PANDEMIC TRAVEL Phillip and his team did a great job making the best of the situation of post covid lockdown. This trip took over 2 years to make happen as we originally scheduled it before covid hit and we had to cancel our originally scheduled trip. They were in constant communication the whole time leading up to and during the trip. They scheduled the tests that we needed and made sure everything went as easy as possible. Albeit there were some bumps in the road adjusting to the new normal but they went above and beyond to make it as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. All of the tour guides were amazing and were worth every penny spent! We would have missed so much just attempting to wander around ourselves. We would have not experienced and seen half of what we did if we tried doing it on our own. All in all, it was a great trip and we would do it again in a heartbeat!
These folks were contacted by Wendy to help us navigate and plan a few days in the Cotswolds, travel to Edinburgh, a guide in Edinburgh, and the train to Inverness. It was a small amount of money and essentially a big pain in the neck for them to deal with at all!!
They did a wonderful job, reserved a really fabulous place in the Cotswolds that my British friends are still talking about and provided two 1/2 day guides who were perfect for our tiny eclectic group.
I would absolutely work with this team when looking for special places in the UK!
Philip is a good listener. The itinerary he planned for my husband, Arthur, and me who are opera lovers and history buffs in Edinburgh, the Highlands and London filled our hearts’ delight.
The centerpiece of our trip was a performance of Rusalka at the Glyndebourne Opera festival. Philip was able to procure the best seats, train tickets to Lewes and a dinner reservation, which despite the rain, made the evening easy and memorable. He also reserved excellent seats at plays and concerts of our choice at the Edinburgh International Festival as well as the Royal Tattoo. We could not have enjoyed ourselves more.
Philip also planned a sightseeing itinerary which focused on Churchill and World War II. All of our guides , who were Blue Badge guides, were knowledgeable and personable. We spent two memorable days with Mark King discovering the Churchill and the Imperial War Museums. A highlight was the privately guided tour of the Churchill War Rooms before opening hours arranged by Philip. In addition, Mark took us on a tour of the historic East End where he the shared experiences of Jewish and other immigrants to the area as well as his parents during World War II. We could not have asked for a more in depth program.
Arthur and I can recommend Philip to anyone visiting the U.K. The hotels he chose, the guides he selected and the itinerary, which took our interests into account, was excellent. We plan to use another travel specialist on Wendy’s WOW list for our next trip
Philip and his team put together an extraordinarily complicated UK itinerary for me which covered three segments over almost three weeks—travel with my husband in Scotland for a week, travel with my sister in London and Bath for another week, then travel with my teenaged son in London at the end. We did everything from whisky tasting, to the Highlands games, a hike on the grounds of Balmoral, the Churchill War Rooms, a mini-Cooper tour of London, I can’t even remember it all, but each day was incredibly well thought through. If I took the time to count the number of transfers, the number of guides who met us in our hotel lobbies each morning, and the amazing access we had throughout this almost three week journey, you would be amazed. But what was truly exceptional is that it all went off without a hitch. Philip was available throughout the journey to make dinner reservations, answer questions, and adjust timing, and it felt as though he was the invisible hand to make sure all went smoothly–and it did. Everything was top flight and I would recommend this group highly for a trip to the UK.
Philip McCrum got our party really good baseball tickets to the London Series Yankee-Red Sox baseball games on June 29 and 30 that we never could have gotten ourselves because they were sold out instantly. Philip had personal connections to obtain the tickets for us. The baseball games were the highlights of our trip and without them we would not have gone to London. We appreciate very much his ability to make that happen for us.
He did a good job arranging our reception and departure to and from Heathrow Airport through the Windsor Suite which is a wonderful way to transit an airport. Thank you as well to Philip for our excellent WOW Moment at Saltwood Castle in Kent, and for the terrific driver-guide, Ian, who took us there. This castle, more than 1,000 years old and fascinating, is not open to the public. As Philip did for us, private arrangements for the visit have to be made with the chatelaine, a lovely woman named Jane Clark, who personally showed us around the castle and its amazing art, the grand library, the gardens and the peacocks, and herself served us coffee in the small library and prepared and served us lunch. It was a marvelous experience.
