I consider myself to be of British-Irish nationality; all my life my parents have told me time and time again where my home really is, and until my teenage years every single holiday was had was in Ireland with my family. Before this year I’d actually seen very little of Britain; driving to Hollyhead through Wales is probably the longest journey I can remember my family doing, and that was purely to jump on a boat to Ireland. It was time I explored my other home, and the opportunity arose unexpectedly when my friend offered to drive us up to Newcastle.

And then a mere week or so later, we were on our road trip. We started out in Bournemouth to celebrate Laura’s 21st birthday, eating cake and quiche in her grandparent’s beach hut. Bournemouth reminded me a lot of the Isle of Wight, which is unsurprising since I could see the needles from where I was sitting! The surrounding countryside on our way up to Hereford was simply beautiful; the red brick towns nestled within the New Forest were just adorable. They were the kind of places I wouldn’t like to live, but I’d like my parents to live when they’re grandparents and I can take advantage of the quaint solitude at Christmas and Easter.

We spent the night at Siobhan’s in the Farmer’s county (Hereford). The drive the next day was a whopping 6 hours, and the amount of Highway Maintenance trucks we got stuck behind made us feel like we were in limbo for some 3 hours. We munched on Starbursts, drank Coffee, listened to cheesey pop music and caught up on all the drama that has happened to the both of us since we’ve been apart. Our bottoms were numb by the time we finally started to see signs to Stainsdrop, Durham. It felt like we were truly in the middle of now where, which was curious since all this time Jev had told us she was from Newcastle…

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I mentioned this was a farewell road trip – both me and Jevany were leaving the country to au pair (Jevany in Paris, and I in Madrid). Jevany treated us to a night out in Newcastle, the infamous city we’d heard so many crazy stories from her about, but never seen ourselves. We were welcomed into the homes of two charming (and hilarious) university students, made pink energy drink, cranberry, and belevedere vodka cocktails before jumping in the cheapest taxi ride of my life. A trip into town cost a meagre £2.70!! TWO POUNDS AND SEVENTY PENCE PEOPLE, 10% of the price I pay back home! The first club (Digital) was also only £1 entry, and the next was roughly £5 after midnight. We enjoyed a range of different music rooms, cheap drinks, and danced the night away on one of those disco floors… It was fab, and I could see why Jevany was disappointed when she arrived in Surrey to be greeted with extortionate drinks prices, a tiny SU, and expensive living costs.

On my way back to the Isle of Wight, I stopped by Bristol to say hello to an old friend. To me it seems like everyone I know is either moving to Bristol, or has lived there at some point. My immediate impression was that it was a heck of a lot bigger, and more commercial, than I’d imagined it to be. That evening we ate and drank at The Canteen in Stokes Croft, a curious melting pot for alternative and artsy folk. I’ve never been anywhere like it, but I certainly wouldn’t mind going back! In the evening some local talent took the stage, and even on a Thursday the place was buzzing. It wasn’t the cheapest of places, but since 10% of their profits go towards local charities I didn’t mind having a pricey glass of wine. In the morning we went on a walk to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, before I finally headed home to the IOW to pack and prep for España.

This road trip taught me that although I love to jump on a plane and explore foreign lands, there is still much to be seen on my home turf. The downside is travelling around the UK is expensive, and often it is cheaper to jet off to Spain than it is to get a train from north to south, especially if said journey must go through London! So for now my pennies will go towards short euro trips, but I’d quite like to visit Manchester or Edinburgh next…

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