Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Escape to the Country

Alright, you guys know the drill by now: There's nothing like a road trip through the English countryside with your mother. So after the first official road trip of '15, Mom and I set our sights on a sequel. And boy did we deliver.

While last trip was incredible, there was also looots of driving. So this time we made a monster map of our UK Bucketlist (I also added the National Trust's official map as a layer—do not be alarmed). And planned out a route that would only require a few hours driving a day, at the very most. The only disappointment was that we booked the flights before I realized Downton Abbey was CLOSED the whole of our trip. AUUGHHHHRRRRRGGGGGGGGGG. I guess I'll have to go back.

The 2017 itinerary as follows:



Three nights in London, staying at the beautiful Hoxton Shoreditch.

Then taking the train from good ol’ London to Milton Keynes. From there we’d pick up a car and see Bletchley Park. Then we’d drive to the Cotswolds, stopping at Stowe and Blenheim Palace on the way to the Wheatsheaf Inn.

Then we’d spend the morning seeing Bourton-on-the-Water, The Slaughters, and Stow on the Wold [can we TALK about the fucking NAMES of these TOWNS guys], hitting up Sudeley Castle, before dipping our toes over the border into Monmouth, Wales.

After a morning visit to Chepstow Castle, we’d hightail it allll the way to Kent. Because we were going to stay in Hever Motherfucking Castle for two nights. With a side jaunt to Chartwell, Sissinghurst and Canterbury for good measure.

THEN after the Penshurst gardens (would love to go back and see inside, waaah), we’d head back to London for two nights. And Mom, adventuress that she is, would continue on to Scotland while I winged my way back home.

It was PACKED but we did it. GLORIOUS.

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Here's a few routine tips:
1. If you're American, join the Royal Oak Foundation. Membership runs from about $35-75/year and that grants free entry to all National Trust properties. If you visit just two properties, that pays for itself.
2. Reserve an automatic car, even if you drive stick. There's nothing like the mindfuck of driving on the wrong side on teeny tiny country lanes. I can't even imagine trying to shift with my wrong hand, too. And if you also don't drive often (me), see about picking up the car outside of the city center. We ended up with a cheaper car and no traffic—plus a little trip to Bletchley.
3. England in the spring is a total toss up weather-wise, but you're almost certainly going to need wellies. I packed TWO PAIRS and made use of them even on dry days, because we did a fair amount of tromping through the fields.
Want to see what we got up to in London?

The first stop was Kew Gardens. I had my new Fuji x100S, so you may notice some uh, slight quality difference between those and the iPhone shots.

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Return to a common theme: start every day with a full English, and refuel in the afternoons with tea and sconces. It's science.

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Then, of course, some Borough Market.

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Had a little wander around the Wallace Collection.

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And then a trip to Notting Hill.

Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Part of the trip was to celebrate my 30th birthday. And so I give you: A pearl necklace present.

I scheduled a birthday lunch at Brawn, smack dab in the middle of Columbia Road during the flower market. It was incredible. But the best part about the market is, you have to find it first.

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We all know I'm a sucker for markets. So the next one was the Sunday UpMarket.

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Then Leadenhall—which is pretty boring on Sundays.

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And THEN it was time to see Romeo and Juliet at the Globe. I'd seen King Lear there ages ago (highly recommend springing for a seat during the tragedies), but this was infinitely more interesting. They modernized it and incorporated way more audience interaction. So with my mulled wine and bag of wine gums, I was happy as... well, a clam.

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Next stop: Bletchley Park, home of the WWII Codebreakers and many ducks.