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Claire @ October Rain

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The Shutterbug’s Guide To Phoenix (Plus The Chance To Tick Off A Bucket List Item)

A place that I have often wanted to visit is Phoenix Arizona, so much so that it’s even on my travel wish list. The reason for this is the combination of fantastic weather and the awesome sites to be seen there make it just perfect for taking pictures, something I love to do. With that in mind, I have come up with a selection of the best places and activities that provide an opportunity to take photos in Phoenix Just read on to find out what they are.

Ro Ho En

When visiting Phoenix, Ro Ho En seems like a great place to start your tour. This is the Japanese friendship garden that was built in the year 2000 and makes a super place to take some amazing photography shots.

Ro Ho En
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In particular, you will find things like rock waterfalls and Japanese Maples there, and they also run regular events such as theatre and moon glazing ceremonies. There is even a health and wellness suit that offer meditations if you are feeling a little stressed out after your flight.

However, do bear in mind that if you want to use the gardens as a photographic backdrop, you will need to book a formal session. Something you can find out more about here.

Hot air balloon ride

Next, shutterbugs like me will want to book themselves a place on one of the hot air balloon tours in Phoenix that are on offer. You can choose from sunset or sunrise options, and some provider even run special photography trips with a professional photographer present to tutor you on how to get the best shots from the air.

Hot air balloon
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Shutterbugs can get some of the best images from the air. 

Something that for me would combine a passion of mine, with a bucket list item, in a place that I’ve always wanted to visit!

Heritage Square

Another place that you are guaranteed to get some amazing shots is the charming Heritage Square on Sixth Street. This is a collection of brick Victorian style houses that are kept in wonderful condition and make stunning subjects for a photography study.

There is also a museum there that you can visit to find out all about what life was like back in the 19th century, and there are some great craft activities that you can get involved with too.

Hole-in-the-Rock

Lastly, any budding photographers will want to take some time to pay a visit to the Hole-in-the-Rock. Nope, it’s not a bar, although it kind of sound like it could be, but a geological formation in the rock in the Papago Park.

There are plenty of trails to hike in the area too, making it a great location to get some landscape, and flora and fauna shots. Just remember to do two things before you set out.

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First, check the difficulty of the hike you are picking and make sure its suited to your level of fitness. Secondly, ensure that you charge your camera because you aren’t going to want to run out of battery in the middle of the trial and so not be able to take all pictures that you want.

A Taste Of The Wild West: Reasons To Visit Arizona

Monument Valley, Arizona
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Whether you’re looking for a tranquil holiday in the sun or a rugged adventure, the state of Arizona has it all. Here are just a few reasons to make this your next travel destination.

You can see the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon attracts tourists from around the globe. Stretching across the state, there are many ways to explore this mighty gorge. You can go rafting through the Canyon or explore it by air via helicopter. Those without fear can even walk across the glass walkway recently built over the canyon. Sites like Canyon Tours offer some great deals on various tours that you can take to the gorge. There are even hotels along the Canyon for those that want to wake up to this magnificent sight.

Devil's Bridge, Sedona, Arizona
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You can hike through Sedona

There a range of trails across the state for hikers. The stunning beauty of Sedona cannot be missed – it’s here you’ll find sights such as Cathedral Rock and have the chance to walk over the breathtaking Devil’s Bridge. There are lots of places to stop along these trails and there’s a strong hiking community. If you take a hike in the evening you can get to see the sunset, in which all the landscape takes on a golden appearance.

You can visit a ghost town

One of the state’s quirkier attractions is the ghost town in Jerome. Once a mining settlement, it’s long since become deserted and been turned into a new attraction. There are old cars and relics here and an olde-worlde fudge shop, which is great for visiting with kids. Tuzigoot National Monument is also nearby – an artefact of the Sinaguan Indians.

You can relax in the sun

If you don’t fancy an active holiday, you can still enjoy this state. Arizona has a number of luxury hotels with pools and spa facilities for relaxing. It’s also becoming a popular place for holiday rentals – as the likes of AZ Agenda states there are many luxury villas in the area up for grabs. A trip to Arizona can also be combined with a stay in Las Vegas, which is just across the border in Nevada.

