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First trip we lost a car, this trip we lose a lady >)

First trip we lost a car, this trip we lose a lady >)

Old Jun 29th, 2014, 08:32 AM
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Janisj--You were a real trooper continuing on like that for the duration!

We enjoyed Blenheim too (sorry, Flanner!) The Churchill exhibit was interesting--we were shocked about the letters he sent home asking his family for money. (We did like the Churchill Museum in London a bit better though). At Blenheim, the video display of the untold story was fun--the bit where you get the maid's perspective on things.

Janisj, your friends didn't seem to be impressed by much of anything it seems--other than the inside of different Starbucks. I am still shocked how they didn't take care of you and accompany you to emergency that day--or bring you back some food--at least a coffee.

Latedaytraveler--Welcome back and I can't wait to read your trip report too! Especially interested in your take on the Matisse Cut outs and the British Library WWI exhibit. Looking forward to your details. How much time did you spend at the Library? Some say an hour is good--others more.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 09:37 AM
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''I'm glad her post is gone, it was really uncalled for'

Calling her a b*t*ch is also uncalled for.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 12:21 PM
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cafegoddess: I don't need to defend cathies and didn't see her' deleted post . . . but if in fact she did call zeppole that -- it won't be the first Fodorite who has called her that and usually w/ good reason. Zeppole (and all of her various other screen names) has been kicked off Fodors numerous times for abusing others. I'm not sure why she took after me/this TR since I don't have much 'history' w/ her and don't post that much about Italy which zeppole seems to think she owns on Fodors.

And now to finish up . . .

Sunday - Date w/ julia_t; Sun/Mon/Tues - A tour of carparks of of the Cotswolds and Thames Valley.

julia_t lives in Painswick in the western Cotswolds which is also home to the lovely Rococo Gardens http://www.rococogarden.org.uk

When it worked out that julia couldn't join us for dinner on Saturday she suggested we come over to Painswick - wonderful idea. My original plan was to hit Sudeley Castle in the morning and then to Painswick in the afternoon. But we got a late-ish start so I changed direction and we decide on a short Cotswold tour (drive through Bourton-on-the-Water), visit Burford, maybe drive through Bibury and on to Painswick.

In Burford I parked in the town car park out behind the church on the River Windrush. and the girls spent about an hour walking around the town (During the first trip B1 got to spend a fair amount of time in Burford but B2 was stuck in the 'other' car and they basically just drove through so she hadn't seen much) Unfortunately they couldn't visit the church because services were still going on but they did get some lovely exterior photos. And they had coffee in town and did some shopping. While I was sitting in the car (w/ radio 4) a big group of motorcyclists on spiffy touring bikes drove in -- there were at least 20 bikes and several had passengers so probably 35 bikers all together. I talked to a couple of then and they were all over from Germany on a week long road trip. Most of them didn't go into town - it was mainly just a pit stop stop so 20 minutes later they fired up and paraded back out of town. I also watched three adorable 4 or 5 yos feeding the swans and ducks in the river. Lots of giggles and squeals.

The girls came back and I decide we had enough time to at least take a peek at Bibury and IF there was a parking space they could walk around a bit. No parking to be found . . Of course on a beautiful Sunday - it was always a long shot. So I drove through the village and then back through the same way so they could get good views of the river/island/flowers/Swan/Arlington Row.

And on to Painswick. Julia was waiting for us w/ a whole pitcher of Pimm's and we sat on her terrace for a while

. . . (we had lunch and she drove the girls up to the Gardens . . . but right now I can't recall which came first so I'll just mention both but don't hold me to the exact details ) . . .

It is a bit of a hike up so julia drove them up and they would walk back down after touring the Gardens. The two of us chatted some more and then she took me on a drive around the village and to some lovely view points. In town we stopped at an arts center and we talked to several artists/seamstresses who were working on projects for the ACP festival held a couple of weeks from now. There were some fantastic/weird/beautiful/amazing garments. This might give you a bit of an idea http://painswickcentre.com/fonysanco...CP-photo-1.jpg but when we were there it was the artists sitting on the floor and at work tables surrounded by fabric and unconventional materials.

I'd like to be in the area in July some time and attend the festival -- it seems like a really fun event. http://www.canvasforcreativity.com

Lunch was just a terrific spread w/ all sorts of salads and cold cuts and smoked salmon and wonderful cake. We ate lots but barely made a dent - but her sons were home from college so not to worry about the left overs

(and I TOTALLY covet julia's cooker - a beautiful Rayburn - like an Aga). julia_t is a very gracious hostess and we all enjoyed the trip to Painswick.

