Month: July 2017

Trains and Accommodation

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Strange blog post I know but after traveling the UK from Glencoe to Brighton on the Train Network you learn a few things about travel !

I think the rail network is great but it’s not run as well as it could be. It’s confusing,  from ticket purchase to the useless signs and train information boards, it stresses people out who are first time users and there are hundreds of people a day in that category as you can see from the stress and the sweat !

I have to say over the last 10 years I have only ever had one train cancelled and one really bad delay.  I did learn quite a bit from this and now travel to important Workshops or Events the day before and I always get at least two trains before the one I need so if there is a delay I will still be able to get the next train.

The worst part about train travel is the way the companies are underfunding the service, the lack of cleanliness and the amount of carriages on a service. Virgin used to be really good but over the last year the carriages are filthy.  Virgin’s service at the weekends is also now suffering from lack of drivers ! Trains are getting cancelled all the time due to no train crew ! Despite all that, I have to say though they are one of the best services in the UK. I think the worst are Arriva Trains Wales and have never had a good experience. There are not enough carriages and people have to stand all the time I was once on a 4 car service from Chester to Cardiff that went from 4 cars down to 2 cars on the change and everyone had to try and get on the two car to complete the journey. Many times I have seen people of 70-80 years old standing for very long journeys !

Liverpool to Leeds is another horrendous service with lack of carriages leaving lots of people standing for over two hours and I just don’t find this acceptable in this day and age.  It must lose them a fortune in revenue as well,  as people know the Inspector is not going to get down the carriage and there is always booked seat arguments !

I think it’s quite simple, lets call it train etiquette,  if you have booked a seat you should be able to sit in it and if you did not,  sit in one that is empty. If someone comes along and  finds you are sitting in their booked seat then just move.  It’s not their  fault that the train provider is not doing their job properly.

The South has the worst train service I have ever been on for cancelled trains and delays. I do find it strange how these companies find it acceptable ! If they had more carriages and more trained staff then they could police the system and make some huge profits instead of putting people off rail travel.

I still prefer to travel by rail at the moment despite all it’s faults. Sitting on the M6 is worse! I can be in London in just over two hours from Liverpool for about £20 by train that would be closer to four hours by car and probably £30-40 so it’s a no brainer and less pollution I guess !

I always use The Trainline to book and this is a shame as I hear it’s not a UK company but it’s by far the best App and way to book. I did try the Virgin booking system and it’s good if you just book on your computer all the time but if you book on your computer your tickets don’t show up in the App and if you book on the App you can’t book your seats, so it’s very annoying.

I am lucky as I know what I am doing in advance so can set up Ticket Alert on The Train Line to email me when the offers are on. This is a great way to get advanced tickets at great prices. I have found it best not to book return tickets but singles and if you are lucky you can get some very good first class tickets at less than standard if you are not fussy about your times. Sometimes you have to play around with times and stations to get the best fares but Ticket Alert saved me £6,000 last year alone !

Overall if you buy in advance and plan your journey it’s better to let the train take the strain. If you look at the cost difference as  well from First Class to Standard at times trust me First is worth every penny.

I have also stayed in a lot of Hotels in the UK and have to say Premiere Inn and Travelodge have some great hotels. Some of the Travelodge are noise stinky pits but there is always one not far up the road that will be better, one thing is for sure you know what you are getting and the beds are always comfy !  Premier Inn beds can be hit and miss but the Travelodge do great beds and pillows. Holiday Inn are one step up but the beds and pillows are all over the place on comfort. The rest are a mixed bag, I have stayed in five star that beds are terrible so it’s all a big guessing game !  As I continue my blogs I will make sure I rate my Hotels on a few points as I go so you have some idea if you are staying in the same area.  The most quirky Travelodge is the Haymarket Edinburgh one ! Every room is different and well worth a visit.

I use Booking.com for all my accommodation when not booking with Travelodge or Premier Inn and I find this a great service.

Bristol #FujiholicsBRIS16

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I have been organising  the Fujiholics Photowalks for a couple of years now and get amazing amount of pleasure out of leading the walks. The Fujifilm Family is what it’s all about and as much as it sounds corny it really is about putting the Social back into Social media !

On Thursday the 20th July  I made my way to Bristol, quite a long journey from Mossley Hill Station in Liverpool then on to Bristol Temple Meads. Booked in advance this is a £30 single with TheTraineline.com my next blog post will give full details of how I use this service and why.

I had a meeting in Bristol on the Thursday and on Friday I had my last Street Photography workshop with Calumet UK. I have run a series of workshops with Calumet over 2017 in various cities but that was the last one for Calumet. I am also bringing my own Street Workshops to a close in 2017 as I want to focus on more personal work in 2018.

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A Very wet day for the Calumet Worksop and nice to see so many Fujifilm X Series cameras on the day. I used my XPro2 and 23mm to walk around with instead of my X100F mainly because the XPro2 is weather resistant.

We had a great day round and about on the Streetsof Bristol despite the rain.

