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“Great trip to Stonehenge!”

Ray Ruddick's Day and Away Tours
Ranked #273 of 670 Tours in London
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Attraction details
Owner description: Ray Ruddick has been welcoming visitors from all over the world for 25 years. Private groups of families or friends (up to 8 passengers) can experience the best that London and the UK has to offer whilst being driven and guided by their own personal driver-guide. To guarantee Ray's availability you can check out his diary online and can now book the trip of a lifetime up to December 2014! See Ray's website for a wide choice of day tours, away tours and lots of London activity ideas, a comprehensive list of Free activities in London, the best places for kids, a full up-to-date events guide by month and many other UK travel tips.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Herndon, VA
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great trip to Stonehenge!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 June 2012

Thanks to Ray for the wonderful day trip! Got to see Stonehenge, Oxford, Windsor Castle, and walk in the Cotswolds. Ray showed us the sights and knew interesting little stories about area authors, artists, pubs, and architecture. I wholeheartedly concur with the many other positive reviews here. Ray was exceptional and helped to fill our vacation with fond memories.

Visited June 2012
3 Thank Ben S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
, Owner at Ray Ruddick's Day and Away Tours, responded to this review, 4 July 2012
Thanks Ben for writing about your day out with me, you were great company! Best wishes for a bright future! Ray
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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39 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Herndon, Virginia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“The best money you'll ever spend is for a day out with Ray”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 June 2012

Don't pass up an opportunity to spend a day with Ray Ruddick. He is a true gem! During our recent trip to London, we booked Ray to take us on a day trip to Stonehenge and Blenheim Palace. When we noticed that another reviewer had mentioned a brief walk in the Cotswolds, we asked if this could be added, as well. Ray happily agreed. On the day of our tour, Ray picked us up promptly at our flat in Chelsea and we headed out of town. As he was asking about our interests, I mentioned my enjoyment of birds. He asked if we had to return at any particular time. When we said that we did not, he suggested an impromptu stop at Richmond Park. Once there, he searched about until he had found me a lovely flock of large green parakeets. We also loved the huge red deer in the park and stopped to photograph them.

Later, Ray suggested a quick drive past Windsor Castle, where we managed to arrive just in time for the changing of the guards with fife and drum. During the afternoon, he detoured through small villages in the Cotswolds and explained their construction, and took us through Oxford, pointing out the highlights. He knew all of the best spots to stop for anything from a photo op, to great fish and chips.

During our walk in the Cotswolds, Ray got permission to walk us through a movie set where they were filming for the upcoming BBC Father Brown series. Got nods and hellos from Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter) and Hugo Speer (Guy in The Full Monty) and enjoyed looking at the sets as the actors studied their lines.

After a bit of a slip in the mud on the trail left my husband with the unpleasant sensation left by stinging nettles on the palms, Ray even knew what medicinal plant on the trail would soothe the mild sting.

Ray treated us like family and refused our offered tip, even though our trip went nearly four hours beyond its agreed upon time. We suggest that you e-mail Ray, tell him your interests, and let him suggest and ininerary. You will be happy you did!

Visited June 2012
2 Thank piemom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
, Owner at Ray Ruddick's Day and Away Tours, responded to this review, 4 July 2012
Wow! Thanks guys for such a lovely review; I'm delighted to hear how much you enjoyed your day with me and grateful to you for taking the trouble to tell others. Very best wishes, Ray
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Geismar, Louisiana
Level Contributor
24 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Perfect tour”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 October 2011

The time we spent with Ray on our 2-day tour was PERFECT. We developed a friendship with him immediately. His knowledge, professionalism, humor, and courteous manner were spectacular. What a gentleman and a scholar Ray Ruddick is!!

2 Thank rennie_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Surprise, Arizona
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“The Best Ever!!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 October 2011

We have just returned from a 6 week vacation in the UK and Northern Europe. We saw many wonderful memorable sights but one of the highlights and most memorable was our custom day tour of London with Ray Ruddick. From the easy reservation process to the end of our tour day everything went smooth as could be. And our tour with Ray was just the best!! Ray is experienced, professional, knowledgable and entertaining and all four of us loved our time with him. His knowledge of the city and country was incredible and we learned so much while seeing everything that we wanted to see in London. Thank you Ray and to the other TA reviewers who had recommended him.

