I went to Downton Abbey and now… I’m back!


I have been away from this blog for far too long and I apologize for my absence. But, I went to Downton Abbey and pretended to be a proper English lady for 2 weeks and now I’m about to inundate you with a bazillion photos from my trip! And they’re totally not in order because I like to live dangerously… Or I’m lazy… You pick. Of course, I brought my computer with me and had intended on blogging on location, but there were so many things to do and see, so… Best laid plans, right?

So, right before the trip I signed up with Instagram because that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days and I wanted to be able to share photos of the beautiful views and wonderful food I was consuming. I’ve included a couple of my Instagram photos in this post, but if you want to see more and follow me on Instagram, my username is Cupcakethepig (pretty easy to remember, eh?). So do it! I have 157 followers right now and I totally thrive on my Instagram popularity rising on a daily basis… and I showed my mom how to use it while we were in England and now she’s hooked as well. My dad will probably never forgive me.

So anyway, day one we landed in London and drove out to Exeter. The first thing we did upon arriving was get a traditional Devon Cream Tea, which consists of a pot of tea, a fresh scone, and jam with clotted cream. If you’ve never had clotted cream, it is the most delicious creation ever. It┬ábasically tastes like whipped cream with the consistency of spreadable butter. It has a minimum milk fat content of 55%, so of course it’s going to taste amazing. I gained one pound for every cream tea I consumed on the trip… That’s 8 lbs. But man, was it worth it.

kissing a cow

I kissed a cow and I liked it…

One of the things I was really excited about doing was petting a cow while I was there. I know it seems a little silly, but I love cows and I’m always trying to put myself in situations where I might get the opportunity to pet one (like going to a petting zoo, which seems like the perfect place), the cows are always a little too far out of reach. So imagine my excitement when we were walking to our hotel in Barton Cross and I saw a field full of lovely dairy cows. I called out to them so I could take a selfie of them behind me, but surprisingly they took it as an invitation to come to the gate! A few of them walked up and I was able to pet them and even give this one a kiss on the nose! It was a lot slimier than I had imagined and probably not the most health-conscious decision I could have made, but it’s been a month now and so far I haven’t gotten any cow-related illnesses, so I think I’m in the clear! But seriously, best. Day. Ever.

salcombe harbour

Salcombe Harbour

We spent the first week traveling the country side and going on some of the most beautiful hikes and walks I’ve ever seen. The weather was so perfect, the food was so delicious, there were so many cows. I started fantasizing about living in Fowey at Coombe Farm, a 400 year old farmhouse where we stayed. It was so peaceful out there right by the ocean with nothing but nature and pastures all around. I want to live out there and do nothing but sit on the hillside and paint, draw, write, and daydream. If one day I stop writing this blog altogether, I think it’s safe to assume that’s what’s happened to me. I’ve become a free spirit on the hillside of Coombe Farm.

Crab and Smoked Salmon Salad at The Coffee Company in Salcombe

Crab and Smoked Salmon Salad at The Coffee Company in Salcombe

Look mom! I'm still 9!

Look, Mom! I’m still 9!

The kids around the coast go crabbing a lot to occupy their time. By this, I mean they get these little traps out or fishing poles and they dangle bait in the water until these little crabs grab on, and then they reel them in and keep them in a bucket for a while until they’re tired of crabbing and they set them free again. Because I’m still 9 years old on the inside, I wanted so badly to participate, but I didn’t… But when we went to Fowey and went down to the docks at the harbor, these kids had 86 crabs in their buckets and they dumped them out on the dock to count them as they released them back into the water. I was probably having way too much fun helping them release them.

Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs

Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs



Saints Way Fowey

I turned around to see how far behind my parents were on the trail… My dad has never been known for his gracefulness.

My favorite walk of the whole trip was the trail from Coombe Farm to Polkerris. It was regatta week, so as we walked the path with the ocean out to our left, we could see the sailboat races going on. The cows on the hillside had the most spectacular view, I just wanted to hang out with them for a while.

cows in fowey

These cows have the most amazing view

cows Coombe Farm

Calves on the hillside came to say hello!

