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British Isles/Western Europe Amsterdam, Brugge, Dublin, Edinburgh, London (Dover, Harwich, Southampton)

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  #1  
Old December 25th, 2013, 09:27 PM
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Default Car service recommendations Heathrow to Forest Park Hotel please

I would very much appreciate any recommendations anyone might have for car services in the Heathrow area to take us on a leisurely sightseeing ride to our hotel in the basic Southampton area. I understand that the sightseeing is going to hike the price, but it's probably my only time to ever get to go to London, so even a car tour is better than none. Many thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old December 26th, 2013, 05:51 AM
aquilegia aquilegia is offline
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I hope that someone like John Bull will be along to offer recommendations about sepcific companies. One thing I would say though. You want a leisurely sightseeing tour from Heathrow to the Southampton area, but then you say it's probably your only time to ever get to London. A scenic route from Heathrow to Southampton would not normally go into London, it's in the opposite direction. I don't know how much time you have at your disposal, but if it is the sights of London you want to see, you might be better off booking a hotel in London instead of the Southampton area,taking a HoHo bus round London that same day and taking a train to Southampton early the next mroning to catch your cruise ship.
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Old December 26th, 2013, 06:55 AM
Pet Nit Noy Pet Nit Noy is online now
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Originally Posted by MrsNancyG View Post
I would very much appreciate any recommendations anyone might have for car services in the Heathrow area to take us on a leisurely sightseeing ride to our hotel in the basic Southampton area. I understand that the sightseeing is going to hike the price, but it's probably my only time to ever get to go to London, so even a car tour is better than none. Many thanks in advance!
I want to echo Aqualegia's warning that London is in the opposite direction from the route you would take between Heathrow and Southampton. If you want to see London, stay in London. The typical US trans-Atlantic flight arrives in the morning so you'd have part of your arrival day. (Note: How do you handle jet lag? If you can hit the ground running, then you'll actually have that time for sightseeing. If you tend to get wiped out by travel, your arrival day may not be useful or satisfying.) The trip from London to Southampton is about two hours. If you use private transportation you could have the morning in London for a bit of sightseeing and still arrive with a a nice cushion for embarkation time.

That said, here's the answer to your actual question: We were very happy with a Southampton-based car service that took us on a sightseeing drive from our Central London hotel to the ship. The same company has two names to reflect its two services. The transport arm of the company is called West Quay; the sightseeing arm of the company is called Discover the South. Both of these companies have web sites, but if you write to both you'll end up with a reply from the same person. (If anyone wants transportation from Southampton to the airport, West Quay would be the place to contact.)

We visited Stonehenge and Salisbury en route to the ship. We were picked up at our London hotel at 7:00 AM so we would arrive at Stonehenge when it opens since the crowds are smallest then. Our original plan was to eat lunch at a charming countryside restaurant, but we ended up making a lunch of food we purchased at the farmer's market in Salisbury. What this experience lacked in charm, it more than made up for in adventure.

We had originally thought about driving through the New Forest area as well as Stonehenge and Salisbury, but decided that would turn the whole day into a rushed experience. We wanted to arrive at the pier no later than 3:00 PM.

We considered our day to be a huge success!
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Old December 26th, 2013, 09:13 AM
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ahhh, I see where there would be much confusion. My knowledge of England is horrific and I am sorry for that. The deal is we're cruising a transatlantic from Southampton to NY. Flights into Heathrow (which I assumed was in London) were far more affordable than into Southampton. I am flying in the day before and am staying (per recommendation) in Forest Park for the night then taking another short transfer to the ship. I appreciate the info on the car companies mentioned by Pet and will work from there! Many thanks!
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Old December 26th, 2013, 09:35 AM
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ahhh, I see where there would be much confusion. My knowledge of England is horrific and I am sorry for that. The deal is we're cruising a transatlantic from Southampton to NY. Flights into Heathrow (which I assumed was in London) were far more affordable than into Southampton. I am flying in the day before and am staying (per recommendation) in Forest Park for the night then taking another short transfer to the ship. I appreciate the info on the car companies mentioned by Pet and will work from there! Many thanks!
Given your situation, I would stay in a central London hotel for one night. The Southampton hotel that was recommended may be a lovely place but staying there effectively eliminates your chance of seeing London itself.

