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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Tue

28

Feb

2017

Burt is buried in snow- Morgins, Switzerland

Winter snow, Morgins, Switzerland
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Fri

17

Feb

2017

Take two, step one - grazing through six countries.

Morgins, Switzerland
Morgins, Switzerland

 

If you've been dropping by for some time, you probably remember a little hype around last June. We'd saved and stagnated for over a year in Exeter. Unexpectedly, I'd found many things to love in that sleepy South-Western city; a small but solid medley of people, plenty of camping on Dartmoor and Devon's coast. Still, I was restless, we were gearing up for a great adventure. Burt the carpet van spluttered into our lives as a kind of tiny home on wheels, a fortified tent with space for a duvet, and we finally set of on our epic European road trip. Though the weather was better, things started that month the same as we just have, with a trip up to Scotland. As you might also know, that first drive up North and down was our last great road trip of 2016. We finished the year in Calais, laughing and crying and forgetting to shower. We're starting that original plan from scratch. 

 

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Sat

28

Jan

2017

Why and how we should be trying to preserve our Oceans.

 

Having spent quite some time ranting about the refugee crisis, I wanted to write about something else close to my heart, incredibly important, but not yet personal enough to make me shake with rage. 

Covering almost three-quarters of the Earth, holding 97% of our water, producing almost half of our oxygen and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, I can't exactly overstate how important oceans are to our planet's survival. Despite being vital to our economies and way of life, gone are the days when it was possible to believe the deep blue sea was simultaneously an infinite wealth of resources and an invulnerable dumping ground. 

 

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Mon

02

Jan

2017

2016, thanks...

For the irritable lefties amongst us, those not fans of bombs or anyone who'd rather not think about thousands of people drowning off the coasts of their favourite holiday destinations in pursuit of a better life, 2016 hasn't exactly been the new page of peace and opportunity we'd been hoping for. Maybe every year is the same if you mull upon it in the right way for long enough, but somehow this one doesn't feel like anything I can round up in a listicle.

 

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Wed

21

Dec

2016

Christmas Camping

Frost over Dartmoor, Devon, England

 

Anything I write or do now seems trivial and trite compared to what's been on my radar the last half of this year. I've almost forgotten how I used to write about beautiful things, but here we go...

 

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Mon

19

Dec

2016

Trying to be a human after Calais.

In the end we spent five months in Calais; stretching over nearly half of 2016, it went by in somewhere between a flash and a lifetime. Days were over before they'd begun, but the weeks dragged out endlessly. Now that we're out, it feels like waking from a bizarre hallucination.

 

Dan and I with some of our lovely Woodyard friends (the hardest working bunch in Calais)
Dan and I with some of our lovely Woodyard friends (the hardest working bunch in Calais)
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Thu

01

Dec

2016

The Jungle is finished, but we haven't quite...

Help Refugees L'Auberge pre-eviction distribution team
The broken distribution team at the end of the very last day.

 

For months the "Jungle" was our entire existence; warehouse, jungle, warehouse, jungle, lidl, warehouse, junglejunglejungle...

 

We lived and breathed it until there was little left of our previous selves, but then they were taken away. We have no idea what has happened to the vast majority of the people we saw every day.

 

Exhausted and lacking direction, most of us left. It seemed like our work was done, but Dan and I faffed, tying up "loose ends" and fitting

new brake disks to our long immobile van. After the children were finally gone, I languished around the yard for the best part of a week, occasionally attempting a little clothes sorting or answering the questions of new volunteers with dead eyes and monotone half sentences.

What were we doing?

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Wed

02

Nov

2016

The fate of the "Jungle" Bambinos.

 

I'd gone from taking clothing and shoes to almost exclusively adult men and older teenagers, to spending all of my time trying to care for children. Frankly I had no idea what I was doing and neither did 90% of us. We tried to occupy them with football and games in a field next door, but spent most of the day and evening listening to their problems and trying to make sure they have working phones before they disappeared. They were growing boys and hungry however much we try to feed them, there was no running water inside the containers and many told me that they washed their faces in the water from the toilets. Helplessly I worried for their teeth.

 

CRS destroy jungle school, Calais eviction
CRS destroy the school- photo credit- Help Refugees http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/
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Fri

28

Oct

2016

Disconnected stabs of consciousness from Calais.

I've written very little about Calais over the last three months I've been here. There is so much to say and yet none of it forms in my head into a coherent narrative, message or anything even close to a solution. The jungle is finished, but I still feel like I have so much to learn. I never took any photos, I never said my goodbyes, all lost threads from a tapestry of unsolved problems.

 

Photo : Hassan Akkad from https://www.facebook.com/HelpRefugeesUK/
Photo : Hassan Akkad from https://www.facebook.com/HelpRefugeesUK/
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Mon

24

Oct

2016

Jungle halas.

The impossible task we've been attempting is drawing to a close and I feel both absolved of responsibility and drowned in sorrow about the people we've had to leave behind. I'm not allowed in anymore and am suddenly redundant. Strings of half made thoughts race around my brain; jobs I never got around to, referrals lost in the depths of my phone. 

 

photo credit- refugee info bus https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeInfoBus/
photo credit- refugee info bus https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeInfoBus/
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Sat

01

Oct

2016

Uncertainty in Calais...

 

Time melts on as if it has no meaning. The rumours are rife- "Jungle finish?" we're asked each day. Nobody wants it to be here but they (and we) are constantly anxious about what that means. Nobody wants another eviction, we can't loose any more children in the process, but there's no way we can sustain over 10,000 people over the Winter without being allowed to build more solid homes. We live day by day, maintaining their existence, providing clothes, food and some sort of shelter, but it's not getting better. In over two months, I've taken a few days to myself, but there are others who've been at it since Christmas. 

 

A recent flood. Photo from my friends who work on the Refugee Info Bus- facebook like below.
A recent flood. Photo from my friends who work on the Refugee Info Bus- facebook like below.
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Sat

03

Sep

2016

"Converting" the carpet van for under £200.

 

Searching for a van was a mundane daily hell...

