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Allyalcock

Allyalcock

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Reviews written

since 23/03/2004

49

The Whitsunday Islands 24/02/2008

Paradise on a budget or in luxury!

The Whitsunday Islands The Whitsunday Islands are 74 islands located off the Queensland coast in Australia. You can fly to the local airport (Proserpine airport) with Jetstar (owned by Qantas) or Virginblue. A shuttle bus / taxi service operates to meet every inbound and outbound flight and take you to Airlie Beach which is the town on the mainland that is the main gateway to the islands. They were named 'Whitsunday' by Captain Cook after the day on which they were first sighted. However, interestingly enough, he was actually a day out because he hadn't accounted for crossing the international dateline! The Whitsundays is one if the nicest parts of Australia and attracts hordes of national and international visitors every year, and it isn't hard to see why. It is one of the most popular wedding and honeymoon resorts for Australians. Azure blue ocean, great barrier reef coral, white sandy beaches, forests covering the islands, lots of wildlife and isolated camping spots are just some the inviting aspects of the Whitsundays National Park. The good thing about the Whitsundays is that everything you could possible want, from budget holidays to five star luxury is on offer. Hayman Island is the one you go to if you aren't worrying about your next mortgage repayment. Hamilton Island has a resort and a ferry service to the mainland three times a day. Daydream Island and South Molle Island are also connected by this ferry service and have resorts built on the island. Most of the other islands however ...

Canberra (Australia) 22/02/2008

A capital city like no other!

Canberra (Australia) In 1902 in Australia, it was decided that a national capital would be built and a stretch of land between the two arch rivals for the title, Melbourne and Sydney, was decided on. Canberra today is located about 200 miles from Sydney (about 3.5 hours drive) and 400 miles from Melbourne (about 7 hours drive). After an international competition to design the city, Walter Burley Griffin's design came out on top and Canberra started being built in 1913, making it less than 100 years old! The name of Canberra was decided upon as it is an aboriginal word meaning 'meeting place.' It has been referred to as the 'bush capital' and 'a bunch of suburbs in search for a city' because of its mass of bushland, parks and grassy areas and even masses of kangaroos hopping around! It is certainly not your 'usual' capital city, think skyscrapers, millions of people, overcrowded, congested traffic etc. Canberra's population is less than 400,000, in comparison to Australia's biggest city Sydney which has 4 million. It takes half an hour to go right from the southernmost to the northernmost part of the city and rush hour isn't like any other capital city rush hour in that you still move and it only last an hour not three! When you arrive, take yourself to the Canberra Visitors Centre which is on Northbourne Avenue about 2 miles north of the city centre. If you are coming from Sydney you have to go past it anyway so have a look in. They will be able to give you all the information you need on ...

facebook.com 30/07/2007

Face it, it's good and it's free!

facebook.com Facebook is a free networking site that is currently taking the internet by storm. Following in the footsteps of Friends Reunited, then the free Myspace and Bebo (which I never was part of), Facebook is the latest craze and a great way of keeping in touch with friends. You can sign up by going to www.facebook.com and entering a few details (name, email address and a password) and then away you go. The registering process is really quick and easy and then all you have to do to log on each time is enter your email address and password. *First things first* The first thing you will probably want to do is build up your profile and add your friends (since the whole point is a social networking site!) To add friends, you can simply search for your friends name, however if you have a friend with a common name like called John Smith this could take forever! The easiest way to find your friends who are already using facebook is to go to friends at the top of the page and click on find friends. This only works if you have a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail account but you simply put in your password for your email account and it will search your contacts and invite your friends to your facebook. Facebook will always invite friends so they have to confirm they know you. Similarly if you are asked to be somebody’s friend, you can confirm that you are friends with that person or reject them! This stops the stalker aspect of the site to some degree and you can only see the full profiles of ...

Battery Point, Hobart, Tasmania 28/06/2007

What's The Point?

Battery Point, Hobart, Tasmania Battery point is the most historic suburb of Hobart, Australia’s second oldest city. Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, the only island state of Australia and separated from the mainland by the Bass strait. **Getting there** For visa requirements for Australia see my general review of Australia. If you are already in Australia, domestic flights into Hobart are available with Qantas, Virginblue, Jetstar or Rex airlines. Otherwise you could get an overnight boat from Melbourne to the north of Tasmania and then drive down to Hobart which is in South West Tasmania and would take about three and a half hours. The airport is about a 15 minute drive to the city centre. Battery Point is only a short walk from the centre, taking around 10 minutes from Salamanca Place and Constitution Dock, the dock famous for being the end of the annual Sydney to Hobart sailing race that starts on Boxing Day. **Battery Point** In Battery Point everything looked so old compared to other buildings you see around other Australian cities although really these buildings aren’t nearly half as old as historic buildings you see in England or Europe. Captain Cook only discovered Australia in 1770, so you are lucky to see anything more than 200 years old, in fact I have found that Aussies think if something is a hundred years old it is ancient! I had been in Australia for more than two years when I went to Battery Point so it did feel really old just because it was such an unusual sight! St. George’s ...

