England Revisited – Minchinhampton, Stroud, Glocestershire

From rugged sea cliffs of North Devon to gentles hills in landlocked Cotswold, the landscape was quite a change indeed. Nonetheless Cotswold’s idyllic charm appeals in equal measure. I’ve been to Cotswold a number of times before and covered many of towns better known by tourists. Where to this time? The guiding idea was to experience a manor house hotel, and Burleigh Court Hotel made the cut due to availability, affordability and location.

It worked out perfectly. Burleigh Court Hotel is located on the outskirt of Stroud, Glocestershire, and within walking distance to Minchinhampton, a 17th century market town with a market house and town center that have remained unchanged for hundreds of years, and it has an excellent onsite restaurant.

The walks between Burleigh Court, Minchinhampton and Box are delightful, with typical Cotswold vista and glimpses of Stroud Valley along the way. The Commons here are immensely impressive, especially in springtime when the fields are covered in pretty little wildflowers, where people picnic or play golf, alongside herds of grazing cows, picture of pastoral bliss.

Here is the self-guided walking route that we followed:

Following this route, we passed Weaver’s Cottage where we ran into a couple working on their garden and learnt from them that this little corner used to be the “red district” of the town two/three hundred years ago.

Burleigh Court Hotel :

Minchinhampton town center:

Minchinhampton – Weavers Cottage:

Common areas between Minchinhampton and Burleigh Court Hotel:

England Revisited – National Trust Stourhead

The properties in care of National Trust are truly impressive in both numbers and variety and it has done brilliantly in restoring and reserving these wonderful British heritage. Although we left UK almost two years ago, we’ve kept our National Trust membership. Now in England we can put it to good use. This time I chose to visit Stourhead in Wiltshire, enroute to Stroud, Glocestershire.                                                                                                                                       

We’ve visited many grand houses and found Stourhead equally impressive. The house is architecturally beautiful, the collection of antique and arts priceless, and its park, delightful to both sense and sensibility, tops the list of my favorites. Austen Fan might recognize Temple of Apollo as where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth meet and have a stormy encounter in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice. Stourhead is indeed another amazing jewel in that seemingly endless treasure trove of National Trust.

Another fun thing to do at a National Trust property is to visit its café and shop. We had lunch at the café and thoroughly enjoyed some simple and delicious fare that got us ready for the long walk that followed.

Nice surprise along the way is always welcomed. While driving on Reynolds Way (Glastonbury) towards Stourhead, a spectacular view popped up on the roadside, we turned around for it and found lovely views of Glastonbury Tor on a quiet country road, Westfield Lane.

England Revisited – Lynton, Devon

While we lived in London, we took many road trip and explored many of the beautiful places outside London. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I’ve always loved Cornwall’s rugged seashore, and it was tugging on my heartstring again. But this time I found the same kind of Cornish scenery in Lynton, north Devon, simply because I stumbled across Highcliffe House B & B on the internet.

Five hours after leaving Essex, a coastal road leading to Lynton yielded prospect of a town on a majestic sea cliff. Shortly realizing it being Lynton, we were quite hyped up by that exciting vista. Soon the road dipped and we were driving through Lynmouth, Lyton’s neighbor at the beach, before the road climbed up again towards Lynton. Having gone through some narrow winding streets, we reached Highcliffe House. Located high above the town, view from its driveway was breathtaking and I literally cried out.

I couldn’t be happier with Highcliffe House. We were welcomed with cream tea as soon as we arrived, which came with instructions for cream tea either the Devon way or Cornish way, i.e. cream first or jam first. I ordered a pot of Lemon Grass and tried my scone both way. It was equally delicious either way!

Our room, Countisbury, named after Countisbury Hill that could be seen from the room, is a pretty room with lovely view and equipped with convenient gadgets, USB port charging station, Tablet for browsing news and Alexa for playing music. In addition, I liked the pleasant infusion throughout the house and appreciate helpful informatioon on its website for restaurants and walks.

Breakfast served with a view was also superb! All items, from smoothie to yoghurt parfait, fruit, tea, coffee and the hot dishes, were made of fresh, high-quality ingredients.

