Author Archives: Special Guests

Englishmen painting with plants

We’re proud to present our newest guest blogger, Ann Larås. She’s a Swedish journalist and author of the newly published book Engelska Trädgårdar (English Gardens). Here’s her first blog post on this very subject.

Great Dixter - Northiam, East Sussex

I´m driving on the left side, on narrow streets covered by ivy and branches of the treetops interlaces as a ceiling over me. It’s a dream to experience the landscapes of Kent and East Sussex. Here you can find many beautiful open gardens, many kept but National Trust or by private foundations. I will visit  Sissinghurst and Great Dixter. Two beautiful gardens and country estates south of London.

Great Dixter – Humour and Trimmed Birds
Location: Northiam, East Sussex
Designer: Edwin Lutyens, Christopher Lloyd
Style: Inspired by Arts & crafts – movement.

Time: From 1910 –

I am really taken by the first sight of Great Dixter. The vista of the paved aisle in a blooming meadow leading to the mediaval tudor house  is unreal, like something out a fairy tale.  The house was built already in the 15th century. On the grounds is also an oast house where hop was dried in the past for beermaking.  In the beginning of the 20th century Lloyd family moved in. And through the yongest son Christopher Lloyd, the garden at Great Dixter became famous. And still is.

Great Dixter garden

Christopher was a well-known gardener, he was a garden writer and tv-personality, until his death in 2006. He loved flowers and they are in abundance here; old-fashioned perennials like knight spurs, lupines, poppies and bluebells in an imaginative mix with vegetables as artichokes and fennel. Roses and clematis cover trellies and fences. The topiary are the focus of Christopher Lloyd’s garden. They come in the form of clipped yew in figures, like peacocks. Some of them resembles people. The garden has a well thought-out design but the architectural form is not visible on my first walk at the end of June because the flowers are so high. But the funny shaped yew hedges and are recognizable as an invisible frame and frame all shifts during the year.

It is easy to imagine how a child is experiencing Great Dixter, going around in the maze of garden rooms with high beautiful flowers and scents from all directions. Here and there is an opening in a hedge that leads to a new room on a different theme. Among the greenery, a hat or a head, belonging to one of the six garden workers or volunteers at Great Dixter pop up. If you want to help get an idea of the garden as a whole and, should you come here in early spring when the plants are not as high.

During the summer, in June-July, it’s a total experience of beauty, but hard to keep track. The garden is designed as a circle around the house, the hedges divide the surface of many large garden room. The Long Border, the long perennial beds is absolutely delicious with its height against the house behind. The perennials bloom from April to October and create a dense carpet of color.

The garden is very personal and changes constantly and develops, thanks to the head gardener Fergus Garrett who now manages the gardens at Great Dixter.

Stayed tuned for my next post wherein I’ll visit the gardens of Sissinghurst.

/Ann Larås (my blog, my book)


Filed under Attractions & Culture, England, Nature & Heritage

South Wales – a hidden treasure

The Dylan Thomas Statue

Since I have lived in Swansea for almost a year as an exchange student I would like to strike a blow for this coastal city and its surroundings on the beautiful South West Wales coast.

Swansea is the hometown of late poet and writer Dylan Thomas. So for all literature lovers there is The Dylan Thomas Centre to visit. The Centre also have an annual Dylan Thomas Festival during October and November.

My favorite place though is the Mumbles, a seaside resort village on Swansea Bay. The name reportedly means “breasts,” which is suitable considering the two islets peaking out of the water. This little village has numerous pubs and is famous for the Mumbles Mile. The Mumbles Mile is a stretch of pubs and clubs along the coast, nowadays ten, meaning one pint per stop.

Three Cliffs Bay

From Mumbles onwards you can walk along the coast of Gower, visiting around 50 unspoilt beaches, coves and bays. Rhossili beach is my favourite. The beaches also have warmer water than in other parts of the UK which is nice (due to the effect of the Gulf Stream). Some of the beaches are also very popular for surfers.

Along the coast there is high and low tide which is extremely powerful to watch. I highly recommend you go to the beach when the tide is coming in. Have a look at the tide table before you go.

Another thing I enjoyed and had far to many of was the wonderful fudge candy. Nowhere else I have had so creamy, delicious fudge. So stay tuned for fudge stores!

/Camilla, trainee Stockholm office

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A teenager in London

Me at Platform 9 3/4

Hello my name is Estrid and I’m doing my work experience here at visit Britain. I’m fourteen years old and I live in Stockholm. I have been to England several times, but never in the other parts of Great Britain. In this post I will share my experience about London. I’m interested in fashion, art and Harry Potter (and a lot of other things, but if I would write it all it would be like 10 pages long…). The last time I was in London was at the autumn break last year. I went with my mum and my little brother we did a LOT of stuff, but I will only tell you the best. So for all the Harry Potter fans all over Scandinavia, I must say that Kings Cross platform 9 3/4 must be visited! It is a cart half way in to the wall and you can get some amazing photos! It is a little bit hard to find but ask the staff very kindly, I’m sure they will help you! And the Millennium Bridge that crosses over the Thames River is worth a visit. That’s the bridge that the Death Eaters destroy in the sixth film, The Half Blood Prince.

