"Ya Know What Really Grinds My Gears"
An area for me to vent my opinions and views about current and past issues and events, with the idea taken from Family Guy. I will also include reviews.

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Andorra skiing

Day 1 – Managed to get on an earlier transfer bus after standing right in front of the driver, so he didn’t forget me and getting a bit of Barcelona sunshine-sunbathing in first. On route the rowdy Irish who were sat near us had to stop for a wee and things got worse at the Andorra border, when it transpired that the transfer police had been told about the drinking and we all got marched off and assumed to be together! I got dropped off and Dad was there waiting, I checked in and got skis, helmet and headed for dinner at mine. Aubergine soup to start, I met two middle aged guys from Hull, sat with them and had beef and sauce and potatoes,  then a lovely chocolate pie for dessert, I retired early, tired and full

Day 2 – after an impressive buffet brekkie of meats, cheeses, cereal, bread, fruit, tea and juice, I met owner Nick and their gorgeous little dog, then he shuttled me up the hill in his Land R up to pick up my lift pass, lunch vouchers and met dad. We headed up the gondola to meet Gordon and co and went with the reps to cruise around blues to El Tartare and Soldeu, stopping for a hot chocolate before lunch. I had a free lunch of bacon and cheese sandwich, fries and drink. Then we met the rest at the bottom, did a few more runs and headed to the supermarket and to dads. Dinner was a tasty Shepherd’s pie dish and Tiramsisu

Day 3 – Again filled with breakfast, we met the reps and did some red runs, stopping off at a picturesque frozen lake, and did a lovely run down to it. After a drink at the bottom we got our free lunch and explored on our own for a few hours. After skiing we headed to Fat Albert’s, one of the resorts only lively bars for a local band called ‘Shambles’ which was fun. Dinner was a Spanish omelette and croutons and chicken curry, with chocolate mouse to finish.

Day 4 - sunshine! Brilliant runs to Pas de la Casa, going on an awesome black and reds. Lunch was in Pas, where fog closed in as we ate and we chair lifted up out of it back in to glorious sunshine. Finished at 4ish and headed for beers. Went to Harp bar for a bit, then dinner was pasta carbonara, meatballs and mousse for dinner. Brian and Pete from Hull were my seating regulars now and very nice chaps.

Day 5 - headed off in sunshine with the ski club, Gordon hurt himself early on so he left at the lake cafe and we did a red then I went off on my own and to kids area and a snow park and then up to the top where I bumped into the ski club and it was windy so headed down, started to cloud over so headed back for lunch and did El Tarter and a blue to Soldeu a few times. Ribs for dinner!

Day 6 - Nick confirmed my transfer for me. It had begun heavily snowing and there was poorer visibility, but we still headed up and me and dad went to El Tartare and took the blue down to Soldeu. Dad stayed down and I bumped into Pete and Brian and went off again. Went to top of Soldana, which was blizzard like and poor visibility so headed down and met dad for lunch, one more run down and then handed rentals back and found Gordon snoozing in his hotel Montanna bar, then got dads bag from mine and had a hot drink then went to dads hotel and relaxed and chatted in their large lounge area. Said goodbyes and headed for dinner, which was tuna salad then chicken, and then cheesecake. Chatted with the Hull guys one more time and a new bloke, then went to pack

Day 7 had final breakfast, paid bill (a humungous 12 euros!) and waited for transfer. There were beautiful views and sun out of the valley...where it was still snowing. Got to sunny Barca with loads of time so bought some cookies for work and food with my remaining euros and wandered about, rang dad and after a bumpy flight on Vueling, made it home with a rare day to recover!

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Christmas at home

I left the office at lunch time for the long drive home, managing to get 113.9 at the pump, which I think is lower than since before I passed?! It was nice and sunny and thankfully there wasn’t any bad traffic until I got off of the M40 around Coventry. Christmas eve was spent at Barsby’s with Murray, Gaz, Tom Barsby and some others, then we hit the Felix, saw Steffi, Siobhan, John Murphy etc

Christmas Day involved picking up Nana from her nursing home and we headed to Aunty Jan and Uncle Dave’s, where I finally got to see Martin’s house, he has room to park about eight cars in the drive and garage. He does also now own a disabled seated bike, so I tried out this and whizzed about the local road. He also has a spare room which has become a games room and it is a really nice little bungalow.

