“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life."

P.D. James


Abound with rolling green fields, ruined castles, cobbled streets, wooden cottages, sleepy towns, and lively cities, a trip to England can be anything you want it to be.

Take a walk through London's Camden Markets for a taste of '90s grunge, vintage tea sets, international street food, British-style souvenirs, and more variety stores tan you could sake a stick at. Take the tube to Oxford and shop to your hearts content, or take a walk through Piccadilly and explore what was once London's busiest circus. A trip up north will take you past picturesque towns nestled among green pastures, and cities with unique cultures, food, and accents.

While no one visits England for the great weather (bring a coat, even in summer), mist and rain only add to the ambiance. Houses, laneways, pubs, and malls have a degree of coziness that just wouldn't work in warm weather – there's something about sitting by the fireplace on a comfy couch in a local pub surrounded by impossibly green meadows, watching the drizzle outside while drinking a pint and snacking on potato skins that just feels right.


Thinking About Heading to England?

  England somehow manages to fuse 5000-years of history with 21st Century culture in an eclectic mix of vibrant cities and sleepy towns. While there is a large emphasis on age-old tradition when it comes to food, beer, moaning about public transport, and the proper function of a local pub, England is the founding father of TopShop and Asos, home to a whole genre of comedy, the birth place of Game Of Thrones, and it's at the forefront of pop culture – whether you're 18 or 118, England has something for you.

From a historical standpoint, the nation has been moulded over thousands of years, and the landscape is a constant reminder – London is brimming with historical sites and buildings, and the countryside is a speckled with abandoned castles, crumbling stone work, cottages dating back hundreds of years, and streets that were cobbled in the 1700s. Even if you're not in to history, England may convert you.

Public transport is an easy process to navigate. The country is very well-connected, with a series of trains and buses travelling through the cities and around the country on all days of the week, but make sure you book in advance – trains can be extremely expensive (300 AUD for a return ticket to somewhere two-hours away, anyone?), and bus tickets can be one-fifth of the price when booked ahead of time. London is also particularly pricey, so it pays to stay in hostels, and plan your budget carefully – the GBP is typically worth more than the dollar.


Guides and Reading List

 

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You may have had to read this book at school, and you may have hated it, but it's worth revisiting – Charles Dickens was a key figure in British literature who helped shape modern fiction as we know it.

Great Expectations follows the story of Pip – a boy born in to rural poverty in the 1800s. Pip's life is turned upside down by two major events – when he frees an escaped convict on the marshes one day, and when he is introduced to Estella, the elusive adopted daughter of an eccentric heiress who raises the little girl to seek revenge on all men because her former fiancee left her at the aisle.

Despite the fact that Pip manages to move beyond his humble beginnings (with the help of an anonymous financier), his adult life becomes a series of fortune, heartbreak, and inner turmoil.

Great Expectations is a quintessentially British tale in its language, setting, descriptions, cultural values, and characters. It gives the reader a real sense of what British life was like in the Dickens era, which in turn helped mould the nation today.