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Trip Report: Manchester, Peaks, Cotswolds, Cambridge & on to Paris

Trip Report: Manchester, Peaks, Cotswolds, Cambridge & on to Paris

Sep 9th, 2007, 09:11 AM
  #1  
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Trip Report: Manchester, Peaks, Cotswolds, Cambridge & on to Paris

Hello travelers, I wanted to thank everyone again that gave such good advice helping us plan our European vacation. Here is our trip report from August 21 through September 4th.

Airfare: BMI Business class nonstop LAS-MAN. Check in was easy and we used the first class lounge shared with Virgin and a few other airlines in the terminal. The lounge offered soda, teas, coffee, and small snacks.

Once onboard the flight was very nice. The food is personally prepared by a chef and dare I say, actually good. The seats did not recline fully but by the end of this month all seats in business class will be full sleeper chairs. We had a 160 degree incline. Movies were not "on demand" and there were about 16 channels of video to watch. We flew a Tuesday to Tuesday schedule as the price was 50% less that the weekend days. When landing in Manchester Business passengers are offered complimentary usage of the facilities of the Radisson SAS Hotel for the health club, gym, and showers.

When picking up our luggage we exchanged 100 USD for 48.30 pounds, ouch that hurt! But we needed taxi money. We met a delightful British couple that offered some additional touring into for the Peaks district as that was their home town.

Upon arrival we took a taxi to the Victoria & Albert Manchester hotel which took approx. 15 minutes and cost 16 pounds. We could have booked the hotel through Priceline for about $88 (it's the only hotel that's been coming up in Manchester for quite some time) but we booked direct at a rate of 139 pounds because of the early arrival of 10:30 am and hoped to be given a room at that time. We waited approx. 30 mins for a nonsmoking king room to be ready and rested a few hours before sightseeing downtown Manchester. The V & A's staff was wonderful. Our room was recently renovated, no complaints.

When walking into the city we did some shopping at ZARA and generally enjoyed the sights. It felt so good to be in England again! We just grabbed sandwiches at the shopping center's food court and made our way back to the Marriott to get some rest before our guided tour of middle England started the following day. I am not sure of the shopping mall's name we visited but here is a link to Manchester's city shopping guide:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/life...shopping.shtml

We had breakfast the following morning at the hotel and it was very busy with a football team that was staying at the same time. All of the dining items (cold foods) were set up at the buffet and the hostess told us we would not be billed for the breakfast buffet if we took individual items and would be priced accordingly. That was very nice to do since the cold buffet was 14 pounds! The total for the two of us was 22 pounds and my spouse had a hot meal. I think we were undercharged as we never were given a bill, the hostess said it would just be charged to the room as there was a bit of a line at check out. So we returned to the room, grabbed our luggage and headed downstairs to meet our tour guide.
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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As previously mentioned, we hired a private tour guide for the UK segment of our journey. We used a Welsh tour company we knew and trusted from last year, Dragon-tours.com. Our guide was a Welsh gentleman named Greig (pronounced like grey-g) who hails from the Brecon Beacons area. I cannot say enough good things about the company which is owned by Mr. Mike Davies. They followed the desired schedule we wanted and also added in things we might enjoy according to our likes and dislikes as well as shared the history of the sights we visited.

8/23 - Followed Fodorite advice and visited Chatworth House and Haddon Hall.
http://www.chatsworth.org/
http://www.haddonhall.co.uk/home.htm

If one intends on doing much sightseeing of castles and manor homes in England, a National Trust membership may be worth it. The price for one couple is 72.50 per couple and there are additional discounts for families. We worked it out and I believe if we would have purchased a pass we may have saved several pounds after our total attraction cost, will purchase for the next time around next year

Chatsworth entrance fees were 13 pounds pp and Haddon Hall was 8.50pp.

I think Chatsowrth was our favorite manor home. I imagined scenes from the "Pride and Prejudice" recent movie and we walked around the expansive gardens. You can spend an afternoon just walking the garden area and relaxing!

Haddon Hall is indeed the finest preserved medieval manor house we've seen in all our previous visits to the UK. We also walked the gardens of Haddon.

After those two sights we headed to the town of Bakewell and walked around and did some tourist shopping. Bakewell is known for originating the well known "Bakewell tart". We visited Parish church and walked around the cementary. Read the historic grave stones from the 1700's and was reminded of child mortailty rates of the time. You can really learn a lot of history just by reading the personalized gravestones. We had lunch/dinner at the Brandy Snapps Coffee shop. Had two sandwiches and my spouse ordered a milkshake. An English milkshake is different that what we are used to in America, it is more like a more flavored sugarized version of milk served at room temperature. Just a heads up. Lunch for two was 10.40.

