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    Staying at the Old Vicarage, a luxury guesthouse in Cornwall

    When an intriguing proposition to review the Old Vicarage near Truro landed in my email inbox, I knew that it was all the excuse I needed to book in a long weekend and breathe in the fresh air of Cornwall, somewhere I’ve been meaning to explore forever.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were excited guests of Jon and Marilyn at the Old Vicarage and eviivo

    but all of our enthusiasms are very much our own…

    From London we plotted a 4-day weekend beginning with two nights at the Old Vicarage, around 2 miles from the Cathedral City of Truro in the small but lovely hamlet of St Clements. The six bedroom luxury guesthouse dates back to the 1500s and is a literal
    stone’s throw from the banks of the beautiful Tresillian River.

    We boarded our train from London straight from the office on a Friday evening, and simply slipped into our beautifully appointed home from home.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Old Vicarage is run by husband and wife team Marilyn and Jonathan, who were simply gorgeous. From welcoming us off the late train, to making sure our breakfast coffee cups were never empty – not to mention pointing out the fascinating bird life in their garden – we enjoyed every moment.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Unfortunately we settled in so quickly once we hopped off the train from London, that I never managed to tidy up enough to take more than one photo that didn’t involve an exploded suitcase (is it just me that discovers within 30 seconds of unzipping a case, that the contents can be found in every single corner of the room?)

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sam and I shared connected family rooms – I managed to bags the superbly comfortable master bed (a zip and link bed which can be split to two singles) in a furious game of eeny meeny miney mo, and she enjoyed the privacy of a single room and the mahogany sleigh bed – sharing the beautifully appointed bathroom complete with delicious power shower, Italian tiling, underfloor heating and White Company toiletries.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    And the windowseat views weren’t so bad either.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    St Clements is designated as an area of
    outstanding natural beauty – many of the upper rooms have riverside views that entranced us. The hamlet is so quiet and restful after the chaos of London life – at one point of our stay we simply stood and admired the blanket of stars.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Many guests simply walk the beautiful, meandering woodland paths of the local area, coming home in the evenings to unwind and relax (unlike the two silly tourists who decided on a quick riverside walk in the dark, guided only by our mobile phone lights – but the boats in the lapping river current were simply too irresistible.)

    We nipped up for a nosey in a couple of the other (un-clothes strewn) ‘Superior Rooms’, and discovered that each room had an individual character curated by a local interior designer, full of every ecologically minded convenience you could ever need. This is my kind of accommodation – special and boutique.

     Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    One of the rooms features a Rococo style cane bed and French style armoire making it perfect for a romantic Cornish break, not to mention the hip bath with river views and a shower with a rather brilliant secret – but you’ll have to visit in order to discover it in person.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    But the one that stole my heart was decorated in French grey and gold accented with bold raspberry shades. A brass bed and stylish furniture gives the
    room a contemporary and glamorous feel, and another gorgeous bay window overlooks the blossoming garden and riverbank.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    You can see why we didn’t want to leave.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Breakfast was a dream, well worth a visit alone.

    Yep. Never leaving. Eggs Bene & apple juice & coffee (& scoffed fresh berries.) . . . #bloggerinvite #Cornwall #staycation #Truro #coffee #LoveTheWorld #beautifuldestinations #aroundtheworld #photomafia #brunch #passionpassport #mytinyatlas #thehappynow #wanderlust #travel #offthebeatentrack #liveauthentic #quirky #bbctravel #cntraveler #lovegreatbritain #travel #traveler #wanderlust #picoftheday #huffpostgram #cntraveler #mytinyatlas #pursuepretty #onthetable #moodofmytable #londonkiwiadventures

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    Served in the glass fronted conservatory overlooking their gorgeous gardens, we could bird spot Gold Finches (and often Kingfishers) with the comfort of coffee in our hands. In summer the doors are flung open and a blissful summer breeze drifts over the tables.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Each of our made to order breakfasts were delicious – we helped ourselves from a fresh cereal and fruit buffet, ordering a cheeky delectable eggs benedict on our first morning, but on our second morning we were tempted by the scrumptious Cornish breakfast and croissants stuffed with mushrooms and Gruyere.

