International Window Tinting Laws for Cars Driving Around the World

Tinted Windows In Europe and Around the World (updated Feb 2016)

So you’ve worked out how to get petrol when you’re abroad.  Next on your list of vehicle considerations is how to stop light getting into where you’re sleeping.  If you’re thinking of doing a longer term driving expedition, you need to know about the worldwide laws surrounding tinted windows.

It’s probably occurred to you that it would be a Very Good Thing if you could sleep in your camper conversion without having passers-by staring into your lovely portable home while you sleep. Other people like the UV protection, and lone female travellers like to avoid unwanted attention of men in countries like UAE or Iran.

However, while the EU has passed a decisive law on the matter, individual EU member states have still made their own laws about it. One country has completely outlawed any tint. And then there’s the rest of the world; beyond the EU, in Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, for example, it’s very difficult to find out what the legalities are for tinted windows.

The other complication is that, for the most part, these laws only apply to citizens of the country which made the law, so if you’re passing through, you’ll probably (but not necessarily) be able to get away with it in a UK registered car. Once you’ve stayed in the same country for more than 180 days, it becomes a legal requirement to follow their car maintenance and tax laws, and remember that your car will still have to be fully road-legal for the UK before you drive onto that ferry home, as well.

Here’s a breakdown of the tint laws, ranked by percentage tint.

100% Black tint on all windows – not legal, anywhere. In Britain it was outlawed for front side windows in 2003. It reduces the distance of your visibility and has been shown to increase the chance of an accident (although this could be something to do with the fact that drug dealers etc tend to have tinted windows, and they don’t exactly drive carefully, so perhaps they should be cracking down on drug dealers, not tinted windows).

Rear Windows:

100% black tint on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B post) is legal in these countries:

UK, Germany (must have a manufacturing approval number at least once on each window, and you must carry a document explaining who did the tint and with the same approval number on it), Spain (same paperwork as for Germany), Belgium (but must be certified by the Glass Institute and if you’re putting any tint on rear window, you must have two wing mirrors), France (providing it doesn’t deform or reduce visibility, and has been certified), Czech Republic (but must be certified), Italy (must be certified), Russia, Spain (but film must be approved for use in Spain and certified), Poland (same as for Spain).

From people’s experience, lots of travellers found it impossible to get tinting film that was approved for either Spain or Poland, because they haven’t actually approved any that are reasonably available to buy at the time of writing.

80% tint or 20% VLT (visible light transmission) on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B-post) is legal in Austria (and 20% tint (80% VLT) on front windows),

65% tint or 35% VLT is legal in Australia (all windows)

60% tint or 40% VLT on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B-post) is legal in Denmark.

30% tint or 70% VLT on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B-post) is legal in Finland, Hungary.

Front Windows:

25% tint – 75% VLT – on front windows and front windscreen is legal in these countries: UK, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, and Russia.

30% tint – 70% VLT – on front windows and front windscreen is legal in Belgium, Malta, and United Arab Emirates.

No tint whatsoever on front windows or front side windows forward of B-pillar: Italy, France (you’re allowed a low tint on sides but nothing on front), Spain,

65% tint – 35% VLT is legal in Australia (all windows).

Total Tint Ban:

0% Tint – all windows must be 100% transparent – Portugal, Belarus, Libya, Kuwait, Bolivia, Iraq, Kenya, Pakistan. Almost all of these are recent law changes and are due to violence and the ongoing threat of terrorism. Except Portugal. They’re just being silly for such a hot country. Egypt and Cyprus – unless it’s the actual glass rather than a tinted film. Tinted glass appears to be fine at any transparency in Cyprus and Egypt, but tinted film is totally banned.

Unusual Exceptions:

Greece – they state that all passengers and driver must be visible at all times, so some tint is probably OK but dark tints would not be. I would be a bit concerned about taking a tinted vehicle to Greece because they’re not very specific.

Tunisia – they say tints are allowed but should not be so heavily tinted that it is not possible to see into the car from outside, but they don’t specify a percentage.

Tajikistan – no tinting at all unless you buy a tinting “licence” to own tinted windows – at about $500 per vehicle.

India – total tint ban for film, but if it’s come from the manufacturer, it can be 30% tinted – so 70% VLT – in front and rear windows, and 50% tinted on the side windows.

America – state vs federal law in the USA, and a similar thing in Canada, appears to over-complicate the tinting requirements depending on which state you are in. This helpful article explains it all (near the bottom): http://www.ritrama.com/ritrama/userfiles/file/prodotti/Car_Window_Tinting_Laws.pdf

Turkmenistan – Window tints are totally illegal, but Turkmenistan deserved a separate entry because the following are also illegal: 2 door cars, engines over 3 litres, cars older than 5 years of age, black coloured cars are also banned and so are any kind of sports cars.  Source here (about halfway down the article): https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-strange-things-banned-in-countries

Notable lack of information:

There was no information despite hours of detailed searches for the following countries: Romania, Morocco, Mongolia, Iran, China – apparently some tints are illegal in China, but there’s no specifics (see the only reference I could find)

Tanzania – taxis and buses should not have tinted windows but there’s a distinct lack of information regarding the legality of private vehicles.

Got any inside info on countries I could add to this article?  Let me know in the comments!

References:

France: http://www.connexionfrance.com/Tinted-car-windows-ban-Pechenard-90kph-80kph-15171-view-article.html

Bolivia: http://www.carthrottle.com/post/the-10-most-awesome-cop-stories-youve-lived-through/

Kenya: http://allafrica.com/stories/201405161523.html

UAE: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/transport/drivers-face-fines-and-seeing-their-cars-impounded-but-they-still-want-tints

Egypt: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/namru3/Staff/Documents/WELCOME%20ABOARD%20BROCHURE%20Update%20AUG%2012.pdf

Libya: http://www.tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c=1&i=7778

Tunisia: http://www.ediplomat.com/np/post_reports/pr_tn.htm

Sudan: http://catholicradionetwork.org/?q=node/7211

Tajikistan: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63670

China: http://www.scmp.com/article/376926/tinted-window-law-not-tough-enough

India: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/From-Friday-any-tinted-film-on-car-windows-will-be-illegal/articleshow/12956949.cms

Pakistan: http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2013/03/28/feature-01

Any other countries mentioned: http://www.ritrama.com/ritrama/userfiles/file/prodotti/Car_Window_Tinting_Laws.pdf

Scotland’s Most Unusual Hotels

Ever wanted to stay in a genuine stone Scottish blackhouse, a railway signalling house, an art gallery or a traditional broch?  Dreaming about spending the night in a castle?  Fancy hanging out in a yurt?  This list of the best unusual accommodation in Scotland will inspire you!

1. Mongolian-style Yurts, near Loch Lomond:

This organic working farm in central Scotland has three traditional Yurts for a sustainable tourism experience in the midst of the beautiful Trossachs and Loch Lomond.  Each Yurt sleeps 4, and the centre often has lots of activities and crafts for you to join in with.

stay in a yurt in scotland on your next holiday yurt1

Find out more and book: http://www.westmossside.com/

2. Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, Isle Of Lewis, Hebrides, North Scotland.

Off the top left of Scotland, the Hebrides Islands sit waiting for you to discover them.  What better way than whilst staying in a traditional longhouse (called a Blackhouse) with all the modern amenities, but with architecture that gives you an insight into how people lived in the Iron Age.

blackhouse hotel accommodation self catering scotland stay

Find out more and book: http://www.gearrannan.com/

3. The Brochs of Coigach, Ross-shire, Highlands

Two iron age roundhouses in the North of Scotland, renovated and fully modernised, these are a truly luxurious way to explore a rugged and uninhabited corner of the world.

broch hotel accommodation scottish highland lewis

Find out more and book: http://www.achiltibuie.info/

4. Stay in a real lighthouse. Shetland Islands,

Make a trip to Shetland even more memorable by staying in a lighthouse on the main island.  Just imagine what sort of views this lighthouse gets!

lighthouse hotel accommodation scotland highlands holiday travel

Find out more and book: http://www.shetlandlighthouse.com/eshaness-lighthouse

5. Holiday like a King in a castle, numerous locations across Scotland

Scotland has a huge selection of castles to accommodate those with a taste for luxury and something a bit different.  With 41 castles to choose from, if one is booked, you can always try another.

castle hotel scotland holiday travel trip

Tulloch Castle Hotel

castle hotel scotland accommodation

Carberry Tower

Find out more and book: http://www.celticcastles.com/castle-search/list/scotland/

6. Stay in a church on the shores of Loch Ness

Drumnadrochit is the town with the Loch Ness visitor centres, on the banks of the stunning Loch Ness, a huge glacial crevasse filled with water and famous for entertaining kids with its stories of the Loch Ness Monster.

drumnadrochit church hotel acccommodation loch ness holiday in scotland

Find out more and book: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/accommodation/glenkirk-bed-breakfast-p180831

7. Or how about staying in Europe’s smallest working Cathedral instead?

cathedral1

This fully functioning cathedral on the Isle of Cumbray in southern Scotland takes guests.

Find out more and book: http://www.visitscotland.com/info/accommodation/college-of-the-holy-spirit-millport-p212221

8. If that’s too formal, there’s always this delightful treehouse, in Skye:

treehouse1

Find out more and book: http://www.sykescottages.co.uk/cottage/Fort-William-Isle-of-Skye-The-Western-Isles-Fort-WilliamAn-Gearasdan/Acorn-Lodge-18920.html

9. Stay in a first-class train, at a train station in Sutherland:

train hotel Scotland UK

You can stay in a first class train, which has self catering accommodation.  Each carriage sleeps two people.  Sleeperzzz also offers a converted bus, and they’re all next to a working railway station – but don’t worry about losing sleep, after all, how many trains go to the north of Scotland each day?

Find out more and book: http://www.quirkyaccom.com/sleeperzzz

10. Or you could stay in a Signal Box, at Kyle of Lochalsh train station:

signal house train station kyle hotel Scotland UK

If you don’t want to stay in the train, how about the signalling box?  At Kyle of Lochalsh station, you can pretend you’re the Station Master and re-live Thomas the Tank Engine.  Just don’t start believing your life is being narrated by Ringo Starr…

Find out more and book: http://www.quirkyaccom.com/kyle-station-signal-box

11. An art gallery

glasgow art house hotel arthouse accommodation gallery

The Arthouse in Glasgow… is it a hotel? Is it an art gallery?  It’s both!  And it has a restaurant.

Find out more and book: http://www.thearthouseglasgow.co.uk/

12. A working water mill

watermill hotel holiday

This listed 18th Century watermill offers accommodation in Bonar Bridge, Sutherland, Highlands.

Find out more and book: http://www.migdalewatermill.co.uk/

Which of these is your favourite?  I want to stay in all of them!!  Let me know which you love (or hate) in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to Invoke Delight via WordPress or Bloglovin’ (links to the right).

Travel Plans 2015

It was raining so much that I couldn't get my phone out to take pictures once we were out of the car!
This was how much of Scafell Pike we could see when we looked across the water. I can’t show you the left hand side (where we were headed to park) because it was raining too heavily to get my camera out of the car.

Sometimes travel plans just go wrong. Other times they don’t materialise at all. I made a plan to climb 3 mountains during the February half term, and I climbed a grand total of half. How do you so comprehensively fail to achieve a goal? Well, it turns out you can’t climb a mountain when the path leading to it has turned into a white waterway. It’s simply too dangerous. So I turned back. While it’s irritating as all hell and disappointing and all the rest of it, I don’t think there’s any shame in knowing when to stop. I trust my own judgement and I really wasn’t confident that the mountain was safe.

It was hard, having bought petrol, made plans, hoiked equipment and trudged all that distance, only to have to admit defeat in the face of white water and whiter fog, which was closing in rapidly. But I know I made the right decision.

It has affected my bigger picture of travel plans for the year though. I had a progression of mountains planned for the year, and hikes, cycles and walks, and now I need to re-order things and try to make it all work with even less time, a problem that’s compounded by the fact that my current work contract has been extended by 5 months, meaning I won’t be free to properly travel until the end of July.

