I think we are finding a new routine: weekend day hikes. Last weekend we walked from Bradford-on-Avon to Avoncliff, the weekend before that was Chew Valley, and this weekend we headed up to Chipping Campden for another Cotswolds day hike to check out the views from Dover’s Hill.
We picked this 4.5 mile walk because reviews said it was “great if you like sheep” – sign me up.
And we did see lots of sheep!
We started in Chipping Camden and took some public footpaths through some fields…
Part of our route took through a wooded segment – all of a sudden we were surrounded by trees that were so tall!
We followed along a bridleway through the wooded area, marked with horse tracks of travelers who came before us.
And coming out of the woods, we crossed the street to this gate. It’s at the bottom of Dover’s Hill, and we headed through the gate to walk up….
We made it to the top of Dover’s Hill a bit before sunset. The light was changing rapidly up here, cloudy one minute….
… and full of that golden hour light the next…
After taking in the view, we finished up by walking back down into Chipping Camden.
Last weekend, we went walking around Chew Valley Lake and had such a nice time that we decided to venture out a little further and walk a bit farther this weekend. We walked in the Cotswolds from Bradford-on-Avon to Avoncliff following this trail linked here.
We walked around the historic farm complex a bit, imagining all the people who would have walked around these grounds for 700 years…
After milling around a little while, we rejoined the path and walked on towards Avoncliff to see the aqueduct and grab a bite to eat. The path is a nice, easy walk that follows along the canal.
Here’s a view from the Avoncliff Aqueduct of the picnic tables below….
… and a photo back up of the Aqueduct from our table! It was built in the early 19th century and the canal passes along the top. Great spot to relax by the river, and everything is well spread-out for social distancing.
I was reflecting back on 2020’s Spring season and decided to put together some of my photos of Bristol in lockdown. (This is our first Spring in England since moving here last fall.) I did not venture out much as my husband was the designated person from our family to do the grocery shopping, so most of these photos come from late May or early June.
Lots of empty streets….
Even the busiest roads in Bristol were quiet…
And space to queue outside before entering grocery stores. Someone handling the queue and managing the number of shoppers by counting how many people go in or come out….
In June, some of our local restaurants that had been closed began to open up back up for take-away orders. These places, too, had space to queue outside and barriers to keep employees separate from anyone picking up an order…
We tried to pick up something from a restaurant that wasn’t delivering on days we went out for errands or groceries, hoping to support these business owners.
And of course, always seeing lots of rainbows in windows as signs that, while Bristol is in lockdown, there is lots of support for the NHS…
Back with Part 2 of my Bristol Apartment Tour in the kitchen + living area. You can see the photo tour of the bedrooms back in Part 1.
Let’s jump right in!
Like I mentioned in part 1 – when we moved, everything we brought with us had to fit in about 6 suitcases. So we have been working hard to get ourselves settled, furnishing our flat and trying to make it feel like home.
We’ve started collecting some art from around the UK – mostly Bristol and Edinburgh so far. I love seeing the art around the flat every day.
My husband and I both love media and video games – so finding a TV console that could wrangle all our gaming controllers, systems, and TV accessories while still looking presentable was a challenge. I love this one we got from Wayfair – plenty of surface area to hold charging stands for all our controllers and shelving for the game systems. All of our cords are tied up with velcro cable ties and our power strips are supported along the back… hidden from view, neat and organized!
And just across…. I’ve wanted a blue velvet couch for years. Now was my chance!
Perfect for lounging.
Since the UK lockdown started in March, my husband and I have both been working from home. We converted our dining space into a co-working space….
The view isn’t bad!
This is our second Stendig calendar designed by Massimo Vignelli. I love the huge size (3 feet x 4 feet!) and the design. The months alternate between white with black numbers and black with white numbers. We use it for meal planning.
My husband (who does all the cooking for us) loves this kitchen and it was a big part of why he liked this flat. And he loves the open floor plan because he can feel like he’s in the living room even while he is cooking.
We picked up those 3 barstools second-hand from a restaurant. I was ecstatic to scoop them up because I love the Tolix style design. Really durable, practical, and comfortable without taking up much visual space.
If you are wondering where our refrigerator or freezer is… both are actually under the counter! I think this is more common in UK flats than in the USA. The double oven takes center stage in the kitchen instead…
And new to our kitchen… an at-home espresso machine/coffee station we put together a couple of months ago. Loving the flexibility it offers, and it reminds me of working as a barista back in college!
