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7 Things – the UK version

A very photo-heavy list of fun things from the UK leg of the trip, including story settings for upcoming books.

It may or may not have escaped your attention that I am currently existing in a vaguely nomadic state, having left NZ in mid September. I then had a week in Australia with family, followed by one planned week and one unplanned one in the UK (it turns out that my travel plans bear close relations to my story plans – they’re both vague, well-intentioned, and rarely survive long once things are in motion), and am now in the south of France. All of which feels about as busy as it sounds, particularly as the UK portion of the trip encompassed both the south coast and north Yorkshire (yes, Australians and Americans, I hear you laughing about how that’s an afternoon’s drive just to get to the store for you, but I still think an hour in the car requires a full bag of M&Ms to even contemplate).

It has all been most lovely, though, and while those of you on the social medias (join the FB group! We’re having a spooky October crafty competition, and there’s almost always cake) have been subjected to an onslaught of photos already, I felt that I should inflict more on you. But having decided that, I realised very quickly that there’s a reason I’m not a travel writer. I lack any framework in which to coherently (and in the space of one blog post) communicate all the things I’ve loved about the trip so far.

I also lack server space to upload all the photos I’d like to share.

So I have concluded that, for now, seven things will suffice. Seven things from the UK that were wonderful or delightful or fun or all of the above – and I shall attempt to keep the photos down to not too many multiples of that …

Sunrise over the Abbey in Whitby

7 Interesting Things (UK Version)

Story settings. Look, I’m a writer. I can excuse a lot of things based on it being story research. Trying a new cake recipe? Story research. Buying a particularly pretty book of mythology? Story research. Spending a night in London, or going to Whitby for two days? Definitely story research …

Readers of the Gobbelino London series will likely already guess why I went to Whitby (other than the fact I’m deeply in love with it). Readers of the Beaufort Scales series may just be wondering What Happened In London with a certain DI Adams before she came up to Yorkshire. And while I’m not going to tell you right now, I will soon. And here are some photos for your interest in the meantime.

Seasides. I mean, yes. I know. No one goes to the UK to go to the beach. And the British idea of the seaside is inextricably linked in my head with donkey rides, piers populated with amusement arcades and weird carnival rides and candy floss stalls, and rows of bathing huts with folding chairs outside them, often inhabited by people with names like Doris, who wears one of those strapless bathing suits with a skirt, and a bathing cap with daisies on it. Her husband is probably called Frank and wears socks with sandals and has a sunburnt head.

Which is realise is terribly stereotyped, and while there are plenty of piers wearing amusement arcades like luminous barnacles, there are also glorious long piers of worn wood, protectively encircling fishing harbours and capped with grimly weathered lighthouses. There are long, wild stretches of dark sand, and pebbled, cheery shores under crumbling cliffs. There are houses leaning precariously over the water and the broken shards of old wharves like bones in the sand, and … bathing huts. Which I adore and I also kind of want one.

Scones & other good stuff. Look, I’m not a Foodie, with a capital F. I don’t go out to fancy restaurants, although I have had occasion to in the past, usually with the ex-SO who was both an amazing chef and very much a Foodie. I am, however, a foodie, in that I love good food and eat plenty of it. And in the UK I love scones. Mostly, I love nice, light, fluffy scones, a little warm, slathered with jam and butter, and served with a good strong cuppa. The UK do them very well, and on one trip I had a scone every single day for breakfast. Ahem.

I only had two scones this time around, but they were both excellent – one as part of afternoon tea made by my lovely friend, and the other in a very nice, book-stuffed cafe in Whitby. But I also had a wonderful dinner with a writer friend in London, an excellent brownie further north with Robyn, who does a lot of my Facebook stuff these days and who is a most lovely human, unexpected and delicious cake with old friends in Kendal, and even had two whole cooked breakfasts at the B&B in Whitby, which fuelled my 20-odd kilometre walking days. I also discovered that baked beans on toast are known as ‘skinheads on a raft’ in certain parts of North Yorkshire, which made it doubly delightful.

B&Bs. Speaking of B&Bs, I stayed in two very different places. First, in London, I had one night in a lovely little hotel on one of those broad, tree-lined streets of grand old houses near Hyde Park. My room was on the very top floor (six flights of stairs!), and was just big enough for the bed and two tiny bedside shelves. It also had a massive window that opened straight onto the trees, and I loved it.

