by Janis on 22nd December 2020 / 2 comments

A review of our year and here’s to 2021!

I was in two minds whether to write a review of our travels in 2020, considering we barely left our home county of Kent, let alone leaving the UK.
 
But hey, I thought why not, it means we get to reminisce, have positive thoughts for 2021, and let our minds wander for the planning ahead.

So, although we managed to visit London for a mini-break in January, our road trips and our days out have been around Kent and Sussex.
 
The lockdown and restricted travel have given us the opportunity to re-visit old posts and create tempting travel prospects closer to home. It’s also allowed Gary time to delve into our Osmo content that we’ve captured over the last few years and convert it into YouTube videos.

The pin image for our post - 'Our 2020, is it one to remember, or one to forget?'
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Old London Town

We never tire of this amazing city
It appears to have become a bit of a tradition with Gary and I that we head up to London in January for a long weekend. Of course, this is England, and the weather is changeable; however, you can get some beautiful bright days, and there are also fewer people around.
A stall within the Spitalfields market on selling all manner of Bric-a-brac.
From globes to mallets - a stall in Spitalfields Market

We tend to choose a few districts of London that particularly interest us. As history is a subject that we both love, it’s so easy to find intriguing nuggets of the past and unusual facts about London.

In January 2020, we decided on Spitalfields, Camden and Westminster. And as I am still ticking off the ‘Magnificent Seven’ historic Victorian cemeteries, we also visited Kensal Green Cemetery.

Spitalfields is a fascinating region to visit, today, it is becoming a little gentrified. However, if you look beyond the boutiques and barbers, you’ll soon be immersed in its captivating past.

Elder Street, in the north of the Spitalfields district. A cobbled street of brick build Georgian terraced 3-storey houses. A classic 1950's Bentley is parked in a prime place.
Elder Street, full of character and charm in Spitalfields

The beautiful Georgian architecture once bustling with French Huguenot silk weavers and the dark narrow lanes which were frequented by Jack the Ripper.
 
Once you’ve had a rummage around the famous Spitalfields Market, take a few streets east, and you’re in Brick Lane. Famed for its mix of cultures, oh and yes, the endless choice of ‘curry houses’.

The street sign for Brick Lane as seen from Princelet Street. The old traditional cast-iron street sign is mirrored by one below with the name in Bengali.
Brick Lane
Our next London haunt was Camden Town and Camden Market. It had been years since we had visited Camden and strolled the Regent’s Canal.
Camden Lock Place in Camden Market with it's mix of food stalls and fashion leading towards the Camden Lock railway bridge.
Camden Lock Place and railway bridge, Camden Market

Camden has certainly changed over the years, and its market is amazing. Winding through the underground tunnels, with such an eclectic mixture of vintage clothing, unique gifts and plenty of odds and sods.
 
It’s incredible just by taking a short hop west for a couple of streets, and you’re in exclusive Primrose Hill district.

A row of pastel-coloured Georgian homes in along Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill
Colourful houses along Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill
A florist's shop in Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill
Regent’s Park Road, Primrose Hill
Then for a little change of direction and history, we headed to Westminster. Don’t imagine for one moment that this region is all about politics, it has some fascinating tales to tell, from Royalty and suffragettes to heart-wrenching memorials and hangings.
The beautiful detail around Whitehall includes a three-arched bridge over King Charles Street, which is flanked on either side by buildings of state.
Three-Arched Bridge over King Charles Street, Westminster
Our last stop during our visit to London was to Kensal Green Cemetery. I know this may seem strange visiting a cemetery; however, I find the lives and tales behind so many of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ intriguing.
A path through Kensal Green Cemetery leading to the disused Anglican Chapel built in a neo-classical design with 4 Doric columns at the entrance. Either side of the way are tombs & gravestones.
The Anglican Chapel in Kensal Green cemetery
Kensal Green Cemetery is the last resting place to several historical figures and equally rubs shoulders with the lesser-known man.

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Impending lockdown

It was time catch up on our old adventures

Mid-March arrived, and the ‘lockdown’ loomed, it was apparent we wouldn’t be travelling anywhere soon.
 
As we like to keep to a schedule for our website, it was time to be more creative. Also, to start looking at the content and ideas we’d been keeping on the back burner.
 
There’s more below from our ‘Road Trip Itineraries’ and also our fun ‘Truths & Trivia’ posts.

A glass cake stand loaded with homemade Rocky Road squares
Homemade Rocky Road
Better still, I didn’t need to come up with an excuse to dig out my Rocky Road recipe. My chocolate eclairs were a bit of flop, but Rocky Road is always a winner.

Day trips from London

Discovering the south east of England

With the imposed overseas travel restrictions and the UK excursions being limited to within our shores, it was time to look at where we would recommend for a day trip from London.
 
