A taste of England
There I was enjoying a warm sunny afternoon sprawled out on the soft grass soaking up the summer sunshine feeling totally relaxed. A chilled vibe wafts through the air of the park. I couldn’t help but smile falling deeper into holiday mode, all of my worries slipping away. Beautiful summer weather in this peaceful place was perfect. I bet you’ll never believe where I was this exquisite summer afternoon? Hyde Park in London, England my friends. What’s this nonsense about horrible English weather? I’m beginning to think those are all tall tales. This set the tone for a very special trip to England that included gorgeous weather the entire time, unforgettable experiences with great people, impressive sights and of course delicious food. Oh, did I mention I bumped into David Beckham himself in Harrods? Read on for the juicy details of that encounter.
In July Ozdane and I were lucky enough to spend almost an entire month in the land of scones, the Queen’s English and afternoon tea. This was my first time to England and we were going for a couple big events, which made the trip even more special. Some good friends got married in the beautiful Suffolk countryside where we got to stay in a spectacular, old hall dating back to 1354. We went on tour with the Singapore Cricket Club who Ozdane plays for here in Singapore. We were even in the country when the royal baby was born which for me was the icing on the cake. Unfortunately we weren’t actually in London when George was born as we were enjoying the Cotswolds but it was very exciting nonetheless with all the buzz over the momentous occasion.
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen some photos from our adventure. When we were planning the trip I remember feeling overwhelmed as there is so much to see in England so how do you decide where to go, how long to stay where, what to see and so on? Of course we solicited suggestions from trusted friends and the social media world came in especially handy for hotels, destinations, restaurants and more. I highly recommend leveraging your social media network when planning travel. You may be surprised how helpful it turns out to be. Instagram and Facebook coupled with a lot of TripAdvisor research worked best for us.
Touring around London seeing all the main attractions was on the list especially since this was my first visit. Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Tower of London, London Eye, Tower Bridge and Big Ben are a few of the spots we toured. A couple of highlights for me were the Crown Jewels on display at the Tower of London and visiting the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey. If you’re a fan of English literature it’s pretty exciting to see the words of some of the greatest writers on the floor in the abbey and of course what gal doesn’t enjoying drooling over some magnificent, sparkling jewels? I also enjoyed the Kensington Palace tour including the lovely photos of Diana and of course William and Kate.
I wasn’t sure about actually going up in the London Eye but I do recommend it purely for the views you get of the city sprawled beneath you. I also highly recommend you buy the express tickets in advance online so you skip the lines especially in peak season. We endured the long wait one morning to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and I’m glad we did. Some think it’s worth it, others not so much. As Ozdane so eloquently captured his Instagram photo, “After 1.5 hours waiting to watch a bunch of men in red jackets and black fluffy hats walk in unison.” So, clearly this was more of a “Katy wants to do” activity. When you travel with a partner or friends it does come down to compromise on some things doesn’t it? It’s all part of the fun.
Ozdane and I love to just walk around different neighborhoods to get a good feel for the areas when we go to a new destination and since I’m an avid people watcher/observer I especially enjoy this. We hit up most of the shopping areas and explored neighborhoods like Notting Hill, Covent Garden, Soho and Chelsea. We made the most of the bright, sunny days strolling around Hyde Park and Green Park. We definitely did our fair share of walking. That is one of the things I really loved about London. You can walk for ages and just hail a black cab or hop on the tube when your feet are killing you, which will happen by the way. I also loved the energy of the city, the diversity and most of all the meeting of the beautiful, old buildings mixed in with the contemporary. That old history is everywhere around you in England, well Europe really I suppose. It makes you stop and think about how just how young America and Australia are in comparison.
Don’t forget one of the best parts of being on holiday, indulging in exquisite cuisine! I always feel like I have this magical free pass to eat anything and everything I see since I’m on holiday. The fact I was pregnant during our travels, (and still am), made the indulging feel even more necessary. One of our first nights in London we went to a great, traditional English pub, The Grenadier in Belgrave Square in the Knighstbridge area of London. It’s hard to beat starting off your trip with a succulent, traditional Sunday roast. Some other delicious foodie favorites of mine in England include the scrumptious scones that I could eat every, single day if they were at my fingertips, traditional meat pies, fish and chips by the sea, juicy steaks and the biggest hot fudge sundae I’ve ever eaten in my life at the decadent Fortnum & Mason in London. Yes my friends, I ate the entire thing!
Our adventures outside of London took us to the beautiful countryside areas of Colchester and Suffolk first for a very special wedding of some good friends. During the cricket tour we visited a few villages and towns including Sevenoaks and Arundel, home of the Arundel Castle. We finished off our trip in the breath-taking Cotswolds, which is hands down one of the most gorgeous places I’ve been on my travels. I had seen pictures of the English countryside but to experience it is a completely different story. It’s nature in one of its most beautiful forms with rolling green hills surrounding you, quaint villages, some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet and a sense of serenity that washes over you as you make your way through this special part of the world. Whether you’re driving, walking or enjoying a bike ride in the country the landscape is nothing short of spectacular. I took every opportunity I could get to breathe in the crisp, clean, fresh air we don’t get here in Singapore. I went for a walk one morning and just stopped to listen to the most peaceful sound of all, silence. No hustle and bustle, no honking cars, nobody rushing around, no tall buildings, no stress, it was magical. I found myself wondering at times what it would be like to live somewhere like that where you’re so far removed from the daily hectic life and things are simpler in a positive way. A trip to the sea for fish and chips gave us a glimpse of the stunning seaside areas. We also did a day trip to Bath, which quickly became a favorite city of mine after only a few hours there. More to come on our countryside jaunts in an upcoming post.
OK ladies, by far the biggest highlight for me personally was my David Beckham sighting in the famous Harrods department store! Yes, it really happened and no, I didn’t intrude on his privacy and ask for a photo although I have found myself regretting that decision later at times. When I say sighting I mean less than five feet away walking towards me while I fumbled over bags and tried to remember how to mutter a single word of the English language. I never see famous people, much less extremely gorgeous famous people, so I was a deer caught in headlights to put it mildly. Ozdane was there as my witness. Sigh.
Needless to say our trip to England was a memorable one. In upcoming posts I’ll share more about our countryside adventures and also reviews on some of the wonderful accommodation we stayed at during our visit including luxury hotels and an old English manor house nestled in the Cotswolds. For now I’ll leave you dreaming of delicious delicacies like scones and Becks himself!