Belgium Triangle

Mid week city break, anyone?

The thing I love about Europe is that everywhere is quite close – relatively speaking! Cheap flights on budget airlines and you can discover the Art Nouveau capital of the world! That actually surprised me! Okay, so this wasn’t my most planned or researched trip! I hadn’t even noted down the address of my hostel or how to find it! I sort of just decided to head to Belgium for a few days, then decided to stay in Brussels and visit Bruges and Ghent. They, pretty much make a triangle! Despite not knowing where my hostel was or how to find it, this turned out to be a great trip.

Teething issues!

I landed in Brussels and had the realisation that I had done zero – and I mean zero -research! I didn’t even take a note of the address of my hostel or how to get there! An empty stomach and no idea where to go… not a great combination! But thanks to a cheeky wifi connection – thank you O2 for dropping roaming charges to Europe – I was able to find my hostel which ended up being only 10 minutes walk from the station I was at!

Seriously unprepared for my first foray into Solo travel in a while! No travel charger, wrong plug connection, no bag for water, although walking around with only my MK traveller bag was awesome and light! SO I decided to introduce – THE EMERGENCY TRAVEL JOURNAL – an A5, 96-page soft cover book that fits in my handbag with my selfie stick, phone, hand cream, pen, passport and gum. My trendy umbrella hangs nicely off the bag too!


After the hostel debacle, I headed into Brussels for the afternoon. Which means I navigated myself from my hostel to the Grand Place, in a meandering orientation style walk! These are my favourite – unrushed and you see some strange and wonderful things. Searching for specific landmarks comes later in my tours, I like to get a feel of the local area and find the big landmarks that make navigating the city easier! The Grand Place is exactly that, the heart of the city.

Brussels is filled with identifiable places from the Atomium, the Mannekin Pis, Palais Royale and Central Station. We have all seen Place du Luxembourg on TV at some point!

One thing that I enjoy doing is finding good places to eat or drink and returning for seconds or thirds. This is easy in Brussels with the L’Roi on the Grand Place, a great place on the corner of the square with a gorgeous view where you can drink beer and watch the tourists! Another place is the Moeder Lambic on the place Fountainas, a fabulous beer house with over 40 crafted Belgium beers! You can find one that you like or keep tasting until you fall over!


After watching In Bruges, I have wanted to come to Bruges to see if it really is that beautiful! It is! Even when overcast and threatening rain! The canals are simple and stunning while the Begijnhof is amazing. The Begijnhof is a silent, square of giant trees planted by Beguines, emancipated women who wanted to live a life of quiet contemplation. The square is surrounded by the Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde, pretty housing for those independent ladies, now home to monks and a museum.

Bruges is an easy city to walk around even with my bad sense of direction! There are tourist maps placed along the route from the station to the Centre Markt. Which is straight out of the film and beautiful even without the market in full flow. All I could smell was strawberries as I walked through it!

The buildings are old, brick-cobbled along small streets.nThe churches tower over the buildings – some are so tall that you can’t get the full weight in a photo – not enough space to step back! There is a similarity to the buildings but they are not uniform.

Both McDonalds and Pizza Hut are not clad in their usual brightly coloured showy exteriors. I walked right past the McDonalds – only identified by a small sign outside. And yes it is a cheap place to eat while travelling!

Such a pleasure to stroll along the canal listening to the wind!

Ghent and the hard to find castle!

The train to Gent St Pieters was really enjoyable – I like trains – calm and chilled. I enjoy that. Peaceful, I forget how much I like train journeys. Definitely, something I miss living in KSA.

Ghent or Gent – WOW!

So unexpected and beautiful!

The churches, trams and shops all squeezed into tiny, windy streets that stretch for ages. Then it’s churches and cathedral – stunning. I spend much time meandering through the small streets looking for a castle that is not on a hill – most castles are on hills, or set in easily defensible places. Ghent Castle is not – you can’t even see the castle over the buildings. It’s kind of odd, although the castle overlooks the city, well the upper ramparts do due to their height but the actual castle is hard to find as it’s sort of hidden in a dip by the canal. Definitely, my favourite part – I even spent ten euro to see inside its dark halls and wander the ramparts. It is full of little displays of old weaponry, clothing and historical nuggets of information!

