Posted in Cooking, Photography, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian

Forever forgetful…

Life really does run away with itself… It’s been almost 4 months since I wrote anything, which seems completely mental. It doesn’t seem that long since my Thailand post.

I must admit, every now and then, I remember that this page exists and do mean to write more, but uni/work/life happened. Without life happening, however, it would be a very dull blog indeed (more so than it probably already is…).

The past few months I have concentrated on more holidays, more studying, more diving, and more cooking. I have succeeded at one.

Studying is a given. I have to do it. I’m not going to bang on about it. I love it, but I don’t think anybody is interested in the segmentation of society in public engagement, or the differences between the scientific method of Aristotle and Plato.

Cooking… Always a good blog subject. I am far more active on Instagram with cookery photos than I am on the blog. Minimalist Baker is my current favourite cookbook; with their help I have successfully made BBQ pulled jackfruit with avocado slaw and I have totally cracked scrambled tofu (ok – it’s curry spiced tofu, which is a strange concept to eat at 6:30am, but I’m working on it).

Travel and diving…

Our dive group booked a live aboard in Egypt in January to celebrate a couple of birthdays (my own included). Turkish Airlines and snow decided that they were just going to ruin it.

Because the British government haven’t restarted direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh yet (because Egypt is such a huge problem, but Turkey isn’t as far as world politics goes… Note: Sarcasm.), we had to fly via Istanbul.
Where it had snowed.
A lot.

Our flight to Istanbul was diverted to Samsun (never heard of it, had to figure out where we were on a map). Turkish Airlines nicely left us in a hotel for 3 days before giving us any information. They then tried to fly us back to Istanbul.
Where it was still snowing.
A lot.

Our flight to Istanbul was diverted to Izmir (seeing a pattern of incompetence here…), where they left us for 2 days in a hotel. With no information.
Eventually, after much polite kicking off, they put us on an emergency flight to Istanbul so we could come home to Manchester. You know, because those flights were totally fine with the snow… This was after spending the night sleeping on the floor of Istanbul airport.

Almost 6 days and about £1,000 out of pocket later, we were back where we started. Best birthday ever!

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So it’s back to cooking and studying…

Relevant iPhone photos from the past couple of months:

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Posted in Photography

Literally, the longest journey of my life…

Sitting here now, I think I’ve been awake for 33 solid hours. Insane. 

The journey to Koh Tao has been more tasking that I ever imagined, destroyed by my lack of ability to sleep on public transport. Definitely forgot about that bit. I understand why people pay for business class on long haul now. 

The journey started on Wednesday at 06:15. I think it’s now Thursday at 12:30, UK time. 

3 flights, 1 ferry, and a taxi. The definition of longness. Totally worth it. 

Flying from Dubai to Bangkok overnight meant I caught an amazing sunrise from the sky, something that I have never experienced. Seeing the sun rise through up through the clouds and over the wing of the plane was pretty spectacular. 

My next flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui made me realise just how good the water visibility is here. Being able to see the bottom of the sea from the sky… Again, amazing. 

The ferry from Koh Samui to Koh Tao was easily one of the best experiences of my life. Standing on the back of the ferry, sailing between tropical islands, I am amazed by the amount of greenery. I knew it was green, but I think I underestimated the place. The water sailing to Koh Tao is pristine, with the odd island with a sand bank beach… It’s my first experience of anywhere tropical and I completely understand why people choose to not leave. Met a guy who has been traveling round the world since December 2015, his views on everything in the world and why he’s packed everything to travel the world before it’s too late is something that really hit home with me. He’s seen so much in less than 12 months, I can’t imagine not doing that in my life. 

Before I hopped on the ferry, I sat watching the fishermen at Bangrak Pier, diving under the water to collect nets wearing normal clothing and no shoes. One guy was even wearing a hat. A full brimmed hat. It puts scuba diving to shame, they’re so adept at what they do, and they did it with a smile on their faces the whole time. A simple life is such a beautiful thing, taking away all of the unnecessary material items. I’d do it in a heartbeat to move here. 

