The Smoky Mountains Part 2

We hadn’t made any firm plans (except for horse riding) for our time in the Smokies so on the second day we headed out to explore with no real destination in mind. 

Taking the scenic (and somewhat slippy) route down the mountain. I’d have been a bit less nervous on this road with a driver who spent a bit less time admiring the view…

…but then again it was pretty spectacular so who can blame him?

When we reached the valley floor we were greeted by this handsome chap. 

Elk don’t usually appear during the daytime (we were very lucky!) but they can sometimes be seen on the meadows at sunset/sunrise.

After bidding adieu to the Elk we made our way to the Boogerman trail (thanks to the advice of a friendly mountain ranger we met en route). 

Walking the Boogerman trail is a pretty magical experience – with all the different coloured butterflies dancing on the breeze you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a Disney movie.

Our walk was cut short a few miles in (one of the log bridges was out due to recent flooding) but as we turned to head back we came across this little gang. I’ve never seen butterflies flocking together like this and would love to know what caused it!

We returned to the car just as the rain started to pour. So the afternoon was spent in the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (very interesting if you like learning about Native American history). 

Luckily, the sun came out again just in time for our last evening on the Ranch

Something for the Weekend: Quarry Bank Mill

Quarry Bank Mill has fascinated me for a while. It’s the most beautiful setting, but sadly it has a very dark past. It’s story was recently told across two series of a Channel 4 drama called ‘The Mill’ – and it didn’t always make for pleasant viewing. Filming of the drama took place at the mill itself – making it all the more realistic.

On a Summer’s day it’s hard to imagine how tough life must have been for the occupants. The grounds have been transformed by the National Trust into stunning gardens which were a riot of colour during our visit. The nearby woodland and village of Styal are equally charming. Cali and I spent many happy hours exploring it all…

Something for the Weekend: Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden has to be one of the more breathtakingly beautiful places I’ve ever visited. It is a little of the beaten track (just outside of Ripon) but it was well worth the trek. The Abbey itself was built almost 900 years ago, and having survived Henry VIII’s closure of the monasteries is one of the most complete abbey remains in the country. A truly historic place.

The water garden that surrounds it was created in the early 18th century and is an equally tranquil place of beauty. They gardens themselves are peppered with a number of building’s known as follys (each of which is currently filled with a unique piece of artwork).

I took far too many pictures so here are just a few of my favourites to give you a taste…

Vienna: Schonbrunn Palace

This is my final post on Vienna, but I saved the best for last. We were staying a little way out from the city centre, but the upside to this was that we were within walking distance of the Schonbrunn Palace. This was formerly the summer palace of the royal family but is now a museum and park. The park and gardens are free to visit – but there is an entry charge for the rooms inside the palace as well as some other parts of the grounds, including a zoo.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. The gardens took hours to explore and there were surprises round every corner, but the palace itself completely took my breath away. We loved it so much that on our last day when we had a couple of hours spare before we had to be at the airport, we went back for more. 

I wanted to experience a classical concert whilst I was in Vienna so I opted to go to one of the nightly concerts held at the Schonbrunn in the Orangerie – where Mozart himself once performed. It was a little pricey, but an unforgettable experience.

Cream Top: Zara
Cream Shorts: Warehouse
Navy Playsuit: Vaudeville and Burlesque via Urban Outfitters
Sunglasses: F&F
Shoes: Primark
Bag: Jane Shilton at TK Maxx