Wanderer

Climbing the Pyramids…

I remember seeing these images this time last year when they were plastered all over various newspapers and on my Facebook feed. A group of Russian ‘pranksters’ somehow managed to sneak by security to scale one of the Great Pyramids.

Yes, I know what they did was illegal, and they were very bad for doing it and blah blah blah, especially giving how old the pyramids are – you can’t just trample over such an ancient and important structure as you please… but seriously, looking at the view.. it’s hard to keep that in mind.

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In this day and age, with travel such an easy an affordable thing for so many, many of us have or – in my case – will see the pyramids before we die. It’s on many a bucket list. Mine included. It’s a pretty standard part of tourism. And yet how many people have ever stood atop the last of the seven great wonders of the world and seen that view? Especially how it looks today, with the lights of Cairo in the distance. Not too many. Though judging by the graffiti on that bottom picture, so clearly security hasn’t always been so tight.

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Honestly, I would happily get myself arrested just to see that view. I’m probably being naive in saying that; Egypt isn’t ‘slap on the wrist’ England. How would they react to a woman climbing a pyramid? Maybe being a woman wouldn’t matter, but then again. I don’t know.

These guys were lucky enough that they were not caught by security. In fact, no one would have ever known that they had climbed it at all had they not posted their images online. Of course images like these are going to go viral immediately.

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I for one am go glad that they did, though.

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My European Top Spots.

It’s nearly April… I’ve been wondering where to spend my summer. While I’m looking at spreading my wings as far as Thailand or America (I know, completely different ideas there!) this year, I think I’ve definitely scattered my heart across different cities of Europe, including good old England. Then again… I tend to say that about pretty much every city and country I visit, so no doubt as I wander further afield, that list will just grow longer and longer.

I love the diversity of Europe; the array of cultures and languages and delicacies, the contrast of stark differences and intermingled traditions from border to border. There are some cities that I just find myself going back to again and again, and it never gets old – there are always new cafes serving coffee even more delicious than the last, more landmarks that I haven’t found the time to visit yet and beautiful little streets that are deserted but for myself and the occasional knowing local.

This wasn’t easy at all, but I managed to order my unruly top 10:

1. Paris. For years Rome held this top spot, but France’s capital has rather snuck up on me over the years – every time I go I love it more and more, even if I’m literally just passing through on a train, and somehow, it overtook Rome. Yes, the people can at times be a little snooty, but most of the time the snooty-ness that I have witnessed against tourists is purely because they are not meeting Paris’ standards – arriving in Paris in dirty clothes and Birkenstock with a tatty rucksack on your back is not going to make you the darling of the city. It’s quite like trying to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a ball. Everyone makes an effort in Paris, even if it is in that je ne sais quoi, ‘I just fell out of bed’ Parisian sense. They’re experts at putting in a lot of effort in looking effortless. Try to blend in, and that snooty-ness will disappear. Or so I find. 

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2. Rome. See, my ex-top spot has not slipped far. I love history. I love art, architecture, literature and the renaissance, all of which can be found on every corner of Rome. I feel comfortable walking around the city without getting lost – I can act as tour guide to fellow travellers. There’s no better feeling than realising that you know a foreign city. It’s not just a place that I have visited a few times anymore. I’ve always been and will continue to be lured to Rome for its history, its art, its food and its coffee. Yes, yes, yes and a very big yes from me on those fronts!

My one pet peeve when in Rome? Arrogant, metrosexual Roman guys who still live with their mothers well into their thirties. They linger around Trevi Fountain in droves. Huge, huge pet peeve of mine.

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3. Prague. When I first visited Prague, I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s just not a place that I have looked into too much before I arrived at  Hlavni Nadrazi station. Until then my Pinterest (what came before Pinterest? Good old fashioned cut-and-paste scrapbooks?) had been full of photographs of Paris, Rome, Athens, The Great Pyramids, Macchu Picchu and Buddhist Temples. I’d always planned to visit Prague, but somehow looking at what it was like never occurred to me. The beauty of the place blew me away. It’s a perfect blend of East and West European; some streets could easily pass for France or Italy – or even England, when suddenly you’re surrounded by Eastern European architecture, Czech music ringing through your ears and people drinking brands I can’t even pronounce.

