Not that we don’t adore London, but you know we have a penchant for exploring and with so many gems with easy reach of the capital, what better time of year to escape for a day?
Summer has dissipated, the tourist hordes have waned and a slower pace of life has returned, so try one of these delightful day trips for a little something different…
There’s something deeply romantic about Cambridge at the best of times, but even more so during the autumnal months. Less than 90 minutes from London, it’s a city of literary greats and enticing stories.
Start with a guided tour of the Cambridge Backs on a punt – or try punting yourself if you’re brave enough – taking in the sights of the stunning Cambridge University from the water before stepping inside the hallowed halls as trodden by so many greats. Don’t miss the stunning King’s College Chapel, famous home of the live Christmas Eve carol concert.
Take a stroll around the Botanic Gardens and lose yourself in 40 acres of luscious foliage, owned by Cambridge University. Make sure to check listings for The Cambridge Junction, an independent arts venue packed with comedy, music, theatre, spoken word, movies and more; from folk music to top stand-ups, it has a reputation as one of the best live music venues outside of London. Any literature lover should make sure to visit Heffer’s bookshop; it’s a veritable shrine to the written word and virtually impossible not to pick up a tome or two to challenge the mind.
If you’re seeking a vegan nibble, Stem & Glory’s small plates might be just up your street, while the institution that is Fitzbillies café has been a beloved haunt of the city’s students since the 1920s and makes the best bakes in town. For those after an indulgent feast in the most sumptuous of surroundings, book a table at Parker’s Tavern. Situated in the University Arms Hotel, chef Tristan Welch brings his experience from the likes of Le Gavroche to this buxom British brasserie, home to an unpretentious menu of classics in its cosy, atmospheric dining room and with the recent launch of its new Sunday roast menu it’s the perfect autumnal pit stop.
A city of spas, Bath is the perfect autumnal escape from London. With the fastest service taking just an hour and 24 minutes, hop on an early train and you can be in town for a delicious brunch at the award-winning Blue Quails Deli before heading to the rooftop pools of the city’s Thermal Bath Spa. Bathe Britain’s only naturally warm, mineral-rich waters just as the Celts and Romans did over 2,000 years ago before indulging in one of their 40+ treatments.
Enjoy the city’s quaint cobbled streets and walk in the footsteps of one of England’s most beloved authors; The Jane Austen Centre offers a snapshot of Regency life and an authentic experience of Bath’s most famous former resident. The Royal Crescent has to be Bath’s most recognisable street, with its sweeping curve of grandiose Georgian townhouses and The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa resplendent in its midst.
Make sure to leave some time for shopping. Bath Aqua Glass is a beautiful independent glass shop and studio where you can watch the makers in action and from November 28th the city is home to what is widely regarded as one of the UK’s best Christmas markets.
The Kent Coast
Margate’s Insta-friendly retro amusement park Dreamland may have just closed for the season, but there’s still plenty to entertain. Turner Contemporary is one of the UK’s leading art galleries, founded to celebrate JMW Turner’s connection to Margate in 2001 and opened in 2011. This year’s Turner Prize shortlist is in situ until January and in collaboration with Kent Libraries, the gallery has commissioned Japanese sound artist, electronic musician and Margate resident Yuri Suzuki to make a new participatory artwork as part of Margate NOW. The Welcome Chorus brings together sound, sculpture and artificial intelligence (AI) in a new interactive outdoor commission, installed on Turner Contemporary’s terrace where twelve horns, each representing a different district of Kent, will continually sing lyrics which are generated live by a uniquely trained, site-specific piece of AI software.
The seaside town is also no stranger to a delicious dish, with Waitrose’s new Good Food Guide 2020 – a veritable bible for the discerning diner – recommending no fewer than eight Margate locations, home to fresh fish galore and daily-changing menus dependent on what’s caught. Head to Hantverk & Found between 17th and 20th October and you’ll be able to enjoy the spoils of chef Thom Eagle, who’s taking over the lunch service kitchen, testing recipes from his travels with a focus on seasonal, local ingredients and of course, plenty of seafood.
A 20 minute train ride and you’ll find yourself in Whitstable, with its pebbled coastline, pastel beach huts and promenade of stalls shucking fresh oysters brought in that morning. The high street is home to a delicious cheese shop, adorable vintage stores, bookshops and the instantly recognisable Wheeler’s Oyster Bar, though book early to guarantee a table; it’s pocket sized and constantly full thanks to its counter service of seafood and cosy dining room.
A trip to Brighton is never a bad idea. Get yourself down the pier for some serious fun on its classic amusements, accompanied by some essential candy floss. Fish and chips on the beach are a part of any trip to the British seaside and Brighton should be no exception. There are half a dozen delicious chippies along the seafront, but if you’d rather sit at a table for your lunch head to The Lanes.
This warren of pedestrianised streets is home to a plethora of cosy cafés, pubs and restaurants with every cuisine under the sun, from steak and seafood at The Coal Shed to delicious bakes at Sugardough. Brighton is certainly somewhere to visit with an empty stomach.
Speaking of The Lanes, this quirky quarter is packed with record shops, antiques and vintage bazaars, independent clothes stores and some seriously envy-inducing homewares, not to mention beautiful boutiques selling a plethora of gorgeous fashion, lingerie and gifts. We defy you to try and visit without getting a spot of shopping in, it’s irresistable.
Finish up your afternoon with a browse of Brighton Photography, the town’s most popular photography gallery, situated down on the seafront. Home to some stunning photography of Brighton and the South Downs by some of the city’s favourite photographers, you can pick up a print for your wall while you’re there alongside some beautiful greetings cards and photobooks.