29 April 2022

Top Tips For A Hiking Holiday

There is something about taking a hiking holiday that is hard to beat. The feeling of the fresh air in your lungs, the stunning views for miles on end, and the fact that you know you will end it feeling healthier, happier, and more accomplished. If you aren’t someone that has been on many hiking holidays, or if you’re someone that is perhaps a seasoned hiker but has never been on a holiday dedicated to it before, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. But this shouldn’t be the case. A hiking holiday is fantastic and as long as you’re prepared, you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life. Here we have put together some top tips for taking a hiking holiday to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. 

Plan your route ahead of time

A hiking holiday is fantastic and to get the most out of it you want to plan your route. If you are planning on something such as walking the Camino de Santiago, you will want to know which of the many different routes you’re going to take. Be sure to do your research and find the one that best suits your requirements, time, and fitness levels.

Ensure you have all the necessary kit

You want to take care of yourself when on a hiking holiday so to ensure this, be sure to purchase and pack all the necessary kit you require. You won't need too much specialist equipment unless you're planning on hiking a tricky mountain, but you do want to be ready for things such as all weather conditions. Pack a lightweight waterproof jacket, comfortable socks, and proper hiking boots. You will need sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to protect you from the sun and it’s worth bringing a jumper in case it gets chilly.

Train yourself ahead of time

Hiking can take its toll on your body so once you’ve booked your trip or know when you’re going to go, it’s a good idea to get training. Head out on walks in different weather conditions and routes, practicing those with an incline as well as flat routes. It’s also a good idea to get some practice in with your backpack on and any other equipment you’ll be bringing so this isn’t a shock to your body when the time comes around.

Stock up on water and snacks

On your trip, you’re going to get hungry and thirsty so it’s a good shout to stock up on plenty of food and drink. Pack snacks that are high in protein to keep your energy up and try to bring at least a couple of water bottles.

These are just a few top tips for heading on a hiking holiday that ensure you get the most out of your trip. By being prepared ahead of time you will enjoy it and find it much less stressful. Have you recently been on a hiking trip? What did you do to get the most out of it? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo by Andrei Tanase from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-standing-on-a-rock-1271619/

26 April 2022

The Best Basketball Video Games

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Basketball-themed video games are a great way for basketball lovers to enjoy their favorite game without working up a sweat on the court. The NBA 2K franchise is probably the first video game that comes to mind when you think of basketball-themed video games, and that's no surprise. It's one of the most successful sports video games ever. Although fans love to watch NBA action live, video games are also a fun escape. 

With the first round of the NBA playoffs well underway, fans around the world are glued to their TVs and mobile devices, checking to see how their favorite teams are performing. Betting is one of the most popular ways for fans to take part in NBA action, and it takes on a new intensity as the NBA Finals approach. Fans new to sports betting can take advantage of promotions from websites like Caesars Sportsbook that off free bets to new clients. It's a great way to test the waters while enjoying NBA playoff action. When you're not watching the NBA playoffs, check out a few of these popular basketball-themed video games. 

NBA 2K11

Many sports gamers recognize NBA 2K11 as the best basketball-themed video game ever produced. Visual Concepts released the basketball simulation video game in 2010 on multiple platforms, including PlayStation 2, PlayStation2, Nintendo Wii, and XBOX 360. The arcade-style video game combined the successful elements of NBA Jam and NBA Street with the realistic gameplay of modern basketball simulation games and featured the greatest basketball player of all time: Michael Jordan. Although there are more realistic basketball video games in the NBA 2K series today, NBA 2K11 remains a fan favorite.