Also, Prague is one of the most beautiful cities at night.

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4. Venice. Yes, it’s quite a pricey city, but then I’ve found that I can still keep my budget low – Venice is not a city teaming with museums and must-see sites with expensive ticket fares like other touristic cities. I’m also not big on souvenirs, which could prove to be super pricey if I were. Venice is the city I head to if I want to see Italy, without the hustle and bustle of Rome or Milan or – to some extent – Florence. I tend to avoid the few busy spots of the city – St Mark’s Square and Ponte di Rialto. Two or three streets from these Venetian hot-spots, and you’ll find deserted streets, a woman beating sheets over her balcony perhaps, the occasional cat, but otherwise you’re entirely alone. No cars, no noise. It’s wonderful.

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5. Florence. Yes, Paris may be my number one city, but Italy is clearly my number one country. Florence is a nice balance of everything I love about Italy. It’s not as mad as Rome, or as busy and metropolitan as Milan, and while it has that same peace as Venice, it’s gifted in sprinkles rather than spades. It is quintessential Italy in the country’s best region: Tuscany – I love taking day trips from Florence to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside.

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6. Lisbon. I tend to yo-yo between Porto and Lisbon when choosing my favourite Portuguese city, but right now, I’d choose Lisbon. It’s true what they say – ‘Porto works and Lisbon plays’. Things are much more relaxed in the south, and people seem to mysteriously work less and yet are richer. I do have one issue with Lisbon – its treacherously slippering paving stones.

Praça Duque Terceira Cais Sodré Lisboa Portugal Calçada à Portuguesa Roc2c Portuguese Pavement stone white black pedra

Seriously, I had to buy a new pair of shoes just because wearing my sandals or ballet flats was about as effective as wearing Cinderella’s glass slippers. Otherwise you pretty much have to choose between risking your life by walking in the road, or risking your life because every step could end in a broken neck.

Still, Lisbon is beautiful, not majorly touristic and yet not entirely isolated to the lone traveller who doesn’t speak a word of Portuguese – like me. Actually, that’s a lie. I can say thank you. I think thank you is the most important phrase to learn in every language. Even more so than hello.

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7. Budapest. Another city that I had little knowledge of – like Prague. I knew it to be cheap, but that’s about it. Yes, it is cheap, though as tourism grows, so do those prices. The architecture is sophisticated, the people are sophisticated – but for a few old men who linger on park benches whistling at passing women. So many people have apologized for ‘the habits of the older generation’ – honestly, it’s fine. Clearly they have never passed a building site in the UK. The famous thermal baths are wonderful. I recommend visiting the bath houses during winter – it’s instantly even better when you’re lounging in the steaming water watching the snow fall outside.

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8. Barcelona. I’m not a fan of gaudy Gaudi, but of course, his architecture makes Barcelona what it is. I find it amazing how we all flock to see a building that is not due to be finished until 2026. I mean, of course, La Sagrada Familia. However, one place where I feel Gaudi’s unique style does work within the city is Park Güell – also the spot of my favourite (yet discovered) view in Barcelona. In Park Güell you will find pianists, violinists and musicians of instruments so exotic that I don’t even know what they are. They claim a spot and play beautiful classical pieces to entertain tourists and locals alike. It’s quirky and amazing.

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9. Vienna. A haven for museum-geeks like me, my favourite being the Sisi museum; a museum dedicated to the life of Empress Elizabeth of Austria. It’s cleaner than Paris and Rome. It’s more efficiently run than England, but it’s not as frustratingly perfect as a few cities I have been to; so perfect that they no longer feel real. Also, the people who live there are unbelievably lovely.

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10. Off the beaten track. Finally, while I could go on and on about this city and that city, for me, one of the best parts of Europe is the little villages whose names I never learnt before I moved on to the next. I love the lakes, beaches, rivers and hills. I’m a country girl as well as a city girl, and I love rambling around woodland and climbing hills to see the view at sunset. So if you’re going to Europe, don’t just stick to the ‘must see cities’.

