Road Trip: Hadrian’s Wall in February

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The historical value

Since studying Latin at school for GCSE, Hadrian’s Wall has been a place on my radar for so long. It was interesting to visit the nearby Vindolanda, partially due to it being the home of Minimus, the main character from the first Latin course I studied in primary school, but also for its historical significance – of course. We also visited the nearby Housesteads Roman Fort and a moderate walk to the picturesque Sycamore Gap nearby.

Where to stay?

Trying to find accommodation available and in budget was interesting – booking a trip during half-term and the weekend before Valentine’s Day was not easy! Luckily we stumbled upon a great deal online for two nights at a hotel in Hexham – a historic market town we had not heard of before. A quick check on Google Maps and it was a great location; in the heart of Northumberland and in close proximity to Hadrian’s Wall. Hexham itself also has a few places of interest worth visiting itself too.

My last and only trip to Northumberland was several years ago on a day trip to Alnwick Castle  and I have been wanting to explore more of this beautiful region ever since.

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Road Trip!

But February is too cold!

The only concern of mine for this weekend away was the weather. February is one of the coldest months in the UK and the weather forecast was pessimistic all week, talking of snow and ice. Somehow we managed to avoid the bad weather and we were blessed with bright sunshine both days (albeit still very cold!). Best advice is to prepare for the worst, wrap up warm with plenty of layers and make the most of this lovely slice of rural England. With it being the off-season, the empty car parks and low number of visitors was warmly welcomed, I couldn’t imagine how busy everywhere must be in peak season…

In my next post I will be sharing all about what we did on our weekend trip. Northumberland is such a vast county and I cannot wait to plan my next trip – hopefully to the Northumberland coast I am hearing so many good things about!

Have you visited Northumberland and/or Hadrian’s Wall? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Robyn

 

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Goals: Jan-Feb 2018

I admit I have been in a bit of a rut with trying to be active – I muster just enough energy to feed myself before bath and bed most evenings after work. My weekly yoga class on a Thursday quite often has to be abandoned due to the many Parents’ Evenings, which all land on a Thursday. So it is difficult – excuses, excuses, I KNOW, but I’m doing something about it. Promise.

I want to feel better, more energized and it might be nice to get fit along the way… especially before my next big trip – this is what I am aiming for. So, in January, my housemate and I made a little pact that we are going to do better. We made some simple, short term goals, which for me are manageable, and will hopefully move me forward.

So, for the last 5 weeks I have been exercising at least a little bit every day. Be it 5 minutes or an hour, it is something. I have been going back to the gym, yoga and doing videos at home. I do have more energy of an evening and it feels good to be active. We started a 30-day YouTube fitness challenge and are only on Day 14 but we are going strong!

Have you done a 30-day fitness challenge? Did you stick with it? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Winter Walks: Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

I was amazed by the beauty of the changing landscapes and the variety of wildlife on my walk around Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire. What truly perplexes me is how I have been living in the area for quite a while, yet I had not heard of the place until recently.

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A wave of my bright orange National Trust card at the park gate gave me free access to a huge expanse of woodland – 3,800 acres to be exact. The guy at the park entrance said ‘park wherever you want’ but there are designated car parks dotted around to use as well. The ‘free-for-all’ parking is great though as you can park in the perfect spot if you want to jump out for a photo. The park is so extensive, so there is no way you can see it all in one day.

There was once a country house on-site, which has since been demolished, but there remains many traces of its existence thanks to the Gothic-style chapel and walled kitchen gardens which you can visit.

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The chapel in the background

Despite receiving a map and some basic directions to the main Visitors’ Centre, I admit I did get a bit lost, but all roads loop around thankfully. After getting some help from a helpful walker, I managed to find where I wanted to go. I parked up near the walled kitchen garden as I wanted to take a peek in there first of all, before I made my way to the chapel and lake.

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Walled Kitchen Garden

I decided to do the Lakeside Circular Walk, which is roughly 4 miles (6km). Navigating the walk is easy as it is one large loop of the lake, but it did take me longer than expected (possibly due to all the photo opportunities!). It is a quite a big lake.

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The Lakeside Circular Walk © AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

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It is an accessible walk and all paths are signposted. I did it easily in trainers, but others were suited up in wellies or walking boots. There is the option to hire bikes near the Visitors’ Centre if that is something you like – I may do that next time. It was a cold, overcast day in January but many families were out walking their dogs and out with kids.

 

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The Low-Down:

Cost: See the National Trust website for opening times and prices for entry to the park

Don’t forget: your camera for some great snaps of the countryside and wildlife

 

Clumber Park: photo slideshow

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to my lovely readers.

2017 was a wonderful year of travel for me – the busiest yet, travelling to three continents and exploring places new and old. Looking forward to what 2018 has to bring!

Berlin in February

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Making it to Japan for sakura (cherry-blossom) season

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Exploring the beauty of Kyoto!

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Camping in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Survived the downpour of the first day…

Exploring Prague in July – the wettest/coldest spell you could have asked for!

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All the food in Chile.

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Celebrating my 23rd birthday in the Atacama Desert.

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Experiencing the wilderness in the Bolivian Salt Flats and its surroundings.

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Visiting Machu Picchu for the second time!

Soaking up the last of the sun in Spain in Autumn.

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Thanks 2017, let’s make 2018 even better!

Happy Holidays!