Boxing Day was spent with the arriving Gra and Lauren, we had a delicious family lunch, then I picked up Tally and headed to Mreg’s new house in the evening to see his first purchase and for a few games of CTR. When we left, it was snowing quite hard…only a day late! We then had people over (Murray, Chloe, Maddy and I went to pick up George and Tom from the Felix and we all played ‘Articulate’). Lauren was the drunkest which was very funny and Tom was definitely the worst at the game.

On Saturday we headed up to Aunty Gill and Uncle Dave’s and it was snowy! We met Reggie after his nap, and enjoyed an epic buffet including a huge platter of meat, caught up with cousins and had an enjoyable day, even getting to see Laura and Marc, who are often working. We headed back, missing out on a pub trip and me, mum and dad watched a movie.

Sunday was a really lovely last day with the parents and Gra and Lauren, watching footie, playing ‘Formula One’ and ‘Totopoly’ board games, watching ‘Gone Girl’ and just spending quality time together. It was nice not having to rush back like previous years and I will definitely try to do it again!

On Monday I set off with a car full of TV, PC, clothes and more. After unpacking a bit, I headed to Sally’s 1920's themed party, then headed out for Sims birthday, and met some of his new friends and got invited to another house party on NYE.
The week off was spent having lots of fun with friends and eating lots, NYW was started at the twins house party boogying away, before heading to Smugglers for a good old knees up, then back to Bebe’s and Simon’s, before heading eventually to bed!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Cape Town

I arose early to go on my only booked tour of the trip, a game reserve tour out in the Winelands. The drive was almost as impressive as the tour, with stunning mountain and flat lands of the wine region in every direction. We arrived to a huge buffet breakfast and then piled into a truck and we were off!

I learned a lot of interesting facts as well as seeing animals up close, such as hippos weigh up to two tonnes, are territorial and live until they are 40ish, they kill up to 250 people year! which is more than rhinos and crocodiles. They can also stay underwater for up to seven minutes, white rhino eats grass only, black eats leaves, they both have poor eyesight of two metres, one horn, 16 month gestation period. The best fact was definitely that a group of zebras is called a 'dazzle'. They have weak backs, so you cant ride them. Osterich can run at upto 70kmh, and their egg is about 24 chicken eggs. They can be used for meat, bones and fertiliser. I saw a snake, lions, and some giraffes (that eats eucalyptus, live for 28 years ish, sleep for 20 minutes at a time, 60cm tongue. giraffe can kill lions with a kick and run at 60kmh, can live with out water for two weeks.) We saw some elephants, who were interestingly watching the truck in front of us that had broken down, being pulled out by a tractor. Elephant fact - females are the matriarchs. I was sat next to a hilarious pompous farmer from Hereford and his wife Hilary who was incapable of using her iPad, they made the journey even more fun. After being driven back to Cape Town, I headed to the nearby V&A waterfront and explored and got some dinner.

I began day seven with a tour of the famous District 6, walked the castle and then ate an incredible lunch at an award-winning V&A restaurant. I had a game kebab, consisting of lumps of meat from a wilderbeast, an impala, ku and ostrich. So tasty but a bit too filling for my next activity...a rocky boat trip to Robben Island! A storm was just coming over as we boarded the boat and its safe to say the crossing was a bit choppy (both of the couple in front of me lost their lunch). The weather brightened soon after we docked and they ferried us to a cafe to spend our money on hot drinks. The rest of the tour of the prison was however much better, led by an actual former inmate! It was interesting and we got to see Mandela's cell and learn all about the history of the island. After another busy day exploring, I checked in to my fancy Avios-paid-for hotel for a well-earned rest. The Hotel on St George was very reasonable for the fiver I paid for it and a great way to end the trip.