The living room opens up to the terrace….
As the weather gets warmer, we are spending more and more time outside – just hanging out. Enjoying the spring. Loving the views.
And that’s it for the kitchen and living area! Hope you enjoyed the photos from this Bristol apartment tour. 🙂
I’m so excited to finally share a Bristol England Apartment Tour! We moved to the UK from California back in September and got into this apartment in October. After a whirlwind few months of getting settled and finding our footing, I can finally say we are loving our place here.
We initially thought we’d be using a liaison to help us find a flat while we were still living in the States, but we decided at the last minute to wait until we’d moved and look for a place ourselves. That meant we needed to spend time researching flats online the week before we moved and calling up agents to make a short list of places we were interested in seeing on arrival. We landed in Bristol on a Friday morning, looked at this flat Friday afternoon, and by Friday evening we were signing the lease.When it’s the right thing and you know, you know.
Let’s do this. First up…
The Master Bedroom
When we moved, everything we brought with us had to fit in about 6 suitcases. We left most of our things (furniture, lots of clothing, kitchen supplies, etc) behind in a storage locker. So we really started with a blank slate in England and needed to purchase everything we would need while we live here.
We made these display frames to organize jewelry out of cotton wrapped foam board and Ikea Hovsta frames….
I love the way it doubles as organization and wall art. Plus, now I can enjoy jewelry even when I’m not wearing it. Win-win.
We picked up this valet stand at Ikea also, to make a home for those in-between clothes that you’ll wear again but don’t want to put back in the closet. You know what I’m talking about.
Speaking of the closet…. Most of the flats we had on our list to visit had armoire-style storage, so the built in closet here is something we loved about this space….
The Guest Room
Our second bedroom is a jack-of-all-trades. We use it as our guest room (the sofa is a pull-out bed), art studio, and occasional office.
We were looking to add a lot of storage in here, so we choose cabinets from Ikea to organize everything. For example, this cabinet holds the art supplies I have with me currently….
And we used the 3 sets of Eket cabinets together as a TV console:
Lots of storage + TV console. I love the height of these for the TV.
Last but not least, I painted a set of watercolors and picked up this second-hand end-table from the British Heart Foundation.
I’ll be back with photos of the living area + kitchen for Part 2 of this Bristol England apartment tour!
Last week I shared photos from our weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland last November. I absolutely loved exploring the city by foot and learning about the history of the area. But for a change of pace, we also had the chance to take a Scottish Highlands tour and explore the dramatic landscapes of Scotland.
To make things easy on ourselves and maximize our time, we opted for a 1-day bus tour with Heart of Scotland Tours that took us all the way up to Lock Ness and back (about 3.5-4 hours one way if you don’t make any stops). Absolutely the right choice for us. Our tour guide was great, talking through all sorts of history of the areas, glens, and villages we passed. And our group was small, only 9 of us, so it felt easy to ask questions and take our time.
Of course, we did want to stop and take in the sights, and we had a chance to do so in a few places along the way to and from Loch Ness. Here are some photos from Glencoe on our way north…
We arrived at Loch Ness around lunchtime, and grabbed some fish and chips from The Moorings for lunch before the Loch Ness tour….
Felt good to eat something warm in the November chill! We explored a little bit of Fort Augustus, the village where the Loch Ness tour starts….
…and then headed for the boat!
Austin and I love a boat tour, and Loch Ness was no exception. It’s always interesting to me to hear all about a place.
We learned that the Loch Noss’ water is so dark and murky (and mysterious?) because it is full of peat from the soil all around the loch…
…and that the loch is so deep, it is actually the largest volume of water lake in all of the British Isles.
And if you are wondering whether we saw the Loch Ness monster… well, if you look closely enough….
After the Loch Ness tour, we headed back to the bus and back to Edinburgh. We made a couple of stops along the way, first at Spean Bridge Mill.
It was a nice place to stretch our legs, grab a bite, and pick up any souvenirs you might want.
And we stopped for ice cream in Pitlochry after dark. Plenty of flavors to choose from, including Scotch of course.
All in all, a great day and I loved all of our Scottish Highlands Tour. Just like Edinburgh, I already want to go and explore more!
Like I said in my last post about Paris, I’ve been looking through my travel photos and reliving the memories of past trips while we stay inside, social distancing. Last week, I posted photos of our first anniversary trip, and now I want to post photos from our second anniversary weekend exploring Scotland last November. Let’s start with Edinburgh, Scotland!
