Best Blog & Travel Stories №1

mid week mentions NEW button

This is a bit of a re-launch of my Mid-Week Mentions blog series – the new focus is on sharing the best blog posts and travel stories from around the web. So, if you are looking for a new blogger or article to give you some serious wanderlust, make yourself a drink, pull up a chair and have a look through my bi-weekly recommendations. Enjoy!

Blogging Bests |
For giving a real Spring time feel, I would recommend reading Check if Off the Wales Bucket List: A Snuggle with a Welsh Lamb on Found Love, Now What.

Providing food for thought is this lovely Chicken & Chorizo Soup recipe on Earth to Jade. It looks so good and will be perfect for the warmer weather – definitely a must-read.

Travel Tempts |
Have you travelled to any of these places on the BBC Travel The world’s most ethical countries (2014) list? A really interesting read, and something that has got me thinking about places to visit in the future.

If you are looking into a family holiday within Europe, try reading 10 Most Family-Friendly Cities in Europe on Budget Travels.

cape verdi bbc site

Cape Verdi from the BBC Travel article above – source

Currently Reading |
‘The Moon is Down’ by John Steinbeck

Finished Reading |
‘Inherit the Dead’ by various authors (20 have contributed). It is about a private detective, Perry Christo, who has been asked to find the missing daughter of a millionaire. All is not as it seems and there are a few twists to the tale.

Here is how I would score it: Readability 4/5  |  Interest 4/5  |  Recommend 4/5

For more reading recommendations, follow my Pinterest board Books I’ve Read (2014)

inherit the dead book

The Move to America Around the Web |
As you may or may not know, I write for the online forum/resource website Easy Expat. My latest article Job Search in The Move to America is about explaining how the online application process works here in the US.

 

Do you have any blogs, travel stories or reading recommendations? Share them in a comment below!

 

My First Easter in Ohio

Yesterday I had my first experience of Easter in America with my Hubby, so I thought I would share what we did by way of a photograph gallery.

What did you do over the Easter period? Do you have any particular traditions that you observe?

As we walked around, enjoying the sun, we saw this beautiful classic car.

As we walked around, enjoying the sun, we saw this beautiful classic car.

cracker barrel 2b

I love the old items outside Cracker Barrel.

My Easter meal of crispy buttermilk fried chicken, steak fries with honey and black pepper sauce with coleslaw and buttermilk biscuits

My Easter meal, at Cracker Barrel, of crispy buttermilk fried chicken, steak fries with honey and black pepper sauce with coleslaw and buttermilk biscuits

My Easter basket from my flatmates (Hubby got one too)!

My Easter basket from my flatmates (Hubby got one too)!

We are looking at ways of mingling our US and UK traditions for this time of year, do you have any suggestions about how we could do that? Do you live in an Anglo-American household – what do you do for special times of year?

Toledo, Ohio Wildlife Photography

Here is some more of my photography from a local wildlife preserve metropark. To see the first post/pictures, click Wildlife Photography in Toledo, Ohio

To see more of my photography, follow me on Instagram

blue jay

Blue Jay

 

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

 

Canadian geese

 

A baby garter snake?

A baby garter snake?

 

Red bellied woodpecker

Red bellied woodpecker

 

Red bellied woodpecker

Red bellied woodpecker

You Know You Are An Expat When …

Here is a little list about those moments/things that fondly remind me that I am a British expat in the US.

At first, these differences caused a bit of anxiety, but now, after six months, they occur with a fondness and lightness of heart that makes them more enjoyable.

Here is my list. What do you think – have you found the same where you moved to?

you know you are an expat

Going to a local grocery store is considered a trip out (you still love looking at all the different food, people etc).

You get overly excited when you find a brand of something from your home country and may or may not do a little happy dance (mine was for a Lion bar).

You spend far too long admiring the huge array of different flavours of food items and take far too long deciding which one you want.

You randomly and completely unintentionally insult someone because you use a word that has very different connotations in the country you are living in (I am not going to tell you what I said).

You get confused by everyday gadgets around the home and need a native to show you how it works (still shaking my fist and condemning the electric can opener).

Children say you sound weird.

