After being closed for three years, not necessarily because of Covid, but for a planned renovation, Kelmscott Manor, in the Cotswold region of England, reopened in the spring of 2022. I was thrilled to be able to visit the property in May. It is operated by the Society of Antiquaries of London.
This May I knocked one big goal off my bucket list — to attend the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show, held annually in May, on the grounds of the Royal Hospital in the Chelsea neighborhood of London. The Chelsea Show was cancelled in 2020 for only the second time since it began in 1912 (the first was during the Second World War), although some form of an online virtual show took place. The 2021 show was postponed and moved to September.
One of the oldest and most famous of London’s food markets, Borough Market, is located on the south side of the Thames, the South Bank, adjacent to Southwark Cathedral. (Note: We were surprised to learn that Southwark is pronounced “suh-thrk”!) William Shakespeare lived and worked in the neighborhood, (the reconstructed Globe Theater is nearby) and it is believed he shopped for food here, since there has been a market on the site since at least the 12th century. It is a lot of fun to wander through the stalls and passageways, and some vendors offer tastings.
Last fall I spent a magical week taking an adult education course at Oxford University, in Oxford, UK. Following the conclusion of my program, I headed to London and met up with my husband, who flew in from the States to meet me. After a couple of days that allowed him to acclimate to the time zone, we hopped on a train at Kings Cross Station and took the two-hour ride north to the city of York.
After spending a few days in York we rented a car and stayed on the grounds of Fountains Abbey, a World Heritage Site. During our stay, we explored the ruins of the Abbey and the adjacent Studley Royal Park. We spent a day taking a historic steam train through the Yorkshire Moors to Whitby, a coastal town known for its fish and chips, as well as being the location of a ruined abbey that was an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We also explored some of the beautiful landscape in this part of Yorkshire, which is England’s largest county.
This fall, my husband and I had the great fortune to stay at Middlethorpe Hall, one of three National Trust UK’s country house hotels. Middllethorpe Hall is just a few miles outside of downtown York; the other two National Trust hotels are located in North Wales and Aylesbury, the latter being about an hour from London. All three hotels were acquired by the National Trust by donation.
This September, I had the privilege of spending a week in Oxford, England, while taking a course on the history of the British/American relationship. The program was a collaboration between the University of Virginia and Oxford University.