Scotland Travel: Five Fantastic Day Trips From Edinburgh

View from the top of the National Wallace Monument by Buffy Martin Tarbox

There are many fantastic sights within an easy reach of Edinburgh. When visiting Great Britain, I usually base myself in a larger city and do day trips to explore more of what Britain has to offer. I don’t dare drive, but the excellent transit system … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Calke Abbey – A Perfectly Preserved Great House On the Decline

Calke_Abbey_01

A few miles from Ticknall in Derbyshire, England there stands a grade-I listed mansion that dates back to 1701. The house was all but forgotten for decades and slid into disrepair at the hands of the owners who couldn’t afford the upkeep of a baroque … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Knole House – The Iconic Home of the Sackville Family

Knole,_Sevenoaks_in_Kent_-_March_2009

Standing ancient and proud with its back turned to the 1,000 acre deer park that separates it from the town of Sevenoaks in West Kent, and indeed the rest of the world, Knole House is one of the largest and most imposing houses in England. Key Facts … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Berkeley Castle – A Medieval Gothic Castle Famed For the Murder of Edward II

Berkeley_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1440403

For anyone who still remembers their English History lessons, Berkeley Castle is a place of horror; a medieval gothic castle famed for being the setting of the grisly murder of Edward II and home to many a ghost with unfinished business. Remarkably, … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Alnwick Castle – An Iconic Castle in Northumberland Made Famous by Harry Potter

Alnwick_Castle_02

Overlooking the lush green meadows of the banks of the River Aln and dominating the small town of Alnwick in Northumberland is the vast medieval fortress of Alnwick Castle. The stark and dramatic exterior of the castle, the site of various battles … [Read more...]

Guest Long Read: Exploring World War II History in The Channel Islands – A Day Trip to Guernsey

IMG_0039

Situated off the French coast of Normandy, Guernsey is one of two Bailiwicks that comprise The Channel Islands; the southernmost islands belonging to the British Isles. While it remains loyal to the British Crown, Guernsey ‘s independent status means … [Read more...]

Guest Long Read: Great British Telly – Following in the Footsteps of Classic British TV

pic1

(Lead image courtesy of Paul Townsend via Flickr) Is it the accents? Is it the dry, sarcastic (and more often than not quick-witted) humour? The fact that it can sometimes be a bit rubbish remains eminently watchable anyway? Whatever it is that … [Read more...]

Great Houses: 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about Blenheim Palace – The Birthplace of Winston Churchill

IMG_8053

One of the only non-Royal, non-episcopal country estates to carry the term “palace”, it was built between 1705 and 1722 and was a tribute to John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough for his victories against the French and Bavarians in the War of … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Kingston Lacy – A Beautiful Italianate Country House in Dorset

KingstonLacy750

Often referred to as an ‘explorer’ and ‘adventurer’, William John Bankes lived his life with such vigour that Byron referred to him as ‘the father of all mischiefs’. Kingston Lacy, a glorious Italianate country house originally built in the 17th … [Read more...]

The Real Downton: 10 Interesting Facts and Figures about Highclere Castle – The Real Downton Abbey – That You Probably Didn’t Know

Highclere_Castle

While another house once stood where Highclere is today, the current house that has become so famous was designed by Sir Charles Barry (one of the architects of the Houses of Parliament) and was constructed from 1839 to 1842. As with many great … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Cliveden House – The House Made Notorious by Political Scandal

Cliveden,_June_2005

Once home to one of the most famous cliques in British history, the ‘Cliveden Set’, Cliveden House is a country mansion that boasts some of the most impressive gardens in the country and a history peppered with political scandal. Built in a mixture … [Read more...]

Great British Gardens: Sissinghurst Castle Garden – The Most Visited Garden in England

Sissinghurst_Gardens_1_(4907255329)

Sissinghurst is a garden in Kent and is the most visited garden in England. It was created in the 1930’s by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicholson. The garden features a series of rooms each with a distinct theme and separated by yew … [Read more...]

Dispatches from England: Following in Paddington Bear’s Shoes In London – A Paddington Tour of London

Paddington-6

Since the movie was released here in the UK in late November, Paddington Bear has been all the rage (at least among young children... the segment of the population I'm most familiar with!) Last month, my family thoroughly enjoyed a trip to the cinema … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Bolsover Castle – A Stunning Castle in Derbyshire That Played a Key Role in the English Civil War

Bolsover_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_205752

Part 12th century medieval palace ruins and part 17th century Elizabethan renaissance mansion, Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire is a unique and internationally important structure. Once home to Cavalier playboy Sir William Cavendish who entertained King … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Holkham Hall – A Stunning Palladian House With a Huge Art Collection in Norfolk

holkhamhallview

With one of the finest private collections of sculpture and paintings in the world, Holkham Hall is an art museum in its own right. An 18th century country house built in an exquisite Palladian style, Holkham Hall is located in the heart of the … [Read more...]

Great British Gardens: Hestercombe – An Iconic Lutyens Lanscape in Somerset

Hestercombe_Gardens_(6097257589)

Hestercombe is a garden in Somerset which features both a 17th century Landscape Garden and an important Edwardian garden by the design team of Edward Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. The garden is a high-point of their partnership and marks the … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Audley End – A Stunning Example of Jacobean Architecture in Essex

AudleyEndHouse

Built to impress a king, Audley End House is a stately home with palatial aspirations and one of Britain’s finest examples of 17th century Jacobean architecture. Thanks to ambitious restoration work carried out in the Victorian era and ongoing … [Read more...]

Great British Houses: Beaulieu Palace House – Home to Britain’s National Motor Museum

Beaulieu_Palace_House3

Beaulieu Palace House, as it is grandly known, is part medieval Cistercian Abbey and part Victorian Gothic revivalist country mansion. Opened up to the public in the 1950s by the famous 3rd Baron Edward Douglas-Scott Montagu, Beaulieu House created … [Read more...]

Guest Long Read: Exploring Gibraltar a Little Piece of Britain in Southern Spain

IMG_0352 edited

What if I told you there was a little patch of England that was sunny more days than cloudy? More warm than rainy? Would you believe that this part of England is home to 230 Barbary Maccau apes? On a clear day you can see Morocco and the Queen hasn’t … [Read more...]