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Not the best wardrobe for backpacking…

When it comes to fashion, I think the 1950s were the best time for travelling. How on earth they managed to so perfectly pack those huge Grace Kelly skirts without completely ruining them, I’ll never know… how they managed to find the space to pack anything other than those space-hogging petticoats and skirts, I have no idea. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve tried in the past to be ‘sensible’ in what I pack for my travels. Jeans were banned (in the summer, anyway), my love for big midi-skirts was ignored, and I’d stick to a boho, mix and match, Free People-esque capsule wardrobe; lightweight, fold-resistant fabrics that take up minimal suitcase space . You’re mocked if you’re a girl with a big suitcase (especially one like these), full of the latest trends, which is definitely flared or pencil midi skirts right now. People – guys especially – roll their eyes out if they catch you applying lippy, or straightening your hair (though that last ‘backpacking offence, I am entirely innocent of, despite the cowlicks). You’re supposed to wander around with a grubby backpack (been there) – something ‘serious‘ (aka, ugly), or if you’re fashion conscience, vintage and canvas, which therefore feels like a bag of bricks hanging from your shoulder blades (done that).

I prefer to step off every plane, train and bus like this:

Minus the pin-perfect curls. I really don’t care that certain people who I meet on my travels openly presume that I am a) rich b) spoilt c) a bimbo and/or d) ignorant to the reality of backpacking. I’m not about to climb mountains in a pair of stilettos! Especially as I can barely walk down a perfectly flat and even pavement in stilettos without falling flat on my face… needless to say, while stilettos are pretty to look at, I never take anything higher than kittens abroad.

Fashion and travel don’t always work well together, of course… take the second Sex and The City movie. There were some great outfits in that film – I love the Dior tshirt-and-big-skirt combo. But equally, sometimes it was like a car crash headfirst into the wardrobe department. For example:

Personally, I think people have become lazy when it comes to fashion when travelling. I get that when travelling, people don’t want to spend hours and hours getting ready each morning. It takes me half an hour. Bam.

I think this is an expansion on my RSS… my fashion style is definitely ‘settled and working in the big city’, while my passion is to keep on moving, moving, moving. I’m molding the two tough, into something that works well for me.

Now days, besides making sure that I have one or two practical outfits for things like rock climbing, long, long, long walks or anything else that can’t be done in ballet pumps and kitten heels, I pack whatever I want, and just keep my fingers crossed that it will all fall naturally into a perfect capsule wardrobe. I seem to repeat the same go-to fashion habits again and again when it comes to colours and patterns, so generally, my entire wardrobe works well together. I guess in a way, I’m not particularly imaginative.

Dior

Bottega Vetena

Rochas

Fashion week still fresh in my mind, I’ve been thinking about my packing wardrobe of the season… Yes, the skirts are staying, along with tuxedo jackets – buttoned and bra-less… or maybe a cute lace bustier…hmm…), big petticoats beneath midi-skirts, patterned pencil skirts and amazing shoes.

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Look One: BlazerPetticoatSkirt. Shoes. Bag.

Look Two: BustierTrouser. Bag. Shoes. Belt. Necklace.

Look Three: Top. Skirt. Shoes. Bag.

Look Four: TopSkirt. Shoes. Bag.

Basically, I travel Audrey and Grace style.

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My 5 Travel Site Musts

The verdant limestone bluffs that form the Phi Phi Islands open at Wang Long, a famed dive site with submarine tunnels and caverns. Though hit hard by the December 2004 tsunami, the place has been cleared of debris, and diving is as popular as ever

At a glance, I have about 1050385 travel-related web pages listed in my web bookmarks. I’ve become weirdly OCD about organising my bookmarks, so I know exactly how to find just that exact website whose entire url name escapes me.

Still, out of those 1050385 bookmarked web pages, there are a select few that I use again and again, be it for booking my flights, finding a bed for the night, or reading about the adventures of others.

