Tedgale UK trip report: May 3-22, 2017

Old Jun 6th, 2017, 08:12 AM
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Tedgale UK trip report: May 3-22, 2017

This is a mini trip-report from our recent UK trip, May 3-22 2017. I don’t plan to write a full account, day-by-day. As guidance to other travelers, I am providing a mere overview: mostly how we travelled and where we stayed.

Then I plan to attach 2 sets of notes I used for our travel:

My notes for the London part of the trip (sights, transport, restaurants); and

My notes on National Trust properties and gardens in the areas we visited – our trip was overwhelmingly a NT tour, in which we saw close to 30 properties, among which some true treasures.

First, the Overview of our trip:

Direct flight from Ottawa, Canada to LHR and back, on Air Canada – in a Boeing 767-300/ER
18 nights abroad – 5 in London and 13 in the Cotswolds, Surrey and Sussex/ Kent

We flew overnight on Air Canada, from Ottawa direct to London. On our return, we took the very convenient mid-afternoon direct flight home. We traveled in Y class and paid an extra $100 each way per person for bulkhead seats. We have concluded that Air Canada’s Business class seating on its small Boeing 767-300/ER really isn’t worth the near-quadrupling of the price.

While I found the leg-room in our 12th row bulkhead seat did not allow me to stretch out as I’d like, it was a quiet and convenient seat. A prescription sleeping pill did the rest.

In London, we stayed 3 nights in a favourite Air BnB rental at 36 Egerton Gardens in Knightsbridge, then 2 nights at Bailey’s Hotel, 140 Gloucester Road, LONDON, SW7 opposite Gloucester Road tube stop. We didn’t stay longer at Clico’s popular rental because it was already booked for the last 2 nights of our London stay:

https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/1644085?locale=en
https://www.millenniumhotels.com/en/...-hotel-london/

Both places are recommended. Staff at the Bailey’s Hotel are particularly friendly and courteous.

From Gloucester Road, we took the tube to LHR Terminal 2, where we took the shuttle to our rental car company, Hertz. We rented a manual Opel Corsa for 2 weeks and returned it late-ish on the 13th day. Booking through the Canadian AutoEurope website seems to lower the price a bit, relative to the prices on their US site.

We were a bit concerned in advance by what we had read online about LHR car rental scams – phoney claims of windshield damage, pressure to upgrade from the car initially rented – but we had no such problems with Hertz. We took photos of all signs of damage and reviewed them carefully with the employee who initially released the car to us.

One note about Hertz: They require that you produce the receipt for your petrol refill, so they can determine when you filled up and where, We found a good petrol station just at the exit to Heathrow from the M4.

Though we normally choose one central base for our rural stays, this time we rented 4 self catering units. I won’t get into my reasoning here. Since we were traveling light and the distances between our various rentals wasn’t huge, relocating every 2 or 3 days was not a burden, I found.

I found all 4 rentals on Air BnB. Nowadays, I use Air BnB primarily as a search engine. I then do a second search to see if the owner has his or her own listing or lists the property with another company.

One of our rentals has its own website. A second is listed with a local rental company. Air BnB charges the owner 3% and the renter about 15-17%, according to one owner I spoke with. We paid appreciably less than the Air BnB price for the 2 rentals we booked outside Air BnB.

All our rentals were well above the norm and a couple were really exceptionally nice. We had uniformly courteous and attentive hosts:

Manor Cottages booking on the edge of the Cotswolds, near Malmesbury:
Wagon House, Somerford House, Little Somerford
https://www.manorcottages.co.uk/cottages/wagon
We chose this listing because it was equidistant between the Bath region and the places we wanted to see in the eastern half of the Cotswolds. The property, with horses, is quite grand. Another time, I might plan to stay more than the 4 nights we allowed ourselves.

An Air BnB listing on a rural property outside Haslemere, Surrey:
High Barn Farm, Petworth Road, Haslemere
https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/15527086...dom&s=M43AvJo5
We had no special agenda in the Haslemere area (apart from visiting a couple of places where my father was stationed in the War) but the property was so beautiful that I was determined to stay there. This was a good choice – and there was plenty to do in the neighbourhood. I was sorry we had only 2 nights with these lovely hosts

Another well-situated rural property a few miles outside picturesque Lewes, in Sussex:
Upper Lodge, The Broyle, Ringmer
http://www.upperlodgesussex.com/holiday-cottage.html
A very chic rental in a very chic corner of the South Downs. Great for exploring the coast (Beachy Head and the 7 sisters) as well as Charleston farmhouse and other elegant corners

Finally, an Air BnB listing near Bell’s Yew Green, outside Tunbridge Wells:
Walnut Cottage, Wadhurst, Sussex
https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/8502535?...en=0&infants=0
An independent two-storey unit attached to an extensively renovated cottage, lost in a tranquil rural valley. Not quite the same high style as the 2 preceding places but spotless, well equipped and welcoming.

