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@katelovestravel
Kate Loves Travel
Travel writer, blogger and photographer
Where I’m Looking Forward To Going When Lockdown EndsWe're now 9 weeks into lockdown in the UK and, although restrictions have been eased slightly, we're still pretty limited in terms of where we can go and what we can do (and with whom!). But I'm ok with that - people's lives are much more important than my personal freedom. However, now things are moving in the right direction I'm starting to think more about where I want to go when we can move about more freely. We won't be heading overseas this year that's for sure - I don't think it's worth the risk, so we'll be staying in the UK instead. And since the weather this year has been so good, I'm really looking forward to it! Walking in the Peak District As you'll know if you've been following my blog for a while, I love to get out into the countryside and walk. And one of my favourite places in the UK to do that is the Peak District. Hopefully we'll be heading there soon to enjoy the stunning views and great walks... [caption id=attachment_4164 align=aligncenter width=2560] I love walking in the Peak District![/caption] Spending the day at the beach It seems such a long time since I saw the sea and I can't wait to walk along the beach and hear the waves crashing... unfortunately we live pretty much as far away from the coast as you can get in the UK! My favourite seaside resorts in the UK are too far to go for the day so we'll just have to head to one of the nearest ones (maybe Hunstanton) which is around 2 hours drive away... [caption id=attachment_4165 align=aligncenter width=2560] I'm looking forward to hitting the beach...[/caption] Camping in Wales I love camping and we were planning on a two week camping road trip this summer around Wales and the South West. This isn't going to happen now obviously but I'm hoping that towards the end of the summer holidays we may be able to get a weekend camping in Wales in (although this will only happen if more of the restrictions are lifted). [caption id=attachment_2985 align=aligncenter width=3264] We're looking forward to going camping again[/caption] There are lots of other places I'd like to go, such as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, but I don't know when things like museums will be open again to visitors... it may be a while I guess unless they are able to maintain social distancing (which could be tricky). [caption id=attachment_3402 align=aligncenter width=4608] Old meets new at the brilliant Portsmouth Historic Dockyard...[/caption] Where are you planning to go when this is over - or maybe restrictions have already been lifted where you are? Let me know your plans in the comments below... Happy Travelling & Stay Safe! Kate
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What I’m Grateful For Right NowSo I've not been further than a few streets from my house now for just over 7 weeks... and it's definitely a strange feeling. I feel like I've totally lost my connection with the outside world. And, worse, I don't know when I'm going to be able to properly re-connect either. Sadly, due to my health issues I don't think it will be anytime soon. But, that said, I still feel like I have plenty of things to be grateful for... My friends and family are all safe and well Touch wood, I don't know anyone who has caught Coronavirus - which is something that I am extremely grateful for. I'm desperately sad for anyone who has lost a loved one to this awful virus and hope things settle down very soon without the loss of too many more lives. [caption id=attachment_2082 align=aligncenter width=855] Happier times with the family...[/caption] My Counselling Course is continuing online We are still managing to do everything we need to do for our course, so I am still hopeful that I can complete and pass it in time to start the Level 3 in September (providing things are back to normal by then of course). It's not the same as learning face-to-face but it's better than having to sit at home and wait for things to return to some kind of normality before completing it... Learning new things I have done a couple of online courses so far during lockdown and am looking at doing another shortly. I've completed a Mental Health First Aid Certificate, which I've been wanting to do for ages as well as training as a Telephone Befriender for the Royal Air Forces Association (a charity I volunteer for who support serving members of the RAF as well as RAF veterans) so I can continue to offer support whilst we can't carry out face-to-face visits. I've also done some swimming-related courses so I can help out poolside when swimming is back on the agenda, whenever that may be. Getting the garden in order Our garden is looking better than it ever has! Mainly because we normally don't have enough time to keep on top of it due to other commitments... being at home has meant we can get on with all the little jobs that have needed doing for a while. I've even planted beetroot, strawberries, tomatoes and chillis during the last few weeks. And the rhubarb, raspberry bushes, redcurrant bush and apricot tree which were already in are all doing well too, so hopefully we'll get some home-grown produce soon. [caption id=attachment_4154 align=aligncenter width=846] We've been spending a lot more time int he garden during lockdown[/caption] Assessing my priorities Having more time has allowed me to take stock and think about what I want to achieve and how I'm going to go about it. Lockdown has definitely given me more space to think, which I've found useful in terms of prioritising my goals for the future. More time to exercise I've been doing a lot more exercise during lockdown, which is great because I'd got out of the habit and become a bit lazy! I'm enjoying doing yoga most days as well as the odd workout session with Freya, as well as going out for regular walks. I'm looking forward to being able to get out more often and go a bit further afield now we are moving into the next phase of lockdown. So these are the things I'm feeling grateful for at the moment... What are you grateful for right now? Let me know in the comments below... Stay safe! Kate
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How we’re finding home schoolingSo, this is a bit of a move away from my normal travel-related blog posts, but since travel is definitely not on the cards right now I decided to write about something different... We're just over a month into lockdown in the UK and everything is going pretty well, but home schooling is definitely taking up a lot of my time... at the expense of lots of other things! But how are we finding it so far? Even though Freya is old enough to get on with her work on her own, she still needs some help every now and then... as well as help with organising her day so that she gets everything done that she needs to do. To make life more complicated, her swim club have set a lot of training sessions which have to be done too (taking up several hours of her day) - although this does mean she's still getting in plenty of exercise, which is great. So, a couple of weeks ago, during the Easter holidays, we wrote a schedule for her which included all her lessons, her training sessions and her music lessons and sax/clarinet practice times. [caption id=attachment_4140 align=aligncenter width=871] Freya has lots of home workout sessions to do![/caption] Thankfully, the internet has proved invaluable in helping with subjects that I am unable to help her with (like maths and science, which are definitely not my strongest subjects!) as well as providing us with lots of opportunities to broaden and deepen her studies. What we would have done without it I have absolutely no idea! [caption id=attachment_4146 align=aligncenter width=875] Freya is enjoying being home schooled![/caption] We have also watched a number of great educational programmes such as the history sessions from Western Approaches and made lots of virtual trips to places such as Petra and the Pyramids at Giza to enhance the curriculum, as well as a bit of food tech (or cooking with Dad!). These are things she would not have had chance to do if she had been in school, so it's been a good opportunity for her to do other things that are outside of the school curriculum. To be honest, I'm quite enjoying home schooling... and I know Freya is too! I think she's missing her friends but she's definitely not missing going to school. And when she'll be going back to school... who knows! But one thing is for sure - she won't be going back until I think it's safe for her to do so... and if that's not until September, then so be it. Are you home schooling or have you been? If so, how are you finding it? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Home Schooling! Kate
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My Favourite Virtual TripsWhilst we are in lockdown and travel is banned, I have been checking out lots of virtual travel experiences in order to try and quell my urge to travel... and there are so many options to choose from! So here are my favourite virtual trips so far: Petra, Jordan The ruins at Petra look fantastic and this is a great virtual tour (through Google Streetview) where you can walk along the avenues and through the ruins and get a real flavour of the site. Disney There are lots of videos on YouTube allowing you to ride some of the most popular rides at Disney and to watch some of the shows. Definitely worth a look if you have children... just head over to YouTube and google Disney rides and check out your favourites... it's obviously not the same as being there but it's a fun way to kill some time! [caption id=attachment_4128 align=aligncenter width=860] Everyone loves the Teacups at Disney![/caption] Machu Picchu, Peru Machu Picchu is somewhere I've always wanted to go but have still not got there... and this virtual experience (Google Streetview again!) gives a great overview of this stunning site. Obviously, it's not the same as visiting in person, but it's better than nothing right now... Angkor Wat, Cambodia Somewhere else that's high up on my bucket list is the stunning temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. And this Streetview experience is a pretty good way of getting an idea of what you would see if you were to visit. Chichen Itza, Mexico I've actually been to Chichen Itza twice before but it remains one of the most amazing places I've ever visited... and this virtual tour takes you to all the key places at this archeological site in Mexico. [caption id=attachment_843 align=aligncenter width=854] The ruins at Chichen Itza in Mexico are impressive... even virtually![/caption] As you can see, I have found Google Streetview a great way of travelling the world whilst I can't actually travel - just type in where you want to visit and see if it has been mapped yet (many major tourist destinations have been)! I highly recommend checking it out! As you've probably noticed, I'm a fan of history and many of the places I've explored are archeological sites across the world... but there are many other great options out there ready for you to explore and, to inspire you ready for when we can travel again. Have you done any virtual travelling whilst we are unable to travel? Or maybe you've been reading about travel? Let me know what you've been up to in the comments below... any recommendations gratefully received! Happy (Virtual) Travelling! Kate
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Garden Camping!Normally on a bank holiday weekend we try and get away for a few days, but obviously that wasn't an option this Easter... so, instead, we decided to set up camp in our back garden! The weather was beautiful so it was the perfect chance to give the tent its first outing of 2020. [caption id=attachment_4098 align=aligncenter width=2560] Garden Camp, Easter 2020[/caption] Now as our garden is not very big, we decided to use our small 3-man tent (I'm not sure our large tent would have even fitted on the lawn!) for Matty and I to sleep in. Whilst Freya decided that she wanted to sleep out under the stars in the new hammock (gifted) - which I thought was pretty brave in the UK in April! The first thing we did was to put the hammock stand together and attach the hammock. Of course, then I had to grab my book and a pillow and test it out... and I have to say that it was very, very comfortable. I can see us using it a lot this summer - hopefully when we are able to get out and camp 'properly', rather than just in the garden! So we set up the rest of the camp and fired up the chiminea, which we used both to cook on and to keep ourselves warm later on in the evening. Our evening meal consisted of chicken, veggie burgers, veggie sausages and roasted vegetables from the bbq with delicious homemade bread - it was all very good! [caption id=attachment_4095 align=aligncenter width=2560] Our evening meal was cooked on the chiminea...[/caption] Around 2230 we wrapped Freya up warmly in the hammock and climbed into the tent (although I didn't hold out much hope that Freya would sleep outside on her own to be honest!). I have to say, I had a pretty good nights sleep! Well, at least until 0500 when Freya appeared in the tent saying she was getting a bit cold outside... so she dragged her sleeping bag in and we went back to sleep for an hour or two. In the morning, Freya said how comfortable she had been in the hammock and that she had enjoyed sleeping out... so I'm looking forward to trying it myself when I get the chance! [caption id=attachment_4096 align=aligncenter width=2560] Freya spent the night in the hammock![/caption] And then it was time for my very favourite part of camping - the camping breakfast! Eggy bread, tomatoes and mushrooms cooked on the camping stove in the garden and eaten on the patio - what a perfect start to the day. Oh, and a cup of tea, obviously! [caption id=attachment_4092 align=aligncenter width=2560] Camping breakfast in the garden![/caption] The rest of the Easter weekend was spent outside relaxing in the sunshine and doing a few odd jobs in the garden... whilst it wasn't a holiday, camping out was a bit of fun and broke up the monotony of staring at the same 4 walls for the last four weeks! We'll definitely be doing it again soon. What interesting ways are you finding to spend your time during lockdown? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Garden Camping! Kate *I was gifted the Tropilex hammock but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.
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What I’m Looking Forward To When This Is Over!So, it's only been a few weeks of lockdown, but I'm already starting to think about what I'm going to do when it's over... which will hopefully be sooner rather than later! Thankfully the weather has been pretty good so far so I've been able to get out into the garden to top up my Vitamin D, but I can't wait to be able to spread my wings and travel further afield again! So here are a few things I'm looking forward to when the restrictions are lifted: Catching up with family and friends A lot of my family and friends are not local so we haven't even been able to drive past their houses and wave at them... and my parents aren't even online, so Skype or FaceTime catch-ups are out of the question! This is probably the thing I am finding the hardest to deal with right now... [caption id=attachment_4082 align=aligncenter width=2560] I'm looking forward to a big get together with family and friends![/caption] Going out walking I can't wait to get out into the countryside for a nice, long walk... I feel like I am stuck in such a small bubble right now. I'm definitely up for taking a trip to the beautiful Peak District as soon as we can get there. [caption id=attachment_4080 align=aligncenter width=2560] The Roaches is a beautiful place to walk[/caption] Booking some weekends away There are so many places we wanted to go this year - all fairly local too. Our list includes visiting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Legoland, Beamish Living Museum, going camping in Snowdonia (Freya wants to climb Snowdon), visiting the Isle of Wight, and many more... [caption id=attachment_4079 align=aligncenter width=2560] Old and new sit side-by-side at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard[/caption] Doing a few day trips There are lots of days out we want to do such as visit the Imperial War Museum, Cadbury's World, the Motorcycle Museum (Matt's choice obviously!) and going to The Aviator for afternoon tea... Unfortunately some of the day trips we already had planned - such as the RAF Cosford Airhsow - have been cancelled due to Coronavirus... oh well, there's always next year! [caption id=attachment_3859 align=aligncenter width=2447] The Red Arrows put on a fantastic display at the RAF Cosford Air Show in 2019[/caption] Booking some concerts and shows There are so many concerts and shows that I would love to go and see so I am hoping we will be able to book some for later on this year/early next year to make up for the ones that have been cancelled... [caption id=attachment_4083 align=aligncenter width=2560] I'm looking forward to a trip to the theatre...[/caption] Booking a holiday (or two!) I think at the moment it is unlikely we will get round to taking a holiday this year... there's no way we can book anything for the summer holidays as it's unlikely that all restrictions will have been lifted by then and, after that, Freya will be back at school and training so we won't be able to fit one in. So I am looking forward to planning next year's travel instead! [caption id=attachment_4085 align=aligncenter width=2560] Can't wait for next year's holidays![/caption] So these are the things I'm looking forward to when lockdown is over... what about you? Any plans for when the situation improves? Let me know in the comments below... Stay Safe! Kate
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How I’m Spending My Time During LockdownThis is without doubt the strangest period of my life so far... being isolated in my house and not being able to see family and friends is tough - much tougher than I had imagined... and I'm only a couple of weeks in!! And not only can I not travel, I daren't even book any travel for fear it will be cancelled if this awful virus isn't brought under control anytime soon. But I am trying to use this time constructively and not to dwell on the precariousness of the current situation, so here is what I have been up to so far: Studying As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am currently training to be a counsellor. Sadly, I can no longer attend college but we are keeping going independently, trying to fulfil all the criteria we need to meet. I now that we won't be able to fulfil all the course requirements as some of it is skills work which can only be done face-to-face, but we can still do the written work, so I am trying to focus on doing that the best I can. I have also started an online Mental Health First Aid course, which is something I've wanted to do for a while... so this pause in all our lives has given me the chance to complete this. [caption id=attachment_3877 align=aligncenter width=800] I'm enjoying spending more time studying[/caption] Virtual Travel I have been amazed how many amazing virtual travel experiences you can find online... so far I have taken a motorcycle ride around the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, ridden rides at Disneyworld, Florida and explored Angkor Wat! Whilst it's not the same as experiencing these things in the 'real world', they have given me a taste of the experiences. I will be doing lots more virtual travelling during my period of isolation... and I'm sure all these 'trips' will give me some inspiration for where I want to go when this is all over. Teaching I am teaching my 14 year old daughter... or I am trying to! I'm pretty good at some subjects (English, languages) but am struggling to help her with others (such as physics!). Thankfully she can mainly get on with it herself and I just go and help her when she is stuck. I'm quite enjoying it to be honest! Reading I am enjoying catching up on some reading at the moment. I have had a few books lying around which I have been meaning to read for ages, so I now have the time to get on with them! I have just finished the brilliant Budapest: A History of Grandeur and Catastrophe by Joe Hajdu (you can read my review here) and am now reading On becoming a person by Carl Rogers - which I think will be slightly heavier going, lol! [caption id=attachment_4066 align=aligncenter width=525] I'm enjoying catching up on some reading![/caption] Gardening So far, I have planted strawberries, tomatoes, beetroot, chillis and my hanging baskets, so my garden is looking pretty good right now - much better than it would have done had I not have had time on my hands! I'm not normally a gardener but I do enjoy growing food... which may come in handy at some point!! Exercise We have been doing the PE with Joe Wicks (search for The Body Coach on YouTube) sessions each morning Monday to Friday - they are great fun. Other than that, I have been going out for short walks round the block every so often (only once a day, as that is all we are allowed) just to get me out of the house. [caption id=attachment_4067 align=aligncenter width=575] We're doing PE every weekday morning with Joe Wicks[/caption] Miscellaneous Another plan we have is to camp and cook outside in the back garden (when it's a bit warmer!)... I'm looking forward to this one as I think it will be fun! Other than that, we are trying to stay in touch with family and friends via telephone/FaceTime/WhatsApp - although it's not quite the same as getting together. But for now, it will have to do... and if staying isolated means the Covid-19 virus will disappear sooner rather than later, then it's definitely worth it. So this is what I have been doing so far to fill my time during lockdown... what about you? Let me know what you've been up to and how you are getting on in the comments below... Stay Safe! Kate
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Book Review: Budapest: A History of Grandeur and CatastropheI was sent this book to review by Austin Macauley, which is handy given that we are in lockdown due to Coronavirus... Budapest: A History of Grandeur and Catastrophe by Joe Hajdu tells the fascinating story of the trials and tribulations of Hungary's vibrant capital city. About the book No of pages: 220 Illustrations: Yes, lots of photos Published: Austin Macauley (2015) Available formats: Paperback and eBook About the author Dr Joe Hadju is a cultural geographer who has previously written books on Australia, the West-East German border and Berlin. Budapest: A History of Grandeur and Catastrophe is the first book he has written about his birthplace, Hungary. My review This book provides a detailed history of the city of Budapest and includes a huge amount of fascinating information. I had no idea about the impact of certain world events on Hungary, such as WW1 and WW2, so it was interesting to read about them and the hardships they caused. Nor did I have any knowledge of the political turmoil that Hungary had gone through over the years and the struggles faced by the residents of its capital, Budapest. I also enjoyed reading about the diverse areas of the city - and the people who lived there over the years - and about the different architectural styles which can be found in the city and which reflect different periods in the country's turbulent history. There is just so much information packed into a few hundred pages! This book would not only appeal to those with an interest in history but also to travellers who like to learn a bit about their destinations either before or after they visit (or even during!). It would be a very useful book to check out if you are planning on visiting Budapest at some point... [caption id=attachment_4055 align=aligncenter width=2560] There are lots of photos in the book...[/caption] Summary I have never visited Budapest (or indeed anywhere in Hungary) but it has always been somewhere that has interested me. And I knew very little about its history - until I read this book, which offers an incredibly detailed history of the city. What I loved about Budapest: A History of Grandeur and Catastrophe, was reading the personal stories which are interspersed with the dates and details of major historical events which affected the city and its diverse residents. I have to be honest, I couldn't put it down once I started reading it! I will certainly be making a trip to Budapest when life eventually returns to normal... My Star Rating: [usr 5] If you love history and travel, you will definitely enjoy this book! If you would like to purchase a copy, you can do so here. Happy Reading! Kate * I was gifted a copy of Budapest: A History of Grandeur and Catastrophe by the publishers, Austin Macauley, but all opinions expressed are my own.
