Tag Archives: Personal

Lakes Culture interview – 5 minutes with Zoë Dawes –


Lakes Culture aims to bring together the area’s tourism and cultural sectors to better promote the wealth of cultural activities on offer reaffirming the area as the UK’s leading rural cultural destination.

Blackwell Arts and Crafts House White RoomIn a this interview with Lakes Culture I talk about my love for the Lake District, share tips on places to eat and stay, winning the Culture & History Blogger and my favourite view on the Lake District.Zoe Dawes aka The Quirky Traveller

Read 5 minutes with Zoë Dawes – Lakes Culture.


Personal & Quirky Reflections & Intentions

As we shift from one decade to another I’d like to share with you what I’m really grateful for.  Please do share your thoughts, resolutions, gratitudes, intentions …  

I am really grateful for:

  • My son Alex, who’s grown from a toddling 2 year old to the threshold of teenagerdom and brought us such joy, fun, enrichment and learning…
  • My Mum, who died 7 years ago and whose wisdom, beauty and grace is with me every day. I thought I had lost her when she died but have learnt that she is all here all the time …
  • The rest of my family for ‘being there’, keeping me sane and sharing the good and bad times, even when we drive each other crazy 🙂
  • Dear friends who share the journey, allow me to fail, be ‘out of order’ and forgive me every time … and for those friends who I have lost touch with but who are still in my heart ….
  • All the very special clients, colleagues and people I have worked with – thank you for sharing your lives, loves, aspirations, hopes, problems and dreams – such a privilege …
  • Living and working in such a beautiful part of the world
  • Good health and that of those around me
  • The luxury of being able to look forward to the coming decade from the warmth and safety (hopefully!) of my own home
  • For learning the difference between desiring what I don’t have, and being content with all that I am blessed with …

My INTENTION for the coming decade is to live as much as possible in the PRESENT, to appreciate all that is good around me, to share what I can with others and be open and  positive to whatever DESTINY may have in mind in 2010 and beyond  …

I wish you all that you wish for yourself in the coming year, with an extra dash of magical  quirkiness 🙂

Quirky Christmas Past …

I recently wrote this article for a Twitter friend, Stephanie @TravelDesigned. You can see the original here   If you have a quirky Christmas memory please do share it … Leave a Comment below.

Aswan, Egypt

In the early 80s a group of us spent one Christmas and New Year in Egypt.  On Christmas Day so we left our VERY basic hostel to find a cheap restaurant open which served festive fare and a drink. As you can imagine, in a predominantly Muslim country on a Saturday, that was not so easy … Eventually we found a little place by the Camel Market (not on that day), with a big table outside.  We were offered Roast chicken and chips with local beer… Perfect.

Whilst we waited (for hours) for the chicken, we drank warm beer and relished the hot sun, safe in the knowledge that back home in the UK it was probably raining and definitely cold.  The chicken was the toughest, ropiest old bird you could imagine – but we enjoyed it anyway as we reminisced about our favourite Christmas holidays, exchanged REALLY cheap and fun gifts, toasted absent friends and congratulated ourselves on having a very unChristmassy Christmas Day.

 Pattaya, Thailand

In 1990, a friend and I escaped from Hong Kong to stay at a luxury hotel in Pattaya, which looked absolutely dreamy. What we didn’t know was that during the Vietnam War, Pattaya had been a favourite place for soldiers to chill out and ‘relax’ – and their legacy lived on …

 Having arrived on Christmas Eve we decided to eat out in Pattaya the next day, so after a relaxing day by the pool we wandered into the town.  What a shock that was.  It was late afternoon and still daylight but all the bars were busy and it was obvious what delights were on offer for Christmas here… We wandered up and down Soi 6 barely able to contain our amazement. Some of the bars and clubs had festive decorations amidst the neon – I’ll never forget one sign which read ‘A Merry Christmas to all our Customers’ above a lap-dancing club offering some very exotic acts …

 Eventually we found a vaguely respectable bar where we had Pad Thai noodles and fended off the attentions of some very drunk Australian guys who’d clearly partaken of a fair bit of Christmas cheer.  As their propositions got more extreme we decided return to our hotel and leave Pattaya red light district to its own unique Christmas festivities!

 Queenstown, South Africa

“We’re having a Braai on Christmas Day – just family and a few mates …” thus was I introduced to Christmas Dinner, South African style. I was staying with my boyfriend’s family on their farm just outside Queenstown. The weather was fantastic; warm, sunny and fresh. On Christmas morning we exchanged presents, drank sparkling wine and opened cards showing Santas and snow-covered carol singers outside typical English churches; all very incongruous with the African veldt outside the back door.

 A Braai is a BBQ, SA style. On the biggest grill I’ve ever seen, was every kind of meat imaginable, including ostrich and Boerewors, a spicy sausage.  Huge buckets were filled with ice and beer, boxes of red wine stood outside the kitchen door next to a tall fridge full of white wine, soft drinks & mixers.  Two trestle tables were loaded up with all manner of salads, dips, breads and fruit, with a smaller table for the kids – and not a turkey or Brussel sprout in sight.

 By 4pm the party was in full swing and it was time for carols and the Christmas pudding. The farm workers joined us and as ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ rang out into the African sky from over 50 voices, it seemed the best way ever to celebrate this wonderful season.