My final day started with the hotels free breakfast, then I took a local bus to Table Mountain via Camps Bay (as I didnt realise where to get off!) I passed a hilarious dustbin truck called 'waste man' and then got in the queue for the lift. I queued with a lovely old Scottish couple who told me about the cruise they were on, sounded incredible apart from the choppy seas throughout! Table Monutain was stunning and I wandered around and had lunch at the top, admiring the views below. I headed back down and took the bus to Camps Bay again and spend the last few hours of my trip relaxing on the white sand beach and reminiscing instead of worrying about whether I would make my flight. I did (just) and watched movies 'Planes fire and rescue' and 'How to train your Dragon 2'

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Victoria Falls

The flight was half empty and uneventful, moving up into middle Africa, the heat intensified and we were greeted by mid-30 degree heat as we exited the aircraft, but they gave us a bottle of water and there were dancing tribe men outside to entertain and welcome us to Zimbabwe. My transfer arrived and drove us into the town of Victoria Falls, we passed donkeys and an elephant sign, yes we were definitely in Africa now. We reached the hostel which turned out to be a really beautiful place just a ten minute walk from the centre. It had a lovely garden and pool and the accommodations were set in thatched cottages. There was a hostel dog, some chickens and a lizard, as well as various other animals. An epic storm began as we sat down to discuss our tour options with a few other residents who had just arrived and the owners offered to cook us a steak dinner. Me and a couple of new friends Rowan and Nadine cadged a lift in to town with the lady owner and stocked up on some basics (crisps, water, apples etc) and then we retired to the hostel and enjoyed a big steak dinner (with pap of course!) around a camp fire with the rest of the group.

The on-site chef and her daughter served up cheap breakfasts daily, and with a full day of activities planned I thought I had better fuel up, so had cereal and pancakes for breakfast. I teamed up with Rowan and Nadine and we took a taxi to the falls, passing a warthog family en-route. We explored the Zimbabwe side of falls, which was really stunning (and the better side in low season) and went to live it up a little at the Victoria Falls hotel, which is luxurious and historic and has a lovely garden with views of the bridge over to Zambia. I had a Malawi mocktail with views of the Livingstone bridge. We explored around the town and were misled by an interesting sign stating 'African taxidermy'. By now it was lunch, so we headed to recommended eatery 'Mama Africa', where we enjoyed a spicy stew with pap and spinach. We headed back to relax with the other guests and I had a swim in the pool.

The next day I decided to take a walk and see what I could find on my own. On the way through town I saw a rather amusing stand off between a warthog and five dogs, the hog holding its ground impressively. I wandered up Zambezi road on my own to the Big Tree, passing a hippo pool and various signs suggesting I shouldn't be walking the path alone (beware crocodiles, lions etc!) The big Tree was pretty big. I got a taxi to the Zambia  border and as I had bought a double entry visa to Zimbabwe, decided to cross to experience the other side. I wandered down into the canyon to see the boiling pot close up and had a quick swim in the fall going down to it, then walked over the Rainbow Bridge and walked right out to the falls edge, an amazing experience that you can only do in low season. Instead of paying an extortionate price to experience Devils Pool, my guide took me to a cheeky private pool right over the falls instead...well worth it and a lot cheaper! As I wandered back to the Zimbabwe side, I stopped for a massive burger at the bungee area on the Livingstone Bridge and took stock of what an amazing day I had had.

That evening, most of the hostel that I had been hanging around with all decided to go on a Zambezi river cruise, this was easily one of the highlights of the trip, good food and drink and we got to see a wild elephant swimming across the river, stunning sunset, hippos, elephants and buffalo. I ate soup, local fish, potatoes, veg, pudding and custard.

My final day ended lazily, I walked into town for cash and said goodbye to everyone, then headed to my flight to Jo'burg, then on to Cape Town. I managed to get an earlier flight as we made good time. I reached my Cape Town hostel at dinner time to find my game drive had been confirmed, so I headed out and found a nice Thai restaurant nearby, then headed for an early night!

