The first monthly recap of the new year! I’ve had a lot of rough patches in January, and to be honest, I’m happy to see this month go and start fresh with February. A lot of things went wrong this month, most of which I had no control over. However, I did get to start the month at home in Minneapolis, and visit a few places in England!
Where I Went
Minneapolis (MN), St. Paul (MN), Sandstone (MN), Banning State Park (MN) (USA)
York, Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay, Peterborough, Fotheringhay, Ely, Crowland (United Kingdom)
The Katherine of Aragon Festival in Peterborough! If you missed my post about last year’s festival, you might not know that I’m a huge history buff and big Tudors fan. Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s first wife) is my favorite person in history. She is also the subject of my 47-page senior paper that I wrote my last year of college, and a total badass. I honestly think she is the best, and Peterborough Cathedral does a big festival every year the last weekend in January. (She was buried in Peterborough Cathedral after her death in 1536.)
I’ve been lucky enough to visit in 2014, and last year in 2017. So for me, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d return again for the 2018 festival! It was a wonderful experience. My favorite part is the Commemoration Service that honors Katherine’s life, and when, towards the end of the service, a woman dressed as Katherine reads out her amazing last letter to Henry VIII, which she defiantly signed, “Katherine the Queen.” I also got to meet my favorite British historian, Alison Weir, again!
I also didn’t think I could ever take better photos after my trip last year—but I think I proved myself wrong! These photos of Peterborough Cathedral are some of the best I’ve ever taken. This is definitely one of the most underrated cathedrals in the country.
Passing my driving theory test. As I think I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I have to start from scratch to get a UK driving license. Even though I’ve had my license and been driving in the US for nearly 10 years! In order to do this, I have to first get a provisional license (permit), take my driving theory (written) test, and finally take my practical driving test. I hadn’t studied basically at all for my driving theory test until about 3 days before I took it. Then I crammed harder than I did in college to learn everything I could. The good news is—I passed!!! It might not be a huge accomplishment. But a lot of the time I feel like the entire system is rigged against me here in England. So it felt great to feel as though I “beat the system,” and now I’m one step closer to finally getting my full UK driver’s license!
Walking along the coast from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay. This was one of my favorite walks in Yorkshire to date—I loved it! Of course I’ve got a soft spot for Whitby, and Robin Hood’s Bay is such a charming seaside little village. The walk was hard (extremely muddy) but beautiful, especially when the sun came out. I can’t recommend it enough!
Roadtripping around East Cambridgeshire. The day after the Katherine of Aragon Festival, Adam and I spent the day roadtripping. We wanted to visit some of the places you can really only get to by car. We went back to Fotheringhay (a charming, tiny village with a nice castle mound), explored Crowland Abbey, and visited Ely—mainly for the cathedral. It was a great day of exploring, especially as I haven’t spent all that much time in the region!
The Vikings-Saints playoff game. I’m not the biggest sports fan, and definitely not the biggest Vikings fan. But I don’t think anyone could watch the final 10 seconds of this game and not believe in the miracle! It was a stunning finish and I would have given anything to have been in the city watching the game when that happened. It gives me chills just thinking about it! (And yes, I was pretty bummed when the Vikes lost out the next round to the Eagles.)
I quit one of my jobs! I’ve been juggling two jobs since October, which has been fine most weeks. But coming back after Christmas, I knew I had to leave one of them—and quitting felt so good. My stress level and anxiety over working there was just not worth the hours I was getting and the money I was making. I would have panic attacks walking there, start stressing out about having to go to work 3 days in advance, cry literally all night after a rough shift… so I quit and I can tell I’m much better for it. It also means that I only have to deal with one schedule now, and I can give one job my entire availability. Things have been easier the past two weeks, which I’m glad about (even if I’m making a bit less money).
Residents’ Festival in York. The city of York puts on a festival for its residents every year at the end of January. It’s a way of saying thank you for putting up with tourists all the time. A lot of museums and attractions in the city are free, there are loads of discounts on food and shopping, and it’s just in general a nice idea. This year I actually got to take advantage of it! I visited the Mansion House, York Chocolate Story, and even went up the Tower of York Minster!
A flight delay of 2 days. I know this could have been much worse, since we were staying with my parents (aka not paying for a hotel). But my flight was delayed leaving Minneapolis by 46 hours. I was scheduled to fly through Boston, but the Boston-London Heathrow leg got cancelled due to bad weather in Boston. The next flight we were able to get was 2 days later. It was a huge disappointment, especially when I didn’t want to leave in the first place, had emotionally prepared myself to go, packed up my stuff, and then didn’t have to leave for another 2 days! I did get 2 extra days with my family and friends. But we had to buy new train tickets, Adam had to miss a day of work, and just generally had our plans screwed up.
