Summer in the Castle: Where's Mollie Global Travellers
Hey hey superhumans! How are you all?
As you may have already seen, I spent last weekend in a castle in Gloucestershire with 43 strangers... Say what?!
Where’s Mollie is a travel blogger I’ve been following for a number of years now and she’s grown her blog to the point where she’s now created a wonderful community of travellers - the ‘Where’s Mollie Global Travellers’ community. We not only have a Facebook group where we can ask each other for travel tips and advice all over the globe, but Mollie and her team also organise group trips! The trips take place all over the world - Australia, Croatia, the UK… the list goes on and I’m sure there are many more adventures to come. If you’re an adventure and thrill-seeking person who loves making new friends and even overcoming your fears, these trips are for you. This blog post has found its way to you today and that’s surely a sign.
A medieval-themed Summer in the Castle was the most recent one, where we stayed in St Briavels Castle (now a perfectly located YHA Hostel) and I’m going to tell you all about it and how you can join the community.
So what did the Summer in the Castle trip look like?
Here it is in pictures, all taken by the wonderfully talented Lydia Collins.
Above are two people from the Summer in the Castle team - Mollie and Monni. Lydia was of course behind the camera! They’re all so full of good energy and I swear it’s contagious. Ever since the weekend I’ve been buzzing to move more and travel again.
We were welcomed with smiles and hugs and music, followed shortly by a tour of the castle, lead by our hostel host for the weekend, Chris.
I joined a group of 5 other girls to share a bedroom with; Rach, Emma, Louise, Gemma and Abi. Our room was called the ‘Oubliette’, and yes, it’s as dodgy as it sounds. Well not dodgy, just creepy as hell when you learn what the room used to be used for…
We felt ‘welcomed’ learning about the history of our bedroom during the Friday-evening tour of the castle. Oublié is the word for forgotten in French (although we weren’t in France, words used to be taken on from the French language here in Lydney). Hidden under a rug in our bedroom was a trap door with a no-other-way-out dungeon underneath it, and it was quite a drop! In medieval times, if the ‘police’ wanted to get rid of a criminal who perhaps had a large following or who the public execution of would cause an uproar and more issues or crime as a result of it, they’d want to make it seem like the criminal hadn’t overtly died, but just disappeared seemingly out of thin air. This is where the Oubliette comes in.
They’d be taken to this room and thrown through the gap in the floor under the trap door, and fall down into the dungeon. Stop reading here if you don’t like gruesome stories - their legs would most likely break upon impact and they’d then be left in the dungeon to die, either from starvation or dehydration. If their family had been supportive of whatever the criminal was doing before, then they’d be thrown in the dungeon with them and the same goes for their friends. Their blood would thicken and they’d get unbearable throbbing pains in their heads until they died.
Chris: “Welcome to your bedroom! We hope you enjoy your stay”. Mmm. Nice. I was so glad it wasn’t just my bedroom, but that I was sharing it with 5 other girls for potential emotional support…
On a happier note, we spent the rest of the evening dancing to Monni’s tunes, playing a few games to get to know each other, beginning to make friends and having a few drinks.
The next day started at 7am with some meditation and yoga for those of us who were up for it. We had the morning sun on our backs and were lead through two meditations by Mollie and Monni, followed by some sun salutations. Hell yeah to that.
Once we’d packed our bags for the day and woken up a bit more, we headed out to the Forest of Dean to spend a jam-packed day with Life Changing Activities.
We split into four teams (A, B, C and D) for a bit of friendly competition throughout the activities and did Fire Lighting, Shelter Building, Abseiling and Climbing in the forest. How awesome is that! The people running the activities were giving each team a score on how well they did and the results were revealed in the evening during our medieval feast - more on that below! Most of these photos aren’t of my team but they capture the day’s activities and the good vibes so well (thank you Lydia!).
We spent the evening enjoying a medieval banquet - in medieval attire and everything! The music, a head table that dictated the rules, entertainment and more. It was so much fun and everyone embraced every aspect of the night. From witches to jesters and a three-course cutlery-free meal (in a truly medieval spirit!).
At the end of the banquet, the winning team from the activities earlier on in the day was announced… and guess who won? Our team, Team C! Do I hear a hell freakin’ yeah?! We shook our prize bottles of prosecco and Lydia (one of the superhumans in our team) did a brilliant job of spraying it over pretty much everyone, haha. So much love for our energy!
We spent the rest of the evening dancing, chatting and having a few drinks before moving inside the castle for some ghost stories. Was I feeling 100% okay with that considering the bedroom we were in? Nope, but oh well! It could be fun, right?
I was actually so tired from the weekend so far that I was falling asleep during the majority of the stories, but as soon as I heard Chris say “so I’ve left the best until last - do you want to hear about the stories from the Oubliette?” I switched from being half asleep to being completely wide awake and focused. Great.
They weren’t too bad in the end, but mostly because they weren’t stories related to my bed specifically - I think I would have had more trouble sleeping if they had been! There were a mixture of gruesome stories and creepy stories, all of which my brain obviously absorbed like a sponge (thanks, brain), and I was glad to be walking back to my room afterwards with a group of people, especially since it was dark.
Newsflash, we all woke up alive and happy in the morning - no one was abducted or possessed during the night so woop woop! Success.
The next morning, and our last one on the trip, began with yoga, meditation and breakfast once again before heading out for the day’s activities.
We made our way to Redbrook for a hike in the heat, followed by a picnic that Mollie put together (what a gem of a human) and a swim in the river that some of us decided to do. Not everyone had swimming things with them (including myself) - I went in in my clothes! I won’t lie, swimming upstream to the bridge was hard work but if you follow my Instagram you’ll know that I love swimming and the physical challenge that can sometimes come with it.
This might sound strange to most people, but before this trip I had a huge fear of jumping into cold water, no matter how big or small the jump would be. This river was freezing but I pushed myself to jump, landing in the river with my heart pounding from the sudden cold (the bit that freaks me out because of my body’s reaction to breathe faster and keep warm, and I suppose to panic too). And I am so proud of myself. Even if it seems small to the majority of people, this was an awesome moment to me and now I feel much more comfortable jumping into cold water which is great! Yay for pushing boundaries!!
We spent the rest of the afternoon drying off, making ourselves into human pyramids, playing around with some acro yoga and generally relaxing a bit before people began saying their goodbyes and making their way home when they needed to.
The goodbyes are always sad on WMGT trips - you make so many friends in such a short space of time, and they aren’t trips that you’ll ever forget. We all keep in touch through social media and some people meet up again on their own which I think is absolutely brilliant. What a beautiful community, right?
How can you join the community?
First off, join the Facebook group to find travel tips or ask for advice about your own travel plans.
Third, sign up for any trip that sounds like your kinda thing! Hopefully I’ll see you on one in the future - drop me a message if you see that I’m going on the same trip as you are.
Thank you once again to Mollie, Monni and Lydia for the best trip and their wonderfully creative imaginations, and to Chris and the rest of the YHA St Briavels team for being such brilliant hosts and chefs. We love you!