Posts filed under day trips

Get Out of Town | Canterbury

The medieval town of Canterbury is filled with cultural history. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about this gorgeous little English town in The Canterbury Tales, although there is no record of him ever actually visiting. When I think of a quintessential town on the English countryside, this place comes to mind. Cobblestone streets, massive stone walls, green grass, and cosy little bookshops. Sometimes there is even a little market set up on the street for fresh fruit and vegetables! And it’s a great day-trip option as the train runs regularly from London Victoria Station and is just under 2 hours.

 I thought I would jot down just a few of my favorite spots in this quaint little country town. 

IMG-4228.JPG

CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL | This cathedral is a highlight of Canterbury and has been one of the most-visited places in the world for ages. It is the house of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I recommend taking a guided tour through the cathedral. In addition to the fee for entrance (£10.50), the cost for the guided tour is £5 more… but let’s be honest: the guided tour makes the visit way better. Otherwise, who is going to point out the Disney stained glass windows to you? (Seriously! There are some!)

IMG-0736.JPG
IMG-0732.JPG
IMG-0733.JPG

DANE JOHN GARDENS | If you’re looking for a space to spread out with little ones, this is a nice spot tucked by the main city walls. With playgrounds, plenty of green space to roam (without the fear of traffic), and even a little maze to play in- this is a great escape in the nice weather. Bonus points for it being free, too.

WILD GOOSE | Enjoy eating small local dishes (think: bubbles & squeak, roasted shallots with goats curd over toasted bread, and lamb cutlets with pea puree) in Canterbury West Train Station alongside the Michelin-recommended restaurant, The Goods Shed. The converted train station has a  fresh update from its Victorian roots that makes the setting bright and lively.

STATUE OF GEOFFREY CHAUCER | This statue of the famous author of The Canterbury Tales is on the corner of High Street and Best Lane.

IMG-4227.JPG

TINY TIM'S TEA ROOM | A quintessential English tea room on St. Margaret Street... this place is perfect for a break after walking around Canterbury. They serve good tea and the biggest scones!

CHARITY SHOPS | Canterbury is full of charity shops with good finds for really cheap. The British Heart Foundation and Emmaus are two of many, but from my personal experience- keep your eyes peeled for some old Burberry trench coats, mismatched tea sets & antique books all priced for next to nothing.

IMG-4226.JPG

THE WALL | Be sure to note the stone wall that trails around Canterbury leftover from it’s medieval days. It is not a bad walk at all and the views of the city below are magical. (Plus, as it sits alongside the train station- it makes for an easy route into town.)

BURGATE BOOKS | This cosy little book shop right next to The Elves and The Shoemaker is a gem. It is so fun to browse through the books by British authors. You’ll be able to find some of your favorite classics here for probably less than £2!



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on April 13, 2018 and filed under england, day trips, get out of town, travel.

Get Out of Town | A Sunday Roast in the Cotswolds

There are some days when the routine of things just makes you feel a bit itchy. Or maybe it’s the appearance of a guest that gives you the motivation to do something a bit beyond ordinary.

Whatever the reason, we felt that urge on Sunday after church. We hopped in the car to head home and decided to hop on the motorway and head out an hour to a tiny pub we love in the Cotswolds.

If you arrive to Beckley (snuggled nearly to Oxford), you’ll find a few streets of dream-like cottages and homes lining its few streets.

Along the main road sits the Abingdon Arms, a pretty pub that was nearly forced to close in 2016. Luckily, the community residents saved it and have turned it into a treasure within the local area.

IMG-5647.JPG
IMG-5644.JPG
IMG-5649.JPG

With a sprawling garden with grassy areas for kids to explore and enjoy in the winter (complete with fairy doors hidden on the bottom of tree trunks), it’s a total win for a day of great weather lounging in the sun.

But on dark weekends in January, I’ll gladly say it’s still worth the trek for its cosy tables piled up with Sunday roasts because their beef roasts really are the best I’ve ever had.

IMG-5650.JPG

My cousin, Austin, is in London for the week so we did our best to set him up for the experience. He imagined it to be like an American pot roast kinda situation walking into the place. Though a roast dinner will vary from what mama made back home (most notably for me, with Yorkshire puddings in lieu of yeast rolls), he likened the afternoon and meal to a warm home-like feel. Though not like my home because I can’t make gravy that good. 