Whatever you do, wherever you are and whoever you are with, may your Christmas be quirky and bright 🙂

Cumbria Floods …

This weekend has been a really awful one for Cumbria and other places in the north of UK.  Following torrential rain for many days, rivers finally burst their banks and suddenly Cumbria was plunged into chaos. Cockermouth and Workington suffered the worst, but many other people and places were badly affected.  The death of PC Bill Barker was a dreadful shock to all and made everyone realise the seriousness of the situation.

This picture was taken by Linda Mellor , a local photogrFlooded road Ullswaterapher who was out taking photos before things got really dangerous. This shows the road along Ullswater to Pooley Bridge, just before it was closed. For more shots of the flooding visit LindaMellorPhotos

There are awful things happening all over the world at this very moment, yet we are most affected by what happens on our doorstep.  I have a friend in Cockermouth and so a big concern was that she was OK.  She’s fine.  And just being so connected to Cumbria and the NW makes it all so much more real …

And that is the thing for me about this disaster. It is definitely not be the worst thing to happen in the world, but it is something that is close to home … and so I care more and want to do more to help.  One simple way to do that was to use Twitter to let others know what was happening and hope that by getting the word far and wide, more can be done.  (Some of us even got coverage in The Times on Saturday!)

If you would like to help the people of Cumbria whose lives are currently being turned upsidedown, visit the Cumbria Flood Community Fund to donate.  Alternatively you can send a cheque made out to Cumbria Community Foundation to: Cumbria Community Foundation, Dovenby Hall, Cockermouth CA13 0PN. Please write on the back ‘Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund.

Remembrance of things … when?

This week I spent a lovely couple of days relaxing in the Lake District, taking time out from a very hectic schedule to reflect and consider what next.  I stayed overnight at the luxurious Waterhead Hotel on the shores of Windermere, near Ambleside, Cumbria.  I will be writing about that another time but I just wanted to share with you a brief snippet of conversation I overheard in the queue for the Lakes Ferry last Wednesday.

The Waterhead Hotel from Lake Windermere

Elderly gent to his elderly lady companion: “Where’s my camera?” “I don’t know. Is it in your pocket?” “No, I’ve looked there. Where is it?” “Maybe we left it in the hotel room.” “No it’s not there. Where is it?” “I don’t know. Perhaps it’s … maybe it’s back home.” “Where’s the camera. I never go out without my camera?” “Oh, I don’t know – why can’t we remember things these days?  We used to be able to remember things … We used to have a memory; now we don’t have one between us.”

Five minutes later the elderly gent asked his lady companion, “What day is it today?” “I don’t know. Just a minute – let me see …” She go out her mobile phone, peered at it and said, “It’s the 11th of November. Oh, it’s Remembrance Day. It’s 11.30 on the 11th of November.” “I said, ‘What day is it?'” “I told you dear, it’s the 11thof November. Remembrance Day.”  “NO – what DAY is it. I mean, what DAY is it?” “I’ve TOLD you, it’s the 11th of November …” “NO… what DAY…? “Oh, what DAY? Oh …”  She looked at her mobile again. “Oh, I don’t know … What day IS it? …”

I whispered “Wednesday” to her and she told her husband.  “Thank you dear. So silly, but I am 88 and he’s 91 and we can’t remember much these days.  But we’ve been coming here since 1946 and we do know we love it here… So many happy memories.”

And I pondered on the companionship these two have shared as their collective memories gradually fade away … What happy memory might you share today?

What does ‘quirky’ mean?

QT logoThe past few weeks have been really exciting with lots of new opportunities to explore, places to visit and people to meet.  The Quirky Traveller seems to have a life of her own – and it’s mine!  Very frequently people ask me why I chose the name ‘Quirky Traveller’.  It came about quite by accident and I’ve written about it for Mark Shaw’s Twitter Success Stories .  But the main thing people want to know is ‘Why Quirky …?’

‘Quirky’, for me, is about being real, about seeing the world from a different angle, about looking at things from all sides, finding the unusual, the interesting, the fascinating. It’s about quality combined with classiness, it’s about being curious about everything and wanting to know more… It’s about travels of mind, body and spirit, recognising that life is not one, two or even three-dimensional, but multi-dimensional.  And most of all, it’s a celebration of life and its uniqueness

What does quirky mean to you?  What is quirky about you?  What are the elements of you that make you unique?  Do leave a Comment – and get out there and celebrate quirkiness in style! 

Follow me on TWITTER and share the quirkiness …

What is a holiday?

“Are you going on holiday?” asked the friendly chap in the car as I trundled my suitcase down to Carnforth Station (its claim to fame being the setting for ‘Brief Encounter’s tearful farewells from Celia to Trevor). “Yes,” I replied. “I’m going to London for the weekend.” And that set me thinking .. Was I going on holiday – and if not, what was I doing?

Attending a TravelWriting Workshop is not really the stuff of holidays – is it? But I didn’t see it as work; rather a great and hopefully enjoyable way to learn some new skills, meet like-minded people and enjoy myself.  I was also meeting up with a new-found friend from Twitter, Sharon Eden, whose inspirational website Women Of Courage was part of the reason I decided to take the plunge to write. I would be sight-seeing and was really looking forward to it all…  in my mind it was a holiday.

The question is then “What is a holiday?” Do let me know – because I am really not sure, thanks to that cheery chap in Carnforth!