'I have had a life-long love affair with ecclesiastical buildings so, living in London, I'm spoilt for choice. I always make a bee-line for the church when we're on holiday and I've visited most of England's cathedrals and abbeys, some of them many times over.'
'Cathedral cities are ideal for vacations and home swaps as they are generally such stunning places with a variety of things to see and do and we've stayed in several in our four years' membership of Home Base Holidays. One of our earliest swaps was to Bath*, the only place I could imagine living if we were to leave London, where the abbey stands golden alongside the street entertainers, the Roman Baths and the delightful wonky-floored Sally Lunn's Bath bun shop.
While swapping in Dorchester* we caught the bus, a glorious journey through the lush Dorset countryside, to Sherborne, the abbey magnificent in this pretty town which has many other attractions.
Our first ever visit to Chester was a house swap and there the cathedral is dark and brooding constructed of deep red stone, shops on one side of the road, cathedral on the other. A perfect day!
A week in Oxford* gave us a chance to get under the skin of this amazing little city which for Londoners is usually confined to a day trip and where the cathedral is just one of many wonderful churches and chapels, a new delight around every corner and uniformity of building materials providing harmony for the eye.
This time last year we were in Frome, the house an architectural delight in itself, and another bus trip to Wells with its spectacular scissor arch and so beautiful it almost defies description.
But I think my favourite of all is Salisbury* and last summer our home from home gave us Stonehenge as a short bus trip in one direction and the cathedral (photo above) 10 minutes walk in the other. One sunny afternoon (yes, there were some sunny days last summer) we walked across the meadows and sat on a conveniently placed bench to admire Turner's viewpoint of Britain's tallest spire. Thank goodness we got into this home swapping lark.
And if you're feeling sorry for Paul for enduring my obsession bear in mind that all but one of these places has a race course - and I'm not adverse to the chance of putting on my glad rags for a day!' - Sandra Newnham
Sandra, a Home Base Holidays member, is a very experienced home swapper and regular contributor to Home Swappers Newsletter and our blog. See her home exchange offer in London.
Note: we welcome reports from members on their exchange experiences and, as an added incentive, you will receive three months added to your current membership period. If you are a prolific exchanger and writer like Sandra, you may never pay for membership renewal again! Contact Home Base Holidays with your ideas for articles.
Salisbury - Spacious comfortable townhouse (in photo) minutes walk to historic city centre. Within walking distance of train and bus stations. Centrally located for cinema, theatre, restaurants, shops, leisure centre/swimming, sports, etc. Famous landmarks include Stonehenge (8 miles) and Salisbury Cathedral. See home swap offer.
Bath - Cosy two bedroom end terrace, on the outskirts of the World Heritage City of Bath. There's plenty to do do in Bath - enjoy walking, cycling, boating, hot-air ballooning, shopping, the Roman Baths, Thermae Bath Spa. a comfortable, stylish ground floor apartment with an extensive walled terrace for alfresco dining. It is a ten minute stroll from the beautiful and famous city of Oxford and a one hour train ride to London. See home swap offer.
Oxford - Comfortable, stylish ground floor apartment with an extensive walled terrace for alfresco dining. It is a ten minute stroll from the beautiful and famous city of Oxford and a one hour train ride to London. It's location is unique, combining a quiet, relaxing situation next to the canal with a piazza (and fountain) to the front of the apartment and yet, just two minutes walk from shops, cafe culture, local pubs, restaurants and cinema. A two minute walk on the other side of the canal lies open countryside and the River Thames with ducks, swans, geese etc. See home swap offer.