Sponsored by National Express

Last week I visited Stratford-Upon-Avon. The name sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You might have already heard about it, especially if you had classic English literature in school. The beautiful town of Stratford-Upon-Avon is Shakespeare’s birth town. And it’s not only full of Shakespeare’s history, it’s also a really lovely little medieval town – perfect to explore by foot.

Also, it’s super easy to get to Stratford-Upon-Avon from London (and from lots of other places in the UK really). Just take the National Express coach and in a bit more than two hours you will arrive. That’s what I did. I left in the morning around 9 from Victoria Coach Station and at noon I already had a late breakfast at a super cosy café. I would recommend to stay one night in Stratford-Upon-Avon if you really want to visit all the sights and also have some relaxing time in the town’s cafes and pubs. I just came for a day and, apart from the breakfast and a glass of wine in a café, I was busy sightseeing until I took the coach home again in the early evening. I still didn’t make it to Mary Arden’s Farm, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother.

The cute tearoom: Orangemabel Stratford upon Avon

Exploring Shakespeare’s Roots

Shakespeare’s Birth Place

Shakespeare’s Birth Place is the place where he was born and grew up with his parents and siblings. He also spent his first year of marriage in the house with his wife, Anne Hathaway. Visiting this beautiful house you will not only feel set back in time but also learn a lot about Shakespeare’s upbringing and family life. The rooms are all furbished and it’s really easy to imagine what life must have been like when Shakespeare was a little boy. There is also live-theatre in the garden :)

 

Shakespeare’s New Place

Shakespeare’s New Place was his family home from 1597 until he passed away  in 1616. The house was demolished in 1759 – the story of why this happened will be explained when you visit New Place. The reason why it was demolished has nothing to do with Shakespeare, yet it is still a nice little historical story. Make sure you join the 15 mins speech about the place during which drawings of Shakespeare’s house are shown. New Place also has a lovely garden.

Hall’s Croft

Hall’s Croft is the beautiful Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, the physician John Hall. Like Shakespeare’s Birth Place, Hall’s Croft is also furbished and walking through the quaint little rooms feels like you have travelled back in time and dinner is about to get served – at a dinner party 400 years ago :)

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is the birth place of Shakespeare’s wife. It is a lovely 500 year old cottage which is said to still have the same floor in the kitchen that was established by Anne Hathaway’s grandfather.

When Anne Hathaway lived in the cottage, it is believed that it only had one floor and looked pretty much like in the drawing below. Over the years more floors were added and the cottage developed into a lovely and cosy home for the families that lived there over the last hundreds of years.

There was so much that I learnt about Shakespeare’s life that day. Before I was able to actually really process everything (you are bombarded with information at each sight you visit) I already found myself back in the bus to London. At least then I had a couple of hours to read all the material that I collected during the day. So, as mentioned before, ideally make Stratford-Upon-Avon a weekend getaway so you have more time to explore everything.

How to get there

I collaborated with National Express for this post, so I was able to try one of their coaches from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon. National Express is one of the largest operators of coach services in the UK. They offer high frequency services linking more than 900 destinations and coach services to all major UK airport 24 hours a day. I personally like to travel by bus as this always reminds me on the time I backpacked through Latin America. And, honestly, it was very relaxed and stress-free to take the National Express coach to Stratford-Upon-Avon. They have air-conditioning, leather seats, power sockets (!) and clean toilets. I fell asleep 10 mins into the journey and woke up as we were approaching Stratford-Upon-Avon :)

 

 

From Paris with love…

I hadn’t been to Paris for almost four years before my last trip. In 2014 I took my granny to Paris and before that I think it was in 2009 when I spent two weeks in pretty Paris plus every other weekend for a few months. That was when I had a boyfriend who moved from London to Paris. And before that… it must have been as part of a student trip when the Economics & Econometrics student association that I was part of (yes, I had a fair share of nerdy times) went to Paris to visit the OECD and, I believe, the IMF. This is so long ago I can’t even remember. Well and before that… it was with my parents who took me there a couple of times when I was a teenager :)

Long story short, this time it was a girls trip.

Parc Monceau

I took the Eurostar from London to Paris and arrived a few hours before the rest of the girls. So I decided to spend the day in Parc Monceau, drinking coffee, eating croissants and reading my book.