I have discovered that I really like walking around cities as seeing the architecture and getting a feel for the city!

What’s your favourite thing when travelling? Do you prefer feeling the life blood of the city or viewing museums and galleries?

Chester, UK

I love having family who lives in different places! It means more places for me to visit and explore!

Where does your family live?

My youngest brother has recently moved to Chester. So guess where my second stop during my three-month long vacation was?

Yup, you guessed it!


img_6708A lovely city, with a small town feel! In the sunshine, it is stunning, although I am pretty sure that even overcast Chester is pretty! Such an easy city to walk around, either by canal or along the city wall! The old town is crammed within the large Roman walls despite the winding streets the city does not feel cramped! Many tourists wander around, mixing in with the locals doing their shopping.

img_6711A strange mix of ancient stones and modern stores and restaurants, Chester is a lot of fun to walk around. From the Roman walls, amphitheatre and the rows of Tudor Style half-timber buildings, it is a wonderful mix of architecture making my meanderings around the old city very interesting.

img_6705I happily wandered around, stopping at coffee shops and bars to watch the folk shopping and sight seeing!

There is so much to do from visiting the Cathedral, the Race Course, the Zoo and an Aquarium, even Falconry events based out of the Cathedral!

You need at least a week to explore this lovely English City!

Staycation – Cumbria, UK

Can you spot the sheep on Silverdale Farm? -

Can you call it a staycation if you don’t live in the country?

Having travelled back to the UK for my summer holiday’s – a definite perk of being a teacher! I found myself enjoying a mini staycation to Cumbria. In a static caravan no less!

Where do you Staycation?

I have never stayed in a Static Caravan before – a campervan, old VW style yes, but an actual static caravan, nope! SO this was a new experience for me! I was pleasantly surprised, not sure what I was expecting but a neat, well put together mini home was not expected. It was just like a normal home but smaller and less solid!

Caught being cute on camera - carikube.wordpress.comFor my brother, his girlfriend and the dog the trip to Cumbria is something they do as a way to get away from the busy city of Liverpool and enjoy some quality walking time in the countryside.

Staying in Caravan Park near Arnside it was quiet and just like a small country village with green trees, grasses and even a pond! It was beautiful, definitely a good way to spend the weekend.

#carikube.wordpress.comI must admit it has been a long time since I did any English Countryside walking. We started out walking along the beach at Arndale, the overcast sky kept us cool and still allow for good photos. Quintessentially English, Arnside is cute, the beach was a mix of sand, mud and rocks. Watching the dog gamble about was great, he is such a happy pooch!

Summer crossings of the bay - carikube.wordpress.comAs we rounded the headland on the beach we discovered hundreds of people and dogs milling about! In the middle of the beach. Almost in lines, it was weird! We found out that during the summer the wide gets low enough for people to walk across the bay from one beach to another, there is a Sand Master leading the expedition and a tractor following them jut in case! Apparently, there are quicksand patches and places where the sand puddles are very deep, hence the need for a Sand Master to keep everyone safe!

Walking on the beach to SIlverdale - carikube.wordpress.comThe dog was not impressed, the vast number of dogs did not want to play, so we carried on with our walk to Silverdale!

Our route took us from Arnside to Silverdale along the beach, with a brief pause to watch my brother and the dog cavort in a giant puddle! Apparently, the dog can’t see when the water changes depth, so he would disappear into the water and pop up doing the doggy paddle! Hilarious fun!

We walked through Silverdale, stopping for refreshment at each pub! The sun had come out some chilled with a cold drink in the summer sun was amazing! Yes, the meandering through the village was slow and really chilled! It was late afternoon before we hit the forest to make our way over the hill (via a series of forest paths and windy footpaths).

Views through the trees of moss covered rocks - carikubeblog.wordpress.comI still think going up the hill would have been better in the morning but since we were in the shade it was great! English forests are so stirring, maybe it was just me but I was seeing ancient battles between bowmen, forest folk dancing and frolicking through the trees! Sure, the moss covered rocks evoked images of scrambling children and elves! I can’t wait for my masters to be over when I can sit down and write some of these scenes down!

