The lag of living out of a suitcase was quickly wearing off and the itch to get out to travel outside our radius was starting to grow. We purposely, rented a vehicle at Heathrow in order to prevent driving in London proper. After arriving to the rental establishment we stood at amazement and questioned our ability to drive such a big vehicle. We made sure to purchase full coverage on this massive, right side driving RV. Brian felt like he was 16 learning how to drive all over again. Pushing fear aside, we drive off the lot and enjoyed our adventure that awaited us.
We arrive at our first destination after a few U-turns from the failed Navigator aka me we arrive in Newbury, England to meet up with Brian’s Great Uncle, Paul for lunch.
This is were Brian’s Grandma, Anne and Grandpa, Bob meet and marry. We had to take the short drive down to 15 Bartlemy Close to check out where Anne and Paul grew up. We got out of the RV to take pictures, long and behold, their neighbor across the street, Mike had never left the house and remembered the whole Thurley Family. We were pretty blown away.
Continuing the journey to St. Nicolas that Anne and Bob shared their vows on August 23, 1953. Located over the River Kennet, in the centre of Newbury town.
Off to our next destination to the capital of Wales, Cardiff. Located on the Southern tip of the country. It was first occupied by the Romans in 75AD. In 1830 the town began to develop as a port and by 1913 it was the world’s leading coal exporter.
We decided to park the RV at Cardiff Caravan and Camping Park, located in the middle of this huge garden and city centre. It completely transformed us into tranquility. It poured rain all night long at one point in the night, I thought we were going to wake up to a flood because it was flowing as if we parked underneath a waterfall. Waking up to clear sky’s we decided to take a leisurely walk to a local breakfast joint called, Brava. We would highly recommend eating there, it was fantastic.
A few items to check off our Saturday list were a visit to Castell Coch also referred to as, “The Fairy-tale Castle” and Caerphilly Castle. The Fairy-tale Castle or Castle Coch located in Tongwynlais, Cardiff was definitely the highlight for Brooke’s weekend. She was so excited to walk us through each and every hidden room up these long narrow stairways. It is a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle built on the hillside of the town.
John Crichton-Stuart the 3rd Marquess of Bute, inherited the castle in 1848. One of Britain’s wealthiest men, he employed the architect William Burges, a very famous and brilliant Victorian art-architects, to reconstruct the castle, “as a country residence for occasional occupation in the summer”, and rarely used due to the lack of rooms for guests.
Nap time for the girls as we trek to our next destination, the 13th century, Caerphilly Castle which, is a medieval fortification in Caerphilly in South Wales. The castle was constructed by Gilbert de Clare in 1268. You might also recognize this Castle from the long-running British television show Doctor Who chose Caerphilly Castle as a filming location for several episodes, including The End of Time in 2009.
Making our way back to England on the M40 our next destination is Blenheim Palace. This was the highlight for Brian and I. We couldn’t get over how beautiful this Palace is. After John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, defeated the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, Queen Anne gave him the manor of Woodstock and had this palatial house built for him in gratitude. This is an outstanding English Baroque designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir John Vanbrugh.
It was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. His parents were at the Palace for a party and Winston decided to come two months early arriving on November 30, 1874. His doctor from London was 2 hours away and would not make it there in time so the staff prepared the delivery in a backroom in the palace.
His parents being in the spot light, were pretty absent from his young life so he was not close to them but was lucky to have a grandmother, Francis to step up and show him love and compassion though out his childhood.
This is also the place where he proposed to the love of his life, Clementine in which they were happily married for 57 years. They actually spent two days at the Palace before taking off to Italy for their honeymoon.
“Life is a whole and good and ill must be accepted together, the journey has been enjoyable and well work making – ONCE.” Winston Churchill
For those who are into fashion, Winston Churchill created the one piece garments known as “romper suits” in the 1930’s. He claimed that it was warm and practical.
Last but not least, they provide a train ride through the Eastside of the property. The property is stunning with so much greenery. The girls loved going under the tunnel, singing chug chug chu chu.
Our next stop for the night, Oxford, England. We parked here and took the bus to the city centre where you are instantly transformed into the famous Oxford University, made up of 36 colleges, founded between the 13th and 16th centuries. The University was founded by English students whom were expelled from Paris in 1167. The “dreaming spires” are a sight to see.
After setting up camp, we took the bus into the city for some dinner and drinks. We found a local spot called, Turf Tavern where you order your drinks and dinner at the bar, give them a brief description of where you are seated and they bring your food. This tavern is hidden in the back of this alley.
Christ Church is the largest of the Colleges that dates back to 1525 when Cardinal Wolsey founded it as an ecclesiastical college producing 16 British prime ministers in the last 200 years. One of the highlights for us was the Great Quadrangle of All Souls College in Oxford University. Founded by Henry VI and Henry Chichele in 1438, the college today serves primarily as an academic research institution at the University of Oxford. Also, the site where Harry Pottery was filmed.
We continued on to St. Mary the Virgin Church which is the official church of the University. It is said to be the most visited church in England. If you can’t make it up to Oxford, the Victora and Albert Museum in London has a few relics on display that will give you that historical feel for St. Mary. Marytrs’ Memorial is gated around the church that commemorates the three Protestants burned at the stake on Broad Street; Bishops Latimer and Ridley in 1555 then a year later Archbishop Cranmer during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary.
Ashmolen Museum was opened in 1683 and now houses exceptional work from Bellini, Turner and Rembrandt. I liked that it was free to the public for viewing, that was nice.
You’ll also see the Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library (rotunda in the slideshow), which was founded in 1320 and has a beautiful gothic vaulted ceiling. This is the University’s Library for students to study. It sits in the center of the circle of “Harry Potter’s Quadangle of All Souls College” and Christ Church Tower.
We filled in quite a few sites during our weekend and it was quite lovely. I had the best Mother’s day and loved our family time together. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.