Photography Show and my Gimbal!

So on Saturday hubby and I, together with a friend headed off to the Photography Show in Birmingham.

This is our 3rd trip to the show which was held at the NEC.

The last couple of times we went it coincided with the Comic Show! Thousands of comic fans arrive dressed up in some incredible outfits. It’s an amazing sight!

Sadly this year this wasn’t the case. The Big Bang Show and a craft show didn’t have the same impact.

We arrived about 10.30 at the show. Hubby and I have a routine when we attend. We start off in the far left corner and work our way up each row.

The show is full of a large variety of exhibitors including Canon, Nikon, printing companies, Studio equipment, digital photo albums, editing software etc.

I had a list of things in my head I wanted to look for! A new case for my Canon, new editing software and a hip holder for my camera!

So as we head up the first isle we are curious to explore what is on offer as well as see what amazing equipment is out there ! Some won’t be of use to us, but is interesting. A lot will be out of our budget but it’s still great to look at it and maybe have a play! But what ever was on show, it was certainly going to be interesting!

At the end of the first row we come across a stand for Removu. They are selling Gimbals! I’d never seen or heard of them before so was really curious. There was a couple that caught my eye. One for your iPhone and the other a 4 in 1!

Now if you don’t know what a Gimbal is, and I didn’t as I said, it’s a piece of equipment that helps stabilise your camera when you are moving.

I used to use my iPhone for videos but found it was chewing up my memory and battery. I invested in a GoPro and a Canon Powershot last year instead. When doing my cooking vlogs I use them both together.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had much success videoing when we are out and about because you tend to get a bit of shake. My hubby says it’s like getting sea sick! So Gimbals really captured my curiosity.

The 4 in 1 particularly got me excited. The Gimbal had a built in camera, video recorder and stabiliser all built in! It’s rotating head meant you could capture some really good wide shots!

The stand has a show offer on. £100 off the Gimbal plus a free case and rucksack holder. You could also buy an accessory kit half price! I was sold! I thought hubby would try and talk me out of it. Tell me it was a gimmick, but he too could see it’s worth!  Don’t get me wrong, he wouldn’t have stopped me buying it.  I earn my own money,  so can spend it how I like, but it is good to get his opinion.

Although I wanted to buy it there and then, I decided to wait and see what else was around . I mean, I hadn’t actually planned to buy anything like that before I came!

We continued our walk around. There was so much to see. Some amazing cameras and lenses that we could never afford!

I found a stand that did the hip holder. The stand was busy so I couldn’t really get to ask questions.  It was perfect from what I could see – Spider Pro SCS.  It was however a lot more expensive than I thought!

https://amzn.to/2HCQ8d3

I decided to leave it for another day!  I have a birthday coming up, and it could go on that list

The Gimbal though was still playing around in my head!  Finally, after a few hours we had exhausted all the stands!  I suggested to hubby that we go back and have another look at it.

We had seen another Gimbal on another stand.  It was a lot more compact, didn’t seem as good!

So we headed back to the stand again.  I had a lot of questions to ask, and they were able to show me some videos that had been recorded from it.  It definitely lived up to my expectations.  The decision was made.  I was going to buy one.

The stand didn’t sell them themselves, you had to go to the London Camera Exchange stand.  So off we went.

At the stand I asked them for the product.  After a bit of difficulty locating it, they finally found it.  When they came back though they hadn’t got the free gift or the additional accessory kit I wanted.

After another long search they came back with the free gift.  Still no accessory kit.  The computer said they should have 1!   Yes you heard it – 1! I’m not being funny but this was the first day of the show.  The Gimbal stand were promoting this amazing deal, however they only had 1 item available to sell!  This is so not good marketing!

After another long wait, they couldn’t find that 1 item.  They did however offer to send it to me.   Initially for a £4.99 postage charge!  I refused to pay this.  If they don’t hold stock on day 1, then it isn’t for me to pay to have it posted to me.

