5. The A82 to Glencoe, Scotland

The best place to polish your armour.

I’ve spent the last few weeks being impressed by the beauty of the scenery in the video game I’ve been playing. Roads winding through snow-capped mountains, lush forests, partially frozen lakes, and big, blue skies all play their part in a visual masterpiece that has seen me spend just as much time admiring the scenery as it has playing the actual game.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, buy the Skyrim: Special Edition, or, alternatively, take a trip to the Scottish Highlands on a cold November day. Driving along the A82 towards Glencoe felt just like being in a fantastical computer game (albeit with the bonus of being in a warm, comfortable Ford Focus instead of on horseback wearing steel armour). The scenery is breath-taking, and it’s immediately obvious why this is considered one of the best driving roads in the world.


Believe it or not, there’s a road in there somewhere

The village of Glencoe itself seems out of place, and a little anti-climatic. The cars, houses and (few) roads don’t feel like they fit with the mountains and lakes that surround it, but look past those – and it is a small village after all – and you can enjoy one of the best locations for a picnic you’re ever likely to go to. My travelling companion and I braved the -5C temperatures to tuck into our lunches while gawping at Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest point – a feat that provided much entertainment for the locals and fellow tourists that drove past, and one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.


It’s worth spending a few minutes wiping the ice off the picnic benches

Despite the beauty of our chilly dining spot, Glencoe won’t be remembered as the highlight of the day. This was about the journey more than the destination, a journey so picturesque that we didn’t mind turning right around and doing the 126 mile, journey all the way back to base. This time, I turned the music onto the soundtrack to the aforementioned video game, enhancing the otherworldly feeling being given to is by the orange glow bouncing off the Snow-capped landscape from the setting sun.


If you enjoy a scenic drive, want to feel like you’re on another world in another time, or simply want to get away from the humdrum of everyday life, I urge you, book a hotel in Edinburgh, rent a car, put Glencoe in the sat nav, and drive. I promise you, you won’t regret it.


4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Why giraffes are better than people.

I will admit, I was starting to get tired of all the planning.

All the books I’m reading, the lists I’m creating and editing, the online research I’m conducting, it’s a big project, and it was in danger of taking some of the shine off the appeal of doing it in the first place.

Fighting my way through hoards of excitable fourteen year-olds gawping at Harry Potter merchandise whilst shopping for gifts for my friend on a Saturday lunchtime did more to remind me why I hate people and little to reassure me that this was all worthwhile.

But, like any meaningful relationship, feelings will fluctuate. I appreciate my adventures won’t always going to be plain sailing (I don’t even like boats), and after spending a day seeing and capturing the weird and wonderful that Edinburgh has to offer, my Fogg-like desire is firmly back on track.

Edinburgh is a charming (if rather chilly) little city, its bustling streets and busy trams punctuated by quaint back alleys and a unique (and very Scottish) atmosphere. The castle is by far its most famous feature, but at £25 each for entry, one I left the die hard Japanese tourists in front to explore while I admired from afar. There are plenty of places to admire it from, too, with its hilltop central location ensuring a picture postcard view of it is never far away – a view that improves further when it’s lit up at night.

For me though, Edinburgh’s charm is in its finer details. Like the alleyway to the Writer’s Museum that’s littered with famous literary quotes etched into the cobbles, or the elegantly touching tribute to the fallen heroes and heroines of yesteryear in one of its main parks, or the Christmas market, that combines Scottish culture and cuisine with internationally themed stalls, fairground attractions and a Christmas tree maze. All of this added up to a unique experience, and even though I’ve been here before, I was still made to feel like everything was new and exciting.

And that’s what my travels next year will be all about, going somewhere and immersing myself in what the local culture provides, whether that’s watching grizzly bears catching salmon in Alaska, or exploring a ghost town in Australia, I want to see the variety of amazing sights this planet has to offer.

For now, those sights are a fairly limited collection (including a lady with a thousand piercings) but as my knowledge and experience of the world grows, I’m confident my love for it will too – although I’m still working on the people that inhabit it.


The National Museum of Scotland provided a lesson in Scottish history, including the opportunity to get up close and personal with three Formula One cars, and the first ever speaking clock.


Not everyone I met was as cheeky as this guy.


Edinburghians (or whatever you call them) have a sense of humour, which I’m guessing helps them survive the winter.


Good luck finding your way out of this maze.

3. RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire, England

As glamorous as an overdue gas bill.

