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—2019
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MANY PRICES STILL WELL
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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 &

APRIL 2019

 
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 our
apartments on the north side of Tower Bridge by the Tower of London and
on the south side of Tower Bridge in London's Bermondsey neighborhood
will take public transportation from the Tower Hill Underground Station,
reached by a walk of 8-15 minutes or a 5-12 minute bus ride.

 

 

— HISTORIC SITES

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: £27.50/adult, £21.50/seniors & students (16 & up), £13.10/child (5-15), £49.40/family (1 adult + up to 3 kids 5-15), £69.90/family (2 adults + up to 3 kids 5-15).
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 in Bermondsey.
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 (on-line only), free of charge, but subject to a £1 booking charge. Book a
t least 12-18 months in advance. Maximum Group Size: 6 persons April-October; 12 persons November-March.

AVAILABILITY: The Ceremony of the Keys is CURRENTLY FULLY BOOKED THROUGH APRIL 2020. Tickets for MAY thru OCTOBER 2020 will become available NOVEMBER 1, 2019.
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 in Bermondsey.
MORE INFO, see:
CEREMONY OF THE KEYS
  

Yeoman of the Guard at The Tower of London's Main Western Gate. Photo © Home At First.
 
Yeoman of the Guard at
the Tower of London's
main western gate

Photo © Home At First


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.

Falconer's Quest (daily from early April thru October) at the Birds of Prey Arena.

Warwick Dungeon (daily): 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: MAR-2APR 10AM-4PM; 3-28APR 10AM-5PM; 29APR-3MAY 10AM-4PM; 4-6MAY 10AM-5PM; 7-24MAY 10AM-5PM; 25MAY-1SEP 10AM-5PM.

CASTLE ADMISSION: £31/adult, £28/child, £28/senior. Supplemental admission charged for entrance to the Castle Dungeon. NOTE: Book on-line in advance for discounted prices that can save up to 30%.

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

 

— MUSEUMS

 

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 or bus 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
.

 


 

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.

MORE INFO, see: BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM

 


— THEATRE

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 tube and Covent Garden tube,


 
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE IN LONDON

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 March 28, 2020. Prices from £19.99.

  

   “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 October 27, 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 £24.

  

   “Phantom of the Opera”: long running Gothic musical. Performances through at least October 5, 2019, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, 57 Haymarket SW1Y 4QL.
Near Piccadilly Circus tube.
Rating: Family (ages 10+). Prices from £30.

   “The Mousetrap”: Agatha Christie’s record-running mystery continues through at least October 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 November 30, 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 29, 2019, 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.

   “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 April 4, 2020, 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 £33.00.

   “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 May 24, 2020, at the Cambridge Theatre, 32-34 Earlham St, Soho WC2 9HU.
Piccadilly Circus Tube. Musical. Rating: Family (ages 6+).
Tickets from £26.

   “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 January 25, 2020, 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 £24.


LONDON THEATRE DETAILS

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.
 


— ART EXHIBITIONS

NOW THRU MAY 6 2019

DETAIL OF PIERRE BONNARD'S LE JARDIN (1936) PROMOTING THE CURRENT EXHIBITION
Image courtesy the Tate Britain, London

Ongoing Daily thru May 6, 2019
  LONDON, ENGLAND   – THE TATE MODERN MUSEUM —
THE C C LAND EXHIBITION
“Pierre Bonnard — The Colour of Memory”

          Among French modernist painters of the first half of the 20th century color was a focus as was light for their predecessors of the Impressionist era. Two giants of the age emerged, the mercurial Henri Matisse, and the poetic Pierre Bonnard. While Matisse captivates new generations of admirers, Bonnard has had much less attention outside of his native France. The current Tate Gallery exhibition aims to change that. Focusing on Bonnard's second career half (1912-1947), the exhibition plunges into the richly colored vague shapes of Bonnard's painting as they present dreamy vignettes of moments in time expressed in color, much like Monet captured moments in light.

LOCATION: 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 May 6, 2019:
10AM-6PM Su-Th; 10AM-10PM Fr-Sa.
ADMISSION: £17/adult (£17/seniors & students; £5 children 12-18; under-12s are free) for this special exhibition. Otherwise, the Tate Modern's collection and galleries

are open to the public without charge.
GETTING THERE:
HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON guests at/near ST. KATHERINE'S MARINA north of Tower Bridge, 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.
          Home At First Bermondsey-area guests (south of Tower Bridge) can walk directly to the Tate Modern by following The Queen's Walk west along the south bank of the River Thames, reaching the museum in about 30 minutes.