However, we had some unfortunate experiences also. While the baseball was the highlight for the men, a day trip to Stonehenge and Avebury was supposed to be the highlight for me. In all our trips to England, I had never been to Stonehenge and I very much wanted that. Philip was supposed to have arranged a special day with a driver and a scholarly guide to explain the history of Stonehenge and Avebury and to have lunch with us in Avebury. I was looking forward to it for months. But when the day came, our last day in England, the driver never showed up at our hotel. Our itinerary didn’t tell us the name or the contact phone number of the driver. When we called Philip’s office, he was not there and the other people in his office did not know where the driver was and could not locate him. We waited in our hotel lobby for more than an hour while Philip’s office kept calling our concierge to say they couldn’t find the driver. It was quite a while before the hotel concierge gave up on Philip and offered to get us a car, but by then it was late morning too late to undertake a two-hour-each-way drive that would have left us little time at our destination. Philip called later to apologize but that didn’t fix the disappointment or our lack of confidence in him.
I had a while previously asked Philip to make us some dinner reservations on tour days to commence shortly after our return from each trip. The trips ended at 5:00 or 5:30 pm but the reservations were made for 8:00 or 8:15 pm. We came back tired and hungry and certainly didn’t want to wait hours to eat. We tried to call the restaurants and change the times but were unable to reach one of them or change the time at the other, so we just ate at our hotel which was ready to accommodate us any time. Finally, we were very disappointed with the lunch reservation for five people at Ledbury. The morning was a long, hot guided walk on Portobello Road Market, followed by terrible traffic in the afternoon to get to the first baseball game. Ledbury has an 8-course meal where every member of the party has to order the same courses and there are no deviations. Three of us have dietary restrictions, which Philip knew, and it was impossible to put together five identical eight-course dinners nor was there time to eat it. It was a very poor choice for a busy day mid-day meal. When we understood that no alterations could be made, we politely said good-by and left Ledbury. We had light sandwiches at our hotel on the way to the game.
Response from Wendy:
I was very surprised and dismayed to hear about the missed day-trip to Stonehenge. I have never received such a complaint before; typically there are failsafes in place to ensure that such a snafu cannot occur. Philip explains that it was an anomaly: “We were very disappointed about the transport error – this was a mistake by our chauffeur company who somehow cancelled our booking in their booking system. We have refunded Mrs. Tepper for the day’s trip (and billed the chauffeur company for it!). Our chauffeur company are usually very reliable and we use them for the vast bulk of our transport bookings, so it is very uncharacteristic – it may have come about due to the fact that they have just introduced a new digital booking system (not ideal timing in the middle of peak season).” I will be watching to make sure that such an incident does not happen again.
As for the issues with the lunch and dinner reservations, I believe that most of these stem from a lack of sufficient communication between trip designer and traveler. There are important takeways here for other travelers:
* If you want dinner times on the early side, or at a certain hour, let Philip know.
* As soon as you receive a written itinerary, make sure that your preferred dining hour is reflected in the meal times noted in the itinerary.
* Look up recommended restaurants in advance: When a restaurant has two Michelin stars, as The Ledbury does, often the dining experience will take a long time and may not be appropriate for a day packed with other activities.
We contacted Jane and Philip McCrum to plan an extraordinary last minute trip to Scotland from 6/18/2019 to 6/22/2019. We went on an incredible hike with tour guide Perri Hopkins around Loch Eck, were delighted by the botanical gardens of Benmore, and amazed by the architecture, art and design of Mount Stuart Castle on the isle of Bute. We had outdoors and arts lovers on our trip and the McCrums designed a trip to please all!
Our trip to London, with several day trips, far exceeded our expectations, which are always high when we use one of your advisors. Jane and Dawn planned a number of itineraries, both in and outside the city, which we simply would not, or in some cases could not, have arranged on our own. Highlights included a visit to a castle dating to the 11th century, which is a private home and not open to the public. Jane’s personal connection allowed us to spend several hours as the guests of the owner, with a fascinating tour of the house, grounds and extraordinary collections of art, antiques and memorabilia. We also had a terrific WOW Moment — a tour of the Inns of Court with a barrister as a guide, giving us insider access and insights not typically available.
