A Sunday at the seaside – day trip to Brighton

After a pretty hectic Saturday, we headed to Brighton for a day of relaxation on the beach. With the cost of the train under £15 from central London [if you go on Thameslink – there are quicker Southern trains from Victoria but they cost more], we took a morning train with croissants, strawberries and apple juice, and were ready to go by the time we reached the coast.

We avoided the stag and hen parties and walked along the pebbly beach towards the famous Pier.

Deckchairs on Brighton beach

We passed a Punch and Judy show, but by the time they came out to play we had continued on to discover the next excitement!

Punch and Judy in Brighton

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A summer break in the Algarve, part 2 – exploring Tavira

Welcome back to Part 2 of our Algarve adventure (catch up with part 1 first if you haven’t already)! As well as exploring the city, we made sure to make some time for the beach – which, as we mentioned, was on its own island, the Ilha de Tavira. The ferry took us through the harbour and moored up on the edge of the beach:

Boats on the beach on Ilha de Tavira

We passed some fascinating natural wildlife, so to see it a bit more closely we took a tour in a small speedboat along the coast. We passed storks, white flamingos, egrets and other animals!

Storks around Ilha de Tavira

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A summer break in the Algarve, part 1 – trip to Tavira

We’re very British [and proud of it]. One of us is from Yorkshire, and the other one is so pale she’s blue in certain light. So 37°C in Portugal was both stunning and a shock to the system! We chose Tavira, a little town [technically a city but it certainly didn’t feel big enough to be] in the Algarve, because it looked attractive, historical and quirky. It’s also a pretty convenient 30-minute train ride from Faro, where the airport is located.

The town is built on a river, with extensive beaches on an island a short ferry ride away. This didn’t put us off, and we’re glad, because the ferry was reasonably priced, cooled us down and made a trip to the island that bit more of an occasion.

Tavira

There was a festival on, and we saw some great evening performances in the town square. The town was also decorated with a nautical theme:

Festival decorations in Tavira

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Her birthday adventures – looking over London

Amongst other brilliant happenings, including a horse riding lesson in the countryside and the aforementioned barbecue, we returned to London on the Sunday evening for a lofty surprise. 20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as the Walkie Talkie (or the Scorchie, after it melted some cars when it was first built) is home to the Sky Garden, bookable for drinks, snacks or just a wander around.
20 Fenchurch Street

You need to book a couple of months in advance, but it’s free, and you’re whizzed up in a lift to floor 35. Once there, you’re free to walk around the outer perimeter and get a panoramic view of London.

St Paul’s looks dwarfed by the BT Tower:

St. Paul's surrounded by other buildings

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His birthday adventures – from Regent’s Canal to a secret Tube station 

Our birthdays are six days apart, which in effect means about three weeks of continuous sociableness and fun. We thought we’d share with you a little snippet, though, of each birthday – the bits that you might like to do for yourselves (rather than have a barbecue/camping/mini-festival with my friends, which you might enjoy less than I did, for example [oi, stay on topic – this week is my birthday]).

First, it was his birthday [better]. Given our (his) [definitely our] slightly geeky propensity for transport, I booked a canal boat trip along the Regent’s Canal, from Little Venice to Camden Lock. Simply called Jason’s (both the boat and the enterprise), it trundled up the river while the owner gave us a fascinating historical commentary.

Cafe boat in Little Venice

We passed lovely boats, old factories, beautiful houses, and ended up at the love-it-or-hate-it Camden Lock.

Boat passing through Camden lock

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Weekend in the Cotswolds, Saturday – Bourton on the Water

As a very welcome and exciting surprise, I was taken to the Cotswolds on 24 hours’ notice. Excitement! Our first stop was Bourton-on-the-Water, a town chosen mainly for its tandem-hiring ability but one which turned out to be picturesque and gorgeous.

Tandem outside Upper Slaughter church

You may remember us hiring a tandem bike in Cornwall. We now consider ourselves practically pros [that might be pushing it], although it turns out that Gloucestershire isn’t quite as flat as the Camel Trail near Padstow… Our tandem trail took us to Upper and Lower Slaughter (much nicer than they sound!) complete with beautiful little church to explore.

Gravestone at Upper Slaughter church

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The land of Shakespeare

So I was taken away on a special weekend trip… A lucky girl indeed. Although English Lit courses at uni are a distant memory, I was excited to be taken to Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Mr William Shakespeare himself.

We bought the Five House Pass [2-for-1 if you’re a Direct Line customer! or 10% if you book online], a combined ticket that gets you access to all the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust sites, which we think is good value if you visit two or more. We started with the cottage he was born in. It is a lot bigger now, though…

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Below is one of the two downstairs rooms original to the time of Shakespeare’s birth. There is a real sense of history as you experience the house, although it is pretty packed with tourists like us!

Inside Shakespeare's Birthplace

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