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Classic Britain – A winners travel tale, Part Three

St Albans

St Albans

In this last part of Ingemar Erikssons trip to England, we read about his last days in England, when he by accident find himself in the middle of a carnival. Check it out:

”Sunday. Went to St Albans, which was the total opposite of Luton. I visited the fantastic cathedral and took a walk through the city.

The visit in St Albans was too short, but I wanted to be in time for the race at United. Unfortunately I got stuck in traffic because of a car accident, so I just saw half the old Mini race, but I saw the whole new Mini race. The winner was a Swede!

After a last tour around the festival area I drove towards Oxford, which unfortunately was total disaster from a driver’s point of view. I passed Woodstock (Blenheim Palace), Burford and Kelmscott with one goal – To drive the around the River Thames. I was supposed to start at Pangbourne, but I messed that up, and it was dark when I arrived, so I drove back to Luton.

Next day I had the choice to go back and do the tour around the River Thames or stay in Luton and watch ‘Luton Carnival’. Chose the Carnival and that was a real adventure. Carnival processions from all corners of England was there with amazing costumes and masks in the parade.

Luton Carnival

After the carnival I drove back to Harwich and took the boat back home. The voyage was problem free, as well as the drive. The weather was good so I decided to drive with the top down over the Öresund Bridge, even in the tunnel. A very unpleasant experience as the echo from the tunnel top was hard and annoying for four kilometres. The last part of the drive was better when I took the ‘scenic route’ through Gränna and Ödeshög.

General impressions of England:
The traffic in England gives me mixed feelings. Nice little roads, perfect for the Mini! But most roads are covered on both sides with hedges, which give you a feeling of driving in a ditch and you can’t see the beautiful nature on the other side. Sometimes the hedges end and then it’s a great drive, reminding me of Scania. British traffic signs are annoying – very good when you’re supposed to slow down, not good at all when you are allowed to speed up. Combined with all the cameras it was quite a terrifying experience, mainly because of the lack of information. Another problem was cars parking everywhere, blocking roads, parking on the wrong side of a road etc, making a mess of traffic that I’m not used to in Sweden. The new M1 from M25 to Luton was probably the best motorway I’ve ever seen.

The general impression of England was really good. Prices are good from a tourist point of view, since the Swedish Crone is stronger than the pound. Nice countryside and good roads. There are a lot of attractions, which makes England interesting to travel in. I think I am going to travel more by car in the English countryside sometime.”



Links to the places Ingemar visits in part three:

St Albans
River Thames
The official Guide to River Themes
Blenheim Palace
Kelmscott Manor
Luton International Carnival

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Filed under Attractions & Culture, England, Nature & Heritage

Classic Britain – A winners travel tale, Part Two

In part two Ingemar finally reaches Silverstone, and he has a lot to tell about the festival:

“On Friday morning I start driving towards Silverstone, but first I make a stop in Northampton to get more cash and visit their City Museum, where I learn that people thought London was supposed to grow all the way out to Northampton in the 1960s.

Stowe Gardens

Stowe Gardens

When I arrive at Silverstone, I check in at MINI United and take a walk around Silverstone. There’s a lot to see, like the ‘Racing-tent’ with Swedish drivers, MINI history from 1959 to 2009, where you could see MINI in different shapes in time, a presentation of all the Minis that are on the market right now, the many MINI-clubs but not the Swedish, and a big tent with restaurant, selling of original parts, merchandise and tickets to different MINI-events.

I leave the festival at around 6 pm to drive down to Luton. I take the road through Stowe and Buckingham and end up in Bletchley Park at Milton Keys. I recognized the name from the history books and hoped to find a museum or something, but the only thing I found was a gate with security guards and cameras. Not very hospitable, probably still military. So I left Milton Keys very fast.

I found cheap bedrooms at Quality Hotel Luton Airport, which despite the name was situated in the town centre. The hotel parking was perfect and the hotel was fine, but beyond that, Luton is a very dull place and not recommendable for tourists.

Grand Union Canal, Stoke Bruerne

Grand Union Canal, Stoke Bruerne

The next day I go back to United to get tickets for an event at the festival. After that I take a drive passed Towcester Racecourse and end up in the beautiful village of Stoke Bruerne, where I visited the Grand Union Canal, a museum well worth the visit if you’re into history.

Back at the festival I find a new toy called ‘the Trikke’, which can best be described as down-hill skiing on wheels. I intended to see the race for the new Minis on the racetrack, but after a start failure, I miss the race because of the event ‘Improve your skills 2’ that I had tickets to. At the event you got to try the cars breaking capacity by reversing, steering, breaking and then trying to get back on track forward again. Stay for the ‘Special Night of Rock’ and see Paul Weller perform before I give up for the day”

Here are the links for the places Ingemar visits in part two:
Stowe Gardens
Bletchley Park Museum
Towcester Racecourse
Stoke Bruerne
Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum



Filed under Accommodation, England, Nature & Heritage, Sports & Activities

Classic Britain – A winners travel tale, Part One

Classic Mini in front of a limestone cottage

Classic Mini in front of cottage

This spring VisitBritain had a campaign to get more Scandinavians to visit Britain. The campaign Classic Britain, was designed to help tourists find travel tips to more classic parts of Britain. You could also win a trip to MINI Coopers 50 year anniversary at Silverstone Circuit, with a MINI rental car and DFDS Seaways boat tickets to get there. The Swedish winner, Ingemar Eriksson, tells his tale about his adventures in Classic Britain. Here is the first part of the trip:

”I won the trip while I was in Norway on a job. One week later I was supposed to go on a two week holiday in France and that only gave me a few days to repack before leaving for England. Because of this my planning wasn’t very good, but I knew there was always something I could see and do in England.

I picked up the car at BMW in Solna, Stockholm on May 15, and my first impression was that the cabriolet was a bit noisy, an impression that fortunately changed during the trip.

St Botolph's Priory ruins

St Botolph's Priory ruins

I met two Minis on in the queue behind me, while boarding. They were from a Swedish Mini association in Stockholm, so we spoke a little about our cars. I slept most of the trip, a quite relaxing and calm voyage. Over breakfast (109 DKK), I had another conversation with one of the Mini owners, who was also going to the festival.

On May 19, I took of for England and arrived at Kolding in Denmark with three hours to spare before the boat left from Esbjerg. This gave me an opportunity to take a nice drive through South of Denmark. A great added value by taking the car!

After leaving the boat, I take a quick drive through the town of Harwich, before leaving for Colchester. Colchester is the size of Uppsala in Sweden, but sales of luxury cars seems to be ten times that since there was huge stores selling, not only Minis, but Porches, Bentleys, Ferraris and Maseratis.

In Colchester I stop to buy a map, and when I’m leaving I totally forget the left-hand traffic and I almost drive on the wrong side of a safety island. After learning the hard way, the left-hand traffic is no longer a problem.

After reading about Dedham in the Streiffert-guide, I decide to visit the city. However, I drive in the wrong direction and end up in Chappel, where I visit the East Anglian Railway Museum. After the detour, I take a better look at the map and find Dedham, a beautiful place where I took the Constable Walk, where we stopped at Flatford Mill(National Trust). The Constable Walk is a great nature experience that deserves more time than I gave it. Finally I ended up in Cambridge where I stayed at a Bed & Breakfast.”

This was the end of part one. If you would like to visit the places Ingemar Eriksson went to on the first parts of his trip, here are some good links to check out:

Constable  walk, Flatford

Constable walk, Flatford

East Anglian Railway Museum
Denham 2
Constable walk
Flatford Mill

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Filed under England, Nature & Heritage