Here’s my current plans for 2015:

1. Climb Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis.

2. Hike the West Highland Way.

3. Climb Scafell Pike.

4. Visit Orkney

5. Visit the Broughs at the top of Scotland

6. Walk Hadrian’s Wall.

7. Cycle the Pennine Way

8. Spend the night in a castle

9. Climb mountains on the Via Ferrata in France and Andorra

10. Climb Serra do Gerez and Serra do Estrela in Portugal

11. Drive to Morocco via Spain (and France, Andorra and Portugal)

And here’s my current music plans:

1. Steeleye Span, March (like, this Sunday).

2. Lynyrd Skynyrd, April.

3. Download festival, June.

When compiling my list, I tried to group things by location, so for example all the Europe stuff can be done in the same trip because it’s all along the Morocco route (or at least, a meandering journey in the direction of Morocco). Again, my UK-based travelling is all in the same relative direction from me – it’s all northwards (except the Pennine Way, which starts 100 miles south of me, but it does end about 150 miles north of my house), with an emphasis on the West of Scotland. As for #8, there are plenty of castles in both Scotland and France which open their doors to tourists – if you can afford their rates. I’m hoping to get one for a cheaper price before tourist season kicks in, but you never know.

For the music plans, I chose a mixture of styles and picked one at £20 (Steeleye Span), one at £40 (L-S) and one expensive festival (Download) so I could see the maximum amount of bands, genres and time-periods without going to a different one every week or bankrupting myself.

A big factor in all my planning was my car. All of my plans are very dependent on my car working and being hospitable inside. I’ve added curtains and put one of the back seats back into the car (they were all removed before) so there’s somewhere for a passenger or rabbit if we need it.

These are the curtains to the car camper - tutorial to follow.
These are the curtains to the car camper – tutorial to follow.

Do you have any travel plans for this year? Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any articles!

Car Camper Review: The Citroen Xsara Picasso

Reviewed: The Citroen Xsara Picasso Camper Conversion

I saw three people walking their dogs in the park last week; there was a sturdy man with a labrador, a young lady with a Jack Russell and a mum with a sausage dog and a pushchair. It struck me how similar dogs and cars can be.

I bought a Citroen Xsara Picasso to convert into a campervan. It has probably never won any of those car industry awards. Words like sporty, hot hatchback, sexy, and muscle car, have probably never before occurred in the same sentence as Citroen Xsara Picasso.

Our trusty Citroen Xsara Picasso after we spent our first night in it, in central Germany.
Our trusty Citroen Xsara Picasso after we spent our first night in it, in central Germany.

Let’s face it: It’s a mum car. It’s a car for a busy mum to pile half a nurseryload of kids into, while they scream, fight with each other, eat things they really shouldn’t and generally spread their sticky contagion onto everything they touch. And some things they don’t.

The Citroen Xsara Picasso is not associated with adventure, excitement, road trips (except to see Nanna), or campervan conversions. Historically, that life prospect has always gone to the rather more upmarket middle class MPV people carriers – the seven seater Ford Galaxy, Seat Alhambra, and Volkswagen Sharan trinity, as well as the Delica, Previa, Lucida and Emina. As one step down from the stunningly expensive “VW Anything with the letter T in the name,” the adventure potential of seven seaters first became a phenomenon in Australia and New Zealand, where car camping is quite common and popular, and has since spread to Europe, as people carriers have now been around long enough to occupy a more reasonable price point than, say, ten years ago.

After much serious consideration of all the vehicles listed in the previous paragraph, and one that wasn’t (the Mazda Bongo/Ford Freda badge bouncer), I decided the ones within my price range were all crap, old, probably dangerous, possibly ex-taxis (due to the extreme mileage) and definitely not worth a second glance. I halved my budget and bought a Citroen Xsara Picasso for £695. Now all of my friends laugh at me when I visit them. But that’s fine because I’ve got an awesome car campervan and they don’t. They all wonder why I sold my VW Golf. They just don’t understand the economics of the shit car, a minefield I’m far more comfortable with than all that car finance nonsense that I had with the Golf.

The pedals and driving position are more like driving a Transit van than any car I’ve ever driven, this is added to by the gear stick and handbrake placing. The engine sounds van-like when you start it as well. The acceleration is poorer than the VW Golf, but if you over-rev and pull off the clutch quickly you can still outrun most things at the traffic lights. The clutch’s bite is quite high and it corners like a drunk sailor – I’ve never had to take a corner so slowly in any car ever. The top speed (as tested on the German Autobahn where there’s no upper limit) was 148kph (approximately 92 mph – I converted the speedo so I didn’t get any speeding tickets whilst abroad), after that, the vehicle starts to feel very out of control and I got the distinct impression that the metal panels would bend out of shape and parts might start flying off if I went any faster. Aside from that, the noise from the engine got ridiculously loud, which is usually a bad sign, so I slowed it down. A good motorway cruising speed in Europe was 126kph (78mph), and the car seemed to like to sit at this speed, so it’s certainly twice the acceleration and speed than most of the campervans I get stuck behind on the roads in the Peak District National Park when I go home to see my aunts. I would have preferred to take my VW Golf, whose statistical top speed was 136mph (about 250kph), as I’ve always wanted to go to the Nurburgring but there was no point in the Citroen Xsara Picasso. However, I sacrificed mechanical perfection for accommodation space which I still believe is a bit of a priority in a campervan. It’s just a shame that with all our motor vehicle technology, it still has to be a trade off.

I only put the simplest conversions in when we went to Europe – there was blackout blinds for the windows and a bed. No storage, no bathroom facilities and no kitchen.

I did the windows with silver insulating bubble wrap, which is £7.99 from Homebase or more expensive from other DIY places. I basically cut out the shape of each window and attached the window shades using gaffer tape. I’d bought velcro to do them better but didn’t get a chance to put it in before we left. The pros of this method was that it was cheap, easy, and the silver reflected the sun. The cons were that the gaffer tape made one or other shade fall off a window every night due to condensation, and the shades stopped adequate ventilation even when the windows were open. Since we returned from Europe, I’ve put real curtains into the ‘van instead.

I bought a cheap memory foam mattress topper from Ebay for £17.99 to put in the back to sleep on. It was cheaper and comfier than getting a bunch of roll mats, and was cheaper than a double air bed (and more convenient). My partner is 6 foot 2 inches so it certainly has sleeping leg room. I liked how cosy it was, but it did mean we had no storage, something I’m working on before I go to Morocco. I would say one of these mattresses on a wooden bed frame with underbed storage is the best plan.

We stored all our stuff by moving it onto the front seats at night. I’m still amazed that we didn’t get robbed since we usually camped in motorway service stations or the occasional German Parkplatz. Some of our stuff stayed in the back footwells, and towards the end of the trip it was hard to stretch out to sleep because we’d acquired stuff on our journey and storage was woefully inadequate. I’ve bought some shoe holders that I’m going to cut up to make back-of-seat storage for smaller items, and combining this with a storage-friendly bed frame will make our camper more suited for longer travel trips.

