A review of our year
A year disappears so fast, and often Gary and I reflect and reminisce about the incredible places that we’ve visited or the experiences we’ve shared together. So, writing a post like this is not only cathartic to us, it also jogs our little grey cells.
It's about the adventures we embarked upon, the lessons we learnt, and hopefully, inspire you for your travels.
The streets of LondonFor our annual pilgrimage
It’s become a bit of a tradition for us, staying in London for a couple of nights in January. It’s a little hit and miss with the weather but, to be perfectly honest, the same could be said for the UK in July.
Berry Bros & Rudd, St James's, London
We spent a couple of hours at Greenwich in and around the markets. Greenwich is a town I love, not just because it was where I was born, although that does sway me a bit, also it has some fascinating history.
Greenwich Market, London
During our trip, we also visited the captivating little regions of Smithfield, Clerkenwell and St James. Strolling through London’s enticing alleys and lanes, you find that one district seamlessly flows into another.
Main Avenue in Smithfield Meat Market, London
Dedicating time to each area you truly unearth some quirky snippets, that so often go unnoticed. I found the gritty meat market district of Smithfield so intriguing. From the site where William Wallace was hung to his death, to the Zeppelin bullet holes on the side of St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
A short hop from Smithfield and you are now in the honed quarter of Clerkenwell. I don’t think the Artful Dodger would recognise it anymore, with its refurbed taverns and tempting al fresco dining.
We also travelled west and discovered all the little nooks and crannies around St James, another fascinating part of the city.
Some of you may recall my fascination with historical cemeteries. Well, visiting London enabled me to tick off another two of the ‘Magnificent Seven’.
Yep, on a crisp January morn, I dragged Gary around West Norwood and Nunhead cemeteries. I’m sure he enjoyed it, really.
If you've yet to discover London and its ancient history, then let's start planning. I find these DK Eyewitness Travel Guides invaluable. They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.
You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.
Days outDiscovering what's close to us
During the winter and early spring months, if the timing is right, you can snatch some beautifully crisp bright days around the UK. We were guests of the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent and with thoughtful planning we chose a delightful spring day amongst all their nautical exhibits.
Historic Chatham Dockyard, Kent
If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".
You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.
Africa was callingWell, Zimbabwe to be exact
We were invited to a family wedding in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare but just couldn’t leave our ventures to one location.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
On Safari, Zimbabwe,
With our trusty 4x4, we hit the road and journeyed southwest to Zimbabwe’s second-largest city of Bulawayo and included a day around Matobo National Park. Matobo is an astonishing place, it so peaceful and almost feels spiritual. It’s also the last resting place of Cecil John Rhodes, at ‘World’s View’.
Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe
The other location that we drove to was Lake Kariba. This manmade lake borders Zambia in the north and is a place I would always recommend if visiting Zimbabwe. It truly is breath-taking, the wildlife in and around the lake are incredible, and you really need to respect your surroundings.
Sunset across Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
If you're considering an adventure around Zimbabwe, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.
Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.
A road trip across EuropeLakes and lederhosen part II
A travel conference leads us to Trento in northern Italy. And never ones to pass up the opportunity of a road trip, we created our Lakes and Lederhosen part II route.
Piazza Duomo, Trento, Italy
It included Molsheim, a very small taster of France in the Alsace region. Then further south into Italy. We spent a few days touring the waterside locations around Lake Garda, basing ourselves at Limone-Sul-Garda on the northwest side of this mountainous lake.
Limone sul Garda, Lake Garda, Italy
After our blogging seminar, we couldn’t resist the chance of discovering more of Germany’s Bavarian delights. So, we added a week onto our trip and visited the half-timbered towns in this lush, picturesque region of the country.
Dinkelsbühl, Bavaria, Germany
Not only did our trip include visits to some of southern Germany’s attractive ancient towns. We also made a poignant stop at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site just near Munich. Which was incredibly touching and a reminder to us at how lucky we are.
Nazi Party Congress Hall, Nuremberg’s Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Germany
Then a few days later we toured Nuremberg’s Nazi Party Rally Grounds, another incredibly interesting historical site.
Enjoying "bespoke" HotelsOvernight stays
Gary and I were welcomed by “bespoke” Hotels to the White Horse in Dorking and also The Talbot Ripley. Which were both a pleasure to stay at, after our Ripley visit, we then spent a day at RHS Garden Wisley, which are a pleasure to visit all year round.
