Mobile Librarians

A travel blog for independant women who like to travel independantly. Organised by a group of female librarians who are keen travellers and would like to share their knowledge and experiences. We seldom go on a package holiday, it's much more fun and cheaper to do it yourself.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April in the Cotswolds


The Cotswolds in April was fantastic! We have just spent a week here and had a great time. The weather was fine, we didn't even have a drop of rain.

We stayed in a lovely cottage that had just been refurbished, part of a block of four - Railway Cottages & Apartments at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, have a look at their website for more information: http://www.cotswoldsholidaysandlets.com/ . The village is very nice with good shops & eateries and the biggest market in the Cotswolds every Tuesday. Get some of the olives, sun-dried tomatoes & cashew nuts! Yummy!

Of course we visited all the well know places, Stow-on-the Wold, The Slaughters, Bibury, Naunton, and many others. It really is a picture postcard area.

What else did we do? Well we went to Oxford on the train for a day. Another wonderful city, slightly spoilt by the huge numbers of buses clogging up the centre. Needless to say we played the tourist and bought tickets for the open-top bus tour. A great way of gettings your bearings. Unfortunately the Ashmolean Museum was closed until October, but we enjoyed the Natural History Museum with all the dinosaurs. Then we had lunch across the road at the Eagle & Child. This was featured on the TV Lewis series, and was also famously frequented by the Oxford writers group The Inklings which included JRR Tolkein & CS Lewis. We had a great day out.
Bicester Outlet Village is near by http://www.bicestervillage.com/ , and if you are pining for a spending spree this is a good place to go. There are plenty of designer shops, including the latest one called Beach by Liz Hurley. We spent more than we intended!

Blenheim Palace is another must to visit when you are in the area. http://www.blenheimpalace.com/ , The outside facade and the gardens are stunning, but we were a bit disappointed with the interior, simply because there weren't many rooms open to visitors. But I can recommend the tea rooms!

We have been to this area before, but always love to return, I challenge anyone not to like it, its everyone's idea of England.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lake Maggiore in June











Wonderful Lake Maggiore in June!

What a fantastic trip! Four of us travelled to Lake Maggiore in June this year and found it all we hoped for and more!

We flew into Milan Malpensa airport & stayed the night at an hotel near the airport. Next day we caught the Alibus to Verbania( http://www.safduemila.com/alibus_malpensa_lago_maggiore.html ) and then onwards via a local bus to Cannero, a fantastic little town right on the lake front. We nearly started with a disaster when one of our party left her bag on the bus. It only contained her passport, all her money, credit cards and jewellery! Panic, panic!! However, she waited for the bus to turn around further down the lake and return. Much joy!! Sitting proudly in the front of the bus window, as it came round the corner, was her bag! Someone had found it and handed it to the driver, how honest is that and what a relief!

We stayed at the Hotel Cannero, http://www.hotelcannero.com the most beautiful hotel on the lake. I would say it is the best family run hotel in Italy, IMHO. Run by MariaCarla & her son, staffed by generations of locals, it was the nicest, friendliest place I have ever stayed. Part of it is a converted monastery, quaint, and the lake view bedrooms! What a way to start the day, with that view! The buffet breakfast is a huge feast, much more than the usual continental fare and in the evening the starter - an enormous table loaded with every conceivable salad was a joy, a meal in it's self.

We had great weather and visited many places on the lake, using the ferries which stopped at the jetty just outside the hotel.




The islands are impressive, of course. Isola Bella has to be the most spectacular, but Isola Madre was so peaceful.


We did a ferry and train trip into Switzerland, to Locarno. http://www.lagomaggioreexpress.com/ . The new tourist train, with huge glass windows, over the mountain is great. Later two of us took the cable cars to the top of the mountain in Locarno and had a panoramic view of the lake, the swing at the top is fun too. By the way, they do take Euros, so no need to get Swiss Francs. Then it was back to Cannero on the ferry. Try it, a great day out.

Stresa was nice, but a bit too touristy, we liked Cannero best, quiet, peaceful at night (no traffic) fantastic location, wonderful hotel. What more could you ask? Well, more time there would be nice!





Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cheltenham & Sudeley Castle - April 2008










Well here is our latest girlie trip. A visit to Cheltenham to sample the shops & get a little bit of culture too!
We had a really good deal at the Queen's Hotel in Cheltenham, http://www.mercure.com/ a lovely hotel and very central, only a short walk into town. We enjoyed the breakfasts and had a lovely meal at the restaurant next door - Raymond Blanc's! Pushed the boat out that night, but there are good places, much cheaper, in town too.

The shops are excellent, but that is what you would expect of Cheltenham. We visited the home of Gustav Holst, ( I think the curator was delighted to have a group of women to talk to) and strolled out to the Pitville Pump Room. Great looking place, but disappointing inside, rather bleak.



In the evening we went to the Everyman Theatre for a performance of Wilde's The Importance Of Being Ernest. We enjoyed it, the actors were well cast, with the exception of the female ingenue who had a weird, shrieky voice that was difficult to listen to. http://www.everymantheatre.org.uk/





The next day we awoke to a whiteout, it had snowed overnight and the views from the hotel were much improved. Nothing daunted we set off for Sudeley Castle, about seven miles outside Cheltenham, http://www.sudeleycastle.co.uk/ , the home of Queen Catherine Parr, (Henry VIII's last Queen). It is here that she is buried and the castle is also famous for it's gardens. The snow gave a magical feel to everything, the views were like something out of fairyland. So despite the cold it was definately worth going. We warmed up in the coffee shop and then moved on to Stow-On-The-Wold for a nice lunch. After a little sightseeing we headed for home. All in all another great trip, even if the sat-nav did play up a bit!





Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stratford and Shakespeare

Well, hardly time to unpack and wash the smalls and its off again, with friends from work, to Stratford-upon-Avon for three days.

I have been to Stratford before, but the memory was quite hazy, so everything came as a nice surprise. I knew to expect the old half-timbered houses and lots of Shakespeare, but it exceeded expectations. It really is a beautiful, well preserved, picturesque town. Lots of our American cousins there of course, thats OK, but why are they so loud? They seem to have no idea of how they come across, the image that they convey. Don't get me wrong, the Americans I have met have been lovely individuals, but abroad they often seem like demanding children. Anyway, enough.
If you plan to visit several of the Shakepeare houses its best to buy a ticket that give you entry to them all, it works out much cheaper. If you don't manage to visit them all, save the ticket for your next visit (or give it to a friend) because it lasts for ever.

We loved Shakespeare's birthplace both inside and out and there was a lovely garden. It was interesting to learn his history and follow his family tree. How unfortunate that none of his direct descendants survived.


All the houses were very impressive, he obviously was a wealthy man on his return. Anne Hathaway's cottage was beautiful, it must be one of the most photographed houses in the country. We toured the gardens too, sat in the bower, trying to look melancholy, and then charged around the maze.

The river is great, swans, geese, narrow boats and weeping willows. We had a gentle boat trip down the Avon admiring the houses of the rich, sloping down to the water.

The highlight of the trip was a visit to the Courtyard theatre, part of the Royal Shakepeare, to see a performance of Twelfth Night. The star of the night was Malvolio closely followed by the fool. A real treat.
Stratford is apparently the most visited place outside of London, we certainly enjoyed our trip.
Well, where shall we go next? I shall have to check the offers on my email, but there was a lot of talk in the car on the way back about a Xmas trip to Cardiff!! Bring it on!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dublin's Fair City!

Well, another wonderful trip to Dublin. We had the luck of the Irish, good weather, not a drop of rain. The Gresham hotel is still a grand old lady, friendly staff,a good breakfast, comfy beds. http://www.gresham-hotels.com/ . (A horrible view of the inner courtyard, pretty dire, but, as it turned out, a blessing in disguise. It meant that the room was very quiet, thank goodness, if we had been at the front of the hotel the traffic in O'Connell street would have kept us awake for sure.)

We had a very busy four days. Apart from the usual trips to the shops, lunch on the green at Trinity, coffee at Bewleys etc. we went to the Gaiety theatre to see a performance of The Rat Pack. http://www.gaietytheatre.ie/ . They were all brilliant, especially "Frank Sinatra", he looked like him, had the mannerisms, and sang like him, great! Some of the women in the audience, who were old enough to know better, were in ecstasy, practically throwing their knickers, (personally, we think it was the drink!) But we did enjoy the show, I recommend it if you get the chance to see it, do.