The lad who served me was lovely though and I did feel for him.

It was agreed it would be sent to me free of charge, although not until after the show!  As it was only a ‘nice to have’ additional accessories, I didn’t mind.

Whiles I was waiting for them to find the items, I checked on Amazon for the micro SD card.  It was half the price I could get it for at the show, so I quickly ordered it for delivery the next day.

Eventually, I had my new toy in my hands and on the way home to try it out!  Very excited I have to say!

Gimbal – https://amzn.to/2FiUiW0
Accessory Kit – https://amzn.to/2FiUiW0
64GB Memory Card – https://amzn.to/2OiEPYZ

When I got home, I placed it on charge.  The next day the card arrived.  Ooh the excitement!

I read the instructions quickly and decided to go for a walk to try it out!

I have to apologise for anyone who may have seen me, skipping and singing at one point!  I wanted to test the microphone and movement out!

I got home and downloaded it onto the laptop!  

The quality of sound and video were fantastic.  I was over the moon I decided to do a product review vlog!

See my vlog here:

I was so happy with my toy!

Now, I just need to go on a long walk and really test it out! It has 4 hour battery life which should be enough for a nice long country walk!

So even though I never planned to buy a Gimbal, I have to say it was a fantastic purchase. If I hadn’t gone to the show, I would never have known about it! If you see a show like this go along. If you book early you tend to get some good deals.

For £11.00 each, we had a great day out, and learnt a lot more about photography and what is out there! Plus I got a new piece of equipment to improve my videoing ability!

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And then it was Friday!

Another week has flown by! I can’t believe it’s Friday already! So much has happened in just a few days!

Technically for us it was only a 4 day week as we took Monday off. If you read my previous blog you will know we spent the weekend in Gloucester. As we hadn’t had a break for 6 months, I really needed to charge my batteries!

So on Monday, we decided to extend our weekend and head to Stonehenge for the day!

I can’t believe I’ve never been before. It’s only a couple of hours drive away. It’s also free if you belong to English Heritage, which we do, so there has really been no excuse.

The weather was on our side! It was a beautiful spring day. Don’t get me wrong, it was blooming cold and windy, but the sun was out.

When you drive to Stonehenge you may be surprised to see it from the road. Well I was! It was just like the first time I saw the pyramids in Cairo.

I had visions of them being in a remote area. Next to a busy road was not what I expected!

Although it is free to enter for us, you still have to book a slot. This is such a good idea as it limits the crowds.

Once you collect your tickets, you can go into their visitor centre which tells you all about the history of Stonehenge. English Heritage are really good at giving you information in the form of audio equipment. Sadly, in the excitement we forgot to get ours! It didn’t matter though, there was still a lot of information about.

Next you get to walk around a replica village. I was a bit disappointed here as only one little house was open for you to view! This meant everyone was focused on the one building rather than spreading it around.

Next you board a shuttle bus that takes you to the stones. They run every few minutes, so it’s all relaxed! You can walk it if you like, but as I said, it was a tad chilly!

Nowadays you can’t get very close to the stones. I can’t believe people used to try and damage them!

There is a good footpath around so you get a great 360 degree view of the stones. With the sun out and perfect blue skies, our cameras were busy!

If you go, look out for what is left of the old road next to the stones! Being so close, I can see why they moved it!

Here is an account of our day.

It was such a lovely day we decided to call into Bourton-on-the-Water for a very late lunch.

One of the benefits of going to tourist places this time of the year is that you miss the crowds.

We only had 1 extra day off, but I felt like I’d really had a good relaxing break!

Tuesday was back to work. Boo hoo! We live in hope to one day win the lottery so we can both travel more! It probably won’t happen, but you have to have a dream!

Have a great weekend!

