Keep calm and carry on!

Septembre 2015
999 jours
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In September 2015, I moved to the United Kingdom to start my PhD journey. During these three years, I visited many cities in England, Scotland and Wales, and decided to tell you more about my life - or how I managed to survive in this country haha. More seriously, if you decide to visit, here are some tips!

To make a long story short, I started my PhD in Kingston-upon-Hull, in Yorkshire, North of England. For my second and third years, I moved to Cardiff, in Wales, to follow my supervisor. You can check the exact locations of both these cities and all the other ones I visited on the map of my article.

I hope you will enjoy reading my adventures, and maybe it will give you some ideas of visits! 😀

I will try to do my best to remember as many details as possible.

Before we start, here some information about the UK (nothing fancy). UK = England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland. Population = 66 million. Government: constitutional monarchy. Religion = Christianity. Climate = I don't want to talk about that haha. Flag = the Union Jack (see image below).

The Union Jack 

PS: Before actually moving to the UK in 2015, I already came a few times, to visit: London (of course), Oxford, Brighton, Kent County, Glasgow and Edinburgh. If you are not European, you may think that all the countries of Europe are similar, and that they all look like the UK. This is not true at all!!! :O

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My very first step in September 2015 was not in London, but in Leeds. I indeed found a cheap flight from Paris, and decided to spend a night in Leeds to visit a bit the city before heading to Hull with the Megabus (offering some £1 tickets between the two cities).

I did not go back to Leeds during my time in Hull, but I went back there last month for the concert of James Blunt. 😀 And I discovered a really nice hostel, which was not open at the time... The Art Hostel, Leeds first ever social enterprise art hostel. Very well located in the city centre, this hostel offers some refurbished and clean beds, as well as some art exhibitions. I totally recommend.

What to see and do in the city? I will post here some pictures I took 2 years ago and last month, with a view to give you some ideas! Some of you have probably heard about Leeds United Football Club, but I am afraid I will not talk about football, as it is not at all my cup of tea (such a British expression :O).

For my first time in Leeds, I was not such a Wanderlust spirit and therefore not as organised as I am nowadays. I spent most of my time wandering in the city. I remember that I particularly enjoyed the canals.

Along the canals

These first days were also for me the opportunity to discover the Yorkshire architecture... and accent!

Architecture 

At the end of the day, I also discovered the arcades - and told myself I would come back to explore more.

Arcades 

It took me some time, but I finally came back last month and spent a few hours visiting the city from another point of view. I indeed saw more of the arcades, which were nicely decorated for Christmas (yes, contrary to mainland Europe, Brits are crazy about Christmas: they started talking about it in Summer, set the tree for Halloween, and wear Christmas jumpers from Thanksgiving). I am not even kidding! :O

More arcades 😉

And, as I now am an organised traveler, I Googled Leeds before coming (back). That's how I learnt about Corn Exchange, and decided to go there... I discovered a beautiful Victorian building completed in 1864. The dome design was based on the Bourse de Commerce of Paris. Nowadays, the building is full with lovely boutiques and tiny restaurants. Talking about restaurants; I had lunch at Humpit, it was cheap, very good, and they provide a lot of food! Ideal for vegetarians - myself not being one, by the way! 😀

Corn Exchange 
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Kingston-upon-Hull, usually known as Hull; my "home" for 9 months. If you know me, if you have met me, you probably already know why I hate this place. I will not write down all the reasons here, because the list is too long! 😉 Did you know that Hull was voted least romantic city in the UK in February 2015? Long story short: Hull is ugly, there is nothing to do in the city, people are weirdos, they voted Brexit.

The only pretty (or "okay-ish") place in the city is the campus, particularly the Business school (or: how to attract Chinese students and their money).

The University of Hull 

The town itself has nothing to offer, however, I managed to take some "good" pictures. Yes, if you know how to handle a camera and wait for a blue sky, you can make everything (everyone!) look beautiful...

The city centre 

These pictures summarised my very first day(s) in Hull. As I mentioned previously, I spent nine months there, so there is actually a lot more to tell about my stay/time/experience! What made THE BEST of my time in Hull was the people I met there, more particularly my housemates: Emilie from France, Kwesi from Ghana, and Fangjian a.k.a. Lake from China. We spent so many hours chatting, laughing, crying, cuddling, and... eating!!! @ 45 Auckland. 😀#BestHousematesEver

Auckland avenue 


Our main hobby was indeed to organise some food related parties. French lunch, international lunch, Chinese dinner, tea and cakes, Spanish lunch, crêpes party... what else? :O

French lunch (November 2015)
Christmas meals (December 2015) 
Chinese New Year (February 2016) 
French lunch 2.0 (the day I was hit by a car while cycling 😥) 
CakeS (April 2016) 

Conclusion: when you don't like a city, make sure you make the most out of it by 1) finding the nice people 2) organising meet-ups!!! 😀 Our best event (according to me) was our international lunch, where we asked everyone to cook/bring some typical food from their country and dress appropriately...

#WeAreInternational <3 (May 2016)

Thank you! For being part of my life, of my journey, of my laughs. Nithish, Annie, Ipin, Ilina, Ali, Ali, Sahar, Kanthi, Cosmin, Gigi, Dongfei, the ones I forgot, and of course Emilie, Lake and Kwesi, with who I am still in touch, and hope to be always! I met these guys again after Hull actually; Lake in Cardiff, Kwesi in Ghana, Emilie in France - and we will meet again in Belgium next week. I hope the 4 of us can be reunited in China or Europe some day soon! 😀

Best housemates ever! 

And all this just made me think that I forgot to talk about what to do in Hull lol. My favorite thing was the Streetlife Museum of Transport, #1 things to do in Hull according to TripAdvisor. It is a free museum representing different old means of transport. The best? The old rifle shooting game for 20p!!! If I go back to Hull someday (probably not), that's what I want to do.

Otherwise, the Humber bridge is THE place to see. THE and not the, because it is the ONLY place to see. You can take a selfie there, send it to your friends and let them believe you went to SF! :P

The Humber bridge 
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York is a historic walled city in North Yorkshire. Located 40 miles from Hull, I went there several times: on my own, with my friends, with my parents. York is a lovely city where you can easily spend a weekend. Its most famous building is probably York Minster. I have never visited it as it is very expensive; however, you can go through the entrance and have a look for free... 😀 It is also free to go for a walk or have a rest in the garden of the Minster, which can be nice in the sun.

York Minster 

If you are not so much into churches and cathedrals, you should go to the Shambles, an old street with overhanging timber-framed buildings, many tiny shops and cafés, and the market. I had a look at my "archives" and did not find any good pics of this place. You will have to discover by yourself!

My favorite thing to do in York is... wandering in the National Railway Museum. If you know me, you probably know that I do not like museums; but this one is really good! And free! You can easily spend a couple of hours in the building, as it is huge and full of things to see. I went there at least 3 times.

National Railway Museum 

If the weather is good (or at least not too bad) during your stay, you can go for a walk along the river and on the wall, where you have a nice view on the city.

