Archive | March 2016

Should it stay or should it go now?

No, I’m not referring to the UK‘s vote on June 23rd as to whether we stay in the EU or get the flock out of there… *

It’s a comment as to whether I take the Apple iPad Mini 2 that I bought a few months ago along when Caroline and I go travelling.

The sharp eyed may have noticed that there were no references to the iPad in the pieces I posted last week regarding packing for our recent visit to Tavira.

Yes, it was used the day before we headed off, but after the last emails and a look at the weather forecasts, the iPad was switched off and stayed at home.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the iPad and I’ve found it useful for checking emails, web browsing, watching programmes on BBC iPlayer and reading via the Kindle app, but I didn’t feel that it was going to be necessary to pack and use it whilst in Portugal.

There are times when it comes in very useful, especially when using it to log into newspaper websites that I can’t always access on the desktop.

Although the iPad has an adblocker installed, I can still read newspaper copy on the iPad without the need to look at anything up to 45 ads appearing…

One thing that is noticeable is the battery life. It may not use that much power when watching something like an edition of Michael Wood‘s recent series on China, but if you’re spending a bit of time on the Internet at different times of the day doing some research, then the battery does run down that little bit faster.

At the moment, I’m charging the iPad up on average about once every two days, which is fine by me as it can be on the desk charging from the mains charger whilst I’m doing stuff on the desktop.

On a different note, there are also recollections of a couple of recent meals out when several were constantly checking their smartphones or indeed checking stuff on their iPads rather than talking to their fellow diners…

Now this wasn’t just something that was spotted here in deepest Yorkshire.

It was also spotted in Tavira as people checked their phones by the pool to find out what TA had to say about a restaurant they were thinking of dining in, check their emails and other assorted goings on via their phones.

Although a couple of individuals were using iPads or laptops in the cloisters of the Pousada, one couple had his and hers tablets that they were using at the breakfast table in the dining room rather than talking to each other.

Were they techie obsessed twenty or thirty somethings? Nope, they were silver surfers!

I’m still not ruling out taking the iPad with me when we head off somewhere, but the booking of our next trip just proved that you don’t necessarily need to have one when you’re researching a potential destination and accommodation in said destination.

I’ve been using the iPad to track prices on four different websites for a potential visit to the Greek Islands. The prices were right, the flight times were right in some cases and the parking fees at Manchester Airport could be lived with. I’d even got a trio of brochures to do some cross-referencing with as I did the surfing…

But then it happened. The iPad needed a charge so I plugged it in and then remembered a book that I’d leafed through a few times since it arrived last year – the 2015 paper edition of The Independent Hostel Guide.

Its proved useful in the past and it came up trumps once more. A hostel somewhere in England that offered B&B accommodation at a reasonable price in an area that I know quite well, even though it’s 15 years since I was last there and over 20 years since I took groups there for three or four day backpacking trips.

Old technology ruled as I used a phone to make the booking and pay the deposit and the only time that ‘new’ technology got involved was when I received the confirmation email yesterday and when I checked the bank a few hours ago.

So on this occasion it was a case of “Apps? Where we’re going, we don’t need apps!”.

I used the paper copy of the Independent Hostel Guidehttp://www.independenthostels.co.uk

And that * above? I’m very happy to maintain the status quo and keep on rocking all over the world!

And Europe too…

 

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Accessories after the fact…

If you read my poshpacking post a couple of days ago, you may have noticed that I talked about the clothing and other bits and pieces that I took over to Tavira, but missed out on a few things that ensured that my Osprey hit that 8kg mark that I mentioned in poshpacking.

Three things that weren’t in my pack were my camera, Kindle and dumb-ass phone. Two out of the three items were used in Portugal and one wasn’t.

The Nikon Coolpix S3100 has been worth its weight in gold. The pics are pretty good and the few that aren’t are either dumped off the SD card on the day that they’re shot or nuked when they hit the Mac Mini that wisepacking is put together on.

As ever, the old style Kindle proved its worth. Quite a few books had been added before we headed off to Portugal so there was a good mix of biographies, travel accounts, business stuff and quite a few amusing tomes too.

The best one was started on the plane over to Faro and finished whilst in TaviraMy Dining Hell by Jay Rayner, restaurant critic for The Observer. His weekly column in that paper is always a joy to read and his book highlights several of his Greatest Hits (and mentions which ones are still around and which ones have disappeared into the ether).

Now I did take the respective chargers over for the Nikon and the Kindle with me, but neither were needed as both kept their charges well over the course of the week. The bag used to store the chargers & plug adaptors and any spare SD cards came from IKEA and was one of bags or packing cubes used to keep my stuff sorted and in order 

The phone was only taken along as we were driving to and from the airport rather than using the mix of buses and trains when we flew to Lisbon from Liverpool Airport in September 2015.

I did switch it on a couple of times whilst in Tavira, but the phone didn’t connect with any network, unlike Caroline‘s smartphone, which did and took texts and calls from her family as we’d flown over to Portugal on Mothers Day UK.

