Privileged? Or pretentious?

I am a huge fan of reading other peoples blogs about travelling and really love to read about their thoughts and experiences, I also love to read about people who are against the idea of giving up their jobs to travel. Most of these people (mostly) tend to be the ones who want kids and a mortgage etc one day, but me? I don’t want kids and haven’t found a place yet in the UK where I think “I want to own a bit of this land”, so I found myself thinking “what exactly am I saving for?”, “retirement” is what one side of my brain yelled while the other side yelled “travelling”. These are both good things to save for, but I do have about 40 more years of working to save for retirement whereas travelling I can do and work at the same time, thus killing two birds with one stone ūüôā

Today I read a blog post basically saying that those who travel aren’t brave, but privileged, I can understand where she is coming from with this; 5 years ago I was living in London working for a hospitality agency barely able to afford to pay my rent and travel abroad was something that other people did. It is only in the past 3 years that I have had the disposal income for travelling, then actually realising that I too can access this world.

When I go off on my travels rest easy in the knowledge that I have earned this, I have worked my socks off for the past years to save money and have zero debt, I am also not funded by my parents; some of my friends have parents who pay for their travels which in my mind doesn’t make it such a rewarding experience O_O

One thing I have figured out after travelling to Vietnam, New York, Hong Kong & Canada then booking a 3 week trip to India, is that it is so much cheaper to book a one way ticket and travel on from where you get to then fly somewhere and back again for short trips. So travelling long term would actually work out cheaper than taking multiple holidays, flights are so expensive.

Take my tour in Vietnam; it cost a ridiculous amount of money overall as we had decided to book through Intrepid tours, I accept that this money might have got me further if I had decided to travel the country by myself but the experience was great!

My¬†travelling plans; fly down towards Oz in March stopping off in Hong Kong for a short stay to see a friend from uni then heading into Asia before heading to Brisbane to start my year working holiday Visa and travel the country. I personally don’t think it is sustainable for me to travel long term just on my savings, I need to work, even if it is part time to keep my costs down. My plans after this is to head to New Zealand to make the most of their working holiday visas for the under 30’s.

I have just 3 years before I turn 30, lets go!

A thought on pretentiousness; why are people who travel considered pretentious? Some people are so dismissive and negative about what the world offers, they always look bored when you show them photos from travels and tell them stories of fun activities. Part of the joy of travel is sharing your experience with everyone else and talking excitedly about the places you have visited!

Admittedly travellers can be shown as pretentious in media, look at the Inbetweener’s 2¬†movie with that guy with dread locks!

One reason I was put off from travelling to Oz before is that the only photos I see of my peers are ones of  them passed out from alcohol at parties; this is not what I am interested in! The country is so big and full of interesting places to visit that there must be more to the continent than being a giant Ibiza; Bill Bryson opened my eyes to this in his book called Down Under, he showed what a amazing diverse place it is; I was hooked!

Life changing decision – bye bye UK

It is a certain mindset that you have to not just dream about jacking in the day job and travel, but actually plan to do it; I have 6 months left until I leave the UK with or without the support of my employers. I am feeling a bit anxious but mostly extremely excited.

I am feeling anxious mainly because we live in a society that says that you have to go to university, leave and get a good job, get married, buy a house, have kids, work hard all your life… then retire. This is a society that is still kind of trembling from the last recession where we are all told to keep hold of any job we can get and consider ourselves lucky, it is not a society that looks fondly on those who quits a job because they think that they want to do something more exciting with their lives…

A bit about me; I have been working with my employers for 4.2 years and worked my way up from the shop floor to the head office and have thus undertaken no less than 4 roles in this time including working 3 years in the clothing buying team and am now developing clothing for the company; I am inspiration to those stuck on the shop floor and a envy to my peers who are stuck working in dead end jobs. What is my problem you ask? You are doing a job in the sector that you always wanted to work in???

Well, I am petrified¬†of getting stuck where I am just because I get a decent wage and then waking up when I am 70, wealthy having had no kids, owning my own home, having enough money to travel the world….. only to find that I am too old/weak to do anything that I want to do with my life. I would rather wake up at 70 with a smile on my face knowing that I lived my life how I wanted and took risks….. travelled and experienced life to the full, and can now rest.

Talking to my boss a few days ago… he said that his biggest regret is never living abroad… and now he is nearing 50 with two kids, a mortgage… and no way to ever live his dream.

So all of the above has accumulated in me deciding to use the rest of my 20’s to see the world and actually experience life instead of being stuck in a job. Who cares if you don’t have a career when you are working in somewhere hot and sunny!

