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Morien

Any Southern UK people for a meet&greet?

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So the missus is going on a short work trip to Cheltenham, UK (near Gloucester and Birmingham), and I am going along as plus one, a tour guide and a travel organizer. We intend to do a quick whirlwind tour of Southern England, since she has never seen Stonehenge and other such places, having only been to London & Edinburgh before.

The itinerary works out as follows:

Thu 18th July: Early morning flight to Gatwick, train to see Windsor Castle, then evening train to Cheltenham.

Fri 19th: Missus working, I am free most of the day, thinking of going to Gloucester to see the Cathedral and tomb of Edward II, although admittedly I am pretty interested in Worcester and the tomb of King John, too. So might go either way.

Sat 20th: Morning train to Bath, see the Roman Baths, then to Salisbury (Cathedral, Stonehenge and Old Sarum).

Sun 21st: Continue by train to Arundel Castle, and then onwards to Gatwick.

Yes, I know we are missing a lot of stuff (one would have to spend at least a summer touring around and still miss something), but this is all the time we have to spend this time around and those were the places that the missus placed on the top of the list.

Anyway, despite the tight schedule, I figured I'd see and ask if there are any local Pendragon enthusiasts who might want to meet for a dinner or something on Friday (Cheltenham) or Saturday (Salisbury)? Or a lunch at Windsor (Thu) or Arundel (Sun)?

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If you look to the right as you leave the main exit of Bath Spa station, the  large hill is one of the claimed sites for the battle of Badon Hill. If you have the time the number 11 bus will take you up there. 

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22 minutes ago, albinoboo said:

If you look to the right as you leave the main exit of Bath Spa station, the  large hill is one of the claimed sites for the battle of Badon Hill. If you have the time the number 11 bus will take you up there. 

Little Solsbury Hill. Alas, we won't have time for that. Stonehenge takes precedence. Besides, that is not where the Battle is in GPC. ;)

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I was lucky enough to visit it in early 90s. It was a big difference when I went back in late 2000s. Not that it was allowed to go to the stones even in 90s, but the tourist path was even further aback than it was. But hey-ho. It is still iconic, and it will make the missus happy, so... :)

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The best way to visit is out of hours!

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/plan-your-visit/stone-circle-access-visits/

I've done this a few times, a sunrise and sunset in summer and a sunrise in winter, these weren't the Solstice's (although I've done quite a few of those as well). Very small groups (5-10 of us each time), cost about £10 last time (2005). You get to go into the stones, but you cant touch.

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Stonehenge is a lot better since they built a proper visitor's centre there, and moved the car park etc.

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3 minutes ago, Steve said:

Stonehenge is a lot better since they built a proper visitor's centre there, and moved the car park etc.

Have to say that’s not opinion I’ve heard aired before. Carbuncles I tell ye, carbuncles. And don’t get me started on that fence and slapping a tarmac path over it. I get that it needs some protection – I confess to be one of those kids who scrambled over the fallen sarcens back in the <cough>ties – but they could’ve done it a little more elegantly. That said, the visitor centre does provide some background (the handsets are great) but it’s basically a glorified gift shop. For all that, the henge is one of those things that just has to be seen and is a worthwhile visit. Now, Avebury, up the road, that’s a lovely circle, very atmospheric and with the added bonus of a pub in the middle of it. 

Anyway, Morien, you’ve an interesting itinerary, best wishes for good weather  for you. And don’t believe albinoboo about the Battle of Badon Hill ;)  Us Dorset dwellers know it was actually at Badbury Rings, just outside Blandford Forum (not a Roman town despite the name) and on an old Roman road.  Of course, the battle itself is bit of a fable, its location more so, but that’s the claim we stake on it.

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I read the OP and fell about laughing. He's trying to go everywhere by train, train I tell you, train. Has he not heard of the horrors of South Western Trains nor the eldritch terrors of Great Western. The man's mad if he thinks to plan any sort of travel using trains in this day and age. Back in the Twenties, Thirties or even as late as the Fifties Miss Marple could rely on the railways to get her to murders and mysteries any where in Southern England and late the previous century Holmes and Watson had reliable railway companies to take them the length and breadth of the country.

In the 21st century the railway has become a battleground of labour vs. corporate money grubbing and that leaves the fare paying passenger squeezed in the middle, over-paying for fares for trains that often fail to run (Hello South Western, Virgin and others).

Good luck with your planning, I expect you to be found crying on a branchline platform as the last train pulls in to the buffers and the guard (if indeed there is one) calling out " All change this service ends here"

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We shall see. I have had quite good experiences with train travel in Wales, although I have also heard horror stories of the UK railways. Thing is,  neither one of us wishes to drive on the left-side traffic, since we have no experience in it. This leaves either a train or a bus, and of the two, train seemed much more straightforward. I do expect to do some cursing as we miss a connection or two, but that is part of the charm of travel.

