UK travel

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Husband and I try to have one or two mini-breaks each year, without the children. Even if it's just for one night, we both feel re-invigorated having uninterrupted couple time that lasts longer than two or three hours and which occurs far from our sofa. I can't believe I'm the only person who isn't that lively and interesting on a Friday night after a long week mothering my socks off.

For the past five years, we have kept the breaks to the UK as there are so many wonderful, nearby places I have yet to explore. I actually have a bucket list of UK cities that I would like to visit in the next few years. I guess there's no hurry, but I am a bit impatient. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we visited Bath. The lovely people from eviivo had invited us try out one of their award-winning properties, so how could we say no?!

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I know that I am juvenile. I know this because I sniggered when I first heard the name of this town. But Lacock is no dirty joke. The village, which is pronounced 'lay-cock', is located in Wiltshire. And it is utterly charming. This may seem like a random place to write about, but this is where Husband and I spent this morning visiting.

Husband and I have been in Bath for the past couple of days, and when we checked out of our B&B this morning, we were advised to visit picturesque Lacock. The village dates back to the 13th century, and looks like it has been frozen in time, except for the cars. If Lacock looks familiar, it is because it is often used in period dramas, including Remains of the DayDownton Abbey, and 1995's Pride & Prejudice (it was the village of Meryton!). Lacock Abbey was featured in a couple of the Harry Potter films, which makes it even more popular as a tourist destination.

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My UK Travel Wishlist for 2016Forget new year's resolutions. It's cold and dark, and all I can think about are  next year's holidays. I am not even thinking about sunny holidays lounging in the sun. I just love getting out of London and visiting new places. As an American expat, there are still so many places in the UK that I haven't yet visited. So I thought I would share some of the beautiful UK cities, brimming with culture, that I would like to visit in 2016.

My UK Travel Wishlist for 2016

Bristol - I have been wanting to visit Bristol for ages, and hopefully 2016 will be the year we visit. As a family, there is so much for us to see. There is an open-top bus tour around the city, which takes about an hour. We recently took a bus tour around London and loved it. After the bus tour, we could visit the At-Bristol Science Centre. There are loads of hands-on exhibits and shows for the entire family to enjoy. Afterwards we could walk around the harbour and take in the lovely sights. Stop at Stable Pizza for one of their amazing pizza or pies.

No visit to Bristol would be complete without exploring Clifton Village and seeing the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Whilst in Clifton, the kids would love a visit to Bristol Zoo Gardens. Lions, seals, gorillas, oh my!

My UK Travel Wishlist for 2016

York - Once a year, Husband and I manage to have a weekend to ourselves, and I think that York would make a romantic kid-free city-break destination. Though there seem to be a lot of family-friendly activities there, Husband and I are desperate for some alone time. We could start off by climbing the steep steps of Clifford's Tower (it is all that is left of York Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror). After working up an appetite, we could have afternoon tea at Bettys. The scones and cakes look amazing. We could also go for a walk through York's alleyways, passageways and ginnels which sounds quite quaint. Whilst walking around, I could drag take Husband into the many antique shops.

My UK Travel Wishlist for 2016

Colchester - I've recently learnt that Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town. That's a lot of history. And there would be no better place to begin than at Colchester Castle (a Norman castle dating from 1016). My kids love visiting castles, especially my three year old son, Dubz, who loves knights. There are family events, creepy vaults and dressing up. Dubz and Moozles would also enjoy visiting Colchester Zoo. We all love animals, especially elephants and giraffes. Plus a huge soft play and playgrounds for when Husband and I need a rest. While in Colchester, I wouldn't mind going for a ride on a narrow boat. These boats are such a charming part of British history and I think the kids (and their American mother) would get a kick out of a boat ride. We could then enjoy Sunday Lunch at the Church Street Tavern (it sounds delicious and they even have a kids menu).

 

So these are the three UK cities that I am hoping to visit in 2016. They are full of culture, fun and beauty. Have you been to any of these three cities? Any tips to share?

 

*Photo credit: top photo, Carolyn Eaton

 

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I love a good research project. Now that there are four of us, we have decided to go on UK holidays until our toddler is not such a terror older. So I spent 2-3 hours a day for two weeks, a bit obsessively some may say, trying to find somewhere not too far from London (less than three hours driving) but that had lots to do regardless of the weather. And I came up with West Dorset. Ta-daaa.
 
I found a lovely little cottage in Burton Bradstock that looked modern and comfy (even by American standards), so we booked it. And last Friday afternoon we drove there in light traffic. It only took 2 hours and 40 minutes. Result. We had such a lovely time, that we've decided to have another holiday in Dorset before exploring Devon and Cornwall.
 
For those not familiar with West Dorset, I thought I would break it down into some of the areas/sites we visited (we tried to keep outings within a 30-minute drive). We had a brilliant break, and it was especially nice to have lots of family time, away from the telly, and I even kept my Twitter and blog usage down to nap times.
 
Burton Bradstock
A lovely and quiet village near the sea. We were near to Hive Beach (National Trust car park), which is a shingley beach. It has a lovely cafe, the Hive Beach Cafe. Amazing cakes and the crab salad--oh my. Chesil Beach is nearby (NT car park) and is great for fossil hunting. There's also a fab playground in the village which was perfect for a before-dinner run about.
Lyme Regis
About half an hour along the coast from Burton Bradstock is the lovely Lyme Regis. Part of the beach is pebbly, the other part sandy. The carpark is quite close to the sandy bit which is handy if, like us, you have much to carry. There are some cafes, beach shops and an amusement centre on the promenade but we only played in the sand.
Abbotsbury
Abbotsbury is a lovely ten-minute drive, along a hill, from Burton Bradstock. Abbotsbury itself, has several tea-rooms, a children's farm/petting zoo, a swannery and gardens. We did not have time to visit the farm (which also boasts a soft play) but there's always next time.

Dorchester
It only took half an hour to get to Dorchester. Dorchester has several museums, which is handy on a rainy day. We went to the Dinosaur Museum and spent an enjoyable hour. My daughter got a clipboard and had to discover various facts located throughout the museum. She was thrilled. I was not too impressed that it cost £20 for three of us (my son is under three so his entry was free).
 
On another day, we went to the Kingston Maurward Gardens and Animal Park. We briefly got to walk around the landscaped gardens (top picture), as the kids loved the playground. They spent an hour on that damn combine harvester. But we did enjoy feeding the animals, especially the goats who had a mutual love with my 23-month old Dubz

Weymouth

We didn't get up to very much in Weymouth, though it has several attractions including the Sealife centre. It has a bit of shopping. We went to Matalan as I forgot to pack myself socks and panties (der-brain). The Guardian online had a feature on the Top 10 Dorset Seafood Fish Restaurants and included Marlboro Fish & Chips in Weymouth. We all loved the fish, sausage in batter and chips.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall