“They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs… She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already.” —Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
I studied abroad in Bath in the autumn of 2002 and spring of 2003, and it was one of the best years of my life. Since moving to London, I’ve been back several times: with my husband, E, and in-laws; with my friend Shelby; with my friend Emily; and with my parents just a couple weeks ago. It’s a perfect day trip from London. It only takes an hour and a half by train, and Bath is so small and walkable that you don’t need a car there.
For the first May bank holiday weekend of 2018, we rented a car and drove southwest to Dorset, on the Jurassic Coast. The drive took us 4 hours, thanks to all the traffic of everyone else who wanted to get out of the city for the long weekend, and we arrived right at the girls’ bedtime on Friday night.
(Side note: The signs along the way made for interesting reading. Actual names of places in Dorset: Tincleton, Puddletown, Tolpuddle, Grimstone, Puncknowle, and Durdle Door.)
That’s right, last autumn Her Maj had us round for a tour of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Well, she didn’t exactly lead us around herself, but still.
Buckingham Palace State Rooms
When the queen goes to Balmoral Castle, her holiday house in Scotland, from the end of July through September, she opens the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace for touring. We went on the last day it was open, October 1, along with my parents.
Well, Highclere Castle is its real name. Like many American women, I loved the TV show Downton Abbey, and wanted to go visit the place where it was filmed, which is actually a lived-in home owned by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. It’s only open certain days of the year, primarily in July and August (presumably the owners are at their summer estate somewhere), which must be booked in advance.
When my friend Amber was visiting last month, we (plus Baby R) went for a day trip.
Memorial Day Weekend in the States is also a bank holiday weekend here in England, so we had planned a getaway to the English countryside, from Friday to Monday. One of M’s business associates had recommended the Griffin Inn to him as a family- and dog-friendly place to stay. He told us to ask for the room over the pub, so the baby monitor reaches down there. Good tip!