Whiskey Row
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You can go drinking down Whiskey Row

If you fancy a bar crawl, there’s no better place to head than Whiskey Row in Prescott. This historic street sports a number of original saloons and bars. There are also shops and art galleries to check out along the street. For a true taste of the Wild West, this is the place to go and hang out.

‘Tis The Season To Be Cautious: Avoiding Winter Hazards

Depending on where you are in the world, you could be relishing the prospect of a balmy festive season complete with a sun tan, sticky humidity and a beach barbecue. On the other hand, you may be about to enjoy a more traditional white Christmas complete with snow-laden scenery, icy breezes and smoky chimneys. If you are fortunate enough to be walking in a winter wonderland at the moment, you also need to be aware of the hazards that go along with the beautiful wintery vistas that you’re enjoying. This doesn’t mean being a miser and never venturing out of your humble abode for fear of slipping. Rather, you need to be clued up about how to stay safe this festive season so you can promote goodwill to all men (and women) instead of being laid up in a hospital bed with a broken leg.

There are many winter hazards out there, but that doesn’t mean we should be living in fear of them. Take a look at how you can be aware of the dangers that cold snaps can bring and how you can mitigate them.

Fireplace
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Your Home

There’s nothing more joyous and festive than having a roaring fire ablaze while you and your loved ones are snuggled up watching an old-school Christmas movie. You might be wrapped up in your warmest and coziest clothes, and you may have a hot chocolate in hand as you admire the twinkling fairy lights that adorn your Christmas tree. To ensure that this particular seasonal scene can be a reality you need to complete some maintenance checks in your home.

Before you light the fire for the first time this winter, it’s vital that you check that your chimney is unblocked. If you have a partially or fully blocked flue, you risk starting a chimney fire which may result in the emergency services needing to tackle a blaze within your humble abode; not a great start to the festive season.

In a similar way to your chimney, you need to ensure that your central heating system is also able to work. Even though you may not need your heating on for most of the year, it pays to fire it up once in a while to prevent the pipework from seizing up or freezing over. Every year you should have your boiler serviced by a gas registered engineer to ensure that it is safe and adequately ventilated. You do not want carbon monoxide gases finding their way inside your four walls. This hazardous gas can be fatal when inhaled. As a backup, install cheap carbon monoxide monitors into your home. The chances are that they will never alert you to any emergency, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Snow
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Your Vehicle

The chances are that you will be doing some traveling this Christmas. You may be fortunate enough to be staying local and merely popping down the shops once or twice to complete your Christmas shopping, or you could be embarking on a road trip across state to visit friends and family. Either way, you must ensure that your car is winter roadworthy.

Carry out the basic maintenance checks that you would at any time of the year. It’s more vital than ever that your tires are at legal tread depths to give you maximum grip. Ensure that the antifreeze levels are at an optimum and that your heaters are working. Hopefully, you won’t be caught in a snow flurry, storm or blizzard. However, you need to be prepared should the worst occur. Pack your trunk full of food, water, snacks, blankets, a red warning triangle and a snow shovel. At least if you are stranded you can stay warm, stay fed and stay comfortable.

Sometimes you cannot account for the road hazards you find yourself contending with. While you may be a safe and responsible driver, those around you may not be. They could be eager to reach their destination and be willing to drive recklessly simply to make up time. This means you need to have your wits about you and keep your distance from these sorts of drivers. Nevertheless, you may find yourself in a road accident through no fault of your own. This could be a rollover accident, a head-on collision or an intersection bump. You can click here to find out the most common types of injuries caused by rear-end collisions; the most common winter accident caused by drivers lacking adequate brakes or becoming distracted. All you can do is keep your own driving in check and be prepared should you become involved in a collision.

Snow Woman
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Outdoors

It doesn’t matter whether you are 8 or 48, you might want to venture out into the winter wonderland you find yourself in to play in the snow, build a snowman and make a few snow angels. Don’t wear your sneakers or cross trainers outside only to find yourself knee deep in the white stuff and slipping and sliding across patches of ice. You may fall and break a bone, or worse still bang your head and become concussed.

