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 


Where will this year take you?

So it’s January, time to write a new list! Where do you start? 

I like to start at the end seems rather silly but it’s a good place to start. Start at the end of last year! 

What did you do? How much did you do? Where did you go? What have you crossed off your big list of life already? 

From there I choose a few things that I’d like to try and do, generally something for fitness, health, travel and something for broadening the mind. 

So this year my something to exercise is to play squash more, to dive more, to try more dive places around Jeddah. For health I want to try continue eating better less carbs more vegetables, and maybe learn how to cook a new soup. So that’s health and fitness! Next up travel!

I definitely want to go to Dubai this year for a weekend or maybe a week! after being subtly manipulated by my mother into a trip to Jordan, I guess Jordan is the place.

To broaden my mind, well based on last years learning to play the violin, this year I’m actually going to learn something to play a piece on the violin something simple but beautiful. 

There are several other aspects of life today I try to improve as well.  standard ones like to be more sociable, say yes to more things, try new restaurants, try different food, things like that. 

Making the choice to do something and being specific about it is the hardest part of making a list of things to do for the new year. As the weeks go on your plans will finalize and change as you might be inspired to change your plans. Just because you put something on your list and you don’t achieve it doesn’t mean you haven’t done anything. It just gives you a place to start. 

As every traveller knows it is not the destination it is the journey!

The thing about coffee

imageimageLong, short, quick, instant, milky, foamy, cream or sugar….heck in Cambodia they even have it with condensed milk!

Coffee – like marmite you love it or hate it! No one can really say it is just ok! The options of how you have it are endless and each country has its on variation and style.

My morning brew is usually an extra large latte of something strong. The last one was a spicy Sumatran while the current is a Strong African blend. 1/2 coffee, 1/2 milk with a dash of foam – allowing for maximum enjoyment on the school bus. imageI own an imageespresso machine which make much better coffee than instant which just seems so thin.

Sadly I am limited to 1 extra large coffee per day otherwise the caffeine overwhelmed me and I get hyper and a hyper teacher plus hyper children is a bad mix!

So I enjoy it on the ride to work or before the bus ride. My biggest problem when it comes to coffee is that I am incapable of keeping a travel mug alive for more than a couple of months. In the last year I have been through a cheap one, metal one, several expressive plastic ones. I drop them, leave them on buses, tubes, trains. There is nothing more frustrating than getting of a train or tube and realising your coffee is still of the train! Then trying to get back and have the doors slam in your face and watching your coffee disappear into the distance!

I usually console myself with mug shopping  and if I am in London, a trip to Broad Street market in Hackney for my favourite brew of all time. Filtered Monsoon Malabar with thick cream and a dash of sugar!

                               Yum, Yum.

Alzu, South Africa

The coolest thing about driving from Jo’burg, South Africa to Mbabane, Swaziland is Alzu. It’s a fabulous creation by the Alzu Animal Feed Manufacturer. A conservational idea to help educate people and show them something wonderful.

At it’s most basic it is a filling station/ rest stop with a twist.

In an effort to promote and protect the Rhino’s of South Africa, The owners of Alzu have created a mini game park with zebra, water buffalo, emu, ostriches, impala and rhino.

Yes I said RHINO’s!

There are several including a baby. Due to the disgusting habit of a certain kind of people in this world poaching rhino is still a big issue in the world with rhinos being culled for their horns. It’s kind of a hack and slash and leave the creatures to die horribly. Alzu is trying a unique way to stop this. The Alzu rhinos have all be dehorned and are protected by barbed wire, electric fences and armed guards. Strangely with all the people who pass through Alzu rest stop every one of them…yes everyone of them… stops to see the rhinos meandering about eating or drinking. Unlike a lot of parks that protect their rhinos out of the eye line of the normal people, Alzu rhinos are there to be seen by everyone.

What better way for people and children to see some of Africa’s finest creatures than by watching them while you eat your Nando’s or as you wash your hands in one of the rest rooms. If you want to learn more about protecting rhino’s you can pop downstairs and learn allsorts of cool facts about rhinos and what people in South Africa are doing to save them.


