The next stop on our U.K adventure is Oxford!

After a couple of hours in the car, it was the perfect time to stop and stretch our leg find some afternoon tea, and explore.

Oxford was an absolute must-see for everyone so we stop there between Brighton and the Cotswolds, and although we only spend a few hours there, there was no doubt it is an incredible place.

You can feel the centuries of history all around you, the past of this place is incredibly impressive. DSC_0300DSC_0309

A bit of history:

Oxford is known as the City of Spires because of its stunning Gothic towers and steeples. Most of which belong to the university, which happens to be the oldest in England. The first mention of the town was in 912 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle when it was acknowledged that Edward the Elder held London and Oxford. The University of Oxford’s buildings were mostly built in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. The earliest colleges of Oxford were built in 1249.

Robert D’Oyly, the first Norman governor of Oxford and was responsible for building Oxford Castle, of which all that remains is the That wall enclosed an area of about 95 acres. not much remains of it except for a few small sections. Each college is built around courtyards, with a chapel, hall, library, and walled gardensDSC_0335DSC_0413DSC_0328DSC_0357

The town’s history became the history of the university, there was always bit hostility between town and gown, but it grew to its most violent in 1355 the Massacre of St. Scholastica’s Day.

Students who were drinking in the Swindlestock Tavern at Carfax complained about the quality of the wine. The landlord who happened to be Mayor of Oxford at the time is said to have reacted rudely to their criticism and a student threw a drink at him. Locals came to his defense and had the City Church bell rung to gather the townsmen to arms. the University retaliated by stirring its students to the fray with the bell at the University Church, and battle commenced, with both townsmen and students making good use of their bows and arrows.

The next day around 2,000 men came in from the country to help the town. They broke into University halls, killing scholars, the violence lasted until the next day, 62 scholars were killed. DSC_0296DSC_0300

As it is with so much of history not all of it is pleasant, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting or important to be remembered, and Oxford has definitely had its a fair share of the darker side of things. At the same time, it has been responsible for some of the most important medical discoveries.

In the 13th century Roger Bacon’s conception of science as the experimental and inductive research to Dorothy Hodgkin’s discovery of penicillin during World War II.

It has an incredibly impressive list of students

Wiliam Tyndale, who was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English.

William Penn, who founded Pennsylvania 

Ivy Williams, the first female barrister in the UK

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest,

JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings 

CS Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters

And that’s just a few of the most notable ones, they have been 28 British Prime Ministers, 120 Olympic medal winners, 55 Nobel Prize winners, and over 30 world leaders.

I hope to get back to Oxford in the future, I would love the explore more of the town itself, neighboring countryside and of course Oxford Castle.

It’s been a while coming, but here it is! Part two of my U.K travels!

We left London mid-morning Monday, September 16th, rented a car and headed towards Dover. Dover was a quick stop, the visit Dover castle, and of course the White Cliffs then on to Brighton. This was the first dreary day we had, misty with intermittent rain, leaving me to feel sleepy pretty much all day long.
We arrived in Dover in the afternoon, wondered the castle grounds and walked along a little cliff walk.DSC_0033DSC_0059DSC_0006DSC_0052DSC_0029DSC_0047

Here is some brief history of the castle.

In 1066 after his victory at Hastings, William the Conqueror established defenses with an earthwork and timber-stockaded castle. Since then on Dover Castle was continually garrisoned until 1958.
Henry II remodeled the castle in the 1180s, with the great tower, 83 feet high, 100 feet square with walls nearly 21 feet thick. With three floors of rooms including privet apartments for the King himself.
Within this magnificent showpiece, Henry could welcome and impress important visitors to England.
From the 1740s onwards the medieval banks and ditches were reshaped as the castle was adapted for artillery warfare. Later in the 18th century, when England faced the threat of invasion from Napoleonic France, more additions were made to the castle’s defenses. To house the huge numbers of troops needed to man them, a network of tunnels was dug in from the cliff face for use as barracks.
By 1905 strides in technology made it possible for coastal artillery around the harbor to be controlled from a central Fire Command Post built on the cliff edge.

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After we left the castle we headed out of town and started the drive down to Brighton. We took a long way and stopped for dinner at a sweet little pub about halfway there.

We arrived in Brighton around 9:30 and headed right to our hotel. We stayed at the Queens Hotel, right across from the Brighton Pier. The hotel itself was adequate and comfortable, but with no frills and the breakfast was definitely one you could skip, but the location made up for any of the faults

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Our first morning we walked the Pier the view was lovely, and it was so nice to be by the sea again. We had a bit to eat at the Pusheen x Artbox cafe, which made me so very happy, I did a review of them already so I won’t go into doing many details(here). Everything there was just as adorable as you would imagine and everything we consumed was delicious.

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After that, we continued up the street the Royal Pavillon which was absolutely stunning but seemed out of place in the seaside town.DSC_0157DSC_0121DSC_0161DSC_0164DSC_0139

Here is a brief history of the Royal Brighton Pavillon.

