Destination: United Kingdom!

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland holds many great sights that I've seen. I have been fortunate to travel so some amazing far off destinations but there's nothing like home. It's true to say that seeing greatness on my doorstep is great! England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have something to show us, let's give it up for the United Kingdom!


England is seen as the focal point of the United Kingdom with its centrepiece capital, London? I embrace my home country to a certain level but I've learnt to get on with its flaws, mostly the wet and dismal weather. London is our capital city and the moneymaker for tourism, its older than New York City and its seen some conflict during its reign as a super city! Moving away from the big smoke its up to the West Midlands to introduce my hometown of Bilston, once an industrial heartland with its many steelworks and extensive canal works. Endorsing the delights of Major's has to be winner when talking about my hometown, orange in appearance those battered chips are tasty! Yes, they am! Home is where the heart is, over the years it hasn't been my favourite place in England but we learn to love in time. London is amazing but its not all about the capital city, England plays host to many fantastic places that do get overlooked! 

Birmingham's where I found myself, studying and living in a changing city will always fill me with happy memories for me to look back on! I ventured up to the city of Liverpool to piece together a possible family connection, if you call a stroll down past the Port of Liverpool building and the Albert Docks close to that? Serving more industrial Realness is a past time of mine with visits up to Stoke-on-Trent and also Huddersfield because I'm all about seeing what hard work did for the communities of my past. After my year away in America I have embraced my home nation just a little bit, taking a chance on what's looking right at me. I'm all about empowering the West Midlands with key focus on the Black Country because we get edited and forgotten far too much! We are reclaiming our time, ay we? Yes! There's always more I want to see in England, including the educated city of York and to revisit the seaside mecca of Blackpool! God save our gracious Queen!


Scotland is a worthy part of the United Kingdom but Braveheart tried to protect Bonnie Scotland from the invaders. Scotland has previously been on my travel checklist, taking in Glasgow and Edinburgh on more than one occasion. Firstly in 2009 as a part of my residential study visit from college, we took in Scotland's capital Edinburgh for two nights. Getting on the whisky wasn't allowed during that trip but we visited the Royal Yacht Britannia at Ocean Terminal, it was a royal affair for sure. Second time around I took my Portuguese friends to Scotland in 2011 for a crazy birthday weekend for my 22nd year of life. Glasgow showed us some crazy situations, but Edinburgh allowed me to get to that Scottish capital city all over again. The Whisky Experience showed me the right tipple for the night ahead, Edinburgh Castle was too expensive for our liking so we made up for it later that night down the Royal Mile. Yes, Glasgow, Scot!

Everyone says that driving up to Scotland can take a very long time so I was lucky to fly up to Edinburgh the first time, then snatching a cheap train from Birmingham New Street the Glaswegian part of my second trip to Scotland got hectic! Taking it to Regent's Street we saw the main shopping street of Scotland's second city, the pre-Christmas shopping had already begun in November so we ditched that pastime for the Gallery of Modern Art to be greeted by several Georgian marvels of architecture. I let my Portuguese friends Filipa and Ines take the lead onward to the Necropolis, a graveyard that afforded us with a picture postcard view of Glasgow's vibrant city-scape. After finding our hotel we decided to take it to the River Clyde to see how the riverside looked in the cold winters dusk, its a changing waterway with remnants remaining from its industrial days. McDonald's always tastes better with an Iron-Bru but we a group of sozzled ladies started a fight amongst themselves!


Over the Irish Sea the United Kingdom has Northern Ireland to add to its list of home nations. During a trip to Dublin, Republic of Ireland I decided to take the Enterprise rail link up to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the day to see the city for myself. Belfast's City Hall stared me right in the face, I noticed some similarities with St. Paul's Cathedral but on a smaller scale for that governmental building! The recent snowy weather during my 2013 day trip meant that the weather was super cold. One thing I loved about Belfast being part of the UK was that I got my mobile phone signal and internet back compared to the likes of being in Dublin! I had to pinch myself to think that I was actually in the United Kingdom! Call me crazy Belfast! I'll be back, BFS City! Outside of Belfast I am yet to see any place else within Northern Ireland, I plan to see the Giants Causeway when time permits and obviously funds! I'm happy a slice of Ireland is part of the UK, when I got off my train at Belfast Central I was happy to have UK phone signal! 

Taking a Taxi Trax Day Tour opened my eyes to a side of Belfast that I was intrigued to find out about. Passing through both Protestant and Catholic areas painted many pictures of what Belfast would have been like during the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Seeing the murals around the Shankill Road estate sent chills down my spine as well as seeing the plaques of remembrance along Bombay Street were both sobering experiences. West Belfast had more of a traditional Irish Catholic feel about it with the emphasis on more Gaelic traditions, I even saw the office of Sinn Féin to strengthen my Republican point of view. Belfast showed itself to be a strong city with many reasons to look towards a bright and peaceful future. Oh, before I forget I went to the Titanic Experience N.I! Belfast as the capital of N.I has had a checkered past, I wanted to see if things had moved forwards since the troubles. The city itself was fascinating, two religions teamed with equally fierce patriotism to be British or to be part of a future possible United Ireland. 


Not forgetting Wales, the fourth and final UK nation that I've visited in recent years. From a small boy I've been going to Wales right up until the last time in 2010. I went to Barmouth with my maternal grandparents and baby brother when I was about four years old I think? They keep reminding me when I fell off the trampoline and I recall seeing some Donkeys on the beach? Going back over the border to Wales once more to spend a dreary week in Borth on a caravan site, it was an eventful week to say the least but we made the most of the weather. Discovering the quaint town of Machynlleth where we received a frosty reception entering what seemed like a Welsh only pub! Aberystwyth served us with gale force winds but the fish and chips tasted good I didn't mind the crazy wind! Thankfully, we found Aberdovey on the last day, we took to the beach for the only sunshine day! Cymru, gwlad y defaid? I don't know!

Before going to university in 2010 I wanted to cut the family holiday abroad in half to spend some time in Wales camping with my aunties, uncle and cousin. Me and my younger brother ditched Turkey for a four day camping holiday within the Snowdonia National Park on a campsite in the village of Beddgelert, a lovely little place that challenged my views on camping trips. Taking bike rides over the hills to see that less than two hours away from my English hometown lies somewhere beautiful. Taking some time to check out the village centre of Beddgelert where we found a fudge shops and I snatched a pint of lager from a small hotel pub, I did pay for it! Climbing every mountain I was not ready for the biggest hurdle of my life so far, like literally it was hard walking up Mount Snowdon! Overall, staying with the confides of the United Kingdom broadened my travels without having to fly or drive too far away from England! OK? Sure, greatness awaits all of us in the United Kingdom! 

The UK Rocks!

Joseph Harrison

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