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—2019
DESTINATIONS

MANY PRICES STILL WELL
BELOW 10 YEARS AGO!

 

BRITAIN &

IRELAND

 

SCOTLAND
'THE BRAVE'

 

IRELAND

'RAINBOW'S END'

 

ENGLAND
'THE LIONHEART'

 

WALES
'THE PENDRAGON'

 

LONDON

'WORLD CAPITAL'

 


 
 

PARIS

'LA BELLE'

 

 

PARIS + LONDON

 


 

SWI+ZERLAND

ALPINE SPECTACLE

 


 

 

ITALY

BELLA!

 

 


 

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CUSTOM-MADE

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FRANCE

GERMANY

NETHERLANDS

SPAIN

 

 

KOOL!

bermuda

A PRETTY PLACE PLUS

 


 

HOT!

ICELAND

 

COMBINED

ITINERARIES

 

 

SCANDINAVIA

THE GREAT NORTH

 

NORWAY

 

SWEDEN

 

DENMARK

 

5 COMBINED

ITINERARIES

 


 

NEW

ZEALAND

ROAD TRIP!

 

NORTH ISLAND

 

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Current Events

AT HOME AT FIRST DESTINATIONS

   

LET THE HIGHLAND GAMES BEGIN!
SEE: CENTRAL SCOTLAND JULY 3

          Highland Games are hokum. a traveling group of strongmen — some of whom may occasionally be scottish — follow the circuit around scotland from late-may into september, competing at events that are a collection of traditional and recent track & field tests. crowds come to see the strong men in kilts, hear the pipes echo off the hills, watch slips of girls toe-dance while swords flash around and between their feet. concession stands hawk all manor of souvenir tripe and scottish dietary delicacies like french fries and belgian waffles. drams of whisky and pints of ale flow like brown highland burns. red colors many more than the average number of heads of hair, quite a few straining faces of competitors, and not a few extra frozen and extra anti-frozen noses.  most highland games are local events held on one day. Some are larger, regional events held over two days. highland games are carnivals, full of kitsch and costume. They are entertainment for the community and not just put on for tourists, but tourists must attend or the community cannot sustain its annual sponsorship.  foreign visitors, then, are very welcome at these seeming local fairs, and they get the rare chance to see the scots  at play, doing what they love to do in authentic, often historic settings. hokum? you bet — LOW ARt and highland hi-jinks you won't soon forget.

photos © Home At First

 

CALENDAR OF SELECTED EVENTS

JUNE & JULY 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). Save 10% by buying tickets ahead of time
on-line.
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.

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

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
  

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: JUNE thru 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 May 3, 2020, 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 April 4, 2020, 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 March 28, 2020 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 23, 2020, at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Rd. London S1V 1LG.

Victoria tube. Rating: Family (ages 7+). Prices from £22.

   “The Lion King”: Long-running blockbuster with spectacular staging though at least December 15, 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 £36.00.

   “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 £26.


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

 

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  

 

— FESTIVALS & FAIRS

Fri - Sat  June 14 - 29, 2019

Various Times Daily
  YORKSHIRE DALES, NORTH ENGLAND 
“39th Annual Grassington Festival”

          One of our annual favorites, Grassington lets you see some of the best and most varied talent in Britain and peer into the folk traditions of the Yorkshire Dales. Grassington draws crowds with its festival of music, comedy, lectures, poetry, guided walking, crafts, and art. Expect an eclectic range of music performances including pop, rock, choral, folk, classical, British cabaret, opera, and piano. Expect lectures from politicians, heroes, and adventurers. Expect nonsense from stand-up comedians.

Village Post Office, Grassington, Yorkshire Dales, England. Photo © Home At First.

Village Post Office, Grassington, Yorkshire Dales
Photo © Home At First.

Then Grassington adds its own Dales flavor to these headliners with customary local demonstrations about the art of beer tasting, the crafts of building sand castles and kites, and (for the premium of a £25/person ticket!) lectures on how to construct Yorkshire dry stonewalls. Also planned are walks about the village and its beautiful valley setting. Great Fun! See web site for daily events listing and prices.
LOCATION: Grassington is a classical Dales village of tearooms, antique shops, flower boxes, and stone cottages, centered in a very scenic part of the Yorkshire Dales.
ADMISSION: £0-£45/person depending upon event, with most ticket prices under £20 and many events free. See
PROGRAM.
GETTING THERE: Grassington, Wharfedale, is on the B6265 20-25 miles west of
HOME AT FIRST’S NORTH YORKSHIRE lodgings.
MORE INFO, see:
GRASSINGTON FESTIVAL.

   


WENSLEYDALE, YORKSHIRE

The Dales Festival of Food & Drink

One of Britain's great cheeses is produced in Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales.