    As a bonus, in order to support the
    local economy and minimise the distance the food has travelled the Old Vicarage meat,
    vegetables and eggs are locally sourced, usually within a 15-mile
    radius.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Marylin and Jon were a delight in themselves – both welcoming and armed with hilarious banter that had us giggling over breakfast. Full of local area advice and a gastronomic penchant for delicious experiments, they even kindly dropped us up to the local train station to pick up our car for the weekend – an utter essential.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Before we left for pastures more southern – the guesthouse is
    brilliantly situated for both exploring the Eden Project or wandering
    through the gorgeous Lost Gardens of Heligan, before jetting off for Cornish pastures more coastal – we explored the river and lank banks as far as our unsuitable shoes could take us, and popped into the Church where the local congregation kindly offed us a cup of tea.

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I already want to revisit and breakfast at the Old Vicarage. If only Cornwall was closer…

    Where to stay Cornwall The Old Vicarage St Clements Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Have you been to Cornwall? It seems like most of London decamps there in the summertime…

    eviivo is the trusted online booking authority on a mission to make the lives of independent accommodation providers easier. We do this by taking the hassle out of time-consuming daily tasks, whilst simultaneously boosting global online presence and driving increased sales revenue.

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    Pocahontas and her connection with Gravesend, Kent

    Sometimes I feel that this country isn’t real, that Britain is actually a storybook tome, disguised with trees and chimneys to fool the reader into thinking that we are living on a rock. In actuality perhaps if we prodded it a little bit harder and peered a little bit closer that we would see the seams between worlds. (That got a little bit Matrix in style, sorry!)

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    But seriously, it sometimes seems as if each corner has a knight on pure white steed about to charge (Temple Church), damsels defending their land (Queen Boudicea in Epping Forest), incredible feats of daring (Bletchley Park) or wizards ready to enspell the world (Stonehenge) and the tales are such a rich tapestry of fascination – especially for an expat like myself.

    So when I discovered that 400 years ago Pocahontas – the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of Native American tributary tribal nations in the Tsenacommacah, encompassing the Tidewater region of Virginia, not to mention Disney legend – sadly died in a small, ancient Kent town I just knew we had to visit her final resting place.

     Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Forever and a day the Mayfairy, our Aussie friend and I been plotting to make our way out to the small Church, so we ambled out to Gravesend on a grey Saturday morning, ready to witness a unique piece of English history.

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pocahontas lived an incredible life. Raised amongst her tribe, she is said to have saved the life of a captive of the Native Americans, the Englishman John Smith, in 1607 by placing her head upon his own when her father raised his war club to execute him and was later abducted by English settlers during Anglo-Indian hostilities in 1613.

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

     How high will a sycamore grow?
    If you cut it down then you’ll never know

    And you’ll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
    For whether we are white or copper skinned
    We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain
    We need to paint with all the colors of the wind

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London KiwiPocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    During her captivity, she converted to Christianity
    and took the name Rebecca. When the opportunity arose for her to return
    to her people, she chose to remain with the English. In April 1614, she
    married tobacco planter John Rolfe (unlike the Disney silverscreen version), and in January 1615, bore their son, Thomas Rolfe.

    Eventually leaving her home in Virginia to travel to England, she
    became a regular in the court of King James, becoming something of a
    celebrity and was elegantly fêted, even attending a masque at Whitehall
    Palace.
     

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sadly (400 years ago to the day of publishing this post) she took ill on board a ship returning to Virginia and died just outside of Gravesend, never to see her home again. Her amazing story lives on at St George’s, a parish church where the local community still worships and random tourists rock up in surprise to see the ‘local events’ flyers sit side by side with images of Native American history.

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oh England, how I do love thee.

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We meandered through the old town of higgledy streets and 18th-century market hall, stopping for a cuppa and a scone, before taking a fruitless amble down to the docks. It was a grey but settled day, so we didn’t see this Kent Town in the best light (literally – my photos are super grim) but I can see a return one day for another amazed walk through the higgedy streets.

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

    #onlyinEngland

    Pocahontas Gravesend Kent Unique England Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    Becoming a Cowboy at the Beaumont Ranch, Northern Texas

    Do you ever find yourself having a literal ‘pinch me’ moment? At the end of our fortnight we hit the tarmac, rolling out of the gleaming Dallas city centre – on our way back to Austin to sadly fly home – we headed for one last adventure to round out our Southern America roadtrip.

    We cruised along the long, smooth highways tucked in behind a semi-truck or two (how I preferred to drive whilst in the States that is slowly and smoothly) along dusty highway shoulders that definitely had a tumbleweed or two for decoration.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The longer that I’ve been blogging, the better that I think our travelling choices are getting – and the more fun that the researching
    that we do becomes. However, this revelation flew quite out of the window when totally by chance I discovered that it’s actually possible to stay on a working Texan Ranch as a tourist and set about booking us into an accommodation experience, rather than just another beige hotel.

