England/Wales Garden Trip - Bob and Shirley
May 15 - June 13, 2012

With notes from Diary "Bob and Shirley's Excellent English Adventure"

Buckingham Palace
Scroll down the page to see the photos,
which are shown in order day by day,
or click on a link below to go directly
to photos of the attraction:

Day 1 - 5/16/2012 - 5/17/2012 [Wed/Thu]

Notes from the Diary: California to England
- One of our wonderful neighbors drove us to the Sonoma County Airport Express bus stop, which we then took to the San Francisco airport.
- Virgin Atlantic 10 hr. flight, leaving in the late afternoon Wednesday, to Heathrow. Plus we moved forward 8 hours in time zones.
- Bob's food served first. [Order the Vegan Meal ahead of time on-line]
- Land at 1 pm Thursday
- 140 bus to Heathrow Inn [our first English bus and purchase, paid for in pounds]
- Walk to Sainsburys [a superstore like Wal-Mart]. Chicken tika masala dish

Day 2 - 5/18/2012 [Fri]

Notes from the Diary: Heathrow Inn
- Breakfast Downstairs. Couple from Canada going to Ireland. Local Fruit.
- 140 Bus to Heathrow 1 Central. Oyster cards at 15 [our exchange rate was usually around $1.56/, so about $23] each; tube to Picadilly Line to Green Park.
- Big Bus Tour with Samantha [who was a wonderful, humorous guide, very entertaining]. No rain all day. Highlights: Plaque/Tower of London executions/M5 Intel Bldg/Lady met from TX/Saw London Eye, Parliament, Drawn and Quartered description
- Walked to Buckingham Palace
- Westminster Abbey Tour 16 per person; many tombs
- Walked to St. James Square, Picadilly Circus St., visited bookstore to get a map; had a pub with scrabble and other games available
- Tube and bus back; explore Hayes Market Place
- Bob - Subway; Shirley - McDonalds
- More fresh fruit. Veg out.


Day 3 - 5/19/2012 [Sat]

Notes from the Diary: Heathrow Inn
- Tube back into London.
- 2nd day of Big Bus Tour. Young man tourist guide half-hearted with review.
- Go up into London Eye. Magnificent views of London.
- On to Covent Gardens to find Masala Zone Indian Restaurant. Walked up and down street searching for #48, saw #1 through #37 before discovering #48 was an "add on", right after #1! But splendid lunch!
- Back on Tube - off at Hyde Park/Kensington Park. Ducks/Swans/Geese. Lots of people.
- Saw Diana's fountain - A big, low meandering circle of water. Flowers are opening.
- Weather cool (50's) & cloudy.


Day 4 - 5/20/2012 [Sun]

Notes from the Diary:, Road Trip to Barton Stacey
- Packed up at Heathrow Inn & took 140 bus to Heathrow Terminal 1 [with many smokers standing right under the "No Smoking" sign]. "Stop 5" for Sixt pick-up was just before "Stop 1"! Sixt car rental picked us up and we got car, a diesel, VW Golf automatic!.
- Bob did great job picking up driving [writes Shirley] but roundabouts are confusing and routes are so poorly marked. Have to circle numerous times.
- Went into Andover to find "Tourist Information". Never did find it. Two signs gave contradictory info. Both pointing in opposite directions.
- Found way to Sainsbury's Market in Andover, did some shopping. Met very talkative local lady.
- Checked in at Travelodge at Barton Stacey.
- Nice man from Portugal at desk helped us with room stuff.
- Saw rabbit outside motel window - Very busy "Divided Carrier Way" (4 lane road) outside.

Day 5 - 5/21/2012 [Mon]

Notes from the Diary:, Visit Stonehenge, Salisbury and Barton Stacey -
- Off to Stonehenge. Took audio tour. So impressive. Landscape beautiful - lots of sheep
- On to Salisbury. Finally found car park. Walked the old city streets.
- Took tour of Salisbury Cathedral. Saw original copy of Magna Carta.
- Bob had "fish & chips" for the first time! [and last time, notes Bob - awful, fat and salt].
- Lovely fields of yellow (rape seed?).
- Finally got out of Salisbury - roundabouts are info overload!
- Drove out to Barton Stacey - little town down from our Travelodge motel. Very pretty.
- Got key from Village Store and saw early medieval church from 10th century!
- Back to motel. Stour Head tomorrow and I [Shirley] need some shoes!

