Over the holidays, I traded my endless search of summer for the gray winter of England. It was such a splendid adventure, as I was able to explore places I have dreamed about most of my life. I was welcomed with warmth into the homes of my boyfriend’s family, feeling blessed to have enjoyed new traditions. Connor and I weren’t there for too long, but we did get to enjoy a mini road trip and wonderful views. I’m happy to be sharing our magical trip in England.
Be prepared for a lot of photos…
We only spent a couple weeks in England and a lot of it was spent around Connor’s family and holiday celebrations. I’m still rather impressed by how much we were able to squeeze in during our visit.
Quickly after arriving in London, we headed off to meet up with some of Connor’s friends in Cambridge and then to Peterborough. Cambridge was a gorgeous place to visit, even briefly. I strolled through the market and the Universities, just in love with the cobblestone walkways and old buildings. It was also fabulous to spend a weekend in with his friends, cooking together and playing games. I really miss evenings like this when I travel.
We were back in London for a couple days. Our time in the city was short, but I had such a magical time. Not only is the city beautiful with all the wonderful Christmas lights, but I also received my amazing gifts from Connor a bit early.
If you are new to the blog, you might not know how much of a Harry Potter fan I am. It’s probably on the verge of obsessive. I read the books about once a year, am a master at Harry Potter trivia, and have three Potter themed tattoos (check out my article on my Dark Mark tattoo). It’s a beautiful thing, in my opinion.
Harry Potter Mania
My sweet boyfriend gave me a truly magical day, one filled with Warner Bros Studios tour, a Hogwarts themed hotel room, and a potion making class that night. (He did good, right?) If you are a fan, I can’t say enough good things about the tour at Warner Bros. It was amazing to walk through the sets, to stroll through the Great Hall, and see all the costuming and props. I was also really impressed with the creature props they had, which are then animated in the movie. Such wonderful talent!
The hotel room didn’t scream “Harry Potter.” But it had the feeling of sleeping in an upgraded version of a dorm room in Hogwarts, just upgraded with a full-size bed and private bath. The staff at Georgian House handed us an old key, showed us the way to our room (hidden behind a bookcase), and handed us a scroll of parchment with information on the hotel. The Potion’s class was adorable. They gave us a parchment of instructions, colored vials, and we set off making our brew. (We may have noticed that the Unicorn tears smelled remarkably like vodka.) It was a blast!
We also spent a day being tourists – wandering around to old buildings and fancy palaces. I was most excited about the Tower of London. We splurged a bit and did the audio tour of the place. It was pretty incredible to see so much history in one place, especially as an American with our very limited history.
Roadtrip to Glastonbury
But the magic had only just begun. We headed out of London to tour some of the mystical sites in Southern England. I picked up the cutest sky blue fiat and made our way to Stonehenge. I somehow managed to only get turned around a couple of times.
Stonehenge was, in fact, amazing! It was just mesmerizing to witness the giant stones and see a site that once held such spiritual value for people. It is also challenging to truly experience it. As with most places worth seeing, it was full of tourists who were more interested in taking the best photos than actually experiencing the place.
A friend of Connor’s highly recommended we head over to Avebury to have a different stone circle experience. Here, the stones are more spread out and circle around a small town. It was much more interesting to us, being able to walk right up to the giant stones, with sheep scattered all around us. We even enjoyed a pint at the pub that sits within the circle. I felt like this was a more interesting place.
Unfortunately, it was after our trip to Avebury that the sun started to set as we made our way to Glastonbury for the evening. I was doing just fine on the other side of the road, at first. As the towns got smaller, the roads narrowed, and the darkness made it really challenging to see. Y’all, I became an anxious mess. The trip to Glastonbury took much longer than planned, as I made frequent stops to breathe deeply and calm myself down. It was a humbling reminder that I anxiety is still something I get to continue working on.
