Who am I and what on Earth is this?!

Katie Featherstone Feathery Travels budget travel blog

 

You seem to have found yourself on "Feathery Travels". My name is Katie Featherstone and sometimes I go places. Often I stay longer than originally planned.

 

After falling down a black hole into the refugee crisis for nearly half of last year, Dan and I escaped with the remainder of out sanity in our van Burt to recover. Through several strokes of luck and kindness, we now have jobs in the Fjallabak nature reserve in Iceland. I am updating more regularly from here and slowly trying to piece together the rest of the words.

 


Fri

29

Sep

2017

Photographer Jason Wallien - living and working in Beijing.

night street photography rain Beijing

 

Jason has been living in China for almost as long as I've known him. I don't think he intended to be there for so long, but something about Beijing has obviously reeled him in. I first asked him if he would do an interview for me, about his life there and photography, on the 3rd of January 2015; between the two of us, we have managed to string it out until now... I think it was worth the wait. I particularly love his photos of lights and rain in the darkness and for me, his answers are a rare insight into a idea I once considered for myself. We cannot be everywhere and do everything in the same lifetime, so it's good when our friends can be some places for us. I hope you enjoy the read.

 

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Sat

23

Sep

2017

Falling for Fjallabak.

Vondugil
Vondugil

 

We have bee working in the huts and campsites along the Laugavegur since July. More and more so, I am drowning in uncertainty as I try to cobble this together. It's taken me weeks just to whittle down the photos. The most colourful are attractive, but I don't want to give you the impression that it's always sunny here; sometimes we don't see blue sky for a week.

 

This three word title... the alliteration I like, but regardless of the shortening days it was not intended as a pun on the American term for autumn. Despite our mother tongue becoming the most wide-spread "global language", the English are still paranoid about loosing it. Living and working here in Iceland, the irony is tangible. This is about Fjallabak; I can barely even pronounce it.

 

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Sat

19

Aug

2017

100 days of sunlight - Þórsmörk, Goðaland and Fjallabak.

 

This is dedicated to all the people who helped form this unbelievable summer. Thank-you for sharing this small/enormous part of Iceland with me; I couldn't have imagined it would be this magical.

 

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Tue

25

Jul

2017

Serra do Geres (northmost Portugal), Galicia and all the way to Calais.

 

It's been several months since we lived in our van "Burt" and I still haven't finished the story. Though I can easily pick holes in places I was not that keen on or point out the most beautiful part of an otherwise average location, it rips at my heart strings to fail in describing a place I really loved. There is plenty of "average" in this final account, but my memories of Galicia are too special to be faithful to.

 

As a further avoidance tactic, I will begin by telling you about the North of Portugal and the van itself... 

 

Burt was sick. He squealed and spluttered into life each morning, making a noise which sounded like a loose fan belt, but maybe not quite. As the wooring noise seemed to go silent after a couple of minutes, we ignored it for two days...

 

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Thu

04

May

2017

The Wind Turbines (high on too much time to think)

 

My notes say "near Afonsim? between Vila Pouca de Aguiar & Ribeira da Pena". 

 

Walking towards the brow of the hill, I contemplated that although I like wind turbines, they seemed alien here. The last village we'd driven through had been half derelict, some newer buildings, but mostly old stone constructions, huge square bricks that reminded me of the Incas, but weren't quite as easily tessellated. People had stared at us as they often seem to, but it wasn't Burt, there were lots of old Hyundii H100s around Portugal. Sometimes they had open mouths or frowns, and we were starting to feel a bit self-conscious. 

 

wind turbines Portugal why travel
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Wed

03

May

2017

The blob rocks and the lucky swastika- Portugal

Pedra do Urso, Serra de Estrela
Serra de Estrela

 

I'll quickly hop you through some of our more attractive one night stops before we get to one of Portugal's crowning jewels - the Serra de Estrela, some great archaeology and a magical spot by a frog filled river.

