Thursday, July 30, 2015

Harlech Banger Racing

We recently passed a sign advertising a banger racing event just north of our new hometown of Harlech.  After figuring out when it was taking place, we both raced home from work in our own bangers and joined a long queue trying to gain access to the car park to the event.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day Two: Setting Sail And Not Being Irish

I was happy to wake up hangover free and slightly more refreshed than yesterday.   I headed down to Bayside Marina in Miami for some breakfast and managed to miss the majority of the Marathon, much to my delight.  I’d have felt really bad eating sausage and biscuits with all those fit people running past me.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Day One: Come Fly With Me (and my hangover)

Edinburgh - Newark - Miami

Having to prise myself out of bed at 5am after only being in bed for two hours is a mammoth task.  At 30, I’d have smacked the alarm and positively leapt up but, at 37, I takes a little more convincing.   I hit up the airport at 6, with my hair still in the previous night’s party shape and the remnants of my mascara congealed under my eyes.  Quite a sight for so early in the morning, I can tell you. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Travel Bug's 3 Fascinating Facts About Ailsa Craig, Scotland

Can you see Ailsa Craig in the background??
  • The finest Curling Stones in the world are harvested from granite found on Ailsa Craig.   Al 64 stones used in the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 were produced with Scottish granite. 

  • Ailsa Craig lies halfway between Glasgow and Belfast, off the West Coast of Scotland and is only accessible by boat. 

  • It is home to the UK’s 3rd largest Gannetry and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area because it is home to 73,000 breeding sea birds.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Frozen Slushies and Southern Food in Savannah

After our success with the AirBnB apartment we rented in East Nashville, we delved in again and booked a 3-night stay in Savannah, Georgia.   We rocked up in the mid afternoon sunshine and checked ourselves in before heading out to stock up on some food and wine (wine and food would be a more accurate description) and proceeded to spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening, chilling out and recovering from a few days of constant road trippin’.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Savannah on several occasions and I love the slow pace of life, the weather, the scenery, and the old world feeling that Savannah has.  I love wandering around the beautiful squares, wishing I had one of those voluminous dresses and a corset.   Oh, and one of those cute bonnet things that makes you look like you’ve strapped a paper plate to your head.  And a horse and carriage, because, obviously…   Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve been to Owens Thomas House in Oglethorpe Square and now I think I’m Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind*

Owens Thomas House Savannah
Well, if you think I'll marry you just to pay for the bonnet, I won't...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Walk Along Busselton Pier, Western Australia

Located in the small town of Busselton, in the famous Margaret River wine region of Western 'Straya, the pier can be found in the beautiful waters of Geographe Bay.   Measuring in at just short of 2km, this is the longest wooden jetty in the entire Southern Hemisphere. 

After flying in from Hong Kong to spend some time with my Aussie family, we drove down to spend the day in the town.   I discovered that there's a train that will happily take you to the end of the jetty but, in the Australian summer, who'd want to be out of the sunshine?

Gonna need a bigger boat...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Day Out at Vicksburg National Park, Mississippi

Despite all my trips to the States, I’d never visited a Civil War battle site.   I know nothing about the war that wasn’t picked up from watching ‘The Red Badge of Gayness’ episode of South Park, which I’m almost proud of, but probably shouldn’t be.  I’m not entirely sure how accurate it was, so I’m going to assume not at all.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Travel Bug's 3 Fascinating Facts About Valencia

While wandering through the streets of Valencia and eating delicious Spanish omelette in the sun, the Travel Bug uncovered these fascinating facts:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ice Cream In Eyemouth

Eyemouth is a small town on the East coast of the Scottish Borders region, a mere 5 or so miles from the English border.   It is famous for its long history of fishing (which is still active today), as well as for smuggling, given its coastal position.  Anywhere that has a reputation for smuggling, particularly wine and spirits, sounds very much like the kind of place I need to visit.   In addition to smuggling, Eyemouth also has a reputation for multi award winning ice cream.  LT selflessly offered to test this out for me.   For blog purposes only, you understand.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

City Guides: 7 Things To Do In Madrid

After a fabulous three days in Valencia, we boarded el tren and made our way to the capital city.  I had visited Madrid on one previous occasion and was lucky enough to be shown round some of the city’s lesser know sights by my friend (and Madrid resident), Aurora.  This time, we were on our own, so I took charge and dragged LT around until he begged for mercy. The Travel Bug was also in tow. That little guy follows us everywhere.  These we were the highlights of our trip:

Cathedral next to Palacio Real

Friday, July 10, 2015

Free Fridays: Llanberis

I wrote about the whole ‘slate’ thing in my post about my Welsh Week.  Not satisfied with just seeing it everywhere, I decided I really must find out more about where is came from and why there’s so much of it around.   I discovered a few attractions dedicated to slate mining in North Wales, but the National Slate Museum was the only one I found with no admission charge.  