Rashleigh Inn

A “light” lunch in Polkerris

When we left Fowey we stopped by The Lost Gardens of Heligan specifically because we had seen a brochure for it where they bragged about having their own rare breed Tamworth pigs! Never one to miss out on the chance to see pigs (and gardens), it was a perfect stop along the trip to Marazion. Walking through the traditional gardens in England gave me so many ideas of what to do with my own, while at the same time making my garden feel wimpy in comparison… but I remind myself that my own garden is a one-man work in progress while these other gardens are maintained by teams of people whose only job is to tend to them, so I try to rationalize my ever growing weed problem…

Tamworth Pigs at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Of course one of my favorite things was petting the pigs at the Lost Gardens of Heligan

rope bridge the lost gardens of heligan

Crossing the treacherous rope bridge at the Lost Gardens of Heligan was pretttttttttty awesome

king harry ferry

I found a sexy sea captain on the King Harry Ferry

We went to St. Michael’s Mount in Marazion which had its own splendid gardens as well as a beautiful castle on the top of the mount with the most breathtaking view of the ocean… and it is another one of these amazing castles that is actually occupied by a family. My dad and I started planning our dinner parties on the patio…

The causeway to St. Michael's Mount

People walking the causeway to St. Michael’s Mount in Marazion

tintern abbey

Tintern Abbey in Wye, Wales was one of my favorite places of all. Look at how tiny those people seem!

We stayed at the Priory Hotel in Caerleon, Wales. It was such a great hotel and the town was tiny, but held a lot of history including an old roman amphitheater where they actually held gladiator tournaments and did military training. It’s crazy to think how many hundreds of generations have passed since people actually used it for that purpose and yet it still stands. It’s also a bit eerie to think of how many people died within there, and here I was running around joyously taking panoramics on my iPhone…

Caffe in

Another perfect breakfast in London at Caffe In

the royal courts of justice

I love the mixture of the super old Royal Courts of Justice with a modern double decker bus in front.

chesterfield hotel

My favorite breakfast since I was a child, Soft boiled eggs and soldiers at the Chesterfield Hotel in London.

buckingham palace

Cappuccinos at Buckingham Palace. The cocoa crowns are such an adorable touch.

The second week of our trip was spent in London as that was the “hub” of the Downton Abbey tour. We had a lot of time to do what we wanted, but also joined up with a tour group to go to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Bampton (the town and church used in Downton Abbey), Highclere Castle (THE Downton Abbey), Basildon Court (some of the rooms here are used in the show), Greys Court (where Matthew and Mary were going to move when they left Downton). The only issue with this part of the trip is that most of these places didn’t allow photography inside, including Westminster Abbey where we attended church for the Sunday morning service. I wish I could share some of the exquisite interiors, but alas…

queen's guard

In my great tradition of kissing things, I posed to kiss the Queen’s Guard at Windsor Castle. I tried not to get too close… I didn’t want my kiss to be confused for an act of terrorism.

windsor castle

The gardens in the old moat of Windsor Castle make my own gardens feel a tad pathetic…

highclere castle downton abbey

Highclere Castle, AKA Downton Abbey. I can’t believe this place is actually occupied by a couple… and I got to use their bathroom! Now I’m famous by association. Goal: Accomplished.

It was definitely bittersweet leaving England. I’d seen something spectacular every single day and was having so much fun exploring and eating and sleeping in other people’s homes and beds without a care in the world! I love traveling and learning… and eating… and it took a couple of days of sadness to get over the fact that I’ve returned to my mundane life in Charlotte. It’s OK though, I’m determined to keep my life as exciting as possible and will hopefully be returning to England a lot more often in the future!

cream tea

The infamous cream tea!

exmoor ponies

Wild Ponies of Exmoor. We pulled over to take photos of the sheep and the heather and didn’t notice the ponies until much later.

Also, seriously… Follow me on Instagram. I’m obsessed with Instagram. @cupcakethepig. More recipes to come…

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4 Responses to “I went to Downton Abbey and now… I’m back!”

  1. Gail
    September 21, 2014 at 1:47 am #

    What a wonderful photo essay and fabulous vacation! You have almost convinced me to check out Instagram…un-cool as I am.

    • September 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      Thank you, Gail! You would have just adored the gardens and all of the artwork inside the castles! And definitely sign up for instagram… People put up their artwork, their food, trip photos, whatever, and I have way too much fun on there.
      Rachel recently posted…I went to Downton Abbey and now… I’m back! My Profile

  2. September 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Such great photos! England has become my favorite country, but it helped that one daughter lived there for four years. She was a great tour guide!
    mimi recently posted…A Zucchini Pancake ChallengeMy Profile

  3. December 28, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Nice to see you back in the blog world! I have followed your blog since I became a pescetarian in April and I enjoy your posts.

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