Posted: May 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Take part in the GO Outdoors Summer Season Photo Contest 2014, and be in with a chance of winning [GRAND PRIZE]. 
To enter, simply email with your own photograph that falls under one of the following categories:
- Festivals (Prize - TBC)
- Summer Holidays (Prize - TBC)
- The Outdoors (Prize - TBC)
Entries will be published on the Summer Season Photo Contest page. Winners for each individual category will be voted for by the public, so don't forget to share this page with your friends and encourage them to vote for your entry to increase your chances of winning! The grand prize will be awarded to an overall winner decided by a select panel of GO Outdoors judges.
Closing date: [TBC - recommend 6 weeks, start 19th June, end 31st July 2014]
Full terms and conditions below: 
o    To enter you must be 18 years old or over and living in the UK at the time of entry
o    Only one entry per person
o    Only one photograph per entry, to be accompanied by your name, address, email address and a short description of the photograph.
o    All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not infringe the rights of any other party. The entrant must be the sole owner of copyright in the photograph entered.
o    Entrants will retain copyright in the photographs they submit to GO Outdoors. By entering the contest GO Outdoors are granted the right to publish the photographs on the GO Outdoors website, trusted partners' websites and social media properties. Finalists also agree to take part in competition publicity.
o    Files should be in PNG or JPEG format
o    Sending an e-mail is not proof that we have received your entry. No responsibility can be accepted for entries that are lost or delayed, or which are not received for any reason.
o    The closing date is as specified in the competition, and GO Outdoors reserves the right to amend the competition end date at any time.
o    If you win the competition, we will notify you by email within 72 hours of the closing date. if you do not respond within 1 week of being notified, you will forfeit your prize and GO Outdoors reserves the right to choose another winner. The judges’ decision will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into.
o    GO Outdoors will endeavour to send prizes within a month of the competition end date but cannot guarantee this delivery time.
o    GO Outdoors reserves the right to amend these rules at any time
o    The competition is governed by English law


As I haven’t written in my travel blog for over a year (for shame!) I decided it was about time I did something a bit geeky and a bit travel-ly. Was sitting with a colleague and a client the other day, they were talking about all the places they’ve been. “Ooooh blah blah blah Vietnam, what a place”… “yadda yadda Tibet” “jeeb jeeb don’t you know Rhodes is classed as a country by the Century Club because it used to be a kingdom”… “yeah believe it or not, Barbados is actually shit”. And other such things.

Well it got me seething, THINKING. It got me thinking. I’ve been virtually nowhere. That’s down to a chronic lack of funds, of course. Then I remembered, I live in a cracking little country that I’m still yet to see loads of. And I do love Britain – I shall make it my mission to explore every last scrap of it, starting with the islands.

Did you know there are 6,289 islands in the British Isles? Cripes. I may have bitten off more than I can chew. I don’t think you can get to them all actually. I’ll try for those nearest me and then see how we go. First up this weekend – Hilbre Island! I’ll let you know how I get on.

Sometimes I actually write in my travel blog. It’s not a regular thing, granted. I just thought I’d take some time out of my busy schedule to plan my trip to Edinburgh Festival. Here’s my pick of the acts.

1. Nina Conti

The world’s greatest ventriloquist. If you need convincing of this she’s just finished two great documentaries for Auntie Beeb – check them out. I wonder if Monk will make an appearance now Nina’s got all these other puppets, would be a shame if he doesn’t.

2. Frisky and Mannish

Pop music educators. And I’ve got a pop music degree, so I find these guys doubly hilarious. Top musical comedy – they’re doing two shows this year as well, one entitled Extra Curricular Activities, which I guess will follow the School of Pop thing they do so well, and one called 27 Club, which will explore the freaky phenomenon that is pop stars croaking at 27. That’s my age btw. Meep.

3. Loretta Maine

More musical comedy for y’all, this time from a shiny happy popstrel named Loretta Maine. OK she’s not that shiny or happy. Well she might be sometimes, her show’s called Bipolar, so you never know. It’s mostly pretty dark though. Hysterically dark. My favourite one of her tunes is the one about murdering the Sony record exec and being sorry she doesn’t sound like Lily Allen, or that girl who sounds like Lily Allen, or the girl who sounds like that girl who… yeah. Loretta’s alter-ego Pippa Evans can also be found at…

4. Showstopper: The Improvised Musical

This was bloody amazing last year. It’s always sold out, it’s always completely different, and it’s always bonkers. It’s also entirely self explanatory. Loads of musical comedy there, I do like other stuff honest… stay tuned for part 2 of the blog.