If there are two things that I love, it’s abandoned buildings, and sticking my middle finger up to the ridiculousness of modern-day, politically-correct, suffocatingly-protective society.

These days it seems you can’t traverse ten yards without being hassled by an over-zealous, in-your-face warning sign demanding you to have to use a mere modicum of common sense so as not to fall onto the train tracks, or drive into a cow, or staple your tongue to the floor with a croquet hoop. It’s an unnecessary by-product of people trying to make a quick buck out of their own stupidity, and judges ruling that stupid behaviour should be compensated for.

However, there is a place, just outside of the village of Upwood, near Huntingdon, that doesn’t bother warning you of potential death by moronic behaviour. Fortunately, it also happens to be full of old, abandoned, run-down buildings, which is just my cup of tea.

I don’t even like tea.


Used as a training facility during the World Wars and then by the United States Air Force in the Cold War, RAF Upwood’s existence became increasingly redundant once the Cold War had concluded in 1991. It was officially closed in 2012, but the buildings are still (sort of) in tact, and you don’t need to break in to explore it – a fact that becomes clear once you start bumping into dog walkers and stepping on pellets left by people shooting BB guns, paintballs, and various other fun-based projectiles at each other whilst taking advantage of the numerous cover spots and eerie, militaristic atmosphere.


I even came across similarly-minded photographers milling around the dozens of dilapidated buildings, proof that this is a popular spot for the urban explorer.

I’m sure that my travels will see me visit all kinds of glamorous and exotic locations, but sometimes it’s the complete opposite that appeals, and in the middle of piles of rubble and shards of glass, with a refreshingly noticeable lack of interfering warning signs, there is a lot of appeal, of almost mysterious charm about being somewhere it feels like you shouldn’t be, that society would try to steer you away from.



These are my favourite kind of places.

2. Stonehenge, England

Good things come in small packages.

Not everything will go according to plan, sometimes plans will fail, other times new plans will spring up spontaneously. In this case, it was the latter.

Having spent the second night of my three day mini-break in the New Forest, it was time for Sarah – my partner – and I to drive back to London. Since the Salisbury Plains were roughly on the way back (a mere 40 minute detour), we thought now was the ideal moment to grasp the opportunity to tick of an item on my ever-expanding travel wishlist for the first time.

My travel research is still in its early stages, and will continue for several months, and yet there I stood, in the presence of one of the most iconic structures in the world.

My first impression regards the size of this mysterious structure – it’s a lot smaller than I thought from the many times I’ve seen it depicted in TV, film and various reading materials. Granted, one is not allowed to actually walk amongst the stones in order to prevent erosion, damage and vandalism, so a view from a distance is as good as you’re realistically going to get. Even so, Stonehenge’s somewhat modest size was unexpected, although the same couldn’t be said for the volume of tourists meandering around the designated path that circles the henge from several metres away.

Still, once you find a space amongst the audio guides and selfie sticks, the charm and mystery doesn’t take long to set in. Despite many theories, nobody really knows why it was built, but when you stand back and admire the skill and intellect needed to construct such a thing ~4,500 years ago, you don’t really care.

These days, everything has to be created with a purpose, with social and financial pressures condemning projects that go ahead just for the sake of it. I’m probably wrong here, but I like to think that Stonehenge was built just because the people at the time wanted to show off that they could – in an age when they didn’t have to worry about health & safety, world debt, political budgets, or the G20.

My ancient daydreamings were then interrupted by a couple who had hopped over the rope and made their way into the middle of the stones. Waiting for several alarmed-looking, middle-aged, high-vis jacket-wearing men with questionable facial hair to come bounding after them and usher them back to the quiet humdrum of the masses, I was greeted instead by the sight of the man dropping to one knee and proposing. Luckily, she said yes, and after many smiles and multi-lingual murmurs of appreciation, Sarah and I were on the shuttle bus heading back to the car park.


Deciding against fighting through swathes of overexcited children in order to buy an overpriced umbrella and a rather bland looking £4.75 sandwich, we got in the car and drove to the nearby village of Cholderton, for a very tasty pub lunch at the highly-recommended Crown Inn.

To look at, Stonehenge is not the most impressive structure I’m going to see in my travels, but its ability to give me a mysterious glimpse of an ancient civilisation in a world filling up with skyscrapers and future technology gives a unique feeling that made it a worthwhile visit.

1. The Meeting Place, St Pancras Station, London, England.

Give her biscuits before bedtime.

