Recently I read an article that described a gene that apparently some people carry, a gene that is commonly referred to as the “wanderlust gene” that imparts in one a desire to travel and immerse themselves in new cultures. I think it’s safe to say that if this is accurate, I’m a carrier of this gene. I find that I can sit still for more than a few weeks before I start planning the next adventure. Earlier this year, I and two fellow wanderlusters, friends, and talented photographers Kindra Nikole and Lizzy Gadd started planning a week of adventures on my side of the globe. We shared images of castles, of beautiful English forests and counted the days down until we gathered our gear and set out to explore a beautiful trio of countries.
Our journey started in London where we took in the beautiful and huge printed works of Kirsty Mitchell’s gallery at Mead Carney gallery. After a brief meeting with a fellow photographer, Simon and a parking ticket, we head out on our way to the southwest coast to start our journey. Our lovingly named car Leon was a bit troublesome and we crept along in the dark with either low driving lights or bright fog lights, laughing as we circle neighbourhoods trying to find our home for the night.
The first big destination was the beautiful Isle of Wight located just off the coast of England. After a beautiful ferry ride that resembled more the Mediterranean than the English Channel, we arrived and promptly set off for Carisbrooke Castle. It loomed over head and we ran around the outside of the castle walls like rabbits. We found a tiny little elf sized door tucked amongst the nettle and ferns and Kindra bravely scaled the rock wall to pose for photos. Our good luck with locations began as we were graciously invited to go inside the castle free of charge and we were blown away by its rustic beauty. We found chapels, hidden staircases, old fireplaces and yes, a room with knight’s garb to put on. It didn’t take long for me to put on a full kit and attempt my best “knightly” presence.
After our scurry through the castle we drove through the countryside to the opposite coast to see the Sunset at the Needles observation area. We enjoyed a windy walk up to a closed off observation area but made the most of the journey and slowly made our way back to the Ferry back to the mainland.
Our second day saw us starting the day with a quick stopover at Stonehenge, we voted on the ‘free’ option and paused at the side of the road and observed the stones from across the field. Still impressive and interesting to see even from afar. We continued driving and found ourselves in Somerset, checking in to our beautiful converted Gypsy wagon for the night. The hosts of the Airbnb were a delightful and welcoming pair who told us of some nearby bluebell forests and sights to see. A short drive found us not so much in a bluebell wood but a wild garlic one, and we laughed as we all realized what ‘that smell’ was. A small patch of bluebells was found and after photos we made our way to the town of Glastonbury to see the site of King Arthur’s Tomb at Glastonbury Abbey. We continued our free admission streak by making it into the abbey with 30 minutes to closing and enjoyed a short view of the ruins. Then it was on to the impressive and deeply spiritual site of the Glastonbury Tor. We walked up, and up and finally arrived to the top of the Tor alongside some people meditating, playing drums and enjoying an impressive sunset over the landscape below.
An early wake up call saw us tumble out of our purple covered wagon and eventually find our way to Bristol to board our flight to country #2, Ireland. After arriving in Dublin we head off to the hidden Lismore Towers tucked away in the woods. The would be castle was abandoned after the builder ran out of money and we had the place all to ourselves for photos, wandering and “ohmygoshing” at the beauty. It was hard to believe that nobody else was there, just three of us madly snapping our cameras and taking it all in. We stopped for the night nearby in a delightful old house and wrapped up our first night in Ireland with happy hearts.
Day two we wove our way towards Cashel and decided against the tourist heavy Rock of Cashel and for the equally impressive and virtually empty Hore Abbey. The clouds and wind and rain came and went as we wandered through the abbey, trying to use all of its space and beauty to create images before the rainstorms took over. We made it back to the car just in time as the rain tumbled over the rocks and fields. We headed up to Dublin to meet with another photographer, Erica Coburn, and we set off for Abbey #2, Bective Abbey. Again we descended on the ruins with tripods and cameras and enjoyed beautiful golden lighting as the sun began its slow descent over the green fields. After the Abbey we made one more stop, a beautiful walk up to the lookout at ________ and watched the sun dip as the waves roared on the east.
Our busiest day by far was our third day in Ireland as we drove 3 hours to Northern Ireland to see Giant’s Causeway. We got lost, tried to find elusive yellow fields, somehow passed every available washroom but made it to the Causeway alongside many tour busses filled with visitors. After a short walk we arrived at the impressive hexagonal pillars and after only a few minutes, the rain and wind started whipping us as we attempted to take photos. Thankfully the sun poked through and with it brought even more tourists who we tried to work around as we shot conceptual photos next to family pictures, tourists in track pants walking through photoshoots, and other photographers taking our photos. We laughed so hard that we cried, the combination of being cold, tired, hungry, and in a bizarre environment was almost too much, the laughter was like the rain that followed us, it just burst through and swept us up.
After a nice meal we made our last stop in Ireland, Dunluce Castle, perched on the cliff sides. It was stunning, this ruined castle gripping the edge of the rocks as the green hillsides rolled on in the background. I wandered alone for a bit, finding what is called the “mermaid’s cave” and climbing up to a small lookout spot. The sun cast a beautiful golden hue over the whole castle and the ocean provided an incredible backdrop for a trio of self-portraits that we shot, all in the same spot minutes apart from each other. We ran back to the car and began our harrowing journey back to Dublin, almost running out of gas and launching over a roundabout in the process.
Unfortunately our good travelling karma came to an end in Dublin as we found ourselves with a delayed flight, leaving us stranded later on in Copenhagen and arriving in our last country, Norway, about 6 hours later than planned. Our gracious host, Ine Aaberg and her family welcomed us despite being terribly late and we promptly fell asleep. The next day, our last as a travelling trio, saw us riding the funicular up the side of Bergen and witnessing a beautiful view of the town below. We enjoyed a short walk through the lush green forests and then a warm meal with a new friend before heading home.
After saying goodbye to Kindra, the rest of us enjoyed the two laziest days I think I’ve had in a long time. We watched every Harry Potter movie, tucked in sofas overlooking beautiful Bergen. We ate junk food, watched Eurovision, felt the exhaustion of the past days of travel fade off and the sluggishness of the rainy clouds tuck us in. Lizzy left the next evening and after an incredible sunset, I too was on my way home to England.
The wanderlust gene, the adventure gene, the restless gene. Whatever you call it, I believe it exists. In the rains of Ireland, the ruins of England, the clouds of Norway, I felt this surge of happiness that I’ve only found while walking in a new place, while travelling. I’m on my third passport in two years, and I feel with each stamp that gets added I feel like it adds another pieces to my life puzzle, a new book of memories and heartbeats that push me toward the next adventure. Lizzy and Kindra were the best travelling companions I could ask for. They both motivate me to be kind, to be patient and to work hard. They motivate me to create, to tell my stories and to love with my whole heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better duo to explore castles, ruins, rocks, fields and airports with. I can’t wait until we’re reunited for round two!