Going back to the place where you grew up often brings up a lot of nostalgia; you may have moved on from the place, and perhaps cut all your ties with it. However, there is something comforting about walking the familiar streets and hearing the sounds of the place.
I grew up in the market town of Newark-on-Trent (or simply Newark), in Nottinghamshire. Much of my family is still in the area, so it is always lovely to go back and see them. However, growing up I often grumbled about how little there was to do there and probably never appreciated the place as much as I should. But I recently went back for the Bank Holiday weekend, and with the gorgeous sunshine we had, found there is a lot to do when you know where to look.
A Leisurely Day at a Park
Whether they are a short drive or just a few minutes-walk away, most towns have a park of some size. In Newark, there are parks in the town with climbing frames and space to run about for the kids. In the wider area, there are larger parks, such as Sherwood Forest and Sherwood Pines, Clumber Park and Rufford Abbey Country Park. These places often have events for families throughout the year, lovely walks through the trees or around the lake, cafes and other amenities and are completely free, aside from parking.
Fun Fact: The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest is estimated to be around 1000 years old.
Explore the Museums and History
I find you don’t really visit the museums of where you live unless there is an event, even in places like London with its dozens of museums. Newark is a historical town, so it is no surprise there are is a museum about its past. The National Civil War Centre tells the story of the town’s involvement in the Civil War; Newark survived three sieges and was vital in the war as it lay at a crossroad and was a crossing point for the River Trent. There is also the Town Hall Museum and Art Gallery and the Newark Air Museum, a former World War Two training base. And in addition to the museums, there is the Castle. Now just a ruin, it is nice to walk around in its grounds, and there are times when you can walk up to the top and go down to the dungeons.
Fun Fact: Newark Castle was the site of King John’s death in 1216.
Dine Out and Drink
One of the many things I like about a weekend at home is getting home-cooked food from someone else. But I like to dine out too, and this is a great way to see more of the town and discover some gems you had not realised were there before. Newark has a lot of local eateries, mixed in with the chains. There are some great fish and chip shops in the town, and lovely pubs serving up classic dishes. It is often best to seek out the popular places if you aren’t familiar with the cafes and restaurants in your hometown. For Newark, that would be the Prince Rupert, The Ram, The Castle Barge, Pastability and the Real Burger Co.
Fun Fact: The Prince Rupert pub is in one of the oldest buildings in Newark, dating back to 1452.
See the Surrounding Area
For small towns and villages, there is only a finite number of things to do, so the best thing is to explore more of the surrounding area. Newark is a well-connected place, with regular trains to Nottingham and Lincoln, and several roads in and out, like the A1 and A46. A day out at either Nottingham or Lincoln means better shopping, more events and places to see. In Lincoln, there are places like Cathedral and Castle and Steep Hill. Nottingham has museums, the Castle, Wollaton Hall and the caves.
Fun Fact: Nottingham was known as ‘Snotingham’ when under the rule of a Viking chief named Snot.
Take a Walk
When you want a break from the family home, a walk around the area is perfect. Not only is it exercising, but it’s a nice way to see more of the town. Newark has some great walking routes. A favourite of mine is by the River Trent, as it is quiet and offers some lovely views, or the riverside walk to the neighbouring village of Farndon. Then there is the Civil War Trail if you want to mix in some learning. The trail takes you to key sites around the town, such as Newark Castle and Queen’s Sconce. There is even an app! If walking is too slow, then there is cycling (if you have a bike at your disposal). Newark is a good town for cycling, with the cycle track to Cotham giving you the chance to get out of the town and to several of the nearby villages. You can even accidentally cycle to Grantham!
Fun Fact: Years ago, there were rumours of a panther spotted on the cycle track, and for months I was scared to go on it.
I am sure some of these things to do in Newark can apply to many people heading back to their hometown for a weekend too! What are your favourite things about heading to your hometown?
Image credit: Richard Croft