Exquisite Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

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Now that it’s raining buckets in London, I am sipping coffee and thinking what a great weekend we had. After celebrating our beautiful friends wedding in charming Cogges Manor Farm on Friday, we had a scenic drive to the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill on Saturday. Since we were going to be in Oxfordshire we planned the trip in advance and I was very much looking forward to our day out.

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By the way, if you are going to Witney, a very beautiful little town in Oxfordshire, stay in The Blue Boar. We had such a pleasant stay and even though, the hotel is located in the centre of the town, we had a sound night sleep after the festivities. The breakfast was amazing and the staff were genuinely friendly. I loved waking up in crisp white sheets and  the wooden beams above the bed.

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Blenheim Palace is a fascinating place. As soon as we walked through the main entrance into the Great Court, we were greeted by the magnificent building  – all you would expect from the Baroque architecture.

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Even though we both were slightly hangover after having a great time at the wedding and didn’t have much energy, the walk in the fresh air through the green forests and rose gardens did us good and soothed our headache. The place was so peaceful and pleasant. So far, it’s my second favourite place after Leeds Castle. At least the grounds.

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We started with the Gardens Lakeside Walk  and had a refreshing stroll by the lake.

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I would have loved to take a boat and float in the middle of the lake, it was so calm and soothing. But the boats were only for the fisherman and to be honest, I don’t think we had enough energy to row anyway.

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The Rose Garden was a perfect stop. Vivid colours looked pretty in the sunshine and the air was filled with vibrant aromas. Just what I needed! A graceful place for some downtime.

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Not long after we appeared next to the Grand Cascade and Pump House. The water feature is man-made, created by a man with a great name – ‘Capability’ Brown. The rocks in the Cascade were carefully placed to create as much movement and noise as possible as the water falls.  It was very relaxing to watch the water rush through the stones and enjoy the landscape.

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”At Blenheim I took two very important decisions; to be born and to marry. I am content with the decision I took on both occasions.” Sir Winston Churchill

In the summer of 1908 Winston Churchill proposed to Miss Clementine Hozier at the Temple of Diana. Their marriage lasted 57 years even though some thought it will not last 6 months. I always consider myself very lucky to have been able to see and be at places that hold precious memories of some of the greatest people.

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The interior of the Palace, as expected, was very busy with extravagant details, tapestry, painted ceiling and a collection of elegant furniture.

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The Long Library was one of my favourite rooms in the Palace. It’s one of the longest rooms in any British stately home and definitely most impressive. The detailed ceiling and the books, 10,000 of them by the way, looked magical in the rays of sunlight breaking through the arched windows.

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I love Italian gardens, but unfortunately we couldn’t access that part of the garden this time. It was really disappointing as I was looking forward to wandering around the Duke of Marlborough’s private garden.

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After a circular walk around the gardens we sneaked into the Secret Garden. It’s a secluded area and a real retreat. At least it felt like it. We sat on the bench, hidden in the trees, listened to a little waterfall and rested our feet after a 3 hour walk around the grounds of the Palace.

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Towards the end of our tour, even though we walked a lot, I felt rested both, physically and emotionally.

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The Winston Churchill miniature train operates from the Palace to The Pleasure Gardens – a dedicated family area. We missed the ride this time and were pretty lucky as it started really chucking it down as soon as we returned to the car.

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Blessed once again we avoided the rain while wandering around this beautiful World Heritage Site.

Battle – 1066 Country, East Sussex

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After our blissful time in magic Rye, Charlie took me to Battle. A small cute village with huge significance in the English history.

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‘Do you know what a 1066 Country is?’ Asked Charlie. Of course, I had no clue, but the name of the town we were going to kind of gave it away – Battle. The town takes its name from the famous battle between England’s would be rulers William Duke of Normandy and the Saxon King Harold. It was quite fascinating to be in the field were the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066 and listen to the story about the two great men. From the description, I liked them both, but I have to give it to William, after winning the battle he helped make England what it is today.

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If you are passing through Battle, don’t hesitate to stop and take a tour of the Abbey grounds. We took the longer route around the Battlefield. It was such a peaceful walk. I could feel the presence of the past breathing into my back and imagine men with heavy armor fighting in the heat, tired and hungry.

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By time we finished our tour,  we were knackered! Imagine what it was like back then, climbing the hill while waving a heavy sword…

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

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I am a sucker for castles. Every time we leave London for the English countryside I do my research if there are any castles around. It’s not  hard to guess that before going to Rye in East Sussex I did my homework too. I was delighted to locate Bodiam Castle just a few miles away from the town.

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Although not as big and without usual rose gardens, set in the beautiful landscape, the ruins of this 14th century Bodiam Castle is another lovely National Trust property.

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Built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, it is still debatable whether he built it  for defense or just to show off.

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While at the castle, we watched an adorable performance suitable for everyone, children and adults.

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Lovely views from the top of the tower.

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Later on, Charlie and I, as per long-standing tradition, enjoyed the famous English cream tea.

