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evesham1988la

evesham1988la

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since 06/07/2004

12

First Great Western 24/08/2005

FGW is First

First Great Western First Great Western (FGW) run services to South Wales (Cardiff, Swansea, Carnaefon), the West Country and right down to Penzance - all of which run through Reading and terminate at London Paddington. They also run a service though the pictuesque Cotswolds through Oxford and then on to Worcester and Hereford. This is my local line - so my experiences relate to my travels through the Cotswolds. I must stress that this op is not about First Great Western Link (note the difference) who run those terrible turbos on the commuter lines around Reading and even somehow reach up my line.... So here is my typical journey... from Evesham (Worcestershite to London Paddington). ***Buying a ticket*** Even if it is a cold start one early morning, the man behind the ticket desk welcomes you with a cheery smile - always seeming to be interested in the people he serves and wishing them a pleasent journey. Obviously, such customer service is welcoming enough - even if you have not completely woken up yet. The point at which you do, is when you realise how much you are paying (though fortunately i'm eleigible for a YP Railcard - £18 Cheap Day Rtn or £20 Saver Return. A tad expensive, in my opinion. When those who do not take the train regularly enquire how much it is for a return to London - £27 - they respond "is that for 2?" - unfortunately not. However, as well as the range of travelcards there are some good deals to be found, though not always advertised such as: *GroupSave ...

The Cotswolds (England) 10/10/2004

Outstanding Natural Beauty...

The Cotswolds (England) The Cotswolds cover a vast area of the magnificence of Real England. Stretching 40 miles north to south, from Broadway to Bath and west to east from Cheltenham to Oxford the Cotswolds have hundreds of tiny villages that are all made from limestone - Broadway and Bourton as well as the many of the secrets to be uncovered. As I have been brought up around the Cotswolds I can reveal the true hidden gems away from the tourist track and the best places to eat, drink and shop as I move from the North to the South. ***NORTH COTSWOLDS*** Chipping Campden marks the furthest north of the Cotswolds. This is a large limestone village representing beauty that has many shops, pubs and fish 'n' chip shops. However, the annual highlight of Chipping Campden's calendar comes at the end of May or start of June - Friday after Whitsun to be precise. This is when the annual Dover's Games takes place on top of Dover's Hill overlooking Worcestershire. There are traditional and 'unusual' sports such as 'shin kicking' - it represents a Cotswolds 'Olympic' Games in a natural arena..... but the main event occurs when night falls. Fireworks are lit as well as a large bonfire. Everyone lights their torch using the bonfire and proceed as a procession down into the village of Chipping Campden. It is a magical site looking down a country lane to see the torch-bearing hundreds lighting Chipping Campden enter and even more magical when you are looking up as you're coming down. In addition to this in the ...

Beechwood Place - Cheltenham 16/08/2004

Not so much as any shops...

Beechwood Place - Cheltenham Beechwood Place is the second 'shopping centre' in Cheltenham but would be more noticeable as a shopping centre if it had more shops. The main shop is a department store, Debenhams, at the back. Other than this, there is a very small selection of shops to choose from such as: * Thorntons * Legends * d2 * MVC * Julian Graves. Beechwood also claim to have Next and The Disney Store but these are not actually in the centre. There are a few independant shops, although they find themselves barely profitable so many are vacant. This is why the whole of the second floor is virtually deserted. However, apart from the poor selection of shops the design of the centre is quite outstanding. At the centre there is a sort of a giant pond area surrounded by plants and bridges over certain parts. There are benches too, so it is ideal to have lunch (especially if it is wet outside). If you look in the water, you will see many pennies that have been thrown in for luck (apparently they go to a local charity). If you are feeling a bit hungry there are a lot of restaurants/cafes in comparison to the number of shops such as: * Cafe Giardino * Cafe La Scala * Haagen-Dazs * Covent Garden Soup Co. Other than the shops and eateries there is a shopmobility scheme for the disabled. This is in 'The Welcome Centre' where you can also access the Internet and drop kids in the creche. Also there is a car park but this is quite expensive. Recently, Beechwood have erected a 60" LCD ...

Regent Arcade -Cheltenham 16/08/2004

Shopping at its Best (if you are a woman).

