When our car was written off by a supermarket delivery van in April last year, the choice of replacement vehicle came down to a shortlist of two – the Kia Picanto and the Skoda Citigo.
The dealer selling the Picanto screwed up big time when I was trying to see it when the first UK lockdown finished and the car showrooms reopened for viewing, so I got the bus down to the local Skoda dealer and took a look at the Citigo Monte Carlo that I’d seen online.
To say that I’d done some research would be an understatement. Not only had I looked at reviews for the Monte Carlo version and the standard model, I’d also looked at reviews of the VW Up! and the Seat Mii as well.
It’s the first time I’ve bought a car without taking it out on a test drive, but with with sound understandings in place, the car was bought, insured and taxed before driving it off the forecourt and heading back home the long way round.
The Citigo may be small, but it goes well thanks to the gutsy engine and aerodynamics and has been known to see off a few white vans at traffic lights since June last year.
The one thing we were worried about at first was the size of the boot/trunk. We knew that we couldn’t get a road bike in, but we could get the folding Dahon in and our bags if the back seats were down.
What we did find however was that it swallowed both of our Osprey packs, a bag of shopping and the usual gubbins that are kept in the car most of the time – foot pump, tyre repair aerosol, window wash/water bottle, hand gel, baby wipes/paper towel (both handy when checking the engine oil) and cleaning stuff for the interior surfaces.
Now this wasn’t to cope with two or three days away, this was also good for the two weeks we spent in East Anglia in late September last year. Yes, the camera bag was placed on the back seat when we were travelling, but it was handy for when I needed to use my DSLR at planned or unplanned stops.
With good mpg (@50+), low insurance costs and Vehicle Excise Duty of £20 a year at June 2020 rates, the Citigo is a good low, cost pre-owned option (new ones are now electric only whereas ours is petrol only).
That visit to East Anglia confirmed the decision to buy was a wise one!
Next up, Packing days are here again, then East Anglia, here we come!
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!
Ready to roll – Caroline on a pretty good hire bike
Just part of the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea
The tide is low – and then some…
Wash and go. Or wash and boldly go?
It’s Tuesday on a hot week in June and Caroline and I are heading off in different directions. Although Caroline had taken her cycling kit, she hadn’t brought a bike.
Fortunately we knew that there was bike hire available at Deepdale Backpackers and that the bikes in question were all very much on the new side. After making her choice of steeds and gearing up, we arranged to meet at the beach cafe at Wells-next-the-Sea.
One plus point of having visited Wells so often is that I’ve sussed out where the free car parking is. Yes, it’s a few minutes to get into the centre, but it’s also the difference between giving the local council money or local traders.
Which is what we do when we’re in the area – at Whin Hill Cider, a couple of preferred coffee stops, local fruit & veg shops or bakers or the locally owned mini-market.
After a couple of stops to make small purchases, I made my way down to the harbour and then along the footpath that follows the road down to the beach. The last time I was down here there were some serious television vans down there making a commercial for Lloyds Bank.
Not today though. The car park was filling up and there was a stream of people heading to the beach and in some cases coming back again because of the restrictions placed on walking dogs on that nearby stretch of beach.
It wasn’t long before Caroline appeared, a good move on her part because it wasn’t long after that a cycling club turned up and filled the rest of the bike racks outside the cafe.
This had had a makeover since out last visit and was now apparently being run by the Holkham Estate. Although tidied up, it hadn’t gone all hipster beardie on us and the prices were still quite affordable, hence the numbers sheltering from the sun in the cafe and the greater numbers sitting outside and slapping on SPF 30.
Once lunch was over, we hit the beach. Well I did for a few minutes and Caroline did for a lot longer. I still have problems walking on soft sand following that stroke a few years ago, but I was also conscious that there were a heck of a lot of people around, so the beach wasn’t as quiet as the ones I’d been walking on in Northumberland a few weeks beforehand.
Ice cream was the order of the day when Caroline returned and we were both rather intrigued by the Wash ‘n’ Wag device pictured above.
Wet and sandy dogs go in, very wet and clean dogs come out, much to amusement of those gathered around, especially when the dogs came out and start the usual rigmarole associated with shaking themselves dry.
With Caroline heading back to Deepdale on the bike, I was put in charge of finding food for the evening meal. Well two evening meals actually as I ended up buying stuff for both Tuesday and Wednesday night’s cooking sessions.
