Yurting!

So for those of you that are thinking that i have either completely made up a word or don’t realise that i should spell check my posts before publishing them, let me explain….

So for my wife’s birthday i wanted to surprise her with a trip away and after looking at lots of different options including weekend breaks to a European city, a hotel in the lake district, spa luxury weekend or a shopping destination getaway, i decided to ignore all those options and go for something that is on one of our 2 bucket lists (yes we have 2 bucket lists!) The reason being we had a lot of destinations that we wanted to see but also there was a whole bunch of things that we wanted to do (think food tours in tuscany, wine tours in NZ etc) but for this birthday i wanted something a little closer but just as fun. With all of that in mind i did a load of research, roped in a couple of our best friends and booked a weekend in Wales Glamping!

Before you think that this was just “posh” camping let me stop you there, the accommodation exceeded all expectations and was probably better than some hotels i have stayed in across the UK and Europe! The joy of glamping is that you have the experience of cooking outdoors, sleeping under canvas and being close to some spectacular scenery away from all the hustle and bustle of day to day life, WITHOUT the effort of pitching tents,  freezing in sleeping bags and having limited space to socialise inside if the weather turns against you.

So on arrival we were blown away by the inside space of the yurt. It doesn’t show a table and 4 chairs as well as a 2 seater sofa, not to mention plenty of room to move around and it was very spacious even with 4 people in for a long duration in an evening. Each yurt comes with all the utensils and cutlery to cook a range of meals and even a fridge and gas BBQ outside. If cooking isn’t your cup of tea then the site cafe sells bacon and sausage butty’s and pastries, cakes and hot drinks as well.

3 Cliffs bay

Local beach

We took the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the stunning coastline along the Gower peninsula.  The beach was a 10 minute stroll down from the campsite and then you are spoilt for choice of the options you can take, all signposted as the south wales coastal path. No matter which way you chose to walk it would have involved some hills, but they led you to sweeping ocean vistas that you cant help but stop and enjoy taking in the view.

The prize at the end of any of these walks are smiling friendly locals and some really good pub food. We probably only saw a fraction of the natural beauty on offer in the area due to limited time away but it was a great trip to switch off and just recharge those batteries before heading back to reality.

We are already planning a return trip and also some other glamping venues to go and try as it was such a good experience even in some very questionable weather!!

Some tips if you are planning a glamping trip of your own:

  • Make sure you check with the accommodation around all facilities
  • Take Layers – Even when you are in warm yurt, the temperature still drops
  • Look for activities in the local area and plan accordingly
  • Make the most of it – Get outside and enjoy nature and switch off from your technology where possible, you will appreciate it more
  • Check for local supermarkets or plan ahead and take food and drink with you
  • Make sure you have appropriate footwear and jackets! Even in nice weather i would recommend some 100% waterproof shoes as the weather changes fast
Note: All the photo’s were taken with my olypmus TG4 and have had some minor editing on colours

Thanks for reading, feel free to ask any questions or leave comments!

WFP

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Flying Visit to Cambridge

So every few years my wife’s family all get together for a day of festivities, catch ups, food and drink. It is a lovely tradition which is now being passed onto the next generation to host which is nice to see. This year was the first of the new generation and was going to be held at a cousin’s house not far from Cambridge, with that in mind we decided to go up the day before and spend a day and night in the city having almost a mini break.

We drove up on a Saturday morning, parked at the hotel and then walked into the city centre to start exploring. This was the first weekend in July so as expected from one of England’s most famous cities it was busy but first impressions were that it was VERY busy.  After a stroll around we soon discovered that it was the graduation weekend for all the universities in the City and hence it was jam packed with tourists, excited students and their families.

As we meandered through the quaint cobbled streets avoiding the “trains” of guided tours at every main pedestrian intersection we took in the old university buildings, continuing to hide traditions and secrets that they have done for so many years already.

When you walk around the city it is a hustling vibrant place where tradition and status mix effortlessly with new ideas, cultures and styles in a melting pot of possibilities.

Besides an awful lot of shopping that is on offer, from almost every high street brand that you can name, there is a weekend market which offers street food, tourist knick knacks and other artisan wares as well as lots of tours which can be taken, showing off the history on offer. So whether you are a walking or biking person you can tour the city in your own style in almost every language you can think of.

After we had done a fair amount of wandering and picked up some purchases we walked down to the riverside for some liquid refreshment. As soon as you approach river you start to see large crowds negotiating with sellers to try and get the best deal for the one thing you MUST do in Cambridge in the summer and that is go on the punt tours of the university’s.

Tip: Always negotiate – there are enough operators running identical tours that there is some room to play them off against each other, especially when booking for later in the day or just before tours leave.

The tours give you some good historical background of the various campus’s as well as showing you a good insight into life in the city. On a sunny day/evening you will find locals flocking to their punts to spend the twilight hours enjoying the setting sun in a punt with the company of friends, a picnic and a drink or two.  We thought that seemed like a great idea so joined them, when the punt tour was over we took our picnic and enjoyed a stroll away from the chaotic quayside and found a quiet sunny spot to enjoy the suns last rays.

It was a really lovely city to spend some time in and would definitely recommend a long weekend break as we didn’t even scratch the surface of the options available to us and still loved it for the atmosphere of the city.

Hope you enjoyed the read, feel free to comment if there a things we should try when we go back!

WFP

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Sorry for the break!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the radio silence, been pretty hectic with work and some recovering after some planned minor surgery so hence the lack of new content!

However, i have just finished planning out the next few pages of new content and excited to get it up and posted,

Here’s a sneak peak of whats to come…… can you guess where the destinations are?

Good luck with the guesses and i hope you enjoy the new content when it comes up shortly!

WFP

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What Camera gear do you need?

Let me just say that i am in no way a professional photographer or even rank myself as an amateur!

I take photo’s to keep as memories, to go on blogs, as a method of sharing experiences and also because i enjoy the process of looking for that “perfect shot” in order to express a specific moment in time. So with that said i am writing this post purely as a personal recommendation for the sort of camera gear that i have found useful and have got me some results that are both fun, interesting and that i am happy with across a broad spectrum of photographic subjects.

I see something special and show it to the camera. The moment is held until someone else sees it, then it is theirs
– Sam Abell

So first of all lets’s have a look at what options you have for cameras:

  • DSLR
  • Mirrorless Compact
  • Compact
  • Action Camera
  • Smart Phone Camera

Depending on what sort of trip you are going on will have an impact on which camera gear you may want to take with you. With digital camera technology being as advanced as it is today it means that a single, reasonably priced compact camera will get you some good results in most circumstances, in the same way that some of the top of the range smart phones are now equipped to take some stunning photography.

When it comes to choosing which camera for which type of break it is all down to preference and what you will get the most use out of. I have been guilty of taking 4 types of camera from the above list on holiday and only using 2 of them, which isnt smart packing or making the most of the gear that i had available.

WIN_20170814_11_55_25_Pro

Now i dont own a DSLR so that isnt an option for me, below is what i use my other systems for:

Mirrorless Compact – Olympus Pen EPM 1
This versatile, lightweight piece of kit is a great camera for those who take their photography seriously or those who just want to take it to the next level with more flexibility with settings, lenses and converters.

Trip Type: Perfect for City breaks, Sunsets and Wildlife photography

Compact Camera – Olympus TG-4 

This is the latest addition to my camera stash and was brought purely to replace my underwater camera which met with an untimely end during a snorkel in the Maldives. The fact that it is waterproof to 15m without a housing means this will now become my camera of choice for any outdoor activities and watersports. I will be investing in a housing for this as well so that i can use it on all my dives in the future (test run of this will be in November)

Trip Type:  Outdoor breaks, beach holidays, water based breaks

Action Camera – Muvi K2

Great little action camera which for me is used as a back up for my underwater camera as well as being great for all my videos (this is a new area for me). I have used this underwater and attached to a golf cart with the footage being good for both. The reason i chose this over a GoPro was the fact it was significantly cheaper and i for what i was using it for i didnt want to spend a huge amount of money on a camera which isnt necessarily ever going to be my primary camera on a trip.

Trip Type: Water based breaks, Adventure weekends

Smart Phone – Sony Xperia M5

Perfect for those spontaneous snaps, selfies and generally showing off how much of a good time you are having whilst not being at work. Is waterproof as well so means it can be relied upon for every type of trip and performs well under a number of circumstances

Trip Type: Every Trip

Check out my Gallery page for the results of using these various cameras

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How to make the most of limited holiday days and funds?

I get asked a lot by friends and people at work how i manage to make the most of breaks and holidays without spending a fortune, as well as having the annual leave to make the most of getting away.

