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Raspberry Jam, Fairy Gardens and Sunsets: A British Summer

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

I believe in times of uncertainty, we can dream of the past and manifest the future.

I want to share with you my perfect British summer holiday, in the hopes that I shall inspire you to float across the pond to seek beauty, culture, fresh air, and adventure as soon as life allows you to. Here is a full itinerary of this trip.

For a moment, let me take you somewhere.

I fell in love with the British Isles aged 11. With its green glens, rocky coasts, and cobblestone cities and villages, I felt it was a true fairyland (and still do). On my first trip to Britain in 2010, I waved goodbye to my Auntie Beti as I boarded my flight departing the UK. She waved back and promised me, “Soon, we will have many more adventures.”

In the summer of 2015, I returned to the UK. I was to live with my aunt and uncle in London and at their home in the Isle of Man, as well as attend a four-week summer study program at Cambridge University, making a total of two months in the UK — and so, the adventures continued. 

Auntie Beti, wearing chic black sunglasses, waved as I came out of Customs and into the Costa Coffee at Heathrow Airport in London. Off we went to Chelsea, where we stayed at The Sloane Club, a private nook of beauty and elegance in central London.

On the same day I arrived, we visited The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace to see a beautiful exhibition titled Painting Paradise. After getting absorbed in lush paintings, silverware, and embroideries depicting gardens, wise old trees, and flowers, we stepped out of the Palace and onto the sidewalk. The sun was shining. 

We popped around London and ran errands — bank runs and a trip to John Lewis department stores. When I travel, I love taking time to do everyday, local things like exploring a local teahouse or shopping at a department store ( I have been to gorgeous Harrods as well of course!). I loved doing a quick bank errand, shopping at Zara after outdoor lunch off of King’s Road, shopping and wandering at Covent Garden and going for long walks with no final destination. It’s these spontaneous moments that count just as much as the planned galleries and tours.

We saw two West End shows. The first was a play, The Audience, starring Dame Kirsten-Scott Thomas about The Queen’s relationships with her prime ministers throughout her longstanding reign. The other was a Beatles tribute musical called Rain. We danced and sang the night away, the theatre acting as a time travel machine to the 1960s. Afterwards, we took a nighttime stroll in the near empty, beautiful Trafalgar Square. If you can, take strolls at night in twinkling cities. You see a new side of your destination.

John Gielgud Theatre, where we saw The Audience.

We learned about music history during our time in London. We toured the Albert Hall and learned of its Victorian roots and the brilliant engineering of the grand hall. (The UFO circles on the ceiling are to help the sound bounce and create ambience, as a circular room usually deadens sound!).

Auntie Beti surprised me with tickets to An Evening with Burt Bacharach, a concert event held at performance venue Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre. The musical legend, and one of my favorite songwriters of all time, told stories about his life and career while a fabulous orchestra and gospel group accompanied his performances. To see one of my musical heroes talk about his incredible life and sing his own beautiful songs was so intimate and special. It was a magical night I shall cherish forever. 

Wherever you travel, I recommend you find the time to attend a music event, whether it be a concert, a local group at a pub or a street musician busk performance. Listening to great music while traveling is experiencing the richness of culture, and is so healthy for the soul. You never know what you might find.

An Evening with Burt Bacharach at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. Photo by Emily Dosal.

We saw an Alexander McQueen exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum, attended an abstract art auction, toured the Houses of Parliament, watched Shakespeare’s As You Like It at The Globe Theatre and had afternoon tea at The Ritz. Our memories of London are simply divine.

Houses of Parliament

Me at The Globe Theatre!

Beautiful floral arrangement at the art auction!

Tea at the Ritz.

The Ritz ceiling details.

Sophie, myself and Beti at afternoon tea at The Ritz.

We then took a train up to Liverpool for the weekend. Liverpool is a maritime city in the northwest of England that was once a bigger source of income than London. It became home to thousands of Irish immigrants throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and was bombed heavily during World War II. Liverpool is a true working class city. The people were friendly, welcoming and funny. There is no sense of humour like that of northern Englanders.

There, we embarked on three Beatles experiences: The Magical Mystery Tour bus tour, the National Trust tour of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes, and The Beatles Story interactive museum experience at Albert Dock. After seeing Rain in London, we were so lucky to experience the real history of the iconic rock group in their homeland. I’m a massive fan of 1960s and 1970s culture in Europe. As an aspiring filmmaker and musician, I felt that by tapping into the music, places and stories of those times during my time in Britain, I was invigorated and inspired in a completely new way. 

Discover and connect with the history of your heroes and events in history that touch you. It changed how I experience and create art and music.

Albert Dock.

The Cavern Club, a hot spot in the late 50s and early 60s for local bands!

Strawberry Fields.

Liverpool out of a window at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock.

Royal Liver Building, Liverpool City Centre (photo taken in May on a previous trip).

My Uncle Graham took the three hour ferry journey on the Irish Sea (with car in tow) from their home in Isle of Man to Liverpool. We met up in Liverpool City Centre, and hit the road.