Going with the flow…

Shouting lava, lava, lava…

You couldn’t see the source, but these shots were taken near the first base on Mt. Etna, Sicily last Wednesday.

It’s just over four hours since we touched down at Manchester Airport following our flight from Catania and, yes, we had a great week over in Sicily on what for us was a drastic change from our usual methods of travelling.

A package holiday with TUI…

They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse just four Mondays ago, so we were in warm climes rather than in a cottage on the North York Moors for a week.

We did see the top of Etna, but as I haven’t downloaded the images from the Nikon compact yet, there’s just these two from the iPad to set the scene.

Did we enjoy Sicily? Oh yes, so much so that we’ve already talked about a return visit.

The trip report will be along shortly and it may be sooner rather than later as I haven’t had my work rota for the next three weeks or so clarified yet.

I know what my hours are supposed to be, but these may change as it’s a major holiday weekend next weekend and a mid-season sale is due to start on Tuesday next.

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The final countdown?

thumb_DSCN2149_1024Or is it?

As one deadline passes and one, two or more rear their heads, we still don’t know what’s happening with regards to Brexit!

With that in mind, I give you a list of tunes to ponder on as the powers that be here in the UK discuss things…

The Final Countdown – Europe

Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads

Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now – The Clash

Making Plans For Nigel – XTC

Madness – Madness

In Between Days – The Cure

State Of Mind – Fish

51st State – New Model Army

Mama Weer All Crazee Now – Slade

Slip Sliding Away – Paul Simon

On a different note, it’s a good job I checked the exchange rates on Monday when getting some Euros for next week.

Our local supermarket was offering a better deal than where I’d ordered from.

Mentioned this to our supplier who proceeded to check the supermarket’s rate and match it.

Result was an extra €15 or so to take away with us – a couple of local train trips for two at our destination or a larger light lunch!

Hello again, again!

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Yes, it has been a while, hasn’t it!

Time flies when you’re having fun, working, travelling or throwing the clock out of the window.

Yes, the clocks changed here last night, but Caroline and I have two more time changes to come over the next two weekends…

Where are we off to?

All will be revealed upon our return, but rest assured, we haven’t planned a trip like this one.

The last big trip mentioned on here would be our visit to Isle Of Man back in 2017.

Since then both of us have new jobs, we’ve made flying visits to North Norfolk, Suffolk and Newcastle-upon-Tyne and also made two road trips around Andalusia too.

I’m back in retail for the first time since 2013 and it’s been an interesting move to make, especially since it’s working for a company whose clothing I’ve been wearing for over thirty years now – Rohan.

As this could be seen as a potential conflict of interest, I’ve taken the decision to not mention product names in any future pieces on what Caroline and I take with us when we’re travelling (even though we do use items from other brands from time to time) and use more generic references to items i.e polo shirts, t-shirts, travel jeans etc.

Given that there has been comment in the mainstream media concerning promotional products being mentioned and photos appearing on social media, I think that this is a sensible idea to adopt regarding product mentions on wisepacking.

There’s a lot to do over the next week, but I may be checking in again later this week!

Hello again…

Yes, we’re back again

And we’ve been back again!

Malaga and Seville that is, but with added stops in Ronda, Cadiz and Jerez as Andalucia beckoned to us once more.

Planes to get there and back again and feet, buses, bikes and trains to get around sights, bars

Tapas, wine, beer, coffee, ice cream at the tables and bottles of water close at hand to with temps hitting the heights of 37C and plenty of outdoor eating as a result.

Oh, and 45 minutes of rain too…

More soon – and plenty of new pics to go with the words!

Still here!

Yes, still working..

The above pics from the wisepacking archive may give you a hint as to recent travels.

There’s still the Isle of Man pieces to come along with items on Dumfries and Galloway and Suffolk too.

Plans for further afield are being made, but flight prices are high for our dates at the moment, so there is both a Plan A and a Plan B being put together.

In the meantime there’s a busy time coming up at the day job, but writing sessions are being rostered to clear the log jam that’s occurred in recent weeks.

And besides, Caroline and I have both had one of those money can’t buy impromptu experiences.

Something to do with being invited to sit in the driver’s seat of an iconic British steam engine!

Man bags…

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Yes, it’s Laxey Wheel – again!

This was taken on a very fine day on Isle of Man, but it was the only one…

The packing for our visit was a last minute affair. I’d been tracking the 10 day forecast for Douglas and surrounding area and as the departure date loomed, so did the prospect of rain (and plenty of it!).

Things looked good for the first three days of the break, so we had to balance the packing between clothes for sunny days, clothes for overcast days and for days when there was the potential for heavy rain.

We’d also caught the tail end of a TV programme on Isle of Man and had seen Julia Bradbury sheltering besides the trig point on the summit of Snaefell and trying to do a piece to camera about the weather conditions being experienced.

Words weren’t needed, because the visuals provided evidence of what Julia and the television crew were experiencing!

Now this wouldn’t have been a problem if we were pointing the car towards Liverpool or Heysham for the ferry to Douglas, but we weren’t.

We’d booked rail tickets to Liverpool, seats on the Manannan sea cat to Douglas and were going to traipse around the island using a mix of a five day Heritage Travel Card and feet.

