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Old 03-24-2018, 01:06 PM   #1
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Putting a boot into our original Easter plans… COMPLETED 5/3

Putting a boot into our original Easter plans…

Pre-trip report – part one: a surprise through the post that changed everything

Dates: Friday 30 March – Monday 2 April
Adventurers: Me, Cheryl (45) and DH Mark (52)
Destinations: Bath, the Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth and other destinations in the south west of England and south Wales
Resorts: Bailbrook House, Bath and Royal York and Faulkner Hotel, Sidmouth
Meets: None
Celebration: getting away for Easter and enjoying a present from a friend…

It’s pretty much a tradition in our house now that every Easter, we go away. It’s a four day weekend here, with both Good Friday and Easter Monday as national holidays, so it’s worth doing something, rather than sitting at home. Yes, of course that means it’s busier on the roads and often the price of plane tickets can be through the roof, but usually we find something that works for us. Here’s how previous Easters have shaped up:

2017 Northern Ireland
2016 Bath and Somerset, south west England
2015 Isle of Man
2014 Boating on the Norfolk Broads, eastern England
2013 Berlin, Germany
2011 Walt Disney World
2010 Road trip to Switzerland and Germany

In 2012, we were at home, as I was changing jobs and we had a week long cruise booked to the Norwegian fjords about two weeks after Easter.

So what were we going to do for this year? Well, for years, I’ve wanted to go and visit the Keukenhof bulb fields in Holland. I’ve had friends visit, including a professional photographer, and the photos they’ve taken have been stunning. Every year, I’ve said we’ll go and every year it hasn’t worked out. I was confident this would be the year… We need at least a three day weekend to do this comfortably, as it’s quite a drive from Calais, where the Eurotunnel (the car shuttle under the Channel Tunnel) brings us out. Easter would be perfect. I even had an itinerary all worked out, including other places to see in Holland. We were set…

… then we got a surprise through the post that changed everything.

Our friend Jan came over to visit in September 2017. Her husband Bill was killed in the line of duty in September 2015. Some of you will remember Bill (LizardCop) from the PassPorter boards. Others of you may well have heard about what happened to him. It made the national news in America at the time, as well as the BBC over here, as Bill had retired from the police force and then went back to work to earn a bit more money to take his granddaughter to Disney.

Understandably, Jan didn’t want to be at home for the anniversary of his death. We planned a trip where we picked her up from Paris, then we brought her home, visited London and other places across southern England. We took her to the Thermae Bath Spa, which we’ve visited many times before and some of you will be very familiar with from previous trip reports. It was Jan’s first time at a spa and we weren’t sure what she’d make of it. She absolutely loved it! She pretty much fell asleep in the rooftop pool and told us how relaxed she felt, which was wonderful. I couldn’t have hoped for a better reaction from her.

A few days after she got home, a package turned up in the post from the Thermae Bath Spa, which we were very surprised to see, as neither of us had been in touch with them. We opened them, wondering what it was. She’d only gone and bought us a twilight package for two as a thank you for everything we’d done for her. We were absolutely bowled over and delighted, as we do love the place and, heck any chance to return is a good one!

The twilight package is only valid from Sundays to Fridays, which means essentially you’re looking at a weekday. The spa is about a three hour drive from us, which also means we’d need to take some time off work. Ok, no problem, surely, as we have lots of vacation? Well, yes we do. However, I tend to use it all up… I get more than Mark because I can take time back in lieu whenever I work extra hours. Let’s just say I’d already used up his leave for 2018 with a two and a half week trip to Florida (including a seven night southern Caribbean cruise) in January and a three week trip in September with 18 nights on the Disney Magic, as we travel from Dover to Quebec City on two back to back cruises.