We rented a car and drove from Bristol to Edinburgh. It was a journey of about 7 hours, and our first time seeing a lot of the British countryside along the way. I love a good road trip.
The evening we arrived, we visited the Edinburgh Christmas Market….
European Christmas markets are so fun – we spent the evening checking out the shops, trying lots of different food, and enjoying the holiday music. And since we had driven up and knew we had extra room in our car, we were able to purchase some large prints by a local Scottish artist. Perfect.
In the morning, we explored Edinburgh by foot. Here is the entrance to Edinburgh castle…
Like always, I’m drawn to the juxtaposition of the old and new. There’s a grand view of the modern city buildings below the castle….
Love a snapshot of two eras.
We listened to a Rick Steves audio tour: Edinburgh’s Royal Mile Walk. Since we had the tour on our phones, we walked the Royal Mile at a leisurely pace with lots of stops along the way whenever we liked. Totally convenient.
The Royal Mile
Here are some snapshots I took along the walk….
Lots of holiday decorations – I love the winter vibes.
Traffic cones topping the statues – this is a long-running thing in Edinburgh, we saw it in a lot of places! Here’s James Braidwood on the left, the founder of the first fire department in Edinburgh, and David Hume on the right, an Enlightenment philosopher born in Edinburgh.
Our favorite part of the walk was turning off the main route of the Royal Mile to explore a close, or alleyway: Lady Stair’s Close.
We would’ve completely missed this if we hadn’t heard Rick Steves mention it on the audio tour! The Writers’ Museumis a free museum just off Lady Stair’s Close that highlights some of the great Scottish writers. We loved it.
The museum is inside Lady Stair’s House, and walking through the house felt like a unique chance to explore how a wealthy Edinburgh home in history might have looked and felt.
Sharing some of my favorite photos today from touring the Tower of London. These are from my sister’s trip to visit and see London for the first time back in January – loved the chance to take in some sightseeing together.
We started our Tower of London visit with the Yeoman Warder tour (free with admission ticket). So cool to walk around and get an overview of a thousand years of history all around the Tower.
And of course, we saw the guards while we were walking around….
After the tour, we spent a couple hours exploring further on our own.
We saw tons of armor in the Line of Kings exhibit, a display that was originally opened to visitors in the 1600s! It has changed a lot over the years, but one thing you could always count on seeing there: so much armor.
After our visit, we crossed the Tower Bridge as the sun set. We took this photo across the river from the Tower of London. Love those views of the city lights….
Then caught the tube home….
You can find tickets to the Tower of London online here.
Crossed off a big thing on my sightseeing wishlist recently! We did a Stonehenge day trip in December and it was just as fascinating as I was hoping. We visited as a day trip from Bristol, but a Stonehenge day trip is also doable from London.
We drove from Bristol and after we parked, we had to choose whether to take the shuttle the rest of the way out to the site or walk – we chose the walk! It took us about 35 minutes at a leisurely pace. You can see Stonehenge in the distance in this photo…
I really enjoyed the walk as a chance to take in the landscape and scenery…
…and we passed some sheep along the way….
We caught the sunset at Stonehenge a few days after the winter solstice. The stone circle was built to frame the midwinter sunset as well as the sunrise at the summer solstice. The circle marks the passage of time each year.
Walking around the stone circle at this time of year – when the days are shortest and the air is chilled – left me feeling like part of a bigger cycle. Like I’d reached the middle of winter and was now ready to start planning for spring again.
The coolest thing to us was seeing that sunset line up with the Heel Stone. It lines up perfectly on the solstice itself, but it still seemed almost synced and special to us a few days after. Here is a photo with the Heel Stone in the foreground and the stone circle + sunset lined up behind it….
How cool is that view? I am so amazed by the engineering and understanding of the solar cycle that went into the planning and construction of this place.
Most of the site is organized to help remove modern visuals (for example, the parking lot and main road to the site were moved further away in 2013). It really helped me get a sense of how the stone circle might have looked in the wider Stonehenge landscape through the ages.
Even so, I still totally love how this photo turned out – juxtaposing the ancient monoliths with the modern motorway and car lights juuust visible in the background:
You can plan your visit and find tickets online here at the English Heritage website. We decided to go for the yearly membership with English Heritage in order to explore more of the sites, castles, monuments etc they care for – I’ve just started reading through their guidebook and I can’t wait. While I’m learning about all the sites to see, I’d love more suggestions of places to see in England – leave a comment! 🙂