That night we stayed at the Palace hotel in Buxton. We like to stay at older historic places and this hotel was chosen for us by our guide. The Palace has been functioning as a hotel since 1868, the oldest hotel in the area if I'm not mistaken. We had breakfast included which was typical English breakfast fare, eggs, beans, breads, fruits, teas, etc. It was very good value for the money at 122 for the both of us with the meal. The room was nice and again no complaints.


travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 10:18 AM
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8/24. On to the Cotswolds. We decided to leave the hotel earlier without further Peaks sightseeing because we did not know how the traffic would be approaching Britain's Bank Holiday weekend. It took us approximately two hours driving time from Buxton to reach our first Cotswolds attraction, Sudeley Castle.

http://www.sudeleycastle.co.uk/

Sudeley was home at one point or another to King Henry's various wives. There is a very impressive collection of garments and lace worn at the time as well as antique jewelry worn by royalty in display cases. There is a separate room for lace beddings and nighttime wear. Regretfully the actual castle rooms are only open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday so we did not get to tour the inside of the Castle, ensuring our return! The gardens were in bloom. There is now some modern art blended in with the greenery, not sure what I think about that? But many plants and flowers were in bloom which made for some wonderful photos. The church was open to visitors.

We then traveled on to Broadway and our hotel the Lygon Arms. Pronounced "Liggon". We loved this hotel. We used our Leaders Club card for the booking and was upgarded to a suite in the new wing of the hotel. We did want to say in the historic part but noted those rooms had not yet been renovated nor was there availiblity for the sold out weekend. Our room was very large with a flat screen tv, two bottles of still and sparkling water, a large bowl of fruit, and a specialized Lygon Arms box of chocolates. On the second day of our stay we received a large flower bouquest from a local shop and our room smelled lovely!

We also had breakfast included in this package but we don't feel it was worth it at a heft additional 40 pounds per night for the two of us, there were less choices than the Palace hotel at half the price. That was the only mildly negative about the hotel stay.

The Lygon Arms also has it's own private gardens which my spouse and I enjoyed every evening. Parts of the hotel date to the mid 1600's and past royal guests include King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.

That evening we dined outside with the perfect weather at Roberto's coffee in Broadway. A sandwich, chips and pasta plate with drinks came to around 20 pounds.

Here I would like to mention that the British have the market cornered on several foods. I know that some feel that British food is not that good but I do not think you will find better chips, sandwiches, tea, and scones anywhere else! Jams and cookies also rate high on the list of course.

Every day in England included tea and scones as well as some sort of sandwich, tuna and sweet corn is my favorite
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 10:28 AM
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hi, travlinwifey [love the name, BTW]

very interesting report. I'm glad that you had such a good time here in the UK.

looking forward to the next bit,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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A very interesting report, travelinwifey.

But can you hurry up with the nasty bits.
maupassant is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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8/25 on to Tewkesbury Abbey.

http://www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk/

It is hard to believe that only a few weeks before this beautiful church sustained a significant amount of flooding. When we walked through the front of the church previous flooding photos are displayed and the visitor's guide told us the path we walked through to get inside was about 3 feet high with water only a short time ago. I really must hand to to the people of Britain and the country's governemt for restoring the town so quickly after a disaster. We in the US can learn some lessons about their disaster recovery I believe. On that day children were preparing a show on what it was like living as monks but we were not able to stay long enough to see it but the kids were dressed up so cute! A donation fee of 3 pounds per person is requested and it costs another 3 pounds to take photos or video, well worth it as the Abbey is one of the greats of the country.

We then took a drive to Burton on Water ("the Venice of England and took a walk around town. The town was quite busy on another gorgeous day of the bank holiday weekend. We loved being amongst the locals (in fact we only saw two American families during our 7 night UK visit) and taking in the culture.We had scones and tea at a delightful little shop named The Chestnut Tree. Hubby tried again for a milkshake as the description said "made with ice cream" but it tasted basically the same as the earlier shake. The scones were warm and simply delicious as well as the tea.

After that we took a scenic drive through Upper and Lower Slaughter and saw a Red Fox just sitting next to the street along the Snowshill countryside. It was wonderful! We don't have much wildlife here in Vegas so wild animals in nature are very exiciting to us. We drove to the church where the Bridget Jones Diary church seen was shot of the "Vicars and Tarts" party. Took some pics in my bunny outfit (just kidding)!

Traveled on to Snowshill Manor and Gardens.

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main...nor-garden.htm

Attraction cost is 7.50 pp and you are assigend a specific time to enter the home for crowd control. You aren't allowed to take photos as the antiquities inside are light sensitive. There is a very impressive collection of aincent Asian armory as well as antique bikes and carriages, clocks, asian cabinetry, and expenisve jeweled decorative items. I was actually surprised such expensive antiques were allowed to be touched by visitors in some areas. The collection was acquired by architect and craftsman Charles Paget Wade. If I was lucky enough to be that wealthy it would also be a passion to collect and house antiques. The gardens are also quite lively.

