Archive | February 2017

Easier when you know how…

thumb_DSCN1185_1024

Easier to book a flight to here than do an online supermarket shop!

I can book flights, buses, train rides, coast-hugging catamaran journeys and sort out travel insurance, car insurance and road rescue cover online without too much trouble, even though I use Apple rather than Windows machines.

Yes, there were problems recently regarding a set of rail tickets, but that was down to details of bus replacement services not being explained in full online rather than different machines talking to each other.

But the most frustrating thing this week has been trying to sort out an online supermarket shop for the first time.

The car is sat outside wisepacking towers at the moment thanks to the clutch breaking last week somewhere near Ilkley Moor.

So no supermarkets sweeps for us until the car gets repaired, but yours truly came up with the bright idea of doing our monthly shop online rather than hitting our preferred supermarket – Lidl.

After three attempts on three different supermarket sites, I gave up in frustration, had lunch and then went back to it once more.

This second attempt got the job done, but will I be doing it again?

I don’t think so somehow – once the car’s sorted and back on the road, it’s back to pushing a trolley up the aisle when there’s shopping to be done!

Give me booking flights or holiday stuff anytime!

Advertisements

LDN kit & caboodle

img_0131

We saw plenty of posters and displays for London Fashion Week when we hit London last Thursday, but practicality and warmth factors were in our minds when we were choosing clothes, footwear, bags and tech for the trip.

As it turned out, it wasn’t that cold and we did see a few city types wandering around in shirts rather than suited and booted.

There was a fair amount of Rohan and Peter Storm stuff worn last Thursday as both of us wore merino wool base layers under fleece jumpers and windproof (Caroline) or furry finish (me) fleece jackets and either travel jeans (C) or soft shell trouser (me).

Caroline’s Reiker shoes did the business over the fourteen or so miles walked in the course of the day. Although I’d chosen to wear a newish pair of specialist shoes from a respected brand, the cushioning wasn’t what was required for a day of pavement pounding – replacements are already being eyed up in running rather than outdoor shops…

Our day bags came courtesy of Healthy Back Bag (C) and the man bag I’d bought at Imperial College about eighteen months ago.

Travel toothbrushes and toothpaste kept the breath fresh whilst Tea Tree wipes and small size body sprays kept things smelling sweet (as did the decision to wear merino wool based tops under our fleece jumpers).

M & S socks with silver content also came in useful too as a means of combatting any trainer induced smelly feet…

Anything else? Well, the iPad Mini came in useful as I still hadn’t got a paper copy of the latest Pocket Rough Guide London before we set off, as did a mini map of the touristy bits of the city.

The iPad wasn’t used that much, largely because local knowledge gleaned from thirty years of visiting London came in useful. It did however get used for deciding what our next moves should be as we respectively quaffed a pint of bitter shandy and a half of Aspalls cider in a pub just off Piccadilly.

Did the choice of clothing, footwear, bags and tech cut it? Yes, providing you discount the battering my feet got because of those shoes!

The tech worked fine (the above pic from Harrods is from the iPad – my Nikon digital compact was also used on the day) and that’s just about convinced me to take the iPad out and about on a more regular basis…

And yes, this is the second iPad only posting on wisepacking!

LDN calling… again!

img_0131

And this is just one part of the candy store…

Well, I did say that there was a madcap venture in the planning and it’s done, dusted and over.

Down to London on the overnight coach on Wednesday, a day of wandering on Thursday and then back home on last night’s overnight coach…

Madness? One of my favourite bands!

I’d done this before, but Caroline hadn’t, so the tickets were booked via the National Express website, we got the last bus into town and hit London at 6.20 am yesterday morning.

First breakfasts were in McD but there was a lot of walking to do before we got back to Victoria Coach Station so second breakfasts were to come along with lunch in student places and a pub meal at the end of the day…

In between meals, we hit the river, Covent Garden, Piccadilly, Kensington, the RGS, the V&A, Harrods (where the chocolate hall pictured above was encountered) and a few other places too.

Retail therapy came in at Harrods (best hot dog ever, and much cheaper than the average cost of a cinema version), Stanfords (map and new locks for my travel bag) East and Rohan (scarf and winter jeans for Caroline).

Pret had a few coffee sales and couple of Greene King pubs supplied liquid refreshments plus a set of bar meals as we killed time before the home run.

There’s more to say, but there’s a story to file about it first for another outlet, so it will have to have a delay to telling it here on wisepacking.

Not only, but also…

The postie knocking on our front door at 11.30 am this morning wasn’t appreciated, especially as we’d got in at stupid o’clock and that the postie was knocking to ask us to take in a packet for our next door neighbours!

Grrrr…

The right guide?

thumb_DSCN1850_1024

Which guide is the right guide for you?

