Monday, September 9, 2013

Not Quite First Class

I am happy to report that we have all arrived safely in England. That "we" would include our luggage, Kath, her friend Melissa, who is joining us for the first part of our trip, and me. I was on British Airways, so flew into Terminal 5. Kath and Melissa were on an Air France flight, so they flew into Terminal 4. I was due in an hour ahead of them, so it was my job to meet them. Heathrow is massive, and I'm quite sure navigating my way across Vancouver would have taken less time. The amazing thing is I actually did find them!

Our next step was to get from Heathrow to Paddington Station, where we needed to catch a train up to the Cotswolds. After comparing prices between taking the Heathrow Express or taking the Metro/Tube into the station, the Tube won by about £15. Here we are with Paddington.

The next step was the one that got us into a bit of trouble. We bought tickets from a very nice man who gave us a group rate. He was also nice because when I asked him what age you needed to be to qualify for a senior's discount he laughed and told us he wasn't blind. What the nice man neglected to tell us was that the tickets he sold us couldn't be used during peak times. It was an incredibly big deal to go back and get a different, possibly not so nice ticket agent to exchange them.

The guy finally got so frustrated trying to exchange the tickets that he ended up just scribbling something on them and telling us we could use them on the next train. Our mistake was thinking the peak time tickets were the same as first class tickets. Here are Kath and Melissa, all comfortably spread out on the leather seats playing a card game.

It was good I snapped that picture when I did, because soon after that the ticket guy came around. We were immediately downgraded. The good news is this downgrade didn't happen until after the beverage and treat trolley had gone by.

We were picked up in Stroud by the owners of Byfield House, the B&B we are staying at in Painswick. It is a lovely place, and was recently rated one of the top B&Bs in England. Here are some early evening views from the bedroom window on the street side of the house.

 

Here's the view from the garden side.

It makes me feel like I want to take out a cup of tea and a Jane Austen novel and go read under the apple tree.

We were directed to a local pub for dinner. This place is a classic British pub. Or I should say it used to be. The B&B owner told us since the no smoking laws have gone into effect many pubs have been suffering. The owner of this one has tried to keep part of his business as a traditional pub and the other part as a restaurant. The food was amazing, and the apple cider was terrific. I think he'll do just fine. When you get to the pub if you go to the right you are in the eating side of the establishment.

Go left if all you want is a pint.

Before we left for dinner we were invited into the kitchen to visit with the B&B owners. This proved to be the highlight of my day. After hearing so much about them I finally got to meet my very first Aga.

That would be the stove, not the dog!

If there was a way to fit one in my backpack, this would be The Souvenir I would take home from this trip!

 

44 comments:

  1. What a beautiful place!! And now it's just fun and beauty, and lots of walking. I love your photos (and that Aga!)....

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    1. It is breathtaking. I love being in the UK. There is history to be found at every turn. I could write a whole post just about the house we are staying in. And another about the food. And another about the people. And on and on...!

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  2. I'm so glad you made it there safely and are getting settled in, even if there were some bumps. That garden is spectacular, and I would have the same exact urge. I'd also want to put on an empire-waisted gown, even if made me look pregnant. :)

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    1. The bugs were our own fault! The most important thing for the start of any trip that involves a flight is that the luggage arrives, so all in all it was a great start! And yes, the empire-waist gown along with the tea and book! :-)

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  3. Oh, I am so very very happy for you. And wishing I could be there. What beautiful photos. Such lovely memories. I want to go back! Love hearing about all your adventures!

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    1. I have to say I went into this trip knowing that no matter what great things happen I will NEVER be able to top your sheep with the umbrella incident. :-)

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  4. Glad to hear that you all made it safely to the Cotswolds. Thanks for the lovely photos.

    Now, about Melissa. She just came off a long flight, and her hair looks like she just stepped out of a beauty salon. Add to that the little pearl earrings and the necklace--does she have a hair and makeup entourage that travel with her?? I don't look anywhere near that good when all I have done is walked out of my house, lol!

    Mary G. in Texas

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    1. I will see if I can get her to reveal her travel beauty secrets. :-)

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  5. Love those photos ... esp. the Aga! Last time I was in London I picked up a book called Good Food From the Aga, published by Persephone Books. I keep it on my nightstand for fantasy. ;-) Look forward to hearing more about your trip. You all look so bright eyed and bushy tailed after that flight.

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    1. Maybe I should buy the cookbook for a souvenir instead of the actual Aga. Aren't they the most intriguing things? The heat coming off that stove last night when we were in the kitchen was amazing. Of course, the downside would be in the summer. But still...

      Trust me, we weren't all that bright eyed and bushy tailed. I think by the time that photo was taken we were all edging into that giddy state that hits after you have been up for 36 straight hours.

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  6. Forgive my ignorance...what is an aga? What (besides appearance) makes it different from a regular oven?

    Thanks for the photos...I love the UK so much...the view of the scenic British streets makes my heart hurt. I think I need to go back.

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    1. I have since discovered the link you posted about Agas...I feel suitably silly :)

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    2. Don't feel silly. The links are hard to see, but while I am using Blogsy and my iPad I can't make them any better. (My fault, not Blogsy's.)

      I feel like you do about the UK. I love being back here. I hope you get to return sometime soon!

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  7. Love the photos! Keep 'em coming!

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    1. I will! There are so many things to take pictures of it is hard to know which ones to,put on the blog!

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  8. Glad to see you are enjoying your holiday in England. I sympathise about the train tickets. The system is very complicated and defeats people who have been born and bred here. I can truthfully say I have never had the pleasure of travelling first class so I'm pleased you managed it even for a short time.

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  9. Glad to see you are enjoying your holiday in England. I sympathise about the train tickets. The system is very complicated and defeats people who have been born and bred here. I can truthfully say I have never had the pleasure of travelling first class so I'm pleased you managed it even for a short time.