When it came to Wednesday, Caroline was back on the hire bike, heading this time in the direction of Holkham Hall. As I’d had a sleepless night because of the heat (despite the fan in the room being on all night), I drove down, bought some coffee and started to read a couple of short books on the iPad’s Kindle app.
Not only does the cafe do good coffee, they also do a very good sausage baguette. Coffee and one of those came and went for lunch whilst Caroline chose something with a rather more healthy attitude to go with her coffee.
Once done, we made arrangements to meet up for coffee and cake at the cafe near Creake Abbey. This has also had a makeover, but the coffee and cake were first class and not out of the way expensive either.
With time running out on the bike hire, it was time to head back to Deepdale. Whilst there were thoughts of staying on another night, we decided not to.
Which was a good move as we awoke to find that it was throwing it down. A brief respite gave us the chance to make a dash to Deepdale Cafe for breakfast and then head back to pack our bags and head for home.
We’d enjoyed the break and the changes at Deepdale will ensure that we’ll return for more of the same… And to take photos of the revamp!
Next up – Two days, hostel and hotel, a new tyre and lots of rain!
Standby for action…
The sea and the slipway…
Life’s a beach – when the tide’s out, not in!
When the chance for a five day break in June came up, it was grabbed with both hands.
There was a temptation to pitch a tent, but as Caroline has had some bother with her back and has been on the receiving end of physiotherapy for it, a hostel beckoned.
Our usual port of call in North Norfolk – Deepdale Backpackers has changed since our last visit and that’s down to new management, new staff and an improvement programme.
We managed to get a room at short notice as it wasn’t school holiday time and we were heading out on a Sunday and returning home on a Thursday.
Although we had a leisurely lunch on the way down, we still had time to kill when we entered the village of Burnham Deepdale, home of Deepdale Backpackers and our temporary home for the next few nights.
So we carried on, passed the entrance to Holkham Hall and carried on to Wells-next-the-Sea on a mission – to find locally produced cider…
Whilst I parked the car, Caroline headed into Whin Hill Cider to do some tasting and some buying too.
With a few bottles stashed in the boot, we then stretched our legs in search of ice cream given that this was a rather warm day and we’d been in the car for a few hours with the stereo playing and the air conditioning set to cool.
Once done, it was almost checking in time. We’d paid in advance, so all we had to do was get the electronic keys to access our room and the kitchen/common room area.
Changes were obvious in the Office and Tourist Information area and more subtle in Samphire, the ensuite room we’d been allocated.
The results of building work on the campsite were in evidence and as we noticed later in the week, the Deepdale team are investing heavily in changes to the group hostel and the areas we were using.
Changes had also occurred in the supermarket next door too – it’s not part of the Deepdale set-up, but it had been upgraded.
It’s okay, but we only bought a bare minimum of supplies there during our stay, and ended up spending more at the Co-Op and Leftley’s in Wells-next-the-Sea instead.
If it’s a Monday morning and the temperatures were rising, it was time to head out in search of some high quality confectionary from Baker & Larner’s in Holt and then head to the sea at Sheringham.
Baker and Larner’s didn’t get as much business as usual as they’d dropped a few things that we used to buy and we’d forgotten to pack any freezer blocks to keep any food purchases cool to have on the beach later. The local greengrocers got some cash, as did Mountain Warehouse, but that was it.
By the time we got to Sheringham, it was busy. Still got a place in the car park next to the heritage railway though and ended up finding lunch and then somewhere to eat it. As luck would have it, the tide was in and the areas of the pebble beach that were still exposed were rather full with deck chairs, tables and windbreaks.
We did find a place to sit and sprawl out though, but we were aware that we’d have to shift PDQ if there was a lifeboat call-out. We’d wandered into the lifeboat station, taken a look at the rescue craft pictured above and bought a couple of bags of RNLI fudge too.
Next stop was the slipway as nobody had staked a claim to it. And there we stayed for an hour or so, chewing the fat and slapping on the SPF 30 to prevent burning. Dogs came down the slipway, entered the sea and then shook themselves off, but other than that, everything was calm and peaceful.
We had to move eventually though and whilst we did call in at the main RNLI shop to get more fudge and a 2018 A5 desk diary, that was about it apart from an ice cream each at Sheringham Railway Station.
A quick call into the Co-Op in Wells saw us exiting with food and wine in readiness for a very rare event for us in the UK. An evening meal with wine at a table in the open air during a British Summer…
Wine and food went down well and in relative peace and quiet too after the previous night when a group had been playing in the barn next to the hostel courtyard. Not my cup of RNLI tea at all, especially on a first night away…
More on Monday!
