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A-A packing – Part Two

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/

A-A packing… Part One

April to August 2016, the places, the packing

April 2016 saw us hit Blackpool in a big way. Yes, it was just before the May Day Bank Holiday, but even so, one would have expected warmth and sunshine rather than the biting winds and rain we encountered.

We did find some warmth, but that happened as Status Quo kicked off what’s been touted as their last electric tour.

So, what did we take with us for the two days/one night?

In my case it was a ten litre bag that I picked up at Imperial College, London last year whilst Caroline had a fifteen litre Healthy Back Bag.

I had my TNF hooded soft shell and was wearing a TNF microfleece zip neck over a Rohan tech tee plus Peter Storm Soft Shell trousers and Salomon Gore-Tex lined approach shoes.

Inside the bag was a travel towel, basic wash kit, my meds, socks, underwear, Rohan merino wool mix t-shirt, Rohan Microgrid Stowaway zip neck fleece, Kindle and travel tickets plus the all important concert tickets…

Inside the soft shell pockets were a merino wool Edz beanie and the trusty Nikon Coolpix S3100 digital compact camera.

Caroline was similarly attired, only she’d chosen her TNF Windwall fleece jacket, her Berghaus PacLite jacket and Rohan jeans. She did however hit Primani for some leggings as she was feeling the cold and Millets didn’t have any base layer leggings left in stock.

Her bag also contained a Rohan Microgrid Stowaway zip neck – it’s not often that we wear almost matching tops, but as we both wore them for the pre-show meal and whilst waiting around in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, we didn’t much care about matching!

The mix proved to be ideal for the mooching around we did before heading to the B&B. The choice of t-shirts and fleeces for the walk back into town, our meal, the show and the walk back to the B&B was a similar success.

Friday saw more rain and we were pleased that we’d had good conversation with the B&B owners before grabbing our bags and checking out. It was cold, windy and miserable!

We sheltered for a while in the RNLI shop before braving the beach, but it didn’t take long for us to hit The Albert & Lion on the seafront for a coffee in this Wetherspoons pub.

The coffee prepared us for the walk along the prom and then back around town before we headed to Harry Ramsden’s for a fish & chip lunch. It’s not often that I have a beer with lunch, but I was pleased we were inside as some of those looked as if they’d arrived for the bank holiday weekend appeared to be underdressed and blooming freezing as they walked on by.

As we headed back to Blackpool North Station for our train, a strange apparition appeared in the sky. Yes, the sun had come out – too late for us, but right on time for the couple of hundred people we saw leaving the station in search of a Bank Holiday break.

Ten days later and we were in the car heading for a holiday of two halves.

There had been a tentative plan to try and get a week to ten days in somewhere like Rhodes or Zante for a relaxing break, but it didn’t happen, so we thought laterally and came up with a plan.

Yes, we have Internet access via desktop, tablet and Caroline’s smartphone, but the idea for the first part of our break came from a paperback book – The Independent Hostel Guide.

I’d spotted Dales Bike Centre at Fremlington near Reeth, made the call and booked ourselves in for four nights in a room at their hostel accommodation (there’s also a bike shop, bike hire and cafe on site – along with 24 hour cake supply via honesty box for those  staying at the centre).

Swaledale was part of my old stamping ground as an instructor and whilst living in Darlington. Caroline knew it of old, but hadn’t been there for years.

As Caroline was taking her road bike with her to do some cycling, I was the Skoda driving equivalent of Thunderbird 2 – ready to offer assistance and with the hatchback available to be Pod 5… providing of course that both of us had a signal on our respective mobile phones.

Clothing choices for this trip were easy to sort out. The ten day forecast was set fair for both this and the next section, so in my case it was a mix of Rohan Core Silver t-shirts, Element t-shirts and the same company’s polo shirts to cover casual and smart casual situations. Trousers? Two pairs of 2015 Rohan Goas covered all eventualities.

The bag? The trusty Osprey Farpoint 40 that took all of the above plus jacket, camera, books, iPad, chargers and a bag of food too.

As Caroline was cycling, her clothing included Endura cycle pants, a Tenn cycle shirt plus a couple of Peter Storm pocketed tech t-shirts.

Tenn Ladies Sprint Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey  

Rohan Essence t-shirts and vest tops plus her Rohan jeans were worn off the bike and a Rohan fleece cardigan came in useful on the nights we hit local pubs for a meal and a drop of Guinness for me and cider for Caroline.

Now I said that this trip was a break of two halves as we had a cunning plan.

It did get changed though as we had to head for home sooner than expected to sort out two tyres for the Skoda – one was punctured and replaced, but once we got to Kwik Fit, it became apparent that we needed two new tyres.

