Published: August 4th 2011August 3rd 2011
Jeanette at the Christ College Dining Hall - the dining Hall from Harry Potter
CHAPETER TWO: DAY ONE - LONDON to STRATFORD UPON AVON (Day 1)
LUNCH WITH HARRY POTTER
Well not quite, but we did visit the dining hall at Christ Church that featured in the film. The start to the day was a little chaotic; we had breakfast at The Darlington and hailed a Black Cab to drop us at the Thistle Marble Arch where our Insight Coach Tour was to start. There were 2 other Tours starting from the same place on the same day – picture around 120 slightly unsure travellers, 3 buses in a narrow back street, taxis trying to drop off/ pick up people and as you can imagine there was a fair bit of horn honking and general confusion.
However eventually our Tour Director Cheryl rounded us all up got us on the bus and we were off. A bit nervous about sharing the next 22 days with a group of strangers. Not too sure about Cheryl at this stage (she’s from Liverpool and speaks with a funny accent – not like us Kiwis!) but she kind of grew on us as the day progressed. There are 33 Aussies, 4 Kiwis and 2 Canadians and 1 South
Christ church and Colleges
A typical example of college grounds in Oxford
African on our tour – so badly outnumbered (I REALLY hope the All Blacks win!). On the surface don’t know that we would have much in common with most of the group but we have meet and greet before dinner tonight so hopefully that will break the ice. Regardless it looks like the way things are structured there’s plenty of scope to do your own thing.
We headed out of London to the university town of Oxford, Cheryl took us on an half hour walking tour (with commentary) of central Oxford and gave us some ideas of what we might want to see, we then had 2 hours to wander around at our leisure. It's one thing to see photos/TV programmes that feature the stunning architecture but it’s quite another standing smack in the middle of it all. The whole place just oozes tradition and history.
As soon as Jeanette knew that going to the dining hall from Harry Potter was possible there was only ever going to be one outcome! The buildings in Oxford are hugely impressive and Christ Church and its various colleges were no exception.
We walked through the dining hall and
The home where Shakespeare was brought up in Stratford Upon Avon
Jeanette had her photo at the top of the stairs/entry to the dining hall (this features in the movie). The dining hall was very impressive, very formal, with prominent historical paintings on the wall.
STRATFORD UPON AVON
From there it was a drive through the Cotswolds to Stratford Upon Avon, the birth place of William Shakespeare. The Cotswolds were beautiful, full of picture postcard perfect English Villages. Cheryl provided a very informative commentary as we travelled through this lovely area.
Just before we reached our destination we briefly visited the house where Anne Hathaway lived and had a group photo taken in the garden.
When we arrived at Stratford Upon Avon we did a brief drive around on the bus and then visited the home where Will Shakespeare was born, it had been faithfully recreated to be as close as possible to the original. It was amazing that there was such a small amount of space available – especially as up to eight people lived in the house at any one time. There were staff on hand who provided excellent information on the house and Shakespeare (and his families) life there. From there we were
What a way to spend our first night on tour, a beautiful room crammed with English character.
free to explore the town for a couple of hours before being taking to our accommodation for the night. Again temperatures were in the mid to high 20’s which made for very pleasant touring conditions.
AVENSTON MANOR HOTEL
Our room is a suite and is amazing, it’s big and roomy, in the original part of the Hotel so lovely old exposed beams, sitting area with couch and king size double bed. LUXURY! So off to a great start on the accommodation front – not expecting it to continue but great that our first night is in such nice surroundings.