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-2018-
DESTINATIONS

MANY PRICES STILL WELL
BELOW 9 YEARS AGO!

 

BRITAIN &

IRELAND

 

SCOTLAND
'THE BRAVE'

 

IRELAND

'RAINBOW'S END'

 

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'THE LIONHEART'

 

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'THE PENDRAGON'

 

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'WORLD CAPITAL'

 


 
 

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'LA BELLE'

 

 

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Current Events

AT HOME AT FIRST DESTINATIONS

   

A&P SHOWS ACROSS NEW ZEALAND

          A&P (Agricultural and Pastoral) shows are the New Zealand equivalent of rural county fairs in the US and Canada. Most are small, local events held on one day. Some are larger, regional events held over two to four days. A few are important events on the national calendar lasting as much as a week. A&P shows are not put on for tourists, which means foreign visitors have a chance to see New Zealanders at play, doing what they love to do in authentic settings. Cultural snooping? Probably. But FUN!

photos © Home At First

CALENDAR OF SELECTED EVENTS

MARCH–MAY 2018

 
Festivals, Holidays, Country Fairs, Sporting Events,
Theater, Cultural Gatherings, and Special Performances
Happening Near
HOME AT FIRST Lodgings throughout

BERMUDA, BRITAIN, ICELAND, IRELAND, ITALY,
NEW ZEALAND, PARIS,   SCANDINAVIA,
& SWITZERLAND
Information about HOME AT FIRST’s travel program to:

LONDON  ENGLAND  SCOTLAND  WALES  IRELAND  PARIS  SWITZERLAND

ITALY SWEDEN NORWAY DENMARK ICELAND BERMUDA NEW ZEALAND


NOTE: For many of the LONDON events listed, HOME AT FIRST guests at the
Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina and at The Brewery Apartments
will take public transportation from the Tower Hill Underground Station,
8-10 minutes walk from St. Katharine’s Marina and 10-12 minutes
walk (or a 5-minute bus ride) from The Brewery.

 

– ONGOING EVENTS OF NOTE –

 

Ongoing daily
  LONDON, ENGLAND   THE TOWER OF LONDON: “Prisoners of the Tower”
          
HOME AT FIRST’s London guests can’t miss visiting their famous neighbors who were incarcerated and may have met their violent and often gruesome ends at the Tower of London. This special exhibition focuses on the best-known prisoners, including explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady (& Queen for a few days) Jane Grey, Nazi leader Rudolph Hess, and terrorist traitor Guy Fawkes, among others.
 


THE TOWER OF LONDON AT THE TRAITOR'S GATE
Photo © Home At First

LOCATION: The Tower of London is just west of the Tower Bridge between the River Thames and Tower Hill Underground Station north of the river.
ADMISSION: £26.80/adult, £20.90/seniors & students (16 & up), £12.70/child (5-15), £48.10/family (1 adult + kids), £68.10/family (2 adults + kids).
OPENING TIMES MARCH through OCTOBER: Tu-Sa: 9AM-5:30PM; Su-Mo: 10AM-5:30PM. Last admission: 5PM.

OPEN TIMES NOVEMBER through FEBRUARY: Tu-Sa: 9AM-4:30PM; Su-Mo: 10AM-4:30PM. Last admission: 4PM.

GETTING THERE: walk 10 minutes traffic-free from HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina or 12 minutes (with minimal traffic) across the Tower Bridge from HOME AT FIRST’s apartments at The Brewery.
MORE INFO, see:
TOWER OF LONDON 
  


Ongoing, evenings from 9:30PM-10:05PM
  LONDON, ENGLAND   - THE TOWER OF LONDON
“The Ceremony of the Keys”

           700-year-old ceremony of the locking of the main gate of the
Tower of London carried out each evening by the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower accompanied by an escort of guards. Passes are essential and may be obtained
ON-LINE HERE. Tickets for this ancient ceremony are available to the public, free of charge, but subject to a £1 booking charge. Book a
t least two months in advance (3-6 months or more if you hope to attend during June-August). Maximum Group Size: 6 persons April-October; 12 persons November-March.
LOCATION:
The Tower of London main (western) entrance.

ADMISSION: free!

NOTES: Visitors must be in possession of the original ticket issued by the Tower of London at entry. Photography not permitted. No bathrooms or refreshments available.
GETTING THERE: walk 10 minutes traffic-free from
HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina or 15 minutes from HOME AT FIRST’s apartments at The Brewery.
MORE INFO, see:
CEREMONY OF THE KEYS
  

 

THE LORD MAYOR'S COACH, MUSEUM OF LONDON
Photo courtesy the Museum of London

Ongoing, daily from 10AM-6PM 
  LONDON, ENGLAND   

THE MUSEUM OF LONDON
9 Free Galleries Cover a Half-Million Years of London

          London’s best museum offers nine galleries with permanent exhibitions covering the human history of London chronologically from about 450,000BC through Roman times, the medieval period through the Tudor Dynasty, the Civil War, Great Fire and Bubonic Plague of the 17th century, the expansion of London during the growth of the Empire, the twentieth century World War years, up to the modern age when London became a world city.

LOCATION: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN.
ADMISSION: Free to the museum & its galleries.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station. Take the Circle Line north 9 minutes to Barbican station, then walk 9 minutes to the museum. Total transit & walking time: 23-28 minutes.
MORE INFO, see:
MUSEUM OF LONDON
.

 


Ongoing daily from 10AM
  NORTHERN COTSWOLDS - WARWICKSHIRE, WESTERN ENGLAND 
“Events at Medieval Warwick Castle”

          England’s greatest show castle offers a variety of events, including:

Grand Castle Interiors (daily): Explore the grandly furnished public halls, state rooms, and private apartments of Warwick Castle.

The Castle Grounds (daily): Explore the conservatory & peacock garden, the original Norman
castle mound, the Victorian rose garden, the River Avon and its island menagerie.

The Trebuchet & Ballista, the Artillery Fort, and the Towers & Ramparts (daily): Warwick’s own
massive catapult is modelled on the medieval siege machines that once flung rocks, manure, and dead pigs across castle walls. Warwick’s Artillery Fort shows how cannons were used to protect the castle at the end of the Middle Ages. See the war machines in operation specific dates/times.

The Bowman Show: historic archery in action twice daily.

Flight of the Eagles daily at the Birds of Prey Arena.

Warwick Dungeon (daily): Warwick’s newest attraction recreates the medieval dungeon from the time the Great Plague ravaged Warwick in 1345. The haunting, live-action experience is not for the faint hearted. An additional charge applies.

The Princess Tower (daily): up the spiral stairs to the chambers of medieval princesses.

See WARWICK CASTLE website for complete listing of events, times & dates.

The original 11th century Norman castle hill: Ethelfled's Mound viewed from a later tower at Warwick Castle. Photo by Zach Elwell © Home At First.
THE ORIGINAL 11TH CENTURY NORMAN CASTLE HILL:
ETHELFLEDA'S MOUND VIEWED FROM A LATER TOWER AT WARWICK CASTLE.

Zach Elwell Photo © Home At First

LOCATION: in Warwick, about 45 minutes NE of HOME AT FIRST’s Northern Cotswolds cottages in an around Chipping Campden. (Hint: you may want to combine a visit to Warwick Castle with a visit to nearby Stratford-upon-Avon,
Shakespeare’s home town.)
GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages, drive north on the B4632 to Stratford, then follow the A439 north to the A46 and the A429 into Warwick. Watch for signs for the castle.

OPEN DAILY: From 10AM-4PM to May 26. From 10AM-5PM from May 27-31.

CASTLE ADMISSION: £19/adult, £17/child, £17/senior. 
Supplemental admission charged for entrance to the Castle Dungeon and/or Merlin: The Dragon Tower. NOTE: Book on-line in advance for discounted prices.

PARKING: Car lot parking from £6-£10.
MORE INFO, see:
WARWICK CASTLE

 


YORK MINSTER—

one of the world's

greatest Gothic

Cathedrals

York minster — one of the places visited by YORKWALK guided walks
Photo courtesy Yorkwalk

 

Open Daily FEBRUARY thru NOVEMBER 30, 2018.
  YORK CITY - NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND   
  “Yorkwalks”

          Guided walks through interesting parts of the medieval walled city of York offer exercise, culture, and entertainment. Standard walks offered at 10:30AM and 2:15PM (daily February–November; weekends only in December & January) from the menu of “Roman York”, “Secret York”, “Essential York”, & the popular

Don't believe in ghosts? Photo © Home At First.

“Snickleways” tours of York’s narrow back alleys. At evenings and other times Yorkwalks offer rare opportunities to see parts of York never open to the public, like their “Inaccessible & Hidden York: Graveyard, Coffin, & Crypt Tour”, “Historic Inns and Pubs Tour”, and “Choccy & Sweetie Tour”. Who wouldn’t want to wear sensible shoes on their next visit to Olde Yorke?
LOCATION: Museum Garden Gates, Museum Street, York.

GETTING THERE: HOME AT FIRST NORTH YORKSHIRE guests drive 30-60 minutes to York. Park outside the city gates (MEDIEVAL CENTRAL YORK has very little parking) and walk or take a shuttle bus into the old city.
ADMISSION: £6/adults, £5/students/kids 5-15. Supplement charged for any tours requiring entrance to York Minster.
MORE INFO & COMPLETE SCHEDULE:
YORKWALK.
  

Just seen a ghost? Photo © Home At First.


WHAT'S PLAYING IN LONDON THEATRE?

 

A REDUCED-PRICE TICKET OUTLET ON LEICESTER SQUARE
Photo © Home At First

Ongoing, daily at different times

  LONDON, ENGLAND 

LONDON THEATRE: “What’s Playing?”

   “The Woman in Black":

Long-running (since June 1, 1989) thriller. Essentially a ghost story designed to make the audience scream, shocking apparitions occur throughout the theatre at any time, terrorizing the audience. Perfect for teenagers, but nearly equally frightening to adults. Performances daily at the Fortune Theatre, Russell St. WC2B 5HHU, between Temple


 
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE IN LONDON

tube and Covent Garden tube, between Bow St. and Drury Lane, north of the Strand and NE of Covent Garden. Rating: adults with strong hearts & teens. Runs at least thru January 26, 2019. Prices from £14.50.

  

  The Play that Goes Wrong”: Comedy about inept amateur thespians struggling to put on a murder mystery set in the 1920s, but what can go wrong does go wrong. Winner of the 2015 award for Best New Comedy. Performances run through April 7, 2019, at the Duchess Theatre, 3-5 Catherine St, WC2B 5LA, in the Covent Garden area, 1 block north of Somerset House. Ten minutes walk NW from Temple tube; 10 minutes walk SE from Covent Garden tube station. Rating: Family (ages 8+). Prices from £26.

