Aim to achieve your dreams


Posted by Sas on April 24, 2015


This is one of the many photos I took when travelling by train between Innsbruck in Austria, and Pisa in Italy. Although the majority of the landscape was a blur (those trains move fast!), I could still see differences as we crossed over the border between the two countries. The increased number of mopeds was a sure sign that we were travelling further into Italy.

Click here to join in this week’s photo challenge.

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Vegfest Brighton 2015

Posted by Sas on April 21, 2015

Brighton is one of my favourite places that I’ve ever visited. Known for being a lively, gay-friendly beach resort on the south coast of England, it’s also like the mothership for vegetarians and vegans. I would move there, but the huge selection of vegetarian restaurants and shops would lead me to eat too much and be in a lot of debt. However, I need no excuse to visit Brighton. So, when I found out that I was free the weekend of Brighton Vegfest 2015, I immediately booked my train ticket. And, the two day extravaganza of everything vegan you could ever imagine all under one roof did not disappoint.

Due to it’s location on the south coast, Brighton is usually one of the few places in the UK to get some sunshine. Unfortunately, that was not the case on this visit. This was the ‘sea view’ from outside my hostel on the Saturday morning…


That blurry, vague shape that you can see in the background is Brighton Pier by the way! Booking a hostel right on the sea front also suddenly didn’t seem like such a good idea when I had to traverse along the edge of the building to get anywhere due to the incredibly strong winds. Lucky for me, and the other 12,000 people who attended, Vegfest was entirely indoors. My one piece of advise would be to get there early, or chill out in Brighton for a while and wait for the queue to go down as it was very long…

DSC_0106Still queuing…

DSC_0107When we did eventually all make it inside, it was definitely worth the wait. Hundreds of stalls advertising, selling and advocating everything from the world of veganism. Loads of charities and other great causes spreading the word about how we can save the world by living plant-based/vegan. A comedy festival with back-to-back vegan comedians for the whole two days. Two rooms with back-to-back presentations about lifestyle and nutrition. An entire room of fresh, tasty, vegan food. Performances, kids’ activities, vegan wine and a pedal-your-own smoothie station. Basically, heaven for vegans all under one roof. Here are my highlights from the weekend.

By far the best thing about visiting Vegfest was all the lovely, interesting and knowledgeable people I got to meet. Where I live in South Wales, we are lucky to have vegetarian restaurants and I live in a vegan-friendly neighbourhood, but I don’t often get the chance to mingle with so many people who have the same beliefs as me. I pestered nutritionists, charity workers, activists, chefs and many other experts with soooooo many questions. And they all patiently listened to me, answered what they’d probably already been asked a hundred times and expanded my knowledge.


There were so many talks and presentations, it was impossible to attend all the ones that I was interested in. So, I decided to divide my time between subjects that I already had some knowledge of and subjects that would push me out of my comfort zone, surprise me and help me to move closer to living completely vegan and be more environmentally conscious. As a result, I listened to experts on children’s nutrition, vegan body building, hunt sabotage, eating raw and the Vegan Society.

After all the listening, asking questions and shopping (lots and lots of shopping), the food court beckoned. There was so much delicious food to choose from, but it was so busy in the Brighton Centre that the queues were massive and lots of vendors quickly ran out of food. In fact, that would be my one criticism of Brighton Vegfest in general. From listening to people who had attended n previous years, this year’s festival was a lot bigger and a lot busier. It was overwhelming, especially on the Saturday.

Whilst in Brighton, I also found some time to visit the North Laines. This is my favourite part of Brighton, and I filled up on some yummy food at vegetarian restaurants Wai Kiki Moo Kau and Iydea.


I would definitely love to go back to Brighton Vegfest next year, by which time I’m sure I’ll have a hundred more questions. I’m also seriously considering dropping into Bristol Vegfest to see some of the talks I missed.


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Early Bird

Posted by Sas on April 18, 2015


I am not naturally an early bird. However, I do like getting up early. If I can drag myself out of bed, I find those early hours much more productive. I particularly like getting up early when I’m travelling. It means I get to visit places when they’re nice and quiet (I don’t like crowds), and I get to take people-free photos like the one of the leaning tower of Pisa above :)

Click here if you’d like to join in with this week’s photo challenge.

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Posted by Sas on March 15, 2015

This week’s photo challenge (click here to take part) has made me realise just how many photos I take of walls.

I take A LOT of photos of street art on walls…


Sometimes it’s the textures that draw me in…


I even got to walk around the top of the city walls when I visited LuccaDSC_0114

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Travel theme: Fantastic

Posted by Sas on March 14, 2015

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is a fitting tribute to the author Terry Pratchett, who sadly passed away on Thursday. Growing up, I read a lot of books and I am a massive Discworld fan. I am lucky to say that I met Pratchett once at a book signing in Preston. He was a lovely, gracious man. There aren’t many people who have left me starstruck, but he definitely makes the list. His ability to transport you to a magical, fantasy land has inspired my writing and photography for years. I wonder how many of these photos I would have taken if I hadn’t had knowledge of the Discworld at the back of my mind.



Click here if you would like to join in with the travel theme.

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(More) Street Art in Cardiff

Posted by Sas on March 3, 2015

A while ago, a friend told me about some great new street art in Cardiff city centre. It took me a few weeks to get down there with my camera and check it out, but now that I have I really wanted to share the photos with you all. I love this city!


