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Xmas Eve

As Xmas Day itself draws ever near, the Cumbrian weather has been all the more soggy and gusty. However, it’s nothing that can’t be endured by wearing an extra layer or two. The big grocery shop went well, with no instances of trolley rage to be reported – although I’m sure if I was in the shops today I might not be able to withstand the crowds and lack of orderly queues.

I’ve managed to resist the traditional panic buying brought on by supermarkets closing for a whole 24 hours. As I’ve got older I don’t suffer the need to test the limits of my body’s ability to consume food/drink anymore, and I reckon I’ll feel all the better for it by Boxing Day. Even with a dash of portion control, I’ll still need to take a brisk walk in the afternoon to aid the digestion. Luckily the scenery is fantastic, so I won’t find it hard motivating myself to step outside.

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Clothes, Food, Health, Holidays, Outdoors, Shopping, Travel, Xmas

 

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Grey Xmas

I’m already resigned to it being a rainy Xmas this year rather than a snowy one, though brief bursts of hail have whitened to hill tops of Cumbria. With enough warm and waterproof clothing, none of this is a problem at all.

Whilst some people might enjoy activity filled holidays, I prefer to wind things back a notch and slow down when taking a break. Laying in bed each morning is allowed, breakfasts last longer and lunches take place whenever they can be comfortably slotted in. Rushing is never allowed and everywhere is explored at a steady pace. Plans for the week are loose, with only a big Xmas grocery shop being the immovable object in the calendar.

It seems that every time I pay for something in a shop the person at the checkout asks me if I’m ready for Xmas yet. I think I’ve been ready for it for some time – I have no worries about last minute travel plans and frantic trolley dashes round the stores. So I’ll be ambling around the Lakes, taking the occasional photo and making sure I meet my daily quota of mince pies.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Clothes, Food, Holidays, Outdoors, Shopping, Travel, Xmas

 

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All Good Things

After a week in the West Highlands, eventually it was time to pack up our things and leave the rail carriage behind. It had been a great holiday, with no particular agenda from the outset. Being so far away from built up cities and the conveniences they bring hadn’t been too difficult and despite it being October the Scottish weather had been quite forgiving too.

The journey back to England would be long, but broken up with an afternoon stopover in Edinburgh. It was busy, being a Saturday afternoon and all that, but once our suitcases had been stored at the left luggage facility in Waverley station, we set off for some Japanese food at Yes Sushi (of course, everyone goes to Scotland for sushi…)

Once we were well fed, we wandered around the shops until our feet were tired and our train home was finally due. It was full because of an international rugby game that had been played earlier that day, but station by station the seats all gradually emptied. By the time we made it to our destination, we almost had the whole carriage to ourselves. 

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Food, Holidays, Outdoors, Shopping, Sport, Travel

 

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I’ve Got The Power

Apart from an early morning shower, the weather improved greatly today. Even the clouds were kind enough to part and let some shafts of sunlight through. As such, we decided to go on an excursion and visit the nearby hydroelectric power station. Yes, that’s right. The power station. A flyer in the carriage said that going to the visitor’s centre would be like stepping into a James Bond film set, so how could we miss out?

The Falls of Cruachan sound like a lost Sherlock Holmes novel, but in fact it’s the next station down from Loch Awe and only ten minutes away by rail. The power station is then a short walk away and uses water from the loch to generate electricity during times of peak demand. A hollowed out mountain houses the pumps and pipes with a huge dammed reservoir on top.

Being driven the best part of a mile underground to get to the visitor’s centre was very exciting. Seeing the massive turbines being operated by boiler suited men in hard hats did give the place 007-villain vibes. After the tour, there was just enough time left for a raid of the gift shop before the return train was due. It may not be a typical tourist spot, perhaps, but it’s definitely one worth stopping off at.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2013 in Books, Clothes, Holidays, Movies, Shopping, Technology, Travel

 

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Heading Home


After a week in Finland, it’s finally time to pack up the suitcase and head home again. All week long it’s been gloriously sunny and Helsinki has been packed with happy people, relaxing in the parks and shopping in the shops. There’s enough time left to pick up any last minute purchases and to plan a big feast for the last evening’s meal.

When you tell a typically mono-cultural English acquaintance back home that you’re going on holiday to Helsinki, you usually get an expression that suggests you’ve just asked them to solve a really difficult puzzle. They know its nearby neighbors; Sweden is the home of Abba and Ikea, Denmark has bacon and Norway is the really, really expensive one. Other than the occasional F1 driver, they’re usually stumped as to what else comes from Finland.

Just for being a European capital with centuries worth of fascinating history and architecture makes Helsinki a worthwhile place alone. Add the location by the sea, the fantastic local designers, the markets and stores to spend your Euros in, plus the long, bright Spring days make this one of my favorite places in the world at this time of year. I’ve only travelled briefly into the North of the country, but then I guess that always gives me a reason to come back and spend some more time here again.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2013 in Holidays, Outdoors, Shopping, Travel

 

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Beside The Sea


Helsinki is a great place to explore on foot. Being obsessed with my pedometer scores (as I am) means that I can be counting my steps whilst taking in the sights. A word of warning though, keep an eye out for cyclists. Some of the pavement is marked pedestrian or cyclist only, but it’s not always clear.

The South Harbour area is typically busy with tourists, but if you don’t mind the crowds, there is much fun to be had. Guided boat tours, market stalls, shops and restaurants. Apart from the traffic, which can be a little fast for this country mouse, I love spending time in this corner of the city.

You’re never far from a cafe or kiosk selling drinks and ice cream. I don’t have a particular sweet tooth, but I’ll usually end up having ice cream almost every day here. Just as well really that there’s no excuse not to walk off the extra sugar.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Food, Health, Holidays, Outdoors, Shopping, Travel

 

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Weigh Your Veg Out


Being on holiday means that everyday, mundane things become exciting. Just because they’re a little bit different and in a different place, the novelty of it all brings out a sense of fun that you wouldn’t have back home. Seeing familiar brands with different names and flavours, for example, always makes me smile. Just about any food can be bought with Angry Bird packaging these days too.

Shopping for groceries never fails to amuses me in Helsinki, primarily because of the way you weigh your fresh vegetables/fruit before you buy them in the supermarket. In itself this is neither strange nor unreasonable, but I’ll never forget the ‘eureka’ moment I had when I first figured out how to use the label-printing scales.

If supermarkets aren’t your thing, then there are plenty of regular old-fashioned markets to buy your fresh food from. In particular, fish and bread are best bought from one of these. Being a port, Helsinki is a great place to eat fish. Admittedly, I’m not overly adventurous, but whether you like your fish to be fish shaped (like I generally do) or if you like things with more tentacles and shells, then all kinds are readily available.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Food, Shopping, Travel

 

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