Rainy Day Things to do in Shrewsbury

Spring is here! While the daffodils and snowdrops are in full bloom here in the UK there is always the chance that your next adventure day is going to be a rainy one.  When those grey clouds descend and rain starts falling its very easy to be tempted by your sofa and Netflix. The lure of a cosy spot binge watching your favourite show can be strong.  But, be strong, resist the urge and you never know what adventure you may have… who knows there may even be a rainbow when the sun shows its face!

In my home town of Shrewsbury there are plenty of rainy day activities to keep you busy. So whether you have never been to Shrewsbury before or a local in need of some new ideas check out my favourite things to do in the birthplace of Darwin on a gloomy day.

The Market Hall

My absolute favourite things to do in Shrewsbury is to visit the Market Hall. I have been a fan for many years, however, during my time in Canada the Market Hall has blossomed into an active part of Shrewsbury life. Inside the cornucopia you’ll find a wide range of stalls boasting everything including groceries, antiques, board games, books, wool, records… the list goes on. It’s a great way to support local independent retailers and get some unique swag to boot.

There is also a range of fantastic food options in the market. I frequent Cafe AleOli for their fantastic tapas ( I would recommend the chorizo and the steak and onion flatbread). But there is so much to choose from such as dumplings, Thai curry, seafood and Indian street food to name a few. On a rainy day why not work your way around them all!

Craft Workshop

Feeling a little crafty then book a workshop and get creative. If it’s raining so much you can’t venture out and stretch your legs then stretch your brain instead and learn a new skill. Another gem that has opened during my time away is the fantastic Workshop.  This independent store not only stocks a beautiful array of goodies for your home but also runs several workshops for embracing your inner creative.  I’ve enjoyed the brush lettering class with Alice Draws the Line and the Macrame plant pot hanger workshop with Romy Designs. Check out upcoming workshops here.

Climb the Walls

The third on my list is another new discovery. Climbing the Walls is an indoor climbing centre which includes 12 metre high tall walls, bouldering and action walls. Completely undercover you can hone your climbing skills on even the greyest day. If you are a beginner then I recommend booking a taster session with an instructor.

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery

A classic rainy day activity is a trip to a museum or art gallery. If you get a little pensive on a rainy day then why not head to Shrewsbury’s museum and art gallery? Its collections include the Roman Gallery, Medieval, Tudor and Stuart Gallery and a Costume Gallery. Plus with an entrance fee of only £4.50 per adult, so it’s also  kind to the purse!

Theatre Severn

Fancy a bit of culture, then head to Theatre Severn. As the name suggests the the theatre sits on the banks of the river Severn. Boasting two stages- the larger main theatre and the smaller Walker theatre, shows range from musicals and dramas to comedians and guest talks. Check out upcoming shows here.

Old Market Hall Cinema

Right outside the museum is the Old Market Hall cinema. The building itself was built in 1596 and reflects the towns medieval history. Who wouldn’t want to see a film is such a historic setting. What’s better is that the OMH also has a licensed bar which means you can enjoy a glass of wine whilst you enjoy your movie. I recommend booking the sofas seats for extra comfort. Imagine seeing a film in this gorgeous builging??

OMH

Jailhouse Tour

HMP Shrewsbury tour is still on my to-do list but seems quite interesting.  Built in 1793, it ceased to be a functioning prison in 2013 when all inmates were transferred. Now you can have guided tours around the grounds and learn a bit of Shrewsbury history.  There are a variety of tours including night tours, ghost tours and tunnel tours. I’ll report back once I’ve visited.

Puddle Jumping

If you do still fancy getting out and about the pop on those wellington boots and get stomping through those puddles. Admittedly this activity looks less odd when you have a small child with you. If you don’t have one to hand then you could always go puddle hunting instead and look for great reflectionsin the water around the town. My favourite places to go puddle hunting/jumping are the Quarry Park and Attingham Park. 

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I hope you enjoyed my ideas for rainy day spring activities in my hometown. If you have any other suggestions or try any out please let me know in the comments belowe. As always if you enjoyed reading this post please share and/or give it a little like!

Things I’d forgotten about the UK

It’s funny how quickly you adapt to your surroundings. I never realised just how quickly until I returned home from two years living in Canada. There are the obvious differences  between the two countries such as the accent, or driving on the other side of the road and there were more subtle differences such as the overall happiness and politeness of the people.