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Travel theme: Environment

Posted by Sas on February 28, 2015

Environment is the subject of Ailsa’s travel theme this week (click here to see more entries). This is a topic that has so many meanings, and a word that I have heard used a lot for as long as I can remember. Nowadays, when we hear the word ‘environment’, a lot of us immediately associate it with things like climate change, extinction of species and deforestation. As a modern, Western human being, I am constantly torn between wanting to experience as many parts of the Earth’s environment as I can and at the same time preserve it for as long as possible. I am not naive, I know that every time I hike up a mountain, ski down a slope or use a concrete building, I am contributing to the destruction of our beautiful environment. So I try to strike a balance. I’ve been a plant-based vegetarian for over three years now, so my impact on the planet through my dietary choices has greatly reduced. I try to create as little waste as possible, and use biodegradable products whenever I can. By taking these small steps, and more, I hope that I deserve to explore my environment a little more.

When I visited Iceland in February 2014, I encountered many varied and breathtaking environments…

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In any ski resort you don’t have to look far to spot humanity’s impact on the environment. However, the views are still stunning…


The Grand Canyon was top of my bucket list for so many years, and is one of the best places I have ever visited. It is also a reminder that, no matter how much we play with our planet, we will never be bigger than nature…


We are now able to fiddle with the environment so much that we can even write in the sky, as I discovered in Los Angeles…


We can build our structures, but other creatures will still find their space in this environment we share…


And finally, a display in Las Vegas that reminded me you sometimes have to put yourself in the position of others’ and see things from their viewpoint…


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Posted by Sas on February 24, 2015


I have to admit I’d never heard of Arcalis before my trip to Andorra this year, so it was a nice surprise to discover that it is part of the Arinsal/Pal lift pass.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAArcalis is known in the region as being more of a locals’ ski area. There is no resort or town there as such, and as most of the skiers in Arinsal are beginners, few venture over on the 40 minute bus journey. Our Crystal rep, Jake, recommended that we ski Arcalis earlier in the week, before the weekend rush. His advice was spot-on. We had two days in Arcalis, and the conditions were quite a bit better than in Arinsal or Pal. The runs still weren’t groomed all that well, as I discovered when I hit a patch of rocks at full speed and had to pick my way through whilst hopping on my skis, but they at least looked prepared for something other than beginner skiers. The far side of the mountain still suffered from the high winds that had also hit Arinsal, though. AtPENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA one point I threw myself into a tuck, pointed my skiers straight down the mountain, but felt like I was going nowhere because the wind was blowing me back up the hill again.

A couple of the runs were closed off to the public, due to youth slalom races, which was a shame. What was open was good fun, though. The freestyle area, an entire mountain dedicated to whatever you want, was also opened on the second day we were there. I didn’t fancy trying it on my own without someone who knew the area, so that will have to wait for another time.

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Travel theme: Energy

Posted by Sas on February 22, 2015


Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Energy (click here to see more entries). Back in September last year, I travelled to Austria for a week to visit family. One day, we caught the gondola up to Muttereralm, primarily to check out the mountain carting that is taking over as the popular sport during the summer months when there is no snow to ski on. However, there are lots of cool things to do and see on the mountain, including a series of waterwheels, sluices and other obstacles that the stream runs through on its way down the hill. I was there with my nephew and eldest niece, and they were both fascinated by the interactive elements that helped them learn about the power and movement of water. My nephew was a typical boy about it. He wanted to build up as much water as possible, and then see what happened when he let it go. My niece, on the other hand, takes after my dad (he’s a physicist). She naturally understands how things work, and methodically went along the machines one by one to confirm what she already knew. It was great fun to watch them explore.

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Arinsal and Pal

Posted by Sas on February 17, 2015

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERAThe last time I visited Andorra, about 18 years ago, Arinsal and Pal were two very seperate ski areas. At the time, I was an intermediate skier and what Arinsal had to offer was enough for me so I never visited Pal. They were in the process of building a new ‘gondola’ to connect the two areas, so I was excited to try it out during my trip in January this year.

I have to say that the Arinsal ski area is not like I remembered it at all. I thought I had a very clear picture in my head of how it looked, but the reality was quite different. Although a small area, it is lots of fun. And, it all comes down to one base, which helps if you’re skiing in a group with different ability levels like I was. Arinsal is very much a beginners’ resort, with everything geared towards helping them get through their first week of ski school. The slopes are managed well in that respect, with beginners having their own (very good) area that is easy to avoid. Unfortunately, high winds closed most of the chair lifts in Arinsal whilst we were there, and I did question why they had replaced the old drag lifts with them in the first place. After all, if beginners learn on drag lifts then they never know any different.


On my third day there, when the wind had died down a bit and more lifts were open, I discovered that the new ‘gondola’ connecting Arinsal to Pal is in fact a cable car, and as such is unable to open whenever it is windy, snowing, cloudy or anything other than perfect weather conditions. I think it was open one, maybe two days out of the six that we were there. Instead, in order to ski Pal I had to catch a bus to La Massana (about ten minutes down the road from Arinsal) and then get into a gondola there to access the system. There is a free ski bus to La Massana that runs a couple of times a day, but be aware that it doesn’t seem to run when it snows. This seemed strange to me, after all surely people need the bus service more when there is snow. The local bus seemed to manage better in the adverse conditions, and it was only 1.80 euro to La Massana. My advice to experienced skiers would be to stay in La Massana instead. Then, you can always ski Arinsal too when the cable car is open.


Pal is much less affected by the weather conditions as it is tree lined, and is also a much bigger area. The pistes zigzag across three peaks, so you can even do a little tour. Even on the weekend, when ‘locals’ from Spain travel up to use the slopes, it was very quiet on the mountain. There was a small queue for some of the chair lifts, but I could always find an empty drag lift to use instead.


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