We had a great time in Lynton. In addition to beautiful location, Lynton is sophisticated, easy to navigate and has great restaurants and interesting shopping. I think we had the best Tapas at The Oak Room. Check out Art and Craft Center housed in a beautiful building next to the majestic town hall for locally made products, and St Mary the Virgin built in Art and Craft style overlooking Bristol Channel and Countisbury Hill. BTW, Lynton has its own Cracker Barrel, which specializes in Cornish Pasties.

The Brits are strong walkers and have developed extensive network of footpaths. Wherever I go, I take advantage of these walks. From Lynton we took up two beautiful walks, Valley of the Rocks and Countisbury Circular Walk via Winston’s Path.

Valley of the Rock is just an easy 30 minutes stroll from town. You can continue further into the valley, or return via the same route or a costal path which I highly recommend. Enjoy the spectacular views and watch goats carry out their gravity defying acts on the steep cliff sides.

Countisbury Circular Walk via Winston’s Path is a longer but equally exhilarating walk! It starts and ends at National Trust’s Barna Barrow car park. Path from the car park leads to the cliff where one can take in a stunning panoramic view of sea, Lynton in the distance and Parish of Saint John the Evangelist Church, a church dating back to the time of the Vikings. You will also go by Blue Ball Inn, a traditional coaching inn dating back to the 13th century. The rest of the path will yield delightful views of East Lynn Valley through which East Lynn River traverses.

Lynmouth is smaller, but picturesque in its own right, and boast easy access to a rocky beach.

As a fellow holiday maker aptly put it, “North Devon is like Cornwall without the tourists”. What could be better!

England Revisited – Staying in an English Village

Where to go for first oversea vacation in 2 years? No brainer really, back to England of course!

At this point, dear Blog, I should explain about this hiatus of more than two years. We moved back to USA in Sep. 2020. Although that is not the only reason for the abrupt halt to my posts, I’ll spare you the details of vicissitude, and focus on returning to England for a holiday.

Living in London between 2015 and 2020 was truly the time of my life. Although I had been a fan and visited multiple times prior to moving to London, those five years afforded me the opportunity to explore further the British Isle in length and depth that I had not expected. I am now convinced that, despite its own host of issues and imperfections, the British Isle is my happy place. Interesting fact was that I didn’t come to the conclusion until after moving back to US. Sometimes one must step away to see the big picture.

Needless to say, it was exciting to be back. During almost three weeks’ time between May 26 – Jun 13, we stayed with a couple of friends in their village in Essex, took a road trip and finally spent a good portion of time in London. As a friend put it, “England is the best this time of the year”, I couldn’t agree more, I was reminded many times why I love England!

As much as I enjoy London the big town, I love the countryside too, and no visit to England would be complete without experiencing its countryside & village life, its heart and soul! Luckily, we were invited to stay with our dear friends Amanda and Ian in their village in Essex.

Having arrived at Heathrow Airport on May 26, we picked up our rental car from Enterprise, and drove towards Amanda and Ian. Heathrow, Enterprise, M25 and service areas on the way are formerly familiar stomping grounds, fatigue from the long flight swept away, and the excitement built, “Hello UK, I am back!”. As we left the traffic behind, entered the rural scene and along with it that sense of peace and quiet that I enjoy so much in the English countryside. Thus we began the first 4 days of our holiday.

Being close to London, our friends get the best of both country and town. Meanwhile, like many villages in UK, it boasts a long history and hosts a number of Grade II listed buildings. Although I have visited multiple times before, I still find it irresistible!! Take a little stroll with me through one of the walking routes, crossing wheat fields, picking on Elder Flowers, Dog Roses, and Sticky Grass while minding and avoiding Nettles, looking for the elusive manor house, which alas was completely concealed in greenery this time of the year, visiting Parish Church of St Mary dating back to 12th century, walking through high street spotting various old and new buildings, stopping at a war memorial, which is something you might see in every village of certain age and a way of reminding its residents how precious peace is, and watching a Saturday cricket match. And certainly, don’t forget delicious tea and cake at the end of the walk.