Dr Foster Went To Gloucester

That line had been going around in my head all weekend! My hubby and I were in Gloucester for one of our date weekends. It was driving me mad, so I decided to look it up on Google! And there it was! A nursery rhyme from my childhood:

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester,
In a shower of rain,
He stepped in a puddle,
Right up to his middle,
And never went there again.

Thankfully for us, the weather was dry. It was quite cold, but the sun was out. In fact, I would go as far to say, a perfect spring weekend.

It got me thinking though, how the nursery rhyme came about. I have a fascination with these things, as well as phrases and words. I decided to research the nursery rhyme a bit more!

There are many stories about how it came about, but my favourite is about King Edward I. He apparently was travelling to Gloucester on his horse, when he fell off into a puddle, and refused to go back there again!

I have to say to most, Gloucester wouldn’t be many peoples first choice of a destination for a date weekend. It certainly wasn’t mine, but when my hubby suggested it, I thought, why not!

I couldn’t remember ever going to Gloucester in the past, so it would be a new experience. Also, the whole purpose of a date weekend is to spend time with hubby relaxing, seeing new things.

We had heard that the Quays and Cathedral were both worth a visit, we love photography and exploring, so we set a date in the diary.

I went to my trusty website – Booking.Com, to see what hotels were available. Initially, we wanted to stay near the Quays, so we could go out in the evening for a nice meal and drinks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything that was either still available, in our budget or nice.

I did see a beautiful old hotel called the New Inn which was in the centre, unfortunately, it didn’t have parking on site. Check out my Youtube video of our trip to see this hotel. It really is stunning. Another hotel kept popping up though! Hatton Court Hotel. It was a beautiful old manor house, about 10 minutes drive from Gloucester, with panoramic views of Malvern Hills and Gloucester. It looked perfect.

The rooms all looked lovely, but as this was our first break in 6 months, I decided to upgrade to the Junior suite to get a spa bath! My Youtube video doesn’t do the place justice!

With the dogs being looked after, on Saturday morning, we drove the 50 miles to Gloucester. We decided to head first to the Quays. Old warehouses were now converted to places to eat, drink and shop. Many of the top names had outlet stores there. Hubby and I are not shoppers so only did a very quick walk through the shopping area, but if shopping is your thing, I think you would really enjoy it.

The warehouses had been restored beautifully. Photography is our thing, and we were able to get some lovely pictures of not only the warehouses, but the docks too. It certainly was worth the visit. Some warehouses are still in need of a bit of love, but you can still see their beautiful and feel the history behind them.

It is so nice to think that this area has been preserved in such a way that its history can still live on with modern life.

If you have watched the recent Alice in Wonderland, Through The Looking Glass, with Johnny Depp, you may even recognise it!

We next headed to the Cathedral. As we walked up to it, it took my breath away. It was absolutely beautiful. We expected to have to pay to go inside, but was pleasantly surprised that the only charge was £3 to take photos.

The man in the shop selling the photo tickets was so lovely. Very warm and welcoming.

The Cathedral inside was magnificent. There was so much to see. There were rooms everywhere, plus a viewing balcony over the whole of the cathedral.

The Cathedral is the resting place of King Edward II but the king that never was! The son of William the Conqueror!

When you look at my Youtube video of the day, you may even recognise some of it from Harry Potter! I have to say, as I walked down the corridors, I was waiting for Harry to pop out of his invisible cape!

Mary Queen of Scotts, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who were also filmed there!

The stained glass windows are amazing. It is worth taking time to look at them in detail. They all tell some amazing stories. Some of my favourites are captured on my YouTube video for you.

The city itself is a city of 2 halves. There are a lot of modern/60’s buildings around, but every once in a while you will find a little gem! There are still some beautiful old pubs and buildings worth a visit.

I am glad now we went. It was certainly a memorable visit. If you are ever visiting the Cotswolds or Cheltenham, I would certainly say stop off there for a day visit.

