Small Town, Big Benefit: Making Simple Changes In Your Hometown

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On our home turf, we can make significant changes so that we benefit. These changes could be environmentally-friendly or could be quick ways to save money. But when we want to spread this out further, and make changes to our community or our hometown, therein lies more of a challenge. But are there ways for us to make significant changes, turning our small town into somewhere with huge benefit?

Inspire Non-Digital Literacy

Everybody has an abundance of used books lying around, and while the modern approach to reading is very much on a device, if we can collate all of our used and unwanted books, and create a free library, it becomes a fantastic way to inspire and improve literacy. It can also be part of a wider literacy project that can get people off the streets and into a welcoming environment.

Redesigning The Streets

If you live in an area that’s not particularly attractive, it doesn’t take much to completely make over the small areas so that passers-by can feel the inclination to stop and wander around. While there are many places prone to vandalism, if we can take positive steps to look at the more unattractive aspects of our town, whether it’s a bus shelter that’s been vandalized too much or a local park that desperately needs a new set of swings, by redesigning the street by fixing the smaller parts, rather than tackling the massive projects first, it will serve to improve the overall aesthetics of the place.

Embracing Sustainability

Everybody’s trying to do their bit for the planet now, and one of the easiest things that we can all do is plant a tree. So, you need to check your local rules before you start being trigger happy with your trees, but see if there are any initiatives near you that give away free trees to plant. In addition to this, there could be planting services around. As well as planting trees, you could start to make the most of one unused area of land and turn it into an allotment where people can congregate to grow their own fruits and vegetables. For those people that don’t have much money, this could be a lifesaver, as well as being a fantastic way to fight mental health issues in a small community.

Encourage More Conversation

It can be argued that we live in areas that don’t have a community spirit anymore. Perhaps we need to encourage more social aspects of our locale, and as much as we can encourage community-oriented events, if people don’t necessarily have the inclination to go into these, perhaps we can work on it in other, less obvious ways. A bench is a very simple thing, but when people sit down, a conversation may or may not begin, but over time, this will encourage people to be a bit more sociable and to share. But you don’t have to purchase metallic benches to get the most out of this, but rather, you could upcycle pallets and turn them into makeshift street furniture. You can then put these on the corners of streets near bus stops, and hopefully, there will be a little bit more in the way of community interaction.

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Why Travel To Iceland?

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Iceland may not have hot weather or tropical beaches, but it makes up for this with its multitude of natural wonders and cultural experiences. Here are just a few unique attractions that make Iceland worth adding to your bucket list.

Go whale watching

In recent years, Iceland has become the whale watching capital of the world. All kinds of species from humpbacks to minkes can be found swimming around the country’s shores. You can take an organised boat tour from Reykjavik or from the north – these tours can increase your chances of seeing one of these mighty creatures. Look out for trips that offer hot drinks and warm clothing to wear as it can get very chilly out on the water!

Tour the F roads

Iceland’s F roads are practically off-road – many of them are tarmac free and offer an exciting taste of wild driving. If you want to reach some of the country’s most incredible viewpoints, taking these roads could be necessary. Just make sure to hire an appropriate car to take on these roads and check online that these roads are open (you’re best off using them in the summer as many of them are buried in snow in the winter and often closed because of this).

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Bathe in the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a huge geothermal pool that attracts huge amounts of tourists. Its hot waters are the perfect relaxing escape from the cool Icelandic temperatures. Whilst the lagoon itself is man-made, the water is naturally heated by the earth below. The Blue Lagoon isn’t the only geothermal pool in Iceland and there are various other smaller examples dotted around the country that could be worth exploring if you’ve got a hire car.

Climb a volcano

You’ll find hundreds of volcanoes across Iceland – some extinct and others still active. These volcanoes can offer incredible views from the top and are often free to climb. Eyjafjallajökull is the country’s most popular volcano largely due its recent eruption in 2010. You can take an organised hiking tour up this mountain or you can make your own journey up to the top. Other commonly visited volcanoes include Hekla and Katla, which you can also attempt to climb.

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Get up close to a geyser

Geysers are hot springs that regularly eject water. Iceland has a number of geysers – the most famous of these is Strokkur, which erupts once every 6 to 10 minutes often reaching a height of 20 metres. It can often be a challenge to take pictures of these geysers as you never know when exactly they’re going to erupt. On top of the large geysers, there are many smaller bubbling geysers, all with their own unique appearance and sound. As with the country’s volcanoes, these geysers are often a free attraction.  

