I don’t know about you, but I am clawing the same four walls I have seen for the best part of a year. The sun is shining (intermittently), and my friends in sunnier climes are starting to share beach snaps and exciting views, and quite frankly, I am riddled with envy. OH, to have my toes being lapped by the salty seas of Bermuda, or to have warm late-night wilderness hangouts in the American National parks. While I am, of course, very happy for my loved ones who can do this, it is easy to feel the pang of missing out.
This is where we need to look closer to home. Although lockdown restrictions are easing, a lot of us don’t yet feel comfortable enough to hop on a plane and brave the crowded beaches, resorts and tourist attractions in an unfamiliar country. Does that mean we have to give up and stick to a small picnic spot in the local park or (if we are lucky) a bbq in the garden? I am here to tell you it does not!
Join me in discovering a few hidden gems in the UK where we will feel like we are much further afield!
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
A beautiful place tucked away just off the Mevagissey Bay in Cornwall hides the gardens of Heligan. If you haven’t been to Cornwall itself, then there is a whole bonus place to add to today’s list. With beautiful beaches and decent waves, it really is a go-to holiday spot.
Back to the gardens; As legend has it, the gardens were lost for decades until 1990, when they were re-discovered after pulling away an overgrowth of brambles to reveal an unassuming door. This really is the secret garden we all dreamed we would find as children, and now restored to its former glory, you can see it for yourself. With the UK’s only outdoor jungle, you can feel like you have stepped into a novel or a tropical abyss.
A picturesque village found on the coast of North Wales next to Snowdonia National Park. Portmeirion feels like an Italian toy-town. (For those of you that remember, I’m thinking of 90’s Noddy Toyland meets Italian Riviera!) Originally built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the village was developed to prove that a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling its character. Beautiful pastel coloured palaces are dotted around the village which hugs a small estuary and winding streets and pathways are begging to be explored. An authentic Italian Gelateria also offers gelato, to add to the feeling of an Italian vacay.
Kyoto and Fukushima Gardens
For lovers of Japan, for which I am definitely one, a trip to Holland Park’s Japanese gardens in London will definitely do the trick! Fukushima garden opened in 2012 to give thanks for the British support to Japan following the horrific natural disaster in Fukushima in 2011. The beautiful landscape sits in the heart of London yet offers a tranquil atmosphere for peace and reflection. Perfect for a gentle walk, if the city life is getting too much, get yourself down to there for a well-needed energy shift.
The Scilly Isles
One for the campers and explorers, the Scilly Isles are a little ferry or plane journey off the coast of Cornwall. The Scilly Isles are an archipelago. (Archipelago, meaning a large number of grouped islands.) The Isles boast, beautiful uninhabited islands, sandy beaches and tropical gardens. For water sport lovers there are activities such as wild swimming, natural seal snorkelling (yes with seals, err where can I sign up?), Kite surfing and swim-running, a sport that is definitely new to me but looks rather intriguing!
For the land lovers, the Isle of Tresco boasts subtropical surroundings, which would give anyone a beautiful holiday feeling!
Now this will really make you feel like you are travelling far and wide. Shetland is another archipelago in the North Sea. Shetland consists of around 100 Islands! Better yet, you either get there by plane, ferry or cruise. Hello, holiday feeling! The treasures in Shetland seem endless, from Orca spotting to kayaking around the islands; this is a nature lovers paradise. I haven’t even mentioned the most magical part yet—the sights of the Northern lights. Yes, you heard, we'll read it correctly. No, you don’t have to travel all the way to Norway to see the rare natural beauty. Yes, I do feel like I have been terribly misinformed all my life also! And if Orca spotting and Northern lights viewing still aren’t enough for you, then you can also try your hand at learning a bit of the local dialect. So get on your Gansie (jumper) and go and see the Mirrie Dancers!
So there you have it! No more crying into your morning cornflakes because you can’t travel this year! Join us in discovering the UK and seeing the beauties and experiences it has to offer!