While looking back at my top travel experiences of 2017, I couldn’t help thinking about what I wanted to achieve this year! It’s safe to say that 2017’s travel and blogging goals didn’t quite go according to plan mainly as a result of ill health (you can read about that here)
So hopefully this is a more realistic plan for the year and it can be split into 12 aims. Here goes…
This may be a big ask, but I managed to visit 12 cities in 2017, so let’s see if I can hit 12 NEW cities in 2018!
Some of the cities I went to last year, I’d been to before but I explored different things within the city and added to my cultural experience of the place while expanding my knowledge of the area. In Manchester I finally visited John Rylands Library; in Liverpool I did the Anglican Cathedral tower tour and in Lincoln I experienced the wonder that is the UK’s largest steam punk festival. Other breaks took me to new cities such as Norwich, Winchester, Hereford and the Maltese cities of Valletta and Mdina.
I just love a city break and 2018 will see me clocking up lots of city-time! I have intentions to return to many previously visited cities for other events I’m interested in. I’m just been back to London for the annual Lumiere festival (which was amazing) and will be spending time in Manchester, Nottingham and Worcester later in the year to see the new public art trails planned for these cities.
A short break to Guildford is already booked for February as I have friends who live there, so I’m combining a catch up with a new city.
As 2017’s UK City of Culture, I intend to check out Hull and see what the city has to offer since attaining this accolade.
Lancaster and Preston must be done in 2018. I live so close and am usually sailing past them on the M6 en route to the Lake District, but have never actually been to either…shame on me!
I will definitely be going to Dundee sometime in the summer as the city is hosting Maggie’s Penguins, a public art trail of penguin sculptures, one of my favourite birds.
And lastly for the British city plans…. Newcastle! Considering I’ve been travelling up to the north east from Cheshire to Hartlepool several times a year since meeting my husband 7 years ago, (and where his family live) somehow Newcastle has always evaded me. No longer I tell you… I can feel it in my bones that 2018 is the year.
As a culture vulture, my head of course wants to go to all other cities I’ve not yet visited in the UK. My preferences change on a daily basis; maybe Bristol, maybe Canterbury, who knows… but while I’m pondering those, my possible foreign cities I’d like to add into the mix are:
Seville – the architecture there looks fabulous. It’s been high on my wish list for a long time.
Basel – the cultural capital of Switzerland, need I say more.
Antwerp or Ghent…I haven’t quite decided yet (maybe both) I’ve been to Brussels twice now and it’s time to add another Belgian city to the portfolio.
Copenhagen – just because I fancy it!
Plus, a longer city-break to a big centre: high on my agenda are Vienna, Budapest, Berlin or a twin centre trip to Riga and Tallinn (but that’s a separate entry on my list as it’s a much bigger trip.)
Oh and Bilbao is booked for March! I’ve desperately wanted to visit the Guggenheim there since I laid eyes on Frank Gehry’s quirky and impressive architecture.
Following on from my previous point, there are so many big capital cities I’d love to see, but I often find that if I don’t go for between 5-7 nights, I feel like I’ve not seen enough and leave feeling very dissatisfied, chanting: ‘I wish I’d had time to see that, go there or experience that…’
My thirst to satisfy all my interests from visiting galleries, museums and key historic sights including palaces, cathedrals, churches and castles; to partaking in local tours, sampling the local cuisine, exploring parks and gardens, climbing to viewpoints, and basically walking my legs off to make sure I see everything, means I need time to fit all this in and only then will I feel like I’ve really gotten a full taste of the place.
I’ll be accompanied by my Mum on this trip, my favourite city break partner in crime, but we’ve made no decisions yet as to which city to attack. No doubt more cities will be considered over time…
For a long time I’ve had memberships with English Heritage and the National Trust and 3 years ago I became a friend of the Historic Houses Association (HHA). I’ve had years of enjoyment visiting all sorts of places around the UK, however there’s always those couple of specific places that are constantly in my mind to visit but I never actually get there. So this year I’m committing my wishes to paper and I will make them happen!
When I saw that my HHA membership gave free access to Blenheim, I was in my element swearing for weeks I was going to go! 3 years on, I’ve still not been. It’s a beautiful building in a truly stunning landscape that if I only make it to one HHA place in 2018, I want it to be that one.
Situated in Buckinghamshire, the parkland and gardens at Stowe are monumental in scale, giving way to lakes dotted with classical temples and other architectural features. It just sounds like a dream to wander through and imagine yourself cast into a regency period drama, your skirt swishing at your heels and parasol shading you from the sun.
Stonehenge is on so many bucket lists and it’s certainly high up on mine. I don’t think I’ll have a hard time finding a companion to join me. I’ve been searching out stone circles around the country since I was little, my favourite being Castlerigg in Cumbria, but the southern beauties of Stonehenge and Avebury have always evaded me. 2018 is the year to put that right!
These public art trails have really snowballed over the last couple of years with different themed trails, (mainly wildlife) springing up all over the place for the purpose of raising money for local charities. Last year there were hares in the Cotswolds, jungle animals in Scotland, bears in Birmingham, snowdogs in Cardiff and Jane Austen themed bookbenches in Hampshire. In 2016 I saw Herdwick sheep in the Lake District and elephants in Sheffield, and for 2018 there are even more trails planned with penguins in Dundee, robins in Nottingham, bees in Manchester, giraffes in Worcester, snails in Brighton, more hares in Norwich and the snowdogs return to Ashford in Kent. And those are just the ones in the UK…
It’s become my new favourite pastime, so much so I’d say I’m addicted. Not only do I love the artwork on the sculptures themselves, but it gets you outside exploring, exercising and interacting with art in a creative way. It provides a great springboard from which to discover the city or area, especially one that’s new to you, as following the trail will undoubtedly take you to places you wouldn’t think to visit.
I’d love to see them all, but there are only so many days in a week and weeks in a year. I’ll definitely get to see the robins, bees and giraffes, and if I can get Dundee to see Maggie’s Penguins, I’d be made up!
At the beginning of 2017 I made an announcement that I was going to use a set of Scrabble tiles to pick where I was going to explore next in my home county of Cheshire. I’d realised that in all the years I’ve lived in Cheshire, it was surprising how little of it I really knew; so using scrabble tiles, every month I chose a place I’d not been to before beginning with the letter I picked out of the bag.
I started out well at the beginning of the year, the letter ‘T’ taking me to Tarporley, followed by the letter ‘I’ prompting a visit to the Cheshire Ice Cream Farm and ‘H’ taking me to the Hollies Farm Shop. Both of those were brilliant discoveries and I’ve been back several times since. Unfortunately, the ill health that characterised most of 2017 meant I was not able to continue with this quest and although I managed to get to a few additional new places, I wasn’t able to blog about them.
This year I hope to reignite this adventure and I’ll start by writing up the places I went later in 2017. These include Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre, Delamere Forest and Norton Priory and Gardens.
I may well have lived in Cheshire all my life, but for the last 6 years I’ve lived only a couple of miles from the border with Lancashire and yet the county remains largely undiscovered. For many years, it was just the county I drove through to get to the Lake District, one of my favourite places in the country and by far my family’s most popular holiday destination.
With my family coming from neighbouring Yorkshire with whom there has always been a long-standing rivalry – to a Yorkshireman, Lancashire is viewed as Yorkshire’s poorer cousin, (funnily enough the reverse is true for Lancastrians) and therefore why would one visit when you have the best at home! So with me coming from Yorkie stock, the extent of my forays into Lancashire was to Blackpool as a child to see the illuminations. Yorkshire was very much my playground instead.
Through my 20’s, one of my university friends (a Lancastrian) lived in Haslingden so I became familiar with this area of the county, including Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom, Bury and Bacup with walks on Scout Moor and to the Haslingden Halo.
Since living in Warrington, I regularly drive through the Lancashire countryside en route to the Yorkshire Dales and have always loved the landscape, so I really should get out there and explore. It is after all, on my doorstep.
Unlike with Cheshire, I’m not going to commit to visiting 12 new places in Lancashire in 2018, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to head out for a day every other month. So, 6 it is…and one of them will be Lancaster as it’s on my cities list too.
Once upon a time when I was an art student, I spent my life touring round visiting all sorts of galleries and exhibitions and loved it. These days my love of castles, cathedrals and historic houses has kinda taken over but I’d love to get back into visiting exhibitions of interest which means I just need to focus on researching what’s on and where outside of my usual gallery haunts.
As a member of the Tate Gallery I regularly visit my local Tate in Liverpool and try to get to the London galleries when I can. There’s so many fabulous exhibitions there during 2018 they may well take up most of my gallery time. I am well on my way to discovering some new gems though as during my time in London this last week I headed to the Postal Museum and London’s newest attraction: Mail Rail. It is a fascinating museum, so check back for a blog on it coming soon.
Sticking a personal lifestyle goal in here that will influence much of my exploration of the UK: I want to get fitter, healthier, lose some weight and boost my immune system (hey, don’t we all?) After such a prolonged period of ill health, this is particularly important to me and I’ve already started on this path with the addition of a dog to my life.
Quite suddenly, Mr TJG and I took on my Gran’s dog Roger (in early December) as she could no longer look after him. As he had already stolen our hearts, I couldn’t bear the thought of him being re-homed again to new people so we opened our doors to him and gee whizz, how life has changed!
I’m getting out for daily walks and starting to go to different places with him and find different pieces of landscape for him to run wild in. This is having a profound effect on my fitness and well-being and will certainly aid my goals of exploring Cheshire and Lancashire while perhaps lending a dog friendly slant to my blog posts. Watch this space…
Another way of assisting the previous aim is to plan regular walks with my Dad, (and now Roger too) ideally once a month if we can. This is our father / daughter bonding activity and another thing that’s been severely hampered during 2017 and something I’ve really missed.
The aim is to do different walks each time in a variety of (relatively) local places incorporating different landscapes and terrain, perhaps chasing some waterfalls and scaling some summits. It’s just another way of helping me discover more of my local area, while getting me out in the fresh air and getting fit: a win-win situation!
We’ve already got potential dates set aside in the diary, so now we just need locations… Bring me the OS Maps!
And that leads me nicely to two of my bucket list entries…
This has been on my dad’s bucket list for me for… well, forever…. (It’s his favourite Lakeland fell) He’s been trying to get me up there for as long as I can remember.
We all love the lakes in my family and I love fell walking, but for all sorts of reasons, when Dad’s been planning Helvellyn I’ve not been able to join him and frankly it’s become a bit of a long running joke. Every year I hear: “So, are we doing Helvellyn this summer then?” My usual response is “Yes, of course” and then it never happens!
Well, my most coveted goal for 2018 would be to finally hike up there with him. Nothing would make me prouder of myself and I think my parents would be super proud of me too!
I’ve had the books and maps for a few years now, with one of my big bucket list entries being to hike one of the UK’s long distance walking trails. Now, I’m not completely unrealistic – I’m not saying I’m going to take on the Coast to Coast or the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, but as my most local long-distance national trail, the Sandstone trail is one of the shorter routes at 34 miles long. It follows a low ridge (created by sandstone) which runs the full length of Cheshire from Frodsham in the North to Whitchurch in the South. As the trail largely follows the higher ground rising from the Cheshire plain, there are regular viewpoints giving 360 panoramas over many other counties (on a clear day of course.)
Ideally I’d love to do this walk as a consecutive 3 day hike staying overnight at B&B’s along the route and carrying all my gear. Being more realistic however, I think just splitting it into 3 sections for individual day hikes perhaps on 3 weekends running is a challenge enough for me at the moment and that in itself would be a massive achievement. The worst thing I could do is overdo it and fail, or find myself unable to move for days afterwards due to extensive muscle-screaming!
All my walking in the meantime will build up to achieving this goal.
Unlike last year I’m not going to state what I want to achieve in the way of specific blog posts as I was so disappointed when I couldn’t write for the second half of 2017 and those goals weren’t realised. I have so many posts partially written or still in my head that they’ll never all happen, so initially for 2018 I’d just love to get back into a blogging routine, find my voice and hopefully write enjoyable content. Then all being well a direction for the blog will shine through. Now that really would be fantastic!
Of course potentially I’ll only get to half / two thirds of these places, but they’ll also be a tonne of other things I do instead that’ll be just as cool! It’s always good to start with a plan though and focus on some of the big things you really want to see, do and achieve, otherwise you’ll forget or they’ll get put off till next year. Then in 12 months time when you’re coming up with a plan for 2019, Stonehenge and Blenheim will still be on it and you’ll catch yourself wistfully saying “Awww, I’ve been wanting to get there since…… (Sigh)”
Now that sounds familiar….
Do you have a set of travel goals for 2018? Where are you jetting off to? What kinds of activities feature on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below.
In 2005, the small coastal town of Crosby on Merseyside was placed well and truly…