Saturday & Sunday June 15-16, 2019, 10AM-5PM daily
  LEYBURN, NORTH 
  YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND 

“The Dales Festival of Food
   and Drink”

          18th annual festival of food and drinks produced throughout the Yorkshire Dales. Over 80 trade stands, cooking and other demonstrations, farming demonstrations, farmers market, real ale festival-within-

The Yorkshire Dales are among England's garden spots: producers of fine foods. Photo courtesy The Dales Festival of Food and Drink.

More than just a pretty place, the Yorkshire Dales are
among England's garden spots, the producers
of fine foods for the nation and the world.

Both Photos Courtesy The Dales Festival of Food and Drink

the-festival, teashop trail plus bands and bunting.
LOCATION: Leyburn, Yorkshire, England.
ADMISSION: Free. (Parking charge: £5/car. Comes with the festival's events program.)
GETTING THERE: Leyburn is about 25 miles NW of
HOME AT FIRST’S NORTH YORKSHIRE
cottages. Take the A61 north to Ripon, then the A6108 NW to Leyburn, the “capital” of the lovely glen of Wensleydale. Alternatively, make the journey part of the adventure by taking the WENSLEYDALE RAILWAY or THE DALES BUS.
MORE INFO, see:
YORKSHIRE DALES FOOD FESTIVAL and
BY TRAIN & BUS THROUGH THE YORKSHIRE DALES (be sure to check current schedules for changes & disruptions).
 


The 1,000 year old Oratory of St. Lua atop the hill in Killaloe town, a relic of the time of Brian Ború set near the location of his castle. Photo © Home At First.

The 1,000 year old Oratory of St. Lua atop the hill in Killaloe town,
a relic of the time of Brian Ború set near the location of his castle.

Photo © Home At First.

Thursday-Sunday July 17-18,  2019

  KILLALOE/BALLINA, CENTRAL IRELAND  

"FÉILE BRIAN BORÚ" (The Festival of Brian Ború)

          One thousand years ago a young man, born to become chief of the clan O'Brien, rose to become the first and greatest High King of Ireland, and led the unified Irish clans in victory against their allied enemies of Viking colonists and bands of Irish collaborators. The boy was born in KILLALOE, eastern County Clare, a town twinned with its close neighbor, Ballina, County Tipperary, connected by a bridge across the River Shannon in CENTRAL IRELAND. The great Irish king was killed at the apex of his life, the victorious Battle of Clontarf in 1014, by a retreating Danish warrior. The martyred king who had liberated Ireland was called Brian Ború. His hometown of Killaloe (along with its cross-river twin Ballina) celebrate the life of their greatest native son every year at the start of July. The Brian Ború Festival (Féile Brian Ború) has grown to four days, with a wide variety of events planned for every day.

LOCATION: Killaloe and Ballina are at the southern end of the large central Irish lake, Lough Derg, along the section of the River Shannon between the lake and the Shannon Estuary. The city of LIMERICK is fewer than 20 miles to the south.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: are in Killaloe (see NOREEN'S TOWN HOUSE) as well as in several other towns and villages along the eastern shore of Lough Derg.

GETTING THERE: Unless you are staying in Killaloe, you will need a car to get to the festival. Free parking is available at several locations in and around both Killaloe and Ballina.

ADMISSION to most events, lectures, performances, and happenings is free. Some few events cost a few euros. Free Fireworks over the Shannon Rive Saturday at 11PM. Killaloe Farmers' Market Sunday at 11AM — free. Féile Fest at the Lakeside Hotel at 2PM Sunday — free. See the program at the festival website.

MORE INFO: WEBSITE.
 


Weds-Sat, July 24–28, 2019   10AM–10PM
  CHULMLEIGH, DEVONSHIRE, SOUTHWESTERN ENGLAND 
“Chulmleigh Old Fair”

          Ancient west country small town fair held each year since King Henry III granted Chulmleigh its royal town charter in 1253. Fair, sheep show, flower show. Different events each day, but the big day is Wednesday: country market day with approx. 60 street stalls. Saturday features fancy dress and street entertainment.


KING HENRY iii's GAUNTLET, SYMBOL OF THE TOWN'S
ROYAL CHARTER

LOCATION: Chulmleigh is just east of the A377, about 45 minutes north of HOME AT FIRST’S COTTAGES IN DEVONSHIRE.