 

It took us months. We were looking for something that didn’t have a massive amount of miles (many under £2000 had around 200,000 on the clock), with no major mechanical problems and that wasn’t too big. More importantly, it still had to be long enough for Dan (who’s 6’4) to lie down in.

 

Having never owned a car before, we took vital and occasionally contradictory advise from the internet and other more experienced family and friends. Dan’s dad (Rod) came along to view and test dive any potential options and we listened to the advice of a friend's trusted mechanic before we finally took the plunge*. Our budget was £1500 and eventually, after many false starts, we eventually spent £1150 on a Hyundii H100 from 1997, an old carpet fitter's van, and £350 on repairs and a new MOT. 

 

Deciding what to do with it next and getting materials... 

 

  • Dan read many blogs and other advice online to give us ideas on how to convert a van cheaply, treat rust and generally maintain cars as we were previously clueless.
  • We kept a look out for sources of free material and hit gold outside a laminate workshop where we found (with permission) lots of off-cuts of kitchen splash board, MDF and wooden pallets. Rod also gave us some plastic political placards (who’s party will remain unnamed…) which were going to be thrown away.
  • We used Gumtree and searched other similar second-hand sites to find a jigsaw, foam mattress, camping chairs.
  • To treat the rust we bought Kurust (phosphoric acid), wire brushes, rust inhibiting paint, fiberglass sheets, resin and a premixed tub of fiberglass mush.
  • We also bought uniform lumber to create frames for our cupboards and bed, several tubes of grip adhesive, some extra screws and insulation fluff made from recycled plastic bottles**.
  • Luckily Dan and his parents had quite a good collection of tools and paint.

 

Before we could begin, we spent a day dismantling and removing the ugly carpeted wooden platform and shelving from the back of the van, removed the mouldy panels from the walls and cleaned the van inside and out.

 

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Thu

11

Aug

2016

Some time on Islay, Scotland and the carpet van makes it to France.

The Dower House, Isle of Islay, Scotland
(a glimpse of the sun on my parents' garden)

 

After a very slow and somewhat arduous trip up to Swansea, Wales the week before, we were particularly relieved to make it up to Scotland in relatively good time without any major mishaps.

 

In between fixing rusty holes in the van, changing our oil (and spilling a whole tank full onto my parents’ drive) and generally trying to sort ourselves out a bit better before leaving the UK, we found a little time for the beach... 

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Tue

19

Jul

2016

...and we're off! The beginnings of life in a carpet van.

Haweswater Reservoir, Lake District, England, UK

 

Having got to know each other over long, stressful nights in the library, the least organised History students in our year, it's hardly surprising that Dan and I struggle to get ourselves together before a (hopefully) long trip. Despite slogging and saving for over a year in preparation, we found ourselves committed to leaving our jobs forever in two weeks time, with no van to move into, half a flat full of things and Dan still learning to drive. 

 

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Tue

21

Jun

2016

Storms, sea shells and sand boarding in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

Mui Ne beach, Vietnam

 

After over a year's waiting and saving, I'm soon setting off on another adventure. I couldn't be much further from travel burn out right now, but somehow this sprung to mind...

 

Trying to loop through the North of Thailand, floating along a portion of the Mekong, through Laos and down the entire length of skinny Vietnam in just a few weeks, had turned into somewhat of an ordeal. Vietnam is a beautiful country, with some of the most impressive sights in South East Asia, but after spending around one hundred hours trying to sleep on hard train benches, sweating on endless busses, occasionally getting shoved and ordered around by unfriendly men and fighting off moto drivers, the continuous traffic noise and incessant beeping was beginning to grate.

 

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Tue

14

Jun

2016

Illustrator Laura Wilson on art, feminism and the odd mermaid.

 

Floating around the restaurant with an enviable aura of calm, Laura never seemed repressed by the sometimes stiflingly misogynistic atmosphere of our work place half a decade ago. After her smile, I first noticed her tattoos- a tall ship, mermaids and an intricately twined circle on her back. Getting to know her a little better, I learnt she designed them herself. I've been in awe ever since and could not be more excited to introduce you. This is Laura Wilson. 

 

Were you artistic as a child? How did you get into illustration?

 

I wanted to be an artist from a really early age! Art was my favourite subject at school from when I was very young, and it was something I’d spend hours each evening doing. I drew an awful lot of mermaids! I had a few years during my teens when I gave into the ‘art isn’t a viable career option’ rhetoric that sensible adults were telling me, but eventually I decided that following my passion was worth not being as financially stable as I might be if I chose a different career path! 

 

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Sat

11

Jun

2016

Hitchhiking, camping and other less advisable adventures on the island of Milos, Greece.

Agios Ioannis, Milos, Cyclades, Greece.
Agios Ioannis

It was a cold, soggy winter in Southampton when we found ourselves dreaming of an adventure. My friend Bryony and I had been struggling to find any inspiration in our grimy university accommodation and imagined spending long days painting on quiet beaches; I bought a map of the Cyclades and we began to highlight dots to aim for.

 

Milos was so beautiful that our island hopping adventure didn't end up as extensive as we imagined, but I                                                                                          haven't regretted it for a second.

 

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Wed

01

Jun

2016

Five ways in which I'm still stubbornly refusing to join the 21st century.

 

As a child I used to take my Mum’s accusations of stubbornness as a compliment. Without the thought process to understand that my 4, 7, 16 year old self might benefit from a little open-mindedness, I believed it insinuated I had some sort of unbreakable iron will; the sort of perseverance that a suffragette would have needed on hunger-strike or what made Rosa Parks stay on that seat. Not yet appreciating that the vast majority of the human race believe themselves to be right at all times, I imagined that this sort of attitude would eventually result in justice. 

 

Having absorbed enough contradictory information over the last decade to understand that there is rarely a reliable answer to anything, I'm more confused by the world than ever, but can't help retaining a trace of that original pigheadedness. A mystery to the most of my friends, these are a few quirks that I am for some reason trying to swim with against the tide of the 21st century (and maybe adulthood?). 

 

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Thu

19

May

2016

Dan's birthday on Dartmoor.

