“Its a light weight treasure when you’re far from home”
It took some time to realise you weren’t there, but it was a moment when I needed you the most – the chill on the train had picked up and my need for you as a blanket was paramount.
My hand dug deep into the bag where you are always kept on our journeys, only to find the space empty, vacant of your little threads.
Then it dawned on me. You have been abandoned, little Pashy. I saw the image immediately: placed on the shower hook, still sandy from our visit to Byron Bay beach.
It is there you sit, waiting expectantly for another home: a bin, perhaps? or a lady with exquisite taste?
Pink Pashmina you have been a champion companion and I am dearly sorry for our parting.
Yours always and forever,
A freezing cold Natty
In the last year STA’s reputation has taken a variety of turns and not many of them good. For my first big travelling venture I booked my trip through them and on the most part they were helpful, until they messed up.
They have a huge inability to pick up where they’ve gone wrong and their small print gives you no compensation or reprimand to their mistakes, just persevere and they will eventually give you the compensation you deserve, even if small print says no.
For a first time traveller having some guidance booking accommodation and flights is a peace of mind thing, but a second and third time? No way.
To start with you learn that like your insurance you can book these things on your own, but initially it is a big deal and a bit scary, if only we had the confidence at the start.
Now I’ve got more confidence in how to organise everything and what to look for, I would still go into STA Travel for the brochures to get inspiration, there itineraries can be pretty good to get you thinking, but that’s all you really need from them: advice. You don’t need them to book the trip and you probably don’t want them to either, on the chance that they might totally cock-up, which is getting more and more likely these days.
What’s your opinion?
Before setting off on my travels I purchased an array of books that wrote on the subject of travel… cliché I know, but there we are.
…it will nudge some part of you that is usually told to behave.
On Amazon I found The Backpacker by John Harris and this has become one of my favourite reads of the year, if not one of my favourite’s full stop.
You begin by hating the author and then very quickly fall in love with his ability to explore the world on almost no means at all, expect for a few good friends and a very small conscious.
Once I’d finished the book I realised two things: Firstly, I felt like such a do-gooder and almost immediately wanted to do something reckless and impulsive, but then I realised I would get caught and it would all end terribly and this is why I don’t do those things. Secondly, the author must of changed his name because he commits some hilarious and jaw dropping misdeeds throughout Australasia. It’s also impossible to find a photo of him on Google.
Harris’ novel is witness to those things you hear people tell tales of: “this happened to a friend of a friend” – but they actually happen to him and with every page you read it will nudge some part of you that is usually told to behave.
The Head Scarf – Stepping away from the cap
This is the kind of style you can use when the weather hits its highest and lowest peaks – for those heavy winter breezes or those sweaty days.
Try folding the scarf in half and then placing it around your crown, tie it in a knot behind you and then you can double this up if the material feels a bit weighty.
The Poncho meets Blanket Wrap
If you’re looking for warmth that keeps you somewhere in style then tuck the pashmina into your bag for a late evening overthrow.
Take your pashmina and fully unfold it, wrapping it around you, then criss-cross it so you literally throw one side over to the next. It’s a bit messy and you can add a broach if you’d like to add a bit of elegance to this shrug as it holds the whole thing together better.
This style can also act as a good insulator for your hands, fold your arms and tuck yourself under the blanket.
The Sandy Mask
Recently I’ve found use for this style and those heading to dusty terrains may also find this a handy cloth to cover up half of your face to breathe a little easier and keep covered up.
Fold in half, tie round and double knot at the back. It’s not as heavy as you may think.
Something strange has happened, the food tastes different to how it was abroad…the Mojo sauce from Spain doesn’t taste as good without the chef drizzling it over papas arrugada, the sun shining or a large (cheap) red. The mate tea was much more exciting and bitter in Argentina and I’m quiet sure the chocolate from California melted in my mouth.
There have been a variety of foods that I’ve brought home and introduced to my family, all of which have failed epically to excite their pallet. This time I turned to drink, a Brits best friend. On a visit to Switzerland I was introduced to Limon Cello, the only substance I’ve brought home, enjoyed and finished within a week. Although to my surprise this delightful drink is an Italian and comes in two consistencies: thick and creamy or light and clear. Drank in a short tumbler glass over ice before, during or after dinner (usually as an after dinner aperitif) this will give you a sure kick to any evening.
The creamy Limón cello is my more preferred choice; the clearer bottle somehow seems more potent and needs a mixer to calm down the sheer volume of alcohol.
Thank-you Switzerland for bringing this yummy delicacy to the Talbutt household!
Grab a bottle when you can guys!
A seriously pink kind of pink, this portable sound system for your I-pod is neither very compact nor mega light, which makes you wonder why it would ever be considered (let alone mentioned) on a travelling product section, yet it’s actually rather fun, sprightly even, and against all odds you can’t help but fall for this speaker system.
This borderline garish item was a gift, and as any Brit will tell you, free items are loved with total bias and you can never really explain why. So it is that I find myself enjoying this I-pod speaker for no other reason than its freebie status. The speaker still remains without a label, product box or ‘proper’ (defined) product name. There is a leaflet mind, detailing how you use the thing and that, after all, is what you really need to know.
