St. David’s is technically a city, because it has a cathedral (a stunning cathedral, in fact). But it is a very small city, full of tourist schlock, ice cream vendors and cream tea peddlers (not to hate on ice cream or cream tea). We spent a happy afternoon there, although I think I got the most excited about the bougie deli with loads of local beer and cider and snacks. There was also a restaurant called Cwtch. That’s pronounced “cootch.” That was pretty funny, as was the polite notice on the espresso bar bicycle (see below).
I’m taking my first British getaway this weekend – a climbing trip in Cornwall via Southampton – and I’m really excited to see some more of England, eat some pasties, and add to my very modest repertoire of outdoor climbing experience. After ten days of absolutely gorgeous weather, I’m thinking about summer adventures, and I checked out two books from the library to get ready.
The first book, Adventure Britain, gives a summary of various adventures opportunities by region. It lists hiking (“walking” in UK parlance), climbing, surfing, and mountain biking, which are fairly obvious activities to include. It also lists parasailing (yes please) and wild swimming (really? that doesn’t seem that adventurous) and coasteering, which I’d never heard of but is basically cliff jumping and floating around in the ocean. I was surprised that it didn’t include sailing or windsurfing. It also had a couple opportunities for foraging, but didn’t include birdwatching, cross-country skiing, or any of a variety of other adventures I haven’t thought of.
Each activity listed is presented very cogently and comprehensively, with resources for more info plus nearby hotels and restaurants, and there are a whole lots of activities covered in the book (stand up paddle boarding, whitewater rafting, and paragliding, among others). My biggest complaint, though, was the lack of maps. There was not a single sodding map in the entire sodding book. My biggest frustration with being in a new country is that I don’t have a mental map, and I hoped the book would help. But no map!
The next book, 52 Great British Weekends, takes a more sedate approach to adventure, but neatly breaks the weekends up seasonally. Each season has a variety of activities – from walking to serious eating to amusement parks – and covers a variety of regions. I learned some things about the country that I hadn’t known. I now really want to go to the Hebrides, for example, and I learned that I live near some really great birdwatching. But as with the previous book, it was seriously short of maps. As in, there weren’t any. I really wish they’d thought to include some, but instead I read both books and then had to spend some time googling to figure out where everything was. That being said, I’ve included some mobile-phone pictures of the books below; both made me really excited to be in England and to have all this new stuff to explore.
**Note: I’ve started a new series of Fantasy Holiday posts. You can see them all by clicking the Category to the left. Wheee!
The best part about living in England is also sometimes the most frustrating and overwhelming: there is so much to explore its sometimes hard to know where to start. Europe is so easy to get to (I can take the train to Switzerland, for crying out loud. I can buy a $22 flight to Ireland. Morocco is a frequent holiday spot for Brits. I mean seriously). But the number of amazing travel options can be paralyzing: when you have an entire unexplored continent at your fingertips, how do you choose?
So I’ve decided that I’m going to start proposing vacations here, so I’ll have a backlog of good ideas the next time I decide to go somewhere. I’m starting with the UK because I just discovered a company that sold me on the name alone: The Dapper Camping Club, a “luxury camping experience” in Wales.
It turns out that luxury camping is a thing. It is also known “glamping” (I’m not making this up).
This is just one of many luxury camping opportunities in the UK. Yurts and tipis are very popular; there are at least two companies offering geodesic domes; and there are a few bona fide tree house options, as well:
Most are located in fairly rural areas, with hiking and outdoor activities nearby.
Sign me up please and thank you.
While the holidays are a great time for seeing family, eating too much, and hitting post-holiday sales at the mall, they are not necessarily great times for culture, tourism, or exploration. Nonetheless, I managed to enjoy the city while I was home over the holidays and thought I’d bring you a quick best-of list of Milwaukee’s East Side and adjacent suburbs (because its that time of year).
Alterra Coffee (several locations)
Kopp’s Frozen Custard (also butterburgers, which are even better than they sound)
Cafe Hollander (my perennial favorite East Side watering hole)
Lake Park Bistro (also a popular place for weddings)
Drink (consumed while in Wisconsin, not in any particular location):
New Glarus Spotted Cow & Flying Squirrel
Lakefront Brewery Cattail
Goose Island Sofie
Lindemann’s Rasberry Lambic
I’ll save my list of local attractions for another day, but it includes an epic summer music festival scene and a starchitect-designed art museum.
And now we stop this gluttony in honor the new year!…after we visit Chicago.
*Please note: still, sadly, not my photos.