Europe

  • Striding Edge, Helvellyn Day Hike in Lake District

    Striding Edge, Helvellyn

    We landed in Heathrow, jetlagged and sweaty from an 11 hr flight from Beijing. We picked up our hired car and drove to central London. We became nostalgic as we passed familiar boroughs, black cabs and red double decker buses. London felt like a million years ago and I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I came back.

    There really was no time for rest (or sentiment) as we picked up our friends, grabbed a Sainsbury’s meal deal (sandwich, chips and drink for £3) for dinner and drove 5 hours to the Lake District in North West England. It was the summer solstice and when we arrived at our accommodation around midnight, the sun had just dipped below the horizon. The next day we were to hike Striding Edge, which is the highest point of the Helvellyn mountain range.

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  • Driving through the land of fire and ice

    I looked in the passenger side mirror and the distant scenery caught my attention. My partner and I continually drove up the windy and steep road until we finally found an area where we could stop off. I walked around to stretch my legs and discovered that the land was covered in a spongy moss. It had springiness and I could almost bounce up and down. As I was enjoying the bounciness and looking out upon the vastness of the landscape, I wondered whether I was the first person to have ever stepped on this exact spot. It’s incredible how isolated and untouched Iceland is.

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  • Reign of the Swiss Cottage terror

    Swiss Cottage window sill

    I have a fixation with windows – I find them very aesthetically pleasing. I seem to always photograph them, and it’s no wonder that when I was trying to find a photo of one of our first apartments in London, that this was what came up.

    There was a time in our lives that we refer to as the Reign of the Swiss Cottage terror. It began when we first arrived in London. We were looking for rooms, more specifically house shares to save some money. We took up temporary accommodation for the first three weeks before we found an ad for a room at Regency Lodge – a block of apartments in a suburb called Swiss Cottage in central London.

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  • Sanctuary in a busy city
    Ducks at Hyde Park London

    Note: the above photo I took was at Hyde Park, not St James Park – I don’t think I’ve taken my camera to St James which is a shame.

    I used to work in the heart of London, centred between the overcrowded and touristy Piccadilly Circus and Soho, London’s red light district.

    Walking to and from work from the tube was always a laborious task of dodging tourists, men shouting deals for west end shows and half naked women luring you to enter the clubs.

    Amidst all of the noise and hustle, I was able to find a sanctuary in the city – St James Park. Sure there were still many tourists but it was a much much quieter place. I would escape to St James Park every lunch time and sit on the bench and observe the ducks and people watch. Sometimes I would bring something to read, other times I would bring bread to feed the ducks.

    More often than not, it was my favourite part of the day.

  • Iceland Road Trip: Day 4

    Iceland Day 4 road trip

    Day four marks our last day of our Icelandic road trip. Read previous posts from Day 1 & 2 of the Iceland road trip or Day 3.

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  • First time snow boarding at Le Deux Alpes, France

    Le Deux Alpes France

    I was having a conversation about snowboarding with a co-worker today and it reminded me of my first experience snowboarding. We went to Le Deux Alpes (at Grenoble, France) over the holiday period in December 2012. After checking in and collecting our gear, my friends thought it would be a good idea to take me to the top of the mountain and board all the way down – learning by doing. Unsurprisingly, it was horribly difficult for a first-timer and incredibly exhausting as I kept falling down. The days that followed resulted in more bruises and soreness but the feeling of getting off the chairlift/T-bar/travelator successfully and finally managing to get the S turn right is unsurpassed.

    Photo: Taken at Le Deux Alpes near the slopes

  • Iceland Road Trip: Day 3

    Iceland Road Trip

    Following on from my previous post, the Icelandic road trip continues.

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  • Iceland Road Trip: Day 1 & 2

    Iceland Ring Road roadtrip

    For those of you that know me, you’ve probably heard me go on and on about the beauty of Iceland and that it’s one of my favourite travel destinations. In late May 2013 I returned to the majestic land of fire and ice (see my previous trip recount of Iceland back in 2011). This time around, we drove around the island for four days, venturing from one scenic landscape to the next.

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  • Hampstead Heath, London

    Summer's day, father and daughter fishing at Hampstead Heath

    My favourite park in London is Hampstead Heath. It is a leafy park in north-west London and there are many ponds, swans and walking trails. I remember the first time I visited in 2011. It was a warm summer’s day and the park was filled with people scattered about the grass, having picnics, bike riding, swimming in the ponds and walking their dogs. I remember thinking that it was quite odd to be swimming in a pond but I guess that’s just the aussie mentality that I have since I have easy access to beaches.

    As I walked through the park, I quickly snapped up this image of a father and daughter fishing at a pond. It reminded me of the times I used to go fishing with my dad up in Newcastle when I was a child. I used to hate the tedious two hour car ride up to Newcastle. To entertain myself, I pretended to shoot enemies behind the bushes that we drove past on the freeway.