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park 09/06/2007

Your Very Own Spot of Paradise

Cape Tribulation, Daintree National Park Cape Tribulation is in the Daintree National Park in far North Queensland in North East Australia. It marks, quite literally, the end of the road – it is the furthest north you can travel on the East coast of Australia on a sealed road, north of here it is 4WD only. **When to go** Far north Queensland doesn’t have four seasons, only a wet (January to March) and a dry season the rest of the year. During the wet season there are regular tropical downpours and rain can set in for days. This time isn’t advisable for tourists as the effects can sometimes be so dramatic that services in the Daintree virtually shut down. From October to May it is inadvisable to swim in coastal waters around here because of box jellyfish and marine stingers. There are some pretty dangerous animals up here as this is where you find the crocodiles too so beware of saltwater crocs in the mangroves and rivers in this area! You will see warning signs posted near every bit of water they might be – which is about all of them! Don’t let this put you off going to this area though as it is just beautiful! The best time to go is during the dry season when temperatures aren’t so hot, humidity is low and you won’t get caught in a tropical storm. **Getting there** The nearest major airport and city to Daintree National Park is Cairns where you will find roads lined with travel agents waiting to take your tourist dollar! It takes about two hours to get up to Cape Tribulation from Cairns and there are buses ...

Happy Feet (DVD) 16/05/2007

One... Two... Three... And Tap Those Happy Feet!

Happy Feet (DVD) This film is set in the arctic amongst a colony of Emperor Penguins and won an Academy Award for the best animated feature film of 2006. Emperor Penguins are born to sing and each and every one of them has their very own heart song which they use to find their soulmate. Everybody but young Mumble that is, he was dropped when he was an egg and was laughed at when he tried to sing; instead he was born to dance – tap dance! His father told him not to dance, that it was “un-penguin” like behaviour and saw him as an embarrassment while his mother encouraged him to be who he was and loved him unconditionally. Nevertheless he was different and was regularly laughed at and eventually got kicked out of Emperor land. Undeterred he set off, with some new friends who thought his dancing was cool, on his own mission to find out why the colony of penguins were so short of fish. Without giving the whole story away too much, Mumble embarks on an adventure that leads him to Penguin heaven and back and brings the fish back to Emperor Land, all because of his distinctive dancing talents and in doing so proves that by being true to yourself you can make a difference to the world! And in addition he managed to woo his true love Gloria without a heart song! This is an excellent film that will be loved by anybody of any age, it is a real family movie. It is a feel-good, easy watching movie with a funny and lovable main character that makes the perfect film for a relaxing afternoon. If you have ...

Virgin Blue Australia 26/04/2007

Like a Virgin!

Virgin Blue Australia Virginblue is part of Richard Branson’s Virgin enterprise and only operates domestically within Australia. It is a budget airline offering some great deals all around the country and since the cities in Australia are so far apart it is often drastically cheaper than driving or catching public transport as well. There is a loyalty rewards program however I am not a member of this so can’t really comment on how good it is. I would compare Virginblue to Easyjet in terms of a good comparison of the British or European equivalent. I have flown with Virginblue about ten times now. Whenever I want to fly anywhere in Australia I always look at the websites of Virginblue, Qantas and Jetstar. Virgin have always been cheaper apart from once. Flights are a lot cheaper mid-week and at ertain parts of the day so bear this in mind if you can be flexible with dates and times of travel. Booking is really simple, you just follow the prompts on their website (ww.virginblue.com.au) by entering your origin and destination places and dates, picking the flights you want and then putting in your credit card details. This will take you to an e-ticket which you print out and take to the airport with you when you go and you will also be sent a confirmation email. If the flight changes for any reason you will be sent these changes by email, this only happened to me once as the flight time changed by 10 minutes. On the website you can sign up for their newsletter so when they have special deals and ...

Qantas - QFA 09/03/2007

And Kangaroos might fly!