I'll leave you with a review I posted on TripAdvisor about the hostel:
This hostel was one of my favourite that I have stayed in ANYWHERE, Friendly and informative staff who call you by name and are willing to do anything for you from organise trips to tell you about what you can do to maximise your time and arrange transfers..we even got a lift into town for a quick shop when we first got there!

the resort is quirky with a beautiful garden and pool, a giant chess board with hand-carved pieces and a friendly staff who cook for you around a fire. There is a masseuse on site and activities can be arranged

cheap and a 15 minute walk from town, it is a really lovely hostel and I would recommend to anyone. Self catering facilities also available for budget travellers!

Rosie the 'guard dog' and the local inhabitants 'Godzilla' and the baby chickens make it feel like a home away from home!

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Johannesburg

I began my Africa trip in Style, on one of our new A380 planes, it was a lot nicer and even has a USB port to charge your phone during the flight. After arriving I made a call to get my free airport transfer to the hostel and my journey began with some amazing billboards (apparently the name Steve is an insult in South Africa, ie 'don't be a steve!'. Other entertaining billboards and adverts included a lot of stickers EVERYWHERE selling penis enlargement and abortions. The other notable thing about Johannesburg is the stunning purple trees that were blooming as I was there, really beautiful and littering the side of streets and the road below with beautiful petals, unlike any colour I have seen before.

The hostel I was staying in 'Brown Sugar' was named after the drug with that nickname, as it was based in a former Heroin gangsters mansion. The setting was beautiful, and although it was a little way outside of the centre, the hostel was stunning, with brilliant views from its terrace and outdoor pool. I decided to head into town and pickup a hop on hop off bus tour with Soweto included. We passed the Carlton tower - Africa's tallest building and drove to the Soweto stadium - host of the 2010 world cup and of course more recently, Nelson Mandela's memorial. The tour guide explained 'Africa time' to us which was a new concept, essentially an excuse to get him and others out of ever being late, as my trip progressed I would experience 'African time' on more than one occasion.

As we continued our tour I passed a 'Boomtown' sign and almost forgot where I was, we passed a very colourful funeral in Soweto and a shanty town man with recycling piled as high as a bus near the poorest area of the township, which he was collecting to give to the government and make a little money for himself and his family. We passed the huge nuclear towers, now colourfully decorated as only a place in Africa can be. Some mentalist was about to throw himself off between the middle of them in the name of an adrenaline rush, and we got there just in time for me to film him doing it.

We stopped at a memorial to Hector Peterson, a boy killed during the struggle against apartheid, who came to symbolise the inhumanity and the black peoples struggle. We continued through Soweto and stopped at Desmond Tutu's house and of course Nelson Mandela's. After exploring, I was hungry so I hopped off at Gold City and stumbled upon a mighty buffet where I overindulged somewhat and then walked over to the nearby Apartheid museum, a fascinating insight into the historic racial struggle this country has endured. After spending a few hours reading and looking, a storm came over so i hopped back on the bus and watched an epic lightning storm as I made my way back to the hostel for dinner. I sat and chatted with people in the bar and the owners made us an amazing traditional dinner (steak, veg and traditional 'pap') - turns out their diet is almost perfect for me!

The next morning I headed back to the airport for the next leg of my trip...Victoria Falls!

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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Boomtown

WE arrived at Boomtown on Wednesday evening, thanks to Stevie sorting us free crew tickets, and after trying to put up Stesmes big tent without poles, set up camp in the usual place and went to explore. The new pirate ship area looked incredible

Thursday began by laying the colourful parachute out to block space for our arriving friends and pottering about until they arrived, although not many of last years crew survived, we still ended up with a large camp of friends. I got to meet up with Siobhan, who I used to work with and her friend, and we watched Ed Solo in the Hidden Woods and explored the maze.

