Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Posts Tagged ‘UK’

A nightmare journey home

June 6th, 2015 No comments

After arriving back in London I think I needed the luck that I wished for in my previous post as the journey was certainly an experience. This is going to be a fairly text-filled post as I didn’t take many photos due to it being a travel day and due to the crazy fellow passengers – sorry about that.

When travelling, especially on trips like this, I plan for the unexpected. That’s why when I was told I wouldn’t need to arrive at Bishkek Airport until 2 hours before my flight I told my hotel the wrong flight time in order to arrive there 3 hours before and I’m glad I did as the first half of the return journey, from arriving at Bishkek airport until transferring in Moscow, was a nightmare.

I arrived at the airport about 3 hours 15 minutes before my flight was due to depart, as they were starting to set up ready for check-in to open, so I ate the on-the-go breakfast which my hotel provided while waiting. By the time I finished eating the check-in desk was open and I joined the queue behind maybe 4 groups, totalling around a dozen people. You would have thought that check-in would have been quick with that few people there but this was not the case. No sooner had I joined the queue but a couple of coaches of Russians arrived all at once and caused chaos. A large number of people decided to just push in because they didn’t want to queue (some used trolleys as battering rams, some picked up children and placed them in the queue so that when they got to the front and started crying the family would join them). During the time it took to get to the front more queues had formed either side of the real one so that people could just barge in. Several of the people who jumped the queue, after being checked in, then proceeded to walk back up the queue to attempt to sell mobile phone sim cards to fellow passengers. I eventually got to the check-in desk over an hour after joining the queue.

Then came the fun of passport control. After completing check-in I proceeded straight to the passport control queue and there were maybe 100-150 people in front of me in the queue. Once again I use the word queue lightly as it quickly turned into one big mass of people all pushing each other out of the way to try to get to the front quicker, which delayed things for everybody. It took so long for the queue to begin to clear that they had to keep calling passengers forward when their flight was boarding. Other than the fact people were pushing in I’m not sure why it took so long to go through passport control as both myself, and a friend I made in the queue who was on the same flight, were processed in less than a minute. We were both stamped with the incorrect exit date but were told that it was not a problem – we didn’t query the officer in case he sent us to the back of the queue.

By the time I made it through security and into the departure lounge my flight was due to board within 10 minutes, despite how early I arrived at the airport. I grabbed some snacks in the shop and then tried to find which gate my flight was due to depart from, but it was not listed on the board. I tried to find some staff members to ask but other than the shop cashier there were no staff to ask. Eventually me and the other passenger walked up and down the departure lounge until our flight appeared on the screens at one of the gates.

About 5 minutes after they started processing people for boarding an announcement was made in Russian which prompted everybody, including the gate staff and passengers who had already been processed, to start rushing to the other end of the terminal. I asked a lady near us what was happening and she told me that the announcement said the buses which were due to take us to the plane had turned up at a different gate and the drivers didn’t want to move. No I’m not kidding!

I eventually made it to my seat, after what seemed like a mission, and found out that I was sat directly behind a large, drunk, loud man whos first act after sitting down was to slam his seat back with such force that be broke it and slammed it into my knees making me jump in pain. Throughout the flight the Aeroflot staff did a brilliant job of trying to control him, and refused to serve him any alcohol, but he proceeded to open a bottle of cognac he had smuggled onto the plane and became even more annoying. He was so drunk by mid-flight that he couldn’t get out of his seat to go to the toilet so tried to call for help. Unfortunately he couldn’t focus enough to work out which was the call button so ended up making some sort of disco effect with the overhead lights of his row until he eventually pressed the correct one and was pulled out of his seat by Aleksei, a very patient flight attendant.

On the way back from the toilet he tried to get back into his seat but couldn’t work out how to so launched himself sideways, headbutted the man in the middle seat, and ended up with one leg over the arm rest and waving into the aisle. A lot of people were getting embarassed by this point, including the elderly Russian lady next to me who started shaking her head muttering various things under her breath.

