5 Years On - Can You Travel? Geneva Airport Railway Station

5 Years On – Can YOU Travel?

It’s just 5 years since we “found our wings” and started to travel outside of the UK, where we live. In our view we don’t get away that much, especially compared to other bloggers I read. But we enjoy ourselves and spend a lot of time looking for new places and ways to travel more. Can YOU travel. Our answer was a resounding yes!

So this post is aimed at people perhaps a bit like us. Call us “baby boomers”, “empty nesters”, “silver surfers” or whatever (I hate labels). The kids have grown up and left home. You still need the 9 to 5. The attractions of a tent on a budget trip are not what they were 20 years ago? You look at the adverts on TV and read a few travel bloggers? And wish you could travel.

We are not about to sell the house or blow the pension pot, but we will travel when and how we can, see some interesting places, eat some good food, and have fun.

Destinations – We Went There

Can You Travel - a fishing boat at Bazaruto Islan in Mozambique.
A tourist fishing boat at Bazaruto Island, with sand and fantastic blues and greens of the receeding tide in the background. Many boats are available in the area, from canoes to large dhows and state of the art fishing boats like this.

Looking at some of the travel blogs around, it would be great to say we have been all over the world. We have not, but we visited some interesting places.

  • 2014Ireland and later, the Isle of Wight. And don’t forget Tenby as well. And the wish to travel was growing. The travel bug was starting to bite!
  • 2015 – Santorini, and that fantastic Christmas break in Mozambique.
  • 2016 – Nerja in Spain and Durban in South Africa.
  • 2017 – Valras Plage and Beziers and Carcassonne in France and Hermanus and Umdloti in South Africa.
  • 2018 – Gstaad, Bern and more in Switzerland. A couple of family events took us on many day trips in the UK with visiting family. (Top picture is Geneva Airport railway station).
  • 2019 – So far a couple of day trips to London and Oxford. Thinking about the rest!
  • 2020 – The ideas are already buzzing! A “big trip” at Christmas?

And don’t forget other day trips to London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Hastings and more.

Obviously we are operating from the UK, where we live, but there’s normally a way, wherever you may be.

Our aim is to travel more – Working on that one.

So How Do You Travel?

At the beginning of the year, we start with a list of possibilities. Then it’s a matter of bringing the budget together and going. Simple really. Most of the time, anyway.

If there is a “big trip”, i.e. a long haul, expensive one, in the list we can be saving and planning for that over a year ahead.

For European trips we’ll kick a bunch of ideas around and book a month or two ahead.

Whenever or wherever we go, here are the questions we ask.

How will you pay for it?

Travel - Earn it or save the dollars

For many this is where your travel thoughts stop! Travel is expensive! Isn’t it?

Well, let’s put it this way:

  • If you want to just hop a business class flight to Jamaica and stay in a five-star resort for a week you probably won’t have much change from at least US$12,000 for a couple.
  • Pick your time carefully and three weeks in two locations in South Africa, economy class and self-catering will set you back around £3,500.
  • At the right time of year a week for a couple in Europe, all in, can be as low as £900.

Backpackers will tell you how much cheaper you can do it. I don’t know about you but my backpacking days ended a decade or two ago!

We are not talking about year long trips, so there are only two ways to finance your travels:

  1. Save from your income, whether that’s your job or some form of pension income;
  2. Earn some extra cash.

As a couple, if each of you can save or bring in £1 per day (=£14 per week, £60 per month, £730 per year) you are close to that week in Europe.

Save or earn £10 per day extra and you could go to South Africa, Australia, or similar.

Take that luxury trip to Jamaica when you win the lottery!

Tip: Remember also that what you spend at home on meals, going to the pub, etc., is money in your pocket for the trip.

Tip: Look at using customer loyalty points on store cards and debit and credit cards which accumulate points which can be swapped for travel.

What we do: We save each month, but also look for other means to make some cash.

When will you travel

When wil YOU Travel

As “older travellers” you don’t have to worry about the kids, school holidays and the like. So choose a time that suits you. Having said that, the first thing I do every year is fill in the school holidays in my planner. In red. That’s when we don’t travel because the crowds are there and it is more expensive.

Typically prices are lower in the “shoulder” seasons, especially in the first half of the year.

What we do:

  • Use Google calendar and fill in the school holidays.
  • Then create a calendar with the seasons in possible destinations.
  • That tells us when we are likely to travel. Except when we don’t! Like going to Mozambique at Christmas!

Who will travel?

Traveling with friends can be tricky. It’s a good way to break friendships. But with the right friends its a great way to share the cost. Do leave each other room to breathe and be accepting of each other ways. We’re all different.

What kind of Travel do you want?

We are not big into visiting iconic sights and places. Great, if we are close, but that’s not our main aim. In Switzerland we had an unexpected free day, so we hopped on a train and went to Bern. Why? It was a good idea at the time and great fun!