The hotel for the evening – Hatton Court was beautiful. The views were to die for. Our room looked right out across the Malvern Hills. As I said above, I had upgraded us to the Junior Suite. At first I was a little disappointed as I was expecting a sofa and coffee table in the room. That was purely because of my own expectation, but when I got over that, the room was lovely.

If I had one criticism (except the sofa!!), it was that the bed needed to move to the opposite side of the room, so you could lie in bed looking out at the views across the Malvern Hills. That said, you still had nice views over a field.

The bed was sooooooooo comfortable and big. I don’t think I have ever slept in such a comfortable bed!

The Spa bath was definitely worth the upgrade. After a day of walking around, to relax with a glass of bubbly in the bath was divine!

We booked dinner in the restaurant. I have to say, that was outstanding too ! Service was second to none as was the food.

In the morning we went down to breakfast. There was a lovely array of cereals, pastries, fresh fruit and juices, plus a comprehensive hot menu to order.

The waitress was busy, so we told her not to worry when she apologised for a short wait in taking our order! Hubby and I were chilled after a fabulous day and evening, so were not in a rush.

After 45 minutes though we were a bit concerned. I asked the manager! Our slip had fallen off in the kitchen and been missed. They were so apologetic. I think we had 3 separate apologies in total. I don’t mind if things go wrong when you get this kind of service.

This hotel is certainly on my top 10 of UK hotels to visit. If you want to try it yourself, visit http://www.booking.com/s/42/mariaw59 to get £15 off your next booking.

So our date weekend to Gloucester was a huge success. Sometimes, the less obvious of places have the biggest surprises!

Check out my video to see what we did and saw. https://youtu.be/v7UUH6Stu58






This is my type of Wasp swarm!

If you have been following me, you will know, I recently had a problem with wasps in my home. I spent a couple of weeks trying to get rid of them. To me they are horrible insects, who just sting you. They drive you mad when you are trying to enjoy an alfresco dinner or drink. They are just a general all around nuisance, that I absolutely hate!

Thankfully, there is another type of wasp, I absolutely love! The rugby team!

Wasps originated from London. They were founded in Hampstead in 1867 by members of Hampstead FC, which you will now know as the Harlequins.

Thankfully for me, they relocated to Coventry Ricoh in December 2014. Initially only buying a 50% stake of the Ricoh in October 2014, but quickly increasing that to 100% stake by November 2014, they secured their future in the Midlands.

Being married to a huge rugby fan, having a local team on our door step has been a real dream. It all started with their Christmas matches. These are played very near to Christmas Eve. The atmosphere is very festive. The one thing you will learn about Wasps, is that they do a really good party atmosphere rugby match!

Music is played before and after the match, and with the festive match it is followed by a firework display. Everyone is in such good spirits, its a fabulous time.

Rugby has always been a good game for families, but the Wasps matches really stand out!

The Christmas match is now a tradition with us, and this year is no exception. The match is on Sunday 23 December with a 3 am kick off! I have my festive bobble hat at the ready.

Now, I have to confess, I know very little about Rugby. I’m learning, very slowly. I became addicted to it during the Rugby World Cup in 2015. I constantly trying to get tickets to South African games and England games. We traveled right up to Newcastle to see a game. I love the live atmosphere.

I’ve been to football matches, but didn’t enjoy them as I was only guard to things going on around me. In rugby, we could sit next to someone supporting the opposite team, and it would all be in good fun and high spirits.

The truth is, rugby is such a good game, it doesn’t matter if you don’ t know the rules fully. For me I know, the teams have different coloured kits so as long as your team member has the ball, its all good!

To score points, they have to either kick the ball between the posts for 2 points, run the ball over the line for 4 points plus a kick at the goal for an additional 3 points! There may be more, but that is the total amount of my knowledge!

Now I’m going to show off by saying that I also know you have to pass the ball backwards to a team member! They play for 80 minutes in total, 40 minutes a side, when the swap goals! And finally, the team with the highest points wins! Yey!

