Family UK Trip, Day 1

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It’s now been two weeks since we arrived in the UK on our long awaited family vacation, so I thought I would start posting a few photos. We returned last Thursday, so it’s interesting to now look at what I thought was important enough to photograph.

Most of the photos seem to be joint photos of my son and my daughter, with a few of my wife thrown in. I’m in about four photos with my camera, though I’ve not looked at what’s on my daughter’s camera. Since she turned 18, Katie has insisted that she has the legal right to approve any photos I put here. I don’t know about that, but I plan to respect her wishes, unless she is really really tiny in the shots.

We flew overnight via Chicago O’Hare’s airport to London Heathrow. There we picked up the rental car and headed west. It was my first time driving on the left and I eventually got used it after about five days. Before that I had a tendency to keep too far to the left and bump the curve sometimes. Rather that yelling “keep left!” as I expected, my wife spent more time telling me to keep to the right.

Our destination for the evening was Bath, with whatever we could see on the way. This wasn’t going to be too much since we didn’t get the rental car until lunch time. The primary intermediate stop was Stonehenge and as you can see by the photo, we made it.

Bob at Stonehenge

You can’t get too close to the stones, but you can get within 10 meters. They’re definitely larger than those in the model in Spinal Tap.

We had seen a rather fanciful special on the The History Channel about Stonehenge the previous weekend so while we were not ready to swallow the rather imaginative story presented in the show, we did know the geography of the area.

For this trip we pre-purchased Great British Heritage passes to allow us immediate access to many of the historical sites on our trip. These were well worth it. We probably saved half and maybe two-thirds of the cost of admission when you add up all the places we visited and did not have to pay admission. Had we been more aggressive and only visited those sites that took the pass, we would have saved more.

Both Stonehenge and our next stop, Stourhead House and Garden, took the pass.

Stourhead Garden

We arrived too late to get into the house, but there was a two mile walk in the gardens that was well worth the visit. The path goes behind the house, through the woods, around a lake, into a grotto, and visits several stone “temples” like that in the photo. After flying all night, it was a great way to wake up and get some exercise.

Stourhead Garden

We definitely had a sense that we were no longer in the US and that there were a lot of great things we would see on the trip.

The weather throughout the trip was good, not too rainy, and on the cool side. On most days we needed to wear wind breakers or fleece coats. It wasn’t until we got to London at the end of the visit that we really felt very warm walking around.

Map of Day 1

Key to the Map: A = London Heathrow airport, B = Stonehenge, C = Stourhead, D = Bath.
Next time: Bath and what not to eat.


  1. adam christensen

    sounds great. When I was in the UK on vacation last, we weren’t able to stop at all at Stonehenge because of mad cow. So you got a lot closer than I.

    However, one of my favorite places of all was stourhead. your pictures remind me of why I liked it so much. The unique beauty of the place is amazing.

  2. Imagine that those English Heritage sites were once owned by a private owner. How much did the British pillaged from the world (America included)

  3. Glad you liked it Bob. I try and get to some of those locations from time to time with the kids. There are some nice places to visit around here. I’m in Swindon, just above B :)

  4. Bob hi

    Off the plane and straight into driving on the M25! Yikes – a baptism of fire …

    Did you have SatNav?

    – Alex.

  5. @Wu MingShi

    I don’t think you’ll find much American stuff in English Heritage sites. There has been some traffic in the other direction though


  6. @Alex: We had Hertz NeverLost. More on that in the next installment whereby we went through Wales on our way from Bath to Liverpool.

  7. I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the cost of fuel… It’s rather big news here right now.

    Nice map BTW. You passed my house almost exactly midway between A and B.

    Could have dropped in for a coffee ;-)


  8. you got pretty close to my base as well, we are 35 minutes south of Shaftesbury..

  9. Wonderful. Some ice age ago I spent a year at Reading University. My girl fried was at Exeter at the same time. We had an old car and drove around a lot in that area you describe. It’s really a great place – and visiting all the national heritage sites like manor houses, wonderful gardens and, of course, Stonehenge was absolutely fantastic. Your description makes me want to go back there soon.

  10. As with many other posters, you were within a few miles of my house too – it’s just off the left of the map by Wells. I see you passed by or through Bristol too – hope you noticed the big “we use StarOffice and ODF” signs posted on the city boundaries… ;-) Shame I didn’t know you were visiting Bath – could have given you some hints about where to eat! Ah well. Glad you had a (mostly) good break.

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