MORE INFO, see: TATE MODERN.

 


 

DETAIL FROM SOROLLA'S 1896 SEWING THE SAIL TO PROMOTE THE UPCOMING EXHIBITION
Image courtesy the National Gallery, London

Onoing thru July 7, 2019 10AM-6PM daily (Fridays until 9PM)

  LONDON   – The National Gallery 

“Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light”

          Special exhibition examining the work of the Spanish Impressionist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, whose work is rarely seen outside of Spain. Sorolla is known as a "Master of Light" whose paintings have a luminescence that rivals much better known Impressionists like Van Gogh.

LOCATION: The Sainsbury Wing 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 (Mo-Fr); £18 (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:
SOROLLA — SPANISH MASTER OF LIGHT.

 


 
 

FARMS near auvers (1890) PROMOTING THE CURRENT EXHIBITION
Image courtesy the Tate Britain, London

Ongoing thru August 11, 2019
  LONDON, ENGLAND   –
THE TATE BRITAIN MUSEUM
The Ey Exhibition: “Van Gogh & Britain”

          Between the ages of 20-23, Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh lived for two extended periods in England, working for an art dealer, as a substitute teacher at a boarding school, and as an assistant to a minister, experiencing life in London and in the English countryside. Van Gogh's two years in England were formative, and influenced the direction of his art and his spirituality.
          London's Tate Britain is holding a special exhibition dedicated to this developmental period of Van Gogh's life, and his influence upon generations of British modern artists. Some 45 Van Gogh paintings (including "Starry Night on the Rhone" and "Sunflowers") have been assembled for this major exhibition, the largest devoted to Van Gogh in the UK for almost 10 years.

EXHIBITION OPEN DAILY thru August 11, 2019: 10AM-6PM Su-Th; 10AM-10PM Fr.
ADMISSION: £22/adult (£20/seniors & students) 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 (or ride the bus) 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.

 

— WALKING TOURS

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, 2019. CLOSED DECEMBER & JANUARY.
  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 from the menu of “Roman York”, “Secret

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

York”, “Essential York”, & the popular "Snickelways" 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.


Sundays at 2PM
  LONDON, ENGLAND   – Tower Hill Tube Meeting Point
“Guided Walking Tour of Bizarre 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 Sunday April 28) 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  
  

— TRADITIONS & PAGEANTS

MAY–OCTOBER — Rotating Schedule

  BERMUDA 

“Beating of Retreats”

          Colorful historical re-enactment of military ceremony piping troops back into their forts at the World Heritage town of St. Georges on the east end of BERMUDA, the central-island city of Hamilton, and the Dockyard on the western end of the island.

LOCATIONS: Various. St. George's town, Hamilton city and at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Beating retreat at the Royal Navy Dockyard on Bermuda's west end.

Beating retreat at the Royal Navy
Dockyard on Bermuda's west end

COST: free.

GETTING THERE: Public transport.
 

 


EVENTS IN APRIL 2019

 

April 3-7, 2019

 Gothenburg, Sweden 

“43rd Gothenburg Horse Show”

          One of the world’s most important indoor horse shows, the 5-day-long Gothenburg Horse Show has become an annual fixture on the calendar of major equestrian events, which this year includes World Cup competitions in both show jumping and dressage.

LOCATION: The Scandinavium Arena, near Liseberg Amusement Park, Gothenburg.

Show jumping -- one of many equestrian events -- at the annual Gothenburg Horse Show. Photo courtesy goteborghorseshow.com.
Show jumping—one of many equestrian
events—at the annual Gothenburg Horse Show

Photo courtesy goteborghorseshow.com

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s nearest Gothenburg lodgings: take the #42 or #52 bus to the Korsvägen transport center by Liseberg, then any tram north a short distance to the Scandinavium.

ADMISSION: A wide variety of ticket types available for days and partial days starting at SEK150 up to SEK840.

MORE INFO, see: GOTHENBURG HORSE SHOW.
    


 

CAMBRIDGE SINKING IN 1978. After 161 MEN'S races,  Oxford lags behind Cambridge 83-80 (1 tie).
Photo courtesy www.theboatrace.org

Sunday, April 7, 2019 2:15PM & 3:15PM

 LONDON, England 

“Men's & Women's Oxford v. Cambridge Boat Races”

          More competitive than Duke vs. North Carolina basketball, older than professional baseball, and more culturally significant than the annual Army-Navy (football) Game, the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races may be the most intense, colorful 20 minutes in sports.

