London Calling

Some of you have probably heard over the past couple days that a village was uncovered near one of the seven wonders of the world, Stonehenge.

That’s so cool, I think I’ll go visit it.

Ok, so the decision wasn’t exactly that easy, and didn’t have anything to do with Stonehenge. But I am going to the UK (primarily Oxford area) for 8 days – leaving Friday evening Feb. 23rd, returning Monday afternoon March 5th.

Neil and a few other managers have been summoned by work to the UK office for a few days, and since accommodation and his flight are covered, it’s a bit of a no-brainer that we’d spring for the extra plane ticket and I’d go along and turn it into a bit of an adventure.

The plan thus far is that Neil will be working Saturday through Tuesday while I putter about and explore Oxford and surrounding area. I may train into London one of those days and do some shopping (mmm… Harrods).

Other than that, we’ve planned on an XTREEM driving day-trip circle-tour from Oxford, North through Stratford on Avon, Birmingham, up to Liverpool (for my love, the Beatles nerd), over to Manchester, and back South through Nottingham. Hopefully we’ll do another, slightly less extreme driving day Southwest to see Stonehenge and perhaps visit Bristol, then two or three days in London together to be touristy and explore.

Since this trip wasn’t exactly budgeted for, and is instead a “too good to pass up” opportunity for me to visit somewhere I’ve never been and for Neil to explore the UK a little more, which he hasn’t done since he was 8 or so, the budget’s more Oliver Twist than Victoria Beckham, but I’d still like suggestions from those familiar with the UK on the following:

  • What should I do around Oxford, on my own, for four days? Remember, it’s late February, so punting on the Thames is out I think.
  • I’d love to see a premier league football game – are the tickets as wickedly expensive as hockey tickets here? And who/where should we go to watch?
  • Can Beefeaters be vegetarian? And will vegetarians drink Beefeater Gin?
  • Which tourist attractions are definitely worth seeing, and which are worth missing?
  • What’s a reasonable place to stay in London if we do spring for a night in the city? My only hard and fast requirements are a double bed and an ensuite bathroom. Or do you live in London and have a floor we can sleep on? Neil makes wicked scrambled eggs!
  • What’s your best argument for springing for a £100 per person tasting menu and accompanying wines at fifteen? Because a $465CAD dinner isn’t exactly in the budget, but oh my hell would we LOVE to go.
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    11 thoughts on “London Calling

    1. jen

      Ooh fun!! I just read that story about Stonehenge this morning. Aside from Stonehenge, I really enjoyed visiting Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. We have some friends that live in London right now… I’ll get back to you on that. 🙂

    2. Darren

      I can really only help with two questions:

      * This sounds a bit odd, but we’ve had decent luck with it when we’re in London. At certain major tube stations, there are hotel reservation desks. We just pitch up to one of them, and see what kind of deal they can do. Seeing as it’s not high tourist season, that might work pretty well.

      * The three unmissable attractions for me in London (thus far, at least) are the Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern and the Science Museum.

    3. erin

      I’m delurking. Hi! I’m a friend of Donna’s and I stumbled on your blog when you were posting the fireman story in the “worst date ever” contest.

      I *love* the Tower of London. I’ve been to London twice and both times I toured the Tower. The Beefeaters are the Queen’s personal guard and they do free tours around the Tower and they are hilarious! Plus, you get to ogle the crown jewels. If you like pretty shiny things, you’re gonna want to see that stuff.

      I wasn’t that impressed with Westminster (too much stuff crowded into too small a space) but St Paul’s is amazing.

      Have a great trip! *I’m jealous*

    4. Special Guest Coach

      I’m sorry… was that day trip ALL in the same day?!?, As in the whole northern swing? Good luck with that. Let me know how it goes.

      As for hotels, when T and I were there we stayed at a Thistle hotel across the road from Hyde Park (Kensington Garden? Kens. Palace? it was near Queensway tube station). Pretty comfy, not stupidly expensive, and the room upgrade was most CERTAINLY worth the extra money.

    5. peechie Post author

      SGC: I know, it looks pretty ambitious – google maps claims it’s a 3.5h drive from Oxford to Liverpool. We’ve done some pretty epic trips in our time, notably 12 hours driving in one day in Korea.

      If the Northern swing ends up taking far longer than we anticipate, we’ll probably give up and find a place to sleep in Liverpool or Manchester – though the last epic drive ended in our engagement, so it might be ok after all 😉

    6. Chris

      Even though my homeland is closer to London than it is to here (hi, Newfoundland!), I’ve never been to London. You should ask Stu, Scott, and Brian about the Oxford / Abingdon area – they all lived there for a while.

