The journey up had its trials. It started uneventfully but on arriving at the first stop at Lacock Abbey the coach was in a minor collision with a van. Next, after having left the Abbey one member thought he had lost his wallet, probably at Lacock. This entailed several phone calls back to the Abbey, but then hey presto the wallet was found on the floor of the coach. The third issue on the journey was traffic congestion, which started on the M4 and continued on the M25, the result being that the party did not arrive at the hotel until 6.45pm, the driver being within 5 minutes of exceeding his permitted driving time.
The next day started with a visit to Beth Chatto's garden. This is magnificent and for many probably the highlight of the holiday. Designed by Beth Chatto (aged 93 and still gardening) and her late husband, the garden has a huge variety of plants, each of which is well matched to its location and in terms of soil and sun conditions. The interest in the afternoon was history – a visit to Colchester Castle, where there is a museum devoted to the long history of the town – it was the Roman capital of England.
The following day there was a tour of some of the prettier towns and villages in Suffolk, notably a stop at Long Melford in the Stour Valley to look at the church and surrounding houses. Then it was on to Bury St Edmunds where the party enjoyed a guided walk round the town. The finale of this was a private visit to the restored Regency Theatre. On our way home the coach stopped at Lavenham, where the party admired its pretty crazily sloping houses and its Guildhall with its contrasting plaster coloured half timbered walls.
On the Wednesday the party visited Constable country, where there was a guided walk around Flatford Mill and Bridge Cottage. The guide explained the background to many of Constable's paintings, his life history, and his family's association with the River Stour Navigation and boat building in the area. After that there was a visit to Sutton Hoo to view the excavations and the Saxon relics. There is no rest for members on Forum holidays. On the final evening the now traditional Quiz was held after dinner.