I shall report on how it all went once the trip is over!

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3 hours ago, Morien said:

 Thing is,  neither one of us wishes to drive on the left-side traffic, since we have no experience in it.

From my experience (as a Brit) of driving in Europe It really doesn’t take long to get used to it. If you have a hire car you’ll be on the correct side of the car, which helps you adjust. After bashing the door with your hand a few times when going to change gear, you’ll soon learn to use your other hand. I’d say it’s a useful skill to have, but then that’s more relevant to us left side odd balls than you righties. 

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9 minutes ago, nclarke said:

The OP is probably not used to a stick shift so trains is probably safer.

I did consider that when I posted, so checked his profile and it says Helsinki, so though I’m not familiar with Finnish driving preferences, I would imagine they use stick shift given it’s the European preference. It’s always poss to hire an automatic, though it does cost a bit more, which is why when I’m abroad I revert to stick shift despite preferring auto – saves a few pennies and keeps my hand, or rather my left foot, in practice. 

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On ‎7‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 11:04 PM, Morien said:

I was lucky enough to visit it in early 90s. It was a big difference when I went back in late 2000s. Not that it was allowed to go to the stones even in 90s, but the tourist path was even further aback than it was. But hey-ho. It is still iconic, and it will make the missus happy, so... :)

Me too I think it was in the 60s when I first visited the monument, It was just in an open field back then and you could just walk in amongst the stones I don't think you even had to pay an entry free. Still it remains an amazing site. But a commercial one now a days  

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On ‎7‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 12:00 PM, goldenwheeldancer said:

Avebury is better than Stonehenge! 

Love Avebury spent some wonderful times there along with West Kennet Longbarrow and Silbury Hill. It might not be all Arthurian but it certainly gets the imagination going

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On 7/11/2019 at 5:33 PM, Morien said:

I shall report on how it all went once the trip is over!

And here it is: the train travel worked great. Sure, we were a bit tied into a schedule and spent some transfer times sitting in the railway stations. On the other hand we didn't have to find parking nor gas stations for a rental car or finding the route with gps. So, swings and roundabouts. 

The arcane meaning of off-peak travel in a multi-transfer situation was a bit confusing, but it was sorted out after we asked the station attendant to check which trains we could actually use and found that we were only restricted on one leg of our four leg journey. Meaning that we could take it easy and do the first two legs in our own good time just in case. 

The trains were on time or only late a few minutes. Since all our transfers were basically just switching platforms, it was easy too, although had I been a bit more on the ball we could have made it to an earlier train than anticipated rather than needing to wait for the planned one 30min later. 

All in all it was a fine experience and we had a blast! Old Sarum was even more impressive than I had expected and I pity the fool assigned to assault it in GPC! Arundel Castle was even more impressive as it still has the Norman keep standing on top of the motte. (As does Windsor Castle but the keep there is not open for visitors.)
 

Edited by Morien
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Hi Morien

Really pleased you had a good time, Old Sarum is an amazing place to visit, so pleased you found the time to get to it. I used to live just down the road from Arundel  Castle. Again it is very nice. Did you get time to visit Stonehenge?

 

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Pleased you had a great time, and it makes a change to hear our trains complimented. Now, I must confess you’ve inspired to me pull my finger put and get up to Old Sarum. It’s ridiculous that I haven’t visited it as it’s only an hour’s drive away, and especially as I’ve driven past it often enough. As ever, we often don’t get around to visiting the things under our noses.

Edited by Cloud64

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2 hours ago, Sir Carter said:

Did you get time to visit Stonehenge?

Yes we did and even got closer than my memory from the 2nd visit. It was a July Saturday, though, so the place was packed. The shuttle buses worked fine, but the only exit was through the gift shop and that was a nightmare. Even my wife who thrives in museum shops said that it was a bit too much.

1 hour ago, Cloud64 said:

As ever, we often don’t get around to visiting the things under our noses.

Amen to that. My wife just commented on that the other day that one can live next to a famous site their whole lives, and it is only when some friends come over that you get to see it as well, acting as their local guide.

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12 minutes ago, Morien said:

Amen to that. My wife just commented on that the other day that one can live next to a famous site their whole lives, and it is only when some friends come over that you get to see it as well, acting as their local guide.

Yep, exactly that. What some the places around here (Dorset, UK) do is give you a ticket that can be reused for a year. For once marketing came up with something useful – it certainly encourages me to take visitors to places if I don't have to pay again.

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