National slate museum, llanberis
National Slate Museum entrance.
National slate museum, llanberis
The Courtyard
National Slate Museum
Information panels at the National Slate Museum
National Slate Museum
Presenter and slate splitting genius.
Situated on the shores of Llanberis Lake and within the confines of Padarn Country Park, the museum has lots to offer to all ages.   From the fantastic quarry engine puffing along at the entrance way to the machinery used in the mining process sitting proudly in the open air yard within the museum walls.  

There’s a great deal of interesting information, including an introductory movie and an outstanding demonstration of slate splitting and shaping.   I knew nothing about slate and was fascinated watching a lovely Welshman using a hammer and chisel to expertly split incredibly thin slate tiles like it was the easiest thing in the world.  His sense of humour and ability to chat to the crowd while he was doing it just made it all the more enjoyable.  Watching him create a delicate love heart shape by chipping away at a block of slate was amazing.   

Seeing his intricate dragon carving was so impressive that I immediately longed for one to take pride of place in my living room.  I’m not even Welsh, but THAT’S how good it was.   Knowing me, I’d only knock it over while I was dusting, so these things are safer kept out of my reach.    

LT and I have a thing where we pick up pretty stones from beaches and carve it with the date and location that we stole it.  I’m not entirely sure why we do this, but now that we’ve started it, obviously, we can never, ever stop.  There’s every chance we’ll eventually be able to build a new house made entirely of rocks from Scottish beaches.  Now we’re in slate country, we’ll also be able to fashion our own high quality roof tiles for the new place.  Result!  

The shop at the Slate Museum had little blocks for 50p, so clearly I had to have one to add to my burgeoning collection of building materials.   It now proudly bears the name and date and is the only one in our collection that wasn’t shamelessly ‘appropriated’.  

Once you’re done picking up construction debris for your home, you can wander out of the museum and walk around the country park, marvelling at even more slate.   There are several trails, which are colour coded and easy to follow, and you can start following the route of the steam train around the lake. 
llanberis lake
Llanberis Lake

llanberis lake
Llanberis Lake with the rail track to the right.
Slate wall
Slate, slate, as far as the eye can see...
LT's handiwork
*Please note: although there is no charge for the museum or country park, I did pay £4 to leave my car in the park for a few hours while I was there.   There may be free parking in the area, but not immediately outside the entrance to the Museum. 

Suz x 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

City Guides: 8 Things To Do In Valencia, Spain

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city, occupying space on the country’s Iberian Peninsula.  The Port of Valencia is the largest in the West Mediterranean and fifth largest port container in the world.  The city is also the birthplace of paella and the only city in Spain to have two American Football teams.  

As neither LT nor me had previously visited, and we were heading to Madrid for a break, we decided to split our week and spend three days in Valencia to see what it had to offer.   These are the highlights of our trip:

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

What Is A 'Safe' Destination, Anyway?

Decision, decisions...
It’s been just over a week since 30 British tourists, and a further 8 holiday makers from around the world, were gunned down in an attack at a holiday resort in Sousse, Tunisia.  Yesterday marked 10 years since the terror attack in the centre of London, where 52 people lost their lives while travelling on public transport in a series of coordinated attacks. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Travel Bug's 3 Fascinating Facts About Istanbul

While vacationing in Istanbul, The Travel Bug uncovered some fascinating facts about the city.  He’s always keen to learn more about his holiday destinations…

Someone made a 'ME' cake in Istanbul! 
  • Istanbul is THE ONLY CITY ON EARTH that is in two continents: Asia and Europe.  It is split by the Bosphorus River. 
  • The Bosphorus River froze over in 1954 and people could walk across massive chunks of ice to get to the other side.
  • Agatha Christie wrote ‘Murder On The Orient Express’ at the Pera Palas Hotel in the city.

Have you any fascinating facts about Istanbul for The Travel Bug? 


How Not To Relocate

I recently moved Nation.  To be more specific:  I recently moved from Scotland to Wales.  To be even MORE specific, I moved from Central Scotland to North Wales and I am now 331 miles south west of where I used to be.  I am a 30-something woman who has never lived outside Scotland.  In fact, until I ventured through to live in Stirling in the autumn of 2014, I’d never lived outside the region I was born in.   I’ve always wanted to…I just hadn’t quite gotten around to it. 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

The (Very) Long and Winding Road

Now that we live in a very rural area in North Wales, we thought we’d make the most of the glorious weather we’ve been having and head out for a long walk (ok, so the weather lasted about 3 days, but that’s longer than the average Scottish summer).  We’d been flirting with the idea (definitely just the ‘idea’) of climbing Snowdon at some point, but both figured we’d need some training before we’d be fit enough to attempt it.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Boats at Bygdoy, Oslo

Bygdøy Peninsula is connected to the Norwegian mainland but, for tourists, is best accessed by the ferries from Pier 3, just behind Oslo’s City Hall - particularly if the weather is kind, which it was during my visit.   If the weather isn’t playing along, you can also hop a bus.   