York 

If the weather is not that good, do not worry! York has many museums to offer - on top of the National Railway one. I went to York's Chocolate Story, which is slightly expensive but interesting and tasty, for kids and adults. I believe the city also has a few more to offer.

Tip for backpackers: the YHA York Hostel is clean, quiet, and inexpensive. Moreover, you can get a full English breakfast and/or some fast-food in the hostel!

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Cambridge is a university city, widely known over the globe, with its main concurrent Oxford. I went twice to Oxford and once to Cambridge, and I am afraid Oxford is my favorite! 😉 The two main reasons being: I saw Oxford under the sun and Cambridge under the rain, and I am a crazy Harry Potter fan.

During my time in Cambridge, I took one of the boats to visit around the colleges. You can visit some colleges as well, the most famous ones being King's college and Trinity college, but you will have to pay for each visit. Tip for students: go to Cambridge (or Oxford) during the Open Days and pretend you want to study there! 😀 You will earn a free visit of the buildings! :P

 Random views from the river
The Bridge of Sighs, named after the one in Venice (I saw both!) 

I visited only one college, as I am a poor student! :P I chose Trinity college, as it is a famous one and it was one of the cheapest. There was not so much to see though...

Trinity college 
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When I was living in Hull, I was always looking for a new opportunity to travel. This is how I managed to go to Nottingham in December 2015; thanks to an event organised by TargetJobs called: IT's not just for boys! (for women in IT). You may have heard about Nottingham as it has links to the legend of Robin Hood! :P I had myself no idea of what to expect there. I spent a few hours wandering around the city before the event, and enjoyed its atmosphere. It looks like a modern city, with a few touristic points.

In the streets 

I also discovered a few arcades, similar to the ones in Leeds. The two cities are indeed only separated by Sheffield. You can notice from my pictures that all the cities in the North present similar characteristics.

Arcades 
I don't remember the name of that church or cathedral, but I like the colours! 😀
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Bridlington and Flamborough are two cities located on the East coast of Yorkshire. I went there a few times, with some friends, with my parents, and with my ex-boyfriend. Each time, the weather was pretty cold - at least, way too cold to go for a swim or even take the jacket off!

Bridlington is a minor sea fishing port. It has been "humanised" with some promenade, restaurants and garden. I even had a picnic in December in a tree with some friends... 😉

Bridlington 

I prefer Flamborough a lot more than Bridlington, as it is a lot "wilder". Flamborough offers some pretty points of view, and you can even find hundreds/thousands of birds if you have good eyes! However, this latter is not accessible by train.

Flamborough 
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Durham is a historic city in North East England. The only reason I decided to go to Durham is because...

I am a big fan of Harry Potter! 😀 Let me tell you more about this...

But, before that, I will tell you about the weather conditions. I reached Durham on the 30th of December 2015, right after some big floods in Northern England. The river was overflowing.

Floodings 

It was quite difficult to walk along the river, therefore the best idea was to walk to the top of the city, i.e., the cathedral which became a centre of pilgrimage in medieval England.

Durham cathedral 

It is not allowed to take pictures inside the cathedral, but you know that I am a rebel. The lights were rather nice, so I could not resist! 😀

Inside the cathedral 

I spent two days in Durham. If you are impatient about hearing stories of Harry Potter, you need to keep reading a bit more, because it was during my second day, and now is still about my first day... 😉

After visiting the cathedral, I walked around the city centre.

City centre 

And then, along the river. There was supposed to be a path to my Airbnb, but sadly the paths were flooded. At that time, I did not have a smartphone and therefore was following a small map I printed from Google maps. But I found an appealing path in a small forest... Curious, I decided to follow this path. But it was already 3pm, sunset time in North of England. I got slightly lost in my forest, but eventually found my way!

While getting lost 

If you came only for the Harry Potter story, here it is! 😀 On the left, my picture; on the right, a frame from the movie... 😀

Haters gonna hate lol 

I finally decided to climb the 325 steps of Durham cathedral tower, to discover the city from the sky. Sadly, the weather was pretty British... But they gave me a beautiful sticker! 😉 *proud*

Cathedral tower 
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The first time I went to Scotland was in June 2012, to visit my friend Pauline who I met in high school. We visited around Glasgow and Edinburgh. I went back to Scotland in December 2015 to spend the New Year with Pauline and her boyfriend in Glasgow. That time, we also went to Stirling and to Loch Lomond. Finally, I went again to Edinburgh in June 2016, this time with Emilie (see #BestHousematesEver) and Sahar, a good Persian friend of mine. I will talk about Glasgow in this post, and hopefully about the other places I went to in the following posts! Funny fact. Pauline and I met in Le Mans in 2008. We were in the same class. Then, we randomly met in South of France during summer holidays. After that, I visited her in Scotland. In December 2013, we met in New York city. And last year she came to visit me in Cardiff. Where next? 😀

Let's come back to our sheeps - this probably means nothing in English haha, it is a French expression meaning: let's go back to our conversation/topic. Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third-largest in the UK. But one has to keep in mind that Glasgow is not the capital of Scotland! Edinburgh is. So, in 2012, I discovered a place where people speak a language I do not understand at all... Indeed, in Glasgow, English is not spoken but Glaswegian!!! If you think your English is good (or even very good), please go to Glasgow and (try to) speak with locals. 😉 The (other) first thing I discovered there was the Central station, which is the twelfth-busiest railway station in Britain (according to Wiki).

Central station 

If my memories are correct, I believe that Pauline picked me up there (she was surprised by my TINY backpack) and we went for a walk along the river - probably the River Clyde. That is where I started to notice that Glasgow was a very industrial city.

A bridge on the river (very accurate description 😉) 

We then went to some kind of garden or greenhouse... called The People's Palace according to Pauline! Thank you so much for your help! 😉

The People's Palace

We then went to Glasgow cathedral and to Necropolis. Necropolis is a Victorian cemetery located on a hill to the east of Glasgow cathedral. Its creation followed the one of the cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris.

Glasgow cathedral (on the left) and Necropolis (on the right)

I remember the name of our next stop: Kelvingrove Park and Kelvingrove Museum. The Art Gallery and Museum is a very touristic place. Its entrance is free. I also remember that we attended a free organ recital.

Kelvingrove museum 
Inside Kelvingrove museum 

My favourite visit at that time was... the Riverside museum of Transport and Travel! 😀 Pauline knows that I do not like museums, but she told me that this one was different. I was skeptical, but she was definitely right. I would recommend everyone to visit this museum - moreover, the entrance is free! As most of the museums in the UK, which is a great thing when you see prices in Europe and the rest of the world. I also enjoyed a lot the Botanics Gardens, which were free as well I believe.

Museum of transport and botanical garden 

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I went back to Glasgow in late December 2015. The weather was slightly different... 😉 We therefore enjoyed... the pubs! Haha! Pauline took me to a nice once, among others, Waxy O'Connor's; my pictures are not great at all but can give you an idea of the atmosphere of the place.