For me, that is all I need to know right now. If I learn more along the way, great, but it doesn’t stop me having a fabulous time.

If you have ever been tempted to go to a rugby match, and live in the Midlands, a trip to watch Wasps is must. Check out their website for Matches. They often do deals!

I’m so into them now, I’ve even knitted my hubby a scarf to help keep him warm for this weekends match!

Warwick & The Mop!

So, I actually think I’m one of the luckiest people, to have been born and bred in such a beautiful place as Warwick!

It’s true what they say, you can take the girl out of Warwick, but you can’t take Warwick out of the girl!

I know I am probably going to be accused of seeing my home town in rose coloured specs, but the thousands of tourists that visit it every year, must prove something !

Now when I say I’m a Warwick girl, I really am!

I was born in my parents bedroom, which looked out onto the Lord Leycester Hospital! My bedroom was on the back, facing the garden! Behind our garden wall was Warwick Castle! It doesn’t get more Warwick than that!

Growing up, I have so many fond memories! I’ve never taken any of it for granted. That’s probably why, I found it so hard to move 8 miles out of town 2.5 years ago!

Yes it has changed a lot over the years. There are a lot more houses for one, but the foundation of Warwick is still there!

So what makes it so so special ? Where do I start?

  • Warwick Castle
  • St Mary’s Church
  • Lord Leycester Hospital
  • Mill Street Garden
  • St Nicholas Park
  • Warwick Racecourse
  • River Avon
  • Great canal walks
  • The town centre
  • The Mop

I used to also love the dolls museum, which is now integrated into the Military museum in St Johns.

My grandfather was the Verger at St Paul’s Church, and my grandmother, and later my uncle the church wardens.  Myself and my 2 brothers were members of the church choir, with my brother making head boy and I head girl.

We attended choir practice twice a week, and 2 Sunday services, plus weddings etc.

7 of my mothers brothers, were also active members of the local St John’s Ambulance, as was I.  We would cover many local events such as the race meetings, fetes and charity events.

My grandfather and father were involved in building the bumper cars and ghost trains, that were used at the mop, as well as the helter skelter and some other ride at St Nicholas Park.

So as you can see, my family were all part of the foundation of Warwick in the past, which is probably why it runs through my veins.

As a child, the most visited places for us were the racecourse and the park!

The racecourse was just a few minutes walk away. As we had a dog, it was the perfect place to go for daily walks. I rode my bike around it, and even learnt to drive a car on some land next to it. Sadly that land is now flats!

On race days, we would go down for the last race, when it was free! We used to collect left over glasses. If you were lucky you might even find the odd £1 note on the grass! Accidentally thrown away by someone along with their betting slip!

We used to do our cross country running around the race track at school too!

St Nicholas park was where we spent most of our 6 weeks holiday during the summer when we weren’t away. I don’t know about you, but I only ever remember hot summers back then!

There was an open air paddling pool in the middle. Mum would pack a picnic and off we would go for the day!

I remember just playing and enjoying the outdoors in beautiful weather.

As we lived so close to the castle, we often would walk through the outside of the grounds ! I’d never actually been into it until I worked there!

I was so over the moon to land my first full time job there! It was in the offices and accounts department. We were based just next to the main ‘apartments’.

It was the foundation to who I am now! In those days, everyone who was senior were known as Mr, Miss or Mrs. There was no way I’d acknowledge them by their first names !

I was also made very aware of the importance of talking ‘properly ‘! Thankfully I think I pronounced most words correctly ! In particular ensuring you put an ‘r’ in words like castle, path, grass etc!

One of my fondest memories is Mop time ! Most people outside of the area have never heard of the Mop!

It’s basically a travelling fair, which comes to Warwick for 2 weekends around 12th October every year!

Where we lived at the top of a hill, I could sit in the bay window, and watch all the lorries moving from their temporary home on the racecourse, up to the town centre to assemble their rides!

