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Rings, Kings and English things in Spring...returning to London

Rings, Kings and English things in Spring...returning to London

Old May 5th, 2023, 04:27 PM
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Sunday, April 23

Sunday morning was a gray day with rain expected. We walked to Knightsbridge station and it appeared to be closed. Not really knowing exactly where I was, we didn’t spend any time looking for another entrance (and I believe that entrance is open later as it seems to “serve” Harrods). We didn’t have a lot of time and caught a cab and I am glad we did. The driver was Scottish and quite fun. He was amazed to know that The Wolseley is open for breakfast. He was just on a roll as he drove and reminded me of Logan Roy’s less ambitious brother (and would have a lot of one liners about the Roy siblings). Anyway, it’s transportation with entertainment and he loved American food and asked us about grits and Denny’s. He told us where to go if we were interested in seeing the London Marathon finish and told us he likes Americans because most of us are friendly and will chat (true).
We arrived right on time and were seated at the exact table we sat at in 2019. It really is a beautiful space. I had pancakes and bacon - good but they are not as light and fluffy as American pancakes. I also got a hot chocolate that looked like a milkshake. Starbucks got bubble and squeak and my sis got a full English. All very good. I seriously considered a glass of Champs but decided to wait and put a different plan of action into place.

We left and the rain had started. Fortnum and Mason wasn’t open yet but we wandered down Piccadilly and gawked at the shops - especially all the bakery and dessert places. Since it was early we decided to walk around Chinatown as the streets were quite empty and it was a great time to get some good photos. We went to Hotel Cafe Royal afterward (mostly for the toilets) but also to show my sister as I love their interiors. I had really meant to get to tea in the Oscar Wilde lounge at some point, but it didn’t happen.

We took a detour through Heddon Street to see all the little restaurants and we decided to go to Heddon Street Kitchen later for dinner to try to get some Gordon Ramsay magic back. Next Carnaby Street. I knew my sister would want to see Liberty of London and also would share my interest in popping into the Rolling Stones store there (we missed Ronnie Wood by a few days). It was fun to see all the cool shirts and Chaz spotted the perfect T shirt for me. I loved looking at the albums that I used to play when my sister wasn’t home…she always bought albums and I don’t know what I did with my allowance money but I didn’t have many albums. All those albums were a great walk down memory lane. Liberty was good to check out all the coronation merch and I bought two Diptyque candles that are Liberty exclusive (Insolite). We stopped in at Blue Posts Pub for a drink and a short rest before heading to Burlington Arcade. I thought there was a Penhaligon’s there but either I am crazy or it has closed. From there we hit Fortnum and Mason’s and stocked up on pretty much every biscuit you could want (including Coronation Scottish Ling Heather Honey Biscuits) and some cheese straws and a little container of Salted Caramel Blonde Chocolate Almonds.

After some good retail therapy, I decided it was time to return to my plan of action. Back to Burlington Arcade and the Bollinger Champagne Bar. We were already headed in when a gentleman approached to ask if we’d like to step in and enjoy some fresh Jersey oysters with a glass of Champagne. Sold. My sister loved oysters. Chaz does but had an oyster incident in Vancouver that spooked him a little. I knew he was a little tight about the oysters. We met a couple from Ireland who were back for a second day at Bollinger. We ordered a bottle of Rose and the gentleman came over with the adorable little bucket with the oysters on ice and schucked them right there. A squirt of fresh lemon juice and slurp….round two was the best shallot vinaigrette and round 3 Tabasco sauce. The Champs was fabulous and enjoyed our time there. It was not busy and we actually got great entertainment as the oyster guy approached others trying to encourage them to step inside for oysters and Champs. People were very wary of this and I (not surprisingly) thought they were crazy. No one would have to twist my arm to stop into a Champagne bar—it’s my happy place.
From Champagne, we walked over to Penhaligon’s on Regent Street for me to pick up a new bottle of Luna. From there we decided to have an early dinner. So we went on over to Heddon Street Kitchen which was busy but we got in. Apparently, The Starman right across from HSK is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon—lots going on there with a big crowd outside despite the less than ideal weather.

We got seated and ordered Sunday roast. We had great service and the food was delicious. I got STP again and this time the menu had the ice cream right. My sister got a beautiful dessert of pineapple, kiwi and coconut sorbet. This is exactly what we remembered from our last visit and I was glad that we had a better experience with this GR restaurant. The sun was trying to come out when we got back to the apartment. I took a few minutes to walk one street over to a house that was covered in blooming wisteria. Everyone turned in early after a day of walking and retail therapy and we had a big day coming up on Monday.

