Before we left for our family trip with Trafalgar Tours I was so busy tying up loose ends up at work, I didn't really spend a lot of time studying the itinerary. So every morning when we settled in on the bus, I was always excited about where we were headed to next.
Here are a few of the cool stops we made in the English countryside.
I guess history was never a strong suit of mine. I never realized how much Roman history was still strewn around the British countryside.
We spent time at the Roman Baths in the city of...you guessed it...Bath. It was fascinating meandering through the museum and the hot baths which have been maintained for the past 2,000 years. Boggles the mind. It was fun fooling around with a couple of actors who portrayed Romans from that era, as they interacted with us in character.
With a rock'n roll daddy, Liverpool was a highlight for us because of the Beatles. Our tour director Phil has apparently met the Fab Four and shared little tidbits about them along the way. For example, Liverpool rakes in between 4 to 500 million pounds a year from Beatles tourism! That's a lot of magical mystery tours.
Walking down the stairs to the Cavern Club was quite a trip.
My mom went camera crazy in Liverpool and put together this bunch of photos all about the Beatles from that day.
But Liverpool is more than the Beatles. Loved this art installation by Antony Gormley who scattered 100 life sized Iron Men along Crosby Beach.
The next two stops on our journey I'd never have heard about if not for Trafalgar Tours, who surprised us to some very cool destinations.
The first was Tatton Park - a neo-classical mansion perched amidst hundreds of acres of gorgeous land. Once the home of very wealthy landowners, it's become a living museum. A Butler and Housekeeper in character toured us through this incredible estate in character as if it were 1800's. Even the kids were riveted. If you've ever read Pride and Prejudice, this was Mr. Darcy's Pemberly manor house come to life.
The days were long and filled with adventure. Travelling by coach gave us time to sneak in some much needed sleep.
Last memorable stop in England was the Roman Vindolanda archeological dig and museum in Northumberland. Under a farmer's field in the British coutryside, an ancient Roman army fort was discovered. We listened to an archaeologist who painted a picture of what life might of been like 2,000 years ago based on the thousands of artifacts they've dug up already.
Then we headed to Hadrian's Wall - a 113 km long stone wall built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD to separate the Romans and the Barbarians. The wall still stands today and tourists like us "walk the wall". However, I must say, my heart was in my mouth watching my kids hop and skip along the top of it, as the footing was rocky and the wall was steep. But, that's just the neurotic mother in me overthinking. Look at these amazing photos!
I'm just hoping my kids retain some snippets of what we saw here to help them bring history to life for them.
Next post - we go to Wales and Scotland!
Wanna read Part 1?
Wanna read Part 2?"
There are those with big ideas, and there are those who make those ideas come to life. Making dreams come true is hard work, especially if you have an awesome concept but no one to help you along the way.
If you have an amazing, original idea you've always wanted to make happen but didn't know how to do it, the new Room for Thought initiative from American Express Canada could make your dream a reality!
Starting on August 2nd, American Express Canada is launching the Room for Thought campaign to bring three ideas submitted by members of the public to fruition in the categories of Community, Music and Travel and Adventure. Essentially, you get to submit your idea on their Facebook page for a chance to work with amazing mentors in each of the three categories.
What's the catch? There isn't one.
I'm sure you've seen the American Express Realize Your Potential ads? I see them everywhere - the subway I was on the other day had huge posters for it everywhere. Their message is all about using their products and services to unlock your potential. Well, now, they're actually walking the walk based on their philosophy that the world would be a better place if more of its untapped potential were set free.
I love it! And so will you if you've always dreamed of bringing one of your big ideas to life.
Here's how it works. Each of the three categories you can submit your concept for has a designated high profile mentor. I'm sure you've heard of them: Craig and Mark Keilburger, the unstoppable brothers who have built Free the Children are mentors for the Community stream. Emily Haines from Metric will work with the Music winner, and in the Travel and Adventure category Les Stroud, aka Survivorman, will be mentoring you if your idea is chosen.
I'm chuckling to myself as I write this. I know Les Stroud from waaaay back before his docu-reality series Survivorman became the highest rated show in the history of both OLN Canada and the Science Channel U.S. Survivorman is among the most popular and highest rated shows on Discovery Channel U.S. Little known fact...Les used to work at MuchMusic with me as a producer, which is where he probably picked up his TV production skills.
As the story goes, Les went to the broadcasters with the concept of a TV show based on the hit reality game show Survivor, but with the added twist of making it more real and educational. He was given the clearance to do two TV specials which were a hit! Today he's the go-to guy for Travel TV. He had the vision and he made it happen!
Are you inspired yet? This is an amazing opportunity if there's an idea you think should be a reality. All you have to do is post your idea here. The mentors and the folks at American Express will choose three finalists in each category, and then voting will be open to the public to choose the best idea in each stream. Check this video out for more details.
If you win, you'll be spending time breathing life into your idea with your mentor's help and influence. You'll have access to their business and personal expertise. As you spend time expanding your vision and realizing your potential, the process will be filmed for a series of documentary clips for all to see. Then, American Express will help you prepare an interactive experiential "Room for Thought" exhibition of your expanded concept in November. No doubt they're going to promote you and your idea like crazy. Talk about a life-changing opportunity!
And if you're not a finalist, you'll still get a gift for participating. Each applicant will receive an inspirational guide created by the School of Life, especially for American Express Canada, which will help you realize your potential through thought-provoking commentary and practical exercises.
So, what do you think of this program? Are you totally inspired? So go for it! Stop dreaming and start doing. Enter now! When you win, you can thank me later.
This blog is proudly sponsored by our friends at American Express
For me, one of the best reasons to sign up for a family tour like we did rather than travel on our own is for the eclectic itinerary already designed for you. On our Castles and Kilts Tour, we sat back and relaxed on the bus while Julie, our Tour Guide, did all the organizing and researching.
As we drove through gorgeous countryside and quaint, historic UK towns and villages, Julie shared her vast knowledge of each destination with us on the bus.
Here are some of the photographic highlights we enjoyed in the English countryside.
We toured around the cobbled streets of Oxford and visited the prestigious Oxford University. We heard many quirky tales about the history of the school. The kids were also intrigued to hear how the entire cast of Harry Potter spent their summer at the University where much of the first film was shot.
Have you ever heard of Lacock? Me either. It's a tiny village in Wiltshire which seems to be right out of a movie. In fact, it was another of the many authentic backdrops for the Harry Potter films. We had delicious scones and creamed tea at King John's Hunting Lodge Tea Room while sitting in their gorgeous English garden. This is where my 7-year old daughter discovered the beauty of chamomile tea and drank it every day on our trip.
Next stop: Bristol. Did you know John Cabot sailed from Bristol to ultimately discover Newfoundland? His boat is still moored here. Once a very busy port populated by wealthy merchants, Bristol is now a charming, elegant destination with an incredibly engineered suspension bridge built in the 1800's.
We stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel which was awesome. Very modern and clean, but at 5:30 am, the fire alarm went off. Half asleep we made our way outside to watch the firefighters scope for smoke. Yes it was annoying, but that's part of the quirkiness of travel.
Stay tuned for more from the Castles and Kilts tour....
Wanna read Part 1?
Wanna read Part 3?"