IMG-5646.JPG
IMG-5849.JPG
IMG-5850.JPG

I forgot to take a picture of the massive plate of “veg” that came alongside this one. Buttered peas, roasted parsnips and carrots.... mmm.

Also, look at Edie! She’s grown so much and is the best little girl. I think I must kiss and call her “the sweetest little lamb” approximately a hundred times each day. I’m smitten with her. 

IMG-5851.JPG
IMG-5853.JPG

So is her dad.... which is nice because they basically share the same face.

IMG-5852.JPG

So here you go. One of my favourite little hideaways. I promise if you take a trip out there from London, you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you call ahead to book a table so you aren’t broken-hearted when you arrive.

The Abingdon Arms | High Street, Beckley OX3 9UU

IMG-5645.JPG

Find the rest of my favourite places outside of London on my guide to England here.

Or come along on our getaway to the charming New Forest.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on January 19, 2018 and filed under eat, england, get out of town, day trips.

Bath with Coffee | Mokoko Coffee

Last week, I took a group to Bath for the day. This little town is definitely one of my very favourite day-trips from London. It’s three hours away, so it’s definitely a bit further than I’d like- but if you aren’t up for driving, a train can be an easy way to get there mindlessly.

But I wasn’t going mindlessly, I was planning a class, chatting with students and taking care of a baby on our coach trip there. When we got there, the combination of a long bus trip and early AM start had me sliding into that blur of fatigue. Luckily, our first stop (the Roman baths) was within reach of some coffee. Some might fine coffee, at that. 

IMG-9199.JPG

MOKOKO, BATH

IMG-9198.JPG

This coffee shop sits just in the Abbey courtyard in Bath- giving it prime real-estate by the city’s two largest attractions: The Roman Baths & the Bath Abbey. Mokoko is, originally, a Bristol-bron shop, but has grown into Bath. 

Expect expertly-made coffee… with all the hipster trimmings. An oat-milk flat white, you say? No worries. They’ve got you covered. (I jest, but that was actually my order. Ha! Takes one to know one, I guess.)

IMG-9209.JPG

But what good is cool, delicious coffee if it goes unmatched with something delicious to eat? Good question. Luckily, Mokoko has window(s) full of homemade cakes arranged very alluringly. Try their Hummingbird Cake. It’s just so dang good. Or just go ahead and try them all. You probably won’t regret it.

IMG-9210.JPG
IMG-9197.JPG

But you may regret not snagging one of the picnic tables outside on a sunny day. What a place to sip some coffee, eat some cake, and smooch your baby. Lucky me!

IMG-9201.JPG

MOKOKO | 7 Dorchester St, Bath BA1 1SS, UK

IMG-9196.JPG


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Pack Your Bags | Dunnottar Castle

If you travel up towards Aberdeen, along Scotland’s eastern coast, you’ll have the chance to view one of the most postcard-perfect castles in Great Britain: Dunnottar Castle. While the castle now lies in ruins, it’s easy to see that it’s dramatic location along the rocky coast was once the home to a really special place.

The medieval castle, which was once captured by William Wallace, now lies in ruins. The history of this site runs deep- all the way back to the 3rd century- but today, the only things happening there are casual exploring of old stones and photos being taken along the way.

unnamed-8.jpg

Throughout the centuries, Dunnottar Castle has hosted many famous historical heroes- William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, and the future King Charles II… but it may be most famous for the 8-month stay of a small band of men that held out from Cromwell and saved the Scottish Crown Jewels.

Not only will you get the chance to peek in the partially standing castle rooms to give a glimpse at medieval castle life, but you’ll also be able to get some dramatic views of the coast below. 

The castle opens (in the summer season) at 9am and stays open until 18:00. (Last entry is a 17:30, so make sure you’ve given yourself enough time.) 

I’d give yourself at least 1.5 hours to visit Dunnottar, because the walk down and back up does take a bit longer than you may expect. As you can see, the walk to and from the castle isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires climbing 136 stairs each way… and while you may think that sounds miserable, I can tell you that if I could do it 8 months pregnant alongside a group of German senior citizens, you’ll be fine, too.