The Peninsula is mostly residential from what I could tell, but also houses the stories and pride of Norway’s impressive Viking, shipping and exploration history.   Arriving at the dock will find you surrounded by museums and, despite being a fairly small area, you could easily spend oodles of time exploring at all it has to offer.    

I don’t have any particular interest in boats and my overriding memory of sailing is contracting noro-virus on a cruise ship.  It’s fair to say I’m not the biggest fan of them.   However, even if you’re like me, take solace in the fact that the sailing is smooth and short and you won’t find a dodgy buffet cart in sight.
Bygdoy Peninsula
Bygdoy Lighthouse
The Viking Ship Museum hosts the world’s best preserved examples of the massive vessels and is not a crowded space; clearly set up to afford visitors the best views of the ships without unnecessary clutter.  There are other related artefacts on show, but the stars of the show are most definitely the boats.  

The Oseburg is the world’s largest burial ship and is completely intact.  A pleasant walk from here will take you to the Fram Museum, which tells the history of the ship that saw three Polar expeditions and is the world’s most northerly and southerly travelled vehicle.   You can go aboard the Fram and pretend you’re a hardy, sea faring Norwegian arriving at the South Pole.  This didn’t work for me as it was summer during my trip and the weather was glorious.   Although I’ve never been to the South Pole, I’m led to believe it can be quite parky.    

Maritime Museum
A beautiful walk around Bygdoy
Once you’re channeling the spirit of a fearless explorer, nip next door to the Kon Tiki Museum and learn about Thor (I mean, even his name sounds brave) Heyerdahl, who dared to steer the hand built raft across the Pacific.  The museum also houses the Ra II, which was, unlike its predecessor, The Ra, successful in sailing from North Africa to Barbados.   Not an easy feat for a boat made of papyrus.  

The exhibits are dedicated to Thor’s intrepid explorations; particularly those to Easter Island, where I hear he liked to go on holiday.   I jest, of course — this man is a national hero and the information about his forays is fascinating.   I’m just stunned anyone got anywhere on the rafts.  It looked to me like something from that Tom Hanks movie, but wildly more successful, obviously.   The museum, maps and exhibits are testament to a remarkable man and his talented crew.   It’s little wonder that his home nation is quite so proud of him.   If you still haven’t had enough, across the road from Kon Tiki is the Norwegian Maritime Museum.  This space is dedicated to the shipping industry in Norway through the ages. 

Despite being heavily boat themed, Bygdøy is also home to the Norwegian Folk Museum and The Holocaust Centre.  Both are impressive in their own right, with the former taking you through the history of Norway and its people.  The latter is, obviously, a somber and educational establishment.

Famous for being the residence of Norway’s wartime traitor, Quisling, it also shows a permanent and haunting exhibition on the treatment of Norwegian Jews during the Second World War.   I felt a little disrespectful taking snaps inside, particularly when faced with the lists of names of people who were killed.   It is beautifully put together and a fine memorial; as well as a reminder of the horrors of persecution.   

There’s so much to do on Bygdøy that it’d be easy to spend many a happy day checking out all it has to offer.   Unfortunately, my time in Oslo was quite tight and I wasn’t able to stay longer.   I’ll have to save it for another trip.   

Suzanne x 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

A Day In Cappadocia, Turkey

Before holidaying in Istanbul, I’d never heard of Cappadocia.  Luckily for me, I have a keen and inquisitive photographer for a partner, who thought it’d be the perfect day out.  He wasn’t wrong.  However, it was quite an expedition to get there from central Istanbul and involved a very early morning taxi, an internal flight from Sabiha Gokcen airport, two uncomfortable bus journeys, and a bit of walking in the intense Turkish sun before we could even start our adventure.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A Day In The Life (Boat) - Three Peaks Challenge 2015

We were recently invited to go out in the Barmouth Lifeboat for the start of the 2015 Three Peaks Challenge, which starts in the bay in the town.   The TPC involves sailing from Barmouth in North Wales and ends up in Fort Will.I.Am in the Scottish Highlands.   In between that, the crew climbs Snowdon in Wales (1085m), Scafell Pike in England’s Lake District (978m) and finish up with Ben Nevis in Bonnie Scotland (a massive 1344m).   Why anyone would want to is, quite frankly, beyond me, but if the world was full of people like me then no one would EVER have done ANYTHING involving climbing mountains.    Or big hills, come to think of it.    I also have no idea about sailing.