Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Category: England

Sandringham


Sandringham Estate, autumnal apple-picking at the orchards of the Queen’s beloved Norfolk country house

This is the first time I’ve ever been apple picking in England; it’s definitely a much different, more organic experience than apple picking in New England where everything is engineered to entertain. There were no cider donuts or hay bales, just apples in a field to be harvested (and noticeably a lot of Americans – do British people not like apple picking? Is this an American thing??). Still, it was a great, seasonal day out from Cambridge for us.

Fun fact: The apples that are harvested from these orchards are used to make the apple juice that is served at Buckingham Palace garden parties throughout the year – the Queen’s apple juice! A few miles down the road back at the house, you can buy bottles of it from the shop at the main estate to bring home. Of course we did that too. Of course, I pretend that I’m a princess every time I drink it. 

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Hitchin Lavender

There’s a lavender field not far from Cambridge, the kind of place you imagine exists in some wild part of southern France on a giant farm somewhere. This was in a small village called Hitchin, a little less than an hour drive.

We went early on a cloudy day at the end of the season, just in time for the last days of picking. Frolicking in the fields, playing with our cameras, and stuffing our brown paper bags full of those sweet smelling stems. And later, lavender tea, cakes, and good conversation. It was even more pretty in person. 

Kensington Palace Gardens

 

Strolling through the palace gardens, being a princess. Typical English things.

We came to this place on a warm weekend day just to explore.

Hunstanton

 

Hunstanton, a Victorian seaside escape. A red cliff full of fossils. A ship-wreck. A lighthouse that you can sleep in, and a low tide.

I drove here spontaneously one Wednesday afternoon. It was just under a two hour drive, and I remember looking at the clock and seeing it was already 1 pm and thinking that it would be silly to drive so far so late. But irrationality won, and I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect time to go. The golden hour light reflected on the sandbar. Everyone was walking on water.  

Cambs Summer

Cambridge summer, fast and fleeting. It arrives out of nowhere, and you swear you won’t take it for granted. But as quickly as it came, you forget that there was ever a time when the sun set before 9:00 pm or rose after 5:00 am. The days are long. If not warm, at least not cold. There are picnics in the sun, Shakespeare plays in the park. Biking to the center for gelato. Prosecco, rosé, brie, mozzarella, olives, checkered blankets, lawn games, a speaker, sitting out in Jesus Green until dinnertime.

And then, it’s gone. Slowly at first, then quickly, the world plunges into darkness. The sun rises after 8 and sets before 4, until one day, you wake up and the summer is gone.

If only it lasted forever. 

Southwold

The Suffolk Coast and it’s colorful cottages. I finally made it here after lusting at beach-hut photos for months. 

To be back on the beach was such a joy. I missed the sound of the seagulls and the feeling of the sand. But the English seaside is not the Cape Cod seaside that I grew up knowing. It’s busier, more full of activity and families enjoying a holiday or day out of the city. There are boardwalks and food stands, free parking, more people. I suppose it’s unfair to say it’s completely different; I know there are a handful of beaches near me that are probably like this too. I’m only used to the ones that place greater emphasis on nature and seclusion. 

Still, it was fun here. The energy was vibrant. We walked along the boardwalk, through town, through an outdoor antiques market, stopped at a small pub for a drink, let the dog run in the ocean. If it were just a little closer (it’s two hours from where I live in Cambridge), I think I would spend every day here, summer and beyond .

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