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.
Who still sends postcards? When I was a child I used to go through my mum’s picture postcards box and daydream. Those postcards were my Pinterest and Instagram combined. The postcards my dad sent from his concert tours around Europe, the postcards from distant family members who moved half a world across, the blank postcards from family holidays. That box was my treasure trove. So when I started to travel I sent postcards to my mum and dad and sometimes to my friends too. But I’d also buy several postcards for myself and I’d bring them home. Wherever I went, I bought postcards to take home. They were my most precious souvenirs. It didn’t matter that I took a thousand photos of Paris or Rome or London. I had to buy a postcard too. I don’t remember when I sent my last postcard. It was before I got my first smartphone for sure. What’s the point of waiting for a week or more to get a postcard from someone when you can send a photo via Viber or upload it on Facebook and everyone can see it immediately? But there’s no anticipation and romanticism in Facebook pictures. You can’t store them away in a box for your children to see one day.
I’ve got my own postcards box now. I’ve collected all the postcards I was sent to by my family and friends and the postcards I bought on my trips. My husband also has to bring me back a postcard from his skiing trips. Last year he went to Essen to attend the biggest board gaming event in Europe and of course I expected him to send me a postcard from Essen. He searched and searched but couldn’t find any. However, he met some German guy and left him our address and asked him to send a postcard when he finds one. And I got my postcard from Essen!:)
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
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!
Squirrels, sheep, green parks, fields, tea,cute cottages, state homes, changeable weather, beautiful countryside towns, London, pubs, salt&vinegar crisps, cider, toffee, great shopping, friends, love, sadness, change…..
These are some of my English bitter-sweet memories. I’ll probably blog about all the different towns that I’ve visited in England but for the time being here are some of my photos: