Monthly Archives: December 2014

Do You Know It’s Ethiopia Time?

So as the weeks became months, then the months had accumulated into a full year, a full year which has seemingly passed me by since I returned to the U.K. I thought it was time to have a break from the cycle of of living week in, week out, waiting for things to change, waiting for the weekend, waiting to give my liver a good kicking on a Saturday night, waiting for Christmas, waiting for derby day. And so I’ve decided to book a flight to….Ethiopia, yes Ethiopia.

Here’s a few examples of people’s reactions when I tell them I’m going to Ethiopia:-



Proceeded by one of the following :-

“I hope you’re taking plenty of food”
“You taking your running trainers?”
“You going to stay in a mud hut?”
“Watch out for Ebola”
“You’re going to come back thin as a rake, covered in flies, sporting a pot belly”
“Don’t get a lip plate”
“What are you going to do there? ”

Ebola tester at Addis Ababa airport

It’s interesting to hear many people’s stereotypes about a country that is all too famously associated with band aid and Bob Geldof. Now I’m going to be honest, what gave me the idea to come here was watching a BBC documentary on primates which showed a breed of baboon that only live in the Ethiopian highlands. I done some research and I realised that Ethiopia is a whole lot more than just war and famine. Here is where the roots of Ras Tafari spawn, it’s also where anthropologists have traced the beginning of mankind, one of only two African nations to have never been under a European rule..the more I researched, the more obsessed I became and I realised that independent budget travel would be entirely possible.

Getting a visa for Ethiopia is very straight forward. I just sent my passport with all the supporting documents to the Embassy in London along with a cheque for £22 and a three month multiple entry visa was issued and back in my hand within three days.


I won’t be taking much food apart from my Christmas Chocolates, I’ll be taking some hiking boots but no running shoes, I probably will end up staying in a mud hut, I don’t want Eh-bo-la (try saying that with a Yorkshire accent) and to be fair, I don’t know what I’m going to do just yet, but I do know, it’s Ethiopia time.

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Lakes, Strictly Speaking

As I’ve mentioned previously, there’s some places in England that lie practically on your door step that I have taken for granted, one of those being the Lake District. People were amazed that in my 29 years on this earth I’ve never visited the lakes, a mere 2 hour drive away. Been to Lake Pangong, the high altitude body of water in Indian Kashmir, and Lake Toba, the volcanic lake where the world’s largest explosion occurred, but never been to the Lake District, the abode of postman pat and that black and white feline. All this was about to change.

When you’re driving across the country as you begin to enter the Lakes, the scenery dramatically changes and becomes…nice. No plastic bags growing on trees and pointless graffiti scrawled everywhere, you can really lose yourself here like, and before long, we did. The GPS stopped working and we ended up taking a wrong turn and almost ending up in Carlisle.



There is no shortage of hostels and cheap lodges in the Lakes, just book early especially in the summer. We had to settle for the Windermere YHA which offered nice views its namesake lake but locked its doors at 11pm on a Saturday night, it’s almost as if they expect people from Newcastle to come in at 4am mortal drunk and wake everyone up before throwing up all over the curtains.



You can’t visit the Lake District without partaking in some walking. You can find most of England’s highest peaks in the area including Scafell pike and Hellvelyn, but there is also an abundance of moderate walks. Stargazer’s stroll in Keswick takes you to a view point at Friar Crag. The walk was described by John Ruskin as one of the most beautiful scenes in Europe, I wouldn’t agree, but I wasn’t here on a clear night when the lack of pollution makes it perfect for stargazing.







Borger Dalr is a little more strenuous and was once described by Wainwright as ‘the finest square mile of Lakeland’. Starting at the village of Grange the walk takes you through some farmland, and over some 8000 year old rocks formed by glaciers then into Dalt Quarry. To pass the time while walking try to catch some of the fellow walker’s conversations when they pass in the opposite direction, see what you can make of it, I learned that one enthusiastic rambler ‘has never been defeated by a sea serpent’…. Right mate.







The ramble continues over Broadslack gill and then there’s a steep climb up to the summit at Castle Crag. A crag is a steep mass of rock projecting upward which derives from the Gaelic word ‘creag’, unless of course you’re a fan of the Back to the Future novelisation, in which case it’s a slang word for ‘ass’ created next year.




War Memorial at the top of Castle Crag




So for anyone who lives in England, or just visiting for that matter, I strongly recommend making the trip over to the lakes,  it really is a dreamlike and picturesque place which is quite iconic with England. When I arrived back at work in Felling on Monday and looked around at the dirty streets overrun by shell suit wearing junkies and resembling a zombie apocalypse, it’s hard to image the lakes is just a stone’s throw away.



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