I fell in love with Glastonbury as soon as we arrived. It was aided by the fact that we stayed in one of the greatest Airbnb’s with such wonderful hosts. As nervous as I usually am about staying in a private room versus the entire place), I am so glad we did. Sorita and her husband were lovely to us, making us tea and chatting with us about all the great spots to visit. The room had a fireplace and a large patio outdoors, that we admittedly didn’t use because of all the rain.
One of the highlights of my trip was visiting the Chalice Well Gardens, which is also known as the Red Spring. The Chalice Well is a famous holy well that is associated with the legends of Avalon and King Arthur. I can understand the fascination. I was instantly mesmerized by the place and wish I was able to spend more time there (and with better weather). You can wash yourself off in the healing water. Or do as I did, fill up a bottle to drink or bath with at home. It’s a common water to be used in ceremony or ritual.
Connor headed off to work at one of the local cafes as I made the steep walk up the hill to Glastonbury Tor. The view of this old tower on top of the hill is absolutely stunning. As I found my way to the top, completely out of breath, I was happy to find the view from the top is just as nice, overlooking the town and all the farmlands beyond. There are myths and mystery surrounding the Tor. It’s thought to have been situated above a passageway to the fairyland, or a place where the Holy Grail was hidden. I found it to be a powerful place, but that may have also been from pressing myself against the internal wall of the Tor to prevent the wind from knocking me right off my feet.
Strolling back into town, I also made my way through the Abbey. The Glastonbury Abby was a 7th century Monastery that is also surrounded by myths. It is send to have links to the earliest foundations of Christianity in Britain. There are myths tying the place to Joseph of Arimathea (Jesus’s uncle). There is also legend that in 1191, monks from the abbey found hollow out logs that held two bodies, combined with a cross that read, “Here lies buried King Arthur and his wife Guinevere.” Who knows if the legends are true, but the site is stunning and worth a visit.
After two evenings in Glastonbury, we began to make our way towards Cornwall, stopping first in the town of Tintagel. This is another place marked with legends of King Arthur and is home legendary places, like the Tintagel castle and Merlin’s Cave. Unfortunately for us, we visited at a time of year when few places were open. We were unable to make our way to the castle or the cave. However, our lovely hosts from Glastonbury had recommended a short hike to St. Nectan’s Glen, which was magnificent. The famous glen is situated a short walk through the woodlands and hosts a beautiful waterfall. This is another place where people come to cleanse in the healing water. We found it to be quite tranquil.
Christmas in Cornwall
Finally, we made our way into Hayle, had a quick tea with Connor’s family, and headed to bed in another adorable Airbnb.
Our time in Cornwall was mostly filled with family activities and the holidays, all of which I enjoyed very much. We had a great time comparing our holiday traditions. I was excited to enjoy popping open a cracker and wearing the silly paper crowns as we ate Christmas dinner. Connor’s mum is a wonderful cook, so it was such a gift to assist her in the kitchen and learn from her.
There were a number of wonderful sites we enjoyed near Hayle. We took a walk down the golden beaches the morning of boxing day. This seemed to be a tradition for a number of families, many joined by happy dogs running along the water. It was a treat! Perhaps my favorite views were of Botallack Mine. The coastline was magnificent to view, especially with the old mining buildings and forts scattered along the oceanside. We made our way out onto a peninsula of sorts. I loved laying down in fluffy grass, enjoying a rare day of sunshine in the English countryside.
I adored Hayle and how quaint the country towns are. Cornish pasties are delicious. I hope I get to return many, many times, but perhaps in warmer weather.
After the holidays, we made our way back to London for a quick night. We were gifted money to enjoy a nice meal from my parents for Christmas, so we decided to enjoy a five-course vegan meal at a delicious restaurant called Tredwells. It was nice to have a great date night together before we both split ways for different countries in Southeast Asia.
England was, indeed, magical. However, I definitely need to go back again when I can enjoy better weather and more time to explore.
Do you have any favorite places to visit in England? Please comment below and let me know. I’m sure I will be back!
All my love,