England’s prettiest island



We ended up on England’s prettiest island almost by accident and thanks to “friendly spam”**.

We’d received mails at work from the Tourism Board of Cornwall so often that I finally (in a moment of total expat ignorance) googled the place to find out what we’d be looking at if we eventually wanted to film there.

I was hooked.

(I’m serious. Google Cornwall. It looks like Italy. But it is England’s most South-Westerly point and about a 5-6 hour drive from London depending on the scenic route you take.)

I told my travel-loving Mom about it and before I knew it, we were booked for two nights in lovely Carbis Bay, just up the coast from St Ives.

The highlight of our trip was without any doubt: St Michael’s Mount, just a 25 minute drive south from St Ives. Not even one-square mile of history, cliffs, gorgeous gardens, and stunning views, it makes its French cousin – Le Mont Saint-Michel - look a bit rustic. (But as a colleague of mine pointed out, that’s the difference between France and England – the French keep it religious and make it public and the English give the place to aristocrats ;)

All joking aside, the Mount was founded by the same monks as Mont Saint-Michel after the Norman Conquest of 1066 – it is just fascinating to see how two such similar locations ended up with vastly different histories.

While also serving as a fortification, the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy has remained a monastery since the 8th century. The Cornish Mount was turned into a fortress under the rule of Henry VIII and then in 1659, was purchased by Colonel John St Aubyn whose descendants still live in the house today.

I took what in old-school terms would amount to some 50 rolls of film up there so this will be turning into a series of posts. But I will entice you with these photos and my favorite tale so you’ll come back for more.

We asked if St Michael’s Mount had ever come under attack and a guide told us that on one particular occasion when the French tried to attack, the English managed to seize the ship and install its 6 small cannons on the battlements as you exit the castle (which can still be seen today). In a lovely little twist, she then mentioned that at Mont Saint-Michel in France, you can also see six small English cannons that the French managed to steal shortly afterwards…

More from our summer holidays to come…

* St Michael’s Mount was a wonderful surprise and one we were surprised not to find more highly promoted in our guide books. Our only conclusion was that they want to keep it a secret. The Mount is open until 2 November, 2014 when it will close for the winter months.

** “Friendly spam” being identified as those e-mail alerts you have knowingly signed up to but which you still never have time to read and which constantly stream into your inbox until you just can’t ignore them anymore. In my case, this means mails from Banana Republic and, apparently, the Tourism Board of Cornwall.


Super, Pretty, Funny no 40



Reasons why I love this picture:

a) Primrose Hill is one of my favorite spots in London and where I plan to watch the fireworks this year on Guy Fawke’s Night
(Guy Fawkes Night: otherwise known as: a terrifying experience for a first timer in London who thinks all of London is being set on fire. Again. This is followed by total over-excitement where one starts thinking about it in July to make up for the fun she missed last year when she didn’t understand what was going on.)

b) Look at the adorable family the foreground. The mom jumped on the dad’s back and he started running around the lamppost with her, leaving their little girls to chase after them, squealing because they thought it was so hilarious. It was one of those days in London where you feel like the whole city wants to burst. It is so happy to see the sun. Everyone is outdoors cycling, reading, picnicking, eating ice cream, sunbathing, playing football/soccer (I’m being neutral while the World Cup is still on).

Admittedly, much of these last two weeks has been composed of touring the English countryside with my mom, chasing the sun or yelling at my TV screen (again, World Cup, people). But I did manage to scrounge up a few internet favorites:


This roadtrip playlist from Darling Magazine

And this song

And this book

How to think about writing

The funniest thing to come out of the World Cup last week

I can’t remember if I already posted this, but it still looks delicious

Wonderful thoughts on patriotism

All of this


The summer edition of Porter Magazine

The loveliest, friendliest shop in London

At The Table


Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy = this looks amazing

Favorite snapshot



The lovely Kelly, Emma & Rebecca have been running a Travel link up on the 1st of each month and true to style, I am a day late to join…

My favorite photo is far from perfect. Taken from the front seat looking back through the dirty rear window of our little 4 x 4, it is of the moment we found ourselves surrounded by giraffes on safari in Kruger National Park.

We had been lucky since the moment we entered the park. We saw two drunk-from-the-sun lions within 5 minutes. We spotted a rhino ear through the bush shortly after that and then it was a pack of wild dogs. Just before pulling into camp, there was an elephant, trudging across a hillside as the African sun set behind him.

Fast forward two days later, and we’d set off expecting the same extraordinary finds. And we didn’t see anything. For what seemed like hours. We turned off onto increasingly smaller paths, hoping we’d find something.

And then in the distance, we saw three tall waving heads – walking right up the dirt road towards us. We slowed the car and waited for them to reach us – three huge, graceful, curious giraffes who ended up wandering around the car. We were so focused on them that we didn’t notice we were being circled by the rest of their tower (isn’t that a great term for a herd of giraffes?). Each way we turned our heads, there were giraffes out of every window. There had to be at least 20 of them traveling together. Some of them stopped to look at us, their giant eyelashes waving like palm fronds as they peered down at us. Others just strolled on by, too busy munching on the tops of bushes.

I could not look around fast enough (evidenced by my scrambling around in the front seat like a crazy person). I couldn’t take pictures quickly enough. I could have stayed there for hours.

Being on safari was fascinating in that way. Sometimes your heart pumped so loudly you felt like it was going to jump right out of your chest – like when you found yourself face on with an elephant in the middle of the road. And other moments were incredibly peaceful – like being surrounded by curious giraffes.

I’d go back to that moment in a heartbeat. And I’m happy I have the picture to remember it by.

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