Yes, we’re back – more words and more pics to come. And then some!
More from Spain…
Five days in Northumberland
Five days in North Norfolk
More thoughts on packing
Bits of news
Some silly stuff
Books, films and television programmes
And links such as the one below…
We’ve used and mentioned Osprey Farpoint packs a few times on wisepacking, so we’re pleased to see that there’s a new variation on the theme – the Osprey Fairview range.
They’re ladies packs and more info can be found here…
Yes, there’s been a month off and the above photo gives you a clue as to where we’ve spent some of it…
Spotted this on on The Guardian’s website, smiled and then read the comments that had been posted.
Back to normal on Monday!
UK or not UK? That is the question…
Plans and bookings have been made for 2017 and there are ideas in the melting pot for others in the UK and Europe.
Airlines, holiday companies and hotel chains are already sending me emails regarding their offers for next year whilst Expedia have just awarded me + Silver status on their rankings, something that goes alongside the Genius status awarded by Booking.com earlier this year.
[I will hasten to add at this point that I personally don’t regard myself as a genius in any way, shape or form – I know what my school results were and that my degree from University Of Sunderland is a Desmond (a 2:2).]
But I digress. I suspect that there will be a few more emails over the coming months giving me more details of what their promotions are.
Yes, I’ve unsubscribed from one accommodation provider’s email list as I was getting so many emails alerting me to deals going on in places I’ve already been to over the last twelve months and to deals in places that I’ve already booked for in early 2017.
I already know what Rohan’s sale items are though as a catalogue arrived via snail mail earlier in the week and this has been backed up by an email a few minutes ago.
Items of interest have been identified and that’s to my advantage as I decided not to take up the offer on a 20% off full price stock voucher for use in the Leeds store a couple of Saturdays ago.
Have the prices gone down? Yes, and by more than 20% – one will have a 30% reduction whist the other has a 50% reduction.
They’re both fleeces, but they will come in useful as a couple of existing fleeces have seen better days.
A couple of t-shirts have also caught my eye too as selected colours in the Element T and Merino Union 200 T ranges are also being given the 30% off treatment come Tuesday 27th…
The above will come in useful as Caroline and I head off to either European destinations or those here in the UK.
We haven’t been up to Scotland for a while now and whilst Caroline has been to both Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, I haven’t – yet!
I’ve not been up to the Borders for a while and it’s a few years since we spent time in the Lake District. Our North Norfolk hideaway has changed management recently, so a few days may be spent in one of the hostel’s en-suite rooms or on one of their campsite pitches.
A return visit to Suffolk could be on the cards, as could London or Brighton and Hastings. My last visit to Brighton was way back in the 1960s and whilst Caroline and King Harold have seen Hastings, I haven’t…
Anything else? Have a good holiday season, wherever you are in the world!
And that pic?* Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales
May to August 2016
Now, where were we?
Ah yes, we’d been to Blackpool and the Yorkshire Dales (hence the pics of Caroline at Tan Hill Inn and her study of the cake menu at Dales Cycle Centre’s cafe) and we’d dived back home for one night only.
First up on the Saturday morning was a weather check to get a ten day forecast for the Fishguard area. Yes, that was our base for five nights as we’d bagged the double ensuite at Hamilton Backpackers Lodge.
With a favourable forecast, our bags contained virtually the same items we’d had in Swaledale. Caroline’s bike kit and a few other items had been washed and had dried overnight, as had my two pairs of Rohan Goas, my Rohan polo shirts and travel towels. The bags? Yes, a brace of Ospreys…
As this was meant to be a relaxed break, Caroline hadn’t taken a lot of bike kit as she was hiring a bike rather than taking her road bike to Fishguard.
The relaxed nature of the few days down there were only matched by the relaxed nature of the plans we had for our time in the area – loose ones!
We had planned to have a Sunday lunch out and for Caroline to have a day on a bike, but that was it. With rain keeping at bay for all of the time out of Hamilton Backpackers Lodge, the clothing selection was ideal – casual for the day time and smarter casual for any nights wandering around town or heading into a pub for a bar meal.
Smarter casual attire also came into play in St. David’s, especially as Caroline was planning on wandering around the Cathedral and I headed for the cathedral’s cafe to do a spot of reading.
Our five days of bumbling around worked a treat as we took a look around museums dedicated to the Sunderland Flying Boat, wandered on quiet beaches, watched a rowing regatta and pondered a £10 each day trip to Ireland from the Fishguard ferry terminal.