Now what to do? The vouchers were only good until November, so we needed to find a long Bank Holiday weekend to go really. The only options were Easter, the early Bank Holiday in May, which was instantly out as we’d already booked flights to go back to Switzerland, the late Bank Holiday in May and the late August Bank Holiday. Given we were heading off on the Magic only a couple of weeks after the late August Bank Holiday, I ruled that out. I wasn’t keen on the late May Bank Holiday either, as my mum’s birthday is in late May and we might use that time to go up and visit them. That left Easter. So much for our plans for Keukenhof. Oh well, this is why I like to plan ahead and buy things for a vacation, as once things are purchased, you’re committed to going. We hadn’t purchased anything, so we could ditch our plans. I guess we’ll go in 2019 then…

We could either go to the spa on Good Friday or Easter Sunday and I opted for the Friday. I couldn’t see the point in going on the Sunday night when we’d be heading back the next day. It meant Mark would have a lovely, relaxing time before driving three hours, which would really wipe out any benefit. I phoned up, but we were actually too early to book. I was told to try again in November, which I did, and quickly secured our slot.

We’re due to check in at 6:00pm with dinner at 8:00pm. The package is a three hour spa session, including time in the restaurant, complimentary use of towel, robe and slippers and choice of one dish from the menu and a drink, which includes wine or beer. We’ve done the twilight package before and it is lovely. I can’t wait.

Next: our plans for the weekend
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Old 03-24-2018, 01:22 PM   #2
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Too bad that you won't get to visit Holland on this trip and see the beautiful bulbs, but this is a great change of plans. This was so nice of Jan to do for you. Sounds like a great trip and I'm sure the two of you will enjoy and get the most out of the spa package!
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Old 03-24-2018, 01:37 PM   #3
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Holland just wasn't meant to be this year, but the spa package sounds incredible and such a thoughtful thank you from Jan.
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Old 03-24-2018, 01:38 PM   #4
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Too bad you have to delay the trip to Holland again, but, what a wonderful thank you from Jan. I know you will have a wonderful time and look forward to reading about the trip.
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Old 03-24-2018, 02:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
Too bad that you won't get to visit Holland on this trip and see the beautiful bulbs, but this is a great change of plans.
Next year... I swear! Mind you, I said that last year too. It doesn't help that I keep seeing adverts for the bulbfields...

Quote:
This was so nice of Jan to do for you.
It was such a lovely gesture and I was so taken aback by it.

Quote:
Sounds like a great trip and I'm sure the two of you will enjoy and get the most out of the spa package!
Yes, well... more to come on that... as you'll discover, this trip was neatly planned, then there was a big kink in our plans.
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Old 03-24-2018, 02:29 PM   #6
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Holland just wasn't meant to be this year, but the spa package sounds incredible and such a thoughtful thank you from Jan.
It was lovely.
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Old 03-24-2018, 04:31 PM   #7
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Sounds like this will be a lovely, relaxing trip. I know you will miss the Holland trip, but it might have been a bit more difficult with the recovery from your ankle surgery this year anyway. This new venture sounds like it will gel with recovery a bit more.
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Old 03-24-2018, 05:02 PM   #8
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What a nice surprise to get in the mail, sounds like a wonderful package.
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Old 03-25-2018, 03:40 AM   #9
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Sounds like this will be a lovely, relaxing trip. I know you will miss the Holland trip, but it might have been a bit more difficult with the recovery from your ankle surgery this year anyway. This new venture sounds like it will gel with recovery a bit more.
Well yes... and no as you'll discover. Hence the title of the trip report, which I'll be explaining in due course....
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Old 03-25-2018, 03:45 AM   #10
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Pre-trip report – part two: our plans for the weekend

So that’s how this trip came about. What else are we going to be doing over the four day weekend? The plan is to leave the house relatively early on Good Friday, as hopefully then the traffic won’t be too bad, as most people will still be in bed. You see, learning from Disney vacations can be applied into the real world…

We’ll head for south Wales, as I want to see Caerphilly Castle, which is the largest castle in Wales. As you can see from the website, it looks like a spectacular place and, best of all, through a membership I have, we get free entry. It may also have had a starring role in Doctor Who once upon a time as well…

Once we finish there, then we’re going to head for Tredegar House, which is a National Trust property. We’re members, so we get free entry there as well. Are you seeing a bit of a pattern here? I love freebies, it makes vacations so much cheaper! I did want to go to Tredegar previously when we visited South Wales and it just never happened. If I remember right, it turned out that Cardiff had more to see than we’d bargained for, so I’m looking forward to seeing it. It’s a 17th century house and has 90 acres of gardens, so it looks as if there’s plenty to keep us occupied there.