Commuting from Preston to Manchester

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Random

This is *kind of* a travel blog post – it’s not about fun, recreational travel, rather its about the necessary evil that is my daily commute. Just over four months ago I decided to take on a job in Manchester, 34 miles from my house in Preston. I was under the impression this would not be such an arduous task – how wrong I was! The two years I’d spent driving/getting the train/Merseybusing to Liverpool University were an absolute doddle in comparison – mostly because lectures never really started until 11ish so I generally missed rush hour. But the M60. THE M60. I try to avoid the M60 if I can help it these days, but sometimes it’s just there and it spills over onto the comparatively empty A-roads that I prefer to go down. Just ugh. Anyway, here’s what I’ve learned about commuting to Manchester from Preston in the past few months.

1. The train costs more than you’d think. £239 for a monthly season ticket. Daylight robbery.

2. The tram costs more that you’d think. £50 for a monthly season ticket. See above.

3. A diesel car is the best thing money can buy. Seriously. I’ve got the fuel costs down to £180 per month.

4. If I travel outside of peak times, stress levels decrease considerably. This leads to 12-14 hour days but this is preferable to spending 5-10 hours of the week twiddling my thumbs on the M60. And on that note…

5. If I travel on the A580, stress levels decrease considerably. There is no need for the M60, no need at all. It’s been put there just to wind people up. I hope they don’t ever get round to turning it into a toll road – if they do then we’ll all be screwed.

6. Buses really don’t run all that regularly up here. The X25 is looking like it could be an interesting service, except it shouldn’t really take 2 hours to get from Preston to Manchester by public transport. Or indeed by any transport. Sometimes it does.

7. I read somewhere about people that CYCLE from Preston to Manchester. Much as I’d love to be the kind of person that can cycle 70 miles a day I just… *sob*… not now.

8. Podcasts are your friend. You can learn some cracking things from podcasts.

9. Spotify is a bargain, and the Belkin tunecast is a beautiful thing.

10. The M60 motorway – have I mentioned it? Evil bastard road. Oh and people love to have accidents on the M60 as well. I don’t think a single day’s gone by without somebody causing an obstruction on the M60. Learn to drive people!

So that’s the Preston-Manchester commute in a nutshell. It takes me 45 mins each way if I travel to Manchester outside of peak times, by car, but travelling in rush hour generally takes double that, sometimes even more. It is a massive undertaking. In fact it’s torture – I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. And by the way, I am from London, used to get the tube in rush hour from North-South London every day. My commute these days is much MUCH worse. Good luck to anyone that wants to give it a go.

