Our Spanish friends Pab & Janire (featured in the first Drone YouTube video) who were visiting the UK, wanted to explore a local castle, so we took a trip south towards Craven Arms, armed with our camera, go pro 4 and the new Spark Drone to visit Stokesay Castle.
Stokesay Castle is one of over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites cared for by English Heritage – for more information on other sites visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk
According to English Heritage, Stokesay is the best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England and was built at the end of the 13th Century.
After following the signs, we pulled into the car park, which cost £1 for the day – we headed in. You pass the church on the way in, so we investigated that before buying the tickets.
Tickets were £7.60 per adult or if you want to visit more English Heritage sites then there is the option to buy an annual membership.
Armed with our go pro we headed through the beautiful gate house.
As we entered the main courtyard, there were some items for the kids (and us) to wear and a couple of staff nearby to help the kids (of course Pab and I couldn’t resist a quick sword fight !)
They do regular events there, so check our their web site.
Of course, I had the wear the TREAD the Globe T-shirt. The t-shirts were to help promote the blog and our journey and we were so pleased, to be contacted by Helena a few days later, to say that she had seen the T-Shirt and us blogging at Stokesay Castle – thanks Helena !
The views from the top of the tower were amazing and we were surrounded by the beautiful Shropshire countryside. We did get a few odd looks as Pab filmed me walking up and down the stairs – but we had fun doing the videoing and wanted to get good footage for You Tube Channel.
As I walked around, you couldn’t help but wish the walls could talk – because you know they would have some very interesting stories of things they had happened over the years.
The Great Hall has been unchanged for 700 years !! and the staircase at the end of the hall gives a great birds eye view.
After exploring the castle we headed off to find a spot to launch the drone – we found a recently harvested field nearby to launch from. The footage came out really well, and can be seen in our short You Tube clip at the beginning of this post.
Of course before we headed home we had to stop for a cup of tea in their tea room !
We have always loved to travel and experience what our wonderful world has to offer but I would never have actually imagined, that I would one day quit my senior management job to travel permanently…..
As we sat on a beach on the beautiful island of Mabul, in Sabah Borneo, Marianne and I listened with envy as a couple told us they weren’t on holiday – they were just travelling. Here we were, having saved up all year, for a 3-week rushed trip around the far east, cramming in as much as we could, talking to a couple, who seemed to have no stress and we’re casually talking of their plans, saying maybe we’ll head here or there. They weren’t the only people we had met on our travels that had such a lifestyle, and deep inside it planted a seed that grew over several years.
Both Marianne and I are from hard working career minded families. I was brought up to study hard, (although as a child I didn’t really- sorry Dad!) to work hard, go for that promotion and save to get a mortgage for a nice house. As we went through life together, we worked hard so we could afford the mortgage and all the wonderful belongings we have accumulated over the many years since we have been married.
I spent many years working every hour possible in 5 star hotels in Singapore, Australia and England. In this time we had even bought our own pub and set up an internet business called Martial Mania selling Martial Art training DVDs (as one job was never enough!).
I spent the last 9 years as the Head of Catering Services at The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust. Marianne also works for the NHS and it highlights the fact that life is very precious and every moment should be enjoyed to the fullest. As you get older you do realise that none of us are guaranteed a long-life journey.
One day, it hit us like a bolt of lightning. So here we are in our late 40’s, with a nice house full of beautiful things, most of which we don’t use. We both started questioning our purpose and goals in life. What’s next? Do we keep working for another 20 years until we reach retirement age and during this time we can pay the numerous bills and buy more stuff?
We both work very hard, to be able to live in a nice house and buy things that we think make us happy, but do they really? Is there not more to life than doing the same routine every day, and chasing the latest gadget or updating tech because your TV doesn’t have 4k (which none of the TV channels currently televise anyway)
I know, that when I am on my death bed, I will not be lying there saying that I wish I had more money in the bank, I wish my house was cleaner or I wish I had worked harder. I can however, see myself wishing I had walked the great wall of China (or the great wall of Mexico if President Trump ever builds it) or wishing I had dived with a school of hammerhead sharks off Galapogos. Yes, we both like diving with sharks, who are misunderstood, but I’ll save that for a future blog post.
So, Marianne and I got into a discussion, what do we want to do when we retire, what would we do if our numbers came up and we won the lottery and what would we do if we knew we only had a year to live? The answer for all of these questions was that we would quit our jobs and travel the world forever more.
But was it possible? How could we afford it when we haven’t had the fortune of winning the lottery? The research then started on how could we do it. The details on how it’s possible will appear in a future blog post (after we have started) but the key was not to sell our house and initially to live on the rent.
