Stephen Turner


Stephen Turner

A thoroughly English Englishman from that most un-English of places (that being modern day England) that travels to random places when he gets time off from the dull normality of life.

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Wiltshire » Stonehenge March 5th 2012

Six thousand years ago, Neolithic man started ripping big lumps of rock up and arranging them in a nice circular pattern. Nobody knows why they did this for sure, although I suspect that the reason was much the same as why we are trekking around the country looking at them: they wanted to see something impressive, and they wanted something to do. Perhaps the people of the late stone age left these for us to find as examples of the oldest waste of time known to man, the ‘team building’ weekend, or lifetime, as was probably the case with Stonehenge, which appeared to take around 1,500 years to complete before it was abandoned as a pointless and futile project, much like ‘The Public’ building in West Bromwich, if we are looking for a modern equivalent. It ... read more
Big Stones
Looking grey
Stonehenge from the other side

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Wolverhampton January 1st 2012

“Meet me at the edge of the world” Out of darkness cometh the light, and that light shall guide us unto the very edge of the world itself. Well it might have done if the world wasn’t round. This is it though, the grand finale, some would say not a moment too soon, but we couldn’t round off our series of trips without an adventure, could we? When we began our first trip, way back in April last year, it was to the darkest place in the country, to escape the ever growing plague of artificial lights and see the world above as nature intended. Somehow it seems fitting that we should end it following the light. Not streetlights, of course, we are once again looking at the spectacles of nature, and our journey will take ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Wolverhampton January 1st 2012

“Getting confused by local lamplight” Contrary to the song title, I do have a map, or at least Google does. Just out of interest, I plugged in where our travels had taken us so far (and will do up to where we have planned so far), and the blue lines on the map show us exactly that. If we had travelled the whole lot in the car, we would have travelled 2,819 miles, so even if we imagine that some of the journeys were shortened by use of the train, we could have made it to the North Pole by now if we had just headed due north and kept going. It’s a long way. Looking back is all very nice, but it won’t help us decide where we are going next, and nor will I. ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Wolverhampton January 1st 2012

“Turn towards the light” Down by the Sea was, at the offset, among the easiest of the songs chosen to relate to a place. Its writer, David Ford, holds an annual charity Christmas bash near his hometown, which just happens to be down by the sea. All we needed to do was find out the date, buy a ticket and have a December seaside getaway full of milk, cookies and good music. Of course, nothing has quite gone to plan since around about the third song in on our trips, and so, almost as expected, David Ford decided not to put on his annual charity bash for the first time in ten years. Not deterred, I decided to take the song apart and find a place from the lyrics. Clearly, down by the sea is a ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Kensington November 26th 2011

The Natural History Museum is one of those wonderful Victorian buildings, so abundant in London, that draws your eye before you even get close. The architecture itself makes the museum a truly remarkable place before you have even stepped into the main entrance. Of course, when you do step in, you are greeted by a diplodocus, or at least the carefully welded-together bones of a diplodocus that probably died around 150 million years ago. The bones don’t stop there though; a huge section of dinosaurs contains dozens of nearly perfectly preserved dinosaurs and fossils, and by the time we were through the ‘blue zone’, maybe a quarter of the whole museum, it was approaching twilight outside, and once again we sacrificed the completeness of the visit for moving on to somewhere new. The Natural History Museum ... read more
The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum, again

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater London » Islington November 26th 2011

It was dark. It was also cold. There were very few signs of life, though the occasional house had a bathroom light on, and a minibus full of Eastern European men drove past on the way to an early start to their working day. In the main though, it was just darkness and beautiful silence. Or at least, that’s how it was in the outside world, but through my ears the sound of Hot Chocolate’s ‘Heaven is in the back seat of my Cadillac’ was pounding ruthlessly. One of the many functions of the MP3 player is that, if you decide to get out of bed at 4 o clock in the morning, you can use it as a tool to wake you up without disturbing the normal people who are still asleep. It was a ... read more
Lego Tree
Buckingham Palace

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » Skipton October 23rd 2011

There was a knocking on the door. It was an impatient knock, and it was no surprise to discover that on the end of it was the hotel owner, rushing around letting everybody know that the kitchen would be closing soon. Fortunately we were ready, for it was 9.00, the exact time we had agreed to have our breakfast during the owner’s very brief introduction the night before. Her husband was much more relaxed, and cooked a good breakfast, which we enjoyed while we listened to husband and wife arguing somewhere in the kitchen, one being too slow, the other too fast, quite possibly. As the weather had turned out so well, it almost felt a waste to be away from home and not go for a big random walk somewhere, so we arranged for Mark ... read more
The Valley of Desolation
The Strid
Some Monument or Other

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » York October 22nd 2011

Streets in York are generally called Gates, which might sound a little strange but it rang a bell of familiarity with me; when we visited Iceland, streets there were Gatas. And there, surprisingly, is the link between our song inspiration and our chosen destination, between Bjork and York. Having seen the song direct us to Hull and then change our minds because it didn’t look very interesting, it almost felt like cheating the system by picking York, but in the end it was more justified than ever, because the connections to the Viking days of old are everywhere. Apart from the Gates, there are the archaeological digs, the museums, even the name York comes from the Old Norse Jórvík (‘Bay of the Chieftains’), not a million miles from our Icelandic connection to Hull, Vík í Mýrdal ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » England » North Yorkshire » York October 22nd 2011

“Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by our sun of York” - Shakespeare, Richard III For a summer that was neither glorious nor particularly ridden with golden rays, it has, in many ways, been kind to us. Barring a bit of rain in Buxton, a persistently wet afternoon in the Lake District and a washout of a weekend in Edinburgh (but then it is Scotland, rain is a fact of life up there), we’ve been pretty lucky. In the intervening months since we returned from the Lakes, there has been something of a mini-heat wave which I failed to take advantage of through a lack of organisational skills. By the time I finally got around to arranging York, summer was well and truly over. Or at least it should have been. Only ... read more
York Minster
Abbey Ruins
Whip Ma What?

Europe » United Kingdom » England » West Midlands » Wolverhampton October 10th 2011

I like to think of myself as experienced in the art of travel. For ten years now I have been picking up the same backpack and mascot alien, booking a random train ticket and finding somewhere new. Somewhere new almost always involves a stay in a youth hostel, and a stay in a youth hostel almost always involves meeting a random stranger, striking up conversation across bunks and drinking far too much with your new found friends later on that evening. In those first bedside conversations, there always comes that uncomfortable moment when I realise that these Americans, Canadians, Australians or many other nationalities far from my own home have actually seen more of Tourist UK than I have. It is, quite frankly, embarrassing. Very few of them have seen Wolverhampton, of course (apart from Joe ... read more

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