I spent a small amount of time in Stratford while a friend had a working meeting there, a perfect excuse to go exploring (top tip: get the train into Warwick if coming from London, not to Stratford! It took so much longer than expected/it should have done!). You can't grow up in the Midlands like I did and not be dragged to Stratford numerous times on various school trips into Shakespeare's House, Anne Hathaway's Cottage or to see something put on by the RSC. In fact, the last time I went to Stratford was indeed to see The Winters Tale, which we'd been studying in sixth form. A fair while ago. I hadn't been back since. I'd forgotten how pretty Stratford itself was and couldn't help but think about what it would have been like had Shakespeare not been born there. Would it all have been bulldozed in the 1960s to make way for a concrete shopping centre? Even the local branch of HSBC was Shakespeare related. Stratford is one of those places that tourists from overseas actually bother with that isn't London or Oxford, and as a result you do have to work a bit harder to avoid the tourist traps and the queues. Worth it though.
25 May 2016
21 May 2016
I dropped into Cirencester on my way back from Bath - a visit you can check out here. It was one of the only places I went that weekend where it didn't absolutely wazz it down. In what was probably sods law, it was also the smallest place I went. The Roman capital of the Cotswolds, there's a Roman Amphitheatre which was full of dog walkers and kids throwing themselves down the hills which was worth a visit. Cirencester is a traditional Cotswolds market town and the pretty Cotswold stone buildings are everywhere. I enjoyed getting away from the touristy crowds which are a normal in London and Bath and fully recommend stopping for a cake and a coffee at Jacks (44 Black Jack Street, GL7 2AA)
19 May 2016
I've been on an effort recently to try and improve my photography. As you can see it's not going well, but as I've also been on a mission to try and get out more at weekends and see places, it's been a good excuse to get the camera out and at least try. A little while ago, one of those places to visit was Hampstead - an area of London I haven't spent very much time in before. I didn't realise it had such a villagey feel to it and it's quickly become one of my favourite, if a tad expensive, parts of London to visit.
See: Hampstead Antiques Emporium (12 Heath Street, NW3 6TE). Ramshackle but with more than thirty different dealers it's worth a look around.
Hampstead Community Centre (78 Hampstead High Street, NW3 1RE). Rotating different markets on a Sunday but with usual traders on other days of the week.
Eat: La Creperie de Hampstead (77 Hampstead High Street, NW3 1RE). Utterly ridiculous queues on a weekend for a creperie, but its been around a long time and the crepes are massive and relatively good value for the amount and the choice you get.
Drink: The Flask (14 Flask Walk, NW3 1HE). Has been a pub since 1874 and the inside is something else, as are the tiles on the exterior.
8 May 2016
Going to Abbeville Village always succeeds in making me feel ridiculously poor, house prices in the area have shot up in recent years but there's usually a run down house on each street that clearly didn't keep up pace with the fast moves of gentrification in the area. It's only a short shopping parade, and surprisingly suburban for somewhere which is so close to central London, and it's also pretty well hidden from the manic Clapham Common. Look out for their June fête, their winter fair and a farmers market on Sundays off Bonneville Gardens. Head to Comensal (32 Abbeville Road, SW4 9NG) for good cocktails and Bistro Union (40 Abbeville Road, SW4 9NG) for brunch.
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