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 – 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.