On the road to Stonehenge

Video of Stonehenge



Mompesson House

Barton Stacey

Day 6 - 5/22/2012 [Tue]

Notes from the Diary: Visit Stourhead House and Gardens
- Stourhead House & Gardens
- Lytes Cary Manor (near Wiltshire, Somerset).
- We said goodbye to our Travelodge on A303 Barton Stacey and drove divided highway A303 through gorgeous countryside - in the distance, yellow fields of canola seed (?) mustard. No billboards anywhere!
- Stourhead was beautiful. Over 2,000 acres of land and a beautiful lakeside walk with gorgeous rhodies in bloom. Swan with baby goslings. Beautiful vistas - very pleasant and relaxing walk about 2 miles. Then on to see Stourhead Mansion. House had 42 fireplaces! Burnt down in 1902(?). Had brief lunch and looked at gift shop.
- Lytes Cary Manor
- Beautiful formal topiary yews.
- Lovely walled perennial garden - sheep grazing.
- Bob saw dormouse
- Woven willow seat pad swing!
- Toured house - travel bed & spiral stone stair case!
- On to Travelodge on A303 near Illminister. Lodge was in a roundabout.

Stourhead House and Gardens

Lytes Cary Manor

Day 7 - 5/23/2012 [Wed]

Notes from the Diary: Visit Tintinhull Garden & Montacute House
- Drove out the A303 to Tintinhull Garden. Wonderful grounds and garden. HUGE Peony flower. Lovely perennial beds, lots of stinging nettle in pasture. Special sheep that lose their wool naturally. Goose house.
- Toured the remnants of medieval village. Went into village church. Walked the country side path.
- Had lunch at the Crewer(?) Victoria Inn - outside under an umbrella. So relaxing. A "free house" - can sell any beer brand, not just a sponsors.
- On to Montacute House. Huge formal garens and landscape. Very long yew-lined, narrow road. Ate snacks on old log seat. Watched 4 little boys at play. Toured house and national portrait gallery upstairs with portrait of King James I - newly returned to Montacute.
- Went into Ilminster to find the Tesco store - rambled around and finally found it. No streets marked! Same problem coming out - a young man finally directed us out. We turned around again and found our motel after driving the wrong way from it. Aargh!

Video of Montacute
Montacute photos

Tintinhull Garden


Video of Montacute

Day 8 - 5/24/2012 [Thu]

Notes from the Diary
- Left Ilminster Travelodge and drove to St. Austell. Very smooth driving on tehh A303/A30 past Exeter.
- We turned down the A382 into Dartmoor National Park - big mistake. Terribly small roads - barely room for 2 cars to pass - and the little villages along the way narrow down to one-lane only on/off throughout the village. Everyone takes turns in traveling through. After about 20 miles of hair-raising roads, we turnd around and drove back to the A30 - a big, spacious divided "carriage way" (2 lanes each direction)
- Arrived at Travelodge St. Austen. Very big and noisy. Room incredibly hot - with no air conditioning or room ventilator! Had to open our room door to try and beat heat.
- Walked into St. Austell town square adn mailed 2 postcards. A pretty but stark town center.

From Ilminster to St. Austell

Day 9 - 5/25/2012 [Fri]

Notes from the Diary: The Lost Gardens of Heligan; Mevagissey Harbor
- To an early start to the Lost Gardens - first ones in line. Beautiful estate - over 200 acres of tropical area, jungle. New 2 acres walled garden and walled vegetable gardens. Saw the famous "mud lady". Saw charcoal sculpture. Lunch at Steward's house under the trees. Very pretty. Geranium house. Beautiful woodland walks. Bee houses in stone! Fun scarecrow!
- On to Mevagissey Harbor. 1 mile down road. Good parking lot before the town - decided to pay 3.50 rather than risk the 2-way, 1-lane streets (for real).
- Beautiful harbor walk, walking the stone pier, then up many steps for glorious iew of ocean and town. Small, small streets - cars go both ways! Late lunch at the Wheel House - salmon sandwich. Shirey gets salmon with jacket potato. Average veg. pasty from shop. (First and last!).
- On to boiling room at Travelodge. Asked for fan - opened all doors!

Video of Mevagissey Harbor
Go to Mevagissey Photos

Heligan Gardens


Video of Mevagissey Harbor
Typical English 2-way, 1 lane village street.

Day 10 - 5/26/2012 [Sat]

Notes from the Diary: Eden Project
- Jungle Biome (biggest greenhouse in the world). Saw spice trees! Cardamom, cocao, vanilla, etc.
- Mediterranean Biome - lots of plants Shirley knew from Santa Rosa!
- Ate mediocre lunch. Loud music.
- Saw outdoor gardens. Strong sea breezes at top. Very big commercial venture - overpriced.
- Came back and "vegged out" rest of evening.