GETTING THERE: Take the A386 north from Tavistock to the A3072 east. Take the A3072 east to the A377 at Copplestone. Take the A377 NW to Leigh Cross, then the B3096 (Leigh Road) east 1 mile to Chulmleigh village.
ADMISSION: most events are free!
MORE INFO, see: CHULMLEIGH OLD FAIR
MORE INFO ABOUT TRAVEL TO DEVONSHIRE
 


 

QUARTETTO NOVO to perform at the 2019 COPENHAGEN SUMMER FESTIVAL
Louise McClelland Jakobsen Photo courtesy Copenhagen Summer Festival
 

Sun.–Thurs. July 28 – Aug. 8, 2019
  COPENHAGEN, DENMARK 
“Copenhagen Summer Festival”

          Twelve classical chamber music concerts (some with free admission) will occur over twelve days. Performers will include established and rising stars.

LOCATION: Performances at Charlottenborg Festsal (Assembly Hall) on Kongens Nytorv square just steps from Home At First's Copenhagen, DENMARK lodgings.

GETTING THERE: from HOME AT FIRST’s nearest COPENHAGEN lodgings at NYHAVN, walk two blocks west to Kongens Nytorv square.

ADMISSION: See PROGRAM for ticket prices. Some concerts are free.

TICKETS: ON-LINE; by phone: +45 70 15 65 65; or purchase at the door.

OPEN: Concerts Daily at 4:30PM or 7:30PM.

MORE INFO: COPENHAGEN SUMMER FESTIVAL    

 

— 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.
   


Weekly June 26-August 7, 2019, from 8-8:15PM
        MÜRREN, BERNESE       
  OBERLAND, SWITZERLAND 

“Mürren Folklore Evenings”
      In alpine Mürren from late-June there will be seven consecutive weekly evening concerts (June 26; July 3, 10, 17, & 24; August 1 & 7) of traditional Swiss music, dance, yodeling to entertain guests and residents alike, who sit together along long picnic benches and get to know one another over refreshments. The music and entertainment is lively and fun, but the evening is low-key and gemütlich. The backdrop is undeniably major grand.
TIMES: June & July dates: 8:15PM. August 1 & 7: 8PM.

 

Sunset lights the Jungfrau, making a magical backdrop for the
summer's first Folklore Evening at Mürren's Sportzentrum
in the upper part of the car-free village.

Photo © Home At First

NOTE: August 1 is the Swiss National Day. Expect a procession and bonfires.

LOCATION: in the forecourt of Mürren's Sportzentrum on the upper street.

ADMISSION: Free. Visitors present their Guest Cards.

GETTING THERE: The Sportzentrum is a 5-minute uphill walk from all HOME AT FIRST chalet apartments in MÜRREN, the isolated car-free chocolate box village of traditional chalets and amazing views of the Bernese Alps.
MORE INFO, see:
HOME AT FIRST's SWITZERLAND.
  


 THE PALIO

SIENA, TUSCANY, ITALY

THE FIRST OF TWO ANNUAL PALIO HORSE RACES OCCURS IN SIENA JULY 2.
Photo By Photojournalist Roberto Vicario (Photojournalist Roberto Vicario) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, July 2, 2019, 7:30PM
  SIENA, TUSCANY, ITALY 
“Palio di Siena”

          The first of the two annual Palio horse races occurs every July 2 in the extraordinary setting the main hilltop plaza of the walled medieval city of Siena in Tuscany, Italy. Ten horses with jockeys riding bareback race frantically for three laps around the crowded Renaissance Piazza del Campo square to determine bragging rights among the 17 city wards, and is sure to raise passions among competitors and onlookers to the boiling point. The race — with origins extending to medieval times — is not without risk to jockeys, horses, and, occasionally, spectators. The Palio is much more than the race: parades, costumes, food, celebrations, and significant vino add colorful Tuscan pageantry to this world-renowned event.

LOCATION: The Palio happens at Siena's spectacular high Renaissance Piazza del Campo, a 25min walk from Home At First's SIENA, ITALY lodgings.

ADMISSION: Yes. Get tickets early in the year. Balcony perches can be very expensive, but safe from mayhem.

TICKETS: Available on-line from many sources (reputable and otherwise), or via Home At First to its customer in Tuscany. Expect to pay €500 or so per ticket. Remember, too, that visibility and comfort and not guaranteed at that price. Many tickets come with special add-ons: meals, souvenirs, wine parties, and/or tours of Siena.

RACE BEGINS: 7:30PM.
      


Sunday July 14, 2019

  PARIS, FRANCE  

"Bastille Day Celebrations —

  the National Day of France"

          The French equivalent of America's July 4 Independence Day, Bastille Day commemorates the popular uprising, the Storming of the Bastille — an infamous prison in Paris — on July 14, 1789, and, the Fête de la Fédération, which marked the unity of the French people exactly one year later. Both moments are high points of the French Revolution, being influence by the American Revolution of Independence. Unlike Independence Day in the United States, the Bastille Day celebrations commemorate the principals espoused in the French "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen", a document adopted by the National Constituent

 

Bastille Day fireworks at
the Eiffel Tower, Paris.