  1. Skyscanner. Let’s start with the most addictive, shall we? Skyscanner is simple enough: select the airport/city/country from which you wish to depart, choosing either a specific date or the month in which you will be flying, select where you’re flying to, and behold, a list of prices with various airlines. It’s a flight comparison website. What I find most addictive is the ‘fly anywhere’ option… I love browsing and seeing where I can jet off to. Many a spontaneous trip has been born from my Skyscanner addiction, I can tell you. Sure, it has a few hiccups – sometimes it will display an incorrect flight price, but generally it’s accurate. And you always find those mistakes before booking any flights, so no worries there.
  2. Couchsurfing. I have met so many lovely people through this website, many of whom I’m now fortunate enough to call my friends. Thanks to the freedom of modern day travel, I have friends in more countries than I have visited – often due to this website! This is the perfect website for if you’re short of cash, or, like me, you simply prefer to stay with locals when you’re travelling. It’s an online community designed to bring together ‘surfers’ – aka, the adventurous traveller, to you and me – with hosts, who will offer them a bed for the night, or if they can’t do that, their company, a drinking partner, a tour guide – whatever. Yes, there can be some safety concerns. I’ve heard them all from my loving but a tad over-protective friends. You know, warnings about lone young women staying with strange men, in a strange city, in a strange country with a strange language and no money. Blah blah blah. Honestly, as long as you’re careful, and you keep your creep-radar on full at all times, you’ll be fine. There are women hosts too, you know (if it does worry you).
  3. Seat61. While I love flying (a little too much, perhaps. I get such a rush from take off), I like to travel by train as often as possible. The views are nicer (and there are many more window seats, so it’s much less likely that I find myself wrestling with strangers over the best seat), the ride kinder on my ears, and it gives me a chance to say ‘ooo what a lovely little village… I think I’ll go and explore’. Somewhat adrenaline junkie I may be, but I am not about to jump out of a plane because ‘ooo, that mystery space of Earth 30,000ft (at a guess) below me looks pretty… I’m sure they won’t notice if I borrow a chute and just float on down there for a browse.’ This site is the creation of Mark Smith, ‘career railwayman’, who luckily saw a need to breakdown to us wanderlusters exactly how to get from any A to any B via train, from routes, approximate prices and timetables. Very handy!
  4. NomadicMatt. This guy is something of a budget travel king. His blog focuses a lot on money-saving tips, from how to get cheap flights and cruise tickets, how to choose the best insurance and credit cards, to how to build a successful travel blog of your own. While now days he has a base in NYC (though according to his blog he only spends a few weeks there at a time before jetting off again), he travelled constantly as a digital nomad from 2006 until New Year 2013. Six and a half years of travel!? I think he’s definitely earned his crown.
  5. BlaBlaCar. Again, for when I want to see the world pass me by – or I just want to nip to the next nearest city or a quaint nearby village with no public transport links. If people have planned a car journey, they can sell spare seats for a small fee. Tip: even if you think you’re travelling light, always message the driver to check that there is space for your luggage. Don’t just presume that they will have room for your matching LV luggage set – or your teeny tiny rugged canvas rucksack, if you’re me.

Honourable Mentions:

Finding the bare essentials:

Airbnb.
Hostelworld/Hostelbookers.
Warm Showers. <—-so useful when you’ve just stepped off a stuffy train/bus/boat after a day-long journey with no air-con, having spent the entire trip stuffed into a sweaty overweight stranger’s fat folds. Yes, such an event has happened to me. Yes, therapy is ongoing.

Money makes the world go round…

Global Work and Travel. A great site for finding work abroad; paid, voluntary, internships, etc.
‘7 digital nomads explain how they live, work and travel’ <—- very inspiring post, and links to several great blogs.
WWOOF. While it’s really useful that every country has it’s own WWOOF website, I find it a little annoying that each of those websites requires a seperate membership, and even more so that each membership ranges everywhere from £0 to £50. If you’re planning to ‘wwoof’ and travel across many borders, this can get quite pricey. Still, a great source for finding fruit picking/farm work if you’re looking to experience something different than museums and beaches.
Verbling. Teach English online.
’50 Travel Magazines that want to Publish your Writing’

Inspirational bloggers:

Adventurous Kate.
JacksGap.
The Odyssey Expedition.
The Runaway Guide.

