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What I Should Do In The UK According To My Sponsored Instagram Posts

Following my things I should do in London according to my Instagram ads I’ve also been keeping an eye on ads for places in the the rest of UK that keep popping up. Here’s the digital cream of the crop across the country…

Stay at Locke Hotel in Edinburgh
Oh check me in already ! My visit to Edinburgh was way too short and I need to go back to check out Edinburgh Castle, visit a museum and walk up Arthur’s Seat. And I would honestly consider this place.

North Cornwall
If I ever head towards Cornwall it would be for the Eden Project, but North Cornwall looks very cute and I wouldn’t mind visiting some of their coastal towns.

Visit Dorset
I do want to! There are castles, seaside towns and Jurassic Coast and they all look amazing, but I don’t have a car or even a licence so it looks like that’s one for maybe someday.

Loving Staffordshire
Another one of those ‘shires I did not know anything about. Though after Googling I do remember a few bloggers writing about their world famous pottery factory. It’s not on the top of my list, but if I ever head in that direction I’d love to check out the Lichfield Cathedral, Weston Park or Kinver Edge.

Visit Aberdeenshire
Aberdeenshire has a castle (and it’s pink!!). I think we have a theme here as it’s the third place with a castle/palace that’s trying to get me there. Also Huntly Castle is giving me urbex vibes and I would love to go there. I wouldn’t mind staying at the Fife Arms while heading out there.

Stay the Boardwalk Apartments
All great, but if I ever book another overnight stay in Brighton it would be at the Artist Residence again. If only for the fluffiest pancakes in the world for breakfast.

Wilderness Hotel Suffolk
A stay in a manor house? That has Tea written all over it. But I don’t think it can top staying in Hever Castle, so I might want to give this one a miss.

Go To Cromer
Surprisingly for me, I actually did know where Cromer was … well I had to guess it was in Norfolk as I regonised the pier on the photo from Alan Partridge: Alha Papa. And honestly? I would visit if it didn’t take 3 hours 45 minutes on the train each way.

Visit Jersey
I’d love to visit one of the UK’s islands. I always thought Isle of Wight was the go to place (there is the Garlic Farm, Antique Dolls Museum and Osborne House) but Jersey looks ok too. I mean if only to eat all the Jersey potatoes I could get my hands on.

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Game Series That Make Me Want To Travel

Travel inspiration can come from all sorts of places, whether it’s a book, film/TV or your latest sponsored social media post. But one place you not think is from computer games. While I don’t tend to play them, I occasionally see watch them from afar and they surprisingly are quite the travel adverts. So in the spirit of my post on Travel Movies I Wish I Was Part Of, here’s my top picks which will get you booking holidays ASAP. 

Uncharted

These Indiana Jones-inspired platform shooters feature some of the most desirable travel locations you can think of – the Himalayas, Borneo, Madagascar, the Amazon, Yemen and even London. The way the games tie actual historical facts and figures to the locations is one most impressive feats – and ties directly to the fascination of some travellers who love to explore the history of the place through its historic stories.

Assassin’s Creed

With countless games traversing the world, these history-based adventures take you from the Caribbean to Egypt and Ancient Rome, and many many more. The most recent games have also had ‘tourist’ style modes, allowing you explore without having to dodge arrows and swords, so at a much more leisurely pace, getting you read for your real-life adventure.

Witcher

While this fantasy role playing game is set in an entirely fictional world, the inspirations the creators have taken in their level design more than give nods to real life locations that begged to be visited. The icy fjords and islands of Skellige could easily be Scandinavia, while Novigrad takes inspiration from Amsterdam and Gdansk, and Oxenfurt pays homage to the university city of Oxford.

Elder Scrolls

Again, it may be an adventure series with dragons, magic and all kinds of fantasy malarkey, but the places you visit owe a hefty debt to bits of planet you can actually go and see. Skyrim is a bit of a mixed-bag, with inspirations taken from Norway, Wales, Northern Ireland and Switzerland to name but a few, while Oblivion has obvious nods to Western Europe and New Zealand (in a Peter Jackson, LOTR sense).