I remember shouting excitedly to my parents as I watched the ghost train, bumper cars, waltzers etc go up! I couldn’t wait to go up and see them!

I probably have an even greater passion as both my grandfather, and father built ghost trains and bumper car rides !

The first weekend, the Mop was opened by the Lord Mayor at 12 noon on the Saturday. It would run until 10.30/11.00 pm. There was always a pig roast around by the Globe Hotel!

The second week the Mop was open Friday and Saturday from lunch time until about 10.30/11.00 pm. This was called the ‘Runaway Mop’!

We used to save our pocket money, and I also remember my grandparents giving us extra.

We would go up as a family early evening, with our pennies in our purses! Eyes wide open !

I remember the smells like it was yesterday ! Candy floss, toffee apples, hot dogs and burgers ! Even the diesel smelt good from the generators!

Then there was the noises of the rides, and children’s laughter, adults screening as some of the bigger rides went faster and higher! Multi coloured lights and music filled the air! It was a time of pure joy!

Everyone always seemed happy when you walked around ! It seemed to always dry and crisp too !

We would walk around wondering how to spend our money ? The ‘hook a duck’ was always a good one, as you were always guaranteed a prize! In those days you could win goldfish ! Now I know why we had a pond in our garden !!

There were also amusement arcades! My favourite then, and now is still the machine that forms the t.v programme ‘Tipping Point’. In my day though it was pennies or 2p!

Now a days it’s all changed! The rides are bigger and more expensive ! They still have a few old favourites though, such as ‘hook a duck’. You still get the same smells and noises!

To me it’s still magical. It’s been part of Warwick for so long, I hope it never stops !

Here is a whistle stop tour of 2018 !

https://youtu.be/gKZNI6265J4

The History of the Mop

The tradition of Warwick Mop, goes back as far as King Edward III, when he granted a legal charter that it be held in the town centre! This was a time when even the Castle, as it stands now was still being built, and certainly before Lord Leycester was even a twinkle in his daddies eye!

The date is believed to be linked to when harvesting was done, with Stratford Upon Avon having the Mop on the 12th!

So for those of us who think it’s a modern thing, and to some a nuisance, it is steeped in over 700 years of history!

It is said that the first Mops were set up for hiring labourers, and for employers to meet and have fun!

In those days it was different types of stalls, rather than the big rides you associate with fairs today!

Workers would be hired on a trial basis. The runaway Mop, the second weekend, gets its name from the fact that either the employer, or worker, could back out of the arrangement they had made!

The money they earned during that week was then spent on the stalls, or for some, the pub!

No-one really knows for sure where the word ‘Mop’ came from, however it is thought to be linked to a symbol worn by labourers.

The pig roast, or ox as it also was then, provided food as well as warmth. Whilst we still have this tradition now, the money raised is passed on to charities!

Rides came along later with the industrial revolution, as has continued to evolve. In the early days, it would have been peddle power! Now they are so sophisticated.

I for one think it’s important that we keep these traditions alive for generations to come !

The next Mop in Warwick is 19/20 & 26/27 October!

Go along and support it if you can! Even if you don’t like the ride, (I’m not a fan), walk around, listen to the sounds, smell the air and soak in the atmosphere.  Let it take you back over 700 years to a different time.  Ultimately, the purpose of having fun is still there! So open your mind and enjoy it.

Let the train take the strain!

 

Does anyone else remember that advert from 1988? It was launched to encourage us to take the train, instead of blocking our roads up with cars!

I was commuting by train back then. Whilst it was 30 years ago, from personal experience, public transport hasn’t improved!

I don’t know whether it’s the demand that has increased, or the fact that the rail companies haven’t kept up with the demand!

Back then, I used to do a 45 minute trip into Birmingham. I always got a seat, and in fact, there was a group of us that used to meet up along the journey, and still be able to sit together.

We had quite a little community going on. We would do crosswords, competitions and in cold days, the guard used to share his tea flask with us!

