12 April 2012

A pint worth walking two hours for

I’m not exactly a rambler. I’m no good at reading maps, panic if I lose phone reception and have no appropriate “outdoors” clothes. However, I can be persuaded if there is an offer of food or booze (or both!) at the end of it, and if it isn’t too long or hard.

So the walk along the Clarendon Way from Salisbury to Pitton is perfect for me. You can do it in under two hours, and one of the nicest country pubs in the Salisbury area is at the end of it, the Silver Plough.


The walk is quite interesting as it takes you past the Clarendon Palace which was a favoured hunting lodge for Norman Kings and the Plantagenets. Not much remains of the Palace now, apart from a few flint walls and a herd of random alpacas.

I’ve done this walk a couple of times. Well I should probably say that I’ve got lost on this walk a couple of times, and I’ve never found an article or website that gives a good, detailed description of the walk. So I thought I would provide my account of how to walk along this section of the Clarendon Way. I hope this helps prevent you from getting lost!

When you get to the Silver Plough, you’ll definitely deserve a bite to eat and a glass of something nice.

For a village pub, the food has quite a gastro pub, bistro feel to it, and they have a great selection of wines. Last time I was there, I enjoyed Bream from the specials menu with a nice glass of Shiraz. There’s a good selection of Real Ales, I am a fan of the Fursty Ferret. The pub also has free WIFI which means you can check in on Four Square or upload pictures of your energetic walk to Facebook!

Directions from Salisburyto the Silver Plough, via the Clarendon Way:
  • Walk out of Salisbury via Milford Street towards Laverstock
  • You’ll cross the River Bourne at the Milford Bridge before carrying up Queen Manor Road
  • Once you get to Rangers Lodge Farm, you’ll see the first signs for the Clarendon Way Walk. Keep your eye out for these, and the arrows pointing you along the route
  • Continue through the farm until you get to a large field where there is a sign post directing you diagonally across it
  • At the end of the field, you’ll find a defined road/path which will take you gently up the hill
  • Near the top of the hill, there is a look out point, which it is worth climbing up to, as it has excellent views over Salisbury and the Cathedral, and gives you an idea of how far you have walked
  • You’ll then pass Clarendon Palace itself, which has a herd of alpacas in it (be careful if you have dogs, as the alpacas can chase them)
  • After the field with the alpacas in it, you come across or defined path that has recently been upgraded
  • After a short walk of around 60 metres there is a turning on the left that is easy to miss so look out for it!
  • Continue on the path through the trees and log piles until you come to four cottages
  • Go straight over here, while keeping the cottages to your right, when you follow the path, it will bring you to a road
  • Turn left on the road past the red phone box, and then turn right up the hill until you reach the Silver Plough
If the urge takes you, the Clarendon Way then carries on for 24 miles to Winchester. There is a popular charity walk that takes place every June in aid of the Naomi House Children’s Hospice where you walk from Winchester Cathedral to Salisbury Cathedral. Now, there must be more than one pub along that route…..

3 April 2012

What no Wifi in Sydney?

When I travel, I find wifi a real life saver. My ongoing obsession with social media means that I sometimes wonder if there is any point in doing something unless I can tell people about it on Twitter, Facebook or Four Square.

This applies triple fold when I go on holiday. I'm convinced that my adoring followers will be utterly bereft and lost without my constant updates (yes I do know I live in a dream world). In addition to this, as the iPhone now offers free messaging and FaceTime over the internet, access to a wifi network can significantly reduce your costs when abroad.
This metropolitan city has few wifi spots!
Although the cost of using the Internet abroad has decreased recently, especially with products such as Vodafone Passport which gives you a limited amount of data when travelling in certain countries. However, if you can tap into a free wifi network, it costs you nothing, and you're not limited to a certain data use each day.

Most tourist destinations have cottoned onto this. I recently went on holiday to Santorini in Greece and nearly all of the bars and restaurants offered free wifi and advertised this on their boards and menus. It makes sense to me as, I would be more likely to go into a bar where I can access the Internet for free, and I would probably check into the bar on Four Square and maybe load up some photos of me at the venue, giving them free advertising.

However, on a recent trip to Sydney to visit my brother, I was surprised to find that this was not the case there. I received no free data on my Vodafone phone tariff for Australia and within the first day I had racked up over £10 worth of SMS and data charges. So I was keen to find some places where I could take advantage of their wifi. To my brother's great dismay, I then embarked on a desperate endeavour whereby every bar or restaurant I went into, I would ask if they had wifi, and the answer was repeatedly "no".

View from Top Deck Cafe, one of the places with free wifi
It seems so strange to me that such a busy tourist destination as Sydney does not offer this in more venues. While I was there, someone mentioned that wifi and broadband are expensive and slow in Australia. So maybe that is why more places don't offer it. This may be true as many of the places that I found offering access to wifi limited the length of time you could use it or the amount of data you could download. On top of this though, most insisted that you logged in with a certain amount of personal details before you could used the wifi, and many of the wider schemes in operation were currently in a test phase, which indicates to me some caution around the open use of wifi.

So I thought I would let you know about some of the places I found that did offer free wifi. I hope you find this useful:
  • all Mcdonalds in Sydney offer free wifi. To access it, you simply have to ask for the wifi code when you purchase your food or drink
  • you can just tap into at the top of the stairs outside the Sydney Opera House
  • if you are travelling by train, then the station at Circular Quay in Sydney has wifi for all travellers, you just have to log on and provide some personal details (although I believe this is a trial)
  • many of the Sydney ferries have free wifi. You have to travel in a certain section of the boat, log on with your personal details, you then have a certain amount of data to use. I took the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly which takes around half an hour and used all my allowance just checking into Four Square and uploading a photo
  • Sydney Airport currently has free wifi that is sponsored by one of the travel companies. Again, you have to log in, but with a huge amount of personal details, including flight number and flight time. The log on also kept crashing so it was a bit frustrating but I got there in the end
  • many libraries in Sydney offer the service. I regularly tapped into the one in Balmain, which again asked for some personal details
  • if you can cope with all the people and the smell, the Sydney Fish Market has a pretty quick and easy free wifi service. I found a glass of Sauvignon Blanc helps
  • if you are in Balmain, the Top Deck cafe does a good coffee, has a vew of the Harbour Bridge, and also free wifi
  • in Rozelle, the Bean cafe has good grub, but a pretty slow wifi service
View from the ferry to Manly with free wifi
I went to Sydney in January 2012, so this list was up to date then. If you have any other places you would like to add to help other travellers, then please leave a comment below. Or if any of the places stop their wifi service, then again, just let me know below. I would love to hear from you.