Great ExperienceI would like to share with...

Compiled by BILL PEEPLES

Great Experience

I would like to share with you and your readers an English garden tour my husband and I took last May. This year the tour is being offered again with some changes; Scotland and Wales will be included, as well as Castle Howard ("Brideshead Revisited"). We may go again, as the whole experience was simply great.

Hotels were charming English inns and the food very good, especially for England. Our guide had a background of English history, which made each site extra interesting. Gardens chosen ranged from typical cottage to classical. This year the company has arranged for one-year membership in the Royal Horticultural Society for tour participants, which invites members to visit the Chelsea Flower Show on the Queen's Day.

The tour is being offered by Top Flight Travel, 2707 Congress St., Suite 1-H, San Diego 92110, phone (619) 299-3005. ADRIENNE GREEN San Diego

Travel Club In Jerry Hulse's Travel Tips Dec. 9 he gave information on local travel clubs. Another one in Northridge has been in existence for six years. North Valley Travel Club meets the third Friday of every month except December. It does not arrange trips for groups, but instead, programs prepare the individual to better plan and enjoy his own travel.

Meetings are in the upstairs Community Room of Valley Federal Savings at Reseda and Nordhoff. Programs are generally presented by representatives of cruise lines, airlines, tour companies, foreign tourist offices, etc. Movies and/or slides, brochures. Several door prizes at each meeting.

It's free. No dues, no admission. I originated the club and still head it. Information may be obtained from me any evening at (818) 349-2286. HERB KELLER Northridge

Purse Thieves My husband and I began a trip through Spain and Portugal on Oct. 31. When we reached Seville we followed the advice in Fodor's "Spain 1984" regarding purse-snatching. We left to drive to Cordova. A short distance beyond the Sevilla sign we were stopped by a traffic light. The car doors were locked, luggage stowed in the trunk, and my handbag was on the floor, wedged between my feet and the seat.

A man appeared at my door, smashed the window with a large rock, and snatched my purse. The attack was so sudden that I barely grasped the strap of the purse, but the thief jumped onto the back of an unlicensed motorbike and easily won the struggle. Two other men on a similar vehicle appeared on my husband's side of the car as a diversionary tactic.

The incident occurred about 10 a.m. and was reported to the national police. They did see that I was given first-aid but were otherwise rather indifferent. We returned to the Inglaterra Hotel, where the staff was very kind and helpful. At lunch we met two women who, coming along the same passage, had a similar experience at 11 a.m.

A hint to those who travel is to carry photostats of the first two pages of one's passport and to have two passport-size pictures on hand. We were issued new passports in an hour becaue of this preparation. MRS. JOHN M. PFAU San Bernardino

Exquisite Hotel A few years ago Jerry Hulse reviewed smaller hotels of San Francisco and, as I recall, rated the Raphael most highly. Recently I stayed at another small hotel there which I believe even surpasses the Raphael in accommodations, location and personal service. It is the Galleria Park, a beautifully renovated edition of the old Sutter Hotel. The rooms are exquisitely decorated, individually climate-controlled, and include a stocked refrigerator.

The location at Kearney and Sutter is ideal, near the business and financial district and a few blocks from Union Square, Chinatown and Embarcadero Center. The service is truly personal and attentive, and the rate of $85 single or double makes it a great value. RICHARD S. EHRENFELD Newport Beach

Moorea Biking As one of the "many others" who have biked Moorea's coast road (Dec. 23), I want to thank Bill Peeples for his insightful and accurate account of the secluded splendor of one of French Polynesia's most beautiful islands. Unfortunately, Peeples and his hibiscus blossom lady friend did not complete their circle-island tour as they started it--on bicycles--but opted for the lazy man's finish to an adventurous and strenuous undertaking.

In May, 1982, I circled Moorea with my companion, Joseph Daoud, a French-speaking Quebecois staying in an adjoining room at Chez Albert on Cook's Bay. After renting two dilapidated, rusty one-speed cruisers from a nearby agency we traveled in a clockwise direction away from Pao Pao toward the undeveloped tranquillity of Afareaitu, Maatea and Haapiti. The road was frequently rough, but the view of Tahiti across the Sea of the Moon and the snorkeling in the turquoise lagoon were incredible. ERIC J. MALSTROM Montclair

Milford Tracking Re "Vacation Memories" (Dec. 23): Having just hiked the Milford Track in New Zealand, we were very interested in Elizabeth Hansen's account of her first two days on the track. I hope you let her tell us about the remaining two days, otherwise we might suspect that she didn't make it, never having hiked any farther than from one end of a shopping center to the other. Ha! Beautifully done, Elizabeth if, in fact, you did. Please, let us hear more. MRS. C.W. RESEIGH Long Beach

Arm the Foxes With all of the travel information that Stan Delaplane could use to provide interesting notes to avid readers, he chooses to glorify a blood sport, namely fox hunting (Dec. 29). When the day comes that the fox is as well-armed as the hunters, then it may be referred to as sport. Till then, it is legalized murder. PAT DOHENY La Puente

San Diego's Gaslamp It was with great pleasure that I read Tom and Michele Grimm's interesting and informative article on Dec. 16 about San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. For the information of your readers, the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre's critically acclaimed production of George Bernard Shaw's "Candida," originally scheduled to close on Jan. 12, has been held over through Feb. 9 due to popular demand.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at (619) 234-9583 after 1 p.m. KRISTINA FARHOOD director of marketing

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