#carikubeblog.wordpress.comThe view from the top of the hill was beautiful, a feeling of contentment and achievement washed over me as I looked out over the Dales. I am now getting whimsical and should sign off before I head off in a totally different direction!

I am definitely a firm believer in Staycations, where ever you live! Particularly, if you live in a city and can get away to the countryside. It was a beautiful weekend and as usual the dog got the most attention – he is a lovely dog!

Where do you go for a mini break?

Tibs on tour on Arnside Knott -

What to do with travel photos?

I have travelled to many places with much more to explore! I don’t know about other travellers but I have real trouble with my travel photos – yes, I post them on Facebook so my family can see them but then…there they stay unless you look through them!

What do you do with your travel photos?

In 2010 I had the great idea to turn my Japan photos into a photo book with Snapfish – the outcome was amazing – neat, compact and a little story to remember my travels by!

Nowadays most people don’t even print out their photos – I know one person who printed out their photos of their Japan trip and one who created photo books of their travel trips from the last two years.

I am sitting with photos of diving and my travels from 2014 up till now on my PC. In that time I have created one photo book from my adventures in Madagascar.

Hundreds of photos, wasting away.

Hidden from view.

Lonely and forgotten!

Screen Shot of my photo folders #carikubeblog.wordpress.comAfter looking through my travel photographs tonight, I wondered what I should do with them?!

Continue reading “What to do with travel photos?”

Charles Fort and Kinsale

Where do you call home?

Sometimes memories hit you in the strangest ways! You open an email with a link to the West Cork Times and voila – now you are homesick for Kinsale! I first travelled to Kinsale in 2008. Since then I travel there at least once a year to see my father who has retired to the small Irish village. It is now one of the few places I can happily call home!

Check out this awesome video from the West Cork Times:

I can’t wait to go to Kinsale!

Are you like me and many places you call home?

How to plan your packing for 3 months

How to plan your packing for a 3 month summer holiday - carikubeblog.wordpress.comBeing an international teacher means when it is holiday time I want to get out and see the world! This is a wonderful way to live. But when the term dates are changed, and I end up with three extra weeks holiday over the summer – two things happen:

  1. My colleagues and I become the most hated teachers’ on the planet, thanks to extra long summer vacation.
  2. I panic about how to pack for a three month holiday!

Three months is a long time – last summer I had 110 days and had to pack for a scuba volunteer project in a summer climate and winter with my mother. This summer I plan to travel around the UK and see some parts of Europe I haven’t seen yet (More on that in a later post). With the additional problem of taking some books back to the UK, as well as having to take my laptop, kindle and Ipad in my checked in baggage – the problem increased.  Even less space in my suitcase!

How do you pack for a long holiday?

My sister laughs at me, but I start with Pinterest – I have a board called Packing, that I pin all sorts of packing hacks, tips and methods. Recently, I have developed an interest in capsule wardrobes, I like the idea of a smaller wardrobe that makes more outfits. This will allow me to spend more money on travelling and fun stuff! Check out my Pinterest Board called Fashion for more details and ideas about capsule wardrobes.

My sister laughs at the way I start packing, I use a pencil and my Bullet Journal. This means I can pack anywhere even while on the bus waiting for the bank to open. I find that this method helps refine my thinking of which items I need – I can then pull out what is necessary and then add things I feel are necessary.  Or things I just have to take with me!

Steps to my slim line packing method:

  1. List the basics for clothes
  2. List extras that you might need to buy (this helps if you have limited space)
  3. List basics for toiletries (thanks to Boots and Superdrug I can pick up anything bulky like shampoo and conditioner!)
  4. List basics for makeup
  5. Once the basics are listed – lay everything out on the bed (this helps with colour coding and making sure everything matches).
  6. Pack it all – if it fits great! If it doesn’t – sorry high tops will have to only take the Converse!

My lists help me visualise what I might need and gives me an idea of what the basics are! Once, the items are out on the bed I can see what I have and add or remove items depending on my needs.


So how do you pack for a long holiday? Let me know your tips and tricks!


Essentials for Carry On Travel

the essential items for carry on travel - carikubeblog.wordpress.comAs a frequent traveller, hand luggage is the bane of my existence. So many issues, so many ways to pack!