All of our arrangements were excellent, with knowledgeable and personable guides and drivers. The itineraries reflected careful consideration of our interests. There was enough free time in London to allow us to relax and enjoy those unexpected discoveries which are always among the best parts of a trip. Dawn was extremely helpful and responsive and checked in regularly to make sure all of our arrangements went off as planned.
I will recommend Jane and her team without reservation to our friends for their UK travels and we look forward to our own return trip.
I used Philip McCrum to plan a trip to London for me with my 18-year old daughter. This was my daughter’s first trip to London (my fourth, although not in last 20 years), and we started the planning process about 6 weeks before traveling. Although it took a lot of back-and-forth determining the itinerary, our ultimate trip was jam-packed and we enjoyed our trip tremendously. Philip suggested that we stay at The Beaumont, a wonderful boutique hotel located in a quiet Mayfair square, very close to the Bond Street Underground station. We decided to go with a Superior Studio since we would be staying 5 nights, and it was the perfect size. I highly recommend asking for room 504…it has a large balcony overlooking Brown Hart Gardens. My daughter is a huge Harry Potter fan so we wanted to go to the Warner Brothers Studio outside of London. All of the admission tickets were sold out when we started our planning, but Philip was able to secure tickets from a secondary source. Philip also got us amazing seats to two requested West End shows. Philip also arranged some great tours for us that lined up with our interests. We had a private backstage tour of the National Theatre, a place I never would have discovered on my own. I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting London. We were surprised at how large the Theatre is, and how much actually takes place at the Theatre—prop building (including their own wood and metal shops), rehearsals, public education spaces and several stages. We also enjoyed a 3-hour guided food, street art and culture tour of the East End. Our tour guide Alex was so passionate and engaging and showed us parts of the East End that were not mentioned in any guidebooks that I reviewed. My friend who joined us on the tour, who lives outside of London and had been on several of these East End tours, said she saw so many new things. We also had a guide show us around royal and spiritual London (Buckingham Palace, Green Park, St. James’ Park, Parliament, Changing of the Guards and Westminster Abbey). I had warned Philip that we did not want a lot of historical facts thrown at us for 6 hours, and he gave us a tour guide, Julie, who was lively and engaged us more with fun facts (while sneaking in history). The guide took us to a local pub for lunch, giving us a true sense of where locals eat. Having a guide at Westminster Abbey allowed us to skip the long main entrance line. (When originally planned, we were supposed to have a tour of Westminster Abbey privately guided by the Dean. Unfortunately, the Dean had to go out of town at the last minute.) My one complaint about visiting the Abbey with Julie was that I was looking forward to seeing the newly opened Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries. For whatever reason, she (or Philip) did not plan correctly and there were no more tickets available that day. (These appear to be timed-entry tickets that can be purchase ahead online or same-day. I never specifically asked Philip about visiting the gallery since it was mentioned that we would visit it on our original itinerary with the Dean. When the Dean cancelled and he suggested extending Julie to also cover Westminster Abbey, I assumed the tour would cover the same ground.)
Philip and his staff planned a terrific trip for me, my husband, and our seventeen year old son. They spent time talking to us to make sure the trip was tailored to our needs. They were extremely accommodating. Kristina made a change for us mid-trip with no complaint. We had tremendous guides, particularly Simon who was one of the best guides we have ever had – and we have traveled the world! We loved meeting a real knight at Windsor Castle, seeing castles with Simon who knew EVERYTHING, visiting the Harry Potter studios, touring The National Theater and an amazing costume shop and talking with a working actress in London. The dinner and pub recommendations were spot on as was our hotel. The driver we had was phenomenal. Most importantly, (and if you are the parent of a teenage boy you will understand this) our seventeen year old son was completely engaged in the whole trip – no eye rolling, no sighing – we had a GREAT time with him. I would highly recommend Philip!!!
