I have only travelled a few times abroad to France and to Spain, both of which are amazing countries alive with culture. From the beaches of Normandy to the great Eiffel tower to the sandy beaches of Seville I found that my times at these fantastic destinations couldn't compare to my simple travels here in my home, the United Kingdom. In the famous words of Dorothy in the classic tale 'The Wizard of Oz', there truly is 'No place like home'.
Where I've been
Cornwall. As a family, for many years up until and after my parent separated, Cornwall was our favourite holiday destination. For a large family of 6, including one autistic child, it was an ideal destination. The journey was only a few hours and the locations where we stayed was always a stone's throw from the beaches of Newquay, Perranporth and, our personal favourite, Crantock with its gargantuan sand dunes was a child's paradise. We all had our favourite places to go whilst we were there. My younger sister and I, as nature enthusiasts, loved to visit the Eden Project with its gorgeous gardens and biomes. My brothers loved fishing with our Dad, be it crabs or fish. One of my fondest memories was my family and I mackerel fishing near Mevagissy Harbour and my younger brother reeled in what looked like a miniature swordfish, something my Dad later said was called a 'Garfish' which was never confirmed. Mevagissy was the one place which we would visit without fail, not just because of its wonderful location and good ice cream, but because of a humble little shop known as the 'Lavender Pillow'. My first memory of this mystical shop was as a young girl walking by, seeing the mist rolling out of the door onto the pavement. Intrigued, we went inside to find statues of witches, fairies and Egyptian pharaohs, surrounded by the sweet smell of burning incense. Every year my younger sister would visit this shop just to buy a small fairy which she lines up on her window sill. The one thing about Cornwall that has always intrigued me is the effect it had on my younger brother. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, he was always challenging and fighting against us, yet we would bring him here to the sea and he would almost immediately calm down and have a giant grin on his face as he played about in the rock pools, something which I could never forget and one of the main reasons I love to come here rather than spend thousands to go to a beach abroad.
Wales. My Nan moved to Wales with her boyfriend when I was younger and lived in a little farmhouse cottage in the mountains near to Aberystwyth. I immediately fell in love with the place when I first went to visit during my holidays. I was no stranger to the outdoors having lived in the Royal Forest of Dean my entire life and so to be given the opportunity to explore the vast fields that surrounded the cottage was like a dream come true. We visited Aberystwyth and spent at least ten pounds each on the penny machines in the arcade on the pier and I'll never forget the first time I visited King Arthur's labyrinth, an underground tour dedicated to the legends of King Arthur. The mysteries and legends intrigued both my siblings and I. The red kite centre was another great opportunity for us, especially because my older brother loved birds of prey and I was a budding conservationist. Watching these graceful birds in flight was a sight in which I missed greatly once I returned home.
Avebury. I hadn't even heard of this place until my Nan moved there on her canal boat 'The Iona' and later into a caravan on the campsite for 'The Barge Inn'. I would go down most holidays on my own, with my older brother or with my family to stay. My brother and I would help out in the pub whilst our younger siblings did litter picking outside but most of the time we were out and about by the canals. When we had the Iona we would help open and shut the loch gates that were dotted about and even got the chance to steer this beautiful boat. The scenery in Avebury is amazing when travelling by boat and the locals always waved as we went by. In Avebury there a numerous stone circles, the most famous of which is Stonehenge. Its history draws countless numbers of people every year and crowds in their thousands gather to watch the sunrise on the solstice, the longest day of the year. Although I never went on the day of the solstice, the atmosphere was enchanting. As you walk around the great stones on the marked path you get a hint as to what the people all those thousands of years ago must have been thinking when they built this great monument. It was mind blowing for me to think that my ancestors had somehow hand crafted and raised these stones, for what reason is still open to debate. The magic and mystery is all the more reason for me to want to return. Another part of my trips to Avebury are the crop circles that periodically appear in the surrounding fields. The Barge Inn had its pool room dedicated to these bizarre happenings. I remember that I was lucky enough to see one as I drove by and I have to say, be it an alien or a human, they are a fantastic work of art second only to the beautiful white horse carved into the hill nearby.
What does it cost?
Touring the United Kingdom doesn't cost half as much as going abroad. A couple of hundred quid is more than enough to have a great time, especially if you're an outdoors type of person like me! Camping is always a cheap option and there are plenty of campsites dotted about, especially near big tourist destinations such as Stonehenge.
Tips on being prepared
The one thing about the U.K is its weather. Always be prepared for rain, but also for sunshine! One day you'll be sun burnt, the next you'll need a raincoat, but never let the weather stop you from doing anything. I found that some of the funniest times I've had in places like Cornwall is when it's raining because it drives you to do something new and not just visit the beach.