Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Tag: United Kingdom

Caernarfon

 

Caernarfon, a city on the water with a castle, a dragon, and a drawbridge. Quiet and colorful, like something out of a fairytale book. 

We stayed two nights in a small B&B attached to a pub within the old castle walls. It was a quick, slightly last-minute weekend getaway for us from Cambridge, but we’ve both always wanted to visit Snowdonia National Park in Wales, and the timing happened to finally work. With little time to plan, we chose Caernarfon as our base, and we were completely charmed by it – such a lovely place to stay. And the castle! It just happens to be where HRH Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales in 1969. We loved exploring it.

In the morning, we ran along the water into the haze without a destination, past cows and boats and camper vans. Both mornings. Those were my favorite moments, the ones where the entire town was asleep and the clouds touched the water. Everything was alive with a story – air, grass, stones, mist. So many details uncaptured on my camera, captured in my memory forever. 

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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. 

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. 

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