Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Cambridge

This city. This summer. 

The sun shone bright every day. 

The boats jammed the river; the people filled the streets; the blankets covered the entirety of the park.

Riding my worn-out bike home from the river at dusk with a bag of books, an empty wine bottle, and the remaining strawberries

– that will always be Cambridge to me. 

Sandringham

“Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world.” – King George V

The Queen’s Norfolk country estate. The place she spends every Christimas. The place her father died.

So much history. Trespassing on a private life. 

The grounds, the halls, the stables; they all have so much to say.

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Inside the house, in the last room open to visitors, a ballroom covered in Indian armor, I saw a filthy, tattered British flag suspended from the corner. The kind of flag that has obviously survived something; I assumed WWI or WWII, but I was wrong. When I approached and read the plaque displayed beneath it, I learned that it was the flag that Ernest Shackleton carried to the South Pole and back on his first Antactica expedition. The exact flag. It made it all the way back to England. 

To see that flag in person, knowing all that it had survived; there were no photos allowed, but I’ll never, ever forget it. 

Orford

Suffolk Coast, countryside. Grey sky. A sleepy fishing village, Orford, where children hang from the pier dangling nets, reaching for crabs. 

Sailboats and seagulls. Bells on boats. A seafood shack and a sailing club.

We walked along the green ness, sinking feet in the mud, the skyline broken by the single, solitary lighthouse that pierced the sky. 

Bury St Edmunds

Finally made it to Bury, the quaint, little English town in which so many of our American friends in England opt to live. I didn’t expect it to be so busy – a bustling, lively town square, packed restaurants, challenging parking. Charm, color, character.

And yes, across from it all, the Abbey Gardens, the old cathedral ruins. Thousands of years of history to walk by and through, after breakfast. A casual Friday afternoon in England.  

Brugge

The typical presentation of Brugge, the one that most come to expect, is that of the fairytale. Gingerbread houses and horsedrawn carriages. Spires, gargoyles, castle facades. 

It’s true that all of that is Brugge. 

But it’s also the quiet, neighborhoods around the corners, the cobblestone streets, narrow and lined with bikes. Running along the river, on the dirt. The silence away from the center, save for the occassional chiming of the bells. 

Not as much a fairytale as a place suspended, between fact and fiction.

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This was my third visit to Brugge, my first in the summer. It was a different place – less crowded, slower, warm. Possible, finally, to find (and enjoy) a decent meal.

I’m happy to have had the chance to see this side, to give it another chance.

White Cliffs of Dover

White cliffs, blue sky, blue sea.

A very quick stop before leaving the island. 

I never knew that the English Channel could be this blue. 

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