Two years since visiting England and now it’s time to return for an English summer jaunt.
Italy to the United Kingdom
Depending on the time of year, you may get a great deal, otherwise, it’s a little pricey.
If you can, travel outside Italy’s busy summer months (July-August) but also the Christmas and Easter periods.
So, the best times to book are in January to May or October to November. Sometimes you can also find good deals during the first part of June and also the end of September.
Landing in Stansted
Now always nervous when landing in the UK since my detainment for 6 hours back in 2016, it’s with apprehension I venture down the non-EU Passport Control queue.
Surprisingly, an officer waves me to the EU queue then another to the ePassport Gate as my Australian passport contains a ‘magic’ chip. At the automated self-service passport system, I enter the United Kingdom with ease this time whilst breathing a sigh of relief.
Stansted to Street
The long drive to Street in Somerset typically takes around 4 to 5 hours depending on traffic, time of day, and the number of incidents. Today, the drive takes 5 hours – not a great trip.
If you haven’t heard of the county of Somerset in south-west England, then picture a postcard scenic vision of fluorescent-green undulating hills and Medieval stone architecture.
Street – yes, the name of the village and not a mistake – is the base whilst in England.
On a Thursday morning, the main road in Street bursts with colourful Farmer’s Market stalls where you can indulge in delicious cheeses from around the region, especially from Cheddar.
Strolling through the stalls of local handmade arts and crafts work up a thirst…
…for a visit to the Fondo Lounge to enjoy a coffee and yummy breakfast.
The lounge’s unique decor bursting with memorabilia is inviting – rest a while.
The busy city of Taunton is a quick stop-off to return the one-way airport hire car before catching a bus (£6) back to Street – public transport in the UK is expensive.
Completed in 1508, the St Mary Magdalene church’s 50-metre-tall tower dwarfs many surrounding streets and buildings in Taunton.
Steeped in 1,000 years of military and religious history, it’s only a quick trip today but there’s always time for a street photo or two.
Whilst in Taunton, check out the Ruay Thai Supermarket on 122E Reach, for a fantastic stock of groceries, frozen, and even fresh vegetable and meats – all Thai of course. I’m taking a load back to Italy.
Only an easy walk of a few kilometres from Street lies the tiny quaint village of Walton on the Polden Hills, which is parallel to the Somerset Levels.
One pub (The Royal Oak), a Norman church, and cosy clusters of lovely stone cottages make up this village.
Walton’s peaceful surrounds are a great spot from which to watch gorgeous Somerset sunsets – it also helps that friends live here…
Stopped off at the Haselbury Mill grounds on the way back from West Bay, which is a pleasantly picturesque function centre dotted with wonderful curios.
The occasional but constant reminder is never far in the British psyche.
Intriguing historical buildings adorn the meticulously manicured gardens, which feels as though you’ve been thrown back through a time warp of yesteryear.
The beautifully converted barn is now the weddings and events function centre, which I have to attend in April 2020 for a wedding and can’t wait – so exciting.
Another reason for returning to England is to take part in the fantastic massive 5-day contemporary arts Glastonbury Festival. Running since the day after Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, this music festival is incredible and sees around 200,000 festivalgoers during the 5 days.
Check out my separate post on the festival and what to expect should you be lucky enough to secure a ticket: Glastonbury Festival – Sweltering in 2019!
Somerset Day Trips
When you think there isn’t much more than you can squeeze into a quick English jaunt, then think again…
With the newly christened four-man tent from Glastonbury festival and in need of another get-away, set out on a road and camping trip travelling to Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall – separate posts to come.
Love catching up with friends whilst in the UK, which usually means a drink or two so an overnighter in London sees a quick trip to south-east England’s Maidenhead in Berkshire.
As pretty Maidenhead lies along the south-western bank of the River Thames, it’s a quick drive to the start of a lovely morning stroll along the canal.
The aged Hurley Lock is where the river divides into several channels and for those that enjoy camping, it’s possible to camp at Hurley Lock along Mill Lane. The village of Hurley ‘predates the Norman Conquest’.
Continuing an amble along the calm canal and through a wooded park…
…we reach the charming village of Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
Stansted to Italy
Following the hectic 5-week English summer jaunt, it’s back on the motorway that carves the English countryside for the long drive back to Stansted. Numerous traffic accidents, breakdowns, and of course a diversion thrown in for good measure, sees the drive taking almost 6 long hours.
Stop at the Welcome Break Fleet Services along the M3 motorway if you need a break, but expect to be served expensive coffee (£3+) that isn’t great – seems as though the UK is going down the US route of quantity over quality.
Instead of driving through the night to catch the red-eye morning flight at 06:25 hrs, indulge in an overnight stay at Stansted Airport in the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Quite flash in the modern comfy and cosy room with private bathroom – very clean and quiet.
The £98 per night for a double doesn’t include parking, which costs an extra £12.50 for 24-hours – ouch!
Spotted this cute relic at a restaurant’s entrance.
Luckily, the RyanAir flight from Stansted to Lamezia in Calabria arrives only slightly late – always a bonus.