Category: England

Cheltenham and the Cotswolds of England

 

 

 

D20AE773-78E5-488E-BBF7-B6105832A755

As part of our 2018 UK tour, we spent a couple of days in Cheltenham, England and surrounding area. As the home of the flagship race of British steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup is the main event of the Cheltenham Festival, held every March.

53B36EAD-6202-4552-AE39-1183798E3C0F

Fortunately, we missed all that hooplah, and it was a quaint, peaceful, cozy town, or borough, as they call them in England.

6EDD24DC-F98A-402C-897B-13A0437FEF2C

We stayed at the most adorable bed & breakfast you ever saw (above). In all honesty, they sold themselves as a hotel (The Beaumont House Hotel), but it had a very B & B feel to it.

A9377B66-E97A-4367-B838-2CCC09A37DE5

Checkout the view from our bedroom window. That’s Jana relaxing out back at the table.

8A9AA350-57A7-4733-BAA1-5C609514F68E

As part of our time here, we took an excursion out into the beautiful Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is a rural area of south central England covering 2,038 km2 (504,000 acres). It’s roughly 25 miles (40 km) across and 90 miles (140 km) long. The area of the Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England (second to the Lake District).

88DB9E25-BB3B-4F1B-B0F2-100C991E60A6

When you close your eyes and think of the rolling hills of rural England, this is it! Grassland harbour thatched medieval villages, churches and stately homes built of distinctive local yellow limestone. Time seems to stand still here.

51799CE0-BC34-46CB-BE56-FBF32A670384

23DB23A2-BCF9-45AB-92D2-B9C1E41DB9F5

 

46FAB215-C0BC-4F35-9EA1-38C05C6A94BE

I half expected to see Frodo and Gandalf emerge from this house (above).

84011DF5-38F4-49A7-8594-2FB24B2CD0A1

Some of you may actually recognize this house, above. Try and picture the scene covered in snow. This was Bridget Jone’s parent’s house in Bridget Jone’s Diary. Parts of Braveheart were also filmed near here.

F6D234E2-23DA-404C-9DF0-4755790FD4D63E820CC4-4F07-42DE-9224-4337E9F45A2E

But be sure to book a professional tour guide if you want to find all the most beautiful and interesting spots. We really enjoyed our time here.

 

Bath, England

06420A06-6E7E-4547-AB99-A0BE1C245057

Beautiful and historic Bath. Known for it’s 18th century Georgian architecture, hot springs, and of course Roman-built baths. It’s located about a hundred miles west of London and is situated in the valley of the River Avon.

The Baths of Bath

FFCF5653-B6E5-44DB-B5BB-8734FA29A385C04DCA09-6710-45A3-B67D-B3FACB96DC57

These extremely well preserved baths were built around 70 A.D. and are a must see attraction. The presentation goes well beyond just the main bath area itself.

All of the ancient artifacts that were uncovered are also displayed here. Wander through caves where the springs and private bath areas were.

D30B8D2E-0A80-46C1-954F-6364571921BB

You also need to swing by the Royal Crescent. Amazing architecture by John Wood built in the 18th century. Oh yeah, that grass is supposed to be green this time of year. It’s been an unusually hot, dry summer in Europe.

 

The No.1 Royal Cresscent (above) is the very first one that was completed and it’s open to the public. It is decorated in the style of the time to give you an idea how the wealthy lived in downtown style back then. Definitely worth an hour or so to visit.

The city of Bath just seems to have a natural, inherent beauty:

AD3A276C-1054-456D-8578-CF581012F9071131F8A6-2DF3-45D2-803B-484FEFF2DE927002C6A1-40C4-4C5F-9676-4C9AB134E81B

And of course, being on the River Avon is a big help:

9C305141-F513-4C13-9699-F2057F4CBEC50526F3B0-F91F-48DC-9D4D-7BD4E07CAD5C

With all this, plus great restaurants and shopping, this is a no-brainer if you’re ever looking to escape London for a day or two.

Spend some time just wandering around this beautiful, relaxing town as you take in all the sites and shops. This was our second visit to Bath, and we wouldn’t hesitate to go again.

 

 

 

Kew Gardens

BBCF8CB8-445D-41D6-90BE-25731762DFF0

The Royal Botanical Gardens, located in Kew Park are the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. Founded in 1840, the exotic garden at Kew Park in Middlesex, London, is a beautiful 300 sprawling acres of greenhouses and gardens.

7632376A-6272-46A3-A594-520B2C87A9638A85EBE5-1919-42AF-942E-693ACD0171D3F0A41DF3-B886-4441-A529-06B9F19A7D74

Each of the greenhouses is meticulously maintained and elegantly presented. There are a dozen plant houses in total.

