Travel in 2021: how to make the most of your local area

It is nearing the end of March and the sun is shining, Uni term is finishing, and the vaccine programme is reaching more and more people, meaning thinking about travel in the not-so-distant future is something to dream about again.

Whilst I can’t wait to explore wider, further and deeper into different landscapes, cultures and people, during these past few months I have learned to appreciate where I am now. I am incredibly lucky that my home city and university city are both beautiful, with a mixture of historic architecture, modern urban space and green countryside. When I was able to move back to university it helped me to realise not only how great my hometown is, but also the joy of being somewhere different – familiar but strikingly new. With that in mind I thought I would share a few snaps and tips for exploring and appreciating your local area, whilst travelling abroad is still not possible. 

1.    Look for beauty in the small details

When out on my daily walk, I decided to pay extra close attention to small details, changes in nature, shadows on architecture etc. In doing so, I stumbled across a small heart drawn in the condensation of someone’s window. It was a tiny, simple gesture but it brought a smile to my face, and for the rest of my walk I marvelled in the growing flowers, interesting brickwork and gradually changing landscape. By looking for the beauty in the small details you gain a new perspective, you are forced to focus on the moment and being in the present. It reminds us to take some time out from the stress of everyday life. 

2.    Take a new path when out for a walk

I have a slightly strange obsession with taking new paths, routes and seeking adventure even if it’s small. Even altering your route slightly can create interest and keep your mind more focused. Often when I get home from my walk, I will look at the path on a map and piece together its connections; by doing so I have built up a much stronger mental map of my city. This internal map provides multiple possibilities and when life returns ‘in person’ it allows me to get from A to B via the quickest way possible. 

3.     Revisit all your cities ‘tourist’ spots

This might sound boring and a little confusing – but the essence is this: if you were a tourist to your own city what would you see? What you notice? What would spark your interest? By refreshing your gaze and perspective it can help you to appreciate what your city has to offer that other places don’t. Even if your local area doesn’t have ‘tourist spots’ per say, what makes your space unique? Be grateful for the variety that each new place brings. 

4.     Move through your landscape in a different way

Whilst not many of us have driven in a car much in the past few weeks, I have seen many people walking, running, cycling, skateboarding and even on a scooter! Each of these different forms of transport allows you to see your area at a different pace, reach varying distances with ease and experience different emotions when travelling through the landscape. When walking you can take in more of your surroundings, whilst when cycling you can explore further afield places more easily and feel the meditative motion of turning the pedals and feeling the wind on your face. By varying (if possible) your mode of movement, it allows you to explore your local area from many angles, inviting adventure, calm or excitement depending on the choice you make.

5.    Look up, not down

Last and certainly not least, Put.That.Phone.Away. It has become second nature for us to instantly reach for our phones when there is even a spare second in our day. But with so much of our lives on a screen, taking 30 minutes or an hour out of our day to keep our head up and take in our surroundings is so important for our mental and physical health. I love to walk listening to an audiobook or podcast, and whilst that is still keeping your mind engaged, it still allows you to look up not down – even if you’re lost in your music or story. 

Look up at the sky

Christmas in Cornwall

It might not have been bright sunshine and long days, and it definitely wasn’t warm enough to go swimming in the sea, but reading a book under a blanket listening to the waves wasn’t a bad alternative…

Christmas was brought to us…

We spent a week in the village of Portwrinkle, near Looe overlooking Whitsand Bay. Whilst blessed with great views and walks right on our doorstep, the village is fairly remote due its lack of grocery shop or cafe. Unless you visit to play golf or surf, you have to travel slightly further afield to run everyday errands. That being said, the South West coast path stretches for miles in both directions, meaning there is plenty to explore. Walking away from the golf course, we walked to Downderry, whilst the undulating path makes for a slightly more challenging walk, the views are definitely worth it. Downderry has a long, south facing, sand and shingle beach with rock pools at low tide – perfect for surfing, snorkelling and rock climbing. The village also has a delicious vegetarian (& vegan) cafe called Summthink Different, a seafood restaurant, Blu Plate and a pub called Inn on the Shore.