Let the Girls’ Weekend Begin..

We all stayed at my friend’s place who recently moved to Paris. Once everyone had arrived at night, we went for dinner in a tapas place (don’t remember the name) and then had cocktails at a hidden bar (you had to pass by a cooling room for meat to get to the bar). I have also forgotten that name. Sorry guys. It was probably one of the speakeasy bars.

We started quite early the next day mostly due to the fact that my friend’s cute little daughter decided to ask for entertainment around 9 am. So after playing with little Julia we got ready and left the house by noon. The first stop was shopping.

If you ever wanted to wait on the other side of the shopping street and read your emails while leaning against a building that could potentially be an embassy, don’t.. 

.. because you will be greeted by a lovely guy that carries around a super huge machine gun!

I first didn’t see the guy’s face but only saw the machine gun. So you can imagine what my initial thoughts were…  but then, when he realised that I was just a tourist girl waiting for her friends to finish shopping, he was very nice and explained in broken English that this side of the street is not open to the public. Then I remembered that I did cross a little barrier to get there. Oops.

Shopping can be so exhausting! Duh. So headed over to Place de la Concorde and had cocktails at Hotel de Crillon. I instantly fell in love with the interior of the hotel. Even the bathroom was stunning.

Later that night we had cocktails at Hotel Plaza Athenee before heading over to the club at Matignon.

The Day After

I love to sleep in after a night out. This of course doesn’t work when you are woken up by little angel Julia around 8am. To be fair it the cutest way to wake up. She starts humming and singing and after a while adds a few ‘Maman?’ to the mix. So adorable.

Once we had given up on sleep we headed over to Monmartre and Sacre Coeur. Later that night it was time to go back to London again. Bye, bye pretty Paris.

In collaboration with Aquascutum.

‘Oh, you live in London. Does it really rain all the time?’

You can’t imagine how often I’m asked this or a similar version of this question. Especially from Germans. And I also grew up thinking that the only weather available in the UK is rain. Even my great granny once told me (when I was around 6 years old and met an 8 year old British boy on a family holiday):

‘Nadine, you don’t want to live in England, it always rains.’

So I guess that, at least in Germany, it’s common knowledge that it rains in the UK. All. The. Time.

But how bad is the weather in the UK, really? And more specifically, in London? 

Well, for the last few weeks it has been hot. And I mean really hot. It has been so hot actually that I can’t sleep in the bedroom under the roof without setting the ventilator on full speed. This still means though that I can’t sleep as the sound is much too loud to have a peaceful night.

And even outside of the usual 2 weeks of summer that we get in London (ok, recently it has been getting better..), it does not really rain all the time. In fact, it rather drizzles. And yes, it drizzles relatively frequently. But a good thunderstorm with heavy rain.. no, this is something that doesn’t happen too often in London. Unfortunately (I LOVE thunderstorms).

I’m so happy that we finally have a garden. For the 10 years that I have been living in London, I mostly stayed in places without a garden. But since last summer I have had the pleasure to set up my little workspace in the patio – that is as long as it’s warm enough. A couple of months ago I enjoyed this year’s first day of summer in the garden. And it’s still nice and warm.

Thank you, London – 2018 has been great so far!

But sometimes you might have gone swimming on a Saturday, relaxed in the park on a Sunday and then a few days later .. BAM! .. back to cooler temperatures and the umbrella will become your new best friend again. In fact, or maybe this is just my biased opinion, a hot summer of more than 28 degrees is the exception. If you travel to London in summer you will have a high chance of encountering temperatures from 18 degrees to 25. So, the below photo is a more ‘typical’ photo of what I generally wore in London in summer.

London Summer North

Jeans, t-shirt… and don’t you forget your cardigan.

This way you are very well prepared for most of what London will show you weather-wise :) And no worries, the outfit below you can leave hidden in your wardrobe until October… just take the umbrella with you :)

I collaborated with Aquascutum for this post. Aquascutum is a British brand that was established in Mayfair more than 150 years ago when it was one of the first to create waterproof textiles. Nowadays, they still create stunning fashion that protects you from the rain. Check out Aquascutum’s fancy rainwear for men

Ok ladies, the link for the men’s section was meant to prevent you from checking out Aquascutum’s outlet section… Do not click over there. Don’t. Fashion on sale will do funny things to your brain..