  • Day trip to Brighton, UK

    During the first few months of landing in England, I visited Brighton, a seaside town which is only about an hours train ride outside of London. A perfect destination for a summer day trip outside of London. I remember that I was in the best of moods that day as the weather was brilliant (quite rare for England) and I was happy as I got to go on a few rides on the pier. I love the thrill of rides – the anticipation, the rush and the excitement. I remember the lights and sounds of the arcade machines at the pier, the moist grass we laid upon in front of Brighton Pavilion and the fear as we ran across the pier to avoid the seagulls. It’s interesting how a few photos can conjure up vivid memories of the past.

    Here are a few photos from my Brighton experience.

    Brighton, UK

    Do you remember experiencing something for the very first time? This was my first pebble beach. I remember when we arrived I was quite fascinated and kept snapping away. Living in Australia, I’m accustomed to sand beaches so pebbles seemed quite alien. As we walked across the beach, the pebbles became unpleasant and my fascination soon turned into annoyance. Regardless, I still find something quite beautiful and photogenic about pebble beaches.

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  • Hike from Fira to Oia – Santorini, Greece

    We awoke to another beautiful day in Santorini. Can you imagine waking up to this view everyday? It was our last day in Santorini and we decided to hike from Fira to Oia – I had read that it was a beautiful hike along the coast. After breakfast we packed our bags (as we were due to fly out that night) and caught the free hotel bus to town.

    Fira Hotel, Santorini Greece

    This is the hotel we stayed at. It had amazing views overlooking the ocean and sunset.

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  • Cruising around Santorini, Greece on a quad bike

    London was experiencing a really long winter this year. It was just the start of spring and it was still snowing in some parts of Europe. We booked a trip to Santorini in April 2013 which proved to be a great escape from cold and grey London. As soon as we got off the flight, we had to peel back the layers of clothing.

    This trip was definitely one of the more enjoyable holidays I’ve had. We had no real itinerary (something that never usually happens as I like to plan ahead) and we just did whatever we felt like at that specific moment.

    We hired a quad bike (35 euros for a day) and cruised around the island, stopping from place to place to enjoy the scenery, take photos, eat and wander around. I would definitely recommend hiring a quad bike. You can access certain parts of the island that you wouldn’t normally be able to get to via public transport or car (as some of the roads aren’t paved) and you can feel the wind in your hair. Not to mention, it’s fun!

    Here are some of the photos from our quad biking adventures:

    Santorini - Fresh seafood

    Our first mission was to find some food. We ate at To Psaraki restaurant, which was located at the southern part of the island (about a 20min ride on quad bike from our hotel in Fira). The restaurant was adjacent to the fishing docks and had views of the ocean. At the restaurant you can also choose which fish you want to eat and they cook it for you. I really liked the red snapper (featured above).

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  • Snippets of Iceland – Video Compilation

    Of all the places I have travelled, Iceland is at the top of my favourites list. In late May 2013, we returned to Iceland. It was a completely different experience to the first time we went 1.5 years ago. We hired a car and drove around the ring road which circles around the island. I won’t go into too much detail about the experience, as I want to save it for another photo worthy post, but I wanted to share with you something that I’ve been playing with – video.

    I’ve taken video footage on holidays previously but this is the first time I’ve actually tried to edit and compile it in some way. I have to say there are a lot of faults (lack of footage, shaky camera etc) and sometimes I cringe when replaying it, but it was a great learning experience and next time I’ll be better prepared. Without further adieu, here are some short snippets of my trip to Iceland.

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  • Weekend in Slovenia

    Earlier in April this year, my friends and I travelled to Slovenia. We had heard stories of its beauty and some had even classified it as a ‘must see’.  We only had a weekend there and the weather wasn’t the greatest but it was a fun time nonetheless.

    Here are some photos from that trip.

    Love Locks Slovenia

    It seems as though every European city has their version of love locks and so does Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia). Ljubljana has many bridges throughout the city and so it seems fitting that this should be the location to place your love lock. Most of the locks have initials but I find it fascinating to read some of the personal and short words written for loved ones.

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  • Capturing a snow covered London – Maida Vale

    I used to live in a one bedroom apartment along Sutherland Avenue in Maida Vale, London. Maida Vale is a leafy rich suburb in west London and a 15 minute tube ride away from central London. The apartment was small, and there were quite a few problems with the place but I loved it anyway. We had large windows that showed a view of our private backyard/park that we shared with our block of residents.

    Often I would just lounge around the house and stare out the window and watch the wind blow through the branches. Jackson would look out every day to try to spot squirrels running up and down the tree trunks.

    I don’t have many photos of this place, but I do have fond memories.

    On one particular Sunday, in late January 2013, it snowed. There’s a common misconception that during winter in London there is a lot of snow and it is always grey and cold. The latter is true but it rarely snows in London, well at least not in the last two years that I’ve been living there.

    So when it does snow, it’s magical. The world comes at a standstill, the tube stops working, many people stay indoors and it gets really quiet.

    Here are a series of photos from that day.

    Snow in London - Jackson looking outside the window

    We awoke to a snow covered London. It was cold but we decided to head out to explore our wintery neighbourhood. As usual, Jackson is looking for squirrels. I really loved the windows in our apartment. It painted our living room with light and although our apartment was tiny, it gave a sense of openness.

