Dorset Day-tripping – England UK

During our short stay in Somerset we have been fortunate enough to squeeze in a visit to one of our favourite places in county Dorset.

Weymouth is a place that holds many fond memories for myself and Mr Travel Bee. For many years, this was our weekend getaway and a place we shared time with both family and friends. Here, Nan and Grandad Travel Bee had a caravan (not like an Aussie caravan, this was a rather large static van) for the whole family to enjoy time by the seaside.

As if by some stroke of fate, the weather on the day we chose was glorious allowing us to enjoy it at its most picturesque. A stark contrast to the recent bleak days.

Weymouth Harbour

We joined friends and wandered along the harbour, watched the bridge open for yachts to pass through and enjoyed fish and chips (a must do in any proper English seaside town). For one of the first times on this trip, Master 15 was beaten by a large serving of cod and chips! It was in fact huge with three big pieces of fish.

Large cod and chips
Weymouth Harbour bridge

Once we reached the sea front, I had a little chuckle to myself as I realised there were more people on the beach on a cool but bright winters day, than there would be on a hot summers day in Busselton. But, in reality who could blame them, it was stunning and a lovely place for a hot chocolate! After all, it was a public holiday and one should always make the most of any sunshine in winter, England or Australia!

Weymouth beach front

I was particularly impressed with the lady (in her 60s) I saw march purposefully across the road in her robe, bathing cap (I mean the old style rubber cap with a raised flowery pattern) and googles. I watched fascinated as she made her way across the sand, stripped off her robe and headed into the water. No wetsuit just a triathlon style race suit. With some research I have discovered the sea temperature is around 10 degrees in Weymouth this week 🥶

She dived in the water and briskly set off. Well, Yallingup lagoon friend…….. I thought this lady had showed us up. I was thinking maybe we are just weak Aussie girls after all! Mind you, after around 10 strokes, she stood up splashed some water on her chest and she was done! At least we are stayers but good on her for getting wet I say!

Sandcastle of the Queen – Weymouth beach

Known for its sand sculptures, we admired the current installation of the late queen before heading back to Odcombe via another iconic Dorset landmark, the Cerne Abbas Giant. This 55m high chalk figure carved on a hillside, is widely thought of as a symbol of fertility. As you can imagine there are many and varied stories about his origin and his purpose. The only reaction we got from Miss 12 who refused to exit the car was ‘Oh’.

Cerne Abbas Giant – yes he has a giant erection

An interesting and different way to end a great day! The very best of Dorset (LOL).


‘Natural habitat’ – Odcombe, Somerset UK

No trip to England would be complete without a visit to our old stomping ground to rekindle memories and show the children where we used to live. On limited time, it was impossible to see everything and catch up with everyone. However, the children do now have a sense of our old life in England.

Mr Travel Bee booked us an Airbnb in his home village of Odcombe (his, Nan’s and Master 15’s true ‘natural habitat’). Kent’s cottage in Lower Odcombe is a quaint, traditional terraced thatched cottage. Like most of the buildings in Odcombe and the surrounding villages, it is built with Hamstone, a beautiful warm honey coloured stone quarried from nearby Ham hill.

Kent’s cottage

Located only a few doors down from the pub, The Mason’s Arms, we were immersed in village life. Master 15 commented ‘you can literally step out the front door and get run over!’. The small ‘two up, two down’ cottage oozes character and is beautifully presented by it’s London based owners. Their attention to detail made our stay very comfortable.

Inside Kent’s cottage

Being ex locals, Mr Travel Bee and his Mum have greeted people on the street, found pictures of themselves in the pub, caught up with family and reminisced over times gone by. We have eaten in the pub, taken gentle strolls, walked the steep path up to Higher Odcombe and taken a look at the old family homes and the church yard.

Orchard path leading to Higher Odcombe
Odcombe church

The weather has been wet and cold, as to be expected at this time of the year. It rather reminded me of one of the main reasons we left! (Needless to say it is not my ‘natural habitat’, I was born for the beach!). Nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days.

Incidentally, something new that caught my eye and just incase any of you were wondering what has become of the old iconic red telephone boxes. In this new world of modern technology and mobile phones they have a new function…. housing the village defibrillator. What a brilliant idea!

Defibrillator Box

Unfortunately this portion of our trip has been very short and sweet. To those we didn’t get to see, we apologise. Hopefully next time.


