So, here we are! Time to kick this eight-part series off with a bang! You will be able to read the young woman’s account of her first day of the road trip below. She has also shared some pictures from the sights. Any destinations/sites will be hyperlinked in order to make it easier for you to look them up, should you wish to do so. The young woman has also agreed to share an evaluation of the sites & campsite – this can be found after her account, at the bottom of this page.
You know when you’re all nervous and excited at the same time? I’ve been excited about this trip from the very beginning because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time – probably for at least 6, out of the (nearly) 7 years I’ve been here in the UK. I have, however, always had reservations about travelling with friends – I mean, having sleepovers after nights out and making the odd trip to IKEA together is kind of different to being stuck together in a car for the best part of eight days and being crammed into a two-man-tent every night! Even so, I was psyched, and full of expectation on Saturday morning – a bit too psyched, I think!
I’d planned my ‘Day 1 Travel Outfit’ the night before – I must admit it was very ‘hippie’ (yes, I definitely have some stereotypes about road tripping). I’d already decided to leave my make up at home, as I figured it would be good for me to have a complete ‘break’ and actually embrace my inner slob for a week. However, to my horror, I only remembered when I was already on the train that I had forgotten to pack my razor! Now, ‘bare faced’ I can do, but ‘furry’…?! Anywho, after the journey to my friends house and a über delicious bacon roll, my ‘panic’ had subsided and I was back to being excited again.
We set off to Stonehenge just after 10AM, with a playlist created especially for the trip, and a thirst for adventure (… And a free passenger in the form of a spider I named ‘Hans’. As we left, I caught sight of him on the rear view mirror on my side. However, being excited about the trip, I decided to leave him to it and let him share in the joy. I’m not sure what happened to him. After a while he was just gone… He probably found a place along the way that ‘tickled his fancy’… I keep telling myself that’s why he decided to leave us so abruptly…). The weather was perfect – nothing could possibly go wrong! (And, apart from getting stuck in traffic for about 15 minutes, nothing did!)
By the time we got to Stonehenge, it was hotter than ever outside (I think even Saran himself would’ve felt a little hot and bothered!). Even so, we decided to walk across the fields up to the site as we didn’t feel like starting the trip off by paying an unnecessary amount of money for, what we thought was, just a bus journey up to the site. Obviously, by the time we reached the enclosure, sweaty and exhausted after a half hour walk under the sun, we were reminded of our naivety as we were swiftly informed we needed a ticket to get in to the enclosure. However, seeing the distraught looks on our faces, the guard pointed out to us that the view was just as good from the field just around the corner, so that’s where we ended up, munching on the sausage rolls we’d bought for lunch.
After a rest, and taking my beloved selfie-sticks virginity, we burned it all off again, walking back to the car – stopping to take some pictures of the lovely fields on the way. The only option as we drove off was to go proper road-trip-style, roll the windows down as we drove down the motorway to Bath for our next destination. I really don’t know a lot more about the Roman Baths now than I did before we went, I was too busy being fascinated by the look of it! I would probably have gone for a dip if the water hadn’t been toxic!!!
After missing out on our ‘free water’ (that’s included in the ticket price as you go in to the baths), we decided to numb our disappointment with cold drinks at a nearby M&S, while trying to find a campsite for the night. Luckily we found one not to far away from Bath, as we were both starving and really just wanted to crack open the wine and celebrate a successful start to our holiday! After downing the first glass we decided it was time to start dinner. We’d already decided to ‘go simple’ and just boil some pasta to go with the sauce we’d already bought. All we had to do was to boil the water with the small gas cooker my friend had borrowed from one of his friends. As nothing ever really goes according to plan, especially when you’re starving we, of course, failed with this simple task.
We discovered pretty quickly that the cooker wasn’t working… Correction, it did…. As long as you didn’t put anything on it to boil! We tried and tried! In fact, we tried so hard that we accidentally set fire to the grass underneath (trust us to get our ‘fire hazard’ on!)!!! Resorting to putting the cooker on a table, thinking all would be well, we enjoyed a few moments of ‘victory’… Until we heard a bang and one of the caps flew off! Long story short, we ended up having half-cooked pasta, before finishing our wine and dragging our knackered asses to the pub just around the corner. There, we made friends with a parrot – We’re talking and actual, living PARROT! Let’s call him ‘Pedro’. Pedro’s cage was just by the door, and his main ‘role’ appeared to be saying ‘hello’ to everyone walking in (… Although we caught him secretly laughing at an old man tripping over as well…). To brighten up our night even more after the cooker-fiasco (not that Pedro didn’t do an awesome job!), we were lucky enough to get some free Prosecco from a couple clearing up after some sort of family-get-together. We didn’t end up staying long as the full-on day of ‘adventures’ had pretty much drained us, but we went to bed happy with our achievements.
Weather: Epic (I don’t want to say too hot but it was definitely bordering on too sticky – I would’ve killed for a car with airconditioning!)
Stonehenge: Supercool! But not sure I’d pay that much money to go in when I could see it perfectly well from outside the fence. I guess it depends on whether you have an interest in that sort of thing, or possibly if you weren’t able to walk up there of your own accord – then it would probably be worth it.
The Roman Baths: so much bigger than I thought it would be when I first walked in! And so beautiful! I think the lovely weather made it extra nice as well. I’d definitely say it was worth the money as there’s a lot to see AND an audio guide is included when you walk in (again, I suppose it depends on whether the interest is there). Part of me wishes we would’ve gone later in the evening as they apparently turn the lights on when it gets dark and it’s meant to be really pretty!
Campsite (Old Down Touring Park – their own website appears to be down at the moment, but you should be able to find reviews on the linked website): Even now, afterwards, I think this campsite is one of my favourites. It’s small, quiet and cozy, and, for the price (we paid £12/night for a small tent, a car and two adults) the facilities (toilets, showers and washing up area) were great. The fact that there was a pub just around the corner was just a bonus!