View from our balcony

Heading left out of our door, we walked through the golf course & MOD firing range (thankfully they weren’t shooting that day!) and towards Tregantle fort and beach. The fort was built as part of Lord Palmerston’s defence surrounding Plymouth to deter the French from attacking naval bases on the Channel coast. The beach just below however, was the highlight. The sun shone and sandy shores stretched for miles – I was in my happy place.

We made a short trip in the car to Looe, a thriving fishing village from as early as 1000BC. It exported local tin, arsenic and granite, and was crucial in local and regional boatbuilding, and records show that Looe provided 20 ships for the siege of Calais in 1347. Unsurprisingly therefore, the harbour is the main attraction and focus of the town, even when grey and a bit rainy the colourful boats make for a picturesque, quaint view.

The harbour’s colour

We had lunch at The Sardine Factory, a Michelin star restaurant – I would highly recommend the crab linguine and of course the fish and chips. The beauty of visiting during offseason means everywhere is quieter but bear in mind some shops and cafes etc will be closed. However, if you come for the views, walks and peace then you’ll be perfectly happy!

The final place of note, is Rame’s Head peninsula: it’s an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is formed of a rocky shoreline punctuated by sandy beaches. The distinctive landmark of Rame Head with its medieval chapel makes for a prominent focus point. The sheltered valley behinds makes for an enclosed setting for the villages of Cawsand and Kingsand. It is locally known as the ‘The Forgotten Corner’, and despite the large car park is a great place to come for a peaceful stay even during peak season.

Rame Head chapel

The wait for our ‘summer’ holiday was most definitely worth it, even if we had to dodge the rain some days! Amidst the uncertainty and social distancing of everyday life, it was refreshing to enjoy a change of scene, pace of life and be together as a family.

Summthink Different image source:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g2162955-d13223834-Reviews-Summink_Different-Downderry_Cornwall_England.html#photos;aggregationId=&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=328318667

The Best Urban Green Spaces In The World

Cities That are Good For The People And The Planet

Today’s cities are increasingly finding ways to be sustainable, economically strong and encourage biodiversity. Not one has truly balanced people, profit, and the planet but many cities around the world are embracing the revitalising effects of green spaces in their urban places.

The Arcadis Index (from design firm Arcadis and the Centre for Economics and Business Research), ranks cities’ success based on social, environmental, and economic factors. They use a large variety of indicators and aim to incorporate a wide cross-section of the world’s urban areas. A city is then scored on each of the three sustainability factors; its overall score is the average of those. Below are the top cities in each category:

As well as socioeconomic indicators of a city’s sustainability for the people and planet, its ability to ensure a high quality of life for the people living there is vital – here are a few of my favourite places that have fused urban development with the natural world:

Paddington Reservoir: Sydney, Australia

The reservoir was a vital source of water for the rapidly growing population in the 19th century, and it funnelled and processed water from the Botany Swamps. It was transformed into a storage facility for motor vehicles, but suffered damage resulting in the roof collapsing. Major restoration was needed to bring the area back to life.

The result? A green oasis. The roof-top features a stunning sunken garden, and vibrant graffiti art has been preserved in the eastern chamber. The site is fused with contemporary and sustainable elements, an amazing blend of old and new. 

Bern: The Swiss Capital

Bern has over 32% green space, the majority of which is made up of forest and woodland that falls within the city’s limits. The old town was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1983, it’s also home to the first Lindt chocolate factory and where Einstein called home. 

Leafy Green Vienna: Austria 

Vienna is home to over 2000 parks and gardens, including the landscaped grounds of ‘The Belvedere’, which gives the feeling of being in Versailles. Alongside the Botanical Garden within the grounds of the University of Vienna, established in 1754, it is filled with over 12,000 types of plants from across the globe. For a wilder landscape, Vienna’s woods span the northwest and southwest of the city, nicknamed the ‘Green Lung’ these forested areas are a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – I mean look at those trees!

Zurich: Switzerland

Zurich is ranked #1 in The Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index and it’s not hard to see why. City life and idyllic nature are closely intertwined, its home mountain the Uetliberg, Lake Zurich and two rivers, the Limmat and Sihl, contribute to the vast natural diversity of the city. 

