Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Amsterdam


So I probably shouldn't be wasting precious typing energy when essay and dissertation deadlines are looming so ominously, but Amsterdam deserves an entry. Surprisingly enough, after the 10 hour bus journey, thoughts of university work were far from our minds and we managed to enjoy our time in the Netherlands' capital with minimum concerns. Instead we spent those few days battling our way through the wind while we explored the city, enlightening ourselves in the sex museum and chatting with new friends in a selection of coffee shops. Thankfully Bryony and I had ticked most of the cultural boxes (Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, Canal Boat ride etc etc) in earlier trips, so felt no guilt enjoying the city at a relaxed pace. With Bryony as chief navigator and Chalky providing the entertainment, our mini-break passed depressingly quickly and we were back on the bus before we had time to let Chalky loose in the Red Light District. Never mind, at a possible £8 with megabus, we'll be back soon...










Photo credit- Chalky's iphone


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Off to Amsterdam

Little jaunt to Amsterdam for my friend Bryony's birthday present. I'll let you know how it goes and hopefully get some photos somehow (I'm cameraless again unfortunately). x

Friday, 22 March 2013

Winspit- an inadvisable excursion...

Not exactly a travel blog, but expeditions to a different county about as exciting as I can hope for at the moment...

It probably says something about me* that nobody was particularly surprised when I arrived to see my family in Lytchett on Saturday morning saying I'd spent the night in a cave. This ill advised plan was, for once, very little to do with me... I watched passively as it mutated from a gathering at the Square and Compass and staying the night in my friend's van, to climbing in Wimborne and the possibility of camping down on the coast somewhere. Desperate to escape the library and working on the usually reliable assumption that the majority of the population are more sensible than I am, I felt safe enough to go along with whatever conclusion my friend Dom eventually came to. He does work for the RNLI after all!

Looking slightly worse for wear after our Lifesaving AGM the night before, I packed my bag with characteristic flippancy; I couldn't possibly need much for two nights away and carrying my big bag on the buses and trains didn't appeal (walking boots? - too heavy! roll mat?- too bulky! head torch? -no, I just couldn't find that one). I actually felt quite smug about the fact that i'd managed to fit everything into a bag the size of something most people would take to the gym as I set off for Dorset. Ginger hippy or not, at least i didn't take up much room. Hurrying through the train station, I was happy to find both that my train was delayed (I was running late of course) and a family friend Adam** on the platform. It seems slightly less hoboey to curl up on floor between carriages when you are with somebody who has a small suitcase!

When I arrived in Poole, I was half expecting Dad to be picking me up after work and had to keep reminding myself that he was actually in the Hebrides. Thankfully Dom and the van were there instead, so we set off to pick up another friend and head to the climbing wall. Climbing was half fun and half frustrating... Having not been in a long time, my finger strength is pathetic and there was even a point where Dom took pity on me and yanked me up on the rope instead... probably not my finest nor most elegant moment.

I left Wimborne irritated, but promising myself some new climbing shoes and practice at the uni bouldering wall. The second half of that bargain i've actually kept to quite enthusiastically so far.

 By the time we'd finished, gone to buy some ravioli and spent a bit of time lost in the fog, it was pitch black and raining. I think Dom may have been hoping i'd say no when he asked 'So, shall we do this?', but we could hardly back out now and I certainly wasn't going to be the one to give in first. We slipped and slid down the path to the sea, where i suggested that as long as we were going downhill, it was probably the right direction. In fact, we went a little too far down and ended up right next to the waves before heading back up to the quarrys Dom was thinking of. Still these cavernous holes didn't look too inviting... I had to explore right to the back of our chosen camping cave before i could relax in the knowledge there were no monsters. After a few beers I slept surprisingly well, despite the dripping roof. With my lovely down sleeping bag and a borrowed roll mat, i was quite comfortable and just pleased to wake up having not been crushed by a loose boulder.

I'm not sure if I could recommend Winspit as an ideal bivying spot, but if i was a tramp***, id deffinitly give the caves an investigation. You cant fault the sea view.

xxx


*or my slightly ecentric family
**mentioned in the Islay blog, for avid fans...
***a not too unlikely possibility for my future

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Finally..


