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

In Search of a Polar Bear – Part 2

Whose Paw Prints are these?

Just about everyone we were with on our Hurtigruten’s ‘Circumnavigating Spitsbergen – In the Realm of the Polar Bear’ trip with wanted to see a polar bear. Well, of course, thats one of the main things you visit for.

But it’s definitely not as easy as you think! You can say that about most wildlife of course, it plays to its own tune and if you spot anything in the Arctic, especially in the ocean, then you are very privileged.

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Environment, Travel

In Search of a Polar Bear – Part 1

Choosing a trip

What’s the first thing you think about when planning a trip to the Arctic? Most probably, will I see a Polar Bear?

What’s the second thing you think about? Which of the many trips should I go on and which am I and my party best suited to?

Both are very good questions.

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Travel

Who Doesn’t Love a Roof Top Bar?

Oslo seems to have more than its fair share of them. We kicked off our trip, ultimately to circumnavigate Spitsbergen, with a short stay at The Grand, Oslo but not before an interesting beginning to our adventure…

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Environment, Travel

So Pleased! Another International ‘Short Film’ Festival Selection

Very excited to hear that our film ‘It’s time to act. NOW’ has been nominated for another short film festival – Germany this time.

All you need to know follows and if you haven’t seen the film yet, then you can watch it here – it’s only 2 minutes!

We hope it’s a film that will keep giving – to those organisations that are already working on protecting the Antarctica and all that is in our Southern Ocean.

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Environment, Travel

Polar Art – It’s More Than Just a Reflection of Icy Landscapes

A powerful advocate for the environment, a guardian of cultural heritage and a catalyst for change, all describe ‘Polar Art’ to me. When someone captures the stark beauty and profound significance of the Artic and Antarctic regions, it’s not just an artistic endeavour.

May seems to be the month for ‘Art Trails and ‘Open Studio’s’ across the UK and I reconnected with a fellow shipmate from our trip to South Georgia and Antarctica, Polar Artist Helen Young, at her Open Studio event as part of the Oxfordshire Art Weeks.

Come with me as I recount the experience of what I can only describe as a quintessential British garden party but with substance, in the depths of stunning countryside that is Oxfordshire.

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Environment, Travel

The Boutique

Iconic Chewton Glen (Part 2)

Finding a gift shop in a 5 star hotel that has something different, local – well British at least – and perhaps if you are lucky enough, sustainable, is pretty rare I have found. More often than not you find expensive, generic brands that leave you with a sense of blandness and lack of creativity!

Keely van Dam, has brought something special to Chewton Glen’s gift shop. Shaped somewhat out of our experiences during the COVID pandemic, where small local independents came into their own as we took those early steps back into shared spaces, she delivers a totally different experience for guests and visitors….

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Environment

Celebrating Seaweed!

… at the Cornish Seaweed Festival

Seaweed may become another ‘thing’ for me. But in all seriousness it’s fascinating to dive into these topics, but even more fascinating to uncover local stories that are supporting this welcomed shift we are seeing to a better appreciation of our surrounding nature. This beautiful illustration of Cornish Seaweed by Rachel Akerman, is definitely to be appreciated.

But it’s more than that. This shift – I am hoping – may help each of consider what small changes we might make that will have less impact on our planet and that nature.

Let’s head to Marazion, a coastal town in Cornwall….

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Environment, Travel

It’s All About the Bees – The Iconic Chewton Glen Hotel (Part 1)

Inspiring the Next Generation

Chewton Glen is a glorious and luxurious place to stay, set in 135 acres of beautiful rolling grounds.

Would it surprise you that what excited me most was a tour around their waste management area by their very informed Deputy General Manager, Raymond de Toulouse Lautrec? Probably not by now…. just to prepare you for my ‘bin’ conversation!

But what’s this about the bees? My Dad was an avid gardener and I have fond memories of helping him tend our good sized garden of vegetables and flowers as a little girl. Everything was grown from seed, kept from the previous year. Plant cuttings and vegetable gluts were shared with neighbours as were gardening tips on what to grow with what to keep the bugs in check. Everything that could be was composted. He taught me all I know and his presence is always with me when I garden – not surprising, so many of my plants are from him!

My conversation with the Estate Manager, Darren Venables stirred those memories and really got me thinking about all that Darren told me he was trying achieve….

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Environment

Shining a light on South Wonston Sustainability

‘Just ordinary folk, doing what they do to try to make the world a better place.’

Think you can’t make a difference on a personal scale? Think again.

There’s this group in a relative small community of approximately 800 households, on the outskirts of the city of Winchester, Hampshire that is quietly getting on with something that is producing what I would describe as significant results.

I want to shine a light on the changes they are effecting , see if it can be replicated throughout the country…

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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, 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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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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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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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

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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