Sundays are weird.
My knee-jerk instinct was to write “last week I posted bla bla bla” but then I just checked the dates and it was actually just five days ago, on Sunday, that I published This Year’s European Travel Wishlist. So is it, like, factually correct to say last week if it was still technically this week? Because Sunday is the first day of the week, right? Or wrong? I don’t know.
Calendars are super ambiguous these days, I just don’t know where I stand with them!
Anyway, another post I published recently (avoiding saying last week as much as I can for fear of offending Sunday/Monday) was me going on and on about how I don’t give my own backyard enough credit and I plan to explore it more this year.
And in case you haven’t gathered from the name Wales to Wherever, I’m from Wales. South Wales to be precise. The real South Wales, not this fancy new one I’ve heard about that has some kind of big opera house or something.
So if we’re branching out further than the Leekes and train station behind my house, my backyard would be Wales. Branch out even further, it’d be the UK. Further again would make it Europe, which we’ve already covered. Spread my wings any further and I may as well up sticks, buy a yurt and move to Mongolia.
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is my UK travel wishlist (also known as bucket list but whatevs).
If you’ve been to Cardiff you may have noticed that there’s this huge castle just BAM right in the middle of the main city. It’s surrounded by walls with stone-carved animals on it, which, believe me when I say look absolutely terrifying if you happen to be walking past at night. Despite having grown up 40 minutes down the road, lived and/or worked in the city for the past 5 years and spent almost every single weekend wandering about, I have never been inside the castle. If you live or work in Cardiff (I work, woohoo!) you can even get a “Key to the Castle” for £5 which lasts 3 years. Hopefully I’ll get around to doing that some time soon and then just call me Sansa Stark because the castle won’t be able to keep me away.
A bit of an odd one, I know. What’s even in Plymouth? Well apparently a church that was bombed during the war (which war, I do not know) so the insides were completely gutted, but the outside still stands to this day. There’s also a farm with cute goats. Oh, and my best friend. Yeah, I just want to go see my best bud who’s studying how to be a nerd in Plymouth Uni. I can use it as an excuse to travel though, right?
Everything you think you know is a lie. Dobby was not buried in Cornwall. In the film he was buried in Cornwall but in real life? The deed was done at Pembrokeshire’s own Freshwater West! This may seem super weird, but I’ve been saying I want to go on a pilgrimage to this beach ever since I watched the film. But then, what do you do when visiting the imaginary grave of a fictional house elf? Leave a sock? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a situation anyone in the history of the world has been faced with before Dobby came along!
Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter
Are you sensing a pattern yet? I went to the Warner Bros. studio tour a few years ago with my then-boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. We didn’t go on the actual day, choosing instead to go a few weeks later. Obviously I didn’t do enough research because we ended up going a few days before the Hogwarts Express was added to the attraction. I was heartbroken. And to make matters worse my little sister then visited on a school trip and saw it all!!! She’s not even a real fan seeing as she’s never even read past the first line of the first book. Bitter? Me?! Never. So yeah, I want to go back just so I can say I’m better than my fourteen-year old sister. I’m so childish.
Brace yourselves for another shocking revelation…
I’ve never done the tourist thing in London. I’ve seen Buckingham Palace, watched a few shows in the West End and very randomly once had a brief conversation with Denzel Washington at the premiere of Flight (by brief conversation I mean he said something while looking at me and I choked because DENZEL WASHINGTON!!!). But all the rest of the tourist things you’re supposed to do? Never done ’em. Don’t know if I exactly want to partake in them, but there’s a lot of London I do want to see.
This is where someone out there unfamiliar with British geography makes a joke about a shower, right? When I was a kid I used to get Bristol and Bath mixed up as well as thinking they were both in Wales. FYI neither of them are in Wales. When you search it in Google the intro thing it has on the side reads “Bath is a town set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture.” Need I say more?! It also has Roman baths and other super old historical stuff. Wow, I’m really selling this.
Shortbread and kilts and deep-fried mars bars. That’s not me making some stereotypical assumption, merely a list of what I’m most looking forward to! Especially the shortbread, I love me some Scottish shortbread. Edinburgh is beautiful and I’ve wanted to visit for years now, but the slight problem of a train journey costing a minimum £150 return was a bit off-putting to be honest. Enter Easyjet and their wonderful, marvellous, fantastic £40 return flights from Bristol and it looks like this is the year! Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Zoo, all the different places that inspired JK Rowling to write the greatest book series to ever have been invent (sorry Georgie boy, you’re a close second), I want to see it all!
Winterfell (& Northern Ireland)
It seems that all my travel plans for 2017 revolve around my favourite fictional worlds. Nothing wrong with that, right? Edinburgh, London and Freshwater West for good ole HP, as well as Croatia and now Northern Ireland for Game of Thrones! All I need now is Hobbiton and I’m good to go. To be honest I don’t exactly know where Winterfell is filmed, but I know there are an absolute ton of filming locations in and around Belfast, so I’m sure I’ll find something!
Of all the places mentioned, this is the one closest to being my actual backyard. I’m asked for advice quite frequently on how to get there, the best trails to take, the best time to go etc etc and despite always answering, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been myself. Dun dun duuun. It’s one of those places that’s just murder to get to if you don’t drive. And I don’t drive so yeah, murder. I’ll probably make more of an effort now that I’ve grown accustomed to UK public transport again. And look at it… it’s so pretty how could I not?!
And that’s a wrap!
Clearly with all the precedence given to fictional lands, I’m not exactly at one with the UK yet. So if anyone has any recommendations on where I should go, be it big or small, I’m all ears!
Interested in the whole concept of exploring your own backyard more this year? LC is planning on doing the exact same thing but on the other side of the world. You should check it ouuuut.