Friday, May 15, 2015
When I got to the airport, I decided to check my bag at the last minute. It was heavy, and I thought the layover would be much easier. Well, you can probably guess what happened. My bag eventually got to London, but not on the plane I was on. Tracking down my bag took several hours out of our first day. And, everything I had to wear was in it.
RULE ONE: Don't check your bag on the way there if you can help it.
We had a lot of trouble with our phones this time. Reception was not always good. I knew that I wouldn't be able to make calls to the US, but my phone carrier had assured me that I could send photos to Facebook if I had Wi-Fi available. My friend had bought a special package to be able to use her cell phone, but it barely worked.
RULE TWO: Do not be overly dependent on your electronic devices.
Credit cards are another thing that have changed since I was in England in 2012. All British cards now have chips. Many of the cash machines will not take a card without a chip. We were able to use our cards most of the time, but not always. The little squares on the backs of our recent cards are not chips. I do not know what a chip looks like. The machines scan the cards, instead of swiping them. Some of the little villages we visited only have cash machines that scan the cards. Most of them are like ours, but when you need cash, that can be a problem. Especially if you find something that you really, really want at a village craft/junk/antique/show.
RULE THREE: Just tell your bank you want the card with a chip. And don't forget to notify them what days you will be gone.
I had planned to mail things home if I bought more than the fold up duffel bag I had packed could hold.. I always think I won't buy much, but I still like stuff. Somehow, I could never find a post office and box to mail said treasures back to Iowa. So the next solution was to buy a vintage suitcase at a local charity shop. Five pounds!! And with three locks and two straps, it looked pretty sturdy. And I tied a cord around it just to be safe. I am such a classy traveler. HA. The picture above shows what it looked like when I saw it again at home. We watched them load our baggage. They are not gentle.
RULE FOUR: Do not check a second bag. This idea cost me $100.00. I had no idea it would be so expensive. I won't forget this rule.
RULE FIVE: Just because you speak the same language doesn't mean you will be able to understand them. Everything is different, including appliances and food.
I loved it all and can't wait to do it again. Even with the little snags and snafus. More of my travelogue to come
Friday, May 08, 2015
My other trips have been group tours, organized by Sherry. The first time I went there were over 20 women, but the average since then has been about ten. This time it was just the three of us. We rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for the first week. Our address was One the Square in Upper Slaughter.
There were several cottages on the square. Here is a view out of my bedroom window, and the cottage across the way. Ours was very comfortable after we understood the heating system. The first two days we nearly froze, and made trips to the charity shops to buy warmer clothing. The weather wasn't the best, and we did wear our coats a lot. But there really wasn't too much rain. We had a fire in the large fireplace a couple of times.
One of our highlights was our "Secret Garden Tour" Not too many pictures, because she likes to keep it secret! Five of us went on a guided tour. We went to the owner's thatched cottage for a tour and coffee, then drove to several villages and out of the way places, back to the cottage for lunch, more beautiful towns, villages, walks, and gardens, and then tea at the cottage. We even went to a few places that Sherry had never been to before. That is really hard to find, because she has been to England more times than she can even count! The Cotswolds was a great mix of history, historic homes, shopping, and books. I didn't want to leave, but there was still another week of our trip to enjoy.
Every National Trust home has a bookstore with used books for sale. These can range from a few shelves in the corner to this library sized building in one of my favorite places, Blickley Hall.