Travel Blog

The concept of travel is shaped by things with meaning and love.

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ABOUT ME

Hi I'm Sue Quelch!

As the author of Sue Q's World.
It is my personal blog about
travel, extraordinary destinations, our environment,
sustainable concepts
and everyday moments from all
over the world.

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Environment Blog

The Earth is what we all have in common.

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Environment, Travel

Standing Next to History

… with a group of like-minded, inspirational people who get together to preserve its memory

Hands up who knows the remarkable story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to Antarctica on the ship Endurance? It’s the one that took place in 1914 on his endeavour to attempt the first land crossing of the Antarctic, from the Weddell Sea through the South Pole to the Ross Sea.

Remember the part where Shackleton and his men are stranded on Elephant Island? He takes a lifeboat with Frank Worsley, Tom Crean and three others battling treacherous seas and ice for 16 days and 800 miles before reaching the ‘wrong’ side of South Georgia, with mountains between them and the whaling station that could provide the help to rescue his men…

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Environment

Have You Heard About the Sargasso Sea?

Sargasso Sea Ecosystem and Why It’s So Important

I’m beginning to think I really should have tried harder in Geography at school! Why? Well, when a colleague mentioned the Sargasso Sea, I had absolutely no idea where it was or why I should be so interested in it. Let me tell you, since last week that has certainly changed. Whilst not claiming to have got anything close to being an authority on its importance, a chance invitation to an expert meeting, had me rubbing shoulders with some pretty key people that definitely are! Here’s what I learnt…

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Environment, Travel

How the ‘Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute’ Amplify Antarctica’s Challenges Through Art!

When we think about Antarctica, what tends to come to mind are penguins, whales, seals and of course, snow and ice but unless you have been able to see it for yourself, the vastness and brutality of its stunning scenery are hard to convey in photographs and indeed through paintings.

But that’s exactly what the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute (FoSPRI) annual ‘Artist In Residence’ scheme looks to achieve. Each artist, will have their own unique style capturing Antarctica or the Artic in ways we would not necessarily think about and opening our eyes to new perceptions.

As an FoSPRI member, we joined a preview evening in London of the most recent work and got to speak to the artist, Polly Townsend, first hand about how she transferred her experiences to canvas…

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Environment, Travel

There is Life in the Treehouse – and I Don’t Mean Birds or Squirrels!

Do you remember that Woody Allen film, Stardust Memories, where he is sitting on a train waiting for it to depart the station? His coach is full of boring lifeless people who don’t know how to enjoy themselves and are going nowhere.  He is wondering why his life is so dull and where there could be a place he craves for fulfilment.  Just then a second train pulls into the platform.  He can see directly into a carriage which is full of people enjoying themselves in a happy party environment….

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Environment

The Results Are In!

Remember the Big Plastic Count 2024 back in March? My personal results, with my households plastic packaging footprint, and the overall results are in, from 225,000 participants. And they are STAGGERING.

Such a lot of data to crunch and analyse. Were there enough contributors to get credible results I can hear you ask? Well, participation was 1 in every 300 people in the UK – that seems a significant enough number to give a pretty good overview of not just how much plastic households are throwing away, but in which categories.

Can you guess which of these had the highest plastic count: Food & Drink, Cleaning & Toiletries and Everything Else? Any idea how much of our plastic is incinerated?

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Environment, Travel

Gravetye Manor: A Centre of Excellence for Gastronomy and Horticulture

Is there anything better than the English country garden in the Spring? Two nights at Gravetye Manor makes you appreciate all that is good about this part of England. I swear it was a degree warmer! But that’s not it. Perhaps the locally produced English sparkling wine, the meadows and tranquil gardens littered with spring flowers, the warm comfortable welcome from the happy helpful Gravetye team and the excellent cuisine? Yes, absolutely.

But of course, for me there was more… some surprising hidden ‘goodness’ that radiates outwards from this stately, historic manor hotel….

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Environment

‘Some Progress, Must Try Harder’

Climate Report, The Economist

When I first saw this cover, as I worked through a pile of reading materials way overdue to be read – eek, this one was December! – it struck negative thoughts. But take another look….on second glance there seems to be a small element of positiveness! Well, there is one B+ for ‘making commitments’ …

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Environment, Travel

Antarctica. A Life Changing Experience

After the success of our short film “It’s time to act. NOW“, we didn’t want to stop there! Continuing the collaboration with the various environmental organisations, we’ve produced a short documentary film that follows my life-changing voyage to South Georgia Island and Antarctica.