But… Back to the diving. I’ve checked in at Roctopus dive, organised diving with Rachel which is amazing. So excited to see her after so long, although my lack of sleep probably didn’t convey my excitement well. Tomorrow,  we’re off to Chumphon Pinnacle, arguably the best dive site around Koh Tao. I’ve no idea what to expect, and that is making me nervous. I know I’m a good diver, but changing so many variables from UK diving to warm sea diving is completely terrifying. A bit of fear is good though, keeps you safe…

Phone photos below, will be updated on this every couple of days but “proper” photos won’t be on here until they’re edited for Flickr, probably about 3 months after I get home…

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Posted in Photography

Travel Prep 101 (Mini Achievements!)

I did it again. I made the blog and then forgot to post, again… Life literally runs away from you as you get older, making it exceedingly hard to write. I’ve recently started my Masters in Science Communication and Public Engagement, so this on top of a full time job is meaning far less time to write than even before.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be writing a lot. I’m heading on a solo trip to Thailand in a couple of days for 9 days of diving off Koh Tao. I’ve never travelled long-haul solo before, so I’m hoping it’ll give me plenty of head space to get back into writing.

This weekend I dedicated an entire afternoon to packing. This is a massive achievement for me, I’m far more used to throwing everything in a bag the morning of my flight and hoping for the best! For this trip though, I’ve made spreadsheets galore to get myself organised and it’s worked an absolute treat! The list of dive gear that I’m taking is pretty extensive, so fitting this in my bag is, again, another achievement!

I’m not going to go into a long list of things I’ve packed, but I did take a few phone snaps including a very excited selfie of my new skin suit. Getting the opportunity to dive in something other than a drysuit (the UK is definitely too cold for a skin suit!) is insanely exciting!

Everything is planned out, including which cameras to take (4 cameras is definitely not excessive, right?). I’ve uploaded more photos to my Etsy shop too, which I’ll be keeping on top of while I’m away. Had a few queries re: print sizes over the past week or so, so will be taking this into account when I edit photos while I’m away.

Only 2 more sleeps to Thailand ❤

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Posted in Photography, Travel

A very English holiday with Mama Marsden…

It’s been a pretty long time since I went on holiday with my mum. She’s a grafter and she does a lot for her kids, so this year me and the husband decided to take her on a weekend break for her birthday. After lots of back and forth on where to go (including cancelling a hotel in sunny north Ibiza), she decided that she’d like to give fossiling in Dorset a go, so we booked a caravan and headed down south.

We spent last Saturday on Charmouth beach, Jurassic Coast, with hammers and chisels hunting for fossils. Now, either we’re pretty shit at actually finding stuff, or all of the good stuff has gone. The weather was pretty awful, windy and a bit cold, but it didn’t rain so that’s always a bonus. We found a couple of small fossils, including some ammonites but what we did find was all a bit broken. Shame, but we had a great day nonetheless, I’d still recommend it.

Rather than heading out to another beach on Sunday for more fossiling, we drove 90 minutes along the coast to Torquay, a place I haven’t been since I was a teenager. We used to go to Torquay every summer when I was younger, and I suppose I never really appreciated it when everybody else was going to Majorca and Benidorm (I still haven’t been to Majorca or Benidorm, but now understand as an adult why my parents didn’t choose them for a family holiday).

I think I’ve grown to appreciate my surroundings since I started taking photographs. It’s not about finding “something to do”. I don’t need to hammer the 2p machines in the arcade like I did as a child. We walked around the harbour and the pier, and headed over to the pavilion which unfortunately has closed down – shame, I remember the independent vendors in there selling some cute stuff when I was a kid.

