Guide to Ipswich

Ipswich is the charming county town of Suffolk, located on the estuary of the river Orwell, presumed to be the inspiration for author Blaire to change his name to George Orwell.

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Replete with well-preserved and quaint one-storey buildings, including the 15th century ‘Ancient House’ in the Buttermarket area, Ipswich offers a pleasant contrast to the bustle of London, which is only 100 kms away.

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Wander around the town centre – The layout of the town centre can only be described as adorable, with local pubs, vegetable market, town churches et al jostling for your attention. Take a stroll around the buttermarket area, gaze at the heritage buildings, peep into adorable homes, grab a lunch at Zizzi’s, watch the latest movie, drop into the reading room, hear the church bells toll while you savour a pastry from Patesserie Valerie.

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Meet the Giles Family – The town of Ipswich is steeped in history, Charles Dickens stayed at the Great White Horse Hotel when he wrote ‘Pickwick Papers’; Dr. George Birkbeck founded one of the first ‘Mechanics’ Institute’ which operates to this day as the Ipswich library and reading room. One such famed icon was cartoonist Carl Giles who lived in Ipswich and whose popular satirical cartoon was widely loved. He is commemorated with a statue of Grandma and the ‘Giles family’ menagerie in Queen Street, overlooking the window of the newspaper office where he worked.

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Picnic at Holywells Park – The Holywells park much like the rest of Ipswich has history going back thousands of years. Tools from the Stone Age, as well as Bronze Age axes and Roman Coins have been discovered at this 67 acre park. The beautiful park is home to a large number of birdlife and is ideal for a summer picnic. On the way back to the town, head to the pier at sunset for a romantic walk under the shimmering lights of the waterfront.

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Visit Cambridge – The famed university town of Cambridge is a short train ride away from Ipswich and visit it you must. Cambridge’s architecture and gardens are spectacular; Punting in Cambridge is a wonderful way of looking at the beautiful ‘Bridge of Sighs’ and the ‘Mathematical Bridge’ while on the river Cam. I especially enjoyed musing over the sculptural and entirely mechanical ‘Corpus Clock’.

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Guide to Edinburgh

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Stay by the Portobello beach – Most people don’t really think of a beach when they think of Edinburgh, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that Edinburgh has a beautiful beach just a few miles away. I was lucky to have stayed right at the Portobello beachfront, come morning you will seen umpteen dogs frolicking in the sand and playing catch. The beautiful sunrise will coax you out of your slumber while the gentle sound of the waves will serenade you to sleep.

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Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens – The royal botanic gardens are a treat to the senses. The beautifully landscaped garden has a delightful, not-to-be missed Alpine-grass enclosure. They also have art exhibits that seek to educate and at the same time enthral curious minds. When I visited the gardens in May, there was an absolutely exquisite botanical art exhibit of native Scottish plants. Follow The Botanics to know about the latest program for the month of your stop over.

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Pay homage to Greyfriar’s Bobby – Bobby, a Skye terrier belonging to constable Gray has been immortalised for his loyalty and devotion. Please remember to only admire and commemorate, rather than rubbing the nose of the beloved terrier; The stories of resulting good luck are only a myth.

Visit the Elephant House Cafe and Victoria Street – Edinburgh is the birthplace of the world’s most famous wizard, Harry Potter. Wandering through Edinburgh’s old town, its surreptitious alleys and castles, its easy to see how such a beautiful city inspired such a momentous book.  Right across from Greyfriar’s Bobby is both the Elephant House and the winding Victoria Street. Elephant House is a cafe on George IV Bridge where author J.K. Rowling spent her time looking out the window to Edinburgh castle and creating the world of wizards. The winding pathways of Victoria Street lined with whimsical shops served as the inspiration for Diagon Alley; A walk along it’s road gives one the sense of being in the book.

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Visit Dean Village – Dean Village (from ‘dene’ meaning deep valley) is a picturesque village just 10 min from Princes street. Dean Village is an oasis from the bustle of Edinburgh and there is much to do here; Take a walk along the Water of Leith walkway, picnic at the meadow or meander to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Cliffs of Dover

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The White Cliffs of Dover are a part of the English coastline facing the strait of Dover and France. Standing atop the grasslands of the cliffs amidst wildflowers, grazing ponies and butterflies one can see Calais, on the coast of France.

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Here is an excerpt from the poem Dover Beach eptimising the beauty of the Kent coast,

   The sea is calm tonight,
   The tide is full, the moon lies fair
   Upon the straits – on the French coast, the light
   Gleams, and is gone: the cliffs of England stand,
   Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.

Guide to Bali

Bali with it’s distinctive style of architecture built out of volcanic rock, black sand beaches and lush jungles, is a tropical paradise like none other.

Here are some of the things you must do while in Bali –

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Stay in an eco-friendly resort – Travel responsibly; It is entirely possible to experience the beauty of Bali while supporting businesses that take steps to preserve Bali’s natural resources for perpetuity.

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Watch the sunset at Ayana, Jimbaran – Perched on a cliff atop Jimbaran bay, Ayana boasts a spectacular sunset, the likes of which one has never seen.

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Explore Bali’s Wildlife – Bali’s lush jungles are a veritable treat for wildlife lovers, plan a trip to West Bali National park or explore underwater sea life at the islands of Lembogan, Menjangan and Lovina.

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Buy Balinese Furniture – Bali produces some of the best furniture in the world owing to an abundance of locally-grown, high quality wood. The many shops around Kerobokan stock beautiful furniture and are an aesthete’s delight.

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Stay at an Airbnb in Canggu – Choose one with enormous French windows that open up to Canggu’s endless paddy fields and is a short drive from Canggu’s popular organic cafe – The Shady Shack.

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Visit Tanah Lot – Tanah Lot is the most enchanting of the seven sea temples built on the Balinese coast. At low tide one can walk up the trail of rocks leading to the ancient temple.

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Unwind at the Sunset Lounge at Pan Pacific Resort – A great way to enjoy the breathtaking sunset over Tanah Lot is from the aptly named Sunset Lounge at the Pan Pacific Resort. The resort in itself is beautifully landscaped and a treat for golf aficionados.

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Surf Bali’s black sand beaches – Bali’s rolling waves and quiet, beautiful beaches are a surfer’s delight. So much so, that several classic surf movies such as ‘Morning of the Earth’ and ‘Endless Summer’ were shot here.

Stonehenge

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On a bright sunny afternoon in September, I set out to visit one of the great wonders of the ancient world, the Stonehenge. Stonehenge was built in the period of 3000 BC to 2000 BC on the axis of the midsummer sunrise. Since Stonehenge was built by a culture that left no written records, its purpose and even the method in which it was built is still a mystery adding an aura of mysticism to the ancient monument.

The bluestones in the inner circle of the Stonehenge, considered by many to have healing properties, was brought to Wiltshire from the Preseli mountains in Wales and was considered a great feat of engineering feat at that time.

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The Sun-stone found north east of the Sarsen circle, was amongst the first monuments at the site of the Stonehenge. On the day of summer solstice standing within the inner circle of stones one can see the sun rise over the stone.

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How to get there – Take a train from London to the charming town of Salisbury, from Salisbury take a shuttle to the site of the Stonehenge. Be sure to explore Salisbury’s winding walkways and outdoor markets!