unique travel experiences

Month: April 2016

Too busy travel blogging to enjoy the moment?

As travel bloggers are we sometimes so preoccupied with “travel blogging” we’re unable to fully enjoy where we are at the time?

I was considering this at the ‘Traverse16’ blogging conference in Cardiff just last weekend. As well as inspiring me with new writing ideas, best practices and the many ways to improve my blog’s reach, the conference also made me realise I need to make sure to switch off and continue to enjoy the places I’m visiting rather than always having to Tweet/Instagram/blog about them too!

Being inspired by Everest summiter Tori Jones

Being inspired by Everest summiter Tori Jones

During conversations with attendees the ubiquitous “n” word reared its head many a time, that being “niche”. Personally I’m still working on that one as I tend to take a shotgun approach to blogging, but if I can write about specific topics rather than absolutely everything and anything, it will allow me to enjoy the destinations I go to by NOT necessarily having to Tweet/Instagram/blog about them.

So when was the last time you visited somewhere wonderful and were too preoccupied with:

  1. which photos to take?
  2. whether you should actually be taking a photo or a video?
  3. which array of photos/videos to then select for your posts?
  4. whether to “Instagram” them first to make them look nicer before tweeting?
  5.  … or just use the edit feature in Twitter to adjust the effect?
  6. whether in Twitter to use ‘wide’ or ‘square’ or the ‘original’ image size?
  7. whether you should add it to your Facebook page first and then share it onto your personal one?
  8. … or just add it to one or the other?
  9. whether to do anything on Pinterest and/or YouTube too (and that’s even before considering SnapChat)?
  10. whether you tweet while an event is still happening to get retweets/mentions or actually enjoy the event while you’re there and make more considered posts a bit later on?
  11. whether to “@” the event directly or just mention them within the Tweet
  12. whether to stuff Instagram with hashtags or add them in a second comment below?
  13. whether to write a short post or a long post?
  14. whether this is actually something I need to blog about in the first place!?

… which is why the on one of my last trips to the Isle of Wight I just decided to put my phone away, talk to who I was with and actually enjoy where I was! Crazy I know. It was just like it was 2005 all over again 😉

So can you switch off from “travel blogger” mode and simply enjoy a new event/location?

Or are you always thinking “this is an opportunity I. Cannot. Miss. And. Must. Blog. About. It?

PS. I do enjoy blogging. Maybe some people simply enjoy it a bit more than I do! 🙂

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park

Enjoying Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park by not blogging about it

Flying in Concorde – what was it like?

Sadly Concorde stopped flying in 2003. This was due to the Paris airport crash of 2000, the general downturn in the commercial aviation industry as well as increasing maintenance costs. The world suddenly became a bigger place again on 25th October, the day after it stopped flying.

Concorde G-BOAA after we'd safely landed 1h40m later

Concorde G-BOAA after we’d safely landed 1h40m later

Much has been written about Concorde’s history, celebrity passengers, sad demise and of late its potential new lease of life in 2019 if enthusiasts are able to get a single Concorde back in the air again. But what was it like to fly in?

The most popularised route was London to New York but few people realise there were shorter, chartered trips available too. One such regular trip was London Heathrow to the Bay of Biscay, just north of Spain, and back again (a big 1h 40m loop route) and in 1989 I was lucky enough to be on such a trip with ‘Flights of Fantasy’. In doing so I became one of “just” 2.5m passengers to experience Concorde at twice the speed of sound.

About to board our chartered Concorde back in 1989

About to board our chartered Concorde back in 1989

After a champagne reception in the trip’s own private departure lounge we boarded Concorde and found our seats in row 15. You felt like you were in a small tube, with just 2 seats either side of the aisle, little headroom and small windows to look out of (apparently to limit the speed of decompression if there was an incident at its higher altitudes).

There's wasn't much room in the cabin

There’s wasn’t much room in the cabin

The most noticeable difference though between flying in Concorde compared to a normal passenger plane was the punch in the back we got as it accelerated along the runway along with the much steeper angle of climb at take-off (250 mph and 22° compared to 170mph and 10° for a 747). Also the fact that you knew you were doing something special and people would be looking up in the air pointing no matter what their age, status or background.

Our meal consister of fruit appetiser, corn-fed chicken and cheese crackers

Our meal consister of fruit appetiser, corn-fed chicken and cheese crackers

Onboard there was a green digital instrument in the bulkhead in front of us that displayed the speed in Mach with a resounding cheer when we hit Mach 1 and then a further one at Mach 2. Although we were flying at 1,334mph there was absolutely no difference in the cabin itself or any sense of this speed when we transitioned from subsonic to 1 and then onto 2. Only if you saw a plane out of the window below you going backwards would you have been able to appreciate Concorde’s sheer speed. Only military aircraft were able to fly faster!

Visiting the flight engineer up in the cockpit

Visiting the flight engineer up in the cockpit

In the days before terrorism we were even allowed to wander up to the flight deck to see through the cockpit window and speak to the pilots. Far, far more innocent times, something that sadly would be unheard of today. Nobody onboard that day would have believed that 14 years later it would be taken out of service and not replaced with something even quicker. Of the 20 operational aircraft that were built 18 remain preserved today with our plane G-BOAA now being housed at the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian, Scotland. That’s why it’s great news that Concorde might once again grace our skies and allow us to go forwards rather than backwards once more.

Check out also this great piece on Concorde in the Independent by Simon Calder. And if you thought flying Concorde was special, winning a private jet for 49 friends was pretty amazing too!


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