Loading...
Browsing Category

Adventure & Hobbies

Adventure — lifestyle

Road Trip – Part 2 – The Rocky Mountains

Hi All,

I’m continuing from where I left off in Part 1. If you haven’t read that yet and you’re interested you’ll find it here. You can also read Theresa’s recommendations for travelling with a baby.

Day 8 Saturday – Valemount to Jasper – 122km

We were hoping that the COVID restrictions would lift before we hit the Rockies but they hadn’t. So far we have been using private campgrounds because the Provincial parks are all closed but there are no private campgrounds around Jasper, Banff or Lake Louise because the whole area is a National Park.

We assessed our options. We could drive to Jasper and stop overnight on the roadside along the Ice fields highway to Lake Louise but I was worried that we would be asked to move on as the road is opened to through traffic only. It is unlikely that the police would come knocking on the window of our RV in the middle of nowhere in the dark of night but we don’t take those chances due to the risk of a nuclear meltdown and subsequent fallout from the small baba being moved in the middle of the night.

We decided to divert and not drive through the Rockies which I was disappointed about but we would check out Jasper before turning back – then Brainwave – Hotels are open. A hotel tonight in Jasper and a hotel tomorrow night in Lake Louise and we stay on our planned route.

The approach to Jasper is beautiful, the scenery slowly got more and more spectacular as we got deeper into the mountains then out of nowhere we were blown away by the view of Mount Robson – the highest mountain in British Columbia at 3,954m.

Excuse the quality of the pic, it’s taken through the windscreen

 

We were lucky enough to see a mother bear with her cub along the road

Jasper is an amazing town. It sits quite happy nestled among the snow-capped peaks as they look down on the town through clear fresh air. It is touristy but not manufactured like some ski towns I have visited. I took the below pictures in the iPhone filter noir because I like how the snow and clouds stand out.

On arriving in Jasper there is an RV parking lot located here which is a great place to take a break and decide on your plan of action or take lunch. The parking lot was empty but I think outside of COVID times that would be different.

We could have parked the RV up in any of the quiet residential neighbourhoods and spent the night but we stuck with the hotel plan. We decided on the Lobstick Lodge. It was great but hot at night time. The heat wasn’t on, just warm rooms, luckily they provide a fan. There is a breakfast place close by but we didn’t bother with that because Theresa makes an EXCELLENT breakfast.

That evening we went out for dinner – it’s so good to see restrictions lifting and see restaurants opening. We went to Earls. We sat inside but the views of the mountains from the patio are amazing.

Remember that driving east into the mountains you transition to Mountain time (1 hour ahead)

Day 9 Sunday- Jasper to Lake Louise – 232km

The unfortunate thing about the national park being closed is that we had to do this drive in one day. There are so many campgrounds along the way and I would imagine that the hiking and backcountry camping is amazing. For a road trip, it is out of this world. Literally driving through snow-capped mountains with absolutely breathtaking views at every turn, passing turquoise glacier-fed lakes, raging rivers, sharp, powerful snow-capped peaks and huge glaciers. I have never seen anything like it in all my travels. It is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever made and the highlight of the trip so far.

I am so glad that we stuck to our planned route.

We got another up-close look at a black bear lumbering along the highway minding his business. We slowed down to get a pic, making sure there was nothing behind but did NOT stop or get out. These animals will literally tear you to pieces (slowly) if they take a notion.

Lake Louise is tiny. There is not much of a town to it but lots of trails and a ski resort. The lake itself is beautiful and sits under the watchful eye of the Fairmont Hotel. I would love to stay there sometime but it was still closed due to the COVID.

We stayed at the Lake Louise Inn, reasonably priced and close to lots of trails. It’s a ten-minute drive to the lake and a six-minute drive to the ski hills.

View of the mountains from Lake Louise

View of Lake Louise from the Fairmont frontage

Day 10 Monday – Lake Louise to Radium Hot Springs – 131km

You might wonder why the town is called Radium Hot Springs. I think there are some thermal springs in the area. Oh yes, there are and they look quite nice too but they were closed. I assume the hot springs is the big tourist draw in this town but we didn’t miss out by not visiting them. The town is so nice and there are lots of trails in the area.