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Another Day Out in London!For my birthday this year, we decided to go to London for the day. So we set off early on Sunday morning, parked up and hit the streets. We already had timed entry tickets for the Tutankhamun Exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery so that's where we headed first... in the pouring rain! Tutankhamun Exhibition, Saatchi Gallery I love ancient history so found this Exhibition totally fascinating. It made me want to visit Egypt sometime soon... If you want to read more about it you can check out my recent blog post: Review: Tutankhamun Exhibition, London [caption id=attachment_4019 align=aligncenter width=581] There were lots of beautiful artefacts in the Tutankhamun Exhibition[/caption] We spent a few hours at the Exhibition (along with thousands of other people!) then went to the cafe for some refreshments and a quick sit down. The food and drink in the cafe were delicious! Feeling refreshed, we headed off to our next port of call... National Army Museum: Tribute Ink We had visited the National Army Museum fairly recently so didn't go round the whole museum (although it is a great museum and, had we had more time, we probably would have gone round it all again). Instead we visited a temporary exhibition which interested us (and was the reason for visiting again so soon). Tribute Ink is a small exhibition about the role of tattoos in the military. It was an interesting display, showing some striking and emotive tribute tattoos... definitely worth a visit before it finishes on 17 April 2020. [caption id=attachment_4020 align=aligncenter width=875] We enjoyed the Tribute Ink exhibition at the National Army Museum[/caption] By this time we were all ready for some lunch... Lunch at the Rainforest Cafe We are big fans of Rainforest Cafe but had never been to the one in London before for some reason. We arrived and got sat down quickly as we had made a reservation in advance. The theming was amazing, as usual and we loved watching the animals moving and sitting through the regular storms which hit the Cafe! The staff were friendly and attentive throughout visit... and our food was very good too - the portions were huge... even we couldn't eat everything, which is pretty much unheard of! The restaurant was busy, as ever, but it was great fun and we will be back there again soon I'm sure! [caption id=attachment_4021 align=aligncenter width=602] We love Rainforest Cafe![/caption] Then it was time for a walk... The Royal Parks As the weather had cleared up by the afternoon, we spent an hour or two wandering through some of London's beautiful Royal Parks, as we often do when we visit London... On our way through the Parks, we stopped to admire some of the many military memorials scattered around. [caption id=attachment_4026 align=aligncenter width=645] The Royal Artillery Memorial commemorates the Royal Regiment of Artillery's casualties from WW1[/caption] Our favourite - and one which I didn't particularly remember seeing before - was the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, which has a beautiful bronze statue of a Bomber Command aircrew. [caption id=attachment_4022 align=aligncenter width=623] The impressive RAF Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park[/caption] Then it was back to the car for the journey home... We had a long and busy day in London... walking for miles through the streets (as Freya refused to go on the tube due to the Coronavirus outbreak!!). But I love wandering round cities, so I was quite happy to avoid the crowded tube and travel everywhere on foot... Have you been to London? If so, what are your favourite things to do? If not, would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Sightseeing! Kate
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Book Review: A Glimpse of North Sudan by Eric & Clare LowryA Glimpse of North Sudan by Eric and Clare Lowry is part travel diary and part history book and provides an insight into this little visited corner of Africa... About the book No of pages: 97 Illustrations: Yes, lots of photos and maps Published: Austin Macauley (2019) Available formats: Hardback, Paperback and eBook About the authors Eric and Clare Lowry are both alumni of Trinity College, Dublin, and a chartered accountant and a solicitor respectively. They enjoy adventure travel, having visited Laos, Ecuador, Patagonia, the Cook Islands, Syria and Ethiopia... all the while keeping daily diaries. In November 2017 - against the advice of friends and family - they set off on a short visit to North Sudan. My Review The book details Eric and Clare's short trip to North Sudan and their experiences of this amazing country. But, as well as this, it also provides a lot of historical information about the region, such as 'A Glimpse of British History in Sudan' (Chapter 3), which I very much enjoyed reading as I was unaware of Britain's involvement in the region - I certainly had no idea that it was somewhere that we had invaded and ruled in the past! The book takes the form of a travel diary - interspersed with sections on local history - and looks at everywhere the couple visited on their trip - from the Nile to the pyramids to bakeries to desserts. There is also a short section in the Appendix on tips for travellers to the region, which would be very helpful for anyone considering visiting. If you like your travel books to have plenty of photos (I do!), you won't be disappointed as there are lots of photos of the trip in the book, which was great as I find photos really add flesh to a story, particularly when it's somewhere I am not familiar with, such as Sudan. [caption id=attachment_4001 align=aligncenter width=871] There are lots of great photos in the book...[/caption] There are many travel books out there, but I have rarely read one which has provided me with so much historical information about a region, which is something I loved about this book. For me, it was fascinating to learn about North Sudan's turbulent history, including Britain's links to the region. Summary This is a part of the world that I know very little about - other than that it is somewhere which has suffered frequent violent conflict throughout its history. But this book showed a very different side to North Sudan - the friendly, smiling locals and the fascinating historical sites... which has definitely made me interested in finding out more about Sudan and, who knows, maybe even visiting one day. If you are interested in travel and history, you will find this book fascinating...not to mention hugely educational! My Star Rating: [usr 5] If you would like to purchase a copy for A Glimpse of North Sudan, you can do so here. I love reading about other people's adventures - I find it so inspiring! What about you? What type of books do you like to read? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Reading (and Travelling)! Kate *I was gifted a copy of A Glimpse of North Sudan by the publishers, Austin Macauley, but all opinions expressed are my own.
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Review: Tutankhamun Exhibition, LondonI love ancient history - or any history for that matter - so when I heard that the Tutankhamun Exhibition was coming to the Saatchi Gallery in London, I was very excited to go and check it out. So, as part of my birthday present, my husband got us tickets... The weekend after my birthday we headed down to London early in the hope of beating the crowds as I had read lots of reports on how busy the Exhibition was... but we were too late , the queues were already pretty long, even at 0945 on a wet and windy Sunday morning. Whilst there were timed entry slots, there were too many people in the Exhibition at once which meant that there was little space to wander around freely and really take your time to enjoy it, which was a shame - particularly given the cost of entry tickets. That said, it was amazing to see all these priceless objects up close without having to travel all the way to Egypt (although Egypt is on my bucket list) so I wouldn't have missed it for anything! And I have to say that there was a tangible sense of awe and excitement as we moved through the galleries admiring the exhibits... I particularly loved the ornate jewellery and the beautifully carved shabtis (figurines which accompanied the deceased into the afterlife in ancient Egypt). [caption id=attachment_3987 align=aligncenter width=2560] There were lots of ornately carved shabtis in the Exhibition[/caption] Even Freya (a typically underwhelmed teenager) was impressed with this well-laid out and educational Exhibition - which was great as it meant that we didn't have to deal with her whining!! I highly recommend a visit to the Exhibition if you get the chance as all the pieces are incredibly beautiful - many of them looking like they were made only yesterday as they are in such fantastic condition! And some of the jewellery on display would not look out of place nowadays (such as the cuff below), which I think is pretty incredible! [caption id=attachment_3988 align=aligncenter width=560] The jewellery was stunning![/caption] For me, the only minor negatives of this Exhibition were the crowds - meaning you struggled to get near some of the displays and didn't feel like you could spend much time examining the artefacts and - the biggest disappointment of all - that the most famous piece, Tutankhamun's stunning death mask was not on display... despite the gift shop being full of replicas! As a history buff, seeing these objects was a dream come true... I had seen so many of them in documentaries or in books and seeing them in the flesh brought the story of Tutankhamun, probably one of the most famous kings ever, to life. The exhibition definitely made me want to learn more about him and to think about booking a trip to Egypt some time soon... If you are interested in history and archeology, the Tutankhamun Exhibition is definitely a must-see! It was worth every penny to get close to these ancient artefacts and learn more about the legendary King Tut! Do you like history? Is this an Exhibition that you would be interested in seeing? Or have you already seen it? Let me know in the comments... Happy Travelling! Kate
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My Favourite CitiesI'm not really a city person generally but there have been some cities that I've visited over the years that I have totally fallen in love with for one reason or another... so here are some of my favourites: London, UK Only an hour from home, I love the UK's capital city, London, because of the wide variety of things to do and the cosmopolitan atmosphere... although it can get very busy near the main tourist hotspots! There are so many fascinating museums on all different subjects to visit in London, many of which are free to enter - bonus! It also has lots of great restaurants and plenty of nightlife, not to mention great shopping! [caption id=attachment_3806 align=aligncenter width=879] Buckingham Palace, London[/caption] New York, USA I think New York is my very favourite city - I have been twice and absolutely loved it. There is so much to do and, whilst it is busy, I found it a lot friendlier and more relaxed than London - plus it felt so much safer. Some of my favourite things to do were walking through Central Park and along the High Line, as well as enjoying the spectacular view over the City from Top of the Rock... and, of course, walking over Brooklyn Bridge... [caption id=attachment_3973 align=aligncenter width=866] The striking Brooklyn Bridge in NYC[/caption] Paris, France It's many years since I visited Paris but I vividly remember being enchanted by the architecture, the food and the language on both occasions. I also enjoyed the laid-back cafe culture and sitting people watching on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées... Havana, Cuba We went to Cuba many years ago and fell for the crumbling colonial buildings, friendly people and great live music scene. Whilst the city was in need of some TLC after years of neglect it was still so beautiful... and the old American cars added to the sense of faded grandeur. I'd love to go back again and see if it has altered after the significant regime change it underwent a few years ago... [caption id=attachment_1310 align=aligncenter width=526] Beautiful colonial buildings in downtown Havana[/caption] Marrakech, Morocco We went to Marrakech for the first time this summer and it was amazing. Beautiful architecture, bucket loads of historical sites to visit (I'm a history geek!), great food and drink - what's not to love? And it's only a short flight from the UK too - although it feels a whole world away. We will definitely be going back again soon... [caption id=attachment_3480 align=aligncenter width=871] We loved the souks of Marrakech[/caption] Madrid, Spain I have been to Madrid quite a few times but never as a tourist unfortunately... always for work. I feel at home in Madrid as I've lived and worked in Spain a few times and speak the language, which always makes life so much easier. Madrid has a real buzz and is one of the friendliest cities you could ever visit... and the tapas which are available in every bar you visit are delicious! [caption id=attachment_3623 align=aligncenter width=871] Madrid is a friendly city[/caption] Rio de Janeiro, Brazil I only spent a weekend in Rio whilst travelling around Brazil but it was definitely one of the most stylish and vibrant cities I've ever visited. It's such a beautifully located city, surrounded by sharp peaks, with lots of stunning beaches... think Copacabana and Ipanema - and they are as stunning as they look in the movies! [caption id=attachment_890 align=aligncenter width=876] Beautiful Copacabana Beach[/caption] So are you a city person and, if so, which are your favourite cities to visit? Or do you prefer somewhere a bit quieter for your holidays/trips? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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Fun and Free Weekend Activities!We're always trying to find things to do when we have a free weekend (not that we have that many, lol!)... and, as we don't always want to spend a lot of money on days out, I have been thinking of ideas for things that we can do for free... so I hope you find my ideas useful: Go for a bike ride If you have bikes, going for a bike ride is a great way to explore your local area. And there are now plenty of off-road cycle routes if you are not keen on cycling with cars whizzing past you... Go for a walk Wherever you live there are always places to walk - in the park, by a river or lake... or you could even go urban exploring and just wander around and see what you find. And don't forget to take your camera to capture all those interesting sights! [caption id=attachment_3954 align=aligncenter width=867] We love going for a walk... even on a winter's day![/caption] Go to the park Wherever you live there is usually a park close by where you can play games, walk or sit and relax... Enjoy your garden Sometimes it's nice just to sit and relax in the garden on a sunny day... or you could get out there and do a bit of gardening. [caption id=attachment_3958 align=aligncenter width=676] I love sitting in my garden...