Dartmoor, Devon

 

I've been rotting indoors for months as we "prepare" for an as-of-yet unspecific adventure elsewhere in Europe. I bounce resigned from one box to another, staring between screens and sitting so badly; my back is aching. Wild camping for Dan's birthday has become somewhat of a tradition and as the weather is starting the clear up again, we ventured out to Dartmoor to absorb some wilderness as an antidote. 

 

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Thu

12

May

2016

Tips for women planning an adventure in Morocco.

food, Marrakesh, Morocco, Africa

 

Drunkenly booking myself a one-way ticket to Marrakesh, age 20, was undoubtedly one of the most impulsive decisions I've ever made. I had some idea of what Morocco might be like, but the more I researched solo-female travel there, the more I began to wonder if I had made a giant mistake. As the weeks before my departure flew by, I got increasingly nervous and tried to arm myself with as much information as possible.

 

In hindsight I had no reason to worry, but these are the tips I wish I'd read before I left...

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Sun

01

May

2016

How to survive an English music festival.

Secret Garden Party mud
Secret Garden Party

 

Mention you're from England to any continental European and after mocking you for your cooking, they will most likely mention the weather. Although our continuous drizzle is often exaggerated, several days of downpour have the potential to make life very miserable if you're sleeping in a tent. After several summers of English music festivals, these are my tips for embracing the mud and enjoying the party regardless...

 

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Sat

16

Apr

2016

Architectural details of Vienna, Austria.

The Neptune Fountain, Schönbrunn Palace
The Neptune Fountain, Schönbrunn Palace. Note the two merlegs needed to straddle this type of seahorse.
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Sat

09

Apr

2016

"Building" in the new Dunkirk refugee camp, France.

Double rainbow Dunkirk refugee camp, France
Double rainbow over Dunkirk, France. Photo from my building friend Elizabeth Nixon.

 

After two weeks of stumbling through our daily reality, Dan and I were struggling to find any purpose. Stretching the Easter bank holiday weekend, we found lifts over to Calais and were quickly back in the build team. With its regimented streets of chicken coops, Dunkirk couldn't be any more different to "the jungle". Having never seen the old camp, I can only repeat other volunteers' stories of children trying to play in a wood turned swamp. No building materials or tents had been allowed in for months and Winter conditions must have been nearly impossible before the move.  

 

Overshadowed by the jungle, Dunkirk was just one of many forgotten refugee camps in Europe. I'm struggling not to get too political, but the new camp, set up by MSF and volunteers, at least gives a small amount of dignity back to the thousand and a half people it has space to shelter. There are toilet facilities, showers, somewhere to wash clothes and food distributions from the other charities involved. It hasn't solved their long term problems, but hopefully eased a bit of suffering in the mean time.

 

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Thu

24

Mar

2016

Camping spots that make you wonder why we ever sleep indoors.

Sapphire Coast Australia
Sapphire Coast Australia

 

This collaboration of magical camping spots has taken an embarrassingly long time to put together, but I can't help but feel proud of the result. With some of my traveller idols, friends and even family involved, it's hard to decide if I'm more excited by the contributors or the places they have written about. If this doesn't persuade you that you don't always want to sleep with a roof over your head, then I'm happy to keep the wilderness for myself. 

 

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Sat

19

Mar

2016

Volunteering for l'Auberge des Migrants in the Calais "Jungle"

Calais jungle, refugee crisis, street art
Photo credit Holly Walter.

*If you haven't got time or energy to read my waffle and are simply interested in the logistics of

volunteering, slide right down to the bottom and read the useful information section.*
**These photos are borrowed from the friends I met in Calais. Thank-you in advance.** 

 

 

I'm struggling to find the tone of this article; shying away from self-congratulatory or callous, and after only a week there acutely aware of my naivety. On leaving, nearly everything in my normal life seems pointless and yet I still bumble along as if before. 

 

I've been wanting to help the people stuck at Calais since early last year, but excuses tumbled over each-other and it wasn't until last week that we finally sorted ourselves out enough to spend a little time around "the jungle"*. 

 

*The name made me uncomfortable before we went out, but since meeting a few of the refugees, I begin to think of it as a dark in-joke between those who've been forced to live in a situation that many of us wouldn't wish on our pets. 

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Wed

02

Mar

2016

Artist Louis Masai on the environment, music and travel.

 

Trundling along on the megabus, somewhere between Bristol and London, I only started talking to Louis Masai after we broke down. Far from the usual delays, we were entertained by a teenage dance troupe and previously unconnected folk band who just happened to be travelling back from Plymouth together. I felt the hour slip by with little resentment and only once back on the bus realised how close I was coming to missing my connections to Vienna that night. Ice broken by the bizarre situation, I began to learn a little about Louis' work. After nearly a year of following him on social media, I recently decided to ask him for an interview. This is what I learnt...

 

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Mon

22

Feb

2016

Panama- a budget travel guide by Jess Signet.

 

I've never had a guest post on FeatheryTravels before so this is new for me, but when Jess offered to write me a guide to Panama I thought some of you might find it useful. She seems as genuine and down to earth as I try to be here and I think her advice will be invaluable for anyone heading that direction "on a shoestring" in the future...

 

Isla Iguana
Isla Iguana - Shelly McCullough www.sellallyourstuff.com
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Sat

13

Feb

2016

An interview with artist Olivier Leger.

Olivier Marc Thomas Leger, Whale Song, illustration
Whale Song, pen on paper, 57 x 62 cm, 2014

 

After discovering his impossibly detailed pen and ink drawings, doodles I could get lost in for hours, I'm incredibly excited to introduce Olivier. His intricate layers of disproportionately sized wildlife weave together into the masterpieces you can see below. Though this website is never going to do his pictures justice, the playful twist on an environmental theme 

seemed perfect. I'll hope you'll enjoy getting to know the artist a little better as much as I have.

 

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Mon

01

Feb

2016

Thirteen great reasons to visit Gozo this Spring- Malta.

The Azure Window and Blue Hole in the foreground. Gozo, Malta
The Azure Window and Blue Hole in the foreground.