We were also using a hotel/guest house mix of accommodation and were eating out, so there was a need to take some smarter clothes as well of those that could be used as a layering system during the more inclement weather conditions.

There was also one more thing to consider – after reading up on the reviews of the guest house we were using as our base in Douglas, the potential for washing and wearing was going to be restricted to undies rather than shirts, t-shirts or fleeces.

The main bags were our usual weapons of choice – 2013 vintage Osprey Farpoint 40 travel packs, but as these were packed to capacity, second bags were brought into play.

In Caroline’s case the second bag was her handbag for the trip, a brightly coloured small size Healthy Back Bag. In my case, it was my Rohan Stowaway 20, a packable day sack that normally is packed  into the Osprey and brought into play as and when it’s needed.

We did get creative with our choice of clothing and footwear for the trip and whilst we would have busted any size and weight restrictions on a budget airline for instance, we took a good look at our clothing and kit and put together a mix that covered all eventualities.

Both my jacket and my windproof fleece gilet came from The North Face. The jacket is a longer length HyVent waterproof with a hood that goes into the collar, has pit zips for ventilation and the kind of pockets that will take guidebooks, bus timetables, camera, iPad Mini and my reading specs.

The gilet is a ten year old TNF Windwall with a chest pocket for the phone and handwarmer pockets that will take the camera and specs case.

Tops came from a couple of sources. Crew neck fleeces and zip necks came from Rohan, as did a couple of Core Silver t-shirts, Stratum long sleeved polo shirts and a couple of merino wool based t-shirts.

These, coupled with a Peter Storm merino wool long sleeved zip neck formed the basis of the layering system employed on the trip to combat the expected bad weather.

Rohan Stronghold shirt also came into play as a wind shirt and a secure place for my passport that may have been required for ID purposes.

Two out of the four pairs of trousers were the usual suspects – Rohan Goas– and these were complemented by a couple of pairs of Craghoppers Kiwi style cargo pants.

Socks and underwear were largely Rohan, but sock choices also included a couple of pairs of M&S trainer socks with a silver content and a couple of pairs of Bridgedale Light Hikers for the days when boots were needed rather than trainers.

And footwear? One pair of Merrell Mesa Ventilator shoes were packed whilst a five year old pair of Hi Tec casual/hiking boots were worn en-route and on various days out.

Whilst the mix of clothing and footwear was much more than I would normally pack fora trip, it worked and coped with all that was thrown at it – sunshine, wind, rain, squalls and downright filthy weather.

The wash kit and meds combo was the usual one with Lush shower gel, tea tree oil (good as a shaving oil IMHO), sample size toothpaste (courtesy of the help yourself boxes in my dentist’s) along with a disposable razor and my ViaSonic battery powered toothbrush.

With a Sanex roll-on anti-perspirant thrown in for good measure, all I needed to buy locally was a can of Lynx body spray and some baby wipes.

Not convinced about the need for the baby wipes? Trying eating a freshly cooked kipper bap from the kiosk down by the pier in Peel or a bacon buttie down by the beach in Port Erin and you will be convinced about how useful these things can be!

My main bag also had the paperwork – rail tickets, ferry tickets, hotel booking info, the paper only guidebook and travel insurance documents.

Why travel insurance documents for Isle of Man?

Although there’s an agreement regarding health care between the Isle of Man and mainland Britain, there’s no repatriation agreement between the two, so any repatriation after a medical emergency or an accident, has to be covered by travel insurance.

The other thing that needs to be taken into account is that the EHIC card isn’t valid on Isle of Man. Why? Because the Isle of Man isn’t in the EU

But what about Caroline’s bag? By and large, the contents of her bag reflected my choices, even though we hadn’t really talked about what should be taken.

Her Nike Gore-tex came into play along with her TNF Windwall jacket, a recently purchased Rohan Trail hoodie, a zip neck fleece from the same brand and another zip neck fleece from Craghoppers.

A couple of Rohan Stria tops were also packed along with merino base layers, Ultra Silver camisoles, a few pairs of M&S socks, two pairs of Endura cycling socks, Rohan Trailblazer trousers and a pair of that brand’s travel jeans. Footwear? Merrell trainers and two pairs of Ecco Biom shoes.

Did everything work? Yes, is the answer to that one.

We both had more clothing than we would normally have on a break when we’re not using the car to get around, but that was down to the potential weather conditions we were due to face. Out of the six full days we had on the island, only two were rain free.

Was everything used? Just about…

I had one t-shirt that wasn’t worn and a bit of washing to do once we got home, but that was a thankfully minimal task given the properties of the items taken with us and the decision to stick with a couple of colour pallets in the clothing choices.

We did forget one thing though. Weighing those bags!

Almost time…

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Somewhere in time

Yes, it’s a while since I last posted, but there are good reasons for that!

The hours worked on the new day job have increased, there’s been a fair bit of inclement weather doing the rounds, a little bit of tiredness and apathy and a reasonable amount of thought and a bit of planning happening for this year’s big and not so big trips.

There’s still one trip from last year that hasn’t been written up, so the next post will be a repeat and slightly updated post as to what Caroline and I took with us for our week or so on Isle Of Man.

No motorbike kit though, just the stuff needed for one and a bit days of sunny weather and a heck of a lot of rain too!

The revised version will be posed on Sunday April 1st.

Honest!