Thursday 27 August 2015

What's In My Festival Bag 2015

I'm off to End of the Road next week, one of my favourite festivals in the UK. The weather isn't looking too great but it's meant to be dry which means I can just about put up with the cold. I feel like I'm a festival packing pro these days, I've been to so many over the years and have managed to condense the essentials into a small day-to-day rucksack without much of a second thought. The key is to stick to the essentials and not bring anything too fancy. Leave your Miu Miu cat eye sunglasses at home and make sure you always have enough space for a few cans of cider.

Even though the weather is looking grim I still make sure I have a travel sized bottle of sun cream, in my case it is always SPF 50. I have some lovely designer sunglasses but let's be honest, they aren't practical so my £3 Tiger fake Ray Bans will do nicely. A portable phone charger is an absolute must as is a small purse with just your essentials cards, try and bring enough money to last the weekend because no one wants to deal with cash machines queues. I am going to bring my SLR on this occasion because EOTR is really safe and chilled but if something does happen I have insurance. FYI is you have an expensive camera and you don't have insurance then get it immediately! For my camera I'm going to use an Eyefi Mobi SD card, I can take pictures on my SLR and sync them up to my phone using the built in wifi which is pretty snazzy. This works really well if you want to use Instagram with your camera! A packet of tissues and wet wipes is an absolutely must as well, as is hand sanitizer and moisturiser.

I normally throw everything into my yellow Kanken because I love how vibrant it is (even though it gets dirty ridiculously quickly) but I always chuck in a tote bag in case I buy any records from the merchandise tent. EOTR is small so it only takes a few minutes to walk back to your tent but that still doesn't stop me carrying a few extra layers around.

EOTR is my last festival of the year and I'm super excited to see Sufjan Stevens again (I'm seeing him next week at the Royal Festival Hall too), War On Drugs, Future Islands, Saint Etienne, Low, My Morning jacket, Alvvays, Slow Club, Brakes, Mammut and lots more. I'm going to try and make a video because the place is so special but we shall see.

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Thursday 20 August 2015

Hot Pool Hopping Around Iceland

Steve and I went on an epic two week road trip around Iceland in July and I have so much to share I don't really know where to begin. The trip was a once in a life time sort of thing, we scaled glaciers, traversed mountain roads and battled every season in what should have been the height of summer. A big feature of the trip was checking out the naturally heated hot pools due to Iceland's rich source of geothermal energy. On my previous visit a few years ago I spent a few hours at the famous Blue Lagoon so this time I was excited to find some local hot spots and off the beaten track treasures. Equipped with my GoPro we managed to visit plenty of hot pools; some were beautiful, some were terrifying, and some were all together out of this world. The linking feature in every single place was the fact they're heated by naturally occurring hot water which is pretty bloody awesome!

The first place we visited was the local hangout in Reykjavik, Laugardalslaug. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos because there was a big sign stating 'no cameras allowed'. I didn't want the local Icelandic people giving my dirty looks so I didn't even attempt one picture but trust me when I say this is a fantastically fun place complete with water slides, hot pots and two massive swimming areas. It's certainly not a relaxing place as it's the local leisure centre but it's super cheap and a super fun activity for a free afternoon.

Once we left Reykjavik and hit Route 1 for our road trip it wasn't long before we were stopping off at our next swimming destination. Located at the bottom of the mountains on the snaefellsnes peninsula, Lýsuhóll is a small pool rich in algae that leaves your skin feeing silky smooth after only a short period of time. We arrived at 7pm as we'd had a busy day on the road stopping at different sites so it was a nice way to unwind that evening. There's one medium sized swimming pool and two hot pots which is more than fine for this quite spot. One of the best things about this pool was the location, situated in a quiet part of the peninsula the surrounds are serene and the mountainous backdrop is magnificent.

The following day consisted of a lot of driving, we tackled the west fjords which were absolutely stunning but also pretty tiresome. You can imagine driving around fjord after fjords takes its toll after a few hours. Anyway, we were staying in the far north-east of the west fjords that night and en route to our hotel we stumbled across three magnificent, road side hot pots. I say stumbled across but I knew all about these hot pots in Drangsnes and planned to visit them accordingly, so it was very convenient that they were on the road to our hotel. Completely free to use and open 24 hours are day these hots pots (varying in temperature) are situated in a beautiful fjord side location. We spent the evening chatting to locals and watching the light flicker across the water, it was really magical. Even though these pools are free to visit there is actually a shower and changing room across the road. Leave your clothes in here and run across the road without getting hit by passing cars, it's all part of the Icelandic fun.

We totally under estimated the driving conditions that evening and it ended up taking another hour or so to reach our hotel meaning we didn't arrive until midnight, oops!

