Any of you that know me or have been following me for a little while would have noticed that. I can often be found browsing the latest flight deals or creating dream travel boards on Pinterest during my 10 minute incubations in the lab. The background on my laptop is a montage of photos from recent trips that I have loved and I am always hunting down new travel bloggers and social influencer to get more inspiration and lusting over their most recent destination pics. It is safe to say that I think I have a bit of a problem!
Now I also have a confession to make! I am the worst traveller! Now I don’t mean that I have panic attack or feel sick when travelling, but I don’t take advantage of opportunities. For someone who has such a passion to want to get out there and explore the world, I have not been that far or wide! I am also really guilty of not taking advantage of all the attractions that are right on my doorstep and experience a ‘staycation’. The lack of time, but more crucially the lack of funds on a PhD student budget has been holding me back. Ever since I had to cancel my holiday last month, I will admit that I am still super disappointed! That combined with the fact that all my family members have been on holiday, are on holiday or are soon going on holiday, so many friends have just got back from trips or are still out there on road trips AND some of my favourite people to follow on Instagram are sharing their travel snaps – it is safe to say that I am completely and utterly green with envy! The most serious case of the holiday blues I have ever felt.
Now with only 3 months left in the lab and only 6 months left before I need to submit my PhD thesis, it is probably safe to say that I won’t be able to satisfy my international travel craving for a little while yet. There may be a chance of a staycation when I’m out of the lab and spending my days at my desk writing instead, but I thought to try and help curb my travel craving right now was to share with you a travel bucket list – but with a little science-y spin! I thought I would start a new series and share the science inspired destinations I dream to visit right here in the UK, but also around the world. Check out my suggestions for the rest of Europe and North America here too! For part one I thought I would stay a little closer to home and share with you part of my UK science travel bucket list! Belt up! Let’s go!
- The Eagle, Cambridge
Being a molecular biologist, top of my UK science travel bucket list has to be The Eagle pub in Cambridge. Now, if you are wondering what on earth a pub has to do with science then let me fill you in. This is where Watson and Crick announced that they had discovered the ‘secret of life’; the structure of DNA. I want to sit on that table where the pair regularly lunched and hopefully it will inspire me to have a huge breakthrough of my own.
- The Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Another place I just have to visit; the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. It has played a huge role in the history of astronomy and navigation. But it is perhaps best known as the location for prime meridian, and so gave its name to Greenwich Mean Time. So, being able to travel between the two hemispheres of Earth in a matter of seconds will satisfy my inner wanderlust.
- Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes
Bletchley Park was the central site for British code breakers in the Second World War. Take a look through the code breaker huts that housed the machines which broke Enigma, all the way to Alan Turing’s office and how they accomplished this feat. A must see for any fans of The Imitation Game.
- Little St Mary’s Lane, Cambridge
Another detour to make after visiting The Eagle in Cambridge to one of the prettiest streets in Cambridge; Little St Mary’s Lane. In the early 1970s, house number 6 was the home of the late, great Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane. By the 1975 with a growing young family and Professor Hawking’s condition worsening, they moved to Number 5 West Road, owned by Gonville and Caius College. Another trip I hope will share some inspiration and help me make that big breakthrough.
- Science Museum, London
Okay – time for another embarrassing confession from me. I have never been to a science museum full of awesome artefacts, inspiring exhibits and mesmerising galleries. Something I am determined to change. It’s not just the science museum in London though, but all of the museums, science festivals and discovery centres across the country. Find your closest one and go and embrace your inner scientist.
- Home of Ada Lovelace, London
Ada Lovelace is often credited as the first computer programmer and you can see this plaque at 12 St James Square which marks her home from 1835 after her marriage to Lord King. But there’s more than one blue plaque for the scientific tourist in London. If you head to Jermyn Street, you can see where Issac Newton once lived too.
- Jodrell Bank Observatory. Macclesfield
The Lovell telescope; a symbol of everything that is magical about astronomy for me. Just one very large radio telescope pointing up into the sky that is capable of discovering places in our universe we can only dream of. Also, spend your day exploring the planet, space and star pavilions for some out of this world inspiration.
- National Space Centre, Leicester
Despite being a biologist, space just fascinates me so I’m always looking to learn more and you can do just that at the National Space Centre. What is more cool that a rocket tower, the UK’s largest domed planetarium and spaces crammed full of space suits, rockets, satellites and meteorites?
- Eden Project, Cornwall
The perfect stop for any nature lover and aspiring zoologist or botanist or ecologist. Spend some time connecting with the living world and explore how we can all work together towards a better future in the largest rainforest in captivity.
- Gaping Gill, Yorkshire Dales
Time to channel your inner geologist with my next pit stop. This stunning natural cave is one of the largest underground chambers in Britain so take a hike and spend some time checking out the features.
- The Down House, Kent
We have all heard of Darwin’s theory of evolution, so why not dig deeper into his work by visiting where he once lived. Explore the gardens and the rooms, but I want to head to the exhibition on the first floor where you can explore more about his life, his work and the controversy it provoked. It also includes previously unseen objects including manuscript pages from ‘Origin of Species’, his hat, microscope and notebooks, and a copy of ‘Das Kapital’ inscribed to him by Karl Marx.
- The Dark Hedges, Armoy, Northern Ireland
An avenue of beech trees and another marvel of nature. But a part of me also wants to visit as it is only a half hour or so journey from The Giant’s Causeway but is also part of the set for Game of Thrones.
- The Jenner Hut, Gloucestershire
Edward Jenner was the scientist who pioneered the smallpox vaccine; the world’s first vaccine. This rustic hut of brick, rubble and thatch was where Dr Jenner performed his first vaccination in 1796. Basically the birthplace of public health!
- Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire
The home of the first modern scientist – Sir Issac Newton. Probably one of the most famous stories about Sir Issac Newton is an apple falling from a tree to help him discover the law of gravitation. In the orchard at this home is an apple tree that is said to have first put down roots around 400 years ago, and is known as the ‘gravity tree’. Whether that is true and it is the same tree that Newton himself sat under, I’m excited to think that it is and want to be inspired there.
- The Rutherford Building, University of Manchester
The Rutherford building at the University of Manchester holds the lab where Ernest Rutherford split the atom and discovered the atomic nucleus. A discovery that whole fields have stemmed from. Another site of scientific discovery in the UK that I am hoping can rub off on me and inspire me and my work. Why not join me in visiting?
Let’s see how many I can visit by the end of the year eh? How many have you been to?
Updated December 2018: So I only managed to visit three of these this year – the Science Museum in London while I was here for the weekend after the UK Blog Awards, The Royal Observatory in Greenwich when visiting for New Scientist Live and finally The Eagle in Cambridge when I visited for a freelance project. Only 12 more to tick off the list!
What are some of your favourite science, technology, engineering or maths themed sites, attractions or museums to visit? Whether you have been there or just dream of going there like me, let me know in the comments below so I can wanderlust some more 😛
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