London Diary – Cornwall Never fails to Excite me !

Oct 20, 2016

A year ago today I arrived in London.
Today I am taking a road trip to Cornwall. Yes Cornwall again!

Oct 20-23, 2016

After about 6 hours on the road, we reached Land’s End Hotel in the early evening. Our journey had seen clouds and sunshine in alternation but luckily the rest of the evening was perfect, a lovely welcome back to Cornwall indeed. Cornwall never fails to excite me. Once we pulled into the hotel parking lot on the ocean side, we were surrounded by stunning views that made my heart leapt. Literally pulled on by the force of nature, I jumped out of the car and started toward the cliff. From then on, our visit was a feast to the wild Cornish beauty.

Land’s End

South west tip of England, Land’s End’s enduring attraction is its beautiful surrounding, Atlantic Ocean, rugged rocky cliff, jagged rock towers, light house and promontory afar. Icing on the cake are a small visitor center with shop, restaurant, playground and amusement for children and Land’s End Hotel with view that few others can rival, making it a lovely place to stay, for day trip or base for walks to Sennen Cove or Porthcurno in the other direction. We booked a premier double with sea view, which we were very happy with, to make it sweeter, a nice surprise awaited when we checked in, we were given a 3 for 2 deal.

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St Michael’s Mount

In France there is Mont Saint-Michel, in Cornwall, there is St Michael’s Mount, 30 minutes east of Land’s End and south of Marazion, a nice little seaside town.

It is no wonder that I had at a time mistaken St Michael’s Mount for Mont Saint-Michel. Although St Michael’s Mount is smaller, the images are strikingly similar, both of conical shapes, and they were historically linked at one point, both belonging to the same Benedictine religious order, having been awarded to the Benedictines in 12th century by Edward the confessor. The island and church was however confiscated by Henry VIII like many other monasteries in the 16th century. Until the St Aubyn family purchased it from the crown in 17th century and it has been the family’s primary residence for 12th generations. Currently National Trust co-own and manage the island and castle.

It is a fantastic visit. The castle is grand and the interior is rich.  As you climb up by foot, you are surrounded by lovely views that change by every turn and a beautiful garden by the rocky seashore located on south east side of the island can be seen from the Sun Terrace.

Little chat with the guides, we discovered that the St Aubyn family also owns properties outside the island including some in Marazion. While the only way to get up to the castle is by foot, there is an underground tram entered from the harbor that is used to carry things up and down between the castle and the harbor.

As it was the only option, we left our car at a seaside car park at Marazion, which has a stunning view of the little island. A causeway links the island with the mainland, but tide was high at around 10:30am, and we had to take the ferry. Leaving the island at 1:30pm, the tide was low enough to clear up the causeway, with the exception of several feet in the center that was still covered by a shallow puddle. A little more than 5 minute, but it was a fun walk; kids of all ages were making the most of it.

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Porthcurno is a village on the coast south east of Land’s End. A couple of the main attractions we visited are Minack Theater and Porthcurno beach. Minack Theater is a divine outdoor theater carved out on the face of the cliff with a stunning view to Porthcuno beach and Logan Rock promontory. The beach is one of the beautiful locations featured in BBC TV series Poldark.

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A Beautiful Walk to Sennen Cove

Sennen Cove is a seaside village north east of Land’s End. The foot path by the cliff linking Land’s End and Sennen cove is 1.5 mile and according to the hotel staff a 30 minute walk. It took us 3 times as long. With beautiful views at every turn the walk was exhilarating! Around midway, you’d also find the remains of a ship wreck.

Something very cool happened that day too. We spotted from afar someone climbing the cliff near the Coast Guard’s lookout. She, with a long ponytail, was navigating nimbly and quickly through the rocks. She beat us in reaching the lookout tower but we caught up with her and realized the pony tail had misled us. It was a boy, probably in his late teens. He was about to ride away on his bike and helmet, which was the only protection he was wearing while scaling the rocks. I commented what he did was very impressive. He replied he grew up in this area, was used to that sort of thing and today he was out exploring. Just exploring by scaling the rocks, couldn’t be more casual for him.