[/caption] Have a craft day Everyone has bits and bobs lying around the house so why not use them to make something together? Or get the paint set out and make a picture. This is a fun activity if the weather is bad and you don't fancy heading out. Find a local museum Lots of museums are free to enter nowadays so make the most of it and see what interesting museums you can find in your area. Visit your local library Local libraries often have events on, so why not check them out. Or just go along, pick up a book and enjoy spending some time reading in peace... Go on a picnic If the weather is good, there is nothing nicer than packing a picnic, grabbing a blanket and finding a nice spot to spend a few hours... [caption id=attachment_1974 align=aligncenter width=872] Picnic by the river...[/caption] Have a movie day If the weather is bad, why not find a movie or two that you've been meaning to watch for ages (let's face it, everyone has a few films they recorded ages ago and never got round to watching), grab the popcorn and settle down for the day... Visit friends or family Why not meet up with family or friends who live locally and enjoy spending some time together? [caption id=attachment_3959 align=aligncenter width=862] It's nice to spend time with family and friends at the weekend... especially when it involves toasting marshmallows![/caption] Camp out in your back garden If the weather is good (or even if it's not if you're feeling brave!), why not pitch a tent in your back garden and pretend you are away... you could even cook your food outside too! Or maybe you could go and wild camp for free somewhere nearby... Volunteer There are lots of volunteering opportunities around from litter picking, to working in charity shops to gardening and everything in between. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your local community as well as offering you the chance to make new friends or learn a new skill... What do you like to do at the weekends? Do you ever have no-spend weekends -if so, what sort of things do you do? Let me know below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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A Sunday Stroll Along The Grand Union CanalOne of my New Year's Resolutions this year was to get outside more so we have been trying to go for walks regularly at the weekend (weather permitting!). And we are very lucky to live so close to a section of the Grand Union Canal which offers a couple of scenic walks - one short one from Great Bowden to Union Wharf in Market Harborough and the other a longer out and back to Foxton Locks (although you can walk much further along the canal obviously, but this is about as far as we would get in a one day walk). So on Sunday morning we wrapped up warm and headed out... The walk was around 4 miles in total - mainly flat and about 2.5 miles of which were right next to the canal, along the towpath - which was rather muddy due to the amount of rain we've had recently! As it was a fairly cold, grey day there weren't too many other people around - except a few dog walkers and runners, which meant it was very peaceful! It was great to just stroll along, listening to the sounds of the birds tweeting merrily... sadly we didn't see many as they were well hidden in the mass of trees at either side of the canal! Although we did spot a large group of horses grazing on the opposite side of the canal... [caption id=attachment_3942 align=aligncenter width=755] It was tranquil by the canal...[/caption] One of the things I enjoy about walking by the canal is seeing the brightly coloured canal boats... and there were plenty of them around this weekend, but most were moored up by the side of the canal. Some were clearly lived on permanently but others were moored up for the winter and won't be moving for a while yet... [caption id=attachment_3939 align=aligncenter width=767] Brightly coloured canal boats moored up on the Grand Union Canal in Market Harborough[/caption] We ended our short walk in The Waterfront, a cosy and stylish bar/restaurant in the Union Wharf canal basin in Market Harborough. And, let's face it, what better way is there to finish off a lovely country walk than in a cosy pub or cafe?? They were just setting up for Sunday lunch but we had already planned to have a roast dinner at home, so we'll have to come back another Sunday to check out their Sunday lunch offerings... [caption id=attachment_3940 align=aligncenter width=740] We enjoyed drinks in The Waterfront[/caption] If you are ever in the Market Harborough area, this short, flat walk is well worth checking out - just make sure you have the appropriate footwear as the path can be a bit muddy! I know that we are so lucky to have somewhere like this only a 15 minute walk from home - it's one of the things I love about living on the outskirts of a small town - you are surrounded by lovely countryside, which provides lots of great walking opportunities. Do you like to get out for a walk when the weather is fine (or even when it's not!)? Do you have somewhere you love to walk near where you live? I would love it if you let me know in the comments below... Happy Walking! Kate x
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Which Language Should I Learn?So, you've made the decision to learn a new language... but which one should you learn? After all, there are so many to choose from, aren't there?! If you're unsure, here are my tips for choosing which language to learn - there are lots of things to consider: Where is your favourite region/country or which region/country particularly interests you? If you are particularly passionate about a specific place, it makes sense to learn the language spoken there. I love Latin America, hence I chose to learn Spanish as my second language (plus a bit of Portuguese). [caption id=attachment_1639 align=aligncenter width=739] I love Mexico - it's one of my favourite countries to visit[/caption] Do you often travel to the same country? If you always take your holidays in France, for example, it makes sense to learn French! If you have never visited and never plan to visit a country, there is not a lot of benefit to learning its language (unless you need it for work for example). And, let's face it, if you have little interest in the country or region, you are unlikely to stay engaged with learning the language. Have you learnt a second language previously? If you already have a second language, could you chose another language from that region which may have similarities, making it easier to learn? I found it easier to learn a bit of Portuguese because I already had a good working knowledge of Spanish... [caption id=attachment_2923 align=aligncenter width=727] Sticking to languages from the same language group can make learning easier[/caption] Do you have any friends or family who speak another language? If you have friends or family who speak another language fluently or at least to a high level, that's a great way of getting in some practice and they can help you if you get stuck on something! What language classes or groups are available locally? I live in quite a small town so there are limited language classes available locally, which I feel limits my options slightly. Whilst this doesn't necessarily stop you learning a specific language, it may limit the amount of speaking practice you can get if you have no-one to practice with. Although it is now possible to do lessons via Skype, etc with a tutor/native speaker which is an option if you want to study a language which is not available locally. Is there another language which is widely spoken where you live? If there is a widely spoken second language in your area - it may be an idea to consider learning it as it could be useful in your day-to-day life. It also means there will be plenty of people around to practice with! [caption id=attachment_1272 align=aligncenter width=747] Maybe choose a language which is widely spoken locally?[/caption] Think about which languages are widely spoken around the globe Picking a language which is widely spoken globally could be beneficial if you travel a lot or for business. Spanish is spoken widely, as is Mandarin (and English of course!), so these languages may be good options to consider. Would a specific language be useful in your work? Does the company you work for deal with a particular country regularly? If so, you could think about whether the language of that country could be useful for your career progression... your company may even fund language classes if they think it would be beneficial to them. So those are my tips on making a choice if you are thinking about learning another language. Do you already speak more than one language or is it something you'd like to do? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Language Learning! Kate
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Book Review: Transit of Fiordland by Frank YardleyTransit of Fiordland by Frank Yardley is Yardley's personal account of what is thought to be the first passage through the Fiordland National Park in New Zealand in 1973/74. About the Book No of Pages: 226 Illustrations: Yes, old photos of the journey Publisher: Austin Macauley (2019) Available Formats: Paperback and eBook [caption id=attachment_3869 align=aligncenter width=496] Be inspired by Transit of Fiordland by Frank Yardley[/caption] About the Author Frank Yardley is a New Zealander who loves outdoor adventures... from hiking to kayaking to fly-fishing. After University he became a hobby farmer for a while before moving to Australia with his family. My Review This book details Yardley's daring first traverse of the Fiordland National Park in New Zealand in the 1970s. I loved the detailed descriptions in this book - they really help to draw the reader into the pages... I have a vivid picture of what the Fiordland NP is like (or at least what it was like back in the 1970s!) in my mind after reading this tale of a true wilderness adventure. Yardley and his unlikely companion, Shorty Biddle (a WWII veteran), plan (along with two others for the first part of the journey) to be the first people to cross Fiordland. Their journey is largely done on foot, with the occasional trip by canoe and motor boat. The expedition tests their bushcraft skills - survival, finding shelter, finding their own food (to supplement their supplies dropped at various points along their route) and dealing with any potential hazards as they arise - and these things become a big part of their everyday lives. The book, which is based on Yardley's journal and letters written at the time, meanders along, taking in the scenery and recording his mood, intertwined with reminiscences of previous outdoor expeditions he had made, the fascinating history and folklore of the region and the many colourful and eccentric characters he met or had heard about who lived in Fiordland... not to mention a poem or two! Summary If you like reading about outdoor adventures like I do, I guarantee that you will enjoy this book. Yardley's attention to detail and his fascinating stories within a story really bring the book to life and made me want to explore this wild, untamed region of New Zealand. My Star Rating: [usr 5] If you would like to purchase a copy of Transit of Fiordland by Frank Yardley, you can do so here. I enjoy reading about other people's adventures - I find them truly inspiring! What about you? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Reading (and Adventuring)! Kate *I was gifted a copy of Transit of Fiordland by the publishers, Austin Macauley, but all opinions expressed are my own.
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Tips For Planning The Perfect Cruise HolidayWhether you are planning your very first cruise or you are an old hand, preparation is an important part of the cruising experience, which begins with selecting your cruise from the list of many available voyages. Then you have to consider what to pack, which can seem like quite a challenge for a first-timer and, with that in mind, here are a few tips from the pros on how to plan the perfect cruise holiday... Choosing Your Cruise - Online cruise operators will have a long list of available cruises, and bear in mind that some cruises are designed with retired people in mind, while others cater for the single traveller, and, of course, there are the family-oriented cruises, which are great for young families. If you search online for a leading cruise holiday operator, you will be able to view all their available cruise destinations and durations, allowing you to choose one that best suits your schedule and your budget. And if you can leave at short notice, there are some great last-minute deals to be had, due to cancellations. Booking Your Berth - You've finally found that cruise departing from Sydney, or anywhere else in the world. Of course, there are many cabin options, and if you really are a sea view person, you might want to consider booking a sea view cabin. If you are planning to spend a minimal amount of time in your sleeping quarters, then opt for a cheaper cabin but, if you like the idea of entertaining, a cabin with a balcony is a must! Think About Essential Items - Of course, once onboard, you are at the mercy of the stores on the ship, which can be quite expensive, so stock up on things like sun protection products, shampoo and conditioner, shaving gear, wipes and anything else that you think you will use on a regular basis before you board. If you have rechargeable batteries for a camera or MP3 player, make sure you take your charger, along with charging cables for your laptop or tablet. Don't forget the essentials... (Image Source: Pixabay) Stay With Ship’s Time - If the cruise involves crossing time zones, things can become a little confusing and, should you decide to take a port excursion, you need to return by the time stipulated, otherwise the ship will leave without you, so bear this in mind! When you are onboard, you can easily check the ship’s time from one of the many clocks, and prior to disembarking at port, there will be numerous reminders regarding the time of departure. If you are new to cruising, a quick Google search should lead you to a beginner’s guide to booking your very first cruise, which is well worth a read. Consider The Drinks Package - If you like a drink or three, consider taking the alcoholic drinks package, which is priced at a daily rate, regardless of what you drink (with a few exceptions). Aside from saving you some money, the drinks package means you don’t have to reach for your wallet or purse every time you order a drink and, once you know the daily rate for this package, check the bar prices and you will quickly discover if this is likely to save you money. Have you ever been on a cruise? Do you have any more useful tips to add to those above? Let me know below... Happy Cruising! Kate *This is a collaborative post which may contain affiliate links. *Kate Loves Travel does not own the copyright of any of the images used in this post.