Photo by Yann Caradec, Wikipedia CC

Assembly in August, 1789, that remained

 

largely a dream unrealized until the Fifth Republic of France rewrote the French Constitution under President Charles de Gaulle in 1958. The French Revolution, though in principal commemorated this day, quickly went from enlightenment to an age of darkness for France: popular chaos, murders of the aristocrats and plutocrats, the Reign of Terror, the rise of Napoleon, and a series of seismic Napoleonic Wars with aftershocks lasting, arguably, until de Gaulle and the Fifth Republic in 1958.

LOCATION: Celebrations are held throughout France and around the world, but the biggest events occur in Paris, with the focus being the large military parade along the Champs-Elysées the morning of July 14.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: are found throughout central PARIS (some within walking distance of the Champs-Elysées parade route).

GETTING THERE: If not within walking distance of the parade route, take the Métro to stations at Charles de Gaulle Étoile, George V, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Champs-Élysées-Clemenceau, or Concorde. Expect crowds, a fly-over, music, and noise.
 


 

INTERNATIONAL MARYS CHASING DUNGLOE'S CROWN.
Photo courtesy Mary from Dungloe Int'l Fest.

Saturday, July 27 to Monday, August 5,  2019
  CO. DONEGAL, NORTHWEST IRELAND   
“Mary from Dungloe Festival”
          Annual festival of traditional Irish culture in the small town of Dungloe in western County Donegal. Events differ each day and include such attractions as a golf tourney, duck racing, a gala ball, bingo, and a soapbox derby. The internationally recognized high point of the festival is the evening crowning of this year’s “Mary of Dungloe” from 7:45-10:30PM (tickets: €22.20) on Sunday, August 4, at Rosses Community School on Chapel Rd, Dungloe, following an afternoon filled with street entertainment with a big Carnival Parade on Main Street at 3PM. The best other day for visitors is likely Friday, August 2, with street corner entertainment, Irish dancing, and live traditional Irish music.
SEE EVENTS.
LOCATION: Dungloe is about 35 miles NW of Donegal town near the rugged northwestern coast of Ireland.
GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST'S NORTHWESTERN IRELAND lodgings in/around Donegal, take the scenic N56 about 60 minutes northwest to Dungloe.
ADMISSION: to some events including the crowning event Sunday evening. Free to the street entertainment.
TIMES: Numerous events daily. Most days schedule runs from morning into evening.
MORE INFO, see:
MARY FROM DUNGLOE 

 

— ROYAL POMP & POPPYCOCK

BUCKINGHAM PALACE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

BUCKINGHAM PALACE
Photo courtesy RoyalCollection.org.uk

Starting Saturday July 20 (and running through September 29) 2019

  LONDON, ENGLAND 

“Buckingham Palace Open to the Public”

          During these two-plus months when the Royal Family is at their Scotland residence (Balmoral Castle) and elsewhere, significant portions of their London residence, Buckingham Palace, are open to the public, for a fee. Guided tours tramp through the Royal Mews — the palace stables — and through nineteen state rooms — decorated with paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto, and fine English and French furniture — elegant spaces used to receive and entertain guests on British state and ceremonial occasions. See what it means to “live like a king” (or the Queen). For 2019 — and to celebrate the 200th birthday of Queen Victoria — there is a special exhibition, "Queen Victoria's Palace" detailing how Victoria converted Buckingham Palace into the grand focal point of the British Empire in the 19th century. The State Rooms and Garden Highlights Tour lasts three hours.

LOCATION: Buckingham Palace is in London’s West End at the intersection of Green Park, Hyde Park, and St. James’s Park.

GETTING THERE: HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON guests take the Underground to Green Park station or St. James’s Park station, then walk through the park south or west respectively to Buckingham Palace. Total journey time: 30 minutes door-to-door.

ADMISSION: £25/adults, £22.80/seniors & college students, £14/kids 5-16, £64/family (up to 3 children). Children under 5: free.

TICKETS: Get advance tickets here ON-LINE.

OPEN: 9:30AM-7:00PM daily July 20 through August 31 (last entrance: 5:15PM).
OPEN: 9:30AM-6:00PM daily September 1-29 (last entrance: 4:15PM).

MORE INFO: BUCKINGHAM PALACE OPEN TO VIEW
 


 

EVENTS IN JUNE 2019

 

FISH & CHIPS & STEAM & MURDER!

