I’ve been lucky to have developed an international community over the past decade through various experiences. While this has been one of my greatest joys in life so far, it also has the caveat that my friends are scattered across the globe. As an avid traveler, having friends in various corners of world does have its advantages! A recent trip brought me back to England, but to the cities of Nottingham, Liverpool and Leeds – all new places to explore for me.
My travels first started in Nottingham, where the city is scattered with subtle hints paying homage to the legendary story of Robin Hood, from the statues of Robin Hood and his Merry Men outside the castle walls to murals painted within The Exchange building.
While Sherwood Forest no longer surrounds the city, parts do remain in the form of the beautiful Victorian-styled Arboretum and the Forest Recreation Ground. Below the city lies a whole system of caves – over 800 throughout the city! It was the largest underground bomb shelter during WWII outside of the London Underground. Getting to explore these caves was truly walking through history.
Outside of the city I explored Wollaton Hall and Park, but others might recognize it as Wayne Manor from the Batman movie “The Dark Night Rises”. Wollaton Hall, an ornate mansion originally built during the Elizabethan Age, sits on over 500 acres of land and consists of a Deer Conservation Park, a Natural History Museum within the mansion and the Nottingham Industrial Museum, also located on the grounds. Wollaton is also home to the oldest cast iron glasshouse in Europe, the Camellia House.
One of my favorite outings while in Nottingham was going for a traditional high tea. My friend and I went in the afternoon on the day The Duchess of Sussex gave birth to her and Prince Harry’s new son. What better way to celebrate the new royal but with this classic English practice? Complete with a three tier platter consisting of finger sandwiches, scones and small cakes for dessert, it was truly a scrumptious experience!
Next up was the city of Liverpool! From having a pint on Penny Lane to knocking on the doors of the childhood homes of John and Paul, I followed the music and went on my own “magical mystery tour” within the city which The Beatles called home growing up. While Strawberry Fields is currently undergoing restoration, I was able to pose with the famous red gate.
The Cavern Club alley is brimming over with The Beatles memorabilia, but the club also pays tribute to all those artists who have played in their midst, honoring them with a large Wall of Fame out in the alley (such as The Who, Queen, Elton John and The Rolling Stones). In Liverpool I also got to view the beginning of the canal which connects straight to my next location, Leeds! The longest canal in Britain built as a single waterway, this 200 year old canal links the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
My time in Leeds began in the midst of cliché British weather: rain. Walking along the canal in the fog and wet, I felt I could’ve been in any number of 19th-century novels set in the industrial cities of England. Having now gotten to see the other side of the canal, I went to explore what else the city had to offer.
The Royal Armouries Museum, built along the edge of the canal, holds collections that include the armor of King Henry VIII of England and The Horned Helmet. The museum didn’t just display these instruments of war, but also highlighted the craftsmanship and smith work involved in creating these pieces which were viewed for a time as symbols of fashion, power and status.
At the end of my trip, it was hard to believe I had seen so many relics of different time periods in England’s history. While I was sad to say goodbye to my friends and these cities, I left knowing I’d be back again soon.