Friday, 27 December 2013

Exploring the World: Highlights of 2013

I'm an adventurer. I love seeking out places I've never been to before; sometimes they'd hold special meaning to me, and sometimes they'll just be beautiful or unique or weird. This year has brought a lot of exploring through travel, so, to see in the New Year, I thought I'd compile my travel highlights from across the last twelve months.

In no particular order...

1. Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire
My visit to Byron's ancestral home in March was quite a surprise; I hadn't expected to make it down to Newstead Abbey for a good few years, so when the opportunity came up I jumped at it. The building is beautiful, even without its Byron connections. There are so many stories to be told, so many secrets waiting to be discovered. If I could live there, I would!

2. Harrow School, Harrow
I don't think my mind has left Harrow School since my visit in June. I was fortunate enough to look through the Byron archives there, and in the process I fell in love with the school and the area, and St Mary's Church where Allegra and the Peachey Stone both rest. As I sit here, I can hear it calling me...

Peachey Stone

3. Belsize Park and Hampstead
Apparently I belong in North-West London. Not only does my heart yearn for Harrow, but it has found itself a home in Belsize Park and Hampstead alike. The general area is beautiful; I've never felt so at home anywhere before. I've a lot of love for Budgens of Belsize Park (I've an odd fascination with the shop!) and could spend hours at St-John's-at-Hampstead churchyard, pouring over the grave of Eva Gore-Booth. I cannot return there soon enough.

4. Seaham Hall, Seaham, Co. Durham
I'd been longing to visit Seaham Hall for a long time, but, for whatever reason, it took me quite a while to get round to it. It was certainly worth the wait though. I received a lovely tour of most of the building after I asked about the room in which Lord Byron was married, and I've since then enjoyed several visits to the Byron Bar for coffee. I fully intend to become a regular...

5. Edinburgh
I'd visited Edinburgh before on several occasions. However, the city has become quite important to me this year. I found the one person who is willing to put up with me there (don't worry, I'm  not about to get all mushy!), and the city itself is beautiful. I finally saw Greyfriar's Bobby's grave, and the Ox Pub as featured in Ian Rankin's books. There's so much history to the city.

View from Salisbury Crags

6. Durham Cathedral
As with the previous entry, I'd been here before. However, my recent visits to Durham have allowed me to discover elements of Harry Potter. The cloister area features frequently in the first few films, and we managed to locate the door used for McGonagall's classroom. I don't know if I should be this excited, but I am!

In all, 2013 has been a wonderful year for travel. I was supposed to be going to Ireland - Dublin, Galway, Mayo, and Clare Island - but I ended up being too ill to fly out. I was disappointed, yes, but I've had a wealth of adventures this year, which helps to make up for it.

I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings...

Amy x