I have decided to try and start doing a monthly round-up of what has been happening on my travels and perhaps some general life updates. I know a lot of people do these but I think they are a great way to keep in touch with you all! I’m always quite slow at getting photos edited and writing up posts to share on here. Take a look at this one for example, an April/May roundup posted half way through June! In between that time there are always so many places I get to that I’d love for you to see, even just briefly until I can share all the wonderful detail. If you follow along with my instagram account you may well keep up with the stories of where I have been but even then, there are still things I manage to miss out on.
Monthly Round-Up Of April and May
Bare with me, this has been a busy couple of months!
April began with a trip to our capital. I’m very much a village girl and much prefer the countryside. I can only manage big bustling cities like London in small doses. But, it had been well over a year since my last visit and I thought it would be great to capture it in spring. See those iconic sights like St Paul’s Cathedral decorated with cherry blossom, photograph the beautiful streets in bloom. I was only there for the day but managed to fit in a lot of places (especially London Mews) and covered over 35,000 steps. Not enough to cover everything I had wanted to see, but I look at that as an excuse for another visit! Perhaps in Autumn when the city turns golden.
This is my absolute favourite place on this list. Castle Combe has been on my list for many a year. It is one of those place I kept seeing photographs that other people had shared and was desperate to see for myself. It wasn’t until we decided to spend a week in Wiltshire that I managed to see this beautiful place. The perfect example of a quintessential chocolate box, picture perfect English village. The kind you imagine when you muster up an image of what an English village looks like. I had set very high expectations on this place and I have to say, it didn’t disappoint in the slightest!
I adore Oxford. I remember my first visit on a summer holiday back from Saudi and I went down to meet up with one of my closest friends who was on an I.B. course for a week. It was a fantastic weekend and I still remember it fondly. It is a city rich in history, full of fantastic architecture and no matter how many times you visit there is always more to discover. On this particular visit I got to explore some Harry Potter film locations, which as a big time Potter fan, I was stupidly excited! We visited just at the beginning of spring here in England and the magnolia was in blossom, framing the Radcliffe Camera beautifully.
One of England’s favourite cities and long been on my list to visit. You can’t help but fall in love with the streets of Bath. The architecture is outstanding and the atmosphere vibrant. One of the things I loved most about Bath was the scale of it. Small enough to explore the centre in an afternoon and not leave feeling like you missed out on anything, yet big enough to feel like a proper city. I got to see all the major sites, yet still have a list of things I’d love to go back and explore further. Bath really is the ideal place for a weekend staycation.
This 16th century country house is situated just outside of Stratford-upon-Avon, next to the river Avon. Home to the Lucy family for the last 900 years, I first visited this beautiful estate with my friend Lucy about 4 years ago. This time, Peter and I got to visit on a rare day without Heidi who was enjoying a day with Nana. One of the highlights for me was the fabulous working kitchens which are still very much set in the past. Alongside the brewery and laundry. Also the stables, complete with more than a dozen of the Lucy family original carriages. This place is an ideal place to spend the day with the family and pack a picnic to enjoy next to the river views.
Calke Abbey And A Walk Through The Bluebell Woods
My local National Trust property, just a 15 minute drive from home. We visit here often! I have been coming since I was a child. This time, we found something completely new to me. The bluebell woods. They were absolutely enchanting and you can read my post about them here. Or more on the Calke estate here.
Walks Through Rape Fields
Early spring in the English countryside is absolutely beautiful. The fields come alive with a flourish of yellow flowers of the rape seed crop. I didn’t get to visit at the height of blossom, instead catching the fields about a week early with a small amount of blossom. My sister and I took a short drive from home and found some local fields and decided to play around with the camera and get a few shots just as sun was setting. I won’t be writing a post about this but here are some of the images we caught that evening.
Situated a couple of miles south of Stratford, Welford is a picture postcard village full of thatched cottages. Dating back more than a thousand years, Welford is amongst those places listed in the Domesday book. I seek out places like this. I am an avid lover of history, especially those places with history and charm which Welford has in abundance. We visited on a particularly rainy day which was a shame so I may need to pay this place another visit before I have enough photos I am happy with to share in a blog post for you all! It is certainly worthy of a post.
