Weekends away in the UK

For most of my adult working life weekends have just tied in with work – TIGF was a meaningless sentiment – working in Tourism Hospitality for years basically meant that two consecutive days off in a row constitutes a weekend for me. So I now find myself at a loss as to what to do of a weekend now that I have one of those Monday to Friday jobs I keep hearing about.

So I decided to start using the time to take little mini breaks outside of London to explore the real England. Far from the chaos and the noise and the speed of this city, England itself is a totally different place. Mostly unexplored by the British – in fact since living here I’ve probably visited more places in England then a lot of the British people I work with. Namely because it’s actually quite expensive to jump in a car and ride off into the sunset. In fact its much cheaper to board a budget airline and venture into Europe where sunny days are far more guaranteed and prices a lot lower across the board.

Having said that I don’t want anyone reading this to get the wrong impression – even with the relatively low cost of travel to Europe over here – we’re not living a rock star life. The reality of life in London is that you have to make a choice you either a) Save money and don’t go out or do anything interesting in London b) Go out every weekend and some weeknights in London (this is not limited to drinks etc this is any kind of socializing in London. For even those ‘free’ museums people remind you of all over London still cost money to travel to – and if you’re like me as soon as you walk out of your front door you just end up spending money without even meaning to or c) You go on occasional weekends away instead of longer holidays which means that you’ll basically be living off pasta and what I call ‘Povo –  ready steady cook’ which involves emptying out your cupboards and using what’s there to hopefully rustle up something edible – or devising something that could actually be nice once you’ve purchased one extra cheap ingredient.

Unfortunately you can’t have all three choices whilst living here.

It’s no secret that London is an expensive place to  live, and those that come here with a idea that its a base to live while you’re jet setting all over the world all of the time will be sorely disappointed and very poor. Unless of course you have a job that pays really well, it’s just not that easy to ‘have it all’

Having said all this we set out on the road anyway – yes we will be poor when we return to the big city, but we figured we’ll eventually be poor anyway so we may as well enjoy our money while we have some.


I had been to Cornwall before with Rob and loved it – this time I was with an old friend from Sydney in a rented car. Let me tell you that after you drive away in a rented car you’ve signed so much paperwork and been so heavily drilled about insurance that you feel like you’re driving a car made of glass – any scratch or dent could end up costing £1000 in excess.

St Ives: I did not take this picture! Didn't take my camera that day. The water really is that hue though!

Driving away from Gatwick airport was exciting and scary – I have driven in London and the UK before but it’s been a while, so I was sat upright like an OAP peering over the dashboard suspiciously at other cars. As has been the case the past few times I have managed to venture out of London –  I was sick again! A lady at work laughed when I told her I’m always sick here and said that her Australian friend was basically sick for the first 5 years she was here. Something I am starting to believe although I just seem to keep getting the same old thing.

A weekend away in Cornwall was just what the doctor ordered – not before a not so successful stop at Stonehenge. Unfortunately since the last time I visited they have deliberately made it inaccessible from the road so you need to drive a few miles away and catch a bus to the actual site. Outraged at the thought we decided to follow the rebels who seemed to be cutting their way through the paddocks in what ended up being a deceivingly long walk to the stones. We could see them in the distance like a mirage and kept trudging on in the rain and soggy dirt past hoards of cows on our quest. It was the third time I’ve seen Stonehenge and I am still not that impressed at all by it. Perhaps I have a complete lack of imagination as to how ‘wondrous’ these stones are – or perhaps tourism ruins everything and when things become popular they lose their majesty. I don’t really care how the rocks got there – I just wanted to get the obligatory tourist photo and get back on the road.

We made it to Newquay (which is kind of like the tourist centre of Cornwall) just in time to check in to our lovely hotel and watch the sun set over the beach. Cornwall is like something out of a painting – the rugged coastlines with waves crashing against them, small boats moored in tiny seaside villages. It was still very much England but almost like an old world romantic vision of England. The kind that’s so easy to forget when you get weighed down by the everyday stresses of living in London. There’s something comforting about knowing that there’s an oasis that you can still escape to despite everything –  Cornwall is some parts England with whispers of Australia, its not close though – Lands end, another popular town in Cornwall is literally where the land ends.

We spent the rest of the weekend driving to neighboring towns along the coast – had cream tea in St Ives, and enjoyed the pool and sauna back at the hotel and had some beautiful dinners in the hotel restaurant. I came back to London feeling refreshed.

Bath, Oxford and the Yorkshire Dales

My second weekend away was with Rob and my aim was to show him that there is a lot of beauty in this country that he hasn’t seen. As he’s only been to one place outside of London in England.

So I rented a car straight after work on a Friday and the next day we were off on our way to Bath which is a roman built town about 2 hours out of London, again a very picturesque little town where all the buildings are heritage listed. We went to the smallest pub in Bath and had pie and mash and a pint. Unfortunately the weather was not too kind that day – and we decided that rather than walk around in the rain we would jump in the car and head North to Oxford. A place I had never visited but had heard a lot about. An old university town –  Oxford has a lot of charm culminating in beautiful parks and bikes lining the streets, as is the most popular form of transport in the town.

The next morning we were off up to Yorkshire – I knew it would be a long drive but I was determined to see it for myself as I had heard from a friend that it was a must see area of England and it did not disappoint. The Yorkshire dales national park was absolutely stunning –  not far from the famous lakes district the Yorkshire dales had a whole other beauty of it’s own and luckily for us the weather was beautiful too. The paddocks were green for as far as the eye could see all lined by beautiful stoned walls that stretched on and on. Dotted with old farmhouses, pubs and inns and tiny little villages, I would definitely recommend it as a place to visit but only with a car as the national park is huge and you could spend days exploring and hiking to explore it’s natural beauty.

Last but not least, I found myself back in Brighton for a birthday more recently – Brighton is so close to London it can easily be done in a day but still has a charm all on it’s own, and luxury hotels here can get pretty pricey. If you come here I urge you to do the regular stuff like grabbing an ice cream and strolling along the famous pier and braving the seagulls and ordering fish and chips on the beach – but if you ever get a chance you must stay long enough to experience the nightlife here. As the gay capital of England Brighton has amazing nightlife including festivals, theater, cabaret, nightclubs and so much more – as can be seen by the hordes of hens and bucks lining the streets on any given night, there’s something in the air there. There’s also something great about sitting on the shores of Brighton after a great night out and seeing the raucous night dissolve into the family friendly daytime scene that is Brighton during the day. It was in Brighton that Sam and I visited the best bar I have ever been to – I know this because we only had two drinks each and we sang and laughed the night away. I didn’t visit it again this time but only because part of me worried that it just wouldn’t be as perfect as that one night.

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