Hi everyone,
I realise I’ve been pretty terrible at this blogging business recently. I hope nobody has been worried about me or anything. Sorry family! This is a very different form of traveling to anything I’ve experienced before. I have little to no control over where we’re going and a very limited say in how long we stay anywhere. However with great power comes great responsibility, so in this case the opposite is quite liberating. This is honestly the easiest trip I’ve ever done: Yannek our chauffer and budding human encyclopaedia knows where we’re going, how to get there and what Napoleon was up to there a few hundred years earlier. It’s mildly depressing to be starting my third year of a history degree, but still have nothing on someone two years younger than me. I should probably be more concerned by this than I actually am… In terms of actual living, staying alive, I don’t need to concern myself too much either. Alex manages to turn their busking money (often surprisingly lucrative considering their four song set list) into food for us all via a combination of a lot of hours spent in supermarkets, comparing the price of SuperU’s kg of chips with that of Leaderprice, coaxing the van’s dodgy hobs into action and using pretty much anything to make the result taste a bit more exciting. Ever had pasta with a can of lentils and sausages? Neither had i… We drive in the van, cook in the van, eat in the van, drink in the van and sleep in the van. It’s our portable, comfy cocoon and I might cry a little when I have to leave.
This adventure, despite it’s relatively safe setting (what can go wrong as close to home as France?), has possibly been my biggest spontaneous gamble yet. I first met Alex and Yannek in Chefchauen, Morocco around two months ago, where I was impressed by their story and the breakfast Alex and Dougan (the crazy, long haired American hitch-hiker I travelled with for a little while, if you are an avid enough blog fan to remember that far back!) cooked for us one morning. I was intrigued by the idea of traveling around Europe in a van, especially when I found out that Alex had never been abroad before setting out for a year and a half with very limited mechanical knowledge, no idea of what it would be like and a tendency to get sunstroke. I would have liked to travel with them from Chefchauen, but was interested in going to Al Hosema with the other boys, so I said my goodbyes and thought little more of them…. For  a week or so anyway. At the point, the wonder that is facebook informed me that they were in Portugal. By now, I was staying with Geoff in Spain and had run out of time to stick to my original plan of traveling back via land and see and had booked a flight out of Porto. We were all going to be in Faro at the same time. We ate burgers, finished off a few too many beers and made drunken plans to meet up again soon. I’d fly out to meet them mid-August. Why not?!
So I did, and here I am, one of the best decisions I ever made (other than originally going to Morocco of course, without which none of this would have happened) . In fact, without alcohol none of this would have happened as I booked my Marrakech flight drunk too (didn’t tell you that did I Mum, sorry). I’m not sure what the moral of that story is really?
Anyway, I hope this makes up for a little of my silence. Until yesterday, we’ve been enjoying the sunshine (except first thing in the morning when we wake up clawing our way to fresh air), jumping off high things into rivers and admiring the incredible scenery in South-East France. Picking up hitchers is always interesting, especially Matthew, a middle-aged hippy who invited us back to his house in Circ de Archiane which was probably the most amazing place we’ve seen, surrounded by massive rocky outcrops. He might be my new idle… This sunny bliss continued until we reached the ugly city of Genoble, where we lost a day confused in  what looked like endless council flats, expensive  supermarkets and sweating in the van. The next morning we woke up to find the battery dead and after some pushing and shoving, tried to explain to the nearest Frenchmen what the problem was. What followed was a very long wait in the middle of nowhere. Even half an hour would have been painful before breakfast. Trouble comes in threes, so I didn’t let my guard down. Then came the rain …and the leaks. Our portable, comfy cocoon turned into a enclosed sprinkler system. Everything was getting wet. The storm was so intense, I managed to have a shower in it (trust me I needed it!).
The weather is still bad, but we have mostly contained the leaks and they made enough money busking in Chambery yesterday that we have food for the time being. We’re heading to Germany now, the land of plenty (as far as sausages are concerned anyway). Life will be easier for them being able to speak the language and having friends to visit. I don’t envy them sleeping in here all winter though…

Friday, 24 August 2012

Bumbling around the south of France

Hello everyone, sorry for the silence...

The past week or so has been an extremely hot journey through Marseille, Avignon, Uzez, Nimes and some little villages I forget the names and spellings of. Sleeping, eating and driving around in the van is a little claustrophobic in the heat, but it's a much easier way of traveling. Yannek drives us from place to place, while i usually have very little idea of where we're even heading to.





 



We've been traveling with a group of Germans, making us six, a great number for late night feasts, drinking and early morning swims to cure the hangovers and wash of the inevitable drenching of sweat which we wake up drenched in every morning.

Alex and Yannek have been pretty successful with the busking recently, allowing us a few more luxuries and everything was going fantastically until our friends car was broken into while we were swimming. Cue a few days of stress and hassle for them.















Sorry about the lousy blogging and wonky photos! xxxxx