As I mentioned here, Cotswolds is a gentle haven for travelers, wanderers and those looking to connect with themselves. Every village will leave you a bit surprised, happy and relax your weary mind. I have already mentioned about the three popular villages of Bourton on Water, Lower Slaughter and Chipping Campden. Here, I continue with other lovely villages and various attractions we had the pleasure to explore couple of weeks ago.

Stow-on-the-Wold:

Cotswolds attractions

Cotswolds attractions

 

Located on top of an 800 ft hill, Stow-on-the-Wold is a small market town and civil parish. This village was once the business centre of Cotswolds as several exquisite fairs were held here which attracted the best of local business. The first annual fair was established in 1330 by King Edward III. It was held for seven days every August but by 1476 was replaced with two five-day fairs.

The aim of these annual fairs was to establish Stow as a place to trade, and to take control of the unpredictable passing trade. These fairs were located in the square, which is still the town centre. Today, this square is filled with a plethora of antique shops, specialty wool shops and indigenous fashion shops. Stow is definitely a paradise for treasure seeks. Unfortunately, by the time we reached here most of the shops were closed which meant that my purse did not get any chance to become light.

Another main attraction of Stow is the St. Edward’s Church (pictured above). I am one of those people who finds an ancient church (and even cemeteries) extremely romantic and this 11th century Church is certainly one of the most romantic Churches I have ever visited. It is intimate, cosy and a strong sense of character to it. Definitely not to be missed.

Blockley:

Cotswolds

 

The village of Blockley was once the centre of silk production with several silk mills burgeoning here since the 18th century. The legacy of its silky past continues with most street signs named as one mill or the other and its collection of golden hued buildings.

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Cotswolds

Aside from the rather enjoyable walk along the beautiful countryside; take a trip down to the charming Norman Church (SS Peter & Paul Church) located at the centre of the village. This Church dates back to 1180 and was featured in last year’s TV series Father Brown. It is again a rather inviting Church with an intimate garden and cemetery which will instantly transport to a bygone era.

Broadway:

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Located in the English county of Worcestershire; Broadway is often referred to as, “Jewel of the Cotswold.” Known for its sheer beauty and magnificence, several writers and artists like Oscar Wilde, Claude Monet, English textile designer William Morris and English composer Edward Elgar had made Broadway their home to draw inspiration from its beauty and location.

Broadway is flanked with a mix of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian buildings which lends this place a brilliant charm. Today, it is also another thriving centre of arts and antiques and hence it makes perfect sense to browse through its craft and antique shops for unknown treasures.

When you are here don’t forget the Snowshill Manor, a perfect spot to enjoy the unblemished green marshy plains surrounding this village and losing yourself to the pristine beauty of nature.

Hope you enjoyed this post on Cotswolds. Thanks for reading. As always likes and comments are most welcome. And don’t forget to follow me 😉

As UK gears up for another spring, I can’t wait to breathe in the fresh, sun-shine filled air, take in the lovely daffodils that are springing up in every street corner and once again explore the lovely, dense, wild woods near my vicinity. If you are coming to UK or are in UK, I urge you to explore the wild, uninhibited woodlands UK offers. Here are my top three favourite picks from Hampshire.

The Vyne Woods, Basingstoke:

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I love the tranquility, serenity and the promise of unexpected that woodland represents. The Vyne Woods situated in Basingstoke, Hampshire definitely encapsulates all these qualities. Basingstoke is notorious for being a place where nothing much happens; but this woodland wonder will change your mind. It is perfect to stroll around and exercise those tired limbs on a sunny, lazy afternoon. Adjacent to the stately Vyne gardens and the House; a 16th century country house; the Vyne woodlands is a place where you can easily and happily lose yourself to the untamed charm of nature. There are many walking trails that criss-cross these woods. And don’t be surprised if you come across owls, woodpeckers and even red Deer whilst you are walking. We had a taste of the unexpected when there was a flurry of action as a herd of deer passed us without any fair warning and out of nowhere but then that’s the beauty of wilderness it strikes when you least expect it. The 3.5 mile walk is great to enjoy some walking meditation accompanied only by pristine, untamed and unflappable nature.