Waxy O'Connor's 

We also went to the University of Glasgow, which is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world. It was indeed founded in 1451.

The University of Glasgow 

I asked Pauline to write a short paragraph about Glasgow, and she did it! 😀 Here it is, with a view to give you another point of view on the city. "Glasgow is my city of adoption! A dynamic and vibrant city where there is always something to do or see, no matter the season or the weather and people are very friendly (even if it takes some effort getting used to the accent in the first place!). I love the atmosphere of the West End which it the heart of student life in Glasgow with the University, the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery and the Botanic Gardens among others. There are also some very nice pubs, like Oran Mor which is set in a church. But I have also learnt to love the city centre and Merchant city, it is reminiscent of Glasgow’s past as a city that developed thanks to commerce and industrialisation. From Glasgow it’s also very easy to travel to Edinburgh or to the rest of Scotland, Loch Lomond is only a short train journey away!"

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After talking about Glasgow, I need to talk about her "concurrent"; Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the capital and the seat of monarchy of Scotland. Its Old Town and New Town are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. As I said during my previous post on Glasgow, I went twice to Edinburgh so far: the first time was in June 2012, and the second time in June 2016. During my first time there, the weather was awful (Scottish weather!); it rained all day long. I did not do much in the city... mostly walked on the Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare of the Old Town.

Under the rain (so depressing) 

I also tried to climb Arthur's seat, probably the best attraction in Edinburg (according to me), but it was raining so hard under a crazy wind that I had to give up on the way. One can note that I could not climb the mountain when I went back the second time, as it was right after my accident. This makes me think about another reason why I hate the UK: drivers do not give a shit about bikes. I was hit by a car; the driver "did not see" me. I could not walk for ages. Fucking bastards.

On the way to Arthur's seat 

I spent a night in the Castle Rock Hostel, which was nice and cheap at the time, but I believe the prices increased a lot, as it is located right next to the castle.

Castle Rock hostel 

I went back to Edinburgh 4 years later, and the weather was better. Emilie, Sahar and I walked to the Royal Botanic Garden located at the North of the city. The entrance to the garden is free as well. I was in a lot of pain to walk around, but we managed to see some flowers, plants, trees, waterfalls...

Botanic garden 

One cannot go to Scotland without trying the famous haggis and whisky. This is what we did, of course! If you do not know what is haggis, well... it is a savoury pudding containing sheep's heart, liver and lungs. Bon appétit bien sûr ! It does not taste too bad actually...

Scottish specialities 

I think I said that the architecture of Glasgow and Edinburg were very different, but I do not remember posting any pictures... Here is an example!

Architecture 
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During my stay at Pauline's for NYE 2015-2016, we also went to Stirling and to Loch Lomond.

Once the capital of Scotland, Stirling is a medieval city dominated by its castle. We did not do much in the city as it was raining and windy, and I think the castle was closed or too expensive for us. According to my pictures, we went to a cemetery! 😉 Any name, Pauline? 😀

Rainy cemetery (???) 

Usually, people associate Scotland with the Loch Ness. But this is not the only loch (i.e., lake) up there! We went to Loch Lomond, located between Central Scotland and the Highlands. The weather was not great and the floor was quite muddy, but we enjoyed our walk around the lake and in the forest. Loch Lomond is indeed now part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Loch Lomond 
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Lincoln is located in the East of England, below the Humber river. Do not forget to have a look at the map at the top of this article to check the locations of each city, if you have a doubt! 😀 I went to Lincoln in January 2016 in order to meet a researcher in Psychology from the University of Lincoln. I spent a couple of days there and wandered in the city after my meeting.

The university buildings were refurbished recently and are location in the city centre, next to the Brayford pool, a natural lake in the centre of the city. It snowed when I was there.

Brayford pool 

Lincoln is not very famous, although it is a pretty city. Its two main attractions are the cathedral and the castle, but I think its architecture is interesting as well.

Architecture 

If my memory is good (apparently, it is NOT haha), both the cathedral and the castle are located at the top of the city. To get there, you need to walk on the Steep Hill.

Steep Hill 
This looks like the castle 
The cathedral 

All the "activities" I described were rather "outdoors". If it is raining, you can also go to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life (free entry). The exhibits illustrate the commercial, industrial, agricultural and domestic life in Lincolnshire county (Lincoln being its county town).

Museum of Lincolnshire life 

Last... but not least! 😀 I would recommend you to go to Bunty's Tea Room for a lunch, a coffee, a tea, a piece of cake... or even - let's be crazy - an afternoon tea! I went there because I ALWAYS check TripAdvisor when I travel and want to eat somewhere, and I am never disappointed.

Bunty's Tea Room 
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Sorry for the lack of work on this article recently folks! I have been busy with visiting other parts of Europe (see my new article called Belgium, Germany and Netherlands)... and working! :P But hopefully I will find a bit of time to talk about the UK - I still have many cities to talk to you about. Today will be Sheffield, a city in South Yorkshire. I went to Sheffield twice. My first time was in January 2016, I spent a weekend in Sheffield and did some CouchSurfing there. My second time was in March 2017, I came back with my ex, and we also went to the Peak District National - on which I write about later in this post! 😀

There is not so much do to in Sheffield, but some architecture of the city is quite interesting to my eyes.

Architecture around the train station

The city centre is quite small. I enjoyed the Winter Garden and the Peace Gardens. Otherwise, there are many shops where you can do a lot of shopping! 😉

Winter and Peace Gardens 

But my favourite place in the city was for sure the Botanical Gardens; particularly under the sun.

Sheffield Botanical Gardens 

As I mentioned earlier, I did some CouchSurfing for my first stay in Sheffield. I stayed with Emma, a really nice woman who travelled around Australia. We had dinner at her brother's house, talking about Canada. I remember cooking crêpes and watching a romantic comedy DVD! 😉

Not far from the city of Sheffield can be found the Peak District, which became the first national park of England in 1951. Sadly, the weather was pretty bad when we went there, but the landscapes look pretty.

Peak District 

We walked to the Derwent Dam, which was flooding.

Derwent Dam 

And we drove around a lake, quite randomly, after having lunch in a pub.

Peak District 
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I promised I would try to keep on writing, so here I am! Today, I will talk to you about Liverpool, a city in North West England. Liverpool is mostly known for two things: football and The Beatles. I went to Liverpool in February 2016 for a weekend, and somehow I did not remember much of my visit, until I had a look at the pictures I took at the time... So I will try to do my best to tell you about the city! 😀

I started by the Central Library, supposed to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world (hmmm, I tend to have doubts about that lol). It is possible to go to the rooftop of the library, so I went there (of course) but as you can see on the pictures, the weather was quite depressing. I have checked their website today, and they currently have an exhibition on Harry Potter!!! Too bad it was not on when I went!