NBA Live

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EA's NBA Live video game franchise debuted in the 1990s and was the most successful basketball-themed video game until the NBA 2K franchise overtook it. NBA Live 95 was the first game in the franchise and blended elements of NBA Showdown and the NBA Playoff series, adding improved gameplay and better graphics. The game was available on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

NBA Jam

If you're an NBA fan and owned a Super Nintendo, PlayStation, Gameboy, or Sega Genesis in the 1990s, you probably played NBA Jam. The game launched on arcade machines before Midway brought it to home consoles. This classic video game is one of the best-selling video games, having earned over $1 billion since its release. It also influenced many future basketball-themed video games. 

 

4 movies with mythological creatures you can't miss

Since the days of heroes battling dragons, we have had a fascination with mythological creatures and the powers they possess. From the all-time classic “Hocus Pocus” to the popular “Fantastic Beasts” series of films, we are seeing more and more of these animals appear on our screens. Just about anyone can enjoy these films. It really doesn’t matter what age you are or where in the world you live. Below we will tell you about a few of our favorite fantasy films:

The seventh seal (1957)

Set in medieval times this powerful film centers around a game of chess between a knight and Death. The knight returns home from the crusades only to find his country ravaged by plague. As long as he keeps playing, the knight believes that he will stay alive, but Death has other plans as “no one escapes me”.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

This very funny film by Monty Python also focuses on medieval knights and this time is a direct interpretation of the story of King Arthur. Instead of focusing on his court at Camelot, the plot sends the knights off in search of the Holy Grail. It has a playful approach to the story which includes a three-headed knight and a cave monster.

Lord of the Rings (2002)

This is a trilogy of fantasy films that includes a whole range of mythological creatures. Dwarves, elves, hobbits, orcs and trolls all join in the search for a lost golden ring and the ultimate battle between good and evil.

Lord of the Rings also managed to change the course of Special effects in the movie industry. They managed to make mythological creatures look practically real and made them popular around the world. They became so popular you can find them as a theme for books, table games, online games and slots like in the Trolls bridge slot

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Brought into a labyrinth by a fairy, Ofelia is told she is a princess by a faun. However, to prove her royalty, she must complete three gruesome tasks. Her quest brings her into contact with a creature known as the Pale Man. Whilst having some human traits he is by far the most monstrous creature of the whole film.

The Director of Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro) has directed another great film with a fantastic creature called “The Shape of Water”. This film is a fantasy love story set in the real world. It has similarities with the film “Splash” in which you see a mermaid getting involved in the life of a young businessman from New York. In both films, you really believe that a relationship with a mythological creature is possible.

More awesome movies

If the idea of romance mixed with myth isn't your thing, perhaps you would enjoy more of a thriller. “The Mummy” is an action-packed blockbuster that includes mummies rising from their tombs cursed by pharaohs.

Of course, you may want something a little spookier, and you can satisfy your appetite with the thousands of films that include vampires, ghosts and werewolves. Our favorites are “Bram Stoker's Dracula” and “American Werewolf in London” but there are plenty of others to choose from.

Image Credit Wikimedia

20 April 2022

Top 10 Most Stunning Natural Wonders in Europe


Europe is a beautiful continent that’s rich in culture, art, and incredible architecture. But this continent also features natural wonders that every person should visit at least once in their lifetime. While there are also unique places to see all across the globe, such as the countless yet amazing outdoor getaways in the USA or exotic beaches in Asia, Europe simply sits high up there when it comes to natural wonders. So much so that we decided to look at some of the natural gems on the continent and what makes them unique. 

Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National Park

HBO’s most viewed and extremely popular series, Game of Thrones was shot in this very country, so why is Plitvice Lakes National Park one of our choices? Firstly, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site that first opened in 1949. The park is massive and covers nearly 30 000 hectares featuring alluring waterfalls and indigenous trees. It is virtually impossible to describe its beauty, but this park will transport you to another world. Not only that, if you are lucky, you might see some brown bears, gray wolves, and lynx as some of the many rare species in the park. 