  

   “Phantom of the Opera”: long running Gothic musical. Performances through at least
October 20, 2018, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, 57 Haymarket SW1Y 4QL.
Near Piccadilly Circus tube. Rating: Family (ages 10+). Prices from £32.

   “The Mousetrap”: Agatha Christie’s record-running mystery continues through at least January 5, 2019 at St. Martin’s Theatre, Drury Lane, Covent Garden WC2H 9NZ.
Leicester Square tube. Rating: Family ages 12+. Prices from £23.

   “Wicked”: musical prequel about the witches of “The Wizard of Oz”. Performances through
at least May 25, 2019, at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Rd. London S1V 1LG.

Victoria tube. Rating: Family (ages 7+). Prices from £25.

   “The Lion King”: Long-running blockbuster with spectacular staging though at least September 30, 2018, at the Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington St. WC2E 7RQ at the Strand.
Temple tube (closed Sundays) or Embankment. Rating: Family (ages 6+). Prices from £42.00.

   “Les Miserables”: Victor Hugo’s story about the tragedies of life and indomitable human
spirit continues its long run (since 1985) to continuous critical acclaim. Performances through
at least October 20, 2018, at Queen’s Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave., Soho, W1D 6BA between Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross Road.
Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus Tube. Musical.
Rating: older teens & adults. Prices from £36.

   “Matilda”: Roald Dahl’s children’s book about a little girl with a big imagination is staged
in London by the Royal Shakespeare Company as a musical hit appealing to adults and kids. Performances through February 10, 2019, at the Cambridge Theatre, 32-34 Earlham St, Soho WC2 9HU.
Piccadilly Circus Tube. Musical. Rating: Family (ages 6+).
Tickets from £30.

   “Kinky Boots”: Local guy/girl makes good. A lowly shoe factory owner teams with a cross-dressing singer/dancer in need of flash stilettos to pull himself by the bootstraps to the world of high fashion. Cindy Lauper's musical score fits like Cinderella's glass slipper. Performances through at least September 29, 2018, at the Adelphi Theatre, 409-412 Strand WC2R 0NS. Embankment tube, then north 10 minutes walk to the Strand. Rating: teens and up (due to immature themes). Prices from £19.50.

  Everybody's Talking About Jamie”: New musical about a 16-year-old boy coming of age as "different" in today's working class Sheffield. Applies to teenagers everywhere dealing with finding themselves while tiptoeing through a minefield of bullying peers and adult expectations. Inspirational, hopeful, positive. Rated L for Liberal. Performances run at least through October 6, 2018, at the Apollo Theatre, 31 Shaftesbury Ave, W1D 7ES, 1.5 blocks northeast of Piccadilly Circus. Three minutes walk NE from Piccadilly Circus tube; 10 minutes walk NW from Leicester Square tube station. Rating: ages 15+ (some strong language and mild sexual references). Prices from £23.

ADMISSION: Full-priced tickets from £10-£100 (not cheap, but often better than Broadway).

TICKETS: Order your tickets in advance on-line via LONDON TOWN. Pick them up at the theatre on the day of performance. Discount tickets available!

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill or London Bridge Underground Station, then take the District, Circle, or Jubilee Line west.

Covent Garden and South Bank Theatres: Within 10 minutes are most of the tube stops
convenient for Covent Garden and South Bank theatres (Mansion House, Temple, Embankment, Southwark, Waterloo, Charing Cross, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus).

For West End theatres in Soho: From Tower Hill tube take the District Line 6 stops & 10 minutes
to Embankment station. From London Bridge tube take the Jubilee Line west to Waterloo. At
Embankment or Waterloo, change to the Northern Line (direction Edgeware) and travel north to
Leicester (“Lester”) Square or to Tottenham Court Road.

For West End theatres near Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus: From Tower Hill tube take the
District Line west 6 stops and 10 minutes to Embankment. From London Bridge tube take the
Jubilee Line west to Waterloo. At Embankment or Waterloo change to the Bakerloo Line north
to Piccadilly Circus or to Oxford Circus.

For theatres near Waterloo station: From Tower Hill tube take the District Line 6 stops and 10
minutes west to Embankment station, then change to the Northern Line south one stop to
Waterloo. From London Bridge tube take the Jubilee Line west one stop to Southwark tube or
two stops to Waterloo tube.

Total transit & walking time from Tower Hill or London Bridge Underground Stations to almost
any theatre in London’s six principal theatre regions (Barbican, South Bank/Bankside, Covent
Garden, Soho, Oxford Circus, Sloane Square): less than 30 minutes.
 


 

JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS'S 1851 MARIANA USED TO PROMOTE THE UPCOMING EXHIBITION
Image courtesy the National Gallery, London

Ongoing to April 2 2018 10AM-6PM daily

  LONDON   – The National Gallery 

“Reflections — Van Eyck & the Pre-Raphaelites”

          Special exhibition examining the influence of Jan van Eyck on Pre-Raphaelite movement in European painting in the 19th century. Works from Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt will be exhibited along with the iconic "Arnolfini Portrait" (pictured right) (often called the "Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife" or "The Arnolfini Wedding") to illustrate the investigation of symbolism in art.

LOCATION: The Sunley Room at the National Gallery on St. Martin’s Place north of Trafalgar Square, central London WC2H 0HE.

ADMISSION: free to the National Gallery, but for this special exhibition the admission is: £16/adult, £14/seniors, £8/students 12-18.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON APARTMENTS AT ST. KATHARINE’S MARINA, walk 5-8 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west to

 

 

JAN VAN EYCK'S 'ARNOLFINI PORTRAIT':
NOT A WEDDING, BUT SYMBOLIC OF
RENAISSANCE MARRIAGE AND MORE,
and very influential upon the
pre-Raphaelite movement in art.

Image courtesy the National Gallery, London
 

Embankment Station, then walk five minutes northwest to Trafalgar Square. From THE BREWERY APARTMENTS south of the Tower Bridge, walk 10-12 minutes (or take a bus 2-4 minutes) to London Bridge Underground Station, then take the Jubilee Line west two stops to Waterloo Station. Change to the Northern Line. Go two stops north to Charing Cross Underground Station. Walk 3 minutes north to Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery is the imposing neo-classical building on the north side of Trafalgar Square behind Nelson's Column.
MORE INFO, see:
VAN EYCK AND THE PRE-RAPHAELITES.

 


 

DETAIL FROM MONET'S 1908 THE GRAND CANAL TO PROMOTE THE UPCOMING EXHIBITION
Image courtesy the National Gallery, London

Ongoing April 9–July 29, 2018 10AM-6PM daily (Fridays until 9PM)

  LONDON   – The National Gallery 

“Monet & Architecture”

          Special exhibition examining the interest Claude Monet showed in architecture throughout his career. This rare one-man show focuses on one consistent aspect of Monet's work, to be documented by more than 75 paintings. We note with interest the curious thematic overlap with the Tate Britain's current exhibition (thru 7MAY), "Impressionists in London" (see below).

LOCATION: The Sunley Room at the National Gallery on St. Martin’s Place north of Trafalgar Square, central London WC2H 0HE.

ADMISSION: free to the National Gallery, but for this special exhibition the admission is: £20 (Mo-Fr); £22 (Sa-Su); children under 12 free.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON APARTMENTS AT ST. KATHARINE’S MARINA, walk 5-8 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west to Embankment Station, then walk five minutes northwest to Trafalgar Square. From THE BREWERY APARTMENTS south of the Tower Bridge, walk 10-12 minutes (or take a bus 2-4 minutes) to London Bridge Underground Station, then take the Jubilee Line west two stops to Waterloo Station. Change to the Northern Line. Go two stops north to Charing Cross Underground Station. Walk 3 minutes north to Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery is the imposing neo-classical building on the north side of Trafalgar Square behind Nelson's Column.
MORE INFO, see:
MONET & ARCHITECTURE.

 


Ongoing Daily through Sept. 9
  LONDON, ENGLAND   –
THE TATE MODERN MUSEUM
“Picasso 1932: Love, Fame,
Tragedy”

          Special exhibition examining "the year of wonders" of the most influential artist of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso. Using over 100 Picasso paintings, sculptures, and drawings — some never before exhibited publicly — to document Picasso's dramatic life like a diary of his monumental year of 1932.

LOCATION: The Eyal Ofer Galleries at the Tate Modern Museum, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG. Across the Millennium footbridge from St. Paul's Cathedral. Adjacent to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre along The Queen's Walk.

EXHIBITION OPEN DAILY thru September 9, 2018: 10AM-6PM Su-Th; 10AM-10PM Fr.

ADMISSION: £22/adult (£20/seniors & students) for this special exhibition. Otherwise, the Tate Modern's collection and

 

PICASSO: 'THE DREAM' (1932)
Promotional Image promoting the Tate Modern's Ey Exhibition
On Loan from Private Collection © Succession Picasso/DACS

galleries are open to the public without charge.
GETTING THERE:
HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON guests at ST. KATHERINE'S MARINA walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 4 stops to
Mansion House, then walk west 2 blocks to the Millennium Footbridge. Cross the bridge to the Tate Modern Museum on the South Bank of the Thames River. Total transit & walking time: 30 minutes.
Alternatively, walk to the Tower Pier (by Tower of London) and board a westbound Thames Clipper commuter service boat (operating frequency: every 20 minutes from 6AM-1AM) for the 9-minute river sailing to Bankside Pier. The Thames Clippers, like the Underground, London Transport buses, and Docklands Light Rail, is covered by your Oyster Card London transportation pass.
Guests at
THE BREWERY APARTMENTS can walk directly to the Tate Modern by following The Queen's Walk west along the River Thames, reaching the museum in about 30 minutes.

MORE INFO, see: TATE MODERN.

 


IMPRESSIONISTS IN LONDON

THE TATE BRITAIN EY EXHIBITION

NOW THRU MAY 7 2018

CLAUDE MONET'S HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT USED TO PROMOTE THE CURRENT EXHIBITION
Image courtesy the Tate Britain, London

Ongoing Daily thru May 7, 2018
  LONDON, ENGLAND   – THE TATE BRITAIN MUSEUM — THE EY EXHIBITION
“Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile 1870-1904”

          While relative calm prevailed in Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria, war and revolution in France drove many artists across the Channel to seek refuge. Among these were some of the principal French impressionists of the time including Monet, Tissot, and Pissarro. During their self-imposed British exile, their art evolved and matured. This special exhibition at the Tate Britain shows how some of the finest works of the impressionist revolution were created in Britain, portrayed British life, and helped spread the movement to Britain and beyond.

LOCATION: Tate Britain Museum, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG.

EXHIBITION OPEN DAILY thru May 7, 2018:
10AM-6PM Su-Th; 10AM-10PM Fr.
ADMISSION: £17.70/adult (£15.90/seniors & students; under-12s are free) for this special exhibition. Otherwise, the Tate Britain's collection and galleries

are open to the public without charge.