You may have read my latest post, The Prettiest Village In The Peak District, but if not – this is the prettiest village in the Peak District. Situated next to the River Wye, complete with medieval sheep wash bridge, ancient church and gorgeous cottages, Ashford is just wonderful. I tend to visit here once a year as it isn’t too far from home. That said, I had never visited in May, peak wisteria season. My goodness was I in for a surprise! Just look at that house below! Of course, the village has much more to offer than a wisteria clad house. But look!! What a wonderful time to visit this village. That, and we visited on a wonderfully sunny day which makes the world of difference here in the UK.
Another National Trust property very close to home, just a 20 minute drive away. One sunny morning, Heidi and I went for a run around the gardens as we often do. We had it almost entirely to ourselves. Kedleston has been used in quite a lot of films, the likes of The Legend of Tarzan and The Duchess, so it may look familiar to you. I really love visiting this grand property. The interior is stunning, with a wonderful marble entrance hall and pantheon style dome. The grounds are equally impressive and there are a number of wonderful walks to do in the area. I highly recommend a visit here if you are ever in Derbyshire.
Oh Sezincote you absolute beauty! An Indian palace in the heart of the English countryside. Genuinely, I can’t recommend a visit to this place to see it for yourself enough. It is gorgeous in every way. The house and the gardens are divine. This was one of the first places I wrote a post on from this list, I think that says it all as to how excited I was to share it with you all! You can read the post here.
A prime example of a quintessential English village. Lacock looks like it has been trapped in time, left behind by the modern world. This is what made me fall in love with it. Quaint cottages, a medieval tithe barn, a babbling brook and the cutest bakery I ever did see! This village is tiny, consisting of 4 main streets and an abbey. There is a village shop, two pubs and a restaurant but that is about as modern as it gets. Lacock has been used in countless movies and tv series, most notably in Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter and Downton Abbey. This place really shouldn’t be missed, it is a rare gem.
The thirteenth century abbey in the village of Lacock. This place started life as an abbey and nunnery before becoming a Tudor family home. The cloisters are magical and for all those Potter fans out there, another location that was used in the movies. Those enchanting corridors that you see Harry walking down on his way to class, they were filmed here! Lacock Abbey was also the birth place of photography. To avid lovers of photography like myself, it was amazing to see the window where the first ever photograph was taken.
The abbey, as well as the entire village of Lacock are part of the properties in the hands of the National Trust. If you love visiting historic country houses and estates then it would well be worth investing in a membership, which start from £69 for an individual membership. You get access to hundreds of properties across the UK and even if you just visit a few then it has paid for itself. The National Trust conserve such fantastic properties and I genuinely can’t imagine not having my membership card! I’ve visited about 20 properties already this year. I absolutely adore the work they do and can’t recommend them or the properties they maintain highly enough. You can find more information on becoming a member and supporting the superb work they do here if you are interested.
Located on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, Wells was somewhere I had been wanting to visit for a while! The cathedral is magnificent and the Bishops Palace, surrounded by moat is a beauty. The main lure for me was Vicar’s Close. The oldest complete medieval residential street left in Europe. I kept stumbling across photos of this street and had to visit for myself. Of course, I had to choose bin day when the street was lined top to bottom with bins. Not impressed! The street in itself however, absolutely gorgeous!
Just a 25 minute drive/11 minute train journey from Bath, the picturesque town of Bradford-on-Avon is worth adding to your list of pit stops along the way. With roots in the Roman times, the modern day town was built on six centuries of wool and weaving wealth. The town has a wonderful vibe, a mix of medieval wonky glory and fine Georgian architecture reminiscent of that in Bath. Built around the river which flows through the centre of the town, this small town is full of character and charm and the most beautiful 15th century tea rooms. It’s winding streets are lined with a fantastic array of independent shops, ideal for spending an afternoon browsing. Bradford-on-Avon is well worth adding to your list this summer.
