Ain’t it always the way that you don’t explore enough of a country while you live there – but travel far & wide to places across the globe for your Wanderlusting? It somehow feels less exciting to admit that you didn’t hop a flight, but instead took the 16:24 from Waterloo. Nope, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it.
But I think I’m missing out on a lot with my penchant for flights (and also fast depleting the bank balance with expensive flights) so one weekend the girls & I hopped over to Hampshire for a girls weekend away for a Forest retreat (See review/ previous post here). A car is a must have but the friendly chaps at Avis Car Hire in Winchester sorted us out and we were off exploring!
First on the list was Highclere Castle, more famously known as Downton Abbey! Unfortunately the castle & grounds only open at Easter but that doesn’t stop us driving over to see what we could spot. It’s well signposted and easy to follow the signs – the countryside is pure fairytale English, gentle rolling hills and fields of green. But alas, we weren’t able to go too far – a security guard tells us a wedding is on but I personally think that’s a tale they spin to stop over excited Carson spotters from staking out a nearby field! We still manage to see the castle through the trees and for now, that will have to do.
And we’re on to our next stop – this time Jane Austen’s house/museum in neighboring Chawton and this may well be the highlight of the trip for me (Obviously excepting the hot tub, I can’t get past the hot tubs!)
The museum is quite small but for Austen fans like myself, is fascinating. It portrays what Jane’s life would have been like, where she wrote, where she drew inspiration from and you can almost imagine yourself as one of the genteel folk in the early 1800’s. Everything is beautifully preserved, there’s a short film to watch and you can even take a turn at trying on bonnets (No there aren’t any photos, I looked utterly ridiculous!)
Suitably enthralled with our literary experiences, it was time for more cake! Cassandra’s cup cafe directly opposite the museum came highly recommended and although the photo doesn’t do it justice, you can see why! It was possibly one of the cutest kitchest cafes I’ve ever come across and I wanted one of all of the cakes, cupcakes and scones on display but restrained myself to a teacake and a cup of tea. The girls opted for the basic afternoon tea selection of scones & tea and we left very happy indeed (After a large amount of time lingering over our teas, oohing and aaahing at everything around us!)
To make the most of the sunshine hours (and to walk off some of that cake) we put on our wellies and went for a bracing walk through the woods.
Safe to say, I’ll be exploring a lot more of England. Watch this space.