However, you find yourself becoming more and more accustomed to the differences without even noticing. In fact you after a while you start forgetting your everyday routine from home and adapting to your new life.  For example, I got into the habit of saying ‘for sure!’ at the end of every sentence or not looking in both directions while crossing the road as I knew that the cars would stop for me!

But over the few months I have been back in Shropshire there have been a few things that make me go.. ‘Oh! I’d completely forgotten about that!’ For example:

Switches on Sockets

black socket on white switch besides white socket converter

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

The amount of times I have put my phone or tablet on charge, walked away for an hour or two and returned to find my tech with even less battery than before is outstanding. All because I keep forgetting to flick the switch on. With North American sockets you simply pop the plug and you are good to go whereas here in the UK you have to turn it on too.

Pennies

cash coins money pattern

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The penny was eliminated in Canada in 2013 and what a good idea it was, the smallest coin is for 5 cents. I went two years without having largely unused coins in my wallet and it was a delight. I’m trying not to amass them now I’m back in the UK but there are already a few jingling away. I would definitely sign a petition to get rid of the 1p and 2p pieces.

Having to pay for carrier bags

The UK introduced the 5p bag charge for plastic bags in 2015. There was about a year of this before I left for Canada where for the most part there is no charge for them. In fact they were quite liberal with giving plastic bags away at the grocery store. In Canadian supermarkets they tend to pack your bags for you (something I never got used to, but did enjoy) and when packing they would often double bag items or only put a few in each bag. I do keep forgetting my bags on the way to the store but am enjoying using less plastic.

People don’t stop for pedestrians

busy downtownThis one has nearly got me run over a few times. I always look both ways before crossing the road but here in the UK I find myself being extra cautious as cars are far less likely to stop and let you cross… even when they legally should. Whereas Canada, for the most part, was extremely pedestrian friendly, stopping even in places they didn’t have to!

There are People everywhere

Birmingham Grand Central

Canada is huge with an area of 9,985 million km²  and a population of 36.71 million  (2017), whereas the UK has an area of 242,495 km² but has 66.02 million people crammed into it. Before moving I never noticed that there were people everywhere and it’s been quite unusual to walk through town now thinking ‘where have all these people come from?’ At first I just thought it was because it was Christmas and everyone was out doing their festive shopping. But it seems to be busy and bustling no matter where I go. 

You can’t buy huge jars of salsa

I just assumed that on my return I could continue to consume salsa in the same volume that I had been in Canada. With fajitas, crisps, tacos, in wraps… it was putting it on everything. In fact I bought a container the same size as a 4 pint milk carton full of the stuff and indulged. If any Brits know where I can bulk buy salsa please let me know!!!

It’s great to be back and rediscovering all the things that have changed and all the things that have remained the same.  I’m hoping that eventually my brain will reconnect that to drive I need to go to the the right hand side of the car. And you never know I many even find a jar of salsa the size of my head!
Have you ever lived away from home and things have changed on your return? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by my blog… if you like it give it a little share, like or comment!

How to be a GOOD Tourist

You’re on holiday, you want to have a fantastic time, see everything and do everything possible. But this urge sometimes leads tourists to push the boundaries. Ignoring a sign, jumping a fence or carving your name in a tree may seem like a small moment that provides you with the perfect holiday snap or story, however, these actions are having massive consequences.

Being a thoughtful tourist is becoming more and more important. Recently, a beautiful Sunflower Farm in Ontario closed down forever due to inconsiderate visitors. The sheer volume of traffic to the quiet town in Millgrove caused huge problems for residents with the local police having to control cars through the site. Furthermore, visitors would simply trespass from every corner onto the farm to get the perfect picture, not only is this illegal, it often damaged the flowers.

This story highlights perfectly why we should all try to be good tourists. By thinking before doing, we can preserve beautiful locations for everyone to enjoy and enjoy safely. Here are a few ways to be a considerate traveller on your next vacation!

Obey Safety Signs

Safety police here! I may seem like a party pooper, but obeying safety signs is a simple step to be a good tourist. Every year there are stories of thrill seekers who have gotten themselves into danger and either severely injured themselves or died when disobeying multiple signs.

Those slippery rocks are not going to save you!