Eden Project

Day 11 - 5/27/2012 [Sun]

Notes from the Diary: Trelissick Garden; King Harry Ferry; Westbourne Guest House
- Went to ASDA supermarket - Wal-Mart wanna be! Very crowded. We could go in and shop but cash registers did not open until 10 AM!
- Saw Trelissick Garden, which was very pretty and formal.
- Took King Harry Ferry Rider, which was free with a 50 pence/person donation requested.
- Viewed two art galleries.
- Drove into Penzance. Got lost on city by-pass. Finally found our way to B&B - Westbourne House - which we recommend [see more over next two days below]. Very tired and called it a day.

Trelissick Garden

King Harry Ferry


Day 12 - 5/28/2012 [Mon]

Notes from the Diary: Mont St. Michael; Penzance; Westbourne B&B
- Boat trip to the Mont!
- Touring castle
- Beautiful sloped gardens.
- Walked causeway back. Causeway is underwater except at low tide, hence boat ride in morning and walk in the afternoon.
- Finally saw a description of servant quarters. Butler, cook, house keeper.
- Walked town a little, then back to Westrourne B&B
- Ate at Taj Mahal Restaurant, which was very good! Then walked back to our B&B through lovely streets.

Mont St. Michael

Video taken from Mont St. Michael

Day 13 - 5/29/2012 [Tue]

Notes from the Diary: Westbourne B&B
- Decided to have a "down" day and do nothing!
- Mike, the proprietor, told wonderful stories about his racing pigeons and other topics.
- Walked about Penzance. Saw Moraab (town) garden and Market Street.
- Ate at Honey Pot.
- Bob went to movie Men In Black III at Savoy Cinema.


Day 14 - 5/30/2012 [Wed]

Notes from the Diary: Travelodge in Barnstaple
- Said goodbye to Mike, then drove up Coastal Highway A road to Clovelly - walked down very steep footpaths to village. A tourist draw at 6.50/person. Could not walk up hill again - took a Land Rover ride back up at 2.50/person.
- Toured Clovelly Court walled garden - so beautiful. Large vegetable garden, green houses, fruits, etc.
- On to our Travelodge at Barnstaple.

On the road to Clovelly


Day 15 - 5/31/2012 [Thu]

Notes from the Diary: Falcon Hotel, Taunton, Knightshayes Court
- Packed up from Travelodge - drove over 2 roundabouts to a very nearby Sainsbury Superstore (Supermarket) and loaded up on fruit, groceries, etc.
- Drove to Tiverton then to NT Knightshayes Court - gorgeous Manor House with estate gardens. Narrow streets on last mile:
-- Topiary! 9 dogs chasing a fox
-- Badger and other figures shaped in willow branches
-- Enormous 2-acre walled garden - with scarecrows of the queen and Prince Charles
-- Had a bite to eat - very friendly birds
-- Bought an English teacup
-- Spectacular vistas!
- Worked our way on the M5 to Falcon Hotel - looks like the Bates Hotel on outside with dead flowers in 3 hanging pots, but our top most room - #9 - on 3rd floor is very cozy and comfortable. Enjoyed the first night very much! We recommend staying there. (see photos of Falcon Hotel)

Knightshayes Court Manor House

Falcon Hotel (which we recommend in spite of its external appearance)

Day 16 - 6/1/2012 [Fri]

Notes from the Diary: Falcon Hotel, Taunton, Hestercombe Gardens
- Got to the gardens - woodland walk (with chainsaw and leaf blower in background)
- Water mill
- Bob feeds ducks and swan
- Beautiful formal gardens with plants by Gertrude Jekyll
- Pergola was stunning - with roses and grape arbor.

Hestercombe Gardens

Video of Hestercombe Gardens

Day 17 - 6/2/2012 [Sat]

Notes from the Diary: Oswestry Travelodge, Hay-On-Wye Book Festival
- Drove from Taunton to Oswestry (150 - 180 miles)
- Visited Hay-On-Wye in Wales, which was holding a Book Festival
- Heard Flat World musical group, which was very good
- Since the 10-day book festival was going on, the town was very crowded
- Drove through town, then in a detour around town to get back to parking (out in a field). - Visited several book stores and Bob picked up another Robert Crais mystery novel.

