Sunday and Monday 26 / 27 May
Free days to explore London. Everyone did their own thing. Cold and windy, but at least it was dry so we were able to see most of the things we wanted.
Wednesday 29 May
An early start as we wanted time to explore the Cotswolds. First call was at Great Tew and then Little Tew, such picturesque villages with lots of thatched cottages. We encountered these throughout the Cotswolds so everyone was really enthusiastic, in spite of the light rain we had most of the day. Then on to Stratford upon Avon, Shakespear's Birthplace and the home of Anne Hathaway, which were both photographed profusely. Then we moved South to visit more villages, including Upper and Lower Slaughter, Bourton on the Water and Castle Combe, amongst others we drove through. In spite of the light rain we really enjoyed the variety of countryside which is so green and beautiful. Every village has an old style church and many of the gardens are full of Spring flowers. Arrived in Bath in time for a very nice Indian dinner at a restaurant across the road from the hotel.
Thursday 30 May
Time to explore Bath, developed as a spa city by the Romans, so plenty of history to be found as the group visited many of the points of interest around the city. Travelled South to Wells and looked for the Cathedral but difficult to find so we moved on towards the West and Exmoor National Park. Large forest areas interspersed with farming country, obviously with different conditions to those in Australian National Parks. Narrow roads with high hedges made the ride very interesting at times. Small villages appeared from nowhere as we moved through the country lanes - we avoided the main highways as much as possible.
Beautiful countryside everywhere with so much space, it is hard to understand that there are over 60 million people in the country about the size of Victoria. Our stop for the night was Barnstaple in North Devon.
Friday 31 May
An early start as we had lots of places to visit. We travelled through North Devon to Boscastle, a coastal village which had suffered from bad floods a few years ago. A very picturesque village alongside a stream which fed into a small harbor. Then on to Tintagel, where King Arthur had a castle on the coast, the remains of which are now a tourist attraction which is very popular. Our main port of call was Port Issac, on the NW coast of Cornwall, where the filming of Doc Martin takes place. It was great to see the various locations where the actual filming takes place and we were fortunate to meet Tim who is involved with the filming. We also enjoyed a wonderful Devonshire tea scones with clotted cream at the Cup Cakes Café with Tim, we highly recommend!
In the afternoon we made our way inland to Tavistock where we had a break and in the markets found some shopping we had been looking for over the past two weeks. Then a beautiful drive through Dartmoor where we we were fortunate to see many wild ponies, with new born foals, and lots of sheep alongside the road....photographs galore taken!!!!. Arrived in Exeter to our accommodation at Kiddecott Farm, a bed and breakfast location based on 55 acres. A great place for a longer stay but we only and the one night. Dinner at a Toby carvery once again, which we all enjoyed.
Saturday 1 June
A pleasant early morning in the immediate gardens around the B & B. Then we travelled to Salisbury on a wonderful morning through beautiful countryside passing through some interesting villages, with thatched cottages in abundance. In Salisbury we wandered the local markets and some of the ladies were able to purchase items they had been searching for during the whole tour. After lunch we moved North to Avebury, where we spent time visiting Avebury Manor and saw the ancient stone circle, apparently older than Stonehenge. The manor is the the property highlighted in the series " to the manor revisited". We were allowed to touch, sit on chairs and beds and take photographs, which is most unusual when visiting various properties. A great visit which everyone enjoyed. Our journey continued to accommodation near Heathrow Airport, where the tour finished, ready for onward flights either home or additional visits..
Tuesday 28 May
Packed our bags and left them at the hotel as we had more time in London. But it started raining so not so pleasant. A visit to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard was a little disappointing as the cavalry were in their great coats so no beautiful regalia. No wandering this morning so enjoyed a visit to Harrods, the famous department store, where lunch was experienced. Back to the hotel to pack the bus for the next stage of our journey. First stops were to Nettlebed and Wallingford, small villages where some of the filming for "Midsummer Murders" takes place on a regular basis. Then on, through the rain, to Oxford for our nights rest. Enjoyed an evening meal at a small hotel, the Trout Inn, beside a stream, which was so picturesque.