In your shoes, I would fly into Heathrow. However, from the airport, I would head to London not Southampton. (I believe the time of both drives is pretty similar, but you'll obviously have a longer drive on embarkation day.) I'd see as much of London as you can squeeze in -- you may have to push yourself physically to sightsee on your arrival day -- but London is worth it!
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Old December 26th, 2013, 10:24 AM
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It's not at all unreasonable of you to have assumed that Heathrow was in London, it's only 15 miles away. The problem is that London is due east (along an often crowded motorway) and Southampton is south west. There would be nothing leisurely about a drive which took in London, I'm afraid.
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Old December 26th, 2013, 11:23 AM
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Another option is to stay in Southampton at a hotel, and to take the train from Southampton to the Waterloo Street station in London. The journey takes 1 hour and 17 minutes (each direction). You can then board the tube (London's subway/metro) and travel to anyplace in London you desire.

The advantage of doing this is that on the day of your cruise departure, you do not have a 90 minute drive from London to the port in Southampton.
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Old December 26th, 2013, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by MrsNancyG View Post
ahhh, I see where there would be much confusion. My knowledge of England is horrific and I am sorry for that. The deal is we're cruising a transatlantic from Southampton to NY. Flights into Heathrow (which I assumed was in London) were far more affordable than into Southampton. I am flying in the day before and am staying (per recommendation) in Forest Park for the night then taking another short transfer to the ship. I appreciate the info on the car companies mentioned by Pet and will work from there! Many thanks!

What time does your flight arrive? The earlier you arrive, the more time you have to tour that day. It seems going from LHR to Southampton upon arrival, then from Southampton into Central London, then back to Southampton may not give you much time in London itself. But if you are in early enough and don't get tripped up in long lines for immigration and don't run into delays getting to Southampton via car, I suppose it might work. There certainly is a lot of merit to the idea of being very close to the pier the morning of embarkation day.

As mentioned, touring London on the day of arrival can make for a long day. Really, it does depend on how well you do with jet lag, sleeping on planes, etc. If you have an overnight flight, try to sleep as much as you can. When you arrive in the morning, stay active. Get outside. Get fresh air. It's the best way to battle jet lag. But even then, you'll probably be wiped out earlier in the night than you would normally.

Hopefully, you'll figure out a way to see some of London. It's a fantastic city. One no traveler should miss.
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Old December 26th, 2013, 04:57 PM
Cotswold Eagle Cotswold Eagle is offline
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What time does your flight arrive? The earlier you arrive, the more time you have to tour that day. It seems going from LHR to Southampton upon arrival, then from Southampton into Central London, then back to Southampton may not give you much time in London itself.
This option makes no sense at all, I'm afraid. The OP could get a car service to take her into Central London from LHR and then out to her hotel later in the day, but London is not an ideal place to tour by car. The OP has to decide whether to do that or to sightsee along the route down to Southampton. There isn't really enough time to do both any more than very superficially, even with an early morning arrival.
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Old December 26th, 2013, 06:32 PM
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This option makes no sense at all, I'm afraid. The OP could get a car service to take her into Central London from LHR and then out to her hotel later in the day, but London is not an ideal place to tour by car. The OP has to decide whether to do that or to sightsee along the route down to Southampton. There isn't really enough time to do both any more than very superficially, even with an early morning arrival.
That's kind of what I was thinking, but I thought I saw someone else suggest just that. Unless I mis-read their suggestions.
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  #11  
Old December 26th, 2013, 08:38 PM
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Hi, Nancy,

As you'll have learned from other posts, Heathrow is on the Southampton side of London - so central London's sights are 16 urban miles in the pposite direction, before the haul to Southampton & on to Brockenhurst.

If you are keen to see London's sights, & if you can change your hotel reservation to a hotel in central London, then that's the way to go about it.
I'm presuming that you have an overnite flight to Heathrow & that you can handle jet-lag tolerably well.
Expect to be out into the arrivals hall 60 to 80 minutes after your flight lands, and in central London about an hour after that, depending on your choice of transport.