I spent an entire week in London and saw almost everything that was on my “must see” list and then some more through the courtesy of the very informative guides. The trip to Windsor Castle was very special as I visited with a Military Knight and his wife who live within the Castle grounds. The guides chosen by the travel planners were very knowledgable and took me to some very unexpected places where I saw and visited with very interesting people. One of the guides, Simon, accompanied me to an evening showing of the famous Japanese drummers, Yamoto-Passion, who were in London on tour. Even because of the unusually windy and rainy weather, I had a wonderful time and came away from my trip with great experiences and memories. Of course, I will return in a few months to see and experience even more of this wonderful place and people. Barbara Lee
I had a very good experience with Phillip McCrum. He went on vacation early in the planning process and his colleague Kristina was terrific. We planned late, but she was able to secure some terrific hunting guides for my husband on our trip to Scotland/England. I would definitely use them again.
When my wife learned she had to go to London for business at the end of July, we contacted Philip McCrum to help us plan a 5-day extension to explore the English countryside. Philip put together a wonderful itinerary for us that included Oxford, Blenheim Palace, Cotswolds villages, Bath, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle — all with very knowledgeable and personable local guides. He also helped procure tickets to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club while we were in London. My wife especially enjoyed our fantastic WOW Moment at the Thermae Bath Spa, where we had exclusive use of The Cross Bath, an open-air thermal bath.
England and Scotland was our second vacation with Wendy’s direction. We had such a wonderful time visiting all the “hot” spots in London. We had perfect timing in to see everything to skip the long lines. Our favorite was taking a day and walking in York. Then on to Scotland. We can’t say enough great complements about our Scottish guide. Due to the weather we couldn’t fly around the islands so she took us to a small aquarium where we could hold the wildlife and view it up close. I’ve never seen a scallop moving so fast! Since we love to experience other countries by doing things, our best experience was going to a bird sanctuary to try falconry. We held a snow owl, golden eagle and falcons. When I told our guide we like history she took us to a historic circular stone site where we could walk directly up to them. Again, this was one of our best trips due to Wendy’s knowledge on who to book a trip with.
Jane was incredible every step of the way to make sure our experience was beyond memorable!
Trip of a Lifetime.
How different our trip would have been had Wendy not introduced us to Jane McCrum and her team. With only a short conversation Jane planned a trip for us that exceeded my most hopeful expectations and one that would have been impossible without her peerless effort.
A private concert at an equally private estate in the highlands, a guided fly-fishing expedition through pristine waters, a tour of the castle built by our ancestors, and some of the very finest dining experiences we’ve had anywhere in the world. Our accommodations were exceptional, inviting, and unique, the perfect combination of five-star luxury and rural comfort.
Our guides Nicky and Les were beyond compare, we couldn’t imagine having taken the trip without them. They both know the historical and modern-day Scotland in greater detail than I know my own neighborhood. They are tremendous storytellers and warm friends, effortlessly bypassing road closings, navigating the rainy weather, and juggling our schedules such that we never missed a thing. These two are likely magic in some way.
We are already planning our return trip with our family, having left our hearts in Scotland. Our sincerest thanks to Wendy and Jane, without whom we’d never have been able to forge these lifelong memories. Cheers!
Scotland, June 1 – 9, 2018
After speaking with Philip McCrum, my husband decided that he wanted to travel to Scotland to celebrate his 60th birthday. The trip planning was left up to Philip and myself, and we had to come up with something special for the big day. Philip outdid himself by organizing a salmon fishing trip on the River Tay with our own private boat and ghillie, followed by a gourmet lunch at the fishing cottage, then a foraging expedition to find ingredients to use for our cooking class taught by a master chef. After our cooking class, we were escorted back to our hotel to freshen up, then returned to the farm for a candlelit romantic dinner complete with perfect wine pairings and a special over the top chocolate and strawberry birthday cake. We got to know everyone at the farm and felt like family by the time we left. It was a truly memorable day!