The outdoor environment in winter is more hazardous but not something we should be fearful of; we simply need to prepare. Wrap up warm in layers – a t-shirt, thin body top, zip up fleece and waterproof jacket complete with scarf, gloves and hat should suffice. You need to be wearing strong and sturdy boots or wellies to give you good grip on icy surfaces and within the deeper flurries of snow.

There are a few essential pieces of kit you should always have with you when heading outdoors in the winter. Always carry your smartphone and make sure it’s fully charged before you venture outside. Should you become stuck for any reason, at least you’ll be able to call a friend to help. Never forget a basic first aid kit. Plasters and anti-bacterial wipes should be enough and could prevent any cut or bruise from getting infected.  

If you do live somewhere susceptible to ice, keep an eye on the weather forecast. If ice is predicted, scatter some gritting salt outside your door and on your driveway to prevent slipping accidents. If a weather warning has been issued and the advice is to stay indoors, heed it. Don’t be a maverick as you may be asking for trouble.

Winter is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Follow these tips, and you can be enjoying this festive season in your very own winter wonderland.

How The Rave Scene Has Changed

Rave
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The rave scene has always been booming, even if people didn’t know about it. Right from around the 1970’s until now, it has always been a massive part of people’s lives. But how have raves changed over the years? Well, it has changed massively. From the people attending, to how they’re run, and how they go wrong. They’re loved by so many all over the world, and has the power to bring a huge crowd together just through music. This article is going to explore how the rave scene has changed for the better of the years.

The Venues

This is a really big thing that has changed over the years. Back when the raving movement first began, the raves were mostly all illegal, and all underground. Underground raves were what defines how they are today. Huge crowds would gather at these secretive locations where the music and drinks and drugs would be flowing until it was either shut down, or the sun came up. That was the excellent thing about raves back in the day. They were not monitored and really anything went. There was no security, so people could relax a lot more and just enjoy the music.

The Music

Due to technology, this is something that has changed rather a lot over the years. New sounds have been created which have really changed the rave scene, a lot would say for the better. When raves first originated, the most popular sound was EDM. It was the fuel people needed to keep going all night with it’s fast paced beats. EDM is still massively popular today, but genres such as house and bassline are now starting to take over in popularity. EDM was what made raves, and more EDM facts can be found here if you’re interested. But the new music that is coming through now is what is going to define the rave scene for years to come. There’s so many more DJ’s out there as well that are world famous. When raves first started DJ’s weren’t really a thing unless you were part of the rave scene. Nowadays DJ’s are known everywhere.

The Drugs

As taboo as this part may be, it is one of the reasons why raves are so huge today. As much as some people might not like to admit it, at festivals and raves drugs are everywhere. Sadly, they have become a lot more dangerous, and so many people each year die due to taking illegal substances at festivals and raves. This is due to drug dealers mixing what they put into the drug in order to try and make more money. When raves first started there was none of this happening. The drugs were pure, and not that many lives were lost. But, festivals and raves are bringing in new things to try and prevent any more deaths. A lot of festivals have tents where you can go and have your drugs tested to make sure there isn’t anything harmful in them.

Being Healthier Despite a Busy Schedule, It’s All About the Drinks

Want to be healthier? Got no time to devote to doing so? Well, don’t go jumping to that conclusion just yet.

Yes, busy schedules are a big killer of healthiness, that much is for sure. Well, you can see why: being busy takes a lot of energy and a lot of time from a person, a person who then doesn’t particularly want to be dedicating the little energy and little time they have left over to something that is as strenuous as being healthy.

But, there is a way to fight this: focusing on what you drink. Yes, if you feel that you are stuck with the curse that is a schedule that is too busy, you can still fit healthiness into it by focusing on and changing your drinking habits. To see exactly what you should be doing in regards to this, and to see how chaining your drinking habits can supercharge your healthy lifestyle, make sure to read on.

