London- Harrods

Whilst in London town we wandered past Harrods.  Last time I was there it was rammed with people and I lasted about 3 minutes before I had to leave.  But it was much quieter this time, and we had a look around the food hall.

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There was yummy looking cheese and chocolates.  And I finally got to the see what a cronut was (half croissant, half doughnut).  I wonder what it’s like to work in Harrods, it must be incredibly busy most of the time.  And mainly with tourists who must be quite annoying, and always taking pictures of cheese…

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But the only thing I bought was some tea!  There were a lot of flavours of regular black tea, but it was really green tea that I was after.  They didn’t have many in tea bag form, and I decided to go for a white tea (with hints of cucumber and watermelon) which was £5 for 20 bags.  Not the cheapest tea ever, but possibly the cheapest thing in Harrods!

harrods

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USA Trip Prep

So, our USA trip is fast approaching and I thought I’d fill you in on where I’m with my preparations. Also I can use this to figure out what I still have left to do.  I work shifts so I have sort of more time to get stuff done, but sort of less (it’s what happens when you don’t have regular days off like week ends but you do get the odd week day off to go shopping).

We leave at the end of March and will have an annoying trip from home to Manchester Airport, before we even get on a plane to go to New York.  So we obviously have our tickets by now but we’ll need to check in and I need to get boyfriend to print them at work.  Along with that we need print out our train tickets, to get from New York to San Francisco.

I’m not totally crazy, and I haven’t started packing yet but I will soon start planning my outfits.  I do this with plenty of time so I can make sure everything is washed before I need to pack it.  I used to live in a house share and I couldn’t rely on the washing machine being free so I had to give myself an extra week.  I now have a house (technically it’s boyfriend house but still) and a tumble dryer so that makes life easier.  I do want to buy a new suitcase.  My one is really heavy, it’s pink which is the reason I bought it (!), but a pain to drag around.

I’m going to get some little toiletries, boyfriend tells me not to because I can use the hotel ones, but in Italy the hotels only had shampoo and not conditioner which was annoying.  I need to get my dollars (exchange rate sucks right now), and I’ll need some little snacks for the airport.  But I shouldn’t need to get to much more.

 

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Holiday Books- Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

I want to share some good books that you might like to read on your hols, especially if they have some travel relevance.  Moon Tiger, moves around in time, with much of the ‘action’ taking place in war time Egypt.  It’s also not too long so a good one for a relaxing trip.  I did a fuller review on my other blog, but really you should just read the book!

Plot

Claudia Hampton is old and dying in hospital, and is planning to write ‘a history of the world’.  She is after all a famous history writer and former war correspondent.  But this history of the world is actually her own history, somehow inexorably linked.

Moon Tiger weaves it’s way forwards and backwards through her memories, and then back to hospital in the present day.  Her relationship with her brother Gordon is hot and cold.   She describes it as narcissistic love as she sees so much of herself in him.  Although their relationship is a main theme of her past, the more shocking elements are only briefly suggested.  It’s her love affair with Tom, who she met in wartime Egypt and who died there that seems to have the greater effect on her, certainly she did not seem to leave the war unscathed.

I liked this book, although found our protagonist a little tough to take at times, although she acknowledges she wasn’t the most nurturing mother she also constantly criticises her daughter.  She is also fairly awful to, and about, her sister-in-law which annoyed me.  I felt Sylvia was a little hard done to.

 

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ESTA Visa Waiver for USA

Well we mulled over our America trip a little after Donald Trump took over like some mad travel agent and enacted his crazy travel ban.  Boyfriend and I were not going to be affected directly, but it was quite off putting. We were also concerned about extra queues, more security checks, and protests.  But I wanted to go somewhere special for my birthday so boyfriend relented and has given his permission!

Being from the UK we can take advantage of the ESTA Visa Waiver scheme.  It costs $14 each, and they do a little background check on you and make sure you’re planning terrorist crimes and other mischief.  In fact one of the questions directly asks you if you’re planning terrorism or genocide.  Boyfriend asked why they would leave that question in there as it’s so dumb, but it’s clearly there to amuse you 45hrs into a 47hr long application.

