Archive for May, 2014

The 5 Best Drinks in England

Posted on May 21st, 2014 by Kev Woodward in Food, Travel | No Comments »

Mention drinks and immediately alcoholic beverages spring to mind. Sure, some of the best drinks in England are indeed alcohol based but by no means all of them. What follows is a list, in no particular order, of what we believe to be the five best drinks in England:

1. A ‘nice cuppa’

Photo by Vanderdecken

Photo by Vanderdecken

This just had to make it onto the list! If there is one drink that is quintessentially English it is the cup of tea. But why should such a banal beverage make it on to a ’5 Best Drinks’ list? Simple, a cup of tea is so versatile. When you arrive home, tired after a day out or having had a hard day at work, it is a fantastic energiser. Mash a pot of tea, put your feet up while you drink it and within half an hour, you are as ‘right as rain’ again. On a hot day, nothing refreshes like a cup of tea. The first thing the police suggest when they arrive with bad news is that you sit down and have a ‘nice cuppa’ and, at the scene of a road accident (or other incident involving the emergency services), unless it is far from any houses, before long at least one person will arrive carrying a tray of steaming hot mugs of sweetened tea.

2. Real Ale

Real ale (or cask conditioned beer) is what a true English person would term ‘proper beer’ rather than the fizzy cold version known as keg beer. It has a much richer flavour and a subtlety of taste not found in the mass-produced beers. It is served from a hand pump rather than by pressurising a sealed barrel and is not overly chilled, indeed there are many aficionados of real ale who insist on letting theirs warm up to room temperature as it releases even more of the subtle smells and flavours. The true real ale enthusiast will insist on his or her pint being served flat, with a minimal head in order to benefit fully from the subtlety of this traditional English drink. There are hundreds of small breweries producing thousands of different real ales throughout England, many of which have amusing, risqué or bizarre names such as ‘Wobbly Bob’ and ‘Sneck Lifter’.

3. Elderflower Cordial

This is produced from the flower of the Elder, a bush that produces copious red berries in the autumn that are often turned into a country wine by amateur wine makers. A little of the cordial is diluted to taste using iced water and it goes down well on a hot summer’s day as you read your book whilst lounging in the shade! The taste is delicate with an exquisite floral aroma.

4. Lindisfarne Mead 

This is more readily available in the north east of England but can be found further afield. It was originally made by the monks resident on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland. It is made at St Aidan’s Winery on Lindisfarne and is a fortified sweet wine. Mead is sometimes referred to as ‘the nectar of the gods’ and well deserves its place in the 5 best drinks in England but careful, when you drink it, it slips down rather easily!

5. Pimm’s

Photo by Matt Boulton

Photo by Matt Boulton

Pimm’s was invented in 1823 by James Pimm, a London oyster bar owner, as an aid to digestion. The original was named ‘Pimm’s No. 1 Cup’ and is still made today, whereas other varieties based on other spirits have come and gone. The No 1 Cup is a gin based drink, flavoured with a secret recipe of herbs and fruits, and it goes down nicely on warm days. It is associated with the upper middle classes, who might say that it really should be at number one on this list of 5 best drinks in England.

Have you visited England? Have you sampled some of their drinks? If so, please let us know your thoughts on what you feel are the five best drinks in England!

If you would like to know more about English classes in your area, send us an enquiry today!

Top 10 Places to Visit in England

Posted on May 9th, 2014 by Kev Woodward in Travel | No Comments »


Photo by David Iliff

Any top ten is subjective and ours is no exception! We hope that these will help you to make your decisions about what to see and where to go when visiting England. London is the obvious place with the Tower, Buckingham Palace and a whole host of museums, parks and art galleries. Despite what Londoners think, there is more to England than just the capital city!

1. The Peak District

This was the first National Park that was created in England and is the most visited. Quite rightly so, as it has fabulous scenery that ranges from pretty towns and villages to wild, windswept moorlands. If your interests lie with the ‘Great Outdoors’, this is the perfect place to head.

2. The Eden Project, Cornwall

The Eden Project was one of the many ‘Millennium Projects’ around England. The plan was to build several giant dome-shaped greenhouses termed ‘biomes’ to contain a wide range of flora and fauna. The plant life has now matured and it is a hugely successful attraction – the rainforest biome is particularly spectacular. There is an emphasis on education and it makes a great family day out.

3. Alton Towers, Staffordshire

A former Stately home, with formal gardens including a replica of a Chinese pagoda, has diversified to become England’s premier theme park. There are rides that will suit the whole family from serene swan boats to extreme rides that will terrify you!

4. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

An impressive castle in the northeast of England that dates back to the 14th century. It was famously used as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. Another great venue for the family!

5. Hadrian’s Wall

Built by the Romans, Hadrian’s Wall is England’s answer to the Great Wall of China. Whilst not being on the same scale, it is possible to walk along some of the sections and there are plenty of excavated and reconstructed Roman remains along its length.

6. The Lake District

A region of mountains and lakes in the northwest of England attracts tourists and outdoors enthusiasts both. Take a boat trip on Windermere, England’s longest lake, wander the rugged mountain tops or spend time visiting Beatrix Potter’s house where she wrote her books for children.

7. Lyme Regis, Dorset

A delightful seaside resort on the south coast known as the ‘Pearl of Dorset’. The harbour wall is called the ‘Cob’ and is an impressive structure that featured in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. During July, there is ‘Red Arrows Day’ on which the RAF aerial display team strut their stuff.

8. Glastonbury, Somerset

Somerset is a flat county but there are several notable ‘lumps’. Glastonbury Tor is one of these. The town of Glastonbury is a pretty place to visit and has attracted many legends – Joseph of Arimethea, the Holy Grail and King Arthur to name but three.

9. York Minster, Yorkshire

York Minster is one of the most impressive of the big cathedrals of England. It was established as a church in the 7th century on the former site of the Roman Basilica. The present building is one of the finest medieval cathedrals in the whole of Europe and was constructed over a period of 250 years during the 13th to the 15th centuries.

10. Lundy Island, Devon

Situated off the north coast of Devon, Lundy Island is a lump of granite at the point where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic. It’s a small, peaceful island where you can relax and recharge your batteries. Activities include walking, diving, climbing, bird watching, fishing, snorkelling, photography and painting. Note that it’s not a family venue – the kids would be bored.

So there you have our top ten places to visit in England, and while they’re not perhaps the best known internationally, they’re still very much worth visiting on your stay.  It would also be worth it to consider ho

w much better your trip would be if you speak the language – contact us today to find a course in your area!


Photo by Adrian Pingstone