England 2016: A bit of background

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This is the first post about my amazing two-week trip to England with my lovely 16yo daughter. We left dh and the brothers at home while we flew over and visited various literary and historic sites in England (even venturing up into Wales a bit).

For this first post, I thought I’d set the scene; I wanted to explain how two women got to go to England and putz around all by themselves. And, here’s how it happened:

A year ago, Maggie having saved most of her money after two years of working on a farm, mentioned how fun it would be to go to England and see what Jane Austen was writing about. Maggie is my literary daughter (altho ALL my kids are big readers, Maggie is the most voracious at this point). I thought, “hmm, why not”? And so a plot to go to England was hatched.

Maggie was sure I was kidding … that something would come up that would blow the whole deal. I was just as sure that we would make this happen!

I saved my bits and bobs from hand-knit design sales … and with Maggie’s money, it looked like it would be doable based on the following criteria:

  1. we had to stay at least two weeks to make the journey practical and memorable
  2. we had to stay outside of large urban areas to reduce the overall costs
  3. we had to choose sites/towns to visit that were accessible by train and/or walking
  4. we had to prove to dh/Dad that we could cover most of the trip with our own funds
  5. we wanted to pay as much “up front” as possible so that we could enjoy without penny-pinching

And we covered all of the above in the next 14 or 15 months before the trip.

We looked at the various BritRail pass options based on where we wanted to go and it looked like our best bet was a SouthWest Pass (usually primarily Great Western Railway/First Western Railway connections) to hit the most places while staying outside urban areas.

Paignton, England (on the English Riviera in Devon)

Paignton, England (on the English Riviera in Devon)

We chose to stay in Paignton, a small sea-side town on Torbay; this area is lovingly referred to as the English Riviera.

We checked on various booking sites and found a small b&b hotel that could accomodate us for the 10 days we thought we’d need and booked the spot. This hotel, the Roslyn Guest House, was even better than we thought it would be with excellent hosts, hot English breakfast and perfect distance to train station, Mass, etc. We also knew we’d want to spend a few solid days in London, so found a great option in the Stanley House Hotel, located in the heart of London and two blocks from Victoria Station/Underground.

  • We ordered our air tickets as soon as we saw the prices coming down; using Hopper we got alerts as soon as it was a good time to buy.
  • We went and got passports (both of ours had expired … which is just as well since Maggie could get a 10year and save a little money …) in February.
  • We booked and paid for the hotels in March.
  • We refined our list of must-sees and authors whom we wanted to investigate and learn more, doing this research over the past year.
  • We chose our luggage and carry-ons, as well as what to include clothes and accessory-wise, to ensure that our luggage for the two week trip would not exceed: one roll-on case (which we would check … but could have easily brought on board) and one carry-on backpack each.
  • We budgeted out our monies over the six-month, hard-core planning period to ensure coverage of all pre-paids (passports, lodging, train passes) to ensure that the incidentals in situ (i.e., food, admission costs, souvenirs) could be purchased without worry.

So, on Monday, June 21st .. with all our plans in place and ready to go … we headed to IAD (Dulles International) to fly British Airways direct to London-Heathrow.

We were off on adventures!

My next post will detail our arrival and first day in Merrie Olde England. Please come back tomorrow to read our first adventures.

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One Response to “England 2016: A bit of background”
  1. Elizabeth says:

    how very delightful! so glad to read about such a special time! will look forward to hearing more!

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