About M&M Tours

Welcome to the M&M Tours blog.  We hope our reminiscences, talk, and dreams about travel in the United Kingdom will spark memories of your own journeys there or peak your interest in traveling to this fascinating part of the world.

Separately and together, sisters Martha and Mary have been visiting the UK since 1965 when Martha daringly toured England and Scotland on her own.  Mary’s first time there was in 1977, as a chaperone for a group of students visiting Germany and London.  Since those early days, we’ve both returned often, increasing our knowledge of the geography, people, history, and culture of the Island.  We’ve loved every visit.

Now we’re sharing that love of Britain by leading tours together that give others the opportunity to see, learn about, and delight in the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales.  And in 2011, we added the Republic of Ireland to that list.  Because we are both gardeners, our first trip together as “group leaders” was a tour of gardens in Southern and Central England in 2007.  What a fabulous bunch of travelers we had with us for that trip!  And we were so flattered when many of those first M&M travelers returned for our 2009 trip to Scotland’s gardens and castles.  As these things happen, past travelers have told their friends about the great itineraries, relaxed style, moderate prices, and FUN that they had on their M&M tour.

About Mary:

Martha and I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I’m the older sister – the short, chunky, dark-haired one.  My first foreign travel was in 1977 when I went to Germany as a chaperone with 65 junior and senior high students.  Rather than a deterrent, that first trip gave me a desire to continue to travel to new places, to learn about other countries and cultures, and to share that experience with others.  After a second trip with teenagers, I began leading adult tours in Great Britain in 1980.

Some of my favorite travel memories include:

  • Being piped on board our coach in Ballater, Scotland, by the Pipe Major of the winning pipe band from the 2009 Braemar Highland Gathering
  • Visiting the restored Gertrude Jekyll garden at the Manor House, Upton Grey, in 2007
  • Enjoying a special, group dinner at the Charles Rennie Macintosh designed House for an Art Lover in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • Touring at Caernarvon Castle in Wales, on the day that Prince William was born.

In addition to travel, I love to garden, read, create and collect miniatures and miniature rooms, and do needlework.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, and a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies.  Most of my working career was in the Garden Center and Landscaping business.

My home is in Rochester, Minnesota, where my husband Jess worked for IBM for many years.  We have two sons and five grandchildren, all in Minnesota, and although we are much too young, one adorable great-grandchild.  In addition to many trips to the UK, Jess and I have especially enjoyed eco-travel to places like New Zealand, the Sea of Cortez, many islands in the Caribbean, and the Galapagos Islands.  “Don’t wait to travel”, is our motto, “it only gets harder if you put it off”.

About Martha:

Olympia, Washington has been home for over 35 years.  Here we enjoy weather similar to that of Great Britain, which is marvelous for gardening.  It’s mild temperatures in winter and summer and the rain, often only a drip, are great for plants and people alike.

My first trip to Great Britain was at age 21 for three weeks exploring on my own.  I fell in love with a land where active history and architecture span thousands of year rather than just a few hundred.  Adult travels have taken me to the Czech and Slovak Republics three times and to Scotland and England many more times.

Since retiring from nursing in 2006, I have co-led four tours to Great Britain and Ireland with my sister, Mary.  What a team we are.  We enjoy the research and searching for fun and fascinating locations to share with travelers.  And we love to study the history and background that enriches our knowledge and the “education” of our travelers.  I have great fun finding obscure details and trivia.  And what fun to turn that into a trivia game for travelers.  Do you know the answer to, “What is a fank?”

Some of the things I enjoy most about the M&M tours are the surprises that happen along the way.  For Scotland that was being piped aboard our coach by the lead piper of the band we cheered on to victory, and having the travelers try to stump the M&Ms with trivia questions about Scotland.  For England is was the fun of having a traveler hold my hand and only look down while I led her to a beautiful view point on a terrace over a parterre and then seeing her almost cry with awe when she looked out at the garden, “surprise”.

I chidingly say, “they did not name me Martha for nothing,” when folks comment on all my activities and interests.  My main activities are:  quilting and quilt collecting, cross-stitch, gardening, knitting, sewing, smocking, needlepoint, antiquing.  My major interests include:  the British and American Arts and Crafts Movement, architecture, British history, the history and culture of Slovakia, garden design and  history, and quilt history.  I really do not have time to be bored, just to rest occasionally.

I share this crazy life with my husband, Collum, three children and now six grandchildren.  They are beginning to wonder when I will slow down and if I will be home for their birthday.

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