Join me as I share my journey and experiences in this very visual way, demonstrating how each of us can contribute to the preservation of our environment and the eco-systems that we are both part of and dependent upon….

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Environment

‘Audacious Goals’ May Save the Arctic Ice

Blink and you might have missed these news items….

My colleague and fellow adventurer to Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, Brad Borkan – co-author extraordinaire ofAudacious Goals, Remarkable Results, writes about how an early explorer, a statesman and an engineer have shaped our current world by setting themselves audacious goals and not being put off by the naysayers!

He pointed out to me that we are seeing these audacious goals now in relation to the Arctic. We know the ice is melting. We know our wildlife – the bears, the seals, whales, foxes, birds – are suffering with the break up and disappearance of the ice shelves that they live, hunt and breed on.

BUT, things are happening! One or two humans are aiming high – audacious goals are needed to save the Arctic. Here is what we are seeing….

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Environment, Travel

Scratching Beneath the Surface: Sustainability At The Treehouse London Hotel

Ok, I admit it – it was my birthday early February. Unlike the past two years, we were at home! Now I love birthday celebrations, my husband would rather leave the country! Couple that with our, what seems like permanent search for ‘fun’ or different hotels, those with a good vibe, great music – or at least not ‘parlour’ music – and a good view, a short London stay fitted the bill. The Treehouse London Hotel, Langham Place, London popped up on my Google search. Ooooh, I thought, that looks interesting. Roof top bar, perfect! It was indeed a perfect stay, one of the best and fun hotels we have stayed in.

But you know me, I always like to look deeper …. this is what I found….

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Environment, Travel

When Having Clean Boots Is Actually Important

Bio Security and the South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project

Onboard our Polar Latitudes trip to Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica full focus was on the precious environment we were in and minimising our impact such as we could. Onboard the ship many things were already in place. No plastics, water stations and refillable bottles, bio-digester for food waste and pre-shore visit lectures with IAATO guidelines to adhere to. No food to be taken ashore and critical to ensure everything you went with came back with you. Humour is a great way to deliver these messages, and our team of guides were excellent on this score!

But for South Georgia and Antarctica there was much more, and here is why….

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Travel

Hungry Anyone?

Playa Blanca seafront, Lanzarote is scattered with bars, cafes and restaurants, with a few breaks where a hotel has that precious beachfront space or a pointed rocky out-crop gives a pleasant return to nature and the sea.

Looking for is burger and chips? Please, close this blog, you are wasting your time!

BUT if you are looking for something a little special, with music or the best of Spanish food, then this might be for you.  

Can you guess which is my favourite restaurant?

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Environment, Travel

SKI’ing in Lanzarote

Hotel vs Villa: The Princesa Yaiza Experience

Soon as it starts getting into Autumn – darker nights and gloomier skies – my husband’s thoughts turn to ‘where can we go to get some sun over Christmas and New Year?’. Now I am more of a ‘snow and fairy lights’ type of person… well that’s what I tell myself. With a ‘complex’ family structure – thats one way to describe it – exiting the country (UK) is a good way to extract ourselves from seasonal challenges, but it’s more than that. This is our third Christmas and New Year in Lanzarote, first time in a hotel rather than villa. Let’s look at how that went and explore how you can SKI’ing in Lanzarote when there is no snow or snow dome! Read on to find out more….

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Environment, Travel

Antarctic Ambassadors

This is quite an introduction from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO):

‘Antarctica is a unique and one of the most perfectly preserved regions on the planet…. see how we work to keep it that way’.

IAATO

Since the first mainland Antarctic landing, thought to be by the sealer Captain John Davis on 7th February 1821 to the first tourist expedition in mid-1900’s there have and always will be, people who want to experience Antarctica. Initially it was the science, pursuit of knowledge and of course geographic claim that were the key reasons for making the treacherous journey to this remote land. With the Artic being more accessible and cheaper to reach, Antarctica escaped mass tourism until the 1900’s then this is what happened…

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Travel

It’s like ordering Fish & Chips and Being Brought Chicken & Jacket Potato!

The ‘Dusseldorf Europcar’ Experience

We do quite a bit of European travel, generally hiring car’s whether that’s in Germany, Italy or Lanzarote. So much easier than standing in that queue at the airport waiting for a taxi. We pre-order online, choose the car make and model we would like ahead of time, always automatic as they drive on the wrong side of the road (haha!). We add our flight number and arrival time, as well as the return drop off time. Well thats perfect as they know you are coming, right? Until you are stood in front of the desk ready to pick up your car….