Whilst I hate seeing a natural beauty spot littered with bright yellow warning signs, I understand the importance. However, several times I have seen people inch themselves out onto slippery rock edges to get the perfect selfie.  It seems crazy to have to say it but obey the signs and stay safe!

Leave No Trace

Now this is primarily a hiking principal (check out leavenotrace.ca) However, it can be applied to all aspects of travelling. The idea is that you pack back into your bag exactly what you pack out, leaving no evidence you’ve ever even visited a spot. This is important when hiking so that the natural environment is protected, and animals are not attracted to human foods. However, I feel this principal can be applied to other situations. If you’re in the city and can’t find a bin, put it back in your bag too!

Don’t Approach or Feed Wildlife

As mentioned above leave no trace is key in protecting wildlife, once animals become accustomed to human food they actively seek it out. Not only does this endanger humans but the animals are less likely to survive on our crappy snacks. Plus, here in Canada there is a fine of up to $25,000 for feeding wildlife! Now that is an expensive holiday experience.

Both this bird and otter were waiting for food but don’t give in to the cuteness!

Matt and I have also witnessed tourists actively following a bear cub. Crazy behaviour like this can not only get yourself hurt but can often lead to the animal being putdown. All because someone wanted the perfect picture.  Recently in Alaska a gentleman jumped a fence from a viewing platform into a zone where several brown bears were feeding on salmon… all to get a selfie.  Given that there was a safe place to view these wonderful creatures from there is no excuse.  So, don’t become a bear snack… stay at least 100m away.

Keep off the Grass!

Another way to be a respectful tourist while on the trails is similar to the first one, stay on the trails! It maybe tempting to venture down to a river, waterfall or lookout when there isn’t a designated trail, however, you may be damaging valuable or endangered parts of the wilderness.  Surface vegetation, animal habitats and fragile soils can all be disrupted when we go off track.

Inukshuks left by tourists on the left and one left to mark a trail on the right… huge difference!

Even something as simple a picking up a rock can have an impact of the surrounding environment for many years. For example,  Park officials in Jasper have requested that hikers stop building inukshuks (balancing rocks on top of one another) on trails as it was causing major soil erosion.  However, if we all stick to the trails we can preserve these beautiful, natural resources for generations to come.

Try and Speak the Language

As a Brit I know we have a bit of a reputation for being rubbish with languages. It’s only partially our fault, we do get taught languages at school (shout out to my French teacher Miss Mariner) but we don’t start learning until we are eleven in most cases. Other countries learn from a much younger age and are therefore a bit better at us in terms of communication. But learning a few phrases show some willing when on your holiday. Nine times out of ten they will switch to English, but I do feel happy when I’m understood in a foreign language. Knowing a little about the language is also key when reading signs, using transit or in an emergency.

Use Public Transit

Using public transit may not seem like an obvious way of being a better tourist. However, by hopping on the bus, train or tram can ease congestion is busy areas, making it easier for residents to get on with their everyday lives. It can also be more environmentally friendly and cheaper than driving.

Go even further by travelling off peak and avoiding rush hours. Furthermore, many transit systems around the world are famous within their own right. The London Tube and red double decker buses, San Francisco’s trams or the subway in New York are well worth exploring.

Enjoy and Respect the Culture

A great part of travelling is seeing and experiencing new things. Witnessing different cultures is a beautiful thing but it is important to respect all aspects of a nations way of life. A simple example from my travels would be in America.  Their love for their flag and anthem is astounding, it is sung before pretty much every single sporting occasion unlike the UK where it is usually only done in the finals of a competition. However, whilst it is not my country’s national anthem (and I’m pretty impartial to that too!) I would always stand and remove my hat whilst it’s being sung. It’s a small gesture to show that you understand and respect the nuances of that particular country.

Consider Those Around You

This final one ties all these tips together, by considering those around you everyone can enjoy their vacation. Everyone is there to enjoy whatever sight it is you have gone to see so share the space. Maybe don’t take 20 minutes hogging the best photo spot, for example. Offer to take a group picture for someone struggling with a selfie and maybe don’t shove your selfie stick in other people’s views.

People in every shot at Peyto Lake and going off trail to get the ‘best’ shot!

By being aware and considerate of those around you can turn a good experience into an excellent one. Who knows that person who you take a quick picture for may know an excellent pub, doughnut shop or burger place!!