Caroline got her ride in and whilst we donned smart casual kit for a last night pub meal, we have to say that our dress sense was much better than the items on the couple of plates placed in front of us when we found a pub that wasn’t having a giraffe with their pricing policy.
Did we hit the pub with the worst bar meals in the area? You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment, but I will say that it was the wurst sausage and mash I’ve ever had.
If we hadn’t been so hungry by the time the plates arrived, we’d have sent them back. We had a meal out with Caroline’s youngest son a couple of nights ago in a pub near Leeds United‘s football ground and we all agreed that the food on offer was pretty decent, even though it was fairly standard pub fodder. My choice – sausage and mash of course!!
With June and July being turned over to a bit of refurbishment and decorating of Wisepacking Towers, Our next break wasn’t until August – a three night hit and run to one of our regular get away from it all spots – North Norfolk.
Whilst it was overcast at times, North Norfolk was rather warm. As the temperatures were high, I ended up taking double the usual amount of t-shirts and polo shirts with me so one could be worn during the day and another following the pre-evening meal shower taken as part of the freshening up process.
Yes, we were back at Deepdale Backpackers once more, but as this was a last minute and almost spur of the moment thing, it was a casual affair as we weren’t eating out on an evening and the poshest place we were going to hit was the cafe at Holkham Hall where Caroline had gone to for bike hire.
Caroline did the wash and wear thing with some of her stuff – Rohan Ultra Silver Camisoles & Briefs, I did something that was quite radical given the usual nature of our travelling.
My worn stuff went into a nylon clothes bag picked up at Waterstone’s book shop in Leeds earlier in the year and was washed when we got home. No smelly socks in the bag though as the North Norfolk trip was done in sports sandals – Clark’s ATL leather for me and Merrell’s for Caroline.
It may have been a more sensible move to use ventilated approach shoes over these few days, but as temperatures were high, it was simple a matter of donning the sandals and slathering an appropriate amount of Nivea Factor 50 as sun protection.
The other factor to consider is that I rarely wear socks or footwear at home as I pad around in bare feet most of the time and have been spotted in sandals sans socks in the local chippy or Co-Op in December and January up here in deepest Yorkshire!
So, what else went along for the ride on these trips? The ever present Kindle, Nikon digital compact camera, Lifeventure and Eurohike travel towels plus Lush shampoo bars and shower gel, my Via Sonic electric toothbrush and my dumbass phone on the trips where driving was required.
Although I took the iPad Mini 2 along on the Swaledale and North Norfolk trips, it wasn’t used that much. Cinema Paradiso was viewed in Swaledale and a couple of pre-prepared wisepacking posts went live thanks to the iPad when we were in North Norfolk.
The artillery also went along to North Norfolk – my Sony A100 DSLR. This was used alongside the usual Nikon S3100 digital compact camera and it gave me the chance to remember and use some old shooting skills over those few days…
The next trips? All in the mix at the moment…
The first part – https://wisepacking.me/2016/09/07/a-a-packing-part-one/
Rohan’s Cool Silver t-shirt – worth its weight in gold?
As you may have noticed in the pieces so far in the One year series, there is a common denominator in the postings related to the posts on our travels in May and Junes 2015, but it’s hardly mentioned at all in the posts about the trip to Lisbon in July.
We know how much stuff can go in the back of a Skoda Fabia when the seats are down, but anything we took along on the Somerset trip had to be packed around Betty Bike – Caroline’s trusty touring/commuting cycle.
Betty’s sturdy and took up more room in the car than we thought, so packing had to be on the minimalistic side, which is why we took small bags with us and shopped locally when we got to the apartment we’d rented for the week.
There were a few luxuries though as I’d shoved a few DVDs into a carrier bag in case we felt the need for some televisual entertainment and I’d also decided to take along my DLSR as well as the usual Nikon Coolpix S3100 digital compact camera.
As the weather was destined to be changeable according to the advance forecasts, a couple of micro fleece zip necks (TNF and Craghoppers) were packed into my Karrimor holdall along with a pair of Peter Storm soft shell trousers, a couple of Rohan’s Cool Silver t-shirts and a couple of the same brand’s Essential t-shirts, three or four pairs of Rohan Silver trunks and a few pairs of M&S dress socks.
With that lot in the bag plus a pair of Merrell shoes and a pair of Brasher sandals, that was about it apart from a couple of travel towels plus my wash kit, meds and Kindle.
