This past weekend, my family came to visit me in London, and I jumped on the opportunity to get an all-expenses-paid trip to the English countryside! Most of my preconceptions about the English Countryside came from books I’d read back in high school; good ‘ole classics like King Lear and Pride and Prejudice. Although I didn’t stumble upon any blinded kings nor suitors attempting to marry my sister and me, I did run into llamas, sheep, and fluffy ponies. More on that below.
Our trip commenced in the historic city of Bath, creatively named after it’s Roman-built baths. We skipped the expensive Roman bath tour and instead headed to the farmer’s market for fresh strawberries and Nutella crepes. Perhaps Bath also has a thing for Nutella since one of the street vendors was also selling sweatshirts with Nutella logos. For breakfast, we stopped at the Wild Cafe which indeed had a wild assortment of my all-time favorite food, Eggs Benedict.
After a long drive, our next stop was Newquay: one of Cornwall’s most popular Holiday resort towns. We had a late dinner at The Fish House Fistral which offers an intriguing fusion of Asian dishes and seafood, like cod tempura. My personal favorite dish was the simple fried squid rings with avocado aoili. We started the next day with an English classic, crumpets and jam, before hitting the road to explore the other seaside towns of Cornwall.
Penzance is where Rick Steves stays when he visits Cornwall, and its easy to see why. Penzance felt less touristy than Newquay and featured all the tiny shops you’d expect at a seaside town, from the Mermaid boat trips office to the Lighthouse cafe. To revive our health after pigging out on Ben and Jerry’s Phish food ice cream the night before (it wasn’t photogenic enough to be pictured), we headed to Archie Brown’s which is a health food shop with a vegan cafe above.
Mousehole, as my Dad put it, is like “the Cinque Terre of the English countryside.” It’s ‘fricken adorable. We didn’t have time to stay long, but we did stop into a traditional pub for a pint of Guinness to knock-off my Dad’s number one bucket-list item for the trip.
Our next stop the following day was Land’s End: the most westerly part of England. Ironically, we never ever made it to the very tip (which you have to access by first walking down a boulevard of tourist traps) since we got distracted by Greeb Farm. More specifically, we got distracted by the adorable sheep, ponies, and llamas* at Greeb Farm. *I admittedly just spend like 15 minutes combing through TripAdvisor reviews to confirm they were indeed llamas, not alpacas.
No trip to the English countryside is complete without seeing a castle. Luckily, there are so many according to the map posted in Tintagel that I think it’d be nearly impossible not to run into one while road-tripping. Tintagel Castle is special since it’s the rumored home of the legendary King Arthur. The rumor started back in the 12th century when Geoffrey of Monmouth named it as the place where King Arthur was conceived, and it’s stuck. Today, Tintagel Castle can be found inhabited by tourist parents and their children precariously running around the cliffs with toy swords.
Dartmoor National Park
If you’re lazy and out of shape, Dartmoor National Park is your kind of wilderness. The terrain is easy to scale, and the short grass makes it easy to spot where the animals are from miles away so you don’t waste time searching. There’s even an ice cream truck you can reward yourself at afterwards for climbing up a hill! You don’t even need the short grass to spot the wildlife—they block your way in the road so they’re impossible not to spot. It’s like a farm gone wild, but in a fabulous way.
Our trip to the countryside ended on a Sunday in Bristol the proper way: with a Sunday Roast. Well, sort of proper. You see, we didn’t realize Sunday roasts aren’t a late-night dinner food, so we had to call several pubs before we finally found a place that hadn’t run out: The Bristol Flyer. Most often, when you find yourself at a last-resort restaurant late at night, the food sucks. (Especially if you’re in Paris.) However, the roasts here were delightful! I also learned there was a variety of kinds of Sunday Roasts: chicken roasts, steak roasts, vegan nut roasts—everyone can participate!
Also published on Medium.