Daytrips from London: East Sussex Coast

Why have a celebration dinner when you could have a celebration day trip? I always promised to go big or go home.

In April, after months of fruitless searching, I managed to convince someone to hire me in a job that is not retail, quite unbelievably. To celebrate, we decided to take ourselves off to the coast for the day, selecting Camber Sands for its golden coastline and proximity to Rye, Sussex – a little chocolate box village in the south that I had wanted to visit for many years.

The train from Kings Cross was just a little under two hours with a stop off in Ashford, Essex. A return cost us £36.

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Rye, upon arrival, looks like any small UK town but once you climb the small hill leading from the station, the beautiful “chocolate box” village reveals itself. Its pretty cobbled streets and independent stores and cafés feel magical, like something out of Harry Potter. 

There is also a beautiful street clearly named after my family…


We took coffee and scones, and then headed for the bus with the view to visit Dungeness beach and then Camber Sands.

This is where our genius failed. Unlike in London where stops are read out, we saw one bus stop for Dungeness but thought it might go another bus stop a bit closer. It did not. It went further and further up the Kent coast, heading onwards… to Dover.

At this point we sprang out and waited for a bus going the opposite way. An elderly lady informed us she had been waiting for forty five minutes and had already missed her doctor’s appointment. We’re not in London anymore where a wait of anything more than two minutes is proof of TfL’s incapability. When the lady began to head home, that was our cue to also begin walking to … somewhere, by foot.  We figured that if we managed it in Asia, we could manage it down the East England coast.

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Everywhere began to get farther and farther away, but we found beaches to walk down and parks to play in.

The first beach was on St. Mary’s Bay. There was something oddly very brutalist and communist-era about it, and not the best way to prove to an Italian that England has nice coastline. The coastal air was a pleasant change from the stuffy, sticky city pollution and that had to count for something, right?

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Another thing we really liked was that everyone we passed was so charming and polite. They let us pet their tiny dogs, and were friendly enough to say hello and have a nice day, whereas in London that kind of behaviour would have you knifed.

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The park was not too far out of Littlestone, and I am slowly learning that parks have come a long long way since my childhood years of hurtling down a metal slide and getting friction burn on my ass. Nearby this park were adorable little colourful beach huts that made for a great photo op.

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Whilst playing in this park, we saw the exact bus we needed to take to get to Dungeness, but faced with a choice between running for the bus or having another go on the slide, we chose the slide.


It worked out well in the end because we found a little sandy beach to walk along, where families ate picnics and people were playing kites.

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Finally, we arrived at an inn where we could eat fish and chips and see Dungeness from a short distance. The portion of fish and chips was enormous, especially for bellies that are used to London portions.

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Having learned our lesson, we were on time to catch the buses back to Rye, where we took a slow stroll around the town as the sun set.

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We didn’t do what I had earmarked for us to do at all. We saw neither of the beaches we had planned, but we saw most of the East Sussex and Kent coast anyway. It showed me that my plans may change, but this isn’t a bad thing when we get to see beautiful parts of the country anyway.

Here are some more pictures from our visit!

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Rye High Street

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Rye High Street

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Rye

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St. Mary’s Bay

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Coast Drive, Lydd-On-Sea

#LondonCalling: Greenwich

In between the extended UK winter which has seen far more rainy May days than I’d appreciate, we have been lucky enough to sneak some warm and sunny days. On those days, it always seems a waste to spend it inside our flat.

One of those days came to us in early April, so Alessio and I joined our darling friend Deborah at Greenwich Park. We had been trying to go since the previous summer but we never quite made time for the journey from North to South. Finally, we found ourselves weaving through Canary Wharf on the DLR, with me lecturing the two Italians on how to say Greenwich.

“It’s not pronounced Green Witch. I know it’s confusing but that’s just the English language in general.”

Cutty Sark – or Cutty Shark as some may prefer – is a good station to get off for the parks, the river and the market.

We stepped out of the DLR station and saw the town around us.

“Are we still in London?”

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Greenwich is adorable. It has the same little-village feel as Hampstead and Primrose Hill, with many pubs and indie shops to make up for the endless Costas and betting shops on other high streets. Alessio and Deborah were hungry, so we headed to Greenwich Market.

Everyone I have met who has been to Greenwich has ignored the market. It’s a  gem! There is variety in the cuisines, and if you’re short on cash you can fill up on a selection of samples. The churrería is my personal favourite, and there is a juice stand to fulfil my juice necessity since returning from Asia. Food isn’t very extortionate – both Alessio and Deborah got huge turkish wraps for a decent price.

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After fuelling ourselves, we decided to take on Greenwich Hill. It’s a gentle incline, but nearer the top there’s a winding hill which could leave you out of breath. The view is, however, absolutely worth it.

The spring blossoms were out and it’s a great place for a picnic, or in our case a photography class which got interrupted by the most ignorant of insects – the wasp. Minutes after discussing our hatred of insects, an awful wasp began spoiling our fun. Not one to mess around, Deborah heard the buzzing and ran half way across the park with her bag. I mean, is it even springtime yet until that happens?