    But it wasn’t until we turned off Interstate 35 to a teeny tiny little town called Grandview, that the feeling we really were in Texas actually sunk in.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Pulling our scarlet stallion into the Beaumont Ranch driveway I slowed the car, turned to Mr Kiwi, and made him pinch me to check that I wasn’t just dreaming.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The Beaumont Ranch is a resort complete with spa, but first and foremost it’s a working cattle ranch of 800 beautiful North Texas acres, complete with a herd of Texas longhorns, horses, llamas, and other local wildlife. The ponds have otters and beavers playing in the waters and cheeky dogs gambol along the pond banks. We were even luckier than most because as it was an off-season Sunday we had the entire place to ourselves.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Beaumont Ranch sits on the old Chisolm Trail, used in the post-Civil War era to drive cattle overland, from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The 26 unique suites, rooms, guest cabins and homes are housed in a cute ‘Western Town’ reflecting Texas in the 1880’s when cowboys were driving their herds through the land.

    Unfortunately, I left my camera in the US and with it 98% of my photos of our cute-as-pie cabin, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Our cabin surprised us at the level of luxuriousness it contained – an enormous sleigh bed that we sank into with utter pleasure, plush fittings with an intentionally rustic charm and all of the mod-cons that a Wild West Saloon girl could possibly need.

    Where to stay in Texas Beaumont Ranch Road Trip Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Checking in, we learned how in 1997 Ron and Linda Beaumont opened their dream, a Texas Guest Ranch, to reflect their love of the culture and the land of North Texas. Now the ranch is run by the children, grandchildren and the extended family of Ron and Linda, along with staff members from the local Grandview area ‘that feel like family’. We were treated so kindly by everyone we met along the way.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Both of us being animal lovers, we were keen to explore the ranch – after a much needed nap obviously – so we embarked on a pre-dinner bimble around the large pond and stables to meet a few of our neighbors.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This, this is Max.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This mischievous goat actually thinks he’s a dog, and when the ranch hands realized how miserable he was penned up vs. how happy he was meandering around the farm ‘helping’ [read: hindering] them carrying out chores, they decided to let him roam around freely during the day. 4 years later every night he gets tucked away at twilight with the horses and let out each morning to roam on the range.

    Too cute for words. Also, at this point I was told that Mr Kiwi doesn’t speak Standard Goat, just Pygmy Goat – the things you learn after 8 years of marriage huh? 

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    This bony little catten melted our hearts. Chatting with our ropin’ instruction, a proper grizzly cowboy, he cradled the cat in his arms whilst telling us how they kept kitties in the stables as the best method of keeping the rat and mouse population at bay (their urine makes the horse’s hay grow a toxic mould) and that one of their cats had given birth to an intrigue [genuine collective noun] of kittens.

    One lady decided that the kittens wouldn’t have a good life (even though they are working cats, the soft-hearted, big burly stable guys feed them as well) and made off with the whole litter in her car one afternoon. Two weeks later, this emaciated kitten, identical to the litter came striding back over to the barn and ran straight up to her Momma. They think she used her cat GPS [not a genuine technical term] to make her own way home.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Being rather lazy, for dinner we popped into town to get a few beers and a pizza – and this was the genuine Grandview High Street. Can’t get more Billy the Kid than that.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Hauling our dinner back to the cabins, we spotted two seats at the end of the pond pier simply calling our names. Watching the sun break over the horizon as we toasted our trip (me with spiked Iced Tea) we had one of those travel ‘moments’ that we will never forget.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Waking the next morning, we raced out of bed and over to the barns for breakfast, as we had a roping lesson in the calendar, taught by the ranch lifestock manager. Essentially, the cowboys would individually hook a longhorn beast by twirling a loop of good roper over their heads and snaring the cow’s longhorns. I was terrible at it, Mr Kiwi was a heck of a lot better, but it’s mostly because I got the giggles when we gathered an audience in the barn – the horses in their stable boxes, a couple of the cats and Max (the goat) who kept wanting in on the fun.

    Texas Road Trip Where to stay Beaumont Ranch Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Leaving our little home on the range was tough. Really tough, but us cowpoke have to learn to adjust our Stetsons and ride off into the sunset, right?

    Starry night, campfire light, and the coyote calls where the howlin’ winds will. 

    So I ride out to the ol’ sundown. I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail.

    Too right, Thin Lizzy.

     

    Where is the most unique place you’ve stayed on holiday?

