Review: Hornsby 3 Day Mystery Tour
Escorted Tour - Coach
Going it alone on a mystery tour
102 people found this review helpful
“So where are you going?” all my friends wanted to know. “I haven’t a clue, it’s a mystery tour!”
I don’t drive and since husband died I am dependent on public transport or escorted tours for holiday. This was my first foray into the world of escorted bus tours. I must admit I was apprehensive. How would I cope with the regimented routine and fellow passengers? Would I get wound up by those who talked non-stop or those who were always late? I decided I would dip my toe in the water with a three day mystery tour run by the local bus company. They have several local pickups which does make life easier.
I needn’t have worried. It went a lot better than anticipated. The coach was only half full and it was a nice sized group of only 22. Many were seasoned travellers and had made many trips with Hornsby Travel Services. I was very much the ‘new girl’. It was mainly people between 60-80 although the back seat was occupied by a younger group of five, who very much kept themselves to themselves. They were shopaholics and came back after each stop ladened down with shopping bags. When they got off the coach at the end of the trip, you could hardly see them for shopping. The driver was excellent and the group quickly ‘jelled’ and everyone was very friendly. While we all ‘did our own thing’ at each of the stops, the group came together afterwards to compare notes and experiences. Meal times could be hilarious. As a single I didn’t feel out of place. Fortunately there was no coach Lothario or coach bore.
We had pick ups in Scunthorpe, Gainsborough and Lincoln before heading south. We weren’t told where, but were given clues. The first stop was Cambridge where we had nearly four hours. The coach dropped us off on the Backs near King’s College Chapel. This is somewhere I’ve not visited for years, so I was glad of the opportunity to go inside. I did rather blink at the £9 entry (no reduction for concessions) but it was worth it for the wonderful medieval glass. Trinity Hall College near by lets visitors in free, so I went for a wander round the college grounds and into their chapel.
We were booked into the Ramada Hotel Ramada Hotel at Hatfield for two nights. This is rather a dated pale brick building and is like a rabbit warren inside. I was thankful to be given a room near reception. I overlooked a small central courtyard so there was no traffic noise. It took me a while to find the kettle which was hidden in a cupboard. Life looked a lot rosier after a cup of tea. It was a comfortable room, clean and warm. Soundproofing wasn’t very good and I was lucky to be well away from the group of kids on a Harry Potter Studios trip and the wedding party. The breakfast was very good and very large, so I stocked up for the day and didn’t need any lunch. Evening meals were generous but a bit uninspiring – self service canteen style food, but they were hot.
On the Sunday morning we headed to Windsor for three hours. I debated going in the castle but St George’s Chapel was closed and I rather blinked at the cost. I decided that I might be pushed for time to do it properly, so spent the time wandering round Windsor which was very busy and across the river to Eton which wasn’t.
To my delight, we finished off the day in St Albans. The cathedral has been on my ‘todo’ list for a long time. it is a Norman building with medieval wall paintings. I was in my element, so spent most of the time in the cathedral.
We called in at Stamford on the way home. I had forgotten what an attractive town it is. I had also forgotten how many hills there are. It has a lot of character with narrow winding streets, golden coloured stone buildings and some wonderful small family owned shops. It has five medieval churches. I managed to get into four, but the fifth which had been described to me as the ‘happy clappy’ church was locked. Strange as I would have expected that to be open…
We called in at the Wyndham Garden Hotel just off the A1,north of Grantham for afternoon tea. There was a good selection of freshly made sandwiches with lots of filling, although the cake selection was a bit uninspiring. It did mean that I didn’t have to worry about food when I got home.
So, all in all, a very good trip. It got me to four places I would have found it difficult to visit under my own steam and I enjoyed all of them. The sun shone for us, although there was a hard frost every morning. One thing I did find difficult was being dropped off in a place with no map and no plans what I was going to do.
Would I go again? Yes. In fact a couple of days later I’d booked up for another four day tour to Blenheim Palace and Oxford. At least I know where I’m going this time.
102 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.