Friday, 22 February 2013

Got The Itch for Travel? Scratch Away!

I come to you having just spotted something on TV that I want !  I spied it on the wall in the background of an episode of 'Wanted Down Under', I now yearn for one!  I have talked before about my habit of ticklisting the countries and places I have visited.  Well, I have now found a fun way of displaying my travel exploits.  Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you...**DRUM ROLL**...The Scratch Map:

Like a Lotto Scratchcard, but for travel! (Source -

It is ingenious!  You simply scratch off (using a coin, I assume) the places you have visited and over time you get a changing picture of your personal travel history.  In addition to the classic world map, Scratch Map also offer a host of maps, from around the world, to fulfil all your cartographic scratching needs.

Thing is, I am now faced with a problem, as it is not Christmas for 10 months and my birthday falls at the end of December...*HINT HINT* :D

Happy travels, people!  Get scratching!

Monday, 4 February 2013

No Baggage! Dare You Travel This Light?!

MikeW weighed down, but still smilin'!

I tend to travel like Mariah Carey and Elton John on a world tour.  I feel the need to pack anything and everything into my luggage and then curse myself for bringing so much unnecessary things with me.  It is that need to have something for every eventuality, the 'correct' clothes for the places I am visiting and the toilettries I might possibly need in case of a 'beauty emergency'!  I am being ridiculously over the top, but the point I am trying to make is that we take far too much with us on our travels.  The advent of the budget airlines, combined with my natural cheapness, means that I tend to pack much lighter than I used to so I can save on their extortionate baggage charges.  Aside from the downside of making sure I do not incur the wrath of the airline ground staff by trying to carry on a bag 1cm outside of the approved dimensions each airline allows, doing this has made me think about what I can manage with for my travels and has, I believe, made me a much better at packing light for my travels.  I am especially thankful that I do this when I am lugging my bag around some Eastern European capital looking for the hostel or when I cannot find anywhere to store my bag before checking in.  Its light weight is its huge advantage!  But how about this for an idea...Rolf Potts, a man who chooses to travel with no baggage.  Check out this article he wrote for the British newspaper 'The Guardian':

I am not sure I am brave enough to go this far, but it is food for thought.  For example, on my trip to Krakow in Poland last year, in my panic to ensure I had packed my bag and associated liquids correctly for my hand luggage, I had forgotten to pack my toothbrush.  Horror of horrors...I was soon calmed down from my fit of hysteria when I realised there was a convenience store selling (cheaply) the very same toothbrushes I buy back home!  And, I think there is something to think about when you next can buy most of what you need there.  Struggling to get your liquid allowance down thanks to that huge bottle of shampoo?  Simply pop into a shop in your destination; they probably wash their hair in the country you are visiting.  Your deoderant too big for the little plastic bag in which your liquids are stored?  Buy it there!  The people in the country you visit are likely to use the sweet musk of anti-perspirant to reduce any foul odours!  I have heard stories of people simply rocking up in Bangkok with a small bag of essentials and buying everything they need in the super cheap markets found there.  But, Rolf's approach goes that step further.  I would love to hear from anyone who has tried this and with what success.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

We're Slammin'!

Tim Tams - Food of the Gods!

I fell in love on my first solo trip to Australia and New Zealand.  I encountered a love that held no boundaries, a love that came in a number of tempting flavours and, most importantly of all, a love that gave me an immense amount of pleasure!  That love came in the form of the chocolate covered biscuity goodness of Arnott's Tim Tams.  Being a vain, self-obsessed health freak, I try not to indulge too often, but for me it is not the taste of the product itself that amazes me these days, but the fantastic memories that they bring flooding back that makes me want to eat these Aussie delights.  That bite of the chocolate coating to the biscuit, cream-filled centre takes me back to munching these on the beach at Byron Bay where the sea kayaking tour guide showed us how to perform the 'Tim Tam Slam'.  They remind me of the snacking I did on the long bus journeys between my stopping points on the Australian east coast and how sharing my Tim Tams with newly made friends, over freshly opened bottles of Tooheys and VB, brought our group all that bit closer on Fraser Island.

It is funny how foods you have tasted on your holidays can act as a powerfully vivid reminder of a place you have visited, a kind of sensory time machine to events and experiences that occurred many years previously.  And, ultimately, a reminder that makes you smile and look back with great fondness.  It is not just the Aussies that elicit this reaction; as I could easily say the same about the Dutch stroopwaffel or the par Thai cooked on the street stalls of the Khao San Road in Bangkok.  One taste of these foods and I am back there - the smells, sounds and sights come rushing back.

Now I have new associations to these glorious biscuits, though.  This particular packet (pictured above) came to me as a birthday gift, from my awesome Aussie friend, Erin, who I have mentioned before at TRGTALP.  I met her in a hostel in the summer of 2010 in Dubrovnik.  We hit it off and have kept in touch ever since.  I think it is just great that an Aussie woman I met in Croatia has sent me something I discovered back in 2005, when I was roaming around her country.  I just need to save up that money to invest in a return trip to Australia to hand deliver some British treats Erin misses from her time living here in the UK.  I will keep quiet about my real reason for visiting.  I will just say that the spare case I have with me is for all the Sydney Opera House magnets, cuddly koala toys and kangaroo key rings I want to buy as gifts for people back home (and not the hundreds of packets of TimTams I will be aiming to smuggle out of the country)!  Keep schtum and I might let you have one of them...