Being a London girl born and bred, to my shame there are large parts of this country that I’ve never explored: travelling to me means leaving the rainy island behind and exploring places with different languages, different cultures, different climates. However, being based in London for a summer doing an internship Monday-Friday has given me an excellent chance to visit in my weekends some bits of the country previously unexplored. This has made me realise that England would probably be a great place to come to as a tourist – most of the cities (even the smaller ones) have lots of interesting things to do and see, and much as we like to complain about the train system, it’s actually pretty easy to get around the country by rail, and not even that expensive if you buy tickets in advance – my return ticket this weekend cost me only about £10.
Visit last weekend was to the Lake District – only 3 hours by train from London on the way there despite the fact that it’s the other end of the country! The coach on the way back was longer but still definitely manageable, though another time I might prefer to go Friday to Sunday to get a full day there rather than arrive Saturday lunchtime and leave Sunday lunch. The whole area is stunning in a very subtle Englishy sort of way (the bit we were in was more rolling hills than dramatic mountain-top vistas) and we managed to squeeze in a short country walk and a BBQ in the drizzle, British-style (with umbrellas over the BBQ), though I decided not to partake in the lake swimming in the rain – it wasn’t quite warm enough for my liking! We were camping out in a converted barn in really the middle of nowhere for a friend’s birthday and the whole weekend was a lovely fleeting escape from the city/office, and one I’d like to repeat if I got the chance. I’ve barely been to the north of England at all and I feel this needs to be remedied in the future…
This weekend’s destination of choice was Cambridge. I was visiting a friend working there for the summer, but we had an absolutely glorious weekend in the sun – including swimming in an outside pool owned by her college. I don’t think I’ve swum at all since last summer insides or outsides, but it reminded me that swimming outside is just one of the best things ever (see here for my fav outdoor swimming places in Europe, annoying that I won’t be going anywhere so beaut this summer!), and because it had been a warm day, the water wasn’t too cold. Then we walked alongside the river out of the city up to the village of Grantchester where we had a delightful evening picnic on the riverbanks as the sun set, complete with G&Ts made with raspberry gin and fresh smudged raspberries. I’d always heard of Grantchester and wanted to see what it was like, and though we didn’t have time to go into the village itself and see the statue of Rupert Brooke, we did walk back past Sylvia Plath’s house. Cambridge really won my heart over – as my friend pointed out, it’s similar to Oxford, but without the traffic and main roads. Though with just as many tourists getting in the way – only this time I was one of them so I couldn’t really complain!
So if you have a weekend free anytime soon, I’d recommend either of these! Next on my list is Brighton and Liverpool….so watch this space!