Ireland: Cliffs of Moher

One of the most iconic landmarks in Ireland and quite a dramatic landscape if we can call it that. Cliffs of Moher is a UNESCO Global Geopark. Here you can explore the cliffs, you can catch a bite to eat, enjoy a guided tour, and even shop at the on-site store. The cliffs were created through time and weather and offer you a spectacular view with various fauna and flora to look at too. 

Switzerland: Swiss Alps

Probably one of the most luxurious experiences ever, the Swiss Alps is perched quite high above sea level, 13 000 feet above ground to be exact - it is also one of the world’s largest mountain ranges. Whether you are there in summer or winter, the views are breathtaking and cannot be done justice through pictures alone. You can also take part in various activities such as hiking, skiing, and paragliding. 


Italy: Amalfi Coast

If ever there was a place lined with celebrities, it’s the Amalfi Coast and we understand why. The entire coast stretches about 31 miles and comes packed with rich architecture, blue waters, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience AND it's a place you will want to explore. The Amalfi Coast is the epitome of luxury with famous views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Scotland: Isle of Skye

Rolling mountain ranges and expansive valleys make up the Isle of Skye. This gorgeous Scottish island is most famous for its rugged terrain, medieval castles, fishing villages, and of course its scenery. 

France: Gorges du Verdon

We have not come across the water as blue as that which you’ll find in Gorges du Verdon’s River canyon. Calling it exquisite is an understatement. The turquoise blue water’s deepest ravine is a whopping 2296 feet deep and is extremely popular among tourists. So, hire a kayak and row down the river for some epic views.




Austria: Lake Hallstatt

This lake looks exactly like a magnificent painting. Lake Hallstatt is found in Hallstatt, a town well known for its production of salt. This tourist hotspot will see travelers enjoy a drink or two while sunbathing on the iconic lake. 

Iceland: Ice Caves

While there are multiple ice caves to explore in Iceland, just picking any one of them will do. Iceland comes packed with many natural wonders and its many ice caves are truly breathtaking. You will experience glaciers and waterfalls as well as hot springs and even see volcanoes too! All made by nature. 

Montenegro: Durmitor National Park

Another UNESCO World Heritage site on our list. Durmitor National Park is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. It has towering peaks and canyons that offer explorers various hiking trails. It also features one of the best zip-lines in the world. 

Malta: Blue Lagoon

We are almost positive you’ve seen the Blue Lagoon pictures where it seems as though a yacht is floating on the water. That’s how beautiful Malta’s Blue Lagoon is. This paradise for snorkelers and swimmers alike, the Blue Lagoon is an absolute must! The shallow bay is great for everyone and anyone!

You're Never Bored with a Gourd!

It's strange how traditions start. In the late 1960s Ralph Upton, a farmer from the small, picturesque English village of Slindon in the county of West Sussex place his yearly crop of pumpkins, squashes and gourds on his shed to ripen.  

The colors and shapes of his harvest soon attracted visitors - and things have never been quite the same in Slindon since.

12 April 2022

Who Will Be the King of Premier League?

There’s a reason why the Premier League is the most enticing competition when it comes to football.  There’s never a sure winner, and Leicester may be the biggest example in modern history to accommodate this idea. If we go back a couple of decades, or more, there is a plethora of examples of underdogs, great investments gone wrong, and more Shakespearian disasters and victories that make the Premier League an absolute thriller.

When Watford can beat Chelsea, maybe there’s some use to have information, like live football predictions by Overlyzer, to discern exactly what’s happening throughout the game, and how a smaller team can beat a big shark by dismantling their game.

In this season, particularly, there isn’t a big argument: the title is either for Manchester City or Liverpool. This seems to be the dual paradigm of the last years, and rightfully so, since both Guardiola and Klopp are in their respective clubs for a lot of time and were able to shape the team to their preference and style of play.

Along with Chelsea, Liverpool and City are undoubtedly the teams playing the best football this year, and they seem prone to English and European glory.

With Liverpool falling a little behind Manchester City, the question still remains: Who will be the Premier League’s King?

