Following Shrewsbury, Worcester and Tewkesbury last year, we took our first UK daytrip of the 2014 this weekend. The weather was forecast to be glorious, not a cloud in the sky and it was my birthday so Daniel took me on the train to Oxford.
1. Public Transport – When I was younger there was nothing more exciting than going somewhere from New Street Station, it meant you really were going somewhere, not like Moor Street where your only options are Stratford (upon-Avon) or Kidderminster. We got on at New Street with our bacon butties for the journey, read trashy magazines until we got off an hour later in a freezing-cold Oxford.
2. Dry Weather – Everywhere in the UK is great for a daytrip – if it’s not raining! I prefer Spring and Autumn so keeping an eye out for dry weekends is essential. I especially like London in that period between Autumn and real Winter, November, early December when it’s still dry but crisp and the leaves are on the ground. But, again, always take your umbrella just in case! There are some cities though that aren’t too bad in the rain, Bronte novels are full of dark, wintry manor houses and rain-lashed moors – so towns in Yorkshire are much more atmospheric in Winter.
3. History – Whether it’s an ancient Abbey, castle ruins or an historic university town, history is what has attracted you to this place so you need to enjoy it! Our normal plan is get off the train and head for the Tourist Information straight away. Then while you’re there you can always top up on tourist information on the internet on your phone, you can even TripAdvisor a bar or an attraction when standing right outside if needs be.
4. Find a Tower – Get your bearings from up high, you might have to pay a few pounds and climb up a horrible spiral staircase but the views are worth it from the top. You can climb to the top of church towers and follys in most tourist towns, in the big cities try a rooftop restaurant or just see what’s at the top of a posh hotel. The best ones we’ve climbed are the tower in Teweksbury, the Monument and the Shard in London, and now the tower in Oxford.
5. Picnic – An impromptu picnic is always lovely, in Oxford we went to Taylor’s little sandwich shop on the High Street and then to sit in the sunny park area outside Christ Church College. From students reading on the benches in their college to young families playing in the grass outside, when the sun’s out the picnic is a perfect way to enjoy your surroundings and soak up the atmosphere.
6. Ice Cream – This one is probably best left to Summer trips, to be replaced by hot chocolate maybe in Winter. An ice cream in the park, by the river, overlooking the castle, windowshopping in the town square. Whether an artisan number from a small craft shop to a bog-standard Mr Whippy, there’s something so special about an ice cream in the sun.
7. Beer – Possibly the most important thing about the daytrip, we started in the first place last year with a promise of a sunny weekend and a the idea that Tewkesbury might just have a pub on one of its two rivers (it didn’t!). A nice warm mulled wine or cider in Winter in a typical little pub or wandering in a Christmas market does the trick as well. Taste the local ales, fight off the wasps in the beer garden, strike up conversation with the old man at the bar, enjoy the whole experience!