London, Bristol, and the West Country: A Photo Diary

Guess what? This time I have a real excuse for being MIA on the blog. I ran off to the UK with Charles for a little over a week and decided that I was going to actually enjoy myself and not work during that entire time (aside from Instagram coverage which ended up being easier than expected thanks to the UK and all its lovely free wifi hotspots.) Follow this amazing trip with Charles getting sick and me fighting some sort of illness off for a few days and here we are in the present.

I still feel like I'm fighting something off, but I've been taking in lots of vitamin C and trying to get as much sleep as possible...but I couldn't bear to not tell you about my time in the UK before the afterglow wore off.

So, instead of writing about everything, I'll just show you what happened along with a little context. All I can say is that I'm so ready to move to the UK if anyone wants to let me live in their guest house or in a closet. I'm flexible...

Day 1

We arrive!...and take a taxi to our flat in Shoreditch where we are plagued by a sudden exhaustion and can't shake the smell of airplane off our clothes. We walk to the Thames, take it all in that we've made it, stroll by the Tower of London and make our way to a small restaurant where we eat tapas till we can't breathe, head back to our flat and black out.

Sorry. No real photos on day wouldn't want to see our greasy visages anyway...but here's a photo of our awesome flat. (Go, Air BnB!)

Day 2

We awake, refreshed and ready for the day...and thanks to jetlag, we're up relatively early sans alarm. With an entire day of free time ahead of us, we did what any neurotic, OCD couple would do and jam-packed it with as many things as possible.

First, we made our way to the Tate where we took some artistic photos.

Then it was off across Millennium Bridge heading toward St. Paul's,

a quick lunch at a nearby cafe, and a stroll through Postman's Park which is a tiny little park with tiles dedicated to individuals who lost their lives trying to save other people (including someone who was swallowed up by quicksand...who knew there was quicksand in London?!)

Then it was on the tube to get to the British Museum before closing so we could, at the very least, lay our eyes on the Rosetta Stone which is mind-blowing. After an afternoon latte/beer, we headed back to the flat to figure out dinner.

Conveniently, there was a great Indian restaurant about three blocks away called Dishoom and it was delicious. We got a great little table and ate so much we could barely breathe. Then, hoping we would be taken by sleep soon, we headed back to the flat...and then suffered massive jetlag and didn't get to sleep till around 3am. Womp.

Day 3

Possibly my favorite day during our entire stay. We set off early (groggy as ever from a sheer lack of sleep) to the Tower of London which was phenomenal.

Armor, medieval history, the crown jewels (which were mind's criminal to have so many precious stones in one place...criminally dazzling, that is), ravens, handmade poppies in the moat (each one dedicated to a Brit who lost their life in WWI), and a whole lot of history.

It was fascinating and I highly recommend it.

Follow this with a quick lunch with my friend, Laura, and then we were off to Hampstead to enjoy a more suburban London...and upon our arrival we wanted what any proper Brit would want at that time of day: To have tea (or a pint in Charles' case).

We lucked out. Laura had suggested we head to the Holly Bush which was a classic pub. So, that's where we took a load off and re-energized.

And we needed it because then we took a long stroll through Hampstead Heath (think London's Central Park, but located in a slightly more suburban neighborhood.) It was gorgeous. Rolling hills, lush greenery, the start of the leaves changing, happy dogs bounding around together, and even a bird sanctuary lake.

It all made me think of one thing: Early Retirement...which means I really loved it there.

After all of that loveliness, we headed back to Shoreditch to rest up before heading to Leicester Square to have dinner with our lovely friends, Josh and Aniella. We ate, drank, and were merry and then headed back home to fall asleep with stomachs full of fish, chips, and various puddings.

Day 4

This day was particularly special because we were heading to [undisclosed location] to visit the set of Star Wars with our new friend, Steve Howe (yes, the Steve Howe from the band Yes and Asia who Charles and I greatly admire.)

We set off early...(big thanks to Charles for running out to get us lattes before the day started.)

And the rest of the experience was not recorded because we weren't allowed to take photographs. Understandable. All I can say is that it was amazing. A truly geek-tastic day filled with old school sci-fi, legendary actors, and epic guitar heroes.

We ended up grabbing a quiet dinner at Dishoom again because we didn't know where else to go, we were experiencing the tail end of a some sort of storm system, and we were completely exhausted by the time we got back to Shoreditch. Fair enough. Quiet dinner, early night and off to bed.

Day 5

Another early start. This time to head to Paddington Station so we could catch the next train to Bristol.

All I can say is that I adore riding trains. Not the tube (though I think the tube is fantastic and possibly one of the best subterranean public transportation systems ever created), but above ground transport. I love seeing London flit by and fade away and slowly get replaced with rolling green hills, sheep, cows, cottages, and fields.

We made it to Bristol in 2 hours and rented a car...and, lemme tell ya, driving on the left side of the road while being situation on the right side of the car? Poor Charles, having to deal with that...and the roundabouts. Yikes. The 1 km from the Udrive to the hotel was the most stressful 10 minutes of our entire trip.

And then we spent the afternoon walking around town in the cool, grey, drizzly weather (which I completely adored)...AND I purchased my first pair of Doc Martens since the pair I got back in middle school. I'm in love...their not like any docs I've been able to find stateside. Soft leather, comfy, no crazy break-in process. They're perfect. (Insert dreamy sigh here.) 

