In his hands

Just my commute to work

Settle-Carlisle railway line views

Pet passport...check!


Indian Ocean... Tanzania 2007... may there be many more beaches like this :)
Starting from is revision season.  My final exam for my Psychology degree is imminent, this represents the end of a very long 4.5 years.  As a result, I am now running at 100% capacity in my life, and in order for me to pass my exam and retain my sanity, various things have got to give.  One of these, unfortunately, is my blog.  Sob.  I will genuinely miss the catharsis of writing, however I am going to convert to images-only posts until mid-October.  I cannot bring myself to stop posting completely, I am quite proud of what I have built here.  Ironically enough, this announcement comes just days after I recieved my first AdSense check.  A whole £5.29 after nearly 2 years of blogging... good job I'm not trying to make a living from this gig! :)

This is not the only cut I have had to make, the following things are also temporarily being dropped from my schedule:

  • My weekly krav maga class - instead of spending an entire evening attending a class 25 miles away, I will train alone at home.
  • Learning Spanish online - there is simply no room in my brain for any additional learning.
  • All travel and van-based projects - these are all shelved until October.
And in October, when I return to my blog, there will be big changes afoot.  I will be moving over to a real website all of my very own to start my oh-so-grown-up travel blog to document my great adventure.  I appreciate all of you who read this blog and would love it if you had the patience to stay around and wait for this move.  It will happen.  These are not empty internet promises.

I am so close to my freedom I can almost taste it.  All the sacrifices will be worth it.


Lakes Alive held an awesome free performance by Ilotopie in Keswick recently.  If these guys are ever performing anywhere near you I recommend you pay them a visit.

Basically it’s a kind of circus/performing arts type show with fireworks…on a lake.  Cue boats, cars, bicycles, beds and all kinds of strange boats and wonderful costumes out on the water!

Very weird, but very good!

Separate and separated

I have written before about how I want to break through my resistance to anything resembling change, and how I feel my life plan of travelling is the perfect opportunity to do that.  Sometimes I believe this completely, and sometimes I wonder if I am lying to myself.

Will exposure to an entirely fluid and constantly moving world force me to face change head on until I become an entirely flexible yet involved person, or does it actually give me the perfect excuse to never quite connect sufficiently for any change to ever be significant?  Maybe my craving for the feeling of constant motion, of transience, of travel is not based in a desire to experience more, but from a desire to excuse myself from really experiencing anything at all?

Even in England, I often find myself on the periphery of experience.  In groups of people, I am almost always the quiet one.  Even when alone with someone, I am rarely the one who leads the conversation.  Even when entirely alone, I often feel detached to the point of numbness.  Of course, it is all an illusion, a feeling.  I am unavoidably embodied within myself, my culture and this world, I am as much a part of it as any other.  But this is what I know, and not what I feel.

And If I feel like this here, in my home culture, my home country, my home town, how easy will it be for me to remain on the periphery in a country which is not my own?  If I feel like this when surrounded my people who understand my language, my behaviours and have so much in common with me, how easy will it be for me to never deeply interact with those less similar to me?

How easy, and yet how sad.  Always present, yet never connected.  Seeing the wonders of this world, but always from the sidelines.  Going everywhere, belonging nowhere.  A passive observer, nothing more.

Not belonging cannot be the excuse I hide behind for not trying.  And yet it is a pattern which repeats over and over.   I don’t want that to be my life. 

A breath of summer

Finally something approaching summer has arrived in Cumbria, and of course I have been out making the most of it… 

…and exposing my scarily white skin to the world!

Of course, it didn’t last long and now it’s back to the traditional grey, made all the more heartbreaking because you know just how stunning this place is when the sun shines!

The Puzzling Place

Ames room fun and games
I visited the Puzzling Place in Keswick, Cumbria the other day with a couple of friends and Sally dog.  If you find yourself in the Lake District any time soon, it's definitely worth checking out!

Many me!

As well as standard illusion attraction items like entertaining mirrors and holograms and things like that, they have an insane anti-gravity room which really seriously messes with your mind, and an Ames room which is so much fun to play in.

