At the beginning of 2018, I made a pact with myself to travel more. Say yes to more. Amongst that pact, I vowed to spend my birthday (October 26th) in a different country. Didn’t care where or with who, just as long as I was there enjoying myself.
I’ve always had a(n afar) love affair with Great Britain. I’ve watched so much British TV and Youtube that I can probably tell you what part of England, Scotland, or Ireland someone is from down to region just by listening to their accent.
I started saving places on Pinterest when it became a thing, pinning all these little towns to a board call “Far Off Places” (daring sword fights – a prince in disguise!). And then, of course, Instagram is a constant tease in showing photos of these places I long to see. Long story short, I’ve been planning this trip little by little for years.
I flew into London (LHR) Wednesday morning, picked up my rental and was on my way west. I rented an Airbnb in Stroud, within decent driving distance of all the towns I wanted to visit.
The view from my AirBNB
DAY 1 – Stroud, Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Bibury
When I left the US, fall had barely even started (at the end of October). First thing I did when I saw the leaves was text my mom and tell her!
Some images of Stroud. I spent the first few hours of my morning walking around. Some shops were still opening. I got breakfast at Milanos – typical English breakfast with sausages, eggs, bacon, beans and tomato. Honestly, this was the best meal I had all week. Not that the others weren’t as delicious, this was just extra awesome.
Before breakfast, I mapped out the places I wanted to visit first. Since I was staying in the northern end of the cotswolds, I started there. First stop was Stow-on-the-Wold. These buildings were beautiful, some covered in vinery.
St Edwards Church – classic instagram spot. Two very old trees growing into a very old church. I met a couple here, believe it or not, from Philly! They asked me to take a photo for them in front of the door.
Porch House Inn – oldest Inn in England!
My first stop in Bourton-on-the-Water was the model village. I think it was 2 or 3 quid to get it. It was pretty cool because I got to see the entire town from a pretty accurate birds eye view. All of the little buildings were made from original cotswold stone.
Some pretty fall colors on the water. It was so busy I didn’t stay long, but definitely a place I’d like to go back to on a pretty day.
Bibury was probably my most anticipated location on my list. I’ve seen Arlington Row all over Instagram, and in some of my favorite movies. I stopped here first but there was no parking, so I went on to Stow. I’m really glad I did, by the time I came back it was about 4pm and there was barely anyone around.
DAY 2 – My 28th Birthday
I took the train into London, and arrived in Piccadilly Circus. I had tickets to go see Carrie Hope Fletcher in Heathers! Unfortunately Carrie was really ill, but her understudy was amazing. I also took a walk around SoHo and ended up at Foyles (gorgeous bookstore!).
DAY 3 – Brighton
About 3 hours and 923,232 roundabouts later, I arrived in Brighton! I’ve been a huge fan of Zoe Sugg and Co. for years, living vicariously through her vlogs. It’s like I had already been there and knew my way around already! The Lanes were incredible – I stopped in a few shops, but it’s definitely somewhere I’d like to revisit with a friend or my parents!
The pier and the sunset I happened to catch!
DAY 4 – Castle Coombe, Lacock Village & Abbey, and Bradford-upon-Avon
Some pretty sights on my walk down to Castle Coombe. This village felt like a time capsule. Wasn’t terribly crowded, but there were a lot of “photographers” down by the bridge when I was there.
Again, I only knew of Lacock because of watching Zoe. This was the village she grew up in. I remembered a vlog of when she basically gave a tour of the village and talked about filming for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at the abbey. What I didn’t know what that Lacock Abbey was the home of the inventor of photography – Henry Talbot. A happy coincidence.
The abbey and the grounds were so unbelievably beautiful. Here’s some of my favorite details of the main building.
The famous hallway used in the Harry Potter films.
Snape’s potion’s class was filmed in here!
Some shots of the courtyard which includes a small bookshop, and remnants of the original bakery and brewery.
The gate to the main building.
Some more fall bits on the grounds.
The rose garden.
Some of Lacock’s village.
I barely made it in time for sunset for Bradford-upon-avon, but managed to find the old tea room and get some pretty shots before heading back to Stroud.