Firstly i would like to say that i don’t actually go away that much when compared to the rest of my family but travel is a theme that has been passed down to me and my brother from my parents and something we both embrace in our own ways.

Let’s start with actual holiday days – how to make the most of them?

Image result for holiday days vs money

  1. Always look at all the timing options for flights to your destination – might seem like common sense, but if you have the money available but are short on time then this will save you a day or half a day travelling at least on most occasions. Just by looking at flying in an evening after work rather than taking the whole or half day off.  Different airlines will run the same routes but some will have better flight times for what you need. Websites like Kayak and Google Flights give a very good overview to make sure you have all the options to choose from.
  2. Is longer always better? – A long 2 week holiday may seem like a great idea and what the doctor ordered, however if you go at the start of the year you have a very long time in which to try and break up the rest of the years work with very few holiday days
  3. Bank/public Holidays – Sounds another simple one, but check when they are and if you can build them around your holiday plans then its free days for you to take off. The same can be said about some companies between Christmas and New Years. If the company you work for is like mine and you have to take time off over the festive period then look at booking a holiday that uses some of this years allowance to save a few of next years.
  4. Plan ahead – This is not for everyone and can also be reversed, make sure you haven’t got too many long periods between breaks in the year. It is very easy for me to lose concentration or any sort of motivation at work if i have just gone a 10-12 week stint with no days off.
  5. Keep some days free – This allows spontaneous breaks to match flash sales on flights or deals on holiday websites like Secret Escapes and other similar websites

Right – how to afford all of these breaks i have just planned?

  1. What type of break to have? – This all depends on what type of traveler you really are. Personally i like to get away as often as possible and see as many places as we can squeeze in each year. The only consistent factor when looking at our holidays coming up the following year is Sunshine!. There will always be at least one holiday to the sun but the rest is flexible. So we balance this out, a main holiday somewhere nice, depending on destination this could be our main holiday expenditure or a reasonable chunk of it. However this is then supplemented by smaller city breaks using budget flights, avios holidays, cheaper hostels or hotels.
  2. Do you need breakfast from your hotel? – So this is one that i have started using the last few years, always check your hotel rates without breakfast compared to with breakfast. Why i hear you ask, well in most European cities you can go to a local cafe and have a good breakfast for €7-10, compared to €10-20 per day in a hotel. might not seem like much but every penny counts
  3. Avios – If you haven’t ever used an airmiles scheme or avios then my biggest advice is start using them now! websites like head for points give all sorts of tips for getting the most for your money and how to maximize your collecting potential. This year we haven’t had to pay for a hotel for a city break in October as it is being paid for with our avios that we have saved by shopping through the avios website on everyday products (you can even have a household account to increase buying power)
  4. AirBnB  – Another great way to spend less on accommodation and gives you the opportunity to self cater which gives flexibility depending on where you are. This is also useful in the UK as a break from work doesn’t have to be abroad
  5. Watch where you eat – So whether you are in a European City, a street market in Malaysia, or a small town the wild west, do your research on local dishes and what the locals eat. In most places there is “street food” which is cheap, delicious and gives you another awesome experience of a country, rather than sitting in a restaurant and eating something you could easily be eating back at home.
  6. £2 coins – So this is actually something that my wife found when looking at ideas for saving for a wedding and it turned out to be one of the best tips we had. Get yourself a pot/tub/box of any kind, put a whole in the top which fits £2 coins and then seal the lid. Throughout the year any £2 coins you get put them in the pot and then at the end of the year count up what you have managed to get together. After year between my wife and I we managed to save around £400 just in £2 coins. Which lets be honest is a nice little holiday fund.

 

Well i hope that has given you some ideas on things to look out for or plan with when you are looking at holiday days for next year.

Feel free to comment if you have any ideas of your own or if you use any of these to help make the most of your holiday

WFP 🙂

 

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Sorry for the short break!

So i have fallen back into a couple of bad habits lately, the first is coming up with some really nice ideas for posts and thinking about them a little too much and not actually putting them down for all to read.  The second is not updating the page with any new content which goes back to the first problem.

So this is just my way of giving myself a kick up the backside to actually get some more content together so i can share it, not just for your purposes but for my own as well.

Through a busy few months at work i have struggled to organize any real thoughts onto here to put together some content i would be happy with putting up. However with most of my European colleagues taking some time for annual leave and a travel ban being imposed on the company as a cost saving exercise for the last few months of the financial year, it means that i have some time to organize some ramblings into some posts for you all to read.

