Willow

Willow

Willow



My story so far....

2005: Left the UK and headed to New Zealand, spending a great year working in Wellington and travelling the country - vineyards, trekking , kayaking and more.

2006:When my working holiday visa expired I booked a ticket to Singapore and had an amazing 6 months in Asia - Orangutans in the Borneo rainforests, Tibetan plateaus and the ancient temples of Bagan and Angkor.

2006/07: Out of money but not quite ready to return to the UK I moved to Australia for 9 months or so, living in Sydney, travelling the East Coast and realising my career was never going to be a surfer.

2007: After over 2 and a half years away I headed back to the UK... stopping in Africa on the way home where I spent a great few months in Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa - I went on my first safari and couldn't get enough! How can you ever tire of seeing a Giraffe?!?!

2008/2009: After a year back in the UK I was off again for 15 months - first Africa, then India and finally South America from the far south of Patagonia up to Columbia

2014: Talking advantage of being 'in between jobs' I headed out to Nepal for a couple of months - trekking the Annapurna and in the Kumbhu regions of the Himalayas, along with palaces, temples and safari.

2015/2018: Work, flat and life all got in the way of any big travels but I did in the process discover ekk, group tours! Trips to Jordan, Morocco and various European cities.

2019: Russia..... finally after over 10 years I'm on the journey I wanted to do when I first left the UK to travel.



Europe » Russia » Volga » Kazan July 20th 2019

Planning this trip I briefly looked at the option of staying on the train all the way from Moscow to Mongolia, until I saw that was like 5 or so solid days on a train! So a combination of reading and time tables led me first to Kazan, a relatively short hop @ 12 hrs east of Moscow, where I arrived to 27 degrees and sunshine, a nice change from the cloud and rain of St Petersberg and Moscow. Another day, another Kremlin Siting on the Volga, Kazan is where Europe and Asia begin to merge in Russia. Historically the area of a Turkic tribe it was incorporated into the Golden Horde (decedents of Genghis Khan) in the 13th century, became an independent Khanate when their power fragmented and was finally conquered by Ivan the Terrible ... read more
Kul Sharif Mosque
Annunciation cathedral
Garden Art

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow July 15th 2019

It seemed, I discovered chatting to the Russian chap sat next to me on the high speed train from St Petersberg to Moscow, I'd inadvertently booked myself into the 'Premier Economy' carriage - snack included and would you like tea or coffee with that? All bought to your seat with no need to navigate to the buffet car with the riff raff. So yes, I had found the English language version of the Russian Railways website when booking my tickets, but the myriad of symbols for different classes and options, never mind the inference of the train number being high or low, or indeed whether the train had a name, was bewildering. If nothing else this trip will be a voyage of discovery as I find out exactly what I booked! I was also amused at ... read more
Cathedral Square
Around Moscow
Cathedral Square

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Saint Petersburg July 14th 2019

Once upon a many moons ago I started my first big adventure and moved to New Zealand for a year, with grand plans of returning home via Asia to Europe on the Transmongolian railway. I had a fab time in NZ, made it to Asia, but got slightly side tracked and moved to Australia for a year instead of heading home. Then when my time in Australia was coming to an end, returning via Asia felt like a missed opportunity, so I planned a route home via Africa, promising myself that one day I'd go back and do THAT train journey. I never thought it'd take 12 ish years to do so but finally.... I was sat on the plane at Gatwick airport when I had my first opportunity to muse that perhaps finding time to ... read more
Alexander Column
General Staff Building, Place Square
Alexander Column

Asia » Nepal » Gokyo Lakes April 28th 2014

I'd walked the Annapurna circuit on my own, partly to gauge how I coped with the altitude at my own pace but also to get fitter - carrying 12kg, up to 6-7 hours a day for 18 days certainly did that. My grand plan was that if I managed the Annapurna OK I'd attempt the Gokyo lakes and Everest base camp trek in the Khumbu region; if not well, I'd spend my remaining time in Nepal doing 'other stuff' (as yet undetermined.. I had no real plan B at this point). So, having successfully hauled myself and my rucksack around the Annapurna, albeit at times cursing myself for overpacking or mentally willing myself through the next block of 10 steps as I contemplated in what moment of madness....., I booked myself on a group tour to ... read more
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Asia » Nepal » Chitwan April 11th 2014