As an additional bonus, after being told by one garage that it was almost a write-off, allegedly needing more repairs than the sum of its car parts, our Citroen Xsara Picasso car camper recently passed its MoT (road safety test) which means it’s going to be able to go on exciting adventures for another entire year!! The moral of the story? Cheap cars are great. And never trust the first opinion if they tell you it’s going to cost over £1000 to fix your car. It actually cost us £250, which is less than we could buy another old banger for. Yay for campervan bangernomics!

Since passing its MoT, we took it to the Lake District to Scafell Pike to see whether it was also going to be any good as a day van for outdoor activities. With two rear seats removed, there was plenty of room for all our waterproofs, crampons, walking boots and gaiters to dry out while we drove home, and the rear hatchback style boot door was perfect to shelter us from the torrential rain as we undressed out of our outer layers when we got back from our abortive mountaineering. After giving up on Scafell Pike (the footpath was washed away, heavy mist was closing in on us, the map got wet through and disintegrated, the GPS signal was lost, and it was too rainy for me to get my phone out to take pictures) and turning around when we were halfway up, the Picasso gave us a nice space to warm up, dry out, and find a route to somewhere that served decent and cheap food, then it gently propelled us home again.

Even the car park was soggy.
Even the car park was soggy.  And that’s our road here, in the centre, middle distance.  It was also waterlogged.
It was raining so much that I couldn't get my phone out to take pictures once we were out of the car!
It was raining so much that I couldn’t get my phone out to take pictures once we were out of the car!

As a side note, despite what all those “respect the mountain” websites say, you don’t need crampons and an ice axe to tackle Scafell Pike in February, you need galoshes or a snorkel and wetsuit.

If we’d done all that in a normal car, it would have still been drying out a week later, but the Citroen Xsara Picasso has enough room inside that it takes a lot of water to make it get damp, and when it does, it dries out easily if you drive round with the windows open. Even after an overnight sleep with two adults in the back it is relatively easy to de-mist, and the damp never seems to linger, unlike in my VW Golf, where the seatbelt used to get mouldy from the damp – and we only ever slept in it the once.

Remember those dogs I was talking about in the first paragraph? Our car was the mechanical equivalent of a sausage dog – smaller, easier to park but with wider cornering and less living space than a real campervan, and without the yappy bite or the hardcore acceleration of a higher performance car. But it did the job and it was cheap, and now we know what to work on before we go away again, and just how simple a campervan trip can be. Certainly if you only want a weekender, the Citroen Xsara Picasso is underrated and has a lot of potential, and I’d choose it over a tent in a heartbeat.  The only thing I’d change?  The annoying internal lights.  And a working CD player.  But we bought a boom box to workaround that.

Review: Visiting Flamingoland Zoo

flamingos at flamingoland

We saw the first road sign for Flamingoland and I got so excited I nearly steered the car off the road. The second sign and I really had to concentrate on driving because I was jumping up and down in my seat and would have been clapping my hands in excitement if I wasn’t holding the steering wheel.

We parked up and I practically ran to the entrance. I may have locked my car. Not that anyone would have done anything to it – Flamingoland just felt totally safe, in the middle of nowhere, in the North Yorkshire countryside, and there weren’t many other cars parked today because it’s the off season. Tickets were £10 for Winter Entry (December to March) – about a third of the usual price – because the combination zoo and theme park only had the zoo open (and possibly one ride). I am really glad that they have started doing this because going in the off season has many advantages –

1. The tickets are affordable.

2. There are no crowds on the walkways, no queues to see the animals and no jostling or other general annoyances that you get in the main season.

3. The screaming from people on rides is vastly reduced – with just the one ride open, and far less people around the park, the screaming noise is an absolute minimum which is great. I used to live near and work at a different theme park and found the screaming noises from people on rides could get quite annoying at times. I don’t think people have any idea how annoying that is or how much noise pollution it causes.

4. I didn’t want to go on the rides anyway – I only wanted to go to the zoo, so it was lovely that they have the winter opening.

Where did I go first? I went to see the giraffes.

These adorable baby giraffes with their mommy were having a nibble in their play area.
These adorable baby giraffes with their mommy were having a nibble in their play area.

giraffes at flamingoland

giraffes at flamingoland

giraffe eating at flamingoland

I probably spent an obscene amount of time around the two separate giraffe enclosures (that’s six giraffes in total), and I really loved that they all had big sized areas to play in – and that some of them were kept close to the zebras.

zebra at flamingoland

The zebras (who are housed with the ostriches) really seemed to love being near the giraffes and they interact with each other through their enclosures which is really adorable.

zebra at flamingoland

I think they don’t house them together though because the giraffes can probably get a bit boisterous and they’re very tall. I got taken to London Zoo when I was about 17 and they had three giraffes but they were all out on loan to another zoo when I went which was very disappointing, I’ve always wanted to see a real giraffe. I wish we’d got to Flamingoland a bit earlier so we could have participated in feeding the giraffes, that would have been the experience to top all zoo experiences, but they only do it once per day and they only let four people do it each day, and we arrived an hour after they’d finished. I’ll have to look forward to next time.

Then there were the Bactrian Camels. They’re the ones with two humps. They seemed to be people watching, and somewhat unaware that the people they were watching were camel watching. It was funny.

bactrian camel

The tigers were chewing on bones, I was very glad that both they and the lions were behind safety glass. The lions were asleep and didn’t make for a very good photo (the tigers didn’t either due to the glass).

tiger at flamingoland

The flamingos were adorable. They were just going about their daily business enjoying life. It was nice to see different hues of flamingoes because naturally they’re not pink it comes from the beta carotene in the shrimp they eat, and a lot of zoos feed them beta carotene additive to make them pink or they have boring white ones as they lose their colour. These ones were the full range of flamingo colours and I think it must be because their diet was pretty much what they ate in the wild.

flamingos at flamingoland

The penguins were also pretty sweet, although I’ve never been that caught up on penguins. The emus were the fluffiest birds I’ve ever seen, and they came to say hello.

penguin at flamingoland

emu at flamingoland

Another special surprise was the red panda – he lives on his own because apparently they’re very solitary but he was the snuggliest little thing I’ve ever seen!

red panda at flamingoland

After all those animals we took a break and had a coffee – I was absolutely astounded that the coffee shop had soya milk for my tea, but it really made the day that little bit better, especially as it was freezing cold outside.  There were also squishy sofas to sit on.

soymilk cafe flamingoland small

In the gift shop we found this six foot tall giraffe that costs £100.  It was very awesome, but we didn’t buy it.

giant giraffe at flamingoland

There were lots of other cool and awesome animals, of the others, the meerkats have to win out as the stars – there were two enclosures for them, and the second one, in the middle of a children’s play area, was teeming with bouncy excitement, as we got there just as feeding time was happening:

meerkat at flamingoland

meerkat at flamingoland

meerkat at flamingoland

meerkats at flamingoland

 I was very proud of myself because the exit was through another gift shop and I left without buying anything – not even a postcard (which I usually get at places where it’s hard to get good pictures, and which has become a bit of a tradition when I go anywhere now).  I am following through on my commitment to not fill my house with clutter, and I felt really good about it as we left.  We then carried on spending the rest of Valentine’s Day celebrating our relationship.