Liverpool

Klopp is an enthusiast, no doubt about it, more so than Guardiola. What people often don’t recognize is that he is also very rational when it comes to squad composure and tactics. Jota and Diaz being the latest examples of successful hires, it seems Liverpool doesn’t fail when it comes to market stints.

The team develops pretty well and the defense is always high on the terrain and inclusive on the attacking maneuvers. Virgil is a beast, Becker is a proper libero, and the midfield is able both to close the routes to their goal.

Without refuting this, and most teams would agree with the statement that Liverpool is a big offensive menace – Diaz, Jota, Firmino, Mané, Salah, Minamino – to their own detriment, it is also true that the offensive prowess often comes with defensive imbalances, that some teams can use to their profit. A good example is how Benfica behaved against Liverpool, and got to score: how the smartest clubs use the counter-attack effectively.

Manchester City

City went up a notch after Guardiola arrived. And this is no understatement, neither to the club nor to Guardiola’s capability. Similarly, to Klopp (although probably Klopp changed Liverpool even more) Guardiola managed to change the whole way City behaves on the field, and his compromise from pure tiki-taka to a nonetheless possession-based, but more assertive tactic, is a fair modulation to the Premier League more physical and high-tempo football.

Guardiola’s defense runs on a tight schedule, rarely missing to successfully implement the offside trap, and have a total-football approach to every phase of the game. It is almost an anecdote by now that City bought their success through hefty purchase fees, but that’s only half the truth: Barcelona sprayed money on their squad and still managed to almost go bankrupt.

Guardiola’s choices are sensible and adapted to his tactical idea, and the fact he is asking for a 9 is one more reason that he’s not throwing money away: playing with a false 9 has been working, but one is left to wonder if a Vlahovic was in the front of that attack, Haaland or Kane, for that matter, how many more goals would they score, and how much more of a equilibrium they would have.

So, as things stand, the lack of a pure 9 is City’s main weakness, and one that can prove capable of tilting the balance in a less inspired day.

At the end of the day

There’s a logic for both City and Liverpool’s fans to dream of the title but, despite their strengths and weakness, it might just be decided by a small team wishing too hard to stay on the Premier League. Football is, in the end of the day, a game that the mighty win, and where money sure talks, but doesn’t swear. A surprise might hit City or Liverpool: if it hits City, then Liverpool has a chance. If it hits Liverpool, there’s no chance at all. Only time will tell.

Image Credit

11 April 2022

The Secluded Secrets of Northern Peru

Peru has many mysteries, from Machu Picchu to the Nazca Lines. One of the greatest mysteries, however, is why so few people travel to the north of the country. Only a fraction of those who visit Machu Picchu consider going up north, but this is where you will find some of the most remarkable geography, archeological sites and wonderful colonial towns from which to explore. Take a look at the Peruvian road less traveled.

Chan Chan
Chan Chan. The world’s largest adobe built city receives a tiny fraction of the visitors that Machu Picchu receives. Ten citadels, all walled, make up the site and within them are scores of temples, burial chamber and reservoirs. Triangular in shape the wall that surrounds it can reach sixty feet in height. You can easily get lost in this vast city, made up of a labyrinth of walkways. The surface of walls made from adobe brick were smoothed over and everywhere you will see highly detailed carvings, mostly of animals.

Shipwreck!

We normally associate shipwrecks with the bottom of the sea but with the tragedy of the Costa Concordia our perceptions changed. Many ships end up on or near beaches. Here are just a few of the ships around the world which did not sink but were shipwrecked nonetheless.

Ride of Passage


It seems that in the way back when men used to measure their manliness by the size of the... dead creature on their head. So, when young Toki’s turn comes to go in to the forest and kill the biggest animal he can then he is determined to do just that. However, the jungle can do strange things to a boy and he meets a new friend who gives him the chance to achieve something much greater than anything he expected.