Regent Arcade -Cheltenham Regent Arcade is Cheltenham's largest shopping centre in the centre of town that can be accessed from the High Street or from the Promenade. There are two levels the lower being the normal chain stores where the second is the specialist independant shops. One of the reasons that you are drawn into it is the huge variety of shops - the most intresting on the second floor. At the very end of the shopping centre there are two big stores - BHS and T.K. Maxx (both as dull as each other but the latter being pretty much disorganised and the white paint makes it seem sterile). Brushing these two aside there are many regular chain shops, many of them being for clothes, women's clothes such as: * Bay Trading * Contessa * Etam * Kew * Principles * River Island * Wallis * Warehouse and many, many, many others. However, men's shops seem to be restricted to suits and that's it - apart from River Island and a shop called "High & Mighty" for those who are tall. (What about those who is average height and does not need a suit? - very little). There are also sport shops such as JD sports and another opposite, Gilesport. The variety begins away from clothes such as "gift shops" (not like at the seaside but where you could buy a quality intresting gift for a Birthday or Christmas). The Gift Company, Pied Piper, and Prezents Giftware make for intresting browsing. These are on the second floor, which is well worth walking around, as it is a break from the general clothes, ...

Holiday Inn Express Stansted Airport, Stansted 16/08/2004

Quick and easy start to your holiday

Holiday Inn Express Stansted Airport, Stansted Before the Stansted Express you could choose the car and drive to the airport from Central London. This is a nightmare in rush hour traffic and then you have to go through the perils of Long-Stay Parking. Or you could take a bus or coach but these too would become caught up in the traffic. Or you could take the local train but these are almost invitably delayed or cancelled meaning you would miss your flight. The Stansted Express is a train service but unlike the rest of the British network. It is fast, frequent and more importantly on-time though it does have the cost of the British Railways. Trains leave from Liverpool Street Station direct to Stansted Airport (apart from also stopping at Tottenham Hale - is you are travelling into the West End take the Stansted Express to Tottenham Hale and then you can take the Victoria Line on the Underground). Inside the trains the seats are quite comfy and importantly, clean. Also refreshments such as sandwiches and cakes, are offered at your seat. I think that £1.20 is quite reasonable for a coffee considering it is almost twice as much at the airport. Another nice touch is the free magazine they offer on London - such as what's going on and the best restaurants/theatres. As there is only one stop, trains do not get delayed and are fast arriving in 45 mins and run every 15 mins during the day (from 8am to 5pm) and 30 mins in the early morning (from 4.30am - 8am) and late in the evening (5pm - midnight). However, I think ...

Ryanair - RYR 16/08/2004

The Ultimate Guide to Ryanair.

Ryanair - RYR Having just come off a Ryanair flight from Italy into London yesterday, I think it is fair to say that I can give the most up-to-date detailed opinions of the Ryanair service, as well as the latest information. Yesterday or any other occasions (flown 30 times with Ryanair), I have never had a problem so I am surprised by all the negative reviews but can understand that a flight could turn into a disastrous nightmare ‘if’ things go wrong. Negatives aside, Ryanair have changed the way we travel from A to B. We no longer have to suffer from BA and other high-cost carriers as Irish Ryanair has saved the day for our pockets. Instead of paying £80+ to hop down to Italy with BA you can travel with Ryanair for only a penny! - How come? Read On... ***Booking, Routes & Website*** Firstly, Ryanair minimises costs by using the magic of the Internet. Flights are booked online through www.ryanair.com, so they do not have the additional costs of paying for telephone operators or travel agents to take your booking. It is all done by yourself in the comfort of your own home. If you do decide you would rather book your flight by speaking to a person (via a string of automated messages & a performance by Greensleeves) you can, but some special fares are only available through their website. On the homepage, the layout enables easy navigation. At the top is a banner that states the present offer - at present it is 1million flights from 99p (excluding taxes and charges). Remember the prices ...

Docklands Light Rail (DLR) 11/07/2004

Trains that actually arrive on time... wow!