New Forest:

New Forest

Every spring/ summer we have a ritual to explore this unspoilt and pristine ancient woodland either by walking or cycling. The New Forest is not actually “new” it was named “Nova Foresta” and was the hunting ground of William the conqueror way back in 1079. This 193,000 acre of land has 143 miles of walking/ cycling track. Needless to say, there are a number of endless routes and we are often surprised to discover a “new” path every new season. As you tread along its beautiful path, you will come across a plethora of picturesque villages, stately tea-rooms, gurgling streams and everything in between. And if you get tired of walking in woodland you can always visit the town of Lymington, check out a section of Solent Way or take a stroll along the beautiful coast line with magnificent views of the Isle of Wight. It is definitely my favourite place to get a whiff of fresh air and relax after a busy week.

West Wood, Winchester:

 

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

 

With its gently rolling arable farmland, small blocks of woodlands, dense and rich beech plantation, this 251 hectare freehold woodland, is a classic English beauty. Adjacent to the Crab Wood Nature Reserve this beautiful woodland area is also home to range of birds and animals like Roe deer, rabbits, stoats and buzzards. It is also packed with other rare flora and fauna as well as wild flowers like bluebells (which comes out in spring) and is a perfect place for getting to grips with nature.

Not many people know this about me but I am a book nerd with an unhealthy (I am told) passion for books. Nothing gives me more joy than holding a book with its yellowing pages, taking in its rustic aroma and mentally traveling to a “place” where I have never been before. I have maintained in this blog that I have too many alter-egos; to many voices in my head (in a good way) and it does not surprise me when the book lover wins the match and comes out strong. I can easily make more space in my humble abode; give away my stylish clothes only to make more room for my beloved books. Even in this age of Kindle, tablets, Amazon and big-chain bookshops nothing gives me more joy than discovering and getting lost inside an old bookshop.

From Samuel Johnson to Charles Dickens to Geoffrey Chaucer (who was buried at the Poets’ Corner; Westminster Abbey) London has been home to many writers. Hence, it is no surprise that London is also the city where past and present, real life and fiction collide with each other giving it an upbeat, eclectic and ever-changing kaleidoscope. Here, I will share some of my favourite book havens. It is a humble list but then I am in no hurry to discover London’s best literary spots because discovering a book shop is like reading a great piece of work and I would rather savour the whole experience than rushing and spoiling the journey.

Southbank Book Market:

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Okay, I am a bit partial to this London spot. If I have to choose one favourite place in London; I would promptly say Southbank. I don’t know why this place seems so special perhaps it is the incessant buzz of people, perhaps it the calming sight of River Thames or perhaps it is this Book Market itself; Southbank never fails to cheer me up. I accidently stumbled upon this market whilst waiting for a friend, some moons ago and even today I can easily spend hours browsing through this market.

Tucked under Waterloo Bridge, you’ll find the Southbank Centre Book Market: a place brimming with students, tourists, aspiring photographers, wanderers and book nerds like me. This Book Market is not exactly a book shop but a book space (when have I cared for definitions!!) The place has an eclectic collection of books from Maya Angelou’s poetry to Encyclopedias from dog-eared copies of Dickens and Enid Blyton to mass-market copies of contemporary writers from Jane Austen to Fifty Shades of Grey (yes, sadly!) It is a spot where you will find Sylvia Plath and Meera Syal happily living together with Calvin and Hobbes and Wodehouse. What’s more? You can buy books from as less as 99 pence—no deal can be sweeter, don’t you think?

Books for Cooks, Notting Hill:

Image via Books for Cooks

Image via Books for Cooks

Whilst I find every day cooking to be a monotonous task; some days when inspiration strikes I actually love meddling in the kitchen and trying out new dishes.  I can make a decent meal but I must confess I am not a seasoned cook, I ALWAYS need the help of cook books or videos. When exploring Notting Hill on a lazy afternoon with a friend; we stumbled upon this little cookery haven. You will find cook books from floor to ceiling.