Various options for transportation into central London, which is best will depend on your needs & where the hotel is located.
Cheapest at £6 per person is the tube (London's underground) & it's not so desperately inconvenient, even with some luggage, if your hotel is close to a Piccadilly tube line. Journey time about 45 mins.
National Express bus (worth pre-booking) is almost as cheap, & convenient for a hotel in Victoria. Journey time about 50 mins.
The Heathrow Express train is quite expensive at about £20 per person, but convenient for a hotel in Paddington. Journey time 15 to 20 mins.
Or take one of those options & complete your journey in one of London's iconic black cabs.
Or if you want to pre-book a private transfer from Heathrow to central London it'll cost about £45 & take 40 mins to an hour.

You can fix a transfer combined with a tour of the sights, I guess about 2 to 2.5 hours excluding stops.
If you don't combine transfer & tour, then once you've checked into your hotel (you can leave your bags even if you're too early to access your room) you can jump on a ho-ho. Best route is probably Original's yellow route, it has a live commentary & a complete circuit takes about 2hrs 15mins. You'll see all the main sights except Buckingham Palace - buses aren't allowed past the Palace so you get off at a stop just around the corner & return to the stop to wait for the next ho-ho. Frequency about 10 to 15 minutes. It's a relaxed way of getting a good overview of London, ideal if jetlag catches up with you.

After a long afternoon & the evening in London, head for your ship next morning. By direct Nat Express bus if your hotel is in Victoria (2.5 hrs, & up to £18 pp, again strongly recommended that you pre-book) or by direct train (3 or 4 per hour from London's Waterloo station, journey time about 90 minutes, about £36 pp) or also by the same trains from Waterloo for as little as £4 pp by pre-purchasing non-amendable Megatrain tickets - though Megatrain tickets are only available on a very very limited number of those trains.
It's also possible to travel to Southampton by train from Paddington station, about the same cost & journey time as regular trains from Waterloo, though that involves one change of train.
Again, you may want to start the journey with a taxi hop to the bus or train station. And it's a £5 to £7 taxi hop from Southampton bus or train station to any cruise terminal.
Or pre-book a private transfer from hotel to ship, about 2 hours, about £130. I guess with a reasonably early start (about 9am) you could fit in a visit to, say, Stonehenge & Salisbury on the way. At extra cost. of course. And if you're not totally shattered.

If you are committed to the Brockenhurst hotel, a pre-booked car service can take you from Heathrow to central London for a tour, then transfer you to Brockenhurst. See later in my post.

And if you are committed to the Brockenhurst hotel, and you want to see something other than London, then a private transfer from Heathrow to Brockenhurst makes sense. A simple direct (and mainly boring freeways) transfer should cost about £120 with either www.smithsforairports.com or www.westquaycars.com
Various places to visit on the way - Windsor & its castle, or Hampton Court Palace (both a few miles from Heathrow), or Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) near Newbury, Stonehenge, & the historic city of Salisbury. Highclere, Stonehenge & Salisbury would make a very worthwhile day. Stacks of other alternatives too. But of course making deviations & adding stops will be a great deal more expensive.
West Quay's tour section, www.discoverthesouth.co.uk uses their most experienced & knowledgeable drivers for tour-transfers.
Note: these are Southampton-based car services. Best to use Discover the South if you want to start with a central London tour, other drivers will know their way around but not be able to add to the experience. All will be fine for a transfer from central London or Heathrow to Southampton or Brockenhurst, but Heathrow to central London is off their turf & they wouldn't be viable.

Some useful websites:
http://www.londontoolkit.com/
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloa...d-tube-map.pdf
http://www.nationalexpress.com/home.aspx
(ignore the cruise terminal option, it doesn't apply to your cruise, your destination in Southampton is coach station.)
http://www.theoriginaltour.com/UserF...urmap13(2).pdf
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
http://uk.megabus.com/megatrain.aspx

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Last edited by John Bull; December 26th, 2013 at 08:42 PM.
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  #12  
Old December 27th, 2013, 04:32 AM
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JB, thank you so much! You really are a wealth of information. I'm happy to say I'm in negotiations with one of the car services you recommended already and am fairly sure we will be booking with them.

For us and our needs it's all about comfort and experience. I couldn't possibly give up the hotel in New Forest! It's just so ENGLISH! LOL No, in all seriousness, since I won the cruise, I honestly don't mind going the extra expense for the tour by car to the perfect hotel.