 

Something I wrote this time last year...

 

As the second time our family had ever gone abroad together, my Mum chose well with Gozo. Visiting in the Spring, it was warm (but not roasting!), the flowers were blooming and most importantly for the Featherstones, we almost had the beaches to ourselves. 

Gozo is one of the Maltese Islands, little dots in the Mediterranean between Italy and Libya...

 

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Wed

27

Jan

2016

Festival Fact File: Secret Garden Party

Secret Garden Party

 

Approaching the end of July, somewhere in the countryside near Cambridge, England, an otherwise sleepy patch of farm land transforms into the Secret Garden Party. Stages hatch out from the fields, gigantic circus tents are pitched in clusters and psychedelic bunting stretches overhead. People abandon their mundane lives for a few days to loose themselves down the metaphorical rabbit hole.

 

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Sat

16

Jan

2016

Why we shouldn't pretend that everybody can just quit their jobs and travel...

La Esperanza, Ecuador, South America

 

Maybe I'm just feeling bitter because I can't travel right now and maybe this article will be a little controversial, but I feel that among the chorus of bloggers telling people to give up their mundane lives and see the world, we've neglected to acknowledge our own privilege. Although many of us work hard for the freedom to travel, it's impossible to pretend that our opportunities are open to everyone...

 

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Sun

03

Jan

2016

Christmas on Islay.

Singing Sands, Isle of Islay, Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

 

Dan and I have spent the last two Christmases far away. Firstly in Australia back in 2013 and then somewhere in a Bolivian forest last year. This year we made the journey up to Scotland, narrowly dodged the UK's December storms and squeezed onto one of the few remaining ferries that made the crossing to the island. 

 

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Wed

16

Dec

2015

Merry Christmas!

To all of my wonderful friends and followers,

 

Thank-you so much for your continued support! You are what keep me plugging away at this thing, but I'm going to take a little holiday over Christmas. Don't fret, I'll be back with a vengeance in the new year.

I hope you have a very merry one whether you are with your family or far away!

Lots of love,

 

Katie :)


10 Comments

Fri

04

Dec

2015

Friday Fix: wild camping near La Esperanza, Ecuador.

This is the twentieth(!) edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur us on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...


wild camping, La Esperanza, Ecuador, South America
*click for full screen*
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Sat

28

Nov

2015

Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels (weird and wonderful things to do if you find yourself in Exeter- part 4).

Ottery St Mary Tar Barrels, Devon, England

 

Before experiencing Ottery St Mary's unique Guy Fawkes celebration, I couldn't have imagined such an event could possibly have survived Britain's nanny state long enough to pass on its legacy. For a first-timer the spectacle is confusing; the village is flooded with spectators, after the enthusiastic locals, a crowd of primarily drunken young people from the surrounding area. The mood is impatient as we strain our necks in anticipation, until a plume of smoke and roaring flames give away the tar barrel's spot. This quietness is the tell tale calm. As the barrel comes up above shoulder height, the furnace seems to mill about in the distance for an eternity. Is this what we've come to see?

 

Let your mind drift for a moment however and you're likely to find yourself alone in the dragon's pathway...


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Fri

20

Nov

2015

Friday Fix: Las Setas de la Encarnación (Incarnación's mushrooms), Seville.

This is the nineteenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...

 

Las Setas (Mushrooms), Seville, Spain
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Mon

16

Nov

2015

You know you've been gone for a long time when...

Isla del Sol, Lake Titikaka, Boliva
Isla del Sol, Lake Titikaka, Boliva

 

I wrote this muddly stream of consciousness while living in the woods nearly a year ago. Though I usually try to avoid click-bait "Top 10" titles, I thought I'd share this one for your amusement...

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Fri

06

Nov

2015

Friday Fix: Kew Gardens (part 2).

This is the eighteenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...


Henry Moore exhibition, Kew Gardens, 2007
Part of the Henry Moore exhibition, 2007
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Mon

02

Nov

2015

Weird and wonderful things to do if you find yourself in Exeter- part 3.

 

In the third part of my intermittent mismatch of a series, weird and wonderful things to do if you find yourself in Exeter, I'm looking at a couple of ideas for the city and some beautiful places further afield. With the weather drawing in for Winter, it seems even more important to make the most of those last flecks of sunshine. I've tried to keep outside as much as possible...


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Fri

23

Oct

2015

Friday Fix: Kew Gardens (part 1).

This is the seventeenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...


Giant water lilies, Kew gardens, London, England
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Thu

15

Oct

2015

This weekend I'm running 13 miles to raise money for MSF ...what's that?!


I've been worrying for months about what I can do to help the refugees who've been fleeing across our continent this year. Although for a while Dan, Morgan and I had a haphazard plan to drive to Calais with supplies, our efforts were too-little-too-late and by the time we were in a position to make the journey, advice from the front line was that cluelessly driving into the camp was more likely to cause chaos than help people. 


Christiana was eight months pregnant when she was rescued and gave birth to a baby girl named "dignity".
Christiana was eight months pregnant when she was rescued and gave birth to a baby girl named "dignity".
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Fri

09

Oct

2015

Friday fix: colourful markets of Chaing Mai.

This is the sixteenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...


Hand carved soap flowers, Chaing Mai, Thailand
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Tue

06

Oct

2015

Finding our green fingers in Langkawi, Malaysia.

crab building in sand, Langkawi, Malaysia
A very busy crab.

Langkawi is actually a string of over a hundred islands not too far off the North-West coast of Malaysia. We only visited the largest of them, Langkawi itself, but with long, sandy beaches, jungle coated mountains and a rich variety of wildlife, it had everything I'd hoped for in a tropical paradise without the fringing of lobster sunbathers.

Although the coastline is stunning, we spent the majority of our time exploring the island's green interior. 

Sunset on the beach, Langkawi island, Malaysia
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Fri

25

Sep

2015

Friday Fix: kayaking from Kimmeridge, Dorset.

This is the fifteenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...

