York!

I think one thing many of us are guilty of when it comes to travel is not seeing enough of our own country. One thing I certainly want to start doing more often is taking city breaks within the UK.

Last August I did just that. With a three day weekend and a friend hosting a charity gig, I had a good excuse to make a trip up to Yorkshire. I arrived in Northallerton later than planned. My train in London had come to a standstill and there was no sign of how long we’d be stuck, which meant a change of plan and running to the nearest tube stop in a hopeful attempt to reach Kings Cross before my train up North departed.
Frustratingly I’d missed my train by seconds through no fault of my own, that train departing the platform is the one I’m supposed to be on – which wasn’t the best start to my weekend. Fortunately it did get better from there and a fun night with a live band and a few beers made up for arriving later than scheduled.

The next morning I wished farewell to my friend and made the short train ride from Northallerton to York. I’d been to York 2 or 3 times before but only really to visit family, it always seemed to rain whenever I’d visit too so I was hoping for much more opportunity to explore this time and also better weather!
I arrived in a sunny York which was an encouraging start to the two days I’d be spending in York.

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River Ouse, York

York is one of my favourite English cities. It has so much history and character and you feel that almost instantly upon arrival. After exiting York’s main train station I was instantly staring up at the city walls. I was staying in a hotel outside of the city walls but on a relatively lively street with a few pubs, restaurants and shops nearby.

Still too early to drop my bag off at my hotel, I ventured past the city walls and in to the city of York. Merchantgate, one of the openings in the wall, had actually been closed off for the day to vehicles because of an event in the city. I was curious but overheard someone say it would be starting at 1 so figured I’d come back later on.

Ahead of me crowds were building, to my right was a staircase leading up to the city walls. Walking the wall seemed a much more attractive proposition than trying to hurdle the number of people along Merchantgate. It’s not something you can do in too many cities and an enjoyable walk along the wall. It’s also great for photo opportunities from a higher vantage point.

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Having walked across the wall I arrived at the River Ouse and thought it a perfect time to do a river cruise. It was a guided tour and quite interesting. Our captain pointed out a few points of interests and shared some of his knowledge about the city as we drifted along the river, a very peaceful way to spend an hour and thoroughly recommended.

After the cruise I headed back in the direction of Merchantgate to see what all the fuss was about. It turns out they had an event for soapbox racing. Watching bananas, Trojan horses, farmers, batman and more race through the streets of York was certainly an experience to remember. Each ‘car’ raced against the clock with the quickest finishers of the course heading in to the next round. It was very entertaining!

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The Shambles

I checked in to my hotel and then went in search of food! I stumbled upon one of York’s most famous streets known as the Shambles – a row of shops along a cobbled street with dimly lit lights in the windows to give it a real atmospheric feel. It was beautiful and I found somewhere near by.
Having stuffed myself with pizza, I finished my Sunday evening off in one of York’s many many pubs in the city.

Bank holiday Monday’s are famed for rain so it was a nice surprise to wake up Monday morning to further sunshine. A warm bank holiday, surely not?
After grabbing an on-the-go breakfast I headed for York’s famous Minster cathedral, a UNESCO world heritage site. I’d passed it before but had never been inside. Despite following no religion I always find religious buildings fascinating to visit. The detail is incredible and the Minster no different in that respect. Definitely worth a visit when in York.

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York Minster

After a quick stop for lunch I visited York’s castle, quite unusual as far as castles go and situated on top of a small hill. Typically you expect the purpose of a castle to be used in defence of the city but it’s hard to see aside from the vantage point how this would have worked.
Despite the lack of purpose, you get some great views overlooking York which make it worthwhile visiting.

The rest of my day involved wandering the city, I particularly enjoyed the abbey and gardens close to the river – particularly beautiful with the sun setting.
I saw signs of a free walking tour which commenced in the evening. I’m generally a big fan of these and thought it’d be the perfect end to my trip but it was a bit of a disaster. My first clue as to how bad it was going to be should have been the low turnout. Come the start of the tour there was only around a dozen of us and that number dwindled over the hour that followed.

The tour guide was friendly enough and clearly loved York, however sadly I didn’t find the tour that interesting. Ultimately that comes down to personal taste and you can forgive that but the bigger problem was it was a walking tour with very little walking.
I wanted to see York and having only circled the equivalent of a block in 45 minutes I came to the conclusion it wasn’t going to happen.
By this point there were only 5 of us left and as I saw one couple making their escape I had to do the same. If I’d been the last man standing I would have had to see it out through pity so I passed off the grenade to the final couple and saved myself.

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With a wasted hour I went in search of a pub to have a drink before catching my train home. Despite a dreadful tour to end it, it was a great weekend.

I’d highly recommend a visit to York on any trip to the UK, or even if like me you’re already a Brit but just fancy a city break closer to home.

Have you ever been to York? What did you like / dislike about it? Let me know!

All the best

Jason

The tale of Canterbury

I think anyone that has been gripped by the desire to see the world has felt this struggle – the gap in time between your last trip and the next. This is where your wanderlust really kicks in and you start to crave more adventure.
I went to New York City last June, came home and my next trip lined up was a weekend in Germany in September. September! What was I supposed to do for three months?

The answer was obvious – take a trip! Funds and time were limited so I decided rather than go abroad, I’d spend a weekend somewhere here in the UK. So off to Canterbury I went.

It’s only an hour away from London so if you’re visiting the UK then why not take a day-trip to Canterbury? Here’s why you should!

