Shin Kicking, Some Strawberries, Three Grand Houses, and a London Food Market | TravelResearchOnline

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Shin Kicking, Some Strawberries, Three Grand Houses, and a London Food Market

If the UK is on your radar for 2022, cast your imagination towards the warm summer months of June and July for some bright ideas in the sleepy, honey-coloured limestone villages and sheep-clad hillsides of the Cotswolds, followed by a few days in London. Oxford is the gateway city to this lovely corner of England, and it takes just over one hour to get there from London Heathrow. These ideas also work well before, or after, cruising in or out of Southampton, Dover or Harwich.

The Cotswold Olimpicks

With the world’s sporting interest now focusing on the Tokyo Olympics at the end of July, it reminded me that on 3rd June 2022, Robert Dover’s Olimpick Games (note the spelling) will once again be taking place in the Cotswold market town of Chipping Campden. First staged in 1662, they honour the ancient Games of Greece (but without the chariot racing). The only difference is the many weird and wonderful sports that take place including shin kicking, a combat sport that involves two contestants attempting to kick each other on the shin in order to force their opponent to the ground.

 

Strawberries, Lavender and Roses

Here’s a conversation-starting idea for a Girls Getaway for six friends, or a grandmothers and granddaughters tour in early summer next year. The tour elements include a lesson in how to correctly prepare and serve English afternoon tea, an interactive floristry workshop, late afternoon visits to privately owned gardens opening as part of the National Garden Scheme, and others like the award-winning Kiftsgate Court, Sudeley Castle and the Arts and Crafts Garden at Hidcote Manor. Then tickle the taste buds with lavender-flavoured scones at teatime, and finish with a dinner dominated by the clever use of strawberries.


Be Transported to France

Fill another day with an early-doors visit to the French chateau-style Waddesdon Manor, built in the late 19th century by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to display his outstanding collection of art treasures and to entertain the fashionable world. The gardens here are his vision and began as a bare hill in 1874 before its transformation into an exceptional example of Victorian horticulture, including an Aviary full of exotic birds and an impressive collection of 18th-century sculpture. Returning to your hotel, enjoy an hour or so at the Burford Garden Company, one of the country’s best retail and food experiences.

 

Floral Magnificence in Stunning Surroundings

Time the tour to include a day at the Blenheim Palace Flower Show (24th-26th June), a wonderful event that celebrates the very best of gardening, home and lifestyle. With a backdrop created by Lancelot Capability Brown and situated on the South Lawn, over 300 exhibitors will surround the Grand Floral Pavilion. This will feature more than 30 floral displays, and a large selection of plants and flowers from the UK’s finest florists. At this time of the year, the circular rosarium in the Rose Garden will be both stunning and fragrant, and a visit to see the treasures within the Palace is included.

 

Where the Tradition of English Afternoon Tea Began

Taking place over the same weekend, the Woburn Abbey Garden Show (25th-26th June) has become an important diary date for gardening enthusiasts. Set in the estate’s beautifully landscaped gardens, the show offers unparalleled access to award-winning, hand-picked exhibitors and nurseries. You will also see the rarely opened private gardens of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford. In the 1840’s, Duchess Anna Maria, the wife of the 7th Duke of Bedford, popularized the English social custom of Afternoon Tea in the court of Queen Victoria. There’s no better place to enjoy the great tradition than in the place where it all started!

 

An Edible Garden and a London Food Market

Adding an unexpected dimension to any itinerary, on the return journey to London, I can recommend a visit to a privately owned manor house for a fascinating edible flower tour of the cottage style garden and an irresistible floral lunch with savouries, salad and sweet delicacies. By way of a grand finale, bring the tour to conclusion with a tastebud-tingling walk around one of London’s leading food markets, led by a chef/food writer. If the visit can be timed for 5th-10th July, I can also include an exhilarating day at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.


Paull Tickner, owner of U.K-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at www.customgb.co.uk or email him at ptickner@customgb.co.uk.

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