A to B:

Hitchhikers.org 

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My 10 Favourite Travel Apps

Everyone I meet on the road has some sort of tech now days, be it a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. Some people, like me, need them for work, to run their businesses and keep the money needed to travel coming in, while others are simply too used to having their gadgets as a part of their day to day lives to leave them behind, or they’ve promised family members that they would stay in touch. I’ve met people whose parents gave them IPads before their backpacking trips for that reason. But for a brief daily addiction to Facebook last year that ended in a cold-turkey cure, I could easily travel without any gadgets were it not for my freelance work. If I’m away for a very short time, my IPad replaces my laptop, which stays at home. Of course, I’ve put together a nice little list of my preferred travel apps which definitely come in handy when on the road, and as most of them are the apps of websites, even when the IPad stays at home and I have my laptop instead, I’ll still use the same sites.

1. Skyscanner. This site/app is addictive because of its ‘everywhere’ option: I can see a list of flight prices in ascending order to countries around the world. Terrible temptation, and usually one I give in to. Free.

2. Hostelworld/Hostelbookers app. These two apps – and the websites they come from – are pretty much identical, and I tend to use both, depending purely on whichever one pops up in Google’s auto-fill first. This would be my number one in how useful I find them, and they are beaten by Skyscanner only because of how fun and addictive I find browsing through worldwide flights. Finding a place to stay in the only think I would find difficult without wifi access, especially now that I have become used to booking rooms online rather than simply using my feet and my eyes. Lazy, I know, but we all do it. Both free.

3. Couchsurfing. When I’m feeling sociable, I love Couchsurfing – I’ve met so many people through this site, many of whom I am still friends with to this day. However, I’m someone who likes a lot of me-time. I enjoy my company, and so whether I choose Couchsurfing or a hostel tends to depend on my feelings on that particular day. Free.

4. XE Currency. There must be hundreds of currency converters out there, and surprisingly few of them are freebies. I tend to check the currency conversion when first arriving in a new country, or just prior to, and write down a simple list on a scrap of paper: £1=, £10 =, £100 =, etc, rather than standing awkwardly in the middle of a busy market or shop, scrolling through my IPad, jabbing in the exact price. I prefer a piece of paper and some simple maths. Free.

5. Google Maps. I’m not going to try and be fancy and different and mention some obscure alternative app that does the exact same as Google, just because everyone has heard of Google Maps. It’s free, it’s arguably the biggest and the best, and I know exactly how to use it. Free.

6. AroundMe. I use this when I need to find something in particular – wifi, a launderette, a supermarket. Yes, you need wifi, though there is a useful – and common sense – feature; wifi is not needed to find wifi. Sounds ridiculously obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how many similar apps I tried before this one that had that one fatal design flaw. Of course, because that feature helps you wind only wifi without a connection, that means that sometimes I have to first find wifi, go and connect to that wifi before I can then search for what it is I’m actually looking for, but again, if I apply a little common sense (yes, I do use it from time to time), I can kill two birds with one stone. For example, if it’s 44C and I’ve just drank two-thousand gallons of water, I search for wifi at a cafe or shopping centre – the app always tells you exactly where you will find wifi, rather than just blindly guiding to it. Free.

7. Various metro map apps. I have one for Paris and Rome, and I once had one for London too. Generally they’re free, and of course they’re quite useful, though equally, every metro stop has a map. However, in some of the smaller, non-touristic metro stops in certain cities – Rome especially, it seems – the maps can be based only on the lines that cross that metro, rather than showing the whole map, or there is just one map in the building and it has been vandalized. It’s always handy to have your own copy, and I always lose the paper ones. Generally free.

8. Museums Mobile. My favourite geek-traveller app. With a frequently updated database on thousands of worldwide museums, including information on current, permanent and upcoming collections. It also uses GPS to inform you of nearby museums. I’ve found many a stroll turning into a spontaneous museum trip thanks to this app. Free.

9. Translate Pro. There are so many translation apps out there, but this is just the one I happen to use. Being able to say what you want in the local language is always useful. I don’t know what else I can say on that matter, really. Free.