This is yet another marvelous Bachelor Film Project from The Animation Workshop. It was created by Christian Bøving-Andersen, Casper Michelsen, Eva Lee Wallberg, Tina Lykke Thorn, Søren B. Nørbæk, Allan Lønskov, Jakob Kousholt and David F. Otzen. Enjoy!

Escalade


Escalade is a very funny animated short which says something quite profound about human nature at the same time.  Natural competition is one thing, as is the survival of the fittest, but when it is taken to extreme it can have consequences which were not foreseen but should have been.   You could say that this animation is a visual metaphor – and you could interpret it as being about two neighbors or if you want to be a little deeper then it could be an arms race, or even a warning about the danger of ignoring issues of sustainability.

Escalade was created by Birdo Studio who are based in Brazil (not that it matters where people are based in the internet age!). It was formed in 2005 by the creative duo Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet. Their objective is to craft wonderful and visually exhilarating storytelling through digital animation, meaningful characters and a lot of fun.

Childhood of a Circle


Archibald may not be recognizable as any animal that we know – he is something like a pointy nosed blue polar bear – but that doesn’t really matter. What is important is that he is lonely and bored. Even though he lives in a world where everything is provided he is still on his own.  Then, one day something strange happens – a circle arrives in his domain and as they say, things are never the same again.

This is something of a treat if you like your animation a little to the left (or perhaps a lot!) of Disney and its ilk.  Created by Kadavre Exquis it is wonderfully made, enigmatic, piece of animation.  Its look and feel is to be cherished as much as the story it tells.  All told, it’s simply wonderful.

Franklin: The Lost State of America

What led to the creation of the State of Franklin and why isn’t it around today? Over a period of four years the fledgling state sought recognition even pleading with an ex-president for his seal of approval. Yet its history was to be all too brief. So what happened?

Even more to the point, why hasn’t anyone ever made a movie out of this strange but remarkable story?


Image Credit Note the county by the name of Sevier? Remember that name, it's important later.

Everything invariably boils down to one thing in politics, and that is money. After the revolution it was in short supply and the federal coffers were empty. Revolutions after all, cost money just as much as any war. North Carolina, quite remarkably, decided to cede its western portion to make up its contribution. Getting cold feet, the offer was withdrawn before Congress had even had a chance to accept it. The fear was that Congress might sell the land to a foreign power. Better to be poor than live next to the French, after all.

However, the locals weren’t terribly happy at all (to say the least) at this almost casual secession of their lands and had, in the intervening time, decided that Federal rule would suit them quite nicely. Plus, North Carolina had always been tardy in offering support against attacks by local indigenous tribes or for that matter against the wanted men who used the remote area as a hideaway – unfortunately bringing their law breaking habits with them.

In August 1784 delegates from three of the eight western counties of North Carolina met in the town of Jonesborough. There was a vote (by no means unanimous, a gentleman by the name of Tipton was vocal in his opposition) and on the 23rd of the month they declared the lands independent. The state of Franklin was born. Opposition was immediate - North Carolina published a manifesto condemning the formation of the new state (see above left). In fact it brought about the first political pamphlet war for that part of America.

The Mwanza Flat-headed Rock Agama - The Spider-Man Lookalike Lizard

The Ark in Space today takes a look at a lizard that looks an awful lot like a certain superhero. It is currently in huge demand in pet shops. Take a look and find out why.

Fans of Peter Parker’s erstwhile alter ego Spider-Man who also happen to be animal lovers have discovered their ideal pet. Looking strangely like the comic and movie hero, step forward the Mwanza flat-headed rock agama.

Image Credit Wikimedia

1 April 2022

The Mirror - Le Miroir


Do you ever look in the mirror in the morning and wonder where all the years went? If so then you can take heart – a little!  At least your life does not flash before your eyes in a few short minutes as it does in this remarkable film by Ramon and Pedro (aka Antoine Tinguely and Laurent Fauchère). The Mirror or Le Mirroir in its original French shows a young boy becoming a man and we get to witness the physical evidence of some of his rites of passage until, effectively, the lights go off.

