Welcome To My Travel Site

Me On The Nullarbor
Me On The Nullarbor Plain Higher, Western Australia, December 2004

This is my travel website chronicling my various travels and adventures around the world.

First Time Buyer – Steps to Buying a House / Buying a House Procedure

June 14th, 2016

After last year’s experience, I found there were some great guides/pages out there for house buying, but nothing that covered all the steps I encountered – I felt lost sometimes, waiting for stuff to happen or receiving stuff, so decided to write this up.

Please note: I was a first time buyer, did my own removals (didn’t have that much stuff) and my dad was a surveyor, so he did the surveying. Your experience might be quite different.

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Biblical Wealth Secrets – VTA Publications – Scam

February 26th, 2016

The other week I received this letter through the post – I was wondering if this was a scam, so Googled “VTA publications and Biblical Wealth Secret”, but could only find one reference and that was here at MoreMoneyReview.com. I signed up to MoreMoneyReview to read the comments and apparently this Biblical Wealth Secret thing is pretty much the same as another scheme called Streetwise or the Fortune Files. From the reading those, it seems to largely promises the world YET somewhat unsurprisingly delivers very little.

Anyways, I found the letter is rather amusingly and well written – FULL of lures to bring in vulnerable people! So I scanned it and OCR’d it, here it is for your reading and to help Google know more about VTA Publications 🙂

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Chicken, carrot, onion and gravy pie de Chef James

August 5th, 2015

photo 4

I literally chucked this thing together and the result was a most top, tasty and delicate home-made pie!
try it out and impress your friends!

Serves about 2 people.

Ingredients:
1 x cooked chicken breast *
2 x carrots (peeled and sliced)
1 x large onion (diced)
1 packet of ready rolled filo pastry – or about 4-5 sheets!
Cooking oil – be it olive, sunflower, whatever, to brush over the pastry
2-3 tablespoons Bisto gravy granules
Optionally:
sprinkles of black pepper, Herbes de Provence
some thyme to garnish (if you have any spare)

Utensils:
1 x medium saucepan, 1 x medium oven dish (to bake the pie in), a wooden spoon to stir, a knife/fork/plate to serve 😉

Cooking time ~35mins :
20mins boiling the onions and carrots
3mins boiling the gravy
15mins baking the pie
* if you haven’t cooked the chicken breast and don’t know – it takes about 20-25mins to oven cook at 200degrees a chicken breast or two. Perhaps put the chicken in the oven, whilst you’re boiling the onions/carrots.

Background:

Last month I ended up making a filo pastry “white wine, chicken and artichoke pie” that I got from the Good Housekeeping Cook Book. Did this for the church group I lead for an end of year meal, all because my friend Alanna suggested why don’t I make something – so I did that and was majorly surprised at the result.

Until the panicked cooking time before cooking this group meal, I had no idea about Filo pastry – but soon discovered it costs about £1.45 a packet from Sainsburys and is very easy to use! You can use either the 12 x sheets Sainsburys or 6 x Jus-roll brand sheets – the sizes are slightly different, but really it doesn’t matter, I know because I bought both types just in case!

Anyways today I realised I still had 2 packets of filo pastry in the fridge + some chicken breasts – so I thought why not attempt to make my fave dish – some kind of chicken & gravy pie! here’s how to make it…

Cooking Steps :

  • Half fill the saucepan with water and put on stove to boil.
    Peel carrots and slice them. Add them to pot (aka saucepan).
    Peel and slice/dice the onion and add it to the pot.
    Boil carrots/onions for 20mins. Stiring or swirling occasionally.
  • About 10mins in turn on the oven to 200degrees – pre-heating for the baking part!
  • Hopefully by now there’ll be enough water left to make some gravy, if not add some extra. You don’t want thick gravy, you want medium thin.
    Add 2-3 tablespoons of gravy granuels to the pot. Stir it all round.
  • Cut the chicken breast into small chunks – I used my hands to do this or you can slice it however you like. Drop it into the pot.
    Add some black pepper and herbes de Provence if you like.
    Stir it all up a bit, not too much though.
    Continue boiling for a few mins longer, until gravy has thickened a bit.
  • Pour a bit of the oil into the oven dish and rub round with your hands.
    Place a couple of layers of the filo pastry around the dish.
    Empty the saucepan into the middle of the dish.
    Wrap the pastry around the mixture, so it’s covered – pie-style.
    Pour/rub some more oil all over the top of the pasty.
    I had gravy leaking through the pastry at the point, so place another couple of sheets around and then glaze it with more oil.
  • Put the dish in the oven and bake for about 15mins!
  • Done!