After 8 hours on a bumpy hot bus I arrived in Sauraha, an entry point to the jungle of Chitwan National Park in the lowlands of Nepal, to be greeted by a welcoming committee of 20 odd hotel touts all shouting and jostling in a bid to convince me to go to 'their' hotel. It was a sweltering 36 degrees which perhaps didn't help my decision making process but I was tired from the journey and couldn't face the walk from the bus station, which as ever was out of town, with my rucksack in the heat. So a deep breath and I headed straight for the mayhem. One guy who seemed quite genuine pointed out that there were no taxis which as I hadn't booked anywhere and didn't fancy the walk left me in a ... read more
having a break on the jungle walk
blooming on the river - pretty but in the raining season a growth explosion can block the river
Elephant bathing

Asia » Nepal » Bhaktapur April 8th 2014

"Yes, yes, yes I know, I'm a billy no mates and have no friends", is what I felt like saying after the 6th person in two hours spoke or gestured, combined usually with a look of concern or confusion, to ask whether I was on my own. I was beginning to get the feeling that in everyday Nepal, ie. outside of the tourist bubble I'd been living in, perhaps women didn't travel on their own.... I was staying in Bandipur, some three hours from Pokhara, having decided to take the scenic route back to Kathmandu. I'd finished my Annapurna trek with a day being shaken around (as much as is possible when there are four squished into a row) in the back of various jeeps as we travelled a road that was in parts more rock ... read more
Taumadhi Tol, Bhaktapur
View from the main street whilst eating an ice cream, Bandipur
Bhaktapur, early morning markets

Asia » Nepal » Annapurna » Annapurna Circuit April 4th 2014

The daily dilema of whether to get up and set off, hoping to find breakfast in the next village, or eat before leaving, usually whilst sat in several layers of clothes, teeth chattering over a cup of tea - such are the challenges faced when trekking! Initially I'd opted for the 'food now' option over the great unknown but at higher altitudes with the mornings cooler it was becoming less appealing. So on Day 5 I followed the Germans lead, whom I'd had serious breakfast envy of the previous day when I passed them sat in the sunshine tucking into porridge, and headed straight off. It meant I saw the first sun hitting the snowy peaks above and then, because the breakfast detour put me on a smaller path, went through Thanchok. Winding narrow stone lanes ... read more
Day 10 - walking in a snow globe
Day 12 - disappearing in the clouds
Day 5

Asia » Nepal » Annapurna March 26th 2014

As the taxi driver drove slowly passed the tourist bus station looking for my one to Pokhara it soon became apparent that this was less of a 'station' and more a street lined with bumper to bumper buses - I stopped counting at 25! The main differences with a 'tourist bus' seem to be that a) you get a seat, although as I and a few others discovered not necessarily the one you were expecting and b) you leave on time(ish), skipping the painfully slow curb crawling around town whilst the drivers side kick hangs out the door heckling everyone who passes until every seat is full.... in theory anyway! It was 6.30am and the 'bus station' was busy with passengers and vendors alike - men pushing bikes overladen with oranges and grapes, others with trays ... read more
Annapurna Day 4 - The road to Timang
Annapurna Day 2
Annapurna Day 4 - the view from the guest house

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu March 9th 2014

"Would you like veggie or non-veg?", asked the air steward before each meal on my way to Nepal. Having previously been reduced to eating an air hostesses packed lunch or left starving because my preorded veggie meal had 'gone missing' I knew this was good omen for the rest of the trip, in terms of being able to eat at least. The rest of the flight was uneventful apart from a medical emergency with the call of 'is there's a doctor on board?' at which point I sat shrinking into my seat hoping they didn't check the passenger register and I wouldn't therefore have to explain that well, I wasn't that kind of doctor! I even managed to get three seats to myself, not that that meant i was able to sleep.. or at least not ... read more
Swayambhu
Kathmandu Old City
Old Palace, Durbar Square

South America » Ecuador » South » Cuenca October 5th 2009

The answer is 8, one to hold the antispetic and cotton wool and 7 others to stand around watching and adding moral support! I think it was the most excitement they'd had all week.... read more
Cajas National Park
Cajas National Park
Cajas National Park




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