After I travel to London, I sometimes do an epilogue of sorts to gather my thoughts and conclusions, as to what I did right and what I’d do differently if I had the chance.
The biggest thing for me is always: “Which cameras am I taking?” Maybe only my fellow self-professed “film nerds” out there will find this of interest 😀 I shared earlier that I took four this time:
The Fuji GA645i was my primary camera. Large negative size, automatic exposure and focus but the ability to adjust those factors manually. I completely LOVE that I took the GA645i. It was the perfect tool to use at Kayla and Tony’s wedding. It did change the way I took photos, because it only focuses down to 2.3 ft and has a maximum aperture of f/4. I am used to using an SLR with a maximum aperture of no smaller than f/2.8 and the ability to focus fairly closely (see I told you this was a portion of this post that only photo nerds would care about!) But I found that the differences in the way I was able to make photos didn’t have a negative effect upon my photography. I am happy with the photos I was able to to produce with the GA645i whilst in England.
Some favourites taken with the GA645i while in England
As for the other cameras I took with me, I probably could have taken only the Pentax point-and-shoot OR the Ricoh FF-1. However, they were both so small that it didn’t really matter that I took both. Generally, I only carried one or the other out with me on any given day, depending upon the circumstances I’d be in that day. I think if I had to choose though, I’d take just the Pentax. It turned out to be really handy! I will say that I shot too much expired slide film in it, which went only marginally well, but that was my fault, not the camera’s 🙂
Some favourites taken with the Pentax Espio Mini (UC-1) while in England
The Ricoh FF-1 definitely has its charms though…
Some favourites taken with the Ricoh FF-1 while in England
The Fuji Instax Mini 90: I hate to say it, but it was a bit superfluous. I only brought it along because I wanted to continue my daily Instax photo project. There were some days that I tried to get my daily photo requirement out of the way before leaving the hostel/neighbourhood so I could leave the camera back in my room while I went out for the day.
Also, I managed to drop it on Carnaby Street, causing it the crack a little (though still totally usable, it was just a bummer!)
Okay, it was pretty cool to take an Instax shot of the Weiss brothers when I ran into them in Brighton…
Another component I’ve had trouble with in the past: “What am I taking in the way of camera bag/handbag/etc.?”
Back in 2012, I thought I’d be smart and bring a messenger-style bag that I’d use both as my handbag and my camera bag. HUGE mistake. The one I chose was really flouncy and difficult to deal with. In 2014, I took an actual camera bag that was also worn cross-body. That bag was heavy itself, so when I had so much camera equipment in it, plus items I’d normally keep in a handbag, it just ended up being an unwieldy experience.
How about 2016?
This is what I carried. The GA645i went everywhere with me, in the little sleeve I’d crocheted for it. I kept it slung over my shoulder. Then I just had this relatively small cross-body purse that I put everything else in. Usually, I’d have the Ricoh FF-1 OR Pentax UC-1 in one of the pockets on front of the bag. Then, if I took the Instax mini with me, it was also worn over my shoulder. By far, this was the best combination of items I have taken with me only a daily basis during any of my visits to England. Granted, there were times when I packed the red purse til it was practically bursting at the seams, but trust me, had I been carrying a larger messenger bag, I would have just ended up putting more and more stuff in it! That’s why I tried to bring a bag with me that would give me a more finite amount of space in which to carry things.
Here’s a classy photo of me, showing how I went out most days in London
There’s something else I’d like to shout out that doesn’t look like anything special, but it really saved the day:
A few weeks before I left for England, I found this smallish bag at the Salvation Army. It was PERFECT when I was navigating airports and making my way to the hostel. It was just large enough to hold my cameras, phone, travel documents, and a few other things. It slipped over the telescoping handle of my rolling luggage, meaning I didn’t have the weight of it on me as I was walking around the airport and such. It has pockets outside, on each end. Great for putting little notebook and other small items in. Since I don’t check bags when I fly and you’re only allowed two items as carry-on, I kept my red cross-body bag in my rolling luggage (that bag lies pretty flat when nothing’s in it) and used the olive green bag as my secondary piece of carry-on luggage. It was a great decision, and the $7 or $8 I spent on it at the thrift shop was well worth it.
See the olive green bag resting on top of my peacock luggage? This was how I was set up when at airports/traveling to and from the hostel with my luggage.
I learned that I may not be a “hostel girl” anymore. Maybe you’re thinking, “Amanda, you’re well past the age of people who should stay at a hostel!” But, the hostel where I’ve stayed throughout my past three visits to London is not a youth hostel. I’ve seen people much older than I am staying there, as well as families with small children. I had largely good experiences at the Swiss Cottage hostel when I stayed there in 2012 and 2014, but in 2016, most of the stereotypical problems with hostels were visited upon me. For most of the week, there was a girl in my dorm who coughed all night, which kept me up. There was a group of Italian school children staying on the same floor as I was, and they ran up and down the corridor half the night, screaming to the tops of their lungs. One night, it was about 11:00 PM, and a couple of girls came in and were speaking very loudly, despite the fact that the lights were out and clearly there were people trying to sleep. So I may have had my nuff!
If I’m not a hostel girl anymore, that would greatly impact my ability to be a MAJOR budget traveller (since part my ability to travel on a shoestring budget is staying in a hostel rather than traditional hotel.) Don’t get me wrong. I love the Swiss Cottage hostel. What I love most is that I very easily learned how to get there and back and use the Tube station there when I first stayed in 2012, so I get a great feeling of comfort and security by staying there. It’s also in a residential area that has shops and supermarkets on the next street over that I can walk to any time. It made me feel as if it were MY neighbourhood, ya know? Especially walking to the Caffe Nero there on nearly a daily basis. It became my Caffe Nero. But who knows? If I want to go back to London badly enough, I’d probably be willing to continue being a hostel girl!
Another thing: In the future, I will bring very few toiletries. If you need it, they have it in London, for around the same price you’d pay for it here in the States. There was a Boots and a Superdrug on the next street over from my hostel. It may seem like a little thing, but every item I bring with me adds up to extra weight I’m carrying with me in airports, on the place, etc. Make sense?
And listen: I almost decided that I would just bring the clothes on my back and buy everything else at Primark upon landing. So many cute clothes, and so cheap!
I did get a skirt and booties there, to wear to Kayla and Tony’s wedding. Here I am wearing it Stateside (if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you probably don’t know that I take all of my outfit selfies in the mirror next to the bathtub in my house 😉
One final thing:
Something that really had a positive impact upon my time in London was that, before leaving, I’d recently switched to a mobile phone carrier which allowed me to text loved ones back home without costing me anything extra. It was GREAT. I felt less isolated, and I think my people back in the States appreciated my ability to keep in touch in that manner. I also downloaded the Google Duo app (closest thing to FaceTime that you can get on an Android device.) My video chats with my mom while I was abroad were priceless. I even got to video chat with one of my sister’s dogs! Highly recommend it!
Okay, well that’s probably enough rambling for now. In summary, I think I applied things I’d learned in previous London trips in order to make my 2016 London holiday a bit better.