Wells, Norfolk, East Anglia

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Wells-next-the-sea, locally known simply as Wells has a charm that I can’t resist. After our delightful drive along the Norfolk coast we all got a little bit hungry and there’s is so much you can do without food. When Charlie’s dad rolled the car into the colourful fishing town, I could barely contain my happiness. It’s one of my favourite places in East Anglia, with lovely harbour full of fishing boats, people fishing crabs, great chippies and unspoilt seaside.

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Lucky crabs crawling back to the water.

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We had a pleasant walk along the harbour in the sunshine while contemplating where to eat. In the end, we queued in line for some fresh and local fish&chips. It was so good, just what I wanted. There’s nothing like eating fish&chips on the harbour wall by the seaside.

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Later in the evening we stumbled upon a board that advertised  boat trips and one of them was leaving in several minutes for a ‘sunset tour’.  Obviously I was all up for it and it didn’t take long to convince Charlie and his parents. We were lucky to have got four seats since we didn’t book the tour in advance. It was a small boat which felt almost like a private tour. I could touch the sea over the side of the boat, it was calm and warm.

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The seaside looked lovely lined up with little beach huts.

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The captain took us into the sea and anchored the boat. Unfortunately the sunset was barely visible as it was fairly cloudy, but nonetheless I enjoyed being gently swayed by the waves in the open waters of the North Sea. I could have fallen asleep.

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I believe the captain kindly undertook a little detour so I could take a few nightfall snapshots.

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I loved the ‘supermoon’ shining at its brightest in 20 years over the town.

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Wells in my previous post.

Holkham Beach, Norfolk, East Anglia

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It has been voted ‘number one beach in the UK‘ in recent survey of leading travel writers.  I didn’t know this while breathing in the fresh air, but I could tell that the beach will be great just by seeing tall pine trees along the way. Where there are pine trees, there’s a good beach!

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As we trotted along the wooden path it so reminded me of the beaches in my homeland Lithuania; beautiful, sandy and surrounded by beautiful forests.

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Charlie’s mum pointed out the sea lavender, called Limonium, as I just found out. I never heard of a sea lavender so I went to investigate. While my extended family were disappearing in the horizon, I was rolling on the damp lavender carpet, trying to snap a shot or two of the lilac flowers.

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It looked so beautiful with the sand dunes and blue sky in the background.

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It was time to take my shoes off, feel the sand and have a rest. But as soon as I saw a few horses in the distance my feet got me up instantly and carried me towards them. It was quite a sharp walk. The tide that comes in to the beach, also brings lots of shattered shells and leaves the beach with a razor sharp crust.

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But never mind the sharpness, I had horses waiting for me!

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As soon as I made through what looked like never ending stretch of prickly sand,  I was hypnotised by the beautiful view. Great timing as well! After a few joyful runs along the beach the bunch trotter off.

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Considering that we were on the coast of the North Sea, the water was surprisingly warm. Charlie and I dipped our feet in water to refresh ourselves after a long day of exploring the North Norfolk Coast.

Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, East Anglia

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After our windy stroll on the Brancaster beach, Charlie’s dad drove us to the fishing village Brancaster Staithe, purely because of my love for boats so I could snap a few images for my blog. It was low tide and the boats were bathing in the mud. But the view was nonetheless beautiful.

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I switched my camera to sepia mode, I just wanted to reflect that calm ambiance that was lingering in the harbor.

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Here is the tiny hut where we bought our delightful afternoon snack.

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The Crab’s Hut sells all sorts of fresh fish and seafood, caught locally. My generously heaped portion of crayfish was mouthwatering and the pickled herring was heavenly.

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It couldn’t have gotten any better; the boats, fresh fish, sea breeze and great company.

Brancaster Beach, Norfolk, East Anglia

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Charlie and I had another awesome weekend. Getting out of London even for a short while is very refreshing. Last Friday we drove to Cambridgeshire in East Anglia to visit Charlie’s parents.

 I took a pile of travel magazines with me as it was going to be a pretty rainy weekend, but the Saturday turned out warm and sunny. After a quick look at the map, we all hit the road along the coast and popped into a few delightful places in Norfolk; a couple of sandy beaches, lavender farm and my favorite place in East Anglia so far, Wells-Next-The-Sea. I love the name, it says it all!

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To reach the Brancaster beach we drove past Hunstanton, a place so captivating with its distinct little stone cottages. I love those panoramic drives through narrow streets, pretty villages and perfectly manicured fields in the distance.

After the enjoyable drive, we found the Brnacaster beach at low tide,  peaceful, welcoming and so British, lined up with uniformed windbreaks. It’s a great place for building sand castles, enjoying power kiting or just having a stroll.

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It was quite windy, but so relaxing to listen to the wind whistling in my ears and watching the sand being scattered across the beach.

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The SS Vina shipwreck can be seen in the distance, that accidentally sank in 1944. It seemed closer than it really was.

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I really miss the seaside while in London, it always feels like something is missing, especially on hot days.

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After a little stroll along the beach, we headed back to the car and had another scenic drive towards Brancaster Staithe.