Your UK Survival Guide: Don’t Forget These Last Minute Tips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heading to the UK in the coming weeks or months? A trip to Britain is one you’ll remember for years to come, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t preparation steps you’ll first need to adhere to. Today, let’s run through five tips you’ll need to remember ahead of your next adventure.

  1. It isn’t the fairy-tale you imagined

 It sounds like we’re kicking things off on a downer – and I suppose in a way we are – but the UK isn’t the picturesque postcard image you might have come to expect from years of stereotypical television portrayals. That’s not a bad thing though, with the real UK offering far more grit and character.

 As the Huffington Post debunk, most commonly held stereotypes about British people simply aren’t true. While they do drink a lot of tea, you aren’t likely to stumble across many gentlemen tipping their hats to you on the streets of Slough or Birmingham.

  2. UK airport customs

 Just like with any of the world’s more influential countries, the UK has sadly become something of a target in recent years. As such, there’s a relatively strict procedure in place for what you can and can’t bring through customs.

 1cover highlight what is and isn’t allowed through, with a maximum of the following being the absolute most you’ll be able to bring into the country:

  • 16 litres of beer (or 1 litre of alcohol)
  • 200 cigarettes (or 50 cigars/250 grams of tobacco)
  • A “reasonable” amount of perfume

 3.Avoid larger notes  

When you convert your currency into UK pounds, make sure you avoid getting any £50 notes. If you’re unfamiliar with British sterling, this amounts to an excessive level of money (enough for 3 people to eat a starter and main in a pub), and is unsurprisingly not accepted in most stores as a result.

 Even a £20 note is often frowned upon by most cashiers, but it will at least be accepted. The main reason for this is the amount of change which’d have to be handed back to a customer would make managing the till for the rest of the day basically impossible.

Continue reading “Your UK Survival Guide: Don’t Forget These Last Minute Tips”

My English memories: Norwich

Norwich Castle
Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

I can’t believe that it’s been almost 10 years since I lived in England. Time flies! When I lived & worked in Suffolk I took several day trips by train, alone or with a friend. One of them was to Norwich, the capital of the neighbouring county of Norfolk.

It was a grey November day. The train ride was pleasant and short. After my friend and I took the map at the train station we proceeded over the bridge and past the canals down the Prince of Wales street which took us directly to the Norwich Castle. I thought that it looked rather unusual. Norwich Castle is actually one of the oldest castles in England. It was built by William II in 1094 and the part which remains today is the splendid box-like Norman keep. The castle is built on a small hill but there’s a modern elevator which takes you up to the entrance. There’s a Museum and an Art Gallery inside the castle. I loved the castle! There were all sorts of things from the Egyptian mummies to teapots and small cats figurines to armours and shields. We saw the part of the castle which once functioned as a prison and we also got to see the castle’s loo. There were also natural history dioramas. We spent quite a lot of time exploring the castle. To find out about the admission prices today click here.

Norwich Castle

After our visit of the castle we went down to the city center. Since I lived in a much smaller town in England I found Norwich to be very busy and crowded. Actually my visit coincided with the day of the Norwich Market hence the crowds. Before we reached the area of the Norwich Market we stumbled upon the beautiful Royal Arcade. It’s a rather grand shopping arcade full of independent shops and fancy eateries. This is where I saw the legendary Colman’s Mustard Shop. Colman’s is the famous English manufacturer of mustard and other sauces from Norfolk and it’s one of the oldest existing food brands.

Continue reading “My English memories: Norwich”

England

My English bucket list

Bath, England
I’ve visited Bath in 2009 so it’s not on this list but it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t want to visit it again

I don’t really do bucket lists. Occasionally I’ll write down a couple of places I’d like to visit but I don’t give myself a set time frame to accomplish those travel wishes. Also, I sometimes go to a place because I found a bargain flight not necessarily because it was on some sort of my bucket/travel wish list. I’m pretty keen on London as you might have gathered from my blog. I am also an anglophile (did the name give me out? 🙂 ) so I’d like to visit as many places in England as I possibly could. But there’s only one problem with that: money. England isn’t a cheap country and since I also want to visit some other countries too I can’t just spend all my travel money on multiple visits to England.

Some of the places have been on this bucket list for a long time while others are new entries (thanks to the fellow bloggers I now have an ever increasing travel wish list/bucket list). I’d hoped to visit more of England during my work experience in the UK and during my subsequent visits but London was always high up on my list so I didn’t cross off as many places as I’d hoped. However, I did visit quite a bit, especially in beautiful Suffolk (check my Places I’ve visited page). I just haven’t written about them much (you can read about Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds). I have visited Scotland too and fell in love with Edinburgh. I’d like to explore even more of Scotland but that’s a topic for some other post. Moreover, I’d really like to visit Wales and Northern Ireland some day too. But let me show you first my English bucket list.

