If you take the crowds out of the equation, London is truly magical at Christmas. It sparkles, glitters and gleams with festive cheer from Winterville to Winter Wonderland. Christmas, Yuletide, Noël, call it what you will – the festive season is my favourite time of the year, and I couldn’t resist pulling together a seasonal edition of this series. Last week, Laurence and I headed down to London for a day full of touristy goodness; we hit the streets instead of the sweaty underground trains, and clocked up a whopping 30,000 steps in the process. (More than enough to justify all the mince pies we ate later in the day.) Here’s what we got up to . . .
Our trip to Leeds wouldn’t have been complete without a hike, so a few days before we left, my OS maps came off the bookshelf and the felt tips were brought out. We ummed and ahhed over where to go (Yorkshire Dales? North York Moors? Ilkley?) and eventually settled on a ten kilometre hike across the eastern edge of Rombalds Moor, a fairly low-lying area of moorland between Ilkley and Keighley.
London is pillar-box red telephone boxes, black cabs and beefeaters. London is world-class museums, theatres and landmarks. London is, quite simply, a treasure trove for tourists. Over the years, I’ve come to know London rather well, though I’d never claim to know it like the back of my hand like the candidates on The Apprentice so often do. If I don’t have my nose in a book or a crossword, I’ll be scouring the pages of Time Out, keeping my eyes peeled for new things to do in the capital. Beyond the blinding lights of Piccadilly Circus, there’s a bounty of lesser-known gems, just waiting to be explored – and that’s where this series comes in. Just as I did for Paris, I’ll be using this series as a means of documenting some old favourites and newly-discovered gems in the Big Smoke.
I didn’t grow up in Kent, but as a large part of my family lives ‘down south’ I’ve spent a fair amount of time there over the years, visiting historic towns such as Canterbury and Hastings, building sandcastles on the beach at Westgate and deer-spotting at Knole Park. Of all the places I’ve seen in this corner of the UK, the picturesque town of Rye has always stuck in my mind – and not just because twelve year old me was partial to a quarter of sherbet lemons from the old-fashioned sweet shop. With sunny weather on the cards for the bank holiday weekend, a trip to the coast was in order. Destination: Rye, with a beach-fix in the form of Camber Sands.
Doe, a deer, a female deer… Can you see where I’m going with this one? Chances are, if you’re familiar with London’s Royal Parks, you can. Richmond Park is one of my favourite green spaces in London: acres of greenery, trees as far as the eye can see and, of course, deer by the dozen.
Established in 1923, the Kent County Show has been giving visitors a taste of life in the Garden of England for the best part of a century. Featuring over four hundred exhibitors and a (mind-boggling) choice of three hundred-odd activities, there’s certainly no shortage of things to see and do here. Spread over three days in early July, this year’s show conveniently coincided with our short stay at my Grandma’s, so Grandma, Mum and I decided to venture over and make a day of it.
Just a couple of days after flying back to the UK after a year of ups and downs in Lyon, I headed down to London to meet up with Laurence for the day. I caught an early train in an attempt to keep costs down and all was going smoothly until I arrived in Crewe, where things instantaneously went to pot. Virgin Trains were experiencing delays across the whole West Coast Mainline, but to their credit they announced that passengers could hop on any train they liked, so I did that and luckily arrived into London not much later than scheduled.