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since 02/02/2001


General: The Gambia 21/04/2004

The Gambia Experience

General: The Gambia For years I have wanted to visit the Gambia but my husband was reluctant to go as the people had a bad reputation for harassing tourists. We had read on the internet that, in some areas, it wasn’t advisable to leave your hotel. This made me a bit wary as well because, when I visit a country I like to explore it, meet the locals and try the various foods. I decided to give Gambia Experience a call. They have been specialising in the Gambia for years and have recently started flying out of Glasgow, which made it even more appealing to me. The girl I spoke to was more than happy to advise me on the liveliest areas to stay in – we didn’t want to eat in the hotel all the time and were keen to visit an area with lots of bars and restaurants within walking distance. We were advised to stay in the Kololi area so we booked the Tafbel Hotel, a fairly small, two star accommodation with a central courtyard and a swimming pool. We opted to pay an extra £50 onto the basic price of about £380 for 7 days B & B, for air conditioning which we didn’t really need as we spent most of the day at the pool, and the evenings were fairly cool. The advantage of going at the beginning of February is that, although it is in the 80s during the day, in the evening the temperature falls quite dramatically, which means there are no mosquitoes around. The rooms in the Tafbel are very basic but Colin and I really liked the place. With it being so small there was the opportunity to ...

Tunisia - Holiday (Tunisia) 07/07/2003


Tunisia - Holiday (Tunisia) In May this year we decided that we would go for a week’s holiday in Tunisia. I used to work in Monastir as a travel rep so we thought it would be a good idea to stay in Hammamet as I’d only visited it for one day during my stay. Colin had never been to Tunisia and I hadn’t been there since I stopped working in Monastir in 1992 so we were both very excited about the trip. We booked an, allocated on arrival, 4* half board Hammamet supersaver break organised by Panorama and costing £260 per person. I have only one complaint about this trip and, as it turned out, it didn’t spoil what was a wonderful holiday. When you book these breaks you are led to believe that you will be staying in Hammamet and not Hammamet Yasmine which is few miles away from the main town of Hammamet. When you search for a Tunisian break on the internet it distinguishes Hammamet Yasmine from Hammamet, however, if you book Hammamet you are likely to end up in Hammamet Yasmine because, according to Panorama H.Y. and Hammamet are the same area. Therefore, you can specify that you want Hammamet Yasmine when you are booking these supersavers but not Hammamet proper. Hope I haven’t made that sound too confusing. In light of this we were pretty disappointed when we arrived at the airport and were told we were going to be staying in Hammamet-Yasmine. On the bus I spoke to the rep about this and she assured us that we wouldn’t be disappointed with the Yasmine area as the ...

Ramada Glasgow Airport, Glasgow 26/11/2002

Ramada Jarvis-Christmas Party Night

Ramada Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Having already spent a very nice short break at the Ramada Jarvis Gourock Hotel for my birthday a couple of years ago we decided to book the Christmas Party Night for the 16th November. I know it’s a bit early to be celebrating Christmas but for us it was just an excuse to get away for the weekend. The Ramada Jarvis Gourock is situated on the Firth of Clyde, within easy reach of Glasgow Airport and the city centre. It is also handy for beauty spots like Dunoon and Greenock. The Christmas Party Night package includes, for £40 per head, an overnight stay with Christmas dinner and disco (finishing at 2am) and breakfast the next morning, as well as full use of the hotel facilities. Check in is at 4pm leaving plenty of time for a swim before dinner, which is served, from 6.30 until 9pm. Our room was very spacious and tastefully decorated in cream and tartan fabrics with an enormous double bed. There was a bathroom and cloakroom area with tea and coffee making facilities, a steam press and a television. We were lucky enough to have a sea view, and the view down the Clyde is truly spectacular. The only complaint I would make is that the cost of watching a video was, I felt, excessive at £7.00 per viewing. We took full advantage of the hotel facilities prior to dinner by going for a swim, Jacuzzi and sauna. There is also a steam room, gymnasium and tennis courts. The swimming pool is a reasonable size and is heated to roughly 22 degrees. In fact, it’s hard to ...

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) 17/10/2002

Padi Divemaster Course

PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) As we are both keen divers my husband and I decided that we should do the Padi Divemaster course. We had completed our Padi Rescue Diver course in Paphos, in Cyprus, and thought that it would be a good idea to do the DM course in Limassol as we had been there on holiday the previous year and had a great 2 weeks’ diving with Aloha Divers. The Divemaster course is the first stage in the Padi professional qualifications. We decided we would do it over 10 days but it can be done over a matter of months if you do it with your local dive school, although, of course, that isn’t always possible for many people including ourselves. The course itself costs around £250 but this can vary from dive school to dive school. The reading material for the course is pretty expensive(around a couple of hundred quid at least) because there is a lot of reading to do . The list of reading materials for all the Padi courses are listed on their website ( We purchased the books about 6 months before we went to Cyprus so that we could do our studying, and complete the workbooks, beforehand. In any case, I really don’t think it would be possible to learn all the theory in just 10 days. You are also required to have a fitness to dive medical before the course. The dive schools usually know a doctor who specialises in dive medicine and we paid about £20 for our medicals, which is much cheaper than you’ll pay in the UK. You must also be over 18 and have logged 20 ...