In Whitby I booked a room with a private bathroom – shared is still something one comes across in some B&Bs. But what I had not expected was that the bathroom was twice the size of the room, and was “The only Victorian bathroom in Whitby! All original, you know. Well, the shower’s not. But the tiles are. And the bath. And look at that towel rail! The Victorians knew how to build things, they did.” They did. It was very nice, and also two floors down from my room, with the toilet on the floor in between. But I would go back in a second.

Sunrises. Since we’re sort of on the subject. Sunrise is always my favourite time – everything feels so full of possibility and there’s the sense that the day could take any shape, that anything at all could happen. And while the weather wasn’t all good, all the time (it was the UK, after all), there were some stunning sunrises to be had.

Old buildings. It’s not like you go to the UK and expect not to see old buildings, but they never lose their fascination for me. I always remember the first time I came across to the UK as a 20-year-old, and I ended up staying with the same friend I stayed with on the south coast this time. Back then she was living in a 600-year-old gatehouse in the middle of the country somewhere, and I couldn’t quite get my head around the idea that people just lived in these old buildings. Of course, I also had issues with riding bikes on icy roads, understanding London accents, and the tricks of navigating the Tube system, but that’s a whole other story …

Unexpected green spaces. I’m always startled by the green spaces in the UK. I mean, of course there’s green land outside the cities, and living up in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for a good couple of years meant I was right in the middle of one of the wildest parts of England. It was all high harsh grey fells and tumbled green valleys and dry stone walls and chattering lowland rivers, and there was green everywhere you looked. But in other places it sneaks up on you, startling you with forests running along house-cluttered coasts, or tranquil waterways blossoming in the heart of London. Little breaths of magic.

And that, lovely people, is seven things and far too many photos from the last couple of weeks in the UK. I will, of course, do the same for France, because this way I get to justify this leg of the trip as Writery Work too …

And let me know below, lovely people – what’s one thing you always look for on trips? Museums? Sunrises? Galleries? Shows? I’d love to hear some favourites to add to my list of Places I Must Go!

  1. Carolyn says:

    I do love new food experiences when in other places (no wonder I like travelling to Europe so much although the UK has some splendid local goodies). Best of all is the experience of seeing a new bit of landscape – trees, rivers, ponds…… And I do like old buildings and ruins

    1. Kim says:

      FOOD. Yes. My favourites for that has been street food in Morocco and Singapore. So good, and so many different things to try! And then one needs the landscape to walk around to make up for all that eating … 😉


    Thank you for all the wonderful pictures! So many places I’ve always wanted to go. But since I’ve never been out of the USA pictures are as close as I’ll get. The food looks amazing too 🙂 The Oregon coast is known for art galleries and glass blowing (among many other things) so I always look for those. Also as a former librarian and gemologist, anything to do with books and gemstones 😉

    1. Kim says:

      I’m so glad you like the pics! I had some upload issues with patchy internet, so I wasn’t sure they’d come up alright. And Oregon always sounds like such an interesting place to me. It sounds beautiful!

  3. Linda says:

    ooooh, keep the pix coming! I ‘plan & pants’ my trips – meaning I write a VERY tentative schedule w/the MUST SEE things & then whatever catches my fancy. Stumbled onto (& into) some great fun that way…2nd line in a New Orleans funeral, awesome (& cheap) hostel in Edinburgh, St. Patrick’s church in Ireland, stunning coastal views in Maine, and too many pubs/hole in the wall places to count. Very much looking forward to your pictures of France!! And food too – yum. Safe travels!

    1. Kim says:

      I love the plan & pants idea! It’s good to have some points to hang your trip around, and it sounds like you’ve discovered some fantastic places.

  4. Linda says:

    Odd thought it may be, I go to the grocery. You see what the locals like & I love to find new snacks (cookies!!). Mostly it’s a way to see how local people live, where they shop, eat, drink – not the vacation places. I like to imagine how I’d live there. Plus the bartenders & waitstaff always know the best spots. The touristy stuff is fun too, but when you don’t have a local friend I’ve found this way gives me a peek behind the curtain. :>

    1. Kim says:

      One of my favourite things to do when visiting anywhere new is just wandering – exploring side streets and local places away from the main tourist routes. I’m with you – I love getting a glimpse of what life is like, rather than what visiting is like. Local markets are my favourite for that!