The next night we went on the Musical Pub Crawl, another excellent night out. Book it at the tourist information centre. The blokes running it were excellent musicians, and shared the history of Irish music with us, everyone was singing by the end of the night. (And, no, it wasn't the drink, (or maybe it was!))

The last night we saw a performance of Noel Coward's Private Lives at the Gate theatre. http://www.gate-theatre.ie/ . It's still funny, even after all this time. The male actors were great, the female ones hadn't got the upper class accent quite right, they were rather too high pitched and squeaky. But we still enjoyed it.

A trip to Powerscourt Gardens was well worth it. The gardens really are spectacular,
especially the rose garden. http://www.powerscourt.ie/ .
The most fun thing we did on this trip was a sightseeing trip around Dublin on an ex-army amphibious vehicle, ending up in the Liffey for a tour around the docks. It is run by Viking Splash Tours http://www.vikingsplash.ie/ . We were trained in the Viking Roar and then proceeded to terrify "Celts" (any group of people) around town during the tour, complete with Viking helmets atop Viking maiden's heads!

All in all, a fantastic trip again, don't you just love the Irish! And I'll still go again when I get the chance!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dublin, Again & Again & Again!!

Where are we off to next? I think you can guess! DUBLIN!!! Yes, at the beginning of September Sue and I are off on what is becoming an annual trip to sample the delights of Dublin again. I've lost count now of the number of times I've been to Eire's capital, but it doesn't matter, you can never tire of Dublin.


This was an unexpected trip courtesy of Ryanair's latest special offer. http://www.ryanair.com/ . We grabbed it quick! Because the airfare was so cheap we are forsaking Trinity College this time, and treating ourselves to The Gresham Hotel in O'Connell Street. www.gresham-hotels.com/ . The Gresham Hotel is a Dublin institution and is known throughout the world. It claims to be the oldest hotel in Ireland and was built in 1817. Beyond our budget normally, but my friend got us a good deal, so off we go to see if it lives up to it's reputation.


One of the nicest ways of getting around in on the Dart railway, which snakes around Dublin Bay. http://www.irishrail.ie/home/ . You can get off and back on again at any of the lovely little villages along the way. Go north and visit the beautiful village of Howth, well worth a look, and the home of many of Ireland's rich celebrities, novelists, musicians and actors.




Even the station names on the Dart have romantic names, don't you just want to visit Tara Station? We did! Another place around the bay is Killiney. Killiney and the surrounding hills offer spectacular views across Dublin Bay and over the city of Dublin itself. The rich and famous have made their homes here, too.
A view across Killiney Bay and towards the Wicklow Mountains, an aspect described as the Irish “Bay of Naples”. Many locals also must think so as a plethora of locality and house names are in Italian, such as Vico, Sorrento, Nerano, Torca, Milano, Mount Etna and so on.

If you want a good trip out of Dublin try a visit to the Avoca Handweavers. http://www.avoca.ie/ . The oldest working woollen mill in Ireland located in the beautiful surroundings of Avoca, which is also known today as Ballykissangel. It's in a lovely location, the shop is wonderful, and the food it out of this world, both in the restaurant and the shop. Their woven clothes are famous all over the world, the colours are just wonderful. I could spend a fortune there. I think we might pay another visit this time. They also have a great store in Dublin if you miss something.

I'm sure we will still find some new things to do on our visit. I can't wait. Watch this space!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thermal Spas in Slovenia


Slovenia seems to go in for "Wellness" breaks a lot. These are thermal spas where you can take the healing waters, bathe in them, and there also seems to be lots of medical treatments at the centres. Other services usually offered are beauty treatments galore.



We sampled two on our last trip. The first was to Ptuj Thermal Spa - http://www.terme-putj.si/ , you will need to click on the UK flag to get the English version of both sites. This was our favourite of the two. The waters were really warm, there were lots of jacuzzi type pools to sit in, scented saunas, and beefy masseurs to iron out every kink. Ours was just a day visit, but you can book accommodation in the hotel as well.

The other spa was the one at Zrece, difficult to find, turn left from the main road, up the hill, keep going until you see it on your right. http://www.terme-zrece.si/ . This was smaller, the waters weren't as warm, and things didn't seem as organised. Having said that, there were many more medical facilities here, offering lots of treatments from back to prostate problems!

Perhaps next time we go back we will stay on site and sample some of the treatments! But not, I hasten to add, for prostate problems!