Today's post steps away from recipes to share some recent trips out of London. We still haven't ventured too far from England's capital, but recent day trips have whetted my appetite for more exploring.
Tonbridge is approximately 30 miles south-east of London, in the heart of Kent. As with many towns in the area, it started as a market town and still has a traditional high street, albeit now with modern shops. The town isn't too far from where my grandparents live, but inexplicably I'd never visited it before. I think we tended to head to nearby Tunbridge Wells when in the area, as that is larger and has more shops.
|High Street buildings|
We were visiting Tonbridge as a potential future living location, for when we eventually move out of London. Whilst we are loving the city at present, our one bedroom flat is, well, a one bedroom flat. We would like more space at some stage, as well as easy access to countryside. Tonbridge is a popular commuter town for London and we could see why when we visited.
|Local walking trails|
We walked from the town to Haysden Country Park, on a glorious autumn day that was cool but sunny. There were lots of runners, cyclists and dog walkers about, and the area seemed to have a good network of paths for all of those activities. We were pretty smitten with the scenery and atmosphere around the town.
|Haysden Country Park|
For lunch, we decided to make the most of the weather and eat outside rather than at a cafe. The remains of Tonbridge Castle are a nice feature off the high street, and you can enter the old castle walls without any admission charge (there is a fee to enter the Gatehouse, which is the building pictured in the top photo). I bought a vegan hummus, carrot and coriander sandwich from a local cafe, while Mr Bite had a cheese ploughman's sandwich from Gregg's. Eating in dappled sunshine, with the castle to our side, was delightful.
It will be a while before we consider moving, but if and when we do, Tonbridge is on the possibility list.
|Views over Tonbridge|
Oxford was a different kind of trip, and one I made solo as it was to see my old PhD supervisor and recent employer. I worked with her in some capacity from 2004 until we left Perth, so it was lovely to catch up again on English soil. She lived and worked in Oxford for a number of years before I met her, and has been back visiting the area.
|Bodleian library reading room|
I had only been to Oxford once before and didn't know the town well. I enjoyed having an insider's perspective and we spent a a couple of hours wandering the historic centre and various university buildings. They are all stunning.
|Peeking at All Souls College|
We ate lunch at Vaults Cafe, which is housed within a 1320 building adjacent to the University Church. Happily for me, the cafe has a focus on fresh, organic food with plenty of vegetarian choices. Everything was nicely labelled according to ingredient status, so it was easy to identify a vegan Bengal curry dish, which came with brown rice.
|The gardens of Vaults Cafe|
It was a delicious meal, with the curry nicely flavoured and containing a mix of in season and perfectly cooked vegetables. My companion had the lasagna, and also rated it highly.
Again, the weather for this trip was beautiful, with cool temperatures buffered by sunny skies. It was rainy on leaving London in the morning, but I didn't need the umbrella I diligently backed for the day.
All in all, two very enjoyable day trips, to different but equally beautiful parts of the country.
Have you explored any new places recently?