    2. Carolyn says:

      You are so right – grocery stores offer such exciting new things to taste

  5. becky43 says:

    Food, zoos or aquariums, Japanese Gardens (which are a new favorite), food, old buildings, food, markets (like Pike’s Place in Seattle or Granville Market in Vancouver), museums, and food. So, mostly, food. 🤣🤣

    1. Kim says:

      😂 I approve highly of the food-based motivation. I LOVE trying new food, or old favourites. In fact, I’m with you on all of these except zoos and aquariums, which I know are much better these days than they used to be, but they still make me a little sad.

  6. Mike Harvey says:

    One small correction: Bathing huts went out with the Victorians, what you mean are beach huts and if you want one of them you need to put your name down for one around 100 years ago. Apart from that, I’m deeply envious, I haven’t gone travelling in years.

    1. Kim says:

      Aha! I had the vague idea that ‘bathing huts’ sounded wrong, but not enough to look up the alternative 😉 And yes, I had heard that the waiting list was VERY long. Still want one, though …

    2. Linda says:

      Found this link – omg! so funny. Was reading “The Case of the Fickle Mermaid” by P.J. Brackston (adult Hanzel & Gretel (yes THAT Gretel) in which she’s a detective, absolutely hilarious series) and they described this, had no idea they existed. Maybe this will do until you can get a beach hut of your own. ;>

      1. Carolyn says:

        That is exactly what is needed so one doesn’t have to totter over the shingle. Bring back the bathing machine. (Although a beach hut is essential for tea and cakes afterwards)

      2. Kim says:

        Bathing machines were fantastic! Much more dignified than trying to get changed under a towel …

  7. Virginia says:

    Travel musts for me are food, scenery of all sorts, botanic and other gardens, old buildings, a museum or two, and yes, I agree about local grocery stores, funky small food stores, and outdoor markets. Two of my favorite grocery store discoveries in New Zealand were passionfruit yogurt and humus with kumara.

    1. Kim says:

      I love all these travels things! Although I’ll let you have all the passionfruit yoghurt and kumara hummus… (love both passionfruit and hummus, but the other ingredients not so much 😉)

  8. I love scenery. And sometimes food. But I LOVE old aarchitecture, and listening to people’s voices, even if I can’t understand a word they’re saying.

    1. Kim says:

      There’s something so lovely about different accents and dialects, and body language in different places. People watching is one of my favourite things!

  9. Penny Christmas says:

    I live in the UK but also lived in Canada for many years, our times away must include woods and rivers if possible, my favourite place since a child is Dartmoor. Have holidays in France and Germany but prefer France, Brittany and Normandy, love the food, best way to start the day is in the boullangerie, why not start the day with pain at raisin or croissants and fresh coffee? If you go to the Mt. St Michel be prepared for the walk up the steps to the Abbey, there are benches and walls to sit on but they are always full! Have also been to Hong Kong and Saigon, loved Saigon, the street food is amazing and you can everything being made for you. Santorini is beautiful, as stunning as the pictures but do go to the South of the island to the buried city, it is similar to Pompeii, the beaches in the South have black sand which looks very different from the usual yellow as you can imagine. I won’t be going anywhere in the future, my husband is now in a specialist end of life care home, he has Huntingdon’s Disease but we do have wonderful memories even if he can’t always remember or speak about them. So these days Ella, the great lump of black feline fur that rules my life, her demands for her meals are better than any clock, spend our time reading and knitting and sometimes baking (me) and eating, sleeping and leaving nose prints on the windows (her). Getting used to adapting recipes down for one now. Wherever you travel if it only to the local park you can make memories, hold them close.

    1. Kim says:

      I’m so sorry to hear your husband’s in care – that must be just heartbreaking. Sending you all the strength and good thoughts, and wishing you lots of gentle, peaceful moments with Ella to help you recharge. It sounds like you’ve done some wonderful travelling and have so many good memories to look back on. I love that you have the philosophy of being able to make memories everywhere. That’s beautiful.

      Look after yourself ❤️

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