I may be seeing those days through rose tinted glasses, but I don’t remember it being late or cancelled that often at all! Certainly, not that busy either!

After a 19 year break, where I used to drive to work, I once again in 2012, joined the thousands of others commenting by train!

So why should we all ‘be letting the train take the strain’ still some 30 years later? Well the simple answer is, that the Climate Change Act of 2008, set a long term framework for us to reduce greenhouse gas within the UK.  The Government needs to reduce it by at least 34% by 2020, and 80% in 2050, based on the levels in 1990.

To achieve this, they need more and more of us to ditch our cars, and take public transport.  As a commuter, that is easier said than done!

I for one, cannot get to work without some form of car travel.  Where I live, I would first of all have to walk about 15 minutes to the nearest bus stop.  From there, I would have to catch 2 buses, which takes just under an hour to the train station.  I then would catch a train for a 45 minute journey.  In total, to get to work it would take me over 2 hours, including then the walk to the office from the station.

I currently drive to the station, which reduces my travel time to approximately 1.5 hours each way per day!  To add an extra hour each day on an already 3 hours daily commute, just isn’t practical, or good for a work, home life balance.

Cost is also a factor.  At the moment, we are paying each day to travel by train to work.  It is £7.30 each day.  This is with us driving 14 miles to the station.  Thankfully, the car park is free.  It is not so at other stations!

If we went from our closest station, we would face £1000 a year more in train costs, plus £8.90 per day to park the car!  We would still have to drive there, so there is a petrol and emission cost!

When you get the train, there is certainly no relaxing for us either!  It definately doesn’t take the strain for us!  Wherever we catch the train, the following factors come into play:

  • Is the train on time?
  • Is the train running
  • How busy is it going to be?
  • Will the journey be terminated part way?
  • Who will I have to sit next to, or stand next to?
  • Am I going to pick up any coughs, colds etc from fellow commuters

Sadly, all of the above will come into play more frequently than you would think.

Our morning commute is on a 4 carriage train.  It is packed everyday.  You don’t get a seat, unless you are very lucky to be standing next to someone who is getting off at another stop!

When you are standing, you are being pushed against the next person also standing.  You often don’t have anything to hold onto, so when it hits a point or goes round the corners, you are thrown into the person next to you.

If you have got a seat, you are also not always lucky, as the persons standing will be on top of you, falling on you occasionally, or treading on you!  Then there is the size of the seats.  On the 6 seat section, space is extremely tight for the average size person.  You struggle to move your arms in fear of knocking the person next to you!

Don’t think you can get on, and pull your laptop out and work, or read a book!  Oh no, that would take space and comfort.  The best you can hope for is to play Candy Crush or read the news on your phones!

And don’t get me started on some of the behaviours of some commuters!   My most annoying is the person who walks through the crowded train, looking for an empty seat!  Of course, there must be one free with hundreds of us standing. Not!

What about the person wearing the headphones, whose music is so loud, we can all hear it!

Then there is the person who can see we are all like sardines, but still shouts into the train ‘can you move down please’!  I feel like shouting back ‘would you like us to get into the storage shelf’ as that is usually the only place where you might find a gap!

Even on crowded trains, some people don’t have volume control when talking either on the phone or face to face!  I have over the years heard many conversations, from whether someone should have sex with their boyfriend, or more recently,  a school girls asking her friend how to get him to have sex with her, to someone telling their friend about the guy they were having an affair with them.  Unfortunately for them, the friend of the women he was married to was also on the train!  I’d love to know how that story ended!

Long distance travel is no better!

Last year, I decided to take the train to Darlington for work. It’s about a 4 hour drive for me and takes a tank of petrol, so about £60.  Everyone said to me, I should take the train and relax, rather than the stress of driving!  Never again!

I had a 1.5 hour trip to the station to get the connecting train to Darlington.  Then a 3 hour train trip.   Yes I had a reserved seat, but the table was too small to even contemplate getting my laptop out!  My suitcase was miles away, so anything of value had to be at my feet, as the overhead shelf was too small.