Hampstead Pergola: London

Commissioned by Lord Leverhulme, who decided that his nearby mansion needed an extravagant terrace to host garden parties and lazy summer nights – Hampstead Pergola was born. Though beautiful, Hampstead Pergola suffered in the aftermath of Leverhulme’s death and the onset of WW2. By the time the City of London took it over in 1989, the place was almost falling apart. Still under restoration, but there is endless natural beauty to be found in the faded glory of the pillars and arches.

Arashiyama, Kyoto: Japan

Arashiyama’s atmosphere is one of relaxation and traditional Japanese heritage, with several small temples scattered along the base of the wooded mountains. What drew me in was the bamboo path, an awe-inspiring walkway through the city’s green bamboo forest.  Arashiyama is also home to the Togetsukyo Bridge, its most well-known, central landmark. 

Walks in South England: a visual tour

All pictures my own, taken on an iPhone 8 and iPhone 11

The New Forest, Hampshire

Burley, Hampshire

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” – Vincent Van Gogh

Sunset above Whitten Pond

Horton, Dorset

“Mother Nature has the power to please, to calm, and to nurture one’s soul” – Anthony Douglas Williams (Inside the Divine Pattern)

It’s me!

Christchurch, Hampshire

Keyhaven-Lymington Nature Reserve
HighCliffe beach

Compton, Dorset

Fontmell Down Nature Reserve
Looking over Shaftesbury

The Isle of Purbeck, Dorset

Looking towards Anvil Point lighthouse

How Christmas is celebrated all over the world

Christmas is traditionally a time for celebration and festivity, and there are many vibrant and unique ways that people all around the globe celebrate Christmas. Christmas for me is all about the people and the joy it brings to so many, uniting everyone in a merry haze. But it can be a difficult time of year for some, for those missing family members or spending Christmas alone. So, a little extra thought for others over the Christmas period should always be had.

Here is a roundup of the most interesting and fun ways people celebrate Christmas all over the world. 

People in the Philippines celebrate Christmas for five months.

Image result for philippines christmas parol
A Parol

Filipinos are known to celebrate the longest Yuletide season in the world, it lasts for almost half a year. Decorations start going up in September and paper lanterns called ‘parols’ are displayed. A large meal on Noche Buena (Christmas eve) is then eaten. Christianity became widely known in the Philippines in the 1500s due to missionaries from Portugal and Spain, so ‘Santa Klaus’ is around to spread the Christmas joy. 

It’s a busy time for KFC in Japan.

Image result for japan christmas kfc

In Japan, Christmas is known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is equivalent to USA/UK’s Valentine’s day and despite not being a national holiday, schools are closed on Christmas day. Perhaps the most unique tradition, is eating KFC and fried chicken on Christmas day, and the traditional Japanese Christmas cake, a sponge with strawberries and whipped cream. 

Stocking and Crackers.

Image result for stockings england christmas

In the UK, we traditionally place stockings over the end of our beds or over the fireplace. A huge Christmas meal is eaten consisting of turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets and tatties. Crackers are also pulled, paper tubes that ‘explode’ with a paper crown and toy inside. 

One Christmas tradition in Poland involves keeping a fish in your bathtub.

Image result for poland christmas fish

Christmas in Poland is celebrated with gift-giving, church services and watching ‘Home Alone’. Carp is usually the main dish of Christmas Eve dinner in Poland, it’s tradition for the lady of the house to keep a live carp in the bath for a few days before Christmas then kill it herself before cooking. The scales the carp are considered good luck.

A fire burns to ward off evil spirits in Greece.

Image result for greek christmas

Greece is a maritime country and the Greeks traditionally decorate boats for Christmas. This custom survives today in seaside towns and islands. Being a primarily Orthodox nation, people often attend midnight church services and observe an Advent fast during the holidays. To keep off the evil spirits, ‘Kallikantzaroi’ a fire burns for the twelve days of Christmas; other traditions include unwrapping gifts brought by Saint Basil and carolling. 