The campground we stayed at was an easy walk along a nice trail to the town (ten minutes) and sat at the bottom of a valley. The Canyon RV Park is tidy, well-manicured and has a nice creek flowing through it.

We walked into the town and then headed out the highway towards the hot springs for a walk. It doesn’t sound enticing walking along the highway but there is a path all the way and stunning views of a waterfall and the canyon towering over the road.

Further past this canyon we saw five mountain goats making their way along the cliff. These are bighorn sheep, the ones you see with the huge curving horns but the ones we saw were females with shorter horns. We met a shotgun sporting park ranger on the walk back who told us that there was a dead sheep on one of the trails which would attract predators so the trail was closed.

Day 11 Tuesday – We spent two nights at Radium Hot Springs, generally taking it easy.

Day 12 Wednesday – Radium Hot Springs to Fort Steele – 128km

We took a detour through Kimberly on the way to Fort Steele. It’s a great little town with nice restaurants and shops. It was so quiet. I am guessing that’s not the case in high season as there is a ski hill nearby.

The main reason I wanted to stop off at Fort Steele RV Park was to check out the heritage town but unfortunately, it was closed due to the COVID. It looks absolutely amazing and there is an old-style heritage hotel you can stay at. We took a walk in any way but couldn’t see too much as it is fenced off.

The campground is nice but there’s not a whole lot to do unless the heritage town is open so we moved on the next day.

Day 13 Thursday – Fort Steele to Fernie – 95km

Fernie is simply amazing. I love this town. I could live here.

We stayed at Fernie RV Resort which is about half an hour walk from the centre of town. There are nice stroller-friendly trails into town along the river or you can walk through the quiet residential areas. 

There are also decent hiking trails close by where there are regular moose sightings. 

The campsite has full hook up which means you can use the City water main rather than refilling your water tank every day. It’s really spacious and so well looked after. There’s not much shade though and it got really hot.

We walked into town in the evening and ate at The Loaf. I got a great burger with very average fries but I think that may be down to the fact that it was only their second day open after the COVID. Theresa really enjoyed her food so overall I would recommend it.

Day 14 Friday – Fernie

We learned a lesson with our RV this morning waking up to the cold. We were out of propane, the heat works off the propane and there is no gage in the living area of the vehicle. This isn’t a big issue if there is a propane refill close by as a lot of gas stations do refill but the nearest one to us was forty minutes away – we also didn’t have gas to heat water for tea so we had our breakfast and headed out for propane.

If you were in real difficulty I think there is a way you can hook a propane tank up to your RV. We ran out after almost two weeks of steady use, using the heat every day, the fridge and the gas stove. Yes, the fridge also uses propane so good thing our food didn’t spoil.

I’d recommend checking it every week based on our usage. There is a gage on the tank where you refill it. Apparently, it is an offence to fill a propane tank more than 80%. 

 

That wraps up Part 2. I will post the final section from the Rocky Mountains along the Crowsnest highway to Vancouver in two weeks time.

Thanks for Reading,

Peace,

George

 

PS – If you interested in my new book – The Pagan’s Revenge – It is a historical fiction novel set in 10th century Ireland and it’s available on Amazon, Barnes and NobleAustin MacAuley and Bookdepository (Hardback, Paperback and E-Book)

 

 

 

 

 

3-week RV trip with a 10-month-old: What we recommend to bring

We had planned to go home to Ireland in June for a month but COVID put an end to that plan. Instead, we decided to rent an RV, Canadream and go travel around our province of British Columbia, Canada. An RV trip has been on our list of things to do for a long time so we decided to go for it. Our baby is just over 10months old, crawling, climbing & wanting to walk. She is a very active baby, because of this we went for the RV that had a little more space. The midi RV sleeps 4 adults and 2 children (really would not recommend that many people staying in it, perfect for 2 adults and 2 kids). The size was perfect for us as it gave our baby room to play and we could fit her travel cot in too, we use the Baby Bjorn travel cot. We bought this cot as it was super lightweight, neat & easy to assemble, excellent for travel.