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Travel

Shaping Guest Perceptions Positively

Part 3 of 3: Cliveden House Hotel, Taplow – what a welcome

We had friends from Germany visiting in the summer, with two young energetic children and a baby. It was a long weekend only but I always like to plan activities ahead with several options. Mainly ensuring places to run around for the children. 

The National Trust property, Cliveden House came up in conversation. Beautiful grounds going down to the Thames although the stately mansion house, previously owned by the Astor family steeped in history and political scandals, is now part of the Iconic Luxury Hotels group and a Relais & Chateaux association member.  We wondered what it would be like to stay in this historic hotel? 

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Environment, Travel

Getting more ‘Polar’

Part 2 of 3: Scott Polar Research Institute – Polar Museum, Cambridge

Planning  our short trip away in the UK following  some medical ‘stuff’  I had always wanted to visit the Scott Polar Museum at the research centre in Cambridge.  My blog last week, our short stay at The Graduate Cambridge, was part 1 of 3 with this visit being the main reason for the Cambridge trip

2024 will bring a trip to the Arctic for me in June  – totally different of course in every way to the Antarctica trip but still with some common threads through explorers like Roald Amundsen reaching both the South and North Pole, I thought a history lesson at the museum was a good place to start.

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Travel

Messing About on the River – Cambridge

Part 1 of 3: Graduate Cambridge Hotel

It’s funny what drives a short getaway, especially in November! Because of some medical stuff that had been going on we wanted a short trip to celebrate a 6 week recovery point. Criteria equalled not going too far in the car – my husband hates being driven, and I was driving! – and places we could easily walk. Combine that with something interesting to do, hmm thats not hard for me, the Scott Polar Museum = tick! A friend had mentioned Cliveden House and the beautiful grounds – a National Trust property but with the house now being a Relais & Chateaux hotel. I can see a mini-break coming together nicely.

This is part one, first stop Cambridge.

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Environment, Travel

Citizen Science Anyone?

And can you guess who Antarctica’s most beloved citizens are?

Do you know how difficult it is to get a good photograph of any part of a whale? Well you have to be lucky enough to see them in the first place of course and then have the camera ready just at that exact time they breach to capture that tail or fin. What I didn’t know before our Antarctica trip is that these whale photographs – photos to follow in this blog – capturing precious memories for each of the passengers, could make a much wider contribution….

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Environment, Travel

When a Gift to Yourself is a Gift to the Planet

Remember the very successful Charity Auction in July for both South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) and the UK Antarctica Heritage Trust (UKAHT)? There were some fabulous donations and some surprising ones – Four Seasons Maldives kindly donated 5 large Coral Frames to the auction! What’s the link? It’s kind of like connecting the dots – except with oceans instead! The Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean to be precise, they are joined – get out a map and check it out. But still the SGHT Team and Four Seasons ‘ummed and ahhed’ over whether the ‘ocean restoration and conservation’ association between these two distant places would result in auction bids for the frames. It did!

Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to know the stories behind the like-minded people who successfully bid on the coral frames. Fortunately, they both agreed to let me share some insights….

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Environment, Travel

We’ve Lost Five Times the British Isles worth of Sea-Ice from Antarctica! 

Scientists are trying to unravel the cause of the shrinking sea-ice, or ice that floats, on the surface of Antarctica’s Oceans. Currently its much lower than has previously been measured as a September ‘average’.  In fact the area of ice that is missing is about five times the size of the British Isles. 

I can’t imagine how you go about measuring the sea-ice around Antarctica, but whatever way you look at it, we are missing A LOT!

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Environment, Travel

Antarctica. It’s Time to Act. NOW!

One of our most precious continents. Subject to and suffering from the increases in temperatures to both oceans and atmosphere. Such significant consequences to so much and so many, as sea levels rise and the Southern Ocean’s currents change with the ice melt from what is the planet’s greatest freshwater reserve.

This short ‘teaser’ film, showcasing the collapse of Antarctica is meant to draw your attention to the dramatic effects that are happening right now.

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Environment

Lets Celebrate the Return of the Whales, but Not Forget Our Past

Why the Grytviken ‘spirit tables’ sculpture is important – a visitors perspective!

Future generations cannot learn from history if we eradicate the visible signs and monuments – that’s my belief. Nothing was more pertinent and obvious to me in South Georgia. The juxtaposition of the beauty and extensive wildlife on its beaches and surrounding ocean, compared to the remains of the Grytviken whaling station, where we nearly wiped out entire whale species, is a case in point. This place has much visible evidence of human devastation on our wildlife. Combining the ‘then and now’ is tricky, but it seems ‘art’ might provide a solution – a way of expressing history, AND showing hope.

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