St James Park | London

   
   Bright and sunny mornings in London are some of the best in the world. The tourist areas are quiet, the buzz of the city is at a low hum from commuters headed to work. This is where I found myself on a beautiful Friday morning last week. 

I took a roundabout route into work – grabbing my typical Starbucks coffee to walk down Regents Street to St James Park. I sat in the sunshine with my book and enjoyed the warm sunshine. It wasn’t crowded, the tourists were still at breakfast, and true Londoners (if they spared the time) are able to enjoy the spoils of their city without the fuss.

Green grass was fried brown in patches, a victim of too much sunshine and no rain – London loses its sparkle when this happens, even though we enjoy the rare sun. You have to love the rain as much as the good weather – the country needs it. 

Off to work refreshed and relaxed – this is the way to start a day.

Cambridge | Cambridgeshire 

   
           
It is very important to give yourself some ‘me’ time every once in a while. This is time just for you – to do what you want when you want to, to think things through in life, to gain perspective on things which were once driving you mad. 

So one Saturday I took myself for just this purpose to the nearby city of Cambridge.

I don’t know why I don’t go to Cambridge more often. It is just as close to me as the great city of London is.. It is cuter, less busy (but still packed with tourists), has lovely shops and canals and a lovely park – yes, why don’t I go more often?!

I arrived late morning to do a meander through the shops, grab some food, and have a mini picnic in the park looking out over the river. I walked nearly everywhere, through some of the college grounds, around the cobbled streets, wandering in and out of boutiques, and ultimately sitting down next to the river to watch punters try to turn around and tourists in the boats who looked out almost unfazed with their superb surroundings (who are these people anyways?!). My M&S sandwich and I nearly attracted some bad attention from the local swans, and my poor timing saw me sitting down at the exact same time the clouds arrived, hence beginning the on-off dance between myself and my light jacket. 

I returned to my home calm and happy with the world, and pleased that I hadn’t wasted the day in front of my iPad, which I typically find myself doing when at a loose end on a Saturday. X

Dyrham Hall | Gloustershire 

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In an attempt to break up a long drive to one of the most beautiful parts of the UK (Cornwall… If anyone’s missed my last month of posts), I planned a stop off at the National Trust property Dyrham Hall, just off of the M4 highway nearly to Bristol and at the same turn-off as Bath. Knowing myself, I would have gladly progressed onto the great UNESCO protected city, however with a 8 hour drive ahead of us, Bath was too much of a time commitment. Thus we find ourselves on a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Gloustershire.

The grounds are stunning: rolling hills very common in that part of the country, a large deer park, city views in the distance, and a Manor House with manicured gardens. The house is currently under refurbishment, and you can explore the work the National Trust are undertaking in order to conserve the roof specifically. The grounds are lovely and large, with great walks and views of the countryside. You can’t even see the house when you arrive down the long driveway.. It’s tucked out of the way, around the path and down the hill.

We had the most beautiful blue skies that day, which juxtaposed against the bright green grass gave us stunning colours. Photos don’t show enough of the real thing – it was a visual delight.

Canons Ashby | Northamptonshire 

   
           
Sunday morning. My second favourite morning of the week. When you wake up, especially at the hour I usually do, everything is quiet. No one is out like on Saturday mornings. Everything is still.

Ben and I are up early – our body clocks don’t know the difference between weekdays and weekends, so we are wide awake by 7am. The neighbours are quiet, the town is still asleep. If there is early morning sun, we take our breakfast out to the patio with a book.

But this Sunday was different. It was Fathers Day, and we were due to meet up with Ben’s family at a National Trust in Northamptonshire. It was a small drive from where we lived, so we packed a picnic and headed out on nearly empty roads.

When we arrived, there was green countryside all around us, cows next to the car park, and as we walked towards the property, a lovely priory church peaked through the trees. We sat down in beautifully manicured gardens, with shaped hedges and flowers (and a croquet set!). A jazz band played for the other families who were also picnicking on the lawn. The sun broke through the clouds, and we had a wonderful family picnic.

Meats, coleslaw, scotch eggs, pasta salad, salad, fried onions, and crisps, washed down with lemonade and sparkling water. Ben’s mother brought her picnic china and wicker basket, and I brought my two blankets to sit on. Other families brought tables and folding chairs – coolers and drivers! 

After we were fully satisfied, we had a meaner through the 13th century house. We learned about the family that lived there, walked on the original stones, saw some of the clothes of the last family who lived there. We wandered through the priory church, once a large monastery that was nearly all knocked down by King Henry VIII. We wandered through the second hand book shop (coming out with a purchase or two) and the National Trust shop. 

The National Trust has always been an institution I adore. It takes these once stately homes of the old English aristocracy and ensures that its history is preserved. Always worth the money. We had a fantastic time. 

Bath | Somerset

   
         
I am a creature of habit. Whilst that is a good thing sometimes, like in what products I buy or what train I catch, it can also mean that I return to the familiar too often, and life can get stale because of it.

But if you keep coming back to the same place and continue to discover new and exciting things about the city, surely all is not lost but enhanced. Bath is one of those places for me. 

This is my fourth visit in my lifetime, for work this time instead of a holiday. I know the streets, the spas, the crescent, and the cathedral. What I don’t know is the beautiful River Avon that runs through the middle of town. It was here that I walked during my hour break between duties and the train home, and I discovered a whole other angle of Bath I hadn’t seen before.

I walked down a small, twisted, stone staircase on the Pulteney Bridge to the riverside. It felt special, not packed with tourists but with locals seemingly. It was quiet and calm, and the sunshine made the walk delightful. I walked down to the rugby club and around the river further to the next bridge, fully satisfied that I saw yet another part of the town I love so dearly. 

Regents Canal | London

   
         
I’ve spoken about this London waterway before as a great place to walk or bike in Central London, with beautiful sights and a sense of calm from the busy city. It is a beautiful part of London. 

So beautiful in fact, that we took a canal cruise on it to celebrate a good friend’s upcoming marriage. A group of 12 girls including myself boarded the barge called ‘Hidden Depths’ to have drinks, nibbles, and celebrations. We met the cruise at Granary Square just behind Kings Cross & St Pancras station. We had a small picnic on the AstroTurf stairs before boarding the ship and meeting the two lovely ladies who would be taking us around the locks. They were great fun.

The views from the boat are incredible – we sailed down to Camden Lock and then back towards Islington. The locals along the walking path waved to us as we passed, and we sang loudly, everyone in great moods.

I would really recommend doing this for any celebration. We had such a great time. X

Alfriston | East Sussex

   
           On our half marathon, we ran through the adorable village of Alfriston. Recommended to visit by a dear friend, we already had this on our list of places to pass through as we spent time near Seaford that weekend. But after running through it on our run, we couldn’t avoid coming back here for a wander.

This is such an old town – it is originally spoken about in the Doomsday books back in 1066, and the pubs and inns in the village date back to the 1300s. It is an adorable little village with great shops, a beautiful church, cute pubs, and a National Trust property (score!). There is an amazing independent book shop that sells both old and new books, adorable galleries, and pebbled houses that take your breath away. Ben and I are already itching to move there.