  • Too much, not enough?!
  • How long is the flight?
  • Long haul, 5-6 hours, 1-2 hours?
  • Will you be working/ blogging/ writing?

What to take?

While looking at packing pins on Pinterest, and travel blogs on packing there are a lot of options and suggestions. But there are also many different types of hand luggage/ carry on’s. For example, when I travel to Ireland to see my dad, I only take hand luggage (and a handbag) as the airlines charge for checked in luggage. However, when I travel for holidays or longer periods I usually take a suitcase/ backpack (depending on the type of travel) and hand luggage… and a handbag/ day pack. Usually with my Kindle, tablet (for games) and laptop (for masters assignments). While I do have Microsoft 365 and can open my documents anywhere – as long as there is the internet – I prefer my laptop to be with me as I can find a good spot (cafes, hotel rooms/ lobbies), connect and work away.

New rules and regulations introduced by the UK and US governments. 

OH NO… now my three essential pieces of tech are banned!

In March the following items: large phones, external hard drives, laptops and tablets were banned from the cabin on flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia. Living in Saudi Arabia, this affects me particularly this summer when I have planned a 3 month holiday based in my home country (UK).

Yikes – now what?

Firstly, I need to rethink my hand luggage from the “kitchen sink” to “essentials only”. Secondly, I finally get to write a packing post after reading them for years! So I reviewed my favourite Packing Pins and compared them to the stuff I take with me regularly – the aim is to travel super light! I have not travelled without my Kindle since I bought it in 2010 (yes, the same one)! I love having lots of book choices in the palm of my hand. June 3rd will be the first time I have not had it in my hand luggage. I really hope the airline has good movies!

Ideally, I would love to travel with a minimal handbag and no hand luggage – which so far never works out because of all my electronics.  This trip I am going to try to carry only a handbag once I am checked in!Small and neat bag I wish I could use for hang luggage

But knowing my luck, I will be taking a bigger handbag!The bag I actually travel Radley -


Baby Wipes (or equivalent) – for cleaning/ refreshing during the flight, most flights hand out refresher towels now so this depends on space and how far I have to travel after the flight!

Gum/ Mints – I don’t snack in general so I don’t travel with snacks but mints/ gum help with ear popping and fresh breath on shorter flights (for longer ones I take a travel sized toothbrush and paste).

Ear plugs and an Eye mask – essential when trying to chill or sleep, particularly when babies are around – on shorter flights I choose movies to watch and usually back to back as there are no cinemas in Saudi so I like to take advantage particularly if they have left the cinema circuit already!

Hand sanitizer/ wipes – for extra cleanliness, I like having them on hand for spills or to clean up coffee stains.

Hair brush, ties, clips – my straight hair tends to become static, during flights and it is easier to stick it in a ponytail or braid when sleeping, having an extra tie and clips helps if I fancy a change. The brush helps me feel awake and presentable on arrival!

Jewellery bag – I always carry my dive watch and jewellery for the vacation in my hand luggage as I do not want to loose it or have it stolen.

Journal and pens – For checking travel plans, keeping numbers, journaling,  post planning or creative writing, heck I even make notes of things to get in duty-free before I leave the airport – a very important thing when visiting people, last minute gifts are great! I like coloured pens and have a set of 4 BIC coloured pens that fit in my travel wallet – just in case!

Knickers – a change of underwear, in a zip lock bag which is great for keeping them fresh and storing the dirty pair. Additionally, a small bag won’t get tangled with anything else and jump out and surprise you as you dig for your passport!

Makeup – Eyeliner, mascara, lipstick to freshen up on arrival as I don’t like travelling in makeup – okay maybe a touch of eyeliner! While waiting for baggage, a quick trip to the bathroom to add a touch of glam helps to make me look less tired!

Moisturisers – Lip, face, hands, spray, eye drops to keep me moisturised and fresh.

Painkillers – Just in case but essential if I get a headache or when I travel with someone and they get a headache!

Perfume – I like to keep a mini size on hand for freshening up, I only wear deodorant before flying so keeping a mini in my bag helps on the other side particularly after difficult flights – it sort of clears the air for me!