Our baby only takes one nap a day, always in the morning, 3 hours after waking up. We planned our travel time while she napped. She is definitely not a child that will sleep when put in the car, she gets super bored & needs entertainment & movement. Cries instead of sleep! To avoid all that stress, we limited our drive time to nap time, usually about 2 hours. On days we needed to travel longer we stopped for lunch and had some playtime before travelling for another 30-60 minutes. We would take turns during this awake time to entertain the boss;-) This made our drive time stress free & fun. We definitely recommend planning the travel around your child and not the other way around. You will lose or go crazy with stress! We gave ourselves 3 weeks to complete a 30-hour round trip, we wanted to take it slow and go at our baby’s pace. We want her to enjoy travel so easing her in, we believe is best.

To say baba enjoyed the RV is an understatement, she loved waking up, coming into our bed and looking out the windows, she can stand and look out from there. So excited every day to do this. The campgrounds were all great to pop up her tent so she could have a bit more legroom, be outside & protected from the sun & bugs. We also had a picnic blanket (the waterproof kind) to unfold for cloudy days for her to play on, she always chose to sit beside it though! 😉

The items we brought for our baby and we would recommend are:

  1. Stroller, we used this for a high chair, a place to rest & for strolling around the towns & cities we stopped at
  2. Hiking carrier, we love to hike and this was an awesome purchase pre-used on Facebook market place. We used this a lot on trails during our trip and cannot wait to use it on our local trails too.
  3. Baby Bjorn crib, love this crib & baby sleeps so well in it. It unfolds & folds super easy, it’s compact & perfect for travel.
  4. Pop up tent to protect from the sun, we got the 3-man size as we all get in the tent, another great place for baby to play in the open, safe from sun and mosquitos. Great for us too. We bought it on amazon.
  5. Mec travel mattress, we placed the lightweight mattress inside the tent and baby love it, great for snoozing on
  6. Waterproof picnic blanket, this was great for having our take out teas on the grass after a stop off, great for baby to stretch out when we need to stop for a short time
  7. Ergo baby carrier, we used this a handful of times & probably would leave it at home the next time. Our baby feels too heavy in it as she is almost 11 months now.

The items we didn’t bring and would have liked are:

  1. A lightweight foldable high chair (not sure if they exist but will look into it), we used the stroller as a highchair to limit the amount of stuff to bring. However, with an RV you can bring all your luxury items as there is so much storage. Our baby loves feeding herself and our stroller doesn’t have a cross over shelf or table. Food got everywhere and feeding time would have been easier if we had a high chair. Saying that we managed fine without but I would bring one the next time. That’s the only thing I can think of that we would have liked to bring. In terms of the stuff we did bring, we used everything we brought.

Overall, I would say this trip has been one of our all-time favourite travel experiences. We have travelled all over the world & have experienced many different ways to travel. An RV trip in Canada is a must-do if you like to travel. The scenery, the campgrounds, the services, the food, the people, wildlife and parks all contribute to the best holiday & travel experience ever. We will cherish these amazing memories for the rest of our life, our first big holiday in Canada with our daughter has been an absolutely incredible experience. We are definitely going to plan another RV trip with her, thinking the East Coast of Canada next. Watch this space;-)

P.s George wrote his first novel which has been published if you like historical fiction go check out his book here.

Thanks for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

 

Road Trip – Part 1 – Vancouver To The Rockies

As restrictions lift in British Columbia we judged that it was safe enough to take a road trip. We will not come into contact with many people and will be staying in a self-contained RV. The original plan was to travel to Ireland but overseas travel is unlikely to happen for a while.

May is usually good in the lower mainland but June can be wet. VERY wet sometimes, so we decided on the end of May/start of June. Where to go? We thought about driving to the Yukon. It has been on my list for a long time. I am not the only George from my family to immigrate to Canada, my great grand uncle, George Pilkington spent time in the Yukon in the early part of the 20 century. Maybe the very tail end of the Gold Rush. That’s what brought him there anyway – gold, as far as I know.