Our overnight at home had been planned as we’d already packed stuff for the next part of the trip. But it did give us a chance to have a curry and do some washing, safe in the knowledge that it would be dry in readiness for the next morning…

More on Friday!

http://www.rohan.co.uk

http://www.tenn-outdoors.co.uk

One year – May 2015 III

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Glastonbury – before the festival crowds arrive…

As we were in Somerset, we deemed it appropriate that we should visit Glastonbury to see what all the fuss was about. The town, not the festival as that had sold out months ago.

With Caroline heading off on Betty Bike, I pointed the car in the right direction to ensure that the Skoda version of Thunderbird 2 could be used for a rescue job if my mobile rang.

Caroline and I are used to heading into towns with reputations as being favourable with those seeking alternative lifestyles. We’ve visited Totness in Devon and we could see where people were coming from when they argued that Totness had been twinned with Narnia.

Closer to home though is Hebden Bridge, a town with several strings to its bow, although most will normally associate the town with the damage caused to shops, housing and infrastructure by flooding in recent years.

Getting to Glastonbury was easy, but it was interesting to note that several big name outlets are clustered together in a development on the edge of the town, leaving the centre almost free from the usual suspects found on the average UK high street.

Caroline and I had reached Glastonbury at virtually the same time, but we’d parked up about half a mile apart so it was I that had the first stroll around the streets as a means of getting our bearings.

Gift shops were tasteful, New Age shops interesting and cafes were spot on with coffee and food that didn’t rely on the meat factor. Our wander around took us into a well-stocked green supermarket with good lines in food, alternative cleaning products, competitively priced tea tree & lavender oils and a fine selection of chocolate and snacks.

One toy shop had a sale – for the gold/black/sparkly dragon that now sits on the top of the bookshelf in the lounge and The Lazy Gecko Cafe came up with a fine line in non-alcholic drinks, food and coffee plus a small piece of artwork for display on the landing at home.

Now we were aware of the Glastonbury associations with hippies and a few of the cafe’s clientele appeared to back that up. So much so that we reckoned that they were original models who had found their niche back in the day and had stayed there!

Another customer though was of a more recent time – a former MP who made a name for himself whilst in Westminster. He’s not been seen or heard of for a while, but somehow I guess that he will be back in the limelight eventually. The name? That would be telling!

Once the lazy Lazy Gecko lunch was out of the way, Caroline wandered around Glastonbury Abbey whilst I hit the shop (no purchases made) and took in some more of the book I was reading on my Kindle.

Once back, Caroline took to the saddley thing once more and we both headed back to Dragonfly for coffee, showers, food and sleep – in that order. Although we had both come to the conclusion that Glastonbury was like Hebden Bridge on steroids!

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The Haynes Motor Museum near Brookhampton

Friday was a lazy day as we knew that we had an early exit and a long drive on Saturday. I’d been keen to visit The Haynes Motor Museum on our previous visit to the area, but it wasn’t to be as we ran out of time and some development work was taking place at the museum.

It’s big, it’s well stocked and the cars on display are kept in immaculate condition. It’s like a history of motoring in there with classic cars from well before I was even born to more modern cars that I either recognised from fleeting glances as they passed my dad’s car on the motorway or from photos in papers or magazines in my schooldays.

Although I’ve had cars such as the Mini, VW Golf Mk 1, Ford Fiesta and others, it was more exotic machinery that caught my eye – the Jensen Interceptor, Aston Martin Lagonda plus cars by Alfa-Romeo, Lotus, M.G. and others.

Schoolboy dreams of owning at least one of the above – the Jensen Interceptor – never materialised, but hey, was it wrong to dream? Forty years later, I’ve learned that practicality in a car is worth a lot more than the potential to pose and pose and pose…

A good museum is always worth a visit (if only to revisit Amnesia Alley) and there’s a fine and reasonably priced cafe plus a gift shop to appeal to petrolheads and those of a more sensible nature.

By Saturday morning, home was beckoning and more travel plans were formulated and distilled as we made our way back up to Yorkshire

The first two destinations will be highlighted on here next week!

One year – the answers!