Kimmeridge, Jurassic Coast, Dorset, England
My Dad in his sea kayak.
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Fri

18

Sep

2015

Camping on Dartmoor (weird and wonderful things to do if you find yourself in Exeter- part 2)

Dartmoor, Devon, England


After dragging my pack around a 45 miles Ten Tors* expedition that felt like the closest I've ever come to dying of exhaustion, I've had an interesting relationship with Dartmoor. This is one of the few places in England where it is free and perfectly acceptable to camp almost anywhere you like but, ignoring the rolling hills of desolate moorland, we headed into the forest near in search of a covered clearing to pitch out tents. 

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Fri

11

Sep

2015

Friday Fix: Vercors National Park, the French Alpes.

This is the fourteenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...

Vercors National Park, the French Alpes.
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Sun

06

Sep

2015

Boomtown: still the UK's maddest city, just a little bit bigger...

Aerial viw, Boomtown festival, England, UK
2013: view from the hill of death.

Three years ago my weirdo friends and I experienced Boomtown Fair in it's relative infancy. Ramshackle constructions lined the streets as hoards of wide-eyed inhabitants bumbled around in a mixture of wonder and confusion.

 

The gigantic spider Arcadia was our focal point. Grown from recycled metal, it had flaming acrobats twirling from its legs and heavy drum and bass bursting from its chest. We were mesmerised. 

 

 Two of my many dodgy Arcadia photos from 2012...

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Fri

28

Aug

2015

Friday Fix: Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

This is the thirteenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...

Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
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Thu

20

Aug

2015

Living like a local in Vienna, Austria

Street art, Danube Canal, Vienna, Austria, Europe
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Fri

31

Jul

2015

Friday Fix: Naxos, Greece.

This is the twelfth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...

Portara, Naxos, Cyclades, Greece
Portara- the doorway to nowhere.
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Wed

22

Jul

2015

Backpacker highlights of Australia's East Coast...

travel, Whitsundays, East Coast Australia
The Whitsundays

English speaking, easy to get around and lined with long, sandy beaches, Australia's East Coast is perfect for inexperienced travellers. The distances should never be underestimated, but buses are simple and for the slightly more confident, it's perfectly possible to hitchhike. Big hostels often attract a young, party crowd though older travellers can always find smaller, independent accommodation or even better camp.

 

This post will focus on some of the East Coast's islands and backpacker highlights that I loved on my first trip to that side of the world. If you're trying to plan a gap year, this should be perfect for you. Hopefully, more experienced travellers will also appreciate the stunning coastal scenery, brilliant snorkelling opportunities and unique wildlife.

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Fri

17

Jul

2015

Friday Fix: Angkor Watt and pink water-lilies at sunrise.

This is the eleventh edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in your coffee break...

Angkor Watt and pink water-lilies, sunrise Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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Wed

08

Jul

2015

Just a little hitchhiking, Mull and Islay- the Hebrides, Scotland.

Sunset, Islay, Scotland.
hitchhiking, Loch Lomond to Oban.
Not far now...


Since they moved there two years ago it has been pretty difficult to extract my family from Islay. Although it's hardly a world away, I was pleased to be invited up to a slightly more Northerly island, Mull, for my Dad's birthday. 

 

To save a little money and satisfy a little of my need for an adventure, we tried to hitchhike the last part of our journey from Devon.

 

Almost two hours after we'd been dropped at Loch Lomond, murdered by midges and getting damper by the minute, we were beginning to regret that decision. 

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Fri

03

Jul

2015

Friday Fix: Moscow's Metro Stations.

This is the tenth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible things I've seen in a format you can digest in a coffee break... 

Stained glass, Moscow's Metro Stations, Russia.
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Mon

29

Jun

2015

Architectural details in decay at the Forbidden Purple City, Huế.

Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.
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Fri

19

Jun

2015

Friday Fix: Parade of the Giants, Marrakesh. 

This is the ninth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible things I've seen in a format you can digest in a coffee break... 

Celebration, parade of giants, Marrakesh, Morocco.
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Tue

16

Jun

2015

Weird and wonderful things to do if you find yourself in Exeter (part 1)...

Candy Street, Exeter, Devon, England.
Pub, history, Exeter, Devon, England.

 

 

After living in Exeter for the last couple of months, I've stumbled across quite a catalogue of unusual ways to spend your time in and around this ancient city.

 

With buildings from as long ago as Roman times, spanning through the ages to encompass our ugly concrete additions, Exeter is quite literally a walk through the ages. 

 

Over a series of miss-match articles, I'm going to show you some of the quirky places to find in the city as well as ways to escape into the countryside and beaches of Devon.

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Fri

05

Jun

2015

Friday Fix: Milford Sound, New Zealand.

This is the eighth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break...


Milford Sound, New Zealand.
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Tue

26

May

2015

Floating down the Mekong to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Mekong river slow boat, Laos, Asia
Mekong river slow boat, Laos, Asia

After another 5am start, my friend Ailsa and I caught a local bus through Northern Thailand from Chaing Rai over to the Laos border. Disregarding the ominous weather reports (from that kind of doomsday traveller who warns you against visiting somewhere he's raving about- just in case you can't handle it) we were determined and crossed the enormous Mekong river, no-man's land between nations, in a tiny longtail boat. 

 

Thankfully it was a simple border crossing, even if (being British) we did have to pay an extra $5 for our visas. Newly stamped and wary of our safety in the fast boats, we found a more substantial slow boat to take us downstream.

 

The journey took two long days with a stop in the tiny riverside town of Pak Beng. It was sweaty and a little cramped, but for me the most memorable part of our time in South East Asia.

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Fri

22

May

2015

Friday Fix: a sobering walk down the river in Siem Reap. 

This is the seventh edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break, but maybe this one is more a dose of reality than wonder... 

Stilt houses, Siem Reap, Cambdia, South East Asia.
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Wed

20

May

2015

The Forest of Dean and canoeing along the river Wye- border between England and Wales.

St Briavels, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.
Sheep, St Briavels, Forest of Dean, England, Wales border.

Although it's a challenge to get everyone together, I've been lucky enough to make friends who enjoy a camping trip as much as I do. Luke's invitation to sleep in the "garden" of his beautiful family home was just enough to rouse them into travelling across the country to the border with Wales.