So, as I sat in a meeting, under pressure to get action plans, forecasts, reports, audits etc done, my mind started to drift back to the conversation we had on the beach. I walked out of that meeting knowing that I would draft my resignation and I emailed it to my boss that night.
It is the interactions and experiences you share with people that will give you a much greater sense of fulfilment rather than buying the latest gadget which will only give you short term satisfaction (or so you believe). The more gadgets and equipment you have, the more it seems that something breaks and needs replacing.
Although travelling and the dream of selling all the belongings you have spent your whole life accumulating, is not everyone’s dream, I would urge you to live your own dream, whatever that is, as expression says “life is not a dress rehearsal its real”!
The first chapter of our new life is beginning, as we plan on quite how we are going to empty our house (yes, we have an attic and garage like many of you – full of stuff) we will initially be blogging about and promoting the wonderful locations and events we have here in the UK.
Stay tuned for our next post as we get ready to TREAD the Globe.
Subscribe on the homepage to follow our adventures and we are also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To follow our journey as we now prepare to empty the contents of our house.
When we chose Barcelona, I had a couple of dishes on my food wishlist! – to experience tapas and eat authentic Paella and for the best local food we always follow two rules:
1. Eat where the locals eat (especially a priest or policeman), not at a place with menus aimed at tourists.
2. Ask a good local taxi driver!
Our faithful taxi driver (Raul – number available on request!) that we used throughout our visit made a few suggestions and wow he really came up trumps.
This was the recommendation for the best Paella in town, and it did not disappoint. Located on the beach front, it not only has great tasting Paella but you can also enjoy the spectacular beach and sea views at the same time. Not the cheapest Paella in town, between 16 and 25 euros but definitely worth the extra for that authentic taste.
Watching the chef cook in the open plan kitchen, is like watching the conductor of an orchestra, as he juggled numerous pans of paella. I chose the ultimate with a mix of meat and seafood with whole prawns and mussels in shells perfectly placed on the top.
The paella is served in the pan with wooden spoons, which I assume, stops you scratching the natural non stick of the pan. They also do vegetarian paella – Marianne tried a mushroom, asparagus and artichoke paella which tasted equally amazing (not that I ate some of her’s as well!!).
In true Marianne fashion she managed to sweet talk her way into the kitchen.
If you make it to Barcelona, then give this place a go! you can check out their web site here
La Esquinita de Blai
There are Tapas bars everywhere in Barcelona, but Raul recommended us to head to Carrer de Blai. A long straight pedestrianised road full of people eating outside, with lots of different bars and restaurants on either side, the whole length! There was so much choice! but we ended up going to La Esquinita de Blai and we weren’t disappointed. Its quite a small bar, but was full of locals, which is always a great sign.
As we entered, the bar was covered in beautiful looking snacks, which we found out were called pinchos.
It works like a buffet – you take a plate and help yourself. You are charged by the colour of the stick, plain sticks were 1 euro each and the red ones were 1.80 euros (there are little shot glasses by the plates – you put the used sticks in the glass, and they count the sticks at the till when you’ve finished). I would always suggest finding out the prices before you eat half the buffet, just in case other bars charge more! What can I say the pinchos was absolutely amazing – really good flavours and they are freshly made on site.
I wanted to do quality control on the tapas too – so promptly ordered some tapas from the menu too. My favourite was the prawn tapas – this cost 8 euros but wow – great portion of prawns, with garlic, chilli and apple. I wasn’t sure how the apple flavour would go but it complimented the taste of the dish and the chilli wasn’t too over powering. Marianne had a favourite too – it was a croquette shaped mushroom, chicken and creamy cheese filling – very tasty !!
Me with the manager. Thank you
El Dinamic de BCN
Located very near to where we were staying, is El Dinamic, tucked away down a side street (Passage de Pere Calders, 4, 08015 Barcelona). It was a great find and somewhere for a relaxed casual evening. Like the other restaurants we had tried, it was full of locals eating true Spanish style – relaxed eating, with great flavours, colours and people enjoying the food and atmosphere.
There was a menu available in English, but we were offered another menu of ‘specials’ just in Spanish. The staff were really fun and spoke English, and were very happy to take the time to explain the various dishes. The roasted peppers and chorizo tapas is worth sampling and they also had great salads, local cheese boards and meat dishes.
More importantly they made Mojitos – which is Marianne’s preferred drink. They also have a very interesting ‘living green wall, completely covered in plants. It gives the feeling of sitting outside when you’re not!