Phone, charging bank and earphones – just in case the movies work before they had out the airline’s earphones, also good for audio books and music since no Kindle or iPad for reading! My charging bank fits in the palm of my hand and means I don’t need to carry my charger

Sunglasses & Glasses – Sunny’s are a must when landing in the day, sensitive eyes and all that! The glasses are in case I get tired – for example on a 3:50 am flight, watching or reading can make my eyes even more tired.

Travel Wallet – Passport, tickets, visas, money (multiple currencies), pens, credit cards and other paperwork things I might need before my final destination.


How to Pack a Carry On or Carry On Necessities for the Pampered Traveler 

What to pack in an Airplane Tote? 

Travel Tuesday Carry-On Essentials

My Carry-on flight Essentials 


4 Great Ways to Make Coffee!

4 Great Ways to Make Coffee #greatcoffeemaking

How do you make coffee? I love coffee – particularly in the morning! Strangely, it’s not about the caffeine, I will happily drink a decaf coffee as long as it is good coffee and made well. Part of my morning routine revolves around the making and drinking of a good coffee. Here are some of my favourite coffee techniques!

Continue reading “4 Great Ways to Make Coffee!”

Bullet Journal – one year later

It came to my attention that I starting using a Bullet Journal, this time last year! That is pretty amazing by my standards!

You may ask what is a Bullet Journal, the best place to find out is the man who created it! Ryder Carroll, at, that’s where I started! There are so many sites that will show you how to set up a Bullet Journal (Bujo), pretty soon you will be searching Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and then you will get depressed and say “well I can’t make mine that pretty, so why bother!”

Ignore that thought and do it!

There are many reasons to start a Bujo, I needed to combine my day planner, travel planner, journal, multiple notebooks full of to-do lists and I am not very good at keeping these on my phone or tablet. I came across it trying to find a planning tool to help my crazy lists! The Bujo is cool! I also like that it is a work in progress, adaptable to you and what you need.

My first Bujo

The biggest thing for most people, initially, is what book to use? Some sites recommend a moleskin, some the Leuchtturm1917, as you can see I used whatever I had available! My first bujo was the journal I was about half way through, so instead of buying a new one I just folded the page and off I went! I would say that using any notebook can lead to some paper related issues! For example, my first had really thin paper that bled through if I used anything more than a roller ball or pencil crayons! One thing I wish I had in both my first and my current – are page numbers, I am forever forgetting to number my pages then I number them wrong and have to cross things out!

My current Bujo

My second bujo was one of two journals I won at a raffle, better quality paper, but they have a Mitsubishi Logo – easy solve – I covered it was a printed image and some sticky back plastic left over from school! I later added lace stickers because I had them and they looked pretty! Again the paper is not ideal for felt pens but it will take gel pens! Which opened up a whole new colour fantasy for me.  I have one more of these red journals then I get to use a fancier one that was a present from my wonderful mum! SO paper weight and quality is something to think about if you are shopping for a journal see Living Between the Lines for other hints!

What to include? This is totally up to you and entirely depends on what you need! But standard items are a yearly planner, monthly planner, weekly and or daily spreads.


For the yearly spread, I need simple, with space around it to make notes and use colours for long term planning e.g. of my masters’ modules! It can be any style, I started with a hand-drawn version over several pages – it didn’t work for me so when the year ended I found a nice one and printed it off. I realised that I was spending ages trying to find one on the web so next year I will stick to the yearly calendar that school will give me in September – that will have all the important dates on it! Yes, I am talking about school holidays!


Again for the monthly I started with a linear spread but that left only one line for each day and sometimes you need more space! So I changed to a simple box month and used stickers and colours to jazz it up! This also meant I could create a monthly calendar with Sunday to Monday as my work week during term time and change the week during the long summer holidays!

Weekly style 1

Some people use weeklies and dailies, I don’t! It doesn’t work for me, so what I use it a weekly spread, and then if I need space for journal writing I write it on the next page! To the left, you can see my first weekly spread. It includes my weekly todo’s, deadlines, notes, meal planning, a neat quote for inspiration and a tracker – more about those later! I used washi tape to attach everything and coloured pens, this added colour to my life and a bit of meditation while setting the week up on a Saturday night – the first day of my week is Sunday!

