“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R Tolkein
Jetlagged, $300 poorer but feeling better than ever! I had forgotten how much I love the English countryside and underneath the warm sun it felt like heaven. Driving through the stretches of undulating hills and valleys with the summer air surrounding me, there is nothing quite like it. It always makes me feel very nostalgic when I see such an English setting because I spent my life growing up in the countryside. I have just returned from my two weeks excursion to England for my winter holidays and it was literally a rollercoaster from one place to the next throughout the time I spent there. I can honestly say that I haven’t seen so many relatives and friends in the past five years than I have in the past two weeks. Somehow I managed to fit in seeing lots of my immediate family as well as old friends, high school and primary school which was a real treat because I haven’t seen them in years. It’s lovely to know that nobody has changed since I left, which is really nice considering the risk of adolescence being the instigator of most change. I could probably make a crazily long post about what I got up to when I was there and all of my experiences but to save you from that I will make a summary of my favourite things. So, this is pretty much Little City Window’s British Tour, complete with a couple of exciting visuals. In no particular order…
West Midlands Safari Park
Safaris are one of those things that you forget about on the list of things that you want to do in your life until you realise what a great idea it is. I reckon safaris are just like zoos but better because you can feed the animals whenever you want to and get up close and personal with them which adds fun to the experience as opposed to just looking at them. Albeit zoos do have a better selection, a safari is literally the lazy man’s zoo experience, you don’t even have to leave the car! I hadn’t seen my school friends in over a year so I am glad that I was able to share this kind of experience with them as opposed to sitting around at their houses just chatting, that’s not half as memorable as a safari! Here’s a picture of the safari squad: Sally, Lizzie, Me and Lara. Not only was there a safari here but there was a small adjoining theme park located right next to the safari, so of course we had to check that out! Unfortunately we had to pay more for the theme park tickets however, it seemed a shame to miss the park out so we paid for it. The park had the typical rollercoasters and spinning teacups (or hippos in this case) and one of those sky-high coasters that pull you up really high into the sky and then drop you to the ground in a matter of seconds. Why we chose to go on this ride after eating out lunch I do not know and despite being the adrenaline junkie that I am, even I freaked out when I was floating metres above the ground awaiting a serious adrenaline rush. We drove up from Staffordshire towards Kidderminster revelling in excitement for the day ahead. The entry fee was a relatively cheap £20 and the food to feed the animals was £3.50 so for those in NZ reading this, that’s about $47 but bear in mind that the exchange rate is pretty awful at the moment. Oh no, now I have converted the prices it seems like a lot of money…oh well! I thought it was worth it to feed the animals and be so close to them to be honest! Just look at the pictures of this cheeky zebra! Going over to the UK or are in the UK? I’d recommend this rain or shine! Cheaper than an African safari and closer too!Spring Grove, Bewdley, Worcestershire, United Kingdom, DY12 1LF
This one isn’t quite so exciting for those who are seeking adrenaline but it’s a pretty place if you fancy some nice gardens and a bit of history. The story with this house is that it is property of the Earl of Pembrokeshire and has been passed down for centuries. Complete with hundreds of masterpieces the house is quite magnificent inside and hugely decorated from floor to ceiling. The gardens aren’t bad either, they stretch far from the house and fortunately were flourishing with wonderful deep emeralds and bright greens as the plants sunbathing in the beautiful summers day when we visited. There were some lovely English roses on show too which I took the liberty of photographing. In the depths of Salisbury, I wouldn’t expect anything less than this great representation of English countryside. Wilton, Salisbury, United Kingdom, SP2 0BJ
Meal at The Bear Grill
Ahhhh, this was such a good meal! And for only £15 I was not going to turn it down at all! Basically the menu consists of the usual type of stuff that anything under the name “Grill” would have: burgers, steaks, chicken served in various ways and the odd salad. Everyone was going to get a burger so I figured I may as well join them in that notion, so I ordered the California Chicken Burger and boy did I make the right decision. It was basically a hearty burger made up of delicious chicken breast, streaky bacon, a slab of cheese, lettuce, onion, guacamole and various other wonderful ingredients, with a nice side of fries. It was literally the best decision I had made that day, you cannot beat a decent burger to be honest. I myself am not a particular fan of burgers but I allow exceptions for the less greasy, processed types! Not bad Staffordshire, not bad at all. 7 Greengate St,
Cobbs Farm Shop and Pick Your Own
If there is one English summer activity that I love it is strawberry picking. I have done it since I was a child and it is a way that I can completely indulge both my everlasting love for strawberries and my love for the English countryside: two birds with one stone.
