With interest in travelling to the UK steadily growing, so are the number of ’email conversations’ I’m having with enterprising travel advisors who want to offer their customers some different aspects of their old friend Britain. Some of the customised travel experiences were hallmarked by a selection of the On Location visits highlighted a couple of weeks ago. If you missed them, you can see them again here.
One of the most recent email exchanges was for a family looking for an imaginative countryside and London tour. They didn’t want to travel far, and what has emerged is an action-packed programme that starts in Royal Windsor, travels to Oxford before heading for London, where with jetlag parked, they will be able to get the maximum out of their four nights in the capital.
If this sequence appeals to you, discuss it with your clients and let’s start our own email conversation.
Setting the Standard in the Royal Borough of Windsor
As a welcome alternative to the Monday-Friday mobile carpark heading into London, make the short hop to Royal Windsor (journey time 20 minutes) and visit the Castle (opens at 10am), ensuring that you see the stunning Queen Marys Dolls House and the 11am Changing of the Guard. Alternatively, take the hop-on hop-off, open top bus tour of Windsor and Eton, stopping to see the famous college. Then, with a 10-minute drive, enjoy lunch and a visit to Legoland Windsor where the kids can take to the road, soar through the skies and sail the seas in complete safety. It may be a tough day for the parents, but the kids will love it. Based on my own first-hand experience, if the kids are happy, everyone’s happy!
Discovering Mr Toad and Old England in Miniature
Leaving the Royal Borough of Windsor for the university city of Oxford, start day 2 with a visit to the enchanting recreation of the river-bank world of the Wind in the Willows exhibition at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley on Thames—with its 3D models, music, theatrical lighting and Mr Toad’s Caravan. Just off the M40 motorway, make a short detour for a light lunch in a family friendly traditional coaching inn before an hour or two at the world’s oldest model village at Bekonscot (our equivalent to Madurodam in Holland). This village portrays an England of nearly 100 years ago with its finely modelled buildings and huge model railway, set in 1.5 acres of well-kept gardens. Oxford’s your base for the next two nights.
Alice in Wonderland And Harry Potter
Getting Day 3 off to a very good start, there’s a short walking tour that reveals Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland’s associations with Christ Church College. Make sure you pop into the nearby Alice’s Shop, where you’ll find all manner of curious things. During the afternoon, you can either take an entertaining step back in time tour of Oxford Castle and Prison, led by a costumed guide, or while away an hour or so with some self-drive or chauffeured punting on the River Cherwell. If you can travel in early July, I can ensure you’re in Oxford for the annual Alice’s Day when the city is transformed into a Wonderland of Nonsense. Taking part, dressing up as Alice, and becoming fully engaged is greatly encouraged!
A Whispering Wood, An Enchanted Library And Some Pleasure Gardens
The morning’s highlight is the Story Museum, a magical museum, where great stories are collected and shared. It is home to the Whispering Wood, a mysterious forest where every tree has a story to tell with a secret to reveal, and the Enchanted Library where the kids can wander between the shelves and step inside iconic scenes from the pages of children’s book. Being close by, I suggest that the rest of the day should be spent at the treasure-filled Blenheim Palace where there’s also a giant hedge maze, a miniature train ride to the Pleasure Gardens and a play area full of slides, swings and a sand pit. Not to be missed, the butterfly house filled with gorgeous specimens from all over the world.
Diagon Alley and Discover the BFG
The drive from Oxford to London is via the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, where you’ll come face-to-face with the Fantastic Mr Fox, measure up to your Roald Dahl heroes, pull a power pose next to Matilda and discover Roald Dahl’s famous Writing Hut—the birthplace of your favourite characters—at the Museum of the World’s No.1 Storyteller. Enjoy Fresh Mudburgers, Snozzcumber or a slice of Bogtrotter Chocolate Cake in Café Twit before heading for your grand finale visit to the Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour near Watford. Step into the Grand Hall, the Forbidden Forest, and Diagon Alley. Explore the collection of beautifully crafted iconic props and discover the artistry in every stitch of the Wizarding World.
London for Families
With jetlag parked in the English countryside, let’s put some bubble, fizz and pleasant surprises into customised family tours to our capital city. Not forgetting Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station, a touch of Paddington Bear at Paddington Station and a hop-on hop-off, open top bus tour, there are speed boat experiences and Duck Tours on the River Thames, flights on the London Eye, cruises to the Tower of London and St Paul’s or onward to the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.
Don’t forget the Churchill War Rooms, the Imperial War Museum, Madame Tussauds and a superabundance of family-friendly museums, art galleries, zoos, aquariums and, of course, a performance of ‘Matilda, The Musical’. Now let me help you to put this all together.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.