Castle or Leeds Castle. What other day trips by train might you recommend? After a quick look at areas to stay, I am leaning early toward South Kensington area. Thoughts? Hoping to find something for $200 a night or cheaper. Maybe an apartment if we stay seven nights. Lodging suggestions welcome, too.

Thanks and Tally Ho!

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Feb 13th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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Tom, when we lived in the UK (Beaconsfield near London), I visited Windsor Castle several times and really enjoyed it. I would also recommend Hampton Court and Kew Gardens. All of these can be done as a day trip from London.

You can't go wrong with the Cotswolds. It's a lovely area. We stayed in Chipping Camden on our first night in the UK back in 2004. Beautiful little town but just one of many in the area. Having a car would definitely make it much easier to explore.

In London, we've only ever stayed at the Ruebens Hotel across from the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. Back then, rooms were under $200 per night but now they might be more, unless you can find a good deal through www.londontown.com or one of the other hotel booking sites.

I envy you. I love the UK and would travel there more often if it was only up to me!!
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Feb 13th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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Love the title; love the first paragraph. Love that you're well enough to travel again!

Let me ask you this -- is this your first trip to England? And will you be traveling around by car?
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Feb 13th, 2013, 01:49 PM
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"Let me ask you this -- is this your first trip to England? And will you be traveling around by car?"

I went in high school. Virtually no memory except for a really good dinner at Simpsons In The Strand with my parents.

Also went in 1986 with my ex-wife and her parents. Trying to wipe that trip from my memory.

So, in reality, I am counting this as my first trip, since I remember virtually nothing from the previous ones.

I was going to pick up a car in Bath for 4 or 5 days and return it there (train back and forth from London to Bath and back to London).

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Feb 13th, 2013, 01:53 PM
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Hi Tom,

of course you have lots of options here - London, windsor, Stonehenge, Bath and the Cotswolds all of which could easily take 3 weeks or so - the trick is to fit the quart into the pint pot.

I've never done this exact itinerary [why would I? i live here] but if i were planning it, i think that I might start by taking the train to Windsor, booking into a hotel, doing the castle, spending the night there, then picking up a car and making for Bath via Stonehenge. After a couple of nights there, i would follow the Fosse Way [Roman Road from Exeter to Lincoln] up through Cirencester, Tetbury [or is that the other way round?] Stowe, Moreton in Marsh, to Stratford, then down to Oxford, leaving the car there and taking the train back to London.

The trouble is, that to do it justice, you'd really need more than 5 nights to accomplish that lot.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 01:58 PM
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Our day trips were to Cotswolds and Oxford with London Walks, which I recommend, and on our own to Hampton Court. Wonderful daytrip. We stayed in West Kensington and had no trouble getting anywhere.

Check out the Ceremony of the Keys at Tower of London; quite an experience. Also see what might be playing at Globe Theater.

Stay calm and Carry on!
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Feb 13th, 2013, 01:58 PM
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Good that it worked

just a few basic thoughts to get you going . . .

• If you stay in the Cotswolds - then Oxford, Stratford, Warwick and even Bath will basically be on your doorstep. Stratford/Warwick are quite close to the northern Cotswolds and Bath would be a reasonable day trip from most parts of the region. Oxford and Woodstock are on the eastern flank of the Cotswolds.

• I wouldn't rent a car in Bath. I'd take the tube out to LHR and collect a car there. That way you could visit Avebury and Stonehenge and on to Bath. Stay one night in Bath (be sure to book a place that has parking). The next day drive up to a rental cottage somewhere in the central/northern Cotswolds. Anywhere from Burford to Chipping Campden. This would be a base for seeing just tons of stuff. More than a week's worth but 6 or 7 days would give you a good overview.

• I also wouldn't bother w/ Leeds Castle. It is a so so castle w/ lovely gardens. The castle itself is basically a wedding/conference venue. It isn't even the nicest garden in Kent -- by a long shot. And if you stay in the Cotswolds you will be close to several exquisite gardens.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 02:01 PM
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When we were last in the Cotswolds we had rented a car at LHR and driven from there and then after several nights returned to London, dropped the car and stayed another week.

If I were to do it again I might consider taking a train to Oxford and renting the car there; I would definitely HAVE a car for the Cotswolds.

Lots of good advice already; I second Kew Gardens (easily done via Tube) if you like that sort of thing; Windsor you can do by rail; you can even go all the way to York and even Castle Howard in a long day by rail if you want to.

So much to see and do in London alone and yes I would cram as much in as possible.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 02:05 PM
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I got interrupted by a phone call while posting and didn't see your 2nd post or annhig's or cheryl's

re the places annhig mentions -- all are in or reachable from one base in the Cotswolds.

