I feel as if spring has really snuck up on us this year. It’s officially time for people living in Britain (or anywhere temperate in the Northern Hemisphere) to come out of hibernation and start enjoying the extra hours of sunshine. And so, I have written this guide for spring foraging in the UK.
Despite living in a city, spring is palpable. It’s still light at 8pm, the warmth of the afternoon sun is beautiful but there’s enough of a morning chill to still need a scarf.
We’re very lucky in Cardiff, having so many large parks and green spaces to explore. Walking through the grounds of Cardiff Castle, Sophia Gardens or Bute Park, it’s so easy to forget you’re in the middle of a city. It’s difficult to hear the sound of the traffic through the birdsong and trees rustling in the breeze.
One of my favourite things about spring in Wales is that my favourite edible plants are sprouting up everywhere right now. I had no idea about edible plants until about four years ago, when I was introduced to foraging in the UK by a friend of mine. Read more
Making friends in a new place is always hard, whether it’s in the next town over or in a new country. Trust me, I’ve moved around a lot, but I’ve found the key thing when it comes to how to make friends in a new city is perseverance.
That’s right. You don’t need to be a social butterfly, you don’t need to know the local language and there is no magical secret to getting people to like you. You just need to persevere and hold strong to the fact that you will find your people. Everything takes time.
So, even if they sound super-obvious, here are the steps I follow to make friends in a new city or a new place. If you do them all and stick with it, then I guarantee that you will find your tribe:
How I Make Friends in a New City: Ask Around
Ask your friends, family, neighbours, your cousin’s goldfish, social media and the woman who runs the post office if they know anyone in the place you’re moving to. The world is big, but it is also small.
When I moved from the UK to Hong Kong, I was introduced to three separate people who were moving there at the same time as me. And that was before I even got on a plane. It’s the law of six degrees of separation, right? Everyone knows someone who knows someone. Read more
I have flown in and out of Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, a bazillion times, travelling to and from Hong Kong. However, for this flight back to the UK, I booked a long layover in Doha just so I could spend 24 hours in Qatar and finally see more than just the airport!
I’m not in any way sponsored by Qatar Airways (I wish I was), but they are genuinely one of the best airlines I’ve travelled with, hence why I’ve done it so often. They’re cheap, they fly where I need to go and their service is always of a high standard.
So, here is the story of my 24 hours in Qatar, how I made the most of a long layover in Doha and some travel advice for anyone looking to do the same:
24 Hours in Qatar: Hamad International Airport
The first couple of times I flew in and out of Hamad International Airport, it was nothing but a shack with a duty free section and nowhere to exchange money!
Now, the new fancy terminal is like a miniature city in itself. There’s so much to see and do in the airport alone that you could easily make the most of a long layover in Doha without venturing out into the city (and I have done that too).
Aside from the obvious restaurants and shopping, Hamad International Airport also has art galleries, lounge facilities (all-inclusive food/relaxation areas starting at US$55), an airport hotel and a spa that has massage packages and even a swimming pool! Read more
There are lots of different ways to travel, but there are also some very different travelling styles, especially when it comes to planning a trip. Here are the two ends of the spectrum: the Planner (Stephanie Fox of Newcastle & Travel) and the Pantser (uhhh… yup, that would be me).
Stephanie Fox: Newcastle & Travel – Planner!
When it comes to planning a trip, I’m the biggest planner there is and I always have been. Even down to local day trips, I’ll research the best way to get there and when is best to go. Despite this, I’m not actually a stress head when it comes to the actual travel part, I can handle delays or long journeys, transfers and unsociable flight times. Read more
After lugging my backpack around Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, I had finally reached the last destination on my backpacking bucket list. I had finally arrived in Bali! So, after all my previous ‘travel advice’ posts, this is the final one: my guide to Bali, Indonesia.
I couldn’t wait to go to surf school, laze on the beach all day and stretch out my aching back (backpacks are heavy, y’all!) at yoga. However, what greeted me in Bali completed exceeded my expectations.
Here is my full itinerary, budget details, travel tips and general guide to Bali:
Guide to Bali
My Itinerary: I had two full weeks in Bali, with stops in Read more
So, I’d covered Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. Next was a brief few days in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, also known fondly by its previous name, Saigon. I only spent a few days in the city, so here is my Ho Chi Minh City travel advice and budget planning for a brief visit.
This was my second trip to Vietnam, having visited Hanoi and explored Ha Long Bay back in 2013. I’d heard great things about Saigon, so even though I’d experienced some of Vietnam before, I didn’t want to leave it off my Southeast Asia backpacking trip.
From my visit to the capital and with two weeks of Cambodia behind me, I had some idea of what to expect once I’d hopped over the border. But, as ever, I was wrong! Read more
My recent trip to Cambodia was on a shoestring budget. With tickets to visit the ancient city of Angkor starting at US$37 for one day and a limited time in Siem Reap, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to see that many temples in Angkor.
Hostel staff advised that I would be able to see five temples in Angkor if I took a bike, more with a guide. My trusty Lonely Planet told me I could only manage three Angkor temples in 24 hours.
Not to be thwarted, I rented a bike for the day for US$3 and decided I would try and see as many as I could. I left my hostel at 4am, cycling through unlit city streets to get to the ticket office (confusingly, notwhere near the entrance of Angkor), before heading to Angkor Wat for sunrise.
I didn’t see five temples. I didn’t see three. I saw TEN temples in Angkor and I have the sweat-drenched t-shirt and toned glutes to prove it! Here are the ten temples in Angkor that I managed to squeeze into just one day: Read more
After 10 days in Myanmar, which was a lot easier on my wallet than I thought it would be, the next stop on my solo Southeast Asia trip was a week backpacking around Laos. I had heard wonderful things about Laos and couldn’t wait to explore it myself.
What greeted me was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in my life, with Luang Prabang climbing high on my list of favourite cities in the world.
Yep, I’ve turned into that girl who starts all her sentences with, ‘When I lived in Hong Kong…’ My room is filled with knick-knacks from places I can’t pronounce. I can give advice on jet lag, travelling with only a carry-on and finding cheap flights online. I can speak in different tongues. If you know me, you’re probably bored of my travel anecdotes.
If you don’t know me, I should prefix this post by stating that, up until three months ago, I lived overseas. I spent five years in Hong Kong, with a few intervals in Italy (because I like to be complicated like that). I never planned to leave the UK or live in other countries, especially for so long, but it just kind of happened. Read more
It’s a rite of passage for all backpackers country-hopping around the continent. Despite your best efforts, you will definitely have to take a few long bus journeys in Southeast Asia. Whether it’s from city to city or country to country, the prices are so much cheaper than flying (and arguably safer than the trains).
Of course, you won’t be travelling in luxury. The roads will not be safe. The driver will be grumpy, drunk or short-sighted. No one will speak English, including staff and your fellow passengers. But it’s all part of the experience, right? It’s character building!
What you need is a survival kit. Here are a few things I learnt from taking 10 long-haul bus journeys in Southeast Asia: Read more