Posts tagged "travel"

Welsh wonders

travel life

About two weeks ago, we returned from a holiday in West Wales, on the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline. When I was a child, we often spent our holiday in Wales, but in mid-Wales, rather than the coast. I had never been to that part of the Pembrokeshire coast before, and it turns out that I have been missing out on a treasure.

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How to cross the road

travel mumblings
On Thursday, I arrived back from another work trip to Indonesia, this time to the island of Sumatra. The trip itself was amazing (as ever — this is my third trip to Indonesia, and my first to Sumatra), but the travel involved was exhausting. We had multi-leg flights with stops, punctuated by all the getting out of bags of liquids and x-raying of laptops that modern air travel involves. After a while, it was hard to know where we were and what day it was. Continue reading →

Borobudur Temple

travel life

I always smile wryly to myself when first year undergraduates say goodbye at the end of term with a “Have a nice holiday!”. They tend not to realise (at least until I’ve enlightened them) that they may be on holiday, but we academics are not. Summer can be one of the busiest times, when you try to cram in research, conferences, and updating your teaching for the coming year. This year has been no exception, and I have barely stopped since the Spring. I have just got back from a return trip to Indonesia1, this time for a conference. It was a productive and useful trip, but as is often the case for conferences, we spent most of it in a windowless room, listening to talks, rather than exploring the country. The one exception was a brilliant visit to the Buddhist temple complex at Borobudur.

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Natural sounds

life travel

We’ve just got back from a week’s holiday in North Norfolk (I’ve posted a few photos here). In recent years, we’ve taken to renting a cottage in Blakeney, which is a bit unadventurous, but it has exactly what we need: the sea, huge skies, open spaces, and best of all, quiet. I think quietness is what we both crave most from a holiday destination, and it is the thing which is most difficult to find at home. We’re not looking for silence (that would be creepy — particularly in Norfolk if you’ve watched a lot of MR James adaptations!), but a predominance of natural sounds, particularly bird song.

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A bit of rest and relaxation

mumblings travel
On Friday, we got back from 5 days away in North Norfolk, staying in a cottage we’ve rented a couple of times before. It seems to have been a rather long summer, and we were more than ready for a break. As much as anything, we wanted some of the peace and quiet that we get in the cottage and the surrounding countryside. I count myself lucky that we have a home at all, but I do wish that our environment was quieter. Continue reading →

Back from the non-foggy Tyne

mumblings travel
It seems like I’ve been away from here for ages, but I’ve just been at an academic conference for about a week. I was also pretty busy with preparation before that, so this weekend I have been mostly relaxing and decompressing a bit. The conference — held in Newcastle upon Tyne — was great, and there were some very interesting talks. But as I’ve written about before, being an introvert makes these kinds of events difficult for me, and I now find myself completely exhausted after 5 days of trying my hardest to be sociable and interactive. Continue reading →

Holidays and relaxation

travel
As you might have noted, I've been on holiday for the past two weeks. For the first part of that time, we were staying on the island of Anglesey (in Wales) in a gorgeous cottage belonging to a colleague of Mr. Bsag. We've both had a very busy year, and it was wonderful to get away from everything for a while. What made it even better was that my parents very kindly offered to come and stay in our house for the duration, to cat- and house-sit for us. Continue reading →

Off to the wilds again

travel
I'm flying out to Brazil again this afternoon, having finally finished my packing. For new readers, this is a work trip, supervising students doing their final year projects in the Pantanal region of Brazil. I'll be away for 3 weeks, with no internet access, so things will be very quiet here. Mr. Bsag is looking after hearth, home and the cats while I'm away, and I'll miss all of them dreadfully. Continue reading →

Rested

travel
We got back yesterday from a week's holiday split between Surrey and Sussex. Our original holiday plans went somewhat awry for various unavoidable reasons, so we had to book something at the last minute, and ended up splitting our week between staying with my parents in Surrey for a few days, and staying in a B&B in Lewes, Sussex. Despite the fact that it was a last minute thing (or perhaps because of that) it was a wonderful break, and I finally feel properly rested. Continue reading →

In praise of Transport for London

travel
Provided that I've got enough done by then, I'm planning to go to the MacExpo on Friday. I was in two minds about whether to bother, because I felt that it was a bit lacklustre last year. Now that I'm living in Birmingham, it involves a lot more time, effort and money to get to London, so I want it to be worthwhile. However, this year the show is at Olympia rather than the Design Centre in Islington as it has been in former years, so I'm hoping that they might have beefed it up a bit. Continue reading →

Brazil: Corumbá Airport

travel
I flew back from the Pantanal; a journey which involved two taxi rides (one of an hour and one of an hour and half), two flights and three airports. The first of these was Corumbá, an elegantly faded town on the border with Bolivia. Corumbá Airport must be the smallest I've ever been in. It's modern, clean and very comfortable, but absolutely tiny. There's almost no need for a boarding call, as there's only one gate and the pilot can practically tap you on the shoulder personally as he picks up the keys to the plane. Continue reading →

