Sometimes the city can get all too much.

I love London, but I also appreciate the countryside. So many of us when we are young hate those country walks and forest strolls but as we grow older we really do realise just why our parents dragged us around fields and villages – because its just so pretty.

It was only really when I moved to London that I started to appreciate the countryside a little better.

The countryside holds a special place at the heart of English life and culture, and I always feel that if you visit England but only see London, you haven’t really seen England at all.

The countryside remains for most of us in Britain as an idyllic place, where we can relax and us Brits love to go to the country. For me, the countryside isn’t just areas full of history, nature and protected areas, but also all the little things: that pretty little village or old country pub that does a good, cheap pint.

So however damp and dismal the weather may be over Winter, don’t let it colour your own impressions of the countryside.

My hometown is in Kent, also known as the Garden of England. And it truly is. We’ve visited various areas throughout my childhood in Kent (and outside of it, too) and there are few places that remain favourites.

Teston isn’t far from my old hometown and it’s a small, quiet, yet beautiful place for a walk. The other weekend we got out our wellies and coats and marched off for the countryside.

Views are spectacular, it’s always a bit better when you know there’s a warm pub at the end, too…

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London. A city with a million opportunities, things to do, people to meet and places to see.

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All of the above are expectations andluckily – the reality of London. However, this amazing city isn’t always what you expect it to be.

Don’t get me wrong: London is still my favourite city in the world. Although I am yet to visit some other cities, and despite living here for well over a year, I have a deep feeling that it will always remain my favourite. It is home to me, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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But here are a list of things that I expected to happen when I made that big move to the city… But maybe didn’t quite pan out as easily as I thought.

 

  1. BEING GOOD WITH MONEY

There really is a cost to living in an exciting place like London *no pun intended*… it is pretty god darn expensive here. You need to take time find out where to shop, how to travel around, and where to eat inexpensively. If you were to go on an exciting-very-english pub crawl, for example, I would save that for a country village or town outside of London. It is easy to spend way too much money on food or drinks in the city.

 

2. I’M GOING TO CYCLE EVERYWHERE

This is actually something I originally wanted to do when I arrived here. There are so many cyclists around London, it must save a bucket load of cash just riding everywhere rather than using the bus or tube. It is also much greener. I’m still undecided on what made me change my mind. Maybe it is because I remembered how cold England is for most of the year. But the more likely reason is that most of us would rather pay for a tube than put our lives in the hands of London’s loony drivers.

 

3. I WILL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL FOR THE TUBE

Coming from a small town near the countryside, I know exactly what it is like to miss a bus and have to wait another hour in the freezing cold for the next one.  “I will always be grateful for efficient London transport” I said… then only a few months in and I find myself cursing when I have to wait 6 minutes for the next bus. I am now part of the blood-thirsty-London-mob-crowd that you will find standing on the yellow line, whining about a technical error leading to a 5 minute tube delay. Impatience in London is contagious.

 

4. RENT CAN’T BE THAT BAD IN LONDON

It is true what people say about living here: for the price of a cosy flat here, no matter how swish it may look on the inside, you can probably get a castle for the same amount elsewhere. It is ridiculous really. This aside, however, I do personally feel that the quality of life is better here – especially if you are a young adult. If I had the choice of a huge house back in my small hometown, or a cosy apartment in London, I would still choose the latter. Every time.

 

5. MY LIFE WILL BASICALLY BE THE LONDON VERSION OF SITC

(Sex in the City – FYI)

This is probably the most laughable of them all, isn’t it? Alright so I never thought it would actually be like this really, but I did think it would consist of cocktail nights every single weekend and constant dinners in central London with my girlies. But it turns out that we all have budgets and most people opt for the cheaper student nights (understandable). Nonetheless, I do lurrrrve my cocktails and when we all get the chance to, it is the perfect way to spend a night out in the city. Just try to visit on happy hours if you are on a budget and want to keep your bank account happy.

 

Despite all of the above, I absolutely adore London. The past year and a half has probably been the most fun of my life and I have made friends for life.

I won’t be leaving anytime soon.

 

 

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Staying in my hometown, Kent, has been the nicest way to spend the holidays and this Christmas. Although it has now come to an end and I am ready to head back into city lifestyle in London, I thought I’d post an appreciation post on the countryside near where I live.

Last week, we awoke to a chilly morning and decided to head into the countryside near Sevenoaks. After a short drive we found ourselves driving through green forestry, and we had arrived at Ightham Mote.

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A charming, medieval manor house and garden, it was like walking through an English fairytale. This is exactly what I love about the English countryside.