We did have one difficulty during our trip that Philip managed to save us from. One of the hotels we were booked into for 3 nights was reputed to be 5-star property but, when we arrived it was far from it. We called Philip and asked if he could possibly find us anywhere else to stay that would be clean and comfortable (a difficult task as every B&B, Inn, and a hotel we passed had their “No Vacancy” sign displayed). Within an hour Philip had secured us new accommodations and negotiated that we would not incur any charges from the hotel we were leaving. The hotel we moved to ended up being our favorite as well as serving the best meals of our stay, what a save!
Finally, Philip arranged for us to stay and have dinner at the fabulous gothic Witchery by the Castle on our last night in Edinburgh. What an amazing place, the photos online do not do it justice! To top it all off we experienced a WOW moment (and we did both say “wow”) when we were told that our meal was compliments of Wendy Perrin! Thank you, Wendy!
Jane McCrum and Dawn on her staff planned our 18-day vacation to Scotland. The initial phone call with Jane sets the tone for your trip. I admit to being a “high maintenance” traveler having had MS for 40 years, and my husband was having a total knee replacement the week after our trip. Our interests are also somewhat unusual: Celtic Spirituality, geology, and genealogy. Jane made magic happen! Private guides/drivers solved our transportation issues.
Both Jo and Les “made” the trip with their insight (changing plans on the fly due to weather, construction, energy levels, etc.), local knowledge (changing restaurant reservations for secret spots!), and on Iona, making the heretofore thought impossibility, happen.
The highlights of our trip: Dawn had recommended visiting Walsingham, two religious shrines on most pilgrim’s journeys. It was a wonderful surprise and very peaceful and moving. Then, Ely Cathedral. Jane set us up for an afternoon with Alan Williams, archivist for the Cathedral. Alan had researched all about Bart’s 10th great grandfather, Sir Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely, c1500 to 1581. He presented us with three notebooks of new information, but the grandest moment was when the current Bishop very generously loaned Alan his house keys, and we visited with his cat while finding the surprise of a lifetime in the Bishop’s private office: a very large picture of Sir Richard’s actual funeral! Then, to top that off, Alan had retrieved his needlepoint stitched kneeler for Bart to see. Definitely a memorable afternoon.
Les, our guide/driver in Scotland seemed to understand our desires intuitively. Day 1 he took us over the most remote backcountry roads where we learned about Cairns, examined rocks, had close up encounters with newborn blackface lambs, pheasant, red deer and Highland Coos. He never tired of me yelling “Stop” so I could get another picture. We ferried over to Iona for three nights. He and Bart hiked the hills over to Columba Bay. The Adoran house manager, Richard, was a lovely host; however, the accommodation was about as far as one could get from “town” and the single taxi was extremely expensive. Les managed the impossible the next day by using my Texas handicap permit to receive a permit to bring his car to the island so I could experience all it has to offer. My heart exploded with joy!
The last highlight was amazing, too. Jane/Dawn obtained us great seats to see the London production of “Hamilton.” Brilliant cast and spectacular set in the newly renovated Victoria Palace Theatre.
And, yes, we had a few bumps in the road, but those were immediately remedied personally by Dawn and Jane. I highly recommend using this WOW team for any visit to Scotland and England.
We went to England over Thanksgiving and used Jane to plan our trip. As always Jane and her staff are amazing. She arranged spectacular tours for us including an early entry and tour of the Tower of London, a spy adventure at the British Museum and a half-day movie making throughout London. The latter involved us going around London and having movies shot of the children at various locations where Harry Potter was filmed with the children having wands and capes. They will then put this together into a film.
The highlight for me was the tour of the Churchill War Rooms with the director emeritus of the War Rooms that took us behind the scenes and allowed us to sit in the actual chair that Churchill sat in.
Ruth our guide, Andy our driver and the “spies/movie directors” were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable and did an excellent job getting the children involved and engaged.
This is the second time we have used Jane and I cannot recommend her more. We also had the pleasure of having tea with her and she truly is a wonderful person. The access and contacts she has throughout the country are just spectacular. One of the children asked if she had ever met the Queen to which she replied a number of times. We definitely plan to use her again when we go back to England.
