Ramadan feels like a distant memory. Like the beautiful cherry blossom that shares its beauty for a fleeting moment in spring, we must wait another year before the best month in the Islamic calendar returns.
That said, there really is little reason why the spiritual uplift that Ramadan brings with it must depart along with the sighting of the new moon. Having had discussions with Muslims and non-Muslims alike, I find that most of us are looking for ways to feel spiritually connected throughout the year.
I find one of the easiest ways to boost my post-Ramadan spirit is to take a trip to the country. There is something about nature and greenery that is not only peaceful but has a way of putting life into perspective.
Surprisingly, I needn’t venture far outside of London to feel like I am deep in the countryside. In fact, some of my favourite green spaces are right on London’s doorstep.
Located only a 10 minute drive away from Luton Airport, the Dunstable Downs will take you a world away from the stress of urban living. Enjoy scenic views over patchwork quilt fields and watch the gliders take off and crowd the skies with the birds. Take a stroll along the chalk paths and over the hills, and soak up the serene view that will be sure to give you some inner peace.
Address: Whipsnade, Dunstable, LU6 2GY
Opening hours: The Downs are a public space and are never closed
Although my personal favourite time of year to visit is in spring during bluebell season, the Ashridge Estate is an oasis of nature all year round. Enjoy leisurely country walks and get lost in the lush woodland. Better yet, bring your bike and cycle around the 5000 acres of the Chiltern Hills through beech and oak woodlands. If you are a horse rider you can even obtain a permit to ride on the estate.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite savour the Brownlow Café’s enormous home-made scones!
Top tip: Bring cash as card is not usually accepted.
Address: Moneybury Hill, Ringshall, Near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 1LT
Opening hours: Dawn until dusk
Have you ever seen those dreamy pictures of the south of France, with rows of fragrant lavender bushes going on for miles into the horizon? For a long time I wanted to visit Provence just to experience such a beautiful site.
Instead of booking a ticket to France though, Hitchin Lavender in Hertfordshire is less than an hour’s drive from north-west London and features 25 miles of stunning lavender rows. Bring your photographer friend and your best camera, because it’s also a great location for photo shoots.
You will receive a brown paper bag and some scissors to pick your own fragrant lavender – just watch out for bees, who love the colour and scent of this gorgeous herb!
Once you’re all lavendered-out, enjoy some homemade cakes at the farm’s 17th Century barn, or take a picnic and enjoy spectacular views of the British countryside.
Address: Cadwell farm, Arlesey Rd, Ickleford, Hitchin SG5 3UA
Opening hours: 10:00- 17:00 every day except Tuesday and Friday, when the farm closes at 21:00. The flowering season is from mid-June to end of August, and the farm closes for the year on 3rd September.
Entry fees: Adults £5 (picking included), Under 14s £1, Under 5s go free.
Top tip: Ensure young children have their arms and legs covered to protect from bee stings.
This beautiful residence is the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. Built in the early 18th Century this UNESCO heritage site is open to the public even though it is still the official residence of the Dukes of Marlborough.
You can enter the grounds free of charge and enjoy breath-taking views of the lake and Grand Bridge. Better yet, take a buggy tour of the lake for only £3.50/adults and £2.50/children, or enjoy a free walking tour of the Formal Gardens. There’s even a maze to tackle!
My favourite thing to do is to choose a vantage point over the lake and bridge, and just watch the world go by.
Address: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, OX20 1PS
Opening hours: 09:00 – 18:30 or until dusk, whichever is sooner. The palace and gardens open a little later at 10:00
Entry fees: The grounds are free to enter. To access the Palace State rooms, Churchill Exhibiton, Formal Gardens and Palace Gardens, there is a fee of £24.90/adult and £13.90 for children up to 16 (under 5s go free). You can also buy a ticket for £13.90 which gives you access to everything expect the Palace State rooms.
Do you know of a quiet scenic spot that you’d like to share with us, wherever you live in the UK? Share your tips below!
Check out 10 things to do on a budget when in London, along with where to find halal food, for your perfect Muslim-friendly itinerary.