The Fifth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: Grasmere, UK

There is a good chance that you are either reading this post to find out “why Grasmere and where is it,” or you love, as I do, the Lake District, and know exactly what I am talking about.

If you want to start at the beginning and learn more about the Lake District, visit our earlier post. Less developed and popular than Windermere, Ambleside, or Keswick, Grasmere successfully preserved a “best-kept secret” appeal. A couple of shops, some restaurants, basically a quaint and sleepy village. It’s a good place to get away from the crowds and immerse yourself in what the Lake District is all about when you are not exploring its stunning valleys, lakes, glens, rivers, and mountains.

If you are a lover of poetry, there is a good chance you know William Wordsworth’s work. Grasmere was his home for 14 years, and he referred to it as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.” He lived with his sister and wife, in a place called Dove Cottage. Today, his former home is a small museum, highlighting his work but also life in the Lake District. A visit allows you to take a step back in time and get an idea of what his poetry was all about.

Rothay Garden Hotel and Riverside Spa is where you want to:

  • Head back to after a day’s hike
  • Sleep in on a rainy day
  • Warm up by the fire when it is chilly outside
  • Read a book in the garden when the daffodils bloom
  • Relax, soak and marvel at Grasmere’s beautiful fells from the gorgeous spa
  • Enjoy award-winning fine dining while marveling at spectacular garden views

It’s a place where you can take a thoroughly enjoy taking a break from it all and indulge your “introverted” self.

Our pictures were taken on a rainy day, so we are adding the hotel’s video for another perspective. The sun does shine in Grasmere too!

photo mar 30, 6 28 11 pm

This is the fifth destination highlight of twelve, leading up to the National #PlanForVacation Day on January 29, 2019. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste, plan a trip!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel

Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. The UK is a long time favorite of hers, having traveled all over. You can contact her at

Oxford Park n’Ride: A Short Visit to the University Town of Oxford

I had it all planned out. We would leave London early morning, and get to Oxford around 10am. I already knew that driving into Oxford was a bad idea because of parking, and had decided on Thornhill Park n’ Ride as gateway to the university town.

It would be a lie to say I wasn’t nervous. My two girls (10 & 8) in the back seat, my 70 year old mom in charge of navigating, and me driving on the left hand side for the very first time. Not necessarily a dream combination. Nevertheless, we made it without a scratch and in good spirits.

Oxford’s Park n’ Ride was managed a bit different from what I knew. First off, instead of remembering your parking spot number you had to remember your license plate. Once at the parking meter, you enter that number and a camera then searches for your car on the lot which hopefully you will recognize. You choose your car and then make a payment. The meter was supposed to accept both, credit cards as well as cash, however, it did not want to accept any of my cards. I would hence suggest to bring some cash as it appears to be the safer bet.

The bus fare into Oxford is extra, and less than £3 for a roundtrip. Children are free. The ride takes about 15 minutes and takes you right into the center of the university town. Before you hop off, you might want to ask the driver where the return stop is, as it can be a bit tricky to locate it among all the different buses and stops.

This is a photo-log of our day in Oxford. Enjoy!

st mary's church, oxford, church, aavtravelcollege library, all saints church, oxford, england, church, aavtraveloxford, blooms, flowers, england, aavtravelOrnate doorway at Christchurch College OxfordOxford010 Oxford006 christchurch, college, oxford, harry potter, aavtravel oxford, halls, beer, aavtraveloxford, market, food, england, aavtravelmagdalena bridge, punting, cherwell river, row boatboat hire, oxford university, exams, good luck


A tale of Beatrix Potter and the Lake District

England’s North West is well developed with big cities and industrial hubs such as Manchester and Liverpool. But not far from the hustle and pollution, you find an area of incredible nature almost untouched by urban development. Some of that is thanks to Beatrix Potter, the famous children’s book author, whose many tales (e.g. The Tale of Peter Rabbit) are set in the Lake District.
lake district, UK, great britain, england, lake, aavtravel, beatrix potterIn the early 1900’s, after the tragic loss of her fiancé, Beatrix retreated to the Lake District and started breeding sheep and farming her own land. When investors started arriving in the Lake District, she became a fierce conservationist. Her acquired wealth allowed her to  buy up many farms and their lands. From the beginning Beatrix worked closely with the National Trust, envisioning the long-term preservation of the area. After her death in 1943, 4000 acres of land and countryside, including 14 farms, were given to the National Trust. Ever since then, these farms and land are still conserved and  managed by tenant farmers, just like she had wished.
lake district, sheep, england, uk, great britain, aavtravel, beatrix potterBeatrix Potter was a woman well ahead of her time that wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself and what she believed in. I always wondered what inspired such passion, creativity and determination. A visit to the Lake District was long due, and I quickly understood what must have been driving her.

Once you leave the interstate to enter the Lake District, you are greeted by rolling green hills and miles and miles of romantic stone walls separating land patches and enclosing sheep and cattle. The air is fresh, almost moist. The light is intriguing and changes constantly. Lakes await around every bend. Whilst there is a main road connecting some of the main areas, it is well worth choosing the shortest,  instead of the fastest route. The Lake District’s back-roads take you across hills, by farms, along a lake, or across a pass. You’ll see miles and miles of land, but hardly ever a soul. Getting off the main road is an experience you don’t want to miss. However, be warned, the smaller the car the better, because many of these roads are one lane and very narrow even when there are two lanes.

lake district, sheep, england, uk, great britain, aavtravel, beatrix potterThe Lake District is a heaven for hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Many of the trails lead you across flock of sheep, grazing on the green grass, rolling hills, and meadows adorned by wild flowers. The light and cloud scenery is spectacular and ever changing. The same goes for the weather. You might set out on a sunny day, but can find yourself soaked by rain an hour later. As long as you expect changing weather, layer your clothing, and have adequate rain gear, you should be fine. Given the terrain and weather, I would definitely recommend a pair of hiking boots instead of tennis shoes.

lake district, Windermere, lake windermere, england, beatrix potter, hiking, aavtravelSmall towns, like for instance Windermere or Ambleside, offer hotels as well as guest houses and B&B’s. There you will also find restaurants as well as shops where you can stock up on souvenirs, hiking gear, or supplies.
Windermere, england, shopping, aavtravel, lake districtold england hotel, windermere, lake district, england, uk, aavtravel, beatrix potterOur day in the Lake District was amazing, and I will be returning soon to discover more of what this beautiful part of England has to offer.

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelWritten by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner and travel consultant at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm customizing travel itineraries for discerning customers. With her extensive travel experience in Great Britain she can help you create a wonderful trip. Contact at