As you’re beginning to discover, Moo is originally from the land up top and I’m from the land down under, where we both now reside. We’re at an age where getting married and having a wedding is becoming as essential for one to “have” as is a morning cup of coffee and therefore Moo travels back as necessary to partake.
As much as I somewhat revolt the idea of marriage, I do so love the idea of an original wedding and so when the time came back in June 2016 off we went on the QF1 to London to reacquaint Moo with his old university buddies and me with the idea that weddings are ‘fun’ and that England, well it ain’t so bad.
Luckily for me, Moo’s friends and relatives live in some of the most charismatic destinations in England, so I had a really good opportunity to see a diverse mix of suburbs or as they say Shires. Looking at the list below, you will discover quickly that diverse is not the word I would use to describe these places in terms of ethnicity but certainly in the vain of architecture, landscape and historical significance.
Avoiding London for as long as possible (we don’t thoroughly enjoy cities), we hired a car on arrival and drove immediately to Oxford from Heathrow. Here we met with Tom and Josie who were about to be wed. It was nice to meet them in real life before watching them sign their lives away, so to speak. We were surprised to find a cloudless sky, which, after a quick shower and spot of homemade breakfast we, were out and about enjoying the surroundings. Situated perfectly, we left Tom and Josie’s flat to enjoy a spot of punting (like a row boat, but with a stick rather than oars) whilst enjoying a cider and gin. We had lunch on the grass overlooking the tall buildings that surround us and I think for a moment, this building has stood here longer than my country has been colonized. We dawdle through the streets, avoiding large crowded tour groups and I can say without inflation that Oxford City is absolutely gorgeous. I discover that Oxford University used to or still owns land that would enable one to walk from Oxford to Cambridge, if one so wishes.
Where Moo’s dad and step-mother live (also the feature image.) I never really knew what to expect upon arriving and I guess you could say it felt like coming home. The small fishing town ambiance felt quiet yet bustling in it’s own right, neighbourly yet unique and above all knowing good food. Luckily for me at home (for the next 3 days anyway) the Australian flag is raised in my honor. It’s silly to admit, but I felt like a princess in a castle high above the threat of incoming pirates from the English Channel. The little ferry down below hums along at what seems like snail pace. Seafood is the cuisine of choice here and we make a special effort to by pass many small children crab fishing to eat at Dittisham named The Anchor Stone Café we arrive by boat (naturally). The food is fresh, delicious (could have been faster) but the wine list kept us merry and occupied. A peaceful sea town geared for those after a quiet escape.
Exmouth / Devon
Maybe more fittingly I should entitle this destination: The Jurassic Coast. Moo’s mother lives in Exeter and visiting the region made me think of home. The sheer scale of the sea facing sedimentary rock in vibrant sunburnt red and snow pea coloured green. The contrast in colour is captivating and I instantly think of Uluru, NT back home. It’s nice to be back on the sea again, if only for a few days. We walk along the beach and even take a swim. I think the frostbite has just subsided now, now that it’s 2017. We dine on the river Ex and enjoy a few days of seaside relaxation before heading inland again to Stawley, where the wedding of the season will be held. We travel inland to find the hidden reconverted old cider barn. The hedge lined streets remind me of Postman Pat. The wedding day scene opened on rolling green fields and a nervous buzz in the air. It was truly unique for me as I discovered the difference between English weddings and Australian ones. There are quite a few I might add, but let’s talk about that over a glass of sloe gin.
Jaw dropping-ly stunning. Every which way you turn, there is something new to appreciate. I couldn’t highly recommend actually taking a bath here though. It ended up costing around 30 pounds per person to sit in a moderately warm soup of 30 other bodies. The view was lovely, service was fine and I guess something to try once. But not really worth the money if you’re tossing it up and have a reserved amount of time here. Having never witnessed a canal ‘lock’ before, our friendly locals were eager to show them off. We walk along the river bank and as the boys discuss the differences between Australia and Britain (there aren’t that many you know!) I’m enthralled by the differing heights that traveling house boats adjust to on a casual Sunday stroll. I can’t advise Bath more, beautiful buildings, terrifically interesting history and one picturesque place to hang out.
Birmingham, or Sutton Coldfield as it was…
Now! Here was my chance! This was it! Not only to see someone other than an Anglo-Saxon for the first time in a week, but also to try something I’ve been waiting to try for years. Well, not since visiting India itself of course. Finally I’d get the chance to eat legitimate Indian food again! The curries were spot on, the naan delectable and the cutlery traditional (it’s the little things.) Upon meeting Moo’s childhood friends we met one afternoon at The Lodge as a crowd favourite. I almost feel guilty for the couple sitting opposite me, almost. I didn’t really engage in conversation, I was too busy eating with my eyes shut savoring every mouthful. Although I will say this, much to Moo’s disgust, the peshwari naan wasn’t as good as our local back in Aus.
Come to think of it, all we did in Sutton Coldfield was eat! It was tremendous! Oh and I shopped of course! To be ahead of the Aussie summer trends and buy summer clothes at half the price, straight from the fashion-leading source was a bonus. We also ate at: The School House situated on picturesque rolling hills and The Greenhouse with an odd waiter who interrupted our conversation at ever mere moment for no reason what so ever.
The weather was superb throughout… that it until we arrived in London for the final 3 days of our adventure. Well, that summed it up really. You could count on the sunshine, but not for too long. Convincing me once and for all, that England isn’t the place for me, weather-wise.
Overall it was one of those fleeting trips where you just scratch the surface and have exhausted all conversation about your itinerary with new friends each day. It was lovely to see old friends Mikey, Kat, Anna, Jean and Carola. And wonderful to see where Moo grew up and meet those who influenced his upbringing.
Well worth a visit to all of those destinations, enjoy! And don’t forget to order extra peshwari naan!