Something I’ve been saying ever since we moved back to Bournemouth (nearly three years ago now – eek!) is that I want to explore closer to home a little more. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day, shuffling between work, home, and your favourite coffee shop on repeat, that you miss out on seeing some of the real gems closer to home.
I’m so lucky to live in England, I’m forever grateful to be surrounded by beautiful country villages, whilst also never being further than a few miles from a Starbucks. I firmly believe England has ‘the best of both worlds’, the beautiful historic buildings, rolling fields and gorgeous beaches, and you know, Amazon next day shipping.
This summer though, with no trips in the diary and commitments that have meant we need to stay in the vicinity, we’ve actually actioned that exploring goal. Day trips out to nearby towns, long rambling drives through the countryside, we’re spending our free time exploring locally and I’m all for it.
Having procrastinated on this simple activity for a solid two and a half years, I totally get that it can be hard to make the time explore at home. You can have the best intentions, but when you wake up on a Saturday morning and there’s chores to be done, threatening rain clouds and the tiredness of the week has caught up with you, it’s easy to abandon the plan. So, I’ve got a few tips for prioritising, as well as some tips on figuring out where to go and what to do.
Block the time out as a non-negotiable.
Imagine you’ve booked a weekend away, and treat it the same. Block the time out in your calendar, and at least put some loose plans in place. It’s much easier to stick to if you have at least a general idea what you’re going to do. For example, last weekend when I took these photos, we knew we wanted to head east, as 99% of our exploring happens north or west. We’d earmarked Lulworth, Durdle Door and Wareham as potential stops, and ended up in Wareham.
Do your research.
Like any trip further afield, time spent exploring home requires a little planning and forethought. I spent a little time at the beginning of the summer finding local bloggers to follow, following accounts like @visitdorsetofficial and @visithampshire. I save potential spots I want to visit on Google Maps as I learn about them, not only is it an easy way to keep track, but it’s also handy for figuring out what’s close by when you’re on a time crunch, or if you want to hit a few spots at once.
Give yourself a starting point.
This weekend we decided to head to Wareham over the other options, mostly because we were hungry and knew we had the best chance of eating there. In the car Con did some googling and found a few great pubs, so we had something to go off. From there it was easy to wander down the highstreet and find things to do! Sometimes we will pick out something like a coffee shop, a stately home or a walk route we want to try, and use that as a starting point.
Be willing to try something new or step out of your comfort zone.
Did I plan to end up on a boat this weekend? Nope. But we did! Connor suggested it when we walked past a small boat hire spot on the edge of the river, and at £25 for half an hour, it seemed like something different and fun! We didn’t plan to spend half an hour driving a boat down the River Frome, but we loved our peaceful little cruise, and it’ll be a great summer memory we’ll remember.
Some of the best things we’ve done and areas we’ve visited have been recommendations. From friends, family, or even a friendly barista in a local coffee shop. Don’t be afraid to ask around for exploring recommendations!
Ready to explore? Check out this blog post too for more tips on finding places to explore.