You giggle and get people to repeat words that they pronounce in a way you find really cute, and then find the same thing happening to you.

You still try to get in on the wrong side of the car.

You get an overly inflated sense of pride when someone asks you for directions to somewhere, and you actually know where it is, and give a route to it that they can understand.

 

Do you have any others you could add? I would love to hear about any experiences or expat moments you have had.

Guest Post: Neighbourhood Watch – The Worst Places to Live in the US

I was approached by David, from Area Vibes, who wanted to write a guest post related to where to live (or not to) in America, based on the information collated on the Area Vibes website.

I have not used the site myself (nor received any endorsements or payments as this is currently an unsponsored blog), but from what I understand, the site uses various factors to ascribe a ‘livability score’ out of 100. This score, and the accompanying information, can then help anyone decide if a particular area would be suitable for them.

Below is the guest post where David shares some information about the worst places to live in the US – I would love to hear what you think of the areas mentioned. Do you agree? Have you, or are you, living in one of the places listed? Would you look for this information about an area before you moved – and would you find it useful? Let me know your thoughts in a comment!

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America. It’s the land of the free. The home of the brave. A golden gateway of opportunity. It’s one of the most powerful and economically rich countries in the world. Living there should be one of the best things you could ever do, right?

Well, like any other place, there are always a few bad apples. That is, there are some areas in the US that aren’t really conducive to experiencing the very best life has to offer.

Here are some of the worst places to live in America, and more importantly, why they are the worst places to live. Various ratings are taken into consideration, including:

• Infrastructure

• Transport

• Education

• Crime

• Housing

• Employment

• Taxes

Bridgeport, Connecticut
Whilst Bridgeport might be a nice place to live in terms of location and standard of living, you should also be aware that it’s probably best to have an extremely well paid job before moving here. Bridgeport is the most taxed location in the US. Consider somewhere like Cheyenne, Wyoming, where a family earning $75,000 will pay less than 4% tax on their income. In Bridgeport, this jumps to a staggering 22%.

Property taxes are also rather high. Earn over $100,000? Then you’ll be shelling out over $11,000 on property tax alone. Maybe this explains why Bridgeport has one of the highest unemployment rates at almost 12%.

Chicago, Illinois
The ‘Windy City’ hasn’t blown away all of the negative factors against living there sadly. It has a very high crime rate, coupled with similar unemployment levels. Private homes have suffered a spate of foreclosures, along with spending money on (and losing) the 2016 Summer Olympics bid.

Chicago maybe isn’t the best place to shop either. It has a sales tax rate of almost 10% – one of the highest in the country.

area vibes 1

Springfield, Massachusetts

Namesake of the famous Simpson’s family hometown, the real Springfield doesn’t have a lot going for it right now. It has a poor education system – 1 in 4 children do not make it to graduation. It also has a high violent crime rate which is over double the state average.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Whilst it’s a tourist’s paradise, the harsh reality is that Las Vegas is not a very good place to live or bring up a family. It is suffering from a difficult economic period right now. With a declining tax revenue and state aid fund, the education system has felt the effects. It has one of the worst pupil/teacher ratios and is one of the lowest areas for per-pupil spending.

area vibes 2

Camden, New Jersey

Recently voted across the board as one of the poorest cities in the US, Camden is not a good place to live for a multitude of reasons.

Take education. The budget is not adequate on a per-pupil basis. In 2012, the graduation level fell short of the state average of 86% to achieve a 49% rating. The national average is93% currently.  More shocking, only 3 out of 900 SAT takers were certified as being ready for college.

area vibes 3

It’s no picnic for adults either living in Camden. 40% of residents live below the poverty line, whilst crime rates are sky high. In 2012, there were over 2,500 violent crimes for every 100,000 people. This is 560% more than the national average! You actually have a 1 in 36 chance of being a victim to violent crime. Property related crime isn’t much better with a 1 in 11 chance.

Of course, every place will have its own benefits too. But it’s always handy to do a bit of research before moving to a new area. (Especially if that area is Camden!)

| Bio: David Hurley is a writer for Area Vibes, helping people find the best places to live in the US |

[Image source: nytimes.com, foxnews.com, 3.bp.blogspot.com & Wikipedia]