Wednesday evening is a great night to go, as they have entertainment every Wednesday, on our visit there was a guitarist called Alejandro Salas playing. Absolutely amazing check him out on you tube here. The way he played the guitar was mind blowing and he is seriously talented. We ended up staying until he finished, and enjoyed having a good sing along – although to begin with Marianne was the only one singing! – (nothing to do with the mojitos!) soon most tables were joining in and it was a great atmosphere. A beautiful ending to a beautiful evening – Thank you El Dinamic
It seems that no matter where you travel in the world, the beaches always have washed up rubbish and are always littered with plastic. Now, it’s common knowledge that plastic waste is bad for the environment and our oceans, but it is everywhere!.
A plastic bag can take hundreds of years to breakdown, yet despite knowing this, every year, millions of plastic items end up in our oceans. This pollutes and damages the delicate marine life, I’m sure you have seen some of the postings on social media where, for example a whale or turtle has died as a result of consuming plastic bags, after mistaking them as edible jelly fish.
All waste is bad, but in many areas of the world they don’t have efficient waste disposal processes and don’t have any recycling facilities. Please also remember that when you travel to remote picturesque islands, there will be higher costs to dispose of waste via boats, or often waste is burnt, buried or thrown into our oceans as it can be a more economical way of hiding waste.
So what can we do to help reduce waste and in particular plastic waste on our travels, wherever in the world you may be traveling.
Say NO to Straws !
Plastic disposable straws are an environmental nightmare. You can often see these littering local coral reefs when diving or snorkelling. For years, I have been told you should use a straw and not drink directly from a can, as you don’t know how dirty the top of the can is! – I would say that is logical, especially if you’re off the beaten track. So where possible buy glass bottles as the cap protects the lip of the bottle where you drink from, or use a reusable straw. These now come in a wide variety, they are small, light and easily fit into you backpack or bag.
£4.99 click image to see on Amazon
Avoid using plastic bags
This may seem like an obvious one, but often travellers are automatically given plastic bags as in many countries, shopkeepers will automatically place your bought goods into a bag for you. Say no! (with a smile) You can get some great, cool looking, practical reusable shopping bags that take up hardly any room.
£5.26 click image to see on Amazon
Buy drink cans rather than plastic bottles / bags.
When you buy a drink choose a canned variety rather than plastic bottles or cartons with plastic straws. Many local vendors in the Far East sell drinks in plastic bags with straws in – these are the worst to buy. Marine life wont eat a can, although I have seen crabs live in them!.
Reuse plastic bottles
How you refill your plastic bottle depends where in the world you are. If you’re in a country with drinkable water on tap – need I say more!. If you’re in a country where you have to drink bottle water, many resorts have the large water / juice dispensers. Fill up your bottle from the dispenser. Not only does this save you money it also reduces your plastic usage.
Take your own drink bottle
There are a wide variety of refillable water bottles on the market and it’s best to find one that suits your own individual needs. Some are just water bottles and some can filter the water to different qualities.
The Life Saver Bottle:
LIFESAVER bottle filters out bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites and fungi from water
Tested by Independent Test House to meet adaption of NSF Protocol 231
Filters 4,000 litres / 1056 US gallons of water
FAILSAFE – an automatic indicator when the cartridge needs replacing
BPA and BPS free
£110 click image to see on Amazon
This is similar to the Life Saver but it doesn’t remove viruses. They are cheaper but filter less quantities
£39.99 click image to see on Amazon
Another way of being able to refill your water bottle is to use a UV Steripen. You can refill any water bottle and then use the Steripen to make the water safe to drink. They work really well (the taste is not great – so if you have any fruit put a slice or two in to help disguise the puddle taste !!). We used one when we climbed Mount Kinabalu. We were able to fill up from the various rain water tanks on the way up while others had to carry the weight of lots of bottles of water.
£83.13 click image to see on Amazon
Be aware when your shopping
When you’re shopping consciously buy products with less plastic packaging. Choose glass jars rather than plastic or products packed in cardboard rather than plastic. Buying fresh fruit or ingredients you can take your own reusable bag.
Pack a reusable razor.
Take a razor that has changeable blades rather than buying disposable razors – it also takes less space in your backpack or case. And, any shaving foam, sun creams, shampoo, shower gel or leftover liquids that you can’t take with you – give it to new found friends along the way, that need it rather than bin anything.
If everyone took a few simple steps to reduce their plastic usage, collectively it would make a difference. We can only control our own actions – so take action and lead by example and TREAD the Globe responsibly.