I’ve unofficially started my travelling.

Granted, I haven’t got very far, but what better place to start my exploration of the world than on my own doorstep?

After a leisurely cycle ride (followed by much panting and intake of instant calories), I find myself sat in a surprisingly quiet corner of one of the busier stations in one of the busier cities on a Saturday afternoon. Next to me stands “The Meeting Place”, a 30-foot high, 20-tonne bronze statue depicting a couple locked in a (presumably amorous) embrace.

The artwork is intended to symbolise the romance of travel – or possibly her reminding him at the last minute to remember to feed the cat – and yet the feeling I get whilst underneath it is not romance, but the epitome of the many juxtapositions of modern-day London.

Here is a sizeable structure in the middle of a very commonly used station, but as the Londonites scurry around on the ground floor in A-B mode, giving passive-aggressive looks to anyone who slows them down by more than a millisecond, this serene, calming feature stands still on the floor above, being noticed only by the people dining outside one of the restaurants, and the “must see absolutely everything” group of Chinese tourists currently taking far too many selfies standing next to it. One can’t help but feel that if people appreciated their surroundings more and weren’t so transfixed on their destination, they would open their eyes to so much more that this wonderful city has to offer – something I know I’ve been guilty of many many times in the past.

Noticeable, too, is how old the statue looks, especially compared to the more modern surroundings of the recently renovated (2007) St Pancras station. A symbol of the old and the new, trying desperately to coexist in this vast-yet-cramped city, with varying degrees of success. In this case, despite it only being nine years old, it’s aged look underneath the giant clock only adds to the calming influence it imbues upon its passers-by.

Anyway, that’s enough of me rambling for now, or there’s a very real chance I might say something slightly romantic. Besides, I’ve just about got my breath back now, so it’s time to cycle home.

New Digs

Has anyone seen the kitchenware?

Having spent the mandatory period of time being frustrated, confused and perturbed by my lack of website design skills, I have finally figured out how to make the necessary additions and changes to start turning this blog’s abode into something resembling what I want it to look like.

I’m still not happy with the overall design and colour scheme, something I will be looking to change at a future date, but wait! There are new fancy buttons for you to press! You now have the ability to follow this blog either directly (if you have a WordPress account), or by email (if you don’t), so you don’t need to worry about keeping up with my social media updates or coming back here 19 times a day to see if I’ve posted anything new like I know you’ve already been doing.

You can also share any of my posts to your own social media pages, so my unrivaled writing skills can reach the same far corners of the (round) world that I’m hoping to visit in person over the next couple of years.

All I need to do now is work out how to get this blog to do the hoovering for me and we’re in business.


It’s all downhill from here…

In 2007 I spent three months travelling round North America, doing a ‘lap’ of the United States, starting and finishing in New York, and incorporating the fringes of Canada. It was a life-changing experience that opened my immature, 20 year-old eyes up to the world that lies beyond my bedroom and left me with a thirst for more knowledge and experience of the diverse and beautiful planet we live on.

Unfortunately, through a combination of long-term relationships, insufficient funds, and other life responsibilities, I was never able to quench that thirst, until now.

Next year – with the starting date to be determined by a number of factors – I plan on expanding my travels to include as much of the world as I can afford to see. From lost cities to vast animal migrations, giant Buddhas to heart-shaped reefs – and that’s just the small fraction of destinations I’ve already researched.

You might think, therefore, that starting a blog at this stage is a tad premature, but like most things I do in life, I’m doing it a little bit differently, and for good reasons.

The first reason I’m sharing with the class so soon is because I want to blog the entire travelling experience, and that includes the planning and preparation phases. I have books to read, websites to browse, and will no doubt be given a healthy platter of suggestions and recommendations from friends and family, so if you’re reading this and you have an idea of where I should go, and why, then by all means let me know.

The other reason for starting this blog now is that, despite not officially starting my travels until some time next year, there will be odd places here and there that I visit in the mean time – the first of which could happen as soon as this weekend – and I might also include memories from past destinations (particularly those I’m not planning on revisiting) to keep my admiring audience captivated until I properly start my “oh my God I’m in my 30’s now I should probably actually do this before it’s too late” voyage.

So stay tuned for updates – I’ll put links to the bigger entries on my Facebook page – and like I said before, if you know somewhere cool, tell me. There is no such thing as too many places to go.

You never know, if this goes as well as I hope it does, I might do it again someday.