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How To Take Great Travel Photos!I love photography - it's definitely one of my passions... as is travel, of course! But how do you get amazing photos of the places you visit? How many times have you been somewhere stunningly beautiful but when you've looked at your photos back home, it just doesn't look anywhere near as fabulous as it did in real life? If this has happened to you, read on for my best travel photography tips... Always have your camera/phone to hand! It sounds obvious, but if you don't, you could miss a great photo opportunity! [caption id=attachment_3480 align=aligncenter width=761] There were lots of photo opportunities whilst boring round the souks of Marrakech, Morocco [/caption] Learn to shoot on manual If you're using anything other than a phone to take photos, you need to learn to shoot in manual mode to give you more control. Your camera has a limited range if left to its own devices so you need to tweak the settings to get the best photo you can. You can make some corrections later, but it is quicker and easier to take the best shot you can get in the first place. So, read your camera's manual or, even better, book on a photography course. [caption id=attachment_3901 align=aligncenter width=760] Shooting on manual gives you much more control over your shots[/caption] Pay attention to composition The key to a great photo is great composition. Think about where everything is positioned in the shot and ask yourself if that is the best layout. Could you move slightly to get a better angle, for example? What about breaking the rule of thirds (where you split your shot into three and position the focal point off-centre)? [caption id=attachment_3897 align=aligncenter width=756] Don't be afraid to take photos from unusual angles[/caption] Think about the point of your shot What are you trying to capture? A beautiful landscape? A striking building? People? Atmosphere? Decide what the main feature is then compose the rest of the shot around it. And don't put yourself in EVERY shot - people know what you look like and would probably prefer to see where you've been! [caption id=attachment_3900 align=aligncenter width=744] I love the shape of the roof of the Winter Gardens in Sheffield[/caption] Get the lighting right The right light can make or break a shot. If the light is not good, can you come back later when it may be better? Think about the golden hours of photography - shortly after sunrise and just before sunset - as these times provide the most flattering light. Nighttime shots can look really effective, but you need to get your camera settings right. [caption id=attachment_3895 align=aligncenter width=583] I took various shots of Radio City in NYC but this is the one that I felt worked best[/caption] Tell a story Take photos that capture what is going on around you. Capture a moment that speaks to you... and that will speak to others too! Really look around you for interesting shots... you just never know what you might spot. [caption id=attachment_3894 align=aligncenter width=629] You can tell how content Freya is in this shot without even seeing her face![/caption] Be original Try not to take the same shots that every other tourist takes! Look for different views of your travels that are unique to you... try taking close-ups or spontaneous shots that capture the mood of a place. [caption id=attachment_3892 align=aligncenter width=775] I loved these brightly coloured spices in Marrakech, Morocco[/caption] Taking great travel photos (or any type of photos) is often a matter of trial and error - the more you experiment, the better your final results will be! So don't be afraid to try lots of different approaches! Do you like photography or do you have any great tips for budding travel photographers? Let me know int he comments below... Happy Snapping! Kate
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My Plans for 2020I'm unusually disorganised in terms of making travel plans for this year so far... I have a few ideas in the pipeline but absolutely nothing at all booked, which is very unlike me! I do have a few things planned though and am hoping 2020 will provide as many great experiences as 2019 did. So here are my vague plans for this year... Studying for my Level 2 Counselling Skills course at college I have wanted to be a counsellor for many years and initially started my training about 17 years ago! Unfortunately, due to a job change, I was unable to carry on studying. I have just passed my Introduction to Counselling Course at the end of 2019 and am about to start the next stage of my training, which I am very excited about. It takes 4 years to qualify to practice as a counsellor so this is a long-term commitment... [caption id=attachment_3877 align=aligncenter width=771] I can't wait to carry on studying...[/caption] Volunteering I am currently volunteering as a caseworker for the RAF Association and am hoping to spend more time doing this in 2020 as it is incredibly rewarding. The Tutankhamun Exhibition in London Whilst entry to this exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery is fairly pricey, it could be a once in a lifetime chance to see these incredible treasures outside of Cairo... we are hoping to visit in February half-term so I need to get tickets booked! RAF Cosford Air Show 2020 We went to the Air Show in 2019 and loved it, so will definitely be going again this year. But we plan on making a weekend of it this year and staying over night nearby so we don't have to get up so early to get there for when it opens. [caption id=attachment_3874 align=aligncenter width=766] Red Arrows over RAF Cosford Air Show 2019[/caption] Summer Road Trip We are doing a road trip around part of the UK for our summer holiday this year. It's part of a change of lifestyle to try and live more sustainably and have less of an environmental impact. So we are going to limit our flying next year... for pleasure at least (sadly Matt will still be flying regularly for work)! We are planning to travel for two weeks and visit Devon, Cornwall and Wales (although our plans are quite fluid at the moment so this may change). Photography I love photography but haven't done as much creative photography as I used to, so I would like to get back to it this year and challenge myself a bit more... so look out for some more 'arty' shots on my Instagram this year! I may even sign up for another photo-a-day challenge... Camping and Walking I'd like to do more camping and walking this year as it's something we all enjoy. I love sleeping out in the fresh air and eating a fry up while enjoying a beautiful view in the morning... followed by a long walk obviously! My perfect weekend... providing the weather is good of course! [caption id=attachment_3875 align=aligncenter width=772] I love a nice view when I wake up![/caption] So that's all I have lined up so far but I'm sure lots of other opportunities will arise - what are your plans for 2020? Have you got lots of plans already or are they a work in progress like mine? Let me know in the comments below... Happy 2020! Kate
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How To: Booking A Ski Holiday For BeginnersA ski holiday is the sort of adventure that everyone wants to experience at some point. Aside from the skiing itself, the scenery and socialising are enough to encourage you to book a ski trip right now! However, there’s an issue: you’ve never done it before... For beginners, fear of making a fool out of yourself is enough to prevent you from taking the plunge. And, it’s not only the anxiety of falling over on the slopes - you don’t want to book a chalet that’s miles out of the way or buy inappropriate ski gear. There is plenty to factor in before you pay your deposit, and you want to ensure everything will be perfect. After all, there are more economical package holidays. Still, if you are determined not to let the fear of failure get in the way, then there is nothing better than visiting the Alps. Here’s what you should keep in mind if you’re a novice at skiing... Have Lessons Beforehand The idea that you’re going to reach the slopes and start slaloming down the black runs as if you’re a natural is unrealistic. Yes, some people don’t have lessons and pick up the sport in a week. But, you tend to spend most of your holiday falling over, and by the time you feel more comfortable, it’s time to leave. Also, you never know what bad habits you will pick up along the way. Getting used to the dynamics of skiing before you reach your resort should stand you in good stead and make you more confident when you arrive. Plus, it’s worth noting that lessons on the piste can cost hundreds of Euros and are well out of many people’s price range. Once you’ve had some lessons, you can use what your teachers taught you as a starting point. Borrow Rather Than Buy If you’ve got friends who ski, then you’ve probably had to listen to them talk about how much cheaper it is to buy ski equipment. Renting is a racket, in their humble opinion. And, they might be right, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should follow their lead. [caption id=attachment_3812 align=aligncenter width=759] Borrow equipment rather than buying it the first time you go... (Pixabay - CC0 Licence)[/caption] The reason it’s better for them to buy rather than rent is their experience - they go all the time. As a result, they’re likely to get their money’s worth out of new skis and a jacket. You, on the other hand, might not enjoy the experience. In this case, buying ski gear, no matter how cheap it is (relatively speaking), will be a waste of money. It’s not easy to pack, either. For your first couple of holidays, it’s smarter to rent and make a decision about buying when you know you can/want to visit the slopes more often. Book A Catered Chalet To save money, you might be tempted to hire a self-catered apartment. After all, the amount is a couple of hundred pounds cheaper without food and looks like a bargain. Of course, this doesn’t factor in the cost of meals once you’re at your resort. Because you’re at the top of a mountain, you have nowhere to go, so even the supermarket is expensive! Opting for a catered chalet might seem more expensive, but it’s usually cheaper in the long run. Check out the likes of skiblue.co.uk and alpineethos.co.uk and then compare the prices to those of a self-catered apartment. If there is only a few hundred pounds difference in the price, then you should book the former. You’ll easily spend that money on food in the space of a week if you have to cook or go out to dinner. Get Fit This has nothing to do with the dynamics of booking a ski holiday, but it’s something you should consider all the same! Even if you exercise regularly and have a healthy base level of fitness, you shouldn’t underestimate how hard it is to keep up on a ski holiday. The reason is straightforward: you’re using different muscle groups. Your legs will take the brunt of the pressure, so they need to be in decent shape. Your core is another significant part of skiing. Therefore, as well as practising to ski, which will help get you in shape, you can try lifting weights at the gym and doing yoga. Getting fit will stop you from taking days off because your limbs feel as if they are going to burst into flames, making the experience that much better. Skinsee.com has an excellent exercise plan if you need some inspiration. Hopefully, the advice above will help you to finally book a ski holiday and enjoy the experience of a lifetime! Have you ever skied or are you a regular on the pistes? Let me know below... Happy Skiing! Kate *This is a collaborative post which may contain affiliate links. *Kate Loves Travel does not own the copyright to the images used in this post.
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A Day Trip To LondonWe often try to visit London just before Christmas to see all the lights, do some Christmas shopping and to visit Winter Wonderland. This year we decided to drive rather than go by train as it was more convenient, so we headed off early for the 2 hour drive into the centre of London... After parking at our usual underground car park in Bloomsbury (near the British Museum), we jumped on the tube to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard. It's a long time since I last watched this ceremony, which happens every day, and Freya had not seen it before... and it didn't disappoint! Unfortunately, as it was so busy (and we didn't get there early enough to secure a good spot) we couldn't see all of it but enjoyed watching and hearing the two bands and seeing the guards marching by as they changed over. [caption id=attachment_3801 align=aligncenter width=884] Playing and marching at the same time can't be easy![/caption] Then it was time for lunch so we wandered in the vague direction of our next destination and jumped into a cafe en route. The food in Sourced was pretty good but the service was incredibly slow and our drinks were not particularly hot. It was rather disappointing... Then we walked the rest of the way to the National Army Museum, past the Royal Hospital Chelsea (a rather impressive building and home to the Chelsea Pensioners). We'd never visited the Museum before and had decided to visit on this occasion as there was a temporary augmented reality exhibition on about WW1 which we wanted to see. The Museum is free to enter and had lots to see and do. We loved the amount of interactive exhibits there were, including one where you learn a bit of drill, one where you stripped/built a rifle, one about food and rations, to name a few... And they were all very well done. As a drummer himself, Matt particularly liked the interactive drumming game, which kept him amused for 10 minutes! Freya had to pretty much fight him to get a go! [caption id=attachment_3802 align=aligncenter width=533] Matt enjoyed the drumming![/caption] After exploring all the fascinating exhibits in the museum, we went into The Danger Tree exhibition, which is an exhibition of beautiful paintings and augmented reality, taking it's name from the only tree left standing on the battlefield of Beaumont-Hamel, France. You are provided with an iPad and headphones when you enter the exhibition. Each of the stunning paintings has a story to tell through photos, poetry and prose of the devastating effects of war, which is unlocked when you hold up the iPad. It was an incredibly moving and thought-provoking exhibition and if you get the chance, do go and see it - you won't be disappointed. After that we took time to gather our thoughts and reflect on what we had just seen and heard in the Museum cafe. The cakes were absolutely delicious and I highly recommend a visit if you go to the Museum. I have to say that we spent much longer at the Museum than I had anticipated - around 3.5 hours, so allow plenty of time if you go. From the Museum, we walked up to Sloane Square - which was beautifully illuminated - to catch the tube to Hyde Park and Winter Wonderland... [caption id=attachment_3803 align=aligncenter width=857] Christmas has arrived in Sloane Square...[/caption] As expected, there were queues to enter Winter Wonderland (mainly due to the bag searches) but we didn't have to wait too long and when we got in it didn't seem too busy (unlike previous visits when we could barely move). There were lots of rides (with pretty big queues), plenty of food and drink stalls and a large Christmas market selling all sorts of Christmas goodies. We wandered around, enjoying the Christmassy feel and looking at all the lights. We bought a few Christmas decorations and contemplated buying many, many other things (we didn't due to the fact that whilst they were lovely we didn't really know what we would do with them!). [caption id=attachment_3804 align=aligncenter width=850] Bright lights in Winter Wonderland[/caption] After about an hour we had seen enough (and I was ill and Freya was pretty tired) so headed towards the nearest tube to take us back to the car park. The tube was pretty busy at this point, but it was only a short journey... We had a fantastic day in London but, as usual, we didn't get to see everything we had planned as travelling around London always takes so much longer than you think! We're looking forward to heading back there again soon... Have you ever been to London? If so, did you enjoy it and what did you do? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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A Weekend by the Sea in Swansea, South WalesNow, I'll be honest... Swansea is not somewhere I would ever have thought of going for a weekend away! Our reason for going was to watch Freya race at the Wales National Pool in Swansea. So, as this was our primary reason for heading to South Wales, I hadn't really given too much thought to what we would do the rest of the time when we weren't sitting by the pool... We stayed at The Swansea Marriott which is next to the modern Marina, a short stroll from the city centre. The hotel was comfortable and well-equipped, as Marriott's usually are, and we were pleased with our choice. [caption id=attachment_3783 align=aligncenter width=751] The modern Swansea Marina[/caption] So in between watching Freya race on the Friday, we headed to the beach, which was only a short walk from the pool (how handy is that!). And it was a lovely, sandy beach, fairly empty of people on a cold, November day, except for a few hardy dog walkers. We spent a pleasant hour walking along, admiring the view across the bay and picking up pretty shells washed up by the tide. I'd give anything to have a beach like that near home... [caption id=attachment_3790 align=aligncenter width=758] A sunny day in Swansea![/caption] After returning from the pool, Friday evening was spent doing a bit of Christmas shopping at a retail park much like those you get everywhere else, before stuffing ourselves full of pizza and salad and heading back to the hotel for a quick drink in the cosy bar before bed. We woke up on Saturday to a windy, bitterly cold day, which was a shame as Friday had been beautifully sunny. So after a leisurely morning at the hotel, followed by watching Freya swim, we headed out to Mumbles, a popular area of Swansea. After a yummy lunch at Cafe 93 (somewhere that had been recommended to us by a friend), we took what would have been a lovely walk along the seafront had it not been so cold! Mumbles is a pretty place with brightly coloured houses, plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants and a pier (which sadly we didn't get to due to the cold). After that rather bracing walk, we headed back to the car to go back to the hotel and get warm! [caption id=attachment_3784 align=aligncenter width=743] A cold and windy day in Mumbles[/caption] We ate at the hotel on Saturday evening as I was suffering with a stinking cold and did not want to leave the warmth of the hotel again that day! And, I must say, the food was very good. After breakfast on Sunday, we went and checked out the Marina, which was just behind the hotel - if you like boats, there were plenty to see as it was pretty packed but it was not the prettiest marina I've ever seen - before driving to the pool for the last time! After watching Freya swim her last race, we went into the centre of Swansea for a quick stroll in the sunshine before heading home. Swansea has a lovely city centre - mainly pedestrianised, with lots of shops, a covered market and an indoor shopping area too. And, as a bonus, there was a small German Christmas Market to browse around. [caption id=attachment_3785 align=aligncenter width=750] The German Christmas Market in Swansea[/caption] But all too soon the weekend was over and it was time to make the 200+ mile journey back home. There are lots of things I would still like to do in Swansea but which we didn't get round to due to a lack of time, so I'd like to come back and spend more time here. There are a few museums as well as lots of great walks nearby... but they'll have to wait until next time! So, whilst Swansea was not on my list of places I planned to visit, I loved it and will definitely be heading back to explore some more! Have you ever gone somewhere with no expectations and fallen in love with it? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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5 Exciting Things To Do In And Around HanoiThe bustling and colourful capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi offers tourists an array of unique experiences. If you are planning a holiday in this amazing country, there are many places of interest to include in your schedule. Here is our list of must-see local attractions in and around Hanoi that simply cannot be missed... Explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi – This is the perfect area to find accommodation, as staying in the old quarter puts an array of exciting places within walking distance. There are many stunning temples and pagodas where you can spend some time relaxing and taking in the colourful architecture. This is also the place to sample the very best Hanoi street food, of which there is a wide variety, so there’s something to suit every taste. Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake – Known also as Turtle Lake, there are no cars or scooters, so you can get away from the hustle and bustle. The best time to visit is early evening, when the bridge is illuminated. While you are in Vietnam, you simply must take a Halong Bay luxury cruise, which is one most people’s list of places to visit, where you can relax in pristine natural beauty, with many spectacular small beaches and bays to explore. Many young couples like to walk this area during the early evening and the nearby Ngoc Son Temple is also worth a visit, and costs around $1 to enter. [caption id=attachment_3769 align=aligncenter width=670] On the water... (Image Source: Unsplash)[/caption] Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex – Dedicated to the most famous of all Vietnamese politicians, Ho Chi Minh, the Mausoleum is full of artefacts related to the history of this unique nation. Plus, the grounds are spectacular and it is recommended that you spend at least half a day at this beautiful location. If you are a history buff, you can spend a few hours viewing the vast collection of historical artefacts and documents that helped make Vietnam what it is today. The Water Puppet Show – This really is a must-see, as you will not have the chance to experience such a performance in any other country. The puppets are controlled by the skilled puppeteers who are behind a curtain, and the stories typically depict the rural life in Vietnam. The show lasts for one hour and costs around $10. [caption id=attachment_3770 align=aligncenter width=680] The unique Water Puppet Show. (Image Source: Flickr)[/caption] Enrol in a Cooking Class – There are quite a few cooking schools in Hanoi that are specifically for tourists to learn how to prepare their amazing cuisine. The many delicious dishes are indeed many and you can choose the menus that you enjoy and learn how to prepare them when you arrive home. Vietnam is a very big country and aside from spending time in Hanoi, you really should visit the north and south of the country, as well as booking a cruise in Halong Bay, where you will find some of the best beaches in the world. It is a good idea to do some online research prior to booking your Vietnam holiday, as there are so many attractions available that you need to focus on aspects which you are particularly interested in. Have you ever been to Vietnam? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate *This is a collaborative post which may contain affiliate links. *Kate Loves Travel does not own the copyright for any of the images used in this post.