Beautiful Royal Berkshire – England UK

Between our crazy day-trips into London, The Travel Bees have been enjoying the winter landscapes of Royal Berkshire where we are staying.

Christmas Day stroll

We have had relaxed strolls in the country side, explored river locks, enjoyed proper English pubs, met squirrels and sipped on mulled wine. The weather has been chilly and wet but not freezing like it was a few weeks ago and it certainly has not stopped us from doing anything.

Boulter’s lock Maidenhead
Squirrel! Novelty for Aussie kids, pest for locals!

Yesterday, we ventured to the most famous Royal Berkshire landmark, Windsor Castle. We started our adventure via The Long Walk, truly the best way to approach the castle. The weather was glorious and we were able to appreciate the castle’s commanding presence as we made our way towards the 11am Changing of the Guards.

The long walk – Windsor

Always a wonderful ceremony to watch, Changing of the Guard is something truely unique to the British Royal family and well worth seeing. We had a great spot along the edge of the road as the band and soldiers made their way up towards the castle. Secretly the Travel Bee children were rather impressed, although too cool to let on.

Changing of the guard

After grabbing a coffee, we joined the queue to enter the castle and were pleasantly surprised at how much better organised it was than the Tower of London. Within ten minutes we were through security and in the gates.

As most of our party had been to the castle before and because something major has happened since, we all made a beeline 😂 for St George’s Chapel to pay our respects to the Queen.

St George’s chapel

Although there was a line, the crowd respectfully filed their way through the chapel and past the stone ledger marking the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II. In turn we each took a moment to remember her and reflect on her life of dedication and duty.

In actual fact, it is a very interesting time to visit the UK. All the guards and staff at both the Tower of London and Windsor Castle still remain in uniforms dedicated to the Queen (E II R). Clive our Yeoman at the tower explained new uniforms could not be ordered until the Royal period of mourning and the public period of mourning were complete. The sheer volume of uniforms required is huge (3 per guard). This combined with current supply issues means it is taking a while to complete the order. They are expecting to change over to the King’s uniform (C III R) in around six weeks time.

After a wander through the state rooms, we joined the throngs of people milling around Windsor and attempted to find some lunch. This proved to be difficult with restaurants and cafes either full or out of food. We managed to find a few pizzas which filled a hole before discovering the cutest ever building for rent.

Travel Bee headquarters perhaps?


‘Mind the gap’ – London UK

Anyone who has been on the tube in London will know the announcement ‘Mind the gap’, warning passengers of the gap between the train and the platform. Yesterday it was about the only gap we came across. London was packed!

We started our day at The Tower of London. Aunty Travel Bee had kindly pre-booked all our activities for the day. Even still, we had to wait, and…. wait, in the rain. This was the mother of all queues.

Tower of London queue umbrellaed by London sky

I must say, it was a bit disconcerting knowing thousands were being crammed in the gate and that we all wanted to see the same things. Nevertheless, there was nothing to be done about it so we shuffled our way along. Once we entered, we picked up a Yeoman tour.

Clive our Yeoman, lead us to the chapel where not only were there chairs, but underfloor heating! Such relief from the dreary London weather (thank you Queen Victoria for insisting on this upgrade). He then entertained us with the history of the tower, it’s Kings, stories of beheaded Queens and other notable executions. It was well worth waiting for and definitely the quickest way to get an understanding of what the tower is all about.

Residences of the tower protected by the King’s guard

After, we wandered through the courtyards to White tower where we discovered the ‘Line of Kings’ and displays of all their armour. You could have spent hours reading about each King and their endeavours but instead we flowed with the crowd, occasionally breaking free to read something that took our fancy. A favourite for Miss 12 was the dragon on the top level made from leftover pieces of armour!

Unfortunately, the crowds were just too big and we had to make the decision to forgo seeing the Crown Jewels (the queue looked to be at least an hour wait) along with many of the other attractions at the tower. We needed to head to our next booking and Master 15 was……….. you guessed it……. hungry.

Back on the tube and across town, we had just enough time to fill our tummies before heading into Wyndham Theatre for a matinee showing of Life of Pi. Built in 1899, this small, intimate theatre is a beautiful example of a quintessential West End theatre.

Wyndham Theatre

Before watching this show, I knew very little about Life of Pi. The only thing I did know, was it was a story about a boy befriending a tiger. One had to wonder how on earth there would be a tiger on stage!

