Roll on Saturday

I feel like I’m chasing my own tail this week. I’m almost back up to speed from my rib injury, but work has been worse than hectic recently and I’ve got a miilion and one things to sort out by Friday. It’s all for a very good reason, though, because on Saturday morning I leaving for a 7 day trip.

I’m sooooooo excited! I can’t wait to get away and explore another new place to add to my Journeys book. First of all, I’m flying to Innsbruck, Austria for a couple of days to visit family and meet my new niece. Then, I’m going to catch a train to Pisa, Italy for 5 days of sightseeing, taking photos and general relaxation and enjoyment.

Planning a trip and the actual travelling is all part of the experience for me. I soak it all up, from when I first decide I’m going somewhere to being sat on the train/plane/boat in the car.

I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures with you when I return. Fingers crossed for nice weather…

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Ramblings from rainy Wales

Four days on and my ribs are still really sore! Other than work, all I feel like I’ve done this week is sit on the sofa with a hot water bottle held to my side. Which is where I am now, although it is a little difficult holding the hot water bottle where it needs to be and typing at the same time. I apologise for any typos as a result. The hot water bottle is also helping to generally keep me warm, as the weather here in Wales has definitely switched over to winter. The temperature took a marked drop last week, and it has rained, and rained, and rained …

Contrary to popular belief, we do have nice weather occasionally here, it’s just been a bit sporadic this year. Every month we’ve been told ‘next month will be much nicer’, but they just seem to have got worse! Here are a few of my favourite photos from my summer to prove that we did have some sun, and also to cheer me up whilst I’m stuck on the sofa hugging my hot water bottle.

The Salt House at Port Eynon
The Salt House at Port Eynon – we camped right behind this building

The beach at Port Eynon
The view from our campsite at Port Eynon. I quickly got my camera out and took this picture between rain showers!

Sunset at White Sands beach
To me there is nothing more serene than the sunset at White Sands.

Travel Theme: White

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa is White.

My favourite white thing in the whole wide world is snow. I don’t mean the slushy, grey stuff that brings the UK to a screeching halt most winters. I mean high mountain, virgin, clean, pure white snow that I can ski on.

When I stand at the top of the piste, I know how privileged I am to be allowed to travel down one of Mother Nature’s beautiful creations, the mountain, on two planks of wood and fibreglass. As much as it’s my playground, I also have ultimate respect for the mountain and planet Earth. To me, there is no more peaceful and honest moment. Before I commit to my descent, I say a prayer to Mother Nature. For she is the one who will protect me, as long as I respect her whilst I am laid bare on her mountain.

Travel theme: Texture

Ailsa’s travel theme on Where’s my backpack this week is Texture http://by151w.bay151.mail.live.com/default.aspx#!/mail/InboxLight.aspx?n=1777109588!n=160854699&fid=1&fav=1&mid=a4a9c237-fe43-11e1-a84a-00215ad8572c&fv=1

I had to think about this one for a minute, then I remembered the photos I took at the salt basins in Death Valley. After travelling through the desert for so long, it was like suddenly finding yourself in an alien environment. In a wierd way, it felt like coming home for me because walking on the salt floor was almost like walking on fresh snow where I used to live in the Alps. The only difference was the unbelievably high temperatures and the fact I was wearing shorts and a vest top rather than 3 layers of ski gear. As I walked further out into the salt basin, I realised that I had to be incredibly careful. The deeper the salt formations became, the sharper they were. One false move, and I could suffer a nasty cut. The textures were so fascinating that I got down as low as possible (and as carefully as possible) to take some close-up shots. It really was like looking through the lense at another planet.

Photographs only give you the visual, though. What you can’t see in my photos are the tastes and the sounds. If you run your finger along the ground and then lick it, the taste is bizarre. It’s exactly what you would expect and so much more, all at the same time. If you stand still, you can hear the salt crackling under your feet.

The uglier side to camping

I love camping. I love being outdoors, living simply and sharing great experiences with fellow campers, whether they be old friends or friends yet to be made. This weekend, however, I had to endure one of the downsides to camping, because I spent my weekend drying out the wettest tent I have ever come across.

It all started August Bank Holiday weekend, when I took my 7 year old godson camping with my friends and their grandchildren. We had a fantastic first two days in the Gower, a stunningly beautiful part of Wales that is less than 2 hours drive from my house. The sun was shining, the sea was clear and the kids had loads of fun playing on the beach and crabbing in the rock pools.

Unfortunately, as so often happens in the UK, the weather took a drastic turn in the early hours of Monday morning and we woke to heavy rain. It wasn’t even a refreshing, summer rainfall. The sky was grey, and the water fell in huge drops, drenching everything it came into contact with. Including my tent. I packed the tent back into its bag as quickly as I could and shoved it in the car. When I got home, I left it balancing over the bath, where it slowly dripped water until this weekend.

On Saturday morning I decided I had to bite the bullet. The weather forecast looked good, and we don’t know how many more nice weekends we’re going to get here in Wales this year. I couldn’t put it off any longer, I had to dry out the tent. It was horrible. I didn’t realise such a small piece of canvas could hold so much water. It literally poured out as soon as I opened the bag, and it pooled in every fold of the tent as I tried to lay it out in my back garden. Now, here came my next problem. My back garden, which I share with my downstairs neighbour, is smaller than my tent. So, I can’t just pitch the tent and leave it for a couple of hours. I have to dry it in sections, running down to my garden every hour to direct another part towards the sun, and all the time keeping an eye out for those ominous British clouds that could ruin all my efforts in seconds.

I’ve posted a picture to show how comical my tent looked in our tiny back garden. I’ve pitched tents in some tight places, but this was just ridiculous!

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