Central library 

I also went to the Cathedral, "one of the great buildings of the world", according to Sir John Betjeman (an English poet). Wow, people from Liverpool are very modest, aren't they!? I remember discovering a "hidden" part in the cathedral, which in my head I called the Blue Chapel (but it is not the right name at all).

The Cathedral 

In Liverpool, I had my very first and only bad CouchSurfing experience. Indeed, I discovered that my host expected me to sleep in his bed, and he started to get "too close". I slept on his tiny sofa and left without a word in the morning. I then left him a bad review, the only one I left in my life, so that the next women travelling to his place know what to expect... 😦 But, no worries, nothing bad happened to me! 😀

On my second day in Liverpool, I went to the Museum of Liverpool, located on the waterfront. I remember that the entry was free, that there was a Beatles café, and that the view on the harbour was nice... but I have no memory whatsoever of the contents... Sorry! :D

Museum of Liverpool 

I keep quite a bitter taste of my weekend in Liverpool, as my train back to Hull was cancelled and I had to wait another two hours before my 4-hour journey...

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Scarborough and Whitby are some towns of the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire. It is very complicated to get there by train. In February 2016, I met a French guy, Maxime, who used to have a car, so we went for a road trip on the coast. We actually started by Flamborough, but I already wrote a post on Flamborough and Bridlington, therefore I will not talk about these places again.

We then drove to Scarborough, where we had a good Fish & Chips on the harbour.

Scarborough harbour 

The city is almost famous for its castle, a former medieval Royal fortress situated on a promontory overlooking the North Sea. We did not visit the castle, probably because it was expensive and I really wanted to go to Whitby. In North of England, sunset is very early in winter (around 3 or 4pm).

Whitby is also a seaside town, with an established tourist heritage. One of its cliffs is home to the famous Whitby Abbey. I did not spend a long time in the city during my first visit with Maxime, as he was frozen, but I had the chance to come back in May 2016, with my Persian friend Sahar. We spent a day in the city (in the fog) and really enjoyed the small streets with their restaurants and souvenir shops.

Sunset on Whitby (first visit) 
View on the harbour (second visit) 

Sahar and I had picnic in the cemetery, and it was funny because she was carrying a bottle of wine everywhere... No worries, it was only tap water! 😀

The cemetery 
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Dear readers! 😀 I am - once again - stuck in my bed with some flu-ish symptoms and thus thought I could/should? go back to some writing... Today, I will talk to you about something NICE - I know, it is hard to find in such a country! 😉 The Lake District National Park. I visited the area twice. The first time was on my own, in April 2016, and the second time was with Ali (my ex), Ying and Rémy (my friends), in April 2017. The Lake District is a region of North West England, famous for its lakes, forests and mountains.

My first time there was right after my accident, therefore I had to wear my ankle brace and could not really walk, so I was limited in my movements... I stayed at a nice Airbnb in Windermere, the only city easily accessible by train around Windermere lake (the main lake of the park). I walked (limped, actually!) from there to Bowness-on-Windermere, where I decided to do a boat "cruise" to Ambleside, a city at the North of the lake. The weather was quite promising, as you can see on my pictures.

From Bowness-on-Windermere's harbour 
While on the boat 

Once I reached Ambleside, I found a quiet rock and stayed there for a while, looking at the lake, at the boats, at the people, and waiting for some sunshine, before heading back to Bowness.

Ambleside 

Walking back from Bowness to Windermere killed me, and I had to stop billions of times. I did not have a smartphone at the time so could not get a Uber nor check the buses... 😉 Windermere is full of lovely shops and restaurants. I apparently treated myself a good dinner - and a glass of wine!!! - in a pub.

Good night Windermere 

On my second and last day in Windermere in April 2016, I walked from my Airbnb to the closest coast and enjoyed the view on the lake. The sky was blue! 😀 And I found a quiet spot.

Morning on Lake Windermere 

As I mentioned in the introduction of this post, I went back to Windermere a year later! 😀 That time, we stayed in a very fancy hotel - as I found an extremely good deal. We had a suite with a beautiful view on the lake, as well as a private swimming pool and a jacuzzi!!! 😀

Our hotel: panorama and jacuzzi 

We started our stay by looking for a place to have lunch, and found a really nice pub with a terrace. I absolutely wanted to eat outside as it was sunny. I forgot to mention that we were staying in Bowness-on-Windermere! I do not remember the names of the hotel and pubs... Need to check that out... [...] So, the pub I went to on my first time is called The Pig. They are very well reviewed on TripAdvisor, however it is quite pricy. The hotel we went to is called the Hydro Hotel. It was very cheap when we went because they were doing some works in the common areas. It is probably pretty expensive now. Finally, the pub we went to in Bowness is called The Albert. Same comments than for The Pig, very well reviewed but slightly pricy. However, we managed to get some good food for a good price! 😀 Worth checking.

At The Albert's 

After our lunch, we decided to rent a rowing boat... We had some good fun but it was quite a disaster haha! Ying was so scared each time the boat was moving. The guys ended up working a lot more than us... I should admit it was a lot more fun than my "cruise"! But we did not go very far! 😉

Rowing boat 

On our second day, we did not do much as our trains and planes were quite early. We just went for a walk in the town and enjoyed the sun! Both Windermere and Bowness have some nice parks and villas.

Bowness-on-Winderemere 
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Interestingly enough, I have not been talking about Manchester so far... :O The Lake District, presented in my previous post, is located not so far from Manchester. Most of you have probably heard about the city, as it is very famous for its football teams: Manchester City and Manchester United. It is a very industrial city. I have actually not really visited Manchester. I went many times to its train station and airport, but not so often to the city itself. My first time was in May 2015, before I actually moved to Hull: I went for a weekend to meet my supervisor and discover the city. I did some CouchSurfing there and only saw the city by night. I remember being chocked about how ladies dressed to go out, i.e., with tiny mini skirts, very high heels and with no sleeves. I was myself wearing jeans, trainers and an ugly but warm raincoat.

Manchester by night 

My second time in Manchester city was in June 2016, for the concert of Coldplay!!! I went there with Paulina, a Polish/Canadian girl who hosted me in Ontario in 2015, and with Julian, our CouchSurfing host for the weekend. The concert was at the famous Etihad stadium.

Coldplay at the Etihad stadium 

During the day, we walked around in the city; it was surprisingly quite sunny and warm! We went to a museum, probably Manchester museum, or was it the Art Gallery? You know how much I love museums haha... And to Manchester cathedral, which offers a nice architecture.

Architecture 
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You may have noticed that I wrote lots of posts about Yorkshire! Well, good news, this one is the last one (or at least I think it is). And... last but not least. Indeed, I will show you a beautiful part of the Yorkshire, maybe not so famous, and maybe not so touristic - yet. I am talking about the North York Moors National Park. The North York Moors is "a special place, forged by nature, shaped over generations – where peace and beauty rub shoulders with a rich history and a warm welcome." 😀 Sounds nice, right?

I went there with Ali in early July 2016, during one of my last weekends in Hull... We first drove randomly in the countryside, where we ended up in some kind of a farm - I am still not sure we were allowed haha.

