I’m a native Brit who now lives in USA, so traveling back to my homeland is always special. My friend Katy and I traveled to England for 12 days and had the best time hitting up London, Bath and Brighton. We saw a variety of terrain, packed in all the sites and took leisurely strolls through my favourite beach town! Here’s my breakdown of what we did each day. Hope you save this to use on your next trip to the best country in the world! 😉
You walk out of the tube station and suddenly you see him … Ben in all his glory! My first priority when we arrived was eating Gregg’s by the Thames! I love this affordable pastry stop, and they just so happened to have one in the Westminster tube station. We grabbed a pasty (yes, I spelled that correctly) and headed straight to see Ben himself. Standing on the bridge overlooking the Houses of Parliament never gets old, especially with pastry in hand. A kind stranger took our photo, so I was really grateful!
Since it was Jubilee week, most famous streets were decked with flags (the most amazing sight!) and the Mall was especially spectacular. I felt very patriotic walking down this iconic road, and to top it all off, Horse Guard’s Parade came through and we got to watch the band play!
Monarchs are buried here, weddings took place here and history is backdropped with Westminster Abbey. This iconic cathedral sits in the middle of Westminster and will really take your breath away.
Can you believe these pelicans?! Their perfectly blush skin tones struck me, and not only that but their boldness in being out in public just made me flat-out laugh! These were such fun creatures to watch in the middle of a historic park! School kids walked by and tried to imitate these pelicans and it was so much fun!
Regent Street really outdid herself. Lined with flags, it’s impossible to resist taking hundreds of pictures! And effervescent New Bond Street was adorned with bunting so cute I sat on a bench for a few minutes to admire it!
It doesn’t get better than people-watching and eating Pret A Manger egg sandwiches on the steps of Trafalgar Square … until it starts raining and you nip inside the National Portrait Gallery 🙂 I loved seeing Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Monet paintings, as well as enjoying the air conditioning and free toilets, ha! There’s no such thing as a free toilet most places in England, so you have to get creative!
We discovered a section of the park purely dedicated to the most illustrious flower garden. We probably spent a good 30-45 minutes smelling all varieties of rose and walking in the rain through lanes of fragrant bushes. Goodness, it was gorgeous! We walked all the way through Hyde Park (including a pit stop to the Albert Memorial, of course) along Piccadilly to catch the tube from Embankment to Tower Hill.
I was most excited about seeing the guillotine, ha! Unfortunately we didn’t see one, but we read about some other gruesome torture mechanisms from centuries ago that will make your stomach churn! The Tower of London tour was super cool reading about history, and seeing a whole suite of crown jewels was jaw-droppingly amazing. And to top it off, we got caught in a hail shower afterward!
I mean … can you blame me?? St. Paul’s is probably my favourite part of London. From the whispering gallery to the intricately-designed dome to the exterior decoration, it’s truly a delight to the eyes. And when you add in three impeccable choirs from across England, it’s enough to make one internally combust! An old roommate, Katy and I went for the 367th choral festival benefitting the clergy trust. The choirs sang two songs I had done in college choir – Coelos Ascendit by Charles Stanford and Praise to the Lord the Almighty. I was giddy listening and singing in my head!!
It’s the best view, in my opinion. I love looking at the Tate Modern, St. Paul’s and sunset over the river. After a tasty pizza at Franco Manca, my friends and I took a few pictures at golden hour. How can a photographer resist?!
As a spontaneous decision, we ventured out to Richmond to visit Kew Gardens on a cold, rainy morning. As the summer girls we are, we made every effort to try and stay inside! The gardens were beautiful, and we especially loved the Botanical Brasserie, a cute indoor cafe with a “VIP room” we confusingly ended up in! I got an elderflower spritz – I love elderflower – and we spent most of the time meandering through conservatories and smelling every rose we could find.
I hardly took any pictures, but the coolest part of the V&A was seeing a cast of the David statue! As the most iconic statue in the world, it was amazing to see it up close (even if it was purely a cast!). After exploring the V&A, we traipsed through Kensington to Covent Garden.
Ahhhhh, the ever-charming Covent Garden showed off her style once again. With bunting draped over every open area possible, we wandered enough to get a taste but not long enough to linger. I love everything Covent Garden offers, but we had to run to our next appointment… However, I did get the chance to hang out with my Instagram friend Amanda! We’ve been internet friends for years and finally got to meet!!
Our final goodbye to London featured Wicked!!! I had never seen it before but had heard allllll the music, so it was incredibly fun watching the story unfold and piecing in the soundtrack!
Maggie Jones’ in Kensington | Pret A Manger on every street corner | Gregg’s anywhere I could find it | Franco Manca by St. Paul’s | Pasta Brown in Covent Garden
Moseying around Covent Garden | A show at The Globe Theatre | The British Museum | Borough Market + Spitalfields Market | Browsing at Harrod’s | Chelsea in Bloom … just to name a few!
“I really believe I shall always be talking of Bath, when I am at home again–I do like it so very much…. Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?” – Jane Austen. I agree, Janey. Bath housed great poets and artists, and now houses a town full of stone architecture with grey roofs. It was a perfectly leisurely day, where we took our time walking through streets and alleyways and parks and soaking it all in. It had been a fast-paced trip!
We did a candy taste test of my childhood sweets; ate Chai Walla Indian street food in the Circus; wandered up to the Royal Crescent; ate tea and scones at Sweet Little Things (the cutest); sipped coffee by the Abbey; found gifts for relatives at little street shops and had a little bus snafu (oops). We topped off the day with pizza and a three-hour drive to my hometown, Brighton!
My hometown! I got to be in Brighton and Hove for six days – such a gift – and two of those were because I tested positive for covid, uh oh! Thankfully my symptoms had died off and I tested negative just two days later and got to fly home. But the two extra days were especially precious, because I was able to wander familiar streets by myself, pop in shops and see a few more people than I would’ve done.
I’m including pictures of my home church, Holland Road, my old house and my Victorian-era elementary school. Such dear places to my heart!
All of that said, we did a good amount of exploring, beach-sitting, fish and chip-eating and moseying. Brighton is such an eclectic, artistic city and definitely worth a visit! The North Laine, The Lanes, The Royal Pavilion, Brighton Palace Pier, St. Anne’s Wells Gardens, Churchill Square (for all your basic shopping needs), Devil’s Dyke and the South Downs are all very unique spots where you get a range of different views!
Just an hour outside of Brighton lie seven sistering white chalk cliffs named the Seven Sisters. They’re a stunning sight to behold, and even better on a long hike and followed up by a jacket potato!
Toad in the hole | Fish and chips | Indian (Unsure what to order? Choose a vegetable biryani, papadum, onion bhaji and chicken tikka masala!) | Yorkshire pudding and roast dinner | Sausages and mash | A chicken bake or pasty | Sausage rolls | Walker’s roast chicken crisps | Full English breakfast | A jacket potato with baked beans
I hoped you loved this little sneak peek into our trip! I love playing tour guide with friends in my homeland, and it’s refreshing getting my accent back for a bit, eating familiar foods and spending time with lifelong friends. The Lord was very kind to our family to have surrounded us with incredible people growing up, and it’s trips like this that make me thankful for that.