Christmas in the Ukraine is celebrated on January 7th

Image result for christmas ukraine

Like many Orthodox countries, Ukraine uses the Julian calendar for their church festivals. This means Ukrainians celebrate on January 7th rather than December 25th. Their Christmas meal normally has 12 dishes which represent Jesus’ 12 disciples, and traditionally the dishes don’t include any meat, eggs or milk. The main dish is often ‘kutia’ a type of sweet porridge made of wheat. 

Jamaicans enjoy a rum soaked cake.

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Christmas in Jamaica is a time of non-stop celebration, shopping and festivals. Most towns host a Grand Market, a community fair packed with food and music, where a sweet ginger drink called sorrel is had and rum-soaked fruit cake is eaten. 

Expect long holidays in Russia.

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In Russia, home to 39% of the world’s Orthodox Christians, people enjoy more days off over Christmas than any other country in Europe, starting on New Year’s Day and carrying through to Orthodox Christmas day. During the Soviet era, the celebration of Christmas was banned, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 festivities were resumed. 

Christmas in Australia = a barbie on the beach 

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If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas in Australia, you might have to wait until winter weather hits in July. Australians traditionally celebrate Christmas with a lunchtime barbeque on the beach, surrounded by friends and family playing cricket on the beach. 

Kenya’s Christmas is all about family.

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Kenyan families often travel from big cities to smaller villages to make sure the whole family gets together. Many attend midnight church services and indulge in a large Christmas meal, with chapati flat bread called ‘nyama choma’. 

A tour of Winchester

Winchester is a city in the county of Hampshire, on the edge of England’s South Downs National Park, with the river Itchen flowing through the city mill. It’s a city full of history, with Winchester college, one of Europe’s oldest cathedrals, a bustling high street and a good variety of shops and independent coffee shops. The balance of small city and countryside feel, for me makes Winchester one of my favourite cities, and there is plenty to do and explore for all ages – well worth a visit. 

The past still echoes strongly around the flint-flecked walls of this ancient cathedral city. It was the capital of Saxon Kings and a power base of bishops, and its statues and sights evoke two of England’s mightiest myth makers: Alfred the Great and King Arthur. Winchester’s architecture can be clearly seen especially in the college buildings, and the narrow back streets which take you to the centre; the cathedral and the cathedral close, a popular place to sit in the summer. 

So, here are my top recommendations for exploring Winchester:

Copper Joes & Military museums 

  • A hearty café connected with the military museums. Enjoy a large variety of great sandwiches, hot chocolate and ice cream on a hot day. The Rifles, Green Jacket and Horsepower museum are also worth a visit, with an impressive diorama of the Battle of Waterloo

The Stables

  • A small chain of restaurants specialising in pizza and cider, a relaxed chilled out vibe with funky interior and good food, good anytime of the day.

Walk up St. Catherine’s Hill 

  • A walk up St. Catherine’s Hill either up the 333 steps or the shorter, steeper side on the other side of the hill. There is a great panoramic view of the city from the top, and if you’re feeling active, it’s a great hill run and is popular with runners.

Flat Whites

  • A small independent coffee shop and trailer which does the BEST coffee and latte art, if you’re into your coffee then this place is for you. Plus, the staff are super lovely.

Visit the cathedral

  • The cathedral was built in 1079 and was related to William the Conqueror, the impressive crypts and beautiful stained-glass windows are worth a look. If you have time and aren’t afraid of heights and small space, a tower tour is well worth it. The unique viewing of the bell chamber and view of the city from the top of the cathedral is pretty special. The cathedral also runs twilight tours around Christmas time, the city all lit up looks magical. 
  • Just behind the Cathedral at Christmas time is a great Christmas market, full of huts and food stalls. These surround a covered ice rink that stays up until New Year.

The Wykham Arms

  • Arguably the best pub in Winchester, with fab food and located on a beautiful old street, with the old bakery and by the back of the colleges; all makes for a lovely walk back home.

Everyman Cinema

  • Not just your everyday cinema, expect plush armchairs and sofas to cosy up in while you watch a film with a glass of wine and pizza that can be delivered straight to your seat by friendly staff. Plus if you become a member of this small chain of cinemas, a free Green&Blacks chocolate bar! 

