Information and FAQs
Information designed to help you get the best from your holiday with us
Our tours start and finish at the same location, at an airport or a nearby airport hotel, and most tours will also have additional meeting points – with a little planning, we can meet customers elsewhere too.
Tim will accompany all the tours – as driver, tour guide and host – with Sofia joining us for some of the tour, occasionally.
The majority of our tours concentrate on small areas of Britain, typically a county, like Kent or Cornwall, or a well-known area, like the Cotswolds or the Lake District, and a few tours, especially those in Scotland and one or two multi-centred tours, cover larger areas.
We travel comfortably and safely by minibus, often along smaller country lanes, off the beaten track and away from busy main roads – something that larger buses simply cannot do – and, onboard, we have maps and a small library of guidebooks.
On a typical day, we will leave our hotel after breakfast and visit one garden or other attraction in the morning and another in the afternoon, taking lunch at one of the gardens or, occasionally, taking a picnic lunch with us. We stop for photographs, for brief visits to other places of interest and to explore picturesque villages along the way – we will even drive off in the opposite direction to catch a stunning sunset!
We try always to ensure that your tour is relaxed and unhurried.
Gardens & attractions
We are extremely lucky and very proud of the fact that, in any one year in Britain, some 3,000 to 4,000 gardens will open to the public, and we take you to a selection of the very best ones in each tour area. Ordinarily, we leave you to wander around the gardens at will, although, at some gardens, we do arrange for a private guided tour or an introductory talk – often by the owner or head gardener – and on some tours we visit private gardens, not generally or frequently open to the public.
In Britain we will rarely be very far from any number of other attractions, especially our nation's history and heritage, and we use these nearby attractions as a backdrop to our day-to-day itinerary, stopping as our pleasure takes us.
We limit group sizes to a maximum of 12 people and encourage a multi-national mix of like-minded people, generally sharing a passion for gardens and gardening. Our youngest customers are in their early-twenties and the eldest are in their late-eighties, but we are guessing that the mean age will be mid-sixties.
To date, we have been joined by customers from Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and most of the states of the United States of America.
English is spoken in a range of styles, and often with great humour!
All our tours involve getting into and out of a minibus, and you must be able to do this independently – for safety reasons. On our garden tours, it is up to you how far and how quickly you walk – you can sit and read a book, watch the world go by or walk every path throughout the garden. On our other tours and on our walking tours, in particular, a suitable level of fitness is required, and this may vary from tour to tour.
If you are concerned as to the suitability of a particular tour or whether, or not, your own fitness and mobility may impair either you or the group, please discuss this with us before you book your tour.
There is no upper age limit to our tours, although there is a lower age limit of 16.
Sleeping, eating & packing
Sleeping & eating
Your comfort, together with your safety, is our chief priority and we go to great lengths in choosing where to stay. The majority of hotels we stay at are listed in the Good Hotel Guide and many of our hotels are hotels to which we return, year-after-year, some for a dozen years or more.
We seek out comfortable independent establishments with character, friendly service and a good kitchen. When considering a new hotel, we visit it first.
We enjoy good food too, and choose hotels with reputable kitchens. When we dine out, we do so at some of the very best local restaurants and pubs, often award-winning establishments, preparing locally-sourced fresh produce and cooking it superbly.
Dinner is usually à la carte, though occasionally in Britain and commonly in France dinner may be from a limited-choice menu.
Breakfast is a cooked 'full English/Scottish/Welsh' breakfast complemented by a lighter, 'continental' breakfast, which varies from hotel-to-hotel – breakfasts in France are 'continental'.
Special dietary requirements
We have, to date, successfully accommodated all our customers' special dietary requirements.
British bedrooms vary in size considerably – not only from establishment-to-establishment, but within the same establishment – and what may be considered 'large' in one place may be considered 'small' in another. It is all relative.
Double and twin rooms
In Britain we say 'double-room' to mean one room with one bed for two people and 'twin-room' to mean one room with two single beds – bear this in mind when booking!
