10 Questions For (27): Carol Ferndale of Around the Planet

Happy to introduce to you: Carol Ferndale of Around the Planet, English, but having lived in Kyoto, Stockholm and other places. Writing about science, travel and books!


1) Who Are you?
I’m a blogger, writer, teacher and physics student. I worked for rather a long time as a teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages, a job which led to a significant amount of travelling and work overseas. I went into this partly because of the travel opportunities, as I have always been fascinated by different places and cultures. Also, I studied Psychology at university in London for my first undergraduate degree, and this involved a lot of study of memory, language, linguistics, thinking and learning, so teaching English overseas seemed to follow on nicely from that. In Japan I also started to do a lot of proofreading and rewriting of stuff like local government reports, teaching materials and academic research papers.

After coming back to the UK, I decided on a complete career change, and I am now studying physics, as I had always wanted to know more about natural science, but had had a very traditional young ladies’ education at a girls’ grammar. We learnt a lot about literature, art and drama, but things such as physics and chemistry were given scant attention. When I went to university and met people who were doing things such as engineering, chemistry and medicine, I realised that my own education had gaping holes in it.

Now, as well as studying, and doing travel and science blogging, I write a lot commercial material for people who do not have English as a native language. Other areas I have written about are health and fitness, Web 2.0, language learning, and such interesting subjects as the evolution of dogs! Actually, I have written a bit about Darwin and how his theory of evolution by natural selection was received.


2) What do you like about what you do?
About travel blogging: I like introducing people to new places and new events. For example, Stockholm is a bit off the popular tourist track, but I’m hoping that my blog entries will inspire people to go there. I also enjoy interviewing people who have been on really monumental trips, such as my interview with David Rogers of Last Train to Lhasa.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?
I can’t think of anything in particular that I dislike about what I do. I suppose if I didn’t enjoy what I do, I wouldn’t do it.

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.
It all started when I was hired by an American company to write posts for about seven blogs that they had on the go. These were mostly travel blogs, and I really enjoyed writing the posts. So this set me thinking, why not start up my own blog? So I registered a domain, found a host that had been recommended to me, and there I had it, my own travel blog. I started it up for a bit of fun really, and also out of a desire to inspire people to travel, and to inform people about some of the out-of-the-way interesting places to go. I also write about popular holiday resorts as well, and the sort of thing that you can do when you get there.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
Some of the loveliest cities are London, Paris, Ghent, Stockholm, Kyoto and Hong Kong.

For areas, I really love the South of France, and have spent loads of time there.

I also like the Fethiye region of Turkey, and some of the resorts along the Lycian coast.

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
Here are but a few of them:

For hostels: Ghent Youth Hostel known as De Draecke or The Dragon. I’ve stayed here a few times. You can get rooms for just two people, and they do a great buffet breakfast. The hostel has a bar, where people tend to congregate in the evening. One summer I spent a great week at this hostel, and got to know a zany crowd of psychologists from Eastern Europe who were in Ghent for a conference. Another time, I was here for the Ghent Music Festival. De Draecke is just a stone’s throw away from Sleepstraat where there are a selection of great Turkish restaurants where you can get Turkish pizza, salad and a carafe of wine for a very reasonable price.

Amsterdam Youth Hostel: I once spent a brilliant week here, visiting all the Amsterdam Art Museums such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rembrandt House. It was also a very thoughtful experience going round the Anne Frank House. The hostel was very lively and I met people from all across Europe and North America.

For hotels: The New Otani in Tokyo is very nice, as is the Novotel Orchid in Singapore.

For homes: my apartment in Kyoto! I still miss my lovely balcony and the tatami matting, as well as the fabulous view of Mount Hiei from the front door.

For a place to study French: Centre Mediterraneen d’Etudes Francaises – the accommodation is simple, but the school is in the most breathtakingly beautiful surroundings I have ever come across, with colourful gardens, secluded buildings, a Jean Cocteau Amphitheatre and a view of the sparkling blue Mediterranean. In the evening you can walk through the grounds with the scent of blooms and the bright flicker of fireflies.

7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?
One of the best has to be a Korean restaurant that some of my friends took me to in Kyoto – but I’m not sure of the name of it!

A favourite Kyoto eatery was Shin-Shin near my home in Kyoto, and also indian restaurant Didi in Kyoto.

Also some of the Italian restaurants in my locality were fabulous.

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?
Some of my worst experiences were also the most hilarious. One was my first experience of camping with my Belgian penfriend in Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. After a pleasant evening spent in the Buck Inn, singing and drinking with other campers, we awoke to find ourselves soaking wet. It had rained and we discovered that the tent wasn’t waterproof! We shrugged it off and went back to sleep. The next day we walked to Settle and found a builder’s yard where we bought some plastic to cover the tent – end of problem! I think we just saw it as all part of the big adventure.

A similar experience was when backpacking and camping through France with a friend, heading south. At one point we found ourselves staying overnight on the campsite in the small French town of Joinville. It was bucketing down with rain, and we couldn’t even take refuge in the local cafe, because nowhere in Joinville seemed to be open after six o’ clock in the evening.

Another time was when a friend and I decided to try and find grape picking work in the South of France – we couldn’t find any work at all, and spent time trekking around following job leads that didn’t materialise. All we got was a day’s work loading lorries – it was quite well paid for the time though. Having said that we met some really nice Moroccans and spent time with them playing the guitar, drums, singing and eating the plentiful fruit that was around. We also stayed with French friends who had a smallholding rural Provence and spent much of the time partying, listening to folk music, having barbecues and swimming. So what was intended as a working holiday turned into a hanging out and having fun holiday. I guess that wasn’t too much of a disaster!


9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?
Leeds is a prosperous city in the north of England. It has some beautiful arcades some of which go back to Victorian times, and others which are streets which have more recently been covered over. If you like top shopping, but want to stay indoors, Leeds is the place to be! I think Leeds has all the good things about a city, but without the stress and congestion, plus, you are never far from beautiful countryside such as the Yorkshire Dales.

The Art Gallery in Leeds is wonderful to look round – you can find works by local lad Henry Moore, and the collection of paintings is world class. And when you are tired of taking in all that art, you can relax in the cafe that connects the library and the gallery – it is a real feast of polished wood and tilework, and the lattes and cake are gorgeous.

If you enjoy pubs, try the famous pub crawl that is known as the Otley Run – it starts to the north of the city, takes you past the two universities and into the town centre. If you like real ale you will find plenty on this route, and one of the pubs is even an old barge!

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?

My observations.

Thank you very much Carol for being my guest. You are a real multi faceted woman. I found your significant other Blogs Science Notebook and Bibliofile.

2 thoughts on “10 Questions For (27): Carol Ferndale of Around the Planet”

  1. Indeed a nice informative write-up. Sharing your experience may help many in indirect ways, and, it is a great work. I also write and my profession gives me satisfaction because I express myself with complete freedom.

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