Anything else? A small bottle of Lifeventure‘s Fabric Wash did the usual trick when we were washing clothes out throughout the week – around half a bottle was used, even though we were washing shirts, trousers and underwear during that week.

Fortunately we did have a sink plug in the washbasin this time around and we didn’t have to source plug substitutes by buying packs of Pringles or tubs of Hagen Daaz ice cream!

An umbrella was taken along and placed in my day bag along with my reading specs and Transition lensed sunglasses every day… With the food being so good over the course of the week, the Sainsbury’s indigestion tablets taken along as a precautions weren’t needed either.

Some sachets of Tesco Recovery Powder were used however by myself, largely after drinks orders were lost in translation and large beers arrived on the table instead of small ones or after nights where the two of us shared a bottle of wine (we usually make a bottle last 2 nights at home, largely because of one the meds I’m on after surviving a stroke…).

Small packs of Wet Wipes did come in handy on a few occasions. The first was after a meal based around lamb cutlets where the only sensible option was to pick the cutlets up in my hands to eat them rather than trying to use a knife and fork.

The second was after a mini-meal of croquettes at a street cafe in Tavira and the third was after stubbing my toe whilst wearing the espadrilles that I’d taken along.

Yes, blood was drawn and yes, I’m on anti-coagulants. Fortunately the wound wasn’t a gusher, but the Wet Wipes did their job when Caroline used them to clean up the mess that had been made.

Owt else? A folder containing the boarding cards, car parking ticket, fast track security booking along with details of Expedia booked airport to hotel and back car transfers and our hotel booking information.

Other items in this folder were copies of our passports, travel insurance details and bus & train timetable printouts too. Had we photocopied twenty pages of guidebook information and taken those with us?

You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment!

Poshpacking…

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The cloisters at Pousada Convento da Graca, Tavira

Keith Rickaby, Nikon Coolpix S3100

It all began in October last year when Caroline’s workplace approved a week away in March and then Expedia came up with an offer that we couldn’t refuse – flights from our local airport, private transfers from and to Faro airport and a week in a hotel in Tavira on the Algarve.

Not just any hotel you understand, but one that Berlitz Algarve described as “one of the most desirable places to stay on the entire coast”Pousada Convento da Graca, a converted 16th century convent complete with cloisters and its own church.

We knew that Pousadas had special rates for those of us who are over 55, but as the offer we were made beat a few of the prices we had last year for stays in guest houses or boutique hotels, it would have been madness to turn it down…

Which left a couple of problems.

The first was what to wear during our stay, given that Lonely Planet Portugal‘s comments on the Pousada started with “If you can get past the front door (there’s a bit of an attitude here)”

The second was packing to cope with any potential dress code, given that we were flying with hand luggage and that our airline – Monarch – had a 10kg weight restriction on hand luggage.

In the end, we needn’t have worried, even though the temperatures encountered during the first full week of March were below expectations after reading the ten day forecasts for Faro and Tavira.

We packed by taking our cue from these forecasts and perceptions based on looking through the photos in the Pousada Convento da Graca section of the website dedicated to the Portuguese Pousadas.

I ended up packing virtually all Rohan kit once more. Four Progress polo shirts, a couple of Stratum long sleeved polos, two Merino t-shirts, two pairs of 2015 Goa trousers, a selection of Cool Silver trunks and a few pairs of M&S silver containing socks.

Wash kit had the usual contents – factor 30 Nivea suncream, disposable razor, King of Shaves shaving oil, Via Sonic battery toothbrush, travel size toothpaste, Lush shower gel, and Sanex roll-on anti-perspirant. Spare shoes? One pair of espadrilles.

Caroline’s choices were somewhat similar and yes, most of it was also from Rohan. Ultra Silver camisoles and briefs, a couple of Serene vests, a brace of Malay tops, a pair of travel linen trousers, a pair of Trailblazer trousers bought during the Rohan sale at Trek & Trail Saltaire and a Malay dress – just in case. Oh, and a couple of Stria long sleeved tops, again just in case.

Our choices coped admirably with both the expected dress codes and the changeable weather conditions encountered. We’d layered up in readiness for the early start to the airport (3am departure from the house with a car thermometer reading – 1C), so these warm layers (Rohan, Peter Storm, Lowe Alpine) came into their own on the cooler nights during our trip.

We didn’t have any problems once we checked into the Pousada or in fitting in whilst wandering around Tavira, eating in family run restaurants such as Bica, Casa Simao and Churrasqueira O Manel or on the local buses and trains used to get us around the Algarve and the ferry used to have a few hours in Spain.

Yes, there was a bit of washing and wearing going on during the week to keep things sweet, but we stayed smart and our bags came in at 8kg each so no worries on the plane!

And we weren’t the only ones using Rohan in the Pousada either as fellow Brits were sporting Rohan trousers or shirts in and around the hotel.

An account of our visit to Tavira will be posted here soon!

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Caroline, Sunday morning, 7.15 am, waiting for the car to Faro Airport.

Keith Rickaby, Nikon Coolpix S3100

http://www.rohan.co.uk

http://www.pousadas.pt