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Staycation Weekend: The Cotwolds, Bath and Stonehenge ROADTRIP

If you're anything like me, you've been eagerly waiting for the world to become a safe place to travel again. After losing my father to cancer, I always envisioned taking a road trip in his memory, just as he had done countless times with my siblings and me during our childhood. One particular memory stands out when he surprised us with a road trip from Wisconsin to the Florida Keys. This experience awakened the adventurous spirit within us and inspired all of my siblings to become world nomads, exploring different corners of the planet. My older brother joined the military, leading him to be stationed in Afghanistan, Hawaii, and Germany. My younger sister spent the past three years exploring South Africa, Europe, and Asia, and even lived in Hawaii for a while before returning to university.


Of course, my journey of exploration started when I became an exchange student in Germany at the age of 16, and later joined a female wrestling group that toured the USA. It was during this time that I met my future British husband in Texas, and eventually moved to Norfolk to be with him. The love for adventure, spontaneity, and embracing different cultures, inherited from our father, continued to thrive in all three of his children as we added our list of travel destinations and experiences.

Losing my father in June 2020 presented its challenges.


Not only was I travelling during a pandemic, but I also had to leave my husband and three-year-old son behind to assist with my father's end-of-life care. I missed celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary and my son's third birthday while I was away, but I wouldn't trade those last few weeks with my father for anything in the world. During that time, as I helped care for my dad and found moments between crocheting a blanket, reading novels, and grappling with the concept of grieving before someone has passed away, I sat down with my father, who could barely speak, and discussed our shared dream of having a caravan, going on road trips with my family, and visiting UK landmarks he had always wanted to see, like Stonehenge.


My father had visited me twice in the UK, once when I took him to London to explore some must-see attractions, and the second time when he spent time with us on the Norfolk coast around the time of my son's birth. There was so much more I wanted to do with my father and, particularly, to create new memories with both him and my son. I desired to pass down the experiences I had as a child: summer nights spent camping, embarking on surprise trips, and exploring the world. But I never truly comprehended how quickly dreams could crumble. The longing to teach my son the same love of travel that my father had instilled in me was always a prominent goal of mine as a parent. However, I wasn't prepared for the reality of undertaking this task without my father's presence.


Grieving has taken me to unfamiliar territory, leaving me overwhelmed with anxiety, depression, and an overwhelming urge to "get out of the house." While I understand the importance of dealing with my grief healthily and not relying solely on constant travel, I can't help but feel a deep yearning, or rather a need, to connect with my father's spirit through exploring new places.

Due to current travel restrictions, my plan to visit a new destination in memory of my father has been put on hold. However, I nurtured this urge by booking a spontaneous road trip. And when I say spontaneous, I mean we packed our bags and left within an hour of booking our tickets. Our destination? The Cotswolds, Bath, and Stonehenge—the places I know my Dad would have loved to see.

We hastily packed our essentials for a weekend getaway and hit the road. Arriving at our hotel that night, the Delta Hotels by Marriott in Milton Keynes, we opted for a convenient room service pizza as we excitedly began planning the rest of our trip. The next morning, we rose early, dressed swiftly, and enjoyed a quick breakfast at a nearby rest stop before embarking on the scenic two-hour drive through the breathtaking hills and winding roads of The Cotswolds. Our first stop was the charming town of Burford, where we parked the car and indulged in some delightful activities. We delighted in feeding the ducks, a favorite pastime of my son, and treated ourselves to a delicious coffee eclair from Huffkins Cotswolds. Before continuing our journey, we couldn't resist picking up a few sweets for the road from The Sweet Shop, adding an extra touch of sweetness to our adventure.

After our enjoyable time in The Cotswolds, we continued our adventure with a two-hour drive to the captivating city of Bath in Somerset. Upon arrival, we checked into our hotel and wasted no time in exploring the charming streets, browsing through the enticing shops, and treating ourselves to delicious ice cream. Our next stop was the renowned Roman Baths, a place we were eagerly anticipating. The grand architecture, rich history, and picturesque outdoor setting truly captivated us. Although the guided tour felt a bit lengthy due to the necessary social distancing measures, we understood and appreciated the precautions taken. A light rain shower greeted us during our visit, but it added to the pleasant atmosphere and made for a refreshing stroll around the city. As the day came to an end, we retired for the night at the comfortable Holiday Inn Express Bath, ready to embrace the next chapter of our weekend getaway.

The day prior, I made sure to secure our tickets to Stonehenge and planned for an early start in the morning. We were well aware that the crowds tend to pick up after 11 am, so we wanted to make the most of our visit. After a pleasant hour-long drive south from Bath, we found ourselves amidst rolling hills and vast fields with peaceful sheep grazing. The sign directing us to the parking lot of Stonehenge had an amusing resemblance to an entrance of a military base.

Exploring Stonehenge was a delight, as it offered an outdoor experience that allowed for ample social distancing. Moreover, it provided a wealth of educational opportunities for young minds. My son was fascinated by the Halloween-related discussions and had a blast exploring the skeleton bones. He eagerly ran around the huts, hopped on the bus to the actual "Stonehenge," and frolicked in the fields. Along the way, we engaged in conversations about rocks, history, theories, and eventually indulged in some ice cream.

Personally, I found great enjoyment in speculating about the origin and transportation of the stones. How did they manage to bring a stone all the way from Wales? This led us to entertain the idea that Stonehenge might be an ancient astrological site, potentially used by humans to communicate with aliens. Of course, such theories are purely speculative and open to personal interpretation.

Since it was already Sunday, we knew we had a five-hour journey ahead of us to make our way back home. However, we cleverly divided the driving into shifts, ensuring that everyone had a chance to rest and relax. Along the way, we decided to take a break at Bicester Village to stretch our legs and, of course, indulge in yet another delicious ice cream treat.

If you're considering a similar adventure, I highly recommend planning it for a weekend or even extending it further. Our own trip was accomplished in just two nights, but depending on where you're starting from, you could easily adjust the duration to suit your preferences. It's a worthwhile experience that can be tailored to fit your schedule and make the most of the journey.


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Thank you for your love!

Elizabeth

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