It turned out puppetry was the answer and wow was it clever. Each animal was operated by three puppeteers partially inside the puppet, one at the head, another the ‘heart’ and the third at the tail. Within twenty minutes you didn’t even notice them and focused only on the animal.

Between the puppets and the set, this truely was a spectacle of theatrical craft and imagination. We were astonished at how the stage itself transformed into an ocean. The story although slightly gruesome in parts, was quite thought provoking and enjoyed by all.

From here we finished the evening with a meal at Côte (French restaurant chain) near Bond street. The pulled pork was sublime disappearing from Miss 12 and Master 15’s plate rather quickly, as did the chocolate crepe for dessert.

So after visiting eight different tube stops, walking 10100 steps, climbing around 1000 steps and riding around 12 escalators we made it through a second day in London. Nan Travel Bee kept up the whole way and we managed not to lose anyone! Success!

Tube escalators are huge!


London Baby – England UK

Wow what a day! December 23rd was our first day exploring this magnificent city. Having been here before, I can tell you there is a certain energy about London that is contagious, but two days before Christmas, it is something else.

As expected, the weather was looking slightly inclement. I had booked a midday ride on the London Eye and a 4pm bus tour of the Christmas lights (yes it is dark enough!) with a stroll through the sights in between. But, with rain forecast we made a last minute indoor addition to our itinerary, the London Dungeon recommended on a google search list of things to do with teenagers. This turned out to be a great decision.

First up, we negotiated the rail system to get from our Airbnb into the heart of the city. Easy. I am not kidding, it is super easy. We were fortunate enough to be staying 5 minutes from a station on the new underground Elizabeth line, this means a day travel card covered the journey in and out plus all our tube trips for the day. An hour and twenty minutes later and we popped up at the iconic Waterloo station and headed to the London Eye.

Our London Eye tickets, purchased online, allowed us to join the long line (I forgot how much the English love to queue!). But, within 20 minutes, we were in our pod and on our way up. This is exactly when the most amazing thing happened…….the sun came out! From there it was a glorious half hour identifying the iconic sights of London; The Thames, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, the list goes on. Then, like magic, when we stopped….. the rain came back.

The Thames from the London Eye
London Eye and rainbow from Westminster bridge

And so……. we headed into the dungeon. In effect, this place is a lesson in history but it an entertaining and interactive way. Think ‘Horrible histories’. This part of the day was a surprise for the kids but in actual fact turned out to be Miss 12’s highlight. We lived through the times of Henry VIII, Guy Fawkes, witches, the plague, Jack the Ripper, the Great Fire of London (sorry that turned out to my fault, I shut the faulty oven door!) and Miss 12 (aka Diego) went on trial in an 18th century court house, accused of being a Spanish Spy.

It was scary, it was surprising, it was clever and it was loads of fun. Master 15 was hilarious, jumping, screaming and playing dead at appropriate moments scaring our fellow group members. Totally agree, this deserves its position on any list of ‘places to take teenagers in London’.

From here, it was a walk across Westminster Bridge and a close up look at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament before hopping on a tube and heading to our Christmas Lights tour.

Big Ben from Westminster Bridge

At this point, I apologise. My photos do not do it justice. This was a truely magical evening. Our Big Bus tour guide was a wonderfully animated and spirited man named Phil who made our night as we drove around the streets of the monopoly board. He excitedly pointed out the best lights and Christmas trees. If at the end of this, you weren’t excited, you truely are a grinch. As it turns out in an amazing coincidence, Phil went to school with Mr Travel Bee and they were able to have a catch up on the side of the road at the conclusion of our tour!

Turning into Regent Street
Hamleys toy store and lots and lots of people
Westminster Cathedral’s Christmas tree (not to be confused with Westminster Abbey)

To complete our day, we filled our tummies in a beautiful little English pub called the Duke of York near Victoria tube station. Bangers and mash, macaroni cheese, steak and ale pie and cider. Mr Travel Bee was in heaven.

Scores on the doors for favourite part of the day: Miss 12 London Dungeon, Master 15 Christmas Lights, Mr Travel Bee Duke of York pub and me………. I have to say sunshine at the top of London Eye.


P.S. This has been written at 3:30-4:30am. I am still not in the right time zone!