It was a beautiful day for it and so my Dad drove us up to Cobbs farm which is near a neighbouring village outside of Marlborough and we grabbed a couple of punnets and headed up towards the fruit fields: first right to the strawberries and then left to the raspberries. I must admit that I am guilty of the eat-one-keep-one habit and find myself feeling awfully sick from eating so many strawberries during my visit but they are so irresistible I just can’t help it! All of my family know that I am a bit of a strawberry fiend and would not risk leaving me unattended in a field full of strawberry plants so as not to risk having a field filled with empty strawberry plants and me lying on the floor, incapacitated from eating so many strawberries. You may think that I am overreacting but trust me, it’s possible!
Cobbs Farmshop and Kitchen,
Bath Road, Hungerford,
Berkshire, RG17 0SP
I love the efficiency of trains but to be honest I had forgotten how uncomfortable they are until I was sitting on one for 2 hours on my way down from Bristol to Staffordshire on a beautiful summers day. It was so typical that every time the sun was out and beaming down, I was involved in some sort of travelling around the country (i.e long car drives, trains, planes). It just so happens that I’ve had previous experiences with British trains before and so it was not a novelty for me but it was strange coming from Auckland where trains are rarely used, because there isn’t much outside of the CBD in the way of urban entertainment. Whereas in England, trains are used so often to get around the country that it’s almost a second nature for some. Anyway, with thanks to the UK train system, I managed to travel around the country efficiently and with a minimal amount of stress. My Dad being my Dad was very organised and pre-planned all of my trips for me days in advance which I thought was unnecessary at the time but it was greatly appreciated when I was actually there. Luckily, I was able to coincide my trip back to Wiltshire with my friend Emily’s trip to London so we did what any teenage pair or more like grandmas would do for their grandchildren and made ourselves a packed lunch for the trip: smoked mackerel sandwiches, an apple and some cake for Emily, all set for the train ride ahead. I just look back on it and laugh at how cute we must have looked sitting on the train with our little wholemeal sandwiches clad in aluminium foil. How english! By the way, go and check out my friend Emily’s blog Seasonal Adventure right now! She’s an amazing girl.
Thank God for this shop. I am telling you that it is literally a dream! Not only does Boots appear in probably most highstreets in the country but it has everything that you would wish to find in a Pharmacy in one lovely little store. Two things that I revelled in was the purchases of 6 Barry M Nail Polishes (£3.99 each) and a couple of cans of Batiste Dry Shampoo (only £3.50 for a huge 400ml can which would probably be something ridiculous like $20 in NZ. Bargain!) A personal favourite out of my purchases was the Barry M Matte Nail Polish in Vanilla, sophisticated and classy but not boring. All hail the humble pharmacy, it is often underrated as a boring shop but it holds many wonders: gifts and all! Not to mention the cheap makeup! Well, it’s definitely cheap in comparison with New Zealand. Ahhh, I miss it already! I think that the fact that England has these things that New Zealand doesn’t makes going back to them that little more special, but at the same time I wish that New Zealand would hurry up and improve some of their retail stores and facilitate the countryside. There is so much more to be done with New Zealand and it’s so far away from everything else that it’s just an isolated area in need of a little love sometimes. Some people say that it is pretty much like England in the way of its sparse cities but just a few hundred years earlier, and I think that there is a lot of potential here to become as great as Britain is perceived to be. Well there it is, my summary of some of the things that I got up to in England. I also went to two parties, one was a 21st: a black-tie cocktail party which is a theme that I think every party should have because it was so great to see everyone all suited and booted and ready to party. The cocktail side of things was slightly more risky and probably a bad decision on my behalf to have taken such an advantage of the open bar but I have no regrets because I was on holiday and I had the best night ever filled with old friends and great music! However, Long Island Ice Teas…never again! Back to school now and back in New Zealand, I can’t wait until my next trip to England but until then I will plan for the coming adventures and enjoy the memories that I have made this time around. Thank you so much to everyone who had me to stay and took the time out of their lives to see me. I love you all! I hope everyone had/is having a great holiday! Evie x