I'd personally take the car back to LHR and drop it the morning of my flight home. --- That is IF you do London first. Depending on how many days total I'd fly into London for 5 to 7 days, then to Bath for one night, the Cotswolds for 7 days, fly home.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 02:22 PM
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I agree with spending time in the Salisbury area- Old Sarum, Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge and the other neolithic sites in the area and also the Avebury area. But I'm a sucker for old stuff. ;-)

We read "Sarum" in preparation for the trip and it really helped to understand the history of the area.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 02:25 PM
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I would bag Leeds (modern) and substitute Hampton Court Palace - brilliant - esp if you are a fan of the Tudors. You can even stop and see the field where the Magna Carta was signed (Boo hiss King John!) on the way back to town.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 02:57 PM
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<>

the former, not the latter.

Dover Castle would work, but that's a longer day trip from London (85 minutes by fast train from St Pancras) than Windsor or HCP.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 03:14 PM
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I would bag Leeds (modern) and substitute Hampton Court Palace - brilliant - esp if you are a fan of the Tudors. >>

nyt - "bag" clearly has a different meaning in the US to the one it has in the UK. you are using it in the sense "to dump" I think - to me it means the exact opposite!

I don't entirely agree about Leeds Castle - if the roses are out, it's really beautiful . but there are many lovely Castles/stately homes to visit in Kent - Sissinghurst, Chartwell, Knole, Scotney, Penshurst - which would you say is the nicest garden in Kent, JJ? one of these, or none of them?

and I'm not sure I agree about only needing one base to see the Cotswolds - you could spend a lot of time retracing the same ground if you try to see it all from one place. Ideally pick one in the south [say Tetbury] and one in the north [say Chipping Campden]. 3 nights in each would be my ideal.

I do agree about hampton Court [nice if you can use the boat to go one way or the other] and Kew Gardens.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 03:18 PM
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Note, you can also reach Kew by boat, taking the tube back.

You might look here for a Cotswold cottage:

http://www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk/
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Feb 13th, 2013, 03:32 PM
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" [say Tetbury] and one in the north [say Chipping Campden]. 3 nights in each would be my ideal."

That sounds like a good plan. I looked at a place yesterday called Hare and Hounds Hotel in Tetbury that looked pretty nice (plus the name reminded me of my late, great beagle). Speaking of dogs, I should bring our Corgis to visit the Queen.

I just want to stay in Chipping Campden now because I like the name. I might have to add an extra day or two. I definitely have put Kew Gardens (love the boat idea) on the list. I get bonus points from Tracy when I find gardens for her (is there anything blooming in late Sept?). I better check my google maps to see what's near what.

I'll have to figure out if I want a week in London first or a week in the countryside first. Not a bad problem to have. I am appreciating all your suggestions. Thanks!

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Feb 13th, 2013, 03:39 PM
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We spent a couple weeks in the UK several years ago. We found Rick Steves book to be very useful. I could mention several things we did but my trip report might say it better. We very much enjoyed Bath and surroundings. Don't miss the Royal Crescent and the walk to it. We missed Stonehenge and are sorry we did.

http://www.rimerson.com/uk/uk1.html

Rob
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Feb 13th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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Um, Tom, with your history of rental cars, you do know the Brits drive on the other side of the road? Give fair warning to the days you will be driving.
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Feb 13th, 2013, 03:49 PM
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"Um, Tom, with your history of rental cars, you do know the Brits drive on the other side of the road?"

Yes, trust me, driving in England does have me a tad bit concerned. It's only about 70 dollars more for an automatic for a week, so I might go the "old man" route ( so I don't have to shift with my left hand. Just staying on the right side (I mean the left side) of the road will be a challenge for me.

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Feb 13th, 2013, 04:04 PM
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I personally would not stay in two different places in the Cotswolds. Just unnecessary packing and moving. Rent a cottage in, or walking distance from, a village and do day trips from there.

All those places/gardens mentioned in Kent/East Sussex are wonderful-- but that would take another week.

If you stay near Chipping Campden you will be VERY near Hidcote Manor (just about the equal of Sissinghurst) and Snowshill and lots of other gardens.

As for roses - just about the best of all are right IN London. Queen Mary's Rose Garden in Regents Park.

And re Kew/Hampton Court Palace -- take a boat . . . but FROM, not TO. The trips up river take quite a long time so take the train (HCP) or tube (Kew) to themand then take the boat back into town if you have the timeand the weather is nice.

And whatever you do -- don't rely on Rick Steves guidebooks for England. He is OK to very good for a lot of places. But his UK advice is pants (translation - rubbish)
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Feb 13th, 2013, 06:02 PM
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Tom, Kew Gardens is a botanical garden, so if your wife loves blooms and blossoms it might not be the best choice--at least it wasn't for me.
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