Losing out on job I really wanted. I ended up getting a last minute interview for a job with a travel company that I really wanted—the first good job news I’ve had in months!! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job since I couldn’t start with 6 days notice. I need to give 1 week’s notice at my jobs, and I was already working 2 jobs. It was a huge bummer, especially since all my feedback was really positive and the reason I missed it was out of my control! I’m trying to believe that everything happens for a reason, but I just felt like my life was (finally) about to start—and so I was pretty disappointed when I didn’t get it.
Losing my credit card. This month I also realized I lost my credit card! I’m 98% sure I left it at a restaurant in Minneapolis. Luckily there weren’t any fraudulent charges, but it was still a huge pain having to call and cancel it, wait for a new one, etc. But they were able to send my new Chase Sapphire Preferred card to me in the UK, and I have it now!
More waiting for the dentist. I finally had a dentist appointment this month, the appointment that I had been waiting nearly 5 months for. Unfortunately I found out I had to get a filling and the next appointment that I could do was 7 weeks away. It is SO frustrating when you’re paying for it (unlike the NHS, dental services are not free in the UK). And still have to wait almost 2 months for an appointment. I’m beyond grateful to have dental care, but with ridiculous wait times it just feels like such a joke sometimes.
Our shower started leaking. All of the above things happened in just 1 week. The icing on the cake was when I was sitting in our living room on Saturday morning and our shower started leaking downstairs. Luckily our landlord was able to come over the next day and it ended up being a really easy fix! But when I felt like nothing was going my way, and then all of a sudden it started raining in my living room—well, you just can’t help but laugh about it.
The construction at Fotheringhay Church. This might be a minor thing, but I was so excited to go back to the small village of Fotheringhay (about 20 minutes away from Peterborough). We drove there only to discover that the beautiful church was under construction and completely closed! It was such a disappointment after finally getting back there!
Garbage all over the street. I mentioned in this big post on living in England about how dirty this country is, and how there is trash literally everywhere. Well, I experienced a new low at the end of the month! I live on a narrow street and there are problems getting our garbage picked up all the time. It gets picked up every other week, and I’d say that about once a month aka 1 out of 2 times, we have issues with it getting picked up on time. On Monday, the waste management team decided it would be a great idea to pick up everyone’s garbage bags, and then dump them in giant piles by the end of the street. I have honestly never been so embarrassed to live in York. This is supposed to be a beautiful and charming city, and yet the solution is to make giant piles of garbage and then just leave it?! It’s a joke. We’re waiting to see what solutions the Council (who is in charge of garbage collection) will come up with to fix this problem. I am extremely unamused.
Trying to see everyone in Minneapolis. Despite telling everyone that since I was going to be home for 2 weeks, it would be “really easy to see everyone” and “not that stressful,” it was extremely stressful trying to meet up with all my friends and family over Christmas. I had two days of intense messaging trying to coordinate plans with everyone. Which is difficult when you can’t send text messages because you don’t have a US phone number, and can only send Facebook messages when you have wifi!! And even after that, there were still several people that I just didn’t have time to see. It was very stressful. I think it’s a good reminder for me on my next trip back though, that I’ll never be able to do everything and see everyone in one go—it’s just not possible. I can only try my best.
I published some of my biggest yearly recaps from 2017 this month, as well as a few posts I’ve been planning for ages. This has also been the best month for me on the blog yet—I’ve had a huge increase in page views, which has been great! Here are the posts I published this month:
Instagram Top 3
I’m trying to get serious about Instagram and post more consistently, have better developed goals, etc. I’ve also started doing a free Instagram workshop through another travel blogger, to learn more about the platform and how to leverage it. We’ll see if it works! So here are my top 3 posts from January:
10 facts about myself! (Can you spot me?!) I was invited by the lovely Adéla @the_travelogist to share 10 facts about myself! I love her posts so if you’re not following her already, go check her out 😊 . 1) I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA) 🇺🇸 I honestly think it’s an amazing city, and the more I travel, the more I appreciate where I grew up. . 2) I’ve lived in York, England since October 2016! 🇬🇧 I love all things British, but real life isn’t necessarily as great as it looks in movies 😂 . 3) British history is one of my great passions, especially the history of the Tudors. I love all the drama of the time period! My favorite person in history is Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon. . 4) My husband and I got together when we traveled together in Poland. Our first date was technically at Auschwitz 😂 and I cried the entire day. He is the greatest human and I am so lucky to have him in my life! 💕 . 5) I studied Russian in college for three years. I’m also fascinated by Russian culture and history, particularly Soviet history! I love traveling, especially Eastern Europe ✈ It’s my favorite region in the world and I just can’t get enough of it. . . 6) I have two tattoos, one on my ankle and one on my upper arm/bicep. . 7) At one point I owned 11 different copies of the first Harry Potter book! 🙌 I would always buy the when I’d see them at garage sales or in other countries, and only realized my hoarding until I moved 😏 I’m a huge fan of all things HP and I’m definitely a Ravenclaw! ⚡ . 8) I taught yoga for several years in college! I really like exercising and staying fit. I just got back into lifting after a break of several years, and also love doing Pilates. . 9) I don’t drink coffee or tea ☕ I hate both of them and basically all hot beverages (but sometimes I will go for a hot chocolate). . . 10) I love Taco Bell. Like a lot. I am so grateful that they opened a store here in York ❤ . I’m inviting some of my fellow bloggers/Instagrammers to share 10 things about themselves! @lemonadepressblog @traveljunkiegirl @ilivetravel @lizatripsget . . Photo credit to @bray00n for this pic in Whitby! ❤ . What is one interesting fact about yourself?!