STARTING TIME: The two Boat Races begin at 2:15PM & 3:15PM.

LOCATION: the boats row west along a 4.5mi length of the River Thames between the west LONDON neighborhoods of Putney and Mortlake.

ADMISSION: Free. But, if you want a choice seat with a broad selection of refreshments, consider a riverside pub (come early).

GETTING THERE: from Home At First’s London Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina by the Tower, take a District Line Wimbledon-bound train 30 minutes west from Tower Hill to Putney Bridge stop. From Home At First’s London Apartments at The Brewery, take the Jubilee Line train west 5 minutes from London Bridge station to Westminster station, then change to a District Line Wimbledon-bound train west 20 minutes to Putney Bridge stop.

MORE INFO, see: OXFORD-CAMBRIDGE BOAT RACE.
 


BERMUDA AGRICULTURE SHOW

 

"bermuda homegrown" is the theme of the 2019 ag show
Photo courtesy the Bermuda Agricultural Show

 

Thursday-Saturday, April 11-13, 2019

  BERMUDA  

“80th Bermuda Agricultural Show” (Agricultural Exhibition)

          Bermuda's version of a county fair, with foods, domestic animals, crafts. Equestrian events each day. Musical entertainment, too. 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 11-13, 2019, 8AM to 6PM daily

ADMISSION: $15/adult; Free admission for Kids under 16 & Seniors 65+.

TICKETS: SEE WEBSITE

CATALOG:  OFFICIAL BERMUDA AG SHOW CATALOG

MORE INFO, see: BERMUDA AGRICULTURAL EXHIBITION.

 


Friday-Sunday, April 12-14 2019

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: £15 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 12-14, 2019

 BALLYDEHOB  , Co. Cork, SW Ireland

“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.

BEST EVENT: Sunday's Festival Céilí at the Ballydehob Community Hall: live music from 3-6PM.

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

LOCATION: Various venues in Ballydehob, southwestern Co. Cork.
ADMISSION: Most events free. Others
cost from €10-€15.

GETTING THERE from Home At First’s SOUTHWESTERN IRELAND lodgings in & near Kenmare, County Kerry: drive the N71 south from Glengarriff through Bantry 38 miles (a little over 1 hour) 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 13, 2019 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: £24/adult, includes train fare and fish & chips.
GETTING THERE: Drive about 25 minutes south from Chipping Campden, home to 
HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS
cottages.
MORE INFO, see:
GWR RWY FISH CHIPS AND STEAM.
 


Tuesday, April 16  2019  12Noon

 COPENHAGEN, Denmark  

“Queen Margrethe’s 79th Birthday”

          Crowds of patriotic Danes gather at the Amalienborg Palace today to cheer their beloved Queen Margrethe upon the occasion of her birthday. A noon, following the mid-day changing of the palace guard (a spectacle in its own right), the queen and her family normally appear on the balcony to greet the throng – usually several times to satisfy the traditional imploring chant: “Margrethe, Margrethe, come out, or we will never go home!”

The Danish Royal Family celebrates with Queen Margrethe II on her birthday. Photo Bill Ebbesen.

The Danish Royal Family celebrates with
Queen Margrethe II on her birthday.

Photo by Bill Ebbesen

LOCATION: Copenhagen's Amalienborg Palace.

ADMISSION: Free.

GETTING THERE from Home At Firsts nearest Copenhagen lodgings, along NYHAVN’s old harbor: walk about 1/2–mile north to the Amalienborg Palace.
    


 

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

Monday, April 22, 2019  1PM

 LONDON, England  

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

          Poor QEII (not really). April 21, is the actual birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, born on April 21 in 1926. But, loud celebrations are officially discouraged on Sundays in Britain. So, this year on Monday April 22 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 (or 22) official 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, probably just coincidentally.

ADMISSION: Free.

MORE INFO: QUEENS BIRTHDAY GUN SALUTE.

 


 

COCKNEY PEARLY QueenS & KINGS WAVE ENGLISH FLAGS AT london's TRAFALGAR SQUARE
Photo courtesy london.gov.uk

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 
(or thereabouts)

 THROUGHOUT ENGLAND

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

          Today might be England's National Day. Then again, it might be just another Tuesday 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 Saturday, April 20, 2019, with games, bands, jousting, Morris dancing, an English farmers' market, and lots of feasting.

 


  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

Tuesday-Sunday, April 23-28, 2019

  ARROWTOWN, Otago, South Island, New Zealand  

“35th 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.

