GB road trip – Wales

Our adventures took us to Wales, an often overlooked part of the UK, but Wales has a lot of history and natural beauty, and some of the friendliest people.

We started up north and were seeking out one thing in particular… castles!

As you can see, we found some castles. Our first stop was near Abergele, at Gwrych Castle. Technically you’re not supposed to go near the castle, but we skirted around the perimeter and admired it from afar. Then we headed to Conwy for the night.

I did not know that a walled town like Conwy existed in the UK, so to say that I was pleasantly surprised when we got there would be an understatement. I loved everything about Conwy. The castle, the boats, the smallest house in Great Britain, the food. One night there was not enough.

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From Conwy we headed through Snowdonia National Park. We had originally planned to do a big walk while we were there, but we simply ran out of time (and it was pretty rainy too). So after a night in Dolgellau, we headed south.

 

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And though we didn’t visit any castles in south Wales, we did see caves, waterfalls, distilleries, beaches and a male Welsh choir. All of which were pretty goddamn amazing.

So all in all, Wales has lot to offer. I know a lot of English people dismiss Wales and the Welsh people, but I cannot recommend it enough.

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5 and iPhone SE

Lens: Olympus 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 

Edits: Lightroom 

GB road trip – Scotland

It has been over a year since we left Australia and while we have had a lot of fun, there are things that I miss – and there is probably nothing I miss more than my friends and family. Luckily, one of my closest friends decided to escape the Aussie heat for a couple of months and hung out in London with me.

As expected, the two months passed by all too quickly, so we decided to spend our last week together by embarking on a Great Britain road trip. Starting in Edinburgh, the plan was to visit parts of Scotland, Wales and England, and that’s exactly what we did.

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After a stay in the imposing, but impressive, Scottish capital, we headed to Melrose Abbey for a dose of history, and, of course, a few photo opportunities. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint.

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The Abbey was fascinating and while it is sad that such amazing architecture is disappearing, it is also nice to see nature fight back and have a win every now and then.

Next stop was Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Guesthouse, where we decided to spend a night. Yes, you read that right, a Buddhist monastery in south Scotland!

Our stay involved attending silent prayers in evening, eating simple (but tasty) vegetarian food, waking up early for Green Tara prayers (at 6am) and coping with the lack of phone reception and wifi. I say “coping”, but it was actually really lovely to switch off and slow down for a little while. None of the prayer sessions are compulsory, but it felt appropriate to attend at least one. And I am glad we did, it reminded of how much I love Nepal – somewhere I really must go back to.

Feeling relaxed and centred, we left the Monastery, and Scotland, behind and headed to the Lake District… but I will leave that for my next post.

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5 and iPhone SE

Lens: Olympus 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 

Edits: Lightroom 

women’s march

I attended the Women’s March on London on Saturday 21 January, in solidarity with women and girls, and men and boys, all around the world, as a response to Trump’s Presidency.

I’d never attended such an event before and was overwhelmed with emotions throughout the day. I felt belonging, pride, frustration… but more than anything, I felt like an all-conquering, strong, fierce woman.

Trump has shown us what kind of President he wants to be – a self-serving, bully. So I post these images now, because we need to be reminded that the march may be over, but real battle has only just begun, and together we are a force to be reckoned with.

Girls rule

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5

Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8

Edits: VSCO (on iPad)

brockley market

I love markets, and food markets in particular. So when I found out that there was an award winning food market near me (seriously, less than a 30 minute walk), I had to go there.

What I discovered was amazing local produce, a lovely community vibe and food trucks – so you can grab your weekly shop and a spot of lunch!

Small pies

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Cheese

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If you live in South East London, particularly near Greenwich or Lewisham, then I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Brockley Market one Saturday. You can grab meat, fish, cheese, veg, even wine and potted plants. And you can feel good knowing that you are supporting local producers and the environment.

 

Camera: Olympus OMD EM5

Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm f1.8

Edits: VSCO (on iPad)

british bacon is better

I remember my first English breakfast sausage so vividly. It was 2003, I was staying with a family in the English countryside and was given a sausage butty (English slang word for sandwich/roll) for breakfast. It was unlike anything I’d ever eaten and it was amazing. All these years later, now that I live in London, I realise that it isn’t just breakfast sausages, it is all items pig-related that the British do so well.

