Tag Archives: #take12trips

#Take12Trips Challenge, Trip One: Broadway, the Cotswolds

 

When it came to choosing a destination for my first #Take12Trips challenge, the choice was easy.

Only 1 1/2 hours on the train from London, with beautiful scenery, food and cozy pubs to escape the torrential rain, what better choice than the Cotswolds to celebrate the Valentine’s weekend?

The village of Broadway in particular, with its busy (for the Cotswolds, anyway) high street, central location to popular walks and cultural centres, not to mention great choice of pubs,  was the winner and so it was on Friday afternoon we giddily left work early and trundled through the countryside from Paddington.

Despite there being only one main street, we managed to get lost soon after our arrival in Broadway, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the weekend. Fear not, as a hard slog up Fish Hill soon brought us to our accommodation, the Farncombe Conference Centre.

Situated on its own 400-acre estate, the Farncombe offers rustic-styled accommodation at decent rates. However, it’s the estate’s panoramic views of the Cotswolds countryside and Broadway village that’s the clincher.

 

Farncombe Estate

farncombe-estate-tree

See?

Our day began with a four-mile circular hike to Broadway Tower, a Victorian folly created by Capability Brown and a favourite of artists such as William Morris and Rosetti. With the night’s rain suitably muddying our trousers and boots, we doggedly followed the slippery trail up to Broadway Tower.

The muddy ground didn’t stop others either, as some of the Tower’s locals ventured out from their huddle to meet us.

cotswold-sheep

 

 

kirsten-broadway-tower

After veering slightly off the trail, we discovered a deer enclosure nearby, and spent several long minutes quietly creeping up to the fence for a peek.Our efforts were eventually rewarded though, as we spied a group of them gathered under the tree before they sped off upon sight of us. My piece of advice for seeing them? Keep your eyes peeled and your footsteps soft, as the deer sightings are a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment!

broadway-deer

Further down the trail is a paddock of horses, which were earnestly chowing down on their breakfast and only paid us the slightest bit of attention in hopes of more delicacies. Now, I was never the kind of girl growing up that desperately wanted a horse, but these little ol’ guys were so sweet and friendly I couldn’t resist stopping to pet and feed them.

feeding-horses

broadway-horse-closeup

feeding-horses-landscape

Wandering down the trail, we came across an endless series of gurgling brooks, melodically flowing streams and quaint manor houses and cottages that are iconic to the Cotswolds.

farmhouse-gate

flying-bird

cotswold-house

Arriving at the end of the walk, Broadway High Street, we quickly scouted for a lunch stop and settled for Tisane’s Tea Room. With cosy nooks to take the weight off your feet, roughly 342342541 varieties of tea, and friendly staff, we quickly tucked into hearty portions of beans-on-toast and quiche, finishing just in time for the afternoon’s main event.

 

broadway-high-street

 

The rugby.

Watching England beat Italy was only improved by our surroundings in the Crown and Trumpet pub, a quirky and fun-loving establishment that was voted CAMRA’s Pub of the Year in 2012. With its good selection of beers, ales and ciders, friendly staff, and their own pub-cat, it is the type of place that makes you yearn for somewhere like it closer to home.

After getting ourselves in a suitably jolly state for woodland ramblings, we continued to explore the surrounding Broadway countryside, eventually stopping on the hillside to admire the view.

cotswold-way-field

 

 

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Travel Changes and the #Take12Trips Challenge

 

I am sure everyone reaches a travel rut at some stage. Whether it is visiting the same country every year, taking the same beach holiday or even booking at the same time each year, we’ve all been there. For me, I found myself spending all year saving towards a spectacular (but expensive) couple of weeks away to some far-flung destination, with barely any time off to explore other destinations in-between. While that might be an acceptable set-up for the average joe, for someone who gets itchy feet on a frequent basis, my feet weren’t so much scratching as frantically tap-dancing.

Combine that with the sudden talk of mortgages, savings and kids from surrounding family and friends, and my feet and head were suddenly dancing completely different steps. While I do enjoy travelling frequently, (and when it comes to the other stuff I say different strokes for different folks), but like the rest of the world I do have other goals, dreams and obligations to consider. Eventually my head and feet agreed I needed a balance between satisfying my wanderlust and ensuring my other goals were being achieved.

Which is why I have decided to do the #Take12Trips Challenge.

What is the #Take12Trips Challenge you ask? Each month, I must travel somewhere new, whether it is for one day, one week, whatever; I must do it once a month.

I must also go somewhere new once a month – even if it’s that random museum I always bypass on my way to work, or that little pocket of the English countryside I have wanted to visit but never found the time. It has to be new, be different.

In addition to this, I’ve decided to set myself the challenge of putting aside savings while travelling, which is why I aim to only spend £200 on as many trips as possible. So far, my research has shown me how to figure out ways to save money on the following:

  • Staycations: For such a small country, the United Kingdom packs some serious punch. I fully intend to explore the English countryside, Welsh coast and Scottish Highlands, and hopefully make my way over to Northern Ireland – its countryside looks stunning but undeservedly little-known.
  • Advanced transport booking: I honestly believe London is one of the best cities in the world, and not just because of its offering of culture and activities. It has the best transport links in the country, connecting us with the rest of Europe. With a bit of research and forward planning (about 60 days in advance), it is possible to buy train tickets at discounted rates.
  • Flights: As long as you don’t mind where you go, you can find some decent deals on flights if you either book well in advance or at the last minute. Websites like HolidayPirates give good updates on cheap flight deals.
  • Accommodation: Spend a little time exploring AirBnB, CanopyandStars and discount websites like SecretEscapes and you can find some unique little hideaways that provide a more personal stay than the clinical atmosphere of some hotel chains (and cheaper prices).
  • Experiences/Presents: Many travel tour companies offer gift cards, and there are countless ‘experience days’ websites out there that provide a range of activities. Instead of the usual request of alcohol or clothes this year, make mine a coasteering excursion on the Pembrokeshire coast!

However, the best tips I will get are from you, fellow readers. What do you do to save pennies when travelling? List below and help me share your pearls of wisdom!

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