Jane and Philip and the rest of the team were great at planning this trip. I traveled with twin teenagers around England and Scotland and there wasn’t a day that didn’t create lasting memories. I was especially pleased with their planning in the Peak district and in Scottish Western Highlands. Each day we had a unique adventure, be it hiking in the Peak district, taking part in skiff races in the Highlands or meeting a wonderful musician-hotelier couple in Scotland. Book with this team and you will be in experienced, deeply-caring hands.
Jane arranged six days of touring for us before and following the 2017 C. S. Lewis Oxbridge Symposium. We visited the Sloan and Samuel Johnson homes, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Bletchley Park, Stonehenge, and the city of Bath. On our weekend in London, we attended a production at the Globe Theater, and the seats Jane procured were among the best in the house. Our guides were all delightful and informative.
Jane McCrum was simply excellent. She and Julie did a fantastic job customizing our experience and ensuring we had the benefit of their years of work experience and extensive networks in London. This was a trip my family will remember forever. The attention to detail and ability to help us decide where to spend our time and money was top notch. I really have no constructive criticism or complaints.
Jane McCrum and her team (Julie!) did an excellent job helping my daughter and I plan an extended weekend in London. They were patient with us as we kept changing our itinerary, were very prompt in their email exchanges and gave excellent advice. Their recommendation of the Ham Yard hotel was spot on. It is a fabulous boutique hotel with an amazing design aesthetic and wonderful service. The concierges were incredible kind and resourceful (locating sold-out soccer tickets and arranging an impromptu dinner for our group in the library when everywhere else was booked). Also, the private tour of the Harry Potter studies that Jane and Julie arranged thrilled my 16 year old Potter fan.
I would not hesitate to call on them again.
With short notice, Jane and her team put together an interesting program highlighting a few important London stops. From a personal tour of Chartwell to tea and a personal tour of the chapel at Windsor Castle with one of the military knights, Jane planned three special days. She secured the best table for us at The Ivy and organized a walking tour of London which was capped off by a personal tour of Buckingham Palace. For a veteran traveler who has visited London many times but hasn’t visited many of the “standard tourist sites,” it was nice to visit some tourist destinations with an expert guide. Excellent job!
Jane and her group did a great job planning a few premium tours for our last minute trip to London. We are still awaiting a credit for a snafu with our private transport from the airport but I am sure they are still working on this detail for us. We loved our driver Ivan for our last day in London and Phil our tour guide was fantastic. The day we went to parliament for a tour and lunch with a MP (great experience) there seemed to be some confusion between our guide and the MP with our meet up time. I mention this because we were rushed through security and didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to our guide, Phil, and did not have an opportunity to give him a gratuity for his expertise. We felt badly about this. I also really liked that the items of the itinerary were itemized by cost instead of one grand total at the end of the quote, which was our experience on other trips.
Our trip was fabulous in every respect. I would recommend Jane for attention to detail, efficiency, and flexibility with all of our itinerary changes and excellent guides. Special touches included entrees into private homes, a courtesy gift and follow up email when we returned home. Truly made the trip a smooth and first class delight. If you want an insiders trip to London/ England choose Jane! They can open special doors for you. All of Jane’s staff were very prompt in responding to our may queries during the planning stages; sometimes even late at night. They are the best!
Jane McCrum is terrific – met some wonderful people at the Tower, Parliament and Windsor. Also had tea with Jane and everything worked like clockwork. Her guide was extremely knowledgeable.
My husband and I had used Wendy’s experts for travel to Kenya and also to the Southwestern U.S. and definitely wanted to use one of her experts for our trip to London because we knew of the priceless benefit of worry-free, impeccably-planned travel. However, our needs were very different for this trip. We were traveling with another couple who had never experienced the benefits of using an expert, we were staying in a friend’s flat which was quite centrally located to museums, transportation, and other wonderful sights, and we were only staying a week. Although our friends questioned our judgement on using professional assistance, we convinced them to trust us. We all were more than thrilled with the outcome.
