Super, Pretty, Funny no 42

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25.8.14

The build-up of favorite internet finds has reached almost epic proportions so I’ve had to trim it down to some favorites. Whether you are enjoying a bank holiday in England today or headed back to work elsewhere, I hope these kick off your day on a happy note.

In other news, I recently went on a little trip-planning spree and would love your recommendations on what to see and do in Amsterdam! Despite living in Brussels for ten years, I never visited. Seriously folks, that is ridiculous. So please send your recommendations this way!

Super

Tina Fey’s “Lessons from Late Night” and 20 other classic stories from The New Yorker archives

How technology can give romance a little nudge

The NYTimes’ profile of designer Sarah Burton

NPR Correspondents put together a radio reenactment of the war of 1812

Really tempted to read the Outlander books

The Buckingham Palace Guards playing the Game of Thrones theme song… see also: Best theme songs of 2014

Pretty

“The Questions We Ask”

Susan has me dying to try the Steller app… (if only my old phone would download it!)

Best coastal drives

Jay’s pictures of Bath

A photo essay of the South

Funny

How to pick a summer read (it should involve a handsome man on a Vespa)

“This is not snuggle club” (Its Nap Club)

Kelly’s post on travelling with PMS


Picture of the Wiltshire countryside in June by Jess-On-Thames

Henge-ing

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25.8.14

Once upon a time, in Wiltshire, in the early evening, you could turn off the A360 and pull over to the side of the road to peer through a fence. It was your standard, average wire fence. But on the other side of it – was Stonehenge.

Stonehenge was one of those sites that my heart started beating a little faster for in anticipation of seeing it for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect. How big was it? Would I see it coming from a distance or would it sneak up on me? Worst of all, would I be disappointed?

That first glimpse took place a few years back and it was special because I felt like I just stumbled upon Stonehenge. (If one could just stumble upon a gigantic, ancient monument in the middle of farmland.) We were driving and then suddenly: there it was – just off to the side of us. We jumped out of the car and scampered over to the fence, pressing our noses up against it trying to get closer. I was immediately struck by questions like where on earth did they get these slabs of rock from and how on earth did they place them all together? It was after-hours and the site was closed, so we stared at it quietly for awhile while those questions bounced around in our heads and then we continued off on our journey.

Fast forward a few years later and I took my mom back to visit the site. And here is where I admit I was just the tiniest bit disappointed. That little road we drove along right up to the site years ago has been blocked off and a huge, very nice, English Heritage visitors centre has been built to manage the crowds flowing in to visit Stonehenge. This is where I scold myself because the centre is clearly needed: a million people visit Stonehenge every year (some 5,000 on a summer day alone)… and it is good for the local economy to have people stay at the site for a longer amount of time.

But there was something about not having to stand in a huge line of people and be piled into little trolleys to take you to the site that made it seem more accessible. More like how farmers must have seen it when they came upon it walking across the Wiltshire farmlands. A sort of mystery that belonged to everyone.

Maybe I’m just getting older and becoming adverse to change (I feel like my grandfather with one of those “back in the day, we walked to school up-hill both ways with no shoes in the snow” stories) … but it felt a bit less personal the second time around.

Now that we have established I am writing like an 80-year old in this post, let me state for the record: you have to visit Stonehenge. Archeologists estimate that the stones were placed between 3000 and 2000 BC and those are dates that will blow the mind. The site was privately owned until as late as 1918 when it was given over to the state and the public could actually walk amongst the stones until the 1970s. Today, you can walk a full circle around the site – and you really should because every few steps give you a different view of the monument.

Go early in the morning to beat the crowds, take the little trolly up to the first stop and get off at what seems like a little forest. You’ll set off on a 10-15 minute walk through some cow pastures (yup, just wander right past the cows) and see Stonehenge appear in the distance, which is a lovely way to see it.

Stonehenge is open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Advanced booking is required through English Heritage. Check their website for entrance times, which vary depending on the time of year.

Why you should visit Cornwall

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24.8.14

I’m surprised how many people tell me they’ve never been to Cornwall. Because I am heavily lobbying – only 75% sarcastically – to open an office down there.

Cornwall can feel almost like Italy, with turquoise waters and palm trees. The water contrasts nicely with the typically English cliffs and coastal architecture. And who really needs an excuse to eat Cornish ice cream and slather scones with clotted cream and jam?

Yes, it is a trek – about a 5-6 hour drive from London. But oh it is worth it. We took the train from London to Plymouth and then rented a car. It was still a few hours after that before we reached our temporary home of Carbis Bay, a few bays down from St Ives – a lovely little stone and white washed coastal town at the Northern side of the peninsula. You really can talk like that in Cornwall: “go three bays down and its the next bay after that.”

Its an area of the world that lives off & around the water and that provides a lovely change of pace. We came across towns where it looked like the entire local population was throwing themselves off the jetties into the water to cool off on a hot day. We watched dogs run after seagulls. And we watched seagulls attack a woman and steal her ice cream cone. (Props to the woman who then marched straight back to the ice cream stand to demand another one.)

When you visit Cornwall, as we’ve now established that you should, plan to go for long walks. Eat a Cornish pasty (and then try to pronounce “pasty” the right away – that’s one to stump any American). Wash it down with some cider. And make time to do nothing but take it all in.

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