Pic of my pie dish and the gravy leak!

Pic of my pie dish and the gravy leak!

The pie cut in half in all its glory

The pie cut in half in all its glory

 

Does going to Rutlish School put you in the “Cosy Club”?

August 28th, 2014
rutlish_emblem

Rutlish School coat of arms

Apparently the UK is deeply elitist and you can’t get a ‘top job’ unless you are one of the ‘cosy club’ which mostly comprises of private school types.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-28953881

Now I went to Rutlish School, an ex-grammar in Merton Park, Wimbledon, SW19. So my real question is, are we #Rutlish School boys part of the ‘cosy club’? Let’s look at the facts – John Major PM is an old boy of ours, we have an Old boys club called The Old Ruts + we were all boys + we have a “Speech Night” whereby a famous old-Rutlish boy does a speech and presents prizes(John Major in 1991) + we had ‘houses’ + we have a ‘head boy’ + we used to play ‘fives'(a game generally only played at private schools) + we did had Latin lessons at GCSE and A-Level!

Inspired by this article, I’ve now made some art work! 🙂

Rutlish Elite

Free ways to copy files, video, photos and music directly to/from your iPhone without iTunes

February 5th, 2014

The problem with iTunes is you simply cannot copy files, photos, images, videos directly to and from your iPhone or iPad. I wanted to copy some specific .MOV video files to my iPhone and copy some camera roll photos off it and found this became a bit of a nightmare. I really couldn’t be bothered with syncing and all that malarky, I just wanted to copy the files and go. Anyways, after several hours of playing around I’ve concluded the following, hope it helps somebody : I found I needed 3 programs to maintain my iPhone as I wanted.

iTunes – which we all know and think is ‘alright’ – I use this to create entire backups of my iPhone.

iFunbox (free) – an excellent utility that allows you to directly access and transfer the files on an iPhone. You can view the filesystem on the iPhone directly, BUT it also has a “Quick Toolbox” tab which allows you to easily copy to and from the iPhone photos,music and video – and puts them where they should be. This means they are viewable in the “Videos” and “Music” standard iPhone apps. The only downside is that it doesn’t add the metadata for videos or music – so you get blank thumbnails and cover art when looking at them in list view. Note: I use version 2.7 of iFunbox as the v2014 beta version didn’t work properly for me)

PhoneTrans (free) from iMobie – another excellent utility that allows you to upload or copy music and video to/from the iPhone. This DOES create metadata and so for videos/music you get the thumbnails and cover art! It is somewhat confusing that this program leaves out the ability to copy photos, but hey. Note for Mac Users – iFunbox doesn’t have the Quick Toolbox yet, so you’ll have to use direct copying. PhoneTrans is called AnyTrans and is annoyingly limited to 100 uses.

Backing up the iPhone – full backup as well as individual photos, video, music, camera roll

If my iPhone blows up I want some kind of full backup of it, but I also want to be able to do ad-hoc backups of photos, the camera roll, videos or songs maybe too.  My solution is to use iTunes to keep a backup of the entire iPhone – that way you can get all your stuff back. Then for the ad-hoc backup and copying use iFunbox. Using the ‘Quick Toolbox’ tab you can backup your photos, videos and music very quickly and easily – just click Export photos, pick a folder and viola. For individual items, navigate the explorer to the

 ifunbox_import_export

Copying Photos to/from the iPhone

I use iFunbox to copy photos as it does this remarkably quickly and easily. Either copy from the phone using explorer tab for the Camera Rolls or use the “Quick Toolbox” tab to Import/Export your photos either way.

ifunbox_explorer

Copying Videos and Music

I’d like to use iFunbox for Videos and Music, but I like the thumbnails to appear when I click the “Videos” or “Music” app and these need metadata and for some reason they’ve left that functionality out of iFunbox. Therefore I found PhoneTrans the best way to copy across videos and music. It’s not a big deal as it’s incredibly simple to do – just click “Music” or “Movies” on the side bar and click the Add button – DONE!

phonetrans

Technical tips for iFunbox :

In the explorer, turn off “Thumbnail View” by clicking it – then you can see the path and size of the files. iTuneControl/Music – where the MP3’s and videos are stored. Search .mp3, .mp4 to find your music or movie files from Raw File System.