It’s a city of heritage!
I didn’t know much about Canterbury before visiting, the famed Canterbury Tales was one of the few things I knew of so I was expecting an old city with plenty of history. Canterbury didn’t disappoint. For starters it’s home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

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The cathedral is one of the most visited attractions in the city, which was founded all the way back in the year 597! It was rebuilt a few hundred years later and the cathedral is perhaps most famously known for the murder of the archbishop Thomas Becket. Acknowledgement of Becket’s influence in Canterbury can be found throughout the city, including a pub named after him! I always feel like that is the greatest possible honour bestowed on any Brit. A pub in your name? You’ve made it big!

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One of the surprises of the city was the small abandoned castle on the outskirts of the city centre. Whilst much smaller than most castles throughout Europe it was free to look around and there was also a distinct lack of tourists which made it a winner for me! Definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of castles and old architecture.

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It’s pretty!
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Canterbury isn’t just all cathedrals, castles and city walls – it’s also a really pretty city. Cobbled streets, a river running through it and pretty public gardens all make it a really aesthetically pleasing city too. Booking a river tour is a great way to see more of the city and offer some different photo opportunities.

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It has plenty of culture!
The city is home to three universities, the population of the city doubles throughout the academic year which means there is always stuff going on. Museums, exhibitions, theatre, events, restaurants, shopping and more!
I was rather lucky my weekend coincided with a medieval festival in the city. It wasn’t planned but very much enjoyed!

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If you plan to stay overnight it also has a great nightlife with some great pubs to visit, these of course are open throughout the day and usually offer traditional British pub meals too but the city comes to life a little more in the evening.
One pub I was particularly fond of was the Foundry who brew their own beers! There’s plenty of others dotted about the city though so you’ll be spoilt for choice if looking for somewhere to spend your evening!

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Inside the Foundry

So there you have it – add Canterbury to your list! For those of you who’ve been before what did you love about Canterbury? It’s a city I’ll definitely return to so I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Thanks for reading!

Jason

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There’s a reason selfies weren’t a thing in medieval times

Home for me, adventure for you!

Recently I’ve really started to immerse myself within the online travel community, mostly on Instagram, and I thought it’d be the ideal time to start blogging. Travelling has become one of my biggest passions and I wanted to use this as a platform to really talk about that, share experiences and hopefully offer some inspiration to others reading this.

I’ve been lucky to visit a number of different places around the world and I’m constantly ticking places off of my bucketlist, although that ever-present wanderlust usually means the list of places to visit is growing rather than shrinking!

There were lots of places I could have started this blog off – London, New York City, Sydney – the list really is endless but I thought what better place to start than right at home? I think one of the things that can quickly be forgotten among travellers is that home to you is an adventure to somebody else.
I was born and grew up in London and believe me I will post about London in the future but for now I live in Peterborough and here’s a post dedicated to it.
Would I recommend it as somewhere to visit? No, but if you’re a little curious here’s five reasons why you might want to visit!

1) The local experience
Travellers are continually looking for a destination off the beaten track and Peterborough ticks the box as a city less travelled. You don’t get swarms of tourists here, perhaps with good reason but it does mean that if you do visit you’re likely to only be dining, drinking and chatting with the locals. This is also a plus if you want to visit Peterborough’s cathedral, museum or churches which beyond peak times are rarely busy.

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River Nene, Peterborough

2) Location
As cynical as I may be about how dull Peterborough is as a city, one thing you can’t question is its convenient location. Peterborough has great transport links. Situated next to the largest motorway in the country means it’s easily accessible by car, whilst Peterborough also has direct trains and/or bus links to most major UK cities such as London (less than an hour), Cambridge (1 hour), York, Edinburgh and more.
Buses and trains from Stansted Airport both also travel via Peterborough.
What better place to base yourself for a night if you’re planning a road-trip or visiting various cities throughout the UK.

3) The cheaper alternative
Staying in the UK can be expensive! You might want to consider staying in Peterborough just because it’ll save you money over staying in nearby Cambridge or London – both of which are only an hour away. Trains from London to Peterborough run late in to the early hours of the morning so you could easily spend your day in London and head back to your accommodation that same day to sleep in Peterborough.
You’ll obviously need to weigh up whether the time and cost of travelling make any savings worthwhile.

Cathedral

4) History & Culture
Like most European cities, Peterborough has its share of history. The city dates back hundreds of years and this is most evident in the location of Peterborough’s cathedral. The cathedral was built in the 12th century and is definitely worth seeing for yourself, some well known people were buried in the cathedral such as Katherine of Aragon or Mary Queen of Scots (later moved). If you time your trip right you might even catch a heritage/historical/medieval festival or event.

In more modern times, Peterborough has become one of the UK’s fastest growing cities. In some areas it’s still lacking but in the last year a number of restaurants and pubs have opened to make for a much more vibrant city centre. You now have much more choice for wining and dining
There’s a handful of venues which also host live music, sporting events, theatre and other arts which may appeal dependent on your interests.

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Ferry Meadows, Peterborough

5) Nature
Peterborough is in a relatively flat part of the country so perhaps isn’t somewhere you’d associate with stunning scenery, whilst this is true there are some areas which show off Peterborough’s beauty. First and foremost the River Nene flows through the city and on a nice day it can be nice to walk along the riverside.
You also have an area known locally as ‘Ferry Meadows’, I don’t think it’s considered a national park due to it’s size but is in the same spirit. It’s a family friendly park with activities for kids, wildlife and a great spot for relaxing – particularly good for picnics overlooking the lake!
As an alternative accommodation option, you can pay to camp here with watersports on offer and a golf course within walking distance for the golfers out there!

If I’ve sold Peterborough to you and you’re curious at to how long to spend here I’d suggest a day/night at most, you could feasibly see most of the city in a few hours.
If you do decide to visit give me a heads up and I’ll happily send some further recommendations your way.

Thanks for reading.

 Jason