My English bucket list

Brighton

They call it London by the sea. I’d love to see the Royal Pavilion and to walk on the Pier and spend some time at the beach.

Windsor Castle

Visiting the royal castle would be a special treat for me.

Highclere castle

Downton abbey was filmed here. Need I say more?

Cotswolds

The picture perfect villages of Cotswolds have put a spell on many visitors so I’m sure I’d love them too.

Salisbury

I’ve visited Bath and Stonehenge but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to see Salisbury’s cathedral too.

England
I’ve been lucky to see the Stonehenge

Continue reading “My English bucket list”

My English memories: Bury St Edmunds

Abbey gate, Bury St Edmunds

I’m sure that not many people have heard of Bury St Edmunds, a charming market town in Suffolk, England. It’s not well-known as nearby Newmarket of which you’ve probably heard of if you’re into horses. Somehow I have a feeling that even if you live in Britain you probably haven’t visited Bury St Edmunds. In 2008 I lived & worked for a couple of months in Suffolk.  When I needed a bank, a post office or to do some shopping I went to Bury.

I’m a city girl and coming from a much bigger seaside town I found Bury to be small but delightfully old-fashioned with its shops with limited opening hours and medieval-looking houses.  Moreover, to me it perfectly represented the English countryside town which I have seen only on TV until then. I have visited London before this work experience but London is quite another world. It didn’t prepare me for the delightful little surprise called Bury St Edmunds. Despite all the good and the bad that I’ve experienced during my brief time in England I still have a fond memory of Bury St Edmunds. The last time I visited Bury was in 2010. I toyed with the idea of visiting it again last year on my 11th trip to London but ….it just didn’t happen.

first time in Bury St Edmunds, Sep 2008
last time in BSE, Dec 2010

I loved walking around the Abbey gardens and taking photos of cute, friendly squirrels. I admired the wobbly old houses around the town. I had an excellent afternoon tea at Harriet’s Tearoom. I had drinks at quaint little pubs and delicious meals at lovely restaurants. In general, I loved the look and the feel of this perfectly English small town. While I was working in England I explored a bit East Anglia and visited places such as Cambridge, Ely, Norwich etc. It’s definitely one of the prettiest regions in England 🙂 (my very biased opinion).

A lot has changed in BSE since my time there. There’s a Christmas fayre now in Bury every year. Furthermore, a wolf trail was launched around the town which has been inspired by similar art trails around England such as the Chester Rhinos. Why a wolf? Because according to a legend a wolf guarded King Edmund’s head after he was slain by the Danes who invaded England in the 9th century. There’s an excellent live music venue now too, the Apex. But I’m sure that some things haven’t changed and that the town still smells of sugar from the local sugar factory.

What can you see in Bury St Edmunds?

The Abbey Gate-the symbol of BSE

Abbey Gate, Bury St Edmunds

Abbey gardens-beautiful gardens with very friendly squirrels

Abbey gardens, Bury St Edmunds

Continue reading “My English memories: Bury St Edmunds”

Trinity college, Cambridge

My English memories: Cambridge

Cambridge
Cambridge

Back in 2008 I visited Cambridge several times. Why? A simple reason really: I worked only a short train ride away. I’ve only been to London before my work experience in the UK so I had no idea how the rest of the country looks like. I had a couple of vague romantic ideas which I mainly got from many English movies and books that I devoured like a kid on a sugar rush. Cambridge lived up to those ideas. And more so!

Cambridge

Continue reading “My English memories: Cambridge”

Beach snaps VII

Southwold

Southwold, England

This photo was taken in October, 2009. I guess this beach is full of cheerful families on a warm summer day. Don’t you just love these colourful beach huts? I hear they’re quite expensive though. So what’s your favourite seaside town in England? Is the sea too cold for swimming? My last beach snaps post is due next week and then it’s back to business as normal e.g publishing city posts!:)

p.s. I’ve recently opened a Google+ account! Do join me there too!thanks:)

xoxo

Tanja

Follow Facebook / Twitter / Bloglovin’ / Google+

Easter at home or away?

Easter eggs and Easter chocolate bunnies and spring and cakes and family gatherings are a part of my Easter memories. But I have also travelled during Easter weekend in the past years and have experienced slightly different Easter celebrations.I still fondly remember Easter I spent in England in April 2010. I had Easter lunch in one of the most picturesque English village-Lavenham.  Before the lunch we walked around the tiny but very medieval looking village and took photos of quaint half-timbered wobbly houses.  Then we had our superb Easter lunch at the Swan and enjoyed the piano music. The whole experience was so lovely and so British!:)

Lavenham, England
Lavenham

Continue reading “Easter at home or away?”