For Valentine’s Day, we have had a five-year history of not doing anything. Every year I’ve gotten really excited, because I’ve always wanted that *one* Valentine’s Day where we went on a romantic date and ate food and stuff. Just the one. Every single year, life has intervened and made sure we couldn’t do anything on February 14th. It was becoming a tradition that we failed to celebrate V-day every year.  I wanted to go to Bempton and see the puffins but they won’t be back again until the end of march (seasonal wild birds are like that) so I thought it was going to be another year where we did nothing.  When my husband suggested Flamingoland I thought it wasn’t open, and that even if it was it would be £30 each to look at some flamingoes.  I was very pleasantly surprised and it turned out to be well worth a visit with the winter opening hours – and even though it’s school half term (a weeklong holiday for kids) there were not many children at Flamingoland either which was great.

Overall, it was a lovely day out as part of a magical Valentine’s day (I’m going against the popular opinion here because I actually really looked forward to Valentines day even though I care nothing for the consumerist trappings, I just wanted to enjoy being with someone I care about). I’m glad we got round to doing something this year because it was really special to just spend time with my husband, have a fun day out, and focus on how much we love each other and celebrate our relationship.

We didn’t bother with cards, flowers or chocolates, and champagne would have been out of place, but the zoo was perfect, followed by a nice meal (at a pub, no Valentines day specials for us), and then we went home and watched Kung Fu Panda 2 followed by the extended version of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, which was about four and a half hours long (and excellent. I’ve seen it before when it first came out and it hasn’t lost its depth, I highly recommend it if you have the time to watch it, or you could chunk it into two parts).

Have you been to any good zoos lately or seen any exciting wildlife?  Let me know in the comments, and remember to keep ’em clean – this blog gets read by pensioners and children as well as twenty/thirtysomethings!

UPDATE!  I have now finished editing the video footage of my day at the zoo, you can see the first video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZEX0NV1qNw&feature=youtu.be
The second one will be out once I’ve finished it.

[travel] How Many Pairs Of Socks? How Many Panties?

It doesn’t matter how many times I go anywhere. The size of the bag seems to make no difference. I always find myself, about an hour before I am due to depart, hanging around my smalls, trying to decide on the fundamentals of travel packing: How many socks, how many panties?

Go on, snigger.

Then tell me in all honesty that you’re totally confident with your sock-panty quantities.

Hmm.

If I’m going away for less than a week, I take a pair for every day that I’m away. It’s a bit difficult, as a girl, because there are so many different types of both – there are ankle socks, knee socks, hose, stockings, pop socks, those annoying socks that come between the ankle and the knee. The ones that shrink the first time you wear them.

If you consider colour, then that’s a whole different minefield again. Do you take opaque black stockings or bare leg tights? Will neon brighten up your legs or make you look like a slapper? Can Christmas socks ever be cool if it’s not Christmas? What about that pair of socks you really like, but are as itchy as chilli powder?

Here’s the way the boys do it: Just pack five pairs of plain black socks. Then pack pants according to the following formula (based on actual conversations with men):

n = number of weeks; p = number of pants.

p = 4n, where any number of days is rounded up to the first week (so always at least 4 pairs of pants). So if you were going somewhere for 2 weeks, p = 4 x 2 which is 8 pairs of pants.

I’m not convinced this is going to work for girls. Socks or pants. The thing is, if men wear jeans, they wear the same sock type and pant type as they sport if they’re donning formal trousers, bermuda shorts (unless they go commando to avoid sand deposits), dungarees… are there any other types of trousers that men under 50 even wear? I don’t know about them. Men’s clothing is mysteriously simple. I envy them. It doesn’t matter what else they pack, their socks and pants will go with everything, because they are designed to. Men choose their pants based on what feels most comfy/makes them feel sexy (sometimes), whereas women often have to pick their underwear based on whether people will see it under their dress. I remember when I was at school, doing Maths A-level, and the maths teacher used to wear a plain black cheap suit – but the trousers were so thin that you could see the triangular line of her panties indented through the fabric. AAARRRGH EMBARRASSMENT ALL ROUND! I have always had a horror of that, because there’s nothing more awkward than knowing that your maths teacher buys her panties from ASDA’s cheapest plain multipack. The kind your mum buys you when you’re eight. I can’t even begin to comprehend it. Thing was, I’m fairly sure she was blissfully unaware that she had this huge honking great panty line, and had no idea that people were seeing it – and judging her for it, and making all sorts of assumptions. Don’t be that person.

If girls could get away with that there would be no beauty blogs or fashion blogs, so while I envy men, I also feel sorry for them that they don’t have as much choice as us.

So you will need the following:

For every dress you have packed: One thong and one pair of tights. Don’t bother with stockings unless you know how to ask for a suspender belt in Swahili for when yours breaks. They’re not very well made these days (I’m not old enough to know if they ever were, but people tell me things used to be better in their day).

For every pair of trekking trousers: One pair of bikini briefs* or girlboxers and one pair of socks (the fabric can chafe in thongs).
For every pair of jeans: Thong or girlboxers, and one pair of socks.

For every pair of shorts: Thong or bikini briefs and one pair of socks.

For every sarong: A swimsuit or an actual bikini/tankini, and some flip-flops.
For every floor length skirt: Loose cotton girlboxers and one pair of socks.
For every miniskirt: Thong and bare legs unless you’re going somewhere cold, in which case cover legs with leggings, unless it’s too cold, in which case just leave the miniskirt/dress behind.
*Bikini briefs – not the same as bikini bottoms. A bikini brief is a high leg panty which is halfway between a thong and a girl boxer. It’s useful in hotter weather but the elastic can be just as chafing as thongs, but in a different place. Depends on where your chafe-immunity is, I guess.