      Oh, I do have a contribution – I’ve see a vegetarian drink Beefeater. So, the answer to your question is yes 🙂

    7. Carlos

      Hmmmm, I’ve been planning a trip to Paris recently (for the summer) and was recommended to visit this site:

      Vacation Rentals by Owner
      http://www.vrbo.com

      Don’t know how London compares to Paris but seeing as both are stupid expensive, this site seems to have some decent apartment rentals (studios, sleep 2) that will let you cook your own food.

      For Paris, I found I could spend the same amount on a hotel in similar areas but be able to cook too, which will help.

      Have fun. If you can’t afford a footie match, find a packed pub! (and wear the proper colors..!)

    8. Emma

      *de-lurks*

      Hi!

      1) I’ve not been but Blenheim Palace is supposed to be stunning (and only a short bus ride away). The open top bus trip around Oxford is a great way of seeing/hearing lots about the place with little effort. Also you can hop on/hop off as you please on the same ticket. http://www.citysightseeingoxford.com/

      2) Don’t really know, sorry – not a follower of football!

      3) I would say yes and yes!

      4) Hmm this is tricky to answer, Oxford – see above, it’s quite an easy place to explore on foot too. Stratford upon Avon – a so so place, Anne Hathaway’s cottage was really interesting though.
      Birmingham – only been to the central bit for a conference so can’t really comment, but of the places you mention my feeling is this would be the one to skip if time is pushed.
      Liverpool/Manchester – not been to either.
      Nottingham – cute little city. Again I was only there for a conference but I’d highly recommend going for a drink in the Trip to Jerusalem – the oldest inn in England (a claim repeated by pubs in just about every village/ town/ city in England!)
      Bristol – nice city and close to Bath and Longleat House and Safari Park (loved the last place). Stonehenge is well worth it too.
      London – well there really is SO much to do there. I LOVE the V & A Museum, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, British Museum and National Gallery. Tate Modern I find a bit so so but I’m not a modern art fan – the building itself is impressive though and the exhibition in the Turbine Hall is usually worth a visit (at the moment it is slides that you can ride on). If it’s good weather then a wander around a market and a park or 2 is fun (good markets are Portobello Rd, Spitalfields, Borough, Covent Garden, Berwick Street – check which days they are open though!), Green Park, St James Park and Hyde Park are lovely. For a nice view of the city the London Eye is good but you need a clear day really and you can spend a lot of time waiting to get on the thing. Kew Gardens should be open by the begining of March and often have cool stuff going on there. If you fancy a show/play there is plenty on but I can recommend Guys and Dolls, Avenue Q, Lion King, Wicked and The History Boys. If you feel like going a bit out of London, Hampton Court and Windsor Castle are fab places. Other random things that spring to mind are: Brick Lane – for good curry, 100 Club – for jazz, Vinopolis, City of Wine – for erm.. wine, Harrods Food Hall/Fortnum and Mason Food Hall – for erm.. food, Selfridges and Hamleys – for shopping. Phew! As you can see lots and lots to do – pick up a copy of Time Out magazine when you get here and that will have up to date info on what’s going on in London (shows, gigs, exhibitions etc etc). The London Pass website might be worth a look too to see if it’ll suit what you want to do.

      5) London hotels can be very expensive, good places to look for rooms are laterooms.com and lastminute.com (esp. their mystery room specials – just read the location description very carefully as some of the rooms on offer are NEAR London but not in the centre). I stayed in the Copthorne Tara just before Xmas and it is brilliantly located in Kensington (very near a tube station, shops, museums, parks and Harrods) and it was £80 per room/per night – cheapish. Not the nicest looking building in the world but perfect if you just want a place to sleep and wash.

      6) I’ve not made it to fifteen yet but if you guys really want to go then I’d say go for it!

      Good luck with the trip!

    9. Mark

      Liverpool? Why not just go for a drive out to Whalley? cruise around KG Hwy for awhile, pretend everyone’s wearing burberry plaid and speaking with scouser accents. Without the pain of transatlantic flight!

      Liverpool PL tix will probably be v.expensive, but according to many people, there’s something awe-inspiring about 20,000 people singing “you’ll never walk alone” together. You can probably find cheaper tickets at one of the smaller markets in the north. Sheffield maybe, or maybe Newcastle and make it a brewery-tour and tasting day.

    10. Special Guest Coach

      Forgot the footie….

      The entire premiership ticket info is here … just click on the team you want to see and their schedule comes up. Which one to see? Well, this well let you plan dates against your schedule… but I have to say that there’s something other-worldly about 78,000 people all going mad at Old Trafford

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