George, Prince of Wales was an extravagant man with an enthusiasm for fashion, the arts, architecture, and lavish living.
George hired architect Henry Holland to transform his Brighton house into a modest villa which became known as the Marine Pavilion.
In 1808 the new stable complex was completed with an impressive lead and glass-domed roof, providing stabling for 62 horses.

In 1811 George was sworn in as Prince Regent, the pavilion was a modest building at the time, not proper for the large social events and entertainment.
George commissioned John Nash in 1815 to begin the transformation from the modest villa into the magnificent oriental palace that we see today.

The royal presence had a huge impact on the prosperity and social expansion of Brighton those the population increased significantly, from about 3,620 residents in 1786 to 40,634 in 1831. The occupancy of the court, George’s guests, members of society and the Royal Household brought invaluable business for local builders and the service industry.
Many of the seafront squares and crescents that still stand today are attributable to the arrival of George IV and the fashionable Regency era.
George became king in 1820, and due to increased responsibilities and poor health, he spent very little time there. On his death in 1830, George was succeeded by his younger brother, William IV.

William IV was a popular and affable king and continued to visit Brighton and stay at the Royal Pavilion. However, the Royal Pavilion was not suitable for a married sovereign and extra room had to be found for Queen Adelaide’s extensive household.
Although William and Adelaide continued to entertain at the Royal Pavilion, it was in a much more informal style than the glamour and extravagance of former decades.
King William IV died in 1837 and was succeeded on the throne by his niece Victoria.
Queen Victoria made her first visit to the Royal Pavilion in 1837 and this gesture of royal approval thrilled the people of Brighton.

As her family grew and the Royal Pavilion failed to provide her with space and privacy she needed, she eventually sold her uncle’s pleasure palace to the town of Brighton. As it was thought the building would be demolished, she ordered all its interior decorations and furniture to be removed for use in other royal homes she later had many of these items returned.

We couldn’t go inside the Pavillon because it was closed for some maintenance, so we wandered the small gardens and neighboring streets. We popped in an out of various shops before heading back to the hotel to change for dinner.

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We had dinner at the lovely Ivy on the Lanes, a lovely, spacious, richly colored, luxe feeling restaurant about a ten-minute walk from the hotel. While I don’t remember what I eat, I remember it was delicious and I have creme brulee for dessert.

The next morning we packed up the car and headed towards Oxford.

Our visit to Dover was to short to get a proper feel for it, but I would definitely be interested in returning someday and spending a little more time.
I would love the go back to Brighton someday and see what else it has to offer, we pretty much stayed in a small section of town. I would like to know like to see it in full swing.

My Travel Journal for Oxford and the Cotswolds will be up very soon, so keep your eyes open for that! You can find my London Highlights post right (Here)

 

London Highlights:

Pusheen Snack Parlour.

Coastal Maine Vacation

Visiting London has been on my bucket list for a long time, and I finally got the chance to visit back in September. For a history fan like me, it was a dream come true. You can sense it in the air, everything this city has seen and been through in its 2,000 years.
My family and I had eight days in the city, a few were spent relaxing but the rest were spent wandering the streets, and seeing the sights.

Our first day in town we stayed in a hotel by the ExCel and didn’t get up to too much.

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On day 2 headed into Covent Garden where we had rented a flat for the rest of the week. Once we had settled in we went out to explore our new surroundings, Seven Dials, and Leicester Square, then had dinner at the Lamb & Flag.
The Lamb & Flag acquired a reputation in the early nineteenth century for staging bare-knuckle prize fights, earning the name ‘The Bucket of Blood,’ the alleyway next to the pub was the scene of an attack on the poet John Dryden in 1679 by thugs hired by the 2nd Earl of Rochester, with whom he had a long-standing dispute. It is also known as Charles Dickens’s favorite pub.
Besides having an interesting history, the food was amazing. We eat there twice and both times we were all very impressed.

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The third day, was just me and my mum, so we chose to stay within walking distance to the flat. We found coffee near the Seven Dials and popped into a few shops. Then Found Neal’s Yard, which is quite a sweet little hidden gem, and then had lunch at the sweetest little French cafe called Chez Antoinette in the Covent Garden Piazza.

 

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The next day my brother, mother and I roamed a bit further, to Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St James Park, White Hall and the Palace of The Guards. By the end of all that, our feet were a bit tired so we Ubered back to the flat.

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Off to Hyde Park! We biked what we could, and walked the rest. Visited Kensington Palace, I loved learning more about Queen Victoria in her youth and seeing where she grew up was fascinating to me. We also stopped and took way to many pictures of The Albert Memorial. The rose gardens, and of course Buckingham Palace. DSC_0007DSC_0003DSC_0382

Friday was just mum and me, we were both feeling a little under the weather and not too adventurist. we made our way to the Covent Garden Piazza, had a late breakfast at Creme De La Crape which was delicious. I just had to check out what London Beauty Week had to offer, I wanted to make it to some the evening events but they had all sold out. We got hand massages from Weleda, and I won a free makeup session at Charlotte Tillbury which was so much fun.
We had sushi delivered to the flat, and spend a relaxing evening in.