 

At around 110km², the Forest of Dean is one of all too few remaining areas of ancient woodland that remind us of this island's original tree-covered state. Providing habitats for all manner of native wildlife and fighting a little of our carbon emissions, it's vitally important that we protect these areas of mixed woodland. The small village of St Briavels is just in the fringes of the forest, but we didn't find ourselves short of greenery and were pleased to escape from our city lives for a weekend of fresh air.

 

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Fri

08

May

2015

Friday Fix: Scoor beach, the Isle of Mull, Scotland.

This is the sixth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break...

Scoor beach, Mull, Inner Hebrides, Scotland.
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Wed

29

Apr

2015

D7606 on street art.

With its hidden meanings, revolutionary techniques and pieces that you just "might not get", the art world can sometimes seem pretentious. Although street-art is a different scene, I'd always assumed the artists would think themselves a little too cool to talk to me. That was until D7606 commented on my blog to thank me for featuring his work. I was so excited to be directly contacted by him. His crayola coloured pop-art paste ups brighten the grimy walls they adorn in such a fun way, that I wondered where he was coming from. Here's a little insight into his world...

Invader, Donk and D7606, Manchester
Invader, Donk and D7606, Manchester
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Fri

24

Apr

2015

Friday Fix: Plaza de España, Seville.

This is the fifth edition of my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you (and me) on through our final day in the office. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break...

Plaza de España (Seville) Spain
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Sun

19

Apr

2015

Bumbling through central Bolivia- crazy cities and very many monkeys.

Spider monkey in Villa Tunari, Bolivia
Spider monkey in Villa Tunari.

I've been putting off writing this for months...

 

My last post from Bolivia? The last post from South America and the eight month adventure that Dan and I drew out for as long as physically possible. We had to fly back at the beginning of this year- it's already April, but I still can't quite get over it!

 

Anyway... the post is entitled "bumbling" as by this stage in the journey we had extremely dwindling funds and really no idea what we were going to do for another two months. Not everywhere we went I could recommend, but I'll share all the information in case you find yourself in a similar situation. Otherwise just sit back and enjoy the monkeys.

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Fri

10

Apr

2015

Friday Fix: The Great Barrier Reef

 

This is the forth in my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you on through your final day in the office or maybe remind you to dig out those pushed-back travel plans. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break...

 

green turtle, great barrier reef, Australia
Green turtle
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Tue

07

Apr

2015

Unusual Easter celebrations on Morley Road, Exeter.

decorated eggs, Easter
decorated egg, Easter
My sunset egg.

When I'm travelling I am always so excited to find unique little celebrations within the communities I pass through. I thought this one here in Exeter deserved a mention too... 

 

Every year, the inhabitants of Morley Road celebrate Easter by hosting an egg decorating competition followed by egg and spoon races down the length of the street. There are separate categories for men, women and children, with the overexcited adults taking their participation even more seriously than the kids. 

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Fri

27

Mar

2015

Friday Fix: Chefchaouen and the mountains, Morocco.

This is the third in my bi-weekly series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you on through your final day in the office or maybe remind you to dig out those pushed-back travel plans. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break...

Chefchaouen, mountains, Morocco.
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Thu

19

Mar

2015

Dangers, disasters and dodgy situations in Peru and how to avoid them.

Peru is an incredible country with culture and wildlife as varied as the landscape. A mountainous spine teeming with archaeological sites and home to many proud indigenous communities divides the land between the desert like coast line and the Amazon.

 

With the fastest growing level of tourism in South America, increasing a whopping 25% annually* and now taking its place as Peru's third largest industry, you could be forgiven for thinking there is safety in numbers. Maccu Pichu is top of many backpackers “bucket-lists” and the country as a whole has been a firm favourite on the trail for several decades. With all this in mind, I was surprised to hear of more traveller disasters in Peru than I did in either Colombia or the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Why was that and how can you avoid the potential problems?

Nevado Pastoruri, Huaraz, Central Peru.
Dan and I admiring the view at Nevado Pastoruri, near Huaraz, Central Peru.
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Fri

13

Mar

2015

Friday Fix: Nanuya Balavu Island, Fiji.

This is the second in my bi-weekly (*cough...*) series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you on through your final day in the office or maybe remind you to dig out those pushed-back travel plans. The idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break...

 

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Sun

08

Mar

2015

International Women's Day- Why is Feminism still a dirty word?

Today is International Women's Day and that means it's a whole year since I discussed why feminism was still a dirty word. 2014 was a good year for women- Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel peace prize at only 17, progress has been made in the fight against FGM and for women of around my age it became almost fashionable to call yourself the F word.

On the other hand, we seem to have almost forgotten about over 200 kidnapped Nigerian school girls, who were stolen by Boko Haram for nothing more than trying to get an education. In the UK our wage gap is still huge and although Emma Watson made a great speech in her role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, we still have stupid celebrities like Evangeline Lilly who states...

 

"I’m very proud of being a woman, and as a woman, I don’t even like the word feminism because when I hear that word, I associate it with women trying to pretend to be men, and I’m not interested in trying to pretend to be a man. I don’t want to embrace manhood, I want to embrace my womanhood."

 

Nice one. We still have a good way to go. Here's the article... 

 

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Wed

04

Mar

2015

El Jardin eco-campsite and accommodation, Samaipata, Bolivia.

pond, El Jardin campsite and accomodation, Samaipata, Bolivia

Having spent a week or so hopping from one nasty, [relatively] expensive accommodation to another, we were heading to Samaipata in the hopes of finding a peaceful campsite. Being enormously ripped off on a long, hot day of buses, I was feeling quite miserable by the time we arrived. It was dark, raining, everything was soggy and I wasn't appreciating being stuck back in our one-man tent. Balancing electronics and valuables on a mountain of shoes, under waterproof coats in our 'porch' to stop the water from destroying them didn't lead to the most restful night's sleep. 

 

Waking up groggy with sun, I found El Jardin more intriguing than I could have imagined...