While this may be close to Aberdeen, it also makes for an easy day trip from St. Andrews, too. There aren’t many places to eat nearby, by there is a tiny food truck selling decent quality food items (fish & chips, Angus burgers, homemade fishcakes, etc). I’d recommend either packing a picnic, eating there… or heading on to the tiny town of Stonehaven for a picnic on the beach.


Looking for more places to see and stay in Scotland?

 

Find my previous posts here, or look in my Scotland travel guide.


Follow Aspiring Kennedy on Bloglovin


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Been {to} Dover?

Ah... 

nothing like a 7th grade style joke

to kick off another travel post.

In fact, I think it's the best way.

One of the day trips I never get tired of taking

is to the coast of England

to visit Dover.

You may know it for it's famous white cliffs...

but if you are looking for a good day out of London

you'll find that this little town has SO much more to offer

than just gorgeous white cliffs.

When you come,

you can come via train from London.

It's about an hour and some change out there

on the high speed train from St. Pancras

and about 2 if you leave from Victoria.

When you get to the station ("Dover Priory"),

I'd call for a taxi.

I mean, you can walk,

and I know some people do...

but the taxis are cheap.

{Editor's Note: I use Dover Taxi,  No. 898 222}

Last time it was around £6 for a car to take 4 of us

across town and up the cliff to the castle entrance. 

IMO, totally worth it.

So you get to

Dover Castle,

you buy your tickets at the gate

and then you cruise on in.

The castle itself is VERY cool.

It's got a bunch of facilities

and has been restored to feel like

a working castle of the medieval era.

But beyond just the castle,

there is one of my favorite sites:

the

war time tunnels.

As you may know, 

Dover is the closest part of England to France.

In fact, on a clear day you can see the coast...

which in England is super often.

{Editor's Note: I've probably been 5 times and seen it 1.5 times.}

So throughout France/England's history,

it's been a strategic point for the two countries.

During the Napoleonic war, 

they carved tunnels into the cliffs

to spy on France and observe the channel.

During WWI, they dug another layer and added more.

Than in WWII they added a third tunnel level

and it became a full working hospital & military office.

Today, they have restored the tunnels to replicate the hospital of WWII

and to show how the workings of Operation Dynamo

rescuing 300,000 stranded troops from the Germans.

It's super cool.

Then go into the adorable town below,

grab lunch somewhere cozy... and probably some tea & cakes, too.

You should also probably head

to the beach to stick your toes in the English Channel.

And then, hop the train back to London.

It's that easy!

Have you been to Dover?

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Pack Your Bags: Bath, England

I get to head out to Bath a few times a year 

and every single time I go, 

I fall more in love with this little city.

The city is a great mix of Roman history and Georgian architecture.

It offers amazing historical treasures in the Roman Baths & Jane Austen Museum

and a good blend of high-street shopping and quirky market shops.

Ok, so you want to go to Bath?

Good decision.

Here's what you should know:

It's a direct train ride from London to Bath

that will take you an hour and a half.

Leave from London's Paddington station and arrive in Bath Spa.

Once you arrive in Bath, grab a map

or just follow the signs into the city centre, it's easy.

Head to the

Roman Baths.

The

admission price

is £12.25 and includes an audio guide

that will tell you everything you need to know.

{I opt for Bill Bryson's tour or the kid's tour... it's kinda awesome.}

The baths are amazing. 

Honestly, it's one of my favorite places to visit in Europe.

And no, you can't get in the water...

just in case you wondered, if you're anything like me. 

Afterwards, head to the

Raven Pub

for a pie.

When you've finished your pie & mash, you can head to the

Jane Austen Museum

or the

Fashion Museum

to see period clothing like corsets & hoop-skirts.

Before you leave,

you may want to head back to the baths 

and have tea in the famous

Pump Room.

It's gorgeous... 

complete with chandeliers and a string quartet.

Even if you aren't up for splurging on the price of a proper tea,

you should go to the small bar along the side of the room

in front of this little fountain.

There you can get

a glass of water

from the baths to drink.

It's..... interesting. :)

Even though I've only ever day-tripped to Bath, 

I have high hopes of staying there overnight

and partaking in the glorious

sunset-spa experience.

Someday!

Have you been to Bath?

What did you love?

*all images original to Aspiring Kenendy