One final note is that it is a wee bit of a walk to the estate after paying entrance fees, perhaps around a 3/4 mile's walk each way but there is a shuttle to escort travelers back and forth if desired.

After that we returned back to our hotel where we again walked around the town taking pictures of the beautiful homes and amazing perfectly kept gardens. Ate at Roberto's again and read newspapers in the park.

I stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some PG Tips tea that I've heard so much about for approximately 1.50 or so.

Dinner again at Roberto's. One final note about the restaurant. If you are into scones as much as I am do eat a mega scone here. It is almost the size of a dessert plate and I'm sure a day's worth of calories but not to be missed if you are a scone with jam and cream aficionado.
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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wonderful trip report, going to england this year too! can't wait.
nanabee is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 10:57 AM
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Thanks for reading so far! I've tried to include visitor tour and dining prices so others can budget their trips Also don't hesitate to ask if there are any ?'s!
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 11:13 AM
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8/26 Walked through the Cotswold Village of Chipping Camden but shops were closed for Sunday, just picked up a few tourist items.

On to Hidcote Gardens. 8 pounds per person entry. We had visited Hidcote once about 7 years ago when the gardens weren't in blume and what a difference the time of year makes! It is safe to say I took more than 50 photos of flowers.

Briefly walked around Shipstown on Stow and Chipping Norton.

Off the beaten path and highly recommended - The Rollright Stones. It was a bit hard to find the sight as it is not highly advertised to tourists. Used the car's GPS system to find the way around the rural area. 1 pound entry pp.

http://www.rollrightstones.co.uk/history.shtml

The Rollright Stones are much like the stones of Stonehenge in that they are surrounded my much folklore and have been around for 3500 years. There is a myth that if you walk around the Megalyths three times correctly counting the number of stones a wish of yours will be counted. I tried it twice and came up with 71 then 75 stones, someone around us counted 72, who is correct? And has anyone had a wish granted? Secrets of the stones I suppose.

There are three different sctions of stones with their own aincent tales you can read about on the linked website. Definitely worth a visit if you enjoy the mystical.

Traveled on again to the town of Moreton-In-Marsh.

http://www.moreton-in-marsh.co.uk/

More shops here were open for Sunday and we ate dinner at the Marshmellow restaurant. More tea and scones for me and hubby had a hot meal, came to 17 pounds.

Traveled back to our hotel and the shops on Broadway for last minute gift items and walking. Wah, our last night in the Cotswolds!
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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8/27 - the highly anticipated trip to Duxford Aircraft Museum near Cambridge for my spouse.

The drive from the Cotswolds to Cambridge-Duxford took two hours and twenty minutes, though traffic was not as bad as expected. Duxford was packed with visitors and ran out of parking in the main area, cars were all about.

This I must say is probably the most impressive collection of airplanes in the world, please correct me if I'm wrong. My husband was in heaven visiting all the aircraft as my spouse's dad was in WWII. Our guide's father was a pilot in WWII, he must be so proud of his pops. Duxford is set up in 6 different sections with aircraft and different military items even including a few tanks and submarine parts. Cost was 14.95pp but British citizens were offered 4 pounds back on that particular day.

After the Air Museum visit we headed back to Cambridge and checked into our hotel.

Stayed at Cambridge Garden House which was close to all the sights of CBG, including King's college and numerous shops. Had tea and scones (again again) at Agora Mediterranean cuisine. Had dinner with our guide (wah, it's our last night in the UK)at an Italian restaurant named Zizzi. I had the lasagna which should have been renamed "bowl of cheese", hey I love cheese and took great delight in all those calories.

Back to the hotel, it was newly renovated and our rate was 149/nt that again included breakfast. The room was large and we had a room facing the canal on the ground floor. We did not have time to enjoy the small patio outside our room regretfully. Breakfast was again impressive with multiple dining choices and a traditional English breakfast.
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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8/28 Cambridge to Paris.

We had a reservation to take the train from CBG-London at approx 13:00 so we took the early morning time to enjoy the Cambridge hop on-hop off bus @ 10pp. Our guide Greig picked us back up at the hotel with our now very heavy luggage and we made our way to the train station and said our final good byes to our favorite guide.

We had planned on taking the train all the way to Waterloo but after our arrival at King's Cross we realized we would have to do a lot of walking with our heavy bags thoughout the terminal and the underground so we took a taxi instead. Taxi cost was 9.80 and took about 15 minutes to Waterloo's Eurostar entrance.

Customs was easy and we traveled Eurostar's Leisure class which is in between first and standard class. I was looking forward to a relaxing, scenic ride until we were seated next to 4 loud teenage girls that were quite rowdy with no parental supervision of course. There is a meal served but we didn't dine at that time.