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How To Plan a Round-The-World TripThinking of taking some time out and going on a once in a lifetime round-the-world trip? If so, here are my basic tips on how to plan it... Decide how long you are going to travel for How much time do you have to spend travelling? A new months, a year... maybe longer? This is the first thing to decide on when planning a long trip. Work out your budget/how you are going to fund your trip Do you have savings or are you going to have to do a bit of work on your travels? If you are saving up, how long will it take you to have enough saved? Pick out the main destinations you want to visit Choose your must-see destinations first and make a travel plan based around them. [caption id=attachment_3755 align=aligncenter width=558] Sort out your must-see destinations first![/caption] Think about how many stops you want to make How many stops you choose to make will depend on how long you are travelling for. Bear in mind that some round-the-world tickets only allow a certain amount of stops. Pick out any other destinations which would fit in with your must-see destinations Once you've got your must-see destinations nailed, pick out any other destinations you would like to visit and which would work with your current itinerary. Think about how long you want to spend in each location How long you can spend in each destination will depend on how long you are travelling for and how many places you want to visit on your trip. Do you want to do lots of short stops or do you want to spend time getting to know some of the places you go? Think about what you want to see and do in each place you visit This will help you decide how long you need to spend there... Check out flight costs and schedules Once you have your itinerary, it's time to check out flights - both in terms of prices and schedules. Shop around... both online and on person at the travel agents! It's time to check out some flights... Check out accommodation in each location Once you have decided on your itinerary, it's time to start looking at accommodation - for the first few destinations at least. So think about what sort of accommodation you want to stay in - hotels, hostels, AirBnB... You don't have to book everything in advance but bear in mind that if you are arriving in a popular destination at peak times, accommodation may be scarce... and what there is may be pricey! Book your flights and accommodation in key destinations So you know where you are going, so it's time to book your flights. It's also worth booking accommodation in your main destinations in advance if you can to avoid having to worry about it whilst you are travelling. Sort out visas/documentation for each destination Check out whether you need visas or any other documents for all the places you are visiting. Make sure you will have at least 6 months left on your passport at the end of your trip as this is a requirement when entering many countries. And if you haven't already got a valid passport, get one asap! [caption id=attachment_2318 align=aligncenter width=722] Check the validity on your passport![/caption] Arrange travel insurance Do not be tempted to travel without insurance - it's not worth it! You really don't want to be hit by a huge medical bill if you get ill/injured whilst travelling. Find out whether you need any immunisations/malaria prophylaxis Make sure you do this in plenty of time as some vaccinations can take a while to arrange. And be aware that you will have to pay for the majority of travel vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis so factor this into your budget. Sort out any medication If you take regular medication, you need to ensure you have enough for the duration of your trip. You make be able to get hold of some prescription medications on your travel, but not necessarily all. Sort out currency for the first few destinations I know we don't use cash so much nowadays but you do sometimes need a little bit, particularly in more remote destinations, so it's worth getting a little bit of money changed just in case... Arrange transport to the airport Don't forget to think about how you are going to get to the airport at the start of your trip (and back again on your return) - airport parking is not an option for very long trips due to the cost. If you can get family to take you, great! If not, check out coaches or taxis. [caption id=attachment_3445 align=aligncenter width=720] Camels... as transport options go, probably not the best way of getting to the airport!![/caption] So those are the main points to think about when planning your round-the-world trip - I hope my list is helpful! Now all that is left is to head off and enjoy yourself! Happy Travelling! Kate
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How to survive a long bus journeyThe only thing worse than taking a long plane journey in my opinion is taking a long bus journey! At least on a plane there is a bit of space so you can walk around... and people serve you food and drink! On a bus, you don't get any of that - you have to take your own provisions (usually) and remain in your seat until the bus stops! And, often, there is even less legroom than in there is in economy on a plane... so how do you make the most of it? Here are my top tips for surviving a long bus journey: [caption id=attachment_3726 align=aligncenter width=450] On the road...[/caption] Wear comfortable clothing This one applies to any long journeys you make - always go for comfort over style! If you are going to try and get some rest you'll need to be wearing something you can sleep in. And make sure you wear layers (I always take a warm hoodie) that you can add or take off depending on the temperature on the bus, as they can vary such a lot! Take plenty of food and drink Unlike on planes and trains you won't get someone coming round and offering your food and drink from the trolley every so often so make sure you have enough with you for the journey. Although many long distance buses do make stops, food at service stations tends to be overpriced and isn't always that great... Take a neck pillow, eye mask and earplugs If you plan on getting some rest on the journey, a neck pillow, eye mask and earplugs are a must as buses tend to be noisy and the seats are usually somewhat less comfortable than plane seats (although that depends which country you are travelling in and the class of bus). You could even take a blanket so you can really snuggle down (and it will keep you warm if the bus is too cold). Pack your headphones I like to listen to music when I'm travelling as it helps me to relax so I always pack my headphones... and music also blocks out any unwanted background noise too. Unfortunately, I can't read when I'm travelling by road as it makes me feel nauseous so listening to music (or audiobooks) is the only entertainment I have. [caption id=attachment_1960 align=aligncenter width=653] Travelling by bus can be great fun![/caption] Choose your seat wisely Try and sit in the middle of the bus as it tends to be slightly less bumpy and you are away from the noise and heat of the engine. I also always like to be sat next to the window too so I can look out - and also so I don't get disturbed if the person next to me wants to get up and get off the bus if it stops (which can be quite annoying if you are fast asleep!). Do you have any other top tips for surviving a long distance bus trip? If so, let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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An Autumn walk in The Peak District: The Roaches and Lud’s ChurchAs we had a free day and the weather was good we decided to head out into the Peak District for a walk. We usually head into the Derbshire Peaks, so this time we decided to go walking in Staffordshire instead. So, after consulting a guide book and checking out the OS map, I decided on The Roaches and Lud's Church as I had seen photos of them and they both looked like interesting places to visit. So we made the 2 hour drive and parked up on the road below The Roaches, a rocky ridge near Leek, which is popular with both walkers and climbers. It was a cold, windy day - but at least it was sunny... [caption id=attachment_3713 align=aligncenter width=3264] It was a beautiful day for a walk in the Peak District[/caption] When we got onto the ridge, the views were stunning in all directions and there were plenty of interesting rock formations to look at. It was a Wednesday but there were a fair few people out making the most of the good weather. We strolled along the ridge, getting battered by the icy wind, past the mysterious Doxey Pool - which, legend has it, is a bottomless pool which is home to a malevolent mermaid called Jenny Greenteeth! Sadly, we were not lucky enough to see her this time... A little further along the ridge we made a brief stop for lunch (sheltering behind a large rock!) before dropping down slightly by Bearstone Rock to Roach End. [caption id=attachment_3717 align=aligncenter width=3151] We didn't see the mermaid in Doxey Pool today sadly...[/caption] After crossing the road we headed up again, across a lower ridge, before bearing right and dropping down into the Black Forest and out of the cold wind, which was quite a relief. We wound our way along a muddy path through the trees until we reached Lud's Church, a deep chasm in the gritstone rock which was created by a landslip. It is an eerie and mythical place which is well worth exploring and we spent some time wandering through it before emerging back into the forest. [caption id=attachment_3714 align=aligncenter width=491] Lud's Church is a magical place![/caption] We carried on through the quiet forest (we saw fewer people on this part of the walk) before heading back uphill to Roach End, from where we followed the road back down to where we had parked the car. From the road we could look up and admire the rocky edge of The Roaches on one side and farmland and the Tittesworth Reservoir on the other. The walk was around 7.5 miles and took us around 3 hours 10 minutes, including a quick lunch break and occasional stops to check the map. On a warmer day we would definitely have had more stops but it was just too cold to sit for long today. But we will definitely do this walk again in summer... although I guess the trade-off will be that there will be vastly more people around then! [caption id=attachment_3718 align=aligncenter width=3264] There are some amazing rock formations at The Roaches[/caption] I can highly recommend checking out this area of the Peak District - the views from The Roaches are lovely and Lud's Church is a fascinating place to explore! And if we had had time we would probably have headed into the town of Leek for a look around there too... Do you like to get out into the countryside - I know I do? If so, where do you like to go? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Hiking! Kate
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Why I’m rethinking my future travel plans…I've been doing a lot of thinking about the impact of my travel on the environment over the last few months - it's been hard not to with the so-called 'Climate Emergency' constantly taking headlines across the globe... and it's made me think that maybe I need to rethink my future travel plans - particularly those which involve flying. I am certainly concerned with the state of the planet right now and am trying to make more environmentally conscious decisions in my everyday life. But, as someone who loves to travel, I have a real dilemma with the impact my travel might be having on the future of our planet. I love to travel and explore but there is clearly an environmental cost. And having watched so many documentaries recently, I don't feel like I can ignore what's happening any longer. And a recent article in The Guardian confirms that taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries around the world produces in a whole year.... Sadly whilst global travel is a luxury for wealthier members of society (in the UK, for example 15% of the population took 70% of the flights in 2014 according to a Department of Transport survey), the impact of climate change often has a greater impact on some of the poorest parts of the world. [caption id=attachment_3700 align=aligncenter width=632] I am going to try and limit the number of flights I take from now on...[/caption] Therefore I have made the decision to try and limit the number of flights I take each year as much as I can. Next year, I'm going to try and limit it to one return flight - and maybe even avoid flying altogether if possible. I realise, of course, that this is not an option for some people as they have to fly for work, to visit family overseas, etc but this is a choice that I personally can make to try and minimise my CO2 emissions. So, as a result, we have decided to spend most of our holidays next year here in the UK. Our main holiday will be a two to three-week road trip round south-west England and Wales in summer (in our hybrid vehicle) - camping where possible to avoid the waste associated with hotel stays. And any other shorter trips we take will be within driving distance (we may visit northern France but probably won't go any further than that) and will hopefully involve using public transport instead of the car as much as possible. [caption id=attachment_3378 align=alignnone width=655] We love going camping whenever we can...[/caption] I am really looking forward to making this change as there are so many beautiful parts of the UK which I really want to explore - I already have a long list of places to tick off! And whilst we do already travel a fair amount in the UK, I think that as a family we have got into the mindset of believing that in order to have a 'proper' holiday we need to jump on a plane! Now is the time to change that! That's not to say that we won't ever get on a plane again (or that my blog will from now on only be about UK travel!) - that is not always an option as there are places we just won't be able to get to any other way, but if we can minimise our family's air travel that's got to be a worthwhile change. [caption id=attachment_3703 align=aligncenter width=639] I'm looking forward to seeing more of the UK![/caption] Unfortunately, I think it's all too easy to sit back and wait for those in power to take action on climate change - something which is sadly not happening at the moment in most countries... but I think it's time that we all started to consider whether there are any small changes that we can make that could make a difference... it may only be something small, but if everyone started to make a few changes it would all help, wouldn't it? Do you consider the impact on the environment when you travel? Or have you made any changes as a result of concerns over the impact of your travelling - or changes to your lifestyle in general? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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Dealing with homesickness whilst travellingI have to say, I haven’t really suffered with homesickness… ever! But I’ve travelled with plenty of people who have, and it can really affect the whole travel experience! So, here are some useful tips I've picked up for dealing with homesickness when you are travelling: Keep busy Distraction is a great technique! I like to keep myself busy when I’m travelling – there is usually just so much to see and do in a new place, that I don’t get time to get homesick! Spend time with other people If you're feeling homesick, one of the worst thing you can do is spend lots of time alone in your room, as this gives you lots of time to think about home and your loved ones. So, if possible, get out there and meet other people to hang out with.... [caption id=attachment_3693 align=aligncenter width=3264] Spend time with other people[/caption] Stay in touch Nowadays it is so much easier to stay in touch with family and friends when you are on the road. When I first started travelling, many years ago, I had to send letters – some of which took weeks to arrive – and make the occasion (expensive) telephone call from a public phone box to keep in touch with my family… Skype and WhatsApp mean you can see your family and contact them for free everywhere there is free wifi! I really think that seeing the people you care about makes a big difference. However, don't make contact too often or it could make your homesickness even worse! Stick to a routine If you are used to having a routine at home, it may be worth creating one while you are away as this can give you a feeling of normality and stability which may help you feel more settled in your new location. Allow yourself time to settle It can take a few weeks to settle into a new way of life, so don't be too hard on yourself at first. Give yourself time to get used to it and your new surroundings and the feelings of homesickness will probably fade... I know that when I've been away for extended periods, the longer I've been away the easier it has become to feel at home. [caption id=attachment_3694 align=aligncenter width=3648] Allow yourself time to explore your new surroundings and settle in[/caption] Take something special with you Do you still have a soft toy, piece of blanket or something similar that makes you feel better - then take it with you for comfort if you think it will help! Look after yourself Eat well, take some exercise and allow yourself some 'me-time'. Eating badly and not exercising can lead to feelings of lethargy, which can make you feel even worse... Arrange to meet up If you are travelling for a long period, why not suggest family come out and meet you somewhere – even if it’s only for a few days? They get a holiday and you get to see them – win-win! [caption id=attachment_3243 align=aligncenter width=2592] Invite family and friends to visit you[/caption] Have you ever suffered with homesickness when you were away? If so, how did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below… Happy Travelling! Kate