Throughout the remainder of the flight he kept asking for alcohol and was continually refused. From the little Russian I understood I worked out that after being denied alcohol he just kept asking for Vodka, because apparently that isn’t alcohol, and was then denied this because on Aeroflot only Business Class are served spirits. He wasn’t happy about this so waited for the cabin crew to walk away before getting out of his seat, storming into Business Class and being chased by the cabin crew for a few minutes.

I wish I had made the above story, and the details of my bus ride to Bishkek yesterday, up but unfortunately it is all true. The general response of people who I have told the story to has been utter disbelief, and a lot of open-mouthed shock. I have a feeling that I will be telling this story for many years to come, but for some reason the entire experience didn’t get to me. I sometimes let things get to me in my day-to-day life but when travelling you have to expect crazy things like this. I must admit I wasn’t expecting so may crazy things all in one journey but whether you enjoy travelling to unusual destinations like Kyrgyzstan depends on whether you are able to handle things like this. I did keep thinking “this has to be some sort of test” to myself throughout the journey and maybe in some way it was – I now know that when travelling I can overcome some pretty crazy things!

Moscow Airport

Transiting through Moscow Airport

My transit through Moscow airport and the flight back to London were fairly uneventful. The flight, in comparison to the last one, was luxurious and I had an entire 4-seat row of a Boeing 777 to myself to be able to stretch out and watch TV in.

After arriving back at Heathrow I changed my unused US Dollars back before making my final journey back home. I already know that my next trip will be to Chile, I just don’t know when it will be yet. Either way hopefully my journey will be less eventful. Stay tuned to my blog!

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Helsinki Day 4 – Returning Home

September 20th, 2009 No comments

Today was only really taken up with getting home. We had a lazy start to the day, showered, packed etc then walked slowly to the bus station via the market square again for some last minute photos. The bus to the airport doesn’t accept tourist cards so we had to pay for another ticket but it was only 4 euros and got us to the airport in about 35 minutes.

George, Anna and a Tortoise

George, Anna and a Tortoise

Helsinki Market Square

Helsinki Market Square

Walking to the bus station

Walking to the bus station

We got to the airport about 30 minutes before check-in opened so just took things easy then joined the queue early enough that we would be in the first boarding group. Helsinki isn’t set up for online check-in, which is given priority boarding with Easyjet, so we had to check in at the airport and get there early to be able to get on the plane first to get a good seat.

Helsinki Central Station where we caught the bus to the Airport

Helsinki Central Station where we caught the bus to the Airport

There are plenty of shops and cafes in the airport so, after going through security and getting a strange look from the guard for having a bag of confetti from the Nightwish gig, we bought last-minute souvenirs before just sitting down and relaxing over a coffee.

We went through to the departure gates and relaxed for a bit longer before being called to our exact gate. When we got there we saw probably about 20 other people who had been to the gig – either because they were wearing Nightwish shirts or other random metal band shirts. On the bus to the plane we talked to some of them and decided it probably would have been easier to just charter a plane to and from Helsinki – there probably would have been enough people from the UK going.

I’ve had enough experience with Easyjet and have a good system worked out for getting a good seat which I won’t go into here otherwise you’ll all know it, but we managed to get the exit rows again on the way back which was great – I can’t fit in the seats without this extra bit of leg room.

Flying home

Flying home

The flight was uneventful, although we saw views this time, and we arrived back at Gatwick on time, where we split up and went through three different passport queues. Anna had one of the new passports so went through the automated booth, George has an old passport so went into the longer queue and I’m signed up for the iris recognition system so went to that booth – for which I was the only person in the queue so got straight through.

Anna got on the bus back to Oxford and we went back to the car park for an easy drive back to Kent. Overall I had a great time and would consider Helsinki again – and will definitely go to see Nightwish next time they play Hartwall Areena, although that isn’t likely to be until 2013 now!!