Ok, that’s a little exaggeration.  But its does take a while, and you have to do a separate application for each traveler although you can pay for them altogether.  Obviously, you have to provide your name, address, nationality, and passport details.  But also you employer and their address, your parents names, and an emergency contact (with their email address).   You also need the address of where you’re staying in the US so you have to book your accommodation first, which is a bit annoying because if they reject your application you can’t travel and probably can’t get your hotel money back.  The it asks the silly questions about whether you’re going to commit genocide or if you have yellow fever. The for some reason you have to put your name, dob, and passport number in again.  And then you send it off and wait for them to tell you if you’re allowed in the country.

So we did ours on Sunday and are still waiting, but it’s only Tuesday (for me…I schedule posts).  They aim for 72hrs so hopefully we’ll know soon if we’re going to America or if we’ve wasted loads of money…

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Beaches

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Things to do in Leeds

Some nice things to do in Leeds.

Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries is a free, council run, museum themed around weaponary!  Guns and knives feature here from hunting weapons to fighting.  It’s on the waterfront and it might take some searching for but on a sunny day it’s a nice area to hang out.  It’s council run so there’s always something that’s broken but still enough to occupy an afternoon.  It’s got a fun shop and a rubbish cafe.

Arts Cafe
A nice cafe that does good fries and was one of the few places you can get a Coke Float in Leeds, however now they look at you like you’re crazy if you ask for one even though it’s still on the menu!  It does a good line in contemporary British cuisine, and a has a curious range of cakes in slightly mad combinations of flavours that I’ve never tried!

Roundhay Park
A large park that has two lakes that people often walk, run, or cycle round.  There is also Tropical World where they have some birds, reptiles, spiders, and meercats.  It’s an odd mix perhaps but you pay about £5 entrance fee so who’s complaining!

Corn Exchange
The old Corn Exchance where, one assumes, corn was exchanged…Anyway the building is one of many lovely buildings in Leeds (if you look up above the tacky facades at street level) and now full of shops.  A few years back it was full of alternative shops but they were booted out when they needed more money to repair the roof.  The,  ill-conceived, plan to replace them with restaurants during a time of economic depression did no pan out and the place was largely empty for a long time.  Now there are some nice vintage shops, a good hot dog place, and a place to buy all you incense you could want.  They also have craft and vintage fairs from time to time.

Pizza Express
Next to the Corn Exchange is my favourite Pizza Express, which is my favourite restaurant! I assume they are common elsewhere, they are definitely a chain as there are 4 in Leeds. They all do the same food but the Corn Exchange one is the nicest building and has the nicest decor in my opinion.  Boyfriend likes the one nearer the Train Station, and we both dislike the one amongst the shops in Leeds centre.

Outside Leeds:

Saltaire and Salts Mill
20 minutes on the train from Leeds is a small but hilly town called Saltaire. Saltaire was built by Sir Titus Salt (best name ever!) who was a 19th century mill owner and troubled by the pollution and poor living conditions in Bradford.  He built an entire town to house his workers and their families, which was quite remarkable.  Now the old mill is an art gallery dedicated to David Hockney, it is really the biggest book and art supply shop around and worth a visit.  The cafe is good too.

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Touring UK- Leeds

Well I live in Leeds and I do occasionally see tourists coming out of the train station on my daily commute, or when we travel we see people landing in Leeds Bradford Airport, and I often wonder why on Earth people would chose to visit here!  Thinking about it a little though there are worse places you could visit!

There is a lot in the North of England that often gets overlooked as most foreigners think only London exists.   The main selling point must be that the north is A LOT cheaper than the south in terms of accommodation, food, and pretty much everything!

A little note before we begin about Leeds Bradford Airport, if that is your port of entry, it is the most depressing place on earth.  It is small, cramped, and grey and a sad way to start your trip. There is no airport shuttle as such but one bus to take you into Leeds that swings through every half hour and takes 40mins to get into town.  It costs about £3.50 one way and since it’s just a regular bus you can only get a same day return, and you buy the ticket from the driver on the bus who will probably be grumpy because they always are.  A taxi will be about £25.

Welcome to the UK!

Once that’s out of the way you can enjoy Leeds!

 

 

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Lord Rodney, Keighley

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Travel Book- Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin

20170109_222852.jpgThought I would flag up* any interesting books that are travel related, either about traveling or a good holiday read.  Flaneuse by Lauren Elkin sort of defies genre, but is mainly a memoir for a woman who’s probably too young to be writing a memoir.

A Flaneuse is a made up word really, a feminine version of a flaneur, which is a French idler, who wanders around cities exploring them on foot. Continue reading

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What’s On The Horizon?

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A selection of images of the horizon in some of the amazing places I’ve visited.

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