After looking into the rout, we decided against this as it would have been a 30-hour one-way journey meaning we’d have to cover a few hours every day. Our idea of a holiday is taking it easy and stopping for a few nights if we want to. We did a crazy road trip like that when we drove across Argentina (read about it here) and then back again and that was a lot of driving every day.

We also thought about hitting Haida Gwaii as it has been on the list for a long time. Again, it’s about a 30-hour trip oneway including the ferries and I’m not sure if visitors are currently allowed there, so we decided on the following.

I thought of the trip as being in three stages. Vancouver to the Rockies (Jasper), Head south through the Rockies (Jasper to Cranbrook) and the Rockies back to Vancouver.

We decided on renting a 27′ RV rather than going with a smaller Westfalia (or something similar) mostly because we want the space with the baby. The total cost for three weeks was $3,300 which included delivery and pick up ($150 each way) to save us a trip to Delta. Keep in mind that if you do a trip like this you are paying fuel and campsites on top of this.

Fuel is currently at an all-time low which is helpful in this situation and private RV campsites generally charge approx. $40 for full hook up. Full hook means power and sanitary dump. There are so many places along the route where you can just safely pull over and spend the night. If you’re not hooked up you will have lights and hot water but you won’t have sockets or aircon (though there is a generator if you need it). Canadream recommends that you try to get a power hook up every two or three days.

The RV itself sleeps, 4 adults and 2 children. That would be tight but a family of 4 or 6 (2 adults 4 children) would be ok. We have a shower with hot water, toilet, stove, oven (which doesn’t work), microwave, kitchen sink and personal sink with running water, heating, air-con, fridge.

It is surprisingly easy to drive even though I have no experience driving these but once you get used to it it’s ok. It also feels kind of nice being the slowest vehicle on the road. Once you park up, the inside of the RV expands and you have lots of space with loads of storage underneath.

I was surprised how often we needed to empty the grey water (sinks and showers). Almost every day – at least every 2 days. Blackwater (poop and pee) we emptied every time with the greywater but that has not gotten close to full yet. It’s easy but you need to make sure you have a site with a sanitary dump or make sure there is a sani dump nearby. This link is useful for Sani dumps in BC.

The freshwater either comes with a tank which you need to fill every couple of days or some sites have a city main you can hook up to that has a constant water supply.

Onto the trip itself.

Day 1 Saturday: Vancouver to Squamish – 67km.

This was an easy day, we drove to Squamish and stayed with our friends Miles and Pippa who live under the watchful eye of The Chief, surrounded by mountains in Squamish. The drive takes you along the spectacular Sea to Sky highway with amazing views of Howe Sound.

If you have not been here before, Squamish offers some of the best rock climbing in the world with some great hiking also. It is close to Garibaldi park which has some great wilderness camping and close to Whistler. It has so much more to offer but hiking and camping is my thing, so that’s what usually takes me there.

Day 2 Sunday: Squamish to Lillooet – 189km:

This is another beautiful drive which takes you through Whistler which is a world-famous ski resort. If you have time and you like skiing or snowboarding it’s great (so I’m told – I’ve never skied there in 9 years living here) but it’s expensive. Worth a stop for lunch or a walk around.

Next stop along the way is Black Bird Bakery in Pemberton, we stop here every time we pass through and love this place. We couldn’t go inside because of social distancing requirements but there are loads of nice places outside to sit if the weather is good. We got talking to Joel who works with Whistler Bear Safaris which is something I’d love to try out. He reminded us if we do see any bears on the road trying not to cause a “bear jam” – it’s ok to slow down to get a picture but don’t stop and DON’T gets out. Hadn’t planned on it anyway – not sure what kind of person gets out of their car to face one of the largest land carnivores on the planet. Especially around Pemberton where you are getting into grizzly country.

