Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Cornwall – January 2014

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Blue Hills mine (January 2014)

Blue sky through branches, Blue Hills mine (January 2014)

New life, Blue Hills mine (January 2014)

Flora (January 2014)

Leaf (January 2014)

Plants against the sky (January 2014)

Moon reflection in flooded path (January 2014)

Sea view (January 2014)

Dramatic and rugged coastline (January 2014)

Sunset near Perranporth (January 2014)

Newquay railway station sign in the rain (January 2014)

One of the reasons we love spending time in Cornwall is that no matter when you go, you have a great time. If it’s sunny, we go for long walks or bodyboarding. If it rains, we go for long walks or bodyboarding.

Last weekend was exactly like that.

The Saturday was amazing. Fresh, but sunny. We had planned to walk between St Agnes and Perranporth and that worked out extremely well. There were very few people about. We didn’t rush. We took in every moment. The wind. The flora. The sea. The dramatically rugged coastline. We explored the old bit of the Blue Hills mine. We gazed at the moon reflected in the flooded path.

After all the rain we have had, it felt magical to be out in the sun. There was a spring in my step. It felt good.

Walking little bits of the coastal path at a time works so well for us. We poodle along. But it all adds up. We have now walked about 35km of the coastal path, and some sections more than once.

Sunday was overcast. We went to the beach and found many treasures. The recent storms have brought many unusual shells to the beach, shells previously buried deep or at sea, and mermaid purses.

Precious weekend.

By the time we boarded our train back to London, it was pouring down.

62 and counting…

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

An incredible year.

  • January: still in the Maldives
  • April: Liberia
  • May: Togo
  • June: Senegal; Sofia (Bulgaria)
  • July: Svalbard; Norway
  • October: Chile
  • November: the Falklands Islands; South Georgia; Chile; France

A few of these trips were planned. Others were all about making the most of any opportunities which presented themselves to us.

Plans for 2014 are still very much in the making. Lots of obstacles to overcome. We were thinking Brazil for the FIFA World Cup. The Kamchatka wilderness appealed to us. We thought about a week in Jodhpur, taking in the colours. All these plans have been scrapped. Despite applying for five games, we didn’t get any tickets, so no Brazil for us. Russia and India. Our consciences are saying no.

And so back to planning. Definitely a slower year.

The lure of the Arctic? Eastern Europe?

World map shower curtain (January 2014)

Our world map shower curtain is our best buy of the year so far.

Hey, feel free to send suggestions our way. Now, go and create your own visited country map and if you want, let me know what it looks like. I’d love that.

The Shah Jahan Mosque – Woking, July 2013

Friday, December 13th, 2013

The Shah Jahan Mosque (July 2013)

Entrance to the Shah Jahan Mosque (July 2013)

Singer Sewing Centre, Woking (July 2013)

The Mosque street sign (July 2013)

I think of London as lots of villages close together. Each village has a lot going for it and from time to time, it’s nice to go to another village. For each village has different shops, different pubs and different restaurants. Depending on where you go, it’s not just exploring another part of London.

Well. Maybe that was true ten years ago or so.

Before the chains moved in.

Now, each village has the same shops and the same restaurants. And so there is almost no need to go to another village. What you’ll find there is what your village offers.

Which is sad.

And the same can be said for other towns in the UK. The only difference is what type of chains you get: posh or not-so-posh. And so, towns get talked about. Yep, it’s worth going there. Avoid it, there is no need to go there.

And Woking, it has to be said, is a town that belongs to the latter category. People laughed when I told them I was going there. They pitied me.

A walk around the town centre and I understood why. There is very little there, apart from not-so-posh chains. And you can come across jewels like the Singer Sewing Centre… a remnant of the fifties.

But I had heard a rumour that Woking has the first mosque to be built in the UK and Northern Europe. The Shah Jahan Mosque.

Who would have thought.

It’s a little out of town and I got lost on the way (I misunderstood the directions I’d been given). I was about to give up (it couldn’t possibly be further away, could it?) when I spotted the street sign. The mosque is set back from the main road, sandwiched between a residential area and an industrial estate.

I couldn’t go in unfortunately as the time of my visit coincided with prayers. But I didn’t mind. The building is architecturally stunning. The garden is beautiful.

And that day, the sun was shining.

So maybe, just maybe, not everywhere is the same after all… you just need to look for the out of the ordinary.

I’m back!

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Norway Street, SE10 (London)

It’s funny how you walk past things all the time but don’t really notice them until one day, bang, you see them and wonder how you could have missed them before!

So… a few weeks ago, I noticed this street sign. I must have passed it hundreds of times before.

Why did I notice it then? Well, funnily enough, this was just a few days before we were due to leave for our trip to Norway.

Funny hey?

I have spent the last three weeks in the Arctic – two weeks in Svalbard and one in Tromso. It was amazing. We saw polar bears! And much more.

I do feel guilty that I haven’t posted for ages, especially since I have so much to share. I was reading Blog, Inc. last night to see if they had any advice on this dilemma of mine. And they do, kind of. They advise to have a few posts ready and to post them automatically in advance.

Hmmm. I’ll ponder that one.

In the meantime, it’s good to be home. I have had some amazing experiences so far this year but it’s good to be home. I’m a little tired of all this exploring. As I type this, there are talks of trips to come… but nothing booked as yet. So I will let this feeling of serenity wash over me.

I am back. And I hope you’re all still around…

And off again…

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

I woke up with a sense of dread on Saturday morning; the prospect of 11 flights before the end of the year suddenly overwhelmed me (or to be more truthful, frightened me).

I love travelling.

I hate flying.

(Two statements which truly define me.)