Peyto Lake (24).JPG

Got There Eventually!!

Being a thoughtful tourist can make more of an impact than you think, so take the time to stop and think while on your next vacation. Not only will you enjoy your sightseeing even more, but you will help others enjoy them too! It’s a win-win!

How do you try to be a good tourist?? Let me know in the comments 😊

 

 

 

It’s Been Too Long!!- A Travel Update

As you may have noticed, I have been far from active in terms of blogging recently. This was not a conscious decision, but a mere fact of life.  Writing dried up over the past few months as Matt and I moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Calgary, Alberta. Not only did writers block set in despite the many wonderful places we have visited, but, many things have been happening that just seemed more important than writing about my jolly holiday.

Upon moving to Calgary Matt and I have once again had to restart. Whilst this is by choice (I’m not complaining) it never gets any easier. We are house sitting again, but instead of one long term sit we are hopping from place to place. I have to use my GPS everyday to get to work, find the bus stop or grocery store, but I am getting better! I attempted to write a few times during this transition period and many times it came out a little negative, which is never interesting to read.  However, feeling more settled and after much planning I have some great posts coming your way. But first I’d thought I’d do a little catch up. So, grab a cuppa and settle in!

Where I last left you

I have written a few pieces on our adventures since leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia(Halifax City Guide,  Maritimes Guide and Best Burger in Halifax). But I last left you as Matt’s parents departed and we made our second cross- Canada road trip. Leaving Halifax was not the easiest. I have made some incredible friends during my time there (my home is open to you all at any time!), I enjoyed my job and was happy going in everyday, furthermore I felt at home living by the sea. However, the adventure had to continue!

This time instead of driving thousands of kilometres in just nine days, we were able to leisurely coast across taking in more of the stunning Canadian landscape than before.  We explored suggestions from friends and homeowners we had sat for as we headed out to our next sit in Hamilton, Ontario. Visiting Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Fredericton (New Brunswick), Quebec (Quebec) and Ottawa (Ontario). Our bid to visit as many provinces and territories as possible was going well.

Check out my guide to Quebec here and Ottawa here

Next, we had a great three week stay in Hamilton, just outside Toronto, looking after a beautiful golden retriever and spunky kitten, Kessel and Snickers.

From here we were able to explore the vast amounts of waterfalls Ontario has to offer, including Niagara Falls, and take in a baseball and soccer game.

As we left Hamilton on our last stretch towards Calgary, it was time to get camping. With the car set up we drove through the night to Pancake Bay. While I loved driving through the night Matt did not, a major nap upon arrival was needed. When we woke up we discovered the beautiful beach just 10 meters away from our site. Perfection!

Next, we continued driving, taking in Kakabeka Falls, Winnipeg and Regina. There were many stops along the way at interesting places such as Thunderbay, Portage la Prairie and Medicine Hat. It was a fantastic journey to say the least.

Where I am now?

Arriving in Calgary at the start of June we have several housesits lined up to take us through the summer until we depart for good. It’s a challenge living quite literally out of your suitcase, however, I now know the city better than ever and have met some wonderful people and pets already. I even got to experience my first Stampede!

That’s a fried onion people!!!! It was to die for… and I got to do some line dancing too!

So many people have asked us why we would want to return to Calgary. The city has recently been voted fourth best city to live in, in the WORLD. So, my answer is why wouldn’t I want to return? Both Matt and I had fallen in love with the mountains during our first stay here (November 2016- April 2017) we wanted to come back and see what the lakes looked like unfrozen and flowers in full bloom.

As expected, we have not been disappointed. Furthermore, Matt was keen to come back and play football with his first Canadian team Code Red, as well as joining a men’s summer league (the boy is obsessed!)

Where to next?

As I write this we have one more house sit left and I cannot believe how quickly time has gone by. However, we still have so many things left to see and do. We are hoping to visit Waterton Lakes National Park, which is said to rival Banff for its beauty, as well as hiking many of the lakes we explored during winter.

We’ve been looking after some great pets and exploring all Alberta has to offer

The trip I am most excited about however, is when my parents fly over in October. We have a fantastic road trip lined up for them, showing them some of our favourite places. Heading out of Toronto, we are going to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec where we will be joining an NCL cruise ship. (how lucky are we?!?! I can never quite believe it!) The ship will stop at Sydney and Halifax, Nova Scotia then head round the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick before sailing down to Bar Harbour and Boston in the US. I am beyond excited not only for these fantastic locations that I’ll get to share with my parents, but for the mojito bar on board too!