Visit a waterfall

Iceland also has a number of impressive waterfalls. One of the most scenic of these falls is Gullfoss, which sweeps around a corner into a canyon. Seljalandsfoss meanwhile is a vertical waterfall with a height of 60 metres that is equally impressive. These waterfalls remain constant throughout the year, although you’re often better off seeing them in summer when the glaciers have partially melted and the rivers and waterfalls have a greater flow. You’ll find visitor centres by these waterfalls that allow you to learn more about the geography and history behind these waterfalls.

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Explore Reykjavik

Many of Iceland’s attractions are natural, but if you’re craving a few urban activities there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik, the country’s capital. There are a vast number of museums to be found in this city dedicated to everything from Vikings to whales. There’s also a museum dedicated to Icelandic punk and even a museum dedicated to penises! On top of its weird and wonderful museums, there are various landmarks worth seeing such as Harpa concert hall and the Perlan building. Alternatively, you may simply want to take a walk around the harbour or visit the Reykjavik Street Food market.

Try Hakarl

Iceland has a number of unique and exotic foods worth trying. One of the most unusual dishes is Hakarl – those with a daring palette may be willing to try it. Hakarl is essentially rotten shark meat – the meat is deliberately fermented in order to get rid of the toxins that are usually present in it. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you are willing to take on the challenge you’ll be able to tell everyone back home that you’ve eaten shark!

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See the northern lights

The Northern Lights are one of Iceland’s biggest lures. On certain nights in the early months of the year, it’s possible to see this natural phenomenon which consists of multicoloured lights darting across the sky like a huge light show. Rural locations are the best places for seeing the lights – in cities, the light pollution may prevent you from seeing this natural phenomenon as clearly. There are even tours and hotels with glass roofs that can allow you to see these lights.

See the midnight sun

If you visit Iceland in the summer, you may miss out on the chance to see the Northern Lights, but you can still take in the amazing phenomenon that is the midnight sun. Because Iceland is so far north, there are evenings in the height of summer in which the sun never completely sets, resulting in a permanent orange glow throughout the night. The midnight sun can be particularly stunning when viewed from the coast or from a mountain if you don’t mind trekking out in the middle of the night.

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Staying Safe On The Beach This Summer

There is no summer with a sunny beach by the sea – or the ocean. For a lot of people, the most exciting thing about summertime is the chance to spend an entire day at the beach without feeling guilty about it. Just picture the scene: Sea, sand, and sun; it’s the ideal paradise to soothe your burnout syndrome and refuel yourself with new energy before heading back to work or school. But every year, millions of holidaymakers suffer from sickness and injuries on their way to the beach or on site. Coping with accidents and illnesses during your vacation isn’t fun, to say the least. It could dramatically affect your peace of mind, without mentioning that it could get expensive too. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself while you’re going on a beach holiday. This summer, aim for sea, sand, sun, and above all, safety.  

Active on the beach  

It’s the perfect excuse to get active

If you’ve been trying to motivate yourself to get active, spending some time on a beach resort will give you plenty of opportunities. Don’t be fooled into thinking that beaches are only for lying down. In fact, you’ll come to appreciate an active lifestyle if it means walking along the wet sand to watch the sunrise every morning. You can also choose to jog in the water – you might need rubber shoes to keep your feet safe from rocks and shells – in the evening: It’s a fantastic mixture of cooling sensation, resistance training from the water and cardio. And all that goes without mentioning the primary sport in the sea, swimming! You can challenge yourself to swim into the distance and back if the water is quiet. There is only one thing you need to remember to make the most of your active sea vacation. You can’t afford to forget to bring waterproof sunscreen cream.

The traffic to and out the beach can be bad

If you find yourself renting a villa a short distance away from the beach, you might prefer to drive down every day with your equipment and sports gear. Be careful, though, as beaches attract plenty of vehicles. An accident can happen quickly, as joyelawfirm.com team knows. So keep an eye on the road and avoid sun glare as a driver. Additionally, do remember to make yourself visible if you are a pedestrian walking on the road. Traffic is terrible on the sea as well. If you’re a surfer, look out for collision with less experienced holidaymakers.

