Category Archives: Reviews

Something nice for smelly travellers

Wondering why you don’t seem to be able to make new friends while travelling? Ever thought it could be because you stink? It probably is. So I’ve rounded up some top perfumes so your friends will be able to stand closer than arm’s length from you this summer. You’re welcome.

In no particular order…

Miss 60

Apparently has the tang of rhubarb and redcurrant, combined with sweet pea. I don’t know about that, but I do know it’s one of my favourites.

Jo Malone Assam and Grapefruit/Earl Grey and Cucumber
Who wouldn’t want to smell of tea and fruit? Amazingly, this perfume actually does smell like a freshly brewed cuppa. How wonderfully English.

Gwen Stefani Harujuku Lovers
Very sweet and comes in a doll-shaped bottle. One of my faves this summer.

CK Summer
Fruity and fresh, a summery frangrance that’s not too sweet.

Floral and pretty, with notes of rose, jasmine, violet and saffron, plus a bit of pear and ginger. Like a fruit bowl in a lovely herb garden.

Ralph Lauren Romance
Very sweet but delicious smelling. Flowery yet musky. Great for day or night.

Lulu Time
This has a hint of patchouli, which personally I don’t like and smells a bit like old lady, but if you’re an old lady it’s perfect… Or if you want to infiltrate an old people’s home.

Viva Cotswold
Musky, made by a dude who has previously been commissioned to make perfume for the Queen!

Nerdy techie stuff

As my big trip gets closer I’ve started thinking about the electricity-based things I’ll need to take and how I can prevent it from taking up too many precious kgs in my backpack. I’ve compiled a list here of some of the things I’ve got for my trip, plus a few extras I’ve been sent for review that are also useful for travel…

Panasonic Lumix LX3
Having done extensive research for months, going from wanting a top SLR to the smallest compact to a cheap SLR to a decent compact, last week I finally settled on which camera to buy for the Big Trip. Trawling forums, going to Which Digital Camera and other trusted review sites, then to Amazon and eBay and back to the forums after discovering the extortionate price of my latest must-have camera, the endless loop of forum, review, price check finally came to an end. I’ve discovered that the perfect travel camera (one that takes amazing pictures, is small, lightweight and inexpensive) for me is officially the Panasonic Lumix LX3. From a design point of view it looks like the world’s first camera – you know, the type they had to keep a black sheet hooked over and that took three days to take one picture? It’s like a small version of that and as such is the damn cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It takes fantastically sharp photos, turns on quickly and is easy to use. It’s not quite small enough to slip into your trouser pocket as the lens sits outside the body, but this is worth putting up with as you get such great shots. I got mine for £200 from eBay but as it’s a few years old I couldn’t say how much it retails for these days.

I took this with the Lumix LX3. Not bad, eh?

Olympus Pen E-PL1 Camera
A cross between a compact and an SLR, this is a great travel camera for lens-nerds. The selling point that Olympus want to get across is that the camera does the hard work for you, so you don’t have to know your aperture from your ISO. Here’s the sell from Olympus: This camera has it all: high quality, point-and-shoot simplicity and chic PEN design. Whether capturing an HD movie or snapping once-in-a-lifetime moments, its six special Art Filters let you paint the world from a new perspective. And with a 100% stabilised body for crisp shots with all lens types, an accessory port and a new integrated flash, the colourful E-PL1 really is ready for fun. Previously unthinkable in consumer camcorders, a huge set of interchangeable lenses – including fast and ultra-light Micro Four Thirds models – provides even more possibilities.

Mini netbook – Asus Eee PC 900
As I plan to blog my way around Central and South America, I figured I’d need some sort of portable writing machine. After almost more research than I dedicated to the Great Camera Hunt, I finally settled upon the Asus eee PC 900. A few years old, it’s got a decent-sized screen and is really lightweight – as well as being pretty cheap. It is however a bit slow and I’ve needed to buy a new battery, but since it was less than £100 (I got it on eBay) I’ll put up with these annoyances. I know travelling with a laptop is asking to be robbed, but the way I’m trying to see it is, I don’t expect to come home with it but if I do that’s a bonus.

Joby GorillaPod
This little magnetic tripod that bends and twists is at the top of my Christmas list. You can wrap it round tree branches, magnetically attach it to metal poles and put it on any jagged rock while still holding the camera secure and straight.

Freecom’sDataBar 32gb XXS
A teeny way of saving and sharing your photos, music and documents on the move. This itty bitty USB stick is just 3cm x 1.2cm, and is also waterproof, so if your shampoo spills in your backpack your photos will make it out alive and smelling of strawberry. Available in capacities from 2GB up to 32GB.

Freecom ToughDrive Sport
This small but tough hard drive is a must for travelling photographers. It has large storage capacities in a small, shock-resistant 2.5” hard drive and is designed to withstand bumps and drops, unlike most hard drives, which lose your data if you breathe near them.

Carbonite Online Backup software
If you don’t trust yourself not to lose a USB stick or leave your hard drive attached to the hostel’s computer as you run for the next bus out of town, think about getting set up with an online server. A clever little program, Carbonite scans your hard drive for new and edited files, which it backs up on its secure servers while keeping the previous versions for 30 days. Plus, you can access your files from anywhere, so your mum can log on from home while you’re travelling and have a nosy round all those photos of last night’s bar crawl and your lists of boys’/girls’ phone numbers.
A one-year subscription costs £41.95.

Doro Walkie Talkies
If you’re going skiing this winter a great little gadget is a walkie talkie. You’re on the slopes and suddenly you can’t see your girlfriend anymore and your mobile has no reception/credit/is tucked away in your pocket and you can’t get it out with your massive gloves on. What can you do? By the time you find her she’ll be sharing a mug of hot chocolate with some cute French ski instructor in the après ski bar. Get one of these little walkie talkies and she’ll never be able to get rid of you. Plus, it’s teeny, clips onto your jacket and is easy to use – and they work up to 10km away. If you’re not going skiing this year, they’re also great for demanding a cup of tea from the living room. Available from Amazon for £34.79.

Brrr it’s cold outside

It’s flipping freezing outside. Suddenly the sun has done a runner and it’s gone from T-shirt weather straight to thick jumpers, hats, gloves and winter coat weather. But I’m trying to see the good side. So far I’ve come up with: hot chocolate, crisp mornings, guilt-free lie-ins and, most importantly, a new wardrobe.

Which brings me to my winter kit review. If you’re going skiing or travelling to a chilly country over the holidays or if you just need some new gear to keep you warm until you get to the office, read on to see what I’ve been testing out… Continue reading

It’s all Greek to me

The best thing about learning a language is being able to eavesdrop on people’s private conversations when they think you have no idea what they’re saying. Then you drop a cheeky little sentence in their language and watch their expressions as they try to remember all the mean things they said about you. I’ll be honest, that’s one of the main reasons I’m learning Spanish. That and the fact that I’m soon going to be travelling South America for four months. Continue reading