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Fri

27

Feb

2015

Friday Fix: the faces of Angkor Thom, Cambodia

 

This is the first in my little new series, Friday Fix, a quick burst of inspiration to spur you on through your final day in the office or maybe remind you to dig out those pushed-back travel plans. Never published before*, the idea of these photos is to give you a glimpse of some of the most incredible places I've ever found in a format you can digest in a coffee break...

Angkor Thom, Cambodia
[click to enlarge]
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Sun

22

Feb

2015

Reverse culture shock: battling with Barcelona.

Arriving fresh from Bolivia and alone for the first time in months, I internally struggled to see the beautiful city of Barcelona as anything more than a teeming hub of privilege, greed an excess. Sleep deprived, with ringing in my ears, I visited the landmarks on foot...

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Sat

14

Feb

2015

Architectural details of Cusco.

architecture Cusco Peru stonework
architecture Cusco Peru stonework

 

Without the money for Maccu Pichu, the incredible archaeological site singularly responsible for the majority of Peru's tourist industry, I'd mentally prepared myself to dislike Cusco. As a famous colonial city and the only logical point for most people to begin their Incan adventure, I imagined it would be tacky, teeming with wealthy foreigners and generally lacking the "real" whatever I was looking for.

 

I should have had to eat my hat.

 

There was an element of everything I'd expected, snippets of English conversation from passers-by jarred in my ears and there were a startling number of shiny, never-walked-in boots clomping around, but as much as I tried to find things to scoff at, Cusco just kept surprising me.

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Thu

05

Feb

2015

Camping for beginners: how to build a cooking fire.

I'm sorry to point out the obvious to those of you who know, but for the first-time camper building a good fire can often be a challenge. These are my trusted methods, materials and tips that work (nearly) every time. 

Cabo Blanco, Peru- building a cooking fire on the beach.
Cabo Blanco, Peru- building a cooking fire on the beach.
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Mon

26

Jan

2015

Falling down the rabbit hole- life in the woods at Espiral de Luz, Samaipata, Bolivia.

 

I've been struggling for weeks over this post- how to explain my two month hiatus, how to cobble my words and photographs into describing my total infatuation with this little patch of woodland. It's been twenty-six days since we were forced to leave, but I still wake up expecting to hear the sound of insects, before realising the sad truth and missing the beautiful simplicity of that life. I'm finding it hard to move on, to step forward into modernity and realise I don't like the way the world is going, but lets start at the beginning.

 

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Mon

24

Nov

2014

El Vergel permaculture farm, camping and accommodation, Sorata.

 

As usual we'd been searching for somewhere cheap, relaxed and beautiful to stay...

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Mon

17

Nov

2014

Coiroco- tropical garden of the Yungas, Bolivia.

Plant in Coiroco, Yungas, Bolivia

The Yungas, where the rain-forest begins to creep into Bolivia's towering mountain range, are just a few hours North of La Paz, but an entirely different world when you actually arrive. With panoramic views of tree coated mountains from the picturesque town center, Coiroco seemed like a promising beginning for an adventure.

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Mon

10

Nov

2014

Lake Titicaca: Copacabana and the Isla del Sol.

Entering Bolivia at Copacabana, it´s hard to remember this is a landlocked country. Wide enough the horizon is flat in places, with sandy beaches and the occasional seagull, Lake Titicaca is a beautiful concession for the Bolivian people´s stolen coastline. 

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Fri

31

Oct

2014

The high road: Ayacucho to Cusco

 Ayacucho

 

I'm finding it hard to decide whether I love or hate the pompous postcard material photo above, but it gives you a good idea of the grandeur of this city. Ayacucho, a name I´d never heard a couple of weeks before arriving, feels a world apart from other cities we've visited in Peru. Unlike the crumbling concrete structures of other metropolises, here we found well maintained colonial structures, wide, clean streets and an air of independence. With an interesting but troubled history, only connected by a paved road to the outside world in 1999, Ayacucho has developed differently to elsewhere.

 

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Sun

19

Oct

2014

The high road: Huancayo, the train and Huancavelica.

Huancavelica
Huancavelica from the mountains.

After arriving in the North of Huancayo (a city of over 300,000 people), trekking to the East only to find an enormously overpriced campsite and then finally walking all the way down to the South with our bags, in the dark with rain lashing down on us and thunder in the background, we were exhausted and predisposed to dislike the city. Luckily a fantastic Chifa (Peruvian Chinese food), meeting up with our friends Coraline and Greg and exploring the never-ending market improved our experience greatly. 

 

This market, possibly the biggest I've seen in South America, was a great place to buy anything from reasonably priced knitted handicrafts and delicious snacks, to a new lead for Dan's camera. It took us the best part of a day to explore. 

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Wed

15

Oct

2014

The high road: Cerro de Pasco and the rock forest. 

 

With hundreds of half-finished concrete houses, clustered around the gaping mouth of a mine big enough to consume the whole city, and the natural climate of somewhere that boasts itself to be the "highest city in the world", Cerro de Pasco was an unlikely stop on our journey down South. 


 

Image and information in Spanish about this man made disaster from here.

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Tue

14

Oct

2014

The High Road- La Union to Huanuco

The small, muddy town of La Union, an unlikely travel destination, is where we began our lengthy adventure through Peru's central highlands. From the number of astounded local expressions that followed our everyday movements, it was obvious that finally we'd well and truly escaped the gringo trail.

 

La Union is a friendly town however and everyone was interested to know what we were doing there. Before long the lady selling fruit-bread in the market was greeting me like an old friend and children were asking the name of my father. Where was he?! 

 

This is the ramshackle view from our hostel (Hostal Picaflor)...

 

 

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Wed

08

Oct

2014

Huaraz, Nevado Pastoruri and a long walk up to Laguna Churup.

Nevado Pastorui glacier Huaraz Peru

After a couple of months along Ecuador and Peru's often unspectacular coastline, I was excited to get back to the mountains. Unfortunately, when our bus arrived at 5am, the only places open to sit in the warm were a small enticing establishment called 'Sex Burger', which we abandoned after two coffees and being joined by a group of over-friendly drunk locals, and an empty casino who's security guard offered us a third cup. 