Showing them around Vancouver and sharing some once-in-a-lifetime experiences was amazing can’t wait to do it all again in some of my favourite Canadian places!

After this it will be time to return home to the UK. It often feels like it was only yesterday I waved goodbye to friends and family. But two years have passed. With flights booked from Boston to London at the end of October many emotions have been swirling around. We’ve had fantastic time over the past twenty-four months experiencing so many different things and meeting wonderful people along the way, it will be sad to say goodbye to the country we’ve adopted as our second home. However, if I don’t leave then I can’t return.

Plus, if I don’t see my sister soon I might explode!!

Over the next few weeks there will be more content on the blog which I hope you will enjoy. A-Z Travels will continue through to the end and will conclude with the letters I missed out due to not knowing my alphabet! I hope you enjoy and if there is anything you would like me to write about please let me know 😊

Is Google Maps Making Me Less Adventurous?

I love my technology as much as the next girl, whether it be my phone, mp3 or camera it’s in my pocket ready to use each day.  It helps us to wake up in the morning, make memories and communicate, what’s not to love? When travelling, technology can become even more useful.  For instance, checking my bank balance online, skyping friends and family and most importantly, Google Maps!

Out on the road Google Maps has been my best friend. In a completely new country, navigating unknown streets whilst driving on the opposite side of the road is hard. So, having maps at the touch of a button is incredibly convenient. When driving by myself having the GPS voice guide me has been hugely beneficial. You’ll never be lost with a GPS signal and a phone in your pocket. Take a wrong turn and the computer will easily redirect you without having to turn a map in ten different directions.

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Despite my love for paper maps that I frequently pick up from tourist’s offices (mostly for crafting!), they are becoming obsolete thanks to online versions. Paper maps are difficult to read and orientate quickly and heaven knows they are impossible to fold back into their original neat packet! Furthermore, they are an additional thing to carry. My high school geography teacher would be outraged at these comments, he once spent an entire lesson ranting about how young people don’t appreciate maps and how he himself ‘Loved reading maps!’ and this was before Google Maps were mainstream.

While there are hundreds of reasons to use digital maps over paper versions, this week I have been wondering, is Google Maps making me less adventurous? However convenient online maps can be I can’t help but think they may be hindering my exploring. You pick a destination, type it in and press go. Easy-peasy! What more could you want? It will tell you the quickest and most convenient way to go. It will tell you that there are tolls roads, construction blocking the way and even whether there will be heavy traffic.   They have the most up-to-date information at the touch of a button.

What is won’t tell you is that there is a great diner just 2 minutes off the highway or a fantastic hike to a waterfall if you take the back road. I would love to see a ‘most scenic’ or ‘most interesting’ route button next to the ‘fastest’ route button.  I know we are all eager to get from A to B as quickly as possible but sometimes it would be nice to take my time and enjoy what the world has to offer.

This week I have been on the road with Matt and his parents, driving around Nova Scotia for two weeks. They like to travel without a definite destination and going where the wind takes them. As a planner I was a little apprehensive about travelling like this. I like to research before we go so I don’t miss anything. More than likely, I won’t be in this part of the world again so I’m going to make sure I see and do everything I possibly can.  Instead, these past two weeks I’ve explored a little differently. We booked accommodation, so we knew where we would be sleeping each night, but other than that I didn’t have too much planned.

Nova Scotia this time of year can be a little tricky to navigate as a tourist. Spring brings changeable weather (we had snow, torrential rain, 70mph winds and sunshine), for the most part attractions are still closed for the season and many hiking trails are still buried under 2-3ft of snow.  I began to wonder what on earth we were going to do for the fortnight. They had travelled all this way to see us and I wanted to show them all the beauty Canada has to offer.

However, by getting in the car with just a final destination has proven to be extremely fruitful. Each day we would set off knowing only our end point and maybe a hike or two in between point A and B. This left plenty of time for adventurous detours. For example, when we arrived at a trail head that was too buried in snow for us to tackle we would simply get back in the car and pick a spot on the map to hit next. On our way from Cheticamp (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) to Ingonish Beach (also Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia) we were driving through snow, on roads that were badly damaged by the cold winter weather (potholes are deep and plentiful in Nova Scotia!), we initially thought about heading to Meat Cove at the most northern tip of the island, but due to the conditions we had to change route.