We ate… A lot. Oggy Oggy pasties are still as great as they were 20 years ago, as is Kelly’s rum & raisin ice cream. We then got the ferry over to Brixham where we had a proper Devon cream tea and walked around the fishing harbour. The whole weekend made for some great photo opportunities, little weekend breaks around the UK are certainly the way forward.

Oh, and Mama Marsden enjoyed herself too…

Selection of my photos are below, the rest are now on my Flickr.

Posted in Photography

Diana F: First medium format shots.

I’ve been after buying a Diana F+ for years… I came across a self-shot photoshoot in around 2004, where the model/photographer had used an old Holga camera. That whole world of old style, almost toy cameras, was completely new and Instagram didn’t even exist then (I went hell for leather on the X-Pro filter when Instagram was first released).

I’m not the world’s best photographer, so switching to film has always been a bit of a big deal. There’s no fixing it, and you’ve got to wait nearly a week to find out if your photos even worked out.

Last year I bought the Lomo Instant camera, which I love, but the photos are tiny so while cute, it takes a long time to cover a wall (I am almost there with my living room wall though!) and it’s so expensive to buy the Instax Mini film. It did give me a little bit of confidence though to switch to film. After pricing up a Lomo LC-A, I decided to go with the Diana F+ instead. The difference in price is about £250, so it’s a no brainer, £39 for the Diana is a bargain in comparison. No more having to Photoshop my photos to try and get that distinctive Lomo look, no more fake vignettes, no more X-Pro filters, all of the light leaks! ❤

When I unpacked it, I was amazed at how light it is. Honestly, kids toy cameras weigh more and they don’t even take real photos. The lack of battery, or any power supply for that matter, makes it feel like the slightest knock and it’s going to break into a million pieces but it’s so simple to use.

I’ve got to say though, this link really helped me out before I got going: http://hubpages.com/art/Lomography-Diana-Starting-tips

I took the Aperture tip a little bit too literally (judging slightly cloudy to overcast is clearly a skill, and I’m not a weather girl…), so a couple of photos, particularly the double exposure shots came out a bit overexposed but some of them are so lovely. The colours are beautiful, and they’ve a vintage grain to them which isn’t, and shouldn’t be, easily replicated with Photoshop.

For my first outing with a film camera since the days of disposables in high school, I’m pretty happy with how these turned out. Another roll to follow next week…

Posted in Photography, Travel

Germany’s answer to Centerparcs, and a bit of Berlin’s street art & taxidermy.

I am forever creating different blogs and then forgetting about them… Work takes over my life completely, so it’s taken me almost 3 months to edit and upload the photos that I took in Berlin this year.

Without a doubt, Berlin is one of the greatest cities I have visited so far in Europe. It’s quirks are offset brilliantly by the bleak feeling of some of the areas. The regeneration of the city is going well, scaffolding is everywhere, I hope it doesn’t lose it’s charm like areas of Manchester has when regenerated…

First stop was Tropical Islands in Brandenburg – it’s a strange place. It’s a bit like a German Centerparcs in an old zeppelin hangar. Very odd. That was followed by a couple of days in the centre of Berlin – memorials, museums and plenty of street art <3Again, I stuck to my 35mm lens for the whole holiday. I can’t see me straying from this lens, such a good all-rounder.

More photos from the trip are now on my Flickr, with non-watermarked prints available from my Etsy shop.

 

Posted in Photography

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

I’m pretty blessed to have grown up in Manchester, with it’s diverse population and community. Chinese New Year is easily one of my favourite times of the year, far more than the generic New Year. The dragon, the dancers, the firecrackers, the food… This year was far better than 2015 which was pretty disappointing I must say, although I didn’t manage to get into Whitworth Art Gallery or the Chinese Arts Centre for their arts, crafts, and exhibitions. I did have an amazing day getting some candid portrait practice in though.

I only used my 35mm lens all day and caught some beautiful, interesting faces.

The full day’s photos are available on my Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsktUD7qQ