GETTING THERE: HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON guests walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 10 stops to Victoria, then change to the southbound Victoria Line and go 1 stop to Pimlico station. Walk east 8 minutes to the Tate Britain Museum on Millbank Street along the Thames River. Total transit & walking time: 30-40 minutes.

Alternatively, walk to the Tower Pier (by Tower of London) and board a westbound Thames Clipper commuter service boat (operating frequency: every 20 minutes from 6AM-1AM) for the 9-minute river sailing to Bankside Pier. Change at Bankside for the Thames Clipper Tate-to-Tate service to Millbank Pier, a 20-minute sailing (operating every 40 minutes, 10AM-5PM). The Thames Clippers, like the Underground, London Transport buses, and Docklands Light Rail, is covered by your Oyster Card London transportation pass.

MORE INFO, see: TATE BRITAIN.

 


Through July 23, 2018                THE LOUVRE PARIS

                                           Hall Napoleon, under the Pyramid

We-Mo 9AM-6PM; closed Tues.
We & Fr PM open to 9:45PM.

 

Delacroix's "LIBERTY LEADING THE PEOPLE", 1830
Image © The  Louvre, Paris provided to promote its special exhibition

  PARIS, FRANCE    “Delacroix”

          The Louvre offers a special exhibition examining the paintings of French romantic master Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). Over 180 paintings spanning Delacroix's working life will be exhibited in this special show marking the centenary of the artist's death. Delacroix is beloved in France and revered across the world. His dramatic paintings inspire patriotism and embody the concepts of the Romantic Age and the concurrent Age of Revolution.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S PARIS APARTMENT LOCATIONS, take Métro Lines 1 or 7 to Palais-Royal Musée du Louvre, or, if your apartment is close enough, walk!

ADMISSION: €15 for the special exhibition and the permanent collections.
MORE INFO, see: DELACROIX AT THE LOUVRE.
 


COMING: April 13 to August 20, 2018
 PARIS, FRANCE  

The Musée d'Orangerie
“Monet's Influence on American Abstract Art & Artists”

          Special exhibition examining the work of great French impressionist painter Claude Monet, whose late works are examined as having particular influence upon the nascent abstract art movement in America in the mid-twentieth century.  The Musée d'Orangerie will have later examples of Monet's "Water Lilies" series on display along with some 20 examples of abstract modern American d'Orsay artists, including Pollock, Rothko, and Frankenthaler.

LOCATION: The Musée d'Orangerie is on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st Arrondissement on the SW corner of the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries)

 

MONET: "WEEPING WILLOWS" (c. 1922)
From the Musée d'Orsay Collection
promoting the Musée d'Orangerie Exhibition
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Adrian Didierjean

across from the Place de la Concorde.

EXHIBITION TIMES: We-Mo 9AM-6PM; Closed Tuesday.

ADMISSION: €9/adult, €6.50/youth 18-25,

Children under 18: free. Free for everyone on the 1st Sunday of the month.

GETTING THERE: From some Home At First Paris apartments in the 1st, 6th, and 7th Arrondissements it is quite reasonable to walk to the museum. From Home At First's other central Paris apartments, take the Métro (Lines 1, 8, 12) to Concorde station, or to the Assemblée Nationale station (Line 12) or the RER C Line to its Musée d'Orsay stop and cross the river.
MORE INFO, see:
DEGAS, DANSE, DESSIN.
 


 

LEAVE IT TO THE FINANCIAL CAPITAL OF LONDON TO MAKE BANKING FUN FOR KIDS!
Courtesy The Bank of England Museum

Ongoing Weekdays – 10AM-5PM.
  LONDON   – The Bank of England Museum
“The £ in Your Pocket”

          One of the fun, free, funky museums of London. It doesn’t sound like it would be, but this museum is great fun for kids of all ages. This pocket-sized museum (open Monday-Friday except holidays) features new exhibitions and permanent favorites focusing on the story of British money, past, present, and future. Doesn’t sound like a subject your kids would enjoy, right? The museum — using jigsaw puzzles, balloons, gold bars, old coins, and touch-screen computers — sees to it that they will!

LOCATION: Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane, London EC2R 8AH.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or  Circle Line west 1 stop & 2 minutes to Monument station, then walk 5 minutes through the maze of tunnels following signs for Bank station. Emerge from Bank Underground, walk across the street to the Royal Exchange, with its colonnaded portico, and walk up Threadneedle Street one-half block. Cross Threadneedle Street at Bartholomew Lane. Walk up Bartholomew Lane on the left (west) side of the street. The Bank of England Museum entrance is mid-way up the block, and poorly marked on the left side. Total transit & walking time: less than 20 minutes.
ADMISSION: Free!
OPEN: Mo-Fr 10AM-5PM. Closed weekends and bank holidays (early closing Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Closed all day Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 1).

MORE INFO, see: BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM

   


Every Saturday starting sometime after 7PM

 Terryglass , No. Co. Tipperary, Central Ireland

“Trad Music Sessions at The Derg Inn”

          The weekly live music session is the only way to improve the music and atmosphere at The Derg Inn in Terryglass. Food available until 10PM. The traditional Irish music could last all evening.

LOCATION: The Derg Inn, on the square, Terryglass.

GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s cottages in CENTRAL IRELAND, follow the R493 to Terryglass village near the northern end of Lough Derg. Home At First guests staying at Terryglass-area cottages are just 1.5 miles from the inn.

ADMISSION: none.

MORE INFO: THE DERG INN.

Terryglass village with Paddy's Pub (left) and the Derg Inn (center). Photo © Home At First.

 

TERRYGLASS VILLAGE WITH
PADDY'S PUB AND THE DERG INN

Photo © HOME AT FIRST
 


Sundays at 2PM
  LONDON, ENGLAND   – Tower Hill Tube Meeting Point
“Guided Walking Tour of Ancient London”

          Regularly-scheduled guided walk provides Home At First London guests looking for more insight into the history –recent and distant – of their London home region. Learn about life here during medieval times: not always nasty, brutish, and short. I
f knights, damsels, and castles are your cup of tea,
this walk's teaser should push your happy buttons: “A guided walk through alleyways that tourists never find, including an urban enchanted forest, a place where 13 knights performed three deeds of bravery, a centuries-old peep hole to keep nuns safe from prying eyes, a place of a Maypole and 11,000 beheaded virgins, a fountain whose waters mimic the tail feathers of an ostrich, Bedlam, a prioress, Bluebell Girls, black magic, Geoffrey Chaucer, and traitors’ heads.”
Guide: Susan Jackson, historian and registered Blue Badge Guide. Tel: +44 (0)7977 218374. Email: suejack@btinternet.com. Walks depart from Tower Hill Underground Station Meeting Point Sundays (except 22APR & 24DEC) at 2PM.
LOCATION: Walk begins at Tower Hill Underground Station.

Medieval London can still be found -- if you know where to look. Photo © Home At First.

Medieval London can
still be found - if you
know where to look.

Photo © HOME AT FIRST

ADMISSION: Payable to the guide: £10/adult; £8/seniors & students; accompanied children under 15 attend free.

ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: not required.

GETTING THERE: Walk to Tower Hill Tube in 8 minutes from Home At First’s LONDON Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina by the Tower of London and in 10 minutes from across the Thames at its Apartments at The Brewery.

MORE INFO, phone guide Susan Jackson: +44 (0)7977 218374.
MORE
LONDON WALKS
  


MARCH & APRIL
Several Times Weekly

  BERMUDA 

“Whale Watching Season”

      March and April are the months for guided day trips onto the open Atlantic to see migrating Humpback Whales traveling north to Arctic waters pass close to Bermuda’s shores.

LOCATIONS: Various. Operators across Bermuda.

COST: $75-$150/adult.

GETTING THERE: Taxi or public transport from your Bermuda lodging.

MORE INFO: WHALE WATCHING IN BERMUDA.

 

SHE BREACHES!
Photo courtesy Fantasea Bermuda

 

 


 

EVENTS IN MARCH 2018

 

Warbirds

OVER WANAKA

new zealand

CURTIS P-40 KITTYHAWKS — JUST TWO OF MANY Warbirds over Wanaka
Photo courtesy www.warbirdsoverwanaka.com.

Friday-Monday, March 30-31 & April 1,  2018 from 7:30AM daily

 WANAKA, Otago, South Island, New Zealand 

“Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow”

          Every two years the Easter weekend skies above Wanaka fill with aircraft of all types, but especially Warbirds from both World Wars as well as military, trainers, exotics, racers, helicopters, models, and more. Stunt, aerobatic, parachute, and precision flying will be on display.

LOCATION: Wanaka Airport, immediately outside of Wanaka town, Otago, and just south and east of some of the highest mountains of the Southern Alps and south of two exquisite turquoise lakes (Wanaka and Hawea).

ADMISSION: Varies from $60-$149/adult per day. See WEBSITE PRICES and PROGRAM.

GETTING THERE: from Home At First’s London nearest regional lodgings, QUEENSTOWN INN at QUEENSTOWN, drive north via Arrowtown and the scenic and rugged Cardrona Pass direct to Wanaka in 1 hour. Otherwise, drive Route 6 east toward Cromwell and then north to Wanaka Airport in about 90 minutes without the rugged pass road.

PARKING: Free.

MORE INFO, see: WARBIRDS OVER WANAKA.
 

 


 

EVENTS IN APRIL 2018

 

Friday-Sunday, April 13-15 2018

Daily from 10AM

 CARDIFF, South Wales  

“Royal Horticultural Society
   Spring Flower Show”

          The annual Spring Flower Show occurs in a fabulous site: in Bute Park, just behind historic Cardiff Castle in the city center. With Royal Horticultural Society medals on the line, this show is among Britain’s most prestigious.

LOCATION: Bute Park, central Cardiff.

ADMISSION: £14 each day; kids<16 free.

Cardiff Castle. A visit to the castle is easily combined with a visit to the RHS Spring Flower Show held in Bute Park adjacent to the castle. Photo courtesy www.rhs.org.uk.

Cardiff Castle. A visit to the castle is easily combined
 with a visit to the RHS Spring Flower Show
held in Bute Park adjacent to the castle.

Photo courtesy www.rhs.org.uk.

HOURS: 10AM-5:30PM Fr-Sa; 10AM-4:30PM Su.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s MID-WALES lodgings: take the A4042 south to Newport, then the M4 and A48 southwest into Cardiff city center. From Home At First’s Northern COTSWOLDS Cottages, take the M5 southwest to the M4 west, then the M4 and A48 into Cardiff city center. From LONDON, take the hourly high speed train from Paddington Station 90 minutes to Cardiff, then walk 15 minutes or take the bus (route numbers 21, 23, 24, 25, & 27) NW to Bute Park just west of Cardiff Castle.

MORE INFO: RHS CARDIFF SPRING FLOWER SHOW.

