Exciting, Enchanting England
Discover the magnificent heritage of this ancient destination.
What’s not to love about England… ancient history, architectural masterpieces, lush landscapes dotted with sheep, dazzling cities, cutting edge art, theatre, fashion, Paddington Bear and a chance of an invite to tea with the Queen at the opulent Buckingham palace.
I was lucky enough to fly off to England on holiday in December 2019 for a wonderful family Christmas, a glorious time of year to visit the country. Who could resist warm cosy pubs, time with loved ones, long walks in grassy fields, the bustling streets of London, eyeing the crown jewels, being captivated by stellar performances and the magical world of Harry Potter?
Landing in the UK on a chilly morning, the sky a swathe of shifting grey, we were whisked away to Buntingford in Hertfordshire, home to bustling towns and verdant garden cities. We spent time catching up with family over delicious meals in warm bistros and pints in pubs. We watched the world pass by from threadbare velvet chairs in the window of a low-ceilinged wine bar surrounded by remnants of a decadent era. I half expected to see a Cabaret performance in the shadowy corner.
We absorbed the quieter way of life and took languorous ambles to graveyards crumbling and sunken in vast fields watched over by a quiet place of worship. We followed the crowds to Audley End, an exquisite Jacobean manor house. The gardens were transformed into an enchanted forest with lights and fairies illuminating pathways and massive trees guarding the estate. After a week it was time to paint the town red and hit London and the bright lights of the big city.
London is a city like no other. Its impressive buildings and ancient, iconic landmarks sit side-by-side with trendy sneaker shops, Covent Garden’s colourful markets, arty glass constructions housing designer wear and fragrant high-end perfumeries. And then there are the dining options. London is a seemingly endless gastronomic table laden with restaurants, fine dining, make-shift fresh fruit bars, bistros, food trucks, cafes, and every kind of shop with biscuits, doughnuts, popcorn, soups and delicious chocolates. Not entirely turning its back on village life, there are beautiful parks, towering green trees lining the streets and the world-famous River Thames, lined with cafes, art museums and creative spaces.
Needing lifetimes to explore and discover this sensational city that is ever-transforming, I opted for only a few attractions. I visited the Tower of London, a massive fortress safeguarding the sparkling crown jewels and terrifying tales of torture and beheadings confined in these walls. Dressed up for the theatre, I was spellbound by the tragic, masterfully executed “Red Shoes” at Sadler’s Wells – a “tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world”. Harry Potter World was an unforgettable experience, taking me into the heart of J.K. Rowling’s books to traipse through the Dursley House, peek into the Knight Bus, hover on the periphery in the Malfoy House and fly a broom in Quidditch. Further immersing myself in the culture, I saw the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Bridge, vintage shops, luxury department stores, the West End and street after street of colourful culture.
Samuel Johnson said: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”, and I cannot agree more. My England holiday was absolutely fabulous. It is a destination I cannot recommend more highly – everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime.
Written by Jenny Black