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway passenger special between Cheltenham and Winchcombe. Photo courtesy GWR.

steaming ACROSS STANWAY VIADUCT NORTH OF TODDINGTON
Photo courtesy GWR

Saturday June 15 2019 6:30-9:30PM
  COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND  
“Fish & Chips and Steam & Midsummer Murder Special”

          Enjoy a traditional English evening meal (and a traditional English murder mystery!) on a traditional English 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) special train departs Toddington Station at 6:30PM and cruises through classic Cotswolds scenery for Cheltenham. The train returns to Winchcombe at about 9:30PM. The train will have a buffet car (diner) serving hot and cold drinks including local specialty brews: Rail Ale and Track Cider. Be sure to sign up early (before departing the US) for this popular event sells out quickly.
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: £30/person, includes train fare and fish & chips dinner. Drinks available for sale in the buffet car. NOTE: due to the murder mystery performed underway, this trip deemed unsuitable for children.
GETTING THERE: Drive about 25 minutes south from
HOME AT FIRST’S COTSWOLDS cottages in and around Chipping Campden, drive 25 minutes south to Toddington.
MORE INFO, see:
GWR RWY MURDER MYSTERY FISH CHIPS AND STEAM.

 


Wednesday June 26, 2019, from 8:15PM
       MÜRREN, BERNESE        
  OBERLAND, SWITZERLAND 

“Mürren Folklore Evenings”
      Tonight is the first of seven consecutive weekly evenings of traditional Swiss music, dance, yodeling to entertain guests and residents alike, who sit together along long picnic benches and get to know one another over refreshments. The music and entertainment is lively and fun, but the evening is low-key and gemütlich. The backdrop is undeniably major grand.

LOCATION: in the forecourt of Mürren's Sportzentrum on the upper street.

ADMISSION: Free. Visitors present their Guest Cards.

 

Sunset lights the Jungfrau, making a magical backdrop for the summer's first Wednesday Folklore Evening at Mürren's Sportzentrum in the upper part of the car-free village.
Photo © Home At First

GETTING THERE: The Sportzentrum is a 5-minute uphill walk from all HOME AT FIRST chalet apartments in MÜRREN, the isolated car-free chocolate box village of traditional chalets and amazing views of the Bernese Alps.
MORE INFO, see:
HOME AT FIRST's SWITZERLAND.
  


THE IRISH DERBY AT THE CURRAGH

 

Horseracing at The Curragh, shrine of Irish sport.
Photo courtesy www.curragh.ie

Saturday June 29, 2019

  KILDARE, CENTRAL IRELAND  

"THE IRISH DERBY AT THE CURRAGH"
          The 154th running of biggest race in Irish horseracing featuring occurs today at the greatest Irish shrine in the sport, The Curragh, in County Kildare, Central Ireland. The 1.5mi. race is the culminating climax of the annual three-day Irish Derby Festival. The first race of the day begins at 3PM. The Irish Derby, seventh race of the 8-race day, begins around 5:20PM.

LOCATION: The Curragh Racecourse, near Kildare, County Kildare. Combine with visit to the nearby Japanese Gardens and the Irish National Stud.

GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s cottages in CENTRAL IRELAND, drive northeast approximately 90 minutes to Kildare on the N7

(M7). At Kildare, exit the highway and follow signs for The Curragh.

ADMISSION: €40/adult; €30/seniors & students. Premium packages up to €260/person for admission, lunch, cash bar.
MORE INFO, see:
RACING AT THE CURRAGH. 
  

 


 

EVENTS IN JULY 2019

 

July 1-14 2019
  GREATER LONDON, ENGLAND 
“Wimbledon Tennis Championships”

            The annual fortnight that brings the best tennis players in the world to this south London suburb proves that Britain is still a player on the world sports stage, and that it has never forgotten how to throw a party. Expect tennis royalty and royal tennis fans. Expect to see new mother Serena Williams to curtsy, Andy Murray return as Britain's favorite son, and European men and women to dominate. And expect another epic battle among Djokavic (no joke), Nadal (back from the dead?), & Federer (too old? time for one

last hurrah?), and  to decide the men's championship.

ADMISSION TO THE TOURNAMENT: Most tickets are subscribed by ballot, with ballot applications due by December 31 of the prior year. Tickets cost from £42-£210, depending upon date and location. Not all tickets are pre-sold. Approximately 500 tickets are retained for sale on the day of play for Centre Court and Courts #1 and #2, and several hundred Ground Admission tickets are available daily (except for the last 4 days of the tournament). Queue for these daily tickets at Gate 3 turnstiles, and expect long lines.
VISITING WIMBLEDON: Those wanting to visit Wimbledon at a time other than during the Championships, the site has a modern museum with guided tours of the grounds, including Centre Court, tennis’s most hallowed place. Enter museum using Gate 4 on Church Road.