Qantas - QFA Qantas is an Australian owned airline (with a kangaroo as its logo - hence the title just in case you were wondering!) but they fly all over the world. For us British citizens who might use Qantas a bit, this means we don't have to pay to be a member of their frequent flyer program whereas Australian and New Zealand citizens do. So if you are flying with these it is a good idea to join and if you don't ever use the points you accrue then hey - it was free anyway so you haven't lost anything! To join just go to their website and fill in the online joining form and voila! You earn a point a mile so they do add up. If you fly return to Australia from the UK you would have enough points for a free flight anywhere in Europe which I think is really good! I recently flew from Heathrow to Sydney on Qantas with an hour stop in Bangkok to refuel. **Check in** Check in was two hours before for the international flight, it was really easy and proceeded with no blips! For economy class your baggage allowance is 20kgs. **Leg room** Although nothing in comparison to the business class and first class seats which were really roomy (why do they always make you walk through these to get to the economy part?!), the economy seats were fine. Of all the international long haul flights I have done the only one I would have to see didn't have enough leg room was Cathay Pacific, all the others have been about the same. There wasn't one spare seat on our 24 hour flight to Sydney but I ...

Finnair 02/02/2007

Into Thin Air With Finnair

Finnair I recently flew with Finnair from Hong Kong to Helsinki and then caught a connecting flight on to Manchester. I checked in for the first leg whilst in Sydney (where I originally started from and flew to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific - see other review!) but they would not let me check in for the Manchester leg. This caused a few problems as there was only 55 minutes between being scheduled to land and take-off on the next flight. Having landed in Helsinki 10 minutes late and having to go through security again when I got to Helsinki airport the check-in desk advised me that check-in for my connecting flight was now closed. However after a quick phone call they just told me to go through and get on the plane which I did. However when I got to Manchester and found my bags hadn't arrived and were still in Helsinki I wasn't exactly surprised considering I only just managed to get off the other plane and on the next one in time. This wasn't really a problem for me as I was going home so had clothes and things there but my luggage wasn't delivered until 2 days after so could be a problem if you are going on holiday or travelling. The lady at the baggage enquiry desk said it was quite common and they were good at getting the people on the plane but the bags didn't always make it so if you are going on holiday just be aware of this and make sure you have enough time between your connecting flights… less than an hour probably isn't enough especially if you still have to check ...

Cathay Pacific Airways - CPA 30/01/2007

Up, Up and Away with CPA!

Cathay Pacific Airways - CPA I recently flew with Cathay Pacific AIrlines (CPA) from Sydney to Hong Kong. I booked the ticket through a travel agent but then checked in online. To do this you just go on their website and put in your ticket number and then you can pick where you want to sit and you are checked in. Obviously you still have to check your bags in but it did mean I only had to get to the airport an hour and a half before take-off time instead of 2 hours so it gives you a bit extra time. Also I found it good because if everybody else checks in online and you don't then you'll be left with a rubbish seat and for such a long flight you don't want that to happen! Luggage allowance for economy class was 20kg which is standard across other airlines. My first impression as I got on the plane was that it was very cramped. I was flying economy and hadn't flown long haul for a while so I thought it must be the same for all but after changing to Finnish airlines on my connecting flight from Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific is definitely cramped in comparison! There were however less seats as there were only 2 seats next to the window and 3 making up the aisles compared to the 3 at the window and 4 in the aisle that I have flown with before. Leaving Sydney at night I was treated to dinner and breakfast on the flight. There was a choice of four menus for dinner, the most choice I have ever been offered on a flight, and one of these options was vegetarian. I went for steamed fish which tasted really nice ...

National express 24/01/2007

Gets you there but not my best journey ever!

National express I recently travelled from Liverpool to Loughborough on a National Express bus as it was less than half the price of a train at ₤17.50. I had to go via Birmingham so the trip took 5 hours but this since this is the route the buses go this wasn't really an issue for me. Booking was really quick and simple on the internet on the company's website, put in the dates you want to travel and where you want to leave from and travel to, tick the times you want and hey presto! Put in your credit card details, print off your ticket and you are ready to go. On arriving at Liverpool coach station I was a bit surprised to find you had to pay 20p to go to the loo! Well I thought this was ludicrous…. seriously whatever happened to public toilets? You would only need a couple for the men and a couple for the ladies. I did think of waiting til I got on the bus but I wasn't 100% sure if there would be facilities on the bus so begrudgingly I got out 20p. When I stopped in Birmingham to change coaches there was a 20p loo here too so I'm assuming you have to pay at all National Express stations, and for the record the pay as you go toilets were nothing special, and the bus did have a loo! The station in Liverpool is really small and there are not many seats so most of the passengers were waiting outside. Boarding the coach was a simple process, they first everybody who was going straight through to Birmingham to get on so their bags were at the back of the holdall and if all the ...

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - New Year, Edinburgh 02/01/2007

A Very Happy New Year!

