Blog Map

Saturday Beach: Wineglass Bay

No, this isn't the arena from the second Hunger Games. There's a pretty strong resemblance, I know - I think it's because of the almost unnaturally perfect curve of the beach itself. Fortunately, there weren't a load of other contestants trying to kill me here.

This is Wineglass Bay in Tasmania: a beautiful beach, with a sense of unspoiled calm, which is probably at least partly to do with the fact that there are no roads that lead to it. The only way to get there is to walk from the other side of the hill. (Warning: it's a steep hill. If you're a bit unfit like me, you're really going to feel that incline.)


Saturday Beach is a series of weekly posts celebrating beaches around the world, whether cold and rocky or tropical with white sand. I love water; I love lakes; I love the sea. But most of all I love the edge of it: the boundary between the water and the land; where one thing turns into another. This is my weekly excuse to share that love with you.

The Proper Way to do an English BBQ

Barbecue in the Lake District

The weather's warming up, the sky is clearing, and we're heading towards summer. Already, thoughts start creeping in about cooking and eating outdoors. (Food always tastes better outside - don't you agree?)

At least, that's the Zeitgeist in England right now. And, since I like to try and reflect the general feel of a place, I figured this would be a good opportunity to share some tips on how to have a good BBQ English-style:

[1] Pick the right day.

For a BBQ, the weather should be sunny and warm, if you can at all manage it. A little cloud in the sky is fine, but wind is to be avoided, as it will not only blow your parasol down, but will send your salad leaves flying across the table.

However, for a conventional English BBQ, the requirements are slightly more specific.

The days leading up to the BBQ should be sunny and warm, with not a cloud in the sky (these are the days on which you plan the BBQ, invite all your friends over while they're in the right mood, and try to snap up some sausages and burgers before all the supermarkets sell out).

When the day of the BBQ arrives, it should be slightly cooler than the previous days, although still warm. The sky should be bright but cloudy. The weather will need to remain this way as your friends arrive and you finish your preparations, heat up the charcoal and cook the food. Wait until the meat turns a delicious grilled brown - and then the rain begins.

(At this point, you have two options: scurry inside to eat in the dry, or stick it out like true Brits, determined not to let the weather spoil your day.)

[2] Make more salad than anybody wants to eat.

We like to pretend that we're healthier than we are. And let's be honest, adding a bit of green lettuce and red tomato to your plate can make it look much more colourful and attractive.

Not too much, though. You don't want to confuse your dinner with the garden surrounding you. Take only a minimal amount of salad - perhaps just enough to go with your burger between the two halves of your bread bun.*

The majority of the salad, however, should remain in the bowl. At least - it should remain in the bowl until the wind picks up and blows it half way across the garden. At this point, you have two options: let it blow away (there's more than anybody wanted to eat anyway), or just go inside.

*Please note, this post represents a stereotypical English BBQ, and should not be taken as literal advice on healthy eating.

[3] Wear insect repellent. 

If you haven't picked quite the right English summer's day for your BBQ, and you manage to avoid torrential downpours, then you're going to need to guard against the bugs.

It might not be as bad as in some tropical countries, but if there's one thing an English summer knows how to do, it's annoy people. The insects are no exception: buzzing and fluttering around, getting in the butter and nibbling at whatever exposed skin they can find (and since we English have a tendency to jump into shorts and t-shirts at the earliest opportunity, that might be an unwisely large amount).

Solution? Wear insect repellent, and keep topping it up.

A better solution? Just go inside.

Postcards from York Minster

York Minster, York, England - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

I love taking photos of churches. It isn't a religious thing - more an aesthetic thing. Churches can be so full of intricate detail, so full of hidden gems to discover and document. And the more elaborate the church, the more fun it is to photograph. When it's a cathedral? Even better.

So, on my recent trip to York, I couldn't not visit the Minster.

There have been buildings on the site since Roman times, but the first Christian building on the site dates from 637AD: a roughly constructed wooden church which was a far cry from the impressive medieval stone Minster that can be seen today.

Despite the Minster's many setbacks over the years (fire, the English Reformation, subsidence, more fire), it remains one of York's most iconic and significant buildings, over half a millennium after it was first consecrated.

Monday Wisdom: Take a Break

Manly Beach, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

In Friday's post, I talked about the joy of doing work, and the satisfaction that comes through hard-earned achievement. Today's Monday Wisdom post turns that on its head - sort of. Actually, I think they're more like two sides of the same coin.

It's all very well forcing yourself to do the work that deep down you know you need to do, but it's quite another thing to do it constantly, and it's easy to wear yourself out. I'll hold up my hand as guilty to this - sometimes, I just need to learn when to stop working and rest.

This is probably partly why the travel bug first bit me so hard. I've always been a busy person (I was that girl at school who was in every lunchtime club and after-school group going), and I used to fill up my school holidays with camps, courses, projects and, later, with paid employment. Going away on holiday took me away from all of that, and just let me rest. I would sight-see, read books, lounge by the pool or in the sea, and not really have to think about all the things I would normally be thinking about at home.

And this has only become even more pronounced as I've got older. At university, I took a year out of my degree to study abroad in Melbourne: a fantastic experience that also meant I was less stressed and more prepared to take on my final year of university. (And come out with a fairly good mark - though of course I don't like to brag...)

Now I'm working two jobs, plus the odd bit of freelance work, plus trying to find time to write, plus blogging, plus trying to run a house (though I'll admit the housework does tend to take a back seat - as in, really far back).

Travelling to get away has become essential.

Saturday Beach: Bicheno Blowhole

Bicheno Blowhole, Tasmania

This is the Bicheno Blowhole, on the rock beach at Bicheno, Tasmania. As the waves hit the shore, a hole in the rocks forces them upwards in a plume of sea and spray. So if you're standing in the wrong place, you get soaked!


Saturday Beach is a series of weekly posts celebrating beaches around the world, whether cold and rocky or tropical with white sand. I love water; I love lakes; I love the sea. But most of all I love the edge of it: the boundary between the water and the land; where one thing turns into another. This is my weekly excuse to share that love with you.