BEST ACTIVITY DAY: Saturday is Market Day with a large open-air market 10AM-4PM and the Festival Parade begins at 2PM.

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.

 


I  C  E  L  A  N  D

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

Thursday April 25, 2019
  ICELAND 
“First Day of Summer”

          Iceland's traditional calendar makes the first Thursday after April 18 the beginning of the month of Harpa, the first month of the Icelandic summer. Not convinced? You're not alone — despite parades and ice cream cones, even the Icelanders are hedging their bets during Harpa: late-April is the time for Iceland's annual Fossavatn cross-country Ski Marathon.
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.
  

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 28 2019
  LONDON, ENGLAND  
“The London Marathon”
         
 Today, if the marathon route and timing is as projected, Home At First’s London guests staying apartments located on both sides of the Tower Bridge have a near ringside seat right outside their apartment to view one of the world's great foot races, the London Marathon.

         The race kicks off with a staggered start at 9AM in Greenwich, east of London on the south side of The Thames. Between about 9:30AM to 3:30PM approximately 35,500 racers will be crossing the Tower Bridge from the south, turn right and head east to loop the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf then swing past Tower Bridge Road and between Tower Hill tube and the Tower of London. 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.
LOCATION: Greenwich to The Mall, London, England.
GETTING TO THE NEAREST SPECTATOR POINT:
BERMONDSEY guests walk 2 minutes or less from any
Home At First London apartment in Bermondsey to Tower Bridge Road north of Tooley Street reach a spectator vantage. Home At First guests in apartments in/near St. Katharine's Marina walk 2-4 minutes 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.

 


Mon. thru Sun. Apr. 29–May 5, 2019
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 3:30PM; Sat-Sun to 5PM.

MORE INFO: RIBE VIKING CENTER WEB SITE.

 


 

WALPURGIS NIGHT BONFIRE AT SKANSEN
Photo by Lars-Erik Orthlund courtesy Skansen.se

Tuesday, 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

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.

weather. Youthful, boisterous – again, 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. Bonfire lighting: 9PM. Concert: 9:20PM.

ADMISSION to SKANSEN:

• Walpurgis Day, April 30: 170SEK/adult; 150SEK/senior; 60SEK/kids 4-15; students 16+: FREE!

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.

 

 


EVENTS IN MAY 2019

 

 

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

Wednesday May 1, 2019
  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 5, 2019
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 3:30PM; Sat-Sun to 5PM.

MORE INFO: RIBE VIKING CENTER WEB SITE.

 


Fri-Mon  May 3-6, 2019
  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 4–6 2019

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.
GETTING THERE: From the Northern Cotswolds, drive SE on the A44 to Woodstock. From Woodstock follow the brown signs leading to Blenheim Palace.
ADMISSION:
Palace, Park & Gardens—£27/adults, £24/seniors/students,
   £15.50/children 5-16, £65.50/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 5–6, 2019  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 60 minutes drive southwest of
HOME AT FIRST’S COTTAGES IN THE NORTHERN COTSWOLDS in/near Chipping Campden.
GETTING THERE:
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 5 at 10:35AM 2019
“Ceremonial Cheese Rolling”  and
Sat May 11 at 12:45PM 2019
“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 on the first Sunday in May, 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 the Saturday after the first Sunday in May 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 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 8-12 2019 from 7AM daily
 WINDSOR CASTLE, ENGLAND
“Royal Windsor Horse Show”

          Large international horse show fair — 76th 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 general entry admission from £10-£30. Upgrades available at extra cost.

TICKETS: Tel +44 121 796 6290 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. Journey time by rail: generally under 1 hour. From either station in Windsor it’s a 7-minute walk to the 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.
    


Fish & Chips            & Steam

GWR 7903 steaming FROM CHELTENHAM TO TODDINGTON STATION
Photo courtesy GWR

Saturday May 11, 2019 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: £24/person, includes train fare and fish & chips dinner. Drinks available for sale in the buffet car.
GETTING THERE: From
HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages in and around Chipping Campden, drive 25 minutes south to Toddington Station (free parking).
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 Saturday to Saturday May 11-25 2019
 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; tickets: £10-£40. Lunchtime concerts (performed by university music students at 1:05PM May 14-17 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

 

 

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

May 19-27 2019
 ENNIS, COUNTY CLARE, WEST CENTRAL IRELAND
“Fleadh Nua”

          46th 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 20 to June 9 2019
  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 & 2018 men's singles champion), 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 €1,000 or more, 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 23-25 2019
  LONDON, ENGLAND 
“Chelsea Flower Show”

          The 106th 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: £67.