Preparing to travel – Packing

I am by no means a expert packer, but I do know what I don’t want to pack; too much. I did after all go to Vietnam, Hong Kong and Canada all with too much stuff about my person! There are some things that you will need of course depending on the location of your visit, but a different outfit for every day of a 3 week trip is definitely not what you need. I advise just taking enough clothing for 1 week, wash everything regularly and don’t worry about taking heavy boots unless you will be doing trekking; comfortable sandals will be just fine :). I love my Ecco sandals¬†that are comfortable enough to wear for walking around cities or for a spot of light hiking, they are expensive but well worth it PLUS they look attractive too unlike some of the functional options on the market that look ‘bleurgh’.

My clothing packing list for my week in Corfu next month is the below, I want to see how little I can take and still survive ūüėČ

  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 dress
  • 5 sleeveless tops
  • 1 cover up
  • Cardigan
  • Bikini & swimsuit
  • 1 pair of trainers
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 3 pairs of breathable trainer socks
  • 7 pairs of undies
  • 2 bras
  • 1 packable rucksack

 

Petworth house – Surrey

If you are a art fan there is no better National Trust house to visit in the country other than Petworth house in surrey. One of the previous owners,¬†George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont, was a great patron¬†of the talented artists of his time, most notably Constable, Flaxman and Turner, which helped him to stock up his house with their beautiful art & sculptures. Come here also to see the park shaped by very well connected Capability Brown, he is admirable in that he was able to successfully convince all the richest people in the United Kingdom that their park land wasn’t good enough, and what was¬†needed was lakes and rolling hills with strategically placed trees in order to be socially acceptable! Well done sir!DSC08832DSC08843DSC08847DSC08850

When completing the self guided tour of the house one of the last rooms you encounter is the long gallery which is stocked full of art and sculptures, so much so that we had to pop in again for a second look after the first just to absorb as much as we could¬†into our minds and we still didn’t feel that we saw everything! Every room of the house is crammed with paintings layered often layered over beautiful wall paper, I love the eccentricity of it.

The house itself is one of the biggest that the National Trust owns and by far the most attractive. Even the little town of Petworth is endearingly quaint, and well worth a visit, it is unusually close to the house (sitting just behind) as most estates¬†of it’s size were built far away from ‘commoners’ for privacy.

Since 1947 when 3/4 of the house was given to the National Trust the family still reside in the south wing, this has something to do with hefty death duties that are heaped onto families of wealth ;).

Preparing to travel… Perfect bag

I am really looking forward to what the future holds for my exploring of the world; next month I am visiting Corfu for a week then for 3 weeks over Christmas I will be in India experiencing a Hindu wedding then exploring the country, exciting!

So in preparation foospreyr my travels I have bought a brand new travel specific backpack, the Osprey Farpoint 40 in a beautiful blue colour. I chose this bag because it is the perfect sized bag for carrying on as hand luggage, and will be easier for my petite frame to carry than other rucksacks (more about that later), also I am of the mind that the more space that is available the more things I can take with me so less space is better.

I am thinking of combining this with the ultra packable Osprey Stuff Pack which fits into it’s own little pouch and thus makes obeying the ‘one carry on’ rule much more easier to bend with. It comes in 4 zazzy colours and in ripstop waterproof fabric, perfect!

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When travelling it is always much easier and nicer not to carry much more than you can hold on your back.

My experience with Osprey bags stems from my time working in the sports industry, my first Ospre
y bag was a cycling back pack which survived much rough treatment by both me and the weather.

In my mind a good quality backpack is important for all occasions and Osprey offer THE best bags for travel; they are functional and attractive too, I strongly suggest in investing in one.

Before buying the Farpoint I have gone to Vietnam, Hong Kong anosprey2d Canada with the Osprey Wayfarer 70 which is the ultimate backpacking bag which comes with a removable 20l day pack and is women’s specific. (The headline photo is of me wearing the day pack, looks cool huh?)

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Me on the way to airport to catch flight to Vietnam

I bought this bag because it was widely reviewed as the best bag for backpacking around the world and also I, naively perhaps, thought that I needed as much room as I could get.

From all the travelling it has only obtained a bit of dirt and one rip in a side drinks pocket, thanks to luggage handlers when coming back from Toronto!

The main bag has stood up to some of the worse treatment I have ever seen; it has been hauled on and off buses and planes by rough handed peeps through a 3 week tour of Vietnam, and survived intact, then suffered through 3 days in Hong Kong.