B2F645D4-FBA0-4119-ABC8-9B6701445FEDC9208418-21C0-4CE9-AE29-9087AC1519B2

Unbelievably beautiful and immaculate interior gardens. And well documented with detailed descriptions of each presentation. But who reads that crap anyway? Oh wait, is that Bryan down there reading the plaque?

63D9CDFB-A4A7-47A2-A340-CD221F810ADF

And is that Melissa photo bombing me?! You see her there? What a punk!

CFD8BAC9-5769-4C20-9F16-DA2FD586C6A50DC0F140-D0CF-4C81-A263-4B69C27C70AF

And speaking of photo bombing, if you look closely in these great pics, above, you should be able to see the giant koi fish.

And it’s not just the greenhouses that are beautiful. The entire 300 acre park is absolutely amazing. It takes 750 employees to maintain it all.

908CA889-A868-41AD-8C76-6B3C082DDF79053476C5-11AB-4A63-B479-B9D94A9EAA97

ED5C5755-14F8-4F67-8ADB-9257869E820C

That’s the pagoda tower in the backdrop, above. We didn’t go to it, but supposedly you can climb up it and get a great view of the surrounding area. But the Treetop Walkway also offers a great view, and we did go up there:

32F99606-8DAF-4633-8155-CC106453D38783E9C86D-764B-4077-BD98-FCE53C1DDFAC2C2FD40F-72F0-401F-BEF3-413AD4A48014

The pictures kind of speak for themselves. And the view was just incredible!

In addition to the dozen or so greenhouses, there were also another dozen buildings that weren’t greenhouses. The pagoda tower, restaurants, museums… you could easily spend an entire day here. We really enjoyed it.

 

St Albans, England

CF0FB6F5-475A-4C31-AA4B-9A0467B06092

The Cathedral

St Albans is a small town in  the commuter belt north of London. It is also the sight of a famous cathedral, you guessed it, St Albans Cathedral. St Albans, the man, was executed on this site about 1700 years ago for proudly standing up in the name of Christianity.

5E38DEBB-4B45-4ECA-A105-EA8D2B7F55AD619C1AAF-120C-4213-B8FF-58FC68E63636

Let me start by saying this place is a photographers dream. The cathedral is probably the most photogenic place I have ever been to. The cathedral  and grounds are absolutely beautiful.

Inside are breathtaking art presentations and architectural wonders.

 

The Roman Theatre of Verulamium

 

0E012155-D638-406E-B005-E1B96650355C

Not far from the cathedral is the amazing ruins of the 2nd century Roman theatre.

CF25C1FA-945C-4EFD-A9D9-51DD6A0E9BA6

You can see in the artists rendition, above, how the theatre would have looked back then.

A2AE0830-F76E-4A8A-A6BD-9868C9F871ED1EB18A12-E639-4F49-BD6A-10F27414147C

You can still hear the ancient clapping and feel the ghosts wandering around this rare excavation. In addition to theatre, it is believed the site was also used for sporting events and public executions.

30DD9BB0-43CB-461C-9885-D7090338AEC9096536B4-1F9F-4250-B146-951BBE27EF3E

Right behind the ruins is a huge park. Within the park are remnants of the old Roman city wall, a museum displaying ancient artifacts uncovered at the site, and a beautiful lake. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon.

 

 

Wimbledon, England

42649946-799E-40B1-A3CC-375AD9CCAEAB

The Town

We stayed in the quaint town of Wimbledon for our first six days in the London area. We found a very nice condo via Airbnb. The town of Wimbledon is small and cozy. There was a grocery store and a couple of typical British pubs within walking distance of our condo.

We rode the bus and metro to all the places we went. The bus stop was very convenient to our condo, although the ride into London was around 45 minutes.

The Club

E9DAD9DC-3A9B-499D-9F9B-3D583388B207

I am not a big tennis fan. Seriously, John McEnroe was the last tennis player I ever watched. I remember seeing him throwing his tennis racket around and yelling at the judges all the time.

 

But even so, you cannot deny the historical significance of Wimbledon. We took the grounds tour of the club, and even though I am not a big fan, it was really fascinating to see all the behind the scenes stuff.

21EDB5EB-0DC2-4CC8-A4AA-19336040F356A2DF8B68-0A1F-4738-92E8-22A8F0CBB241

I enjoyed our tour. The court, above, needs a little love to get it back in shape. It has been record-breaking hot and dry in London this summer (all of Europe). But rest assured, it will be pristine by the time the next championships come next year.

CCF79886-CE23-4F13-8537-5305C56C2831

Of course if you are a fan, like our friend Melissa (above), then this place is even more special. Sorry about the blurry picture, but we didn’t take it, the tour guide did. It’s so hard to get good pictures of celebrities.

D020663E-B72E-4955-9288-E6F40ACF0F2D

And here’s a nice view of London from Wimbledon (above).