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Summering in the UK

Jul 20, 2023 | Road Trips, The Grand Adventure | 6 comments

For the last couple of years, we have summered in the UK. In part because most parents take their little darlings to the Continent during July and August, and we would rather not join them. But mainly because the UK is just so fabulous in the sunshine.

Granted, summer and sunshine don’t always go hand in hand in England, but when the two align, there’s nothing better—especially when the sun lingers long into the drawn-out evenings.

Actually, the fabulousness sometimes happens in spring when the sun has been known to make its first bashful appearance. In April this year (2023), we felt inspired enough to venture outside without a coat to discover new corners of the Suffolk countryside, pubs with interesting beer gardens, and squeal in delight at the first blooming of Wisteria and roses in our tiny front garden. It’s the little things.

Waterways and Woods in Suffolk

However, the spring of 2023 was fleeting and fickle – as you will remember if you read my ‘Great British Wardrobe Dilemma’  post.

The weather had still not really improved on our return from Sicily, and, unbelievably, we had to turn on our electric blankets our first night home—in June!

However, fate was on our side. Less than a week later, our friends from Australia, Terry and Lorraine, descended on Suffolk, bringing the warmth and sunshine of Queensland with them.

For the next few days, we treated them to every local delight we could think of, from meals in our favourite pubs, to the beach, wacky-walk-of-mirrors on Southwold Pier, and a lunch cruise on the Lady Florence up the River Alde.

A highlight of their stay was the evening we took them to Thorington Theatre in the woods, an amphitheatre carved into the ground by a WWII bomb, surrounded by towering trees. During COVID, the land owners and some bored carpenters created the stage and tiered seating out of the local timbers and now it’s a thriving venue for all sorts of touring acts and plays through the summer months. We took a picnic, bought a bottle of bubbles and laughed ourselves silly at the five comedians doing ‘Stand Up Under the Stars’. 

History and Cricket in Somerset

June morphed into July, and the weather remained kind enough for us to return to Thorington Theatre – this time for a night of music – and make a rare journey up to the ‘big smoke’ of London for a friend’s birthday party.

Then, on a whim, we decided to join Terry and Lorraine in Cornwall. They’d rented a tiny house in St Ives for a week, and by luck, we found an Airbnb a stone’s throw away.

The UK isn’t an enormous country (certainly not by Australian standards), but we live in the most eastern corner, and St Ives couldn’t be further west, which makes the car journey around nine hours. That’s only if you don’t stop for coffee, lunch, toilet breaks, leg stretching, and car refuelling, which, of course, we’d want to.

So, we decided to do it over two days, and I stuck a pin in the map to find a halfway mark. Turns out that’s in Somerset. I found us a place to stay just outside of Bath, and off we set.

Travel Tip: If you ever happen to find yourself in Somerset, in the village of Norton-St-Phillip to be exact, book into the George Inn. It’s like visiting a museum, a film set, and a pub all at once.

It’s a 14th-century, Grade 1 listed Tudor inn that claims to be the only tavern in England to have continuously served beer for over 700 years. It still has the old cobbled courtyard in the middle, where guests would arrive and tie up their horses.

We stayed in the Monmouth room, which was huge. It had a king-size bed, a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a desk and chair, two sofas, a dining table, and a secret ensuite bathroom hidden behind a panelled wall.

On the dining table was a plaque saying the Duke of Monmouth – the illegitimate son of King Charles II – dined at that table in that room on June 26, 1685, just before he led the failed Monmouth Rebellion against his uncle, James II. He was beheaded for treason less than a month later.

This place is dripping in history.

We took our pre-dinner drinks to the beer garden, which looks over the village green, where they were playing cricket. You can’t get more English than the sound of leather on willow, along with the odd ‘howzat!’, coming from a village green on a warm July evening.

We ended the day with supper in the beamed dining hall, enjoying the largest Yorkshire Pudding I have ever seen. It needed its own side plate!

Art and Beaches in Cornwall

Our next stop was Cornwall. St Ives to be exact. It’s right down in the ‘toe’ of Cornwall, almost as far west as you can go in England.

I’ve been to Cornwall many times – particularly in my misspent late teens, sleeping in the back of my friend Victoria’s kombi van. Ah, those were the days! – but never to St Ives, so I was looking forward to it. 

It’s famous for two things:  its world-class art scene (there are art galleries and studios in every street of the town, including one of the few Tate Galleries in the UK), and its beaches and surf culture. Depending on who you talk to, it has either four or seven beaches. There are certainly four surrounding the town. And, as British beaches go, you’d have to agree they’re pretty impressive.

For the next five days, we walked, explored, ate, shopped, viewed art, slept, and explored some more. Here’re a few holiday snaps taken in and around the town, from our Airbnb, in art galleries, a couple of beaches and pubs:

On our last day, we drove to Penzance, another well-known Cornish town, where we had a beer in the weirdest pub. It was called the Admiral Benbow and it was decked out like the inside of an old sailing ship. 

Then we walked along the coast path for three miles or so to Mousehole (pronounced Maw-zuhl), a chocolate box village with cobbled streets and a pretty harbour, where we stopped for another beer at the Ship Inn.

Everything in Cornwall is about the sea.

It was now well into July and our week in Cornwall was coming to an end. Terry and Lorraine returned to London and we headed for home in Suffolk. 

If spring 2023 was fleeting and fickle, summer so far had been flakey. It was warm, it was cool. It was sunny, it was cloudy. I was up and down from our loft, retrieving jumpers, repacking T-shirts, and pulling out shorts like a woman possessed.

But we still had August and September to look forward to, and if I remember one thing from my childhood in the UK, the Brits always remain ridiculously optimistic about the weather.

So here’s hoping. And if all else fails, the Continent is fabulous in October!



  1. We’re doing our best, John

  2. You guys are having toooo much fun LOL

  3. It was, Sue. Thanks for reading

  4. It all sounds and looks heavenly!

  5. Yes, it was fun, Shelagh

  6. Love your update on Cornwall..I was there briefly in August 2023…. hadn’t been there for years… what fun

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