 

After Nazaré, we spent a final night with the waves beside the lighthouse at Praia Velha, São Pedro de Moel, before heading further north.

 

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Tue

02

May

2017

Artist Hannah Simpson - finding the inspiration in daily life.

Hannah Simpson- Neighbours- Charcoal on paper
Neighbours - 53.5 x 39cm - charcoal on paper

 

When I first met Hannah, I was already a bit of a mess. For months, we lived in a muddy industrial estate, slipping past each-other like grinning ships in the night.

 

"Hello!"

"Good Morning!"

"How are you?!"

"Fine!"

"Fine?!"

"Fine!"

 

*manic laughter*

 

Both of us were in our twenties, trying somehow to manage teams of volunteers in the never ending battle

to provide aid and a little more dignity to the inhabitants of the now-demolished "Jungle" refugee camp. Whereas I was mostly a deranged clothing and bedding woman, Hannah worked in "Calais Kitchens". This home-grown set up provided tinned food, ingredients and a degree of independence to the whole camp. They were inspirational as an organisation and Hannah's smiling, approachable demeanour appeared to surround her as a bubble of calm (whatever she might have been feeling like inside).

 

Though I could probably dedicate this blog to the creativity of Calais volunteers for the rest of the decade, I've been particularly struck by Hannah's style. She will not appreciate the comparison to Picasso and I have never made such a leap before without implying that someone was meaning to imitate his work; she isn't. The level of energy she exudes in her drawings make it obvious that this is purely her. I'm a little in awe. 

 

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Fri

28

Apr

2017

Surf and Turf (the more literal, vegetarian variety) -Southern Portugal

Forest north of Nazaré, Portugal
Forest north of Nazaré.

 

This is a bitty sort of story, partially filled with a combination of places I didn't really like that much and their best bits. I saw the biggest waves of my life, nearly fell to my death off a Roman aqueduct and got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Enjoy...

After the best part of a week, the rain descended on Sagres and we fled up the coast. There are many more dramatic cliffs and windswept beaches past Bordeira and further north, but we didn't venture out for more than five minutes at a time, my hair blown horizontal, until the sun came out two days later. In the interim, we slept on the cliffs beside Monte Clérigo; I hadn't felt so buffeted since being in a storm under canvas and cooking was more or less impossible. 

 

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Wed

26

Apr

2017

Artist Helen Lucy Wyatt on painty massages, empathy and living in Bristol.

Helen Wyatt, self portrait
self portrait

 

Only ever spending any time together at busy music festivals and other people's parties, it took me almost a year to learn about this part of Helen's life.

 

Often secret talents turn out to be infinity more rewarding once discovered than those you've been hearing too much about - Helen's designs and illustrations are addictive. Sometimes using computer manipulation as well as more traditional techniques, I usually have no idea how she has created a finished piece, but that only adds to the intrigue. 

Helen Wyatt, Bristol
No. 2 - View over St Werburghs on a sunny afternoon
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Fri

21

Apr

2017

Six pristine beaches around Sagres, Portugal.

Praia de Cordoama, Sagres, Algarve, Portugal
Praia de Cordoama

 

The main intention of this haphazard adventure was always to delve into Portugal, though I would have been surprised to find out that we'd enter from the South. Passing the most built up stretch of the Algarve in the rain, we bee-lined towards Sagres on the promise of surf.

 

March is a good time for waves, but attracts far less ordinary holiday makers. Though relatively quiet and very easy to park up our van at this time of year, I think you would have to be more careful in the Summer.

 

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Fri

07

Apr

2017

Countless vultures, a few waves and a very long tunnel (South/West Spain).

surf, Zahara de los Atunes, Spain
Zahara de los Atunes, Spain

 

South from Ubrique, towards Alcalá de los Gazules, we drove an hour or so along small roads, though idyllic forested mountains, only persisting because every turn off was marked clearly as private land. For once our severely unspecific road map was correct in assuring us that there were no real settlements here, but under a mountain we found another "area recreativa".  Somewhat of a labyrinth, "El Picacho" had barbecues cut into large boulders, picnic tables fashioned from giant hunks of wood and the generally overgrown delightful air of not having been visited much since last summer. The tree branches crooked above us like ancient witches fingers and we hid under the bridge, as the odd car passed above, like grubby trolls bathing in the river.

