My trip to England was plenty awesome this year, so much that I may take a trip there annually. Ok, maybe just every other year? The weather (one must always talk about the weather) was in the comfortably low 70s and sunny almost everyday. Did you know that according to one of the Virgin Atlantic pilot, clear skies with scatter clouds = overcast? I didn’t either until I stepped out of the plane at Heathrow and looked out the window. Seriously, WTF? Luckily that was the only day with gloomy weather.
Prior to our fabulous extended weekend trip to Pickwell Manor, Sara and I spent a evening in London. We were taking the train from Paddington station the following morning, so we decided to stay at the Park Grand Lancaster Gate a few blocks down the street. We were greeted by…well… a lot of people. Someone was there to help with the suitcases, someone handed us warm towels, then out pops a tray with glasses of apple juice, there was the gal that checked us in and then another gal gave me a very good map of London. Now that deserved some kind of service excellence award. I have to admit I was sold when they handed me the apple juice, not cider, juice.
Look how pretty this hotel is. It’s also within walking distance to Notting Hill.
Oh and just look at all the cute houses around the hotel. I wonder if they have elevators.
Now as for the room, it was small. So very very small. It was nice and clean, but we didn’t have much room to walk around. I’ll stay here again though. I mean I really liked the apple juice.
After dropping off our stuff, we ventured out toward Notting Hill. On the way, we decided to stop at The Black Lion for our first dinner of bangers and mash. There will be no photographic evidence that I ever had bangers and mash here because we sat outside, it was dark, and the picture I took is too ugly to post. The bartender messed up our order so we had to have a second dinner at Halepi on our way back to the hotel. I do have evidence of the lamb kebab I had there though. See below.
Do you know what I love about London, there seem to be flowers everywhere. We don’t have enough flowers in LA.
Now let’s fast forward a few days to when I got back from Pickwell. My original plan for the rest of the week was just going to be me, myself and I exploring the wonders of England, with London as my home base. So of course I had to book myself into a nice (but still affordable) hotel in an affluent part of the city. Plus I had to make sure I was in a safe neighborhood. I had no intention of being mugged in a foreign land. Just think about how upset my parents would be. Who will troubleshoot their iPhone/iPad issues? Who will they cook for on Monday evenings? Anyhoo, after many clicks on Hotels.com and Trip Advisor, I settled on The Kensington Hotel. My room was perfect and I had space to walk around. They didn’t give me any apple juice, but they did give me chocolate truffles and a print out of the weather report every day. Oh and the mirror above the sink in the bathroom is fog resistant.
Mine. All mine.
A friend I met at Pearl and Tom’s wedding was kind enough to accompany me to Downton Abbey aka Highclere Castle. The train ride to Newbury was only about an hour from Paddington station. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a ticket for the Castle (it’s actually a house) because the website said that they only have a limited amount of walk up tickets. We didn’t have any problems. If you ever decide to visit, be prepared to be move through the Castle at glacial speed. GLACIAL. The place is filled with non-English people ooh-ing and ah-ing at every room that was featured in the show. It is still pretty cool to be able to say that I went to Downton though. Ooh we were also told at the Earl and Countess actually lives on the property.
Downton Abbey aka Highclere Castle (house/manor)
Somewhere under a tree outside of the house.
Looks like a path to a secret garden or something. Actually it was just grass at the end, lots and lots of grass. England obviously doesn’t have a drought problem.
Looking at the top of the house while crouch down in fields full of dried something….
It’s the end of summer. The garden was…lacking.
The following day I booked myself on a tour to Stratford-upon-Avon, Cotswold, Bath and Stonehenge. It was a long day and I picked up a lot of random trivia. Did you know that in London you can cross the street anywhere anytime within reason? I have witnessed the driving in London and I think I’ll be ok crossing at a cross walk when the light is green. Did you know that the best wool in Europe comes from England, and the best wool in England comes from Costwold? I care about that just a little. There are a lot of sheep everywhere. William Shakespeare came up with the words “bloody” and “assassinate”. I haven’t researched that and probably never will.
After two hours of the driving, the bus made its first stop at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birth place of William Shakespeare, where we were served scones and champagne (or orange juice). They didn’t give me a knife so that I could evenly spread the cream on top. *sigh*
Shakespeare was born in this house. No comment.
My people are everywhere. Seriously, EVERYWHERE.
After Stratford, we spent another two hours driving through Cotswold. I love the pub names in England. The Snooty Fox.
I quite like the city of Bath and wouldn’t have mind spending another few hours here, but I was on a tour, so I only got about 1 1/2 hours of sightseeing time. My first,basically only, stop was the Roman Baths.
They actually let you touch that water. It looks green. I think it is questionable.
After my visit to the Roman Baths, I roamed around the city square for a bit. I people watched, snapped random pictures and listened to a guy play the piano.
Per our tour guide’s recommendation, I got ice cream at Marshfield’s. Caramel clotted cream ice cream. Can it get anymore fattening? Probably.
The last stop on the tour was Stonehenge. Those are some very impressive pile of rocks. At least I think they would’ve been a impressive if I could get a little closer. Look at my one selfie below. I was that far away guys. The rocks actually looks average from that distance.
I slept in the following day. I didn’t make it out of the hotel until a little before noon. My first stop was the Victoria & Albert Museum, which was a just a few blocks from my hotel. It was huge and there was so much to see. It’s no wonder their cafe is so well stocked. I can spend hours here roaming around, grab a bite, and roam around some more. My favorite were the Horst and Wedding Dress exhibitions.. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed in the exhibits. I wished I had rebelled and snapped some pictures anyways. I did take pictures of other stuff though.
Check out that ceiling. Ooh that guy in the sweatshirt looks cute. He’s tall too.
Is that a Chihuly? Looks like it.
After the V & A, I made my way to Covent Garden to check out the London Transport Museum.
Guess what else can be found in Covent Garden? A Shake Shack and Laduree. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to either. I did get a chance to check out the Moomin store though. So cute.
So that pretty much concludes my trip to England this year. I feel like I did so much and not enough at the same time. *sigh* Is it weird that I already missed the friends that I made there? I hope they plan their LA trips soon.
This was my last meal in England. Burger from Rhubarb in Terminal 2 at Heathrow. Terminal 2 needs an LV store.