From here conditions start to get dryer as we leave the lush rainforests typical of BC and get into a much dryer warmer climate. Lillooet is spectacular. We camped at Texas Creek camp Ground and were surrounded by mountains on all sides with a view of the setting sun casting shadows against the stark rock straight across from us.

Texas Creek is run by Bruce and Jane who live there with their dog Craig. They have 15 amp hook up and fresh water hook up at the RV pads and fire pits with tables and benches. Such friendly welcoming people. The site is just off the main road which you can walk along to get into town or get to some trails. If you keep your eyes peeled in the evening you might see some owls on the property.

Immediately on arriving we loved the place and decided to spend an extra night to rest up and chill out. Baba played with the dog and by play I mean pointed and cried when he walked away. We also went for a few easy hikes, drank some beverages, had some fine food and that was the general gist of it.

Day 3 Monday, we took it easy and went for a couple of walks. The campsite is the perfect place just to chill out after a long drive. It is worth noting that Texas Creek does not have a sanitary dump to empty out you’re RV.

Day 4 Tuesday – Lillooet to Clearwater  – 295km:

Next destination was Clearwater BC. We got up, packed up and hit the road.

The drive from Lillooet to Cache Creek is absolutely spectacular. The landscape is dry and somewhat arid and the rock formations are beautiful. It really is frontier land, though some people might laugh at me for saying that (I have lived in a city for 9 years).

Just before Cache Creek, there is a great farm to stop off in for supplies and a break called Horsting’s Farm Market. You’ll find their website here.

It’s worth noting that there is a public sanitary dump in Cache Creek (exact location here) also which is free to use. I’m told there is a free one in Squamish also but we didn’t use it. We were full up with the greywater and didn’t notice until it backed up into the sink a little. The gauge full wasn’t exactly accurate. After a few days, we figure a shower for both of us every day, regular toilet use and washing dishes mean dumping the grey water every day. We also fill the freshwater tank every day also. The black water doesn’t even get 1/3 full but we empty it with the greywater anyway.

Emptying the tanks is easy, you literally just connect the hose and pull a handle, no smell, no mess, no hassle.

Remember this – Irish readers?

Anyway, enough about poop. The next stop-off point is Kamloops. We gassed up (petrol if you’re reading in Ireland – forgive me – I am Canadian also) and stopped in the station for an hour. They had a parking lot that allowed up to 8-hour stops for customers.

Kamloops wasn’t part of our plan to stay but if you haven’t stayed here before there are some great places to camp – Tunkwa Lake, where you have the choice of the Provincial campsite or the resort, Monck Provincial Park is also really nice – right by a lake.

My favourite thing to do near Kamloops is to visit Birken Forest Monastery which we visited a couple of years ago. You can read about my experience here.

Kamloops to Clearwater is another fantastic drive. The scenery changes again, from dry and arid to greener and more vegetated. The drive along the North Thompson River is so nice and I can imagine if we weren’t dealing with COVID it would be crazy busy.

We arrived at Dutch Lake Camp Ground. My strategy for picking campsites is just going with Google review above 4 out of 5. It certainly paid off here. Dutch Lake is amazing. It’s right on the lake with great views. There is a restaurant in the campground (currently closed with COVID), cabins, RV sites, tent sites, laundry, walking distance to shops and trails.

We have been sticking with the private campgrounds as there is no sign of the provincial sites opening up for overnight use yet. To be honest I haven’t really been listening to the news anyway to keep an eye on the situation but they are currently closed as I write this on May 23.

We had Dutch Lake booked for 2 nights but thought another night might be in order.

Day 5 and 6 (Wednesday and Thursday) we checked out the trails around Dutch Lake. There are lots of trails around the campground some of them along the river. The river is wide and fast-flowing and the trail gives some great views.

One of the nice things about Dutch Lake is that there is a sanitary dump right in your campsite so you don’t need to go anywhere to empty.

Day 7 Friday – Clearwater to Valemount – 199km

I would have liked to explore Wells Grey Provincial Park when we were so close but it wasn’t happening with the baba as it was a decent detour.