Friday:
The Wailers kicked us off on a sunny and weed-filled Lions Den set, we headed in our big group to see our favourites Molotov Jukebox at Town Centre, then to Stevie's set at the new nearby Wild West area, which was so fun and we partied for two hours avoiding the rain. We headed over to the Job Centre, run by Ashton, where Laurie worked and raved to Squire of Gothos, then bimbled about at camp and me Ellen Heels and Jasu watched Shaggy at Lions Den, he played all of the classics, but was still shit as expected.







Saturday involved Electric swing circus, Dunkelbunt, a lot of Lions den, then I headed off with Davina and Jimmmy and Neil to see Altern8. Here I bumped in to an old uni friend, it was lovely seeing Jack and has been too long. At Jimmy and Davinas tent I heard the story that their campmate had his entire tent knicked?!
I met back up with the Brighton crew and absolutely had it to Koan Sound with Jonah especially. Tipper followed and we stayed the rest of the night at Arcadia for an awesome set from Aphrodite. The only downer of the festival was that when we came back to camp in the afternoon, someone had put a chair through my beloved tent and left it sticking out of it with two big holes! Luckily my friends always carry gaffer tape, although I was awoken in the night by a storm, so had to go out and re-do it mid-storm which caused chaos with my poncho, oh well! I will miss that tent, over ten years of holidays and festivals, it did me proud.










Sunday had less we wanted to see so we explored and watched Laid Blak at the Hidden Woods. Me, Ellen, Jasu, Laurie, Anna and Kyle watched Cat Empire play at Town Centre, then to Bodyshop for Spongebob Squarewave to close the festival, where Jonah got offered weed that was confiscated by the security guard who was offering it, purely because he was black! We then headed to after party at the Job Centre where Nina revealed an embarassing story and we met up with everyone in the woods before retiring to Maddys tent (as mine was a gonner).




Monday was spent tatting a new tent, double mattress and pump (im sold after sleeping on Stevies all weekend), me and Dave lugged stuff to the car using a tent as a drag bag, found Mikey who had lost everything (including his tent), ate our spoils with Stevie and Natty and slep until a security guard rudely awakened us and told us to leave. We had a lovely Harvester when we got back to Brighton.

Another terrific weekend at Boomtow, full of old and new crew. Free ticket was great and I think it is getting too big and loosing its uniqueness now so maybe that will be it for me and Boomtown, we shall see next year! SO fun though.

Thailand

Day 1 - The only eventful moment of the trip over to Bangkok was a photo of Daves nipple on an ipad at Heathrow and Hilary and Dave bringing a ridiculous amount of cake that I had to consume before we went through to airside. On the flight, Hilarys neigbour got so drunk the crew made him sit with them and pour coffee. We got a taxi from the airport and set up in a hostel just off of Khao San Road (Rainbow hostel), then went to meet Amy. We hid Dave and i videod our reunion with Amy. We had a little mooch about and took our first tuk tuk, ate really cheap sushi, Dave bought a smaller ear thing as he had managed to overstretch and infect his ear just in time for the trip. We went the wrong way to the Dead Things museum, Dave got refused comics, we all bought banana tshirts and then said goodbye to Amy, who was going ahead of us to Koh Phagnan. In the evening we headed to the Sky Tower, the tallest place to drink in the world. We felt a little underdressed for a swanky establishment, but the views were great and Hilarys skirt blew up in Marilyn Monroe style which was funny. Cocktails were about £13 each! After such a classy evening, we decided to do the opposite, so after a really good steak, and convincing Hilary to go, we took a tuk tuk to a pussy ping pong show, which was not only hilarious, but Hilary got hit with a dildo that came straight out of one of the performers fannies. Not a bad first day.