Back to the Plough - the B's took another walk I sat out on the terrace w/ a beer and visited w/ some fun girls who were having (several ) post-Sunday lunch drinks. One of their friends had been married the previous week and this was sort of a post-hen party and they were a VERY jolly group

The wifi really never worked during our whole stay (staff said it was VERY intermittent and they just couldn't get it to work this weekend). I really needed to contact AA to order wheel chairs for LHR/DFW/SMF. So they found AA's phone number and set me up in the office so I could call. (Amazing - one ring and I was actually speaking to a real live person . . . who spoke English AA added wheel chairs to my passenger record and I was set in less than 4 minutes.

When the B's git back we weren't at all hungry so just had bar snacks and called it a night.

Monday: Mostly Broadway - and the Mount Inn, Stanton

Today is our last day in the Cotswolds and one place B&B really wanted to visit was Broadway. B1 got a quick stop there last trip but we didn't get into town till about 5PM and many of the shops close around 5:30. B2 only saw it when the other car was lost enroute to our rental cottage - they drove into town and turned around and back out (those who read the other TR -- apparently the "missing" 45 minutes was spent going back and forth from Chipping Campden and meandering around the countryside on the way to Lower Quinton)

We drove over to Broadway and I parked in a pay-and-display car park near the church while they spent about 2 hours shopping and having coffee/cakes. I did hobble over to a couple of nearby shops in Church close and bought a cold drink in Foxy Brown's

When they came back I decided to take them up to the Mount Inn in Stanton (if anyone is EVER in the area on a nice sunny afternoon/early evening . . . be SURE to go there. You will thank me - honest )

We got there right at 2PM and they stop serving lunch at 2:00 firm so I was out of luck (they continue serving drinks for another hour) . The girls weren't hungry because of Broadway but I hadn't had anything since breakfast. I finagled my way into having a cheese board -- show up on crutches and everyone wants to help They said since the cheese board wouldn't require any cooking they could easily put one together for me.

The food at the Mount is decent and it is a Donnington house so the beer is good . . . but the main reason to visit is for the VIEWS that go one for miles. The village winding down the hill and the across the Vale of Evesham all the way to Wales. Just a gorgeous view from the outdoor terrace. Be warned - it is a steep drive up through the village to the pub, and a seemingly steeper drive back down.


Tomorrow we leave Kingham and stay the night at LHR before flying home on Wed. morning so we make an early evening of it -- light dinner in the pub and upstairs to pack.

Tuesday - mostly Windsor

We weren't in any hurry since we don't need to return the car at LHR until 7PM. so we lingered over breakfast (had too really because of the eggs benedict ), loaded up the car and were on our way about 10:00. I would love to stay here again. I did end up paying twice as the much as the B's since the Plough doesn't offer single occupancy and I had to pay full double. But I did get benefit of D's deposit so I actually paid about 70% more (I ended up refunding her a tiny part of this deposit)

Once again B1 thought I had some sort of super natural powers - driving from Kingham to Windsor to LHR w/o glancing at the map. But these legs are no brainers. The night before I gave the road atlas to the girls and they had me mark all the places we stayed/visited so they could take it home as a souvenir of the trip (less 'charitable' folks might think they needed it because they had no clue where we'd been -- not me, mind you )

We drove into Windsor and I parked in the Arches (for those who know Windsor this is the large car/coach park next to the park and railroad tracks near the river.) Once again I sat in the car for about 3.5 hours listening to radio 4. There is a small shopping center at the top of this car park - but that is at the very far end from the car section (there is a large coach park in between).

After a couple of hours I really needed something to eat so I made my way the 300 or so yards to the top of the car park and bought a sandwich and water. I timed it - 20+ minutes easy way (I can walk w/ the crutches but never said I was fast

The girls eventually returned and we drove to EuropeCar at LHR. They only do a shuttle to the airport and then we'd have to take a Hoppa back to the Arora hotel which is only about 1/4 mile from the rental return. We could have walked it (I have previously) IF it wasn't for the ankle and the B's luggage situation. So I decided to take a cab - but the staff said they'd send a driver for us. About 10 mins later this limo shows up and we take the 4 min drive to the hotel -- and he only charged us £5.

