If your anything like me you have been seriously ITCHING to get out and hoping the world will be once again a safe place to travel. After recently losing my father to his battle to cancer I always imagined one day taking a road trip in his memory, like he had done countless times with my siblings and I, in our childhood. I remember vividly the time he surprised us with a road trip to the Flordia Keys from Wisconsin. This awaked and inspired all of my siblings to become world nomads exploring the planet. My older brother joined the military young that lead him to be stationed in Afganistan, Hawaii and Germany. My younger sister spent the past three years exploring South Africa, Europe, Asia and even lived in Hawaii from some time ( She’s now back in University).
Of course, I had found myself an exchange student in Germany at the age of 16 and later touring the USA in female wrestling group, which had led me to meet my future British husband in Texas later joining him to live in Norfolk.
This spirit of adventure, spontaneity and exploration of cultures and the love of being a nomad to the world lead all three of my father’s children to carry on his own long list of travelled spaces and places.
Losing my father in June 2020 had been a challenge because I found myself not only travelling during a pandemic but also leaving behind my husband and three-year-old son to help with my father’s end of life care. I missed our fifth year wedding anniversary and my sons third birthday while away but I wouldn’t trade those last few weeks with my father for the world. During the time I spent helping care for my dad and in between crocheting a blanket, reading two novels and trying to grasp what it felt like to grieve before someone was actually ”gone”; I sat down with my father who could barely talk and discussed what it would be like to have a caravan, go on road trips with my family and one day maybe see Stonehedge and take my father to all the UK landmarks he was interested in seeing.
My father had visited me twice in the UK, once when I was able to take him to London and explore a few must-do’s and the second time spend with us on the Norfolk coast around the time I gave birth to my son. There was so much more I felt I wanted to do with my father…and much more I wanted to do with both my father and my son. I wanted to pass down the experience to my son that I had a child, summer nights spent camping, taking ‘surprise’ trip and exploring the world. I really didn’t understand how fast a dream could come crumbling down. My desire to teach my son the same love of travel that my father had taught me was always at the forefront of my parenting goals but wasn’t ready for the reality of teaching this to my son without my father.
I found grieving to be a strange territory that as left me riddled with anxiety, depression and an overzealous need to ”get out of the house”. While I know that I can’t spend every waking moment in a different place and should deal with my grieve in a healthy way, I can’t help but feel the yearning or rather need to connect with that spirit of my father in the form of exploring new places.
Because of the current travel restrictions, my plan to go explore a new destination far away in memory of my father has been put on hold- I nurtured this urge by booking a spontaneous roadtrip…and by spontaneous I meant we had our bags packed and headed out the door within the hour of booking our tickets.
Our destination? The Cotwolds, Bath and Stonehenge…the places that I would know my Dad would have loved to see.
I was on my laptop like any regular day and a voice shouted out ‘just go’ as my hands jolted when I moved my mouse over to hit BOOK. I first grabbed us a pair of tickets to the Roman Baths, because our family had previously discussed going as my husband is very interested in ancient roman culture. I had a quick search on Booking.com and decided to book us for that night at a hotel in Milton Keys as it is around a two-hour drive from our place south of Norwich.
We grabbed what we could quickly for a weekend away and hit the road.
That night in the hotel, we orderd a room service pizza and begain planning the rest of the trip. We spent the night at Delta Hotels by Marriott Milton Keynes planned to drive another two hours to The Cotswolds in the morning. We got up and dressed, grabbed breakfast at a rest stop and drove through the amazing hills and curving roads though The Cotswolds stopping in Burford. We stopped in the picturesque city and parked our car, feed some ducks ( one of my sons’ favourite things to do), grabbed a coffee eclair from Huffkins Cotswolds and grabbed a few sweets for the road in The Sweet Shop.
We then drove a further two hours to Bath, Somerset and checked into our hotel, we spent the afternoon exploring the city shops, grabbing ice cream and then finally visiting the Roman Baths. We especially loved this place for its architecture, history and outdoor setting. I think the tour was a bit long-winded as you couldn’t go at the pace you wanted but rather had to wait in line though the measures to practice social distancing ( fair enough). We had a bit of rain but nothing majorly disrupting and was actually made for a nice cool walk around the city. That night we spent the night at Holiday Inn Express Bath .
The day before I booked our tickets to Stonehenge and made sure to have an early head start in the morning because the crowds at Stonehenge doesn’t pick up til after 11 am normally. Arriving just in time after around an hours drive south from Bath we drove through what seemed like hills and fields with grazing sheep for ages until we saw the sign to the parking lot of Stonehenge, which funny enough reminds me of a military base entrance.
I really enjoyed visiting Stonehenge as the attraction was outdoors…great for social distancing but also full of tools for teaching young minds. My son enjoyed talking about Halloween and exploring the skeleton bones, running around the huts, taking the bus to the real ”Stonehedge” and running around the fields as we discussed topics like rocks, history, theory and eventually ice cream. I especially liked theorising who actually moved the stones, how did they get a stone from Wales? Eventually coming to the consensus that it is, in fact, an ancient astrological site that humans used to communicate with aliens….but that’s just me.
As it was Sunday already we planned for the five-hour journey home that day, but broke up the driving in shifts and stopping in Bicester Village on the way home to stretch our legs and yes…get another ice cream.
I would highly recommend you plan this trip for a weekend or even longer. We tackled this trip in two nights and I think you could as well…depending on your starting point!
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Thank you for your love!