RHS Wisley gardens, Surrey, England
Bustronome in LondonCulinary sightseeing
In September we were invited by Bustronome on a sightseeing tour around the historic streets of London. Although, it was so much more than an enjoyable guided tour. Settled into the luxurious glass-roofed bus, we were served a delicious 4-course gourmet lunch.
The views from Bustronome in London are stunning
It is such a great concept and one we highly recommend.
A large piece of British HistoryA battle in Battle
To make the most of our English Heritage membership, we visited the historical battlefields of the Battle of Hastings which took place in 1066, in Battle (just near Hastings).
Scene of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, East Sussex
Located in such a beautiful part of the East Sussex countryside, it’s hard to believe the bloodshed that took place just in one day between King Harold and William the Conqueror. It was to become one of the most important battles in English history.
A visit to a WineryCheers
The Kent countryside is slowly becoming competitors with the Champagne region of France, and lush vineyards are being planted strategically all around the county.
Tenterden High Street, Kent
As a treat, Gary and I headed to Tenterden and joined a tour and tasting at the Chapel Down Vineyards in the heart ‘Garden of England’. I must admit the sparkling wines are delightful, but the tour was incredibly informative too.
Chapel Down Wine Tasting Tour, Tenterden, Kent
North Germany road tripDiscovering 3 beautiful locations
Our love of Germany continued in 2019; however, this time, we headed north. Aachen, Hamburg & Münster welcomed us with open arms.
Aachen's Rathaus at night, Germany
Our road trip started in Aachen where we were hosted by Aachen Tourist Service. Aachen has so much history it is incredible. Emperor Charlemagne played a huge part in putting Aachen on the map, along with the Romans and the ancient hot springs. The 1st-century UNESCO Cathedral is a ‘must see’.
Aachen cathedral at dusk, Germany
Venturing further north, we visited the eclectic city of Hamburg. We were invited by Hamburg Marketing. It’s such a diverse city, Gary and I loved it there.
A view of Hamburg's Rathaus and beyond, Germany
Being a port city, it has a vast, bustling harbour and just nearby here is the Speicherstadt (warehouse district). This area has seen an amazing regeneration over recent years. Popping up to the free viewing gallery in Elbphilharmonie is highly recommended.
An iconic view of Hamburg, Germany
Last but by no means least, our German road trip ended in Münster. Where we were hosted by Münster Marketing.
Enjoying the view over Münster, Germany
This was another fascinating city, with so much ancient history. Münster is a reasonably small city which is part of its charm, and the locals were so friendly. The Prinzipalmarkt is lined with imposing gabled houses, along which is also the Gothic city hall and late medieval St. Lamberti Church. Look out for the cages on the outside of the church, as thereby hangs a tale.
I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
Making the most of the UKA few more days out
Although we live in Kent, we so often pass through quaint little villages en-route to another destination. So rarely stopping by and having a stroll around to see what’s on our doorstep. We decided to rectify that and jumped in our trusty steed for a Kent road trip.
The vilage of Smarden, Kent, England
This region of England is steeped in so much history, whether it’s the location of being so close to mainland Europe, I’m not too sure. With not too much digging, we found out the influence that the Flemish cloth makers had on the county. Not only did this profession become a flourishing industry but they also introduced the charming half-timbered cloth halls to the region.
Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent, England
Folkestone Harbour, Kent, England
However, the seaside town that astounded me the most was Folkestone. The harbour arm and the old harbour railway station has been transformed into a welcoming communal area for all the family. It’s now such an enjoyable place to visit, what I loved the most was the urban outdoor exhibition of contemporary art.
Folkestone old Harbour station, Kent, England
London at ChristmasBecause it offers a little magic
We reluctantly gave visiting the Christmas markets in Germany a miss this year, after 12 consecutive years. Therefore, to provide us with the ho ho ho for 2019 we headed up to London a couple of times.
The Natural History Museum’s ice rink, London at Christmas
Firstly, to the West End to see the twinkling streets and the stylishly decorated shop fronts, along Old Bond Street.
Harrods, London at Christmas
Then we headed back up towards the Tower of London and along the Southbank of the River Thames. There’s a delightful little Christmas market along here, and I can’t help having a wander around Hay’s Galleria, even more, yuletide fun.
Christmas cabins along the River Thames, London at Christmas
So that's it for 2019What will 2020 hold?
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