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    US Roadtrip Diary: Our Louisiana Plantation Stay

    Leaving behind the zooming traffic of the motorway, we turned from the busy I-110 to a gently curving US Highway 61 shouldered by dark trees and the occasional Mom and Pop business. The late afternoon sun broke over the horizon and our SatNav announced that were almost at our destination, the Butler and Greenwood Plantation.

    Having followed the Mississippi River upstate from New Orleans slightly past the historic town of St. Francisville, we steered Bonnie along the curving driveway arcaded with Spanish Moss draped Live Oak trees, parting to reveal the kind of house that only seems to appear on movies. A deep wraparound porch hugged the timber frame and the late afternoon sunshine dappled the lawn.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: We were excited guests of the Butler and Greenwood Plantation but all of my enthusiasms are very much my own…

    We were greeted by two of the real owners (a tabby and a grey cat respectively) before the porch screen opened and our friendly host for the evening peeped out. Welcoming our grateful selves to sink into her verandah sofa, Anne Butler gave us a map of the St. Francisville area alongside a few recommendations before telling us a short history of her beautiful family home passed through the generations, before arriving at the current iteration of B&B cabins in the grounds.

    Behind the main historic antebellum plantation home, arranged around the pond and pool, the old kitchen (separate from the
    main house due to the dangers of cooking over a real fireplace) and several cabins (some 1 bedroom, a few 2 bedroom) have been transformed into unique cottages complete with private double Jacuzzi, perfect for the hikers who summer in the Louisana and road-tripping tourists.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Visiting on the shoulder season, we could have had our pick of unique accommodation – the two bedroom 1796 Old Kitchen, complete with fireplace and porch swing…

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …or the the Treehouse with a touch of hunting lodge luxe…

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …but in the end we chose the simple beauty of the six-sided gazebo.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Overlooking the pond, our cabin featured nine-foot-tall antique stained glass church windows which set my heart a-flutter, a four-poster bed which was ridiculously comfortable and the double Jacuzzi which we sank into with relief. (In fact, I almost fell asleep in the tub, that’s how relaxed we became.)

    The best aspect of our whole stay though? Being prodded awake at sunrise by Mr Kiwi who (thanks to jet-lag) had discovered the golden sun glowing through our windows. Breathtaking.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As the light gradually filled our room, we threw back the covers, popped our croissants into the oven, flipped the switch on a pot of coffee and poured a glass of orange juice for breakfast on our porch overlooking the still pond.

    Sadly packing up our belongings, we took one last stroll around the gardens and grounds, simply content to absorb the moment.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oh how I wish we would have had more time to explore. In the fifty acres of landscaped ground Anne told us how the plantings are timed to almost always have something scented draping the air, Cast-iron urns and benches date from the 1850s plus there is a large wildlife and bird population – herons on the pond, white-tailed deer, fox, bobcats, and chipmunks.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Sadly we didn’t have the time for any hiking (bar the urban kind in a maroon Nissan) but we did manage to potter down to the charming Main Street of St. Francisville, unmarred by kitschy tourist “improvements” that run right down onto the banks of the
    Mississippi.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our evening at the Butler Greenwood Plantation was definitely one of our Louisiana road trip highlights.

    Where to stay Louisiana Roadtrip Plantation B&B Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    A Christmas corner of London: Oxford Street and Picadilly Circus

    I usually avoid Oxford Street and Picadilly Circus as much as possible, preferring to duck along the lesser visited lanes that run alongside the main thoroughfares the times I absolutely have to brave the area.

    The one month where I make an exception is December.

    It would be impossible to talk about London at Christmas without mentioning the shopping heart of my favourite city. Commercial greed and the chaos of thousands of visitors aside, each corner you turn is another festively trimmed doorway of cheer.

    Fresh from our sojourn through a Kris Kringle draped Chelsea, we hightailed our way along the Piccadilly Line.

    With no plans other than pressing our noses to the beautifully dressed windows and stopping for a swift coffee, we waited for twilight to fall.

     
    We adore comparing and contrasting the Christmas lights strung across
    each main London shopping street and usually apply a rating system of
    between 1 and 5 (fairy-light) stars. It’s definitely an excuse to press
    my nose to the beautifully ornate department store windows – Fortnum
    & Mason, Selfridges, many along Regents Street, Trafalgar Square
    and Oxford Street; but also many of the lesser known.

    We also cherish the excuse to clutch cups full of festive cheer and arrange to catch up with our nearest and dearest. Our stockings are hung by the (London equivalent) of a chimney with care, the pantry is bursting with treats and I’m already looking forward to detoxing in January.

    Ahhhh, Christmas in London.

    What’s your favourite area?

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