But where to go? Matt’s Mum whipped out her road map and selected Dingwall. We had no idea what would be there, if anything at all. I had my tablet with Google Maps in my lap and was apprehensive about what we were heading towards, it looked like a fishing harbour with a few residential streets… nothing too exciting. But I wasn’t going to argue with the future mother-in-law too much! And whilst a harbour was exactly what we found it was extremely quaint and beautiful. The water was full of ice that was flowing and moving with the waves. The harbour was scattered with lobster pots, brightly coloured buoys and ropes, it was the quintessential maritime scene that was made even more beautiful by falling fluffy snow and a baby sea otter.

Had it been just Matt and I, I’m 99% sure we wouldn’t have ventured here. I would have been deterred by the lack of amenities and dead-end road that Google Maps presented. I would have carried on searching for a place on the digital map that would have showed me something more, at the very least a Tim Hortons!  For all its uses Google maps can’t show us everything. It can’t show me what places are going to look like beyond street view, which is just one snap shot of a neighbourhood. It can’t show me ice flows or wildlife. It can’t show me beauty.

As Matt and I head back across to Alberta over the next month or so, I am going to try and develop my free-wheeling travel skills. I won’t give up researching or Google Maps completely, but I will endeavour to be less rigid in our plans. Sometimes the best moments are the unexpected ones, so I must give myself the opportunity have these surprising experiences.  Getting lost every now and again may be just the adventure you need!

Do you think Google maps makes you less adventurous? Have you found any hidden gems after detouring from your planned route? Drop me a comment about your adventure… Happy Travels!

How to Prepare for a Long-Term Trip

Yay you’ve decided to take the plunge and do some long term travelling! But what next? Planning a long-term trip takes more than time than your average holiday. When planning our two-year working holiday to Canada I found each week that there was a new thing I’d forgotten to sort out. Everything from where my goldfish were going to live (thanks Matt’s parents!) to contacting the student loans company (boooo!) needed to be considered. In fact, by the time I’d finished all the boring paperwork and logistics I was well and truly ready for the adventure!

So, I thought I’d share a few tips to help the run up to your next holiday go smoothly. At this point you’ve chosen your destination/s, here’s what to do next:

Save, Save, Save

You will always need and will never have enough to do everything so save as much as you possibly can. You don’t want to be heading out in debt so tackle that first. Matt and I would put a certain amount into our savings on payday and would never touch it. There are many ways you can save before you go and whilst it may be difficult the rewards will be beyond worth it!

Check the validity of your passport

No one wants a last-minute dash to the passport office to get a new passport. It not only costs money but also wastes time you could be spending with friends and family. Some countries require your passport to run for a certain amount of time past the validity of your visa so check before you leave.

Get rid of stuff

I found that coming on a longer-term trip has taught me that we all have too much stuff. There are many things that are packed away in boxes back in the UK that I haven’t even thought about over the past 15 months. So, start getting rid of stuff you haven’t used, its pretty cathartic. My sister came around and raided my wardrobe and DVD collection and I have a feeling she’ll be keeping most of it. But after not even thinking about most of it, I think I’ll be ok with less things.

Donate or sell

Now this one ties in with getting rid of stuff and saving money. If you have things that are worth anything it might be worth selling them to put money in the savings pot. Matt sold some of his childhood collectables and whilst he didn’t make millions, he did get rid of some old plastic toys in exchange for something we actually needed. So, head over to ebay, schpock, or facebook buy and sell groups to make some extra pennies. Even better go to a car boot sale.

Secure your home

What to do with your existing home before the big trip is usually the hardest decision. Do you leave it empty and get a friend or relative to check in? Do you rent it out? Do you get house-sitters? Take the time to consider you options and figure out what is best for you. If you have pets a house-sitter is a great option as you can save on pet care. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to complete this step.

Notify your bank

This is a must do and I cannot stress this enough. You do NOT want to be left with no cash supply. So take the time to pop into your local bank and mark your account with the countries you intend to visit. If you are visiting more than one country tell them this. Any unusual activity on your account can cause it to be frozen and calling home from a foreign country to sort it out can cost £££. It’s happened to me so it’s a mistake I won’t be making again!