Valemount seemed like the logical stopping point on the way to Jasper and the Swiss Bakery made it worthwhile. Great cake and great bread, apparently at this time of year there are usually lines out the door but COVID has had a serious impact on the tourist industry. It’s also not a copy or a franchise it is owned by a Swiss lady.

We camped for the night at Yellowhead RV Park which is nestled away in the trees. The site was drive through which is good with an RV with one sani dump for the park which means you have to drive a couple of hundred meters to it. There are loads of sites here and it seems like it would be a fun campground in the height of the season though it was quiet when we stayed which suited us.

The campsites are very close together so you would definitely get to know your neighbours when it’s busy here.

The town is really nice and has an IGA if you need to stock up on supplies.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. We have another two weeks to go so I am going to leave part two for next week.

Keep safe and keep sane (ish)

Peace,

George

 

PS – If you are into historical fiction, my new book, The Pagans Revenge is available on Amazon. 10th Century Ireland, war, love and lots of other good stuff.

 

Our Top Tips for Travelling with a Baby: As a Couple & Solo

We brought our baby girl of 5 months back to Ireland, our home, for 6 weeks during Christmas. We currently live in Vancouver, Canada. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Dublin from Vancouver during the Winter.

Our first tip would be to book your flights early especially if you are planning on travelling a long-distance during holiday seasons. We did not book our flights early enough & paid through the roof for flights. Learn from our mistake. We flew with Air Canada and had to call them after booking our flights to inform them that we would be travelling with our baby. They booked us into bassinette seats, which meant more leg room & a bassinette which attached to the wall for the baby. We would not do this again. Our baby sleeps on her belly so the bassinette was a no go, she would not go into it at all. In addition, the bassinette seats are by the toilets so there are constantly people and noise by the seats. We are lucky that our baby loves white noise which blocked it all out for her, she slept the whole flight (11 hours). However, for myself, it was a further distraction from trying to get some sleep (did not happen).

Honestly, we will be booking a seat for baby from now on, just for the comfort of the long journey. She is more mobile now and needs more space. Yes, it’s more expensive but it’s worth every penny for an easier flight.

Our next tip would be, bring only what you need. Make a list of the must-have items for each person travelling and use this as a checklist. Check in the majority of your luggage (1 suitcase per person worked for us) Only bring the essentials as carry on and avoid having to carry lots of bags. Our essential list for carry on luggage is:

  • Stoller (Brilliant to use in the airport & a must for the baby when at your destination, the airline crew will store the stroller just as you are boarding the flight & it will be waiting for you as you exit the flight at your destination)
  • Baby carrier (arms get tired carrying baby up & down the aisle, handy in the airport too)
  • Changing bag with diapers etc.
  • Change of clothes for baby & parents just in case child poo’s or vomits everywhere
  • Baby food & bottles depending on if that applies
  • 1 -2 toys (empty water bottles entertained our child so she needed very little toys)
  • Mini travel kit for emergencies (Band-Aids, baby Advil etc.)
  • Snacks & Reusable water bottle(We are vegan & vegetarian so we bring our own snacks just in case we don’t like what’s on offer, the water bottle was constantly refilled by the aircrew which was great)

We managed to fit everything under the stroller & 1 backpack so it meant our time in the airport was not stressful and this worked really well when I had to travel solo on the way back with a baby.

Next tip would be to ensure you are completely packed the night before leaving & returning. Be organised, have as little stress the morning/day of flying. Nothing eliminates stress more than being prepared. Ensure you have passports in an easily accessible bag, have your ride to & from the airport arranged & confirmed, know what terminal you fly out from…. eliminate the stress of forgetting something by being prepared the day before. Nothing is worse than trying to pack under pressure with a baby.

If you can, book yourself into an airport lounge. They may be a little pricey but if you have a long layover or arrive at the airport super early like us, the lounge is a nice area to relax. They generally have showers, food, drinks & comfy chairs. Also, great changing areas for babies.

Next tip, look to see if the airport you travel from has a breastfeeding/bottle feeding room. We used this in Dublin airport on the way back & it was amazing. It’s a private room with comfy chairs for feeding and a microwave if you need to heat milk or food. Highly recommend. This is a cool service.