ADMISSION: To the museum: £13/adults, £11/seniors, £8/children under 16.
To the Museum + Tour: £25/adults, £21/seniors, £15/children under 16.
OPEN: 10AM-5:30PM daily with restrictions during the Tennis Championships. Tennis tournament ticket holders will have access to the museum.
LOCATION: Wimbledon is a suburban south London town reachable by rail and by tube.
GETTING THERE: Total 55 minutes for
HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON guests from Tower Hill Underground station. Ride 42 minutes on the Underground (to Southfields tube on the District Line direction Wimbledon) plus 5 minutes on
connecting bus 493.

MORE INFO, see: WIMBLEDON TENNIS TOURNEY.

MORE INFO: TENNIS MUSEUM & TOUR. 
   

Wednesday    July 3, 2019    5:30-9:30PM
 KENMORE, CENTRAL SCOTLAND
“Kenmore Highland Games”

          Unusual mid-week evening games in a beautiful
setting on the east end of Loch Tay. Heavyweight events including hammer throwing, sheaf tossing, caber tossing, shot-putt, and throwing the 101-pound Tirine Stone, as well as tug-o-war, track and field events, and a grueling hill race. Traditional highland dancing and bagpiping will occur throughout the games along with fun events for children and adults. Expect concessions for candy, cake, clothing, and crafts. Food and bar concessions, too.
LOCATION: Sports Field, Kenmore village.
GETTING THERE: Kenmore is the northeastern corner of HOME AT FIRST’S CENTRAL SCOTLAND. Local guests should

Highland Games Shot Putter. Photo © Home At First.
 
HIGHLAND GAMES
SHOT PUTTER

Photo © Home At First

take the A827 northeast from Killin along Loch Tay to its eastern end at Kenmore village and watch for signs.
ADMISSION:
£5/adults, children free.

PARKING: free.
MORE INFO, see:
KENMORE HIGHLAND GAMES
MORE ABOUT: CENTRAL SCOTLAND

 


JULY 4-7, 2019 at LAHINCH —

Rory McIlroy, NORTHERN Ireland's FAVORITE SON, favored contender & PAST WINNER WILL HOPEFULLY appear IN 2019'S 
Irish Open at lahinch old COURSE links, co. clare, IRELAND.

Irish Open Photo

Thursday-Sunday, July 4-7, 2019

  BALLYLIFFIN, COUNTY DONEGAL, NORTHWESTERN IRELAND 

"IRISH OPEN GOLF AT LAHINCH — Championship Sunday"

          The 2019 Irish Open will again be played on a classic Irish links, this year at the legendary Lahinch Old Course in on the Atlantic coast of County Clare in Central Ireland, near the famed Cliffs of Moher. This fabled shrine of Irish golf is about 90 minutes northwest Home At First's nearest Central Ireland apartments in Killaloe, eastern County Clare.

          During the heady times of the Celtic Tiger in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Irish Open became a premier event in the run-up to the British Open Championship, offering sufficient prestige and purse to draw the world's top golfers, including Tiger Woods. But the Celtic Tiger — like Tiger the golfer — proved to be anything but invincible during the second half of the aughts, as the excesses of an overextended optimism brought the Irish economy along with many of its ambitious golf resort dreams to their knees.
          The pendulum swings both ways, even in Ireland, and recent years have helped right the foundering ship of Irish golf — thanks in large part to the charismatic, if uneven, local hero, 2016 tourney winner, and sometimes tournament host, Rory McIlroy — along with the help of, curiously, Dubai Duty Free, as well as the recovering Irish economy.

          While the Irish Open is not a major tournament on the European PGA calendar, it has sufficient cache to draw many top players from the European PGA tour. Other notable former winners include: Pádraig Harrington, Thomas Bjørn, Colin Montgomerie, and Sergio Garcia. And, with Lahinch's stratospheric rank among the best Irish courses, its location, national reputation, and facilities have won it Ireland's top international tourney in 2019 — until the British Open Championship makes a rare return to Royal Portrush in NORTHERN IRELAND two weeks later, July 18-21, 2019.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: CENTRAL IRELAND (to the east-southeast) are each about 90 minutes drive from Lahinch Golf Club.

TICKETS to daily tournament rounds are £30-£35/adult, £20-£28/seniors & students. TICKETS.

MORE INFO: WEBSITE.
  


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

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

Saturday July 6  2019   7–9:15PM
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND 
“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 9:15PM. The train will have a buffet car (diner) serving hot and cold drinks including local specialty brews: Rail Ale and Track Cider. Be sure to sign up early (the winter before departing for England) 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 where there is free parking.
MORE INFO, see:
GWR RWY FISH CHIPS AND STEAM.
 