Sea, sand, sun, and WATER

If you’re planning your entire day on the beach, you need to stay hydrated. Booksurfcamps.com has provided a handy reminder for all beach lovers. You can lose up to 50 ounces of sweat in an hour when you’re active on a sunny day. So, it’s important to pack some water in your bag. A cucumber contains 96% water, while you can get 92% water from a slice of watermelon. Coconut water and sports drinks are great to rehydrate after a workout.

Don’t let the warning note scare you. Beach holidays are fun. But, you need to look after yourself to make the most of it!

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Turn A New Page… How To Start A New Life In A New Town

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Sometimes we all have that hankering to start all over again, and move to a new place, and, in essence, cut all ties with your life right now. Sometimes it happens, where do we get a new job, or we just feel that we need to be someplace else, the desire to begin again is something that cannot be ignored. But the concern in this is one of practicality. Yes, you have a feeling about a new place, but what do you really need to have in place to make sure that your transition to a new life in a new place goes smoothly?

The Move

The move can be very stressful, but if you are determined to leave your old life behind, then this is a perfectly good opportunity to break with the past and sell a lot of your possessions. At the end of the day, we can get new items if we so need to. And even if our budget dictates, and we need to get a car, there are plenty of used cars for sale, you just have to look online to see something in your price range. If you really don’t have much, can you go on the train? The move doesn’t have to be stressful, but it can feel that way because of all the pressure on you in beginning this new life. But remember, it’s just the beginning.

The Settling In Period

This was never going to be easy. But the first month or so will be the worst part. Trying to get yourself settled into a new way of life, in new surroundings, with a new job or a new flatmates, these are all major shocks to the system. Settling in properly can take some time, and you just need to get your head around this. The best way for you to get accustomed to your surroundings quicker is to just get out there and explore. The more you know at the very outset, the quicker you can become comfortable. And yes, it’s likely you will feel like you are out of your depth, but do you have people nearby you can talk to? If not, go online, and chat with your friends back home.

Maintain A Positive Mindset

Remember, finding your feet is always a period of trial and error. You’ve moved to a new place for a specific reason, and regardless of the main reason itself, you know at the back of your mind that this was something that had to be done. It’s a place that is going to bring the best out in you, and this is what you feel. And remember, if it doesn’t work out, what is the worst case scenario? You end up going back home for a bit, or you try another place out for size!

A new life in a new town is the biggest of changes, and you can feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. But you had a feeling about this new place, so don’t hold back, go with the flow, it could be the best thing that ever happened to you!

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Why Visit Thailand?

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Thailand is a country in the southwest of Asia which in recent years has seen a huge surge of interest and activity. It is a coastal country which sits next to Laos and boasts stunning views, amazing experiences and a lively nightlife.

Whether you decide to stay in a youth hostel, small hotel or JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort– this is certainly a country everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

But why?

Friendly People

The people of Thailand are open, optimistic and incredibly friendly. As soon as you step out of the airport and into a Tuk Tuk, you’ll be welcomed with open arms into this magical country, and you’ll never want to leave.

It’s Cheap

The great thing about Thailand is that you can choose whether you want to stay in luxury, or live amongst the people. This is why this is a very popular destination for backpackers from all around the globe. If you ever run out of money you will always be able to find a bit of work to keep you going during your stay over there.

Amazing Culture

the culture in this stunning country is second to none, 95% of the residents in Thailand are Buddhist. This means that they believe in the balance of life and peace, which is likely why everyone is so friendly. You will be able to see a whole new way of life with everyone you meet, visit some stunning temples in the mountains and see the way these people dress in their day to day lives.

Backpacking

Thailand is a great place for anyone who wants to go backpacking because there are tonnes of islands to see, people to meet and things to experience. You can stay in a hostel and spend the days travelling by boat to the different islands of the country to experience and soak up every ounce of culture from this place.

Great Adventures

If you love nothing more than to wake up in the morning and set off somewhere new, then Thailand is a perfect place to visit. You will be able to take part on many different activities: from snorkelling, to canoeing with wild monkeys, swimming with sharks and even bathing in waterfalls. If you love the outdoors, this is the perfect place for you.