Yorkshire countryside 

After that, we kept on driving, enjoying the sun and my playlist. We then stopped at a famous spot which I cannot remember the name (Alzheimer?!); the Horcum Hole according to Google images! 😀

The Hole of Horcum

Our initial plan (or maybe my initial plan 😉) was to go to the sea coast, probably to Whitby, but we found something even better: Robin Hood's Bay. I am now thinking that the beach was empty, and that we were in July, and I know why: we did not actually go on a weekend, we skipped the lab and went on a weekday! ^^ Not much to say about the place, just: look at my pics and enjoy the view... <3

Robin Hood's Bay 

Probably my favourite place in Yorkshire.

19

As promised, no more Yorkshire, let's now go to the South! 😉 I went twice to Brighton, the first time was in November 2010 and the second time in July 2016. I dug into my archived and found a few pictures from 2010! 😀 It is always useful to sort out your folders hehe. So, my first time in Brighton was with a school trip during my undergrad. I think we only spent a day there before taking the ferry back to Normandy, therefore we did not do much. Brighton is a seaside resort, particularly famous for its Pier. It was apparently raining when we went there! 😉 Not much of a surprise though - November.

Brighton Pier 

We then went to the other famous spot of Brighton, the Royal Pavilion, which is a royal palace built during the 19th century. It is notable for its Indo-Saracenic architecture and Oriental interior (thanks Wiki). I am pretty sure that we visited the palace, but I have no memory of it nor any picture!

The Royal Pavilion 

The only thing I remember from Brighton is its sunset! 😉 I actually even wrote a short "article" about it for my English teacher after the trip... Let me go back to digging... I am sure I can find it somewhere... [...] Okay, folks, I have an idea of where it is! On my HDD, which is currently in my office. 😀

Sunset on the Channel 

As introduced previously, I went back to Brighton in 2016. I had quite a good memory of Brighton (probably thanks to the sunset), and was quite disappointed on my second time there. The beach is not beautiful - nor comfy - at all as it is made of rocks. The weather was crap; I brought some summery clothes haha too bad. The water was freezing. The palace was expensive. Etc. Not sure why it is considered as a nice seaside resort! :O Only one hour by train from London, sure, but still... No taste... 😦

Random stuff in Brighton 
The Royal Pavilion (again) 

We found a nice pub there though, I do not remember the name at all and will not be able to find it, I am afraid. They had a lot of choices in their menu, more diverse than other pubs. We loved the food and even went back there a second - or was it a third? - time! lol

Nice pub in the city 

There was apparently some kind of party in the city. Or was it only normal decorations? Will never know.

Random stuff in Brighton (2) 

Hey, it is me again! I found that "article" I wrote in December 2010 and... here it is! 😀

What I wrote about Brighton in 2010 😉
20

With the 20 previous posts or so, I have covered my first year of PhD in the United Kingdom. You might have noticed that I did not talk about London; I went there many times and have a lot to tell about the capital, therefore I will create a separated article later on. As you may or may not know, I did not stay in Hull for the rest of my PhD; I followed my supervisor to another country: Wales. I have been living in Cardiff for one year and a half now, and will talk to you about my new adventures... 😀

My very first pictures in the Welsh capital 

My first time in Cardiff (and in Wales) was in September 2016. I should admit that my first week(s) there was (were) quite depressing... 😥 I did not know anyone, I did not get along well with my housemates, I used to miss my boyfriend, it was raining a lot, etc. I had some hard times, after my year in Hull where I knew Emilie, Lake and Kwesi were always available for me; and after a nice and sunny summer in South of France and in Iran. But I quickly made my way back to the CouchSurfing meetings, where I met some lovely people such as Shakil (from Bangladesh). Nyala and Beryl (from Netherlands) helped a lot with my integration in the office. And I then met many other people with who I am still friends with! 😀 My very first impressions about Cardiff at the time - and I guess they are still true: a very small city, easy to walk or cycle around, many students, very international (a lot of Chinese and Arabs - and Spaniards and Frenchs), a small but good enough airport, and a broad range of restaurants and cafés.

My very first pictures in the Welsh capital 

However, before really talking about the city of Cardiff, I thought I should write something positive about the UK. My mum, Serge and the LOA always tell me to think positively, to choose to be happy, to take every chance in life because some things happen only once, etc. This is also what I tell myself, and what I usually tell others when they feel low. The theory sounds good to my ears, but is usually harder to put into practice, therefore, I will practise now! By telling you: what I like in the UK - or at least in my life in Cardiff. With a view to offset my post number 7 ("Break or: why I hate the UK so much").

Pic credits: @stanciuc1 

My statements may sound a bit random or subjective or all of that - I guess they are. 😀 So, let me think... I like to live in a human-sized city, as it makes it easy to go around (cycle around, for me). Moreover, I always end up meeting some people I know! In the street, at Lidl, at the gym, literally everywhere. What else? My office is really nice: quiet, bright, well-equipped, modern. My department in general is nice as well: understanding people, and... an amazing common room! Next? I found a pretty good house this year, compared to last year. My room is big enough, and I can see the backyard from my window. I get along well with my housemates - even if they probably think that I am a bit psychorigid! 😉 Hmmm... I found a great Zumba teacher (yes, Dessi, I'm talking about you!), which is not always easy. Also, I found a decent gym with some yoga, aquafitness and boxing classes, for a decent price, close to my house. Of course, I need to talk about the really cool people I met in Cardiff - but this was obvious! I already talked about you at the beginning of this post guys! Do not be so needy! 😀 Our things are: (international) food-related events, board games, manhunts, werewolves and other weird things. Did I say random and subjective? Not so sure yet about what to add to this post, but I had a busy day! Baking, cleaning the dishes for 50 people, programming, going to yoga and going to boxing. I deserve a break! :P

Zumba with Dessi! 😀

PS: Do not forget that you have the right to follow my blog AND comment my posts guys... Please! =) PSS: Stay posted for more posts! Cardiff, Plymouth, Brecon Beacons, Bath, Tenby, and more!

21

Cardiff (Caerdydd in Welsh) is the capital and largest city in Wales, with its 370 000 inhabitants. The city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan (thanks Wiki 😀). The main streets of the city centre, being Queen's Street and St Mary's Street, are pedestrian. Since the 1980s, a significant development has been seen with a new waterfront area: Cardiff Bay. Cardiff is a small but vibrant city. But let me talk to you about all that...

Queen's Street is the best street for shopping. It horizontally crosses the city centre, and is home to many famous brands such as: H&M, Primark, Zara, etc. As I mentioned above, this street is pedestrian; it is therefore very enjoyable to spend a few hours there. If the weather is sunny, you can be sure that you will find one or two singers and/or guitarists on your way! 😀

Queen's Street 

I am not sure why I started with Queen's Street, but I had to start somewhere hey! 😀 Let's keep on with the (pedestrian) city centre then. If you walk along Queen's Street towards the West, you will not be far from the Arcades. The Arcades are really nice places for a coffee, a treat, finding a gift, or even taking pictures. Cardiff arcades include: The Royal Arcade, The Castle Arcade, and High Street Arcade.