Day 2 Bangkok - w got up and headed to death museum via motorbike taxi, to find it closed. Instead we explored the market of Wan Chai and went on a boat tour up and down the river. Bought tshirts, ate more sushi and then got on our first night bus down to the island for Amy's birthday and our reunion

Day 3 Koh Phangan
We got off of the bus, on to a minibus, on to a ferry and finally arrived. We met Amy off of the boat and headed to a nice hostel she found in Ban TAi. Ate Thai lunch and we hired scooters. Hilary freaked out a bit so me and Amy shared her on the back instead and DAve was given one having been asked no questions about the fact he had never driven anything before in his life and we whizzed about to along the coast to Haadrin and then went to get Simon. After stopping off at a pharmacy for ritallin(?!), we decided to go to the full moon party, which was actually quite fun and not as busy as usual, many fun antics and Amy burned her bum climbing off the psytrance stage on a lit cigarette and dunked her bum in the sea to help. Hilary and Simon went back out as we retired for the night, so we were fresh for Amy's bday the next day

Day 4 - Leanne came to visit us and we chilled with her for a bit, then drove to the after party and stayed for a while and then drove up to the north of the island where beautiful we found a beautiful beach called Coconut Beach with a swing and bar and was quite deserted and had Thai food. Walked along and got opium and saw a monkey, elephants and a rather lareg pig. This was such a lovely day and Amy seemed to really enjoy herself. The drive back was pretty fun on the straight proper roads.





Day 5 - Me and Dave got up early and bought boat/bus ticket back to Bangkok (plus hte mandatory 7/11 cheese toasty) then met Leanne and Amy and drove to Haadrin and we went swimming in the sea and chilled on the pontoon, diving off. Dave back flopped. One last whizz to use up the fuel and hand the mopeds back. Leanne and Amy went backwards down a hill and crashed. Said our goodbyes and got on the ferry back to the mainland just as it started to rain. Awful bus with wet seat the whole way but slept ok and stayed in outback hostel when we got back to Bangkok with Amy and Dave

Day 6 - We headed for lunch and then to finally conquer the death museum at Siriraj Hospital. This was gruesome, with foetuses in jars, mummified bodies and other gros stuff, it was well good and Dave made a little boy jump. We got a motorbike taxi and nearly lost Dave and then booked flights to Chiang Mai for tomorrow, leaving Amy to explore it on our own for a day before meeting her and going to Pai.



Day 7 - Chiang Mai. After barely getting to the evening flight in time, we found a nice hostel 'Central Guesthouse', located next to a muay thai stadium, and headed to Burger King for breakfast, then took a tuk tuk and really got touristy with elephant trekking, baby elephant feeding, monkey school, tiger kingdom, don suthep with beautiful views and gold, where we ate bugs after the kind vendor and a bloke from Miami gave us some. Met amy and her Aussie mates for dinner at the night bazaar and headed to muay thai for boxing which involved a blindfolded foursome which was hilarious.













Day 8 We headed to Pai on a minibus and met Amii who we adopted for the rest of our time there. Hired bikes for even cheaper. We drove to the Circus School, where Chaz and Hilary had lived previously and checked in to a bamboo hut there. I went straight on the outdoor trampoline and we went in the infinity pool, then headed to a cool waterfall, that we climbed the side of and jumped in, then drove to the canyon and explored that with absolutely no safety. We stopped off at the bizarre Strawberry World for a strawberry shake. Headed back for dinner and night market where I ate really tasty Burmese food, played pool back at the hostel and won lots, played guitar and hung out with people that evening. Amy finally tried out her fire hoop, she is much better than before!







Day 9 - We woke up and had a swim then headed to 'bigs' for breakfast and had a milk chocolate ice drink. Met Amii and Tys and after Amii fell off of her moped, he drove and we headed to a waterfall that you can slide down with Billie and an American dude. Watching Dave lose control and fly down the big bit at the bottom was hilarious. Got over 100km/h on the road back and then packed and chilled at circus school before saying goodbyes and returning bikes and getting bus. After a quick flight, we finally got to experience Khao San road at its gritty busiest and retired in a room fit for a prison inmate before our flight home.



What a trip! Big love to Amy and the Brighton crew of Dave, Hilary, Simon, Leanne and me that made our tour of Thailand so epic!