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Castle Combe.

Day 5 – Castle Combe, Cotswold, England

April 2015

Today we leave London for Southampton by National Express bus from Victoria bus terminal. Advanced purchased ticket cost £7 one way. The journey takes 2¼ hours and is a good way to catch some sleep and rest after four hectic days in London. We book our National Express ticket here.

Upon reaching Southampton, we went straight to pick-up our rented car from Europcar. We have pre booked the rental car here and purchased additional insurance to cover any excess here. Once everything settled, we are set for our journey to Stonehenge.

*(Malaysian driving license is valid in UK, you do not need an international driving permit (IDP). However it would be beneficial if you obtain an English translation of your license (if it’s the older version) at your nearest JPJ office at a cost of just RM10. They will print a standard letter right off their computer terminal. Just fill up a simple form and produce your driving license. It’s 2 minutes procedure but waiting for your queue number to be called is another matter).

If you are using Waze for your navigation, ensure that all the destinations you’re visiting, has been saved to your favorites. If you didn’t do so, once internet connection is lost so are you! If you have favorite your destinations, Waze will operate as an offline navigation device and will still guide you.

The journey to Stonehenge via Salisbury is just over an hour. Stonehenge is now cordon off and you have to park your vehicle 2 miles away at designated area. The entry fee to Stonehenge is £14.50 (must be purchased in advanced) which includes shuttle transfer. Just to pay that much and the hassle of taking shuttle bus to see some stones, my wife decided we might as well skip it. Anyway, she has seen Stonehenge documentaries many times on TV. From the parking area, you wont be able to get even a glimpse of Stonehenge . Back during my bachelor days, I could park the car by the roadside and walk over to Stonehenge all for free.

So we continued our journey to Castle Combe. After an hour’s drive, passed the town of Chippenham, we reached Castle Combe. This little village is so charming when I saw pictures of it in the internet, I am willing to fly 15 hours, take a bus for 2¼ hours and then drive for 2+ hours to get here.

No words can describe how I love this picturesque village. How awesome I’m able to reach here. I’ll just post pictures from now on. For the avid photographer, all around this village are photo spots.

Castle Combe.

Castle Combe.

Castle Combe.

This is just about what Castle Combe village is.

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Castle Combe’s town square.

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Southampton to Castle Combe route map. We put up for the night in Swindon at Campanile Hotel which is about 45 minutes drive from Castle Combe.

Neal's Yard

Day 4 – Neal’s Yard, London

April 2015

With time to spare after getting down from Sky Garden, we headed to Neal’s Yard. It’s within walking distance from Covent Garden underground. Be informed as at April 2015, Covent Garden underground is undergoing upgrading works and you can only get off from there. You would have to take Leicester Square or Holborn underground to return.

Neal’s Yard is a short alley which opens into a small courtyard. It contains several health food retailers based on anything natural & organic. I came here after seeing several pictures of the courtyard which the buildings were painted in multiple bright colors and just had to take a few photos of this place. One of London’s secret and a photo spot hidden in a small courtyard

Neal's Yard

Entrance to one of Neal’s Yard courtyard.

Neal's Yard

The multi colored Neal’s Yard’s courtyard.

Neal's Yard

Neal’s Yard Remedies outlet.

Neal's Yard

Buildings within Neal’s Yard.

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Multi colored windows of Neal’s Yard.

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The courtyard where public can sit & rest. There’s a cafe here.

Neal's Yard Neal's Yard
Neal's Yard Neal's Yard
Sky Garden

Day 4 – Sky Garden, London

April 2015

Leaving Camden, our next point of visit is the 34 storeys Sky Garden at Frenchurch street, London. You do need to book a free visit beforehand. This can be done here.  

The Sky Garden has three floors and offers uninterrupted views across the City of London. Two express lifts will take visitors to a beautiful garden with a viewing area, terrace, café, bar and restaurant. It is designed to create an open and vibrant place of leisure and offering visitors to experience London’s skyline.

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Sky garden floor plan. Credit : 20fenchurchstreet.co.uk

I consider Sky Garden as a great photo spot. However the open air terrace has glass barrier that produces reflection that is difficult to avoid. The best view in my opinion is facing river Thames but arriving at 4:15 p.m. the sun will be right against you as oppose to you being at The Shard, the sun will be behind you.

Comparing the Sky Garden to The Shard, you will feel more comfortable due to the much larger area as well as the ‘garden’ within. There are ample space for you to take photographs and no need to jolts around. Having not heard much hype about Sky Garden, I consider it as one of London’s secret. However, after some period of time, you do feel like you are in an airport.

Sky Garden

The Sky Garden as seen from The Shard. That white building in the center.

Sky Garden

Sky Garden as you exit the lift.

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The garden with real vegetation.

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The back portion facing The Gherkin.

Sky Garden

Strolling with the kids.

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View from the garden.

Sky Garden

View of London Bridge.

Sky Garden

Southwark bridge, Millennium bridge and London Eye in the background.

Sky Garden

The Shard, HMS Belfast & City Hall.

Sky Garden

HMS Belfast, City Hall, Tower bridge & Tower of London.

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Tower bridge, Tower of London and Canary Wharf in the background.

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Err ….  not sure where this is. Canary Wharf on far upper right.

Sky Garden

The Gherkin from the back portion of Sky Garden.

Sky Garden

St Paul’s cathedral & BT Tower.

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