Subject: Re: Cotswold & York?
G'day Debra and any other interested Ziners, You will have no shortage of stately homes in England, maybe you will get tired of them in fact. Two or three pointers from our many trips around UK which might help you. Firstly, I highly recommend you spend an afternoon at the Wallace Collection, faces Manchester Square, about 5 mins walk from Marble Arch tube. Magnificent home full of magnificent "stuff" (fine porcelain right through to suits of armour) - and its FREE. I can't figure out why it gets so little promotion. Otherwise, I think the Bus tours (two or three competing companies) are an excellent way to get your introduction to London, which can be picked up from just near Speakers' Corner Hyde Park, or any stop en route. Regarding Bath - it IS a must-see! The Roman remains are interesting, but the city is a remarkable and intact Regency town, in a beautiful setting. Probably the single most valuable tip I have here is to take one of the FREE guided walking tours which set out from the forecourt of the Baths several times daily. You should have no difficulty getting info on these. Oxford is worth a visit for lots of reasons, and is a logical step between London and Bath. Hundreds of villages, towns, hamlets etc will drop into your lap if you avoid M roads completely, and treat A roads as undesireable. A bit of explanation here - the road system in UK is set up on a heirarchy from M (Motorway) to A (main roads) and B (local roads). Within that is the number category, where single numbers are busier than double numbers, triple numbers etc. So M1 is a six or eight lane motorway, M10 would be maybe 4 lanes, A1 is a busy 2-4 lane main road, A10 is a little less busy, A325 will be two lanes only, B23 is a little less busy, and B2345 will be a meandering laneway about 12feet wide. All roads will be sealed and in good condition, however, and English motorists tend to be fast but accurate drivers on all roads. My tip - look for Axx or Axxx roads for getting between places, then explore the Bxxx or Bxxxx roads. And as for maps - the AA or Ordinance Survey map books are excellent, A3 format books, available at most booksellers, they will get you anywhere in the UK without problems. Another driving related tip - anywhere popular will be impossible to park at or near. Bath for instance, you will have to park on the East side of the river somewhere and walk (very pleasant). Oxford has a park & ride system, which is essential. York is impossible, its even difficult to cycle in the old town. As for places to see - apart from Bath - think about Lincoln & Durham, which are fairly close to each other North of London, Ely for the most magic Cathedral, Norwich nearby for a magnificent ditto, Dedham not far way for Constable country, etc. Just avoid the industrial towns, though even they have something to offer. Above all, stay off the M roads, and understand roundabouts.

Paul in Sunny Sydney