Nottingham

The city of legends! I tell you what – I may be biased because this is my university city – but Nottingham is BRILLIANT. And kind of underrated in my opinion. In a weekend, you can explore the old parts of the city, as well as the green parts, and party as hard as you fancy without any regrets…financially speaking at least..!

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I recently went for a weekend trip with my partner, catching the train up from London on Friday night and coming back on Sunday. It’s about 2 hours from St Pancras and it’s also well-positioned in pretty much the middle of England, so would be easy to get to from many places. Reasons to go:

1.Affordability! You can get a cocktail for half the price you would in London! Airbnb was a bargain and I’ve also stayed in a hostel here (http://www.igloohostel.co.uk/) which I can recommend – affordable and central.

2. Nightlife. As a 2-university city, there is always something going on. Examples of awesome bars include:

Coco Tang – quirky and with a great dance floor, you can get cocktails themed by yummy things like Krispy Kreme and Haribo (don’t worry, there are less sweet drinks available too!). Always a great atmosphere.

ROCK CITY. Probably one of the best live music venues I’ve ever been to. Seriously. Just check out the line-up and go. We went to see a band who just happened to be on the weekend we went and we loved them!

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Rescue Rooms – right by Rock City, it tends to showcase more indie/folk/acoustic music. Decently sized but small enough to feel intimate.

The Bodega – different rooms with different themes means there’s something for everyone. When we went recently we enjoyed some old-school RnB…what’s not to love?

Pit and Pendulum – gothic theme pub with a great alternative scene – live music – seven deadly sins cocktails. Pretty much a staple of every night out when I used to live here.

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Spanky Van Dykes –   Great spot for people watching. For example, when we were there in January we saw drag queens, metalheads and jocks enjoying the draft ales. Music is fun and they always seem to have decent food available too.

3. Old stuff. The cathedral is nothing to write home about, but Ye Olde Trippe to Jerusalem and The Salutation Inn are two of the oldest pubs in Britain. The Trippe in particular is cool inside as it’s partly built into the caves. The caves would certainly count as another bit of old stuff that is likely to be worth visiting, although I never got round to it…

4. Green stuff. Wollaton Park is near Nottingham University Campus and is enormous and lush. Deers! Sherwood forest needs no introduction. The University itself probably deserves a mention as it has a huge lake and I often used to see families playing and picnicking around there.

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5. Galleries and cinemas. Perhaps weird to put these two together but Nottingham does well for cinemas to be honest. As well as the usual, there’s Broadway Cinema, which is an artsy venue, and The Savoy in Lenton which, unless a lot has changed, is one of the cheapest cinemas you are likely to find! An ex-theatre, it’s pretty cool inside too, and you can share a sofa if you want. Nottingham Contemporary is the main art gallery (that I know of) and New Art Exchange is a bit more out-of-the-way, but worth a visit as it’s usually got interesting multicultural exhibitions.

For a busy and diverse city, Nottingham has the added bonus of having a very walkable city centre, so no faffing about with buses/taxis etc is needed at the end of your night out. No 1 feature: I’d probably say the live music scene – there really is something for everyone!

Life is a working holiday

I love travelling and exploring this world, so when my friend asked my advice on going to Australia a few years ago to take part in a ‘Working Holiday’ programme I said “go for it!” I remember feeling excited for her but full of envy…then it occurred to me – I really don’t have to go to Australia to take the same approach to life. That is, have a job I care about, be financially indpendent and travel as much as I like!

This blog is for people who love to travel and don’t see the need to drop everything in order to do so (although I do love those people!) We are the part-time travellers, weekend explorers and always-curious people who want to make the most of annual leave; who want to enjoy their homes and jobs but travel the world too.

I’ve called this blog “Normal Explorer” because I think it is absolutely possible to have a normal lifestyle (i.e. a home and career) while also being an explorer. I also think there are lots of ‘normal’ places to go and things to see right here in our own lovely country – it doesn’t have to be exotic to be awesome!