Endless Shopping

  • Despite the national death of the high street, Winchester still boasts some of the best high street and independent shops. With Joules, Anthropologie, Waterstones, Primark, The White Company and SpaceNK. If you’re looking for something a bit different, have a peek in Sass&Edge, a wonderful boutique clothes shop. Plus, two beautiful jewellery and gift shops down Parchment street.

Rick Stein

  • Many of you will have heard of Rick Stein before, but the Winchester branch is lovely, right down at the bottom of the high street, you can walk past the river Itchen and ‘The bishop on the Bridge’ pub on your way back.

College walk, Canon street, St. James Lane

  • With no particular aim, these streets are lovely to stroll down and take in the old city walls and architecture. A lovely time to walk is ‘golden hour’, the half an hour ish before sunset, when the sun casts a beautiful hazy golden glow over everything. 
Christmas Market
Cathedral
Near Cathedral close
One of my favourite houses

My Travel Bucket List

Here are my top 5 places I would love to visit and explore, either solo travel or backpacking with a friend. So here it goes…

I have always wanted to visit New Zealand ever since I was little, and my brother and I have tried to persuade my parents endlessly to take us, but it never worked out. The expense of travelling all the way across to the other side of the world, finding a long time period to go and arranging for my dog to taken care of. Yet one day I hope I can find a time to visit – why wouldn’t you want to go when the scenery looks like this?!

My quest to achieve a summer tan, sit by the pool, stroll down little streets and enjoy the amazing food is still ongoing. It is a place many of my friends have holidayed to before and I am jealous every time. But I am hoping I can persuade my boyfriend to take me 😉 ….

Since my first skiing trip when I was 11, I have always wanted to go back with a group of friends and learn to ski properly, and the Swiss Alps seem like the perfect place to go, a great way to explore a new country too.

Fulfilling my Mamma Mia inner superfan and island hopping around Greece on a boat sounds like a perfect summer holiday – even though I may wilt to death due to the heat! But the crystal blue water, classic white buildings & perfect sunsets definitely sound worth it.

Cruising around the Norwegian fjords or hiking the hills, and the cliche of seeing the Northern lights during the winter. Beautiful little fishing towns and glacial valleys would satisfy my love of geography!

York University

I know my University series has been vastly spread out, but York makes the third in my list of choices for next year, with an interesting modern literature course and not too far from home.

A bit about the city: 

The city of York although touristy, albeit we visited on a sunny Saturday, was a good mixture of older streets with history and modern, practical shops and plenty of cafes to hang out in. With the river Ouse, a cathedral, York Minster and Clifford’s tower (York’s castle), it has its fair share of beautiful architecture and views. York is well connected as trains to London Waterloo take roughly 3hrs with only 1 change, it being 215 miles from London. To get down south & back home, it would take me 4hr 30mins on the train. A little painful, but bearable. Driving would take 4hrs and you could even take a flight, which would only take an 1hr! 

The Shambles is an old street in York, England, with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century. This image must be reproduced with the credit ‘VistBritain/Andrew Pickett’

Campus: 

With a population of 208,200, the bustling city centre provides a contrast to the slightly smaller campus university, with approx. 18,000 students. The campus was nice and perfectly adequate, with water and greenery – but consisted mainly of 1960’s concrete slab buildings and the reviews of poor cleaning services and silverfish in rooms was a little off putting. 

Strangely I didn’t take any pictures of the ugly concrete buildings, but here they are in the background

 Nevertheless, the campus’ overall feel was pleasant and I could imagine myself living and working there. Plus being allocated the right college, accommodation would be fine. The campus is a 10/12 minute bus ride from the centre and the buses were running every 7/8 minutes. Alternatively, you own a bike and bike into town, which seemed a popular option with plenty of cycle racks everywhere. So accessibility, tick.

 In comparison to Exeter, which has a brand new campus, circa 2004, the buildings seemed run down but to some of Durham’s older colleges, about par. We had met up with some of our friends who live in York and they said the centre is a wonderful place to be and everyone they know has enjoyed Uni life there. 