You need underwear options so that you feel comfortable whatever the weather and during every activity you undertake, but you don’t need underwear that doesn’t fit properly, is worn or frayed, stained, faded, uncomfortable, or the elastic just doesn’t behave. When do we ever pack for our needs though? Last time I went on a long trip, I took about four different swimwear options (underwired tankinis, so the tops could double as non-swimming tops), but I only actually went swimming once, in an indoor hotel pool in Sindenfingel, and I also went to the beach once. I was delusionally expecting to spend more time at the beach, even though my overland route didn’t allow for any stopping points at any beaches because there weren’t any within range of the roads we were taking until the last day, on the way back through Belgium, when we saw a sign for a beach, and took a detour. It had been blazing sunshine until we started walking towards the beach, then suddenly it turned overcast, the way was filled with prickly plants, and there was a constant stream of sand being blown into my right ear. But I got to wear one of my swimming outfits. Although I didn’t go within fifty feet of the sea. It was far too cold.

My point is, I probably only needed two or three of those swimwear options. I certainly didn’t need four. But if there’s room in your bag or your campervan storage locker, why not have options? I think I had one item that I didn’t even wear on a three week trip with a capsule wardrobe.  Again, I thought there’d be more random stopping points, and was expecting to climb some mountains somewhere during our two alpine crossings, but this did not happen, so I didn’t need the 3/4 length walking trousers I’d packed. **UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE – THEY DID GET WORN – I HAVE PROOF!!**

In relation to the how many socks and knickers question, take as many as you like, as many as you feel comfortable wearing. Just remember, only take what you can carry if you are backpacking. And remember a carrier bag to put the dirties in.

I have been contemplating downsizing my underwear and sock collection in my actual home and am currently still trying to comprehend the formula for this which will create a sock and panty equilibrium that I can live with, as part of my pledge (to myself) to minimalize my life. The last thing I want is to get rid of all my undies then have to go straight to M&S to get sized up for some more because I got rid of too many.

I thought I would have a chance to minimalize my underwear and socks today, and have been looking forward to getting stuck into it all week, but between marking 40 mock exam papers for the school I work at, and my next-door-neighbours playing music so loud we could hear it clearly in our car as we left our house, I haven’t really had the time or space to get this done. Nothing kills my concentration faster than “boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom boom” for 6 hours.

I will update you on the permanent underwear quandary once it is solved. In the meantime, enjoy sorting through your panties and socks, and let me know via the comments if you’ve minimalised this area of your life either for holiday packing or 24/7 living, as I’d be very interested to know what works for you.

UPDATE: I have been shown a photo from our drive to Rome six months ago which shows I definitely did wear the three quarter length loose trousers (aww, my hair was so much darker then).  My packing was all used!! Huzzah! :

Those trousers definitely got worn - Schloss Hellbrun, nr. Salzburg, Austria.
Those trousers definitely got worn – Schloss Hellbrun, nr. Salzburg, Austria.

Vanlife fail: Pimp my ride? How ’bout M.O.T. my Ride…

My Citroen Xsara Picasso Camper Conversion has a minor problem today.

In the UK, there’s this pesky thing called an MoT (short for Ministry of Transport, as in, inspection on behalf of the Ministry of Transport) which means you can’t have a car on the road that doesn’t meet some specific criteria.  It was actually a pretty good system, if a little annoying once a year, until the EU intervened 18 months ago.  Basically, they changed the rules and added a bunch of things that were aimed at high-end car users, but which us ordinary people with cheap cars can easily fall foul of.  My car is 10 years old, it cost £600 last summer, and it has taken us all over Europe last summer.  I was rather hoping it would do the same this summer, and get us to Morocco.

1. Light alignment – this was because of all those cray cray bright headlights on expensive cars (you know, the ones that are always dazzling you when they pass, even though they don’t have their brights on).  Instead of saying “these headlights are stupid, and cause accidents by dazzling oncoming traffic” they decided “these lights reduce accidents because drivers can see better.”  Y’know, totally failing to see that most drivers don’t actually have these headlights (they’re even brighter than Xenon) and just get dazzled.  So they decided that they might *might* be a problem if headlight alignment was slightly incorrect and decided to make that an MoT fail (regardless of type or brightness of lights).  This, of course, means that anyone with a car that’s been accident repaired (like mine) now has an MoT fail on their hands.  In my case, the headlight is literally millimetres out of alignment but the first garage I took it to deemed it an MoT fail.

2. LED anything – any LED in your lighting system has to work.  It’s because of the propensity for these LED brakelights on fancy new cars.  What this means is that if any one LED in any part of your car gets blown, you get an MoT fail now instead of an advisory.  It used to be a common sense line, where as long as the lights were fit for purpose (i.e. lighting up your registration plate etc) they were good to go, but now, if one single bulb has blown, you have an MoT fail, because they didn’t know how else to draw the line so brake lights were 100% functional on all cars.  This carries over to any LED so my car failed on a registration plate bulb.

3. Bush damage – any cover that is covering a part of the car has to be totally 100% ok.  Previously, it could be damaged as long as it was preventing the ingress of dirt,  Now, if it is damaged at all then it’s an MoT fail.  BUT… if you have a fancy car with an under-car tray such as a lot of Volvo estates have, they can’t actually remove it to check the components so your car is exempt from being checked for this and a raft of other, potentially dangerous damage to components.  How messed up is that??

It cost me just under £300 (plus a £40 MoT) to get my car fixed.  A well known garage chain who advocate a rapid fitting service quoted me over £500 then refused to do the work because they said my car was dangerous (but they knew someone who could fix it) due to the accident damage under the front bumper.  Thing is, my car is a category C accident damage.

Here’s the categories of accident damage:

Category A – must be crushed, no part of the vehicle can be reused.
Category B – some parts can be used, car will never be allowed on the road again.
Category C – car is unsafe to drive and must PASS A SPECIAL TEST BY VOSA once it has been repaired before it’s allowed on the road.
Category D – the car is damaged and the damage was too expensive for the insurance company to fix, but you can buy it back and fix it yourself.