Thanks again!
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bull View Post
Hi, Nancy,

As you'll have learned from other posts, Heathrow is on the Southampton side of London - so central London's sights are 16 urban miles in the pposite direction, before the haul to Southampton & on to Brockenhurst.

If you are keen to see London's sights, & if you can change your hotel reservation to a hotel in central London, then that's the way to go about it.
I'm presuming that you have an overnite flight to Heathrow & that you can handle jet-lag tolerably well.
Expect to be out into the arrivals hall 60 to 80 minutes after your flight lands, and in central London about an hour after that, depending on your choice of transport.

Various options for transportation into central London, which is best will depend on your needs & where the hotel is located.
Cheapest at £6 per person is the tube (London's underground) & it's not so desperately inconvenient, even with some luggage, if your hotel is close to a Piccadilly tube line. Journey time about 45 mins.
National Express bus (worth pre-booking) is almost as cheap, & convenient for a hotel in Victoria. Journey time about 50 mins.
The Heathrow Express train is quite expensive at about £20 per person, but convenient for a hotel in Paddington. Journey time 15 to 20 mins.
Or take one of those options & complete your journey in one of London's iconic black cabs.
Or if you want to pre-book a private transfer from Heathrow to central London it'll cost about £45 & take 40 mins to an hour.

You can fix a transfer combined with a tour of the sights, I guess about 2 to 2.5 hours excluding stops.
If you don't combine transfer & tour, then once you've checked into your hotel (you can leave your bags even if you're too early to access your room) you can jump on a ho-ho. Best route is probably Original's yellow route, it has a live commentary & a complete circuit takes about 2hrs 15mins. You'll see all the main sights except Buckingham Palace - buses aren't allowed past the Palace so you get off at a stop just around the corner & return to the stop to wait for the next ho-ho. Frequency about 10 to 15 minutes. It's a relaxed way of getting a good overview of London, ideal if jetlag catches up with you.

After a long afternoon & the evening in London, head for your ship next morning. By direct Nat Express bus if your hotel is in Victoria (2.5 hrs, & up to £18 pp, again strongly recommended that you pre-book) or by direct train (3 or 4 per hour from London's Waterloo station, journey time about 90 minutes, about £36 pp) or also by the same trains from Waterloo for as little as £4 pp by pre-purchasing non-amendable Megatrain tickets - though Megatrain tickets are only available on a very very limited number of those trains.
It's also possible to travel to Southampton by train from Paddington station, about the same cost & journey time as regular trains from Waterloo, though that involves one change of train.
Again, you may want to start the journey with a taxi hop to the bus or train station. And it's a £5 to £7 taxi hop from Southampton bus or train station to any cruise terminal.
Or pre-book a private transfer from hotel to ship, about 2 hours, about £130. I guess with a reasonably early start (about 9am) you could fit in a visit to, say, Stonehenge & Salisbury on the way. At extra cost. of course. And if you're not totally shattered.

If you are committed to the Brockenhurst hotel, a pre-booked car service can take you from Heathrow to central London for a tour, then transfer you to Brockenhurst. See later in my post.

And if you are committed to the Brockenhurst hotel, and you want to see something other than London, then a private transfer from Heathrow to Brockenhurst makes sense. A simple direct (and mainly boring freeways) transfer should cost about £120 with either www.smithsforairports.com or www.westquaycars.com
Various places to visit on the way - Windsor & its castle, or Hampton Court Palace (both a few miles from Heathrow), or Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) near Newbury, Stonehenge, & the historic city of Salisbury. Highclere, Stonehenge & Salisbury would make a very worthwhile day. Stacks of other alternatives too. But of course making deviations & adding stops will be a great deal more expensive.
West Quay's tour section, www.discoverthesouth.co.uk uses their most experienced & knowledgeable drivers for tour-transfers.
Note: these are Southampton-based car services. Best to use Discover the South if you want to start with a central London tour, other drivers will know their way around but not be able to add to the experience. All will be fine for a transfer from central London or Heathrow to Southampton or Brockenhurst, but Heathrow to central London is off their turf & they wouldn't be viable.

