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Seeing England Properly

May 4, 2011  I impulsively book rooms in sales far too often.
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The best bits of England to see if you've got at least a couple of weeks.

  • 1. London
    London, England

    This is an obvious starting point. Personal favourite bits include:

    Hyde Park (especially good when there's events, like the Red Bull Flugtag or the annual Wireless music festival).

    Kensington is great for window shopping - having seen Macys in New York, I can say Harrods puts it to shame - the food courts and winery alone are enough to get lost for an hour or so, and there's about 7 more floors after that.

    The music venues here are fantastic - Brixton Academy, Electric Ballroom (Camden) and Relentless Garage (Islington) are the best places to try and see decent bands.

    Also wander aimlessly around Covent Garden, the South Bank and Leicester Square (especially if there's movie premieres going on).

  • 2. Leicester Square
    Leicester Square, London, England

    Worth it's own entry.

    Visit the Prince Charles Cinema, or wander out of the square and find the Curzon in Soho. They both often do intimate Q&A sessions with directors, etc.

    Go to what's left of the Trocadero arcade before they knock the whole thing down.

    Picadilly Circus is just down the road too.

  • 3. Windsor
    Windsor, Windsor and Maidenhead

    When you're done with London, Windsor is only 20 or so miles out to the West.

    Even having worked across the street and lived within visible distance of the castle, I still find it fascinating.

    Definitely do the walk from the castle to the Iron Horse (known as The Long Walk).

    If you have kids, take them to the (slightly run down) mini fair by the river (near the Alma Road carpark) and feed the army of swans.

  • 4. Hurley
    Hurley, Maidenhead

    If you're in Berkshire, or even just driving through, go to Hurley - it's a tiny village on the outskirts of Maidenhead, but if you park near the little High Street and wander through the bushes, there's the gorgeous Hurley Lock, which is a big, well kept island in the middle of the Thames where you can watch boats pass through the Lock. Really relaxing in the summer.

  • 5. Bournemouth
    Bournemouth, Dorset

    England's last decent seaside town.

    Definitely visit Solent Meads (which is technically in Southbourne) - climb the hill and look out over Christchurch harbour and the Isle of Wight.

    The beach in central Bournemouth is fantastic, and you can walk down the beach at night (there are street lights) which is very nice.

  • 6. Leamington Spa
    Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

    A great example of an old English town that's managed to develop without losing its very tranditional character. Victoria Park/The Pump Room Gardens are great in the summer and there's some really nice pubs (The Clarendon for example).

    The town centre is surprisingly busy and well established for such a traditional town - there's plenty of shopping options here.

    Largely populated with students and games designers, but the nice ones.

  • 7. Alton Towers
    Alton Towers, Alton, Staffordshire

    Our best theme park. Doesn't quite rival the Florida parks, but it nearly does.

  • 8. Blackpool
    Blackpool, Lancashire

    Blackpool was a glamorous place in the early 20th century, but sadly not any more.

    It's still worth visiting for the "Golden Mile" beach, and the Pleasure Beach theme park, but don't stay too long.