Contact Student Loans Company

This one you only need to do if you’ve taken out a student loan and still have to pay it off. If you don’t drop them a line they charge your account a default amount, which can be much more than you would usually pay. To avoid this, you can nominate someone to be in charge of your account before you leave. Now unfortunately this does not mean that they pay, it just means that they can be your point of contact, so saves expensive phone calls. After being abroad for 3 months you must fill out an Overseas Assessment Form and return it to SLC.

This information was correct at my time of travelling I am by no means an expert on the subject so please seek the correct advice before leaving.

Cancel any memberships

If you are going somewhere with no internet connection you’re not going to need your Netflix account so, get rid of it. Same goes for the gym membership you never use! Give plenty of notice when cancelling things such as car and home insurance. By doing so all paperwork will be completed and returned to you before you leave. I know it can be boring but it is necessary.

Make time to say goodbye

When you’re leaving for a long time you’ll want to say goodbye to your nearest and dearest and this can take time. Ensure you make room for everyone and schedule your diary accordingly. It can get pretty busy and expensive so also make sure you budget for this too. This is a hard part of travelling, but if you don’t leave you can’t return. I found it particularly difficult to leave without saying ‘see you soon’ after every meeting!

Hopefully these pointers will help you prepare for your journey of a lifetime. What steps did you take before leaving? Or are you off on a new adventure soon?

Should I Feel Guilty for Missing Out on Major Events Whilst Travelling?

Anyone who has travelled at some point has had to miss a major event for family or friends. Whether it be a birth, death, or marriage, life continues when you move away from home. It can be frustrating to miss out on seeing your best friend walk down the aisle or seeing a new niece come into the world, but it is an inevitability. However, I know deep down that the people involved are ok with us not being there and know that when we return we will fully celebrate their new lives with a drink or two!

It’s not just happy occasions either, you feel guilty for not being there in times of need. Not being able pop around the corner and comfort a loved one is a down side to being away from home.

Things change over time, some only slightly and some beyond recognition, I’d thought I’d share my experiences with you:

  • When we left the UK, my beautiful nephew was only 7 months old. He had just mastered the art of rolling over (although he was reluctant to show me this!) and was getting to the fun stage. I was going to miss out on seeing him develop over the next two years and for that I felt quite guilty. I missed his first Christmas and birthday, missed him walking and talking for the first time. But the wonders of technology have come to my rescue. Kids these days are amazing with technology and me and the little man love playing with different filters and talking gibberish to each other over facetime. I can’t wait to get back and introduce him to my fave Disney films whilst we do arts and crafts!
    EJ 1st birthday

    Sneaking into the celebrations

  • There has also been an addition to the family as my sister had another baby in December. Not only did I miss her entire pregnancy, but I also missed the birth of my new niece. This was the most emotional time on our trip. I am very close with my sister and would loved to have helped her more during this time (not that she needed it, she is amazing!). The news of baby’s arrival came through just as I was getting to work so I frantically got to the nearest coffee shop with WIFI to try and get hold of someone, a few teary messages were left on various social media platforms, but everyone was occupied! I had to wait until the next day to get a glimpse of my wonderful new niece. I’ll have to wait even longer to get to hold her as we won’t be returning to the UK until November when she’ll be nearly one year old.pexels-photo-266011.jpeg
  • Relationships change massively in a two-year span. When we left the UK quite a few of our close friends were in relationships, but now they are engaged or married. Unfortunately, we have had to miss not one but two weddings already. The first being just six months into our trip and for one of Matt’s oldest friends. The other more recently and again for a close friend of Matt. He deals with the missing out well (sorry guys he’s not a huge fan of weddings!) and knows that we can celebrate soon with the new Mr and Mrs. I however, love a good wedding and a boogie on the dance floor!pexels-photo-256737.jpeg
  • I am also in fact missing my own graduation. Having completed my Master’s degree last summer I am due to graduate in July. It would have been great to be able to complete the process with a picture of me in my cap and gown but logistically its just not possible. I confirmed my graduation by absentia a few weeks ago and my certificate will be arriving un-ceremonially at my parent’s house soon.
    BA Graduation

    One graduation is enough right?!?!