Me and my friends in London when I was ten

Enough Harry Potter, and now to my favourite, shopping and fashion. I love Primark, and I think it is a shame that we don’t have it here! But otherwise, it makes you appreciate and go shopoholic when you are there. Primark is insanely cheap and has a lot of nice clothes and accessories. The biggest Primark is on Oxford Street, but that one is hysterical! So I recommend you to be there at the time it opens. But you can find some smaller Primark stores where it is much calmer, but the best is of course to visit both! But if you have more money to spend than me I would recommend New Look! Fantastic fashionable clothes in valuable prices. You must go to Knightsbridge, the very exclusive district in London with their white houses and all the city sounds just disappear. If you go to Knightsbridge you must eat at Otto Lenghi and take the food with you and have a pick-nick in Hyde park! Fantastic!


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Filed under Attractions & Culture, For families, London, Shopping

A Golfers Paradise, part 5

Måns Zelmerlöw went to Scotland and fell in love with the people, the nature and of course – the golf. Here’s his last post from the trip. (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

12.40. Tee-off at The Old Course. I hauled out the driver again. Don’t duff, don’t duff, don’t duff, not now…An audience and a starter follows your every move, judging…But hey, I managed to get the ball in the air and off we went.

For the first time in my life I had a caddie. I didn’t think it was going to make a difference but I had to try it. It was all worth it. From my perspective I played a round of dream golf and managed to finish the course on my handicap.

Famous bridge at the Old Course

Famous bridge at the Old Course

It’s a great course and the feeling to swing your way out of the same bunkers as you seen the professionals handle on TV is a love story. I managed a birdie on the 16th followed by cheering from four hardened caddies and my hear was pounding when my driver at the 17th just barely finds its way over the hotel and you know that you can reach the green on two. You can feel hundreds of people looking at you when you cross the world famous bridge between the 17th and the 18th and right here you realize that you want to come back again and again. St. Andrews is a golfers paradise.


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Filed under Accommodation, Nature & Heritage, Scotland, Sports & Activities

A Golfers Paradise, part 4

Måns Zelmerlöw went to Scotland and fell in love with the people, the nature and of course – the golf. Here’s his fourth post from the trip. (part 1, part 2, part 3)

Today we got the message that we had been waiting for. It was time to play the Old Course…on Monday. We had planned to go back home this afternoon but this opportunity was to good to miss out on.

An early tee-off at the Castle Course at the break of dawn was captivating. It was probably the most beautiful nature scenery I’ve ever seen! The course was really hard with many blind holes. My game was dreadful, but the view made up for it and I kept smiling. If you ever come to Scotland you simply must play on the Castle Course!

After holed out at the 18th with seventeen points in my pocket we hurried over to the Dukes. We wanted to play another 18 holes and we got there in a golf car to manage this before sun down. This same evening we ended up at the hotel bar, tasting whisky.


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A Golfers Paradise, part 3

Måns Zelmerlöw went to Scotland and fell in love with the people, the nature and of course – the golf. Here’s his third post from the trip. (part 1, part 2)

We wanted to play on the Old Course today but we lost the daily lottery so we headed for The New Course instead. It’s a beautiful links course in direct connection to it’s big brother. Third time in a row I missed stroked with the driver and decided to use the iron clubs in the future. The New Course became somewhat of a favourite, with no wind it’s a quite easy course and I managed to collect 37 points and lowered myself to 17,1. Nothing to brag about, but still…

We managed to stream the last soccer match of the World Cup Qualification between Sweden and Denmark on the hotel room. We had snacks and beer and a bottle of bubbles to celebrate the victory – however the result 0-1 put us down, at least for a while. Pretty soon we were on our way to Dundee to see what this town had to offer.

, Måns

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Filed under Accommodation, Nature & Heritage, Scotland, Sports & Activities

A Golfers Paradise, part 2

Måns Zelmerlöw, went to Scotland and fell in love with the people, the nature and of course – the golf. Here’s his second post from the trip. (Part 1)

Day two began with a great breakfast on the fourth floor. Here you can enjoy everything from black pudding to freshly baked cup cakes.

The sun is shining in St. Andrews

Tee-off at Kingsbarns was at lunch. I had heard great stuff about this course and my expectations were high. And they came through, this is a great course and it contains some of the most beautiful golf holes I’ve ever seen.  And it’s a long course. This particular day it was windy with occasional dizzles. Needless to say this had an effect on my game, but even so I must recommend the course. Completely torn by the wind and on shivering legs we returned to the hotel to what we expected to be a calm and cosy dinner together with Helen and Fiona from the hotel management. It got cosy, but far away from calm.

The dinner turned into a pub round in St. Andrews and we ended up at a student party, the only place that was open after midnight. The guards eventually let us in and we spent ten minutes inside before they closed the place down and we returned home to the hotel, tired and weary.


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Filed under Accommodation, Nature & Heritage, Scotland, Sports & Activities