Conversations About The Weather Part One - In Which We Plan a Trip to Barometer World in Devon. Via Scotland.
It started when I decided I wanted to go to Barometer world.
I love barometers. There is one in my hallway. It doesn't work, and always forecasts rain, which is pretty pessimistic. But then again, being an anxious depressive, it's probably quite fitting that my barometer always thinks the worst is going to happen.
My friend Katie gave me a book for Christmas called Bollocks to Alton Towers - Uncommonly British Days Out. It contains suggestions for trips to places as varied as The British Lawnmower Museum and Mad Jack's Sugar Loaf, which is a large, stone conical structure in a field in the middle of the Sussex countryside (I went there. It is just a big cone. That's literally it). I was drawn to Barometer World because in the book it sounds like a genuinely original place to visit. The book details how it's not a museum but instead an exhibition and workshop, and how the owner explained to the authors all about barometers and gave them a tour. I thought 'this is somewhere worth going. I can learn about barometers. I can become a barometer EXPERT! Maybe I can even find out why my own barometer never predicts summer!' So I began to plan a road trip down to Devon, where Barometer World is located, and next I needed someone to come with me.
I wrote a status on Facebook. It said 'I want to go to Barometer World. Who will come with me?' It got a lot of responses of the type that makes you wonder why people bother replying at all. 'What?' 'Barometer World, what is that?' 'You've made that up' etc. Then my friend Erica wrote 'I'll come!' and just like that, a road trip was born.
The thing with Erica is, when she says she will come with me on journeys I have decided to do on a whim, she means it. In 2012 I read an article in Cosmopolitan Magazine, which was based purely on the fact that cowboy boots were In that season. It was about Nashville in Tennessee, and all the great things you can do there. Mostly the things it listed that you can do there were 'buy cowboy boots' and 'remember to pack your checked shirt - also very Now!' But I was intrigued because I was feeling pretty depressed at the time and country music is always so cheery in the face of Very Bad Things Happening. So I decided I was going to go there, and then hire a car and drive down to Memphis to visit Graceland because now THERE'S a pilgrimage. And Erica was the one who did not dismiss my idea as totally insane, and came with me. And we had a GREAT time!
We planned and embarked upon a 3 week road trip along Route 66 in 2014 and next year Erica is coming storm chasing with me in Tornado Alley, because she recognised the greatness of this idea (and possibly is denying the dangers of being swept up into a Twister). And when I floated this quite frankly bizarre notion, she jumped at the chance to see a room full of what the book describes as 'wall-mounted Michael Fish''s. And so we sat down, and began to plan.
Somewhere along the way, we worked out that if we took a couple of extra days off work and extended our trip a fraction, we could also take in south Wales, and visit Dylan Thomas's favourite town. Because that was something Erica wanted to do. So we factored that in, and then someone mentioned Loch Ness, and before you know it, our modest day out to Barometer World had turned into an 8 day tour of Britain which would see us travelling to the Scottish Highlands via a tiny village in Northumberland called Once Brewed (or Twice Brewed, depending on which direction you approach it from), then down to the Lake District and from there to south Wales. And from there, finally, to Devon, to take in the original point of the trip. What can I say? It had got out of hand quite quickly. We decided we would drive, because my newish car - The Stag Beetle (because it is large and black, and my last car, which was small and black was called 'The Cockroach'. Look, this is really a story for another time) - was aching for a good old fashioned road trip. Our friend Mandy gently asked us if we were sure we weren't being slightly too ambitious. And we laughed. Because travelling all over the UK and visiting 5 National Parks in 8 days is not at all ridiculous! Right? Right??!
At some point, in between finding a hotel in Grange-Over-Sands that had a pool and was within our price range (the holy grail! Hooray!) and wondering aloud if we should spend 2 nights in The Highlands just to make it absolutely Worth It - I realised it might be quite a good idea to check the web site for Barometer World.
And this is how we came to discover that Barometer World is a private collection that is only open by appointment. Something that Bollocks to Alton Towers completely fails to mention. Thanks guys! I e-mailed them and the owner, Philip, messaged me back to say that they might be able to open on the day we were passing through, but I should get in touch again nearer the time as there was a chance they would be shut to attend a family event that week.
And now it is a week to go until our giant road trip and I am at this present time waiting to hear back about whether or not the original purpose of our trip will take place. Or if we will be replacing the lofty heights of barometers with trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster. We leave on Saturday at 5am. Wish us luck and most of all - wish us BAROMETERS!
All photos Copyright Christina Owen 2016.