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    1. You have made me feel so much better about the train tickets, Un. Thanks for letting me know you all struggle with them too. :-)

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  10. Sounds like a great trip already, glad you made it safely! Those photos of the view from your window are gorgeous!

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    1. Isn't that view breathtaking? Even in my exhausted/jet-lagged state I was charmed by it.

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  11. Welcome to Wales, Kristie - I presume you'll be here by now! That B&B looks really nice - we must try it sometime. Although we pass through the Cotswolds en route to other places quite frequently, we've never stopped there - perhaps we should!
    I've never used an Aga, but I know they are marvellous for cooking, especially bread and casseroles. They are ferociously expensive to buy, though.
    Have a great trek - you'll love St David's. I'll be praying for reasonable weather for you. It's promising to be a bit changeable (typical British weather!)

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    1. We aren't quite in Wales yet. We get there tomorrow and are really looking forward to it, although we can see we didn't allow ourselves enough time for the Cotswolds.

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  12. Despite the hiccups you're obviously here and loving it, Kristie. Super photos and i too have Aga envy, which I assuage by reminding myself how horribly expensive they are to buy and to run. They are however a must-have for some country kitchens. :-)

    The Cotswolds are so beautiful and your photos capture that very well. Looking forward to the next stage....

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    1. At least you can dream about getting one, Perpetua. I don't even think such a thing would be possible where I live.

      And yes, I love it here very much. :-)

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  13. Ruth in Ontario, CanadaSeptember 10, 2013 at 6:17 AM

    Kristie, you can buy Agas here in Canada - at least in Ontario. I know because we put one in our new house and I absolutely love, love, love it. Expensive to purchase and run, yes (although if we had natural gas out here in the sticks it would be cheaper than the propane we have to use). I can see that the one in the b&b is a 2-oven; we have the big 4-oven model and now I can't imagine how I managed for 30-odd years with an ordinary range. Just saying! You'll have to come and visit me sometime for a personal cooking demo! (The kitchen got a little toasty over the summer but with the a/c running it wasn't too bad.) Those pictures of the Cotswolds are gorgeous, they're making me nostalgic for the year we spent in the UK...keep 'em coming, please!

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    1. What?! You have an Aga? I didn't know you could buy them in Canada! I am so jealous I can hardly stand it. Please book me in for that personal cooking demo. :-)

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    2. Ruth in Ontario, CanadaSeptember 11, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      If you really want to feed your Aga envy, have a look at their North American website - aga-ranges.com. Bet you can find a dealer for B.C.!

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  14. I'm glad you and your luggage arrived safely...despite the middle with the railway tickets.
    Bring back the days of British Railways when it was just an affair os simple tickets!

    As Perpetua says, Agas are hell on the wallet, so what about compensating with a few books of the 'Aga saga' genre...

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    1. I'll be on the lookout for a good Aga book, but somehow I don't think it will be quite the same! Do you have a title you can recommend?

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    2. Anything by Joanna Trollope...very Aga saga stuff.
      I had a Rayburn years ago...lovely old thing...and then a Franco Belge, and I wouldn't have swapped either for an Aga.

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    3. Anything by Joanna Trollope...very Aga saga stuff.
      I had a Rayburn years ago...lovely old thing...and then a Franco Belge, and I wouldn't have swapped either for an Aga.

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  15. I hope you have a wonderful trip. I too would love an Aga, its a whole different way of life

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    1. I think all of of us with Aga envy should start a support group. Ha!

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  16. Oh, those first class train cars are WONDERFUL! We were advised of the differences prior to purchasing our tickets from London the Edinburgh, and boy were we glad. Endless food and drink and lots of space! I only spent an afternoon in the Cotswolds, but I hope to go back. It's incredibly beautiful! I'm looking forward to more pictures and stories from your trip!

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    1. You definitely need to come spend more time here. We have two and a half days here and can see we seriously underestimated how much time we would need. Apparently there is a 70 mile walk through the Cotswolds and we are all very tempted to come back at some point to try it out.

      First class was very nice for the ten or fifteen minutes we were there. :-)

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  17. It sounds as if you are already having a wonderful adventure! You must have though the trains were good. I'm glad you got a free drink and food before you were discovered! Your B&B looks so lovely what an amazing garden.
    Looking forward to hearing more about your holiday!
    Sarah x

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    1. We were very happy about the freebies, but honestly we weren't trying to cheat anyone out of anything. We were just ignorant North Americans. :-)

      The B&B is an amazing place. I highly recommend it!

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  18. You're a much better navigator than you've given yourself credit for in the past. You've picked a lovely place to stay and appear to be part of a fun group, so I'm sure this trip will be wonderful!

    PS - My wife would agree with you on the Asa.

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    1. Aga! How do I disable autocorrect? I only ask because of your successful stint as a tech expert at the airport. :)

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    2. We're having a great time, Rick. We are the kind of travellers who end up laughing about the mistakes (well, within reason of course), to the point others around us end up staring at us.

      How does your wife know about Agas? Not many North Amercians have heard of them. Tell her she can join the Aga Envy Support Group I'm starting up when I get home. :-)

      I only help senior citizens with tech questions. Sorry. Ha!

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    3. She's always been interested in unusual/antique/historical household items...stoves, glassware, furniture, appliances, etc.

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  19. An Aga is on my wishlist too Kristie so better pop me on the Aga Envy Support Group list as well! So great that you are able to do the odd bit of blogging while you're away. Have fun! Mel x

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    1. I think you need an Aga! Would it work in with your plans? In the meantime I will put you on the list. :-)

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  20. Oh, England looks so lovely! Thank you for taking the time to share your trip with us!

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