As you can see, it’s actually safer to buy a Category C than a Category D, because the Cat C car must pass a special safety test whereas the Cat D can just be put straight back on the road no questions asked.  My car was a Category C, so the repairs made to the car might not have been picture perfect, but they were certainly sufficient for VOSA to certify it as safe to go back on the road.  Not only that, but its accident happened in 2008, six years before I bought it, and it’s been passing MoTs since then with no problem.  I had this worry that my car would have to be scrapped if no-one would do the work to fix it.  Luckily, I was worrying unnecessarily.  I left it until 21st January (my MoT runs out on 27th) then realised I should take it to another garage for a second opinion.  So I did.
For under £300, they fixed up the car so it could pass its MoT.
That should be the end of this story, but I have been left with a lot of questions about the garage industry.  For example, why can one garage say “this car is unsafe, but my friend round the corner can fix it up for you” while another garage can say “well if it’s been certified legal by VOSA we’ll just do the work no problems.”  I thought the whole point of an MoT was to make sure that cars all met the same standards, but instead it seems to be a reason for people to extract more money from you and fund their sidelines.  I wondered how many other people with Category C cars had been told the same as me, had accepted it and gone and paid hundreds of pounds to get the unnecessary work done.
Before I took my car to a second garage, I researched it thoroughly online.  Sites such as Pistonheads are really good (although they have a no badmouthing policy, but people get around this and if you’re vaguely intelligent you can work out what garages they’re talking about).  The discussion I found on Pistonheads narrowed my search down to three garages in my area.

I dismissed one before I even went to make enquiries, because I used to live on the same road as them and they’d been really unhelpful about four years ago, when my first car was being pronounced dead, such as quoting me £200 for a new petrol tank when I could buy one myself for £70, then, when I questioned them on it, they said “but that’s not one of our suppliers and we couldn’t guarantee the quality of a repair if we didn’t order the parts” which is funny because other places quoted £70 for a petrol tank.  Curiously I decided to fix the petrol tank myself, then found out the chassis was rusted through so badly that it was never going on the road again.  I remember crying as the scrap merchants took it away, and I knew I would feel the same way about my current car if I couldn’t get it fixed up and had to scrap it.

The second garage was round the corner from my current house, so I tried there first.  I went to talk to them, and the man I spoke to (who I think was the owner, I’ve seen him around) was less than helpful.  You know that specific type of individual who won’t actually talk to you about mechanics/plumbing/construction/types of paint because you’re female, and that means you’re a) Stupid and b) Lack the capacity to understand something as complicated as car repairs.  I’m sure that if you drive, you might have met someone like this.  I smiled and nodded and said I’d get back to him and he was very surprised and confused when I didn’t hand over my car keys.  I drove around the corner to garage number three and the woman behind the counter got it all arranged and calculated the price for me and booked it in for two days later.  I brought the car back on the allotted day, and they finished two hours before they expected to, having done exactly what they needed to get it through the MoT, with no hidden complications.  My car is on the road again for another year.  Which means I can finally start planning my drive to Morocco.

[travel] HAUL – Outdoor Walking and Snow Gear

Outdoor Walking Gear Haul
The past two months have been pretty awful, so I decided to cheer myself up with a little shopping spree with the Sports Direct sale:

corner boots1

haul outdoor gear

sandals2

Let’s start with the Karrimor Walking Sandals.  The box said they were reduced from £49.99; I actually paid £13 for them because there had been another reduction since they were first put on sale.  I wore them the very next day to walk two miles and they were very comfortable – apparently needing no “breaking in” period, as most shoes do.  They felt odd when I first put them on at the store, until I realised that the strap at the very back needed loosening, then they were super comfy.

Karrimor walking sandals

I really like the ’90’s style they’ve got going on and I also love how lightweight they are – I can’t wait until summer to go hiking in them.  They also have super-grippy soles so I think these would be good for hillwalking.

Karrimor walking sandals

I bought size 6 which is an EU 39.5.  I’m usually a size 40 (which gets interpreted as a 6, 6.5 or 7 depending on brand of shoe) but these fitted fine in the 39.5.

box for walking sandals

The snow shoes I bought were also intended for hiking.

snow boots karrimor

Those of you who have been following for a while will remember I have a list of 20 Must-Climb Mountains in Europe that I want (no, I NEED) to climb before I turn 30 in 20 months’ time, because they’re on my to-do list.  I had the opportunity to tackle Scafell Pike recently and had to turn it down because I didn’t have any footwear that was suitable for winter mountains or for fitting crampons to.  I have now remedied this with these beauties:

How nice are these snow boots?
How nice are these snow boots?

I was a little bit disappointed because they also had them in pink but didn’t have anything resembling my size, so I went for the blue ones which were allegedly for boys.  The only difference I could see was that the blue ones were blue, and the girls’ ones had pink laces.  If you really wanted them to be more like the girls’ version, you could always buy some pink laces to put on them.  They didn’t do a version that was strictly “for adults” but since the children’s ones went up to a UK size 6 (which was actually an EU 39.5 again) I was more than accommodated, which is interesting because it’s the first time I haven’t had to get a size 7 in a walking boot.  One thing I like about sports direct is the staff never try to steer you to a particular gender or target-age of a shoe, they just let you get on with it.  They were so comfy (in the words of a furniture store we saw in Salzburg, they felt “so schlaft, man”) I actually felt like my feet had got their own cosy beds to sleep in.

Sorry about my feet, the boot wouldn't stay put!
Sorry about my feet, the boot wouldn’t stay put!

I felt a bit sad having to take these off both in the store and after taking the photos.  The inside is padded with something that feels suspiciously like memory foam, which, along with their fake-fur plush lining, is what makes them feel so comfy.
Another thing I really like about these is that they have a 100% waterproof part at the bottom, so that you can’t get wet from stepping through puddles etc.  While I’d love to be able to afford something in Gore-Tex that was completely waterproof, as a cheap boot for winter walking these really look a lot better than all the others – I always slightly distrust nylon-looking fabric that claims to be waterproof because in my experience it’s “light rain proof” not “puddle proof” but as you can see, these are 3 inches of rubber so unless you’re fording a stream you’re gonna be dry:

snow boots waterproof karrimor

The label says they’re completely waterproof, and certainly in the snow they shouldn’t get my feet damp.  They were £29.99 which was a reduction from £59.99, as you can see on the box:

snow boots karrimor waterproof
I really can’t wait to go walking in these boots.