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Wells, Somerset – one of the locations for Hot Fuzz – May 2015

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Ogden Water, West Yorkshire – June 2015

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Tram 28, Lisbon, Portugal – July 2015

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Padrao do Descobrimentos, Belem from Rio Tejo, Portugal – July 2015

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Torre de Belem from the Rio Tejo, Belem, Portugal – July 2015

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Centro Cultural de Belem, Belem, Portugal – July 2015

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It’s a sign! Between Estoril & Cascais, Portugal – July 2015

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On the beach near Cascais, Portugal – July 2015

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Sandeman’s Port Lodge, Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal – September 2015

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Viana do Castelo, Portugal – September 2015

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Canal Central, Aveiro, Portugal – September 2015

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Praca 8 de Maio , Coimbra, Portugal – September 2015

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View from a room, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – October 2015

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Villa Real de Santo Antonio, The Algarve, Portugal – March 2016

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Fishing boat, Cabanas, The Algarve, Portugal – March 2016

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Tavira skyline, The Algarve, Portugal – March 2016

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To Swaledale – and beyond! Keld, North Yorkshire – May 2016

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Broad Haven beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales – May 2016

One year

So many places in just three countries…

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One of the locations for Hot Fuzz – including part of the end battle!

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The scene of The Great Teddy Toddle in deepest Yorkshire

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A smaller version is on the bookcase downstairs

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The view from the river

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The view from the river, part II

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Art for art’s sake?

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Hot day, cool beer – but not on The Algarve!

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And it’s still nowhere near The Algarve!

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And no, it’s not Zorro! Or the next Bond…

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A grand design?

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And not a Cornetto in sight!

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Market square heroes?

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No fog on the Tyne…

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Has someone painted the town red after hearing about Mourinho’s next job?

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Provider of local specialities?

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Spot the supermarket…

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For when you need to know where the highest pub in England is…

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One week ago

You can take some guesses as to where these are – the locations will be revealed tomorrow!

No prizes though as it’s just for fun.

All photos by Keith Rickaby on a Nikon Coolpix s3100 digital compact camera

Technology – loving it?

Now I’ve mentioned the love/hate relationship that I have with technology before, but it’s worth bringing it up again.

First of all, the iPad Mini 2.

It went with me on the recent visit to Fremlington near Reeth in Swaledale and it came in handy as there was no television available to keep up with news, forecasts or travel reports.

It also helped in checking emails, logging onto wisepacking and checking out forums too. And by ‘eck it came in useful to watch the copy of Cinema Paradiso that I’d bought from the iTunes store.

But I also found that I was falling into the same trap as many people that I’d seen in bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants – constantly looking at the iPad’s screen and stabbing at whatever caught my attention rather than say having breakfast and talking to Caroline or fellow temporary residents at said hostel.

So it didn’t go with me when we headed off for Fishguard and another hostel as we embarked on part two of our break after one night at home.

Yes, there was good wifi at the Fishguard hostel, so much so that the owner looked to be using his full sized iPad for just about everything connected with the hostel, but I didn’t miss my own variation on the iPad theme.

It has however come back into its own since heading back home as emails needed to be checked, news stories read and comments made on one or three sections of the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree travel forums.

The other part of the technology equation was the upgrading of computers when we got back home. Software only in each case as security upgrades were sorted out on both Mac Minis and the iPad Mini 2.

An easy task? Oh yes in each case and one that was relished rather than grunted at as it used to be in the many years of having to use another proprietary operating system that I could mention.

The latest Mac Mini was set up just before we went away, but gave me no trouble at all, even though I am to computers what deep fried chocolate bars are to healthy eating…

The couple of tweaks to the installation of Microsoft’s Office:Mac and a cleaning up of the Dock task bar have made things lean and meaner than they were. Next up is the installation of a cost-effective Canon Laser Printer (£40 from Ryman via Amazon) and Bob’s your uncle, I’m as happy as I am when a good bacon sandwich is put in front of me!

The new system is part of a plan to up the ante here on wisepacking.

Posts will be more regular and there’s going to be a mix of trip accounts and kit reviews.

Along with some anecdotes and the potential for what New Musical Express used to call ‘Smart-ass one liners’ around the time I first started to buy said paper back in the early 1970’s.

First up? Some good places to stay…

Just back from…

A few days in’t Yorkshire Dales and a few days in and around Fishguard in Pembrokeshire.

Used the car for both trips and stayed in independent hostels too.

First part was on familiar ground as Swaledale was part of my old stamping ground in my days as an outdoor instructor whilst Fishguard and the surrounding area was new territory.

Did the sun shine? Yes!

Did it rain? Only overnight and whilst in the car on the way back from Wales.

Was the food good?

Yes, apart from the last night’s bar meal – how is it possible for a pub to screw up a plate of bangers and mash?

It was probably the worst bar meal I’ve ever had and certainly the worst (or should that be wurst) sausage and mash I’ve ever had.

There’s more to come once the bag has been unpacked and some washing has been done – it’s the photo downloads that take up the time now as there’s a new Apple in place and the photo program has been ‘upgraded’.

Oh, and there’s a software upgrade to sort out too.

Still beats using Windows…