In fact, we came up with quite a few locations. In ‘Part 1’ you’ll see seaside adventures at Margate and Folkestone, the beautiful Art Deco palace at Eltham, the colleges of Oxford and the historic city of Canterbury.

A Harborview of Folkestone looking towards the slipway and the Old Town in the distance.
Overlooking the harbour slipway in Folkestone

In ‘Part 2’ of our day trips from London, head off to Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, or discover the code-breakers lair of Bletchley Park.

For a little further south venture to East Sussex and stroll the battlefields from the Battle of Hastings and along the shoreline at Rye unearth the tales of the local smugglers and ne’re-do-wells.

A wooden statue of a kneeling archer aiming in the direction of the Abbey from the edge of the battleground.
Wooden carved archer on the Battlefield at Battle
Amongst the locations in this post, we visit the historic town of Rochester in Kent, synonymous with Charles Dickens and Rochester’s 12th-century Norman Castle. A coastal hop south to stroll the diverse landscape of Dungeness, catch our YouTube video on Dungeness, you’ll love it.
A view of Norwich Cathedral across a green field from the path that runs along the River Wensum
A view of Norwich Cathedral
Then we head to the county of Norfolk and tour the Royal Palace at Sandringham and visit the historic city of Norwich and its magnificent 900-year-old Cathedral.

Our YouTube Videos

As mentioned above, the lockdown gave us (Gary mainly) the opportunity to dust off our Osmo content and start further developing our YouTube Channel.

We’ve such a mixture of locations, from our African safari adventures in Zimbabwe, our Lakes and Lederhosen road trip around Lake Garda and Bavaria.

To our southeast UK coastal visits and our Christmas fun at the markets in Germany, and plenty more in between.

The Thumbnail of our video - ' Our Tour of Lake Garda '
Click on the image to open our YouTube video of the experience.

Have a browse through our YouTube channel and hit the subscribe button, you won’t want to miss Gary’s dulcet tones as we take you on our future journeys.

You may even spot the occasions where Gary catches me out becoming rather lackadaisical on giving 100% to my Steven Spielberg productions.

The Thumbnail of our video - ' Our Visit to Broadstairs, Kent '
Click on the image to open our YouTube video of the experience.

Kent Road Trips

Exploring our home county of Kent
During the summer months here in the UK, restrictions were easing slightly, so we took the opportunity to venture off on a couple of Kent road trips.
A yellow boat named The Sandwich Tug on the River Stour in Sandwich.
The Sandwich Tug

The first was a scenic coastal road trip around the shores of Kent, UK. Here we chose 11 locations from the kiss-me-quick seaside town of Margate, the quaint, picturesque lanes of Sandwich and visiting ancient castles of Deal, Walmer and Dover.
 
Then touring on to the up-and-coming colourful harbour town of Folkestone and the lesser-known historic lanes of Hythe.

Boats moored up on the Military Canal in Hythe
Boats on the Royal Military Canal
Our next Kent road trip we were weaving amongst the North Downs, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Along this route, we toured delightful country villages and historic market towns and skipped on and off the Pilgrims Way.
A pretty little house behind a white picket fence, with Chilham's church clock tower in the background.
Picturesque cottage with St. Mary’s Church beyond in Chilham

There’s an abundance of heritage and history in these half-timbered villages from visiting Royalty in Charing, hop-picking around Faversham and picture-postcard filming locations like Chilham.
 
We often drive past some of these locations, and it isn’t until you jump out and scratch the surface that you realise how much there is to visit on your doorstep.

The Archbishop's Palace next to St Peter and St Paul's Church from across the village green
Charing village green, with Archbishops Palace beyond

Map, guides and more

When you’re nurturing the seed of a road trip, plotting your destinations across a paper map just brings the adventure to life. Whether it’s the touchy-feely aspect of the map or the rustling sound of mastering the art of origami while trying to fold it away, I’m not too sure. Nonetheless, the good old Ordnance Survey guys and gals always come up trumps.

Take a look at the vast array of maps you can choose from.

A few more days out in the South East

Seaside fun at Ramsgate and Hastings

A few days prior to the end of 2019, we squeezed in a visit to the coastal Royal Harbour town of Ramsgate.

It was from here that the ‘Little Ships’ set sail to the Dunkirk evacuations during Operation Dynamo in 1940.

Ramsgate is full of nautical history, it was given the status of Cinque Port in 1483 and became a Limb of Sandwich.

Small sailing boats in Ramsgate’s Marina resting on perfectly still water under a bright blue sky.
Ramsgate Marina

Another of our days out was to the seaside and this time Hastings in East Sussex. It’s been years since I last visited Hastings and the fish and chips didn’t disappoint.
 
Neither did the charming ancient lanes, the Twittens, Rock-a-Nore and the Stade. The black weather-boarded net sheds are so synonymous with Hastings they have become a bit of an attraction in their own.