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - New Year, Edinburgh Happy New Year! Thought I would get into the spirit of the time of year and write a review on Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party - one of the best new years eve parties in the world ... although the fireworks were cancelled this year so if you did go hopefully reading this won't depress you too much! I have been a few times - Millennium, 2000-2001 and 2003-2004 when the fireworks were also cancelled so I know how you feel! Although it sounds from this like they get cancelled all the time they have only ever been cancelled twice and to be honest I still had a brilliant time even when the fireworks were cancelled because of the wonderful atmosphere created there. Anyway ejoy my review and a very happy new year to you all! If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh one New Year's Eve for their famous hogmanay party then make sure you book your accommodation well in advance and be prepared to pay expensive hotel costs due to the time of year. Many hotels will specify a minimum of a 2 or even a 3 or 4 night stay because of the holiday period. I have never stayed in a hotel in Edinburgh at New Year so unfortunately I can't recommend any, this review is about their famous street party and legendary fireworks! Tickets for the street party are free - apparently! I'm not exactly sure how you get hold of one for free but previously I have bought a few off Ebay for ₤10 (the closer to New Years Eve you get be prepared to bid higher) or have become a member of the First Foot Club ...

Gazza - Paul Gascoigne, Hunter Davies 17/11/2006

Football genius, kid at heart & that heart is gold

Gazza - Paul Gascoigne, Hunter Davies Paul Gascoigne has to be one of my favourite footballers ever so when I saw his autobiography in the library I had to get it! It is in the shops for £6.99 though. More affectionately known as "Gazza" he was one of the most talented players English football has ever seen yet he had his fair share of problems throughout his life as well. Reading the book was an amazing insight into his life, a life full of dramatic highs and lows and rarely a happy 'in-between.' In parts I was laughing out loud at some of his hilarious antics, always the clown of the football team, always up to something and always responsible for the latest practical joke! It must have cost him an absolute fortune to pay for everything he damaged because of his practical jokes! In parts it was so very sad that you wouldn't think you were reading about the same person. In all the book is a very honest one and I have to say it is the best football autobiography I have ever read! He was born in Newcastle, his parents split up and struggled to get by. Gazza used to steal things and at just 10 years old witnessed his friend get hit by a car and killed, an event he refers to a lot through the book as the incident obviously affected him throughout his life. He talks about when he trained as an apprentice for Newcastle and was given the job of cleaning Kevin Keegan's boots. Well Keegan was quite famous at this time so Gazza took the boots home to show his friends… but left them on the bus and had to go and tell ...

10 Years of Hits - Ronan Keating 04/10/2006

10 years of hits - Ronan style!

10 Years of Hits - Ronan Keating I have always liked Ronan Keating's music from when he was in Boyzone to when he was manager of Westlife and his individual songs so I love his 10 years of songs CD! The songs are mainly easy listening love songs / boy band type songs and I like them because they always have beautiful lyrics which tell a meaningful story or message. They also sound really personal like he has written them about his own feelings and he has even used his wife in the video for "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and wrote "There's Somebody Else Now" after the birth of his son. Track 1 - When You Say Nothing At All Used on the soundtrack of Notting Hill, a song about how a girl can talk to him and his heart without saying a word. Track 2 - Life is a Rollercoaster A catchy song (quite upbeat for Ronan!) A great song about life being like a rollercoaster and you just have to ride along with it. Track 3 - The Way You Make Me Feel This song tells how a girl makes him feel… like he could fly, like he could live forever. Beautiful lyrics. Track 4 - Lovin' Each Day A catchy song but this one is my least favourite on the CD. Not sure why but I just never really liked this one! Track 5 - If Tomorrow Never Comes One of my favourite Ronan songs. A beautiful message about telling people you love how you feel in case tomorrow never comes. Track 7 - We've Got Tonight Duet with Lulu and a cover version. Took me a while to get used to this version as I was used to the original. I always liked the ...

Rule No. 5: No Sex on the Bus - Brian Thacker 28/09/2006

No sex on the bus!

Rule No. 5: No Sex on the Bus - Brian Thacker I have just finished reading this book and it is one of my favourites, I couldn't put it down! Brian Thacker (the author) is an Australian who went to work in Europe as a tour guide, taking hundreds of backpackers on trips through Europe. His story is a hilarious account of some of the things he and his crew got up to while on the road. The book is a mixture of facts about the different places and countries he visited on the way (which just made me want to go traveling!) and his own personal experiences, including losing a couple of passengers, losing the bus, getting lost and pretending he knew exactly where he was, smuggling a passenger through border control because she had her passport stolen and it was easier to renew it in the next country than the one they were already in, knowing where all the supermarkets in Europe were that didn't have itemized bills so he could spend the food kitty on alcohol and running out of the food kitty at the end of the trip and feeding his passengers disgusting food!! One of my favourite stories was when entering a different country where there was no border control as both countries had the same entry legislations, he got on the microphone of the bus and told all the passengers that this country's entry system was really hi-tech so all they had to do was hold up their passports to the window open at the photo page and hold it next to their head and while they went over the bridge into the next country, 20 digital cameras mounted on ...
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