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How To Avoid Looking Jet-Lagged After A Long-Haul FlightThere is nothing worse than stepping off a long flight looking like you haven't slept in days - particularly if you are meeting people at the other end or, even worse, going straight into a business meeting! So how do you step off a long-haul flight looking fresh and ready for anything? Read on... Get a good night's sleep the night before you travel Make sure you are well rested BEFORE you even step on the plane - getting a good night's sleep the night before you fly will help you fend off jet lag to some extent. Getting on the flight already tired out will just make any jet lag worse and you will arrive looking and feeling exhausted. [caption id=attachment_3668 align=aligncenter width=639] Look after yourself in-flight...[/caption] Stay hydrated Drink plenty of water during your flight to help you stay hydrated - this will mean you arrive feeling refreshed (rather than with that hung-over feeling you get when you haven't drank enough!). And avoid caffeinated drinks as much as possible as they will dehydrate you. Get some rest Use your time on the plane to chill out and relax (much easier in business or first class I know!). Why not read a book, watch a film or have a nap... or all three if it's a very long flight? If you find it difficult to relax on planes (like I do), why not try something like guided meditation... there is generally a relaxation channel available on most airlines, so why not give it a go? And if you want to get some rest, don't forget to take ear plugs, an eye mask and a travel pillow... they may getting some rest on a noisy flight much easier! [caption id=attachment_3667 align=aligncenter width=508] Sleeping in economy is never easy![/caption] Don't drink alcohol The cabin air is always slightly dry as it is, but alcohol dehydrates you further, which is not good for you. Stick to soft drinks - preferably ones without caffeine in as caffeinated drinks will hinder you getting much rest during the flight. Or, even better, stick to water. Moisturise Take face and body moisturisers on the plane with you (just make sure you know the size limits you are allowed to take on board) and use them regularly to avoid your skin drying out. Make sure you apply some just before you get off the plane too so you arrive looking fresh and hydrated. And don't forget to apply some lip balm too... So, these are my tips for avoiding looking (and feeling) jet lagged after a long flight. Do you have any others to add to mine? If so, let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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The story behind Brighton’s iconic buildingsBrighton captures a lot of what characterises true British spirt. Its quintessential nature embodies many important English traits, such as our love for a sharp sea breeze and a stiff upper lip. Not sure about the latter? Well, did you know that the original Brighton town was burned down in 1514 by the French? The inhabitants responded by quickly rebuilding their little town right there. When the French came back to burn the remade Brighton in 1545, the people fought back and drove the French away. Brighton was battered by an intense storm in 1703, and the town took a further hit by another storm in 1705 that ruined many houses. All the while, the sea was eroding the shore of Brighton town However, Brighton thrived against all odds and it even captured the interest of royalty! Naturally, the buildings in Brighton have some stories to tell about the town’s exciting history, and some have served different purposes along the way as Brighton battled through its hardships. The Old Ship This traditional Brighton hotel is not short of history, royal appreciation, and musicians. The site has been used as a hotel since Tudor times, with the first recorded accommodation here named the ‘Shippe Inn’. It became the ‘Old Ship Inn’ in 1650, after another hotel opened across the street called the ‘New Ship Inn’. The venue was gradually extended as its owners bought the homes next to it, back when it wasn’t as close to the shoreline as it currently is. The storm of 1703 destroyed 13 buildings at the end of the street and brought the sea much closer to the Old Ship. With sea views and a visit from the fashionable Prince of Wales, Prince George (who would later become King George IV), the Old Ship built a great reputation. So much so that its ballroom later came to host the famous violinist, Niccolò Paganini — the ballroom has even been renamed in his honour. However, not all of the original features of the current building were built for the purpose of hospitality. Underneath the building is a series of tunnels from the beach, under the hotel, all the way into town and further. These tunnels were originally built for smuggling but are now used as wine cellars and for private dining functions. The Royal Pavilion The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is one of the most striking buildings in the area, and it has served many different purposes throughout its life and has so many stories to tell. Originally, the Pavilion was built at the behest of then-Prince of Wales, Prince George. Architect Henry Holland was hired to transform the Prince’s Brighton home into a villa. The villa was later built upon further by John Nash to create the Royal Pavilion. It is a lavish, extravagant building that adopts a number of different styles, primarily that of Chinese and Asian origin. [caption id=attachment_3673 align=aligncenter width=3264] The iconic Royal Pavilion[/caption] The original building hosted royalty, along with a string of their social events and entertainment for many years. But this came to an end with Queen Victoria, who chose to sell the Royal Pavilion to Brighton. Though the interiors were initially removed, the palace was redecorated for use by the public. The Queen later returned many of the original items of the palace to be reinstalled. The Royal Pavilion has been used for fetes, shows, balls, exhibitions, and more, serving as the People’s Palace. Then, during the First World War, its purpose was changed once again to that of a hospital for Indian soldiers. Now, the Royal Pavilion serves members of the public daily, with tours of the aggrandised royal rooms, local events, a tearoom, and more. St Augustine’s Centre Originally built in 1896 with a religious purpose in mind, as the name suggests, St. Augustine’s Centre is a prominent feature of the city. The building was an Anglican church but had been left derelict since 2003. Though it is listed as a Grade II building, nothing was really done with it until 2013, when a new project started up in order to renew St Augustine’s church with a new lease of life. Following a major renovation project, the site serves the public as a centre for wellbeing, arts, and spiritual sectors. The centre hosts exhibitions, conferences, meetings, and even sports clubs and massage and treatment rooms. From flower arrangement classes to Kung Fu, dance classes to meditation spaces, the centre really does cater for everyone. Have you ever visited Brighton? If so, let me know what you thought... Happy Travelling Kate *This is a post in collaboration with The Cairn Collection Sources: https://www.thecairncollection.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/OLD-SHIP-BRIGHTON-HISTORY.pdf https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/the-travellers-guide-to-historic-brighton-5350340.html http://www.localhistories.org/brighton.html https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/royalpavilion/history/ *All images copyright Kate Loves Travel
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Why I Want To Volunteer AbroadWhilst I have studied abroad in the past (and I volunteer regularly in the UK), I've never volunteered abroad - but it's something that I'd very much like to do at some point. It's not an option at the moment due to my family commitments but it's definitely something I plan on doing in the future, and here are the reasons why: To give something back and make a difference It would be nice to use some of my skills to help out others, particularly in areas where those skills might be in short supply or where there is no funding available to pay for them. I have really enjoyed all the volunteering I've done so far - it's great to be able to take some time out and do something for other people rather than for myself... there is definitely a 'feel-good factor' to volunteering! [caption id=attachment_2259 align=aligncenter width=528] Many places in the world don't even have sufficient funds to maintain what we would consider basic services...[/caption] To learn about a different country The best way of learning about a country is to live there... and what better way of doing it than by helping out the local population at the same time? I would love to go and volunteer somewhere in Latin America so I could use my Spanish language skills at the same time, but I am also interested in Arabic language and culture too... [caption id=attachment_3655 align=aligncenter width=535] As well as Hispanic culture I am also fascinated by Arabic culture and would love to learn more about it... volunteering would be the perfect way of doing this![/caption] To learn new skills and gain work experience Volunteering abroad would be a great way of picking up some new skills (which may be useful for finding employment on your return) - whether that is learning a new language, learning about construction, education, healthcare, etc. So pick your volunteering opportunity carefully - think about both what you can offer others but also about what you can gain from the experience. [caption id=attachment_2695 align=aligncenter width=835] Learning languages is great fun![/caption] To meet new people Volunteering is a great opportunity to make new friends - many overseas volunteering projects will have all different nationalities working on them, giving you the chance to meet people from all over the globe and from all different backgrounds... I have met lots of new people just from volunteering in my local area - people I probably would not have met otherwise - it's definitely broadened my friendship circle. [caption id=attachment_3619 align=aligncenter width=837] You meet so many people whilst studying and volunteering abroad![/caption] To have fun! Volunteering abroad is a good opportunity to have some fun whilst helping others - in your time off, you can do some travelling and experience what the local area has to offer.... I have a few friends who have volunteered abroad and they have all got so much out of it, which has encouraged me to give it some serious consideration for the future. There are so many opportunities out there to make a difference to the lives of others... Have you ever volunteer abroad and, if so, what do you think you got out of it? If you haven't, is it something you'd be interested in doing at some point? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Volunteering! Kate
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A Weekend in Worthing, West SussexI've never been to Worthing before, so when we were invited down to visit friends, it was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone! We hadn't seen our friends for a few years so after finally finding a relatively free weekend, we headed to the south coast for a couple of days... Worthing is a lovely seaside town and seemed to have a lot going on. For me, living as far from the coast as you could possibly get in the UK, heading to the beach was the highlight of the day on Saturday!! Sadly, as it was October it was a bit too cold for a dip in the sea... although it did look quite inviting! [caption id=attachment_3638 align=aligncenter width=892] Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside![/caption] And who doesn't love a walk along a pier when they're at the seaside?? And Worthing's was definitely a pleasant one... it had some beautiful stained glass windows as you walked along it and a gorgeous Art Deco cafe at the end, where we stopped for hot chocolate and cake! [caption id=attachment_3639 align=aligncenter width=561] The beautiful Art Deco cafe on Worthing Pier[/caption] After a chilled out Saturday evening comprising of wine and a takeaway (and lots of catching up), we woke up to a beautiful sunny Sunday so decided to head a short way along the coast to Brighton. I've only been to Brighton once before (when I ran the Brighton Marathon back in 2015) so was excited to go back and see more of the town. The first place we reached after parking up was The Lanes - a shopping area full of funky, independent shops selling all sorts of interesting things - from vintage clothing and furniture to soft furnishings and food. And as it was a lovely day, there were lots of people out so it was pretty busy in the narrow streets... [caption id=attachment_3640 align=aligncenter width=562] The Lanes is full of quirky, independent shops and cool places to eat[/caption] After a bit of retail therapy (the kids, not us!), we headed down to the seafront... [caption id=attachment_3641 align=aligncenter width=3171] Brighton seafront on a sunny Sunday![/caption] ... which was followed by a walk along another pier! Brighton Pier is a little bigger (and busier!) than Worthing's however and has a decent sized funfair at the end... which pleased Freya and Toby (although not us so much at £5 a ride!)! [caption id=attachment_3642 align=aligncenter width=893] A walk along Brighton Pier[/caption] So after a pleasant day strolling around, there was just time to check out the ornate Brighton Pavilions before getting back in the car for the long drive back home to Market Harborough. [caption id=attachment_3643 align=aligncenter width=3238] If you got to Brighton, you must go and see Brighton Pavilions![/caption] We had a fantastic weekend catching up with friends and checking out both Worthing and Brighton... but it's back to reality now! However, I can recommend a visit to both Worthing and Brighton if you've never been, as they both have a lot to offer. What do you like to do when you have a free weekend? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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What I’m Looking Forward To In October!I can't believe it's October already - this year has really flown by for me! But I hope the rest of 2019 will be as much fun as the past few months have been (the year didn't start too well sadly)... so this is what I am looking forward to doing this month: Spending a Weekend in Worthing, West Sussex with Friends I'm looking forward to this for two reasons: firstly, I haven't seen these friends for over two years and have never met their son and, secondly, I've never been to Worthing so it will be a good opportunity to check the place out! Visiting Family in North Lincolnshire We're doing a flying visit up to Barton-Upon-Humber in North Lincolnshire at the beginning of the half term week which will be nice. We haven't been up there for a little while due to all our other commitments but it will be great to catch up with family and hopefully have a stroll by the Humber. [caption id=attachment_3629 align=aligncenter width=5184] Having fun with the family in Barton-Upon-Humber![/caption] Taking a Few Day Trips During October Half Term I am hoping we can go and visit a few places during the half term break... maybe a trip to the coast if the weather is good or a museum or two if it's not... there are so many places that I want to visit! [caption id=attachment_3630 align=aligncenter width=4544] I'm hoping to spend a day by the sea[/caption] Enjoying a Spa Day & Afternoon Tea Whilst Freya is away in France, Matt and I are planning on doing a spa day and an afternoon tea (not necessarily at the same time lol!), which I'm really looking forward to... it will be nice to have a day or two to just chill out. Not sure where we are going yet but wherever it is, I'm looking forward to it! [caption id=attachment_3631 align=aligncenter width=3264] We love going for afternoon tea...[/caption] Spending a Weekend in Nottingham Whilst this trip is mainly for Freya to race, it will be fun to spend a weekend in a nice hotel and eat out! Getting Out into the Countryside And, finally, there is the traditional, Autumn country walk to be enjoyed - an hour or two of crunching through the red, gold and brown leaves which have fallen to the ground... followed by a hot chocolate by the fire in a cosy country pub! I can't wait... And in between all this, I am looking forward to getting stuck into my Introduction to Counselling course and starting volunteering as a Caseworker for the RAF Association! I guess it's going to be a busy month... just for a change!! So what are you up to this month? Do you have any plans already? Let me know in the comments below... Happy October! Kate
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Why I Think Everyone Should Study AbroadI love to travel... but I also think spending longer periods of time abroad is useful. And what better way to do it than spend time studying abroad? Here's why I think everyone should do it if they have the chance... Learn a Language Living somewhere for a period of time is the best way to learn a language. When you're surrounded by the language you are learning 24 hours a day, you pick up so much in a short space of time. It's also the best way of improving your accent. Which is why if you study a language at degree level in the UK, you have to spend a year in a country which speaks the language you are studying... immersion totally works! [caption id=attachment_940 align=aligncenter width=4608] You learn such a lot when you totally immerse yourself...[/caption] Experience a Different Way of Life/Culture Spending a prolonged period of time overseas is a great way to learn about how people live in other countries. You get to experience so much more than if you are just on holiday for a week or two as you get to know local people and are introduced to their traditions and customs. You definitely get to know a place much better if you live there for a while... [caption id=attachment_815 align=aligncenter width=577] It's a great way of really experiencing different cultures[/caption] An Opportunity to Travel Whilst you are predominantly there to study, there is usually also time to travel and see some of the region you are in. I did lots of travelling in Mexico and Brazil during my year studying out there and had time to see things I wouldn't have done if I'd only been there on holiday for two weeks... And when travelling to more remote areas, I was forced to use my Spanish/Portuguese all the time as fewer people spoke English which was helpful for my language learning! Alter Your Perspective Spending time away from your own country often gives you a fresh perspective on your life back home, particularly if you travel to somewhere quite different to your home country. After seeing such poverty in Latin America, I felt so much more grateful for what I had back at home. I realised how crucial things like the NHS, which we take for granted in the UK, really are. No-one in the UK goes without medical care because they don't have money as it is all free... and it shocked me to see people who desperately needed help but were unable to afford it. You also get to read and hear the news about your own country from a different country's perspective, which is eye-opening, I can tell you!! It certainly makes you question the news you hear/read when you get back home... Make New Friends One of the best things for me about studying abroad were the friends I made whilst studying and travelling. I met people from all over the world who were doing similar things to me, some of whom I stayed in touch with for years after I returned to the UK. [caption id=attachment_3619 align=aligncenter width=3456] You meet so many people whilst studying abroad![/caption] As studying abroad was part of my degree course, it was partially funded by my Local Education Authority, but there are other ways to do it... There are grants and bursaries available as well as cultural exchange programmes - you just need to research the options available to you. And if you only have a short amount of time, why not book a language course abroad - many include your food and accommodation as well as tuition and educational excursions... My year studying in Mexico and Brazil was without doubt one of the best years of my life. I learnt so much and did so many things I'd never done before - things which I would never have done if I hadn't spent the year studying abroad. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone! Have you ever studied abroad? If you have, did you enjoy it? Or would you like to if you got the chance? Let me know below... Happy Studying! Kate * Some of these photos were taken many years ago using a film camera, and then scanned in hence they are a little grainy!
