I have been feeling rather nostalgic lately. Maybe because it’s ten years since my work & life experience in England. During that time I explored as much as I could of East Anglia which is where I lived. Ipswich was one of the first cities I visited. I went there by train for a day trip without a fixed plan of what to do and see. After this first day trip I visited Ipswich again to meet up with some new acquaintances but I haven’t really been to any museums or done any proper sightseeing. What I have done actually was to shop at Primark 🙂 I know, I know, there are a lot of people who belittle this brand but I still have a top I bought for only 2£ ten years ago.
Ipswich is the biggest town in East Anglia and it’s situated on the estuary of the river Orwell. The first thing I noticed on my day trip to Ipswich when compared to other smaller towns in Suffolk was the number of people in the streets and a greater feel of cosmopolitanism. I came across the Ancient House with its beautiful pargeting and the Town Hall. I liked the old houses on the high street and the choice of shops. I also saw Ipswich’s waterfront and the marina. It was a leisurely day trip for sure.
What a trip! Visiting Bath & Stonehenge was one of the best weekend trips in England I’ve ever had. The weather was fair, our hotel was small & charming and I fell of my feet from all the sightseeing we did in Bath. It was in July in 2009 and I’d gladly return to Bath one day to see it all again.
After arriving to Bath in the afternoon and settling in our hotel my friend and I decided to go out for a meal. The city center was just a short stroll away from our hotel but we had lovely views of the lush green hills to enjoy on our walk down to the center. Our evening walk gave us a glimpse of the beauty that Bath had to show us.
The next day was sunny & warm and we visited the Roman Baths. Probably one of the most famous Roman sites in Britain the Roman Baths are truly impressive. There are four parts: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum. I listened carefully to my free audio guide as I walked around the Baths and marvelled at Roman sculptures and other artifacts. I even tossed a coin in the wishing pool. At the end of the visit we were given a glass of mineral water at the Grand Pump Rooms where you can have an afternoon tea too. Unfortunately, the Bath Abbey was closed when we walked by it twice so we only got to see it from the outside. I guess my visit to Bath coincided with the school holidays because there were a lot of school children around and a lot of tourists as well. Some of them were watching numerous performances by street artists at the square near the Abbey.
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.
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.
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
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.
Visiting the royal castle would be a special treat for me.
Downton abbey was filmed here. Need I say more?
The picture perfect villages of Cotswolds have put a spell on many visitors so I’m sure I’d love them too.
I’ve visited Bath and Stonehenge but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to see Salisbury’s cathedral too.
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.
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 gardens-beautiful gardens with very friendly squirrels
London is the best city in the world! But visiting London can also be overwhelming simply because there is so much to do and to see. You could spend a lifetime visiting London and you still wouldn’t see it all. If you’re visiting London for the first time and you’re only spending a day or two theredon’t be temped to find that cool bookstore you saw on Instagram or that cute cat café you pinned on Pinterest just because you think you’re too cool to do tourist attractions. There’s a good reason everyone takes a photo at Westminster Bridge with Big Ben in the background. Why? Because it’s the symbol of London. Yes, you can visit that new hipster brunch place your best friend went to or go on that street art tour everyone’s raving about the next time you’re in London but if you miss seeing Big Ben or Tower Bridge you’ll regret it. So, what do you want to remember your trip by? By visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Tower of London) or …?
Do visit the well-known tourist attractions and cultural and historical landmarks on your first visit to London and leave the trendy new places for your next visit especially if you’ve only got a day or two to enjoy London.
Here’s the list of 5 Unmissable London Sights
1. Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
Did you know that Big Ben is actually the name of the giant bell inside the clock tower? The real name of this clock tower is Elizabeth’s tower nowadays but its name used to be St Stephen’s tower.
The current Westminster palace aka the Houses of Parliament was built in 1870. You can visit it if you book a guided tour (for more information click here ).
2. Tower Bridge
Walk across the Tower Bridge and take hundreds of photos of it. It’s very Instagram worthy!:) If you’re lucky you’ll see it raised to let the ship pass under it. Moreover, if you want to learn about the bridge mechanics or walk on the glass floor 42 m above the Thames visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
3. Tower of London
During the history the Tower of London has been a fortress, a royal palace and a prison. Nowadays a tourist attraction as well as the home of the Crown Jewels. The oldest part of this UNESCO site is the White Tower which was built for William I (the Conqueror) in the eleventh century. You can admire it from the outside or buy a ticket and visit it. For more information click here.
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!