I found the way to Amarillo

I found the way to Amarillo

This deserves posting!!

This deserves posting!! George didn't notice I took it!!

There isn’t as much to do in Helsinki as there are in other major cities but it is possible to stay here for a few days to see all of the sights, or use it as a base to see other things in the local area, or even go to Tallinn in Estonia for the day. The Eurohostel was a nice, cheap, alternative to staying in the expensive hotels for which Scandinavia is well known. It has private rooms with shared facilities which, although basic and not soundproofed, are good enough if you just want somewhere to sleep before exploring the city.

Oh and did I mention they sell Mountain Dew in Helsinki? Here I am celebrating the fact I found some without having to travel to Uganda or the USA….

Me and some Mountain Dew

Me and some Mountain Dew

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Helsinki Day 1 – Travelling

September 17th, 2009 No comments

A very early start today to pick my friend George up from her house in Canterbury before travelling to Gatwick for our flight to Helsinki with Easyjet.

The journey to Gatwick was quite quick and when we arrived at the car park it didn’t take long for a bus to arrive to take us to the airport. We had already checked in online so went straight through passport control but got stopped by security – they were checking quite a lot of people today. Not quite sure why my bag got picked maybe it was a random sample or maybe they were having problems with the machines.

Icky at Gatwick Airport with our plane

Icky at Gatwick Airport with our plane

Time for a coffee at Nero before walking to our plane. Boarding was a little late and the scrum for the plane was as usual but we managed to get an exit row which was great – I like extra leg room due to my long legs! The flight was uneventful and we didn’t see much due to cloud cover but we arrived in Helsinki on time. We took the local bus into the city and it went through all the housing estates on the way before arriving at the central train station 30 minutes later.

Me at Helsinki Harbour

Me at Helsinki Harbour

It was a little early to check in so we took a slow walk to the Eurohostel and took in some sights on the way such as the Orthodox Cathedral, Marina and Presidential Palace.

Helsinki Harbour

Helsinki Harbour

Helsinki Orthodox Cathedral

Helsinki Orthodox Cathedral

A photo of our room at the hostel

A photo of our room at the hostel

Another view of our room

Another view of our room

The third member of our group, Anna, was arriving another day but we let them know this so she could check in when she arrived. After checking in and travelling up a very questionable lift to our room we relaxed for a bit before randomly wandering the city to take in some more of the sights.

We are both quite tired and getting used to the cold so will have an early night ready for the next few days.

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Africa Day 18 – Crazy Airport Security

September 7th, 2009 No comments

Today I got up at 5am, had a quick shower and checked out before saying goodbye to people that were leaving at the same time. I took my taxi to the airport and it was really quick with no detours unlike on the way in. My driver asked for less money than on the way out but asked me to pay it before we got to the airport otherwise if the police saw it they would have asked for some.

Security at Nairobi airport was intense. I had my ticket checked, went through a metal detector and had my bags scanned before even getting into the terminal. Then after checking in I went through two levels of passport control before getting to the departure lounge. I shopped for a while before going to the gate that had been called where I found even more security. I had my passport and boarding pass checked before walking through a metal detector and having my bags scanned again. I went to put my belt back on but was told not to as there was another set of checks – where my passport was checked, I walked though ANOTHER metal detector and had my bags scanned AGAIN before getting to the departure gate.

All of this made you feel safe but did feel excessive.

The flight back was quite nice. I requested a seat on the aisle and I’m planning to watch some movies before getting some sleep. I’m due to arrive at Heathrow this afternoon where I will be met by my family to be driven back home.

Our tour group in Eldoret Hospital visiting Janneke

Our tour group in Eldoret Hospital visiting Janneke

Overall I had an amazing time in Africa. The highlight was of course trekking with the endangered Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda, and being grabbed by one of them, but I saw and did so many great things. Lovely scenery, lovely people, great new friends and almost 2000 amazing photos! Al and Jono were awesome tour staff and it’s almost impossible to say how great Den was – awesome chef and great guy too. I miss his food already.