Luckily, we haven’t had to deal with any family deaths and I don’t know what I’d do if it did happen. The grieving process affects us all in differently ways and coping with such an event thousands of miles from home would be difficult to say the least. All I can say is keep safe and healthy guys!

Missing out on these events does teach you a few things. It makes you let go of the ‘fear of missing out’, sometimes its just not meant to be. Moreover, it makes you appreciate the moments in life you do have. Matt and I will never forget this trip and all the amazing things we’ve done along the way. I look forward to returning home and seeing all the changes. Its going to be a whole new adventure.

Have you ever had to miss a major event due to travelling? How do you cope in these situations?

8 Ways to Get Involved in Community Whilst Travelling

Travelling for a longer period of time can become a little isolating. You no longer see the same places or people each day as you are not in your own community and are often moving from place to place. Not having grown up in Shrewsbury I never thought that this would be an issue for me when I travelled. I hadn’t felt I’d become particularly attached to Shrewsbury as I didn’t have any youthful ties to the town. But, wandering away from the everyday norms of the Shire has highlighted to me how much I enjoyed the place and community there.

As we have been bouncing from place to place it has become difficult to feel a part of the communities you are visiting. However, along the way we’ve come up with a few different ways to enjoy new places and become part of the community no matter how long you are visiting for.

  1. Participate in local events

This is great if you are only visiting for a short amount of time as it can often take just a few hours. If you are away when there is a national holiday participating in holiday traditions are a great way of learning about different cultures. Other times events are unique to a particular location. Along our way we’ve enjoyed Halifax Burger Week,  outdoor movies and street hockey tournaments, to name a few. Each one is celebrated by locals and tourists alike and show you a different part of the community and culture you are visiting.

  1. Join or visit the library

I’m a book lover so in places where we’ve stayed for longer periods I’ve become a member of my local library. Not only do you get to enjoy a vast number of books but they often hold amazing events too. I got to flex my trivia knowledge at the library’s Friends trivia nights. Managing 93.5 out of 100 you’d think I would have won but competition was fierce, and I missed out on the trophy. Another bonus is being able to borrow DVD’s. Matt and I have devoured six seasons of Game of Thrones borrowing from the library. However, now I am person 335 in the line for season seven. Noooo!

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering across Canada has given us some great experiences. Using the website www.workaway.info/ Matt and I have helped out at a BnB, a boarding kennel, vineyard and rhubarb farm. By doing so we have been able not only to live within the community but be shown around by the people who live there.  Our hosts have all been extremely welcoming and willing to show us their beautiful towns and cities.

  1. Visit markets

Not only does this one tackle your hunger but is a great way of enjoying local produce. By visiting markets across Canada I’ve been able to appreciate some great treats, bannock being one of my favourites (read about what bannock is here!). In Nanaimo I picked up some red pepper chutney that was great with cheese from a little old lady who goes to market every week selling, pickles, jams and chutney. Yum!

  1. Join a club

Again, another one if you are staying in one place for a little longer but a fantastic way of making friends in the local area. Matt has joined a football (soccer!) team during both of our long-term house-sitting assignments in both Calgary and Halifax.  By doing so, not only has he kept fit, but we’ve had some great team nights out too!

 

  1. Visit your local community centre

Canada is great at recreation and the community centre is usually at the heart of this. They bring together people both old and new for a range of activities. Currently my local community centre holds a meal every Friday night which is always absolutely booming. They also have teams for basketball, pickleball, hockey, soccer and baseball. I have enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the gym there.

  1. Use independent stores and restaurants

We can sometimes rely on going into stores and buying brands we feel comfortable with. But supporting local businesses is far more than a boost for the tourism industry. They are often completely unique in products, recipes and atmosphere. My favourites have been Red Dog Art Studio in Cherryville on Vancouver Island which showcased many local artists in a colourful store. Restaurant wise there are many that stand out, Vandal Doughnuts, Hali Deli, Black Sheep and Hilltop Diner have been great eats and treats on our journey.

  1. Chat with the locals

At the end of the day the inhabitants of towns are the soul of the community, they are the ones that create the unique environments which we enjoy visiting. Being a tourist people are always willing to share their personal top tips for the area. By chatting with the locals, you can learn and experience far more than what google can ever tell you and maybe even make a few friends along the way.

Vernon (1)

How do you get involved with the community whilst travelling? I’d love to hear about your experiences.