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My Favourite Travel Photos of Summer 2019I haven't done a photo post for a while, so decided I would put together a post of some of my favourite photos from our travels/trips this summer to give you a flavour of what we've been up to... The Lake District - June [caption id=attachment_3597 align=aligncenter width=4489] We enjoyed visiting the beautifully situated Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3598 align=aligncenter width=4581] The boat trip round Derwentwater was lovely[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3611 align=aligncenter width=631] There was a great view from the top of Blencathra[/caption] Hampshire and the New Forest - August [caption id=attachment_3383 align=aligncenter width=3264] The New Forest Ponies get absolutely everywhere![/caption] [caption id=attachment_3599 align=aligncenter width=623] We had a great time in Portsmouth - and the Spinnaker Tower was impressive![/caption] [caption id=attachment_3600 align=aligncenter width=4608] The Harbour Tour was great fun - and it was a bonus to see the Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3605 align=aligncenter width=666] I've always wanted to see the inside of a submarine so I loved exploring HMS Alliance at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard[/caption] Marrakech, Morocco - August [caption id=attachment_3454 align=aligncenter width=4032] We loved the sights, sounds and smells of the souks in Marrakech[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3445 align=aligncenter width=3920] Even Freya enjoyed the camel ride - after she got over her initial reservations![/caption] [caption id=attachment_3601 align=aligncenter width=4608] The Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech were a pleasant oasis in the city[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3560 align=aligncenter width=3144] We loved the lively atmosphere in the Djemaa el-Fna once the sun had gone down...[/caption] Food & Drink on Our Travels [caption id=attachment_3602 align=aligncenter width=715] We had a delicious cream tea in Keswick in the Lake District[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3603 align=aligncenter width=3200] Tea and cake al fresco - vintage style![/caption] [caption id=attachment_3604 align=aligncenter width=3264] You can't beat a BBQ when camping![/caption] [caption id=attachment_3496 align=aligncenter width=3264] The breakfast at our riad in Marrakech was so good... and it was served outside on the rooftop terrace too![/caption] [caption id=attachment_3444 align=aligncenter width=3256] You can't visit Morocco and not sample the tasty tagines![/caption] [caption id=attachment_3608 align=aligncenter width=667] Not a healthy morning snack... but a very yummy one nonetheless![/caption] I hope you like my favourite photos from this summer... it's nice to sit and look back at them now that the weather has taken a turn for the worst! As you can probably tell, we've spent a lot of time outside... and a lot of time eating!! I hope you had a fantastic summer 2019 too? Let me know what you got up to in the comments below... Happy Travelling Kate
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My Top 10 Tips For Staying Safe When TravellingSo you're off on your travels... you've booked your flights, accommodation, etc but now you've moved on to thinking about when you get there. But before you go, do you check to see if there are any issues where you are going? I have to be honest, I don't usually, unless it's somewhere I know that safety may be a concern (I usually use Foreign Office Travel Advice to check on the local situation). But there are a few simple (and easy) things you can do to protect yourself when you are travelling: [caption id=attachment_3584 align=aligncenter width=775] Be aware of your surroundings...[/caption] Always tell someone your travel plans - this is particularly important if you are backpacking/travelling from place to place. If people don't know where you are going/what you are doing, they won't be able to alert anyone if you don't arrive. Don't arrive somewhere new late at night if possible and if you do, get a licensed taxi to your accommodation. Don't take anything with you on holiday that you're not prepared to lose - and don't flash your valuables around in public (particularly in poorer countries). Keep valuables in a safe/locker at your accommodation when you are not using them. Theft from hotel rooms is fairly common in some places. Keep useful phone numbers to hand - local police, consulate, insurance company, etc. Don't put yourself in risky situations unnecessarily - and always be aware of your surroundings. Getting so drunk that you don't know what you are doing, for example, makes you an easy target! Be careful where you eat - if a restaurant is busy, that's usually a good sign as the food is more likely to be freshly cooked. And if you are unlucky enough to get the dreaded traveller's tummy, make sure you keep rehydrated. Take care when using public transport - try not to travel in empty carriages on trains and make sure you use licensed taxis, for example... Always heed local advice. If somewhere is referred to as a 'no-go area', then don't go there (unless you have a guide)... equally, if the locals don't drink the tap water, then you probably shouldn't either! And, lastly, trust your gut - if somewhere doesn't feel safe, it's probably not... so leave!! [caption id=attachment_3585 align=aligncenter width=767] Take care when travelling around... but not so much that it stops you enjoying your trip![/caption] Basically, just use your common sense as you would at home (it's easy to forget when you're on holiday!) and remember, most trips pass without incident - it's just better to take a few simple precautions to minimise the risks. Do you have any other tips that you would add to my list? Let me know below... Safe Travelling! Kate
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Review: Arts Fresco 2019, Market HarboroughSunday 15 September was Market Harborough's annual street theatre festival, Arts Fresco so, as it was a lovely day, we decided to head down there and see what was going on this year... We have been a couple of times in the past and enjoyed it so were looking forward to visiting Arts Fresco 2019. It didn't seem like there was quite as much going on as there had been in previous years, but what we saw was diverse and interesting... and the crowds seemed to be enjoying themselves in the sunshine! [caption id=attachment_3575 align=aligncenter width=789] There were plenty of people out enjoying the performances...[/caption] It was great to see Market Harborough town centre so busy and full of life as it can sometimes be a bit quiet, particularly on a Sunday (as only half the shops are open). After being amused by Anyone For Tennis, the first musical act we saw were King Brasstards, a (mainly) brass ensemble who played a wide variety of music. They were very good so we stood and watched them for a while... [caption id=attachment_3572 align=aligncenter width=793] King Brasstards were very entertaining![/caption] At the same time in the Square, Thingamabob, was amusing the sizeable crowd with his antics... but the crowd was so big that Freya couldn't really see anything so we carried on into the Memorial Gardens - mainly because she wanted to get some sweets for completing the kids treasure hunt! There was lots going on in the Gardens for children - colouring, circus skills, and the treasure hunt... [caption id=attachment_3573 align=aligncenter width=786] There was lots to do for kids in the memorial Gardens[/caption] After finishing the treasure hunt, we grabbed an ice cream (it would have been rude not to, right?) and sat down... whilst in front of us HMS Punafore performed their comic adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore! [caption id=attachment_3574 align=aligncenter width=791] HMS Punafore was amusing![/caption] So after just over an hour we left, having enjoyed all the entertainment. We would have liked to have stayed a bit longer (as the event is on all day) and watched a little more but unfortunately we had things to do in the afternoon so headed home... What I like about Arts Fresco is that there is something to appeal to everyone: music, theatre, comedy, kids entertainment... and, even better, it's all free (it's funded by donations)! Do you enjoy going to local events like this? Do you have anything similar where you live? Let me know below... Happy Sunday Funday! Kate
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Backpack or Suitcase: Which Is Best?There are lots of options when it comes to travel, but whether to travel with a suitcase or a backpack is a decision that has to be considered before any trip... so what does each one offer? Backpack Easier if you are on the move a lot: If you are travelling around on your trip - particularly if you know you are going to be using buses, trains, etc - it is easier to get around with a backpack... and, if you are running late for your train or bus, bear in mind that it's much easier to run with a backpack than a suitcase!! Tricky access: Think about where you are staying - is it down a narrow, uneven (or, even worse, cobbled) street; are there lots of steps to get to it; or is it through a crowded area? If so, a backpack will make accessing it much easier. [caption id=attachment_3560 align=aligncenter width=781] Dragging a suitcase through crowded streets is not ideal![/caption] Weighs less: A backpack is generally much lighter than a hard suitcase - so if you are likely to need to carry your luggage at any point, a backpack is usually easier to manage. More compact: If space is likely to be an issue - if you are staying in dorms in youth hostels (where lockers may not fit a suitcase) or hiring a compact car - a backpack may make more sense. Suitcase Holds more: if you are going for a long period of time, you can probably get more in a suitcase if you pack it well... and, if it has wheels, you will still be able to move it around even if it's heavy! [caption id=attachment_3561 align=aligncenter width=781] If you are staying in one place, a suitcase may be the best option...[/caption] Better protection: if you are travelling by plane, hard suitcases offer a lot more protection so your things are less likely to get damaged in the hold. Hard cases also tend to be more waterproof than backpacks so your clothes won't get wet if you get caught in a downpour! Physical considerations: if you have a back problem or another injury which makes carrying an issue, it is going to be better to take a suitcase on wheels as it will put less pressure on your body. Security: A hard case is less easily broken into than a backpack (and can be locked), so if security is an issue, you may be better with a locking, hard case. Easy to re-pack: A suitcase is much easier to pack and unpack than a top-loading backpack... so if you are likely to have to pack and re-pack on your trip, you may want to consider this. So clearly there are pros and cons to both backpacks and suitcases... Personally, I make my decision based on the type of trip I am doing. For trips where I am moving about a lot and may be using public transport, taking a backpack rather than a suitcase is a no-brainer. But if I'm spending a week or two in the same place, I usually take a suitcase as it holds more, is easier to pack and is more robust... So which do you prefer - a backpack or a suitcase - and why? Let me know... Happy Travelling! Kate
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My Favourite Seaside Towns in EnglandI love going to the seaside - unfortunately we don't get there too often as we live about as far from the sea as it's possible to live in the UK! But when we do get to go (usually during the school holidays), these are my favourite seaside resorts to visit in England... Croyde Bay, Devon [caption id=attachment_3176 align=aligncenter width=770] Croyde is a pretty village with a great beach![/caption] Croyde in North Devon is one of my very favourite places to go on the coast. It's a small village with a lovely thatched pub, a few shops and a great beach, which is popular with surfers and bodyboarders... leading to a pretty chilled out vibe! There are a few campsites (big and small), hotels and b&bs to choose from - most of them only a short walk from the sandy beach. Filey, North Yorkshire [caption id=attachment_3526 align=aligncenter width=763] Filey Beach on a glorious, sunny day[/caption] Probably Filey's biggest selling point is its fantastic, family-friendly beach! It is wide and sandy and stretches as far as the eye can see... so there is always plenty of space whether it's for building sandcastles, having a picnic, playing games or just to sunbathe. Filey is also a pretty town which is pleasant to wander around if you get bored of the beach (not that you would get bored of it obviously). Weymouth, Dorset [caption id=attachment_3527 align=aligncenter width=777] Weymouth has a lovely beach as well as a nice harbour...[/caption] There is plenty to do in Weymouth, which is situated on the South Coast... as well as making the most of the beach that is! A promenade stretches the length of the bay and is a lovely place to walk on a nice day, and there is also a pretty harbour to visit. Fancy some shopping? Weymouth has plenty of choice for everyone - from the big chain stores to small, independent shops! And there are many eateries to choose from too, as well as lots and lots of places to stay (catering for all tastes and budgets). But if none of these take your fancy, why not check out some other seaside towns in England? If you like somewhere a bit more lively, why not head to trendy (if a little run-down) Brighton on the South Coast or big, brash Blackpool in the North West? Or if you like your beaches a bit more wild and unspoilt, why not head to Northumberland where you can often have a whole beach almost to yourself? [caption id=attachment_3531 align=aligncenter width=772] Ornate Brighton Pavilion is worth a visit[/caption] Do you like going to the seaside? Where are your favourite places to go near where you live? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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Book Review: Avila’s Travels by Avila MacInnesAvila travels all over the world in her book, Avila's Travels... and takes you along with her for the ride! If you enjoy exploring new places, this is the book for you - taking you around the globe from India to New York to Madrid and everywhere in between... About the book No of pages: 124 Illustrations: No Publisher: Austin Macauley (2018) Available Formats: Paperback, Hardback and eBook [caption id=attachment_3516 align=aligncenter width=551] If you love to travel, you must check out Avila's Travels![/caption] Avila starts off her book in Montpellier from where she takes the reader to many other places that she has visited, with vivid and, at times, humorous accounts of her experiences along the way. Each chapter of the book sees her in a different part of the world, checking out places of interest (such as the Taj Mahal in India and St Mark's Square in Venice) and sampling the local cuisine. However, the latter part of the book (Part 2) takes on a much more serious tone as the author opens up about her mental health issues (she has Schizoaffective Disorder and Bipolar Disorder) and her experience of being sectioned. Her openness about the issues which have affected her is both refreshing and enlightening. And at the very back of the book, you will also find a handful of the author's poems on some of the places she has visited, which is a very pleasant way to end this diverse and interesting book! Summary Avila's style of travel writing is engaging and easy to read - you can't help but be drawn in to join her as she walks through Dublin's Temple Bar or spots a tiger in India's Ranthambore National Park, amongst many other interesting experiences which she shares in the book. I flew through Avila's Travels, unable to put it down once I had started reading it... So if this sounds like your kind of book, you can pick up a copy at Austin Macauley. My Star Rating: [usr 5] *I was gifted a copy of Avila's Travels to review, but all opinions expressed are my own.
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How To Plan A Road TripSo you like the idea of doing a road trip... but how do you go about planning it when there is so much to think about? Whilst it would be fun to just hit the road and see where you end up, unfortunately, for most of us, this isn't an option due to time constraints, so read on for my top five tips on planning a successful road trip: [caption id=attachment_3502 align=aligncenter width=717] You need to pack carefully...[/caption] 1. Decide on how long you are going to travel for This definitely has to be the first thing you decide on as this determines how many places you can visit and for how long... if you only have two weeks holiday to play with, then this is what the rest of your planning is going to revolve around. 2. Pick an area to explore Even if you are planning to travel long-term, you are going to have to pick a country, area or region to explore, so get your map out and see where takes your fancy. For example, next year we are planning on doing a road trip and have now narrowed it down to visiting the South West of England and Wales - which is about all we can manage in the two weeks or so we will have available (without spending most of our time in the car!). There is a bit of a temptation if you're not careful to try and cram too much in, so restrict yourself when choosing an area to explore! [caption id=attachment_3504 align=aligncenter width=602] I love road trips...[/caption] 3. Narrow down the key places you want to visit When you have chosen where you are going, the next thing to work out is what are your must-sees? And can you fit them all in in your allotted timescale or are you going to have to be selective? A key thing to think about is how much of your trip you actually want to spend driving... if you spend the majority of your time on the road you won't get time to relax and enjoy the places you visit. So don't try and fit too much in - allow some time for relaxing and for checking out anything interesting that you stumble upon during your trip - you don't want to find an incredible place to explore and because of your tight schedule have to drive on without stopping! 4. Work out how long you will spend in each location Think about what there is to see and do in each destination and how long will you need to do it justice? Also, will you have to put in some interim stops to avoid doing too many really long drives and are there any suitable places on your planned route? If you need a lot of interim stops, you are probably trying to cover too large an area in too little time... 5. Choose and book your accommodation Once you have decided on all of the above, you probably need to choose accommodation at each of your overnight stops. So consider whether you are going to stay in hotels, hostels or camp - or a mix (which is what we are planning to do next summer)? And if you have a budget for your trip, you need to think about this when choosing your accommodation. If you are travelling during peak holiday season you will definitely have to book accommodation in advance. But if you are travelling at other times, you may be able to get away without booking in advance and just stop when and where it suits you (although bear in mind you may pay more doing it this way rather than booking in advance). And if you decide to do some camping on your trip, you will need to make sure that you have enough room in your car for at least basic camping equipment (tent, sleeping bags, mats/camp beds, torch, stove, etc)! [caption id=attachment_3503 align=aligncenter width=726] You can stay wherever you like if you take a tent![/caption] So, in my opinion, these are the main things you need to consider during the initial stages of planning a road trip. Have you ever done one? Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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Staying in a Riad in Marrakech, MoroccoWhen booking our recent trip to Marrakech I knew exactly the sort of a accommodation I wanted to stop in... I'd read a lot about the traditional Morrocan riads and was excited to book a stay in one that would suit us as a family (although it's worth noting that some do not allow children under 12). So what is a riad? It's a traditional Moroccan house with few, if any, windows onto the street, built around an internal courtyard with only a handful of bedrooms. They are found in and around the medina (old quarter) and are often down narrow, winding alleyways (making them somewhat tricky to find!). [caption id=attachment_3490 align=aligncenter width=607] Most riads are down narrow alleyways in the old part of Marrakech[/caption] So why stay in a riad rather than a hotel? For me, the primary reason was that they are usually centrally located making it easy to visit the main sights of the old town. But also, if you stay in one of the big, chain hotels, you could be anywhere in the world. If I visit a place I like to know where I am! [caption id=attachment_3492 align=aligncenter width=767] The pretty flower-filled fountain in the courtyard at Riad Viva[/caption] After a lot of research online, I booked Riad Viva for 5 nights. The reasons I chose this particular riad was that it had a fantastic, central location and a rooftop pool (which I knew Freya would love). Plus the reasonable price also included breakfast and all its online reviews were outstanding... [caption id=attachment_3487 align=aligncenter width=611] The rooftop pool at Riad Viva[/caption] I was a little dubious about the location when we arrived as you had to walk through a warren of alleyways to get to it and I was concerned about safety at night (I needn't have been - we felt perfectly safe walking around at night). But any concerns I might have had about the outside disappeared as soon as we got into the building - it was gorgeous! The internal courtyard had a fountain in the middle and was beautifully decorated - and the welcome we received was very warm and friendly! Our large, ensuite room was traditionally decorated (with air conditioning thankfully) and was very comfortable. [caption id=attachment_3488 align=aligncenter width=752] Our lovely room[/caption] But the highlight of the riad was definitely the fantastic roof terrace where we ate all our meals, with its lovely pool. We spent most of our time whilst in our accommodation up there cooling off in the small pool, reading and listening to the calls to prayer from the nearby mosques. [caption id=attachment_3489 align=aligncenter width=762] The relaxing rooftop terrace[/caption] The other thing I loved about the riad experience was that, because there are only a handful of rooms, it felt almost like you were staying in someone's home. And all the meals we ate in the riad were freshly prepared... and the service was fantastic! [caption id=attachment_3496 align=aligncenter width=779] The food was fantastic... and all served on the rooftop terrace![/caption] So if you are looking for relaxing and peaceful (and authentically Morrocan) accommodation close to the centre of Marrakech, a riad is a great choice! We'll definitely be stopping in one again on our next visit... What sort of holiday accommodation do you prefer? A large chain hotel with lots of facilities or somewhere smaller with a much more authentic feel? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Travelling! Kate
