Make a stop:
Windsor / Eton:
It's purely for bragging rights, I'm afraid. They sound like the archetypical English village, but they're not. All posh boys who look down their noses at you and not a single good café could be found for love nor money. By all means, the school in Eton is beautiful, and the two villages are very pictueresque, and Windsor even has an impressive castle, but there's something missing – a quaintness perhaps. That may sound ridiculous, but it simply lacked the charm that I look for in the English country village.
Dartmoor (Princetown & Postbridge):
We drove through this moor on the way back from Cornwall, and although it's not as misty and eerie as Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor has nice scenery. Stopped by two villages; «Princetown» and «Postbridge». The former was built as a village for the staff at Dartmoor Prison, but is mostly uninhabited now. Postbridge isn't really a village; there's an Inn and an old bridge (hence the name).
Stopped here because of the name, because I heard that Kate Bush stays here during the summer, and because I love Blackadder (The Budleigh Salterton Twilight Rest Home For The Terminally Short Of Cash, anyone?). It was a typical Regency sea front-village, although it didn't have a proper promenade. By all means worth a stop, but the nicest Regency-village is Lyme Regis (see below).
Much cuter than B.S, we stayed at the Elizabeth Hotel on the waterfront, where a family room with sea-view set us back £140. The hotel was full of pensioners, and when I say pensioners, I mean Miss Marples galore – lot's or ancient, fluffy haired ladies who could easily have solved a murder or two;) Sidmouth boasts of its shopping area, and even compares itself to London, which is ridiculous. There are shops here, but they're not interesting, that's all. The promenade and the Jurassic rocks are really the only sights worth seeing in this village.
Absolutely beautiful little village. The coastline is Jurassic, so there are lots of fossils to be found here, if you're into that sort of thing. I wish I'd spent the night here instead of in Sidmouth, but it will have to be another time – that's right, I'm coming back here!
This is an absolute must, even if you don't want to pay the ridiculously high entrance fee to the huge castle that dominates this Tudor village. The Duke of something-something still inhabits the castle, which is why he charges a small fortune to enter – someone has to pay for his heating, right? The rest of the village is interesting, though – lots of antique shops and Tudor houses to look at.
Brighton is beautiful. Really, really, beautiful. I can see why so many people like it there, including the Prince Regent George IV (the one who ruled Britain pre-Victoria, and famously portrayed by Hugh Laurie in «Blackadder»), who built the eccentric Royal Pavilion. Situated in the middle of the city, this palace is decorated in the Chineois style, and is marvelously decadent in every way. I've never seen anything like it, and probably never will.
- The shopping area is known as «The Lanes», where there's a couple of nice restaurants and a Starbucks. The Café Rouge is nice if you're in the mood for French. Also, remember to take Afternoon Tea (£20 per person) at the Grand Hotel if you get the chance. The luxurious Olde Worlde-feeling you get when sipping proper Earl Grey and eating cucumber sandwiches is life-changing!
- And of course, let's not forget the Pier. The whole pier is one big amusement park, where there are roller coasters, houses of horror, and pinball machines. There are also several restaurants and pubs, if you need a break while the children are sailing along in the teacups-ride. The only negative thing about this pier is that it's too noisy just to have a relaxing stroll, but you can always have a walk on the promenade, if you're desperate for some quiet time.
Made famous as the battle field where Harald Godwinson lost his life and throne to William the Conqueror in 1066. After the battle, William the Bastard (as he was known before he became king) built an abbey to commemorate the battle, and the village flourished. The village is very commercial, and as usual, the National Trust charges high entrance fees to have a look at the battle grounds and the ruins of the abbey. The historical significance is purely what makes this village with a stop.
The infamous battlefield where William became the conqueror.
How on earth do you pronounce this? «Sloff», «Slow», what? Close to London, but that's pretty much it. I had trouble finding anything to say about this place at all, at best it's non-descript. Stayed at one of those chain-hotels; the Copthorne Hotel, where you get a family room for £74.
Why stop here, you ask? Really, it was en route to Cornwall, and Poirot had been there in «The A.B.C Murders» (Mrs. Ascher get's murdered in Andover, remember?), so I wanted to stop there. No trace of Poirot, though. Slightly better than Slough, but not much. A small shopping centre and an attempt of a town square. Boring boring boring.
Hayling Island apparently used to be the place to be in Victorian times, but now the only ones going there are staycationers with caravans andtrack suits. During the summer, there's a carnival there, with cheap but exhausted rides.
What a dump! I was really dissapointed, actually, because this used to be such a historically important place! This was where Nelson set off to fight, where the deportation ships to Australia sailed from, where Charles Dickens was born, and where Henry VII built an impressive fortress that still stands today. But sadly, apart from the fortress, nothing is left of that old grande spirit. The city appears grey and bland, to say the least.
Lonley Planet said this was the best Tudor village in England, but I was really dissapointed. Sad and grey was the impression I got.
Next post will be on the Faroe Islands, after that I fear this blog will be very Wales-centred for some time. But there's lots to see there, so I'm looking forward to share it on Very Special Places!