Monday would be a day in The Cotswolds.
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Old May 5th, 2023, 04:53 PM
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The Wolesley pancakes

The Wolesley Full English

Bubble and Squeak

Chinatown




Hot chocolate at The Wolesley



Chinatown gate

Hotel Cafe Royal

Heddon Street Kitchen exterior

The Starman

Carnaby St




Rolling Stones store



Liberty of London

The Blue Posts




Bollinger Champs Bar


I love Rosé Champagne

The oyster bucket

Sunday roast Heddon St Kitchen

Bollinger

STP at Heddon St Kitchen

Pineapple Kiwi and Coconut sorbet

Spring wisteria

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Old May 6th, 2023, 07:10 AM
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You're not crazy...there did used to be a Penhaligon's in the Burlington Arcade! Regent Street has a branch amongst other locations. Love the Wolseley for breakfast too! I enjoy the breakfast bap and the soft boiled egg with soldiers!! Your pictures are fantastic and add so much to the report, thanks for sharing! I hope we get to hear more about the flat! I went to St George's chapel before the late Queen died and you could walk around so easily and explore. I was there again last December and it was packed with people like you experienced and we basically were in a large queue of people that barely moved...we asked the attendants what was going on and they told us it's like that everyday since the Queen was laid to rest there! We decided not to wait to see the plaque with her parents and husband.
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Old May 6th, 2023, 10:28 AM
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TPAYT - we got plenty of great food and didn't get a truly bad meal anywhere (although Gordon Ramsay Grill was disappointing from a service & experience standpoint). Breakfast was king this trip!

kmowatt - Ah. Thank you...I forget so much these days, it's nice to know that there really was a Penhaligon's in Burlington Arcade. St George's is really beautiful and it was worth it to wait - you couldn't get to the choir of the church without waiting in the line when we were there. It wasn't an awful wait but we were a little surprised by it.

The flat....we rented from London Perfect and the apartment had 4 levels. The main level/entry level had a large lounge although the back part of it wasn't really laid out that well but it was nice.

The garden level was the kitchen which was very nice and well appointed. the front part was the cabinets, appliances and sink with a small table and chairs and the back half had a larger table - kind of like a huge stainless steel picnic tables. They had very nice glassware that we didn't use and I was terrified we'd somehow break. Everything in the apartment was cream colored or stainless. Off the back part of the kitchen was a small outdoor area with a table for 2 and an olive tree--very nice. The doors there were glass and I think could be completely opened on a nice day. There was a half bath on the landing between the entry and garden levels.
The second floor had a bedroom and a full bath next to it and a lot of storage. The top floor had a second bedroom with an ensuite bathroom in the back. All the bathrooms had wall mounted heated towel racks. We had enough room for all our things in the open closets and dresser drawers.

Two things I did not love about the apartment - the ensuite bath had a very high tub and a sloped ceiling at the back which was the only point of entry/exit....for me getting out was a little challenge (short legs) and there was nothing to hold onto. The second thing is that none of the 3 baths had an electrical plug. Drying your hair or styling it had to be done in the bedroom or hall for the 2nd floor bedroom as it did not have a mirror that we saw, so not super convenient. Not huge things but could be improved. The apartment had good wifi but no phone (not a problem). They asked us to arm the alarm which we did not do because the front door locks were a bit tricky and with 30 seconds to lock them on the way out, we would have surely ended up with a police visit which we were not going to put ourselves through for the alarm. They really should re-key the door with two modern locks (not a big deal but we laughed everyday about either locking the day or getting it unlocked). We also would have liked to have a set of keys for each of us but we only had 2 sets of keys.

Of course, the stairways were very narrow and lugging our big bags (the first time they have ever been taken to Europe) was a challenge...roller boards would have been much better in the apartment. One odd thing was that the owner has a lot of personal things in the apartment but no locked cabinets or closets - they just had a thin red ribbon around the door handles that actually weren't tight enough to prevent them from being opened, we accidentally opened one before realizing what was going on (jet lag). Oops. This apartment is not one that London Perfect owns but they do rent it through their service.

The street itself was nice but not as nice as the previous apt on Launceston Place- which was very pretty and full of trees. Hasker Street was pretty devoid of plant life. We did find a few dining spots that were just steps away from the apartment that we loved and will add those to the report in chronological order. I liked the apartment and would be willing to rent it again.
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Old May 6th, 2023, 12:52 PM
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You sure did have some tasty looking meals

Originally Posted by denisea
. . . Two things I did not love about the apartment - the ensuite bath had a very high tub and a sloped ceiling at the back which was the only point of entry/exit....for me getting out was a little challenge (short legs) and there was nothing to hold onto. The second thing is that none of the 3 baths had an electrical plug. Drying your hair or styling it had to be done in the bedroom or hall for the 2nd floor bedroom as it did not have a mirror that we saw, so not super convenient. Not huge things but could be improved . . .
I don't think you'd ever have a regular electrical socket in a UK bathroom. I've never seen one. I'm pretty sure that would be against code and is likely illegal. The UK uses 240v throughout the building whereas the US uses 120v except for things like stoves/clothes dryers. It could be extremely dangerous to have 240v in a bathroom.