The friend that I went on the Vietnam tour with rocked up with a Argos own brand version of this backpack which was a one 1/8th of the price and fell apart 1 week into the trip, needless to say that I had to battle to hide my smug smile as i hoisted up my brand new looking backpack to continue the trip without having to try and mend a overloaded broken bag.

On this¬†note; never overload your bags, even the strongest can break when put under too much pressure and the weakest will fail very soon ūüôā

The things I love about the Wayfarer 70 bag;

  • The main bag is like a suitcase and full unzips¬†from the front
  • Removable day pack with many pockets (including tablet pocket)
  • Day pack can clip to the shoulders of the main pack for ease of access in airports
  • Day pack has comfortable padded straps and is great to carry all day
  • Main bag has loads of pockets including 2 waterproof for wet items
  • Zip away adjustable harness that can be adjusted to fit all torsos then stowed away to be saved from being broken by rough handed luggage peeps
  • It’s amazing quality and can last for years
  • Can fit in a lot of stuff (just don’t overload!)
  • All zips are easily lockable
  • Can be wiped clean easily with water and detergent and thus look as good as new!

Things not so good;

  • If you are petite you may be more comfortable with a smaller backpack as when heavy you can be very unbalanced;¬†The harness feels like it needs more ability to be adjusted
  • Too much space so that I feel inclined to fill it up ūüėČ
  • Doesn’t have any external water bottle pockets (but plenty of space inside for big water bottles)

 

 

Toronto with love

In June I grabbed a plane ticket to Toronto to visit one of my old uni friends, oh gosh we had fun, it was a great trip!

So now to my experiences of Toronto;

Day 1; 

Arrived in Toronto from London Gatwick about 3pm and we reached the city around 5pm and after a clean up we took a walk to the ‘Times Square’ of Toronto ie Yonge-Dundas Square. This was a great introduction to the heart of the city, and the vibrant night life. My friend is very lucky to live very close to the centre of the downtown!

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Day 2

One word…. well two words actually NIAGARA FALLS!!! My friend bundled me and another of his visitors on a bus to Niagara Falls and this is, no surprise, one of the highlights of my trip. I have never experienced such a overwhelming sense of how very small and delicate us human creatures are before this. It really is just like in the movies where we all dress in the waterproof ponchos and experience the full blast of the spray rolling over us. They say that the view is better from the Canadian side but if you have a ETA for USA as well you can see it from both!

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We even saw Taylor Swift, the Joker and Elvis in Niagara. Out tour guide described the town as the Blackpool of Canada… ūüėČ


Funny story actually, our guide told us not to swim in the water or cross any bridges as we would technically be illegal immigrants in USA; he told us a story of two girls who didn’t listen to the warning and crossed the bridge in the imagine below and were detained by the USA authorities for 18 hours while their passports were sent for from their hotel!

The tour trip we did also included a visit to Niagara on the Lake village, Souvenir City and a stop off at a wine tasting (this is the only University in the world in the science of wine drinking!) I don’t normally drink wine but their dessert wine was divine.. .

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Day 3

We started the day the Canadian way with Maple Syrup and pancakes! As is the custom in Northern America you also get too many pancakes for one person to tackle… but we needed to stock up on food for a busy day ahead of walking. Luckily all the tourist attractions in Toronto are really close to each other so you are quite able to walk from Dundas to the aquarium and CN tower, to the Toronto Islands and food markets. On this say we opted to just visit Ripleys Aquarium with our newly acquired 7 day Toronto pass that affords you access to all of the tourist attractions and saves you looooads of money….. it also only cost about ¬£70 including tax ūüôā

Day 4

We set off to see the St Lawrence food market and Kensington market, we got to travel by the trams ;)… not quite as exciting as I thought it would be on the trams hahaha! Anyway between seeing both the markets we popped up the CN tower for a poggles.
Around Kensington market there was a lot of cool graffiti which offered a more bohemian vibe that was a fresh air a way from the main city buzz. In this area was what was called the ‘Garden car’ very cool! This was also the day I got bad tan lines on my feet, tut tut, my fault from not wearing sunscreen on a cold day!

n food for a busy day ahead of walking. Luckily all the tourist attractions in Toronto are really close to each other so you are quite able to walk from Dundas to the aquarium and CN tower, to the Toronto Islands and food markets. On this say we opted to just visit Ripleys Aquarium with our newly acquired 7 day Toronto pass that affords you access to all of the tourist attractions and saves you looooads of money….. it also only cost about ¬£70 including tax ūüôā