Docklands Light Rail (DLR) The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is the light rail system for travel in the Docklands (Isle of Dogs) and south of the river to Lewisham. It is good that the east of London is not served well by Underground lines as this is one of the most impressive forms of transport that Britain has - something to be proud of. I am not over-reacting as this system is a fabulous piece of engineering as trains are automatic, driverless, smooth, fast, clean... and the list of positives could go on and on. This form of transport is perfect for tourists, travelling in the Docklands, as it is high overground allowing you to look out to see popular sights such as Canary Wharf, the Millenium Dome and Asda (!) - not forgetting the 'slums' of Tower Hamlets as you pull out of Shadwell. It is even more impressive to see, sitting at the front (as it is driverless) which kids (and mums and dads - practically everyone) will love. Another nice touch for the tourists is the commertary sometimes provided by a member of staff on board. This is usually around the Canary Wharf (and Isle of Dogs) area and is very interesting. The DLR operates three routes. These are: BANK - LEWISHAM: via Shadwell, Limehouse, Westferry, West India Key, Canary Wharf (for Canary Wharf & Shopping Centre), Heron Quays (for Canary Wharf Underground Station - Jubilee), South Quay, Crossharbour (for London Arena & Asda), Mudchute (for Mudchute farm), Island Gardens, Cutty Sark (for Maritime Greenwich), Greenwich, Deptford ...

Kellog's Fruit and Fibre 08/07/2004

Best Cereal Bar on the Supermarket Shelf.

Kellog's Fruit and Fibre I have just enjoyed a Fruit and Fibre Bar and I thought I should write a review on it. Firstly, I chose this bar as an alternative to chocolate but surprisingly they are very tasty. They are based on the Fruit and Fibre Cereal and taste even better - and are good for you (an excuse to have another one). They also smell nice. Each bar is described as "Whole Wheat Flake and Crisp Wheat Cereal Bar with Rasins, Coconut, Banana and Apple with a Delicious Yogurt Flavour Topping (reading from packet)." What makes this cereal bar stand out from others is that it contians real dried fruit (17%). For example, Nutri-Grain uses all added flavourings so does not taste half as nice. The Yogurt Flavouring on the top represents the milk that the actual Fruit and Fibre Cereal would have - but is much more tastier (even though this part seems to be made from chemicals). They are also packed with vitamins such as B6 and B12. They are lovely and chewy as all the fruit and whole wheat flakes are stuck together with honey. They do appear to be quite small once you open the packet but they are extremeley satisfying for their size and it won't hurt if you have another one. As I said these bars are good for you having only 2.5g of fat and 96 calories. If you miss breakfast these are convenient to eat on the train or bus on the way to work. The packaging is just like on the Fruit and Fibre Cereal Boxes - purple background with lots of fruit on the base with pieces of banana and rasins ...

London Underground 08/07/2004

How to travel across London at speed...

London Underground London is a city with many attractions for the tourist so a fast mode of transport is needed for its visitors. Cars, taxis and buses move at the same speed as they had done during the Victorian era so the London Underground (or 'the tube') is used for quick and easy travelling from A to B. The London Underground runs as a metro system meaning that trains are not run to a timetable are very frequent. Within Central London the stations are very concentrated with very short walks from major sights, ideal for tourists. Out to the suburbs, especially south of the river, there are very few stations so the buses have to be relied on. ***LINES*** The network comprises of 10 lines and these are: BAKERLOO: for Paddington Station (Paddington), Madame Tussards & Sherlock Holmes (Baker Street), Oxford Street Shopping (Oxford Circus), Eros (Piccadilly Circus), Waterloo Station (Waterloo) and the Imperial War Museum (Lambeth North). These trains seem to be very frequent, clean and not at all overcrowded. CENTRAL: Cross London Travel for Oxford Street Shops (Marble Arch, Bond Street, Oxford Circus), British Museum (Tottenham Court Road) and St. Paul's Cathedral (St. Pauls). Also frequent but can become extremely overcrowded on the weekends. CIRCLE: Paddington Station (Paddington), Madame Tussards (Baker Street), Tower of London & Tower Bridge (Tower Hill), Big Ben & Houses of Parliament (Westminister), Natural History & Science Museums (South Kensington). This ...

Wellsbourne Market (Avon) 08/07/2004

Are they really bargins?