So another contender I guess…

Our journey around Canada

4 days ago, I returned from Nova Scotia, Canada where I spent 10 days with my family on a fly-drive holiday around Nova Scotia. The landscape and surroundings were beautiful, yet vast expanses of empty forest and straight highways. The thought of completing a 3 hour drive to meet your friends or go to work seemed a small task, not a huge planned trip – such in Britain. Nevertheless, an interesting, enjoyable and necessary escape from regular routine, school and work.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟙: Arrival

Due to Air Canada’s grounding of the B737 Max Aircraft in April of this year, it meant direct flights to Halifax were extortionately priced and at inconvenient times. So we took a trans-Atlantic flight from Heathrow to Montreal, then to Halifax. A long and exhausting day but finally in Canada.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟚: Halifax

Halifax is Nova Scotia’s capital and so it seemed apt to start our trip where it all centres towards. The cities hilltop citadel, a star-shaped fort designed to protect the city – though never used – is worth a visit. We also hired bikes and rode them around the waterfront and Point Pleasant park, which seemed to be home to Halifax’s keen fitness beans; I mean it would be a lovely place to run. We finished our first and only day in Halifax with a meal at the ‘Wooden Monkey’ a restaurant in downtown, where we battled with the tiredness of travelling, but an enjoyable evening nonetheless.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟛: Saint Andrews

We caught the ferry from Digby and onto to Saint Andrews, New Brunswick. A beautiful waterfront town with galleries, gift shops and restaurants. We ate at the Harbourfront restaurant for dinner and the lobster roll and salmon were favourites. We stayed at the Algonquin resort, a little walk from the town. We were now 2,959 miles from the UK and still further onwards to go.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟜: Saint Andrews

We embarked on a whale watching trip from Saint Andrews, I guess you could say we ticked off a lot of animals from our list: Minky, finback and even humpback whales! Alongside porpoises and seals. After our 2hr excursion on the water in a zodiac (good to reduce my dad’s seasickness tendency), we found lunch in the town and headed back for a rest at the hotel. It was our last night in Saint Andrews and we travel onto Charlottetown, PEI, where its raving reviews suggest its natural beauty.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟝: Charlottetown

Today involved a lot of driving from New Brunswick to PEI, the highlight of the drive had to be the 8 mile bridge connecting the mainland to the island. By this point, we were ready for our final destination & eventually we arrived at ‘The Great George Hotel’ – a little underwhelming, but it would work. A hot and sweaty historic walking tour with the funniest, albeit weirdest, Canadian guide boosted morale and an amazing Italian pizza place for dinner was delish!

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟞: Charlottetown

The perpetual oppressive atmosphere of the looming thunderstorm set the tone for the day. Having explored Charlottetown and exhausted the its shops and beaches, we headed out to the National Park for a walk despite the rain. The high humidity, dampness and thick tree coverage was mosquito heaven and led us to abandon our venture after a very depressing and embarrassing 50 paces… A funny (yet scary!) memory which won’t be forgotten. Our last day in Charlottetown tomorrow and we were ready to move on.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟟: Charlottetown

Today we travelled to Brudenell River and met up with Logan our kayaking instructor for the day. We paddled off through the river and out into the sea, after about 1hr30mins of paddling we stopped for lunch – blueberries, granola, trail mix and olives. The lurking soreness of my shoulders and arms started to kick in, but we made it back to shore. We treated to ourselves to possibly the best dinner of the trip, at ‘The Brickhouse’ where I had Atlantic Salmon and Creme Brûlée – the BEST food after an long day outdoors.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟠: Cape Breton

Another day, another ferry. The grey, wet weather was almost welcomed after the mini heatwave and after a mandatory lunch at Tim Hortons we were soon on the Cabot Trail, the notorious winding road through the hills and stunning views of Cape Breton. The foreboding atmosphere, made me long for home a little, the scale and vastness of Canada is nothing quite like I had seen before. We were staying in the Keltic Lodge – whose views made up for the appalling restaurant (avoid if you can!)

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟡: Cape Breton

We took the liberty of being in a beautiful location to take a little hike around the headland – the photos speak for themselves. We then relaxed and read books in the late afternoon. Heading out to get takeaway pizza for dinner after vowing never to return to the restaurant again! Our last night in Canada and another long drive plus a transatlantic flight back to the sleepy UK.

𝔻𝕒𝕪 𝟙𝟘: London Heathrow

What can you say about long travel days other than UGH. And thank god we’re back and into bed.

