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Back Home after a wonderful tour!

Monet Garden

Monet’s Garden

_1010557 _1010554 Versailles Palace in France, _1010567

I had a wonderful time overseas, even though I was only 6 wks over breaking my fibular in my right heel! I was supposed to wear the moon boot for another few weeks, but decided to take it off for easier movement and mobility! It was hard work, I was slow and in pain, but I’m glad I persevered in limping around to see all the sights.

Kathi was the navigator most of the time, as we caught trains and buses to most of the sights, I was too busy watching every step along the way, as there were thousands of stairs, cobble stones and people bustling every where, I didn’t want to injure myself anymore than I already had!

We had a week in France first off, seeing Versailles Palace, Monet’s Garden, the louvre, Notre Dame, Disneyland and many more sights. The Eiffel tower, was another spectacular sight,  looking over Paris at the very top of the tower, we were very brave, don’t you think?

We then sadly left Paris to travel to London (our next adventure) on the Euro train, after settling ourselves in the hotel we walked to find the nearest coffee place and something to eat.

In four days we visited all the palaces in London, the Queen’s favourite toy’s were on display, as well as Prince Charles and Princess Anne’s toys.  We also saw Queen Victoria’s Doll house, (Kathi and I both do miniatures, so this was fabulous to see!)  We couldn’t go home without seeing Harrods Department store ( we had a cup of coffee and shared a piece of cake) that was expensive enough! Then we cruised up the Thames, passed under the Tower Bridge, saw Big Ben, then stopped off at Greenwich for afternoon tea! We walked so much that it didn’t matter if we indulged in lots of food, in fact we both lost weight!

The South West England tour was next on the agenda , we met Maureen our tour leader, at a very prestigious hotel  the Millennium Gloucester, had a welcoming dinner to meet the other people joining us, then headed off  the next morning  in our private coach to travel to our first location which was the Victoria and Albert Museum. In the afternoon we had high tea at the Ritz, this was a real treat, although full of food and somewhat tired, a few of us caught a bus to the Liberty of London emporium, we couldn’t resist buying liberty gifts for family and friends which led us to overspending! then we departed back to our hotel.

The next day we travelled to Hampton Court Palace, having a little insight into 500 years of Royal history, set on sixty acres of world famous gardens. King Henry VIII resided here which was full of the tapestries he acquired, plus the home of the Royal School of Needlework where we saw staff working on new commissions and restoration works. We climed back onto our coach and were driven  to Luton Hoo, a luxurious 5 star property with more than a 1,000 acres of parklands and gardens. We quickly changed into our glad rags for a formal dinner in the Werhner Room, the furnishings were very grand, with gilt edged decor and richly coloured upholstery etc. We all had magnificent bedrooms, then after a good nights sleep, we woke up to a full on breakfast, before we headed off to the next destination,  Broadway referred to as a chocolate box town!

We had a couple of hours to shop and have coffee in Broadway before heading to the Cotswalds, for a  a tour of  Sudeley Castle, our private tour guide took us through the wonderful gardens and pheasentry, plus we also saw the amazing textile display that included hand made lace from Anne Boleyn!  For lunch we ate in the food hall, I had a very tasty pie with mashed potato and gravy!  We climbed onto the coach, then headed to Ston Easton Park, which is set on 35 acres of rolling Somerset countryside just outside of Bath. When we arrived we had to quickly dress in our  formal dinner wear to dine in the magnificent yellow room! Maureen gave us a mystery to solve which had something to do with the history of the house! a bit like the Midsomer murders!!

The next day we had Claire Vine tutoring us with her embroidery styles, after lunch some of the girls made their way to Bath to see the old Roman baths  and do some shopping, whilst some of us stayed embroidering until we had to pack up and head out for a meal at one of the local pubs. We had a lot of laughs with the locals and learnt a bit more history! We retired to bed as we were all tired and needed  rest for the next day!

The coach was there to pick us up early to drive us into Bath, where we picked up our English tour guide who showed us many highlights including the Georgian stone crescents, plus the Assembly rooms and the Costume Museum that displays 400 years of fashion. I remember a lot of it, even wore some of the fashions myself! It was lunch time again, so we all found a nice coffee shop, had a rest, then ventured on to shop and look around the village. A few of the girls found the second hand shops and sourced a few bargains.  At night we had a meal at the famous Garrick’s Head Hotel, before being seated in the Royal Bath theatre (500 years old) to see a very funny play, very funny!! then it was back to Ston Easton Park for another sleep.

It was up early in the morning, packed and ready to drive to our next adventure, we were taken to the American Museum, where they had rooms set up displaying how the rooms were through the ages, also a display, a very bright display of Kaffe Fassett’s works. He’s know for his wonderful knitted jumpers and tapestries, he has a unique style which sets him apart from the more traditional styles. In the afternoon we  visit the famous Tavistock Pannier market, situated in the heart of this historic town of Tavistock, the ancient market was granted it’s Royal Charter in 1105 and has survived without a break for over 900 years. The quaint buildings are like picture postcards and the shopping was good! Late in the afternoon we arrived at the magnificent property of Lewtrenchard Manor, where we had another formal dinner prepared for us. This old Jacobean Manor, privately owned, had been turned into a luxurious country home of the highest standard, beautifully decorated but you were made to feel like family. I had my teaching day here at this early 1600 property which is surrounded in soft Devonshire Countryside. One of the days we travelled to Cowslip Farm in Launceston to have a quilting lesson with one of the expert tutors and lunch at the cafe which was delicious, plus afternoon tea, where we were served a sponge cake with Devon’s clotted cream! YUM!

The following day, we head to Honiton to visit the Museum that houses the famous Honiton Lace display, whilst the High street has the best bakeries and speciality shops to peruse, the coffee was good! In the afternoon we visit the magnificent Longleat, Safari and Adventure Park, know to be the finest Elizabethan architecture in England. Longleat is owned by the Marquess of Bath, and is located near the town of Warminster in Wiltshire.  We head back to Tylney Hall and have dinner in the Oak Panel Room. I keep talking about the food on this trip, which was fantastic,  beautifully prepared and  served,  just excellent!

The next morning after breakfast, we head to our own private room for a day of stitching with the lovely talented Jenny Aiden-Christie. She travelled with her husband, who helped her set up her numerous kits and specialist embroidery tools, these were for sale, plus her extensive range of needleworks to show, we were all in awe of her work! She is the sweetest, most  gentle person and we all enjoyed having her teach us for the day!

We are now almost at the end of our tour, we drove to Burford, a beautiful, quaint town in the Cotswolds which is picture postcard stuff! Maureen took us to a magnificent needlework shop, which stocked everything and I mean everything! We climbed  back onto the coach and travelled to the last palace on the tour, Blenheim Palace, before returning to London for our farewell dinner.

The next morning we met for breakfast and had our final farewells, exchanged  email addresses etc and headed for Heathrow terminals for departure .

It was a memorable trip which I will never forget, I’m sure all the other ladies and gents will agree! Kathi and I had almost perfect weather the whole time we were away, which was unusual, folk told us to take rain coats and woolies, but we didn’t need them!

Maureen was a perfect hostess with the most-est! lovely, lovely person to travel with, plus her extended family were just as delightful!

Maureen had her foot in a moon boot, having broke her ankle before she left!     She managed very well and I knew just what she was going through!

Have to save up for the next trip!

Best Wishes                                                                  “HAPPY STITCHING”

Helen