Smoothies
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Consume easily accessible but nutrition drinks

If you have just not got the time to prepare and cook yourself a nutritious meal every night, and as a result, you just don’t do it (or, you do, but you don’t do it regularly enough) then your health is going to deteriorate. Yes, quite simply, if you don’t quite literally feed your health the right things, it will not be right.

But, you can work around this and the best way to do this is consume drinks that are packed full of the nutrients you need, only they do not take as long to prepare as nutritious meals do. For instance, on those mornings when you simply do not have any time to do anything but prepare for work and get yourself to work, you should blend yourself a green smoothie. By doing so you would be able to get all the nutrients you need at breakfast time, plus all of your five a day in one go, without having to sit down for breakfast.

Or, if the blended lifestyle is not for you then you could turn to supplements that are both legal and healthy to take. For instance, if your healthy endeavour centred mainly on building more muscle so that you could be both physically stronger and stronger in the sense that you could fight unhealthiness far easier, then taking Sportsfuel supplements like whey protein would be perfect for you. They would be perfect because you could prepare them by simply combining the flavoursome whey powder with water or milk and then shaking them about, and you could then drink the concoction created in a few big gulps.

Stay hydrated

Everybody, no matter how busy they are, can stay hydrated throughout their day. Well, what’s hard about carrying a flask or a water bottle around with you and filling it up at various times of the day with clean, filtered water? No, to be blunt, this is not hard at all and is something that you can and most certainly should be doing if you want to be healthy!

When it comes to staying hydrated it is, of course, recommended that the drink that hydrates you consists mainly of water. But, don’t be fooled by all the myths and misconceptions out there: you don’t have to drink eight glasses of water a day — one will do. So, don’t get trying to fit in all this water, and don’t let your hydration endeavour collapse because you think you’re failing with your water intake.

For more healthy eating tips for a busy schedule, make sure to click here

What to Do for Your Next Adventure

What to Do for Your Next Adventure
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While the festive season is associated more with curling up on the sofa by the fire and watching films all day, there is always a new adventure waiting for you come the new year. People are running around shopping and preparing for Christmas Day, so it can be easy to push those dreams of foreign lands to the back of your mind.

But there are so many places to go and see that this can be difficult. What’s even more difficult, is deciding exactly what your next foray into unfamiliar places may be. Here are some options for when the festive fun is over, and you want to get back out on the open road.

WORKAWAY

The problem that many people face when wanting to travel is the lack of money. Thankfully, workaway programs are available for most destinations worldwide. Unlike the traditional backpacking culture, a workaway gives you the opportunity to work in local communities and get a real taste of the culture.

Typically, you will be set up with a host family who will be able to teach you about the environment and provide you with room and board. Some options are volunteer-only, but not having to spend money on accommodation and transit, as well as immersing yourself in a new culture, will make those hard days work all that bit sweeter.

ROAD TRIP

If there are a lot of places to see and not that much time or money to do it, then undertaking a road trip could be the solution. For the best value for money, searching for local RV auctions are a great way to get your hands on transport, and split the cost with a group of friends.

Taking a road trip offers you the freedom to do things on your own time, while also avoiding those daunting plane journeys. When participating in group tours, you are often restricted by schedules and itineraries, but having your own transport means you can stay as long or as little as you want in whatever places you might encounter.

TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD

English is not the worldwide language for no reason. Schools in countries such as the Middle East and Far East Asia are always looking for native English speakers to teach their students in bilingual schools and will often assist with arranging visas and accommodation, allowing you to stay as long as you like.

For the best results, it is wise to complete a TEFL Certification Course, which, while not always necessary, will enhance the likelihood of finding work. A TEFL qualification will sometimes even guarantee you better pay rate among these schools and leave you in higher demand.

Lots of people dream about dropping everything and going on an adventure as soon as possible. With the number of services and opportunities available, there will always be a chance for you to see as much of the world as possible, and in some cases, you might even be able to get paid while doing it. The world is such a vast place, and so it seems like a waste to only roam the streets of your own hometown.