So much fun... even though Sally was decidedly unimpressed by the illusions!

Dog's life

Awesome.  This video sums up exactly why I want to travel with my dog.  This world is the perfect playground for anyone, regardless of their age...or level of furriness!

How to choose a digital camera...or how to choose a Canon G12 anyway!

So after much umming and ahhing and should I or shouldn't I, I have finally plucked up the courage to buy a decent camera to document my travels with.  The capacity to take decent shots is essentially my only luxury must-have, and I am happy to accept that this means I have to buy an expensive piece of kit which will inevitably need replacing on a regular basis.  Mainly because technology and me have a habit of parting ways - I have killed one mobile phone by dropping it down a toilet and lost one camera by leaving in a public toilets.  *Note to self: toilets are clearly dangerous places, you should probably avoid them!

I have purchased a shiny new Canon PowerShot G12 for the grand sum of £280 (the cheapest deal I could find for this model).  Why the G12?  Well it was a long and painful process of research, but here are some reasons why...

I started with a bucket list:

  1. Budget - under £500. 
  2. I wanted it to take really good pictures, even in poor light, with not too much fiddling with settings to be done.  I am no camera expert, though happy to learn the basics if it results in significantly better results.  It needed a reasonable automatic setting though as I won't always have time to play about with it.
  3. It couldn't be too big.  I don't need something so small that it will fit in a girly sized pocket, but I didn't want something huge that screams "steal me" and weighs a ton.
  4. If lenses are required, they needed to be small.  Very small. 
  5. Video is a nice to have...but doesn't need to be amazing quality.
  6. Something which at least makes a vague attempt to be durable, shockproof, waterproof-ish.
  7. A screen on the front or a flip round screen would be great.  I'm a lonely loser who has to take pictures of themselves, and it is a freakishly hard task with a normal camera arrangement.
  8. Good battery life.  I have yet to meet a camera which doesn't require to be virtually constantly on charge, and I dislike their addiction to power. 
With a little research (read: help from a friend), I learnt there are four main types of camera.  SLRs (the enormous ones...didn't want one of them), compact cameras (cheap and rubbish...didn't want another one of them) and two types which fall somewhere between these two: bridge cameras and compact system cameras (CSCs).

CSCs have the same kind of sensors as SLRs but in a much smaller body. They then have removable lenses which are again smaller than what you would use with an SLR. The advantages of these are that you get the image quality of an SLR but in a smaller form factor.

A bridge camera is closer to a compact in terms of the techy bits (sensors etc) but has the physical appearance of a SLR but smaller. They also have a permanent lens which normally has a massive zoom range. In general they are pretty good but you won't get as good picture quality as a CSC camera. They are generally cheaper and have more features though.

I decided that having a flip screen was the most critical feature from my bucket list, which is very rare in CSCs, the only one I could find from the "Big 3" manufacturers (Nikon, Canon, Panasonic) was the Panasonic DMC-G3.  For bridge cameras I had more options and ended up shortlisting the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 and the Canon Powershot G12: essentially the highest end models within my budget that seemed to still be of a reasonable size and weight.

I then dragged myself along to Jessops to take a look at my shortlisted 3 cameras.  The G3 is for sure the "best" camera, but it was just too large for me and this problem is not improved by the need for a separate lense.  However it is a brilliant price for the quality of camera it is and it would be a great buy for anyone prepared to carry the extra weight.  Personally, I was doubtful that I would necessarily fully utilise its additional abilities, and even if I would do 'Im not sure that would outweigh the issues caused by it's size.

I didn't like the FZ150 at all in the flesh, it seemed really huge and it didn't feel that good quality...everything looked like it would snap off really easily which is not a great feature for a very expensive camera!

But like Goldilocks and the three bears...the Canon Powershot G12 was just right!  It is not too large, everything feels chunky and durable, and I also liked how it had lots manual rather than purely touchscreen-based controls.  So after a little internet shop-around, I am now the proud owner of one, it is definitely my new favourite toy.

Now...I just need to learn how to use it!

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