Overall our trip to Canada was a successful and enjoyable journey – despite some disappointments & strangely made us all appreciate our home and England much more – which is never a bad thing.

Exeter University

The second in the Uni series…

On Wednesday we visited Exeter, in the glorious sunshine and spring breeze. Before we went, I didn’t really have a plan of what to look out for, or what to expect. But knowing I loved the look of the course and the distance from home was a stone’s throw away compared to Durham, a 6hr slog up the country, I knew I had high expectations. And it didn’t disappoint… 

A bit about the city:

Exeter is a cathedral city in Devon, England, with a population of 129,800. The city is located on the River Exe approximately 36 miles from Plymouth and 65 miles of Bristol. The combination of rolling hills in the countryside, to modern city creates for a good mixture of busy life and escape to the country! 

What gifts it has: beaches, hills, wilderness, astonishing food and hobbity old pubs, medieval gothic townhouses, proper coffee at last!

– Guardian
Cobbled street near the cathedral

Well connected? Trains: to Taunton (28 mins), Exmouth (30 mins), Bristol, Plymouth and Yeovil (all 1 hour). Driving: half an hour to the sea at Exmouth or to the wilds of Dartmoor, 45 mins to Taunton and 90 mins to Bristol. If you wish to visit London, it’s less than a 3-hour train journey or you can fly from the airport to London, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and abroad. 

We arrived in the city late morning and walked through the Guildhall shopping centre to reach the main high street, a slightly tainted and commercial approach to the ‘beautiful campus’ I had read about. Having had a coffee and wandered around for a bit, we found the cathedral and more historic part of town – with the sunshine creating a lovely scene for exploring. I decided to find the quayside for lunch and sitting by the river Exe having lunch in the sun was definitely a highlight.

But I had come to see the university, and we hadn’t been up there yet! So a slow 20 minute walk up the hill, to the Streathem Campus took us through suburbs and old military barracks. The campus itself with library, student union, café etc were all very modern and well laid out but were surrounded by green landscaping and well-maintained paths. There seemed to be a good compromise of modern, practical, up to date buildings and facilities with history and nature. We then explored a little further, finding Holland, Marden and Reed hall, all with beautiful buildings, gardens and views. 

We walked back down the hill towards the city centre and past the Exmouth Central station – having found our bearings and built a mental map of the place, we hit the road and travelled the 2-hour car journey home. 

Reed Hall and gardens

All in all, a very promising and great visit to Exeter – leaving it currently top of my university list, I just need to get the grades now… 

A mini Photo Album

I created a ‘photgraphy’ album on my phone the other day, to remember all the fun trips and memories of the places I have travelled to. Below are some of the best pictures from those trips, compiled into a ‘photo album’ if you will. Literally, a snapshot of the place and atmosphere.


Provence, a region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, is known for its diverse landscapes, from the Southern Alps and Camargue plains to rolling vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and lavender fields.

Anecdote: I remember the hot french sun and being attacked by wasps by the lavender!

Bonnieux is perched on a narrow, steep ridge, rising up from a flat plain to the 12th-century “Eglise Haute ” church at the top with its high, pointed steeple. The village is full of picturesque old streets, fountains, shops and Medieval walls as well as cafés and restaurants.

Behind the village, on the crest of the Luberon Nature Park, the three communes (Bonnieux, Menerbes and Lacoste) and the forest of cedars from the Middle-atlas stretch out over 250 hectares.


Did you know?

  • It is the only city in the world that was awarded a Royal Gold Medal for architecture by Royal Institute of British Architects
  • It is the most visited city in Spain
  • It’s home to the largest football stadium in Europe: Camp Nou
  • It has the most walked down street in Spain, the Portal de l’Àngel. With approximately 3500 walking the street every hour!  

One of my main favourite islands and the largest channel island. Jersey has a mixture of British and French culture. Known for its beaches, cliffside walking trails, valleys and historic castles. It also houses the Jersey War Tunnels complex, which houses documents from during WW1.

 

My Home town: With the medieval Winchester Cathedral, city mill, Great Hall and a high street of shops, cafes and restaurants.