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Levant Mine and Botallack Mines

Copper and tin mining was an important part of Cornish economy during 18th to 19th century and a number of mines dotted its coast. You can still see a number of chimney stacks tower over the landscape driving around the right spot.

I learnt of these mines for they are the filming locations of BBC show Poldark. BTW I was a fan before the episode that aired on Sunday Oct 23rd. What happens in that episode however greatly disappointed me. Captain Poldark is no longer one in my list of literary heroes.

Nonetheless I am glad I visited these mines for it was more treat to the beautiful coastal scenery and an interesting lesson in Cornish mining history.

Levant Mine is substantial in size and located between St Just and Pendeen, 9 miles north of Land’s End. It was a joint venture and the investors certainly struck gold, eventually having their investment grown more than a thousand folds. It is a National Trust property. Visitors can roam about the ground free but the underground part of the museum is closed that day, albeit a Saturday. Geevor Mine next door appears substantial in size, not a National Trust property and also entirely closed that day.

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Closer to St Just are more mines at Botallack including Wheal Crowns Mine, Grambler in Poldark, and Wheal Owels, Wheal Leisure in Poldark. Botallack is National Trust property. There is a small office building with café and toilets available. Visit is free to all and you can get a map for self guided tour.  Some of the remaining structures were narrow tunnels, a few small kids were crawling through them.

The most striking is Wheal Crowns. Its building is a typical mine engine house like others. It is the location that gives it the stunning edge. The best view of both of these mines is on a terrace towering over the sea. The path to it, as narrow as a sheep’s intestine, is a precarious one; one misstep could cause one to tumble down the dizzying height of the cliff. Fortunately, it isn’t too long, we made it forth and back safely.

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Pendeen Light House

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Cape Cornwall

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Lizzard Point and Kynance Cove

Last day in Cornwall worked out most efficiently and happily. We visited Lizzard Point, Kynance Cove, and had a nice, big meal at Top House, a pub in the cute little village, Lizzard Village, before leaving around 4pm.

Lizzard Point is the Most Southerly Point in England, about 30 miles south east of Land’s End. Leaving Land’s End on a regular day, little did I know it’d be the most intensely windy spot I’d ever been to. As soon as we reached the parking lot next to a light house, I felt the strong wind. But most intense was when walking the short cliff path between the light house and the café and being around the café. My skin was pulling away from my face, my hair was slashing my face left and right, there was fine grits in the air, at times I had to hold on to something to steady myself and even doors of shop and café were rattling. I wonder how those little buildings had withstood the intense wind year after year.

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Kynance Cove is a dramatically beautiful cove with fine sandy beach and interesting rocks. There is also a café right by the cove.

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Both Lizzard Point and Kynance Cove are National Trust property. The foot path on the cliff top between both points should be beautiful. But at more than 5 miles long we did not have time to cover it. Luckily National Trust has parking lot at either end, making it possible for us to visit both points. Parking is free to members. Otherwise it is £3.

London Diary – Jane Austen Festival in Bath!

Sep 12, 2016

It is not officially autumn yet, but it is unmistakably palpable, cooling spells, leaves on the streets, schools starting last week and it seemed all the sudden it is starting to get dark at 8 not 10. It is at such turn of the season Bath welcomes its annual Jane Austen Festival. We were there for its opening over the past weekend. Three times in Bath, I like it better each time. In fact, it is becoming my favorite of all cities.

Beautifully situated along River Avon and over the hills on its banks, Bath is a prefect union of town and country. From architectural delights in the heart of the city, Bath Abbey, Roman Bath, Pump Room, Guild Hall, Putney Bridge, Royal Crescent, The Circus, The Assembly Room, to its average honey colored sand stone buildings and houses, to Queens Square, Victoria Park and Parade Garden, Bath is lovely to behold. Drive up to Alexandra Park south of the river, a breath taking view of Bath awaits. Fox and Hound north of the city is a popular pub with lovely view and great food. From that outward, Bath is surrounded with that typical, delightful Cotswold country side.

