My ex work colleague, Elaine aka Por Por (Cantonese nickname), who I keep in touch with decides to come over from Hong Kong and stay with another ex work colleague, Joanna, who lives in London. I had promised Elaine a road trip next time she visited the UK, and I'm a man who keeps his promises.
After spending her first night in London, Elaine catches a fast train with Joanna out of London to Reading where I pick them both up for Por Por adventures to begin. Bath
Our first destination is the beautiful city called Bath, which is situated in the county of Somerset. This city gets it's name due to Roman built baths that date back to AD 60 and is the main tourist attraction of the city. The Romans discovered the hot springs and built the baths and a template around them. Since the Roman Baths
are the main attraction, we decide to visit first to avoid queues and crowds. This is my third time of visiting the baths and it never gets boring. 1,170,000 litres of steaming spring water reaching 46 °C still fill the bathing site every single day... just incredible.
next stop off at Patisserie Valerie
for afternoon tea. Elaine loves anything British so afternoon tea is obligatory! Patisserie Valerie
is a popular chain of cafés that operate in the United Kingdom and specialises in hand-made cakes.
With full bellies, we stroll around sunny Bath. The city became popular as a spa town in the Georgian era which was between the period of 1714 to 1830. As well as the Roman Baths
, the Georgian architecture makes Bath one of my favourite cities in the United Kingdom. We stop by for a selfie at the Georgian Pulteney Bridge
which took 20 years to build and was completed in 1784. We then head over to the Circus
which is divided into three segments of equal length and in a circular space of surrounded townhouses. From the Circus
, we visit the Royal Crescent
; a very long row of terraced houses laid out in a sweeping crescent. The crescent got the royal name added after Prince Frederick had stayed there. All these stunning Georgian buildings should not be missed on a visit here.
Before leaving Bath, we end up in Bath Abbey
. This building was founded in 7th century and situated next
to the Roman Baths
I underestimated our drive down to Cornwall from Bath, getting stuck in traffic out of Bath did not help either. Elaine is sleeping in the car... seems the jet lag has caught up with her... 3.5 hours later and we arrive at our B&B called The Harlyn Inn
which is in Harlyn a small village that has a popular beach for surfers and very close to the picturesque Padstow. It's 9pm and on a Sunday and in Cornwall everywhere closes around this time. We are hungry and discover there is a Chinese takeaway in Padstow that closes at 10pm. It's funny to think Elaine has come all this way from Hong Kong for Chinese takeaway.
We arrive in Padstow and walk to the Chinese takeaway called Ocean City
. It seems the Chinese takeaway is extremely busy so we pop into the pub situated opposite called The London Inn
. As soon as we walk in, we are greeted by friendly locals, who are happy to chat to us. I forget that the way of life is so different to living back home, as people seem to have more time for each other in
Cornwall. Once Chinese food is ready we head back to the B&B. Elaine says the food is different to back home but still tastes very good. Next day
In the morning we have a full English breakfast.This is the first time Elaine has ever tried an English breakfast and she really likes it, can't say I blame her. After breakfast, we discover a surfer shop next to the B&B. I find a really comfy Animal branded hoodie and it's in the sale with 40%!d(MISSING)iscount since we are here in the off-peak season.
The weather is looking overcast and dull, but it's dry. We walk across the road from the shop to a beautiful beach that is popular for surfers. All along the north part of Cornwall the coast and beaches are popular for surfboarders.
After our stroll along the beach, we next head into Padstow and it starts to rain. It doesn't matter that it's raining since Padstow has so many quirky and interesting shops. As a tourist, Elaine is enjoying soaking up the Cornish atmosphere.
My best friend, Sally, who I have known for 30 years comes joins us, as she lives about
20 miles down the road. It always nice to see my friend, since Cornwall is quite some distance from the county of Hampshire, where I live.
After visiting most of the shops and having traditional fish and chips, we take a boat trip over to Rock. On this side of the estuary, there are many beautiful paths for walking along the coast. Since it's raining we decide to visit some shops and stop off at the Blue Tomato Café
for hot chocolate.
In the evening, we are joined by Sally's boyfriend, Paul, and dine at Rick Stein's
posh seafood restaurant. Rick Stein is a famous English celebrity chef, who owns four restaurants in Padstow and others around Cornwall. He has written a number cookery books as well as presenting regularly on food cookery television programs. I am not a seafood fan, but I try crab with wasabi as a starter. For main, I have a disappointing sirloin steak... I know it's a seafood restaurant, but for 30 GBP, I expected better! The dessert was good though. Bristol
Elaine wants to visit Oxford but after getting nearly half way back to London from Cornwall we would hardly
have any time to explore so I suggest that we stop off at Bristol. This city is the biggest in the south west of England and has a popular university. Bristol was a wealthy trading port in the Roman era and ironically only 12 miles away from Bath. Bristol also played a massive part in the slave trading and helped discover North America.
We first visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge
, which is one of the world's famous bridges. This bridge was opened back in 1864 as a toll bridge, however, ideas of building the bridge originate back to 1753.
We head into the city centre and stroll around admiring the beautiful architecture which dates back to medieval times. It's a shame we don't have more time to see more things in this lively city, as a boat trip along the River Avon would be pretty awesome. London
A couple of days later, I get the train up to London to meet Elaine whilst Joanna is busy. We decide to visit the London Eye
. I've always wanted to do the London Eye
but the busy crowds have always put me off. Today we are in luck, as
the crowds are not too long since it's a weekday and off season. I am a little apprehensive since I do not like heights and being trapped, but if I can get on a plane and travel for 13 hours, then I can surely do this. The views of London are just superb and with the sun breaking through the clouds it makes good photos.
From the London Eye,
we walk past the Palace of Westminster
and Big Ben
, I suggest to Elaine she has a popular tourist photo of standing in the red telephone box with Ben Big
in the background. Since it's a nice day whether wise (doesn't happen often) I pose for a photo too.
After a nice stroll through St James's Park
and up to Buckingham Palace
, we meet Joanna at the posh Fortnum and Mason
where we end up having afternoon tea. Fortnum and Mason
has been around for a long time as it was establish back in 1707. To have afternoon tea here is expensive but for any tourist coming to the UK, then its definitely worth it for the posh, British feel. Also, the piano music and atmosphere not bad too.
It's getting close to sunset, so we head over to the Shard
. This is the tallest building in London and fourth-tallest in Europe, standing some 310 meters high. You can either pay to visit the top of the building or reserve a table at one of the restaurants or bars. We decide to visit the Gong
bar and order some cocktails. The drinks are very expensive, but the views of London are just spectacular.
Finally, we end the night eating at a Korean restaurant called Super Stay Korean BBQ
. This is my first time to ever try Korean food and I like the concept of cooking your own meat with BBQ type sauces.
Goodbyes are always hard, but I am sure I'll see both Elaine and Joanna again soon.
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