We asked Jane to plan two full days for us, one in London, and one on the outskirts. We also asked her to get us tickets to a show for a different night. Our itinerary was as well planned and thought out as any of our other trips, in spite of our small number and few days. The show tickets were delivered right to our flat before we arrived. We were given a contact phone number, which we used once, so we could ask any questions at all. A knowledgeable, private driver took us on trips to Oxford, the Wormsley Library, and to an amazing luncheon served at the Getty Estate. Our City guide met us at the flat and traveled with us by taxi to our very special, behind-the-scenes private tours of the Churchill War Rooms and Tower of London, which were amazing. Our friends and we agreed that using Jane’s wonderful service was well worth the expense and made this short trip one to remember the rest of our lives.
Traveled to London , July 2015 with two grandsons, ages 11 and 7. All arrangements except air were through In Any Event tours: hotel, driver, guides who specialized in our daily tours.Sites we visited included Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court and Maze, The Eye, Thames River Cruise, Maritime Academy, London Dungeon, James Bond in Motion, Emirates Stadium. At the Churchill War Room, Tower of London, Windsor Castle, and HMS Belfast we had an additional guide with private tour. There were no hassles with transportation, arranging and coordinating tours, etc. It was a memorable, educational, and enjoyable vacation. Staff and guides deserve an A+.
I was interested in a garden tour of the Cotswolds and found England specialist Jane McCrum on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List of Travel Specialists. Wendy states if you email through her website, the agent will VIP you and Wendy will monitor your trip to make sure the agents live up to their reputation.
Email sent. Jane McCrum called the following day and I explained my interests. Primary focus on gardens in the Cotswolds, small manor houses, architecture and small postcard English villages.
I received a rough draft itinerary the following week. OMG! You are kidding me, was all I could think. The draft looked spectacular. I could think of no changes or input. I only asked why also Kent and Sussex? To provide a better overview and comparison of gardens in the region.
The trip begins, July 2015: After a few days of leisure in London, my driver/guide Jo picked me up at Spencer House after a private tour. We headed out of London, first stop Broughton Castle. We were greeted by Lady Saye and Sele, the delightful owner of the house. She gave an overview of the history of the house, built in 1306 with additions in 1550. It was the center of opposition to Charles 1. I quickly gained knowledge of the English Civil War. Lady Saye invited us into her kitchen for tea. I wanted to wrap her up and take her home.
That evening I checked into Barnsley House, the perfect Cotswold manor hotel. The gardens were designed by legendary gardener and former owner Rosemary Verey. A perfect beginning.
The week was a whirlwind of everything I had imagined: Quaint towns, Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold. Hidcote Gardens (a famous Arts and Crafts garden c1905), Kiftsgate Gardens, Highgrove (Prince Charles’ exquisite masterpiece). New guide Donna halfway through the week as we pushed on to the southeast, stopping at Highclere. No words necessary.
Gravetye Manor, elegant hotel of English dreams. Tucked into garden designed by William Robinson for the evening. Sissinghurst and Great Dixter, two well-known gardens that had me entranced. Great Dixter, designed by Christopher Lloyd, was mesmerizing and perhaps the fact that the head gardener, Fergus Garrett, picked me a bouquet of sweet peas in stunning colors swayed me to think it trumped Sissinghurst as the better garden.
Lunch with Princess Olga Romanoff, the daughter of Prince Andrew Romanoff, the eldest nephew of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and her son Francis at her home, Provender. A delightful woman who opens her home for various events.
Quick tour of Canterbury Cathedral. Last stop, Chartwell House, home of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill—a stop that is worth it. The phenomenal week was almost over and I spent my last night at the remarkable Coworth Park Hotel, which is 20 minutes away from Heathrow. The hotel is in Ascot and has a large equestrian center. I cantered my horse around the estate through yellow meadows watching polo ponies practice.
Thank you, Wendy Perrin, for matching me up with Jane McCrum of In Any Event, an outstanding top travel specialist.