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  • Ronda, Spain – One day of surprises and beauty

    In 2011 we planned a five day road trip in Spain, flying into Madrid and then driving down to Cordoba, Ronda and Granada before flying off to Barcelona. As you can imagine, the trip was really rushed, we spent most of the time on the road and it was really stressful being on the other side of the road, and I wasn’t even driving! Navigating through tiny roads that don’t seem to fit normal sized vehicles was also traumatic.

    Nonetheless, one of my fondest memories was travelling to Ronda. We had only scheduled a day but it was one unforgettable day.

    We did have a bumpy start. We had difficulties locating our accommodation and everyone we asked didn’t seem to speak English or understand. It wasn’t until we met a local man that pointed us in the right direction. He had moderate English skills and he offered to walk us in the direction of the place to pick up the keys – apparently we were in the right location but key pickup was on the other side of town, something they completely failed to mention on the website.

    On the brightside we arrived on a celebratory festival day in Ronda and the town was buzzing with people, the man explained that he was celebrating with his family in town. He had greying hair, tanned skin and wore a fedora. He slung his jacket over his shoulder and spoke calmly, with an air of confidence and pride for his home town. It looked as though he had just walked off the set of The Godfather.

    He told us about how he recently came back from a trip in Shanghai. He spent three months there and loved it. He asked us how long we were here for and was disappointed when we replied “for only a day”. He stated that you can’t really see or experience a place for only a day and even three months isn’t enough. Before departing he recommended us things to see and do during our stay.

    As we walked I wondered if everyone in Ronda was like this and pondered how fleeting and meaningful interactions with strangers can be. I never asked for his name, and nor he for ours. Although our meeting was short, he definitely left an impression on me and perhaps is one of the reasons why I am so fond of Ronda.

    Ronda Bridge

    This is Puente Nuevo bridge. We first saw an image of this bridge in Google Images and decided immediately that we must go. It didn’t disappoint and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to photograph it and see it in person.

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  • Iceland – The land of fire and ice

    In November 2011, I travelled to Iceland, coined the land of fire and ice because of the glacial and volcanic landscapes. I have heard a lot of hype about Iceland such as the natural beauty and the possibility of seeing one of the natural 7 wonders of the world – the Aurora.

    Usually, when I hear a lot of hype about something, whether it be a movie, restaurant or travel destination, I get easily disappointed. Possibly because I build up high expectations in my mind and the reality rarely matches my expectations.

    Nevertheless, Iceland was the exception. I have travelled throughout Europe over the past year and I have never experienced or seen anything as naturally beautiful as Icelandic landscapes.

    We based ourselves in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The great thing about Reykjavik is that because it is such a small city (population of approximately 120,000), the tour companies will pick you up from your accommodation and drop you off there as well which is greatly convenient!

    We bought a deal with Icelandic Air that included flights, accommodation and an aurora tour for around £320-350. It was a steal! Especially since our friends that booked later on paid £250-300 for flights alone.

    Here are some photos and descriptions from the trip.

    northernlights_3

    The aurora tour company that we went on were terrible. We spent most of the time on the road moving from one destination to another and the tour in general seemed very disorganised. We were just glad we didn’t have to pay the full price, as it was included in our holiday package. We were later told by another tour operator that Aurora tours are unethical as they will take your money and drive you to places even though the chances of seeing the aurora are slim to none. On the night we went, it was very cloudy so it limited our sightings. I was able to catch a glimpse of the aurora on camera but to the human eye it appeared very differently. It appeared as a white strip/glow in the sky, rather that the typical green glow you see in photos.

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  • Paris in the spring

    Apparently winter in London this year has been very mild but this week will mark a dramatic drop in temperatures.  Thursday is forecasted at 0 to -5 degrees celsius bbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

    I’ve been planning my summer getaways already and I hope to go back to Paris in the Spring. I spent 5 days in Paris last year, but I feel that it definitely wasn’t enough time there.

    Here’s a photo I took of a woman sun bathing in a park in Paris, back in July 2011. How I miss the sun!

    Woman sun bathing in paris

  • Night Photos – Primrose Hill

    Last weekend it was a Guy Fawkes/Bonfire night so people from all around London (and possibly UK? I’m not sure) set off fireworks. My mates decided to buy a load of fireworks from Sainsbury and set them off at a nearby park. We weren’t the only ones that had this idea, everyone else seemed to be doing it as well.

    While the guys were finding a suitable burial place for the fireworks, I wandered off closeby snapping up some shots of the park at night.

    Streetlamps, always a good light source in the dark

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  • Deer Photos – Richmond Park, London, UK

    A few weekends ago I woke up in the wee early (and freezing) hours to go to Richmond Park (which is about 50-60minutes from where I live). The night before we had celebratory drinks, for a friend getting a new job, so waking up at 5am the next morning was a big fete.

    The point was to get there before sunrise and snap epic shots of the deer in the morning mist and sunrise. However, it took us a little while to find the deer and it was cloudy so there was no epic sunrise with rays of light beaming through.

    Adolescent deer in the morning mist – Richmond Park

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