Village Vacations in England

My wife and I and our daughter and son-in-law spent a week in May ’02 in southwest England with David and Christine Hale, who have a B&B and a tour service called Village Vacations (Brookmead, Rimpton, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 8AQ England; phone/fax [UK] 011-44-1935-850241, e-mail or visit

We are retired antique dealers who have spent two to three weeks buying antiques in England twice a year every year for the last 30 years. On those buying trips, we went where the antiques were.

The Hales at their home in Rimpton, England. Photo: Deane

The trips always included the weekly and seasonal antique markets in and around London. We also regularly went to Brighton, Bath and other cities back when there were good antique markets there, and we also bought truckloads with our packers around Blackpool and Burnley. But, rushing from market to market, we were always in a hurry and too busy to spend time enjoying the beautiful English countryside.

While planning our spring ’02 trip to London (yes, we still buy and sell a few antiques), we decided that, on this trip, we would take time to spend a week in the countryside seeing our favorite part of England in depth. We asked one of our daughters and her husband to accompany us.

After we spent two weeks enjoying London, on May 14 David Hale picked us up at our hotel in his comfortable, new 6-passenger van. We spent the rest of the day seeing Stonehenge, Salisbury (including the Cathedral — I had to see that copy of the Magna Carta again), Wilton House and many other towns as we traveled from London to our B&B in Rimpton (near Yeovil).

Much of the way was on narrow, hedgerow “unclassified roads.” David continuously pointed out interesting places and stopped frequently so we could explore.

And so it went for six more days of sightseeing with a guide/driver who knew every landmark, side-road place of interest and castle in southern England and enthusiastically wanted to show them to us.

We spent part of a day in Bath seeing far more than we have seen in many years of antique buying there. The rest of the day was spent in frequent stops at interesting places coming and going from the Hales’ home in Rimpton. Another day, we motored around Wells and the Cheddar Gorge, ending with the fantastic view from the top of Glastonbury Tor.

Big English breakfasts; lunches in local free houses (pubs) and restaurants (with a pint or two of English bitter); cocktails, and great 3- and 4-course dinners with wines: all were supplied by the Hales. Christine is one wonderful cook.

Before becoming vacation hosts, the Hales were both schoolteachers. David seems to be one of those “Renaissance man” types. He has taught machine shop and woodworking; programs computers and builds websites; is a member of local councils and an expert on English history, and maintains a vegetable garden almost large enough to supply a grocery store.

All of the vegetables served at their home came from that enormous garden. We almost became tired of David’s daily-picked asparagus, which is an early spring crop in England.

We asked questions about every interesting place we passed and were amazed that David always had the answer, even offering to stop for a closer look.

I admit, I had argued against adding this week to our trip to England. I thought we had seen all there was to see in that part of England, until we had the fun of really seeing it with someone who had poked around every inch and learned names, history, back roads and highways.

The four of us paid $925 each for five nights. This covered B&B rooms as well as meals and tours. it also included our being picked up at our hotel in London and, when we went home, being taken to Gatwick airport and having our daughter and husband taken to Heathrow airport. Everything in between was included. When I paid for an extra beer in a pub, David was put out that I didn’t let him pay for it.

We feel we really got our money’s worth. We are going to do it again. Check out their webpage.

New Orleans, LA