Room allocation, bathrooms & stairs
We ask our hoteliers to allocate rooms in the order in which people have booked, with the better rooms going to those who booked first. And, unless we tell you otherwise, your room will be en suite, typically with a bathroom with a bath and a shower over it. Occasionally there will be just a shower and, very rarely, just a bath.
We also ask hoteliers to accommodate our customers on the ground or first floor, unless there is a lift, but this is not always possible.
If the nature of your room, your bathroom or the number of stairs to your room is material to your booking, then please discuss this with us first.
What to bring
We strongly recommend that you bring a good waterproof and windproof jacket and a pair of sturdy boots or shoes, remembering that, even at the height of a British summer, it can be wet and windy and, in any case, there will doubtless be gardens where it will be wet and uneven underfoot. You may like to consider a hat, scarf and gloves, for tours in April, early May and September – and all walking tours and any tour in Scotland, whatever the month!
Otherwise comfortable clothes, layers that you can pull on and strip off, seem to work best for walking around the gardens, exploring villages and getting into and out of the minibus.
Dress at dinner
On those days when we dine-out, without first returning to our hotel, our casual day dress will be fine, though a spare pair of shoes (left in the bus for the day) won't go amiss. When we dine-in, at our hotel, it is fair to say that you will feel comfortable dressed 'smart casual' to 'as smart as you like'! And it is also fair to say that, broadly speaking, Jeans remain on the casual side of Britain's sartorial fence.
Tours with walking
There are specific requirements for tours with walking, and these requirements will be in the 'Specific Notes', in each tour itinerary.
Unless we say otherwise, we must ask that you restrict your luggage to one main suitcase and one smaller bag, a day pack or similar, per person, with no piece of luggage being taller than 80cm (32in) (including wheels and handles etc) or wider than 50cm (20in), and not exceeding a maximum weight of 23kg (50lb).
And please note that, whilst we will always endeavour to ensure that hotel staff assist you with your luggage, we cannot guarantee it, and you must be comfortable taking your luggage up one flight of stairs.
Prices, booking & paying
Prices are per person, sharing a twin or double room, and are quoted in the following four currencies:
- GBP – Pounds Sterling
- USD – US Dollars
- EUR – Euros
- SEK – Swedish Kronor
Prices are listed on each tour page in the dropdown menu, and include the following:
- all your accommodation on the tour
- cooked 'full English/Scottish/Welsh' breakfast each morning in Britain
- dinner each evening
- entrance to all gardens or other attractions
- all transport within the tour
- our personal service throughout
There are also occasions where we may include refreshments or meals not ordinarily included in the price of the tour – such as morning coffee, a lunch or picnic lunch or afternoon tea – but this will be clearly stated in the itinerary.
The price specifically excludes the following:
- dinner on the final day
- (alcoholic) drinks with your meals
- additional costs incurred by you at any of the gardens or other attractions
- personal costs incurred during any free day
- your personal insurance costs
- newspapers, telephone calls, laundry and similar sundry items
- the costs of any additional administration
Choose your tour, click on the BOOK button on the tour page and complete the easy-to-follow online booking form.
Acknowledgement of booking
Once you have completed and sent the online booking form:
- the system will generate an automated reply, to you, to let you know that your booking form was sent and received successfully
- we will acknowledge it, confirm the details of your booking and ask you for a deposit (details of which will be included in the acknowledgement)
Confirmation of booking
On receipt of your deposit we will confirm your booking and confirm the amount of the outstanding balance, and the date by which the balance is due.
On receipt of the balance we will confirm everything once again, send you a final receipt and discuss any last-minute arrangements.
Shortly before the tour commences, we will email you with introductions to your fellow travellers, convey any last-minute instructions, confirm the precise meeting arrangements and remind you of some of the important information on this page.
Our default payment method is by debit or credit card, online via Stripe, a safe and secure worldwide card payment processing company (details of which will be in your booking acknowledgement).