That's why I always take a stand up mirror so I can dry my hair where ever there is an accessible socket.
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Old May 6th, 2023, 03:30 PM
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Ah, well that makes sense. I do have one question then…how are all the bathrooms outfitted with a wall-mounted towel warmer (and I am sure there is a logical explanation)…those run on electricity. And….how big is that stand up mirror you travel with?! 😉
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Old May 6th, 2023, 03:35 PM
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There are no plugs/outlets on the towel rails that I've ever seen. They are hardwired into the wall.
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Old May 6th, 2023, 03:38 PM
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. . . nor switches that I can recall. When there are on/off switches they will be outside the bathroom.
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Old May 6th, 2023, 04:40 PM
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Well, of course. Got it and how you know all this, I will not even question. You are a wealth of information!
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Old May 6th, 2023, 04:55 PM
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Well -- I lived in the UK for nearly 5 years so I know a bit about the differences (was going to say idiosyncrasies ) but mostly from dealing with the issue on just about every visit in the last 25 years.

My dream accommodation was one Fraser Suite flat where the entire kitchen backsplash was mirrored . . . and sockets EVERYWHERE
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Old May 6th, 2023, 05:00 PM
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. . . " Well -- I lived in the UK for nearly 5 years so I know a bit about the differences (was going to say idiosyncrasies ) " And even then I was a slow learner -- for about the first two years I just assumed it just our house some cheap B&Bs . . .
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Old May 6th, 2023, 06:05 PM
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Really enjoying your report and photos! Sounds like you had a great eating and drinking day. Love oysters! The desserts are delicious and the wisteria is gorgeous. Also love Madame Bollinger's philosophy!
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Old May 6th, 2023, 07:35 PM
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That should read ". . . for about the first two years I just assumed it just our house AND some cheap B&Bs"
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Old May 7th, 2023, 03:30 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
Well -- I lived in the UK for nearly 5 years so I know a bit about the differences (was going to say idiosyncrasies ) but mostly from dealing with the issue on just about every visit in the last 25 years.

My dream accommodation was one Fraser Suite flat where the entire kitchen backsplash was mirrored . . . and sockets EVERYWHERE
janis- I totally get it. You can never have too many sockets.
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Old May 7th, 2023, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
Really enjoying your report and photos! Sounds like you had a great eating and drinking day. Love oysters! The desserts are delicious and the wisteria is gorgeous. Also love Madame Bollinger's philosophy!
We did and my trips are mostly about the food and wine. I have read about Madama Clicquot nut have not yet about Madame Bollinger so I'll enjoy catching up on that. It was so unusual for women to be in business at all back then and yet there were definitely some women who were very successful in Champagne.
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Old May 7th, 2023, 04:09 AM
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Monday, April 24 2023

We were all so excited about our day in the Cotswolds. I did rebel against advice not to do the Cotswolds as a day trip. It was one area my sister really wanted to see and I researched ways we might be able to plan an enjoyable day with full recognition that it would be just a touch of the area and we’d certainly not see a fraction of the area.

I did find that we could take a train into Moreton in Marsh from London. From there I started looking for a car service that could take us around and did find two services that fit the bill. We ended up using Cotswolds Executive Cabs. At one time I thought we might try to do more on foot and with just using a local cab to return to MiM. Glad we didn’t go the route.

As our trip approached, we kept getting notices of service interruptions on the train route we booked (ugh). In the end, and with CEC’s advice, we ended up booking and rebooking the tickets four times . Count them FOUR. I will say that I always use Trainline for booking train tickets and they are great about managing refunds. We ended up booking the train from Marylebone to Warwick Parkway to avoid issues with the trains to/from Paddington (was never sure if it was about strikes, maintenance, etc...).

We grabbed some shortbread, stem ginger biscuits and water from the apartment and caught the tube to London Marylebone. I actually liked the train station as it is smaller and easy to negotiate. Sis and Starbucks headed to Starbucks and got stale crappy pastries. I lucked out at Upper Crust and got a fresh and surprisingly good pain au chocolat. I popped into a WH Smith for a diet coke. We got good seats on the train and headed to Warwick Pkwy.
The countryside is so pretty and we loved seeing all the Spring lambs with the fields (Spring things, of course). So, we didn’t get a sunny day (of course) and were expecting rain. It is England so we were just gonna roll with it. As we would find out later from Mark, the fields were full of bright yellow flowers that are canola/rapeseed. Beautiful to see along the way.