The bag wasn’t full and could be easily squashed into any gaps around Betty Bike once her front wheel had been taken off in order to get her into the back of the car.
Caroline was also using a Karrimor holdall, but her clothing mix included travel clothing from either Rohan or Royal Robbins and a few bits of Endura, Altura and Tenn cycle clothing too.
Your starter for Tenn – great shirt for cycling or daywear…
Did we take the right kit with us? We certainly did. The only pieces that haven’t been mentioned so far are the Berghaus and Nike waterproof jackets we took along or my TNF hooded soft shell. Only the waterproofs were used to protect the innocent…
Anything else? Well we did some shopping at the Rohan shop in Dunster, but that was for a few items that were required for the Lisbon trip that we’d decided to take a few weeks later. Even at that stage, Caroline and I had plans for Europe, unlike some who have been in the news over the last few days – allegedly!
As the visit to North Norfolk in June was a short one and Caroline wasn’t taking Betty Bike, we didn’t really need to pack much given the advance forecasts and the relaxed nature of this trip.
So it was a scaled down packing list compared to Somerset – the clothes we were wearing plus three t-shirts each, socks and undies, a spare pair of trousers and the usual travel towels, wash kits, meds and Kindles. The DLSR was left at home in favour of the Nikon and that was it.
Or was it? Well no, not really as Caroline was planning on hiring a bike whilst we down in Norfolk, so her bike clothes, helmet and gloves were also in her Karrimor bag.
And so to Lisbon via a night drive to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and a late arrival at the Hampton by Hilton hotel as Caroline had spent been at a family wedding.
Baggage choices? Our trusty Osprey Farpoint 40s as we were travelling hand luggage on easyJet.
And the contents? A security friendly travel wash bag that had been bought for the journey. It was originally full of predominately Gillette travel products, but a little pruning and replacement ensured that the new contents covered all eventualities.
The disposable razor and small tube of toothpaste were retained, but in went a plastic cased Dove roll-on instead of an aerosol. That was followed by my Slim Sonic Toothbrush, a bottle of Lifeventure Fabric Wash for the clothes, 100ml of Lush’s Flying Fox shower gel, a small bottle of tea tree oil, a similarly sized King Of Shaves shaving oil and two small bottles of Nivea Factor 50.
As before, my usual prescribed meds, yellow Warfarin book and repeat prescription forms went in along with a pack of indigestion tablets and a few sachets of recovery powder (just in case there were too many glasses of vino collapso imbibed over the course of a day…).
Worn items included Salomon ventilated trainers, a pair of Rohan Goa trousers, one of four Rohan Core Silver t-shirts (the rest were in the bag along with a couple of Rohan Element t-shirts).
Why so many t-shirts? As good as all of these shirts are, expectations of 30+ C meant that for once I was playing safe and wearing two shirts per day rather than one. I did however regret not having a couple of polo shirts as smarter options as we were eating out so much over the course of the week.
Rohan Cool Silver trunks and suitable socks completed the worn outfit and yes, there were spares in the bag of these. Other packed items included another pair of Goa trousers, my Nikon Coolpix and charger plus my Kindle and charger, a newly purchased Rohan Stowaway Daypack 20 and a travel towel. Oh, and a copy of Rough Guide‘s Pocket Rough Guide to Lisbon plus a pair of Next espadrilles for sock free days or nights out…
Caroline packed a couple of Rohan Serene vest tops, a Rohan Malay Linen Plus top and a few other items from their travel linen range.
Footwear choices were a pair of Ecco Blom Lite Mary Jane shoes and a pair of Merrell sports sandals. Her day bag was a Rohan Stowaway Daybag 3 that held her passport, camera, travel wallet, tissues, sun cream and a small bottle of water.
Washing was done before we went out and left to dry on hangers next to the windows once the clothing had been rolled up in a travel towel to squeeze out excess water.
The Rohan Goa trousers were just right for the trip thanks to a lightweight fabric that washed and dried quickly, two zipped pockets to take wallet, camera, reading specs and guest house keys.
Out of all the things we took along with us, there was only one piece of kit that required a rethink. I’ve no doubt that the Rohan packable day sack will come into its own, but I have to admit to making a personal wrong choice by using it over the first few days in Lisbon. It was a bit too big for what I wanted to carry around and I ended up buying a small cotton bag that sufficed for the rest of the week.
Coming up next – One year – August 2015.
London, Lonely Planet and a tube strike!