By Aimee Wilson, Chair
With travelling restrictions somewhat lifting from the UK lockdown, it seemed like the perfect time to write a post about travelling and to list our member’s favourite places to visit:
My personal favourite place LEAPS have visited has been Edinburgh – we visited the capital city of Scotland in September 2018 (you can read more about our trip here!).
I think I especially loved this trip because it has the perfect mix of retail therapy and cultural interests! It’s perfect for such a variety of people who could be visiting Edinburgh looking for all sorts of activities.
Best for food: Frankie and Benny’s, 130 High Street, EH1 1QS
I was in two minds about picking a restaurant exclusive to Edinburgh, but I decided something more established and well-known would be a much easier recommendation. Although I know some people have the attitude that if they’re visiting somewhere new, they don’t want to do something they could do back home or even just anywhere else but I think that each restaurant on a chain can have a different atmosphere, customer service, quality…
Best to shop: Princes Street
As someone who is very much in favour of retail therapy, I couldn’t choose just one store! So, I went for an entire street! Fortunately, all my favourite high street stores (River Island, T K Maxx, New Look etc) are all on the one, very long street! Again, some people may be reluctant to go shopping because there’s likely the same shops nearer home, but there’s the chance that those in Edinburgh will be larger, have different customer service, and stock different items…
So, for all the people who weren’t sure of doing activities that they are able to do elsewhere, I thought I’d add in a little something that is exclusive to Edinburgh. There were actually a few options for tourist spots in Edinburgh e.g. Edinburgh Zoo and the various art galleries, but I’ve been to the Castle and thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m not usually one for cultural attractions and history facts but I liked the Castle because they made it’s history really interesting and interactive.
Berwick Upon Tweed
The first therapeutic trip I went on with LEAPS (back when I was an Advertising Assistant) was to Berwick Upon Tweed in February 2018 (you can see more photos from the trip here).
Our members really enjoyed this trip because a lot of them enjoy a more olden town, rustic vibe as opposed to a bustling city (which is my favourite!). I think Berwick is also a very scenic town and with one of our members being an avid Photographer, he really enjoyed photographing the bridge and river especially.
Best for food: Cannon Fish Restaurant, 11 Castlegate, TD15 1JS
I think that when you visit a coastal town it should be the rule that you have to find a decent fish and chip shop! And there’s definitely a whole range of options for fish and chips in Berwick, but Cannon were my absolute favourite!
Best to shop: B&M, Castlegate, TD15 1JS
Going out on a limb here and repeating my thought process with the Edinburgh choices in opting for a chain store and not one really unique to Berwick. I decided on B&M because I found there was a bigger homeware range than in my local store and couldn’t resist a ton of items!
Best tourist spot: Berwick Bridge, Bridge, Tweedmouth, TD15 2HD
I mean, how could I not choose the location of the photograph I’ve used?! Berwick Bridge was built somewhere between 1611 and 1624 and is a Grade 1 listed stone bridge with 15 arches, so it’s the perfect spot for selfies and photos of the River Tweed!
LEAPS visited Alnmouth in May 2019 (you can read more about the trip here) but I had been before after learning that one of the Psychiatric Hospital wards I was admitted to was named after the town! When I’d visited, we had literally just drove through the town and left so it was nice to go back and explore the place.
Best for food: The Old School Gallery, Foxton Road, NE66 3NH
We stopped here for some tea and cake at the very end of our trip and had a lovely sit out in the courtyard
Best to shop: Aln Gift Shop, 57 Northumberland Street, NE66 2RS
I could have spent so much money in this little gift shop unique to Alnmouth! There were so many themed homeware decorative items and I even treated my Mum to a lovely windchime for her bathroom!
Best tourist spot: The Ferryman’s Hut, Riverside Road, NE66 2SD
This is said to be one of the smallest Museums in the country and has pieces of local history and memorabilia!
The group visited Alnwick during our trip to nearby Alnmouth in May 2019 (you can read more about the visits here). I think that our members really enjoyed Alnwick because it was so similar to Berwick in that it’s a very old town with similar amenities and facilities.
Best for food: Caffe Tirreno, 45 Bondgate Without, NE66 1PR
I loved a good Italian pizza or pasta dish so when we spotted this restaurant, I was eager to try it out; and was so glad when it turned out to be lovely!
Best to shop: Barter Books, Alnwick Station, NE66 2NP
A few of the LEAPS members really loved this very well-known, and much-loved bookstore in Alnwick town centre.
Best tourist spot: Alnwick Gardens, Greenwell Road, NE66 1HB
I guess this was probably a given that I’d choose it for ‘best tourist spot!’ I don’t even know how many times I’ve been to Alnwick Gardens but I feel that every time I’ve gone, I’ve discovered a new part to explore!
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WHEN TRAVELLING
1. Consider whether it’d be easier to travel with someone or alone
2. Pre-book travel tickets where possible to avoid stressing over them at the last-minute
3. Take activities to distract yourself (like headphones, an iPad, Sudoku etc) in case you become anxious during travel
4. Have self-soothing items to relieve stress e.g. a neck pillow, anti-stress rollerball etc.
5. Accept that you can’t prepare for every possible scenario when travelling e.g. the train being delayed or the bus breaking down etc.
I hope this post has been helpful in providing tips to cope and manage your mental health when you’re travelling as well as giving you ideas for places to visit!