A little less than a month ago, I hopped on a seven hour flight to England. My family and I got the opportunity to tour (by car) a good portion of southern England, and I thought I would share the locations I felt were worth exploring for people (especially those with design interests).
After a long flight (with only a couple hours of sleep), we rented a car and drove from Heathrow Airport to Leeds Castle. This castle was beautiful in terms of landscaping and upkeep. The castle went through many renovations as damage occurred and needs changed. The current version is what it has looked like since the 1920s where it was used mostly for social events. Weddings are hosted on castle grounds and both the exterior and interior are quite elegant.
About a decade ago, my parents took us to the White Cliffs of Dover, and we revisited the coast again this trip. The cliffs are more spectacular in real life than in pictures. Wildflowers and grass coat the top of the cliffs and visitors are free to explore the landscape (and can get as close to the edge as desired – be careful). This is for sure one of my favorite locations in England and reminded me of how breathtaking nature can be.
Punting down the River Cam is an activity I’d never heard of before but is totally worth the experience. Cambridge is a unique location with its 30 colleges, a small town feel (despite being a pretty extensive), and the landscape from the river is again beautiful. We stayed in the cutest mid century styled Air Bnb that really captured the vibe of the city. Punting itself is a challenge the first time you attempt it. We improved ever so slightly on our several hour excursion and got passed up by several professional tour guides. Even so, it was worth all the overhanging trees we ran into.
Mount of Saint Michael was my favorite castle we visited. The structure is built on an island where you can walk to it on a stone path in the mornings, but in the afternoon, when the tide comes in, it can only be accessed via boat rides. The views are remarkable, and the structure works to take advantage of this feature with many windows and terraces.
As we wandered a little north, we drove by the western coast where we had heard several scenes in the show Poldark are filmed. Again, the views were spectacular – perfect for filming. We stopped at a beach where surfing lessons were occurring in order to test the water ourselves.
Tintern Abbey was a last minute decision to see, and it was well worth it. The abbey is settled in a valley among some small mountains, and the ruin is spectacular. There is a lot to explore and imagine from the massive ruins.
Raglan Castle was the most exciting to explore. With little tourists and an extensive layout to explore, this was a fun destination to visit.
The Roman Baths was one of my absolute top favorite sites. While much is ruin, the spring still flows into the bath system as it did many years ago, and the reconstructed models and stories learned from found artifacts are exciting to hear. Despite being in ruin, this site was one of my favorites on the trip.
When we were in London we did a little exploring, and while I don’t know what to call this area, I loved the details and life of it.
The Design Museum in London was of course a favorite of mine. At the time we visited, the museum had a temporary Stanley Kubrick and David Adjaye (the British architect) exhibits. As someone with a little experience in film production, the Stanley Kubrick exhibit was very exciting in addition to being very extensive. Upstairs the museum featured a lot of industrial design products and the evolution of them. There was a model of the Frankfurt Kitchen, some Eames chairs, and several Apple and Brauhn products.
After the Design Museum, we wandered to Sketch in London. Sketch is an expensive restaurant made up of several uniquely designed rooms. It boasts having the most Instagrammed bathroom in London (an image of which I attached below). Due to the pricing of food, we went only for drinks, but the restaurant is worth a visit as it celebrates art and design not only from the interior design standpoint but even down to the menu and hostess’ outfits.
Overall, the trip was fun and exciting for me, and I’m lucky to have opportunities like these. While we did get the opportunity to see incredible sites, inspiration can be found everywhere if you take time to look.