There’s a whole lot of reading going on, largely because the weather around wisepacking towers is not that condusive to heading out, no matter what clothing/footwear is being used at the time…

There’s four paper guidebooks and two language helpers on the desk in readiness for our next trip and a new one on the Kindle section of my iPad too (this one’s a brand new revision of an existing title and I haven’t as yet found anyone selling the new paper version…).

The four on the desk are from Rough Guides, Lonely Planet and DK Eyewitness whilst the new Kindle on the iPad is a Pocket Rough Guide.

Why four books and why are they from different publishers?

That’s all to do with getting a more rounded picture of the places we’re going to as each has its own take on the cities and what there is to see and do. As you can see from the above photo, there’s a lot to be said for hanging onto old editions of guidebooks as these can provide further information as certain stuff may be mentioned in one edition of said book, but not another, even though the sight or establishment is still operating….

These guides from the big names are being complemented by a set of city guides in Kindle format from the Atsons and Unanchored series of eBooks or those produced independently by the authors themselves..

Some have been paid for whilst others have been free downloads, but all are being read to get more information and yes, there have been some good tips that are being noted and stored for use on the ground when we hit the cities we’re going to as a means of ensuring that our euros go that little bit further by not resorting to big name eateries for drinks or snacks.

At the moment, all of the main guidebooks are providing good information in a very readable format, something that is a great improvement on our findings when researching the various trips to Portugal.

Rough Guides were our favourites on these trips in either full country or Snapshot/Pocket Rough Guide formats. These paper tomes were used in conjunction with info gleaned from Julie Dawn Fox’s books on Portugal and Porto along with tips from Julie’s website – https://juliedawnfox.com

You may wonder why I favour paper books over techno books…

1) Because paper books are easier to read on the hoof.

2) The indexing is usually much better in paper books.

3) They don’t require charging up at regular intervals.

4) They’re more discrete to look at when out and about.

5) Sections could be copied or cannibalised from the main book, especially if you’re going to one town, city or area for a few days or a couple of weeks.

No matter what the information in the books, the format or who the publisher is, there’s one aspect that’s never left out or forgotten about – using our eyes and ears to discover places, events or eateries.

We’ve spotted posters on noticeboards about museums, stumbled across eating places, taken river trips or found interesting shops by just following instincts and heading off in what turned out to be the right direction…

Although I’ve just bought that new Pocket Rough Guide for the iPad, it’s only going to be used as a guide on a forthcoming trip.

Although the booking has been done, what we do when we get there is largely going to be made up as we go along. There’s a couple of daft ideas floating around, but whether they come to fruition is another matter…

SONY DSC

Not in a guidebook, but the Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum was found after seeing a poster on the wall at a campsite washing up area…

This story goes to 11…

There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment, so it’s good to see that some light relief going on in the media here in the U.K.

There’s some good comments on the story too that highlight how many have seen the source film and taken it in…

And the comments also show how many have spotted that the piece has been run next to one on Stonehenge!

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/08/spinal-tap-lawsuit-harry-shearer-rob-reiner-vivendi

The comments are a bit sweary in places – you have been warned!!!

Signs of the times?

I’m losing count of the number of stories that are being discussed via media outlets old and new relating to travel matters of all different kinds.

Some are about the biggest international travel story of the moment whilst others talk about things to come here in the U.K. and the E.U. and then there’s those that relate to the travel industry and the way that it’s coping with the after effects of world events.

There’s also the way in which decisions by residents or governments have impacted on the financial affairs of travellers, cultural sites and airlines to consider too.

I don’t normally take notice of television advertising, largely because I only watch a handful of programmes on commercial channels, but I have spotted an increase in the number of ads for Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2, Virgin, Trivago, Air B n B, plus state ads for California, Texas and for countries such as Israel over the last couple of weeks.

It would appear that there’s a lot of people after the pounds in our pockets, but recent conversations and posts seen on travel forums regarding potential travellers wanting value for money as they head to destinations old and new.

We currently have three trips in 2017 that are in different stages of planning.

The first is a daft one that harks back to my days as a band manager hawking demo tapes around record companies, the second is a Spanish road trip and the third is a return visit to an area that both of us have visited on a regular basis.

It’s going to be interesting to see how busy the various places we’re visiting are going to be and what the respective costs per person per day are.

Budgets are being put together, but they will be flexible enough to ensure that we’re not missing out on potential experiences. We don’t go for posh eating, overpriced coffees or expensive bowls of cereal in hipster cafes and we’re not adverse to using buses or long-distance coaches to get around rather than trains or hire cars.

Will the foray into the E.U. end up being more cost effective that staying in the U.K. even though the pound has taken a battering thanks to the changes in exchange rates?

I suspect that it will, even though we’ve gone for pre-booked aircraft seats, fast-track security and priority boarding to make things easier at the airport.

Flying hand luggage only helps, as does frequenting local shops that aren’t just for local people and cafes/other eateries that aren’t on the main streets or popular tourist areas….

Watch this space for the end results!