Visited August 2011
2 Thank sbart20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Our Family of eight's unpleasant trip with Ray to Oxford, and Stonhenge”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 August 2011

Ray picked us up at our hotel and we soon discovered that the people in the back seat were not going to hear anything he said on the trip because he did not have a microphone and made no attempt to talk to the two back seats.
In Oxford, he told several"Untruths" which included a tale about how the white rabbit was included inAlice In Wonderland" when the correct and far different story was printed in the Christ Church College Brochure. He also pointed to a photograph of an elaborate dinner at the college called High Table, which featured at least three different kinds of wine, heavy silver and linen and said "This is the way the students eat every lunch and dinner.
He was abrasive and insulting to the grandparents in the group as well as oher members of the party.
He drove most of the time at 80 mph even though one of the seatbelts was not working properly. He had several different tales about why it was broken.

Visited July 2011
4 Thank gardenerBoston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RuddickTours, Owner at Ray Ruddick's Day and Away Tours, responded to this review, 18 August 2011
Wow! There are some major issue here which need addressing. The reviewer has made some serious allegations against my integrity and manners in this review which must be addressed if only for the sake of fair play. I will try to honestly but frankly answer these charges and will leave the reader to judge.

This group booked a tour to Stonehenge and Oxford for a lady and her mother and family through a hotel intermediary, NOT directly with me, Ray Ruddick.

I received the booking from their hotel via a reputable Guide-booking agency. The brief was to take a family of a certain name, numbering 8 persons to Stonehenge and Oxford from a certain hotel at a certain time. That is all the information I had about the group, and is usually all that I would need, as when I meet my groups I try to quickly discuss their hopes and plans for the day and find out what their main priorities are, in order to give the group the best experience I can. Most people talk freely with me at this stage and we soon get a good, happy atmosphere that sets the tone for a successful and rewarding tour for the clients.

When I arrived at the client's hotel I greeted them in my usual (friendly!) way and invited everyone to take seats in my VW Transporter Mini-Van. My van has nine seats; one for the driver (me) and eight for the passengers. I noted questioning looks from one group member to another as they approached my vehicle and a reluctance to communicate much information about the family's needs for the day.

The seating arrangement for the group was chosen under the reviewer's direction. The older members occupied the rear three seats, the teenage members the middle three seats and the men took the front two seats alongside me. The men were quick to make it clear to me that 'they' - pointing to the ladies in the back - 'are in charge'.

I had only travelled a few yards to hear from the ladies in the back that my minivan was 'too small' and 'where is the guide?' I was puzzled by this comment and the reviewer will recall that I replied, 'I am your driver and guide' and as for the size of the vehicle all I can say is that 'all driver-guides who carry small groups use mini-vans and this model is the largest on the circuit and therefore popular with guides like myself who are trying to provide a service for larger family or friends groups, but it is certainly nothing like as big as a bus or coach. I assumed that this explanation had satisfied her, but was then told that 'we booked a private mini-coach with a driver and a guide, not this'.

It transpired that unknown to me this group had made an earlier trip using a mini-coach for private hire, which had a crew of a driver plus an additional guide who sat at the front and used the PA system which, by necessity are standard on all tour buses and coaches, large and small.

The trip to Oxford was quite difficult as the middle seat youngsters were having their own conversation whilst the rear seat passengers were trying to talk over them and the rear seat ladies were asking why I did not have a microphone so they could hear me in the back! I may have committed my first faux-pas here, because I suggested to one of the gentlemen sitting alongside me, 'surely we can move the ladies up and place the youngsters in the rear seats, then the ladies will be better able to hear me and the kids can carry on chatting without disturbing others so much?'. They responded with the same comment about the day being for the ladies in the back and perhaps I could ask, but they weren't going to. It also appeared that they were not going to ask the middle seat passengers to hold their chatting until we were out of the van at Oxford!

On reaching Oxford I repeated the seating suggestion to the now obviously less than happy ladies to be told that the youngsters get car sick so they could not be moved. I countered (2nd faux-pas?) with a truth: 'no one has yet been car sick in my van, so why not give it a try?', To no avail.

Now to the nastier part of this review. It is alleged that I told 'UNTRUTHS', or if we're being really frank here - that I am a liar.