Yesterday I walked from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay, on the Cleveland Way along the coast! This is the first view of Robin Hood’s Bay from the walk, with the snowy moors in the back 😍 . It’s a 6.5-mile walk next to the sea and one of the easiest in Yorkshire since you can do it both ways, either north-south (Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay) or vice-versa. Both towns are pretty well connected by buses, even on weekends! . I loved exploring Robin Hood’s Bay, it is such a cute, charming seaside village! 🌊 so many alleyways and passageways to explore! . . Robin Hood’s Bay actually doesn’t have anything to do with the Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest, and the village had it’s heyday in the 18th-century as a smuggler’s den. . . After a stressful couple of weeks, I’ve spent all day today catching up on house stuff and blog stuff, and I’m ready for a more “normal” start tomorrow! I have no plans during the week so far, but am taking my first weekend trip of 2018 starting Friday! 🙌 . . What does your week look like?! Any exciting plans for the weekend? . . . . . #robinhoodsbay #clevelandway #yorkshire #northyorkshire #welcometoyorkshire #visityorkshire #iloveyorkshire #scenesofyorkshire #bbcyorkshire #yorkshirelife #visitnorthyorkshire #igersyorkshire #yorkshiregram #yorkshirelove #loveforyorkshire #instabritain #visitbritain #visitengland #photosofbritain #photosofengland #lovegreatbritain #explore_Britain #ukpotd #liveUK #traveling_UK #mybritain #gloriousbritain #lpfanphoto #beautifuldestinations #passionpassport
Bran’s Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, in the heart of Transylvania, Romania! 🏰 . I have to say, as much as I like the photos I took here, I was really disappointed by the castle. It was one of the most overrated places I visited this summer. There were so many people, all crowding into tiny rooms, and so many souvenir stalls around the entrance made it feel like a massive tourist trap. . Also, when you actually read about the connections, calling it “Dracula’s Castle” seems a bit of a stretch! Although Vlad the Impaler (said to be the real-life character of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) did pass through Bran Castle a few times, he didn’t play any significant role in the castles history, or even spend much time there. So it wasn’t realllly Dracula’s Castle! I much preferred Pele’s Castle, near Sinaia to Bran Castle 😊 . Have you ever been to Bran Castle? What did you think – worth the hype or overrated?? . . . . . #bran #brancastle #romania #draculascastle #brasovromania #brasovcity #ig_Brasov #ig_Romania #discoverromania #romaniamagica #visitromania #romaniamea #romaniawow #enjoyromania #romaniatravel #total_Romania #topromaniaphoto #romaniapitoreasca #romaniateiubesc #takemetoromania #romania365 #easterneurope #topeuropephoto #balkans #discoverbalkania #balkanista #travelshotba #lpfanphoto natgeotravelpic #bbctravel #guardiantravelsnaps
Coming Up in February
As of now, February will be a pretty quiet month before a busy start to spring. I have nothing major planned, and at this moment will be focusing on my blog and working as many hours as I can get. Mainly to pay for my spring trips—a quick weekend trip to Ireland (for my 2-year wedding anniversary!), a long weekend trip to Belgium over Easter, and either a long weekend in Estonia or a weekend in London in April. We will be heading to the Northwest to see Adam’s family the last weekend in February, and hopefully to pop over to Snowdonia in Wales as well! So for now, I’ll be glad to relax, work, and explore Yorkshire on my days off.
What did you get up to in January? Any exciting plans for February?