“Escaping” on the open road

2 friends, 2 weeks, 4 states, 3000 miles and camper van named ‘Bugsy’.

So for two weeks in September my friend and I hired an Escape Campervan from L.A. and drove around a few places!

My home for two weeks was a Ford E150, painted Grey and covered with bugs and butterflies. Officially named ‘Darwin’ he was a great companion over the two weeks – although we didn’t like his name so renamed him ‘Bugsy’ or ‘The Bug Mobile’.

Darwin

Darwin

Our lovely Bugsy was pretty big as both of us were used to driving Ford Focuses rather than huge vans. Also a left hand drive and automatic! Fun times. Thankfully Katherine drove us out of L.A. and once we’re out on the highways is got easier!

Out of the 14 nights we were in America we slept in him for 10 nights. The back seat and table dropped down to form the bed and apart from the cushions separating occasionally i found him pretty comfortable.

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The bed in the back. Slept two of us easily enough. Probably could have slept a third if we squeezed.

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The back of the van. We had a mini fridge, cooker (missing), gas, sink and crockery. The sink could be filled by the water tank and we used it for washing up although could probably use it to drink but we always had bottled.

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Bugsy found a friend! Waking up at Yosemite we found another Escape Camper facing us.

If you’re ever thinking of your own road trip I’d recommend renting from Escape. They have loads of different vans designs and have three different sizes. Don’t think – go for it.

http://www.escapecampervans.com/

Oxford Outings

A weekend off… let’s go away…. Oxford it is!! 

After chatting to a friend I’d not seen in a while and finding out that we both had the weekend off I booked a train and a bed at YHA Oxford and headed down for the weekend. Jamie met me at the train station and we meandered down to the hostel, catching up on each others lives. After quickly checking in, dumping my kit on the bed we head up George Street and having some grub at Pizza Hut before heading back to the hostel to have a few drinks and for Jamie to work out how he can get the receptionist phone number (he failed in the task!).

YHA Oxford is one of my favorite hostels. A short walk from the train station, five minutes into the city center. Friendly staff on reception, a comfortable bar area with good price drinks and a cosy lounge area. Upstairs the rooms are en suite but there are showers and loos in the corridor. I was in a six bed room with a view of the neighbouring street but it was clean and tidy and the locker had plenty of room for my gear. The  breakfasts are great, a steal at £4.99 and there is a nice outside space for some fresh air. 

Saturday I met another friend, then another two and the three of us had lunch at the local Weatherspoons before one disappeared and the rest of us  went shopping. We were soon joined by friend #4 and were having drinks when friend #3 reappeared. Now I’ve not seen #4 for 5 years so it was great to catch up. 

My weekend was full of friends and fun. This blog post  has been pretty mundane but I wanted to write something as it’s been a while and it’s another 27 days before I go to the states – now when I’m back that will be an awesome blog! We’ve put a social media ban on the trip so it will be when I get back, so until then… stay tuned! 

Being a Tourist.

Arriving in London to the hustle and bustle of people, a mixture of colour, sounds and smells its an attack on your senses but having been to Lodon before, several times it didnt faze me. The last time I was here was October with a good friend. We saw some sights, did the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio tours and enjoyed ourselves.  It had been a while since we last saw each other. Now  I’m down in London for a different reason,  mainly a day at work on Thursday but the kind hearted boss has given me the day before and day after off so I thought I’d make a mini-break out of it!

As it falls the week before pay day (arragh!!) My main goal is cheap, cheerful aand carefree. Two nights, two different hostels – why not! I know there is the hassle of moving but I only have a small bit of kit so doesn’t bother me 🙂

So, arrived in London half hour late as train was delayed leaving Taunton, jumped off at Paddington then jumped straight on the Undergrounds District Line to Earl’s Court station. Sun beaming down as I hit street level and make my way to YHA Earl’s Court – a ace hostel a few minutes walk from the station (just turn right when you exit, walk until you see a cafe on the corner with coin in the title, turn left down that street and bam, welcome to the YHA).

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I wasnt expecting to be able to check in as it was still early, I just need to dump my bag so I could go and explore but the lovely lass behind the desk said the room waa ready so I checked in. Gear locked away, camera fully charged and Oystercard loaded I meandered back to the station.

Having not a clue what to do with myself, I scanned the board, caught the next train and rode it to Westminster.  Now I’ve seen all the government stuff before but there is just something about the sunshine that makes everything sparkle.

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From Westminster I dwadled towards Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park . Tourists everywhere.  Just like me today, noses pressed up against the palace gates trying to get the whole thing in the picture, parents taking children’s pictures and visa versa.  Lots of cameras, tablets, and phones trying to capture that perfect holiday memory.

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Leaving the hoards, I crossed the road into the park. Here the camera totting tourists took a break and joined the locals basking in the sun, enjoying the shade that the huge trees provided and watching their little ones splash around in the fountains. It didnt feel like London at all, the traffic noise was minimal and the birds could actually be heard tweeting!

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Getting lost was my plan of action. I avoided maps and sign posts and just let my feet do the walking. I ended up at the other end of the park at the Hyde Park Corner station. After admiring the memorials that I wasn’t even aware we had – an Australian one and a Great War one – I hopped back on the tube and headed to the hostel to rest my weary feet and recharge the batteries – both mine and the cameras!

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Batteries recharged, feet refreshed and the heat not so harsh I headed out to meet an old university friend I’d not seen in three years.

We live in a tiny country compared to somewhere like America or Australia,  but it is still hard to meet up with people – the joy of jobs, houses,  families – you name it, it gets in the way!!

Trooping back to the tube station I hitch a ride to Leicester Square to meet Jen. I arrived first and hunted down the meetig place – no where near the station she’d said! A quick phone call from Jen as she exited the underground had me walking back to my original starting point – although I did take a short cut through China Town 🙂

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Finally reunited, Jen and I tracked down the TGI Fridays in Leicester Square and graced them with our presence whilst we enjoyed a nice meal and caught up on each others lives. Guts ready to burst we paid the bill and walked the long way around to Covent Garden (not deliberately – we may have gotten a little lost), down to the river and along to Westminster.  Final goodbyes were said and we seperated on promises of keeping in touch more often.

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Wearily I headed back to the hostel and crashed out in my creaky bottom bunk.

Photographic Irks

So i have the week of work and decided to go on a little trip, starting in Oxford, onto London and ending in Paris. Now I’ve done Oxford and am currently in London. Both beautiful places where photographs seem to be the medium in which everyone wants to remember their trip – brilliant, I love taking photos, messing with the settings on my camrra to get black and white, sepia or even getting really fancy and selecting just one colour in an attempt to capture its beauty but what really irks me is that people seem to forgot that they’re in the middle of the street, walking along with hundreds of other people – be it tourists, locals, businessmen on their lunch breaks. They see the Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament or Big Ben and just stop dead. In the middle of the bridge with cars hurtling past so you can’t side step them unless you feel like being hospitalized for a couple days. Yes, you’re in an awesome places and yes take a photo but please be courteous to everyone else. I lost track of how many times I had to abruptly stop today because someone decided to take picture there and then without noting what was going on around them and off course, this set off a ripple effect with people bumping into me as well.

So, rant over.

If you’re on holiday/travelling or just happen to be walking down to your local and feel the need to whip out that camera, ipad or camera phone (another thing that bugs me but that’s for another rant on another day) please please just glance around before you stop!