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Making it extra fun for me is Jane Austen Festival, which is a 10 days event and each day is filled with a range of programs. The costume parade is one of the highlights and officially commences the festival. The first time we went to the festival in 2014, there were more than 500 people participated in the costume parade, a record breaking year and a spectacular parade. The weather was less than perfect this time. But despite the rain, more than 300 people participated in the parade. We again were observers of the parade, next year I have a mind to go back in costume.

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Other events we did included pre festival get together, Jane Austen afternoon tea at Pump Room, a festival fayre at Assembly room, where you find Regency costumes and accessories for sale, and a 20 minute, comical version of Pride and Prejudice performance. My favourite was Austen Undone, a brilliant 90 minute program that seamlessly fitting together a walking tour with storytelling. The story is a spinoff of Austen characters, plots and humor. We got to watch it unfold live on the streets of Bath. Hilarious!

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Icing on the cake are the many fun places to shop, a few special mentions, Barlett Antique Center near Assembly Room, Mallory and Miles Mann (jewelry) near Bath Abbey, Alexandra May (costume jewelry) near Royal Crescent, Milsom Place, market at Guild Hall and monthly Artisan Market at Green Park Station.

London Diary – Readers I’ve been to Haworth!

Haworth, West Yorkshire.

A tongue in cheek attempt at a fantastic opening line. It might not have done the trick but fans of Bronte might have understood the allusion to the famous line in Jane Eyre, “Readers, I married him.”

A steadfast fan of Jane Eyre, the stories of the Bronte sisters fascinate me. In this year that is Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday, my wish came true, I made my way to Haworth, Yorkshire over Bronte Society’s annual conference weekend in June.

There were interesting activities during the four day conference. We attended annual lecture, participated in a lively debate on two of Charlotte’s novels, Jane Eyre and Shelly, where the actress Maxine Peake was invited as a presenter, and played a fun trivia game.

The visit to the Bronte Parsonage Museum was memorable. The parsonage on the hill top, the parish church, separated from the parsonage by the grave yard, and a simple, smaller stone building, which used to be a school where Charlotte had taught, would have made the Bronte’s most intimate surroundings. It was very touching to be there, feeling close to the talent and spirits that have inspired so many.

The historic part of Haworth village sloping up to the parsonage and parish church has been well preserved and is atmospherically charming, cobble stoned street, lime stone buildings of Yorkshire characteristic housing shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels.

My other favorite part was walking the Bronte country, following the sisters’ footsteps, through Haworth Moor, beyond Bronte Water Fall and Bridge, all the way to Top Withen. The path starts from the parsonage and quickly enters Haworth Moor with nice view of another village across a narrow, deep valley. After the passing of a few more large sheep farms and houses, there is not much else between man and nature. Most visitors stop their journey at the bridge. We continued on.

The surrounding after the waterfall and bridge becomes more and more desolate and wild. Top Within is a vague speck on the hilltop yonder. There are few trees. Counterintuitively, the vast openness made that two miles appear infinitely distant. But eventually, that tiny speck came into focus. There it was, the ruin of a stone farm house standing next to a lonely, tall sycamore. That was Top Within, the locale that was the inspiration for Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Height, the tale of a tragic, violent love story.

Since Haworth was fully booked, we stayed in Hebden Bridge, a small town 20 minutes south of Haworth. Hebden Bridge is a village on steep hill surrounded by fantastic view. Almost everywhere in Hebden Bridge, you can see a picturesque hill top village and its soaring church spire across the valley. Having been tantalized by it for days, we one day drove out searching for it. After climbing some steep streets, we stumbled across it, Heptonstall, a small village on steeper and higher hill.

The drive between Hebden Bridge and Haworth passes through some dramatic scenery. As it draws close, Haworth appears as a postcard picture on a hill.

It was the Brontes who had drawn me to this part of the country. In turn, it opened my eyes to a landscape that is like none others, and I discovered what had in part helped shape the sisters into who they were.