London notes to follow presently.....
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 08:22 AM
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Signing on for the ride. Tempting to go rent all the places you liked so much, since you have done all the legwork.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 09:34 AM
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They were all good choices. The London flat is a great find, especially if you get the discounted 7 night rate.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 09:47 AM
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Looking forward to your notes on the National Trust Properties and London.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 12:22 PM
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You really do have an unswerving sense of style in rentals in Europe, (and probably everywhere else!!) Delightful places!
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 04:32 PM
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Music -- some smaller venues if you can't get tickets for Covent Garden (or the Wigmore Hall or the other major halls):

Cadogan Hall near Sloane Square often has a short 30-40 minute pre-concert, with a separate ticket, before the main evening event.

On our first night in town, we banished jet lag with a 30-minute concert at 6:15 PM. It was the Brahms String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111. Ticket price: £10.

The hall was mostly empty. Dignified, grey-headed crowd but some keen young listeners too. I had the impression most of the people working in the hall were volunteers.

The Box Office is open for telephone bookings: Monday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm

St James’ Piccadilly: A beautiful and historic church, restored after serious damage in World War II. Our schedule did not allow us to take advantage of the 2 noon-time 50-minute concerts scheduled during our visit – Friday 110 PM Solovey duo, flute and harp. Monday 110 PM Schumann piano etudes.

The concerts are free but there is a £ 3.50 suggested "final offertory".

St James’ is known for its markets, too:

Food Market: Mon & Tues, 11-5pm for street food (eat in the church courtyard) and people watching

Antiques & Collectables Market: Tues, 10-6pm Arts & Crafts Market: Wed to Sat, 10-6pm.

St Martin’s in the Fields in Trafalgar Square has similar noontime offerings and a plethora of evening concerts, possibly aimed at tourists – the program seemed pretty generic

Handel and Hendrix collide at the Handel House museum, 25 Brook Street, Mayfair. On the Thursday of our arrival (when we chose to hear Brahms) there was a 630 PM concert (tickets £12) called “Jane Austen’s Music Room”, given by the Flauguissimo Duo (flute& guitar): Gems from music books compiled by the novelist.

For concerts, enter by the rear entrance in Lancashire Court. Otherwise: 4 rooms occupied by Handel are open 11 – 6 daily except Sunday. £10. The ticket includes access to Jimmy Hendrix’s flat next door. Not the scene of his death – that was in Notting Hill.

St Paul's Church, Covent Garden has frequent musical events (no calendar on website) as has the Royal Academy of Music. The Temple Church (chapel of the Inner and Middle Temples) offers regular choral music performances and organ recitals.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 04:34 PM
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Thanks, Taconic traveller. You've seen some of my pix on Facebook -- we were not disappointed in our choices.

Some of our hosts went above and beyond our expectations: home-made rhubarb jam, a fresh loaf of bread, wine, farm eggs....
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 04:46 PM
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Best discovery of this trip:

The Charterhouse, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6AN
Nearest Underground: Barbican (Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines).

Buses 4, 56, and 153 stop in front of Barbican station on Aldersgate Street, a 5 minute walk.
Telephone: (020) 7253 9503

Open to public touring only since February 2017, though the chapel is open throughout the day to the general public, as is a small museum. Tour 1 hour: £10 no concessions. Entry free to chapel and museum. Our tour guide, a young docent, was excellent. Groups are small.

A Brother’s tour of up to 2 hours: £15. The “brother” will be one of the hand-picked pensioners who lives on-site and the tour will be “his” view of life at the Charterhouse.

Open 11 AM to 445 PM daily except Monday. Evening Prayer in the chapel at 530 PM.

With the dissolution of the monasteries, the Charterhouse , a chapel for victims of the Black Death in the mid-1300s, then a Carthusian monastery, became a mansion for wealthy noblemen and a refuge for royalty.

Elizabeth I met the Privy Council here in the days before her coronation in 1558 and James I used the Great Chamber to create 130 new Barons before he was crowned.

