We finally had a holiday, thank you very much. After being house-bound for almost a year, we’ve finally managed to actually have a proper holiday which we thought would never happen due to the pandemic. The original plan was to go to Greece, which then became Spain and then back to Greece. But due to the uncertainty of everything that’s happening right now, we finally accepted our fate and became reasonable enough to just stay in the UK for this year’s (hopefully first and not the last) holiday.
I immediately planned our trip to the Cotswolds, an area in England that I’ve been dying to go back to as I fell in love with it the first time I went there in 2012. I enjoyed the English countryside then and coming from Dubai, my eyes feasted on historical and beautiful places of the area. I vowed to myself that I’ll go back there to explore it more. Eight years later, that vow came into fruition.
Our first stop was the Blenheim Palace, a World Heritage Site with over 300 years of history. It’s also where Winston Churchill was born (although he didn’t really live here) and the palace is also constantly used as a filming location due to its beautiful aesthetics. Unfortunately, there was a filming going on when we visited so we weren’t able to access the palace itself but we’re able to explore the expansive gardens.
Another unfortunate thing when we visited was it was raining, typical of the British summer so walking around wasn’t very comfortable. Some areas were foggy which didn’t really help when taking photos using my mobile phone. Lol.
The Formal Gardens was well-marked so you could easily follow the path and be able to explore its highlights. The Temple of Diana is famously known as the spot where Winston Churchill proposed to his wife. Iit wasn’t really the original plan for this proposal though as he wanted to do it at The Rose Garden but was met with a shower of rain so they took shelter in the Temple of Diana instead. Until this day, it’s a popular “proposal spot” for visitors and Blenheim Palace has claimed that nobody has ever said NO yet. :p
Just up ahead from the Temple of Diana is the Churchill Memorial Gardens, it has a 90-metre granite path representing the wartime minister’s 90 years.
The circular Rose Garden is another highlight, there are arches around the garden for climbing roses. At the centre is a small stone statue surrounded by symmetrical beds of roses.
When Blenheim Palace opened to the public, Winston Churchill’s grandfather realized that the family needed a private place to relax away from the visitors and so the Private Garden was created. It’s a 3-acre plot with woodland species of plants, winding paths and a small stream. The Secret Garden as it is now called opened to the public in 2004 after being neglected for many years.
The Italian Garden is my favourite part of the Formal Gardens but unfortunately it’s not accessible to the public. The plants were precisely and meticulously shaped to form a beautiful design when viewed from above. The palace serves as its backdrop which makes it even aesthetically pleasing. The Conservatory restaurant overlooks the Italian Garden, if only it wasn’t raining that day – we probably would have sat there for a drink.
The Upper and Lower Water Terraces are also very lovely parts of the Formal Gardens. It overlooks the Grand Lake and when viewed from above, you’ll see water after water after water. It’s just grand and definitely a place to sit with a book and coffee to wind down. If only it wasn’t raining.
We had a timed ticket entrance to the Blenheim Palace at 1330hrs but due to some earlier mishaps, we arrived 2 hours later than our timed entry. Fortunately, they still let us in. Since the palace itself was closed, we only paid £18.50 per person instead of its normal price of £28.50 per person. I do want to go back there to see the palace itself and hopefully, it wouldn’t take years for me to do it.
Despite the rain and non-accessible palace during our visit, we still had a lovely time. Even the Greek Mister who’s normally not into these kinds of things found it beautiful and very interesting.
Woodstock OX20 1PP
Driving time: 1.5 hours from Central London
By public transport: You can take the train from Paddington Station to Oxford (1hr journey) and from there you can take the number 500 bus from Railway Station (Stop R1) headed to Woodstock. The bus journey is 45 minutes and stops at Blenheim Palace.
Tips: When visiting Blenheim Palace, I do recommend for you to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking a LOT! Also before buying your tickets, make sure that you’re able to access the areas you’re buying the tickets for. For more information, visit their website here.