So keep your eyes peeled and some more content will be going up soon.

Thanks

WFP

 

 

 

 

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Hand Luggage – What’s a must take?

Every time I travel I take a select few items in hand luggage that don’t ever change, whether it be a work trip, city break or just a holiday with Luce. These items always come, it doesn’t matter if it is a beach, city or adventure break I will have these items with me in my bag.

I got the idea for this short blog piece from some of the people I follow on twitter and I will be adding another post on what I travel with in terms of camera gear as I know that it is something I look for when travelling, or some advice on what setup might be my next choice depending on the type of trip and location. That is a format I have seen a lot of people post what their “essentials” are and so will share mine in the future.

When you read “highlife” magazine on British airways flights it shows you a “celebrity or person of interest” and what they take with them. I really liked this format so this is my version along with some justification as to why they are included:

Hand luggage

So when you look at the items I have it looks pretty tech heavy, which I agree with totally but that allows me to capture or share my experiences whether I am in a field in the back end of Scotland or an idyllic island paradise in the Maldives. Not to mention in the modern age it means that i have all the tools to adapt to most situations, be it a flight delay or some time to kill exploring a new destination.

Staring top left and working down:

  1. Power banks: When you travel with a lot of tech and travel often these are an absolute must, I usually travel with two of them which means I can fully charge my phone and another device at the same time, or just my phone three times from 0%. I have found from personal experience that Anker have a great range of products and suit my needs perfectly, not to mention a long guarantee on them which suits me perfectly.  Anker Powerbanks
  2. Portable Wi-Fi: So this Huawei mifi unit is a great piece of kit, small and easy to use which is ideal when travelling a lot. It means when landing in a foreign country I just need to find a PAYG sim card and I am always accessible, more importantly I can always find information on locations. It has also proven priceless on some windfarms I have visited for work as it’s a different network to my other phones so I have some connectivity for work. Portable Mi-Fi 
  3. Syncwire multi USB adapter: This has lightened my packing significantly! It means I have one adapter for plugging in 4 USB devices, comes with a US and EU adapter and works with all USB devices, no more hunting around in hotel rooms for more than one plug which can be accessible. Syncwire
  4. Olympus TG4 Tough camera: This camera not only has great specs but can take a beating and keep working which when you are travelling and working is very important. Amazon link to TG4
  5. Joby Gorilla pod: This hard-working piece of kit is not only durable but perfect for shooting at night  without having to worry about professional tripods Joby – Gorillapod
  6. The Anker waterproof speaker: incredibly diverse speaker and functions in any weather which was the main reason for purchase for me. Any speaker that has decent quality and can survive a flash flood is a winner in my book, whether it be on a beach in S.E Asia or taking on an unexpected shower during British “Summertime”!  Anker – Speakers
  7. SIGG water bottle: No matter where you go having a water bottle is crucial and SIGG are the best at providing these. They get beaten and dented but keep on going. In the fight against plastic pollution this should now be an essential for anyone who travels regularly, not to mention retains temperature whether its hot or cold so useful for all climates. Sigg water bottles
  8. Sony MDXR Wireless headphones: Good wireless headphones for a reasonable price, the main reason for wireless for me is so that there is no untangling of wires to listen to your music, getting caught up on bag straps or having to throw a jacket on if it starts to rain. These or equivalents should serve you well
  9. Note Book: Simply for all those moments you need to write something down quickly, be it a translation to get you back to your hotel, the name of a dish you have just tried or a favorite restaurant. Selection from Paperchase
  10. Mechanical Pencil: Writes in any weather, lead is easily replaceable and don’t have to worry about ink exploding in my pocket or bag.
  11. Oakley sunglasses: Personal preference on these and will depend on destination for most, as i do a fair amount of driving for work, its more being prepared for those moments of sun that are unexpected. These would be my next pair
  12. Microsoft surface pro4: This is a new addition this year but i don’t think i could go back to a normal laptop now having had one of these. Powerful, versatile, great for photo editing, capturing ideas, organising files, killing time and all in a very smart-looking, lightweight compact package. Microsoft Store
  13. Compression cubes: Another new addition but once you have used them for packing and organising you realise how much easier these simple travel tasks become. Good for compartmentalizing your bags especially for trips with multiple stop overs. Compression Cubes
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