10. Airbnb. Another ‘find a place to stay’ app. This is for when I really need me-time – and a bit of extra money. People rent out their apartments, either the whole place, a spare room or a spare bed for travellers to rent for a short time. Great for if you want to really integrate yourself within a community by staying somewhere where the locals live, rather than necessarily somewhere with the most popular attraction on your doorstep. Then again, I think there’s only so much you can really integrate yourself into a neighbourhood if you’re staying in someone’s home without them actually being there too. If they’re there, you’ll be invited out with them and their friends, they’ll teach you about their city and their language, whereas if you rent an entire apartment to yourself, you’re just the loner foreigner in the street. Free.

And the ones I am still to try:

JetLag Genie. I’ve only recently heard about this, but apparently it carefully calculates when to set your alarm clock based on your flight time, arrival time, flight length and normal sleep patterns to ease your through the ‘trauma’ of jet lag – something I have not yet experienced, hence I haven’t yet had any need for a jet lag app. I am curious as to how well it could work, though. Then again, if I have never had jet lag, how well would I know that it has worked if I were to try it on my next long flight? Perhaps I’m just super lucky and immune to jet lag (is there such a thing?). I don’t know. £1.99

Tipulator. It can be tricky knowing how much to tip. It’s considered offensive in some countries, and obligatory in others, and in those that is is expected, exactly how big a percentage is considered the norm? And once you’ve passed that first barrier, the total cost on your receipt is rarely easy maths. Even more so if you’re eating with someone else or a group and you’ve all chosen different prices dishes on the menu. Tipulator not only works as a calculator for you, but it tells you how big a percentage you give and works it out for you. I don’t know what happens if it recommends a certain percentage, and you disagree depending on the quality of your meal and service… maybe it works on a non-negotiable basis and you’d have to turn to good old fashioned pen and paper – or a calculator app and figure it out yourself… £0.69

TravelSafe Pro. Up until now I’ve again relied on pen and paper to note down each countries emergency numbers as I arrive there, and luckily it’s a scrap of paper (many lost and re-written scraps of paper over the years), that I have never had to use *touch wood*, but it’s definitely something that everyone should have, in one form or another. What would worry me more than whether or not I have the right emergency number is the potential language barrier if ever I have to make an emergency call… hmm… £0.99

WorldMate/Blackberry Travel. Simply, these apps – I mentioned the Blackberry one because I have a Blackberry… for some reason – organise all of your reservations, from flights to restaurants, and put together an itinerary for you. Pointless if you’re just winging it, of course, but they’re free, so why not? Both free.

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Derbyshire Ramblings

It seems even my passport and post-uni freedom can’t rein in my ‘workaholic’ tendencies… apologies, I’ve been working really, really hard on something that hopefully I can share online in another week or so! Secrets, secrets, secrets 😉

So, my friend Fabby came to Derbyshire a few weeks ago, and, being the lovely friend that I am, I was host and tour guide. Of course everyone who knows that I gave her a tour of Derbyshire (which is basically anyone on my Facebook who actually pays attention to my Facebook page), is wondering… why would my lovely Mexican friend fly from Spain (where she has spent the past six months) to Derbyshire??

This is why…

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The Peak District.

No one can visit England, and not take a moment to see the Peak District… and the Lake District… and various parts of the South Coast… and Oxford… and Cambridge… I could go on… what I’m trying to say is, I can’t remember the last time I met someone who has ventured beyond London and maybe Manchester/Liverpool on their visit to England. That’s not including people who are studying in England or visiting family. Venture out, people!

This fairly-spontaneous visit was definitely proof that I literally have no idea where life will take me any more. We planned her stay within a fortnight, after deciding that she was coming to visit while in Seville after about ten minutes.  It started with a conversation about our mutual love for this:

which turned into a conversation about the locations featured in this:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a bit of a P&P expert. After all…

*wink* apparently….

But anyway, my fashionable (?) geekiness means that I therefore know that Joe Wright’s version of P&P was filmed at Chatsworth and Stanage Edge (to name a few), both of which are in Derbyshire. And having read P&P, I also know that Matlock and Bakewell are mentioned and therefore had to be added to our must-see list too… basically, P&P is Fabby’s favourite film, we therefore instantly decided that she had to see Derbyshire. And so it all just arranged itself.