Latest youtube video – The Royal Exchange over 2 years

February 2nd, 2013
YouTube responded to TubePress with an HTTP 410 - No longer available

My latest youtube video! London’s Royal Exchange filmed over 2 years – Nov 2010 – Jan 2013. On my way home from work each day/night I started taking pics of The Royal Exchange from outside Bank station. Eventually making this stop-motion movie from them – it’s a bit jerky at the start, but hope you like the video anyways. Watch out for the Olympics logos/barriers – taken during the men’s marathon and wheelchair marathons.

Girl with surfboard by Wimbledon Village bus stop

August 20th, 2012

girl with surfboard by bus stopNot something you see every day! Saw this girl with a surfboard at a bus stop in  Wimbledon Village as was wandering past.

Mo Farah Runs Away From Things!

August 16th, 2012

My contribution to the Mo Farah Runs Away From Things craze! 🙂
http://mofarahrunningawayfromthings.tumblr.com/

Mo Farah Runs Away From Things - Sheep

Montreal, Montpelier and Albany

October 19th, 2011
Back to the Future? - Montpelier Court House

Back to The Future – Montpelier Court House

Montreal Tips:
Take bus 747 from Montreal airport, it runs 24/7.
Travel card costs $8 and lasts 24hours after 1st usage on bus and metro + includes a ride on the 747 bus. $16 for 3 days usage.

Montpelier Highlights for me were:
1) visiting the Skinny Pancake shop for good/different food
2) pick up a free town street map from the Info stand a bit along from Subway, on the way to the state Capitol. this is highly useful.
3) tour the State Capitol building, very friendly and helpful guides there.
4) visit the Hubbard Park tower – about 20mins walk.
5) you can walk back down from Hubbard Park to the town via either path. the higher path is nicer, the lower path goes steeply down the ‘mountain’ and ends up.
6) visit the Uncommon market – reminds me of Bailey and Sage in Wimbledon village 🙂
Useful info:
The Greyhound Bus stop is on Main Street just by the Fire station, it’s on one side of the road only, The other side are for municipal buses.
The supermarket is the south end of of mainstreet.

Chancellors Hall - Albany

Chancellors Hall – Albany

Albany:
You can take Bus 29 and 6 from to Greyhound station.
Get hold of the B&B map.
Visit the Capitol, found very interesting, we don’t really have this kind of thing in the UK.

Met Ed Stafford – The Man That Walked The Amazon

June 14th, 2011

Ed Stafford and Me

Decided I needed a break after 6 months of no holiday (what with the marathon training and everything) and so took a trip up north to tick off a visit to Leeds (Beflast now remains the last major town I haven’t visited in the UK according to my list). Needed an excuse to go and happened upon a lecture in Halifax (never been there either) that interested me. After a quick glance at some tennis at the Roehampton Wimbledon qualifiers, I set off about 2pm. Finally reaching Halifax a whole hour before the 7:30pm start. The lecture was by Ed Stafford, the first man ever to walk entire length of the Amazon river! It took him 2.5 years – 860 DAYS! to do and he saw Piranahs, Anacondas, waded through head high water, thousands of mosquitos, was called Pela Cara (face peeler – some Amazonian tribes think white men steal people’s faces and body parts and will kill without hesitation) and even sat on the back of a motorbike driven by a 5ft tall Peruvian lady one time whlst holding her miniture dog! It was pretty interesting, along with the various slides, maps and video of the trip he showed us, there’s going to be a 2 part doco on TV too. Following the lecture was a Q/A session and I got to ask Ed what kind of physical training he’d done to prepare for the trip –  ‘Not a whole lot to be honest’ was his reply 🙂 Also bought his book Walking the Amazon and got to meet the man himself, can’t wait to read it – a really good bloke – a true adventurer and explorer.


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