Highlights of Our Trip to England

Highlights of England 2015

There’s always so much to catch up on when you get home from a trip. But me, Max and Kiara had out best trip ever to England so I wanted to share the highlights here.

That way you can see what we got up to and also maybe think about what you’d do on a trip to England.

1. Family

First and foremost this trip was about spending time with Mum and celebrating her 80th birthday. We did a good job of that and spent an action-packed 10 days with her. I think we wore her out.


Mum treated me, my brother and sister and families to three nights at Centre Parcs in Longleat Forest where a good time was had by all. Especially Mum who loved having six out of her eight grandchildren together.

Sadly my oldest lad and niece weren’t able to join us as they are in their last year of school and need to study hard.

centre parcs family

On the right in pink trousers is our old family friend Dot who took me on Great British holidays from the age of two! She looks as if she’s asleep in the photo but I think she’s just laughing along with everyone else about my selfie stick.

We also stayed with my brother Tom (the bearded one) and his family. Here’s my sister-in-law Catriona with their new puppy. A gigantic Golden Doodle (or something like that) called Archie who we got to take on lovely long walks through the countryside.


We had a lovely time visiting my godmother Helen, playing croquet and eating a three course lunch finished off with a traditional British summer pudding and a chocolate roulade. Yum!


Auntie Chrissie and Uncle Tim (on the right) came to visit us for lunch with my other godmother Rona and her husband Peter) on the left.

It’s so lovely to see them all again although I was sad not to be able to see my Auntie Prue who was ill.


2. Friends

When I go back to England it’s always to visit my Mum and brother. Then by the time I add in all the relatives I hardly have time to see my own friends. As a consequence some of my friendships have been sadly neglected and some friends haven’t been seen for 20 years.

But I keep reading that one of people’s biggest regrets as they age is losing touch with old friends. So I was determined to remedy the situation and at least catch up with a few old friends I haven’t seen for ages.

I caught up with my old school friend Anne-Marie (who requested no photos) and my old university friend Fiona who I always see and is pictured below.

But I also made an effort to visit my old Voluntary Services Overseas teacher friends from Zimbabwe, Jackie and Steve. Here we are in Zimbabwe in 1992:

zim friends 1992

And here we are in London in 2015 looking much more grown up but still fresh-faced and fun-loving:

zim friends

I was also very excited to catch up with my old friend Teresa. We had so many mad adventures together in Costa Rica. I can’t believe that was seven years ago.

I got to meet her teeny tiny children and enjoy Waddeston Manor gardens in Teresa’s company which was very special. We almost floated away with excitement.

teresa jumping

3. Ancient buildings and architecture

Apart from Waddeston Manor (where Teresa out-performed me with her elegant,extravagant jumping style) we also visited Rockingham Castle (because you have to see a castle when in England and we already visited my favourite Warwick Castle on our last trip) and Longleat Hall.

me jumping

rockingham castle hedge

rockingham castle


4. The countryside

I’m a country bumpkin and the British countryside is my home. I love it. This is a typical country scene in Leicestershire where I grew up. It’s just so green, rural and unspoilt. It still surprises me.


5. The canals

Canals are great for boat trips and walking. We visited Foxton Locks as we always do.

foxton locks lock

And I simply had to pose on Vagabond.

foxton locks

I enjoyed lots of lovely walks and runs along the Grand Union Canal which passes close to my mum’s house and goes for 137 miles (220 km) all the way from Birmingham to London. It’s an amazing feat of engineering and a peaceful place to be.

grand union canal

6. Outdoor entertainment

We went to see a musical (Singing in the Rain) at Kibworth Hall near my mum’s house. It was very fancy and lots of fun. My kids had never seen a professional musical performance before.


7. The Space Museum in Leicester

An easy outing with kids and a cool place to spend the day on a British summer heatwave.

space museum

8. Cute overload

We went to the petting farm to snuggle baby bunnies.

petting farm

We had an owl encounter at Centre Parcs.

centre parcs owl

We drove through the monkey enclosure at Longleat Safari Park. The monkey roof surfing area was a lot of fun although the monkeys do trash your car.

longleat monkey

But the lemur walkthrough area at Longleat was the best. Look at this precious lemur sitting cross-legged in the grass!

longleat lemur

9. Road trip

We all packed ourselves in Mum’s car for the trip to Longleat. We got lost, mum shouted at all the lorry drivers and Dot had to squash in the back with me and Kiara because Max is bigger than all of us.

car journey

10. A day in London

My dear adventurous friend Fiona took us to London for the day. We took the kids on a cheap tour riding real red double decker London buses (not the tourist ones). Here we are eating our packed lunch on the bus.

london bus

We saw all the sights including Westminster Cathedral and Big Ben.
london big ben

And we found the cheapest boat trip in London from The Tate to St Katherine’s Dock and back to Westminster.

We we super lucky that the Tower of London Bridge opened just as we were passing through. You can’t buy that experience!

london tower bridge
11. Encounters with English Eccentrics

As well as friends, family and the countryside one of the things I love best about England is the delightfully eccentric people.

There was a festival at my mum’s village where all kinds of people showed off their offbeat hobbies and unusual treasures. The English eccentrics included a man with a hovercraft, a group of Swiss Bernese dog owners who harness their dogs to carts and the gentlemen pictured below playing with their radio controlled boats.

I have never come across such an extraordinary assortment of hobbies or people who were so passionate about them.

English eccentrics get right into anything and are totally unabashed about their offbeat interests. They’re barking mad in a good way.

radio boats
So that’s the best of Britain in my book.

What would you enjoy on a trip to England?

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  1. Teresa August 18, 2015 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness I laughed so hard seeing our jumping skills put to print! I may frame them together to make me smile ?
    Such an interesting blog Annabel. You should do more on lovely England so you can come back again and because that piece you’ve just written is truly delightful. It makes ME want to visit England haha

  2. Annabel Candy August 18, 2015 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Hi Teresa,

    I want to come back to get jumping lessons from you. You make it look so effortless and elegant :)

  3. Barbara Hammond August 19, 2015 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Now, that’s an amazing travel log! Everyone looks to be having a grand old time, which is exactly what vacation is about. Your mum looks fabulous for 80! Good genes.
    I love your adventures.

    • Annabel Candy August 21, 2015 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara,

      Indeed, Mum seems to be getting better looking the older she gets!

  4. Ken August 19, 2015 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    Hey Annabel, that’s really amazing.

    Thanks for sharing your awesome pics with us. I love the canal pictures, as am a nature lover.

    And glad to see your mum, hope she will have more such birthdays in coming years.

    • Annabel Candy August 21, 2015 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Hi Ken,

      The canals are a lovely peaceful place to walk in England.

  5. Seana August 20, 2015 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Hahahaha, what a laugh to travel around with you. I so agree that the green of the countryside and its lushness is a shock to the system every visit. I’ve heard a lot about Centre Parcs but have never been there. Sounds fun and very easy – always a good thing when lots of people involved.

    • Annabel Candy August 21, 2015 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Hi Seana,

      Yes, Center Parcs was perfect for a family reunion!

  6. Mary York August 22, 2015 at 3:36 am - Reply

    I love the pictures! Really beautiful places!

  7. Deb S August 25, 2015 at 12:32 pm - Reply


    Can’t wait to add England to my list of places visited. I would love to visit the castles, and the countryside looks beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. arvi September 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    So inspiring! I did a post like this remembering my past year in Italy, sometimes it’s good to write down your best memories in one place. Also, I hope I’m still traveling after 8 years, only time will tell!

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