Wellsbourne Market (Avon) Wellesbourne Market is situated off the M40 in Warwickshire on Wellesbourne Airfield. It is only 9 miles from the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Follow the signs Wellsbourne and then you will see it as it is huge! It is held on Saturdays and also on Bank Holiday Monday's with lots of free parking. (There is also disabled parking, but people do not put up their disabled tickets as they are not disabled at all.) The outdoor market, itself, comprises of 3 'aisles' that are huge and takes a minimum of 1 1/2 hours to complete stopping at different stalls along the way. Nearly all the stalls are regular specialising in: *Clothes *Plants and Flowers *Mobile Phone Accessories *Ex-Catalogue Stock *Food - Meat (not advisable) and Fruit & Veg as well as Olives & Feta (I don't expect this stall to be around long as he doesn't have enough custom). *Car Accessories (Furthest Aisle away from Car Park nearest runway.) *Pick & Mix (with Diabetic Sweets). *Camping (Tents). *Birthday and Christmas Cards *Homeware *Books *Toys *Shoes There are also the 'traditional' burger bars where you can have hot dogs but personally I would not touch them. However, there is this wonderful Halah Food Stall (on the middle aisle) where they make proper Halah kebabs in Naan Bread, freshly made and are delicious! Also this stall sells doughnuts as so does others - 6 for £1.50. Also you can also have a Jacket Potato at 'Richard's Kitchen' that is good value for money. There is also now a ...

London Stansted, STN 07/07/2004

Lots of frills for the no-frills airlines...

London Stansted, STN Stansted is on the Hearts/Essex border and although it is a bit out of the way to have the prefix "London" it is worth the extra miles. The low-cost airlines of Ryanair and EasyJet fly out from Stansted so it is much cheaper to fly than BA but also Stansted has much improved services than Heathrow and Gatwick for unstressful flying. ***Getting to Stansted*** ROAD: Stansted is off from J8a of the M11 and is about 20 minutes from the M25, but inevitably more in rush-hour traffic. Once you get into Stansted you have the choice of three different types of parking: Long-Stay, Mid-Stay and Short-Stay. Long-Stay is the cheapest than the others but futhest away from the terminal. Even though you may be only parking you car for only 3 days i is still the cheapest at £7.20 a day (more than 6 days at £6.80). The car park is very big and will take a long time being directed to a zone and then your parking space (especially if it is Zone Z - at the back). A transfer bus then will take you to the airport but be prepared to stand as you are crammed in with lots of luggage. If you are willing to use Long-Stay then you do need at least 45 minutes. Mid-Stay is closer to the terminal but more expensive at £10 a day. Short-Stay is only used if meeting someone at the airport or dropping someone off as it costs £18 for 24 hours but free for the first 15 minutes. RAIL: The Stansted Express runs from Liverpool Street via Tottenham Hale and is recommended (as it avoids the perils of the ...

Most Haunted 07/07/2004

It may be fake but still worth watching

Most Haunted Living TV's Most Haunted is one of those programmes that you find yourself watching even though you are not intrested in the paranormal. What makes it worthwhile to watch 30 minutes of Yvette terrified of the 'presence' is how serious the presenters are 'ghost hunting'. Indeed Yvettte on the edge of crying and refusing to stay in a haunted bedroom is gripping television, the main star is Derek Acorah. He believes (as a medium) he can communicate with ghosts and spirits through 'Sam.' While he bangs on about the past history (which is true - but could have found out before 'filming') Yvette will have something brush past her/they will feel very cold/the camera will catch an orb. As I do not believe in the paranormal and does not believe Derek can communicate with the dead, this programme is still fun to watch. Yvette screaming/crying on the edge of a breakdown as well as seriously taking into account of what Derek is telling them about the spirits. Although the first viewing of Most Haunted is quite fun to watch after a few shows it becomes quite tedious and repetative. Most Haunted also run special live programmes lasting the whole night. These used to be on 'scary' dates such as Halloween or New Year's Eve but there has been recently one at Easter. These live programmes are very repetative with not much happening (although at New Year they were genuinley lost in Epping Forest that made great viewing). Overall Most Haunted is great for a one-off programme ...
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