226 Scotland Festivals, in no particular order.

Edinburgh Marathon Festival
Linlithgow Folk Festival
Stonehaven Folk Festival
Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival
Shetland Blues Festival
Stonehaven Real Ale Festival
Kelso Country & Western Festival
Dunblane Fling
Perth Festival of Endurance Riding
Islay Book Festival
Angus Accordion and Fiddle Festival
Coast Festival of the Visual Arts
Galloway Pageant
Gatehouse of Fleet Midsummer Music
Islay Festival
Lanark Medieval Festival
Leith Short Film Festival
Scottish Beer Festival
St Andrews Festival
Wigtown Agricultural Show
Perth Festival of the Arts
Ullapool Guitar Festival
Montrose Music Festival
Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival
Portsoy Scottish Traditional Boat Festival
Aboyne and Deeside Festival
Arran Wildlife Festival
Booked! West Dunbartonshire Festival of Words
Festival of Politics
Loch Lomond Youth Soccer Festival
Merchant City Festival
Shetland Food Festival
Spring Speyside Whisky Festival
The Big Tent
West Port Book Festival
Wizard Festival
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Dunbar Traditional Music Festival
Portobello Book Festival
Aye Write! Glasgow Book Festival
Glasgow Film Festival
Ayr Jazz Festival
Bathgate Procession & John Newland Festival
Bute Linedance Festival
Colonsay Festival of Spring
Dumfries & Galloway Science Festival
Edinburgh Canal Festival
Funny in Falkirk
Glasgow Music Festival
Jedburgh Running Festival
Lomond Folk Festival
Milngavie Book & Arts Festival
Peckham’s Beer Festival
Scottish Borders Walking Festival
Stranraer Park Fest
The House Folk Music Festival 2011
Hebridean Celtic Festival
Doune The Rabbit Hole
Eden Festival
Borders Book Festival
Edinburgh Competition Festival
Edinburgh International Magic Festival
Kingussie Food on Film Festival
TMSA Keith Festival
Loch Lomond Food & Drink Festival
Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Bathgate Music Festival
North Queensbury Food Fest
Dundee Science Festival
Peebles Beltane Festival
Aberdeen International Youth Festival
Aberdeen Music Festival
Aberdeen’s Winter Festival
Aberdour Festival
Aberfeldy Festival
Arbroath SeaFest
Arran Folk Festival
Aviemore Walking Festival
Ayrshire Music Festival
Ayrshire Real Ale Festival
Ballater Royal Deeside Walking Festival
Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
Beltane Fire Festival
Black Isle Show
Cantilena Festival
Ceilidh Culture
Celebrate Linlithgow
Celtic Food & Drink Festival
Crieff Beer Festival
Cupar Arts Festival
Denholm Folk Festival
Drover’s Tryst
Dumfries and Galloway Wildlife Festival
East Dunbartonshire Walking Festival
Edinburgh Anaesthesia Festival
Edinburgh Art Festival
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Edinburgh Festivals Cavalcade
Edinburgh International Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh International Harp Festival
Edinburgh International Marketing Festival
Edinburgh Iranian Festival
Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival
Eyemouth Herring Queen Festival
Eyemouth Maritime Festival
Faclan Hebridean Book Festival
Ferry Fair Festival
Festival of Spirituality and Peace
Festival of the Sea
Fife Brass Band Festival
Fife Festival of Music
Fort William Mountain Festival
Galloway Music Festival
Get Active Festival
Girvan Traditional Folk Festival
Glasgow International Jazz Festival
Glasgow Science Festival
Glasgow Whisky Festival
Hawick Summer Festival
Highlands & Islands Music & Dance Festival
Inverness Monster Science Festival
Inverness Music Festival
Isle of Skye Accordion and Fiddle Festival
Johnstone Festival
Jura Music Festival
Kelburn Garden Party
Kintyre Songwriters Festival
Kirkcaldy Comedy Festival
Larbert Ale Festival
Laughing Horse Free Festival
Leith Festival
Linlithgow Book Festival
Live at Troon
Livingston Food & Drink Festival
Loch Ness Marathon
McLellan Arts Festival
Mishnish Festival
Nairn Book & Arts Festival
Nairn Golf Festival
Northern Nashville Country Music Festival
On The Rocks Festival
Orkney Blues Weekend
Orkney International Science Festival
Orkney Storytelling Festival
Paisley Festival
Peebles Arts Festival
Real Ale Bus Company
Rewind Scotland
Rowchester 2011
Royal Burgh of Pittenweem Arts Festival
Sail Hebrides Marine Festival
Scot West Film Fest
Scotland’s Countryside Festival
Selkirk Sessions
Shetland Nature Festival
Sound Festival
St Magnus Festival
St Patricks Day Festival Coatbridge
StAnza Festival
Strathaven Balloon Festival
Strathpeffer Victorian Gala
Tall Ships Races & Festival
Tarbert Music Festival
Tarbert Seafood Festival
Taste of the Cairngorms
The Border Gaitherin
The Doric Festival
The Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival
The Lewis Coastal Film Festival
The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival
The Word Festival
Thornhill Blues Festival
Three Judges Real Ale Festival
Tiree Music Festival
Ullapool Beer Festival
West End Festival
West Lothian Festival of Brass
Moniaive Festivals
Blairgowrie & East Perthshire Walking Festival
Helensburgh & Lomond Real Ale Festival
Highland Perthshire Autumn Festival
Edinburgh International Science Festival
Edinburgh Mela
Isle of Bute Jazz Festival
Kaleidoscope Festival
Loch Shiel Spring Festival
Puppet Animation Festival
Knockengorroch World Ceilidh
Perthshire Amber – The Dougie MacLean Festival
Lammermuir Festival
Glasgow International Comedy Festival
Doors Open Day
Insider Festival
Highland Science Festival
Strathspey in May
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival
Inverness Festivals
Inverness Whisky Festival
Loch Ness Film Festival
Black Isle Words
Isle of Arran Mountain Festival
Paisley Beer Festival
Uist Eco Film Festival
Up Helly Aa
Taste of Grampian
Stonehaven Harbour Festival
Newton Stewart WalkFest
Cumnock Festival
Aberdeen Jazz Festival
Dundee Jazz Festival
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival
Lennoxlove Book Festival
PBH’s Free Fringe
Inverclyde Music Festival