The view of Hastings beach and seafront from the pier on a bright sunny day
Hastings beach and seafront
One of the market towns that we visited during our North Downs road trip was to the medieval town of Faversham. Home of Britain’s oldest brewer since 1698.
The old brick Oyster Bay House on Standard Quay in Faversham, Kent
Oyster Bay House, Faversham

Faversham is a charming Kent town, full of half-timbered dwellings a magnificent arched Guildhall and Faversham Creek. One of the loveliest spots here is Standard Quay lined with old sailing barges, Victorian warehouses and granaries.
 
This quay is now home to local food producers, antique shops and cafés.

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.

Kent's Strangest Tales Cover

It’s good to talk!

Share with us your memorable moments of 2020 and drop us a comment below.

Our road trip Itineraries

Are you planning a road trip to Croatia or the Netherlands?
2020 has also allowed us more time to compile some of road trip itineraries. Ohh and there are plenty more to come, as road trips are always our favourite type of adventure.
Looking down on numerous pools, nestled in chalk ravine, linked by walkways, as they flow down the valley creating multiple waterfalls.
Plitvice Lakes Natural Park
A couple of years ago we decided to tour Croatia from north to south for two weeks. Most people would have flown into Croatia and hired a car, oh no, not us. We decided to embark on this road trip from the UK.
Two white sailing boats mooring in the small picturesque port of Fosa in Zadar.
The small picturesque port of Fosa in Zadar, Croatia
There are plenty of hints and tips in our Croatian road trip itinerary. Driving through France, Austria, Slovenia, the length of Croatia (and back) and a day trip to Bosnia Herzegovina.

If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used 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 north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

DK Croatia Cover

Our next itinerary was a Cotswolds road trip, we also included Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and a few stops in between.
A watermill on the River Eye in Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds
A watermill in the Cotswolds
This quintessential English road trip was only over five nights. However, we fitted so much in, including a visit to Henley-on-Thames, seven Cotswold villages, the British Motor Museum and Bletchley Park.

There are so many beautiful regions to discover around the UK. From the delightful Kent coast in the southeast to the stunning Highlands of Scotland in the north. The UK is bursting with historical landmarks, castles and palaces.

Grab a copy of the latest DK Eyewitness guide to ensure you don't miss all those incredible sights.

DK Great Britain cover

Heading across the English Channel and we have spring Dutch road trip itinerary. This venture was planned for 9-days, and we visited the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens, Haarlem, Alkmaar and Utrecht.
 
Of course, no Dutch road trip would be the same if you didn’t seek out the impressive, grand windmills and snaking waterways.

Standing on a grassy bank in front of a large, wide, canal at KinderDjik in the Netherlands. On the left side you can see at least 4 windmills with a further windmill on the righthand side.
Kinderdijk in the Netherlands
Keep an eye out for the four Dutch harbour towns that we visit, including Hoorn, Edam, Volendam and Monnickendam.

If you're thinking of heading of to the land of tulips and cheese, then grab this DK Eyewitness guide to help with your planning.

I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

DK The Nethrelands cover

Last, but by no means least of 2020 was out itinerary for a German Christmas road trip. Our plans to visit Germany at Christmas were thrown out of the window this year. However, for you to start planning for 2021, we have put together an 8-day German Christmas Market itinerary.
The illuminated Rathaus in Bremen after the sun has gone down.
The Rathaus in Bremen,'s Marktplatz
Admittedly you can choose to visit just a couple but hopping from one location to another filling up your car with delicious treats along the way, is fun.

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.

DK Germany Cover
See what we discovered when we headed to Düsseldorf, Bremen, Hamburg and Cologne in northwestern Germany.

Our fun post on ‘Truths and Trivia

A lighthearted look into intriguing locations
For a little bit of amusing entertainment, we write some posts under the heading ‘Truths and Trivia’. It’s our way of bringing some lightheartedness to a destination, with fun facts that you may or may not already know.
The lighthouse, built as a folly, between the champagne vines at Verzy, France
The lighthouse at Verzy in the Champagne Region
And with 2020 being the year that cheerfulness is needed, we decided to create a post for Seville, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Iceland, Dubrovnik, the Champagne region of France, Florence and Tallinn. As it is the festive time of year a German Christmas Market Truths and Trivia.

So that's it for 2020

It has been an extraordinary old year, and fingers crossed for 2021. Let’s hope we can squeeze in some more overseas road trip adventures.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

  1. Great annual review, Janis. You continue to inspire me to visit places in South East England I’ve not been to before. I think Faversham and Ramsgate will be next on our list.

    Looks like you and Gary made the best of this sorry excuse of a year.

    1. Author

      Thanks Stefan, we did try and get out and out about when we could, even if we didn’t venture too far. They are two great places to visit, Ramsgate’s main town centre still requires a bit of TLC. However, there are so many historic streets to stroll all-around and the marina is fantastic.
      Faversham has so many gems, especially around the market square and the stroll down Abbey Street to Standard Quay.

      Enjoy.

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