Saturday, 18 June 2016

Castle Combe

A rainy day adventure

Sometimes you encounter the unexpected whilst travelling. In the UK, this generally relates to weather conditions. A grand day out is always better with plenty of sunshine, there's no doubt about it. But there's got to be a bit of rain every so often to balance things out. 

Arriving in Castle Combe 
The Yellow House
And that's precisely what happened when I first ventured into the picturesque county of Wiltshire.

Clearly, heading outdoors would not be ideal under such wet conditions. But I like to be daring every once in a while, so it was off to Castle Combe for me.


The lone bridge
With a population of only 344, this is probably one of, if not the, smallest and prettiest villages I have ever visited in England. Despite its size and demography, it's played a major role as a backdrop for several poignant films and TV shows. Think War Horse,  Agatha Christie, and also Downton Abbey. 

Time for (another) cuppa

Taking photos is clearly a must. If you want a photography bucket list, then I suggest including pictures of doors, postboxes and souvenirs - they've all been so uniquely designed haven't they? There's a nice array of signage dotted all over the place as well. 

Homemade delicacies 
Still really pretty though!

Oh and don't forget about the scenery. Definitely a worthwhile snapshot.

Picture perfect
Pano again!
Another highlight of my day trip was lunch. The salmon I ordered at The Castle Inn hotel was delightfully scrumptious. There's also the Manor House Hotel in case you fancy a taste of 5-star luxury dining experience. 

All in all, another wonderful UK adventure. Who would have thought that a rainy day could be so beautiful?

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Worcester, Witley Court & Church

I've never been THIS excited about blogging before

Usually it takes me about a week of relaxing to recover from the exhaustion (and thrill) of travelling. During that period, I most commonly begin to contemplate whether or not I ought to blog about that particular experience. It generally is a big fat "yes" from me, but for some reason, writing somehow gets delayed by all the other interesting things I get involved with in life.

In other words, I procrastinate (sometimes).

But definitely not this time! After visiting Witley Court on an incredible sunny Monday (yes this was just yesterday), I was motivated to start blogging about it (almost) immediately. So, here goes.

Entering Worcester Cathedral
The medieval church of Saint Andrew
Sailing down the River Severn


To get to Witley Court, which is located near Great Witley in Worcestershire, I had to head to the city of Worcester by train in order to catch the 758 bus to this English Heritage property. I'd made sure I'd left enough time to explore Worcester, mainly its Cathedral, as well.

Seagulls on patrol
Frequent flyer
A fine day in Worcester
If it's a very sunny day when you go, you should definitely take a walk by the River Severn as it looks absolutely stunning in the sunshine. There's also an opportunity to take a cruise up and down the river. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for this but I guess this, and the fact that I didn't get to see the other museums in Worcester + buy Worcestershire sauce, means I'll definitely have an excuse to go back again!

Walking to Witley Court

Witley Court's river

Witley Court

This was the main highlight of my day trip. And I am thoroughly pleased to say that I was NOT disappointed by it at all. In my opinion, the history of Witley Court is to an extent bittersweet. Although originally one of the most extravagant country houses in the UK, it suffered from a terrible fire in 1937 that has left the majority of it in ruins. Fortunately, a great portion of its beauty and charm has still been retained as the pictures show. And with the help from a series of info panels accompanying the key highlights of property, it's still possible to imagine how luxurious and spectacular the decor used to be.

The south facade

Inside the conservatory

Peeking through Witley Court
Personally, I would say that it is genuinely one of the most romantic and attractive Grade 1 buildings I have EVER been to in the UK.

The east parterre

Roaming around the garden

Next to the south facade
When I travel, I like to go in whatever direction my mood and guts take me in. Having ground rules can make travelling too stressful! However, if you did want me to recommend a must-see part of Witley Court so that you can plan out your route, then you should certainly pencil in the Perseus & Andromeda Fountain. It's design based on the Greek myth about Perseus flying on Pegasus to save his to-be-spouse, Andromeda, from a terrifying sea creature. An eye-catching masterpiece, water is shot from the fountain at every hour between 10am to 5pm. It's definitely something you HAVE to photography (and also film!).

The Fountain's sleeping

The Fountain's alive!

Great Witley Church

Outdoor tearoom
Taking it easy
Which way is which?
If you're feeling a bit peckish and tired after walking around Witley Court and all its garden trails, then head next door to the lovely little outdoor tearoom run by Great Witley Church . The pear flavoured popsicle is highly recommended (by me), just to let you know. And whilst you're there, why not check out the Church itself? I mean, who would have thought that a church with such a simple exterior could be so much more extravagant on the inside? See my pictures if you don't believe me.

Arriving at Great Witley Church

The Church's baroque styled interior
There are 48 ceremonial counties in England alone, and I have now officially visited 25 (= an average of around 6 new ones annually across the 4 years I've been here).

Bring on the next one :)

Mondays could never have been this enjoyable

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Mid year review - 2016

And so the story goes...

In terms of blogging, this year's been a bit on and off for me (apologies for that). It is mostly because I've had a busy couple of months studying for my postgraduate degree (which I'm pleased to say is almost over). But it's also because I've been working on some other projects that I was fortunately selected for. So, here are the top 5 things that have happened this year:

No. 1: British Council

Probably the most exciting project of this year for me. After winning a short writing contest, I became one of the lucky few that were selected to write for the world renowned British Council for 2016. I've written 4 articles for it about my experience as a student in the UK, specifically topics such as the student lifestyle, financing, and travelling on a budget. Two have been published presently, so feel free to read them: 
  • 1)
  • 2)
Walking to our induction!

No. 2: WBS

My university invited me to do some filming to help market my course to future prospective students. The experience was definitely enjoyable, especially since we manage to do it outside near the lake on our campus seeing as it was really sunny! The video isn't out yet but when it does come out, I'll make sure I post a link on my blog for everyone to see it. So, watch this space ;)

Sunny day - heading to the filming location

No. 3: Bag design contest - winner!

I don't normally like to share my drawings out publicly (it's my bit of privacy that I'd like to keep private!). However, seeing as it's my last couple of weeks in my student halls, I decided to enter its annual bag design contest just for a bit of fun (also because the prize was too good to miss). It worked out quite well in the end seeing as I won the grand prize. In other words, hard work does pay off.

The final design

No. 4: Enactus

For those of you that don't know, Enactus is a student-run global initiative aimed at use entrepreneurial skills to solve social issues and help vulnerable groups. I was lucky enough to get involved in one of its more creative projects, and therefore had the opportunity to teach a group of homeless beneficiaries how to draw. I taught them how to sketch a cartoon version of themselves. Here's mine if you're interested:

The final look!

No. 5: Travelling 

Needless to say, with 6 months into 2016 already, I did manage to squeeze in some time for travelling. And I know haven't posted much about my trip to Wiltshire and the others places I've been to in the UK yet, but fret not. My reviews will come soon. So for those of you that are already enthused by them, here's a sneak peek of where I went:

Day out with friends in Leicester
Photographing in Petersborough

Strolling in Castle Combe
Shopping in Leamington Spa
Of course, not everyday was sunshine and rainbows. Many of the days I had this year were rather dismal and grey. But, if you look at the cup from a different angle, it seems that my 2016 so far was more half full than half empty. And I'm sure there'll be many more great adventures to come (just you wait).