5 Southwest English Towns You Should Visit

29 October 2014

I'm not lying to you when I say some of my closest friends back home still think I live in London. For some reason it's hard for people to process the fact that there are other cities in England, let alone why anyone would want to live outside the capital anyway. I do love London, I really do, but trust me when I say there's a whole country worth exploring. 

I've been calling the Southwest home for the past year. No, not the American Southwest. The English Southwest! From Roman baths to medieval cathedrals, the English Southwest has so much to offer. So if you ever find yourself in England and dare to explore outside of London, here are five Southwest English towns you should consider visiting. 
I’m pretty biased when it comes to Bristol. Bristol is home now, and without a doubt I could not be happier. I moved here having never visited, which was kind of crazy but oh so worth it. Bristol has the small town feel with all the conveniences of a big city. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote, one that describes Bristol perfectly. “I love Bristol because it knows who it is. It's cool and cosmopolitan and it doesn't compete with other cities. Bristol is happy dancing to the beat of its own drum."- Stephen Merchant

Stepping off the train in Bath is like stepping through a time machine. Instantly you feel as if you are in a Jane Austen novel. Bath is England’s most romantic city. It happens to be the home to some of England’s oldest history as well. Visit the Roman Baths, then Bath Cathedral just a few steps away.

The smallest city in all of England, Wells is the setting for the hilarious movie “Hot Fuzz”. Although small, Wells is home to my favorite cathedral in England as well as a beautiful medieval palace.

Home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, Salisbury is located 20 minutes south of Stonehenge. It’s local markets and impressive cathedral are must sees on a visit to this medieval city.

Just 8 miles southeast of Bath, this tiny town is commonly nicknamed “Little Bath”. While the architecture is similar, the atmosphere of Bradford-on-Avon is completely different. Off the beaten track, this town is perfect for capturing true English village life. 

Happy Wednesday! 

Into the Crypt | Gloucester Cathedral

25 October 2014

 My trip to Gloucester Cathedral couldn't have worked out better than if I had actually planned it. I showed up to the cathedral without having done any research (which is very unlike me I would like to point out). Turns out I showed up during the cathedral's main art exhibition, and five minutes before a free guided tour of the crypt started. So, I joined the line with no idea what to expect.

Guided tours of the crypt are free, and usually take place every half hour between 11:30 and 2:30. Because of the art exhibition, the my group consisted of about twenty of us, much more than the guides were used to. However, our guide adapted beautifully, mixing just the right amount of information about the art pieces and the crypt's architecture to please everyone in the group. 

Gloucester Cathedral's crypt is one of the only Norman crypt's in the country. Built as the original place of worship in the church, the crypt was used for prayer, funerals, and even as a place to hide treasure during times of conflict. Unfortunately, there isn't much known about the crypt other than the fact it was the first part of the church built. A trip down there is a must for anyone visiting the cathedral!

Happy Saturday!

Gloucester Cathedral

21 October 2014

The main purpose of my little day trip to Gloucester a couple of weeks ago was to visit Gloucester Cathedral. I had been told Gloucester Cathedral was one of the most impressive cathedrals in the country, and I was not disappointed. 

When  you move to a European country, your view of medieval churches goes through phases like this:
Phase 1 | Wow, this is amazing!
Phase 2 | Wait, they all kind of look the same.
Phase 3 | I'm over this.
Phase 4 | I can now distinguish the different types of medieval architecture, this is amazing again!

I'm currently in Phase 4. I've reached the point of seeing SO many cathedrals and abbeys that I can actually understand the unique and individual beauty of each. Gloucester Cathedral exemplifies English Gothic architecture in a way I had not seen before. 

Construction on the cathedral began in the 11th century and continued for hundreds of years. It is famously the home of Edward II's tomb, and the location of Henry III's coronation. More recently, the cathedral was used as the corridors of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films including that famous scene where "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir beware". 

Happy Tuesday!