Sudley Gardens
Sudley Gardens
Sudley Gardens

What does a garden, an abbey, a world renown university, and many pubs have in common? A visit to the English countryside known as the Cotswolds is a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of London. The Slaughters Country Inn in Lower Slaughter is a charming inn consisting of 31 individually decorated rooms. Because it is in the country with no public transportation, you will need a car to get around. Our day started with a visit to Sudeley Castle & Gardens. The castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last surviving wife of King Henry VIII has a history dating back many centuries. Today it is the home of Lady Ashcombe. A stroll through the castle and gardens is a perfect way to experience the English countryside.

Nearby is Tewkesbury Abbey, currently a parish church and formerly a Benedictine monastery dating back to 1102. Because this Abbey is not considered a cathedral, the cost to maintain the abbey is solely on donations. Tewkesbury Abbey is famous for its many medieval stained glass windows. Our private guide explained the history and importance of this abbey in medieval and modern day times. A half day tour of Oxford University is a must. With our guide we strolled this beautiful campus and learned of the 38 colleges making up the university. Famous alumni include Albert Einstein, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, and J.R.R. Tolkien to name a few. Of course we found time to shop for Oxford University T-shirts and sweatshirts.

From Oxford University we traveled one hour to Stratford-upon-Avon, best known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Our guide, John of Stratford Town Walk was a typical English gentleman who entertained us with tales of the life of Shakespeare during our two hour walking tour. We visited Shakespeare’s birthplace, his grave in the Holy Trinity Church and strolled along the River Avon. Although we found Stratford-upon-Avon quite touristy, it is a must see destination. Whether you like the hustle and bustle of London or the quaint and quiet of small villages, England has it all. London and the English countryside is a perfect combination for touring.

Shakespeare's Birthplace
Shakespeare's Birthplace
Slaughter Inn Manor
Joan Cook

Joan Cook

Joan Cook has worked in the travel industry for over 37 years. In 1981 she started sharing her love of travel by opening up Travel Discoveries International in a small town in central Illinois. Her husband John joined the business in 1986 and together they have escorted groups worldwide. Some of Joan’s favorite destinations include riding a camel in Egypt, an elephant in Cambodia, and kayaking north of the Arctic Circle. Other exotic adventures include a safari in Kenya & Tanzania, Cuba, and most recently Russia. Joan also loves European river cruising. In 2016 after selling Travel Discoveries International, Joan started working with the MAST Travel Network as the MAST Exclusive Group Coordinator, setting up group trips for MAST. The MAST travel consortia, currently is made up of over 200 travel agencies.