Limassol (Dive Sites) 15/10/2001

Aloha Divers, Limassol

Limassol (Dive Sites) Prior to arriving in Limassol my husband and I starting trawling the net for diving schools in the Limassol area and after communicating by e-mail with several of them we decided to book up with Aloha Divers. They told us that when we arrived we could call them and they'd come and pick us up from our hotel but we managed to find them quite easily ourselves. They are situated in the tourist area of Potamos Yermasoyias on the main road, beside the Pizza Hut. They do special prices for dive packs of either 4 or 8 dives. We ended up doing 12 dives plus 2 on the Zenobia wreck. We paid approximately 12 Cypriot Pounds per dive (we had our own kit) except for the 2 dives on the Zenobia which cost £C50 and included transport to Larnaca and a buffet lunch on the dive boat. There are a good variety of dives off the Limassol coast. Most of them are quite shallow making them ideal for inexperienced divers. All the dives we did were boat dives and it took us approximately half an hour to arrive at the sites. Aloha offer about 12 different dives in all (which can be checked out at their site - but, unfortunately, we didn't get to visit them all due to the American crisis which happened 2 days after we arrived. This meant that the water surrounding the Naval base where most of the wrecks are situated was closed off to tourists. Luckily for us, however, we managed to visit the Akrotiri fish reserve before that happened. That was one of the nicest dives I've done ...

Limassol (Cyprus) 01/10/2001


Limassol (Cyprus) Although I'd been through Limassol the last couple of times I visited Cyprus I'd never stayed there for a holiday. I have to be honest and say that it doesn't really compare with the beauty of Paphos or Protaras but I liked it anyway. Limassol (called Lemessos by the Cypriots) is the second largest town in Cyprus so, although there are a lot of nice bars, clubs and restaurants for the tourist it is principally a big, busy town with a large fishing docks where you can board luxury liners for short breaks to Egypt, Israel, and the Lebanon at very reasonable prices. Colin and I had decided that we would spend most of our time diving during this holiday and we intended visiting the wreck of the Zenobia which was only an hour's journey away in the town of Larnaca. Anyway, that’s another opinion. The three of us (my mother was there too) had booked our holiday with Argos Holidays, to stay for 2 weeks at the Geo-Tanya Complex in the main tourist area of Potamos Yermasoyias, just outside the old town of Limassol. The Geo-Tanya Complex is made up of several different hotels and we ended up in the Tassiana 2, self-catering apartments, which didn’t have its own swimming pool. This meant we were obliged to go to the Geo Tanya Apartments across the road to use the pool. I don’t think this is explained very well in Argo’s brochure and we were a little disappointed on arrival at the hotel. However, the hotel staff were very nice and always willing to help so ...

Paphos (Dive Sites) 01/10/2001

Cyprus - Rescue Diver Course

Paphos (Dive Sites) My husband and I decided to leave the cold waters of Scotland behind and head for Cyprus to do our Rescue Diver course with Cydive in Paphos. We had found Cydive through the Padi website prior to arriving in Paphos and had e-mailed them asking them for details about the course. They were very helpful and continued to be helpful when we arrived. They picked us up from our hotel the first morning of the 3 day course. We had purchased the Rescue Diver Course book from TDI, our local dive centre in Glasgow, and completed all the reviews before leaving Glasgow. This saved us having to spend our evenings studying! Our instructor at Cydive was Adam. He's a no nonsense type of guy who lets you know from the outset that he is not going to make this easy for you and will make you work hard to earn the certification. This made me feel a bit nervous but at least I knew that if I completed the course successfully it was because I deserved to get it. Our first two mornings were spent in the classroom and the practical stuff was carried out at the area known locally as the Roman Wall, just down at the harbour. I didn't think I was going to enjoy doing long surface swims and tired diver tows but when the water is 22C it makes it much more pleasurable! On the second afternoon we were taken out on the dive centre's boat to practice our non-swimming rescues and carrying a diver from the water up the ladder onto the boat. This was knackering and I had to be helped a bit by the boat's ...