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Originally dating to around 1320, it is the most complete small medieval manor house in the country. We paid only £6 for entry to the building and the grounds, although it is free for all you National Trust members.

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So, if you’re in the South East of England (or near London) and thinking that there’s really nothing to do here – think again. Look up other places that are part of the National Trust – some places are truly amazing.

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My last few days living outside of London this summer have been nice and well-spent. This time next week I will be living in London again and I can’t wait to be back in my favourite city!

Until then, I thought I would write up a short-but-sweet post on a different favourite city of mine in England: Canterbury. Although in comparison to London this city is much smaller, I love it because I spent three years of my life studying at College there, and although I was ready to move away from this place it is always nice to go back and appreciate its beauty.

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It is always a tourist hotspot, and there are many reasons as to why so many people go.

Most of the international tourists here always visit the Cathedral which is stunning.

Despite the many modern shops and stores, such as Topshop and French Connection, the streets still have not lost their old traditional charms. Many of the buildings are a little older than you’d think, my favourite building is a restaurant on by the river – it has been there since the 1500’s. You can also take a river boat tour here too which although I am yet to try, I have heard its definitely worthwhile!

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With cobbled streets, old fashioned sweet shops and ice cream carts, the city really does take tradition seriously!

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There are more pubs than bars or clubs in Canterbury, so its the perfect place for a proper pub crawl! When we visited the other day we went to the Foundry Brew Pub for their craft beer festival.

I always love to go to small festivals like these; they’re inexpensive, have great live music and you can always find yourself meeting new people. We found ourselves chatting to some guys and girls from South Africa and Canada at this one.

They had travelled in from London that day too, so that’s just proof that it doesn’t take long to reach these other cute places and how worthwhile it can be.

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Bethany x

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I couldn’t wait to move to London. But once I was there, and I started to have little visits home to family in Kent I also began to really, truly appreciate the countryside.

As a child, the countryside was dull and I craved city life (I still do!). But now, as I am older and able to explore a bit more, I can see how amazing it really is!

My top tips for discovering and really taking full advantage of all things country and British are:

Do something different. Something that may even be fairly ordinary in the countryside, but something that you rarely choose to do. The other week we decided we would go and rent a rowing boat and ride around the river all day. It was so nice and although the day wasn’t rammed full of lots of activities, it was enough to keep us entertained yet chilled out. We rented from Bodiam Boating Station   in Sussex and it was a great price – about £40 for 4 full hours.

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TIP 2: Get out into the sunshine. Make the most of the English sun whilst it is here! It is rare that we can spend time in the countryside here and actually feel the sun on our skin, so when it is out do not waste all day sat inside. There’s plenty to do, even on a budget. We decided on the first full sunny day here to go on a picnic. I bought a cute gingham picnic basket from T-K-Maxx and a checked blanked (essentials!) and filled it with yummy treats and drinks. Find a nice location – for us it was Leeds Castle in Kent – and you’re good to go and become oh so English.

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TIP 3: Be a tourist in your own hometown. This can apply to those living in the countryside OR the city. If someone from another culture were to visit you, where would you take them? Even the smallest of villages have impressive places. Be it beautiful buildings or breathtaking scenic routes; make sure you try them out for yourselves. Many of us leave the touristy things to the tourists themselves thinking we have “all of the time in the world” to see the nice things. But there is no time like the present! I recently revisited a favourite tourist spot in my old home county of Kent – the White Cliffs of Dover.

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TIP 4: Reacquaint yourself with family and friends. This may only apply to those who are returning to their hometowns after being away (like me!). But I feel it can be relevant to many of us so why not include it! Leaving a year ago made me realise who were my true friends, and unfortunately who were not. That is something that comes with growing up, however ever since I left I always made the effort to stay in contact. I still have friends at home that I meet up with for catch-ups and it feels as though nothing has changed, and I always make as much time as possible for my family. Not everyone will like that you have left but those who are true to you will be happy for you, and be the people whom you should make time for.

TIP 5: Find activities in your area. More often than not, even small towns have activities and attractions that you wouldn’t usually think of. For example, near my hometown is “Go Ape“. I went last summer and really enjoyed myself (apart from feeling like I had vertigo at the beginning!). Climbing through the woods and jumping from trees on harnesses – could you get any closer to nature?!

We also took a hike around the beautiful Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest.

 

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I hope that at least one of those tips above are useful for at least one of you. I know I rambled on, but it was far better than me spamming with a post on each and every place on this page!

Bethany x

p.s. apologies for that last photo (from Go Ape)… awkward action shot from behind…

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