By that point, we no longer felt safe. We had a look in the free parts of the museum, then back down the hill for ice creams from the market. We quickly viewed the Cutty Sark, before ending our visit by watching the other side of the city across the river, musing on how easy it would be to poison all London.

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Greenwich is that fabled part of London most people are always desperate to check out, alongside Holland Park and Richmond Park. I have officially been to all three now, and they are all worth it. How can people call London shit when so much beauty is on our doorstep?

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Best of 2016 Tour: Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders

Last in my 2016 top three is Edinburgh and the English/Scottish borders. 

Last year for Christmas, Alessio played an ace and got me a weekend break for two. He played it nonchalant, I could bring anyone I wanted but he knew he’d be my “for two” companion.

After lots of deliberation, planning, reading good and bad reviews I narrowed it down to a hotel in the New Forest (ponies), a cottage in York (proximity to a Betty’s Tea Room) and a wildcard guesthouse in Northumberland. The wildcard had zero bad reviews. 

Betty’s very nearly swung it for me, but Alessio declared how much he wanted to visit Scotland. I looked at flights and trains to Edinburgh and waved goodbye to fulfilling my dream of going to Betty’s. The wildcard had won.

We flew up to Edinburgh because it was both faster and cheaper – and were rewarded with extra leg room

And this magazine.

What is it about arriving in Scotland that makes people twats?

Why did so many Londoners screech about how much colder it is when London was only three degrees warmer?

Why did I begin speaking in a Scottish accent and informing Alessio “they don’t say yes here, they say ‘oh, aye’. If you say yes they won’t understand.”


It was so easy to get from the airport into the town and much quicker than the Gatwick Express. We were quickly and cheaply on the bus, and walking through the gorgeous Princes Street Gardens.


From there and over the bridge it’s easy to get to the Old Town. The Old Town is a lovely walk, stretching from Holyrood to Edinburgh Castle. There are lots of side streets and alleys to amble down, dotted with modern chains. Whilst it looks very old and photogenic, many of the shops were touristy. They sold gifts, kilts and shortbreads but nothing felt authentic. 

Edinburgh is very small, so after a short while, we took a dinner in a small cafe. This caused a row because in the five (twenty) minutes it took for me to choose a menu item, they sold out entirely of eggs. This put Alessio into a bad mood, then they took about forty five minutes to make his meal, forgetting mine entirely. An American couple next to us bonded with us over this plight, because the woman ordered tea and she finished her meal before it arrived. The waiters were all lovely, however.

From our time in the old town, we headed to the train station. The centre of Edinburgh is very small in comparison to London, so everywhere is quickly walkable. Our trains were replacement buses, so we expected to get to our next destination at 6pm.


We got there for 3pm. Berwick-upon-Tweed. 

It was chilly cold, but the sun was beating down. We took a walk through the park to see this beautiful view of the viaduct and the Tweed river, all the way to the town centre.

The town itself was very quiet – being a small town on a Sunday evening most places were shut, so we took a bus to our onward journey – Cornhill-on-Tweed.

I had never heard of Cornhill, but it is a village on the borders of Scotland where an adorable guesthouse lies.


The Old Schoolhouse is a converted school, run by two locals Judith and Noel. The second we arrived, Judith called us into the front room and provided us with home made scones and coffee. We chatted for ages about their family and ours, the local area, London and Edinburgh. Truly, it felt like coming into the home of an old family friend.

Judith allowed us some time to rest and choose a local pub, wherein Noel would later run us up there in his car. 

There are a few local pubs, as well as the stately home next door. All the local businesses support each other and the locals are all eager to say hi and greet you. We were even invited to join the raffle to win a massive onion that was about eight or nine inches big!


In the morning, Judith took us with her to walk her dog round the estate of neighbours. The stately home is now a hotel, but we got a lovely little tour. We had a wonderful breakfast of local foods, cheeses and meats, then she dropped us to Berwick where we could stroll and catch our train back to Scotland.


Berwick has this lovely coast, with the lighthouse. This, and the viaduct, were my favourite parts of Berwick itself.

We headed back on the train to Edinburgh where it began to rain. As we had already seen the most touristy sights, we decided to grab an enormous dinner opposite the Waverley station forgetting that Northern portions are so much bigger than London portions.

This was at the Juniper Edinburgh, where we ordered macaroni cheese and potato rösti. The food was delicious, there was just a lot of it!

That meal and the cocktail was our farewell to the North, we flew back to London and wrote a thank you email to Judith and Noel.

What we didn’t expect was to receive, two months later, a handwritten card from Judith!


It was so sweet and thoughtful of her to do this. I cannot recommend their guesthouse enough, and it’s a great base for exploring areas both more North and more South. If we had more time, we would have flown into Edinburgh and explored just the same, but also dedicated time to seeing the villages along the border and travelling more southern into Northumberland to see Holy Island and the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve.

It was such a surprisingly lovely trip, made all the better by our hosts Judith and Noel. I can’t recommed Tillmouth Old Schoolhouse enough.