This part of west Yorkshire is arduously hilly, its scenery alternates between expansive, open, undulating land and steep, narrow valleys. Under thick clouds, it is bleak and dramatic all at once. When the shrouding veil is lifted by shining sun and all is clearly discernible, it is stunningly beautiful. Fog you’d often encounter is a phenomenon. It might be thick and dense on the road you are driving through, or wispy twists hanging in the narrow valleys. In either form it adds an intriguing mystery to the already unusual landscape, on the other hand, it could seem eerie to unfamiliar eyes. And that could be in part its enduring appeal.


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Harewood House

Harewood House is an hour north east of Haworth. It is where Lost in Austen was filmed as Mr. Darcy’s Pembley. The house is grand and beautiful. Its banquet room is breathtaking. Many staterooms feature ornately decorated ceilings. Designed by Capability Brown, its ground, lake and garden are tremendous and lovely. Its terrace in the back of the house, famously featured in Lost in Austen, is as romantic and gorgeous.

To make the visit interesting, we discovered its royal connection. Harewood became home to Princess Mary, QEII’s aunt, after she married Viscount Lascelles. The Chinese wall paper in Princess Mary’s former bedroom is beautiful, also her collection of Asian porcelains and figurines. Current Dowager countess lives upstairs of the house, her son, current and 8th Earl, and his wife however do not live in the house. According to a staff member, the Earl joked that it is too difficult to carry grocery up the stairs at the house. There are family photos including those with William and Kate in one stateroom. While having tea on the terrace, I thought I saw the Earl at another table having what seemed a business meeting with a couple.

Harewood is also where on its hall you’d find a life sized portrait of Lady Worsley, befitting to the character and scandal.


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London Diary – Henley Regatta

Jun 29, 2016

Henley Regatta is one of top events in the scheme of rowing competition, held annually at the picturesque village Henley on Thames. This year it runs from Wed to Sat this week when teams from the world, including many teams from US, Harvard, Yale, Columbia to name a few, row against each other. It is an exciting sport all right. But it is the social aspect of it that makes it a very English experience.

As it was demonstrated by the daylong program yesterday, which was the first day of event, the Brits surely knows how to live the high life. Watching from one of the river front boxes at Phillis Court, a private club right at the end of the race, guests were treated to noshes and continuous flow of spirits, coffee, tea and Danish pastries for breakfast, champagne and bar snack not long after, Pimm’s (one of those things with a firm British mark on it) heralding lunch, 3 course lunch served in a separate dining room with plenty of wine, then more tea, coffee or champagne continued in the river front box.

There was watching of the sport of course, but it seemed that for most guests, of our group anyway, there was more social going on, along with the people watching. The hats were fabulous and you might have guessed that there is a strict dress code for the club, skirts only for ladies and they have to be just sitting on the knees or below, not an inch higher or you’d be turned out. Gentlemen have to wear suits or blazers/sport jackets with chinos and ties/cravats. All was part of the fascinating experience.

Only thing I would have like to change was the weather, it was so cold few could stay out for long, not what you would hope for a summer day, is it. Anna from Rusia who has lived in England for more than 16 years said there is no summer in England, that one weekend in May was probably all the summer we’d get for the year. If she was correct then English summer had finished before it even started. In any case, it is not going to stop the fun is it.

P.S. I tried Pimm’s first time yesterday, it is a delightful sweet and fruity drink. It is made by mixing Pimm’s into lemonade and flavored and garnished with fruits. Although Pims’s is heavy at 25%, the mixed drink tasted however very light and I figured there can’t be too much Pimm’s in it right. But I was warned. The English likes their Pimm’s, one said, it is more likely there is more Pimm’s in there than it tastes.


London Diary – Magna Carta Memorial and More

May 28, 2016

Plan for Memorial Day weekend: day trips near London.

Day One: Egnham, 30 minutes south west of London

This day visiting Runnymede was nothing short of inspiration. These are the highlights.

Runnymede, an estate by the river Thames in Eghnam, has been home to multiple memorials. Most evocative among them is the Magna Carta Memorial. For it is the site where Magna Carta was sealed 800 years ago on June 15, 1215; seeds for ideals such as democracy and equal rights and fundamental principle for juror trials were planted, thus Britain’s immeasurable contribution to civilization and humanity. On site are also JFK Memorial and Air force Memorial, from the top of which you get a sweeping view of the area extending as far as Windsor Castle.