Bakewell

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My camera pretty much stayed in my bag while we explored Bakewell, except for one lovely (and not at all touristy) photo of me. Besides that, Fabby was very much the photographer that day, while I was very much the tour guide, introducing her to the wonders of Bakewell tarts (oh dear, that sounds horrendously suggestive – sorry Fabby! Haha!) and quaint English villages. Matlock was another stop that my camera did not see that day.

Chatsworth House

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And Here’s Fabby!

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This isn’t feigned child-like excitement for the sake of the camera, we really were both running around the grounds like little kids. I’ve been to Chatsworth 1000 times and I still always act this way when I go there, and so to combine my usual Chatsworth excitement with Fabby’s ‘oh my god I’m at Pemberley, a location from my all-time favourite film in a beautiful part of the world that I have never seen before’ excitement.. at that moment, I loved it there so much that had I won the lottery, despite my plans for Italy, I’d have snapped up one of the many little cottages in the 1000 acre grounds of Chatsworth in a heartbeat. Then again, hopefully if I were lucky enough to win the lottery, I could afford a house in rural Derbyshire and Italy… and Paris… and London… 😉

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So Fabby has now seen the setting of this:

this

and this:

and we saw this…

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(we especially loved the ‘Please do not Kiss’ sticker, though I think Fabby was somewhat disappointed)

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Stanage Edge

The next day we walked from Hathersage village to Stanage edge, the setting for this scene:

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It was insanely windy. Even though the wind was luckily blowing North-East, I still felt like it was suddenly about to turn South-West and therefore send me straight off the edge of the rocks as I posed for snaps, just for the fun of it. It really was sweep-you-off-your-feet-windy. The sort of wind that would thoroughly enjoy blowing unsuspecting visitors off Stanage Edge and onto the jagged rocks below.

Also, to everyone *cough* Dad *cough* who claims that you need hiking boots and those scary hiking trousers with zip-off legs (shudder) to go rambling around the peaks, I found, yet again, that skinny jeans and £3 Primark lace up tennis pumps do just nicely, thank you very much. I shall never give in!

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It’s been quite some time since I last explored Hathersage Moor, and I loved it so much, I returned a week or so later for a fashion shoot, the results of which are being published in Prototype magazine, and so I’ll be keeping to myself for now. However, I do have a lovely BTS picture of me on Hathersage moor.

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Beautiful.

P.S please do not put me down as one of those crazy ‘Janeite’ fans who read attempts to finish her uncompleted novels and Austen sequels and prequels like this:

and own a collection of gowns ready to attend balls and events like this:

*I mentioned balls ironically, but on searching for a mocking image, I found that such a thing actually exists!!!*

And will go to see films like this 1000 times and have long discussions at the end of their Jane Austen book club about how much they hope such a place will one day exist.

Worst of all, on googling for the above poster, I found this

What the…

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Wanderer

My Favourite London Hotels

Today I’ve had three friends all ask me to recommend a hotel/hostel in central London, and as I started rambling, as I do, and listing places for them, again, as I do, I started to miss London. It only made sense to post something on here about it.

The Ones I’ve Stayed in in the Past:

Clink78, on Kings Cross Road. For a start, this building is 200 years old; it was once a courtroom, in fact, what is now the internet lounge was once the very courtroom where The Clash stood trial in 1978, which geek-me found rather exciting.

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All images for Clink Hostels are from here.

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I stayed here for two nights, and to be honest, I had to force myself to come back to Derby (lectures can be such an inconvenience). Prices start at £12 for a mixed/girls only dorm (boys, you don’t get the choice of a men-only dorm, though I’m sure few of you would mind about that 😉 ). There are also ‘Deluxe girls rooms’ for £15 which are a little bigger and include hairdryers, free towels and extra mirrors. I chose a ‘Deluxe girls room’, and it was just so pretty and peachy-pink; beautifully decorated and so cosy.

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Or, you have the option to stay in a private single/twin/double or triple room for £40 or, best of all, a prison cell for £50 – recently re-decorated so that it’s just as cosy as the other rooms, but they are English Heritage-listed with original prison features still in tact. I hear these are snapped up pretty much immediately though.