INVERARAY HIGHLAND GAMES

HAMMER THROWER AT THE ANNUAL INVERARAY HIGHLAND GAMES
Photo courtesy Inverary Games

Tuesday, July 16, 2019    10:45AM–5:30PM
  CENTRAL SCOTLAND - INVERARAY     “Inveraray Highland Games”

          Unusual Tuesday Highland Games held in historic Inveraray at Winterton Park. Men's and women's heavyweight events include the Caber Tossing World Championship, hammer throwing, shot-putt, sheaf toss, hammer throw. Other events including running, cycling, long jump, high jump, and wrestling. Traditional highland dancing and bagpiping will occur along with fun events for children and adults. Expect concessions for candy, cake, clothing, and crafts. Music tents, food and bar concessions, too. The Inveraray Games kicks off with a pipe band departing Inveraray town at 10:45 leading a procession to the castle.

LOCATION: Inveraray Castle, home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell.
GETTING THERE: Inverary is west in HOME AT FIRST’S CENTRAL SCOTLAND. Local guests should take the A85 west to Crianlarich, then the A82 south to Tarbet (along the west shore of Loch Lomond), then the scenic A83 west around Loch Fyne to Inveraray. The castle is on the northern edge of

 

INVERARAY CASTLE, SITE OF THE CABER TOSSING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Photo courtesy Inverary Castle

Inverary town on the west side of the A83. Drive time is about 75-90 minutes.
PARKING:
The games' free parking lot is at Winterton Park on the castle grounds.
ADMISSION:
£10/adults, £5/seniors/students, £5/children 5-15, £25/family.
MORE INFO, see:
INVERARY HIGHLAND GAMES
MORE ABOUT: CENTRAL SCOTLAND

 


THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP

JULY 18–21, 2019

PORTRUSH, ANTRIM, NORTHERN IRELAND

FRANCESCO MOLINARI (ITALY), WINNER OF THE 2018 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP.

Photo courtesy theopen.com

Thursday–Sunday  July 18–21  2018

  PORTRUSH, ANTRIM, IRELAND 

"THE (BRITISH) OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP" — GOLF AT ROYAL PORTRUSH

          There are four majors on the PGA calendar. Only one is played outside of the United States, where the non-US major is known as "The British Open". However, the rest of the world call it what the Brits call it, "The Open Championship", as if, because it came first, this tournament is the only one of its kind. Almost all golfing nations have national "opens". But only the UK's open championship calls itself "The Open". Sporting arrogance? Maybe. But perhaps it's just the British taking their due as the founding fathers (& mothers) of golf. And, as for sporting arrogance in the world of golf, there's plenty of that to go around.

          Arrogance or nomenclature aside, in 2019 the Open Championship will definitely NOT be British, as — for only the second time in its 148-year history — the Open will take place not in Britain, but in Northern Ireland, at the fabled Royal Portrush links in Portrush, County Antrim.
          The best part of The Open Championship is that its rotation of courses includes only true seaside links courses. This guarantees at least one major being played each year on landscapes similar to the settings of the original game: sandy "wastelands" outside of seaside towns in (first) Scotland, then around the coastal perimeters of England, Wales, and Ireland. While the US Open is occasionally played on seaside links courses (Pebble Beach, Shinnecock Hills), all nine of the courses on the British Open rotation are true seaside linkses.
          Despite playing on familiar links courses — which require different strategies and tactics than do most parkland and resort courses found in the US and other countries — British & Irish players do not dominate The Open Championship. In the last decade three Americans, three Irishmen, two South Africans, one Swede, and one Italian have won the UK's greatest sporting prize, the Claret Jug. Current champion Francesco Molinari (Italy) will defend his title against all comers for four days in July. Expect all kinds of weather, drama, and play at The Open, a tournament where unknowns and best-knowns have competed at the highest level since 1860.

          Royal Portrush's championship Dunluce course is currently ranked #14 in the world (by golf.com). Originally laid out in 1888, the course had a major redo in 1929 by golf legend Harry S. Colt — he of World's #1 Pine Valley, NJ, USA, design fame — and hosted the first Open Championship held off the shores of Britain in 1951. After a 68-year absence, the Open Championship returns to Royal Portrush for a 2nd time in 2019. Back in 1951, when the Dunluce Course last hosted The Open, England's Max Faulkner won his solitary Open Championship shooting 3 under par over four difficult days, besting Argentina's Antonio Cerdá by 2 strokes.
LOCATION: The 2019 British Open will be played at
ROYAL PORTRUSH on the north coast of Ireland west-southwest via the Giant's Causeway from the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland, about 30 air miles away. Links golf has been played along the coasts in these parts of Ireland and Scotland for well over 100 years. The Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland features some excellent links land, with several notable golf courses bunched close together between Castlerock, Portstewart, and Portrush, with the Dunluce Course of Royal Portrush being the jewel in the crown.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: Royal Portrush's Dunluce Course is within 5-30 minutes drive time from HOME AT FIRST locations in: COUNTRY ANTRIM, NORTHERN IRELAND.
TICKETS to daily tournament rounds begin at £70/adult. TICKETS.
PARKING: from £15/car. PRE-PAID PARKING PERMIT.