I had booked the Arora having stayed at the nearby HI and Sheraton . . . And I really liked it. For a moderately priced airport hotel it was VERY nice. very clean, super helpful staff (those crutches again ) - and a spacious, spotless, modern and stone quiet bedroom. Tea/coffee/sweet and savory biscuits/bottled water, trouser press, safe etc. not a thing to complain about. Could have found something cheaper but @ £99 twin I got no complaints from the peanut gallery. I will stay there again if the need arises. There was a decent on-site restaurant so we ate in - went up to our rooms and finished packing.

B2 and my flight was a 0930 and B1's was at noon. B2 and I took a cab and the wheel chair was at the desk two minutes after we checked in. (B1 set a second wake up call just in case and slept another couple of hours). We were in T3 so OK shopping but not as extensive as T5 - but B2 managed quite a bit of retail therapy while I sat in a special lounge for those who need assistance. I did manage to get to one nearby shop where in the past I've spent left over £££ on Radley London Scottie embellished bags/accessories.

I had planned on taking about £40 home as seed money for my next trip and had about £80 left over so I had a bit I could spend . . . but . . . we had booked but didn't pre-pay at the Arora, but they ended up charging my card 3 days before arrival. So the B's owed me. I said not to worry - you can sent me a check but both want to unload ££ - so I ended up w/ an extra £100. So Radley it was

We only booked cattle class but AA put us in Main Cabin Extra again - don't know what I'm doing right. The flight was fine - though quite a bit of turbulence for about an hour over S. Canada and the upper midwest.

Wheel chair waiting at the top of the jet way and the 4 hours at DFW wash't bad at all. Got in to SMF mid evening and B2's husband was waiting there - home in no time.

(I'll get back to answer some of the questions raised above - but I'll be out for a few hours so it may be tonight)
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 29th, 2014, 01:02 PM
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HiJANISJ, great ending. Glad you got the attention you deserved when using your crutches.

ENEWELL and EUROPEANTRAVELER, thanks for the encouragement. Will start London trip report soon.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 01:06 PM
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"The wifi really never worked during our whole stay "

It's a widespread problem in pubs and small hotels (and some cottages)in West Oxfordshire.

It's down to two things: the walls tend to be so thick that many parts of most properties struggle to talk to the central modem. And bandwidth to remoter towns and villages (West Oxfordshire has almost the lowest population density of any English local authority, so by English standards almost everywhere is remote) is often titchy.

West Oxfordshire council is now investing in providing 24 mbps to 100% of addresses in our widely scattered community (the first English authority to do this for 100% of addresses), and streets are now being dug up. Nothing to do with tourism, BTW: just a democratic decision that universal access to fast broadband is a fundamental today as universal daily mail delivery was in 1840.

Once everywhere's getting decent access, there's a really good case for small businesses like the Plough to install the internal systems many of us already have put in to get round the "thick walls" problem. The likelihood is that in a year or so, bad internet reception in hotels here will be a thing of the past.

AND, with competition to the First Great Western railway monopoly coming in the share of an alternative London-Oxford railway route operating from next summer, physical access is about to get a whole lot easier.

Though not necessarily more pleasant. Passenger numbers on the local railway line have grown 43% since 2009.

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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 01:43 PM
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I have very much enjoyed your trip report. Thanks for posting.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 01:52 PM
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Loved the report janis!
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 02:56 PM
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I'm not sure what the emoticon is after "lady" in your title, but it certainly made it easy to note your TR when scrolling through posts ~ so that's one more thing I like about your reporting!
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 03:09 PM
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I've thoroughly enjoyed your report, thanks Janis.

Your wonderful descriptions & links to places really bring your trip to life & I've bookmarked liberally for friends who are firming up a trip to England at the moment.

Thanks too, for reminding me to send a prayer to the heavens & friendly smile to the next Tour Guide I see. "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 07:32 PM
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Another fabulous trip report! Thanks, janisj. I hope your ankle is continuing to heal!

Lee Ann
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 09:25 PM
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Dare I ask if you plan to travel with these "friends" again?

I swore off the tour group thing in the Dordogne a few years ago, precisely because of tour group participants who acted like complete idiots, but now that I'm planning to move there permanently I'm seriously into it again. I'd like to be able, and will be able, to put together a website that sets out my very specific expectations (like we will NOT be going to Starbucks in the morning), but what did you learn from this experience that you could pass on to the rest of us who do tours? I'm no neophyte - did tours for years,but not a whole lot, and had mixed experiences.