Tip: Decide what you want to see and do. Be clear on this one. If you are into weekend city escapes, or magical beach holidays, or walking holidays, then plan to do those things. Travel for fun!

Where do you want to stay?

Our Hotel in Perivolos, Santorini
Our Hotel in Perivolos, Santorini

Some enjoy the all-inclusive, sit by the pool trip. Others will only ever go self-catering. Some want five star, while others are happy with a hostel. Where would you, realistically, like to stay?

This can be tricky. Opt for self-catering and you can find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no access to interesting places. Opt for an expensive all-inclusive deal and you could find that the restaurants down the street are much more interesting. But now you have blown the budget.

What we do:

We will always opt for the self-catering option first. And then do our homework. In Santorini and Nerja we chose a bed and breakfast, flights and hotel deal. That meant we found places for lunch and dinner away from the hotel. We ate well! On our 2017 South Africa trip it was all self-catering, except when we chose to go out.

Tip: A bit of homework is necessary, and can be done easily using Google Maps – simply zoom in on the place you are heading for. The ideal is a self catering spot with a cafe, restaurant and store, probably a small supermarket, within 10 minutes walk. The cafe for breakfast and restaurant for dinner with the store supplying everything else.

How will you eat?

Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.
Cheese fondue for one at Gruyeres.

A big part of our trips is enjoying local cuisine. Strange as it may sound, that often means skipping the big flashy restaurants and hunting down the popular local ones.

Most hotels, we have found, serve very toned down meals to try and meet everyone’s tastes.

What we do: We have a light breakfast. Every day we aim to eat out once, but look for the simple local spots. the food is often better and more representative of the local cuisine. Then we will buy simple food like cold meat and salad and eat that on the beach, or even in our hotel room.

Tip: Ask a local!

Greek food – Santorini, in a restaurant in a cave.

How will you get there?

Switzerland – A train at Lausanne station

If it’s a long haul trip, you have little choice but to find the most economical flights.

Short haul generally means using a budget airline, as much as you may hate those.

But look at your options and preferences. Train travel to and in Europe is an attractive thought and something we haven’t tried. Bus travel and self drive are options as well, though we don’t find either of those attractive.

What we do:For Europe we have typically used the budget airlines, which are never fun. For future trips we are thinking carefully about the train.

Then Go

Then we just go. And enjoy.

Okay, there is normally a bit of anxiety attached. Will the plan work? Will the budget work? But that is all part of the fun.

Can YOU Travel

5 years on – Can YOU travel.?

Yes, we can. You can too. It does take a bit of effort, but it’s worth it!

Give it some thought.

Drop us a comment with your thoughts.

On a sunny day in the town of Nerja, in Andalucia on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. The Balcon de Europa, giving a fantastic view of the sea and nearby coastline, is a 19th century monument. Here’s the view along the boulevard looking back towards Nerja.

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5 Years on - can YOU travel? We can. Visit us and see how we go.
Yorkshire Burrito

A Sunday Roast in your Hand – Yorkshire Burrito

 

After a busy and interesting morning walking around the market, it’s time for lunch. Camden Market offers plenty of choice, whether you want to sit in a pub, or retaurant, or, like us, explore the street food. We checked out a few places, but wanted something different. Then we spotted the Yorkshire Burrito stand.

On various visits to the market we have enjoyed many dishes from simple fish and chips to exotic Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. This was something unusual.

Okay, in England we know that they do things differently “up north” :). But what is a Yorkshire Burrito?

Put simply, it’s a good old Sunday roast, in your hand.

Take a large Yorkshire pudding. Add some stuffing and a few spinach leaves. Take your choice of beef, chicken or cauliflower cheese, add it to the Yorkshire pudding along with a splash of gravy and, most importantly, some crispy roast potatoes. Carefully roll it up and seal it in a panini toaster (or something like).

What a different way to do the traditional roast! And very tasty too.

We tend to think of “street food” in terms of exotic foreign dishes, so it’s great to see something very English as a street dish.

Actually, talking to the guys running the stall, it was only their second day. They had sold out early on the first day, and were heading that way very quickly when we visited. Good luck to them – it’s a great idea!

Have a look at their site: A special English hand meal – A Yorkshire Burrito.

Have you tried a Yorkshire Burrito?

What sort of interesting but unexpected street foods have you discovered in your travels?

 

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Brritos - Yorkshire Style

Camden Town. A street view as we walked from the tube station to Camden Market.

Camden Market Visit – Street View

A trip to London with overseas visitors is never complete without a visit to Camden Market. We dropped in right at the start of the year, on the 2nd January, to be precise. While I would rather visit the market in the spring and summer days (as we did in May 2018), the winter cold didn’t seem deter the crowds.

If you are visiting London, Camden Market is easily reached by bus or tube.A trip we have talked about but never actually done is the trip from Little Venice to Camden Lock on the Regents Canal, on the London Waterbus. That could definitely be interesting, especially in summer. Think about this one if you are planning a visit to London.