If you are unable or prefer not to use such a system, you may pay by Electronic Funds Transfer (Wire Transfer) directly from your bank to our UK business current account (details of which will be in your booking acknowledgement).
Irrespective of which method you use to pay, you may pay for your tour in one of the following four currencies:
- GBP – Pounds Sterling
- USD – US Dollars
- EUR – Euros
- SEK – Swedish Kronor
Should you wish to pay in another currency, please ask for a quote in that currency.
Single person supplements
We charge a supplement to cover the cost of single-occupancy rooms levied on us by hotels, and you will find the cost the single person supplement listed below the price.
Value for money
Our tours represent excellent value for money and include, in the price of the tour, almost everything except lunch and drinks – and a great deal more than many other tour operators' prices do!
And please be assured of our personal service from your first point of contact, all throughout your tour and after your tour too. It is this service, together with our meticulous attention to detail, which is our hallmark, and is largely why so many of our customers return to us, some of them year-after-year.
Travel & practical information
Pounds & pounds
May we remind you that we use Pounds Sterling, and not Euros or Dollars, and that, whilst most of the places we visit do take credit cards and bank debit cards, we recommend that you have a little cash for those smaller places that do not take cards. There will be opportunities to get cash from ATMs or High Street banks during the tour.
And, although we may shop for kilos of cheese, metres of fabric and litres of fuel, we still drive in miles per hour and drink pints of beer – we remain very metrically challenged!
Weather forecasts and temperatures
We recommend the BBC website for weather forecasts (click here and enter a place name in the Find a Forecast box).
In Britain, most of us talk about temperatures in degrees Centigrade, and not degrees Fahrenheit, but if you are a Fahrenheit person, then remember that 61°F is approximately 16°C (just transpose the numbers) and, likewise, 82°F is approximately 28°C and this, broadly speaking, is the range of British summer temperatures.
Please check that your mobile phone will work in the United Kingdom.
The joining instructions for each tour are outlined in the first day's itinerary, with any particular information in the drop-down menu 'Joining Instructions' to the right of each tour page, and the precise arrangements will be confirmed to you by email, a week or so before the tour.
Please note that we do not sell insurance, but we do require you to have adequate holiday insurance and this insurance should, as a minimum, include Personal Liability Insurance, Medical Insurance (including repatriation insurance, if necessary) and Holiday Cancellation Insurance. Please note that we shall presume that you have these insurances in place at the time of paying your deposit.
Insurance is (usually) best purchased in the country in which you reside.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you are eligible for a EHIC, then please ensure that you have one and that you bring it with you.
If you require assistance with your travel arrangements in Britain – especially where you are arriving before the start of the tour or staying on in Britain after the tour – we will help you where we can with your travel arrangements, but please remember that we are not travel agents and we will make a reasonable charge for doing so.
Airports & flights
We do not collect customers from airport terminal forecourts, nor collect from anywhere within either Heathrow Airport or Gatwick Airport.
Our principal meeting points are Stansted Airport (Bus & Coach Station) and Heathrow Sheraton Hotel, for most tours in England, and designated meeting points at or near to Glasgow Airport or Edinburgh Airport, for tours in Scotland.
Customers may arrive from different airports at different times and you might have to wait until all your fellow travellers have arrived before we leave our meeting place and, likewise, the final day of our tour will be governed by customers' departure flight times, that afternoon or evening.
If you are planning to join one of our tours – and you are flying a considerable distance to do so – then please:
- check that the tour has space for you before you book your flights, and check with us too, that your proposed flight arrival and departure times are compatible with the tour
- consider arriving at least the day before the tour starts, so that you are refreshed from your long flight, on the first day of the tour
Airline baggage allowance
If you are flying long-haul into Britain and are then flying on, elsewhere, on a short-haul flight, especially on one of the many low-fare airlines, please check your baggage allowance on all your flights.
The vast majority of photographs on this website are customers' photographs, indeed, the majority of photographs are from a hand full of very talented customers, and we would like to thank them for their significant contribution to the website. It would be a very dull affair otherwise!