Things to do in Prague:

  • Charles Bridge
  • Prague astronomical clock
  • Old town square
  • Petrin tower
  • National theatre

Summer 2018
Sunrise with Cat Bells in the distance

Cornwall is a county on England’s rugged southwestern tip. It forms a peninsula encompassing wild moorland, sandy beaches and picturesque harbour villages such as Porthleven.

A Nordic island nation, defined by its dramatic landscape with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. With massive glaciers in Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull national parks. With most of the population living in the capital, Reykjavik, which runs on geothermal power, it is smaller than the harbour town of Southampton in the UK!

Durham University

In my research and visits to different universities, I created fact files and notes about the different courses, universities and places themselves. Durham being a collegiate university means there is a lot more to consider, as choosing the right college can greatly determine your first year. So below, I created a college guide (from an outsider perspective) alongside student opinions from online (not sure of the accuracy!) to help me decide if this is the university for me.

A bit about Durham…

Durham is located in the Northeast of England, south of Newcastle upon Tyne but only a short 13-minute train journey away. The River Wear loops around the Romanesque Durham Cathedral and Norman Durham castle. It has a small population of 65,000 approx and the university enrolls 18,000 students approx; making the student population dominant in and around the city. It is built on hills but has several shops, cafes and restaurants which are all located within a small town centre area.

Colleges:

The Bailey:

Hatfield: number 3

  • Hatfield is right in the middle of the Bailey surrounded by other colleges. 
  • Not too far from the main campus & close to town centre. 
  • Has a reputation of ‘posh southerners’ but remains popular.
  • Nice outer buildings and close to river for scenic walks or morning runs! 
  • Shared bathrooms but nice rooms

St Chads: number 6

  • Posh college with frontage right onto the street. 
  • Cool bar, conservatory with a good atmosphere.
  • Its location favours the humanity student 
  • Parallel with cathedral means you’ll hear the cathedral bells all the time!

  

St John’s: number 10

  • Posh, holy & small. 
  • Right onto the street, old-style buildings. 
  • Intimate bar but alright people?

    

St Cuthbert’s Society: number 7

  • Rather non-descript building and exterior 
  • Cosy bar and sitting area 
  • Near a very pretty bridge and river Wear 
  • It offers self-catered flats at Parsons Field

    

University (Castle): number 13

  • Posh Southerners! And Infamous formals.
  • By the cathedral and main quad area – looks appealing but half get shoved in a red brick building outside the castle – mixed reviews.

    

Hill Colleges: 

St Mary’s: number 11

  • Well-kept with garden out front, clean buildings 
  • Close to campus and town without being in it
  • Bad Bar and possibly social activity 

       

Grey: number 2

  • Closest to campus
  • Sits in the middle of the hill close to the Bill Bryson Library and New Inn. 
  • Not as bleak as it sounds … good views

Collingwood: number 1

  • Second largest college
  • Right up the hill!
  • More undergrads than any other. 
  • Spacious bar and canteen area.

        

Van Mildert: number 14

  • Weird layout of buildings with a pond/ ‘lake’ at the back 
  • Large, sporty college with a big bar 
  • Near other hill colleges

       

Trevelyan: number 12

  • Ugly hexagonal buildings
  • Confusing layout and overall grey feeling.
  • Right next to Mildert, Aidans and Mary’s but awkwardly long distance from town

  

St Aidan’s: number 5

Long way up! Up the hill and 84 steps to a grey building! 

Good view from top and large corridors

      

Way up the hill:

Josephine Butler: number 4

  • Well-kept buildings and nice flats/dorms 
  • Only self-catered college
  • 20/30 min walk to town!!
  • Big bar and nice cafe 
  • Friendly people

  

Stephenson: number 8

  • near JB – being re-located.
  • But good rooms with en-suites, spacious kitchen. 
  • Self-catered

John Snow: number 16

  • Location for 2019/20 to be determined
  • Mixed reviews
  • Currently far from campus closer to shops. 
  • Weird buildings

Near the river:

St Hilde and St Bede: number 9

  • Close to town but disconnected from other colleges. 
  • In a pretty setting by the river however.
  • Big buildings but small accommodation. 
  • Good facilities