Finally, as you are checking in your bags ask the person at the desk if the flight is busy if not ask if you could be seated in a row where nobody else is seated. I did this on our way back as the flight was very quiet. We got a whole row of 4 seats just for us. It was great as baby could play and had lots of room to stretch out. It’s always worth asking, it rarely happens on short flights but it’s better to ask, we always do this even before the baby arrived.

The above is our top tips & which we will do for every flight moving forward. Keep it simple and the experience goes much smoother. We hope this was helpful. If you would like to share your tips we would love to hear them.

Thanks so much,

Chat soon,

Theresa

My 2019 Reading Challenge: The Highs And Lows

So Back2Basics living has been quiet for the last month.

What have we been up to?

Well, we’ve been back in Ireland introducing Naoise to her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m back (George) in Canada now, getting into the swing of things while Theresa gets to spend another month in the old country.

I was also lucky enough to give 2 yoga classes in my home town of Daingean. Thanks to all who attended.

Apart from giving a quick update and explaining the lack of blog posts recently, I thought that a nice topic for the first post of 2020 would be a summary of the books I read in 2019 and any recommendations I have from that list.

I like to set myself a reading challenge for the year using the Goodreads app, and for 2019 it was 25 books.

They ranged from fiction, spiritual, fantasy, classics, non-fiction with my favourite being Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Some of them I read, others I listened to the audiobook. I also cheated a little towards the end of the year by listening to the shortest Audiobooks I could find. This strategy got me listening to some unexpectedly fantastic books like A Christmas Carol and the above mentioned Of Mice And Men.

So, here’s the list:

The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey

This was at the tail end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. Chris has experimented with every Productivity hack you can imagine and presented the best methods in this easy read.

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This is a great fantasy story about a travelling musician whose family are killed. He then joins a magicians university where most of the first book is set. I really enjoyed this one, if you like fantasy, I recommend it. It is slower than a lot of other fantasy books I read and doesn’t feature any battles or elves but instead follows the main character through his university life and exploits.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

The first book I read by Gaiman was American Gods and I loved it. This one is a retelling of the stories of the Norse Gods. It’s light-hearted and an easy read though the stories and the escapades of the Gods are utter nonsense.

Ethics in The Real World by Brian Singer

I heard of Singer on the Big Think Podcast and he had great things to say. One of his most important projects is Givewell, a website that recommends the most effective charities you can donate to. In this book, he writes several different essays on life and ethical issues. Singer is vegetarian and speaks in-depth about the unethical treatment of animals here also.

I think it is our duty to educate ourselves on these matters and this book is a great place to start.

A Winters Promise by Cristelle Dabos

This is a fantasy book set in a world of floating islands, each one ruled by an ancient matriarch. The book follows a young lady who can travel through mirrors as she leaves her home to meet her future husband.

It’s a far-out concept and for me, it didn’t really work. It’s well written and it held my attention to finish it but I won’t be reading the sequel.

15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin E. Kruse

This book is a must for anybody who works in an office or has difficulty managing their time. A lot of the information is common sense but there are so many little bits and pieces that make a real difference.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Another very useful book if you work in an office job. The book focuses on how you can blank out the distractions of modern living to get into a state of high productivity.

The Boys on the Boat by Daniel James Brown

A historical book about the American rowing team who won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, it’s a book about real grit and is truly inspiring. A great story.

The Year Of The Flood by Margeret Atwood

The first Atwood book I read was The Handmaid’s Tale, and with the sequel, Testaments released now it was a big year for her. The Year of the Flood is the second part of a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic world. I didn’t realise it was the second part of a trilogy but that did not take away from the enjoyment. It’s a great story.

Bhagavad Gita

This was part of the required reading for the Vinyasa teacher training course I took part in the summer. It’s a must-read if you are a yogi or yoga teacher and offers some interesting insights.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

I found this one a little bit of a slog to get through. If it is productivity your interested in I would recommend Productivity and 15 secrets above this one. It has useful information but it’s a heavy read.