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You might think that this is an odd post, but I feel that much time is devoted to just how terrible English coffee is. So why not focus on something that is truly wonderful.

Now let’s just take boutique farmers and specialist deli’s off the table. I am comparing your average supermarket bought bacon. Is there any reason for this noticeable difference or is it just my vitamin D deficient body craving bacon? (Ha, I jest. I’ve actually seen more sunlight here in London than I have in Melbourne. Thank you unemployment.)

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Apparently, according to a quick Google search (which mostly resulted in English people living in Australia complaining about Australian bacon), the meat is cured differently. In the same posts, I also noticed that the English-Australians were complaining about our sausages. So it seems that the Brits take their bacon and their pigs a bit more seriously – see http://www.englishbreakfastsociety.com/back-bacon.html . (There is also a lot of debate about British vs American bacon, but I won’t get into that.)

Though the best bacon I have had was from a farm in country Victoria (Australia), on the whole, the British bacon is better.

Now how to resist eating it all the time…

moving to london

An Aussie living in London… it’s certainly not a new story or a path less travelled. For many Australians it seems to be a rite of passage, a journey to take before settling down back home. So there are no surprises here, I’m Just Another F*cking Australian (aka JAFA, and yes I have stolen this from Kiwis – much like Aussies have claimed everything good to have come out of NZ).

While spending too much time on the tube and soaking up every minute of sun when it shines, a number of thoughts have struck me (and they haven’t gone away). Why are all the supermarket vegetables wrapped in plastic? Where can you buy Minties? Why is recycling less prevalent here? The list goes on.

I’ve been living in London for just over a month and my initial musings are…

  • London is a city made up of lots of towns/boroughs (more like Sydney than Melbourne). Each area has its own culture or sub-culture and there are invisible geographical lines that some people won’t cross.
  • A lot of Londoners are grumpy or in a rush or both. But I’m sure there are friendly ones out there, I just haven’t met them yet.
  • It is an expensive place to live. Sometimes I could swap the pound symbol with a dollar and the price would be the same back home. But it’s ok, because it’s London.
  • The sun does shine in London, but it is exactly like Melbourne – don’t count on it staying that way. It is very possible that you will get four seasons in one day, and always carry an umbrella.
  • It is a big city, but don’t be lulled into always catching the tube. Often it is quicker to walk, and walking around London is pretty nice.

I miss my friends and family, and being unemployed is draining my soul, but this has definitely been the best decision of my life.

xx

travel update 15/02/16

It’s been a week since my first update post, so it’s time to crank out another one.

The journey… so far 

Melbourne (Australia) > Singapore > Hong Kong > London (UK) > Faro (Portugal) > Lagos (Portugal) > Paris (France) > Hesdin (France) > Bruges (Belgium) > Ghent (Belgium) > Brussels (Belgium) > Antwerp (Belgium) > Rotterdam (Netherlands) > Amsterdam (Netherlands) > Utrecht (Netherlands) > Cologne (Germany) > Hanover (Germany) > Berlin (Germany)

Weekly recap

We started the week in Utrecht, Netherlands, which was the perfect pick-me-up after the disappointment of Amsterdam. Utrecht is beautiful, has an interesting history (which we learnt about in the DOMunder tour) and great places to eat. Anyone who plans a trip to the Netherlands and does not visit Utrecht is missing out.

Tip: Check out Trajectum Lumen, it’s a path to different light installations throughout Utrecht and is a great way to see the city at night.

Utrecht

I have been thinking about visiting Germany since my first German lesson back in high school, 18 years ago, and I am so glad I finally got here.

Our first stop was Cologne, which is not the prettiest German city – as described by one local we met – but it has plenty of character. And sometimes a city is about more than the number of photograph-worthy sites, it is about the atmosphere and the people. And that is what we experienced in Cologne.

Tip: Find a local eatery, order the pork knuckle and try to finish it while they continually bring you beer. Seriously, the moment you drink the second-last sip there will be a new beer in front of you. It can be a little overwhelming for people who don’t speak German, but we had a great time at Päffgen. (Thanks to my Uncle for this tip.)

The journey from Cologne to Berlin is fairly long, so we stopped over in Hanover for a night. We didn’t get to see much of Hanover, but… we did see snow! The first we’ve seen during our European adventure and it made me giddy like a kid on Christmas morning.

And now we’re in Berlin, but I will tell you all about that in the next update.

Dani x