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  • Writer's pictureLogan Rose

Leaving London

Leaving London was a slow process. Really, it started in Leicester and only ended this Wednesday when the wheels of my plane took off, and I flew over the English countryside.

Because we were delayed by Sam's visa, we got an extra week and a half in the United Kingdom. We spent a few days in Leicester -- one as a vacation from our vacation, another touring the Midlands, and another hanging our with tropical birds (yes, really).

Before closing the U.K.-chapter and moving on to Naples, I wanted to give you an idea of our last bit of time in and around London.

Butterflies and the Bard

While stating in Leicester, we decided to visit Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. On our way, we stopped in Warwick to admire a castle.

Warwick was mostly closed for the winter, but we did get to see a magnificent peacock strutting along the castle wall. We also took a nice walk to get a better view of the shuttered landmark.

In Stratford, we peeked in the window of Shakespeare's childhood home and strolled around town, popping in and out of shops. Ultimately, we decided to get lunch at The Dirty Duck (aka The Black Swan), the only pub in the United Kingdom with two names.

The Stratford Butterfly Farm

With an afternoon to kill, we decided to go to the Stratford Butterfly Farm. I think we expected a fun gimmick, but the experience was absolutely magical.

After purchasing our tickets, we stepped into another world -- a warm, tropical rainforest in the middle of a U.K.-winter with huge blue butterflies floating past with joyful abandon. Upon further inspection, we discovered smaller glasswing butterflies and an extensive collection of creatures and colors.

Every so often, a butterfly even landed on us. It was really special.

Tropical Birdland

On our way out of Leicester, we stopped at Tropical Birdland, a place that could never exist in the United States (I can only imagine the lawsuits).

The first thing we see is a sign instructing guests to take out their earrings...because birds will steal them. Before I get a chance, I have a bird on me, a sun conure called Mango. Mango quickly nuzzles into my coat and makes her home in my hair. She stays with me for the rest of the experience, lets me pet her, and never steals my earrings.

As we stroll through Tropical Birdland, we meet and feed parrots and macaws of all shapes and sizes. Many of them climb on us. At one point, an employee literally has to fight a hyacinth Macaw with a stick to get it off Sam's shoulder.

Once we are freed of feathered friends, we make our way to Hercules Revived for a fancy lunch and stop at the Bosworth Battlefield to take in some history.

A Very London Birthday

I didn't want to leave London without celebrating my birthday with Sam.

After a celebratory lunch with his family (his mom made me a cake with my name on it and I got to open a bottle of bubbly with a sabre), we booked a 4-star hotel in Richmond.

Once we checked into our hotel, we went to Richmond Park and found the herd of fallow deer that lives within it. Believe me when I tell you that there were so. many. deer.

It was magical and kind of surreal to watch them gallop and jaunt around. The trail of deer seemed to take over the park, and we felt like visitors.

On our walk back into town, we also saw two red deer, turning their heads to look at us as we splashed through muddy puddles.

Later, we split a bottle of champagne along with some garlic-stuffed olives and salt-and-vinegar crisps. I took a sparkly blue bath and watched "Emily in Paris" in the tub. Then, we cozied up in fuzzy robes and slippers.

When it was dinner time, we stumbled upon The Dysart Petersham and explored the night's 3-course menu. I had a Jerusalem artichoke velouté, along with flavorful roast pheasant and was a spoiled birthday girl indeed.

We rounded our staycation off by having a full English delivered to our room. We ate overlooking the Thames and the Petersham Common, then took a long walk along the river on our way home.

Off to Naples!

After celebrating, we laid low for a couple of days... aside from treating Sam's parents to ROVI to thank them for hosting us. We actually visited two Ottolenghi restaurants this trip, so stay tuned for my blog about that.

...and then I flew off to Naples.

I'm traveling all on my own, so I'll make sure to post lots about that. Please do stay tuned!

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