 


Fri-Sun, April 13-15, 2018

 BALLYDEHOB  , Co. Cork, SW Ireland

“10th Annual Ballydehob Trad Festival”

          A Friday evening concert is followed by two full days extending well into the evenings of traditional Irish music and dance sessions, workshops, and competitions at Ballydehob, a pretty village south of Bantry in the far southwest of Ireland. See PROGRAM for events and timing.

LOCATION: Various venues in Ballydehob, southwestern Co. Cork.
ADMISSION: Most events free. Others

Late night session at the Ballydehob Trad Fest. Photo courtesy Ballydehob Trad Festival.

Late night session at the Ballydehob Trad Fest
Photo courtesy Ballydehob Trad Festival

cost from €10-€15.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s SOUTHWESTERN IRELAND lodgings in GLENGARRIFF: take the N71 south from Glengarriff through Bantry 21 miles to the eastern edge of Ballydehob. Turn right on Main Street (R592) for the final 300 yards into the town center.

MORE INFO, see: BALLYDEHOB TRAD FESTIVAL.

 


GWR's "Black Prince" steaming at Winchcombe. Photo courtesy GWR.

steaming ACROSS STANWAY VIADUCT NORTH OF TODDINGTON.
Photo by Jack Boskett courtesy GWR

Saturday April 14, 2018 7-9:15PM
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND
“Fish & Chips and Steam”

          Enjoy traditional English fast food meal on a traditional English slow steam train in the midst of traditional English countryside. Operating on a portion of an isolated 12-mile-long remnant of the defunct 100-year-old Birmingham-Bristol mainline route of the former Great Western Railway, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) Fish and Chips Special Train — "The Cheltenham Fryer" — departs Toddington station at 7PM and cruises through classic Cotswolds scenery for Cheltenham Race Course, where the fish & chips meal will be served. A reserved seat on the special, plus the large serving of fish and chips comes with the ticket. Hot and cold drinks — including local specialty brews: Rail Ale and Track Cider — will be available for purchase. Be sure to sign up early (before departing the US) for this popular event.
LOCATION: Toddington station is 5 miles south of Broadway and 1.5 miles north of Winchcombe about 100 yards east of the junction of the B4632 with the B4077 where the B4077 crosses the railway.
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS MANDATORY: Use the GWR's
ON-LINE BOOKING FORM, or contact the GWR during its operating hours with your credit card information: TEL: +44 (0)1242 621405; email: fishandchips@gwsr.com.
TICKETS: £23/adult, includes train fare and fish & chips.
GETTING THERE: Drive about 35 minutes north from Tetbury, home to
HOME AT FIRST’S SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages. From HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and around Chipping Campden, drive 25 minutes south.
MORE INFO, see:
GWR RWY FISH CHIPS AND STEAM.
 


I  C  E  L  A  N  D

gullfoss falls on Iceland's golden circle route
Photo © Home At First

Thursday April 19, 2018
  ICELAND 
“First Day of Summer”

          Iceland's traditional calendar makes April 19 the beginning of the month of Harpa, the first month of the Icelandic summer. Not convinced? You're not alone — even the Icelanders are hedging their bets during Harpa: April 23-25 is the time for this year's Iceland Winter Games, including the National Dog Sledding Championship.
GETTING THERE:
HOME AT FIRST'S ICELAND is about 4.5 hours flight time from the East Coast of the USA, and is spectacular at all times of year.
  

BERMUDA AGRICULTURE SHOW

 

"bermuda homegrown" is the theme of the 2018 ag show
Photo courtesy the Bermuda Agricultural Show

 

Thursday-Saturday, April 19-21, 2018

  BERMUDA  

“Bermuda Agricultural Show” (Agricultural Exhibition)

          Bermuda's version of a county fair, with foods, domestic animals, crafts, and equestrian events. The 3-day fair draws 20,000 people and is a major event on Bermuda's social calendar.

LOCATION: Bermuda Botanical Gardens in eastern Paget Parish about 1/2 mile southeast of Hamilton city.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s BERMUDA lodgings take the ferry or Route 10 or 11 buses to Hamilton city and change to the #2 bus to the Botanical Gardens, or take the Routes 1, 7 or 8 buses along the main roads of Bermuda and ask to get off at the Botanic Gardens.

OPEN: April 20-22, 2017, 8AM to 6PM daily

ADMISSION: $10/adult and $5/seniors & children (5-15).

TICKETS: SEE WEBSITE

CATALOG:  OFFICIAL BERMUDA AG SHOW CATALOG

MORE INFO, see: BERMUDA AGRICULTURAL EXHIBITION.

 


 

BLENHEIM PALACE, SITE OF THE ANNUAL CADA ART & ANTIQUE FAIR
Photo courtesy
CADA

Thursday-Sunday, April 19-22, 2018 10AM-5:30PM

 Woodstock, Cotswolds, England  

“CADA Art & Antique Fair at Blenheim Palace”

          The 7th annual Cotswolds Antique Dealers Association (CADA) Art & Antique Fair occurs in a fabulous site: Blenheim Palace on its large estate in Woodstock in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Blenheim Palace, home of the Dukes of Marlborough and Winston Churchill, is a registered World Heritage Site, adding panache to ensure this show is among Britain’s most prestigious.

LOCATION: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

ADMISSION is by advance invitation only. Invitations come with free admission. Invitations are secured HERE.
HOURS: 10AM-5:30PM daily.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s Northern COTSWOLDS Cottages, take the A44 southeast 28 miles (40 minutes) to Blenheim Palace in Woodstock. From LONDON, take the frequent high speed train from Paddington Station 60 minutes to Oxford, then the S3 bus (runs every 20 minutes) from Oxford Rail Station 25 minutes to the gates of Blenheim Palace.

MORE INFO: CADA ART & ANTIQUE FAIR AT BLENHEIM PALACE.

 


  Arrowtown Autumn Festival 

 Arrowtown, South Island, New Zealand 

Parade of old-time autos draws a crowd on a fine autumn afternoon at Arrowtown.
Photo courtesy www.arrowtownautumnfestival.org.nz

Thursday-Wednesday, April 19-25 2018

  ARROWTOWN, Otago, South Island, New Zealand  

“Arrowtown Autumn Festival”

          Arrowtown, a former gold mining center that nearly disappeared, has re-emerged in recent years as a historic, gentile, village where New Zealand’s colorful pioneer past is the theme of its high end craft shops, galleries, boutique shops, and gourmet cafés. At no time of year is Arrowtown prettier than when the autumn colors change the palette of its tree-lined streets. The annual Autumn Festival brings a 6-day program of various events to Arrowtown, adding to the town’s history and culture as top reasons to make the 20-minute drive from Queenstown.

LOCATION: Arrowtown is 13 miles NW of Queenstown.

ADMISSION: Many events free. Some are not. See PROGRAM.

GETTING THERE: from Home At First’s nearest regional lodgings, QUEENSTOWN INN at QUEENSTOWN, drive northeast via Gorge Rd and Arthur’s Point to Malaghans Road for the scenic 20-minute drive to Arrowtown.

MORE INFO, see: AUTUMN IN ARROWTOWN.

 


 

Queen Elizabeth's annual birthday  62-gun salute OCCURS at the Tower of London
Photo courtesy www.royal.uk.

Saturday, April 21, 2018  1PM

 LONDON, England  

“Royal Gun Salute: The Queen’s (actual) Birthday”

          Today is the actual birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, born this day in 1926. At 1PM the Honourable Artillery Company will mark the anniversary with a 62-gun salute (a basic 21-gun salute for the birthday, plus 20-more guns fired because the location is a royal palace/fortress, plus 21 guns fired to honor the City of London). Despite the April 21 birthday, the United Kingdom declares a Saturday in June of each year the Queen’s “official birthday”, which is fêted with the famed “Trooping of the Colour” parade, one of the great military pageants of the world.

LOCATION: Along the River Thames on the south side of the Tower of London.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s LONDON Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina by the Tower of London: walk approximately 8 minutes west, following the Thames Path by the river, passing underneath the Tower Bridge abutment onto Tower of London grounds via Dead Man’s Hole. From Home At First’s LONDON Brewery Apartments on the south side of the Thames, walk approximately 10 minutes north across the Tower Bridge. Descend the staircase and pass underneath the bridge abutment onto Tower of London grounds via Dead Man’s Hole.

TIME: Cannon fire begins promptly at 1PM. Guns are fired across the river in the general direction of London’s City Hall.

ADMISSION: Free.

MORE INFO: QUEENS BIRTHDAY GUN SALUTE.

 


THE LONDON            MARATHON

RUNNERS CROSSING the Tower BRIDGE DURING THE LONDON MARATHON. THE ROUTE TAKES RUNNERS PAST HOME AT FIRST'S ST. KATHARINE'S MARINA APARTMENTS LOCATION (left) and the tower of london (right).
Photo Courtesy Virgin Money London Marathon

 

Sunday, April 22 2018
  LONDON, ENGLAND  
“The London Marathon”
         
Today, if the marathon route and timing is as projected, Home At First’s London guests staying at St. Katharine’s Marina Apartments by the Tower of London have a near ringside seat right outside their apartment to view one of the world's great foot races, the London Marathon. Between about 9:30AM to 3PM approximately 35,500 racers will be crossing the Tower Bridge from the south, turn right onto East Smithfield St. that borders the north side of the St. Katharine's Marina complex just before the race's halfway mark 1/10th mile further to the east. Racers pass along E. Smithfield St. again, this time westbound in the 23rd mile of the 26+mile event on their way to the finish line on The Mall just past Buckingham Palace.

          What if it rains? BBC TV will be following the race — you can watch from the comfort of your apartment. Want to feel the noise and enthusiasm? Some forty pubs line the route's 26 miles.

          The race kicks off with a staggered start at 9AM in Greenwich, east of London on the south side of The Thames. Racers cross to the north side of the river on the iconic Tower Bridge at mile 12.5 before heading east again, passing St. Katharine's Marina on the way to Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, then turning west again, passing St. Katharine's a second time before running across Tower Hill and following the Thames northern embankment to Westminster. At Big Ben the route turns west from the river, running along the south side of St. James's Park, passing in front of Buckingham Palace, and turning down The Mall to the finish line.
LOCATION: Greenwich to The Mall, London, England.
GETTING TO THE NEAREST SPECTATOR POINT: Walk 2 minutes from
Home At First’s Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina to East Smithfield St, the northern boundary of the St. Katharine's Marina. The Tower Bridge, Tower Hill, and the Tower of London are projected to be extremely crowded with spectators, and, while close to the Apartments at St. Katharine's Marina, may make for uncomfortable viewing and difficult access/egress.
ADMISSION: free.
MORE INFO, see:
THE LONDON MARATHON.

 


Monday, April 23, 2018 

 THROUGHOUT ENGLAND

“St. George's Day - England's National Day?”