Put simply it’s a huge market located next to Camden lock. And it is big. I really can’t think of much you can’t get there. Now I hate shopping (like most guys I know), but I can happily spend a day exploring the labyrinthine passages of the market. And I rarely leave without a bargain. There’s a great selection of street food, from all over the world when you are hungry, so it is worth making your visit a day trip. On this occasion we arrived around mid-day and left well after 5:00. There was still time to see the Christmas lights and Winter Wonderland (it has to be done!!) in London.

The picture above is a street view, pretty much as you arrive in Camden Town. The market is located next to Camden Lock – hard to miss (below).

Have you been to Camden Market? Drop a comment below and let me know your experience.

Camden Lock - looking down the street as you arrive in Camden Town.

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Camden Market Visit - Street Views on hairy1travels.com

Trafalgar Square. By Night! And Now Its 2019.

And Now It’s 2019

Where did 2018 go? Now it’s 2019, and a belated Happy New Year to all.

Our 2018 is probably best described as tumultuous. An unusual mix of highs and lows and general family chaos, though that is quite normal. The year was largely filled with great times spent with family and friends and some unexpected events. Between kids (adult) getting married, having babies (we became grandparents for the first time) and visiting friends and family the year got busy!

The Christmas period marked the first time in some years that the whole family was together. As we started to prepare for that, around the end of November I decided to take a blogging holiday until the new year.

I stopped doing anything on this blog and on most social media. Trying to find the time amidst work changes and all of that family activity was simply becoming very stressful, and there was a need to review the blog and ask some serious questions.

Should I just shut it down? Should I change track and blog about something else? Or do I need to simply improve what I am writing about?

Actually I put a lot of time into looking at the technology. That’s my overlap with blogging, of course. I run IT for a manufacturing group. In that position I have become very involved with various aspects of cloud computing, including, and especially, the classic “access any time from anywhere” idea. With the right apps and a smartphone the Gutenberg editor and a bluetooth keyboard make an interesting blogging platform (when Gutenberg actually works), among other things! Of course I am also a long time Linux fan.

In short, One of my hurdles in blogging was not making best use of the tech in order to best use my spare time.

So the plan going forward is to focus more on the “people like us”, i.e. getting older, still in the 9 to 5, limited travel (and tech) budget (and time), but a wish to travel, take photos and enjoy good food.

Add in some technology, maybe in a sister blog and hopefully you will read and enjoy.

New Content

My Trello boards and photo albums are full of content. Now it’s a matter of getting it out there. Here’s a little sample, starting with a bit of madness: we went to Trafalgar Square. At night. Who does that 🙂 !

Green Leaves

Just leafing through some old photos (couldn’t resist that!) I came across these two photos of green leaves, taken at different times and places.

The top one was a hand held macro (Canon EOS 450D, 100mm macro, 1/200s f/4.5) taken on a spring day. I liked the way the bud is unfurling in front of the single leaf.

The one below is one of my favourites. Also from the 450D, but using a “nifty fifty” 50 mm lens. The shape of the leaf, in a background of soft green light caught my eye. The water drop was just a bonus! It’s been re-edited here, but I have used it before in a “Green Things” post.

One thought – you don’t need a state of the art camera to take reasonable photos!

This post is one for Bren Ryan’s “Photo for the Week – 19 – Leaves” challenge.

 

 

 

 

One to Remember (on Pinterest?)

A close up shot of a green leaf in spring time
Green Things Photo For Sale

 

 

 

Mountains

 

These photos are from our recent trip to Switzerland. Of course it is hard, in Switzerland, to go anywhere without seeing mountains.

The top photo was taken at Vevey on the shore of Lake Geneva. Every time we visited the lake I was reminded of the song “Smoke on the Water”. The view was always misty, with low cloud.

The photo below has such a peaceful atmosphere, I just enjoy it.

Both photos taken with the excellent Lunix TZ100. Unedited apart from minor levels adjustment.

In response to Bren Ryan’s Photo for The Week Challenge 17, Mountains.

Mountains near Saanen in the Gstaad area of Switzerland.
Mountains near Saanen in Switzerland.

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Buy a print of the Mountains

 

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Mountains Across The Lake Pin Image
A pretty swan on the local lake.

Swan on the Lake – with a Photo Tip

Digging through some older photographs, I came across this one of a swan on the lake.

Spring and summer can often bring swans to the lake. They always make pretty sight, somehow very calming as they elegantly swim along.

Swan on the Lake – Photo Tip

Capturing the image can, however, be tricky. The reflection of the swan in the rippling water is great. in full colour it is very “busy” with all of the reflections in green water. Rather than take it to a full black and white image I like to desaturate the image until there is just a hint of the stronger colours left. Look at the swan’s beak.

Photography Prints

One to Pin to your boards

Swan on the Lake. Pin this to your boards.