Exploring England: Being a tourist in my home country

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have probably noticed that I posted quite a few pictures from England in the past few weeks. That’s because the Dutchie and I spent 10 days back in the ‘hood as we had two weddings to attend, a week apart.

Was it a holiday? Sort of. Do I feel rested? Hell no! Does England feel like home? Definitely not.

So, what to do when you’re in England staying in 10 different places for 10 nights? Pretend to be a tourist! 😀 Or as my best friend described us: “you’re like posh gypsies travelling round in your Audi”. Thanks for that, darling!

Highlights of our trip:

Southampton – Baby Shower for my sister

Baby shower cake

I’ve never been to a baby shower before. There was a game which involved having to guess which chocolate was smeared inside a nappy. I was not impressed. However, all the “baby people” seemed to enjoy it immensely my little sister was glowing which was lovely. Less than 2 weeks to go until her due date!!

My brother’s wedding

Wedding table

Everyone cried. Everyone except the Dutchie that is – who was looking the wrong way when my brother broke down as the bride walked in. I can understand why – she was a princess. A very special moment.

Lyndhurst, The New Forest with my best friend

New Forest ponies

(Despite her gypsy comment. Kinda why I love her… like me… she has no filter whatsoever.)

I feel the same way about horses as I do about swans. They’re pretty, from a distance. Though when horses start running downhill towards you… not so fun!

New forest horses

We skedaddled out of the way with her 7 month year old boy before I felt safe enough to take this. Bit of a scary moment!!

Kittys of Lyndhurst

Lyndhurst is a gorgeous little touristy town. I also recommend the village of Burley which my Mum describes as having “quaint little shops with knick-knacky things”. Pretty much sums up every shop in the New Forest!

Whitchurch near Basingstoke – Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Definitely one of the highlights of our trip! I lived in Basingstoke for 6 years and never knew about this place – but with good reason – it only opened its doors in October 2014. (6 months after I left England.) It was a bit of a dreary day when we visited, but luckily most of the tour is inside.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

This beaut (two greenhouses joined together) was designed by award winning British designer Thomas Heatherwick – famous for the 2012 London Olympic Cauldron, the Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010,  and the New Bus for London.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

The greenhouses are used to house the botanicals needed for Bombay Sapphire: almond, lemon peel, angelica root, coriander seeds, juniper berries, orris root, cassia bark, grains of paradise, liquorice and cubeb berries.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

After schmoozing round for a bit, exploring the grounds and then tasting and smelling all the botanicals which go into Bombay Sapphire… you then go into the “Dakin Still House”… where the magic happens!

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

One of the tour guides takes you through the gin making process and you get to see Thomas and Mary – the two distillation machines which produce over 33 million litres of Bombay Sapphire Gin per year. Amazing stuff.

There’s also the heritage room where you can find out the history behind Laverstock Mill and Bombay Sapphire.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

We have the Dutch to thank for gin – as they invented jenever – from which gin evolved.


Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Then the last thing to do on the tour? Drink a gin cocktail!! LEKKKKKKKER!

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Hammersmith, London

Hammersmith Canal

Another friend of ours lives in London so we took a walk along the Thames, part of the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race course… leading to Hammersmith Bridge.

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Bridge


St Andrew's Church, Farnham

While visiting another friend, this time in Farnham, we stumbled upon St Andrew’s Church.

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

More walking… I love walking!

St Andrew's Church, Farnham

I also love wine.


(FYI – Jalapeno Pretzel Pieces – THE best pub snack known to (wo)man!  They blew my previous fave – scampi fries – right out of the water!! The best discovery of our trip. The Dutchie and I are now obsessed. We bought 8 bags to take home with us and have since ordered more online!! Wooei… I can’t talk about these bad boys enough!)

2nd Wedding of the trip, near Milton Keynes

Indigo Images

Photo credit: Indigo Images

One of my best friends from University tied the knot. Another beautiful day and the perfect end to our trip!

The Travelling Gin Co.

They had a gin bike… (The Travelling Gin Co.) as if we hadn’t had enough gin that week 😉 and an Oyster Meister. Dangerous and delicious.

Oyster Meister

Conclusion: I love England but I don’t miss it. I only miss my friends, family and English pubs.

Have you been to England? What were the highlights of your visit?

Hayley x


  1. I recently went on a (small) roadtrip to Glastonbury. We had stops at (somewhere nearby Lewes, because we went to the Lewes Castle), at Langrish and Salisbury (next to the Cathedral, very pretty!). Then 3 days Glastonbury which wasn’t really my cup of tea (too much incense stuffed stores), still really nice and I went up the Tor even though I seriously dislike walking… On the way back [to dover-calais etc] we stayed at Amberley Castle. Sleeping at a fancy castle hotel is awesome! Not cheap, but fun to do sometime. Anyway, it was quite different from our vacation of last year where we went to some Scottish isles (Arran, Islay, Jura) and Glasgow. I love castles so there’s always something nice to visit for me. My girlfriend loves searching for stonecircles (most are found up north, but we visited one this time anyway, and we drove past stonehenge (superbusy!) where I took some pictures from the car since my girlfriend has been there already.

    I love Britain, it’s got a very divers countryside, BUT….WHY for the love of all that is (un)holy WHY are there always hedges and walls next to the road?!?!?! It really screws up sitting in the back of the car because you can look at nothing…except hedges…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like a fantastic trip! Amberley Castle is definitely on my list! Glad to hear it’s worth it 🙂

      Ha ha! We also have net curtains… I guess us British folk like to keep ourselves to ourselves!


  2. Hi Hayley, can’t believe you were in my neck of the wood! This blog is really interesting. I too feel like a foreigner in both countries. Could it be, that from an evolution point of view, you and I end up on an island of the coast of Dorset living in dutchieland? My Dutch has already evolved into a foreign speak, is het niet? I’m not alone! Erik

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lived nearly twelve years in Noord-Holland, met my husband, and then came back to the UK with him, living first in the Cotswolds near my family, then in Surrey for eight years, and now we’ve finally settled in Torquay, with frequent trips back to the Netherlands. We love both countries, talk each day in both languages, and are very happy. For me, England for the countryside, coast and space, Holland for the towns, samenleving en gezelligheid. We both feel privileged to have both countries to call ‘home’. It’s a question of seeing the beauty in each country, and sometimes turning a blind eye to the flaws.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That all sounds great except turning a blind eye to the flaws. I’m not very good at that! It sounds like a fantastic life you have, hopefully one day I will think of both countries as home. Veel plezier in Nederland en Engeland! 🙂 🙂


  4. Beautiful, but if everyone knows they cry on a wedding, then why go there??? 😉 (quote from Dennis the Menace).


  5. Did you know, when the ice-age came to an end, the sea levels rose and tore Britain away from what we now know as the Netherlands. Did you know, that protestant England invited William of Orange and his wife Mary to invade England and take the throne In fear of catholic James becoming king? Did you know, that the Norfolk landscape was engineered by the Dutch? Did you know, that Dutch and English are 2 variations of one and the same language? Hayley may not agree to that last point…..but when put in perspective, we are very closely related.


  6. But if you insist on putting vinegar on your chips not even 40000 years of a perspective in a desperate attempt to find a link is gonna do it! I’ll shut up now! Erik


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