 

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Sun

26

Mar

2017

Several Spanish Sierras

Serra Calderona
Serra Calderona

 

By now we thought we were getting a little better at travelling in the van. We were driving in little hops, poking into the countryside or along the coast for an hour or two each day, never waiting until after sunset to find somewhere to sleep. Water was easy enough to find from taps in children's play parks, fontes or town centres, fuel was cheaper in Spain and we knew just about Spanish to make our lives a little easier. Slowly but surely our body clocks began to adapt from a slovenly 11am until after midnight norm, to one which made better use of the light. With little to do in the evenings, we were sleeping before the majority of eight-year-olds and I often woke up just before dawn started to scratch through the curtains. We appeared to have escaped the winter.

 

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Thu

23

Mar

2017

The river Ebro & its tributaries, the Spanish Civil War and alternative uses for shoelaces.

Mountains around La Fontcalda
Mountains around La Fontcalda

 

Had it not been for the gloom, I would have liked to stay beside Pantà de Rialb longer in the eerie silence, but we chased the promise of sunshine South. Skirting around Lleida, we followed a succession of steadily diminishing roads, looking for a blank spot on the map as if paddling upstream to the source. 

 

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Wed

15

Mar

2017

Pantà de Rialb and the lost villages.

Pantà de Rialb and the lost villages.

 

The sky was stubbornly overcast as we approached the lake. Though with all the elements of beauty; reflections of leafy trees onto the green water's surface, rocky outcrops and a silencing distance from the highway, we couldn't shake the feeling that it was a little bit too quiet down this rough track. On the map, these roads lead to nowhere. I possibly expected a picnic site or somebodies house at the point where on paper it descended to the bank in two directions, but instead we got to a sign, "PELIGRO INUNDACIONES", and it simply became impassable in the van; great hollows and troughs down a steep slope.

 

On foot the road disintegrates into mud clots, completely disappearing and being replaced by shrubby bushes and rocks. What at first appeared to be a chimney poking out of a small clump of trees, turned out on closer inspection to be an empty shrine, simply a window to and from nowhere without the Mary doll to stand in it. We followed a faint and precarious pathway, still twenty-five meters above the water level, around a small headland and confusingly emerged onto the remains of a two direction tarmac road; only slightly faded white lines in the centre, but edges crumbling into emptiness. Over a sinking bridge, once proud enough for an archway, metal barriers meant to protect impossible traffic, bent towards the water like discarded staples. Sloped into a disturbing width ways diagonal, as well as the simple down-hill gradient, the road plunged into the water and obscurity. 

 

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Sun

12

Mar

2017

France: a journey of three seasons and several lakes.

Fontpédrouse hot springs Catalan Pyrenees
(near Fontpédrouse hot springs)

 

The morning of our intended departure from Morgins, Dan discovered that we (he) had left the head-lights on all night. Burt was in a coma. The oldest vehicle in the village by a good fifteen years you can imagine the spectacle we made heaving the van to the top of an icy hill and then charging down again with only the hand-brake to rely on. The slope out of the car park wasn't enough, but the only remaining gradient was right down through the middle of the village, road lined with kit laden skiers and troops of school trip children. A kind old man helped me get up some momentum and we watched as Dan hurtled a good hundred meters before bellowing out a puff of smoke. I hadn't been keen to be in the drivers seat...

 

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Phone Credit For Refugees and Displaced People is a volunteer run organisation. I can't stress their importance enough - please click on the image below and join the facebook group to find out how you can help. If you are not on facebook, you can still donate here

 

You can find Feathery Travels on facebook, twitter and pinterest.