Royal Holloway was founded by Thomas Holloway as an all-women’s college and opened by Queen Victoria and is now part of University of London. Its crowning jewel is a grand, magnificent, stunningly beautiful building from its opening days.

Having lunch at Runnymede Hotel, which is situated at a lock on the river, watching pleasure and house boats queuing up to go through the lock and kids playing on the hotel lawn, walking along the river, checking out the houses and seeing people having picnic by the river was also great fun.

Dinner at Cafe Gondola, an Italian restaurant in Eghnam Town center, was superb.


May 29, 2016

Day 2: Cliveden House, 40 minutes west of London.

The house is grand and beautiful. It is now a hotel run by National Trust. It is open to public and offers a 30 minute guided tour, but only from spring to summer and two days a week. One of the few rooms included in the tour is The Great Hall. It is stunningly beautiful with intricate wood carving. Photos are not allowed in there, which is understandable. Today, it was filled with guests.  It is a short tour but very interesting. As former home to dukes, earls, viscounts, and one Prince of Wales, and then American millionaire, its history, 350 years long, is intriguing and scandalous. The ground and gardens are tremendous and wonderful.  Being a bank holiday weekend with beautiful weather, there were many visitors having picnic throughout the ground. Winter garden, parterre, long garden are all great. And you won’t miss the breathtaking Fountain of Love. The estate is right on the river Thames, it is a short walk to the river from the house where you can do boat tour, hire a boat to row yourself or just stroll along.



On the way home, we stopped at Windsor for dinner. Look what we found at the boat dock. Ever seen so many swans?


May 30, 2016

Memorial Day weekend day trip #3.

Henley on Thames, 40 minutes west of London, is a lovely little town famous for its annual Royal Regatta. Henley Bridge is a handsome feature. Close by is Church of St Mary, beautiful and steep in history. Town center is several blocks around with pretty cottages and nice buildings. The hub of activity that day seemed to be along the river front, between the bridge and River and Rowing museum, some boats cruising, a few kayaks, many ducks and swans bobbing, kids playing on a vast lawn and a large group of Indians doing barbeques at an adjoining  picnic area.  I had heard good things about restaurants in Henley, and The Angel on the Bridge did not disappoint, the slow roast pork belly with potatoes and red cabbage that I had was exceptionally good, the sauce for the potato was divine.


London Diary – Winter Wander Weekend


Jan 26, 2016
Many here love walking/hiking. And when you’ve had a taste of the extensive web of beautiful “foot paths”, easily accessed throughout the country, you’d understand why. It is not simply escaping to the country of open space, fresh air and delightful scenery. It is also rich history and architecture you’d encounter along the way. The enticement is irresistible.

I’ve done some walks here and there in England, loved every single one and forever looking to do more. A few weeks ago, I found out about a great opportunity, a long list of free guided walks in and around London sponsored by London Transportation was offered for the weekend of 23rd and 24th. I could hardly contain my excitement. Many routes looked fantastic but I finally decided, Richmond to Busy Park (9 miles) for Sat and River Walk in Hammersmith (3.5miles) for Sun.

That was to be the first of this organized walk that happens at most 2/3 times a year. Alas, a bad cold hit before the weekend. Although still battling the cold, I couldn’t help but try. I went but had to stop before long. I got as far as Ham House (one mile down) and turned back. It was however enough to whet my appetite.

Richmond is a pretty London suburb on the river Thames and the route is part of the longer Thames Path that stays close to the riverside. The list is also a wealth of information. I hope to catch up with the group next time, if not, I’ve picked up many walks to do on my own.

Here is the listing of the walks, http://www.walklondon.org.uk/

National Trust has a great walking route for Richmond and Ham House. The views from Richmond Hill and Henry VIII’s Mound are lovely. See link for details, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ham-house-and-garden/trails/ham-house-from-richmond-walk