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JILL BLUE

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A photographer’s guide to visiting England

A photographer’s guide to visiting England

Last fall my husband, my parents, and I, a photographer, experienced the trip of a lifetime, 2 weeks in England, Scotland & Ireland! This trip, a photographer’s dream, was also my dream since childhood…  I have always loved Ireland, ever since I learned of our family’s Irish roots, and getting to visit the country was a dream come true for me. I’m also a huge fan of Europe, Shakespeare, and WW2 era history, so this trip checked every box! Looking back on it now, it still feels almost like a fairytale, because it was so much better than I had ever hoped for, in so many ways. I hope this photographer’s guide to visiting England will give you an advantage as you start to plan your own trip of a lifetime! 

What to Wear

As we planned the trip, one of my biggest challenges was packing my photography gear and everything I needed in just a carry-on and a backpack! Because we were flying 5 times on our 2-week trip, it was crucial that we pack everything as lightly as possible. We could not afford to have luggage lost and to fit everything for 4 people into our rental car, it needed to be in small bags!

So, I set out to pack by planning my outfits for the entire trip by creating a list and looking at the weather. I knew it was likely to be cold, wet, and rainy, and that indoors I might get warm. So, LAYERS would be my best friend. I brought 5 shirts varying in the sleeve length from short-sleeve to long-sleeve, mostly light-weight and neutral. I wanted to be able to wash them if needed, so I packed cotton shirts that would dry easily. I added 2 scarves, also neutral in color, and 4 long-sleeved sweaters, gray, lavender, black, and camel. I also packed my travel outfit, a t-shirt, and a long-sleeve cardigan, with black leggings. I brought an additional pair of leggings, 1 pair of jeans, intimates, and 2 sets of nightclothes.

I brought tennis shoes, a pair of Sperry sneakers– which I actually wore the most of everything I brought, a pair of short rain boots and all-weather Columbia trail shoes. My most important feature was my Columbia 3-in-1 jacket that includes a rain jacket, and a zippable puffer insert. I also brought along 2 lightweight necklaces and earrings, so that I could dress outfits up easily without a lot of room being taken up.

Packing and planning photography gear

Even though I wish I could have taken all my gear, I knew that was not realistic. So, I decided to pack my Evecase backpack with the most vital pieces, including my Canon 5D Mark iii body, SD cards, card to Samsung reader, battery and charger, and my Tokina 24-70mm, a zoom that would work in a pinch to hit my favorites- 35mm, and 50mm.

My husband was a saint and carried the gear throughout most of the trip, along with our snacks, waters, and other needs for each day of touring. I actually did not get the opportunity to use my camera while we were in London, as I was concerned about theft. I had been warned by multiple people that the pickpockets are really bad in London, and decided to leave it locked up in our flat, and stick to the Android for pics.

And we’re off!

We started our journey flying from Atlanta, Georgia, our hometown. My mom and I showed up in black leggings, the same black and white striped t-shirt from Walmart, and identical black sweaters from Old Navy! We never discussed what we planned to wear, we’re just in sync like that! Unfortunately, we could not all sit together on the flight. My hubby is 6″11 and had to sit in the bulkhead, while my parents and I sat about 20 rows ahead. However, during the flight, as I made my way back and forth to visit him, a sweet guy asked if I would like to sit next to him, and he moved across the aisle to an open seat. So, we finished out the second half of the trip sitting together!

London

We arrived in London on October 31st, Halloween, and were welcomed with beautiful, cool weather and the sight of changing leaves on the trees. It was interesting to observe the British Halloween custom of children coming up to you for trick-or-treat, expecting you to give them coins in lieu of candy! I personally think it’s a much better idea!
We stayed for 3 days in Chelsea, London at a charming flat at Chelsea Bridge Apartments. On our first full day in London, we toured Westminster Abbey, a place I had longed to visit since my first art history class in 9th grade. It didn’t disappoint, with its breathtaking ceilings, buttresses, stained glass windows, statues, and the memorials to those such as missionary David Livingstone, who I loved reading about as a child.
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Next, we spent time in the Churchill War Rooms, which are underground and completely fascinating. I highly recommend visiting, especially in October as the crowds were much lower. We also purchased the London Pass, which includes the cost of entrance to many museums and attractions, including the War Rooms, as well as travel options, river cruises, etc.

Windsor

On our 2nd day we split up and my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary by visiting Knotting Hill and Kensington Palace. Desmond and I took the train through the English countryside to see Windsor Castle. The scenic trip took about an hour and a half and is an additional cost on your train fare- be sure to discuss this with a ticket agent before hopping on the train. The trip was well worth it as the views were lovely and we were gifted with a lovely sunshine break through the clouds. The castle itself was simply gorgeous, and beautifully manicured grounds were a sight to see. It was a highlight of our time in England to be sure! ⠀ ⠀
Our final day the four of us visited All Hallows by the Tower, the oldest church in London. It was Sunday and we were warmly welcomed to join the congregation in worship. It was so beautiful to join fellow believers in praising God together. After, we toured the Tower of London. Our animated guide taught us all about its intense history. There we also saw the crown jewels and other amazing artifacts. It was a fantastic day! 
The entire time we were in London we enjoyed delicious food and got a lot of exercise, typically walking between 5-7 miles per day! I have been on a ketogenic way of eating for the past 4 years, and finding foods I can enjoy can be a challenge when traveling. It was a bit of an experience trying to find heavy whipping cream, but it is simply called Double Cream. I found it easily at the Tesco Supermarkets-more on that later. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I could find wonderful salads, veggies, healthy meats, and of course, Coffee! We fell in love with Caffé Nero, and wish they were prevalent in the US, for now, try visiting one if you’re ever in the Boston area!

Join me in the next installment of our Europe trip to Scotland!

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