          Today might be England's National Day. Then again, it might be just another Monday across England. Many English express interest in making April 23 an official holiday, or, at least, giving the feast day of St. George — patron saint of England — national prominence. After all, Ireland celebrates St. Patrick with festivals and parades that can last a week in March. Quasi-independent Scotland

St. George's Cross -- the flag of England, and part of the Union Jack.

ST. GEORGE'S CROSS — THE FLAG OF ENGLAND
AND ONE-THIRD OF THE UNION JACK STANDARD

has elevated St. Andrew's Day (Nov. 30) to quasi-national-day status. And the good folk of Wales relish wearing leeks and daffodils on March 1, St. David's Day, as gentle-but-earnest statements of national unity and anti-English sentiment.

          If many English envy the Irish, Scots, and Welsh their days of national celebration, perhaps even more wish not to remind their fellow Brits as well as former subjects and colonials around the world of the pride of England as a great power and conqueror of nations and cultures on every continent north of Antarctica.
          There are celebrations of St. George's Day around England. Many we have found celebrate St. George the dragon slayer with little mention of nation, save for the red cross on white banners and bunting that decorate the events. Many of the events we have found marking the feast of St. George are commercial events oriented for children, focusing on knights and dragons and never mentioning Churchill, Rhodes, Clive, Wellington,
Henry VIII, or Edward I. Some tie the death of William Shakespeare on April 23, 1616 to St. George's day..

          There is a movement afoot to set aside political correctness and boldly confirm the pride of nation and culture that many English — be they WASPy or recent — not-so-secretly feel. There are petitions, and bonfires, and other kinds of gatherings to promote St. George's Day as a celebration of the greatness of England. There are calls for an official paid-day-off national holiday on April 23.

          But we note with interest that these efforts have largely not caught the public imagination in England. What we notice instead is an increasing affinity — especially among English youth — with a different commemoration as a kind of unofficial English national day: November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, which marks a failed 17th century attempt to blow up the English Parliament.

LOCATION: St. George's Day celebrations are scattered throughout England. Some are commercial (admission charges), most others are low-key and local. Perhaps the largest occurs in LONDON's Trafalgar Square from 12-6PM April 23.
(UNCONFIRMED FOR 2018 AS OF THIS PRINTING.)

 


Monday, April 30 2018 

3-4:15PM & 8:15-10PM

 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN  

“Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton)”

          This special night (really up to two nights and two days: carrying on throughout May 1) in SWEDEN has some ancient pagan associations (as does Halloween, exactly 6 months away): bonfires driving away winter’s witches, as spring arrives in Sweden – blended with a number of modern trappings: parades, socialist protests-turned-to-revelry (associated with May Day). Think BIG party in (hopefully) delightful spring weather. Youthful, boisterous – again,

Walpurgis Eve bonfire celebration in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo Frank Chmura - NordicPhotos - courtesy www.visitsweden.com.

Walpurgis Eve bonfire celebration in Stockholm
Photo Frank Chmura - NordicPhotos -
courtesy www.visitsweden.com.

like Halloween has become in America.

LOCATION: Although Walpurgis Night celebrations occur all over Sweden, visitors have a good opportunity to experience it in a cultural context at Stockholm’s Skansen open-air folk museum on the island of Djurgården, a 5-minute ferryboat ride from Slüssen.

OPEN: Walpurgis Night celebrated is celebrated twice this April 30: 3-4:15PM & 8-10PM at Skansen's Solliden Stage.

ADMISSION to SKANSEN:

• Walpurgis Day, April 30: 160SEK/adult; 140SEK/senior; 60SEK/kids 6-15.

• Two Days, April 30 & May 1: 180SEK/adult; 160SEK/senior; 90SEK/kids 6-15.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s STOCKHOLM inn in the old city (Gamla Stan), walk (10 minutes) south to the Slüssen ferries, then take the boat (10 minutes) to Skansen on Djurgården. From Home At First’s inn in Östermalm, walk or take the tram east along the Strandvägen and across the bridge onto Djurgården to the Skansen entrance.

MORE INFO, see: WALPURGIS NIGHT AT SKANSEN.

 


Mon. thru Sun. Apr. 30–May 6, 2018
Ribe Viking Center, Lustrupholm,
 Ribe, Denmark

International Viking Market
          Two to three hundred wannabe Vikings assemble in a reconstruction of Scandinavia’s oldest known market square to trade and hawk Viking crafts and show off their skills at combat, riding, dance, and archery, as well as their craftsmanship just as real Vikings did here more than 1300 years ago. The annual market at the Viking Center celebrates the anniversary of the

Not your usual shopkeepers at Ribe's Viking Market. Photo courtesy Ribe Viking Center.

You are invited to attend the market with these lads.
Courtesy The Ribe Viking Center

founding of Ribe, the most historic international market town of southwest Denmark.

LOCATION: The Viking Center is south of the town of Ribe in the satellite community of Lustrupholm.

GETTING THERE: Ribe is 77 miles west of Home At First DENMARK lodgings in ODENSE, and 172 miles west of COPENHAGEN. Take the E20 motorway west from Copenhagen past Odense. Leave the motorway west of Kolding: take Rt. 32 SW to Ribe, then Rts. 24 south around Ribe town. Exit Rt. 24 onto Strengevej. Drive south for ½ mi. Turn right (west) onto Lustrupvej ¼ mile to the Ribe Viking Center.

ADMISSION: DKK130/adult, DKK65/children 3-13.

OPEN: from 10AM daily; Mon-Fri to 4PM; Sat-Sun to 5PM.

MORE INFO: RIBE VIKING CENTER WEB SITE.

 

 


 

EVENTS IN MAY 2018

 

 

Throngs celebrating  by strolling through the Tuileries park between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre.
Photo © Home At First

Tuesday May 1, 2018
  PARIS, FRANCE 
May Day — Fête du Travail
          Arguably, the two most important secular holidays in PARIS are Bastille Day (July 14 — France's national day) and May Day (May 1, France's Labor Day, the Fête du Travail). Although the holiday has been hijacked by labor unions and political groups from the far left to the far right to promote their causes in support of the average Frenchman, most average Frenchmen seem to spend the day off relaxing, picnicking, strolling, and enjoying the delightful spring weather. Still, in parts of Paris, parades, rallies and protests are expected this day. Express you wish for a happy May Day by wearing a sprig of lily-of-the-valley (muguet), for sale (tax-free!) by vendors everywhere.

WHAT'S OPEN TODAY? The May Day holiday means most shops and businesses are closed, but cafés and restaurants stay open.
  


Ongoing thru Sun. May 6, 2018
Ribe Viking Center, Lustrupholm,
 Ribe, Denmark

International Viking Market
          Two to three hundred wannabe Vikings assemble in a reconstruction of Scandinavia’s oldest known market square to trade and hawk Viking crafts and show off their skills at combat, riding, dance, and archery, as well as their craftsmanship just as real Vikings did here more than 1300 years ago. The annual market at the Viking Center celebrates the anniversary of the

Not your usual shopkeepers at Ribe's Viking Market. Photo courtesy Ribe Viking Center.

You are invited to attend the market with these lads.
Courtesy The Ribe Viking Center

founding of Ribe, the most historic international market town of southwest Denmark.

LOCATION: The Viking Center is south of the town of Ribe in the satellite community of Lustrupholm.

GETTING THERE: Ribe is 77 miles west of Home At First DENMARK lodgings in ODENSE, and 172 miles west of COPENHAGEN. Take the E20 motorway west from Copenhagen past Odense. Leave the motorway west of Kolding: take Rt. 32 SW to Ribe, then Rts. 24 south around Ribe town. Exit Rt. 24 onto Strengevej. Drive south for ½ mi. Turn right (west) onto Lustrupvej ¼ mile to the Ribe Viking Center.

ADMISSION: DKK130/adult, DKK65/children 3-13.

OPEN: from 10AM daily; Mon-Fri to 4PM; Sat-Sun to 5PM.

MORE INFO: RIBE VIKING CENTER WEB SITE.

 


Fri-Mon  May 4-6, 2018
  KINVARA, CO. GALWAY,  
  WEST CENTRAL IRELAND 

“Cuckoo Festival”
         
Family-oriented traditional Irish music & arts festival in a small, historic, coastal village with an iconic castle.
LOCATION:
Kinvara, south of Galway city, on Galway Bay. Just outside of town is the famous
DUNGUAIRE CASTLE.
ADMISSION: free
GETTING THERE:
Home At First
Central Ireland
guests drive the N52 north to the N65 west to the N6 at Loughrea. Take the
R347 from the N6 to the N67 coast road at Kinvara.

MORE INFO, see:
KINVARA CUCKOO FESTIVAL.

 

Kinvara Cuckoo Festival poster,
showing Dunguaire Castle by
Kinvara village, west Central Ireland.

Image courtesy Kinvara Cuckoo Festival

 

T     H     E       J     O     U     S     T

Sat-Mon May 5–7 2018

11AM-5:30PM daily
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND
Jousting at Blenheim Palace”
          The palatial home of the Dukes of Marlborough and the Churchill family — including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — is the backdrop for a medieval jousting tournament with mounted knights clashing twice each day in the park and the South Front of the palace

Jousting at Blenheim Palace, near Woodstock in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Photo courtesy www.blenheimpalace.com.

JOUSTING AT BLENHEIM PALACE
Images courtesy www.blenheimpalace.com

during this three-day tourney. Falconry will also be exhibited.
LOCATION: Blenheim Palace is in the eastern Cotswolds just SW of Woodstock (and NW of Oxford) just about 25 miles southeast of
HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and near Chipping Campden and about 32 miles northeast of HOME AT FIRST’S SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and near Tetbury.
GETTING THERE: From the Northern Cotswolds, drive SE on the A44 to Woodstock. From the Southern Cotswolds, drive northeast from Tetbury on the A433 to Cirencester. Then take the B4425 NE to Burford and the A40 east to
Witney and the A4095 NE to the A44 near Woodstock. From Woodstock follow the brown signs leading to Blenheim Palace.
ADMISSION:
Palace, Park & Gardens—£26/adults, £23/seniors/students,
   £14.50/children 5-16, £62.50/family.
Park & Gardens Only (minimum ticket for entry to Jousting Tourney)
   £16/adults, £13/seniors/students, £7.40/children 5-16, £43/family.
MORE INFO, see:
BLENHEIM PALACE JOUSTING.