Dunoon,(Scotland) 28/08/2001

Dunoon - Cowal Highland Gathering

Dunoon,(Scotland) Every year during the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the last weekend in August the World Highland Dancing Championships, Pipe Band Championships and Highland Games Events are held at Cowal in Dunoon. Entry to the Games costs £6 for adults, £2 for children or £15 for a family ticket. One of the easiest ways to get there is to make your way to Gourock and go across in the Cal-Mac ferries which leave about every 10 minutes during the Games. We got a train ticket from Glasgow central which included our ferry ticket (which saved us queuing for one in Gourock) for approximately £10 return. The ferry journey takes about 20 minutes. Pipe bands and Highland dancers come from Canada, America, Australia, Northern Ireland and New Zealand to take part. The Highland Games Events include a shinty tournament (which is a much rougher version of hockey), athletics and tossing the caber which is a great favourite with the crowd. This is very much a family day out as there are bouncy castles and other amusements for the children as well as beer tents and craft stalls for the adults. There is covered seating available at the dancers' stage but most people just sit on the hillside with a picnic. At the end of the day all the pipe bands congregate in the centre of the stadium for the prize giving ceremony and then make their way from there down through the streets to the centre of the town. Crowds line the streets and cheer as the bands go past and the atmosphere is electric. At 10 ...

Scotland, Dive Sites 24/08/2001

Scotland - Padi Navigation Speciality Course

Scotland, Dive Sites Although navigation was covered briefly in the Padi Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver courses I never really felt I'd got the hang of it so I persuaded my husband to accompany me on the Navigation Speciality Course. We had thought about doing it abroad in the clear mediterranean waters but then decided that it might be better to do it in the more challenging waters of Scotland as we dive there more often. We booked the course with The Dive Initiative, our local dive school in Glasgow. Prior to doing the open water exercises we completed the Padi Navigation workbook reviews which outline all the skills you need to complete the course, as well as valuable information about how to perform them. The course consists of 3 dives which can all be completed in one day. Our instructor, Ian, had decided to take us to an area of Loch Fyne known as the 'Tea Rooms' which is just about 10 minutes north of Inverary. It is a beautiful site with a small pebble beach gently sloping down to the water. On the first dive we recapped on some of the tasks we had completed for our Advanced Open Water such as navigating a square with a compass and swimming a reciprical heading using natural navigation. We also had to count our kick cycles and time them while swimming along a 30m line in order to work out our individual speeds over a known distance. The visibility in this area of Loch Fyne can be as little as 1 metre in places due to the bottom composition which is very soft and ... 22/08/2001

School reunion I heard about this website on my local radio station and decided to have a look. This site is, as it suggests, a site for contacting people you went to school with. You must register which, initially, is free but I'll explain about that later. When you have registered by entering your details i.e. which school(s) you went to, when you left your school, your e-mail number and a little bit about yourself, your surname when you were at school, you can then enter the site and find the school or schools you attended. You can also register for all the schools you attended which places your name on each school list. This is not just restricted to Britain. If you don't find your school on their database then you can type the name into the designated space and it will be added in. Once you have found your school you click on the name and a list of ex pupils in, and around, the year you left appear. If you click on their names you can retrieve some information about them. However, if you want to contact them (they don't give out your e-mail number: contact is made through the site) you have to pay an annual fee of £5 to obtain full registration. The only drawback to this is that, having paid your £5 subscription you may find the person you have contacted does not want to reply! I think this is a great idea even if you don't particularly want to contact any of the people you went to school with, as I didn't. However, it's been quite good fun reading about what some of them ...

Derry, Northern Ireland 17/07/2001

Derry - A tourist's opinion

Derry, Northern Ireland My mum comes from Derry so I've spent a lot of time there over the years. However, this is really the first time I've seen it from a tourist's point of view. My husband and I decided to go over and stay with my Aunt for a long weekend to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. My Aunt stays on the banks of the Foyle just 10 minutes walk from the city centre. I think one of the things I like most about Derry is that the city centre is very compact so everything can be reached on foot. I've always found Derry a good base for visiting other towns and villages round about and the bus station on Foyle Street offers a good selection of day trips to various places including Knock Shrine, Dublin, the Donegal Highlands and Portrush where you'll find the Giant's Causeway. Derry, itself, is a very picturesque little city with several tourist attractions including the Harbour Museum, The Amelia Earhart Cottage and the Workhouse Museum which are all free entry. We visited the Tower Museum near the Guildhall, located just inside the 17th century walls of the city. It cost £4.30 to get in and it took us about 2 hours to get round all the exhibits, which included a short film about the history of Derry. I found the sections illustrating the famous Seige of Derry and the road to partition the most interesting in the museum. The Derry Tourist Information Centre on Foyle Street organises guided walking tours of the walled city throughout the year costing £4.00 and lasting an hour ...

