Motorhome Road Trip: The final day

It’s been nearly a week since returning from the epic road trip, but i’ve been busy getting back into my music every night this week, so here’s my first chance to catch up on what happened on the last day of the trip.

We woke up in Newport and took our time getting going. We had a little look around Newport but i was very disappointed. I thought it would be a tourist town, but it’s not at all. In fact, on a rainy sunday morning it feels like a ghost town. So many shops have closed down, it’s quite shocking!

Anyway, so we went over the bridge towards Bristol and Bath, but we didn’t stop at either because we had somewhere more exciting to visit. The tiny village of Lacock.

Seriously, Lacock is beautiful. A place of quaint old cottages like this:

A cottage in Lacock

But what we were really there for was Lacock Abbey, for its history of filming for Hogwarts. It is wonderful. The ceiling in the Chapter House is so distinctive, you just know it’s the Mirror of Erised room the moment you walk in.

Chapter House, Lacock Abbey

The Sacristy next to it was Snape’s dungeon in the first movie, we think.

The Sacristy, Lacock Abbey

And then you find the Warming Room, which may have been Professor Quirrell’s classroom. They’ve made the most of the association by putting a huge cauldron in the middle of the room!

Warming Room, Lacock Abbey

I also saw some pictures up around Lacock Abbey that showed filming at Durham Cathedral, making out as if it was done at Lacock. I mean, certainly the cloisters are similar, but the shapes at the top of the windows are different, which is immediately obvious as soon as you compare the photos to what you see in Lacock Abbey!

The Cloisters, Lacock Abbey

Still, they are very beautiful, and have very much a Hogwarts feel, whether these locations were actually used for the movies or not.

The Cloisters, Lacock Abbey

On the way out of Lacock, we had a real treat! This is the house used by Slughorn that is seen in Half Blood Prince.

Slughorn's House in Lacock village

I think it’s quite interesting that they came back to Lacock to film again, even though they didn’t use the Abbey again after the first two films. I guess it got too expensive, or they just preferred to use Leavesden studios.

So from there we made our way back to London. I had an amazing time, but i was really happy to come back to streets i recognise, and back to a campsite i know and love. It has been really good to get back into my normal life again.

My iPhone shows a nice map of where we went.

Map of the motorhome road trip

I think we travelled over 1,400 miles! We saw some great sights along the way, and met up with some lovely people! Thanks to everyone who met us and showed us around. It was brilliant.

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Motorhome Road Trip: Chester

Yesterday morning we were very privileged to have Matt give us a personal guided tour of Chester.

I love the city of Chester, because it feels so old and steeped in history. It might have been intended to be the capital city at one time. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of 60s and 70s buildings right alongside architecture that is hundreds of years old, which makes Matt pretty angry! But the old stuff is lovely!

The cathedral:

Chester Cathedral

The town hall:

Chester town hall

A lovely walk along the old city wall, looking out towards Wales in the distance:

Chester city wall

Chester abbey is just brilliant. So brilliant i had to give it the monochrome filter! :p

Chester Abbey

The high street is also lovely, feels so old. Reminds me quite a lot of Winchester, actually.

Chester high street

We had a fantastic time in Chester, i’m so glad we were able to include it on our trip, and thanks ever so much to Matt for showing us around.

We also began a very exciting secret project, that i’m hoping will soon become not-secret! Watch this space for news! :)

After that we made the long, pretty journey down to South Wales, and had a very good pub crawl around Cardiff for the night, guided by my lovely friend Hannah.

The best thing was finding Ianto’s Shrine in Cardiff Bay!

Ianto's Shrine, Cardiff Bay

The motorhome road trip was almost over but there was one more very special place to visit. I’ll save that for another blog post!

Motorhome Road Trip: Liverpool

Yay! Today was mostly spent in Liverpool. After a great night out in Manchester last night, we took our time getting up, and then got on our way.

Liverpool turned out to be nicer than i expected. I’d been there before and not thought too much of it. Today i found i really liked the architecture, the water, the diversity of alternative culture, the general feeling of inclusivity, particularly how it seemed to embrace gay culture as perfectly normal and just part of the city.

The Port of Liverpool Building is particularly impressive.

Port of Liverpool Building

I really liked Albert Dock too. We had a look in the Tate Liverpool there.

Albert Dock, Liverpool

When exploring cities, we have tended to look for the tattoo and piercing studios. Partly because we like tattoos and piercings, but also because it gets us out of the main shopping areas and into the less mainstream areas. Otherwise i feel like every city is pretty much the same, with the same shops and restaurants and coffee shops. I like to see the unique characteristics of each city.

In Liverpool, i particularly liked Gostins Arcade, full of alternative shops and seemed a general hangout place for different sorts of people. It is such a refreshing change from the commercialism of most big cities.

Anyway, so from Liverpool we journeyed into Wales. I have always wanted to take my motorhome to Wales, and this is the first time i have. I love the bilingual sign posts, and trying to understand how they get from “Services” to “Gwasanathaeu” and chuckling at how they feel the need, every time they write “Wrexham”, to also write “Wrecsam” :)

I am delighted to see the Caravan Club fully embracing the bilingual signposting, too!

Bilingual signs at Welsh Caravan Club

So tonight there is not a lot to do in deepest darkest North Wales, so we’re going to watch a Harry Potter, sleep early, and get up early for more adventures tomorrow!

Two days left of our trip! Please follow us on twitter: @sermoa and @findthepilgrim. Use the hashtag #motorhomeroadtrip to keep up with us!

Motorhome Road Trip: Scotland!

Well, we had 3 excellent days in Scotland.

New year’s eve, we spent the whole day looking around Edinburgh. Starting with breakfast at The Elephant House, one of the cafes where Jo Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Somebody took this photo years ago, probably not knowing how significant it would become:

Jo Rowling writing at The Elephant House

So Liam went to sit at the same spot!

Liam in The Elephant House

The toilets of that cafe are COVERED with Harry Potter related graffiti. Quotes from the books, people’s favourite moments, messages of gratitude to Jo. It was lovely to see!

Harry Potter graffiti at The Elephant House

We had lunch at The Spoon bistro, another venue that Jo used to visit. And we went past the Balmoral Hotel, where Jo finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and famously signed a bust to celebrate! :)

New year’s eve celebrations in Edinburgh were excellent fun, and the fireworks were fantastic; we saw them from the South Bridge.

New year’s day we drove to Strathclyde, and then it was pretty much a day of recovery. We lay in bed and watched movies for most of the afternoon, and watched the new Sherlock episode!

Yesterday morning we went into Glasgow. I had really no idea what to expect from Glasgow, but i found it felt quite like Southampton. We were delighted to find a real police box in the high street!

Police box in Glasgow

Glasgow is pretty industrial, but the river Clyde is nice.

River Clyde in Glasgow

Our last experience of Scotland was a stop off at a service station just before we reached the border.

From there we drove through the pretty hills around the edge of the Lake District, and made it to Manchester for a great night out with some of my friends from BBC Sport.

Today we’re going to Liverpool, and we’ll sleep in Wrexham, Wales tonight. Tomorrow it’ll be Chester, then driving down to South Wales and a night out in Cardiff. The next day we’ll visit Bristol, Bath, Lacock and Oxford before returning to London.

Please follow us on twitter: @sermoa and @findthepilgrim. Use the hashtag #motorhomeroadtrip to keep up with us!