 

By 10am, after a fifth cup, our friend Coraline, Dan and I abandoned all thoughts of napping and tried to decide whether our brain-crushing headaches were just the natural result of little sleep and too much caffeine or an unpleasant effect of the new height above sea level. Three days later and exhausted after a 40 minute walk, it was obvious that those altitude warnings shouldn't be taken lightly.

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Fri

03

Oct

2014

Huanchaco and the ruins of Chan Chan.

Chan Chan Peru
pelicans Huanchaco

As you might have read in my previous post about our friends' express kidnapping and robbery, we've got a rather mixed impression of Huanchaco. A small touristy destination, twenty minutes away from the third largest city in Peru is bound to have some problems, but if you follow the advice in my previous post, there is no reason to avoid the town altogether. 

 

First and foremost, Huanchaco has become a tourist destination for its surfing- board and the very necessary wetsuit hire costs S25 for a day. If you are clever enough it's possible to haggle down the price or argue that a day is 24 hours, so you can have a go the next morning too. We tried to surf with limited success, but I think it's the wrong season for the best waves.

 

Otherwise, the village is known for its unusual reed fishing boats which can be seen more often on show for tourists than actually in the water. The beach is a little grubby, but it doesn't seem to worry the enormous flock of pelicans which congregate by the pier. 

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Tue

23

Sep

2014

The friendly city of Chiclayo.

Chiclayo market

Chiclayo wasn't the sort of place I really expected to like: with quarter of a million people, backstreets smelling strongly of urine and a constant sound of beeping taxi horns, it's not at first glance a very appealing city. Actually the fact we ended up staying there was mostly a misunderstanding with the buses and the fact that we'd heard of a cheap place to stay, so my expectations were low.


Hospedaje San Lucas has such a tiny entrance that we walked past a couple of times thinking it must have shut down before spotting the faint blue 'backpackers' on a yellow door frame.  However, after being greeted by a remarkably friendly lady and discovering we had our own room with bathroom for S40 (about £4 each), we decided to stay a while to see what Chiclayo had to offer.

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Sun

21

Sep

2014

Cabo Blanco- a safe haven in Peru.

Cabo Blanco, Peru

 

By the time we left Mancora, our first stop in Peru, Dan and I were feeling pretty down. Although nothing terrible had happened, we'd spent too much time in tourist hell-holes, been ripped off a bit too often and just felt a little out of our Spanish speaking depth in the dirt-cheap campsites we'd been staying in. To make matters worse, a manic, middle-aged Australian woman approached us in Guayaquil bus station asking for $10, quickly changed her story and ran off with the money without saying thank-you. The final straw came when, after only managing to hitchhike about 50km all day, our final lift turned out to be an unmarked taxi. 

 

We were on the edge of the mountainous desert- out of sight coastline on our right and the desolate town El Alto on our left. Both directions seemed like a long hot walk, so when a truck stopped to ask us if we wanted a lift down the cliff road we jumped straight in the back. 

 

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Sat

20

Sep

2014

Safety warning: Huanchaco taxi robbery, Peru.

 A French couple, friends of ours, left the campsite at 8.30pm to catch a night bus from the nearest town Trujillo. Three or four hours later they returned with bruises on the man's face and having lost almost everything they owned. The story unfolded like this...

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Sun

14

Sep

2014

Whale watching, fishy street-art and hitchhiking Puerto-Lopez to Ayangue.

 

Bouncing along in the back of a fish-truck we watched the parched, cactus territory along the coastline turn to lush forest. With isolated micro-climates changing the scenery from place to place, Ecuador is amazingly varied for its size. Winter is warmer than Summer here, but the only season I didn't want to miss was when Humpback Whales come to mate. We'd spotted a few from the beach at Puerto Cayo, but it's hard to get a sense of scale at distance and I really wanted to see them up close.

 

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Sat

06

Sep

2014

Fishing boats of Manabi province, Ecuador.

The coastline of Ecuador's Manabi province is dotted with fishing villages. Each boat is carefully decorated in the style of it's owner and the fishermen are understandably proud to show them off. 

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Thu

28

Aug

2014

Hitchhiking the coast between Puerto Lopez and San Lorenzo, Ecuador.

Crab at Los Frailes

Most of the time the weather in Puerto Cayo looks something like this...

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Tue

19

Aug

2014

Wandering along the beach at Canoa

At weekends, the stretch of beach directly in front of Canoa's town center is mayhem. There are hippies selling jewelry, places to buy fresh fried octopus and the usual pot-bellied middle-aged men lying prostrate on the sand. Occasionally you might even see clueless tourists bobbing along on horses which will only move if chased by a man running behind with a whip. You'd be lucky to find a couple of square meters to lay out your towel and turn your head away for a second too long, your bag might disappear.* 

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Thu

07

Aug

2014

Mindo: hummingbirds and butterflies, but not really a waterfall.

Camping next to the river, surrounded by cloud forest, with the occasional eagle swooping overhead, we've spent most of our time in Mindo cooking.

 

camping, Mindo, Ecuador
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Sun

03

Aug

2014

A final few days of celebration and a sad farewell to La Esperanza.

There have been few places in the world that have brought tears to my eyes when it came to time to leave.  As I'm sure I've made quite obvious in my last four(?!) posts about La Esperanza, Dan and I really loved living there. This post isn't going to be very informative, but mostly a thank-you to the friends who made us feel so welcome in the village. 

 

We finished painting the house just in time for fiesta of San Juan. This was the third fiesta we'd been part of in La Esperanza and by far the most extravagant. There were lavishly decorated vehicles throwing out sweets and roses for spectators and several parties of costumed dancers; everyone was wearing their finery and some people even brought their animals along to display.

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Sat

02

Aug

2014

Casa Aida- A Home Away From Home.

Usually when I see signs outside a hostel stating it to be my 'Home Away From Home' or similar cliques, the skeptical voice in my head replies with something sarcastic.

 

Thankfully this time I was proved entirely wrong!

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