After adding 2 AA batteries and flicking the switch from ‘off’ to ‘on,’ this speaker doesn’t hold back blasting quality rhythms from your I-pod or I-phone. To say I was surprised is an understatement, I actually ran around the house shouting “yes, it’s actually pretty good, isn’t it?” so much for not judging a book by its cover.
Practically it’s simple and couldn’t be any easier to use. Aesthetically it’s loud and so is its music pumping ability. Unfortunately is not waterproof, but it has a hard casing to support your electronics.
One of its useful features is on the back – displaying several hooks– one of which is a small metal piece that you can attach to your luggage, reliable enough to have confidence that it will secure well.
The second hook is a rubbery-type of band placed in the centre that allows you to put a belt through, connecting as you jog along, suggesting that this system is for the sporting enthusiast, which only makes me like it more…although, would the public like to hear your blaring music? Perhaps not. I may well use this on my travels, working on fruit farms, let’s hope they enjoy a bit of Aretha Franklin.
Testing the device:
Sound quality: 10/10 – Usability: 10/10 – Aesthetics: 8/10
Any feedback on this item is very welcome: what it’s called, where it’s from or how much it costs? So far e-bay is selling it from £2 under the name ‘I-pod Speaker’. Fancy a bargain piece?
Globetrotting with Elegance
Paperchase, from £8 :“A5 Flexible Journal/Notebook”
My first and still one of my favourites – this slim, smooth leather book offers an elegant body. Understated with a simple ‘journal’ tagline, this travel notebook details A5 lined paper and a light weight feel. A perfectly, compact size to fit into your case but still have a decent pad of paper to jot down your memories.
Small in Length but Plenty of Girth?
Paperchase, from £5: “Postage Stamps”
Lots of colour and much more playful, this travel journal has a few added extra’s with pockets to keep those little pieces of memorabilia safe (and hotel cards if one forgets to hand it back…). There’s also a clear, zipped bag attached to the back which is very useful for storage. The biggest set back here is the thickness of the journal, it’s not quiet as thin as the others and the pad of paper is much smaller with an A6 format. I prefer to have lots of space when I write as my handwriting is pretty fat. It has a lot more going on in terms of storage and the casing is sure to make you smile.
A Tough Beauty
Wild & Wolf, from £9: “Keepsake Journal”
* Please note I have fallen in love with this site.
A beautiful, girly design, yet the casing has a much harder back than the others. This 96 page travel journal is slightly different with two shades of paper: cream and brown (or Kraft) with details of a crown head to outline the top of the page, symbolising the importance of your note taking (ha!).
A creative travel journal that I shall be using on my next trip, although the pad of paper measures: length 18.5cm x width 12.5cm, so I may have to reduce my handwriting size.
Lots to Talk About?
WHSMITH, from £5: "Notebook"
A leather-bound cover designed with a deep floral pattern. This notebook is slightly larger than an A5 pad and proves very useful if you have lots to write about. It’s much heavier than others and because of this isn’t the most ideal journal to pack in your case for that light and compact need. A smart design for day-to-day note taking.
Cathy Kidstone’s, from £10: “3 Mini-Journals”
Colour within your travels
Allura Travel Bottle Set, £1 @ Poundland
Within our bathroom there stands a cupboard and in this sits a lot of stuff. Every time I’m off on my travels this is the notorious stash I invade and this time I came across the Allura Travel Bottle Set, only £1 from, yes, Poundland.
1 x 100ml pump bottle (add perfume, mouthwash)
3 x 100ml pop cap bottle (add shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser)
All stored in a clear (transparent) travel case
They’re the size of aeroplane guidelines and the casing allows you to follow the rules to showcase what you’re taking onboard through check in.
I’ve often questioned whether these bottles are worth the hassle of distributing a bit of shampoo into these 100ml bottles, or if it’s simply more straight forward to purchase the mini-travel products that are now so popular. I suppose the big deal here is time and effort.
Who, When, Why?
If I was an avid weekend traveller the cost of buying the mini-travel versions may well add up, so to save a bit of money perhaps it’s best to give a bit of time and decant into these handy bottles. What do you reckon?
I am yet to utilise these travel bottles, but they’re not expensive and there’s potential for great travel product here.
For further information on quantity onboard please see TSA: Transportation Security Administration
Details on purchasing Allura Travel Bottle Set
Upgrade to Marks & Spencer’s Deluxe Travel Bottle Set , £7.50 (also includes body puff and mirror)
Flight 101 have yet again caught my eye with this Spacepak Toiletry Bag @ £27 ($42)
LOOK FOR: Fold away, light weight with attached hook to hang up
IN THE BAG
Lip balm – Skin cream – Shampoo – Shower gel – Deodorant – Toothbrush/Paste – Condoms – Razor & Shaving cream – Cotton buds
Nail clippers – Hand sanitizer (think of your location) – Dental Floss – Mouthwash – Alcohol pads – Bandages - Plasters
Miniature travel bottles are available in all supermarkets and health stores for a compact fit.