Saturday, 18 July 2015


There are so many different and interesting places to go to in Europe that it's easy to overlook our very own backyard. Just a two hour flight and you're in a place with amazing food, plentiful sunshine and is way cheaper. However, between a trip to Italy and then Greece we thought we'd mix it up a bit and go have a poke around the UK, just to see for ourselves. 

We were originally heading to Cornwall however considering we had 5 days to fill I thought the time would be better spent up North. And mostly because I have this inexplicable desire to see puffins. I want to see lots of puffins doing cute puffin things! The biggest colony in the UK with about 60 000 breeding pairs is on the Farne Islands, up in Northumberland near the Scotland border. So that went on the itinerary first.

A friend also told me about Bounce Below in Snowdonia (Wales) - this very cool cave that has massive trampolines in it. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a good holiday plan to me. And since we can't just be bouncing in caves and looking at puffins for 5 days straight we decided to visit Brecon Beacons National Park and the Lake District as well. Why not?

Though on the morning of the trip I checked the weather in Wales and of course it said - 15 degrees, rain. I asked Kevin if we could cancel our bookings and go somewhere warm, maybe Croatia? I hear it's lovely. For that I got a very stern talking to about how it was my idea in the first place etc etc etc. So away to Wales we went.

And yes it rained a bit but like all UK rain it's more of an annoying drizzle where you hardly get wet. The best bits of Brecon Beacons was staying in this cute airbnb cottage where we got greeted every morning and evening but either a dog, horse or goat. Oh and reading Welsh signs. They are hilarious. For example Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is actually a name of a village. I didn't just type a whole bunch of random letters whilst drunk and having an epilieptic fit. Seriously!The worst part was missing out on hiking up to Pen y Fan mountain due to rain and poor visibility. Though we did do the very green walk to get to Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfalls where you get to go behind the falls and since it had been raining so much it looked pretty cool.

Sgwd Yr Eira waterfall and a selfie of Maloney and me.

Bounce Below was pretty epic. Despite the fact that they make you wear helmets and they smell pretty terrible, the actual facility was very cool. It's a massive trampoline maze suspended high above the cave floor and you either climb up or slide down to get to different bouncing rooms. One room was so high up that you'd get a little bit of vertigo if you looked down too much. 

The Lake District was very picturesque and sunny. I took some amazing shots there, that's all I have to say about it. And on our last day, we took a little boat from the town of Seahouses, up in the far Northeast corner of the UK to the Farne Islands which smelt like 1000 years of bird poo. But seeing puffins in their natural habitat was pretty special. Watching them fish in the ocean, fly up into their burrows and land right into them. Seeing them run on their little awkward webbed feet from one place to another. And fend off pesky seagull neighbours from stealing their food. Worth it. Worth the rain, and the driving, and eating lots of mediocre fish and chips.

Orrest Head in Windermere (top) and Kirkstone Pass

But little did I know the best part of the trip was yet to come. The drive from Seahouses to London is about 6 hours so we broke it up with a night in Harrowgate, Yorkshire. Plus it was Kevin's birthday so we had to celebrate. We chanced upon this really fancy looking Chinese restaurant set in a restored Roman Bath. It looked pretty posh. So we walked in, had a lovely meal and a nice glass of wine and was ready to head off. The owner of the restaurant, a charismatic Malaysian born, London raised man wandered around the restaurant checking up on all the tables. Considering we were the only Asian people in the whole restaurant (and likely in the whole of Harrowgate) we got chatting. He was really interested to find out how we ended up in Harrowgate and so he got us a fresh round of drinks on him and we ended up getting pretty drunk and falling into a full D&M about life and our personal histories. His story included adopted a young Vietnamese girl, meeting his wife at 23 drunk at 4am in Chinatown in London and almost going bankrupt restoring the lovely restaurant we were in. He swore a lot, had a clear passion for the UK and pride for his place in it. It was a night we never expected in a town we randomly chose.

Nothing like unexpected encounters to spice up life.
And that was the end of a pretty interesting road trip. I'm glad we did it. I'm happy we're back in London and I feel refreshed for the next chapter of our lives here. I feel it's going to be big. And if all plans go into fruition, we may even be here for another 5-10 years. Like Mr Hak Ng of the Royal Baths Chinese Restaurant, we have to plan big and let the chips fall where they may.