Overview of the Arcades 

If you followed, I mentioned castle! Cardiff is indeed home of Cardiff Castle. Its walls conceal 2000 years of history. I have never visited the castle myself, but I took a few pictures from the outside. Tip: if you live in Cardiff, you can ask for a key of the castle which will give you unlimited access over a year! 😀

Cardiff Castle 

The castle is located on Bute Park, a major city park in Cardiff (53 ha). It was named after the 3rd Marquess of Bute, whose family owned the castle. Bute Park is crowded during sunny days: families having picnic, friends having beers, solos reading books, etc.

Bute Park and Taf river 

The other main park in Cardiff is Roath Park, located slightly further from the city centre. I personally prefer Roath Park as it is home to a lake and a (tiny) glasshouse conservatory. In Spring and Summer, it is possible to hire a boat! I did that with some friends last year, we had a lot of fun! 😀

Roath Park Lake 

I will keep on with another green area, the Alexandra Gardens, located in the city centre. I used to go there very often with a book, to enjoy the sun on a bench.

Alexandra Gardens 

The building you can see on the pictures (with a clock tower) in Cardiff City Hall. It is free to enter the building, and one would be surprised by the impressive rooms upstairs! Give it a go! 😀 Right next to the City Hall is the National Museum. The entry is free, thus you probably should go if you like museums!

National Museum and City Hall by night 

Before moving to Cardiff Bay, I need to talk to you about Cardiff Market. It is located near the Arcades. You can find some fresh meat, fish and fruits there, as well as some delicious Welsh cakes!!!

Cardiff Market 

Talking about food... I can recommend you a few places to eat in Cardiff! 😀 The Mowlana is a delicious Persian restaurant (see my article on Iran). City Road is the best street for Middle-Eastern food; I particularly love La Shish and Saray (Turkish restaurants). These 3 restaurants provide good amount of delicious food for a cheap price (UK standards). What else... The Four Elms pub is a nice pub for a drink and/or a burger. AJ's Coffee House is the perfect place for a brunch: their pancakes are huge! Cocorico Pâtisserie is a fancy French place for macarons etc; their desserts are delicious but expensive. The best place for cocktails is the Dead Canary! Best cocktails I have ever had in my life. Good enough? 😀

Let's be serious now and let's talk about Cardiff Bay! Cardiff Bay is the area of water created by Cardiff Barrage in the South of the city. The Pierhead building (reddish on the pictures) was built in 1897. It can be visited for free and tells you about the history of Cardiff harbour. In the Bay, you can also find other buildings such as: the Wales Millenium Centre (home to the Welsh National Opera), the National Assembly for Wales building, and the Norwegian Church Arts Centre. During Spring and Summer, there is a Waterbus going from Bute Park to the Bay along the River Taff! 😀 Otherwise, there are many ways to reach the Bay: walking, cycling, by bus, or even by train.

Cardiff Bay 

There are many other things to say about Cardiff. For instance, I can tell you that Cardiff is home to four major institutions of higher education: Cardiff University (where I study), Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of South Wales, and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. The total number of students is around 45 000! Cardiff is also home to many major events, such as football or rugby games. Sporting venues include the Principality Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium. The Principality Stadium is located in the middle of the city. For music and/or arts, Cardiff has St David's Hall and the Motorpoint Arena. Long story short, one cannot get bored! 😀

Random events I attended in Cardiff 

I have only talked about Cardiff centre so far, but there are also many places to see and many things to do around Cardiff. Going North along the Taff River would lead you to Llandaff for instance, which is a religious district and community in the North of Cardiff.

Llandaff Cathedral 

North West of Cardiff can be found St Fagans National Museum of History, which is the top attraction in Cardiff according to TripAdvisor. I went there for a day trip with some friends last year, and I should admit it is a thing to see! However, I was not very lucky with the weather (it rained all day) nor with my health (I was in a wheelchair lol). I might consider going back on a Summary day... St Fagans is an open-air museum dealing with the historical lifestyle, culture, and architecture of the Welsh people.

St Fagans 

North of Cardiff is Castell Coch, a 19th century Gothic Revival castle. It can be visited for a few pounds (at least for students) with an audioguide. Around the castle is a really nice countryside/forest perfect for a walk. I went there last year with some friends and some Couchsurfers! 😀

Castell Coch 
Castell Coch surroundings 

We are talking about castles, so let's keep going. Wales is home to looooads of castles. Caerphilly Castle can be found further North. It is a medieval fortification which was constructed in the 13th century. I went a few times there: to see the castle from the outside, to see the fireworks, and to visit the castle. The entry is quite expensive but I got some free tickets for some open days! 😀

Caerphilly Castle 

What else shall I talk about... :O I am sure I forgot some things! 😀 Brecon Beacons and the sea cost, for sure - at least... But these two deserve a separate post. So... come back for more!

[...] Update! The sea coast is on the next post, but I will add Brecon Beacons here. It is a mountain range in South Wales. I only went there twice, as it is not really accessible from Cardiff with no car. Last Summer, I followed the waterfalls path with some friends, it was great! I would love to do Pen-y-Fan as well.

Brecon Beacons National Park 
22

The Welsh Coast is beautiful - as long as you are lucky with the weather. I have had the chance to discover different part of it and decided to talk to you about the South Wales Coast! 😀 I will start with my least favorite place (Swansea) and end with my very favorite place (Tenby & Caldey Island).

Swansea is the second largest city in Wales (after Cardiff, of course). It is very easy to access Swansea by bus or train from Cardiff and I therefore went there for a day-trip in October 2016, right after my moving to Cardiff. I was quite disappointed by the city and by the beach as well; it was completely flat, no waves, and, above all, no sun. I believe it would be very interesting to go back to Swansea and walk (or cycle?) along the coast towards the West (towards the Mumbles and Rhossili).

Swansea 

Barry Island is even closer to Cardiff than Swansea, with a very easy access by train and bus as well. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes from Cardiff and tickets are cheap (about £3-4 return). When the weather is sunny, I pack my book, camera, snack and sunglasses and head there! 😀 Contrary to what its name seems to indicate, Barry Island is not an island. It is a district, peninsula and seaside resort. According to my memory - or to my MacBook's memory 😀 - I went to Barry twice: once in October 2016 with Ali and once in March 2017 on my own. First time was freezing, second time was nice. I found a perfect spot in the sun, with no wind, and far away from all the kids and dogs (everything I hate haha). To summarise: not the best beach ever, quite busy when the weather is good, but very easy to get there from Cardiff with no car. Many shops with food and drinks along the beach, some toilets as well.