Books for Cooks was founded in 1983 by Heidi Lascelles, a nurse who understood the importance a well-cooked meal but was stunned to find that not many bookshops stocked cook books. This place was thus born. There are over 8,000 titles from simple recipe books to foodie fiction from books on nutrition to food history, sociology and chemistry. The place is like never-ending food porn that can make even the most determined dieter salivate and hungry. The only piece of caution: try to go with a full-stomach browsing through their rich collection will definitely make your stomach grumble.

Brick Lane Bookshop:

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The Brick Lane market is one of the wildest and quirkiest markets in London that refuses to give up its originality and character.  The same is true for this beautiful, independent bookshop. Go through its narrow door and you will be instantly transported into a world that has an unmistakable old charm about it, a place full of warmth and unique character.

This bookshop is definitely a place where you need to forget time, the at times irritating ring of the phone and devour its every nook and cranny slowly as if in a meditation. This bookshop has an enviable collection of poetry, fiction, sci-fi, comic books and graphic novels—a never ending list really. You will find Kafka, Tolstoy, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to East London literature. The collection, hence, is varied, diverse and most importantly top-notch. They also have a buzzing book group and conduct writing workshops.

The Brick Lane Bookshop also strikes a good balance when it comes to pricing. Whilst books on the shelves are sold at full retail price; on the ground you will find boxes where you can get some true treasures for as less as £3! The place is filled with little seats and two comfy lounge chairs and a plethora of cushions—a perfect atmosphere to enjoy some solitude; snuggled up with your favourite read.

As a style-lover and a compulsive people watcher, I love exploring a city’s markets.

 

The famous London Eye

 London Eye

For me, they are the ultimate representation of a city’s personality. Away from the comforts of fancy ad gimmick and stripped of any artificial airs, markets are where you see the city in its true colours while indulging in some shameless people watching. Exploring a market is not just about shopping it’s about experiencing a city’s raw character, coming in touch with its rugged personality and getting acquainted with its many shades. Markets unlike malls also have uniqueness to them that can never be matched up. Of course, the fashionista in me is always beaming after getting her hands on that one unique piece.

London, as we all know, is one of the best shopping places. Whilst names like Harrods and Selfridges have put London as a shopping paradise for the swish set; there’s definitely more to London’s shopping landscape than the glittery malls. I bring to you three of the best shopping and people watching haunts of London—the Brick Lane Market, the Camden Market and Spitalfields Market.

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Brick Lane Market: A study in culture and contradictions, this market is located on the northern end of Brick Lane along Cheshire Street in East London. In Brick Lane, posh boutiques stand in sharp contrast with rickety stalls selling a plethora of eclectic goods from old books, antique cameras, and vintage clothes to cutesy bric-a-brac. This place is popularized by bargain hunters, art students and curry houses, It’s unpolished, little wild, rough around the edges and definitely unafraid. And true to London’s multicultural fabric, Brick Lane is a place where people from all different cultures, backgrounds come together to clash and cherish. Brick Lane’s vibe can be summed up in two words—wild and eclectic.

Camden Lock

 

Camden Market

 

 

Camden Market

 

Camden Market: One of the oldest markets of London, it has been the home ground for musical legends like Ian Drury and Amy Winehouse. Situated between Camden Town and Chalk farm, the Camden Markets give you a sneak peek to the city’s vibrant street culture. Saunter around its narrow pathways and you will soon realise that this is a place where alternative culture could have born. You will see an array of shops selling everything from Goth, Punk to vintage lifestyles.

 

Via: Wikimedia Commons

Via: Wikimedia Commons

Spitalfield Market: The Old Spitalfield Market (pictured above) located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, closest to Liverpool Street tube station, is home to an old-fashioned community of over 30 independent and large traders and a plethora of chic bohemian businesses. The market is a treasure trove of eclectic interiors and design, scrumptious street food and quirky art.Nothing represents the consumer’s diversity and individuality like this market and at the same time it is a cultural and entrepreneurial melting pot.  If you love antiques – especially  Victorian ones then this market should not be missed. But a word of caution: the real antiques market is open only on Thursdays and like every other market in the world, there are numerous vendors who will try to fool you with their “iconic” finds. So have a discerning eye. If you are tired of rummaging through retro finds, then give your taste buds some exercise by digging into some farmers’ cheese and other delicious delights.