Emboldened by last year’s Scottish heatwave we ventured back to Blighty for our Summer holiday. Again sunshine galore! Having emigrated to Holland for the better weather, I wonder if this is an omen that it’s time to return? Two weeks of sunshine in Northern Ireland next year would complete the miracle and confirm the omen.
I will spare you all the details, but wanted to share with you Eight Things That Made Me Happy on Holiday (must kick that twitter addiction …).
1. Family Fun in London
View of well-lit Tower Bridge on returning to hotel
At the beginning of the holiday we met up with my family in London (we are from the Heart of England, so this feels a bit like a visit to New York). Amongst others, we visited The Shard, The Tower of London, the London Dungeons and a musical. What fun and great to see my family again! Thank you!
View of London from atop the Shard
2. Peace in Chester
The water of life – an inner spring always welling. Cloister Gardens at Chester Cathedral
After the Big Smoke we moved on to the more tranquil Chester. The Cathedral was beautiful and I loved the peaceful Cloister Gardens. It felt really good there.
3. Hiking in Snowdonia
The ascent at Snowdon
View from the summit at Snowdon
I love hiking, especially in the National Parks of North America. We’ve previously hiked two of the Three Peaks in Great Britain, but not yet Snowdon. We stayed in pretty Caernarfon and perfectly timed the hike up the mountain before the storm. It was by far the easiest of the Three Peaks yet a most enjoyable hike with great views of the area. Glad we did it.
Caernarfon – a lovely place to stay to explore Snowdonia
4. Biking at St David’s
By the time we arrived in St David’s the weather was radiant and we found a beautiful ‘Welsh Rarebits‘ Hotel (Warpool Court Hotel). We took a relaxing walk along the Pembrokeshire coast in the evening and a much more strenuous (hilly) 70 km bike ride along the coast the next day ending with a couple of pints and fish & chips in the sun at The Bishop in sight of St David’s Cathedral. Heaven on Earth.
St David’s Cathedral
A couple of pints and fish & chips at The Bishops after a strenuous day biking
5. Waterside Walks in the Brecon Beacons
Between the hustle of Cardiff and bookish Hay-on-Wye we stopped off at another lovely Welsh Rarebits hotel (The Bear) in Crickhowell and did a pretty and relaxing walk along the canal and riverside. It was fairly flat hiking terrain too, which made it an extra relaxed experience; this was remedied by a quick run up Table Mountain the following day …
Lovely waterside walk in the Brecon Beacons
6. Learning about Oxford
It wasn’t in our original plan but we decided to visit Oxford on the way back to Dover-Dunkirk. With my passion for learning I always get excited when I go to one of the great University cities. We visited some of the colleges in the glorious sun and then spent a couple of hours in the gigantic Blackwell’s bookshop. I bought as many books as I could carry and felt no shame that they were paper and would not be read on my Kindle. I need to do this more often!
Christ Church, Oxford
All Souls, Oxford
Bodleian Library, Oxford
7. Books on the Beach
When I was a child, our family typically went to the Devon, Cornwall or the Welsh coasts on holiday and spent most days on the beach. I’ve got happy memories of playing tennis with Dad in the sun and of playing in the sea surf with Grandad. These days I can’t take too much sun, but like to spend a few hours on the beach every now and then. On a beach in Pembrokeshire I read the laugh-out-loud funny ‘The Rosie Project‘ by Graeme Simsion about a scientist looking for a wife, and on Brighton beach I read ‘The Glass Closet‘ by former BP CEO John Browne about improving LGBT rights being good for business. I rarely have the time to read a book cover-to-cover these days and it was liberating to immerse myself into their stories. I can recommend them both.
8. English delicacies
A typical day nowadays might start with a muesli breakfast with soya milk. Lunch: a low fat cheese sandwich on multigrain bread without butter. Dinner: fish with no desert. Well, I was born in England in the 1970’s. For the last two weeks I have indulged heavily in the fine English delicacies of my youth. Full English breakfasts. Fish & Chips. Chicken Tikka Curry. Sunday Roast. Walker’s Crisps. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate (I still have a Pavlovian response to purple wrappers to this day …). Every bite savoured.
Full English Breakfast: protein and fibre galore!
Fish, chips and mushy peas: well-rounded nutrition!
Cadbury’s Dairy Milk: rich in calcium and iron!
So those were a few of the things I especially enjoyed. Feeling good and energized and ready to go again!