One part of our day here was to be focused on Rings. (as well as, Spring things). The Lord of the Rings. Starbucks is a LOTR fan and has probably read all the books at least 20 times. And I am not even venturing a guess on how many times he has seen the movies. So, a pint at The Bell Inn (aka The Prancing Pony) and the Yew Tree Door (Doors of Durin) were on the itinerary. Although, we didn’t really have an official itinerary. We decided to play it by ear and let our driver guide us.

We got to Warwick Pkwy and met our driver Mark out front. Right upfront, he was excellent. Professional, knowledgeable but in a low key way. He asked some questions about what we might want to see and he headed Hidcote Gardens by way of Stratford upon Avon. We drove through the town and he explained about the Alms Houses and showed us Anne Hathaway’s cottage and Shakespeare’s birthplace. We also drove by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It’s a lovely village and it was early in the day so not a lot of people were on the streets. It was nice to see on our way to our first stop, Hidcote Gardens. Mark told us he would get us tickets since we hadn’t pre booked and then grab coffee and wait for us. We asked if he would join us (I hate having a driver just sitting around waiting on us somewhere and we always include them if they are willing to join). His daughter had worked there and it wasn’t busy so we were able to gain admission.

We had a little sun at the moment which we took advantage of and Mark explained the garden set up of “rooms” by color. It is beautiful and only a few visitors were there with us. It feels so English and very full of Spring English things. We got a view of beautiful tulips and the most amazing purple azaleas (as a Southerner, I love azaleas but haven’t seen any this color). Next door is a pasture that was full of sheep and their sweet little lambs. Mark explained the “Ha Ha” wall concept….to give the viewer of the garden the illusion of an unbroken, continuous rolling lawn, whilst providing boundaries for grazing livestock. I really wanted to meet one of the lambs but they didn’t seem interested in us and decided not to trespass. I am not sure there is anything cuter than a lamb.

Hidcote Gardens is a place you can’t stop photographing. There is a stream and some small waterfalls that give you that rushing water sound that I love. Again, if only we had a bottle of bubbly and could have a toast in the gardens. So beautiful and a great start to our day. So far, Mark is knocking it out of the park. PS he turned us on to an app you can use to take a photo of a plant and it will tell you what it is.

From Hidcote Gardens we headed on to Chipping Campden and it’s just a spectacular little village. That golden stone is beautiful and I can’t imagine living there. Peaceful, quiet and so pretty (although I am sure all the tourists can be a drawback). It’s amazing what those sheep and their wool built!! We visited the church of St James and upon entering it was explained that some local teenagers had been killed a day before in a terrible car accident and there were a few students in the church saying their prayers and so we waited for them to conclude their prayers and leave. Sad and we see the same here far too much.

We got a look at the remaining banqueting house which is all that remains of Campden House- the home of a silk merchant (?) Sir Baptist Hicks that was burned during the civil war. Mark also pointed out the Market and Almshouses also built in CC by Hicks.

We drove through CC and were let out in a cluster of lovely homes to stroll the street (take a million photos) and enjoy the flowers and scenery. It really is a lovely place.

From there we made our way to Snowshill where Mark explained Snowshill Arms and a free house vs a “tied” house…never knew that and now it makes sense. He also pointed out the home that was shown in Bridget Jones Diary as her parents home. Love that movie.

From there we went on t0 Broadway and Broadway Tower. I have always thought…what the hell is that? Mark explained that it is a folly (Lady Coventry wondered whether a beacon on this hill could be seen from her house in Worcester—about 22 miles (35 km) away—and sponsored the construction of the folly to find out. Indeed, the beacon could be seen clearly. So it serves no real purpose). But probably more importantly, it is said to be the inspiration for Amon Hen in LOTR (and I have no idea what Amon Hen was in the story).

Lunch was in Broadway at Broadway Deli and we were pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Way better than the average sandwich. Everyone got ham and cheese except I got cheese and chutney–their bread is so good and the little fresh salad on the side with tomatoes and a simple but fresh vinaigrette was terrific. We asked Mark to join us and he accepted and allowed us to buy his lunch but carefully explained that it isn’t expected. I appreciate that but I can’t imagine not picking up lunch and having our driver join us. As we left he pointed out Lygon Arms to us–looks like a wonderful hotel and headed to the Slaughters. One the way we went through Stanton and Stanway (I think) and then to Hailes Abbey. Rather than going to the Abbey ruins Mark took us to the still standing but ancient Hailes Parish church - begun in 1135. It’s really incredible to see the faded murals/frescos on the walls. Mark quizzed us about the openings in the wall near the front of the church and explained they are leper windows so those with leprosy could observe services. I had never heard of that.