Grand Theft Auto

The GTA series is a rather vivid take on the USA, but despite the extreme cartoony violence and general ‘over-the-top’ themes, the remarkably realistic depictions of cities like New York (Liberty City), Los Angeles (San Andreas) and Miami (Vice City) are more than worth coming back to. The fact you can even explore the cities and beyond by air will get your travel imagination going ever more.

Fallout

Apocalyptic game series might not be the ideal tourist advert, I mean who wants to be gouged to death by radiated zombies, mutants and horrifically large sized insects while sightseeing? But aside from that, these games give a picture-postcard take on most of the main landmarks you’d be hitting up on your travels. Fallout 3 is a reasonably decent take on Washington DC and its surrounds, while Fallout 4’s version of Boston and its surrounds is remarkably well done.

Red Dead Redemption

While you can’t take to your horse, kidnap bounties and engage in mass shootouts like you could back then, the cowboy GTA games do produce some of the loveliest North American landscapes and love letters to the everywhere from New Orleans to the Appalachians and Mexico. Definitely one to get your travel taste buds tingling.

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Here Is What You Missed From the Good Grief, Charlie Brown! Exihition

Didn’t make it to the Good Grief, Charlie Brown! exhibition at Somerset House? Today I thought I’d give you the lowdown on what you could have seen.

Whether it’s Snoopy, Charlie Brown or Peppermint Patty, we’ve all identified with the Peanuts characters at some time or another.

For me, it was learning it’s ok to have a no-nonsense attitude a la Patty and that it’s perfectly acceptable to cry whenever you feel like bawling your eyes out, just like Lucy.


So with this in mind, when I heard my favourite riverside arts hub was putting together a selection of the best of Schulz and Peanuts, I knew I had to be there as soon as I could find my comfort blanket.

The first space included background info on creator Charles M. Schulz, focusing on his background sketches, interviews and props that inspired some of the comics – like his old ice-skates, planners and his surprisingly simple drawing tools and equipment.

Next up was a time line with what influenced his stories and how he influenced us. There was a set of letters that led him to introduce Franklin the first African American character, popularising the concept of a security blanket and LOTS of merchandise.

I loved learning more about the characters, stories and moments that have inspired children and adults for generations. I think I was always too focused on Snoopy and Woodstock because it didn’t occur to me that the comics covered themes like feminism, war and mental health. Which might be the reason why they don’t seem outdated at all.

In addition to all the info and comic displays there were interactive elements, such as a cinema room filled with bean bags to be lounged on while enjoying the cartoons, light boxes with stencils where you got to trace and create your own comic and vast selections of compilation comic books that you could read.

Overall, Somerset House managed to pull off another great exhibition, giving fans and newcomers alike a chance to step into the wonderful world of creator Schulz and his Peanuts squad. Sadly the exhibition isn’t traversing the world, but if you’re ever in Santa Rosa in California, the Schulz museum is probably the best place for a slice of Peanuts.

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Five Quick Travel Photography Tips From A Pro

 

While the photos I take on this blog aren’t always the best, I pride myself on at least trying a bit when I take them on my travels, especially when I bring my overpriced DSLR with me. But I wanted to get a real award-winning photographer’s opinion the best tips to get those “must-see shots” and give us an all a cheat sheet to maximize those likes…

Patience. Like A Lot of Patience
The key word for all photography is patience. If you have a preference for shots unblemished by bus loads of tourists, be ready to wait a long, long, long time for that tiny window of opportunity when everyone is suddenly gone and you can snap for 30 seconds if you’re lucky.

Timing Is Everything
One way to ensure a peaceful shoot is to set that alarm clock super early and get yourself there before everyone else. This can prove difficult when you can’t get your lazy ass out of bed or with places that only open at 09.00 or 10.00 am, but even then it’s better than waiting for the mid morning/afternoon rush.