There are so many places I want to see in the world but every time I go to Africa (real Africa not the bit up north) I feel home. Africa is definitely on my list of possibilities for next year and if I do go I’ll seriously consider Dragoman again!

Here’s a small map of our route for future reference – courtesy of the Dragoman website.

Tour map of Dragoman trip ZNN159

Tour map of Dragoman trip ZNN159

Dragoman Logo

Dragoman Logo

Ps: I know I wrote a lot here – sorry about that – most of the length is photos anyway. The blog does go onto two pages… and if you want to just read stuff from this trip click on “2009 Africa” in the categories menu to the right and the most recently dated page of the two will be shown.

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Back from Australia

June 28th, 2007 No comments

I made it back to the UK but I had a really great time in Australia and I miss it already. Overall the people were great and I saw and did so many great things. The same with Singapore and although it was rather hot it was a really nice place.

On my last day in Sydney I left the hotel early to take some last minute photos before my 9am tour of the Sydney Opera House. I walked down past BridgeClimb to the area near the observatory, then down to Circular Quay to take some photos before collecting my ticket for the Opera House tour and leaving my bag in their baggage drop. This was perfect timing as there wasn’t much else I could do in the few hours I had spare and if I booked online in advance for an early tour it was less than half price!

Opera House

Opera House

The tour showed us all around the public areas of the Opera House including the lobbies, lookouts and concert halls. For copyright reasons we weren’t able to take photos inside the concert halls but were able to in the other public areas. Our guide, Troy, told us about the history of the building as well as the construction and also telling us who has played there. Something I was surprised at was Foo Fighters recently played a concert here – I guess I just didn’t associate it with anything other than Opera.

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Opera House

Me and the Opera House

Me and the Opera House

After the tour it was back to the hotel for a last minute freshen-up before checking out, leaving my bags with reception and going out for some more last minute photos. I went up the glass elevator to the walkway behind circular quay and there were some fantastic views and I don’t know why no guide books recommend it – if it wasn’t for the BridgeClimb guide I would never have known about it. After coming down I spent the last of my money on a CD of an Aboriginal musician that was playing along the quayside. Apparently he’s the one in all the adverts for Australia playing didgeridoo on top of the Harbour Bridge and was also the Aborigine that came out of the desert in that Priscilla Queen of the Desert movie. Random – but I shall have to watch it some time.

Circular Quay

Circular Quay

Musicians

Musicians

I went back to the hotel and collected my bags from the hotel (the woman that brought them was really short and thin I thought it was going to break her back) before waiting for my minibus to the Airport. I almost missed it as he parked on the other side of the road and down a bit so the scaffolding around the hotel was blocking my view but luckily I noticed him in time.

My flight was on time which was just as well as it would take me 23 hours to get back to the UK including the stopover in Thailand. We were there two hours and although we never left the airport I still class myself as having been there as we touched down on their soil. We had to go out into the departure lounge, come back through security and then re-board the plane. There was this woman from the UK that asked a cleaner where the flight to London was. He didn’t speak English so she said “Plane… London… where” loudly as if he would suddenly understand and it’s no wonder British people have a bad reputation.

Bangkok Airport

Bangkok Airport

Apparently I have lost weight these past couple of weeks too – my trousers almost fell down after taking my belt off to go through security but I guess that’s a good thing.

The rest of the flight was smooth too, except we had to rush to make our window over Afghanistan but we made it back to the UK on time where I met my Dad in Starbucks for a coffee before returning home. I was glad of the Starbucks after that flight. I had a few before I left the UK too as I didn’t think I’d see any more – but my hotel in Sydney was opposite one so I had some then.

I had a great time, and hope to return to this part of the world again soon.

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We made it to Namibia!