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What I’m Grateful For This Month!Today's post is a bit different to my usual travel-related posts (although travel does get a mention obviously!). I've been thinking a lot lately about what I'm doing with my life and whether it's what I really want. Of course, there are aspects of it that I wouldn't change for anything but there are other aspects which definitely need some attention! All of which got me thinking about what it is I'm really grateful for at the moment... My health I am feeling fairly thankful for having my health back after a pretty awful start to 2019. I spent a month barely able to leave the house and a further two months recovering after contracting an awful chest infection at the beginning of February, which took a long time to clear. I did fear for a while that I was not going to recover and that it was my bronchiectasis that was deteriorating rapidly... thankfully a lengthy (7 week) course of antibiotics finally did the trick. But it did frighten me and make me realise that I had to a) look after myself better and b) get on with doing the things I want to do as you just never know how long you've got left! [caption id=attachment_3237 align=aligncenter width=789] I had lung problems at the start of the year[/caption] My family Where would we be without our families to love and support us? I know that I'm lucky and that not everyone has a loving family around, which makes me even more grateful to have mine. And I've recently started researching my family tree so am finding out about previous generations of my family, which is fascinating... [caption id=attachment_3478 align=aligncenter width=772] We found the grave of my great grandparents and great aunt![/caption] The chance to travel to interesting places (although not as often as I would like lol!) I have had a great month for travel - a fun camping trip to the New Forest and staying in a traditional riad in vibrant Marrakech, as well as a few great day trips. I am very grateful for all the travel opportunities I have and try not to take them for granted... [caption id=attachment_3476 align=aligncenter width=569] Walking in the Atlas Mountains a few weeks ago...[/caption] The opportunity to give something back I have recently accepted a volunteer caseworker role with the Royal Air Force Association which I'm starting in September. The role involves supporting those who work for or who have worked for the RAF and who need assistance of some kind. I am doing my training in a few weeks time and will then start the role, which I'm really looking forward to! Preparing to (hopefully!) embark on a new career After a shaky start to 2019, I made the decision to do something positive and push ahead with something I've been thinking about doing for a while. So I have just passed a Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems which is the first step for me in starting a new career... and I am now preparing to start a course in September to train to work as a counsellor. It's something I've wanted to do for years so I am happy to finally move forward with it (I actually started my training many years ago but due to a change in circumstances I wasn't able to carry on). I will still be carrying on with my blogging and Spanish teaching too, as I enjoy them too much to give them up! [caption id=attachment_3477 align=aligncenter width=572] I passed my course![/caption] So those are the things I'm grateful for this month. Do you ever stop and think about what you're happy with in your life and what you feel could be improved? Let me know below... Happy August! Kate
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Book Review: GRAN Tour of the UK by Sue JohnstonAt 82 years old, Sue Johnston, a widower, decides to embark on a 2500 mile solo road trip round the UK in her Honda Jazz! It's a brave decision but how will she get on... read on to find out! About the Book No of Pages: 116 Illustrations: Yes Publisher: Austin Macauley (2019) Available Formats: Paperback and eBook My Review The first thing I should say about GRAN Tour of the UK is that it has definitely made me think about doing a UK road trip some time soon - Sue makes stopping off for a few days here and a few days there sound very appealing! She is certainly an inspiration - I'm not sure I would be brave enough to do a solo road trip on my own at 47 years old, let alone at 82!! [caption id=attachment_3460 align=aligncenter width=492] GRAN Tour of the UK by Sue Johnston[/caption] Sue's trip takes her to lots of interesting places around the UK (see the book's front cover for her route), where she meets all sorts of people and sees many different sights (and also misses quite a few too due to arriving either to early or too late!) - all with the help of her trusty satnav! And, whilst the book details Sue's journey, it also reveals her battle to get to grips with all the modern technology she needs to facilitate her trip - her satnav, phone, tablet, etc (including remembering to charge it all up when she stops for the night!!). If you are looking for ideas of places to visit in the UK, you won't particularly find any in this book as it's more about Sue's journey than the places she calls at - although there are some pretty photos in the book which may tempt you! What you will find though, is the story of an independent and adventurous woman with an interest in the places she visits and the people she encounters. And, like me, I'm sure you will be inspired by what you read... who knows, it may even inspire you to plan an adventure of your own! [caption id=attachment_3466 align=aligncenter width=758] There are a few photos in the book of the places Sue stops on her road trip...[/caption] Summary This is a lighthearted book with a relatable protagonist, which I'm sure readers of all ages would enjoy. The book is fairly short and easy to read, which made it ideal to take with me on my recent short break to Marrakech... So if you fancy checking it out, you can purchase a copy direct from the publishers, Austin Macauley, here: GRAN Tour of the UK. My Star Rating: [usr 4] Happy Reading! Kate *I was gifted a copy of this book for review but all opinions expressed are my own.
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My Top 10 MarrakechWe have just returned from a short trip to Marrakech, Morocco... it was our first visit to the city and we all loved it! Definitely somewhere we will be going back to soon! So here are our 10 favourite experiences from the trip: Stay in a traditional riad Rather than booking into a fancy hotel (which are the same wherever you go!), stay in a traditional Riad in the old part of Marrakech. We stayed at the beautiful and friendly Riad Viva, which had a lovely rooftop pool and eating area, as well as a pretty courtyard with a fountain... [caption id=attachment_3438 align=aligncenter width=3167] The tranquil courtyard in Riad Viva[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3439 align=aligncenter width=3171] Jumping into the pool after a hot day of sightseeing was bliss![/caption] Soak up the atmosphere in the Djemaa el-Fna square When you think of Marrakech, what is the first image that comes to mind? I suspect it is the bustling Djemma el-Fna square, full of juice stalls, snake charmers and henna painters... And the best time to visit? Just as sun is setting is when the square starts to really come alive! Wander around and then head to one of the many restaurants surrounding the square to enjoy a drink (non-alcoholic!) or a meal with a bird's eye view of the action! [caption id=attachment_3440 align=aligncenter width=3219] Evening is the best time to visit the Djemaa el-Fna square[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3456 align=aligncenter width=3144] Check out all the stalls...[/caption] Stroll round the Jardin Majorelle The pretty Jardin Majorelle is an oasis from the heat and chaos of Marrakech. It's a lovely garden with lots of tropical plants and water features which should definitely be on your list of places to visit... [caption id=attachment_3441 align=aligncenter width=4608] The relaxing Jardin Majorelle[/caption] Visit the Saadian Tombs If you love history (and ornate tiles!) you'll enjoy visiting the fascinating Saadian Tombs, the final resting place of the members of the Saadian dynasty... [caption id=attachment_3442 align=aligncenter width=4608] The ornate Saadian tombs are well worth a visit[/caption] Wander round the souks Head into the souks and just wander around and see what you come across... you will inevitably get lost, but that's part of the fun, isn't it? And you can buy pretty much everything you could want (as well as lots you wouldn't lol!). [caption id=attachment_3454 align=aligncenter width=4032] Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the souks[/caption] Take the Marrakech City Tour I'm not normally a fan of bus tours as I think you see much more exploring a place on foot, but on this occasion due to the fact we only had 5 days and the oppressive heat, we decided to give it a go! And I was so glad we did as we saw a lot of Marrakech that we probably would never have seen travelling independently... and we learnt a lot too due to the informative audio guide on the bus. [caption id=attachment_3443 align=aligncenter width=3264] We enjoyed our bus tour...[/caption] Admire the Palais Bahia Spend an hour or two exploring the beautiful Palais Bahia, which was built in the late 19th century. You can do both the Saadian Tombs and the Palais Bahia in one morning as they are close together and only take an hour or two to explore. [caption id=attachment_3447 align=aligncenter width=4047] One of the tiled courtyards in the Palais Bahia[/caption] Ride a camel I'm not a big fan of camels if I'm honest but it was difficult to avoid taking a ride on one during our visit... so I gave in! And, I enjoyed it - we rode in the forests outside Marrakech so the climate was much more pleasant and the mountain views were stunning. My camel wasn't the best behaved of the three so I had to keep a tight grip so as not to end up in an undignified heap on the floor!! [caption id=attachment_3445 align=aligncenter width=3920] Setting off on our camel ride![/caption] Take a day trip to the Atlas Mountains If you want to escape the heat of Marrakech, taking a day trip into the Atlas Mountains is a great option. You hire a guide who leads you up a mountain trail, through stalls selling jewellery, rugs, etc and past several small waterfalls... it's great fun and the views as you descend are beautiful! [caption id=attachment_3446 align=aligncenter width=4608] The scenery in the Atlas Mountains is stunning[/caption] [caption id=attachment_3452 align=aligncenter width=4608] Beautiful views up in the Atlas Mountains[/caption] Eat tasty tagines My favourite food from our trip was definitely the traditional Moroccan tagines... they were absolutely delicious! [caption id=attachment_3444 align=aligncenter width=3256] Delicious chicken and vegetable tagines[/caption] So these were our favourite activities/experiences from our brief trip... have you been to Marrakech? If so, what did you enjoy? If not, is it on your bucket list of places to go? [caption id=attachment_3449 align=aligncenter width=3264] The striking Koutoubia Mosque at sunset[/caption] Happy travelling! Kate
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How To Prepare For A Trip In a Camper!Holidays are fun, huh? You spend most of your time busting a gut so that you can pay the bills and save up for things that you need, so it’s only fair that you have a week or two away from it all, isn't it? When you have the opportunity to head somewhere for an extended period, you really have to make the most of it, because, sooner or later, you’re going to end up back in the thick of it, and that’s no fun! You know that preparation is key in everything you do, and that extends to the recreational side of life. Getting everything sorted before you fly to another country is pretty simple because you’re getting on a plane! You HAVE to get everything right there, or you could regret it massively! But what about when you’re heading out on a road trip in a campervan or with a caravan in tow? It’s definitely easy to get a little complacent in this instance... If you’ve always thought about doing something like this (and you really should, it’s pretty cool), but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it, then maybe you should read on. Here are some ways you can prepare like a grown-up! Make Sure You Can Drive The Thing! This may not be the first thing that springs to mind but it's worth thinking about... You’d be surprised at how many people just decide to hop in and hope for the best! If you or your group aren’t the most confident drivers (or haven't driven anything bigger than a car before), then perhaps a little practice is in order. The last thing you want to do is get far away from home and start panicking as you're struggling to drive the thing!! Plan Everything Out In Advance! If you’re going thinking of taking a wonderful camper trip like this, then hopefully you’re not just going to pick a destination then hop in the camper and drive... That might sound cool, but you need to have a plan to guide you through everything, or you might get into a bit of trouble along the way. Pick the best route (making sure you avoid narrow roads which are unsuitable for anything larger than a car) – this can easily be done online. Also, if you’re going a long way, plan where you’re going to be resting and staying overnight – rest spots are a necessity on a long journey. (Photo source: https://unsplash.com/photos/-Avc2AiE1_Q) Kit It Out! If you've bought a camper and the interior is pretty stylin’ already, then you probably won’t have to worry about it. But if it’s looking a little worse for wear, then perhaps you should get it seen to. Some companies specialise in sorting this kind of thing out. Check out Volkswagen Camper Van Conversions if you’re riding around in one of those nifty, vintage VW campers; and there are lots of different options you can go for. It’s not just a cosmetic thing; nobody wants to ride around in a beaten up and messy vehicle for hours on end! Make Sure You Have The Best Company You’re going to be sat in a confined space for a while. You’re going to want the people you’re with (if you indeed take people with you) to help keep you entertained and, more importantly, to not annoy you every five minutes! So make sure you chose your company carefully! Remember To Pack Everything You NEED Think about the necessities first, obviously! It’s nice to pack the things that you want to bring with you, but be sensible and bring along the important stuff too... and bear in mind the storage space you have available, as it is limited in most campers. First aid items, food, water, stuff to help you sleep – these kinds of things will be important when you're on the road. Have you ever done a trip in a camper - we've done a few and loved it? If you have, how did you get on? Or maybe it's on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments below... Happy Camping! Kate *This is a collaborative post which may contain affiliate links. *Kate Loves Travel does not own the copyright for any of the images used in this post.
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Harborough at War 2019 in PhotosThe first ever Harborough at War event took place on 3-4 August 2019 at the Market Harborough Showground, which happens to be only a few minutes down the road from where we live... so it seemed silly not to go along and check it out. It was on for the whole weekend but we visited on the Saturday only. The cost was £10 for adults and £5 for children, plus £1 for a program (profits from the program sales went to the local cadets). So here are a few of my highlights of the day in photos... Freya enjoyed a few goes on the climbing wall which was on the Army Recruitment stand - it was the first thing she spotted when we entered the site! [caption id=attachment_3413 align=aligncenter width=528] Freya enjoyed a bit of climbing[/caption] Our next stop was a coffee stop for Matt who can't survive too long without a caffeine hit! And luckily there was a cute vintage tea room on hand... [caption id=attachment_3414 align=aligncenter width=793] Tea and cake 1940s style![/caption] We enjoyed checking out all the military vehicles, particularly the tanks (many of which came from Armourgeddon just down the road - for more about Armourgeddon see my post UK Days Out: Armourgeddon, Leicestershire). [caption id=attachment_3415 align=aligncenter width=794] There were some impressive tanks on display[/caption] But as well as the static displays there were also various reenactment groups dotted around the large site. [caption id=attachment_3417 align=aligncenter width=779] WW2 history was brought to life by reenactors[/caption] One of our favourites was the excellent WW2 field hospital, complete with blood and gore... not to mention a 'military surgeon' who was happy to share his knowledge of military medicine in the field, which drew quite a crowd. [caption id=attachment_3416 align=aligncenter width=593] The mock WW2 field hospital was a popular attraction[/caption] After walking round for a while we grabbed a drink and sat on a hay bale to listen to the Harborough Big Band play some 1940s/wartime favourites... not really my kind of music but they were very good! [caption id=attachment_3418 align=aligncenter width=784] Harborough Big Band kept the crowds entertained[/caption] And then it was time to head over to the arena to watch some of the tanks on the move (very noisily and with plumes of black smoke pouring out behind them!)... [caption id=attachment_3419 align=aligncenter width=789] Tanks circling the arena...[/caption] ... followed by a WW2 battle reenactment! [caption id=attachment_3420 align=aligncenter width=791] A battle took place in the arena![/caption] As you can probably see from the photos, Harborough at War 2019 was a fun, family day out and we are definitely hoping it will become an annual event. So if you are interested in history, keep an eye out for future events - we'll definitely be going again! Happy Holidays! Kate
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