I told this group lots of Oxford stories and when we were discussing the Alice connections and the mysterious and reclusive author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pen-name Lewis Carroll) I passed on a comment that has often been made about an event that took place in a lovely small garden, accessed via a small door in the chapel. It concerned the possibility (no-one will ever know for sure, naturally) that this may have played a part in the story. It is a peaceful place where Dodgson would have reposed on many a sunny afternoon, and could (note, 'could') have played a part in forming his storylines, etc.. We do know that he would set up his new photographic equpment here to take photographs of first of the college and chapel and later, of the four children of the college head, or Dean, Dr Liddell; the most famous being the daughter, Alice. Many years ago I was told by a senior member of the Christchurch staff that some believe that perhaps in a dream-like state on just waking from a sleepy (or other-wise induced) snooze, Dodgson may have started to imagine a scene that could lead us into the tale from his customary seat in that garden. The new Christchurch College booklet refers additionally to the belief (also not a proveable fact) that Dodgson may have modelled the White Rabbit on the Dean, and got the rabbit-hole idea from a small spiral staircase which Dodgson would have regularly used - so the garden, his rooms, the nearby walk, the other fellows, the Dean, Alice herself, will all have no doubt played a part, but until Dodgson comes back from the dead to clarify matters completely, it is all conjecture and we will never know for sure about what exactly inspired all the scenes and characters. Dodgson was a very clever man, a high mathematician and quite secretive by nature. Enigmas result from such things. So there it is, life isn't always cut and dried in the way some would like it to be, and we can all have a little fun with it, speculating on what may have been the inspiration for a character or story-line! But please don't accuse people of lying when they share their own or other's suppositions with you!

As to the dining hall and the 'sumptuous fare' on offer to the students , this is too ridiculous for words. We made this tour on Saturday, 30th July, 2011, when the college students were away enjoying the 'Long Vacation' - i.e. their summer holidays, a fact previously explained to those in the group who were still interested in listening to me . I had also mentioned to the group that during the summer break the College enhanced it's income by hiring out it's accommodation and dining facilities to course-providers, etc. The grand table setting described, I do not recall, although the area has some pictures taken at fine-dining events. But I do recall being asked something like 'but surely the students don't eat in here though, do they?'. I would have certainly replied that they did, because that is a fact. They take three meals a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner in Hall, during term times. First and foremost this is the college 'dining hall', for both students and professors alike. It doubles as large room for lectures, etc., but primarily it is a place to eat. (We haven't quite reached the level of decadence yet where students dine off silver and have three wines at the meal! Stainless steel cutlery, buffet-style servery and water or juice are the order of the day). (3rd faux-pas probably, as my reply may have come over as a tad patronising - but I WAS repeating myself for the 3rd or 4th time - to a group which contained but a few who were interested in paying attention for very long at all. There is nothing more demoralising to a guide who has been hired to tell stories and history, than to be ignored. It is frankly a case of very bad manners, and I am glad to say I encounter it very rarely indeed).

One of the eight seat belts was not engaging easily. I could (and did) get it to work for the young lady who occupied the seat in question, and I apologised to her and the group. I think it may have been caused by food or gum or something of the like falling into the mechanism and thereby slowing the spring catch from operating unless it was handled firmly. It was repaired on my next available free day, and I did have to engage it for one or two less robust clients in the following days, but none of them seemed to mind, I think they were too busy enjoying themsleves and were happy to let me do it for them. It's untrue to say that it was broken. It was difficult to engage, but when engaged it was working perfectly normally. I think that again, we're being very unfair with this complaint.

Our speed on motorways (necessary to complete the group's chosen tour within the time the group wished for) was 70 mph - the legal motorway speed. Unfortunately, not one person mentioned that this was too high a speed for their comfort! It's a bit late telling me now, surely?

As to not directing conversation to the rear, I projected my voice up and back - frequently asking if they could hear me - and often to hear back 'no, we can't.' I think my final faux-pas was (politely, I thought) saying that it would not work if there were two different conversations taking place at the same time when we are traveling at motorway speeds! It is not safe for a driver to turn around at 70 mph, or any other speed, and the law does not permit the use of a micropohone by a driver when the vehicle is in motion, so it would not avail me at those times to have had one. That is why coaches and buses have a driver to drive and guide to guide and cost considerably more if hired by a private small group, obviously.

If I was abrasive and insulting I apologise, but I know that I was not. Shame that the reviewer omits mention of the fact that one of the reasons for the motorway speeds was that I had offered to take the elderly lady to a home in the area where she had enjoyed a happy year when her children were small and this cost us some time. She had shared some nice stories of her time in Oxford with me, and when I had located the house and pulled up nearby I had offered to take photographs of her and the family and had proposed that I could knock the door and politely ask if the owners might allow the family a quick peek; something I have achieved quite a few times in the past. A gesture that is usually greatly appreciated. I am very saddened to have to reply to such a negative report and I apologise to the reader for its' length, but this matters very much to me, and I also sincerely regret that this lady has obviously felt angry enough to write in this way. I hope her future tours are happier and wish her well.
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