Well, I was a crappy blogger in 2014, but I’m glad to say that I wasn’t a crappy traveller! In early January I stumbled across Need Another Holiday in my quest to find other folks out there who had the burning passion for travel but who also maintained a fixed address and standard working hours. Clare did all of those things and she had also set down a challenge for readers of her blog to ‘Take 12 Trips’. The idea was to make sure you take one trip per month, anything from a day out at a museum to a full blown holiday, but you had to have that one date for exploration set every month.

It’s easy to let weekends and months slip by when you’re in a routine, but this challenge gave us the push to try and manage our time better and experience tons of new things this year. It’s been a funny old year, we’ve done more in our spare time than we ever did pre-travel but we have definitely struggled with finding the balance between work and play and I’m glad we had this structure to keep us focused on what is important to us. Considering this is our first year post-travel and earning money again, I don’t think we’ve done too bad! Check out our 2014 below…

 

January – A holiday at Home

We kicked off ‘Take 12 Trips’ by taking a tiny holiday at home – the home I grew up in and the beautiful city of Newcastle. The National Trust had recently bought a stately home 10 minutes from where I grew up that had stayed behind locked gates during my whole childhood. It was amazing for me to step foot inside the property and even better that my first teacher was the volunteer guide.

Seaton Deleval Hall, Northumberland

Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland

February – NYC

Paul and I were due to start working in March and we had 1 precious week beforehand that we knew we  couldn’t let go to waste. We booked flights to New York on the Monday evening and flew out on the Wednesday morning, it was a fantastic trip and a completely different vibe to our first visit to NYC. Time is the most precious commodity we have and this trip made us realise that we have to grab every opportunity to travel that is thrown at us.

The Wollman Rink Central Park

The Wollman Rink in the park

March – Hull

Our first month at work was fairly challenging and a big shock to the system, we stayed closer to home in March and took a day trip to the ugly duckling of Yorkshire – Hull. We actually had a really great day and Hull’s somewhat dour reputation really isn’t deserved. I’m looking forward to seeing how it changes in preparation for the City of Culture award in 2017.

The Humber Bridge

The Humber Bridge

April – Cancelled!

Our activity for April was cancelled due to bad weather on the last weekend of the month. We were stuck as to what to do so re-booked for June and vowed to take 2 trips one month to hit our quota!

May – The Ryebeck

In May we were invited to the Ryebeck in Windermere for a lovely overnight stay. We’ve spent a lot of time in the Lake District over the years but never on the east shore of Windermere, so it was nice to get a glimpse how the other half would have lived in their Cumbrian slate grand houses.

Coniston Water

The stunning Lake District

June – Coasteering

The weather finally co-operated for our day coasteering and man what a beautiful day it was! Coasteering is a combination of rock climbing, caving, open water swimming and cliff jumping and we chose to do it in the fairly freezing North Sea! It was brilliant fun and really challenged me to face my fear of heights.

coasteering Northumberland

Just about to start coasteering

July – Russia

July took us to the old Russian capital of St Petersburg for Paul’s brother’s wedding – in-laws in tow. The wedding itself was located in an old castle near where the tsars would spend their summers and was about as luxurious as it gets! We spent a few days in the city sightseeing with Paul’s parents – gawking at the huge palaces and churches and being gobsmacked by the amount of gold on everything.

Church of the Spilled Blood - St Petersburg, Russia

Church of the Spilled Blood – St Petersburg

North York Moors Railway

Our second activity for July was with Paul’s parents again and took us to one of my favourite parts of Yorkshire – the North Yorks Moors National Park. It’s wild up there and the scenery is like something out of a Brontë novel. The North York Moors Railway is an old steam engine line that runs close to the coast and is kept running by a volunteer organisation.

You can go for rides between a number of stations on the line which seemed to be really popular with little ones and their families. We had the very nice treat of Sunday lunch on the luxurious dining carriage, it was wonderful.

Pickering Station, North York Moors Railway

Pickering Station, North York Moors Railway

Sir Nigel Gresley

Sir Nigel Gresley – the fastest steam train in the world

August – Masham

August saw our 2nd wedding anniversary arrive and an idea for a new tradition. In place of gifts we’ve vowed that we’ll spend every anniversary away from home, whether it’s 10 miles up the road or 4000 miles away.

In 2014 we spent the weekend in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, we are so lucky to live sandwiched between 2 national parks! We based ourselves in the market town of Masham and had the BEST weekend – amazing fish and chips, castle, waterfalls, ice cream, druid’s temple, best hotel breakfast we’ve ever had and lots of laughs!

Bolton Castle - Yorkshire Dales National Park

Bolton Castle – Yorkshire Dales National Park

September – Alaska

I don’t know how to sum up Alaska in a few words – I think I’m going to have a few stories to tell on here about that magical trip. It was everything we had hoped for and more, we were so incredibly lucky with weather and I still have to pinch myself that we were really there when I look at the photos. It was number 1 on the bucket list and boy did it deserve that place!

Mt McKinley - Alaska

Mt McKinley – Alaska

October – Coniston

The Lake District in Cumbria is our place – it’s the area of the UK that we go running to if we’re in need of rest or relaxation and where we retreat to if things aren’t going so well.

Coniston is our town of choice and we always hire tiny slate cottages with open fires where you can snuggle down and forget the world outside. This time around we packed it in – we did a fantastic walk which took in 3 of Wainwright’s fells and took us from fog as thick as pea soup to glorious sunshine. We went zip lining through the trees in Grizedale forest – my new favourite activity! We lounged in pubs and read books by the fire – perfect.

Cathedral Cave Lake District

Hiking in the Lake District in the most beautiful October I’ve seen for years

November – Northumberlandia

In November we spent the weekend with my aunt and uncle who live in Northumberland. Just like when I was a young girl, we packed into the car and went driving off into the countryside to get some fresh air with their gorgeous hound, Ruby the Westie. We had fish and chips by the seaside in the unseasonably warm weather and tucked into the largest steak known to man.

On the Sunday morning we stopped by Northumberlandia, a giant earth sculpture which has been created in an old quarry site. It’s a brilliant way of re-purposing the land and is actually very beautiful.

Northumberlandia

Northumberlandia

An aerial view of Northumberlandia

An aerial view of Northumberlandia

December – Bruges

My Christmas present to Paul was a weekend in Bruges and my word it was magical. A perfectly preserved, tiny medieval city where we ambled for 3 days and indulged on waffles, hot chocolate and frites with mayo. Bruges at Christmas is how all European cities are portrayed in movies, it was misty and bitterly cold with twinkling lights everywhere. Absolutely stunning and the perfect short break for anyone in the UK.

Bruges at night

Beautiful Bruges at night

If you love to travel but find yourself watching months sliding by and weekends swallowed up with DIY and stuff that needs doing around the house, give ‘Take 12 Trips’ a go, you won’t regret it! Paul and I have been lucky enough to have the full Christmas break off together and it’s been wonderful to have some much needed downtime, we’re starting to talk 2015 travel plans and will be posting about our ideas soon.

Happy New Year folks, wishing you and yours all the best for your adventures this year.

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