I originally planned to visit this end of the road swimming pool, Krossneslaug after the three hot pots the previous evening but due to bumpy road and slow driving this was definitely not going to happen. Situated at the end of the road north in Norðurfjörður this was a 90 minute drive from our hotel in Djupavik, but despite this enormous diversion it was 100% worth visiting as this was probably my favourite pool of the trip. We were extremely lucky the morning we visited as we had the place to ourselves despite hearing that in the summer up to 600 people can visit a day!

Situated at the edge of the sea it feels like an infinity pool when you're inside. If you're lucky you can catch seals in the ocean and there's even a hot pot to immerse yourself in. The pool is open 24 hours and costs very little. The care takers live on site and keep an eye on the midnight parties to make sure things don't get too out of hand. Iceland is a super fresh country but the air felt really special and pure here, maybe it was the sea breeze and complete tranquillity. Even though this pool is literally in the middle of nowhere it is so wonderful and special, you must visit.

I forgot to charge my GoPro so I was only able to get a quick iPhone snap of Myvatn Nature Baths which was a shame because it's a lovely place (despite the sulphuric stench). Myvatn is known as the smaller, but just as special Blue Lagoon of the north and having been to both I completely understand why. The milky blue water is really magical looking and the volcanic surrounding make you feel like you're on Mars. Of course this isn't a cheap place to visit being a pretty huge tourist site but it's still significantly cheaper than its southern counterpart. We spent a quick afternoon here and whilst I did enjoy the place it felt huge and busy compared to everywhere else we had visited.

Our final swimming pool of the trip was certainly the most unique, and terrifying. Seljavallalaug is situated in the south of Iceland not too far away from Vik where we spent our final evening. It's an adventure to reach. Park the car and then hike for 15 minutes through shallow rivers and rocky mounds. You will eventually find Iceland's oldest swimming pool, built in the 1920s and situated amongst a mountainous valley. We visited at midnight which was probably a mistake as the place was super eerie, so much in fact we only stayed for about 20 minutes.

The pool was originally built to teach the locals to swim but in 1990 a new pool was built nearby and this old one became almost deserted. It's still used but it's only cleaned out once a year so it's a bit murky. The changing rooms are crumbling shells so it's best to come prepared, don't expect a shower afterwards. Despite the dodgy vibe I'm glad we visited as it was most definitely an experience I wont forget.

There are a ton of other pools I wanted to visit but time beat us so they'll have to wait for another trip. We didn't make it to the Blue Lagoon as we left it too late to book tickets but I've been before so I honestly don't care that much. The local, more secluded pools were more special and memorable plus less busy and an awful lot cheaper. I love Iceland, it's one of my favourite countries so I'll definitely be visit again and checking out all the places I missed.

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Sunday 9 August 2015

OUTFIT: Pineapple Dress

Pineapple dress - George at ASDA
Denim Jacket - Uniqulo
Trainers - Nike
Sunglasses - Tiger

Well hello there, it's been a long time since I've done an outfit post hasn't it? Steve and I went to Visions Festival yesterday and whilst we were in the queue to see Jens Lekman I asked him to snap a couple of photos. I had my camera with me as we'd popped into the delicious Som Saa for lunch plus I'd been meaning to show off this new dress for a while so it was a perfect opportunity.

My love of pineapples goes back a few years now and I definitely don't see the trend dying down any time soon. This summer dress was a bargain at £8 and it's so easy to wear as the shape is quite slouchy and casual. It's actaully sleeveless so I have to make sure my shoulders are covered as I burn easily, but teamed with a denim jacket it's the perfect way to stay cool in the heat without the risk of sun damage.

Visions was OK, it's a one day, multi venue music and arts festival across east London with tons of bands, craft beer and street food to keep you busy. We had to collect our wristbands at Oval Space earlier in the day (cue an hour or two chilling in London Fields and pottering around Broadway Market). Not only was the queue ridiculously long, we were told we couldn't bring our water bottles into the venue. Under normal circumstances I totally get this but considering we were JUST collecting our wristband and not actually going to see a band at Oval Space I was pretty pissed off about this lack of foresight on the organisers part. First impressions, not good!

The festival takes part in 6 different venues but we ended up staying at St John of Hackney Church all evening as there was a pretty decent line up consisting of Jens Lekman, The Antlers and Camera Obsecura. First of all, the venue doors didn't open until an hour after their scheduled time which made for huge queues around the church. Once we made it to the entrance we nearly didn't get in because my camera was too big (thanks Visions for not mentioning on your website that this would be an issue) but after begging with the doormen they let us on the condition I kept my camera away. I normally love seeing bands in churches as the acoustics are always spot on but the sound in here was really echoy and you could barely make out song lyrics. The bad sound coupled with the moronic doormen we came across that evening put a bit of a dampener on the experience and I won't be returning to the festival again.
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