Sunday, April 19, 2015


  Where did the time go; it's been several days since I've put my words on paper for my Armchair Travelers.   The following includes our day of travel plus yesterday that was spent visiting the two referenced Estates in the title to this Blog.   It's Sunday here in England and we've just returned from the Mass at the local Catholic Church, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, that is less than a mile for our lodgings.   We're taking a day off....this driving on the wrong side of the road is stressful for us old folks; and Jim wants to watch the Formula One Race in the middle of the afternoon.  I just plain and simple need a day with my feet up.  I may only be the navigator but it's a really tough job.   I've never had an ulcer but I may by the time I get to Paris!   But back to our journey....

  Friday, April 17th, we were awake early and ready to leave our studio apartment by eight o'clock but we'd told the owner nine o'clock so we watched our big screen television and waited.  Checked out and deposit returned; we walked a block in bright sunshine to the bus stop.  The bus was very late so we stood there for about half an hour before we were settled in with all of our luggage and on the way to the Tube Station at Tooting Broadway.  There we used our Oyster Pass again, just enough money left on the card, and stayed on until the stop at Elephant & Castle where we had to deal with two sets of stairs to change lines from the Northern to the Bakerloo Line that took us all the way to Paddington Station.   We had a few more stairs here but both managed well.  Finally in the train station where we purchased tickets on the "milk run" train to Heathrow Airport, half the price of the faster "Express Train".   We arrived before noon instead of the planned eleven o'clock but the Enterprise people were waiting for us.  We used this company because of the age restrictions on most of the other companies.  They are wonderful; gave them our name and she had all of our information at her fingertips.  We had to change to my credit card and therefore I became the primary driver because of Jim's stolen wallet in Rome; Jim
became the second driver because they accepted his AAA International Driver's License that he'd gotten before we left home.  That and his Passport were the only identification items not in his wallet.   WOW...I'm off the hook...he can drive.  We debated on two items:  automatic gears and the GPS.    We got both of them...thank goodness.  They have been lifesavers.  The Garmin is new and has all the bells and whistles.   It took us several round-d-rounds  to finally get to the Motorway but we figured it out and were on our way.    I hold the Garmin and am the navigator....what a marvelous improvement over the paper maps.

Our first stop was to see if Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) and or grounds were open; we knew they probably were not but wanted to see the area.  Sure enough, they were not open to the public but took a few photos and then went back on our route through the Cotswolds to our home for the next three nights in Churchdown.   We are staying in a private home; upstairs bedroom with a private bathroom off the hallway.  She lays out a beautiful breakfast for us each morning.  Our room has a lovely twenty-one inch flat screen television that Jim is going to enjoy this afternoon.  Yes...all in English!

     Saturday, April 18th:   Yesterday!   After breakfast we were out the door, set "Daisy" (our name for the Garmin) to take use over the hill and through the dale to Blenheim Palace, located just north of Oxford.  FYI...Oxford is a big city and we've decided to drive around traffic congested headaches since we've seen the cities and town and villages before on previous trips to England.  It took us about an hour and a half and we were there.  This is my second visit and Jim's first to the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.  It is one of the largest and finest Estates in England and is home to the Duke of Marlborough and majestically set in a two thousand acre park.  We arrived at half past ten and enjoyed our visit until half past one.   There were guided and self-guided tours of the Palace on both the first and second floors.  We chose to go our own way and wandered upstairs and down after an unusual small group tour that told the history of the house as we went from room to room with live people from the back looking into mirrors/computer screens that showed the face of the character who was telling the story.  All very modern in an old fashion sort of way; but well done.

   We spent a brief time in the gardens but still had another adventure so we left the Estate as I mentioned at half past one; you could easily spend an entire day and I'm sure many people do.  Locals are members of the National Trust, including our landlord, and go regularly to visit various Estates throughout England for one annual fee.

     By two thirty we'd arrived at Waddesdon Manor.  A little further north and east of Blenheim Palace. 
It is set in the Village of Waddesdon, from whence it received it's name.  Built in 1875 in the style of a 16th century French chateau for Baron Ferninard de Rothschild to entertain his guests and to display his vast art collection.  The building is very reminiscent of Chambord Chateau in the Lorrie Valley in France.   Set in another huge park, so large that we were transported by bus from the parking lot to the Manor House.  This is one of the busiest Estates in England and has a parking lot that will hold one thousand vehicles.  Known worldwide for the unusual and beautiful Victorian gardens; the
variety and designs were hard to leave even when it was time for our timed entry into the Manor House.  There were docents in every room to answer questions and offer tidbits of information but you were allowed to wander through all three floors at your own pace.  This one would be a good one to purchase tickets before going in the busy summer seasons.  We almost didn't get in for a tour!

     We were back in the car for the long drive back to Churchdown before four o'clock.  Arrived about five thirty and headed into Cheltenham for dinner at our new favorite restaurant called The Redgrove, a Harvester Restaurant.   Tried to get gasoline after dinner but waited until this morning when the machines gave us problems with our credit cards.  Called the card company after arriving home; no problems they said.  We waited until this morning after Mass and had a live body who walked us through the process.  I do hope you've enjoyed our day yesterday, we certainly did.

     We're going to be moving every night for the next several days so don't be surprised if I do one of these every few days.  We're heading north and some wonderful Castles around York.

No comments: