Thursday, 15 June 2017

Oh, we're going to Barbados

Well, we've been actually and it was FAB!

We've had 'local' holidays in recent years. You know, places like Spain which is just a flying bus ride away.  However, last year I wanted to go to the Caribbean and so we had a look what holidays would cost. Not as bad as we expected so we booked up for Barbados for 10 nights.

The hotel - South Beach Hotel - was lovely and our 1 bed suite had a nice king-sized bed in the bedroom (girls had that) and a sofabed and 2nd single bed in the lounge area (hubby and I took those).  There was a full size fridge/freezer, cooker and funky microwave that did almost everything but wash up!  We settled in and went for a wander along the beach opposite us (Rockley Beach) and the boardwalk.  We were trying to persuade the girls to eat as they'd not had much on the plane when we realised it was actually 1.30am in the morning according to their body clocks as, of course, Barbados is 5 hours behind us.  Poor things.  Off to bed then.

Looks comfy, but make of metal!
We had already decided to make the most of this holiday and would not  be saying 'I wish I'd done [insert thing you want to do here] in Barbados' so we did just that.

One of our first adventures was going to the beach.  The one opposite our hotel was a bit too rough for children (daily yellow flag warnings) so we headed down on a reggae bus (more about that in a mo) to Pebbles Beach.  This was much calmer water and the girls could get in and play or jump over the waves whilst we baked on the sand.  The beach was in front of a hotel so we could only really buy drinks there (pricey!) but we stayed until after lunchtime and then headed back to the pool.

Brownes Beach
Our next day we went to Brownes Beach (Carlisle Beach) and went out on a glass bottom boat to snorkel with the turtles and stingrays. It was wonderful. Not too busy and we got some fantastic views.  After doing that for about 30 minutes, we went to where there was a wreck and snorkled around there too. The girls loved it!

Off out for another nice meal in the evening.  The girls loved getting dressed up (although the cardigans really weren't needed).

We went off into Bridgetown which is the capital but didn't find it very easy to navigate around without a map so ended up getting a taxi back to hotel for dinner.

We tried out a few places to eat at The Gap but, to be honest, we weren't very impressed with the food and it was really expensive (about £100 for 4 main meals - 2 of which were from children's menus - 3 soft drinks and a beer. We only once had a dessert as Chilly Moo's ice cream was just around the corner from us and much nicer and cheaper).  Our favourite place to eat was Swagg, the restaurant that was attached to our hotel and the prices were very good too!

Lots of beach fun and pool fun but we were getting red rather quickly, despite the suntan lotion.  On the Saturday, we decided to visit Harrison's Caves.  We got a taxi there and back and had a great time looking around the caves.  It was incredible when they turned all the lights out.  Dark!  You literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face!

View from our room

Harrison's Cave

Sunday we were back at the beach and having fun in the waves.  We always sat in the Copacabana Bar area as they had great beach service.

Rockley Beach

I asked the girls if they wanted to go out on a jet-ski (jet bike really but they call them 'skis' don't they) and they did.  I hired one and sat N in front and S held on.  Off we went leaving hubby on the beach. We had a great fun 30 minutes whizzing around.  We ended up doing that twice as the girls wanted to go next day as well.

We also had a 2nd go on the glass bottom boat seeing the turtles but this time was nowhere near as good.  Why?  Well, the cruise ships come in every Wednesday and Thursday and the beach fills up, as does everywhere else around.  People snorkeling for turtles looked like a scene out of Titanic!  There were yellow life vests everywhere from the launches and 'booze cruise' that arrived.  Grown adults were pushing the girls and other children out of the way to try and reach the turtles.  We moved away from the crowd - after flippering a few people full in the face - and low and behold, the turtles just came around near us.  Fabulous.  We got great views and could touch them before the Titanic survivors reached us *grin*.

We also did a complete island tour with our taxi driver, Paul.  He took us to Sandy Lane, where all the stars and rich hang out first.

Rihanna's Apartments - One Sandy Lane

Then up to Speightstown to have a look around.


Then on to the very North of the island, to the Animal Flower Cave (we didn't go in as we'd heard a about it and it's not very good apparently) where I found a geocache (yes, of course I do that on holiday).

North of the Island at Animal Flower Cave

Fed the green monkeys at the animal reserve.

Green Monkey

Then we headed back on the East of the island which has very rough water but great for surfers.  The girls went and found shells on the beach (well, 'found' is an over-exaggeration as Paul had dropped them for the girls as the beaches often didn't have any and he didn't want them to be disappointed - how lovely).

Bathsheba Beach

Glad to be back home after our 5 1/2 hour trip.

So, onto those reggae buses.  These are like a mini-bus that holds about 18 people, except they often old more.  They stop anywhere and toot you to see if you want to get on with 1970's musical car horns!  Crazy.  You pile in and it's $2Bds/$1US anywhere per person.  The girls loved it!  You hang on for dear life on some - no seatbelts - often with the girls sitting on our laps with reggae music blaring out as you go along.  Absolutely bonkers!

We also found that if you want to cross the road, you stop and wait and within 15 seconds someone will stop for you to let you cross. Can you imagine that in the UK?  Hope we don't get run over now we're back!

Sunset in Barbados

Sunrise in the UK
All in all, Barbados was beautiful and so laid back.  Would we go again? No hesitation. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Norman Reedus (deserves a quality frame)

I have to say that I am very lucky indeed.  This amazing autographed picture was delivered to me last week.

Norman Reedus/Daryl Dixon
My awesome brother-in-law goes around the world designing film studios and has been doing a lot of work with Atlanta Studios, where The Walking Dead is filmed. I'm a huge Norman Reedus/Daryl Dixon fan and when I found out he was going there, I asked him to see if he could get me a signed photo.   Boy, did he come up trumps!

This beaut was sent by one of TWD producers to the head of Atlanta Studios, and then on to my BIL. It reached my hands last Sunday.  Of course, I had to order a frame for it straight away and decided it deserved more than a plastic one from Amazon, so went to Picture Frames Express.  The frame arrived today and it's fabulous.  Nice, new wood which smells just great.  The plexi-glass was covered both sides with protective film which you peeled off, so no finger marks or scratches anywhere.  Nice cream mount too.  Well wrapped, and couriered to me.  I'm delighted.

P.S. It was tough to get a photo on a nice sunny day like today without me or my feet or the room being reflected in it. I even crawled under the stairs to try but that was too dark!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Linkin Park- One More Light

I'm a huge Linkin Park fan and have all their albums and have to say that, so far, I've enjoyed every one of them (well, the remixes on reanimated aren't so great but that's not a 'real' album is it).  Even A Thousand Suns, which many people didn't like, I found fantastic.  I loved the experimental style, the dialogue between tracks and the mix of light rock and the heavier Linkin Park style.  Different, but a really good album.

I received my copy of One More Light yesterday and whilst out on my walk today, I decided to give it a listen.  I can honestly say I was very, very disappointed.  I'm all for bands growing, improving and changing but this really is a major change.  If it wasn't for the recognition of the voices, I would never have said this was Linkin Park had I heard it playing somewhere else.  Sorry Linkin Park, but it really is poor.

With the exception of Heavy - which I quite like as a pop song - there is nothing I would choose to listen to again.  I thought that there was hope when Battle Symphony started but that quickly drained away.  Invisible, along with Heavy, are probably the two best songs on the album.  

I really hoped that the hype was wrong but sadly, on this occasion, it seems to be the case.  The first Linkin Park album that has been a real disappointment.

Friday, 19 May 2017

All Time Low

Yes, more music I've fallen in love with. This time it's All Time Low. This is their latest track but I have to say I love the albums Future Hearts and Nothing Personal.  Go listen if you've not heard of them before (or listen again if you have!).  

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Skiing and Flying (or walking)

Not out on the slopes, or throwing ourselves out of aircraft, but down at iFly and Skiplex in  Basingstoke again.  This time I went along. I can safely say I have zero flying ability.  I thought I wasn't too bad but this flight showed me I was.  I simply couldn't 'relax' enough to get any height. Oh well.

S was practising her walking in the tunnel this time, which she really enjoyed.  She had a high fly too.  The video of the instructor showing her how to run at the end was very funny.

J was awesome.  That girl really can fly!  She was practising turn round and moving forwards/backwards, up/down this time.  She's got it! 

N wasn't feeling great (and being her fairly usual grumpy self) and decided she didn't want to go skiing, so when S had finished flying, she had her first ever skiing lesson.  How is it that children just seem able to do these things without too much thought about it?

I decided not to book again this time as we're off on holiday soon and probably won't be coming back for a couple of months.  I know it's less cost effective to book afterwards online (more money and less flying time) but that't the way it works sometimes.  Shame they only give you 'on the day' options to get the flights for £29.99 each for 4 minutes.  It's a lot of pressure to do it there and then.  Come on iFly - we've been flying a while now. Surely you can offer better return flyer options than £39.99 for 2 minutes!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Virgin Holidays - Pick a price, any price

I'm fuming today.  We are off on holiday with Virgin Holidays soon and decided we wanted to upgrade our room. I phoned them up to confirm they had an upgrade room available - check - and got a price of £552 to do so - check.

Now, unfortunately Virgin have had to move our hotel due to the original one we booked not having balconies suitable for children.  Not an issue as the new one is very nice as well.  However, upgrading then isn't a simple task as it has to go through some other department.  So, after explaining this to me, I wanted for 'Anthony' to call me back.  I originally called at 9.20 this morning so by around 1.45 I called again.  The agent who answered said he was waiting for the department to get back to him.  Around 2.30pm he called.  They could upgrade me fine but the price had now gone up to £980!  WTF?

I queried this - as any sane person would - and was informed by Anthony that this was the price that they intermediary could get the room for.  I began to get irritated. How could he give me a price this morning of £552 and then come back to me with something close to DOUBLE this afternoon?  He said that was the price.  I informed him I'd spoken to the hotel directly and could upgrade for US$640 so where did they get that price from.  He said it was the price they were given. 

I asked for it to be queried. Apparently it had been. 

I asked for the price he gave me this morning to be honoured.  He could not do this.

I asked to speak to the department who were sorting this. I could not as they do not take calls from the public.

What a joke!  When we first had to move hotels, we asked about an upgrade.  We were told then it was £480.  We decided against it.  So today, to be told £552 - with changes in exchange rates - I found quite acceptable.   But this last figure of £980 was farcical!  

I queried whether they are now trying to recoup the money they have had to pay in moving us to a more expensive hotel - with balconies safe for children?  Anthony informs me that was not the case as the discount we got was still on there. Something here is very, very fishy!

So, Virgin Holidays, what the hell are you playing at?  Why do your staff give a quoted amount and then you do not honour it?  Do you allow your staff/departments to pluck random figures out of the air?  Really?  I think not!  So, come on, I'd love to know how the price jumped to this in a few hours!  Where's you mojo in sorting this out Virgin?

Black Veil Brides - In the End

I'm on a roll today. Another group I've discovered that you may like.  Adore these guys. If you listen to Kerrang, you'll hear a lot of this type of music.

I will also admit to having a little bit of a crush on the lead singer, Andy Biersack *grin*