The Snow Leopard by Alex Deghan

This non-fiction book focuses on the efforts of a conservational team to set up a national park in Afghanistan. It thought me so much about the country and people of which I knew nothing about as it follows the team through remote parts of the country.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

I really liked A Wild Sheep Chase by the same author. It was off the wall and completely random. This book is also off the wall and completely random but so much so that it didn’t make any sense to me. Maybe I don’t have the mental capacity to see what Murakami’s point is here but none of the stories the book followed seems to tie together with any satisfaction.

It is set through one night in Tokyo and follows a young girl through the city as she mingles with musicians, prostitutes and criminals.

The Oregan Trail by Rinker Buck

This one I listened to on Audio. It’s narrated by the author as he tells us about his trip with his brother to retrace the Oregan Trail in a covered wagon. It seemed like a nice enjoyable little trip when I started reading but as I read, I realized how difficult it was to cross the country with a wagon and team of horses.

It’s a great read if you’re into American History.

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

This was my first Cheat book as I had researched the shortest Audiobooks in my reading list so I could meet my goal. There are some useful snippets and it is something I would probably listen to again. It’s not a big commitment at less than 2 hours.

Siddartha by Herman Hesse

This fictional piece follows the journey of a young man in the time of the Buddha as he practises the life of a holy man, falls from grace and then returns to the life of a holy man. There are some good real-life lessons to take away and it’s a great read if you are interested in eastern spirituality.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This is a real classic which I had never read before and I got stuck into it just before Christmas. It’s such an easy read and I would recommend it for anybody of any age.

Seven Brief Lessons in Physics by Carlo Rovelli

Another short read but it is heavy at times. The main take away for me was the author’s pessimism about the future of the human race. He feels that it is too late for us to change our ways and that we have doomed ourselves as a race. The earth itself will recover he believes but we the people will not.

Buddhism without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor

I found this book to be a drag, though I did finish it. The narrator was not engaging and some of the points were long-winded and uninteresting. Not for me.

Of Mice and Men

This is one of the greatest stories I have ever read and I can’t wait to read more from John Steinbeck. Though it’s not set in a prison, it had a strong feel of The Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile. I can’t quite put my finger on why. It follows two companions as they travel through the southern states looking for work.

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

This is more of an essay than a book but it made the list anyway. I didn’t take much from it and feel there are much better books out there on getting to a happy state of mind if that’s what you’re after.

The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is another classic which I had never read. I watched the Leonardo DiCaprio movie a few years ago but don’t remember anything from it. It follows the lives of extravagantly rich and self-indulgent people in New York. I didn’t like it and wouldn’t be interested in reading more from Fitzgerald based in this.

The Ocean at the End Of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My second book by Gaiman this year, this is a fantasy book set in modern England telling the story of a boy’s fight against a demon who tries to take over his home. For me this book was only ok. The other books I read by Gaiman (Norse Mythology and American Gods) are much better.

Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

I love this book. The whole premise is that in Japanese culture one cannot master the arts like archery, swordsmanship, flower arranging, painting etc unless they come to a zen state first. The bow could not be mastered through constant practise or physical training but only through intense meditation. It is an idea that I love and think that it applies much more than we realize.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I have read 1984 by Orwell in the past and though it is a great book, it is truly depressing. Animal Farm is equally dismal and reminds me a little of The Lord of The Flies.

Most of you probably know that it is not a cute story about animals on a farm, yes it is about farm animals but no, it is not cute, as it reflects Stalin’s rise to power and the growth in strength of communism.

Those were my books for the year, to wrap up if I was to pick my five favourites they would be as follows:

  1. Of Mice and Men
  2. The Year of The Flood
  3. A Christmas Carol
  4. The Name of The Wind
  5. The Snow Leopard Project

If you want to set your own reading challenge go search for Goodreads in the app store and set up an account.

Thanks for reading and I hope that you find some use in the above list. We will be back regularly from here on as the holiday is over.

Peace,

George