July 27th, 2002 No comments

Welcome to Africa…. we made it to Namibia!

We’re currently in the Chameleon Hostel which is a fairly nice place to stay in the capital, Windhoek, which has a very friendly resident Meerkat. It keeps looking at us strangely but seems used to tourists. Our room has this weird mural/tapestry thing that looks like a cross between a tribal leader and the Pringles man. Me and Dan B have named it Gertrude and now we can’t stop laughing!

The Meerkat

The Meerkat

On Wednesday after arriving at the school we all had either Fish and Chips or KFC for lunch before sorting through our bags and completing last minute paperwork. I did add something to my bag though – not something I forgot but we were told that the locals in Namibia would be really interested in our lives and where we come from so I took loads of photos but thought it would be a good idea to take a school prospectus too. We will be seeing their school I think they will enjoy seeing ours. The rest of the day we mainly played games (football, basketball etc) and chatted to each other before sleeping on the very hard floor of the school gym!

In the school gym

In the school gym

Thursday morning we spent checking the World Challenge equipment such as tents and checked that everything else was there before heading up in convoy in two school minibuses (one for us, one for the equipment) to Heathrow Airport. As the person that did the majority of work organising this trip I was nominated as the team leader until we get to Johannesburg and managed to get everybody through Heathrow fairly quickly. South African Airways did a good job of checking us in and we were soon in the departure lounge waiting for our flight. We’ll have a different leader every day I but we’re there a month so I’ll be the leader again at some point.

After a 10 hour flight we arrived in Johannesburg airport and I managed to lose something – my bum-bag containing all of my money, passport etc. Luckily I remembered seeing it at the baggage scanner in the transit area so I went back there to collect it and after filling out a form and bribing the customs official with 20 rand I got it back. I then went back up and met the others before realising something else was missing – my top. I didn’t remember using it on the plane so must have left it at Heathrow when the rather large security man decided I needed searching and I had to put everything down. Luckily there was a good outdoors store in Johannesburg airport so I bought a new fleece. We had a long wait ahead of us so found various ways to amuse ourselves. Dan B decided on this….

Dan and the hats

Dan and the hats

After a 10 hour layover we boarded another plane for a short flight to Namibia. When we arrived I had to help the group through immigration – our accommodation for that night had been arranged by our driver so we didn’t know where our first nights accommodation would be for the incoming passenger card. Most of us put the address of the school we’ll be staying for the next 2 weeks, but a few people didn’t put anything and got queried by the woman on immigration. Luckily this matter didn’t involve bribery! We spent most of the rest of the day drinking and playing pool in the hostel before having an early night.

In the hostel

In the hostel

GERTRUDE!

GERTRUDE!

I had my first African shower last night – it was outside in the courtyard and very cold which came as a bit of a shock. We have just had eggs and toast for breakfast (a few people decided on eggy bread instead) and should be leaving the hostel soon. We’ll be stopping off in the city to exchange money, buying anything we need and then heading off to the town of Gibeon. We’ll finally be able to see the real Africa – we had to stay in Johannesburg airport and arrived after sunset yesterday so haven’t seen any of the continent yet!

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I’m ready for Namibia

July 24th, 2002 No comments

[Please note: This is a re-transcript of my original notes from the expedition to Namibia in 2002 combined with the notes/blog from another member as my original diary was lost. It was also edited in 2016 to remove photos of one of the group members – see my post containing a statement at the end of this category]

I’m all packed and ready for my expedition. There are 16 of us plus 2 group leaders from World Challenge Expeditions going to Namibia for a month – firstly to improve the sports facilities of a school in the town of Gibeon but also to have some fun. We have dune boarding, trekking, town visits and more planned and are meeting at our school today for last minute preparations before leaving for Heathrow in the morning.

All packed!

All packed!

I’m hoping I didn’t forget anything – not sure how easy it’ll be to get things out there.

Location of Namibia

Location of Namibia

Wish me luck!

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