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; £44 Admission.

OPENING TIMES C: 5:30-8PM Th-Fr; £38 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 23 - June 2, 2019

  HAY-ON-WYE, MID-WALES  

"The 32nd 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 plus. 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

 


Friday, May 24, 2019
  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 24-26, 2019
  BALQUHIDDER, CENTRAL SCOTLAND 
“Mhor Festival”

          An award-winning 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. Even if you don't go for the festival, go to drive this wonderfully lonely Scottish glen. Along the way, be sure to stop at Monachyle Mhor Restaurant for a wee dram, for tea, of, if you feel like splurging, for a grand (and pricey) meal.
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 25 2019 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 8, 2019.
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 HERE.

TIME: Starts about 9-10AM. 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 25-26 2019
 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 25 - 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 26 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:
ADMISSION: £5 PLUS Garden Admission Fee:
£7.70/adult/senior/student, £3.50/kids 5-16, £19/family.

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

Blair Castle & Grounds: £13/adult, £11.25/seniors & students, £8.30/child 5-16, £38/family (up to 3 kids).

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

PARKING: Free.
MORE INFO, see: ATHOLL HIGHLANDERS PARADE & GATHERING.
  


IRON AGE LIFE ON LOCH TAY, CENTRAL SCOTLAND

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

Saturday & Sunday, May 26-27, 2019 - 10AM-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 27 2019  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. £3 parking fee charged.
MORE INFO, see:
TETBURY WOOLSACK DAY.

 


Mon. May 27 2019 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. Good luck, wear good walking shoes and bring raingear.

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, see:
CHEESE ROLLING ON COOPER HILL.
 
 


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 30 2019
  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:

4:15PM – 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 10-20 minutes from
Home At First’s London Apartments past Tower Hill and the Tower of London to the church.
ADMISSION: free.
MORE INFO, see:
BEATING THE BOUNDS
  


Friday May 31, 2019

 CHIPPING CAMPDEN, NORTHERN 
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND 

"The Cotswold Olimpicks"

          This odd collection of rural sporting contests called "The Cotswold Olimpicks" has been held on a hillside just outside Chipping Campden for 400 years, and claims to be the inspiration for the modern Olympics. These old-fashioned games feature traditional sack races, the standing jump, putting the shot, throwing the sledge-hammer, spurning the barre (a form of tossing the caber), tugs of
war, and — the editor’s personal favorite — shin-kicking.

Friday May31  2PM-Midnight — The Olimpicks: The festival begins Friday

Shin Kicking at the Cotswold Olimpicks usually draws the attention of a curious international press. Betty Stocker Photo courtesy www.olimpickgames.co.uk.

Shin Kicking at the Cotswold Olimpicks
usually draws the attention of  a
curious international press.
Betty Stocker Photo courtesy
www.olimpickgames.co.uk

afternoon with a medieval fair and music

performances for families on Dover’s Hill one mile northwest of town.
The Olimpick events begin at 6:30PM.
The events include the sports plus displays, Morris dancing, and band entertainment. The day culminates at 9:45PM with a bonfire, fireworks, and a torchlight procession back into Chipping Campden, where there will be dancing on the town square until midnight.

LOCATION: The games take place in Chipping Campden and on Dover’s Hill, just NW of Chipping Campden direction Weston-sub-Edge. The hillside forms a natural amphitheater that overlooks Bretforton, the Vale of Evesham and the Malvern Hills.
GETTING THERE: walk from
HOME AT FIRST’S COTSWOLDS Chipping Campden cottages. From Home At First cottages outside Chipping Campden, drive northwest out of Chipping Campden less than one mile to Dover’s Hill.
OLIMPICKS ADMISSION: £7/adult, £3/kids 5-16. Purchase on-line in advance or on the day at a ticket booth in front of the stage in Chipping Campden town square.

FREE PARKING: at Chipping Campden school.
SHUTTLE BUS from Chipping Campden town square to Dover Hill: £1/adult, available at the town square in Chipping Campden where buses will depart for the Olympicks.

PARKING AT DOVER HILL MAIN CAR PARK: £5, payable in cash at the gate.

PARKING AT DOVER HILL LOWER CAR PARK: £5, payable in cash at the gate. Includes a shuttle bus ride up the hill to the Olympicks site.
MORE INFO, see:
COTSWOLDS OLIMPICKS
   


 

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Happy Travels from
— HOME AT FIRST —