I got up to ask the station attendant if we could move to another section of the rail and discovered our luggage was missing. That starts the real fiasco. I asked the attendand and she said our luggage would be on either the train section immediately before or after ours. We searched the entire train and could not find our bags. I became concerned because all of my asthma medicine was what I thought right behind me (in eyesight) but somehow now it had disappeared. Of course then you get scared and think of theft and someone getting off with your luggage.

So again I told the attendant of our situation, she said she would alert her supervisor and tell us how to proceed. Never heard from her again and we arrived in Paris next to the cackling girls because the attendant asked us not to change seats so she can find us (though she never came back).

Upon arrival we got off and asked our second cabin attendand how to proceed and she said "oh you mean the green and black luggage" and I said yes, the same luggage we told you about one hour ago, she chuckled and said we put it over here for security reasons in a locked corridor. Aargh! Why did she just not put 2+2 togehter and tell us that in the beginning! Okay we put that little debacle behind us and vertured onto the Paris Nord Station.

Paris experience to follow
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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Very well written. Very controlled, excellent tone.

Try and finish with a bang.
maupassant is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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Two small interjections into a fascinating tale:

- they obviously forgot to tell you the real secret of the Rollrights. They have a closing time - and all that means is that the man in the ticket office goes home. All three bits remain blissfully open whether they're charging you to get in or not. Strike lucky and it's precisely when they're free that all the hardcore loonies turn up to worship the sungod, dress up as druids or use divining rods to trace the leylines.

- The Floods. Without wishing to downplay how horrid life was in late July for the people of Tewkesbury, I think you're doing your own people an injustice. Floods in most of the Cotswolds disappear very fast (being on a hill is a great way of getting rid of water), and a week after the July 20 downpour, water levels were back to normal in 99% of the region - and that had nothing to do with the government (though the staff of West Oxfordshire and Cotswold district councils generally worked their socks off
to put things right)

I was in Las Vegas during Katrina. While horrified at the Feds' complacency and ineptness, I was also staggered at the unsung work put in by many of the Las Vegas casinos and their staff in sorting out the mess their colleagues on the Mississippi were in. Getting paycheques to people who didn't have an address to send them to, providing guarantees for staff whose workplaces weren't operating, and generally picking up the pieces squabbling and incompetent State and Federal officials were ignoring - to a degree where even PR staff were too busy doing good to have time to boast about it.

Sadly, the rest of the world heard only about the Government. The people of Las Vegas - quite uncharacteristically, I suspect - kept their light under a bushel on this occasion.
flanneruk is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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travelinwifey:

Nice report. Very helpful to mention how much you are spending for meals, B&B's etc.

Did you do laundry during your holiday?

How do you like the PG tips?

Sandy
SandyBrit is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 05:34 PM
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Well Maupassant, I do have a thing or two up my sleeve, true stories, we'll see how it turns out!

Thanks for your comments Flanneruk. If I remember correctly the Harrah's casino chain here tried to find jobs in Vegas for those dispaced in Miss. casino destruction and that people from the affected areas were allowed to stay in the hotel rooms for free after the initial displacement. It did seem that the Cotswolds people themselves did a lot to repair/fix the flooded areas. Yes, people did wonderous things during Katrina, and are still doing things to rebuild New Orleans without governemnt help.

SandyBrit, no, I didn't do laundry while abroad and we packed 14 pairs of undergarments and socks and such making our bags heavy before we even departed home. I kept thinking we would do laundry in Paris but it never worked out that way.

Regarding PG Tips, I like it a lot and am trying to brew it different ways, sugar, no sugar, strong tea or less tea bags. Is it my favorite? The jury is still out More trials need to be run!

Thanks again travelers for reading and I will follow up with the Paris portion tomorrow. But one thing is certain, I really missed the UK even while we were in Paris. I still wanted to be in my home away from home
travelinwifey is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 08:05 PM
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Thanks for sharing a very enjoyable trip report. Cotswolds info is very helpful for planning our trip next year.

Looking forward to Paris . . .
LCBoniti is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 08:26 PM
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Thank you for posting a report! I'm glad you enjoyed Chatsworth and Haddon Hall. Do get a National Trust pass or the Great British Heritage Pass before you visit again; we saved a ton of money using ours.

I don't drink tea very often, but Mr. Pickle and I had a nice pot of PG Tips the other evening.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 10:20 PM
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PG tips? can you explain what this means.
nanabee is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 12:06 AM
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Hi,

PG Tips is a variety of English tea.

Mark
isplumm is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 08:58 AM
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Very much enjoying your report, and very impressed that you managed afternoon tea every day !
caroline_edinburgh is offline  

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