Oceanic Cyberskin 5mm 09/07/2001

Oceanic Cyberskin Wetsuit

Oceanic Cyberskin 5mm As I feel the cold quite often when I'm diving I decided to invest in a cyberskin as I had read good reports about it in various dive magazines. I wasn't keen on buying a semi-dry to take abroad with me as I feel they can be cumbersome. I usually wear a 5mm Gul Steamer but felt I needed some extra insulation. The cyberskin is 0.5mm thick and extremely light. The material is silky and flexible and feels extremely comfortable. It comes in women's and men's sizes from small through to XXL and is £65. Although it is only 0.5mm thick it is equal in warmth to a 2mm wetsuit and can be used alone for diving in warmer waters. I bought an all in one with a back zipper but it is possible to purchase it as a separate top and bottoms. I had thought that it might be difficult to get my 5mm wetsuit over the top of it but in actual fact it made it easier to get on. As it is so light it is easy to pack and doesn't take up much room in my luggage. It has really made a difference for me and I would thoroughly recommend it.

TK Maxx (Shop) 29/06/2001

TK Maxx - Maximum value

TK Maxx (Shop) This is the first place I go when I'm looking for cut price, good quality clothes. We're lucky enough to have 2 stores in the centre of Glasgow. This store has a great variety of clothes, shoes, handbags/rucksacks, suitcases, toiletries and household goods at a fraction of the price you would normally pay. A lot of the stuff is what is termed as 'last season' which basically means that the big fashion shops will no longer stock it. As a lot of the goods are last year's styles they only have what's on show, which can be disappointing if you see something you like and it's not available in your size. If you're into designer gear in a big way, but don't have the money to splash out on it, then this is the best place to shop in. Personally, I don't care whether the clothes are designer or not as I'm just interested in getting bargains. I always make for the racks which have the red sign above them indicating that the items are marked down even further than usual. I have managed to get trousers for as little as £0.75, t-shirts for a pound a piece, and a few swimming costumes for a couple of quid. My husband got a Calvin Kline, long-sleeve t-shirt for £1 recently. A few weeks ago I managed to pick up a DKNY body warmer in luminous yellow (I wear it cycling to my work)for £12! Another great bargain I got recently was a trolley suitcase reduced from £80 to £40. I'm a big fan of their underwear department and have managed to pick up lots of tights, bras and nightwear at ...

Festivals & Events - General 21/06/2001

Moscow State Circus 2001 - Don't miss it

Festivals & Events - General The Moscow State Circus is touring Britain at the moment. My husband and I went along last night to see it. I had seen the Moscow State Circus on Ice 10 years ago in Paris and was very impressed by the acts, especially the magicians, although I was not in favour of the animal acts. This time I made sure this one was an animal free zone before I bought my ticket. Tickets are reasonably priced from around £8 to £20. We got grandstand tickets at £16 each but, in actual fact, wherever you sat you would get a decent view because the circus ring is not that big. All of the acts were amazing and, even if you think you've seen it all before they manage to surprise you with some incredibly dangerous feats. Out of the 6 or 7 acts on show there were 3 that were outstanding in my opinion. There was a clown who came on, in between acts, to entertain while the props were being arranged for the next performance. He was not your average clown throwing buckets of water over people and making silly faces, which doesn't really do it for me. Even with limited English he was able to get the audience going with his magic tricks, playing classical music on a saw and finally, performing acrobatics with both his teenage and pre-school age (I think) sons who seemed to be made out of rubber. They were just amazing. The tightrope walker was extremely entertaining as well. He made his way up to the roof of the circus tent on 4 sloping wires and my heart was in my mouth as he got near the ...

Glasgow (Scotland) 08/06/2001

Glasgow - Dear Green Place

Glasgow (Scotland) The name Glasgow means dear green place and, as far as I'm concerned, it couldn't be more accurate. I've lived in Glasgow most of my life, except for a 10 year period during which I worked in France, Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Tunisia so I know a good thing when I see it and Glasgow is definitely one of the nicest places to live in. For a start it has more green area, i.e. parks, than any other city in Britain but for me one of the best things about it is that most of the museums and places of interest cost nothing to visit. I've had many foreign friends over to stay in Glasgow and they are always amazed by that (and the free toilet facilities!). It used to be quite expensive to get around Glasgow using public transport but now that First Bus have introduced an all day ticket, which costs as little as £1.80 at the weekend and can be used on any First Bus service, there is really no excuse for not getting out and about. My favourite museum in Glasgow has always been the Art Gallery and Museum in the grounds of the Kelvin Grove Park in the west end of the city, but as time goes on I am starting to prefer the Museum of Modern Art in Queen Street, just off George Square in the city centre. Although they house completely different styles of art I prefer them because they have such a variety of artefacts, anything from prehistoric dinosaurs to kinetic sculptures and statues of Elvis Presley. The Museum of Religious Art is also a must for visitors to Glasgow. It has ...
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