Sun sun sun
If you’re shooting outside and want the best light I’d suggest the golden hour (after sunrise or before sunset) if you’re after those gorgeous filter-worthy hues or if not possible, then any day light hours avoiding midday when the sun will be at its highest and therefore harshest. If you are about in the midday rays then head for shaded places, the sun will still be there, but hopefully won’t blind you or make any people you’re shooting look too unflattering with heavy shadow overkill.

Take a lot of photos
Back in the olden days of analogue film you couldn’t afford to try lots of different approaches without having a hefty and expensive bag of film to hand. But today memory is cheap so take way more than you think you’ll need, it will ensure you can try different angles, zoom levels and most importantly, avoid any closed eyes from your subjects! Lots of shots does mean lots of processing so if you want to cut down on that, then scroll through and cut down the number of shots when you’re on the bus, train or plane.

Portraits
While taking lots of shots will help with portraits too, it’s also important to have a good rapport with your subject and make them feel at ease if they’re a bit unsure in front of the camera – try a joke or just chat to them while shooting they’ll feel a lot more relaxed and appear more natural in the shots. If you’ve got extra time, try practising with a friend in advance so you’re aware of which angles and zooms work best for you. And if you are shooting portraits of people always make sure to ask for permission.

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Dumping My Emotional Baggage On The Runway: An Airport Rant

Travel is a special thing always close to my heart, but sometimes you’ll have a bad travel experience which can leave a sour taste in the mouth. This is a little rant I wrote when I was experiencing a bundle of travel-related chaos so while I whittled away the time by being a bit harsh on airports.

Airports should be wonderful, magical places where plucky young travellers embark on amazing skybound adventures. However, this is often very very far (we’re talking the distance to your Ryanair gate) from the truth…

Most of the time they’re soullessly modern, filled to the brim with grey pillars, shiny white panels and lots of glass showing you either – the grim place you’re departing from – or the wonderful sunshine you’re having to leave. And so what if they have a world-class architect-designed glass ceiling, well – you won’t get to marvel at this one, as it often looks better from the outside in an exterior (legal) drone shot, or if it does look alright inside, you won’t be seeing it as you’re forced to stare into a branded shop if you’re lucky enough to have grabbed that last seat in the waiting area.

And what’s with the all the shops? With the lack of carry-on space and ever-increasing charges for baggage, how can you fit any purchases into your bags and suitcases? Does anyone really want to hit up jewellery shops, unless you’re buying a ‘I cheated on you while on my business trip’ necklace or watch? And don’t get me started the hazardous toxins (nope we’re not talking toilets) you’re often forced to traverse in the form of perfume shops which are on the way to gates and departures.

When you finally reach your gate, you may think you’ve got a brief respite from the chaos. But of course, this is never the case. Lack of seats aside, the battle to find and keep a charger is an ever-pressing matter, I’ve seen full-blown arguments break out over those little device energy portals – and I don’t blame them, just being in an airport seems to drain the life of everything, electronic devices included. Way before any flights are called, there’ll immediately be a super-eagy mess of random queues forming to the various possible desk spots, putting everyone on edge, while you’re just trying to stare into the electronic oblivion of your soon-to-be-dying phone.

If the expensive, crowded and often-delayed bus or train to the airport didn’t test your patience, well wait for the little shuttle buses between the terminal and your plane for when your route isn’t important enough for a jet-bridge/walk-way contraption. They may or may not turn up, and when they do, you’ll feel the urge to buy your fellow passengers breakfast for how up close and intimate you’ve been with them. But the light at the end of the tunnel nears close, as you finally board the magnificent mechanical bird to soar you to your wildest dreams. I’ll leave any plane-based criticisms for another post

Of course, we shouldn’t complain, it’s not like air travel is particularly ethical in the first place, so maybe airport crappiness is some sort of karmic penance that we must all suffer for our continued air miles and destruction of the planet. Otherwise, I guess there’s always the exclusive executive lounges…