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Off to the Tower of London!
What an interesting place! A little dark but historically fascinating, one of our relatives is buried in the chapel there. We spent pretty much the whole day visiting the Tower and of course the Crown Jewels. After that, we had to visit Tower Bridge which is even more fabulous in person.

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Our last full day in London we visited Madame Tussauds which was a blast! I had been to the one in D.C. and enjoyed it so I had to check out the one in London, It was so interesting to see all the historical figures there. We also briefly visited 221 B Baker Street, thought of going to the museum but it was too crowded so we just checked out the gift shop .
And of course, no visit to London would be complete without going to the British Museum!
With limited time, we had to just visit the sections that were of particular interest. For me, it was the Greek and Roman history. Egyptian was also very important, along with the Rosetta Stone, and a few other items that we couldn’t miss.

That brings a close to our London adventures!
This is just a brief overview of everything we did, the highlights, there was so much more we would have loved to see and do but we will have to save it for next time.

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When I discovered that there was a Pusheen cafe I thought it was the cutest thing, and when I discovered that it was right down the street from our hotel in Brighton I know I had to go! I have been a Pusheen fan for quite some time now, the whole idea is simple, sweet, and absolutely precious, just like the cafe.

DSC_0079When I discovered that there was a Pusheen cafe I thought it was the cutest thing, and when I discovered that it was right down the street from our hotel in Brighton I know I had to go! I have been a Pusheen fan for quite some time now, the whole idea is simple, sweet, and absolutely precious, just like the cafe.

DSC_0076DSC_0068DSC_0073DSC_0070The shop was two stories, downstairs was the shop, where they sell everything Pusheen themed you can think of, as well as, gelato. Upstairs is where the cafe is, they serve you ice cream sundaes, waffles, cream tea, coffee, and mocktails.
As soon I stepped in the door, I was met with the cutest little shop I’d ever seen.
My little fangirl heart was fluttering, I had officially found my happy place. Now, I’m not the most excitable of people, but I think if you asked my travel buddies, they would tell you that I was definitely in a rare mood.

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I had their specialty sundae, which is a gray vanilla ice cream in honor of Pusheen herself, and honeycomb ice cream, and a light strawberry sorbet. Topped with a vanilla macaron and little tiny white chocolate ice cream cones. To drink I had the Raspberry Sparkler, which has sparkling elderflower, raspberry, and lemon.DSC_0082DSC_0081DSC_0106DSC_0107

Everything was delicious! The honeycomb ice cream and the Sparkler were definitely highlights though.

This is probably the cutest cafe ever, the treats were marvelous, the staff was loving and welcoming. One of the girls had the cutest watermelon skirt, and one of the others had the best holo sequin sneakers, which instantly caught my attention.
In short, if you get the chance you definitely need to check it out, if Brighton is a little far for you to travel for an ice cream sundae, then you can live vicariously through my photos.

 

Hey everyone!
This has been a long time coming, but I’m finally getting to sharing my photo journal from my family vacation back in June. I have been wanting to write this up from the moment I got home, but somehow it got put on the back burner.

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We arrive in Surry on a Saturday afternoon, about four, explored our rental house, and figured out which rooms would be whose.
The house was so pretty, and couldn’t have been in a more excellent location, right on Union River Bay with its own little stone beach. There were thirteen of us taking up the house for the week, and we were fairly comfortably divided between six bedrooms and five bathrooms.DSC_0006

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Sunday was a very carefree day, with no real plans, just to enjoy each others company and the serene surroundings. We tried to go out on the paddleboard and kayaks, but the wind was too strong so we ended just paddling in place until arms were too tired to do it anymore. So we spent the rest of the day playing ping-pong and reading. Later going out to PugNuts Ice Cream in before dinner.IMG_3570DSC_0029IMG_3567

Monday was less windy so we headed out in on our various flotation devices, (I choose a kayak) and slowly paddled our way up the river into Surry. When we arrived, we docked our boats, and walked up to the street to PugNuts, for round two. Then it was back the house for a relaxing afternoon.

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We took it slow Tuesday morning, some of us when out paddling, and others just hang out at the house reading. later in the afternoon, the whole gang headed out and hiked Blue Hill Mountain, then out to dinner for lobster rolls and fried chicken.

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Wednesday was a peaceful day, we played Monopoly and Toss Up, and just relaxed. Later in the afternoon, we took a tour of Woodlawn House( post coming soon) and went into Elseworth to check out Rooster Bothers. That night my brother and I made dinner for everyone which was very fun! We have never cooked together before and I think we make a great team.

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Thursday was our last full day, so we drove to Deer Isle, and wondered Stoning ton, which may be one of my new favorite coastal towns. We visited Nervous Nellies Jams and Jellies which was definitely an experience.

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We spent must of Friday morning packing up and getting ready to head our separate ways. We meandered our way through Blue Hill, and found some lunch, then made a fairly direct trip towards home.
Our trip went out with a bang, as we ended it with a Gaelic Storm concert.

It was so wonderful to spend some quality time with the family, and I didn’t think I could love Maine anymore, but sure enough, I love even more than before. Getting to meet Gaelic Storm again was so nice, they are the greatest group, they care so much about their fans, and took the time to sign our stuff, and take pictures with us.