Weekly style 2

Later, I realised I was running out of time, so I changed my spread to the one on the right. While still a two-page spread, the week is only on one page! I used post-it notes for actual note taking which is great because as a teacher I have lots of post-its but it does make it hard to see your weekly plans! So this will be changing – when the term is over!

To track or not to track? I was using daily trackers to track things like sleep, water intake, chores, homework, university work, socialising and TV/hobby time. In January I bought myself a Fitbit, which I love but the app now tracks all the things that are important, my TV is broken and my weekly schedule tracks my university homework! So that is no longer on my page. I never liked the full page trackers. They seemed so time-consuming – my opinion! I do have a monthly money tracker page and an IOU tracking page, which I enter into my index so I can track things over the year!

imageThe Index! I started as I think everyone does, leaving two pages at the front for the index – help me to find all my stuff! But I read an interesting article  (will insert a link when I remember
about putting it at the back – light bulb! Then you never run out of pages! Not that I have actually run out of index pages, but I have started adding more collections to my Bujo and I have started using my Bujo for blog planning and creative writing planning – two things that most assuredly will add pages to my index fast!

Below are a few page ideas that I used that are cool – I will reuse most of them but I watch too many TV series for the Series Tracker to work well, particularly as I find new series every week.

A few pages to check out! Sublime Reflection, Page Flutter, Boho Berry, Creative Savings, Life Hacker, Lazy Genius Collection


SS Thistlegorm

IMG_6158Being a scuba diver is wonderful if you live near places you can dive! I have lived near and far from good sites! I have been diving for 21 years – yup I said that! I learnt to dive when I was 15 to read about that check out Where it all Began! I have dived from several countries including South Africa, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus.

So when I traveled to Sharm El Sheikh for a week long holiday, you can bet I went scuba diving. While there are many beautiful dives spots in the Egyptian side of the Red Sea, my favourite was the SS Thistlegorm, which is reached by a four hour boat ride down the coast – yes four hours! It’s actually a scenic ride, with breakfast along the way, and beautiful views of the coast.

A brief history of the SS Thistlegorm, she was a British Merchant Navy armed freighter, built in 1940 in Sunderland. She was equipped with a 4.7 inch anti- aircraft gun and was, at the time she sank, installing a heavy caliber machine gun. The SS Thistlegorm sailed four voyages before she sank near Ras Mohammed in 1941. She was carrying motorcycles, bren guns, rifles, wellingtons, ammunition, radios and equipment, and aircraft parts for the Allied forces in Egypt. Strapped to her deck were several rail wagon bound for the Egyptian National Railway.

The German forces suspected a ship in the area to be carrying Allied troops to Egypt, so they sent out the Luftwaffe to find and destroy the ship. Two bombs were dropped on the SS Thistlegorm, blowing the rail waggons off the deck and sinking her. Four soldiers and five Royal Navy Gun Crew lost their lives, while the HMS Carlisle rescued the rest of the crew.  Most of the cargo remained on the ship. The wreck of the SS Thistlegorm was discovered in the 1950’s by Jacques Cousteau and is now a top ten dive site!

Diving the SS Thistlegorm was fantastic, the visibility was excellent – it was cold, 21 degree Celsius. But it was unbelievable. The wreck is haunting, almost forgotten like the cargo strewn around it. The damaged section is distinct, and there are many ammunition shells scattered around. It was hard to figure out what to look at first! Figuring out what these random feet like things were was a strange experience because once your brain connects that the feet remain of boots, you can’t unsee them. It was mind altering! I enjoyed playing spot the ammo or the welly while trying to figure out which guns or rifles lay in the muck! And by muck I mean algae! The coral was mostly soft corals, zoanthids, hydroids and Gorgonian whips. Ideal for me to brush up on my Benthic knowledge. The outside of the wreck was awesome; the inside was more so. Finning through small cargo doors and port windows were easy, losing a fin in the dark – not so much fun! But it was easily found, and the dive continued. I was surprised how much there was to see inside the ship. I knew the cargo was still mostly intact, but there was a lot of it in the small ship. Fascinating, sadly, as with all dives they kept ending! Am starting to wish I had gills! So much ocean to see!

If the SS Thistlegorm is not on your list of MUST SEE dive sites, then grab a pen and add it now!

Nudibranch – the way to a perfect dive!

Please like and share with like minded people!