Overview of England
Just one of the diverse and interesting countries that make up the United Kingdom, England certainly holds the title of most populated. Bordering Wales to the west and Scotland to the north, the country enjoys a landscape filled with mountainous regions, expansive lake lands and vast tracts of rolling English countryside. Its heritage and history plays an enormous part in its success as an attractive holiday destination, from the battles of the Saxons and Normans to the legendary tales of heroes like Robin Hood, but it’s the endless opportunity for interesting and varied activities that inspires visitors to come to its shores. From the welcoming northerners with their lilting accents, to the relaxed inhabitants of England’s coastal towns, you can be sure of a welcome wherever you choose to vacation.
Traditions and Culture in England
Every country has their traditions, those little quirks that set them apart from their neighbours, and England really is no exception. The Royal Family are quite possibly the most famous of all attractions, with thousands upon thousands of visitors flocking to visit their residences on a near daily basis. The Tower of London, the Changing of the Guard and Big Ben all follow a close second, while bowler hats, red double decker buses and black cabs follow up the rear. But head out of London and explore the rest of England and you’ll find some wonderful little traditions that you might not have known existed. In the hills of the Cotswolds you’ll find the famous cheese rolling competition, where every May competitors hurtle headfirst down a slope after a rolling slab of the creamy stuff. In the same month, towns and villages up and down the country don unusually colourful outfits and leap around a Maypole while equally brightly dressed energetic types get to grips with a spot of Morris dancing. Ascot Ladies day is an impressive affair – please remember to wear the most outlandish hat you can find – while bog snorkelling involves an outfit of a very different kind (and frankly no one will care what you look like by the end of it). Oh, yes, when it comes to culture and traditions, those English are a funny old lot. Now, let’s all go and calm down with a nice cup of tea….
London, the capital city, is one of England’s most visited destinations. Every conceivable tourist attraction can be found here, or in the vicinity at least. From zoo’s and theme parks to historic sites and fashionable shopping, this tourist mecca doesn’t disappoint. If the hustle and bustle of this vibrant conurbation doesn’t take your fancy, there are plenty more destinations to choose from. In the south, endless opportunities to enjoy the attraction of coastal towns exist in the beachside cities of Bournemouth and Portsmouth, while Hastings is a must-visit location for history buffs. Check out the depictions of the legendary Battle of Hastings and see the account of Harold losing his eye to an arrow. Further north, Nottingham boasts the forest home of Robin Hood, while the smaller town of Stratford-upon-Avon delights visitors with its Shakespearean heritage. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s a city or town in England that’s sure to satisfy your craving.
Cuisine in England is as varied as the country itself, from the traditional breakfast ‘fry-up’, with its sausage, egg and beans concoction, to the fish and chip shops found on nearly every corner. But while the English have adopted foreign cuisine into their top ten list of favourite meals – with the Indian Korma a steadfast favourite – there are certain delicacies that remain resolutely English. Bangers and mash, or sausages and mashed potatoes to the rest of the world, might seem like an extension of breakfast, but the addition of creamy mashed potato gives it that edge over its early morning counterpart. The Ploughman’s Lunch is a salad dish that originated from the packed lunches of farm hands, and typically consists of slabs of cheese, hunks of ham, pickles and some salad ingredients. And in a step away from the relatively normal, a favourite pudding called Spotted Dick is a steamed sponge with fruit that’s usually served with custard.
Attractions in England
A visit to England is never complete without a visit to a stately home or two. Often the focal point for period dramas and television features, these grand abodes were once the family homes of the country’s wealthiest people. With many of them now listed buildings and housing a plethora of antiques and trinkets, they are a popular choice for tourists. While a large number of them have been turned into grand hotels, there are many more that remain largely unchanged and these are often looked after by the National Trust – details of a stately home near you can be found on their website. For something a little more exciting, a variety of theme parks, zoo’s and wildlife areas are bound to attract attention, and for the adventurous at heart, the English countryside holds a great deal of appeal. Whatever you’re looking for from your holiday, England has it to offer. Why not check out our pages for some inspiring ideas to get you started?