After stuffing our faces full of more fish and chips, we headed back to the hotel to relax before dinner with our friends, David and May. 

A tasty Italian place with great desserts followed by a drive over to David's awesome new studio...

and then back to the hotel to basically black out from complete exhaustion.

Day 6

Up and at 'em! We're off in our little Corsa rental car after our full English breakfast (Two Words: FRIED TOAST), heading straight for the West Country. The weather was decidedly moody and gloomy, but the landscape was gorgeous and green. I was in and out of sleep while dear Charles made his way down the various highways and roads.

And aside from the mounting stress of realizing just how narrow the country roads are and how foggy it can get and how many random sheep are roaming around (essentially waiting to get hit), the journey wasn't too bad. We arrived safely at our bed & breakfast in Tavistock, Charles a little frazzled, ready to not drive for a little while.

So, we walked. We walked around the town...

we ate a hearty lunch (Parsnip soup! Fresh baked bread & butter! Fish and chips!), we roamed around the moors and took in all the scenery...or, at least, as far as we could see given the thick fog. (We also accidentally came across the Princetown prison which was built in WWII and is one of the creepiest places on earth at dusk on a dark, gloomy, foggy evening.)

And the evening came to a close early since the streets were completely abandoned by 8pm. So, we scurried into an eatery, ate some fish and duck and strolled back to our accommodations for a deep sleep brought on by the open window and the cool, wet air of the countryside.

Day 7

And we were up early again (we literally only had one day during the entire trip where we didn't need an alarm clock...a.k.a we are neurotic over-schedulers...a.k.a we do not know how to relax) to head to Devonshire to go visit Steve at his country home (where YES wrote the Yes Album!!!! GEEKING OUT!!!!!) So, post-hearty breakfast, we were off, bounding through the most amazing countryside.

Aside from nearly being killed by a handful of double-decker buses and lorries (a.k.a trucks) that were blazing at high speeds on 5 foot wide roads flanked by unforgiving stone walls and tree tunnels and being overtaken several times by impatient locals, the experience was pleasant.

Within an hour, we had made it to Steve's lovely farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. (We drove through the forest, forded some streams, crawled up steep, muddy trails and down stony hills to get there. Kudos to our little Corsa.)

The rest of that afternoon was like a dream. Having tea, hanging out in the studio, watching Steve Howe fiddle around on his guitars, having quiche and salad and great conversation, admiring the most epic instrument collection, and even having proper scones and cream before we had to leave. 

If there's one thing I can say about Steve Howe (aside from that he is one of the world's most amazing guitarists) is this: He is one hell of a host.

We floated out of there on a cloud and gabbed the entire way home about what we just experienced. Unbelievable.

We spent the remaining daylight hours poking around the countryside and walking around the moors and the Tors. What a place. The West Country is just devastatingly beautiful.

The night ended with Indian food at a local restaurant and us falling asleep around 10pm.

Day 8

And then it was back to London for us! So, we were up and out by around 9am, got a little lost on the way back to Bristol, poor Charles went through a series of detours since every roundabout in Bristol decided to be under construction that day, making returning the rental a real test of patience, and made it on the train around 1pm.

We got back to Shoreditch around 4pm or so and were so exhausted, we didn't exactly know what to do with ourselves. So, we did what we always do when we don't know what else to do. Stroll.

Through the Shoreditch High Street, on the Tube, to Covent Garden to pop into some shops and have some chips and a pint in a pub, around Charing Cross to see some historic sight, visit the Thames one more time and finally finding a small eatery in a back alley where we had our last British dinner. Fish n' Chips and Shepherd's Pie.

We made our way back to our flat, brokenhearted, knowing that we would be heading home the next day and lamented the way time moves so quickly. We briefly played with the idea of changing our flights and staying a few more days...and then realized our wallets were aching immensely from the ridiculous exchange rate.

Day 9

Farewell to the UK.

I can't even tell you how sad we were.
Sometimes you get a feeling like you belong and I definitely felt something stirring in my soul while I was there. Hopefully, we'll be back again soon.

For now, I'll just bask in the afterglow and search for a great scone recipe. (If anyone has one, please send it my way!) xx!


  1. Oh my goodness, all your pictures are so gorgeous (I'm seriously about to put some on Pinterest)! -insert eyeball heart emoji- ♥ I've only been to London once when I was 16 and it was only for 3 days since it was part of a week-long trip that included stops in Amsterdam and Paris, and this entire post just gave me some crazy wanderlust and an insane craving for tea and scones. *le sigh* AND YOU WENT TO THE SET OF STAR WARS. SO MUCH ENVY. ALL CAPS NECESSARY.

    Love Love,
    Your DSS

    1. Ninaaaaaaa!

      If there's another city I could totally see you in, it's London! (Well, and LA...but that's just me being selfish and wishing you guys would move here.)
      You need to go back and be all British...tea, scones, a stiff upper lip and all that!

      And as for Star, oh's gonna be good. I'm glad you can appreciate the magnitude of geek-o-city that happened on this trip. You are, after all, Le Fancy Geek! <3

      And keep your eyes open for an epic scone recipe...I NEED SCONESSSSSSS.

      Your DSS