  


Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle — KNIGHTS on HORSEBACK & JOUSTING
Images courtesy Berkeley Castle

Sunday-Monday  May 6–7, 2018  Daily 11AM–5PM
  SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS —

  GLOUCESTERSHIRE, 

  WESTERN ENGLAND  
“Jousting at Berkeley Castle”
          Historic Berkeley Castle displays original documents from the 12th century, including fragments of a charter from King John bearing the royal seal. Jousting — medieval combat by knights on horseback — takes place in the afternoon each day this weekend. You can also explore the castle and mingle with knights, jesters, minstrels, lords, ladies and

 

lepers. Berkeley Castle is no show castle operated like a theme park, but a private residence that has been the home of the Berkeley family since Norman times (since the year 1117). Its appearance remains largely unaltered since medieval times.
LOCATION: Berkeley Castle is about 30 minutes drive west of
HOME AT FIRST’S COTTAGES IN THE SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS at Tetbury.
GETTING THERE:
from Home At First’s cottages in Tetbury, South Cotswolds, take the A4135 west to the B4066 to the A38 at Dursley, then the A38 south about ¾ mile to the B4066 leading west (left) for Berkeley. In less than a mile you reach the entrance for Berkeley Castle on the left as you enter the town of Berkeley.
          From HOME AT FIRST’S COTTAGES IN THE NORTHERN COTSWOLDS, drive the A44 NW to the A46 near Evesham. Take the A46 SW to Junction 9 of the M5 near Tewkesbury. South on the M5 motorway and exit onto the A38 south at Junction 13. Take the A38 south past Dursley, then the B4066 west 1 mile to Berkeley Castle entrance just before entering the town of Berkeley.
ADMISSION TO BERKELEY CASTLE
(includes entry to the Butterfly House May-Sept.):
 
£12.50/adult, £11/seniors/students, £7/child 3-16, £35/family (2 adults+2 kids).

Get Tickets in Advance
HERE.
MORE INFO, see:
BERKELEY CASTLE
MORE ABOUT HOME AT FIRST’S COTSWOLDS

 


THE RANDWICK WAP, CHEESE ROLLING, & MEDIEVAL FAYRE

 

RANDWICK WAP — MOP WOMAN KEEPS THE CROWDS AT BAY
Images courtesy Stroud News & Journal

Sun May 6 at 10:35AM 2018
“Ceremonial Cheese Rolling”  and
Sat May 12 at 12:45PM 2018
“The Randwick Wap & Medieval Fayre”
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND

Carrying Randwick's mayor off to the ducking pool
Clive Bliss Photo

          In May the small Cotswoldian village of Randwick holds it annual celebrations of spring dating from the Middle Ages. On the first Sunday of May, there is a special Spring Service at the Randwick Church, followed by a Ceremonial Cheese Rolling at 10:30AM.
          On the following Saturday Randwick holds The Wap, a curious procession through the village, leads to a fair with Morris dancing, food, music, and local color.

ADMISSION: free.
MORE DETAILS (for the curious):

The Randwick Cheese Rolling: Following the special Spring Church Service, a procession leads to Well Leaze Hill where two blessed double Gloucester Cheeses are rolled down the steep slope, chased by loonies.

The Randwick Wap & 2nd Cheese Rolling: Meet at the War Memorial in Randwick village Saturday at 12:45PM for the start of the colorful, musical procession of villagers in traditional costume called “The Randwick Wap” dating from the Middle Ages. The procession makes its way from the War Memorial (at the village high point about ½ mile above St. John’s Church) to the Mayor’s Pool, led by the Mop Man who swishes his wet mop to clear the crowds. Randwick’s mayor and the parade queen are carried shoulder high and escorted by flag boys, ladies in waiting, cheese bearers, princesses, a sword bearer, and a flag man. The mayor is dunked in the Mayor's Pool before being doused with spring water. The procession leads to Well Leaze Hill where two remaining blessed double Gloucester Cheeses (from the prior Sunday) are rolled down the steep slope, once again chased by loonies.
          One tradition behind the festival suggests it originated 700 years ago when the village church was built, and drunken artisans went for a dip in the town pond. Another tradition suggests the “Wap” comes from Saxon “Wappenshaw”, when local men proved their readiness for warfare. Expect no battle. Rather, expect local color, music, Morris dancing, concession stands, entertainment, refreshments, and (perhaps) something for everyone.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages, drive west from Tetbury 3 miles on the A4135, then north 7 miles to Stroud. From HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and around Chipping Campden, drive 55 minutes south on the A46 to Stroud. Once in Stroud watch for signs pointing the way to Randwick village just NW of town.
For More Info, see:
RANDWICK WAP & CHEESE ROLLING. 
   


Royal Windsor        Horse Show

EQUESTRIAN JUMPING AT THE ROYAL WINDSOR HORSE SHOW — WINDSOR CASTLE IN THE BACKGROUND.
Courtesy www.rwhs.co.uk

Wednesday-Sunday May 9-13 2018 from 7AM daily
 WINDSOR CASTLE, ENGLAND
“Royal Windsor Horse Show”

          Large international horse show fair — 75th year — with jumping, dressage, showing, and driving on the grounds of the Queen’s thousand-year-old fortress castle west of London. Three rings, 200 stalls selling all kinds of horse items, apparel, food, drink, more.
LOCATION: Windsor Castle, Windsor, SL4

ADMISSION: adult admission from £9-£55.

TICKETS: Tel +44 (0)844 581 4960 or ON-LINE.
GETTING THERE: take the train & avoid congested roads and full parking lots at Windsor.

From LONDON: trains twice hourly from Waterloo (to Windsor & Eton Riverside Station) and also twice hourly from Paddington (change at Slough) to Windsor & Eton Central Station. From either station it’s a 7-minute walk to the showgrounds.

From TETBURY IN THE SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS: Take the train from Kemble Station, 7 miles NE of Tetbury on the A429 (direction Cirencester). Change at Swindon and Slough to reach Windsor & Eton Central Station. Trains are hourly. Journey time: 97min. Walk 7 minutes from Windsor station to the castle showgrounds.

From CHIPPING CAMPDEN IN THE NORTHERN COTSWOLDS: Take the train from Moreton-in-Marsh, 10 miles SE of Chipping Campden on the A44 (direction Oxford). Change at Slough (and possibly at Swindon) to reach Windsor & Eton Central Station. Trains are hourly. Journey time: 110min. Walk 7 minutes from Windsor station to the castle showgrounds.

MORE INFO, see: ROYAL WINDSOR HORSE SHOW.
    


BEATING THE BOUNDS

Friendly Neighbors - Beating the Bounds where the  Tower of London borders All Hallows by the Tower church.
Photo courtesy All Hallows by the Tower

Thursday, May 10 2018
  LONDON, ENGLAND 
Ancient Tradition: “Beating the Bounds”
         
Home At First’s London guests staying at St. Katharine’s Marina Apartments by the Tower of London have one of London’s oldest and most historic churches nearby. All Hallows by the Tower is just west of the Tower of London. The church traces its roots to the original Saxon church built in 675AD on a site formerly paved by Romans. The church has associations with Sir Thomas More (whose headless body was brought there following his execution on Tower Hill just yards away), with William Penn (baptized and educated in the church) and his father Admiral Penn (a wealthy parishioner who organized a force to save the church from the Great Fire of 1666), John Quincy Adams (who was married in the church in 1797), and The Blitz: the church was bombed by the Nazis in 1940, and rebuilt in 1948.
          All Hallows maintains several ancient traditions, especially the medieval boundary marking called “Beating the Bounds” which occurs every Ascension Day. (Every third year, the church’s Resident Governor is confronted by the Yeomen Warders of the neighboring Tower of London to commemorate the riot over boundary

 

All Hallows by the Tower – Oldest Church in the City
Photo © Home At First

dispute that occurred in 1698. Visitors are welcome to follow the “beaters” as they whack key boundary points with cane. Here’s the schedule:

3:30PM – Beating the Bounds: In an ancient and obscure ceremony that occurs each Ascension Day, the parish boundaries the London’s oldest church (675AD), All Hallows by the Tower, are beaten with willow wands. One of the marks is in mid-Thames where a boy held by the ankles “whacks” the boundary over the edge of the boat.

5:30PM – Festal Evensong: After taking the “beating”, the procession moves into the church for a Festal Evensong at 5:30PM with the Lord Mayor of London and London’s sheriffs in attendance to keep order.

LOCATION: All Hallows by the Tower Church, just west of the Tower of London.

SPECIAL NOTE: The church maintains its own fascinating museum in the crypt, worthy of a 20min visit. Free admission, but leave a donation in the sanctuary vestibule.
GETTING THERE: Walk 10 minutes from
Home At First’s Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina past Tower Hill and the Tower of London to the church.
ADMISSION: free.
MORE INFO, see:
BEATING THE BOUNDS
  


Fish & Chips            & Steam

GWR 7903 steaming FROM CHELTENHAM TO TODDINGTON STATION
Photo courtesy GWR

Saturday May 12, 2018 7-9:30PM
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND
“'The Cheltenham Fryer' — Fish & Chips and Steam”

          Enjoy a traditional English evening meal on a traditional English steam train in the midst of traditional English countryside. Operating on a portion of an isolated 10.5 mile-long remnant of the defunct 100-year-old Birmingham-Bristol mainline route of the former Great Western Railway, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) special train departs Toddington Station at 7PM and cruises through classic Cotswolds scenery for Cheltenham. The train returns to Toddington Station at about 9:30PM. The train will have a buffet car (diner) serving hot and cold drinks including local specialties: Rail Ale and GWR House Wines. Be sure to sign up early (before departing the US) for this popular event, which always sells out in advance.
LOCATION: Toddington station is 5 miles south of Broadway and 1.5 miles north of Winchcombe about 100 yards east of the junction of the B4632 with the B4077 where the B4077 crosses the railway.
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS MANDATORY: Use the GWR's
ON-LINE BOOKING FORM, or contact the GWR during its operating hours with your credit card information: TEL: +44 (0)1242 621405; email: fishandchips@gwsr.com.
ADMISSION: £23/person, includes train fare and fish & chips dinner. Drinks available for sale in the buffet car.
GETTING THERE: Drive about 35 minutes north from Tetbury, home to
HOME AT FIRST’S SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages. From HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and around Chipping Campden, drive 25 minutes south.
MORE INFO, see:
GWR RWY FISH CHIPS AND STEAM.
   


Chipping Campden Music Festival

High Street, Chipping Campden, with St. James's Church tower in the background.
Concerts occur at the church, within easy walking distance of several
Home At First cottages in Chipping Campden.
Photo © Home At First

Ongoing Sunday to Saturday May 12-25 2018
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND
“Chipping Campden Music Festival”

          Classical music festival to occur at Chipping Campden’s landmark gothic St. James’ Church. Evening (some formal) daily and occasional lunchtime concerts.
LOCATION:
Chipping Campden is a classic Cotswolds wool town, and the center of
HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS region.
TICKETS: Evening concerts starting at 7PM or 7:30PM; most tickets: £23-£40. Lunchtime concerts (performed by university music students at 1:05 & 2:05PM on certain dates only); tickets: £6.50.
SEE PROGRAM.
GETTING THERE: Chipping Campden is
Home At First’s principal location for Northern Cotswolds cottages, several of which are within walking distance of St. James’ Church.
MORE INFO, see:
CHIPPING CAMPDEN MUSIC FESTIVAL
   


Annually – May 17
 THROUGHOUT NORWAY
“Constitution Day” (Norwegian National Day)
          An independent nation for just over 100 years, NORWAY gained its independence from Sweden without fighting a war. Maybe that’s the reason Norway’s independence day parades are not martial, although still very patriotic, with flag-waving children and citizens dressed in traditional Norwegian folk costumes. Expect the day to be marked everywhere, but no place more royally than in front of the palace in Oslo.
TRAVEL INFO:
HOME AT FIRST’S NORWAY.

