The sun’s finally come out, and although I’ve been feeling wistful after my little sojourn to Paris, time back in the UK has given me plenty more appreciation for the high points of our green and pleasant land. In fact, for many of us a good stay-cation is just the ticket, and there’s so much more to do here than you might first think.
I could wax lyrical for pages about the places and faces I’ve seen, but to help you start a few happy memory trails of your own, I’m instead giving you a few city breaks to consider. Each have a good mix of history, shopping, style and culture, and of course, feel free to share any ideas of your own too.
Who could say no to this epicentre of Scottish and national culture? The Fringe alone has produced more stars of stage and screen than one could count, and has become the go-to destination for every rising star in the comedy circuit. While families flock to its zoo and museums and couples head out to its restaurants and bars for dates, to me Edinburgh is special because it sums up what makes Scotland such a defining part of Britain. I can’t get enough of the castle, and just the sight of it against the rugged sky takes me back in time.
Lovely, lovely London
Maybe it seems bias from a Londoner like myself, but stick with me on this one. London is a city that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime, and we often forget how good we have it being within such easy reach of such a truly global city. Even if you take the shopping and the history out of the equation, London’s a real starlet of the silver screen, from Bridget Jones to V For Vendetta. I’ll always have a soft spot for Harry Potter, mind you. While we can’t dress in outfits from the new Wizarding Wardrobes exhibition every day, we can at least try a Warner Bros Studio Tour to leave our inner Muggle behind and learn how the movies’ costumes were made. If that’s not enough magic, remember that a couple of Neil Gaiman’s superb stories have called our capital home too.
I’ve had plenty to say about my love of Bath before, but it’s more than just a setting unlike anything in the southwest. Bath attracts visitors because it has such a distinctive appearance and feel, with Georgian character that’s backed up by a great mix of modern flair and classic chic. I could harp on for hours about the shopping, bars and restaurants I’d recommend, but I feel like I’d only be following in the shadow of Jane Austen, who loved the city enough to feature it in several of her books. Bath is easy to reach via rail from London, and I’m starting to feel overdue a trip.
While it’s not as big a city as some of my other recommendations, Norwich is the retail epicentre of East Anglia and makes for superb shopping across the board. What’s more, local artists and writers are celebrated in this city and have proven a rich part of its character, making it the place to get some pretty eclectic finds. The cathedral is always attracting tourists too, and if that’s not enough, the city’s created quite a rich calendar of events to keep the summer rolling – from Shakespeare celebrations to parades and funfairs.
We’re really only scratching the surface as far as UK city breaks go, and if you’ve any of your own suggestions or a local shout-out to make, I’d love to hear from you!