Inside Wales


Day 18 - 6/3/2012 [Sun]

Notes from the Diary: Oswestry Travelodge
- Rainy and overcast day.
- Stayed in all day to relax and have down town. Bob read his mystery book.
- Watched the rabbits from our motel window. Several motel rooms backed onto fields with rabbits.

Oswestry Travelodge

Day 19 - 6/4/2012 [Mon]

Notes from the Diary: Powis Castle, Wales
- Big crowds were out for Queen's Jubilee celebration

Powis Castle

Day 20 - 6/5/2012 [Tue]

Notes from the Diary: Alcester Travelodge
- Coughton Court in Coughton.
- Last day of Queen's Jubilee Celebrations.
- Toured the manor home that had "priest hides" built into it.
- Finally paid the 5 and toured the walled flower gardens - what an incredible lush array of floral rooms.
- Went for walk around small lake - saw spectacular, cool, shady, garden of ferns, cattails and hastas.
- Bob fed a very aggresive duck in the gazebo.
- Rain began adn after we tourd the church, we left.
- Back to Travelodge - our home away from home.

Coughton Court

Day 21 - 6/6/2012 [Wed]

Notes from the Diary: Alcester Travelodge
- Visit to Hidcote Manor Garden. American designer.
- Rain during the visit - took refuge in greenhouse.
- Stopped by Chipping Campden - town of 2,000 in the Cotswolds - south of Hidcote about 5 miles. Wandered throughout the town.
- Finally paid the 5 and toured the walled flower gardens - what an incredible lush array of floral rooms.

Hidcote Manor Garden

Chipping Campden

Day 22 - 6/7/2012 [Thu]

Notes from the Diary: Mead Lodge B&B; Corsham M4-M25-A21
- Drove from Alcester to Corsham
- Lots of rain - just vegged out in our new B&B

Mead Lodge B&B in Corsham

Day 23 - 6/8/2012 [Fri]

Notes from the Diary: Mead Lodge B&B; Corsham
- Found bus station in Corsham (Mead Lodge B&B was very conveniently located and comfortable - we recommend it) and took the Faresaver 5.90/person into Bath.
- Rain, rain, rain - very England! [Note, however, most of our trip was without rain. Beautiful weather. Very un-English we hear.]
- Toured Roman Baths. So many tourists!
- Walked streets of Bath and had lunch at Eastern Eye Restaurant (Indian Restaurant)
- River walk - Found Bus! Back to Corsham.
- Bob parked car the British Way - meaning half way on the road - so that everyone gets to go around you!


Day 24 - 6/9/2012 [Sat]

Notes from the Diary: Premier Inn, Tonbridge
- Drove in from Corsham to Tonbridge (about 140 miles)
- Great rest stop on M4
- M25 very crowded
- Got settled at Premier Inn, then receptionist told us about Deer Park at Knole House
- Drove into Seven Oaks to see the Deer Park.
- So many deer - little kids having great time feeding them (the deer were not confined, in meadows and woods, unafraid of humans).

Corsham To Tonbridge

Deer Park at Knole House in Seven Oaks

Video of Deer Park

Day 25 - 6/10/2012 [Sun]

Notes from the Diary: Premier Inn, Tonbridge
- Sissinghurst Castle & Gardens
- Famous white garden
- Cow pasture with young steer calves that came right up to us
- Wonderful rose garden
- Climbed tower to breathtaking view of property. - Saw red fox while driving back to Premier Inn.

Sissinghurst Castle and Gardens

Video from tower of Sissinghurst Gardens

Day 26 - 6/11/2012 [Mon]

Notes from the Diary: Heathrow
- Drove into Heathrow area, checked into IBIS motel
- Returned car to Sixt Car Rental at outskirts. Bob drove well over 1,000 miles - and very nicely too! Rah! I don't see how he did it.[says Shirley]

Day 27 - 6/12/2012 [Tue]

Notes from the Diary: Heathrow
- Spent the day walking the neighborhood near IBIS motel, outside Heathrow airport
- Browsed through a group of little shops in a busy neighborhood.
- Just lounged around the motel and rested. No phone or TV Service without paying extra in our room. We read the newspaper instead!

Day 28 - 6/13/2012 [Wed]

Notes from the Diary: Homeward bound
- Caught the Hoppa H6 bus (shuttle bus ) from IBIS motel to Heathrow
- Took a Virgin Atlantic flight at 10:30 AM, arrived in San Francisco at 1:25 PM.
- Took the Sonoma County Airport Express bus back to Santa Rosa.
- Another of our wonderful neighbors picked us up from the bus stop and drove us home.

Contact/Website Author:
Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA
July, 2011

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