Ramon and Pedro have been in existence as an artistic union since 2004, their alter egos for slightly longer. They were featured in Shots Magazine in the New Directors section, which led them to sign with Partizan Worldwide. Since then, R&P has directed commercials for clients such as Diesel, AOL, Panasonic, Citroën, Milky Way and many more.

Meet Me Far


Meet Me Far is one of those rare and lovely pieces of animation which stay in your head for a long time afterwards.  It was directed by Ran Sieradzki and is the latest single by Israeli singer Anat Ben Hemo.  In it we meet a cute little guy who just seems to get immense pleasure out of watching his world pass by.  That’s it really, just a very simple storyline but exquisitely executed.

It makes some difference that Anat has such a lovely, ethereal voice.  Having decided that she was going to be a singer as a child that is exactly what she did.  As well as appearing in jazz festivals around the globe her work represents a number of genres, including folk and electronic.  This is just lovely – let’s hope it’s a big hit for her.

Abandoned in Iceland

It is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland, warmed by the Gulf Stream, has a temperate climate and has been settled for more than a millennium. Yet despite having a population of only just over three hundred thousand, the majestic countryside of Iceland is dotted with the ruins of houses and other buildings abandoned when they were no longer needed or their inhabitants were forced to move on. Take a look at some of the abandoned buildings of Iceland with some imposing views thrown in for good measure.

Shugo Tokumaru: Katachi


This made me catch my breath – such a simple idea but taken to such a complex level that it becomes a work of art in its own right. This is stop-motion at a very different level to usual – whereas normally pieces within frame are manipulated this amazing video by Kijek / Adamski gains its own momentum in another way. It was made with 2000 silhouettes which were extracted from PVC plates using a computer-controlled cutter. Starting with a single silhouette each is then added at a very fast speed to give the impression of movement. The overall result is, like I said, breath-taking.

The video was created to accompany Katachi by Japanese musical artist Shugo Tokumaru. Shugo creates every facet of his music, from the lyrics to the recording and mixing and he makes use of a bewildering array of instruments in his music. Given his eclecticism then, this video is more than appropriate, especially when you take in to account the meaning of the song’s title – katachi. The word cannot be translated in to English with a single, comparative term.

Katachi is the quintessence of Japanese design: workmanship, form and symmetry joined together in a wedding between beauty and functionality. Essential in Katachi is that objects are created with materials that have been pivotal within Japanese life. Perhaps the use of PVC in this video is something of a departure from conventionality but today’s innovation is, after all, tomorrow’s tradition.

Anyway, I bet you play this more than once!

Revolution: The Story of a Single Water Droplet


You could almost call this the story of water as Revolution shows the journey cycle of a single drop of water.  Using the notion of a popup book we see the various processes which make up the water cycle: condensation, infiltration, runoff, evaporation, precipitation and transpiration.  Who said that science had to be boring?

Revolution is a collaborative film by photographer Chris Turner, animator Jess Deacon and paper engineer Helen Friel who, from original idea to execution, pooled their individual talents to bring the project to life.


Painted Pie


You never quite know how you are going to impact on the lives of others, their hopes, their dreams or their desires.  In this beautifully crafted animated short inspired by the post-Impressionists (notably Vincent) an old lady painter and a young homeless boy are destined to meet and it will, perhaps, bring both a type of peace.  Accompanied by Little Person by Jon Brion I do have to admit that this made me well up a little, but then as anyone will tell you I’m a great big softy.

Created by four students, Havish Thota, Kudzai Gumbo, Mehdi Farrokhtala, Abdulrahman Alansari (I cannot quite tell at which institution they studied but from their names I might perhaps guess somewhere in Iran?), Painted Pie is two meals within itself: a breakfast for the eye and suppertime for the heart.
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