Dreaming of Somerset

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I finally got around to posting the final photos of my long weekend away in Somerset last month! That is terrible – I usually never allow that much time to pass! But needless to say things have gotten quite crazy. I had big deadlines at work, my work trip to Basel, and an appointment at the embassy to get more pages put into my passport. I wasn’t alone- just in line I met several other American expats doing the same!

Yet with so much on, I’m dreaming of being back in Somerset and Bristol – my favourite parts of the world. Life can get so hectic here in London commuter-ville that I get home and my brain just switches off automatically. I think this is a sign that I need to take up some hobbies.

With the new year looming around the corner and Christmas only a few weeks away, I am starting to think of a few things. Like: what do I want 2015 to look like? What do I want to accomplish? How do I want to improve as a person? What is the new 5 year plan? Should I even have a plan?

I have no answers right now, but I think this lovely county should feature somewhere. X

Wells | Somerset

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And when I say I want to live in Somerset, I mean that I’d love to live in the Cathedral city of Wells. Second smallest city in England.

It was a cloudy and grey day when we arrived for a small day trip in Wells – we had only a few hours here after parking the car and most of that was having a mediocre pub lunch. (Pub in the main square – dry burger). But once we got walking around the market and Cathedral itself, it was much more enjoyable.

The town is a thing of beauty in its preserved architecture in the city centre, and very well appointed. Even though house prices (yes, I’ve checked) are out of our range. This is a city worth a visit and definitely worth having on the ‘I’d live here’ list.

Bonus: if you travel here from London, you will pass Stonehenge! X

 

Axbridge | Somerset

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My favourite county. Somerset. What a great place. All of my favourite memories are from this part of England, some of the happiest days and weekends I have spent in the company of this beautiful English countryside. And this past weekend was no exception.

I got down to the old Medieval town of Axbridge on Friday night – weary eyed and thirsty for a glass of wine or a cold cider (can’t pass up the cider in Somerset!). Ben and my friends hired out a B&B all to ourselves. It is called the Compton House and it is the most beautiful home. They have the comfiest beds! We all said so. Each room had an ensuite as well – which was great for the couples. We had about 13 or 14 in total, and it was the perfect size.

Axbridge as a town is beautiful. On Saturday, we went on a small walk through the town. Now – here’s why I love Somerset so much. Not only is the countryside one of the most beautiful in England with its green rolling hills and apple orchards, or that the villages are the most perfectly preserved pieces of history, but the people are the friendliest I have ever encountered. Anywhere in the world.

Let me remind you that it was in the lovely Somerset village of Shepton Beauchamp that Ben and I were welcomed to the community by a lovely lady we met at the local choir concert – who then proceeded to introduce us to her friends. I was practically in tears. I fucking love this county.

As we walked aimlessly through the beautiful village, we glanced over to see a cute site – a small box office stall inside a building. It was the box office for the Roxy Cinema – the smallest cinema in England. It seats 30, with room for a love seat at the back for a bit of romance. It also has a fully stocked bar. What a find! As we were awing the cuteness of it all, the owner walked outside and asked us to come in and promptly gave us a tour of the lovely place. Told us all about it history and how it started. And never once was there a sales pitch or being mad that we didn’t purchase a movie ticket. She was just so happy to show us around and tell us her story.

And we had the same thing happen just a bit further down the road at the Almshouse Tea House. The owner was the sweetest gentleman who was so proud of his business (which was doing amazingly good trade!) and his venue’s history. It still has many of the original features – 1450 stands out in my mind as it’s date – but I’ll have to confirm that one.

A tour of Somerset should be on someone’s bucket list. I want to live here.

St Petersburg | Russia

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What a wonderful opportunity! After a successful store opening in Kazan, the team flew to St Petersburg to present new store concepts to the client. Whilst I hate flying and it is probably one of the most stressful things I endure, the joy of touching down in a new country with new culture is enough to keep me going. And Russia is such a different place!

But I surprisingly love it.

I must say that it helps immensely going around with a good friend and translator. I fear I have only been able to pick up ‘Please’ on this trip, but I have added it to my repertoire of words quickly. How strange that a passion for learning this difficult and strange language has already engulfed me! I have been looking at courses ever since I have returned.

We did not get to spend much time in the city as we were with the client most hours, but I certainly saw a lot of it from the taxi window. We did go on a night walk to the old palace, which is now the world famous Hermitage Museum. It is a stunning site, even at night – and such a brilliant green by day!

And we stayed at the W Hotel, which I must say was well appointed and very close to the museum and other churches.

So sorry for the bad image quality as night shots aren’t the best on an iPhone! But I had to share the beauty with you.

Richmond | London

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On Saturday Ben and I headed to one of my parts of London – Richmond. It is a beautiful oasis on the river, just past Chiswick and Kew (also lovely parts of the world). We have memories here from our days of living in nearby Chiswick, however moving north to Stortford we’ve not been able to visit since!

We arrived after a rainstorm on Saturday – the air fresh and the sun shining. After checking in at our hotel, the Bingham, an witnessing a small backyard wedding (!!) we walked down to the main streets of the town. Richmond is stunning in the sunshine! After wandering in and out of shops, we found ourselves along the Thames and decided to walk back to the hotel along this lovely stretch of river.

At night, we jumped on the opportunity to have local craft beer in the Craft Beer Cellar which was properly packed – and shared a pint of IPA which was delicious.

As I left early the next morning for Russia, Ben stayed on in Richmond to enjoy a few more of the sites, as well as reminisce in our old home town of Chiswick.

Kazan | Russia

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The other week I went on a business trip to Kazan in Russia to review a new store we designed. I headed there armed with no more than my notebook, iPhone (for pictures), tape measure, and a pack of drawings. And even as we boarded our first flight towards Moscow, I had no idea what to expect.

And I was pleasantly surprised.

When we arrived to Kazan in darkness after a day of traveling, I jumped into a taxi with my coworkers unable to speak any form of the complex language. I felt entirely in the hands of my friend and translator – where would I be without her! And I quickly learned that Ben’s driving is significantly better and safer than I previously believed. I saw nothing of the city that night except for car parks and our hotel lobby, with a blackness in the distance that could have only been one of the lakes or rivers that run through the city.

When I woke up to sunshine and 20 degree (C) weather, everything looked so much different! What a stunning city in the sun!

We had a small bit of spare time on the last day we were there and thus we walked down the main shopping street to the Kremlin. On the street was fantastic architectural buildings from old Russia, and ending with the beautiful white brick of the Kremlin against the blue sky was a definite treat.

We ate pilaf which was delicious – and sampled a Russian dessert which was a light mousse with chocolate on the outside, but rolled up into a ball. It was delicious. I can’t remember what it was called. We had fruit juice water which was very tasty – and a tea flavoured with autumn (apples, cinnamon, and green tea).

Plus by the end of my trip, my lovely friend taught me some words! I can now say ‘good afternoon,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘goodbye,’ and my room number in Russian!

Stay tuned – I’m heading to St Petersburg in 2 weeks time! X