Thai Food

If you want cheap, simple and health food, then Thai food is the best you can get. These people know how to make the most out of the ingredients they have to hand.

Wildlife

You can see anything from exotic birds, wild monkeys, snakes and wild variants in this country. If you love animals, this is a great place to visit because you will always be close to the wildlife.

Dream Beaches

Everyone loves a day at the beach, and the beaches in Thailand are like no other. Relax on the white sand and enjoy watching the world go by. There’s no need to over think it, just book your tickets and get going!

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The Big Cosmic Show – Total Eclipse 2017

Hi everyone! On August 21st, the solar eclipse took place and what a show it was. The path of totality, where one would see a total eclipse, crossed the U.S.A. from Oregon to South Carolina. I had heard the reports that there would be tremendous traffic in the areas around the path of totality, but, being within 100 miles of a total eclipse for the first time in my life, I decided to go for it. I’d never seen a total solar eclipse and felt it would be almost criminal for me to miss this one because of fears of heavy traffic. And, to get an idea of what to look for during a total eclipse, and also ways of making pinhole viewers, I checked out YouTube, which can be very helpful in finding out about lot’s of things.

The Trip There

I was prepared. Totality in Salem, Oregon would take place around 10:17am local time, so, I got up around 4am and left about 5:15am. I mapped out a back road route in advance and armed with my maps, gps, and a packed lunch, eclipse glasses, a home-made pinhole viewer, and my camera, I set out. Traffic going to Salem was much better than I expected and I arrived there in about an hour and 15 minutes, which is near normal. I realized, people had been arriving over the previous 4 to 5 days, so the influx was more gradual, and I figured this might be the case, but, being a possible once-in-a-lifetime event, I wasn’t taking any chances.

My Viewing Site

I didn’t go to one of the advertised venues, but instead opted for a supermarket parking lot on the east side of Salem. I found easy, and free, parking. The beautiful thing about an event like this is, you can view it from anywhere, it’s not like a greatly anticipated movie, rock concert, or sports event where you have to go to a specific place, this is visible across a wide path from anywhere in town or between towns for that matter.

There were a few others there, including someone with a telescope, using it to project an image of the sun and eclipse on a large white sheet of paper, and this was actually more effective and safer than the glasses, and more detailed than the pinhole viewer, though the pinhole viewer was definitely effective in showing the advancing eclipse.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Man with telescope using it to project image of eclipse on large white paper. Looks great! – 8/21/2017

Remember! – Never look at the sun without certified eclipse glasses or filters! Best and safest is to look indirectly using a projection on a surface or a pinhole viewer! Otherwise your eyes can be damaged instantly! Only during totality in an eclipse is it safe to look with the naked eye!

What I Saw

At first, when the eclipse started, you didn’t notice much darkening or lessening of the amount of light. What you could notice, as I had learned from YouTube, is that, the light coming through the leaves of a tree will actually show the crescent sun as the eclipse advances! I saw this for myself! And, this effect is visible whether or not the eclipse itself is total, partial, or annular. (Where the moon doesn’t quite cover the sun but leaves a full circle of light instead of totality.)

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Crescent suns on the ground after totality as seen through the tree leaves. – 8/21/2017

There is another effect which is sometimes happens just before and after totality, called “shadow snakes”, in which these shimmering shadowy lines appear, but this is somewhat rare and I didn’t see this, but, in retrospect, I could see where it may have been close to happening.

As the light dims, which you do start to notice at around 85-90 percent totality, it looks different from the dimming of light when the sun sets normally or when clouds move in. And, you can “See” the moon’s shadow coming, as a darkening of the sky. It also looked to be changing to a darker blue, again, different from a normal sunset. And, the street and parking lot lights come on as well! Then, totality hits and it gets almost as dark as night much quicker than it would in a normal sunset. At this point, you can look at the sun without protection, with the naked ye, safely. And what a sight!

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Sun in totality. Light from corona makes sun look like it is shining but in actuality, it is dark as it is covered by the moon, which one would see in person or with a better camera. – 8/21/2017

You do see the sun’s corona from behind the moon, which is a pitch black circle in the sky. You can also see stars and planets. I saw Venus, which, where it was, would be completely obscured by the sun’s light before and after totality. In the photo I took, the light of the corona does overwhelm the dark circle of the moon, and no photo does it justice.