Brazil: Pantanal

travel
The Pantanal is a truly amazing place for wildlife. It should come with a health warning for biologists (or any wildlife enthusiast): "WARNING: liable to cause heart palpitations and shortness of breath". Here are a few of my favourite wildlife encounters, and there are more photographs on my Brazil flickr set. Capybara Troupials Troupials are the most orange bird I've ever seen. Their plumage is made up of highly contrasting patterns of black and the shade of orange usually seen on fluorescent safety jackets. Continue reading →

Electricity + water = ?

travel
{width="240” height="180”} This was my shower in the Pantanal, which I found it quite entertaining. The combination of bare wires, electricity, bits of casually-applied electrical tape and water had a kind of devil-may-care bravado about it, and I liked that fact that there were no nannyish notices around, warning you not to touch the heat setting lever^1^ once you'd turned the water on. It felt like being treated as an adult, not an idiot. Continue reading →

Brazil: Night boat

travel
We set out in the small motorboat after dark to take a look at the animals in and around the river. It's very cool and still, and in the moonlight, eerie blue reflections of the trees are cast on the water. Our torch catches the twin red glows of caiman eyes, looking our way before quietly slipping under the surface. A family of capybara clusters near the bank, ears twitching and their long, square heads breaking the water like a collection of floating, furry shoe boxes. Continue reading →

Brazil: Rawhide

travel
Like most pre-adolescent girls, I took horse-riding lessons when I was young, but I haven't ridden much since then. I've also never ridden Western-style before, with a one-handed grip on the reins and long stirrups, but it was a lot of fun. My horse and I developed a reasonable working relationship, and broadly agreed on the direction and speed of travel, which is always a bonus. Watching wildlife from horseback is actually quite a good way to go about it. Continue reading →

Brazil: Night show

travel
We had an unbelievably long journey to the Pantanal by road^1^, most of which was at night. Thankfully, we had hired a very comfortable coach, with reclining seats, blankets, and all kinds of other little luxuries that made it a bit more comfortable. I sat right at the front of the bus (best seat in the house!), and watched the scenery for a while until it got dark, when I settled down to get some sleep. Continue reading →

Brazil: People

travel
In the run up to my trip to Brazil I was very excited, but also a little apprehensive. After all, Brazil has a slightly fearsome reputation for crime. That may be partially deserved in some restricted areas, but my own experience of the country and people was universally positive. Any country has cities with slightly dodgy areas, which you are wise to avoid, or travel through with caution. I can honestly say that I've felt less safe and more threatened in parts of Birmingham and London than anywhere I went in Brazil^1^. Continue reading →

Travelling tips

travel
I'm looking at an enormous pile of stuff that I've somehow got to try to cram into a suitcase. Hum. Anyway, I've been thinking about travel tips. I'm sure that you've all got your own essential rules when travelling, but here are a few I've gathered over the years, tuned to stays in somewhat remote areas, doing field work: There's some kind of unwritten rule which states that however leak-proof you believe your bottles and jars of liquids to be, the effect of changes of temperature and pressue will prove you wrong. Continue reading →

Japanese toilets

travel
At some point, I was going to write an entry about the fabulously hi-tech nature of Japanese toilets, but I see from Tom's links on plasticbag.org that imomus got there before me; Japanize your ass! has a glorious and detailed history of the various kinds of Japanese sanitary facilities. I'm also grateful to have a proper name for the electronic, all-singing, all-dancing toilet: the washlet. Not knowing the correct name, I had been referring to it as a 'techno toilet', which had a certain Wallace and Gromit quality about it, but was hardly accurate. Continue reading →

Karaoke

travel
Part 3 of a series (Read Parts 1 and 2) We had to do it. Not just because we were in the home of karaoke, but because PD made us. She, it turned out, is a bit of a karaoke addict. I think it's fair to say that GS and I were a bit dubious about the whole thing to start with, though we were encouraged to hear that you get your own private — and more importantly, soundproof — booth. Continue reading →

Japan: The rail system

travel
Part 2 of a series (Read Part 1) When I'm not fuming over the pathetic mess that we in the UK are forced to call a railway system, I really like train travel. So I was excited to be taking several train journeys while in Japan — one of them on the bullet train or shinkansen. As I mentioned before, PD had lived in Japan for a while. Without her, I think that GS and I would have been a bit baffled by the railway system. Continue reading →

Japan: Getting there

travel
Part 1 of a series I went to Japan for a symposium, to meet up with some researchers there and look around their lab. I travelled with one of my graduate students (who I'll call GS) and a post-doc (PD). GS and I were lucky with our journeys to the airport and got there in plenty of time, but PD got stuck in traffic coming in to Heathrow and consequently was very late checking in. Continue reading →