CONSTITUTION DAY CELEBRATIONS
AT THE ROYAL PALACE IN OSLO.
Photo courtesy visitnorway.com

 

Fish & Chips & Steam

GWR STEAM-POWERED TRAIN en route in the COTSWOLDS hills
Photo courtesy GWR

Friday May 18, 2018 7-9:30PM
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND
“'The Cheltenham Fryer' — Fish & Chips and Steam”

          Enjoy a traditional English evening meal on a traditional English steam train in the midst of traditional English countryside. Operating on a portion of an isolated 10.5 mile-long remnant of the defunct 100-year-old Birmingham-Bristol mainline route of the former Great Western Railway, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (GWR) special train departs Toddington Station at 7PM and cruises through classic Cotswolds scenery for Cheltenham. The train returns to Toddington Station at about 9:30PM. The train will have a buffet car (diner) serving hot and cold drinks including local specialties: Rail Ale and GWR House Wines. Be sure to sign up early (before departing the US) for this popular event, which always sells out in advance.
LOCATION: Toddington station is 5 miles south of Broadway and 1.5 miles north of Winchcombe about 100 yards east of the junction of the B4632 with the B4077 where the B4077 crosses the railway.
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS MANDATORY: Use the GWR's
ON-LINE BOOKING FORM, or contact the GWR during its operating hours with your credit card information: TEL: +44 (0)1242 621405; email: fishandchips@gwsr.com.
ADMISSION: £23/person, includes train fare and fish & chips dinner. Drinks available for sale in the buffet car.
GETTING THERE: Drive about 35 minutes north from Tetbury, home to
HOME AT FIRST’S SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages. From HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and around Chipping Campden, drive 25 minutes south.
MORE INFO, see:
GWR RWY FISH CHIPS AND STEAM.
   


Danish knights are expected in force at Copenhagen's Medieval Market. Photo courtesy kmm.dk.

DANISH KNIGHTS ARE EXPECTED IN FORCE AT COPENHAGEN'S MEDIEVAL MARKET.
Photo courtesy kmm.dk

Friday-Monday May 18-21, 2018
 COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
“Copenhagen Medieval Market”
         
The flag of DENMARK dates from 1219 when legend says it fell from heaven as the Danish navy attacked and conquered Estonia. Danish life from the year 1219 is recreated over Whitsun (or Pentecost) weekend at Copenhagen’s Valby Park. Expect all things medieval: arts and crafts, combat, jousting, archery, a parade, food, music. Expect to see over 30,000 visitors and 300 Vikings, too.
LOCATION: Valby Park SW of central
COPENHAGEN.
GETTING THERE:
Take the M2 metro line from Kongens Nytorv to Frederiksberg St. metro station, then walk 3min. to the bus stop at Frederiksberg St. (Falconer Allé). Take the Bus 8A (every 7min) (direction Friheden St.) to the Folehaven (Gammel Køge Landevej) stop. Walk 350yds (less than 1/4 mile) to the Valbyhallen (Ellebjergvej)
entrance. Total time: approx. 35min.
ADMISSION:
DKK100/adult, DKK70/children 4-11.

TICKETS: purchase at the gate or IN ADVANCE.
OPEN:
Fr: 9AM-5PM; Sa-Su:10AM-7PM; Mo: 10AM-5PM.

MORE INFO:
COPENHAGEN MEDIEVAL MARKET.
TRAVEL INFO: HOME AT FIRST’S SCANDINAVIA.
  


 

PIPERS AT THE FLEADH NUA IN ENNIS, COUNTY CLARE, CENTRAL IRELAND
Photo courtesy fleadhnua.com

May 20-28 2018
 ENNIS, COUNTY CLARE, WEST CENTRAL IRELAND
“Fleadh Nua”

          45th annual eight-day festival covering all of traditional Irish culture with 120+ events: concerts, céilithe, music, song and dancing workshops, street entertainment, pageants and parades, including educational workshops in music, song and dance, exhibitions, lectures, and film shows. This year’s Fleadh Nua is expected to draw 50,000 visitors to the attractive, very walkable, old city of Ennis.

PROGRAM: While events are scheduled throughout the day, many events occur in the evening. See a listing HERE.

LOCATION: Ennis, County Clare, about 60-90 minutes west of Home At First Central Ireland cottages. Easily combine with a tour through the Burren or along the coast of County Clare including

Fleadh Nua parade in downtown Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland. Photo courtesy fleadhnua.com.

Fleadh Nua parade, Ennis, Ireland
Photo courtesy fleadhnua.com

the Cliffs of Moher.
ADMISSION:
most events free; others charge a fee; evening concerts: €5-€20.
MORE INFO, see:
FLEADH NUA.
   


Monday-Sunday May 21 to June 10 2018
  PARIS, FRANCE 
“French Open Tennis at Roland Garros”

       The second of the tennis world's four annual major tournaments brings the best tennis players in the world to play the clay courts of venerable Roland Garros stadium. This year, with perennial favorites Serena Williams (2015 women's singles champion) a new mother, and Rafael Nadal (2017 men's singles champion) once again world #1, the red clay surface of the French Open may offer up new additions to its long history of surprising upsets.

 

ADMISSION TO THE TOURNAMENT: Single
match tickets cost from €25 to €240, depending upon date and location.
LOCATION: Roland-Garros Stadium is in the 16th Arrondissement of Paris west of the River Seine and the Arc de Triomphe. The nearest Métro stations are Porte d'Auteuil and Michel Ange-Molitor (Lines 9 & 10).
GETTING THERE: Depending on which
HOME AT FIRST PARIS apartment you have selected, your journey to Roland-Garros Stadium will take between 20-50 minutes.

MORE INFO, see: FRENCH OPEN TENNIS AT ROLAND GARROS.
  


Thursday-Saturday May 24-26 2018
  LONDON, ENGLAND 
“Chelsea Flower Show”

          The 105th Anniversary of the BIG one. Plants, flowers of all seasons, garden furniture, tools, theme gardens and greenhouses are all on display. The grounds of the Royal Hospital are alive with the sights and smells of the finest flower in the world. Nothing compares to the show’s gardens, created by some of the world’s leading garden designers whose ideas will leave lasting memories and endless inspiration.
LOCATION: Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4SL.
ADMISSION: £37, £43, & £65 ticket prices; advance purchase only through the official
ON-LINE TICKET SOURCE; subject to £2 "fulfillment fee" & any applicable postal charges.

OPENING TIMES A: 8AM-8PM Th-Fr; 8AM-5;30PM Sa; Admission: £65.

London's annual Chelsea Flower Show is a treat for the senses. Photo courtesy rhs.org.uk.

London's annual Chelsea Flower
Show is a treat for the senses.

Photo courtesy rhs.org.uk

OPENING TIMES B: 3:30-8PM Th-Fr; £43 Admission.

OPENING TIMES C: 5:30-8PM Th-Fr; £37 Admission.

FOOD: Pre-book a table — Tel: +44 (0)845 268 0251 — in one of the show’s four restaurants for a three-course lunch or supper in the Rock Bank Restaurant. Or, visit The Drawing Room, The Chelsea Brunch, the Jardin Blanc with Raymond Blanc, or the Champagne & Seafood Restaurant. Cafés, food courts, and picnic areas offer open-accessible hot and cold meals, snacks, and drinks.
GETTING THERE: From
HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina and The Brewery, walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 10 stops & 16 minutes to Sloane Square station. Turn left out of the station down (south on) Lower Sloane Street. After 2 minutes, at the first major crossroads turn right onto Royal Hospital Road and left onto hospital grounds, site of the flower show.
MORE INFO, see:
CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW.
   


 

THE HAY FESTIVAL DRAWS PEOPLE OF ALL AGES FROM AROUND THE WORLD TO MID-WALES
Photo courtesy hayfestival.com

Th-Su  May 24 - Jun 3, 2018

  HAY-ON-WYE, MID-WALES  

"The 31st Hay Festival"

       Bill Clinton called it "the Woodstock of the mind". We call it an invasion. Hay-on-Wye is normally a sleepy, quirky little town bridging the Welsh border with Herefordshire, western England, along the pretty River Wye. HOME AT FIRST has had some of our MID-WALES COTTAGES in/near Hay for 30 years. We have an unabashed fondness for the little place. The river runs

One of approximately two-dozen bookshops in downtown Hay-on-Wye, Mid-Wales. Photo © Home At First.

One of approximately two-dozen bookshops
in downtown Hay-on-Wye, Mid-Wales.

Photo © Home At First

wild and fishy. Its castle hulks as an unkempt ruin. Hay's convoluted, cobbled, confoundedly one-way streets discourage traffic and parking, and encourage walking. Its two-dozen or so USED BOOKSHOPS invite browsing, lingering, and time-forgetting. The pub is adequate, if a little sporty, and could feign a little sympathy to exasperated strangers who have circled Hay's maze of streets sometimes three times to find an address or a parking spot. Still, Hay's eccentricity appeals. Not quite Welsh or English, neither ancient nor modern, bookish Hay-on-Wye is overbooked just once per annum, and the cusp of May/June is the time. The Hay Festival draws several tens of thousands of readers, listeners, talkers, and writers to one of Britain's most important, and most eclectic, of international gatherings. Hippies and Harris-tweedies hobnob with hoodlums, high-rollers, hautocrats, and has-beens at Hay this week, and the town transforms totally caught in the onslaught. We recommend this fortnight not for visitors expecting sleep and sheep, but do so strongly to those who covet a chance to talk sleeplessly and gawk sheepishly.

LOCATION: Hay-on-Wye is at the junction of the B4348, B4350, and B4351, one mile east of the A438, wedged between the River Wye and the insignificant Dulas Brook, the border of WALES and ENGLAND.

GETTING THERE: A car is indispensable. Parking, however, is impossible.

TICKETS to events, lectures, performances, and happenings cost from free to upwards of £40. Most are priced under £10; others from £10-£25. PROGRAM

MORE INFO: WEBSITE

 


Wednesday, May 25, 2018
  BERMUDA 
“Bermuda Day”

          What once was a celebration of Queen Victoria’s  birthday has become the Atlantic island’s national day, celebrating its heritage with parades and races on land and sea, marking the unofficial start of summer in
BERMUDA when traditional Bermudians first bathe in the sea and consider it acceptable to wear Bermuda shorts to work.
LOCATION:
Home At First’s lodgings

Traditional Gombey dancers parade through the streets of Hamilton, Bermuda, celebrating Bermuda Day. Photo courtesy Bermuda Tourism.