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Day 5
We took a walk to Riverdale Park which is located in a beautiful neighbourhood called Cabbagetown (real name!) which is full of traditional ‘English’ style homes which looked in better shape than the houses that inspired them back in the ‘old world’. The farm consisted of a barn with various animals in perfect for small children but still fun for adults! After a picnic we headed down to the lake (it seems more like a ocean it is so vast!) and jumped on a ferry to the Toronto Islands, be warned, you will need good walking shoes when visiting the island! I loved the walk around the island but was sad that is wasn’t hot enough to enjoy the beaches :).
In the centre of the island is the main hub of restaurants and cafes but we opted to get off near the Gibraltar point lighthouse so that we could snap some photos (it is meant to be haunted by the ghost of the first lighthouse man!). It was worth the walk although we did spend a lot of time trying to figure out where all these people with the Chuckle Brothers cars ie a¬†quadricycle were coming from as we¬†figured¬†it would be fun to get one….. but we never found where they¬†were dispatched from… sad days ūüė¶
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Day 6
Today was a museum visiting day so we set off to the museum of Ontario and then to the Bata Shoe Museum.
I must confess that coming from a continent rich with museums and culture I was extremely disappointed with the Ontario museum….. it had the smallest gallery in the whole place dedicated to Canadian history and the aboriginals, the majority of the museum is let over to Dinosaurs (pretty cool and interesting however) and other cultures from around the world. I kind of expected a bit more history about the country that I was actually visiting O_o but hey the British museum in London is dedicated more to what Britain has taken from other countries than to Britain itself! It took about 4 hours to see everything ūüôā
The shoe museum was nice, but very small for the price with no much to see but both of them are on the same street which makes them easy to see together.
Day 7
Toronto zoo day! For such a large tourist destination getting there from the city was hard work; I had to jump on the tube then change for a local bus that takes you directly to the zoo. I went on my own that day due to my friend not feeling to well but actually ended up exploring the zoo with a Oz guy who was also visiting there alone, how crazy was that! Anyway, the zoo is very vastly spread out in the middle of a forest which affords a LOT of walking so if you plan to visit make sure you wear comfortable shoes. The animals are VERY spread out, not like London zoo where it is like bang bang bang and you have seen the entire zoo in one mile square space! (ps London Zoo might be a bit bigger than a 1 mile sq ūüėČ ). The great thing about this zoo is that they had just had their first panda cubs born in Canada! It was a very hot but luckily there is a lot of water fountains dotted about the park ūüôā
The odd thing about the zoo being so open to local wild life the park was teeming with all sorts of unlikely animals like ducks and squirrels and other birds, and seeing them mixing with the ‘exotic’ animals was quite an endearing scene!
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Day 8
We had one last walk around the Riverdale park before I was dispatched off to Toronto’s main airport It is another odd thing that to get to the airport you have to take 2 tubes then a bus! Toronto really needs to sort out it’s transport system! Everyone complains about taking so many tubes to get to London Heathrow but this is crazy different!

Eurobike 2015 – A Becksy’s perspective

This year I had the opportunity to go to Eurobike for the full run of the trade days (Wednesday 26th August to Friday 28th) and within that time I managed to juggle supplier meetings with scoping out interesting brands for my cycling retailer to potentially stock.

As you know by now, my dear blog, I have a distinctive taste for the unusual, the novelty and the retro which has had my nose being led continually to all the beautiful retro style bikes and accessories that were present at the show with me snuffling out potential Christmas stocking fillers for the accessories team!

Well anyway, there were a few brands that jumped out for me and these were; *takes deep breath* Electra retro cruiser bikes, Creme retro traditional bikes, Pashley (it goes without saying!), Micano cruiser bikes, Ale clothing, Le Grand retro traditional bikes, Mira fashion/pannier bags, Yuan Wen Shing with their penguin locks, Klickfix with their concept baskets (slot together), Hollandia retro traditional bikes,Vincita with their bike bags and accessories, Pegas chopper bikes, PEdAL ED clothing (amazing marketing images), Bike Belle with their funky bells and valve caps and the beautiful Embassy cruiser bikes.

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Evans Cycles blog post by me; ‘Ethics and the Cycling Industry’

So one thing that gets me about cycling is that, well, the industry isn’t very ethically sound and, well, it is difficult for it to be when bike parts are sourced from other companies and the chain of supply is very very long… but it seems that no one really wants to do anything about it? Cycling in itself is good for the environment, it is just the manufacture of goods which is the problem. Perhaps the answer is recycling more garments? Using inner tubes and tyres to make fabric for clothing perhaps? The easiest to monitor of the bicycle categories is clothing as a lot of suppliers monitor this closely from production of fabric to the factories that make the garments. Read more and get in on the conversation¬†here.