I did a vlog on the experience at the time.  You can see my experience here!

The cost of the fare was about £140.

I had a reserved seat on the way back too.  When I went to my seat, it was taken by a pushchair.  The whole trip home, I had a newborn child crying next to me!

Was I relaxed when I got home – NO!  The next trip there I drove!

If the government wants us to use public transport more, they really need to start working with the transport companies.  Everyone I know who commutes, wherever they live, all have the same issues.

We need more carriages, competitive pricing, more trains and please keep the parking free!  Or if they do need to charge, again at a reasonable price!  Oh and it they could be on time that would be even better!  Maybe then, we may be more likely to let the train take the strain!

 

Getting around Krakow!

The best and easiest way to get around Krakow is on foot.  Its also free of charge, and a great form of exercise!

Krakow is flat so you don’t need to worry about any hills, well in the centre that is!

One of the great things about Krakow, is that the centre is pedestrianised!   You can walk around, relaxed, without worrying about cars.  It makes getting around so much nicer!

It also feels very safe!

There is so much to see around the city, that it would be a shame not to put at least a day aside to just wander!  Whilst the square is pretty in itself, as you explore the streets, you will see so much more on foot.

Don’t forget to look all around you, both in front, side to side, and upwards.  Many of the buildings have beautiful paintings or statues on them.

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You can’t really get lost if you keep to the rule, that all things end up back in the square!

When you visit the castle, take a walk over the river to view it from another perspective!  Its such a unique castle, with different types of architecture, it would be a shame to miss it.  If we hadn’t done this, we may have missed the fire eating dragon!

The parks are small, but again worth a walk.  You will fall upon different sculptures along the way.  Many of them hidden amongst trees, or on benches.

There are many churches in the city.  If the doors are open, pop in and have a look.  I was blown away by some of the decorations inside.  Remember to have your shoulders and thighs covered though!

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry.  There are a couple of other options.  How about a tour in an electric car?  Prices will vary depending on where you are going and for how long.  I would say no more than £20 per person.  Ask the driver and agree a price in advance.   We took one of these for the short ride to the Jewish Quarter, for dinner.   It was only £2.50 each for us, as it took probably only about 15 minutes!

Here you will find a square of chairs, dedicated to the Jews who lost their lives.  Its situated just over the river in the Ghetto, and worth a visit around sunset, where the chairs are lit up!

You will also see many horse drawn carriages.   They leave from the square, and take you for an hour ride around the city.  Again agree a price before you start.  They are usually around 400 PLN (£100) and can seat 4 comfortably, but if you negotiate you may get it cheaper!  On a sunny day, it is quite a nice way to explore the city.

Trams are plentiful.  At under 4 PLN (£1) each way, they are a cheap way to get around.  They run from 5 am to 11 pm.

If you want to go further afield, I would certainly recommend the train service.  We used it to go to the Salt Mines.

To go into the Salt Mine, you just have a 5 minute walk up a slight hill.   The cost is 89 PLN each plus 10 PLN if you want to take photos or videos (£25 in total).  Certainly a nice day out and well recommended.

The station is clean and everything is easily signposted.  It cost us around £0.85 each way for a single trip lasting about 20/30 minutes.

The trains were clean and spacious.  They have ticket machines on board if you don’t have time to get one before boarding.  Alternatively, there are ticket machines on platforms, if there isn’t a ticket office.  It is also a nice way to sit back and take in the scenery.  I do love looking at other peoples lives.  The houses, streets and countryside always interest me.

Taxi’s are also plentiful.  A ride from the airport is around 90 PLN or £20.

We also took a private hire to Autschwitz as there were 7 of us.  It was all included in the price for the tours.  The cost was 160 PLN each (£40), but well worth it.

There are so many options to get around the city, there really isn’t any excuse not to explore.