Solo Traveler Problems

So I have been looking through my photos – all three memory cards of them and have discovered the most difficult thing about travelling on your own. How do you show that you were actually there at that amazing place?

Here is one skill you have to perfect…

The Selfie!

There is no way I am walking around with a camera or cell/mobile extender…

I am not that desperate for a picture

…but it is nice to see yourself in a photo of the places you have been.

So the key points for a good selfie:

  1. Hold your phone with a slightly bent arm – ensure the zoom is fully out other wise you will get a great forehead shot!
  2. Angle your phone/camera slightly
  3. Position your phone/ camera so that you are at the edge of the frame.

If all else fails ask a fellow traveller/ guide/ stranger or use a mini stand or balance you phone/camera on a wall or bin .. heck trees work too!

After 10 week of practice I am pretty good at the Selfie!

Return to Jeddah


After 10 weeks….yes I said it 10 weeks! Of going where I wanted, seeing what I wanted and doing what I wanted I returned to the land of the abaya, no diving and work.

A new year blooms and I am decidedly calm!

The heat hits me like a wall! Oh my was it really this hot last year?? It’s humid! I am in the middle of a desert why is it humid??

I don’t remember the humidity!

As with most places nothing has changed, the roads are still full of bad drivers and potholes. But it is a familiar place. Somewhere I know. My perspective has changed, I have changed – 10 weeks will do that to a person. But Jeddah is reassuringly the same!

DSCN1806As I walk into my villa – generic furnishings face me and – phew I am home.

Oddly, I am home!

Strangely yes – In the last year Jeddah has become MY home. Even if it is fleeting before I move on the the next place. It’s more that the fact that I have been away a long time and living out of a back pack!

No more packing every 5 days.

This is my space! The stuff filling the drawers is mine. The messy desk with too much sitting on it – is mine! The cupboards are filled with MY things. That is my green garden looking lush in the moonlight.


I never realised the power of my space. Something not shared but wholly mine. Well until the next adventure takes me somewhere else!

I am home!


Stage 12 – Liverpool

In 2000 I arrived in Liverpool, fresh from an Italian Summer holiday, for university. I didn’t realise then how my future would be shaped by this city. It was so different from where I grew up and I was over whelmed by the vastness but there was a underlying sense of magic and wonder. 2 years of eye opening culture and accents and I left slightly heart broken to follow my then obsession with animation.

Now when I return it’s like coming home.

I have been returning to Liverpool for 14 years and boy there have been changes! In 2008 Liverpool was capital of culture and the city implemented lots of changes – they even moved the yellow submarine out to the airport! The L1 centre dominates down town gathering all my favourite shops and eateries in one place. With added space for new places to eat, drink and shop! It is bustling but pleasantly so. Thankfully Bold St is still Bold St and so is Matthew St.

Of all the places I have lived there are 3 I return to every year. Liverpool is one of them. It is where I learnt to follow my dreams, it inspired me to think for myself and most importantly Liverpool taught me about football – including the off side rule!

If you have to learn about it, you may as well learn from the best!

Stage 11 – Kinsale


A sleepy little fishing village in West Cork, Ireland – Republic of to be precise. I first came here for my fathers 60th birthday celebrations. It was great – awesome celebration too! Since then I have traveled back to Kinsale many times. Even more so now that my father has retired there. Every time I head to Kinsale I come back with the same photos of the bay.

Nestled on the Bandon river Kinsale was a medieval fishing port that is a lovely place anytime of year! Mostly while there I walk. And eat. And drink. As with most Irish towns Kinsale has a wealth of pubs from Ye olde fashioned to fairly new. I prefer the older ones! They have more character. In Kinsale some of the pubs have been around for ages.

The best part is that they are all walking distance apart! So most of the time I walk from pub to pub for a pint or Guinness, Murphys, Beamish or a DSCN1774Cork dry gin and tonic.

Known as the Gourmet capital of Ireland there are cafe’s, restaurants to complement the pubs. My favourite places to eat are The Spaniard, The Bulmans and Fishy Fishy. I always visit them every trip. This trip was no different. The food was exceptional as usual! I can’t wait till next time.