Hence I have a real fondness for 2009; the year we decided not to fly anywhere and ended up in amazing Lucca (Italy) and Morocco.

But sometimes, flying is the only option… It would take too long to reach your destination otherwise, unless you had all the time (and money) in the world.

I’m in Lomé, the capital city of Togo (West Africa). I arrived last night (I’m down to nine flights now; woo hoo).

It’s hot (30 °C). It’s terribly humid.

And if you’d asked me earlier today what I made of it all… Hmmm… I don’t think you’d be rushing here in a hurry.

After a lazy morning,  I left the hotel and set off in the direction of the beach. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé follows the Atlantic Ocean. The palm fringed beach is long and wide and there was hardly anyone there. The road by the seafront incidentally goes from Benin to Ghana  (Togo is incredibly narrow as a country; I’m so close to Ghana, it’s absurd).

Things then took a turn for the worse. I failed to locate the presidential palace (don’t laugh at me! I tried to memorise the map before I left the hotel so I wouldn’t keep getting the map out of my bag, but clearly I didn’t do very well).

I made slow progress as I got accosted every few minutes by guys who either wanted to chat or just say hello or ask if I wanted to use their taxi-moto.

I then failed to locate the National Museum. According to my guidebook, it should be behind the Palais des Congrès. But apparently it’s inside. I’ll try again in the morning… but as tomorrow is a Bank Holiday here, my guess is it won’t be open.

Back at the hotel, dripping and red from the sun (despite the factor 30 suncream), I sat by the pool and contemplated going for a swim. Whilst I contemplated, I got bitten by mossies… who clearly don’t know that they’re supposed to be most active at sunrise and sunset. Tell them someone! Or at least tell them not to pick on me.

The success of my expedition is that I saw the tallest building in Lomé (and Togo), the Hôtel du 2 Février on Place De L’Indépendance.

Hmmm.

But things perked up early evening  when I went to the beach.

Wow.

It was heaving. The whole of Lomé was out, I swear. Friends; families; teenagers; young couples; traders… the whole lot. People chatting, taking it easy; swimming; buying food and drinks from vendors; people-watching; riding horses or playing games… and the sound of music everywhere.

Lomé on a Sunday.

Brazil with Michael Palin (episode four)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Paraty harbour (Brazil, August 2010)

Sao Paulo (Brazil, August 2010)

Iguazu Falls (Brazil, August 2010)

Episode four of Brazil with Michael Palin made me want to explore the Pantanal and revisited Paraty, Sao Paulo and the Iguazy Falls with great pleasure.

It feels like ages ago since we went to Brazil, when it fact it was only two summers ago.

The spotlight is definitely on Brazil over the next few years, with the World Cup in 2014  and the Rio 2016 Olympics.

And whilst I found the series mildly irritating, it did make me think that there’s a lot more of Brazil to see…

Hmmm. Watch this space…

Illuminated igloo, Lapland (Finland) – Bing.com

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Illuminated igloo, Kakslauttanent, Lapland, Finland (Bing.com)
Illuminated igloo, Kakslauttanen, Lapland, Finland (© Arctic-Images/Iconica/Getty Images). Source: Bing.com (21 January 2013)

Oooohhh.

It’s funny how things turn out.

We came home from Cornwall last night. We spent the weekend on sunny beaches, all wrapped up to fend off the cold wind.

We couldn’t have had a more different weekend than the one people in London must have had.

We came home to snow (a good 20cm of snow!) and travel chaos.

Travel to work was easy this morning. It did cross my mind that everyone was getting a snow-day and we didn’t know about it.

This abundance of snow (and long may it continue) made me think of our trip to Nellim last March.

And by complete coincidence, today’s image on Bing.com is all about Lapland.

56 and counting…

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

I have now visited 56 countries (25%).

Wow.

It would be cool to make it to 100 but somehow, I can’t see it happening.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams.

2012 was an incredible year for travelling, with four new countries and more importantly, some great memories.

We have one trip confirmed for 2013 already. I’m looking for ideas for a second trip and we’re planning a long weekend away too.

What about you guys? Any plans?

If you fancy a bit of fun, go ahead and create your own visited country map.

Botswana and Zambia – Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Leopard, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Antelope passing by our camp, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Black Mamba warning sign, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

In Moremi, we got lucky and had our best sighting of a leopard, ever.

We saw plenty more: kudus; red billed francolins; impalas; velvet monkeys; a troop of baboons; hippos; buffalos; steenboks; bee-eaters and little bee-eaters; hornbills; guinea-fowls; waterhogs; tsessebe antelopes; marabou storks; forked-tailed drongo; open-billed storks; fish eagles; grey herons; elephants; giraffes; zebras; coppery-tailed coucal and lechwe (our first ever sighting).

Luckily, we didn’t come across the black mamba!

Back at our camp, even downtime was an opportunity to watch animals as an inquisitive antelope approached us.

It’s been fun writing about Botswana and Zambia. That was a great trip. The memories have stayed with me so strongly.

I can’t wait to go back to Africa…

Botswana and Zambia – elephants, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Herd of elephants passing near our camp, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Elephants dusting themselves, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Bull drinking, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Elephant tusk, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Chilli bricks, Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Elephant (from an orange skin), Moremi Game Reserve (June 2012)

Moremi gave us many more elephant sightings… and experiences.

A herd passing the edge of our camp, with lots of little ones.

Elephants spraying dust on themselves.

A bull drinking.

A little elephant copying his elders by trying to shake a tree.

At the entrance gate, a tusk recovered by the game keepers reminded us of the danger the elephants face.

The chilli bricks drying in the sun to be placed strategically as repellant. Humans and elephants having to find a way to cohabitate.

An elephant head made of orange peel… (my other half is a true artist!).