I am missing the English summer. There is something rather charming about the English summer, including the unpredictable showers. It is these unpredictable summers that made me realise why ‘weather’ is always a popular topic for conversation among the English.
Until last year, England had been THE summer getaway place – it was where I could vanish to, switch off from connectivity and lose myself in an ambiance of choice. Over the years of visits, the urban landscape of most cities and towns has undergone a drastic change – as is expected of modernization. But there’s no changing the energy that makes each English city/town so unique!
If you happen to be in England this time of the year, here’s a short list of places that you might want to add to your ‘list of places to visit’. Please note, this is a list compiled from personal experiences.
Famed worldwide for the remains of the grand Roman Baths – probably the reason for the city’s name – the largest city in Somerset County is a living ode to old-world charm and Jane Austen. There’s a lot that this tiny city has to offer.
Things to do: A tour through the Roman Baths; marvel at the best of Georgian architecture as evident in the Royal Crescent; retrace the life of author Jane Austen at a dedicated exhibit; step into the gorgeous Bath Abbey; sip on local brew, watch a show at the Bath Forum, nibble on afternoon tea at the oldest cafe in the city.
Located on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Beer is a village in East Devon district. The highlight of this sleepy village is the beach surrounded by imposing limestone cliffs. Lined with fishermen’s work equipment and supplies for the beach visitor, this beach is a visual delight. Beer provides the perfect settings for a relaxed weekend outing complete with sun, sand and seafood.
Things to do: Enjoy the pebble-filled Beer beach; stroll through the Pecorama; pop into the manmade Beer quarry caves; walk through horticulture hotspot Bicton Garden; revisit your childhood at the Crealy Great Adventure Park.
One of the major cities and second most populated in the United Kingdom, Birmingham is the perfect example of a metropolitan city. Bustling with energy, the city is home to six prominent universities that add to the vibrancy. History, culture, art and science, what you want Birmingham delivers.
Things to do: Explore the Library of Birmingham; visit Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; stroll through canal quarter; catch a show at Symphony Hall or the Hippodrome; walk through the University of Birmingham.
My absolute favourite! A hub of urban activity with pockets for peaceful contemplation, Bristol holds a delight at every turn. With docks that were once teeming with business and now are the hotspots for heritage and culture, Bristol has cemented its position among the most popular tourist destinations in the United Kingdom. And why not? Hot air balloon festival, street art fests, live music along the pier and brilliant food – there’s this and much more in Bristol!
Things to do: Hop on board a waterbus for a spin through the city; gawk at the graffiti; go across the Clifton Suspension Bridge; catch live shows, grab some lip-smacking grub or do both at the Watershed; step into Bristol Cathedral.
Do we even need an introduction to Cambridge? Home to the world-renowned (and revered) University of Cambridge founded in 1209, this city boasts of prominent college buildings, a rather famous hospital and church. A centre for tech-supported industries means the mixed crowd in Cambridge leans more towards the academic and young. The best way to soak in the atmosphere of this city is to take a tour bus for a quick round before hopping on and off at desired destinations.
Things to do: Take a tour of the University of Cambridge; visit Kettle’s Yard, an art gallery housed in a former residence; check out artifacts at The Fitzwilliam Museum; visit King’s College Chapel; check the time at The Corpus Clock.
The capital of the Welsh region, driving into Cardiff is like entering a new world. An indescribable change in the atmosphere is heralded by the presence of Welsh on signboards. In fact, trying to read out the Welsh language signboards is a good way to pass the time as your bus rolls into this historical town.
Things to do: Visit the fantastic Cardiff Castle; explore the nooks and corners of the arcades; take a pick from any of the three (or all!) museums – National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National Museum of History, The Cardiff Story Museum; stroll along Cardiff Bay; picnic at Bute Park.
Cheddar Gorge located near the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England is a network of majestic limestone gorge and caves, synonymous with cheddar cheese (obviously!). Counted among the most beautiful natural places in Britain, this area is also famous for the Cheddar Man – Britain’s oldest whole human skeleton, believed to be over 9000 years old, and found in Gough’s Cave in the year 1903. Cheddar as a whole lives up to the visitors’ idea of a quaint English village. For more about this beautiful village, read ‘Delving into the Depths of Cheddar Gorge’.
Things to do: Walk through Gough’s Cave and Cox’s Cave; hike through Cheddar Gorge; buy cheese (lots of it!)