After what seems like a very long week/term, school finally broke up for the holidays this afternoon. The kids and teachers alike were relieved to hear that final bell. I don’t think I even taught a ‘proper’ non-Christmassy lesson all week. I’m looking forward to two full weeks of relaxing now, with nothing much planned for a change.

I survived my first full term as a Newly-Qualified teacher, but it has been more challenging than I could have ever imagined; with taking on an extra class especially, it has been an uphill battle. Hopefully the new year will start more positively with the promise of a lighter, more manageable timetable to go back to in January.

But I don’t want to worry about that just yet, time to put my feet up and enjoy the holiday season! I hope you have a lovely break whatever you decide to do.

Robyn

Adventures at Home: Pembrokeshire, Wales

It was the first weekend after school broke up in July and I was geared up for a nice, weekend break in sunny South Wales. Of course, things didn’t go to plan! First, J. and I were planning a weekend camping together, but this soon became a group thing with a few of his old coursemates and housemates. Luckily we are all good friends…

I spent a lot of my childhood exploring North Wales, living only a short drive away in Merseyside. Many memories were made getting lost in Snowdonia on expeditions for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, so it was good to go south for a change.

We stayed at a campsite only a short drive away from nearby Pembroke which has an impressive castle and a high street with some shops, pubs and restaurants. A little further along was Tenby; with its pastel-coloured houses along the harbour, it is a picturesque little seaside town, which we enjoyed going to on both Saturday and Sunday morning for a stroll along the narrow streets and get a spot of breakfast.

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J. and I arrived early on Friday afternoon to the campsite, well before the rest of the group. We were welcomed by nothing less than torrential rain. Looking forward to a ‘summer holiday’, and definitely too optimistic in our choice of clothing (jeans – what was I thinking?!), we were very unprepared to put up our tent and regretting everything.

Sitting in the parked car for a few minutes we agreed we were not going outside. A lady knocked on my car window and asked me to meet her in the reception to check-in. Poor thing had got soaked for that! J. said he was staying put, so it was up to me to brave the weather. It’s not like we don’t have the equipment – I have waterproofs and everything but didn’t bother to pack them. Definitely the wrong decision.

The rain was not subsiding even after quite a while, so we agreed we would just have to put the tent up and get soaked. Get soaked we did. Two hours passed and still the rain was hammering down on the tent. We were getting hungry so it was time to once again get wet, just when our clothes were starting to dry! I called my mum and said suggested we just put the tent down and go find a B&B. It was so tempting but we were too stubborn for that!

There was not much parking in Pembroke. But by the time we got there, we found some free parking only available after 6pm (hooray!). Unfortunately, the main pubs and restaurants were about a ten minute walk away – of course! Walking down the street, we were turned away by a few places as they stopped serving at 7pm and were closing up. So odd as it was a Friday night! Eventually, we found a pub/restaurant/hotel which did food, so we sat down at last. We looked out the window from our table, jaws dropped – it had stopped raining the second we found shelter – typical!

After being well fed, our clothes were drying quickly and one of our friends finally arrived to join us. We were waiting for three more, but after horrific traffic all the way from Sheffield and 2 hours of stagnancy on the roads, they arrived in the thick of night at 11pm. Car lights were useful in helping to put the tent up!

After the nightmare of the rain on Friday afternoon, we were grateful that there was no more for the rest of the weekend! We spent Saturday afternoon relaxing on Stackpole Beach which is known as the best beach in Wales! The walk along the clifftops makes for a dramatic arrival to the beach, but because of this, it is not very accessible for those with restricted mobility. There were a lot of sand-flies as well which wasn’t great, but the views were spectacular.

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On the way back to the campsite, we stopped in Pembroke to pick up food for a BBQ which was a great way to spend our only real proper night together there.

Pembroke is a beautiful, little corner of Wales which has some lovely villages and beaches to visit. Luckily, after a terrible start weather-wise, we were treated more kindly for the days that followed, with some sunshine. Although, this is Wales, we should have known better! Next time though, I think we will rent a cottage together, or at least go glamping/book a B&B. I think my DofE days are past me!

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Adventures at Home: English Heritage

As a Grad with my own car (a luxury I didn’t have last year), it is so easy to get out and about now. There is nothing better than jumping in my car and heading off on an adventure – even for the day. Bonus points if the sun is shining and the windows are down!

What is English Heritage?

Last August, my boyfriend and I bought membership for English Heritage (they have student discount!), which has given us unlimited access to over 400 historic places for 12 months across England.

English Heritage is a charity that cares for and maintains these historic sites. I don’t know anyone else in their 20s with EH membership, and some have probably thought us as a little, old couple for buying it, but they are the ones missing out.

Hands down, it has been the best small investment I have made all year.

 The Perks

Knowing I now have a free pass to countless places of interest, I have been making the most of my weekends and days off; exploring England, getting some much needed fresh air and brushing up on my British history knowledge.

It’s great rocking up to one of the sites, showing our membership cards to gain free entry to the car park (win)  and even a free audio-guide when touring historic castles and homes (double-win).

The staff at all the sites I have been to have been lovely and helpful which adds to the experience.

Joining English Heritage has given me the incentive to get out more and do something when I would usually laze around watching TV.

I have been to many interesting and beautiful sites this year but there is even more on my English Heritage ‘bucket list’ – yes there is such a thing on their Member’s Area web page, and it’s addictive! I have English Heritage Wanderlust.

Stay tuned for the Top English Heritage Sites You Have to Visit

Robyn