The unthinkable has happened and we have a Brexit, the Sterling Pound has also dropped in value. Many people in Singapore were reported to have rushed down to the money changers to buy Pounds for their next holiday in UK. So if you are like one of the many people eagerly looking at a holiday to UK this year, besides just visiting London, there are more sights to be seen a few hours drive of England’s capital city.

My last blog entry was on London itself. This blog will be on a day tour that we took to see some of the more well known attractions outside London. Instead of spending another day in London, we decided to go visit some of the other attractions that have come to define England. One of the more comprehensive day tours is the ‘England in a Day’ tour that is offered by several tour companies. We decided to go with Premium Tours mainly because of the dates available to us and also their pickup location was near to our hotel. Prices vary depending on how many places the tours visit, but this was one of the more expensive tours (£95/person) due to the distance and time required. The tour itself is more than 12 hours, starting with a 7am pickup and ending back in London after 8pm.

We were picked up at Hilton Doubletree which is just across the street from Novotel Tower Bridge by a small bus. After going round and picking up several other passengers, we got off at Victoria Coach Station where the inter-city buses leave for various cities in UK and mainland Europe. We were met by our guide and got onto a larger coach bus and we were off for our tour. After about a 2.5 hours drive westward, we arrived at our first destination, Stonehenge. Again the English weather was at it’s absolute best; cloudy, windy and drizzling at times.

Stonehenge is one of the most famous prehistoric monuments built by Man and is believed to be constructed around 3,000BC. There are many mysteries and myths to the origin and purpose of Stonehenge, and some people even believe they were built by aliens from space. The Visitor Centre has a good multimedia presentation of Stonehenge and it’s history, as well as,a small museum showcasing the artifacts that have been unearthed here. All visitors have to check in at the Visitors Centre first to get their tickets and can either walk or take the free shuttle bus to Stonehenge itself. The distance from the Visitors Centre is round 3km, so if you want to walk, it’s going to be a long walk. We took the shuttle bus to save time and also to get out of the charming English weather.

The free shuttle bus that ferries visitors from the Visitor Centre to Stonehenge and back.
The free shuttle bus that ferries visitors from the Visitor Centre to Stonehenge and back. It was windy and cold but luckily the rain had stopped.
The long walk to Stonehenge.
The long walk to Stonehenge, that is if you don’t want to take the shuttle bus.
The stones are cordoned off and visitors are not allowed to go near or touch them. In the past it was possible, but due to vandalism and erosion, this is now not possible.
The stones are cordoned off and visitors are not allowed to go near or touch them. In the past it was possible, but due to vandalism and erosion, this is now not possible.
An over friendly rook that was asking the tourists for food.
An over friendly rook that was asking us tourists for food. The area around Stonehenge is farmland and all you see are birds and sheep. Visitors from nearby also hike or cycle here.
How the huge stones were brought to Stonehenge remain a mystery. A mockup with a life sized stone shows it was transported from hundreds of miles away.
How the huge stones were brought to Stonehenge still remain a mystery. A mockup with a life sized stone shows how it could have been transported from hundreds of miles away on a primitive sled and rollers system.

I’ve always wanted to visit Stonehenge, although I’ve been told by people that it’s just a pile of rocks in the countryside and they wouldn’t pay or waste time to see it. I guess it all depends on your own expectations and what interests you. If you are thinking of going on your own, tickets have to be purchased in advance and have timings allocated. So you do have to plan your visit and not miss your timing. If you rented a car, parking is at the Visitors Centre and you are not allowed to drive inside Stonehenge. I do wonder if a lot of the people who hike or cycle there actually require tickets. The whole area is quite large and anyone could hike there without passing through the Visitors Centre.

After Stonehenge, we were on our way to Bath, another 2 hours drive away. Bath is a city by the River Avon and is famous for it’s Roman built hot spring baths (that’s how the city got it’s name). It’s also well known for it’s 18th century Georgian architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987. By the time we reached Bath it was already drizzling again and it was going to be a wet visit.

The entrance to the Roman baths. There is a fee if you want to use the baths, although you can get a glimpse of it from the entrance.
The entrance to the Roman baths. There is a fee if you want to enter and see baths proper, although you can get a glimpse of it from the entranceway.
A glimpse of the Roman baths from the entrance window.
A glimpse of the Roman baths from a window at the entranceway.
The main entrance to the Roman Baths. You can buy the tickets here.
The main entrance to the Roman Baths. You can buy the tickets here.