Next there was a pair of No Fear winter sports gloves.  I wasn’t expecting to buy any gloves, but then ended up spending quite a bit of time in the shop trying different ones on.  The ones I settled on were reduced from £24.99 to £9.99, and I couldn’t be happier with them:

No Fear winter sports gloves

They have a clip so you can clip them together when you’re not wearing them, to avoid losing them, because there’s nothing more irritating than losing one glove under normal circumstances.  Out on the slopes in the snow, you could end up with frostbite if you lose a glove, so it’s extra important.

No Fear winter sports gloves with clip

There’s also a good grippy bit where your fingers go – unlike another pair I tried, the grip on this one felt comfortable in the Make A Fist test (make a fist, if you’re fighting your glove all the way, get a different glove, it’s going to make it hard to hold things when you wear them).

No Fear winter sports gloves waterproof snowboarding grip side

I also liked the baffle inside the glove – a strip of fabric that went all round the inside to stop wind blowing down the glove and making your wrists cold.

No Fear winter sports gloves with clip

These ones had elastic at the wrists AND adjustable velcro on the back of them, making them give a good fit without letting the cold or wet in.  Lastly, the label said they were waterproof.  I tested this in the sink today, and they didn’t let any water in when the tap was running over them.  I absolutely LOVE these gloves.  They were Extra Large size because they were “for girls” not women, but I found the fit more comfortable and felt I was getting more features than any of the ladies gloves.  Additionally, they didn’t have any for adults that looked this good.

Lonsdale mini backpack

I bought a Lonsdale Mini Backpack for £5.99 because when I went to Italy, I was a little fed up with having to drag my shoulderbag up and down big hills and endless steps around Salzburg.  I thought a nice lightweight backpack would be perfect.  I looked at all the daysacks, but I found them all to be overly-technical and overly expensive for what I needed (we were talking over £20 for one, and I don’t need it to be Camelpak compatible or have an MP3 headphone port or an air cooled back).  I wanted something I could roll up and stuff in my suitcase.  So I got this, an absolute steal at £5.99.  It comes in a range of colours, I picked the black one because I thought it would suit every outfit and mood.  It’s much smaller than most “sports” backpacks so my lunch and bottle of water won’t be bouncing around everywhere inside it when I walk around, and there’s a little pocket on the front where I can put postcards.

Lonsdale mini backpack rear view
I liked this one better than the Nike version because they only had the Nike one in Lime Green.  The Lonsdale one (which I bought) also had the advantage of padded straps, which a lot of standard sports-type backpacks don’t have.

Then there was the waist pouch.  I have been toying with the idea of a handsfree type area around my waist for festivals, concerts and other places that require the use of my hands to declare my love for whatever song is playing.  I liked this one because it was the smallest one available so I thought it wouldn’t look as bulky on my tiny size 8 frame:
pouch1

It’s another Karrimor discount, and it cost £5.99, so the same price as my backpack.  I like it because it has a little pocket at the front to keep your MP3 player or iPod, and a headphones out port, so when you’re at a festival and that band you hate starts playing, and you can hear them still across the other side of the field, you can drown them out.  Not that I have ever done this, but I did consider it during one act at Sonisphere last year.  I shan’t tell you which band it was because I profoundly loved most of the bands that played and don’t want to be mean spirited.
The back of the pouch looks like this:
karrimor belt pouch for money etc

I can’t wait to try this out so I can keep my coins on me without having to worry about the safety of my purse while I rock out like a loon at my line-up of festivals and concerts which I’ve got planned for this year, and I also thought it would be very handy when I go to Spain and Morocco later this year as well, to avoid pickpockets, because the zipped money pocket is on the inside.

Lastly, I got some spare laces.  Every time I see some cheap ones I buy them because, in a house filled with five rabbits, shoelaces often get chewed when you are least expecting it, and this means a supply of new ones is essential.  They were only 99p:
karrimor spare shoe laces

I was pleased with the whole experience on my shopping trip, and I really enjoyed the shopping process because I didn’t feel pressured into buying anything and felt like I could still ask for help when I needed it.  Even at the till when I changed my mind about something and was super-apologetic, they were really nice about it and just put it to one side to be re-stocked.  The equipment I bought at Sports Direct will help nicely with my plan to do some of the Via Ferrata in Andorra this year as well, since for Christmas my aunt got me a Via Ferrata Harness and safety line, and a guide book on all the Andorran Via Ferrate.  I will show you these and tell you what I think of them in a future post.
Have you done any new equipment shopping so far this year?  Let me know in the comments.

The Trouble With Concert Tickets

I don’t have a regular article for you because I have spent all day today trying to get concert tickets.

I have a Bands Bucket List which is a list of bands I need to see before THEY kick the bucket.  It’s quite long, because I haven’t been to many concerts (three and a festival, if we’re counting), but that’s ok because there’s some younger bands on there too and by the time I get to them they might be old enough to be in danger of kicking it.

The trouble is, there’s no central place to check them all, half of them don’t seem to announce tour dates until they’re actually happening, which is great if you’re one dimensional and only follow one band because they probably let their official fan clubs know sooner but do we need this kind of class division based on how much money you can throw at a band year-in-year-out based on the small hope that they might get back together and tour again?  It’s just not cool when I’ve got over 50 great bands to check and if I joined all their fan clubs, that would cost me £500 to £1000!!!

Last year, I checked in February and there were no tour dates.  I checked again in April and I’d missed half of them.  How do people find out about these in time to go and buy tickets?  The other significant issue is that they tend to be sold out by the time I finally get to hear about them.  It’s crazy.  Take Glastonbury, for example.  It’s been sold out since before Christmas, but there isn’t a single band confirmed for the line-up yet, and won’t be until Spring 2015.  Who buys tickets to a concert when they have no idea who’s playing it?  What if it’s all your least favourite bands?  And those tickets are NOT cheap either.

So far this year I’ve found three of my bands are playing the UK or Europe this year, have announced their dates in good time and have still got tickets to sell; Lynyrd Skynyrd are playing Manchester, Muse are playing Download and System Of A Down are playing London (but are sold out) and across Europe, I think I can get tickets for one of the European gigs because they tend to sell out less quickly although the French Ticketmaster isn’t even releasing tickets for them yet.

I wish I could have my own music festival filled with all the bands I love and get them all to play in York…  le sigh.

Have you got any plans to go to concerts this year?  Do you know of any good venues in Europe or have any favourites (anywhere within 8 hours drive of Calais would be perfect but I do have a car camper so longer journeys are being considered at this point)?
Let me know in the comments!