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I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

As for other old features of the courtroom, the magistrates court is now an internet lounge (£3 for 14 days unlimited wifi), again, English Heritage-listed. A second courtroom is now a TV and film lounge, with some bizarre red leather sofas. Possibly the comfiest I’ve ever been in my entire life was curled up on those sofas at 3am watching lord-knows-what and eating nutella cakes. The bar is also incredible.

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Go there.

*There is also a second Clink Hostel; Clink261, which you can find on Gray’s Inn Road. I haven’t stayed at this one, but it looks equally incredible (though I’d say the decor at Clink78 wins), as you can see, and prices are almost identical.

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Blue Skies Hostel. I clearly have a real thing for hostels/hotels that are renovated somethings; courthouses, pubs, camper vans (I’m yet to find one of those), whatever.

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Photo from here.

This time, it’s a renovated pub. They need a better photographer for their website to really show it off for what it is (hint hint); beautiful. They haven’t stayed as far from the original style and feel of the pub as Clink78 have, but it’s still so modern. You’ll find this gem next to Tulse Hill station, which of course makes it a little more out of the way than some of the hotels I’ve listed here, but transport into central London is piss-easy.

…I can’t help giggling, as 80% of my friends have either Londoners, born and bred, or spend as much time there as I do and therefore may as well be, and here I am blogging about London, despite knowing that the only people who will read this will sit there rolling their eyes and saying ‘yes, Emma, we know‘. Sorry guys.

Anyway.

The Dictionary in Shoreditch. This hostel was only recently recommended to me in May by a friend, and I spent one night there in June. What is it with beautiful hotels filling their website with terrible photographs? Again, hint hint!

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Photo from here.

It’s percentage average on hostelbookers.com is 83.1%, and prices range from £21 for a 13 bed mixed dorm to £31 for a 4 bed mixed. Worth it. Best part is, the staff can always recommend great events around London to check out while you’re there, in fact, they have a page on their site purely for ‘What’s on’, from galleries to clubs to markets. Wifi is free, as is breakfast, and there are drinks discounts at certain times, on certain days, etc etc. It’s not a place to stay if you want to actually sleep and relax, though; everyone is always laughing, dancing. It’s just one big party, without the awful mess to clean up in the morning. If you wander outside at any time of night, you’ll find that the streets are still buzzing too, so seriously, don’t stay there if you want some quiet, unless you plan to bring ear plugs, though with dorms of up to 13 beds, they wouldn’t help much anyway. It’s Shoreditch; it’s expected.

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Photo from here.

Shoreditch House. This one definitely isn’t a hostel. They have some interesting rules for when you are within the club:

  • No Mobiles
  • No Cameras
  • No Suits
  • +1 Guests Only

It’s an interesting place to stay. Prices are generally £200 for a night – double room – but if you book far enough ahead, at the right time of year, it can dwindle to about £140, and I’ve heard that they can be as low as £85 for non-members, though I don’t believe it.

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Photos from here.

I much prefer the madness of Clink78 and The Dictionary. There you can meet people and laugh and enjoy yourself, rather than having to behave like a responsible adult. But for those rare occasions that I accept my age, this place is perfect. For one, look at the beautiful restaurant!

The Ones I will stay in in the Future:

So, Ace Hotels are opening a new hotel in Shoreditch London this September. That’s going on the ‘to visit’ list, that’s for sure. I imagine room rates will be pretty affordable. They’re also teaming with local London businesses, such as That Flower Shop and I’ve heard rumours about indie coffee stores, both of which will also open shop within/alongside the hotel. Personally, I’m most excited about the décor; each room will feature British Revo radios and record players! It’s so – dare I say it? Hipster. But good.

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Photo from here.

It doesn’t look like much so far, but I’m sure it’ll be amazing.

The Ritz. One day I will stay here, even if it’s only in the cheapest room, though that’s still £440 a night. £570 including breakfast! Maybe one day I’ll be able to really splash out and book the most expensive suite on their website: £3600 a night, £3660 with breakfast. Add it to the bucket list.

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Image from here.

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Images from here.

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