Then we’ll head over to Bath. We’re going to spend the night at Bailbrook House, a hotel we’ve stayed in before and been very impressed with – particularly the breakfast there, so I’m looking forward to that. We’ll probably drop our stuff off, depending on what time we get to Bath, before we head to the spa.

The next day, the plan is to head to Aerospace Bristol, which is home to the last Concorde plane to be built and the final one to fly. We’ve already previously seen one in Manchester and they are amazing. I now really regret the fact that I never got to fly on one, and I was offered the opportunity to do a short trip (an hour or so) when I was a journalist and I said no. What was I thinking?

That’s their main draw here, although Aerospace Bristol also takes you through the various aviation achievements that got us to Concorde and let’s face it, helicopters, planes and satellites and things like that are always fun!

Then we’ll head on to another National Trust property. This one is called Knightshayes Court and the website describes it as a country estate on a grand, gothic scale. Hopefully it will be good weather and the garden will have plenty to see, as it’s home to over 1200 plant species unique to Knightshayes.

At this point, we’ll make our way over to Sidmouth, otherwise known as home to the Donkey Sanctuary, but for once, we’ll be heading somewhere else there for reasons that will become apparent in a moment…

I hunted around for ages to find a hotel in Sidmouth. We stayed in one last year called the Sidmouth Harbour Hotel, which we absolutely loved. So what’s the problem? Surely we should just go back there? Well, yes and no. Sadly the prices are much higher for Easter than they were in December and it’s not an option. So, I set about looking for somewhere else, but I couldn’t find a hotel or bed and breakfast place that really called out to me. I was close to booking somewhere, but it was a small bed and breakfast and it accepted pets, which worried me, as a) I didn’t know how quiet it would be and b) there’s always a worry (for me anyway) about how clean the rooms would be. I then nearly booked a hotel that came with dinner, as well as breakfast, but somehow it just wasn’t calling out to me.

I did one final Internet search and found the Royal York and Faulkner Hotel, right on the seafront. For about £30 ($50) more than the hotel I’d nearly booked, we could get dinner, bed and breakfast here with a sea view… oh and that price also includes afternoon tea – sold!

We’ll stop off for afternoon tea, then I figured we might just make a quick visit to my donkey friends, which would give us the opportunity to walk off some of our afternoon tea. Then we’ll head back to the hotel for dinner…

On Easter Sunday, the plan is to go and see a couple of National Trust places, plus we’ll head back to Donkeyland (as I affectionately call it! ). We might go there first, as the National Trust places don’t open until 11:00am. The two places I want to visit are Killerton House, which is an 18th century home surrounded by parkland. However, parkland doesn’t give you an idea of the size of the place. We’re talking over 6,000 acres of working farms (cows? ), woods, parkland, cottages and orchards.

The other place is called A La Ronde, and although it’s not nearly as big as Killerton, it looks like a fascinating place. For starters, it’s a 16 sided building. It’s not often you see one of those!

Then it will be back for afternoon tea and dinner, essentially a repeat of the day before.

We’ll then head home on the Easter Monday via Corfe Castle, which we tried to visit a few years ago, but there was no parking to be found anywhere, so we had to give up. The plan is to be there for opening, so that hopefully won’t be a problem this time around.

And that’s it – our plans for our Easter weekend away…. At least that’s what I thought anyway…

Next: a fairly big wrinkle to our plans…
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Old 03-25-2018, 09:14 AM   #11
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Wow you amaze me at how much you can fit into a trip. I really wish Winnipeg wasn’t so isolated and had more within driving range to see, growing up in southern Ontario we had lots more to do..
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Old 03-25-2018, 09:14 AM   #12
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That Jan... so sweet! You'll have a wonderful time as always.