I suppose no one appreciates the Slaughters name and so we got the explanation that it means muddy or miry place (not much better)---these two villages are so charming and deserve a much better name. It was raining fairly hard and he showed us the Ford in Upper Slaughter and we drove on to Lower Slaughter as we still had a lot to see.

Lower Slaughter is one of my favs of the day. Small, with a stream and bridges across. There was a couple on horseback with a guide very intent on getting their picture taken with the horses in the water. The rain was at its heaviest here but I still took tons of photos…I imagine this is so much prettier in sunlight but no chance of that today! The Slaughters Inn looks like a great place to stay..maybe someday.

From there we traveled to Bourton on the Water. It’s lovely but felt the most "commercial" of the villages we visited. The bridges over River Windrush are scenic and it’s pretty but also seems to have more “trinkety stuff”. It looks like it could be motor coach central in Summer. We actually spent some time tasting gin and whisky at Cotswolds Distillery. Sis took home some gin as it’s almost G & T season and we took home a single malt whisky. I do imagine some of the riverside cafe terraces would be so nice in good weather.

From Bourton on the Water we still had lots to see and the route I am not sure of but we went by Chastleton which I think may have been Prue Leith’s home (if you are a Great British Baking Show fan and I am). It’s a beautiful Jacobean mansion but no time to stop. We hit Stow on the Wold to see St Edward’s church and the Yew Tree Door for photos and Starbucks met some other LOTR fans and took photos for them at the Doors of Durin. We also walked through town and on the Porch House to see the oldest pub in Britain (apparently they have had carbon testing done to prove it…we don’t really care one way or the other and we kinda laughed and compared it to “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee” from Elf—”Congratulations! You did it!)”

I believe from there we visited The Rollright Stones which may have been the inspiration for Barrows Down in Tolkien’s books. We focused on the King’s men stones (King’s as part of the theme) which seems like a smaller Stonehenge. And then finally on to Moreton in Marsh to visit The Prancing Pony and Middle Earth. So Starbucks finally got his pint at The Pony at the end of the day. - I had a glass of wine at The Pony. Mark waited for us in the car right out front. More importantly I charged my phone as our tickets were in the Trainline app and I had very little battery left after all the photos. But always remember to turn on the little switch on the outlet! I got enough juice for the phone to hold out to get on the train and we headed back to Warwick Parkway for the ride home (damn train service –would have been so much easier to leave from MiM).

It was still rainy and it took forever to get a cab at Marylebone—I didn’t feel like maneuvering the tube station and then still walking to find dinner. We finally got a cab and went to The Wilton Arms for a late dinner. Great move on my part - thank you. It wasn’t crowded on a late rainy Monday night and the food was excellent. We got the chicken & leek pie and I would get that again a million times. My sis got a burger and pronounced it delicious. I think we walked back from there.

It was a full day but one of our best despite the rain!! I think we saw as much as possible in one day and we had fun. The pacing was perfect and it was one of those times when paying for a driver was absolutely worth it. I was so glad we weren’t on our own, especially because of the rain and we saw more in a very efficient way than we would have seen on our own. I’d love to go back and spend a few days and hike around to see more but to see a little this way was good for us for now.



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Old May 7th, 2023, 07:06 AM
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Hidcote Garden

Hidcote


Hidcote



Hidcote gardenss


Spring lambs




Would love to this in summer

Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden





Thatched roof in Chipping Campden


Snowshill Bridget Jones parents home

Hailes Parish church frescoes

Snowshill

Lower Slaughter


Lower Slaughter


Slaughters Inn



Bourton on the Water

Yew Tree Door

Oldest pub in Britain


Rollright stones

The Bell Inn aka Prancing Pony

Prancing Pony

Chicken and Leek Pie-The Wilton Arms

Burger- The Wilton Arms

The Bell Inn Interior
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Old May 7th, 2023, 11:07 AM
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Marvelous TR and the photos are fabulous! Keep it coming. So enjoying all of this.
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Old May 7th, 2023, 03:42 PM
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Denisea, Based on what people are wearing, it looks like it was chilly when you were there in April. What were the temps in Fahrenheit? Your day in the Cotswolds sounds and looks wonderful, despite the rain!
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Old May 7th, 2023, 04:02 PM
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denisea,

I am loving this!

Weekender
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