Barry - first time 
Barry - second time 

Better than Barry (in my opinion) but less accessible with public transports: Ogmore-by-Sea. I went there a couple of times. The first time was in August 2017, the day after I came back from Ghana, with my very good friends Shakil, Mafalda, Joana and Adi. We spent a day there, weather was gorgeous! We had a nice barbecue and even went for a swim. The beach was crowded though (it was a holiday Monday). My second time was very recently, in February 2018. I went for a road trip with some Couchsurfers and some friends. The weather was obviously very different; it was absolutely freezing! The beach was empty! 😉 I would say one needs a car to go to Ogmore - otherwise, you need to take a train and then a bus.

Ogmore-by-Sea - first day 
Ogmore-by-Sea - second time 

We are now getting to my second favourite!!! 😀Rhossili Bay. Rhossili is not far from Swansea (towards the West). It received the award of best beach in Britain, or something like that. At low tide, there is a huge expanse of beach: it is possible to walk for several miles. There is always sun - even at high tide. The place is also popular for surfing. If you are lucky, you may some birds and/or seals on the cliffs. Oh, and there is a pub on top of the beach! What else could one ask for... 😉 Have a look at my pics. A bit of a tip to go there: it is a lot easier to reach Rhossili by car than with public transport. I had the chance to go there with Shakil, Nyala, Beryl and Stefano. Otherwise, you need to take a train to Swansea and then a bus... We went there in April 2017 (I would love to go back!) and were extremely lucky with the weather - you can see that I was even wearing shorts! :O The crazy guys went for a swim, but it was really cold! 😉

Rhossili Bay 

We can now finish with my favourites! 😀Tenby and Caldey Island. They are two different places but I visited them over the same weekend and they are very close geographically, so I decided to talk about them in the same go. Last year, I decided to go to Tenby for a weekend in June (thus 2017). It took me about 4 hours by train, I did not find any hostel nor Couchsurfing host, but I had the best time. I booked a Airbnb (with croissants for breakfast, fancy! 😉), and did not regret it at all... I indeed had the best weather I had over my two years in the UK - pretty much. It was sunny and warm, and the place is beautiful. Tenby is a walled seaside town in Pembrokeshire. Some notable features of Tenby are: 2,5 miles of sandy beach, the 13th century medieval walls, the 15th century church... What I LOVED was the atmosphere in the village, with its little shops, cafés, restaurants; its harbour and colourful houses, and its access to the beach. I fell in love with the place as soon as I put my feet out of the train! 😉

Tenby 

The best is yet to come. On my way to Tenby, I obviously checked TripAdvisor and some travel blogs, and discovered about Caldey Island. Caldey is a small island next to Tenby, easily accessible by boat everyday but Sunday. It is known as one of Holy Islands of Britain (this is NOT why I like it lol). Monks are nowadays the only inhabitants and owners of the island. The island presents an awesome wildlife and some amazing sceneries. When I showed my pictures to a friend of mine, he told me: I cannot believe you took these in the UK! I did not really believe it myself either... 😉 Too much talking, open your eyes. <3

Caldey Island 

Who is looking forward to summer now? 😀

23

The city I will write about in this post is a bit of an isolated one - compared to the rest of the article! 😉 Indeed, Plymouth is a city on the South coast of Devon in England. It is the only city I have visited in the South West, even though I would like to go to Cornwalls (maybe some day). I spent 5 days in Plymouth in September 2016 for a summer school on QoE (Quality of Experience). I had the chance to visit a bit the place during the summer school and enjoy some sun! 😀 I kept in touch with some of the people I met there.

The most (only? lol) popular attraction in Plymouth is the Hoe, a large south facing open public space, next to some low limestone cliffs. The prominent landmark of the Hoe is the Smeaton's tower, i.e., the red and white lighthouse. It was originally built in 1759, then dismantled and built again in 1877.

View from the Hoe 
Smeaton's tower 

Plymouth used to be an important commercial shipping port during the Industrial Revolution. It is nowadays home of the largest operational naval base (HMNB Devonport) in Western Europe. The area around the harbour is called The Barbican. There can be found many pubs and restaurants, as well as some cultural places such as the National Marine Aquarium and even the Mayflower Steps.

The Barbican 

I wrote previously that the topic of the summer school was QoE, but we also did some really cool stuff! 😉 Indeed, we went for sailing and on a power boat. We also had a dinner on a boat... 😉

Sunset from the boat 

To make a long story short, Plymouth is probably not the best place to live, but it was nice to spend a few days there. I will probably never go back again: it was complicated to access the city by public transport, and I think I saw everything that had to be seen! But, if there is another summer school... ;D

24

Located about one hour from Cardiff, Bath is the largest city in the county of Somerset. Known for its Roman-built baths, the city became a World Heritage Site in 1987. I would recommend everyone to go there, either for a day trip (what I did with my parents in November 2016), either for a weekend (what I did with my ex in January 2017)! The city is easily accessible from Cardiff by car or by train (and probably by bus).

The top attraction in Bath, according to TripAdvisor, is the Roman Bath Museums. I need to tell you that the entrance ticket is pretty expensive (about £15 per person!) - I was lucky myself as my Airbnb host gave me her resident card which allowed me to get in for free! 😉 The visit itself is quite interesting; we are given an audioguide and can then walk around the baths. There are also a few Roman actors in the buildings. One can probably spend a couple of hours there; it may be worth the price if you are into baths!

Roman Bath Museum 

Located right next door to the museum is Bath Abbey, which was founded in the 7th century. It is a Grade I listed building (i.e., it cannot be altered without special permission) and is particularly notable for its fan vaulting.

Bath Abbey 

Another famous feature in Bath is the Pulteney Bridge, crossing the River Avon. The bridge was completed in 1774 to connect the "new" city to the old town. As for the abbey, the Pulteney Bridge is a Grade I listed building. Its particularity is to have shops and restaurants built across its full span.

Pulteney Bridge 

I will now finish this (short) post by talking about a few other things to do and see in Bath. The city is indeed home to a few gardens and parks, such as the Alexandra Park and the Royal Victoria Park. I also enjoyed going for a walk along the Kennet and Avon canals with a nice panorama on the city.

Kennet and Avon canals 

Talking about Somerset. Here some pictures I took during a weekend in a small village in Somerset in November 2016 with the Globe Café. I do not remember the names of the places; Tony, help! 😉

Somewhere in Somerset 
25

Just a tiny post about Birmingham... because it does not worth more than that haha. I went there once, in November 2016, for a few days. It is the largest city outside London. I did not like the city (industrial) nor the atmosphere (dodgy) and would therefore not really recommend it. The only thing I liked was the Library for its many books but also for its top floor, garden and panorama. They apparently are the only pictures I took while there. Not sure why (if?) people like this (ugly and depressing) city...

Library of Birmingham 
26

Every summer, my parents used to take me and my brother for holidays somewhere in France. In 2010, I am not sure why, they modified their plans and took us to England... More particularly, to Kent County, bordering Greater London to the North West. Dover, a city located on the Kent coast (see the map below), is indeed located only 42 km from Calais (North of France); only the Channel separates both lands.