Traditional Gombey dancers parade through
Hamilton, Bermuda, celebrating Bermuda Day.
Photo courtesy Bermuda Tourism

are located throughout Bermuda, including
close to the main parade route between Pembroke and Hamilton City.
ADMISSION:
free!
MORE INFO,
see:
BERMUDA DAY.

 


THE MHOR FESTIVAL

NO, THIS ISN'T DEXy'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS — but it is central scotland's highlands.
Photo courtesy the Mhor Festival

May 25-27, 2018
 BALQUHIDDER, CENTRAL SCOTLAND
“Mhor Festival”

          A celebration of food, theater, music, and Nature, the Mhor Festival is the idea of the oft-celebrated Mhor food mini-empire of this part of Scotland, and takes place on the farm near the original Monachyle Mhor restaurant about 5 miles west of Rob Roy's Balquhidder village in beautiful Balquhidder Glen.

LOCATION: Balquhidder Glen is one of Nature’s prettiest valleys, flanked by the celebrated Braes o’ Balquhidder, within the confines of Scotland’s Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. The historic cemetery of the Balquhidder Church includes the gravesite of noted Scottish patriot/rascal Rob Roy MacGregor.
GETTING THERE: some HOME AT FIRST CENTRAL SCOTLAND guests reach Monachyle Mhor Farm by driving west from Balquhidder village on the narrow Loch Voil road ten minutes.
ADMISSION: £20/adult/day; £5 children under 17.

MORE INFO, see: THE MHOR FESTIVAL
.
MORE ABOUT: THE BALQUHIDDER GLEN.

 


  TROOPING OF THE COLOUR — THE MAJOR'S REVIEW 

Saturday May 26 2018 from 9AM
  LONDON  
Royal Pomp & Ceremony:
“The Major General’s Review of
  the Trooping of the Colour”

          A high-ranking military stand-in for the Queen will take the salute in this rehearsal of the Queen’s Birthday Parade “Trooping the Colour” on Horse Guards Parade. This year the official parade occurs 2 weeks later, June 9, 2018.
ADMISSION: £5/prs for very limited grandstand seats at the Horse Guards Parade. It’s very difficult for foreigners

Guards in full ceremonial regalia rehearsing for the Trooping of the Colour parade for the Queen's Birthday. Photo courtesy www.army.mod.uk.

Guards in full ceremonial regalia rehearsing
for the Trooping of the Colour parade
for the Queen's Birthday.

Photo courtesy www.army.mod.uk

living outside of the UK to get tickets for grandstand viewing at the Horse Guards Parade, which can only be obtained by mail application sent the previous January or February with a return envelope franked with UK stamps. We recommend the more chaotic, more democratic, and free post-Horseguards procession down The Mall where the public lines both sides of The Mall. REQUEST ADVANCE TICKETS DURING JAN/FEB HERE.

TIME: Starts about 9AM. Arrive early to find a place to stand!
LOCATION: Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, London, between Westminster (Parliament) and Buckingham Palace.
GETTING THERE: from the Tower Hill Underground Station,
HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON guests take the District Line or Circle Line west 6 stops (10 minutes) to Embankment station. Walk 5-8 minutes west from Embankment station via Trafalgar Square to the Mall. Find a good place to observe the parade along the Mall. Total walking plus transit time: 25 minutes.
MORE INFO, see:
TROOPING THE COLOUR.

  


  THE ATHOLL HIGHLANDERS AT BLAIR CASTLE 

THE ANNUAL END-OF-MAY GATHERING AT BLAIR CASTLE KICKS OFF
THE SEASON OF HIGHLAND GAMES THROUGHOUT SCOTLAND

Photo courtesy Blair Castle

Sat.-Sun. May 26-27 2018
 CENTRAL SCOTLAND
“Blair Atholl Gathering
    & Highland Games”

          The Highland Games season in Central Scotland kicks off with a spectacle at Blair Atholl Castle near Pitlochry. The castle is still home to the Duke of Atholl and his private army (!) — the only such group permitted in Europe.
Saturday May 26 - 2:30PM:

Kilted hammer thrower at the Blair Atholl Highland Games. Photo © Home At First.

Kilted hammer thrower at the Blair Atholl Highland Games
Photo © Home At First

Parade of Atholl Highlanders and Pipe Band with inspection by the Duke of Atholl.

Sunday May 27 from 10AM: Highland Games with colorful marching bands, pipers in full Highland regalia, Scottish dancers, lots of concession stands selling everything from souvenirs to Scotch, and, most centrally, the track & field strongmen performing competitive feats of strength (caber tossing, tug-of-war, shot putting, many others) while trying to maintain modesty in their kilts. Sights for sore eyes? Or eyesores?

LOCATION: Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Perthshire, 45-75 minutes east northeast of HOME AT FIRST’S CENTRAL SCOTLAND lodgings. From Killin take the A827 east northeast to the A9, then the A9 north through Pitlochry 6 miles to Blair Castle on the B8079.

ADMISSION:

Saturday's 2:30PM Parade of Atholl Highlanders with Pipe Band:
Garden Admission Fee applies:
£6.50/adult/senior/student, £3/kids 5-16, £16/family.

Sunday:
Highland Games: £7/adult, £5/seniors, £3/children 5-16.

Blair Castle & Grounds: £12/adult, £10.30/seniors & students, £7.70/child 5-16, £35/family (up to 3 kids).

OPEN: Castle & Grounds open 9:30AM-5:30PM.

PARKING: Free.
MORE INFO, see: BLAIR ATHOLL CASTLE.
  


IRON AGE LIFE ON LOCH TAY, CENTRAL SCOTLAND

The Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay, Central Scotland
Photo courtesy Scottish Crannog Centre

Sunday, May 27, 2018 - 10:30AM-4:30PM

 Near Kenmore on Loch Tay, Central Scotland

“Iron Age Ingenuity”

          Something very different today at the Scottish Crannog Centre reconstructed prehistoric lake dwelling: Iron Age crafts required an understanding of bronze and other materials for weapons, baskets, storage pots, arrowheads, and all sorts of practical items for cooking, housing, warfare, religion, and clothing. Primitive? Come see — and maybe change your opinion.

LOCATION: Scottish Crannog Centre, SW of Kenmore on the Loch Tay low road.

ADMISSION: £10/adult, £9/senior, £7/children, and £32/family. Festival Supplement may apply.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s CENTRAL SCOTLAND lodgings: take the A84/A85/A827 north to Killin. Then follow the A827 east the length of Loch Tay to Kenmore. Proceed through the village to the narrow low road marked for Killin, Ardeonaig, and the Scottish Crannog Centre, which is about a mile west of Kenmore.

MORE INFO, see: IRON AGE INGENUITY.
    


 

ONLOOKERS ENCOURAGE A RUNNER climbing steep gumstool hill to tetbury's market square
Photo courtesy www.tetburywoolsack.co.uk/

Monday May 28 2018  From 11AM
  TETBURY, SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND  
“Woolsack Race Day”

          Idiosyncratic local custom built around historic Tetbury’s successful past as a principal wool market town in the center of southern Gloucestershire’s sheep country. Since the late 1970s an annual day of races challenges strong men and women to carry heavy, wool-filled burlap bags while running 240 yards up the steep hill from a pub at the base of Tetbury to its elevated, late-medieval market square. The few pubs (including Tetbury's iconic Snooty Fox), several restaurants, and many antique shops, crafts stores, and art galleries of town do significant business this day. So do musicians, a fun fair, and a magician on the market square. The races and festival are colorful, curious, and quaint, just like Tetbury itself.
LOCATION: Tetbury, where the A433 Bath-Cirencester Rd crosses the B4014, is in the very center of the Southern COTSWOLDS, equidistant from Bristol, Swindon, and Cheltenham, England.
Home At First's nearest lodgings are in/around Tetbury. Highgrove, country estate of Charles, Prince of Wales, is just south of town.

GETTING THERE: walk 1-10 minutes from our cottages in or near Tetbury, or drive 1-hour south from HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages.
ADMISSION: free!
TIMES: events (including an uphill bicycle sprint and children's races) & entertainment begin at 11:30AM; main races occur between 2-4PM.
PARKING: best to park at the base of the Tetbury village hill and walk up to the town center. Fee charged for in-town parking.
MORE INFO, see:
TETBURY WOOLSACK DAY.

 


Mon. May 28 2018 commencing at 12N
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND 
“Cheese Rolling on Cooper’s Hill”

          Maybe you’ve seen the videos on cable news: competitors sit on the edge of a steep slope, waiting for someone to start a 7 lb. Double Gloucester cheese wheel rolling down the 45º hillside. Cheese chasers plummet downhill after the accelerating cheese. The first person down the hill wins the race and the cheese. Lots of others fall, cartwheel, dive headlong, and crash. Injuries and laughter abound. Practiced by modern loonies, this comical lunacy may have roots in ancient nutcases among Phoenicians, Britons, or Romans. Cheese rolling was already an old tradition by the American Revolution. One theory links rolling to fertility rites, although we don’t readily see the connection. We think

Mirth, madness, and mayhem ensure that the now-illegal Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling continues in the Cotswolds annually. PA Photo courtesy The Telegraph.

Mirth, madness, and mayhem ensure that
the now-illegal Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling
continues in the Cotswolds annually.
Photo courtesy The Telegraph

too much idle time and alcohol may have been the causes. Today, it seems that lunacy continues simply for its own sake, and for the benefit of the charities that receive your admission fee.

POLITICS: Since 2010 the Cheese-Rolling on Cooper’s Hill has been an “unofficial event”, organized by a nameless and perhaps formless group of individuals. Officially discouraged by the locality, the landowner, the constabulary, and environmentalists concerned about safety, crowd control, insurance, and erosion as the event has gained popularity, the annual Cheese Rolling is now just “assumed” as a sponsorless tradition at noon on Cooper’s Hill each annual Late-Spring Bank Holiday Monday.
LOCATION: Cooper’s Hill is at Brockworth village just west of the A46 and about 3 miles east of the city of Gloucester.
ADMISSION: None.

PARKING: To discourage the event, authorities have made parking, stopping, and standing restrictions designed to make it difficult to get to Cooper's Hill. Some local landowners may charge for parking on their properties this day. Meanwhile, local bus service will not be disrupted, suggesting that public transport routed near Cooper's Hill may be especially crowded this coming late-May Bank Holiday Monday.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are no toilet facilities at the event.
GETTING THERE: Drive about 30 minutes north from Tetbury, home to
HOME AT FIRST’S SOUTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages. From HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and around Chipping Campden, drive 35 minutes. Watch for signs to Brockworth along the A46 about mid-way between the Cotswolds town of Stroud and the city of Cheltenham.
MORE INFO & DISCLAIMER, see:
CHEESE ROLLING ON COOPER HILL.
 
 


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Happy Holidays from
— HOME AT FIRST —