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This May we were lucky enough to be contracted to drive a Canadian visitor around the South of England on a 5-week road trip. The traveller is a regular visitor to the UK and had a clear idea of the main tourist sights and locations she wanted to visit – the list was extensive.

We had a month’s notice of her intended itinerary – all along the South Coast of England taking in some of our beautiful historic gardens, stately homes and castles. From the pick-up at Gatwick to Canterbury, along the coast to Dover into Royal Tunbridge Wells, taking in Brighton and Portsmouth on route to the Isle of Wight, onwards to Winchester, Dorchester, Exeter and Newquay, Penzance a few days in the Isle of Scilly and back to Heathrow.

At the outset we decided that we would allocate one chauffeur to the whole trip. We felt it was important this lady, travelling alone, received the highest level of service we could offer; personal attention to her holiday route and a dedicated driver who had her interests and safety in mind at all times.

It took some planning!

Mark and Katie spent hours reviewing maps and routes, checking planned road works (and preparing for un-planned road works). Annotated maps with estimated journey times and destination postcodes, checked opening and closing times for every intended stop were the lifeblood of this trip. The satnav was programmed daily with a back-up checklist to hand.

We wanted the trip to be memorable for the right reasons – so we were meticulous in planning routes that minimised time in the car as well as finding the best places to drop off and pick up. With temperatures forecast for the high 20°C we found shady parking spots as close as possible to the many places we visited.

From the outset the client was friendly, chatty and, Mark discovered in the first couple of days, eager to see as much as possible during her stay.

A history enthusiast who loved gardens she had chosen her route to take in a wide variety of stately homes and castles while she was here including:

• Down House, home of Charles Darwin
• Canterbury Cathedral
• Beaney House of Art and Knowledge
• Canterbury Heritage Museum
• South Forland Lighthouse
• Dover Castle / Deal Castle / Warmer Castle / Richborough Roman Fort
• Secret Wartime tunnels
• Roman Painted House
• Rye Castle Museum
• Ypres Tower
• Bodiam Castle
• Leeds Castle
• Penhurst Place
• Hever Castle
• Mary Rose Museum / Victory Museum
• Osborne House and Gardens
• Brading Roman Villa
• Weald and Downland Living Museum
• Goodwood House
• Romsey Abbey
• Exeter Cathedral
• Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum…………………..

As Mark got to know her it became easy to think of other villages, gardens and historic homes she might enjoy; and she was excited to add to her itinerary where possible.

Ahead of each day and week, more map reading and planning allowed Mark to include other new places of interest which were within easy driving distance of the planned route.

A couple of mascots joined Mark and the visitor – Ted from Leeds Castle and Able Seaman Nelson from the HMS Victory Museum added some fun to photos along the way!

In five weeks they visited more than 75 castles and historic homes and gardens, visited 35 towns and villages and stayed in countless hotels along England’s southern coast.

With so much to see and do, we’re proud to say the trip ran like clockwork – and was even ahead of schedule towards the end. Mark asked if the client might enjoy the extra days in London – so booking ahead for a hotel she spent 2 nights in the capital to enjoy even more of England’s finest historical buildings. Finally, flying home from Heathrow on 4th June.

It was an adventure. And we received this wonderful thank-you message….

“Thank you Mark !

Thank you so very much Mark for these 5 Magical weeks driving in the South of England from Canterbury to Newquay…visiting over 35 towns and villages…and over 75 castles, historical residences and gardens…
Thank you for being so flexible, positive, competent and resourceful and always finding the best way to get to see all the scheduled sights and the new ones added daily along the way…
Thank you very much for making this trip such a joyful and memorable experience.”

S. Somers

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