Posted: July 3, 2011 in Random
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Yesterday we planned to conquer Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England. Unfortunately we didn’t quite make it as one of our party (me) was a letdown (was sick). We made to the top of Sty Head before aborting and heading back down the valley to Wasdale Head. Although we were initially disappointed at not reaching our intended destination, it made for a lovely summer walk, and it meant we finished earlier than expected, giving us valuable drinking time! Made the obligatory stop in the Wasdale Head Inn, then a stunning drive to Broughton in Furness along a remote road for a pint in the Manor Arms.

Wasdale is a truly beautiful part of the country. Each time I’ve been to the Lake District recently it’s just got better and better. Coniston, Ullswater, Derwent Water, Windermere, Grange, Grizedale, Kentmere, Helvellyn and now Wasdale Head. Best thing about it is it’s less than 2 hours drive from my house, so I’ve no excuse not to become a complete Lake District expert.

Here are some pics.

Trig Point at Helvellyn Summit

Trig Point at Helvellyn Summit

Cor blimey. I was duped into climbing up the 950m Lake District peak Helvellyn this weekend just gone. Helvellyn plus the legendary Striding Edge. About 750 metres up my partner turns to me and says “you do realise this is the hardest one don’t you?”, meaning the hardest Wainwright peak to conquer. This was just after the bulk of Striding Edge and just before having to climb up a very scree-ey, almost vertical part of the hill. Not fun. The descent was even less fun. But I’ve done it and I just thought I’d scare (ha ha) SHARE some pictures on the blog. You’ll see from the photos why I was happy to put myself through such abject torture.

Sca Fell on Saturday. Meep.

Edinburgh Fringe Programme

Edinburgh Fringe Programme

The Fringe programme has arrived!! I am too excited! Just had a little flick through. Apparently there are 2,542 shows on this year. Can’t possibly see them all. Here are:

Things I MUST see

1. Ruby Wax Losing It. Definitely definitely.

2. The Secret of Monkey Island (brilliant!)

Things I’d quite like to see

1. Live Brain Surgery

2. Mind Games (I see a theme here…)

3. Andi Osho: All The Single Ladies

4. Andy McKee

5. The Axis of Awesome

6. Big Comedy Gala in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support (great cause)

7. A Clockwork Orange

8. Cluedo (the musical!)

9. Dave Gorman’s Powerpoint Presentation

10. Dean Friedman (standard)

11.Fascinating Aida: Cheap Flights

12. Frisky and Mannish: Pop Centre Plus

13. Heavy Mental Rock

14. I Am Google (I might just go to throw stuff)

15. Jen Brister

16. Josie Long: The Future is Another Place

17. Lionel Richie (??)

18. The 90s in half an hour

19. Roisin Conaty: Destiny’s Dickhead

20. Sarah Millican: Thoroughly Modern Millican

21. Shappi Khorsandi: Me and My Brother In Our Pants

22. 3D Hamlet: A Lost Generation (Captain Janeway’s in this. I know, further geekdom right there)

This could prove to be a rather expensive endeavour…

Check out my post on iknow-scotland blog about the best (or the worst?) show titles this year.

Lovely Map of Yorkshire

Posted: June 8, 2011 in Random
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The parish maps are really cool too. Yes I’m a geek.

I’ve done a little post about Scotland’s Festival of History over at this lovely Scotland travel blog. Huzzah!

Is that right? Huzzah? My friends seem to think so.

I admit that I don’t know an awful lot about medieval festivals as I’ve never been to one, but this one looks like a cracker. It’s got battle re-enactments, archery, falconry and so much more. Best of all, a child’s ticket costs £1. A quid! Nothing costs a quid anymore. I’d be going: 1. If August wasn’t reserved for band stuff and 2. If I had kids.

Lanark Medieval Festival 2009

Look! If I went I could take pictures like that. I didn’t take this picture, this guy did.

Other Medieval festivals in England include:

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

Colchester Medieval Festival (and Oyster Fayre)

and the big one: England’s Medieval Festival at Hurstmonceux Castle. Jousting! Jesters! Dammit that’s in August as well!