This alluring seven acre gardens was created in the early 20th century and is another place that has passed into the hands of the National Trust. The land is divided up into separate ‘rooms’, each with a different theme, flowing one into the next. Orchards, spacious lawns, garden pools, well maintained topiary. The house is now rented by private tenants and not open to the public but I got some wonderful views of the exterior, decorated in wisteria. It took two attempts to visit this place. I wrote down the days it is open, wrongly apparently. We turned up to find the gates closed, having to return another day. But it was certainly worth it.
Great Chalfield Manor
Another National Trust property. There seems to be a running theme here! I utterly adored this place. Set just off the road, we came upon it completely unexpectedly after driving down long winding roads, getting further and further into the Wiltshire countryside. There aren’t many places like this found just driving along a country lane so it was a surprise. A pleasant one though and my eyes instantly lit up. This 15th century manor house comes complete with moat and parish church. As well as some exquisite gardens. Good enough to be used in last night’s episode of Poldark where Ross and Dr Enys are talking down by the water. Anyways, slightly off tangent – this place is somewhere I want to go back to and see inside as we didn’t have time to explore indoors with a tired toddler. Until then, I will have to imagine just how gorgeous it is!
I only recently found out about the existence of this place thanks to the lovely Ramona (aka. Monalogue on instagram) and had to add it to the list of places I wanted to see on our Wiltshire trip. If you haven’t seen any of Mona’s work before then check out her website or better still, her instagram feed. If dreamy English countryside is as much your thing as it is mine, you won’t find a better source of inspiration! Iford Manor is situated in Iford valley, a rural idyll on the border of Wilteshire and Somerset. Sat next to a river, this manor house has the most attractive grade I listed gardens, complete with Italianate Cloisters which are used for wonderful summer evening entertaining. Find more about events on their website here. I am certainly planning on going back one evening to catch Madame Butterfly.
Bowood has been home to the Lansdowne family since 1754 and they have spent the past few centuries collecting some wonderful historical treasures, which are on display inside this gorgeous Georgian house. Have a wander round and you will spot Queen Victoria’s wedding chair and Napoleon’s death mask amongst so many other treasures. I didn’t get to spend as much time in the house as I would have liked. Heidi wasn’t as entertained with exploring indoors as she was the fantastic gardens. Good taste that child has as it was one of Capability Brown’s stunning landscapes. And of course, there was an even bigger distraction. The adventure park, packed with a full life sized pirate ship, giant slides, aerial rope-walls, a drop slide, trampoline and so much more. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also a soft play area, mini tractor track, digger den and farm yard. This place is a brilliant place for a family day out if you are in Wiltshire.
Phew! That was quite a list. So, where will June be taking me?
Plans For Next Month
June started off with a trip to a wonderful old abbey in the Nottinghamshire countryside, followed by a weekend exploring the smallest county in England – where I stumbled across breathtakingly beautiful thatched cottages by the dozen, all laden with roses. I was in heaven! This week we are off for an escape to the seaside, exploring one of my favourite parts of the country, Cornwall. I am looking forward to showing Heidi the sea and having lazy days on the beach building sandcastles. I’ve been checking the forecast daily and as I write it still says full sun all week. Fingers crossed! I’m looking forward to visiting some more of Cornwall’s quaint little fishing villages too, as well as hunting out some of their glorious whitewashed thatched cottages. That goes without saying.
Booked Our Holidays To Puglia And Amalfi
At the start of April we also got our flights and airbnb’s booked for a couple of weeks in the South of Italy to explore Puglia and road trip across to the Amalfi Coast. Excited doesn’t even cut it! If you have any recommendations, especially on places to eat, please leave me a comment below. So far my top three places are a stunning Michelin Starred restaurant in a cave overlooking the ocean in Polignano A Mare, another restaurant offering amazing food and views of Positano and a garden of lemons in Capri which looks divine. Still doing my research on the best local recommendations though. Those are the jewels!
I hope this list of places is one you look forward to reading proper posts about. If there is anywhere you would really like to read about first, please let me know! I’d love to spend my time writing up those that are of most interest to you. Hope you have all had a wonderful spring.
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