The temperature does drop, though I was too engrossed in the eclipse to really notice it myself. Also, all along the horizon, you see distant light as in a sunset, but overhead and nearly to the horizon, it’s a night sky! They refer to this as a “360 degree sunset or sunrise” And it is really different and worth seeing.

Where I was, totality lasted about a minute and 56 seconds roughly. When the sun starts reappearing, there’s a sort of flash at one end of the moon’s rim making it look like a diamond ring. At this time it is no longer safe to look at the sun with the naked eye!

And, the light again looks different from normal sunlight. It first looks like the light is coming from a very powerful electric spotlight from far away, like standing in a big football or athletic field at night with only one light on, shining down on the filed. Then, still slowly but seemingly faster than before totality, the light starts coming back, still with that strange dimness, but then returns to normal. And, on the projection of the sun or through a pinhole viewer, you see a now reappearing and growing crescent sun, the crescent appearing on the opposite side.

Though the totality only lasts a very short time, the partial eclipse usually lasts about two hours, so you can still use the pinhole viewer to view the remaining partial eclipse.

In Conclusion – My Thoughts

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Me just after the totality phase of the eclipse, as shown on the projection in the background. – 8/21/2017

I had considered staying where I lived to view the eclipse, where it would be 99.2 percent totality, but everything I’d read from those who had seen a total eclipse said that there was a huge difference, like the difference between “going to the prom vs actually getting married”, or “hitting 5 numbers in the lottery vs hitting 5 plus the mega or power number for the top jackpot”, so I went and it was worth it! It did take me 2 1/2 hours to get home using back roads, but I’d do it again even if it took me twice as long to get home! I found that the comparisons that I read bout are true and I’m glad I went down to Salem to see my first total solar eclipse! It was quite a show and not one to be missed!

Here’s  the video I took during the eclipse. Enjoy!

Happy Observing!

 

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Fast Forward: Top Destinations For Next Years Vacation

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The chances are, you’ve already got your summer vacation all wrapped up. You know where you are going, what you are doing, perhaps you may have already had that relaxing two-week break, and you are already back to work, day dreaming of your next escape. This is where I come in. There is nothing wrong with a bit of forward planning, and often, booking in advance can save you a fair bit of money as well. So I thought I would share with you some of the top destinations to consider for next years vacation.

 

Why not head down under?

 

Australia may seem like a faraway destination, but it is definitely something you will find on many people’s bucket lists, including yours maybe, so why not allow next year’s vacation to be the time you tick a destination off? Heading down under could be a fantastic holiday and one not to forget. You could stay in the bustling city of Melbourne, voted as one of the best places to live in the world. Maybe you want to swim in the Great Barrier Reef or do a road trip and take in as many sights as possible. Or perhaps you just want to head to Surfers Paradise where you can master your surf technique or try out some other water sports. Whatever takes your fancy, Australia is sure to offer it.

 

Fancy an opulent vacation next time round?

 

Maybe you want a vacation that is filled with an opulent lifestyle, never ending shopping experiences, amazing buildings, and even more amazing hotels. Then Dubai is the one for you. Enjoy taking in the sights yourself or book one of the many Dubai tours available to you. Dubai has much to offer for a vacation, and whether you are traveling there as a couple or as a family, you are sure to find something to do to fill your time.

 

The perfect escape?

 

Many of us see our vacations as a chance to unwind from the daily grind and really rejuvenate ourselves. So more people consider beach filled islands as the perfect location for their holidays, and perhaps next year you may want to consider The Maldives. With the sea of stars to accompany you at night and blue crystal waters to soak your feet in by day, there really is no further escape from reality than this collection of islands. Furthermore, you could even choose to stay in an overwater villa, offering you, even more, privacy to relax.

 

Is it all about the food and drink?

 

Finally, if you find yourself to be a bit of a foodie, then you may want to think about heading to the country that one of the most well-loved culinary options comes from, Italy. Italian food can be some of the world’s most favorite cuisine, with the love of pizza and pasta why not head to the place it originated from and sample it at it’s finest? Italy also has many destinations to see including Rome where you can take in the glorious churches and visit Vatican City or shop to you drop on the streets of Milan, to name a few.

 

I hope this has offered some inspiration for your next trip.

 

 

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