Love your lofty plans! With that TR title though (which makes me chuckle, even though it shouldn't ), I'll stay tuned to see just how much you can actually pull off. I'm looking at the Killerton site and see you can rent an all-terrain ECV though.... that could be fun! Killerton and Knightshayes look to be beautiful - hoping for good weather!
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My Previous TripsVisited WDW 4 times while little from 1979 to 1990 ~ Jan. 1998, Doubletree ~ Nov. 1998, Disney Institute ~ Sept. 2000, E. Caribbean Disney Magic ~ July 2001, Courtyard Downtown Disney ~ March 2003, Comfort Inn ~ June 2004, POR ~ Jan. 2006, POFQ ~ May 2007, All Star Vacation home ~ Jan. 2008, POFQ Half Marathon ~ Sept. 2008, SSR ~ Nov. 2009, CBR ~ March 2010, AsMu Princess Half Marathon ~ Sept. 2010, Disneyland Half Marathon ~ Nov. 2010, CSR ~ Jan. 2011 WDW Marathon ~ Oct. 2011 Wine&Dine Half Marathon, POR ~ Jan. 2012 Relay Marathon, POP ~ May 2012 Expedition Everest Challenge, CBR Pirate room ~ Sept. 2012 Sheraton LBV ~ Nov. 2012 Wyndham Bonnet Creek ~ Jan. 2013 Goofy Challenge, POR Royal Room ~ Apr. 2013 POP ~ Sep 2013 DL DDD ~ Jan 2014, marathon volunteer ~ Oct. 2014, ToT 10 miler, ASSports ~ Jan. 2015 Dopey Challenge, Bonnet Creek ~ July 2015, CSR/Marriott ~ November 2015 DL Avengers ~ January 2017 Bonnet Creek ~
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Old 03-25-2018, 10:43 AM   #13
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Wow you amaze me at how much you can fit into a trip. I really wish Winnipeg wasn’t so isolated and had more within driving range to see, growing up in southern Ontario we had lots more to do..
We are very lucky here, to be so close to so many places, not just in the UK, but also abroad in Europe.
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My Previous Trips21 trips to WDW, 6 to Disneyland in California, 9 to Disneyland Paris, 1 to Hong Kong Disneyland, 1 to Tokyo Disney, 1 to Aulani, 1 to Hilton Head, 2 to Vero Beach and 13 Disney cruises on the Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy
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Old 03-25-2018, 10:45 AM   #14
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That Jan... so sweet! You'll have a wonderful time as always.
She is so sweet!

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Love your lofty plans! With that TR title though (which makes me chuckle, even though it shouldn't ), I'll stay tuned to see just how much you can actually pull off.
Yes, the reason for that title will become apparent in due course...

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I'm looking at the Killerton site and see you can rent an all-terrain ECV though.... that could be fun! Killerton and Knightshayes look to be beautiful - hoping for good weather!
It's not looking good at the morning, although we'll hopefully avoid the snow they're threatening for Easter. They're saying rain for three days and only one dry day.
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Old 03-25-2018, 01:23 PM   #15
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Plans look great and you are certainly packing in a lot for your Easter weekend getaway. All the sites look good and especially Aerospace Bristol, which I'm sure was Mark's choice. Pretty cool that this is the final home for the last Concorde to fly. I never flew on one of them but have a cousin who did many times for business trips to London. You get to your destination quick but there is not much room inside as so narrow. I once saw the Concorde land when I was young from the window seat of our plane. My parents were taking us to Florida. Pretty amazing to see.
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My Previous Trips1995-2000, 2006-Various in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, France, England, Holland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Lichtenstein, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Morocco; 1998-U.S. National Parks (California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada) 1999-Las Vegas, 2001-Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii, 2005-Memphis, 2011-Austin, TX: ACL Festival and Orlando: Bay Hill Lodge; 2013-Paris and Eastern France's Wine Country, 2015-Memphis for 7 WDW: 2002-WL, 2003-CSR, 2004-AKL, 2005-BWI, 2007-POR, BC, 2008-Offsite Championsgate Omni & CBR, 2009-Poly, POR (Decade of Dreams), 2010-POFQ, GF, 2011-POFQ, 2012-CSR,WL, 2014-POR, 2015-DCL Magic in Western Caribbean, 2016-B Resort in DS, 2017-USF: Royal Pacific /WDW: Dolphin
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