Since ancient times, Bath has been known as a spa town and you will find many spas and shops here selling spa related items like hair and skin care, facial  and health products. If you like old architecture, then Bath is a paradise for architecture photographers. Although we were in Bath for almost 2 hours, it was still a rather hurried visit. Lunch was a quick take away sandwich and milkshake from a café. It would have been nice to be able to spend more time to sit down and watch the city streets. I guess if I wanted to appreciate the city more, I would have to come on my own in future. Bath can be reached by car or public buses and trains from London.

The Bath Abbey and the main street where the shops and restaurants are.
The Bath Abbey and the main street where the shops and restaurants are. And we didn’t get to go inside the Abbey because of time constraints.
We didn't go to the famous Royal Crescent, so I had to settle for some shots of Georgian architecture.
One of the few streets where there are no tourists in the photo.
One of the more famous sights in Bath is Pulteney Bridge.
One of the more famous sights in Bath is Pulteney Bridge which resembles the Rialto Bridge in Venice. It has a shopping arcade and road on it.
A funny stepped design in the river. I wonder what it's for.
A weir below Pulteney Bridge. This place was used in the last scene in the 2013 film version of Les Miserables where Inspector Javert commits suicide by jumping into the river.

After leaving Bath, we took another 2 hours driving through the Cotswolds countryside of England. This is an area of small villages and farmlands where the houses are made of Cotswold stone. It’s a yellow coloured limestone that give’s the houses here a distinctly medieval look, especially with a thatched roof. The Cotswolds is quite beautiful although it didn’t really seemed that way due to the rainy weather that day. Very soon, we came to our last stop of the day, Stratford upon Avon.

Stratford is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and 2016 being the 400th anniversary of his death, there were quite a few events going on there. However, by the time we arrived, it was already almost 5pm and most of the places were closing. So it was a hurried visit to Shakespeare’s house where he was born before they closed for the day too.

The front of Shakespeare's birth house. It faces the main street but is closed off to visitors. Visitors need to enter from a side entrance.
The front of Shakespeare’s birthplace, a medieval house. It faces the main street but is closed off to visitors. Visitors need to enter from a side entrance.
A nice looking wall tile mural with a map of Stratford upon Avon.
A nice looking wall tile mural with a map of Stratford upon Avon inside the modern entrance and building beside Shakespeare’s birthplace.
We went on a tour inside the house and got to see reenactments of how life was like in the 18th century. Actors in costume also explained and introduced Shakespearean phrases.
We went on a tour inside the house and got to see reenactments of how life was like in the 18th century. Actors in costume also explained and introduced Shakespearean phrases.
After touring the inside of the house, we exited into the garden behind which is actually quite beautiful.
After touring the inside of the house, we exited into the garden behind which is actually quite beautiful.
We had to pass through the souvenir store to exit into the main street (but of course). You can various Shakespeare related stuff for sale. How about Star Wars in Shakespearean prose?
We had to pass through the souvenir store to exit into the main street (but of course). You can find various Shakespeare related stuff for sale. How about Star Wars in Shakespearean prose?
The main street that runs from Shakespeare's birthplace all the way down to the Avon River.
The walking street that runs from Shakespeare’s birthplace all the way down to the Avon River. It’s only a 15-20 minutes walk.
Various statues of characters from Shakespeare's plays dot the town.
Various statues of characters from Shakespeare’s plays dot the town.

So after visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace, we took a quick walk to the park beside the Avon River before it got dark. Most of the shops were already closed or closing, and that made our walk faster since there were no distractions from shop windows.

A statue of William Shakespeare himself at the park. A sulking little boy sitting below it just made this picture a bit more tragic.
A statue of William Shakespeare himself at the park. A sulking boy sitting below just made this picture a little bit more tragic, like one of Shakespeare’s plays.
Ducks resting after a long day.
Ducks resting after a long day.
Very English looking streets and houses. It would have been nice to spend more time here.
Very English looking streets and houses. It would have been nice to spend more time here.

By the time we left Stratford, it was already dark. It was another quick takeaway meal from the McDonalds, and another 2 hours drive back to London. It was faster as the bus took the M40 motorway back instead of the smaller roads that we had used in the day. Although I would say this tour is really a touch and go kind of experience, it’s great if you don’t have much time and only have 1 day to visit as many of the well known attractions as possible.

2 thoughts on “England in a Day

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