A summer in Blighty

The remaining six weeks of this years summer break we spent in and around Cambridge. It was a brilliant and busy time with a lot of friends, visitors, experiences, discoveries and trips. In order that nothing is forgotten I made use of my phone pictures.

Something really unique in Cambridge are the Dinky Doors, tiny fairy house styled installations that are spread all over town. Since we know that they are here we don’t walk around the same, always scanning the ground with the hope of a new creation. The doors are made by an unknown local artist duo with the idea “to open doors of hope to other worlds”. I love this unconventional kind of art and can’t wait for the next one. Yes, Cambridge is in every sense worth a visit.

A day trip to London with the goal to show Isabelle, our long time summer guest from Charlotte the most important sights like Tower Bridge, Shakespeare Dom, Big Ben (still wrapped like a Christmas present), House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palast and Piccadilly Circus. Yes, we did it all in one day, we even found time to stroll through the different departments at Selfridges. The founder of the second largest department store in the UK, Harry Gordon Selfridge was one of the first who tried to make shopping a fun adventure and a form of leisure instead of a chore, he transformed the department store into a social and cultural landmark that provided women with a public space in which they could be comfortable and legitimately indulge themselves. Dear husbands, finally you know whom you have to blame for shopping excesses!!

Stratford-upon-Avon was since Leonie’s school project the year before last on our bucket list. Stratford is a charming little medieval market town with lots of timbered houses, a lively High Street and a recreative riverside area. But Leonie’s project wasn’t about this cute village, it was about Mr. William Shakespeare, possibly the most famous writer in the English language and the worlds greatest dramatist. And he’s the best-selling fiction author of all time, estimated 4 billion copies sold: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, The Tempest only to mention a couple of his famous plays. We visited his birthplace, the place he grew up, passed by the theater and had the pleasure to seeing a part of one of his play presented by an amateur theatre group. If I only would have understand something… but impressive how his plays fascinate kids, maybe they understand him better.

Everyone who visits us has to see at least one National Trust, my contribution to the maintenance of natural treasures. NT is an independent charity organization for environment and heritage conservation. With Mindy we visited Ickworth House, a neoclassical country house set in parkland. The house was residence of the Marquess of Bristol. The design concept of the house was based on plans of Italian architect Antonio Aspucci, known for his work at the Villa Borghese in Rome. The house contents several paintings, some 18th century family portraits and the best collection in Britain of fine Georgian silver. The thing I like most while visiting NT houses: in almost every room is a volunteer that can’t wait to share his knowledge of the rooms, the house, the former habitants and all the rumors and gossips.

The best way to see Cambridge is to go on a punt. It’s very relaxing and surprisingly comfortable and while floating down the river Cam, the punter is not only doing the pushing and steering work for you (it can be very busy on the river on a warm and sunny day) he’s also very knowledgeable about the history, the colleges and their illustrious alumni. Newton, Darwin, Prince Charles, Emma Thompson, Stephen Hawking, Freddie Highmore, Sacha Baron Cohen, Florence Nightingale, Dian Fossey and many more. Enough sources for some amusing stories.

I didn’t watch Downton Abbey, a British historical television drama series set in the early 20th but I know now where this series was shot. Highclere Castle is a beautiful medieval palace with lovely gardens in a huge park in Hampshire. The Castle is still home to the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and partly open to the public when the family is otherwise engaged. We didn’t chose the best day for our visit, it was cold, crowded and it rained sideways but the part of the building we walked through and my personal Downton Abbey guide Mindy inspired me to buy a book about the “real” women of Downton Abbey and I can’t wait until the movie will be released in cinemas this September.

One weekend we drove up north to Bishop Auckland to visit friends that we met in the USA, they moved back home this summer and are now quite close to ours again, yep it’s a small world. I focused on our friends and on cricket that weekend (unbelievable but I know now what beamer, batsman, duck, back spin, innings, stumps and wicket are) therefore I can’t really write something meaningful about Bishop Auckland and Durham except comedian Stan Laurel spent his childhood in Bish Vegas and Durham has an impressive Cathedral, a lovely town center and the University is the third-oldest in England. But most important, we spent a lovely weekend up there with great friends and ate one of the best Fish and Chips I ever had. That’s kind of meaningful too, at least for us.

Grantchester is a quaint small village close to Cambridge and its meadows beside the river Cam invite for picnicking, paddle boarding or even a dip in the river. Grantchester is quite famous, Pink Floyd wrote a song about the beautiful meadows and there is this British detective series called Grantchester, with filming for the fifth season just getting underway in this sleepy village. A moody, brooding and moralistic series in a beautiful setting, a handsome actually sexy clergyman who partners up with a gruff, down to earth police inspector an they start to unravel complex crimes. Worth to watch because of the stories, the village and the performance of the main characters, I really like James Norton as priest. Sadly he left the series and changed over to McMafia, a hidden message for the Church?? By the way don’t visit Grantchester during the weekend, it’s packed with tourists likely be on the lookout for the priest…

Right, we really enjoyed our first British summer, there’s always something to grumble about but to be honest the weather was more than okay and yes, our Jillian, we’re not made out of sugar! During the last weekend actually I could make my peace with the British seaside, we spent a lovely day at the beach of Frinton-On-Sea, I even dipped in for a tiny little swim…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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