In 1611 Thomas Sutton bought the Charterhouse. The King James Hospital in Charterhouse was established for the care of 80 Brothers – elderly, single men – and the education of 40 boys from poor families.

The school and almshouse shared this site until 1872, when Charterhouse School – by this point an exclusive and academically distinguished school for privileged boys – moved to its present rural location south of London.

Little remains of the 15th century Carthusian chapter house which occupied the site of the south aisle of the present chapel, though the ante-chapel (like an entrance lobby) from 1512 still survives.

The north aisle and the Tuscan arcade were designed by Francis Carter, who was also responsible for the spacious cloister which joins the chapel to the main building. Carter’s work was carried out for the governors of the charity Thomas Sutton set up in 1611.

The cloister is a place of burial and memorial. The windows face Chapel Court, the site of the original 1349 church, the burial-ground chapel for victims of the Black Death.
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 04:48 PM
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Thanks; following for October trip!
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Old Jun 6th, 2017, 05:23 PM
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Three London restaurants, all of which get fine reviews. We ate only at the first of these, mostly because we were too tired to travel for dinner after a day of sight-seeing. I kicked myself for my laziness. The others we will definitely sample next time:

Launceston Place, about 10 minutes walk from our hotel in the Gloucester Road. 1A Launceston Pl, Kensington, London W8 5RL. Call (020) 7937 6912 or book online.

Unquestionably our best meal of the trip. Recently redecorated to lighten and brighten the decor of this store-front eatery for the moneyed burghers of South Kensington. We ate there 4 days after their re-opening.

Youthful, knowledgeable attentive staff. As in all London restaurants, it seems, the staff are all EU migrants.

We booked their “Pre-theatre” (what theatre is near S. Kensington???) prix fixe menu Sunday at 18:30 £30 with glass of sparkling wine.

An incredible bargain. I wish I could upload my photos. Very witty presentation of the food but the dishes themselves were substantial and delectable -- not merely showy.

Lyle’s: Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JJ A decidedly hip venue. This stripped back dining room serves seasonal British fare as a la carte lunches and set suppers.

Probably the best-value Michelin-starred restaurant in London. Dinner £45-55 (Veget’n
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Old Jun 7th, 2017, 02:48 AM
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It's always a pleasure to read your perceptive and useful reports.
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Old Jun 7th, 2017, 04:58 AM
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Looking forward to hearing about your visits to NT properties outside of London.
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Old Jun 7th, 2017, 10:35 PM
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Lots of handy great references
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Old Jun 7th, 2017, 11:05 PM
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A terrific start... Waiting for more!
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 05:16 AM
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i agree with Nikki.

If we manage to do this sort of trip again, I think I'll just print off your trip report and do what you did!
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 05:37 AM
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That's a great compliment, annhig.

I'm at our lake house for a few days, with only phone access to the internet. I'll post more in a few days when I get back to the city.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 07:18 AM
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I agree as well, this is the perfect trip. My husband and I were saying its time to do a UK National Trust tour of stately homes. It is so difficult to pick the hotels or holiday rentals in the right area to view them from. Not to mention that the times dates of openings vary in each National Trust property. Look forward to more. Thanks
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 09:29 AM
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Hello ted, thanks for the report. Thanks particularly for the music suggestions.

I am trying to get up the courage to rent a manual RH drive vehicle. Don't laugh (oh go ahead, laugh ) , but I find myself 'practicing' at home by waving my hand on the left hand of the steering wheel to approximate shifting on the left. We've always rented automatics in the UK, but they are so flipping expensive now (and hard to find, to boot.)

How long did it take you to 'acclimatize'?
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 01:44 AM
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Sue, not laughing at all.

I used to find 'swapping sides' when we drive in Europe or the US quite easy, but now I mainly drive an automatic at home, i find the swap a little more difficult but not impossible. What helps a lot of course is that the steering wheel is in the right side of the car so that everything else falls into place.

I'm sure you'll be fine.
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Old Jun 11th, 2017, 06:06 PM
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Sue xx yy: Although I can drive, more or less, I have never taken a licence.

Since age 23 (40+ years), I have been ferried around by my generous spouse, who by opportune coincidence learned to drive in the UK c. 1961.

When we traveled to S Africa last year, it took about 30 minutes to get acclimatized - but that was in the very light and orderly Cape Town traffic.

This time it took about the same in heavier traffic.

But... the driver may need reminding!

As designated navigator, a good part of my assigned duties was to issue traffic reminders: eg "Here you turn right to the FAR lane, crossing in front of traffic from your right,,,"
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