Some useful websites:
http://www.londontoolkit.com/
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloa...d-tube-map.pdf
http://www.nationalexpress.com/home.aspx
(ignore the cruise terminal option, it doesn't apply to your cruise, your destination in Southampton is coach station.)
http://www.theoriginaltour.com/UserF...urmap13(2).pdf
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/
http://uk.megabus.com/megatrain.aspx

JB
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  #13  
Old December 27th, 2013, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by MrsNancyG View Post
For us and our needs it's all about comfort and experience. I couldn't possibly give up the hotel in New Forest! It's just so ENGLISH! LOL No, in all seriousness, since I won the cruise, I honestly don't mind going the extra expense for the tour by car to the perfect hotel.

Thanks again!
You might want to look at the reviews for the Brockenhurst Hotel in New Forest (see link below). They are NOT very good.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...d.html#REVIEWS
Alan
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Old December 27th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by MrsNancyG View Post
JB, thank you so much! You really are a wealth of information. I'm happy to say I'm in negotiations with one of the car services you recommended already and am fairly sure we will be booking with them.

For us and our needs it's all about comfort and experience. I couldn't possibly give up the hotel in New Forest! It's just so ENGLISH! LOL No, in all seriousness, since I won the cruise, I honestly don't mind going the extra expense for the tour by car to the perfect hotel.

Thanks again!
If you are going to tour London by private car, see if you can arrange for the car to stop some places so you can actually get out and walk around a bit. Dunno how easy that is to do as parking doesn't seem abundant in central London, but London is probably best experienced on foot.
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Old December 28th, 2013, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by StarTrkGeek View Post
You might want to look at the reviews for the Brockenhurst Hotel in New Forest (see link below). They are NOT very good.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...d.html#REVIEWS
Alan
After reading the reviews I venture to disagree. It is evident that the present owners are upgrading after a period of neglect. As I assume that it will be well into 2014 before the OP is there, I expect that they will have a very enjoyable stay. It certainly looks like a nice country hotel.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jsmeeker View Post
If you are going to tour London by private car, see if you can arrange for the car to stop some places so you can actually get out and walk around a bit. Dunno how easy that is to do as parking doesn't seem abundant in central London, but London is probably best experienced on foot.
London is indeed best experienced on foot, which is why I, and others, suggested the OP stay in London for the night rather than the New Forest. I really don't think the car driver is going to be able to park or even drop off and pick up again with any ease. London is not the place to do a car tour, in my opinion.
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Old December 29th, 2013, 01:05 PM
John Bull John Bull is offline
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Given the time limitations if the OP sticks with the plan to see central London & travel same-day to Brockenhurst, the problems associated with parking in central London are pretty irrelevant cos there'll be precious-little time for inside visits or walk-abouts.
But even in central London it's no big deal stopping to drop-off / pick up (even on a "red route" for private-hire cars), or to pull over for a photo-stop.

But nowhere near enough time for seeing much of London on foot.
Or for the complications/constraints of a ho-ho - what to do with luggage, traffic & other delays on a pre-determined ho-ho route/timetable, skip Buckingham Palace (cars are allowed past the front), etc.

So for a same-day transfer Heathrow to Brockenhurst with an overview of London, a car service from start to finish is the only way to do it.

Yes, all a bit rushed & superficial but it'd be a shame not to see London if there's little prospect of returning at a later date.

That said, I agree that it'd be more sensible to choose between London & Brockenhurst:

- central London overnite & travel to Southampton next day.
or
- transfer Heathrow to Brockenhurst incorporating provincial sights en-route, and leave London for another time.

Forest Park Hotel?
Only ever driven past it.
Pleasant location overlooking open Forest, & a 20 minute stroll into the village.
But it's half-an-hour beyond Southampton. And plenty of wedding receptions, usually Saturday evenings, which may dominate the OP's stay and/or involve late-nite music & noise. So I'd be rather wary of a Saturday overnite.

Just MHO as always

JB
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Last edited by John Bull; December 29th, 2013 at 01:06 PM.
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  #18  
Old January 17th, 2014, 11:15 AM
turnip eater turnip eater is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Hampshire UK
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Also in Brockenhurst is Careys Manor Hotel. We stayed there when we were house hunting in the area. Can recommend , staff friendly and very helpful.
They have a spa and three restaurants including a French bistro and Thai restaurant.
20-30 minute drive from Southampton docks.
Brockenhurst also has a direct train line to London Waterloo station
www.careysmanor.co.uk
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