Weekend Getaway

Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
Trip End Sep 17, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Friday, April 29, 2011

Hi All,

I'm the first person to admit that I never saw the UK as a great tourist destination. When I moved to the UK I saw it more as the gateway to Europe and a place that allowed me to work and speak my own language and still travel.

Four years later and I’m still living in the UK. Something that when I started my journey I never envisioned so I figured that it was about time I stopped to see the beautiful city I live in and the surrounding areas.

The royal wedding gave me the perfect opportunity to get out and about. 2 bank holidays on top of the weekend meant 4 days of freedom. I spent the Friday roaming around Oxford where I live as unlike me Laurent had to work that day. To set the scene Laurent and I have a small apartment city centre. It literally couldnt get more central as it is only a 2 minute walk to the high street. I look out my kitchen window and I can see the back of the Oxford castle.

The town is really quaint, the main shopping road is always swamped with tourists but the minute you step off the road it takes on a whole new feeling. I love the cobbled roads and buildings older than my whole country, its history come to life. I have two favourite buildings in all of Oxford, the first is the Radcliffe Camera, the round building stands amid a green field and just seems to grand and elegant. It’s part of the old Bodleian Library.

My second building is just across from the Old Oxford University Press-Home of the Oxford English Dictionary and world’s largest producer of the King James Bible. It’s a bar called Frevd in an old decommissioned Greek Orthodox church. Its old and falling to bits but with candlelight and stained glass windows its just beautiful and if I ever got married it would be high on my list of venues, its old worldly and romantic and eerie all in one.

I love all the old colleges and in particular Christchurch college. It’s one of the oldest in Oxford and is set between a meadow and the river. It happens to be home to dining room in the Harry Potter movies and more recently Masterchef. Every weekend there are hundreds of tourists queuing to get in to take a peek  not to see the old building but to see where Harry Potter Once Ate.

The meadow was full to the brim of happy picnickers and I must admit I sat down for a wee rest and woke up three hours later. On the river you see the athletes practising their rowing and it just seems so picturesque. To me the town is most similar to Christchurch back home….or at least the way it was pre earthquake.

After my doze in the park I returned home to meet Laurent and prepare for the first and hopefully not the last barbeque of the season. When the sun shines England is beautiful and Oxford in particular a million miles away from the concrete jungle that is London.

The following day Laurent and I packed the car and headed for a road trip down south to stay in Southampton for a few nights, it was where Laurent studied at University so gave me a taste of what his life was like while studying.

 The town to me was like any other, it had a large mall with the usual overzealous teenagers but what it did have was some old ruins, a giant Freddie Mercury statue and several memorials for the Titanic which set sail from Southampton many moons ago. Laurent’s interesting fact of the day was that Kanye West was from Southampton but I’m not so sure of that, isn’t her American? We spent the evening having a few drinks and dinner on the trendy Oxford St home to independent restaurants, pubs and bars. It had some dodgy streets on the walk home back to the hotel but honestly what city doesn’t?

The next day we figured we should make the most of the warm weather and head to nearby Bournemouth for a taste of the traditional British seaside resort. It was really quaint with the little coloured changing cabins for hire, stripy deck chairs and a sea of wind breakers and while the atmosphere was supercharged with excited youngsters it just made me appreciate how lucky I am coming from a country where you can have a stunning beach just to yourself and not have to share it with a  thousand others…

We left the beach much earlier than expected and headed to the quaint New Forrest village of Lyndhurst, gosh was it cute. Building switch thatched roofs and narrow roads and parks with roaming wild horses. It was absolutely beautiful and when I felt the pull to dive into a couple of the local antique shops to see what treasures hid inside I realises how much Iike my mother I am.

Instead of retiring to Southampton we headed to Portsmouth for dinner and again had a few drinks while soaking in  the view at Gunquay wharf. The large Spinnaker was amazing to watch change colours after the sun has set. On our last day we decided to head to the Isle of White just a short 50 minute ferry ride away.

We had good weather for our first couple of hours but unfortunately it was quick to disappear. We visited a local Winery and had a tasting before heading the garlic farm to see the largest garlic grown outside America. Needless to say this activity was my choice seeing Laurent hates the stuff but I had a ball. We headed to the famous needles to take some photos. I fast came to realise that despite the island being beautiful when sun was shining that this could very quickly become isolating and could potentially be a bit depressing. It’s funny how the weather can change the atmosphere of things so quickly.

After our ferry ride it was time to head back home and prepare for the next day at work. Our mini break was definitely just what the doctor ordered and I’m pleased I have made the effort to start discovering what’s on my back doorstep, after all I have the chance to visit places that people back home dream of.

It’s only three weeks until my next weekend trip away to Geneva….watch this space!
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