Europe!

Growing up in the UK, Europe has always been the most accessible continent for me- I'm thankful for that. I don't think there's anywhere else in the world where you can experience the same variety of interesting cultures right on each-other's door steps.


This section is filled with my travels within the UK as well as those in France, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Italy, Russia, Germany, Greece, Malta and Austria. 

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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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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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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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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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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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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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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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Wed

07

May

2014

Festival Fact File: Pitch

I'd never even heard of Pitch, but had been looking for somewhere to see my hero Bonobo and figured that we could do worse than hopping on the bus to Amsterdam. With no real expectations, money or knowledge of the majority of acts, it could have gone either way. 

 

In fact, despite having to camp off site, Pitch turned out to be the easiest and most consistently enjoyable festival I went to all summer. It was relaxed, friendly and a manageable size, but with varied enough music to keep the weekend exciting. 

 

...I'm tempted to make some sort of joke about 'perfect Pitch', but am worried I might lose some of you.

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Tue

22

Apr

2014

Festival Fact File: Glastonbury

*I wrote this post a couple of years ago, so ignore the dates. 1st ticket sales this year are 4/10/15. Re-sales after Christmas.*

I'm going to introduce my series of 'Festival Fact Files' with a bit of a banger. Glastonbury is the biggest, muddiest and undoubtedly most exhausting of all the festivals I've ever been to, so why is it breaking my heart this much to watch the resale date sale past?* Although its size can be a little overwhelming at first, Glastonbury is unbeatable for its unique combination of friendly atmosphere, variety of performances and incredible line-up. I've been lucky enough to make it to the last four, but this year I'll leave the tickets for you- resales are on the 24th and 27th April. Get on it!

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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Trying to get lost on Islay.

The Dower House- dilapidated home of my parents and my current abode.
I have no sense of direction. Seriously, plonk me down anywhere in the world without a map or compass and I will walk around in circles for an eternity until I find somebody helpful. I don't always exactly enjoy being lost, but it has come to be an expected part of my daily existence. Even after three years of living in Southampton, I still only knew very certain routes from place to place.... I find it hard to navigate my way around shopping centres, forget what way I came in a door and head back out in the opposite direction and sometimes even get a little bit lost when swimming underwater in a swimming-pool.*
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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Seven big Italian cities, three weeks and an almost non-existent budget.

This is another travel flashback, this time to 2009. My thinking is that if I could travel around Italy on the cheap age 17, then it should be possible for everyone. 
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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Ten photos that remind me why I have to go back to Portugal...

I hadn't even intended to visit Portugal, but after bumbling up through Morocco and along the South of Spain, that was where I ended up. I only had a few days and never made it out of the cities, Faro, Lisbon and Porto, but that was enough to convince me that I need to return- and soon!
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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Eight amazing seaside spots on the Isle of Islay- advice from a local.

Islay- the location of the majority of my childhood holidays and now home to my family, I've always known there were plenty of amazing places to see on Islay (even if it is a bit chilly at this time of year). I do realise however, that the majority of people will either have never heard of it or have just seen the name on expensive whiskey bottles, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite places... You can't beat the advice of a local!
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Sun

06

Apr

2014

The Street Art of Stokes Croft, Bristol.


As part of my usual expedition to catch up with as many of my favorite people as possible while I'm in England, I headed down to Bristol for New Years Eve to see my friends Sam and Steve and the rest of their motley crew I associate with festivals, raves and long days of doing very little. By the afternoon of the Second of January, I'd finally recovered enough to remember where I was and have a little explore...
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Sun

06

Apr

2014

'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' -London

 

Where: Natural History Museum, London

 

When: 18 October 2013 - 23 March 2014

10.00-17.50 (last admission 17.15)

The photos will then do a tour of various cities (I once saw them in Sydney instead).

 

How much: Adult £12, child and concessions £6 (including 10% optional extra donation)

 

Buy tickets: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/wpy/exhibition/

 

 

Amazingly, this year was the forth in a row I've managed to see the winners of the 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' awards and this latest collection certainly did nothing to dislodge its position as my favorite exhibition of all time. Not only are the photos themselves incredible, but the set-up of the exhibition in the Natural History Museum creates a peaceful, soothing environment in which to view them. Beautifully back-lit in a darkened, but spacious side wing, strange but soothing music emanates from the walls, making you feel as if you're wandering around inside a whale's womb.*

 

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Tue

25

Mar

2014

How to beg, borrow and steal your way out of Athens during a riot...

 Lack of money while travelling can put anyone in amusing, difficult, or sometimes just exhausting situations, and our final day in Greece this summer proved to be all three of these things. Casually cooking pancakes on the morning of our flight, we overheard a boy moaning about having to walk into the Acropolis from our hostel. Having done this in about half an hour the day before, we asked him what the problem was and took his reports of a capital-wide strike with a pinch of salt, casually continuing our pancake feast until a computer was free for Googling the situation. At this point, our plans crumpled around us: not only were there no trains, trams, buses or metro, but the taxi drivers had chosen that day to rebel against the government's plans to liberalise the taxi sector too and there was even a strike at the airport. Maybe we could walk? A quick Googlemap later and that option wasn't looking hopeful. The airport was 30km out of the city, along a motorway, and hitching in a riot didn't seem like the best plan either. It was the first time when our motto of, "Everything works out in the end" seemed to be mocking us.

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