On Saturday we met up at @Bristol for the start of the Fujiholics photo walk. 120 signed up for the walk with Eventbrite unfortunately only 20 came out for the walk. This is always disappointing. Even though I always expect half numbers, when it’s lower I sometimes wonder why I put the effort in. I think for 2018  I will have to come up with a new plan.  I will still do the walks but include a small fee and give out something on the day like a Memory card or ThinkTank battery holder. I will have to give it some thought.

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It was however a great day in Bristol and nice to see so many old faces and some new ones. Fujiholics Walks are all about meeting new people and having a great day out networking meeting social media friends, drinking coffee, eating cake and drinking the occasional beer.

I planned a slightly different route this year and I think everyone that started the walk finished so will probably do the same route next year !

The Bristol Harbour Festival was on this year and this brought an extra 250,000 people to the city. I have to admit Bristol is an amazing city I have never seen so many so drunk but still standing up in my life. The Harbour festival appears to be a time the whole city comes out in force to dress up and have a few drinks. What an amazing place.

We ended the walk at the Old Duke where a few beers were consumed.

I was lucky to get a lift home on the Sunday with Richie so that saved me the Train ride.

The interesting thing is the car journey and train journey with stops and changeovers are almost the same time give or take a few minutes with out delays so from Liverpool to Bristol it’s about 3 hours 45min..

See you in Edinburgh next weekend….

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Trip to Leeds

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I have decided to do shorter blog posts and try to add more of my travel ! I hate writing being Dyslexic but have decided if I write more about my travel and write shorter blog posts  I might actually write more posts !

I travel quite a bit with my work in the UK and hardly ever blog about it, so decided to try and address that. I use the Rail network quite a bit and hardly ever talk about that or the Hotels I stay in and why ! So as well as boring you with my photography I might as well bore you with my travel.

When I book my trains I book at least 12 weeks in advance to take advantage of the cheaper rail fares, that way I can book a first class ticket for the price of standard and that for me makes all the difference to a busy train journey.   I will come on to how I book and what the advantages are in future posts.

I don’t always book hotels in advance and use a combination of Travelodge, Premier Inn and Booking.com . I have been travelling the UK for work for over 10 years now so know some of the best and worst hotels.  My bookings are based on location and best rooms for the price also how comfy the beds are. I probably wont include my Camper Van adventures as they are on Instagram as @Lighttravelerx but I will go into this in more detail in future blogs.

It was Jane’s Birthday weekend so I decided to take her to Leeds and trust me you need a First Class ticket from Liverpool to Leeds and return. These trains are always packed and mostly standing room only so a booked seat in First Class gets you a drink and a snack but most of all it gets you a seat and for less than a standard fair if booked 12 weeks before !

I booked the Hilton Doubletree and  compared to London Hotel prices this was cheap. I paid £240 for one night in the Travelodge in London a few weeks back and this was cheaper for two nights and only 2 minutes from the station.

I decided to take just my Xpro2 and my 18-55mm lens, mainly because I always use primes and wanted a change so did not want to be running around shooting Street.

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XPro2 18-55mm at 18mm ISO4000 1/250 sec f/8

I have been to leeds a few times but never had a chance to explore due to the fact I have always been for work so wanted to take my camera even if it was just for reference shots.

I have walked past the Corn Exchange a few times but never been in. Glad we went in this time as I hear it’s just been sold ! So who knows what the new owner will do with it !

It’s an amazing place and so very relaxing when you get inside, love the Proper Camera Shop at the top of the stairs.

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Xpro2 18-55mm at 45mm ISO 800 1/250sec F/4 

I forgot just how great this 18-55mm lens is ! I think the last time I used it was over 5 years ago and need to use it more often ! Image stabilization is great and it’s so light and easy to carry and so very sharp for what is a Kit Lens !

I guess no trip to Leeds is complete without a trip to the  Royal Armories. What a relaxing walk it was along the canal from the Hotel. You will notice from my future blogs I try to walk everywhere. It’s amazing what you find and see if you just walk and don’t get tempted by Uber ! Love the Dock next to the Royal Armories building and we were nearly tempted to take a water taxi but decided to walk back.

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XPro2 18-55mm at 18mm ISO250  1/250 sec f/10

I was not shooting Street so this 18-55mm lens was just so perfect bolted to the front of my camera all day. I have told myself off for not taking it with me everywhere I go as it’s just so versatile.

My train from Liverpool to Leeds was £25 and from Leeds to Liverpool £30 First Class Booked in Advance and the Hotel Was on a Booking.com offer at £214 for two night.

I will be in Bristol next weekend for a my last workshop with Calumet UK on the Friday and the Fujiholics Bristol Photowalk on the Saturday #FujiholicsBRIS17 I am not looking forward to the long train Journey and it wont be First Class this time as there is no advantage in seats or food etc

Have a great week..

I will leave you with this fantastic building which reminds me of the Flat Iron Building. We do have some amazing buildings in the UK.

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