As I transition to living in France and maybe wanting to do this as an income-generator, which I think I'd be good at
I'd like to know. It's not as though I don't have many of my own ideas, but if you got any, please share.
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Old Jun 29th, 2014, 11:06 PM
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a few answers/background -- No I'm not in the travel industry. I just love the UK and spend a lot of time there (lived in England for about 5 years ages ago). Maybe half of all my trips/vacations are spent in the UK.

I also give travel talks (for small honorariums - not for real income) that hundreds of folks have attended.

Friends just tend to ask if they can tag along or ask me to plan trips for them. I've traveled w/ friends and relatives -- groups of 2 to 13 - and each time I made all the arrangements. not for any sort of pay/profit. Just because it is so easy for me. And then, about half of my trips are solo.

For a few years in the late '90's/turn of the century I did do trip planning for $$ - I didn't book things, just planned out detailed itineraries and gave them lists of accommodations, customized maps, specifics of events/exhibitions/sites in the areas they were visiting. Paid awfully well - for what was essentially a hobby. But I quit after 4 or 5 years because I was getting too much business and it was just getting too labor intensive. Most of my 'clients' were strangers who attended my talks and asked me to plan their trips.

As for the B's, B1 and I got along really well on the earlier trip. She is the one who first contacted me to plan this trip. B2 spent most of her time in the 'other car' on that trip so I really didn't have that much interaction w/ her over our week in the Cotswolds. And then . . . the "Separate Check Queen' was causing so much turmoil I probably missed some of their 'quirks'.

StCirq: "sets out my very specific expectations (like we will NOT be going to Starbucks in the morning), but what did you learn from this experience that you could pass on to the rest of us who do tours? "

Seems so sensible on the surface - The problem is that might not work in 'real life'. People who are paying the freight might have their own ideas. That the 'staff" (you) should do what they want and not 'order' them around.

The thing that will probably drive you crazy is . . . you love the area, and know everything about it - and want visitors to love it too. But only a few of your customers will be as interested/invested in your corner of France. Some will be just casual visitors who happen to have enough $$$/€€€ to travel but not the sense to appreciate things. That's one thing I find difficult about some of my trips to the UK -- some folks (thank heavens a minority - but still a significant %) just don't have the curiosity/interest. They are 'box checkers'. Worst case - some never leave home. They ask how much that is in "real money" , or try to pay in $$, and make comments about how 'we do things better in the States'.

I think a way to improve your chances -- make the tours very specialized. Small group/special interest tours tend to attract folks who are more invested/interested.

You'll have to do some soul searching re whether you'll be able to put up w/ schmucks

Last edited by Moderator1; Jun 28th, 2020 at 04:10 PM. Reason: removed broken html
janisj is online now  
Old Jun 30th, 2014, 09:17 AM
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Sign me up, StCirq!

I have a hard time understanding the "box checkers", but I know there are plenty of them.

However, I cannot tell you how many people (many of them Brits) told me they hoped I would not be disappointed in Stonehenge.

Then again, many people say the same thing about the Grand Canyon.

I was not disappointed in either.

Loved the trip report, janisj.
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 09:30 AM
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Enjoyed reading this report, too!

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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 10:12 AM
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Great report, thanks so much!
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 11:03 AM
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Thanks for the great report. Now, find yourself a really good physical therapist.
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 01:27 PM
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Thanks for the entertainment and good tips! Can't wait for your next trip.
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 02:31 PM
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Great trip report. I particularly liked your personal comments. We could sympathize and commiserate with you and also think about what we'd do in your circumstances.

Thanks and hope the ankle is doing much better.
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 03:15 PM
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Enjoyed this trip report! You are a "trooper"
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Old Jun 30th, 2014, 03:23 PM
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When I get around to doing this full time, I want Fodorites to sign up The first time I did a culinary tour (4 days in the Dordogne and 4 in Provence), the first two people to sign up were a vegan couple in training for the Iron Man Contest. Can you imagine? Vegan in the Dordogne? Had to ride mountain bikes 50 miles a day (I had other plans for touring, believe it or not and didn't relish having to find them the right bikes...!)

Anyway, I stupidly took their money and dealt with all the particulars, not something I will do again, but I really love showing people around the Périgord, so I'll probably throw myself into the ring again at some point, hopefully with better sense in the next go-round.

I'll also probably print out janisj's report as a reminder to try to be prudent.
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