MORE INFO: WEBSITE.
 


RAF FAIRFORD

SPITFIRE TAKE-OFF AT THE RAF Fairford Tattoo
Photo courtesy Royal Air Tattoo

Friday-Sunday July 19–21, 2019

  COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND   
“The Royal International Air Tattoo”

          Known simply as "RAF Fairford", this annual extravaganza ranks among the most prestigious & popular air shows in the world. Taking place on the runways of the Royal Air Force base at Fairford, near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and in the skies of the Southern COTSWOLDS, the Royal International Air Tattoo has become an event to see and be seen, a competition among men, international corporations, top aerobatics teams, and countries showcasing their latest technologies,

their hottest fighters, and their prototype airliners.


 RAF Fairford Tattoo —
Red-Arrows Starburst

Air Tattoo Photo by Rich Cooper

LOCATION: RAF Fairford is in the southern Cotswolds, about ten miles north of Swindon, about ten miles southeast of Cirencester, and about twenty miles west of Oxford.

GETTING THERE: RAF Fairford air show is within day-trip reach for HOME AT FIRST London and Cotswolds guests:

LONDON guests take the train from London Paddington to Swindon, then the air show shuttle bus, which operates every 20min during show hours. Bus ticket adds £4 to the cost of your air show entry ticket. Shuttle buses depart from Swindon Bus Station, one block south of Swindon train station.

COTSWOLDS guests drive approximately 36-45min southwest to Cheltenham Race Course from the Chipping Campden area in the northern Cotswolds. There is free car parking at Cheltenham Race Course. From here an hourly shuttle bus departs at :45min past each hour from 6:45AM for the 90min journey to the air show. Ask for the Cheltenham Park & Ride ticket when purchasing your RAF Fairford entry tickets. Its £5 extra cost can only be purchased in advance with your air show entry tickets.

TIMES: Fri. 19JUL: showground open 7:30AM-6:30PM; flying display 11AM-3PM.
Sat-Sun 20-21JUL: showground 7:30AM-7:30PM; flying display 10AM-5:30PM
.
ADMISSION: £57-£535 depending on choice of package.
ADVANCE TICKETS MANDATORY:
BUY THEM HERE.

MORE INFO: RAF FAIRFORD AIR TATTOO
 


LOCHEARNHEAD HIGHLAND GAMES

PIPE BAND PARADE AT THE ANNUAL LOCHEARNHEAD HIGHLAND GAMES
Photo courtesy Lochearnhead Highland Games

Saturday, July 20, 2019    10AM to 8PM
  LOCHEARNHEAD, CENTRAL SCOTLAND 
“Balquhidder, Lochearnhead & Strathyre Highland Games”

          Traditional Saturday afternoon Highland Games held in the land of clans MacGregor, McLaren, MacNab, Stewart, and Campbell at a beautiful setting on the west end of Loch Earn. Heavyweight events including hammer throwing,
caber tossing, shot-putt, weight over the bar, tug-o-war as well as track and field events, and a grueling hill race. Traditional highland dancing and bagpiping will occur throughout the afternoon along with fun events for children and adults. Expect concessions for candy, cake, clothing,
and crafts. Food and bar concessions, too. The traditional Scottish folk band Pure Malt performs in the beer tent from 5-8PM.
LOCATION: Games Park, Lochearnhead village.
GETTING THERE: Lochearnhead is in the middle of HOME AT FIRST’S CENTRAL SCOTLAND. Local guests should take the A84 or A85 to their intersection at Lochearnhead village,

Piper at Highland Games. Photo © Home At First.
 
HIGHLAND GAMES PIPER

Photo © Home At First

and follow signs to the Games Park by Loch Earn.

GATES OPEN at 10AM. Piping begins at 10:30AM. Highland Dancing begins at 12N. The Games follow the opening Clan March with Pipe Band.
ADMISSION: £6/adults, £4/seniors & kids.

PARKING: free. Follow signs to the parking lot.
MORE INFO, see:
LOCHEARNHEAD HIGHLAND GAMES
MORE ABOUT: CENTRAL SCOTLAND
  


GWR 7903 steaming FROM CHELTENHAM TO TODDINGTON
Photo courtesy GWR

Saturday July 20 2019   7–9:15PM
 COTSWOLDS, ENGLAND 
“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 9:15PM. The train will have a buffet car (diner) serving hot and cold drinks including local specialty brews: Rail Ale and Track Cider. Be sure to sign up early (the winter before departing for England) 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.

PARKING: free at Toddington Station.
MORE INFO, see:
GWR RWY FISH CHIPS AND STEAM.
 

 

 

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Happy Travels from
— HOME AT FIRST —