Map of Kent from Alwyn Ladell on Flickr
While on the ferry from Calais to Dover 

So, we spent two weeks in Kent in July 2010. We actually stayed in a tiny village called... damned, my memory is playing with me... was it Kingsdown? I am not so sure anymore... The funny thing though is that, one year later, in Iceland, I met Elisabeth; a lady who was coming from this tiny village! 😀 Anyways, we were in a camp with view on the sea and with baby foxes (and sea birds) eating the rubbish. :O

Kingsdown (I think! 😉)

Between the city of Dover and our camp can be found St Margaret's at Cliffe with many... white cliffs. I feel like my stories will not be very developed on this post; seven years and a half is a too long time for me to remember... 😉 What I remember though is that the weather was sunny, but still pretty cold.

St Margaret's at Cliffe and St Margaret's Bay

Canterbury (see on the map above) is a historic cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist destination (consistently one of the most visited city in the UK). I have no idea what we visited there lol. Maybe the gothic cathedral (started in the 11th and finished in the 15th century).

Canterbury 

So far, I managed to tell you where I took my pictures (some parts of my brain still work! 😀) but now... I am not so sure at all... Oops. I will do my best with some Google search. The next couple of pics were taken in Deal, a town located on the coast, after Dover, after St Margaret's, and after Kingsdown (once again, you can check on the map at the top of this post). It is nowadays a seaside resort. However, what I remember about Deal is my very first fish and chips AND a street called Telegraph Road... Dire Straits being my very favourite band... The good ones will know what I am talking about... 😀 <3

Deal 

Kent is home to many castles and gardens. I believe we visited a few ones, but I am afraid I am not sure where I took my pictures. Walmer definitely comes back to my mind for its beautiful gardens, but I do not remember about the other one... It was a big one though... Dover Castle? Probably, yes.

Walmer castle and gardens 

Just a few more pictures of the Kent coast before finishing this post, and also a couple of funny stories! 😀 We were driving in Kent when I saw a windmill, and asked my dad to stop the car to take some pictures. However, it was a busy road, and many people got mad at us haha. Another time, I could not resist going for a swim but did not have my bikini. See what happened below... 😉

Little stories... (: 
27

Phew, this article on the UK is quite full now! I talked about many places, and currently thinking about which ones I forgot... London, of course, but too many things to say about the capital for now. I went to same places in the South when I was a lot younger (11 or 12) and do not have pictures from that time - nor memories. Places such as: Southampton, Portsmouth, Stratford-upon-Avon. But there is another city which I can (should!) tell you about: Oxford. I went to Oxford twice, both being quite some time ago (the first time was when I was 12, and the second time was in November 2010). I am thinking about spending another couple of days there in April (i.e., for a weekend) - just in case someone wants to join! 😉

Oxford is located in South of England, kind of between Bristol and London (thus only 2 hours from Cardiff). The city is known worldwide as home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. I previously mentioned this university when talking about Cambridge.

I really enjoyed Oxford as I am a big fan of Harry Potter! 😀 But I do not remember much about the city lol. My pictures (see below) might give you an idea of how the city and its architecture looks like...

Oxford - city and university 
28

Okay, I guess now is time to talk about London. I have been postponing this for long enough... 😉 Why? Because I went to the capital dozens of times, and because there are way too many things to talk about. I have been thinking about this post for a long time; wondering whether to organise it by "districts": (Westminster, Covent Garden, Camden...) or by activities (museums, markets, parks...). It would have probably been the best for you. But I chose something a lot easier for me: by chronological order. Sorry! 😀

My very first time in London was with my mum, when I was 10 or 11 years old (i.e., around 2002). I do not have much memories from this time, nor any pictures. I remember taking the Eurostar, seeing the Big Ben, and the Tower Bridge. My second time was one year later, with my school. No pictures either - at least, not digital. No many memories. I probably have a few pictures in an old photo album at home, but nothing extremely sexy. My third time in London was in July 2010 and was a bit more documented... 😉 My family and I spent a day in London during our fortnight in Kent (see my previous post). We went to a few touristic places (Chinese places lol), such as the Tower Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square.

Some touristic stuff 

But our highlight of the day was definitely Camden Market. Located at the North of London, Camden Town is easily accessible from Central London by bus or tube (metro). The area hosts street markets and music venues which are strongly associated with alternative culture. Until a few months ago, it used to be my very favourite location in London - it became way too touristic and different to my eyes.

Camden 

My fourth time in London was only a few months after the third one as it was in November 2010. It was some kind of school trip in England related to Shakespeare (so much fun...); we only spent a day in London and went to some really boring places such as the Natural History Museum, the Tate Modern, and the Shakespeare Globe. Everything I hate! And (surprisingly) it was raining all day. Anyway.

Boring museums 

If you read my article carefully, you must know that I "moved" to the UK in September 2015. I went a fifth time to London before that; in December 2011, with an ex. We spent a few days in the city right before Christmas - what a stupid idea! the weather was awful of course. This time was my very first time discovering more stuff in London and being able to wander (as the other times were organised to some extent). I decided to avoid the touristic places such as Big Ben and Tower Bridge, to focus on other parts of the capital. For the record, it was my very first time staying in a hostel! And we all know how London hostels suck... See my article "Travel tips for globe-trotters". Anyways. I discovered Chinatown. What can I say about Chinatown? Well, there are many Chinese people, many Chinese restaurants, and many Chinese shops.

Chinatown and British features 

What I really enjoyed though, right next to Chinatown, was the M&M's World! 😉 It is the world largest candy store. Yes! Paradise! 😀 I went to the one in NYC afterwards and got disappointed! :O

M&M's World 

As a big fan of Harry Potter, I wanted to visit St Pancras. Not sure what I expected; to see Hagrid on the platform? Well, the station looks quite nice, and there was a big Lego Christmas tree when we went! 😀

St Pancras railway station 

All the places I mentioned so far are located in Central London. I might create a map later with my itinerary to show you how to organise yourself - if I am not too lazy. Hyde Park is also located in Central London; it was less than 5 minutes walk from our hostel. It is really nice under the sunshine.

Hyde Park 

Did I mention that we were there right before Christmas? In case you do not know yet, Brits are crazy about Christmas. They wear ugly Christmas jumpers and listen to awful Christmas songs all day long.

Christmassy 

I am not so sure where about I took the following pictures but they can gave you an idea about the architecture in London - even though it really depends on the area where you go, of course.

Random London 

Before heading back to Nantes (France), we went to Harrods, the world's most famous department store. This makes me think that I have not been to Harrods since then and would like to go back! I will write it down on my to do list! 😀 The other place I want to go back to is Stanfords - but I will tell you about it later.

Harrods 

Alright, this post is a bit of a mess. I will stop here and create a new post about my trips to London from 2016 until now, and develop more my text and be more organised and show you better stuff. Stay posted!

29

30 "étapes", I think this is a good number to stop. I know there are still some cities I haven't told you about, and I haven't finished London, but this article is too long, so I will conclude here... for now.