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Britannia Rules in 2015

Britannia Rules in 2015

Last week’s Best of Britain and Ireland Trade Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham produced a rich crop of bright ideas for visitors looking for new ways of looking at their old friend Britain.

Value-added visits to the Great Gardens of Sussex will deliver something special for a Chelsea Flower Show tour and for Beatles fans the seldom-mentioned Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool is the Holy Grail for Beatles fans.

I love adding living history experiences to tour itineraries, and the Isle of Man delivers what it says on the tin as far as the Vikings are concerned.

The Hudson’s Historic Houses and Gardens guide has illuminated my path for many years and if you’ve not come across it, now’s a good time for doing so.

Salisbury Cathedral will be playing an important role in the 800th anniversary celebrations being planned for 2015. If the U.S. defeats Uruguay on March 29, there could be some serious interest in next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Great Gardens of Sussex

This group of four renowned gardens make an excellent starting point for a pre Chelsea Flower Show tour.  Situated just south of London and a few short miles east of Gatwick there’s a great deal to see at each one, especially when you work in the value added visits they offer. To get the best out of each one, allow at least half a day and include:

– A Head Gardener-led tour of award winning Borde Hill

– Something similar at nearby High Beeches

– Wakehurst Place, aka “Kew in the country”

– Nymans, a famous National Trust owned garden.

With a visit to Wisley, the flagship gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, and a couple of pub lunches thrown in for good measure, you can put together a really eye catching, value-added tour.

The Casbah Coffee Club

This unsung hero is often overlooked when putting together a two-night Beatles tour to Liverpool.  It’s where the Beatles’ story really started and it looks today just as it did in the early ’60s.  The Casbah and its owner, Mona Best, brought about many pivotal moments in their early days, shaping their beginnings and providing a home for the distinctive Merseybeat sound which would change the face of popular music forever.

For groups of 20 or more you can have a private tour of the Casbah, see never-before-seen Beatles memorabilia and enjoy a one-hour live concert exactly as the Fab Four would have given it.

A Living History Book

I’m always on the lookout for interesting tour themes, and the Isle of Man has fired my imagination because of the lasting legacy left by the Vikings.  From buried treasure to fearsome weaponry, from personal ornamentation to status symbols, the remains of the Manx Vikings are amongst the finest from the Viking World.

Several of the major important monuments on the island such as Castle Rushen, Peel Castle and Rushen Abbey all have their origins in this Norse period and the Tynwald Hill at St John’s is the traditional ancient meeting place of the Manx parliamentary assembly, dating back at least to the late first millennium AD.

A knowledgeable and entertaining driver guide will shake the dust off the history books and give you an unforgettable insight into the life and times of the Vikings on the Isle of Man.

The Definitive Source for UK Must-Sees

From windmills to watermills, ancient chapels and abbeys to privately owned stately homes and castles, Hudsons Historic Houses and Gardens is the one-stop-shop annual publication for planning imaginative tours to the UK and Ireland.  Along with the Good Pub Guide and the National Gardens Scheme’s Little Yellow Book, it has been my guide for many a long year.  Take a look at and get inspired.  Then use my expertise to put it all together for you!

The Salisbury Magna Carta

Salisbury Cathedral is celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015 with an exciting new exhibition and events focusing on the past, present and future significance of the UNESCO document. The Heritage Lottery Fund-supported exhibition in the Cathedral’s Chapter House and Cloisters opens in February 2015 and is being designed by interpretation specialist Haley Sharpe, who recently delivered the exciting new visitor exhibit at Stonehenge. The events begin with a high-profile unification of the four original 1215 Magna Carta copies at the British Library in London, followed in Salisbury by lectures, concerts and a Flower Festival, Magna Flora, 15-20 September 2015.

And also for 2015, the Rugby World Cup

England’s major sporting event in 2015 is without a doubt the Rugby World Cup. Taking place in September and October in 10 English cities as well as Cardiff, Rugby World Cup is the 3rd largest sporting tournament in the world in terms of TV audiences and will attract more than 400,000 visitors from overseas. Both the U.S. (assuming they beat Uruguay on March 29!) and Canada will be among the 20 teams and with several days between each team’s fixtures there is plenty of time to explore England as well as enjoy the rugby. Find more information at