Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen’s House Museum

Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen’s House Museum

Chawton Cottage, now known as Jane Austen’s House Museum, might be the single most significant Jane Austen site in the world, but the symbolic value of this modest abode goes far beyond bricks and mortar. Sometimes a house is not only a home, this little cottage also changed Jane’s life. 

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Spring in The Netherlands

Spring in The Netherlands

The Netherlands became part of my life when I fell in love with a Dutchman. One of the loveliest perks of having a European boyfriend is that you gain a second home and family on the other side of the world. In my case, a little Dutch village called Nieuwkoop, 40km outside of Amsterdam. On our first trip there together, we settled into a lovely room in his mother’s house looking out to a canal, fresh tulips on the nightstand and a gentle spring morning breeze filtering through the open window. 

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Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness

Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness

In the pretty riverside town of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, the most northerly city in the United Kingdom, you will find the iconic Leakey’s Bookshop. This one of a kind shop is literally an old Gaelic church filled floor to ceiling with beautiful books.

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The Jane Austen Centre, Bath

The Jane Austen Centre, Bath

The first stop on my little Jane Austen road trip was Bath, where Jane lived between 1801 and 1806, and set two novels, Northanger Abbey & Persuasion. The problematic nature of being a woman in Regency England was that you had to marry to secure your future. Jane Austen wove this predicament into her novels, implying ever so gently that this was utter nonsense.

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John Sandoe Books, London

John Sandoe Books, London

Tucked away on a quiet street off Chelsea’s bustling Kings Road, is a wonderful independent bookshop, John Sandoe Books. The bookshop remains in the original location on Blacklands Terrace where John Sandoe first set up shop, now spanning three side by side stores acquired over fifty years.

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Shakespeare and Co Bookshop, Paris

Shakespeare and Co Bookshop, Paris

Shakespeare and Co is an independent English language bookshop that has hosted a myriad of creatives over the past seventy years as the inadvertent home of the Anglo-American literary community in Paris. A treasure trove of coloured spines, velvet chairs, and wall to wall shelves with books squeezed into every possible nook and cranny.

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Rijksmuseum Library, Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum Library, Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is home to over 8,000 pieces of priceless art, including the masterpieces of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and Steen… but did you know about the secret library? Well, it’s not really a secret, but there is a magnificent art history library inside that the museum is easy to miss, unless you know where to look!

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Word on the Water, London Book Barge

Word on the Water, London Book Barge

A once wandering 1920’s barge has taken up permanent residence along York Way on London’s Granary Square, just a short walk from Kings Cross and the British Library. Yet, this is no ordinary passenger barge, it’s a floating bookshop called Word on the Water – a trove of new and pre-loved books stacked amidst a funky bohemian ambience.

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Summer Picnic at Werribee Mansion

Summer Picnic at Werribee Mansion

Perfect blue skies and glorious summer sunshine is the perfect reason to dust off the picnic basket, fill it with delicious treats and take Mum on a magical mystery girls day out. The stunning Werribee Mansion was our secret destination, an Italianate grand residence built during the Victorian period. Commissioned in 1874 by wealthy Scots who planted vast orchards yielding apples, pears, peaches, nuts and olives. Australia is a modern nation, so mansions are especially rare.

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Perth in a Flash

Perth in a Flash

A beautiful highlight of our summer is the flow of Dutch visitors that come in pursuit of a warm Aussie summer away from the wintery weather of the Netherlands. When my Dutchman made the decision to stay permanently in Australia, the hardest sacrifice was leaving behind the people he loves in Holland, so having family and friends come to stay is such an important part of our lives.

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Mother’s Day High Tea at The Windsor, Melbourne

Mother’s Day High Tea at The Windsor, Melbourne

The Windsor Hotel is undoubtedly the home of Melbourne’s grandest afternoon high tea. Mum and I plan a special girls outing there at least once a year, often we are celebrating a special occasion and other times the special occasion is just life. This time around it was all about my gorgeous Mum, Annie, in celebration of Mother’s Day.

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Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France

Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France

Giverny in Normandy, France is home to a place that has been on my travel wish list for decades, the lovely garden and estate of Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, who lived for over 40 years in this small village along the banks of the River Seine. It was in Giverny that Monet found inspiration and produced some of his most impressive paintings, including the waterlilies series modelled on his garden.

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The Palace of Versailles, France

The Palace of Versailles, France

On my last day in France, I figured there was no better way to end my Parisian spree than wandering all 800 hectares of the most beautiful palace in France, Château de Versailles. My morning began on a stressful note. I set 0ff to the St Michel railway station bright and early to catch the RER C line to Versailles, but upon arrival at the station I was met with locked doors.

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Tropical Port Douglas

Tropical Port Douglas

Winter in Melbourne has a way of inspiring a desire to fly away somewhere warm. We live by the sea on the southern coast of Australia where the water is freezing in the winter, so on a whim snuggled up in bed one chilly night we booked some flights northward to tropical Port Douglas where the water is 26 degrees.   

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Keukenhof Tulip Gardens

Keukenhof Tulip Gardens

Located in Lisse, the tulip capital of the Netherlands, is Keukenhof – the most beautiful spring garden in the world. 79 acres of gardens filled with 7 million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Keukenhof (translation kitchen garden) is the loveliest place to get lost amongst the flowers.

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Highclere Castle, The Real Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, The Real Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle has become one of England’s most recognisable homes, as the real life setting and filming location of television series, Downton Abbey. I have seen every single episode of Downton and grew to love the characters, their fanciful plots, and the centrepiece at the heart of the show – the house itself. Highclere Castle is an elaborate Jacobethan style castle set upon 1,000 acres in Hampshire, England. George and Fiona Herbert are the current Lord and Lady, known more formally as the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

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