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Me, my husband and two stepchildren (aged 17 and 6) stayed at this hotel for two nights in between Christmas and New Year 2007. We booked on-line at the (very) last minute and were drawn to the hotel by the cheap price....59 pounds per night for all 4 of us including breakfast which was at least half the price of anything else that we could get within a reasonable distance of the centre of London.
The hotel is situated in the Docklands area of London (5 minutes walk from Canning Town Tube Station, on the Jubilee Line) within spitting distance of ExCel, Canary Wharf and London City Airport. It would be fair to say that it is not in the most selubrious part of London I've ever seen but I never felt unsafe and lets face it you don't usually go to London to spend time in the hotel.
We arrived by car and it took a little finding (but we did have an out-of-date map which probaby didn't help!) and parking was easy and FREE within a 'secure carpark', complete with carpark type barriers that you can get through by pressing the button but you had to provide your registration number at check-in so I presume they have a security guard. Another point of note is that you can get to the hotel by car without having to go into the congestion charge zone.
We arrived a little too early for our room but the attendant at check-in was more than helpful and took our luggage into the luggage room and said that we could come back whenever we wished and check in so we went off and spent the rest of the day in London.
Upon returning back the check-in staff had changed and they seemed to be a little less clued up and a bit stressed out. Apparently there had been a system failure. The result of this was that they had the four of us staying in a twin room with two single beds (she seemed not to be in the slightest bit phased about giving us this room making me think that you could probably squeeze more people into your room than you originally booked for). Then there weren't any non-smoking rooms left despite us booking one but we didn't complain too much since we had only booked 36 hours earlier. But we did get a room for the four of us (a double bed and a double sofa bed).
The hotel has lifts and stairs and on arrival at our floor (the smoking floor) it was evident that it was the smoking floor as the corridor was quite ripe but the room didn't smell at all so it was no problem. The room was very reasonable. A double bed and a double sofa-bed (which was very easy to make) and plenty of bedding and towels. It was ensuite with toilet, basin and shower. We were only there for a couple of days but there appeared to be adequate storage (hanging space and drawers) for four people which was good as there wasn't an awful lot of floor space left by the time the sofa-bed was out. There was of course a TV complete with Sky, curiously BBC seemed somewhat absent but we didn't spend too much time flicking through the channels so we could have missed it.
The only gripe about the room was the heat (a problem I often find with these hotels). It was almost impossible to be comfortable. There was an air-conditioning unit which was electriconically controlled but you couldn't really have it on all night as it was quite noisy.
The complimentary breakfast was continental style and served for a reasonable time (3 hours or so, 6-9am or 7-10, can't remember now). There was a good selection although it was quite hectic and little system to it all. There was tea, coffee, water, orange and apple juice. A good selection of cereals, cheeses, yoghurts, grapefruits, bread etc etc. A good way to set you up for the day and possible to make sandwiches for lunch if you were so inclined. There was also a small independent supermarket next door which sold all kinds of things.
In the breakfast area, after about midday, I presume, there was a bar serving a limited selection but the usual favourites of most drinks.
In terms of travelling into the centre of London to see the sights, the hotel is ideally situated for the price. As I said earlier its five minutes walk from Canning Town Tube Station which is on the new part of the Jubilee Line that takes you straight to Westminster and from there you can get anywhere. It does take time as you are quite far out ~1/2 hour from Canning Town to Westminster. A travel card from Canning Town for an adult cost 5 pounds 70. For 11-16 year olds there is a child rate (sorry, not sure what this is) and under 11s go free.
The only other thing to note is the second episode of seemingly staff ineptness, when we returned back the second night our electronic keycard wouldn't open our door, so when I went back to see why she asked me if we were supposed to be checking out today I said no and there was no problem and she re-coded it.
I bought this book mainly because I am keen on warfare and its effect on people etc etc. This is the first novel I'd read on the first world war having read a couple of historical accounts etc which were good from a battle point of view and knowing what went on but were short on emotional impact I thought.
The first 100 pages were not what I was expecting and is set in France in 1910 when an Englishman by the name of Stephen is sent by his textile factory to come to France and learn new things about the business. He is housed by the family of a factory owner and falls in love with the owners wife.
The story follows the twists and turns of Stephen's life through his love affair and into the first world war where he is a commander. The book is a novel so it is hard to know where Faulks has used fiction in his descriptions and where he has used interviews/research but some of the war passages are tremendously impacting and some of the descriptions of injuries etc are quite horrifying.
Subsequent to the first passage about the war the story switches between Stephen in the war and the hunt by his granddaughter (set in the 1970s) for information about the war. The two eventually coming together at the end of the novel.
At times the story jumps around a bit and is hard to keep in context but I was moved by it in ways that I didn't think were possible having read a fair amount about war.
Ambleside is a pretty functional village in the Lake District National Park about half an hours drive from the M6 motorway. The park is situated in the county of Cumbria in the Northwest of England on the shores of Lake Windermere, England's largest lake. It has many many B&Bs and hotels at varying prices. The most expensive hotel is probably the Salutation Inn in the centre of the village (it is part of the Best Western chain but in local decor) and the cheaper end of the B&B market probably approaches £30 a night. There are also numerous self-cating appartments e.g. Kirkstone Foot apartments where I stayed on my most recent visit there. These were very comfortable. There is also a youth hostel some walk out of town.
Anywhere you stay within Ambleside is no further than a 10 minute walk (at a reasonable pace) from the centre of the town. The town is mainly a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and most of the shops in the town are outdoor shops of some variety or another.
Footpaths up many of the local fells ( e.g. Wansfell ~ 480 m, and Loughrigg ~350 m) can be found from the town itself and summiting these fells offer amazing views of the surrounding area.
The potential drawback of the area is the weather which is notoriously hard to predict and changeable but you don't get beautiful scenery in the UK without lots of rain so I guess it is just one of those things!! There are also a lot of tourists in the main season and parking can sometimes be an issue.....you would almost certainly have to pay to park in Ambleside itself.
There are numerous cafes in the town as well as pubs and restaurants as well as fish and chip shops!! Whatever your taste it will surely be catered for. The pubs serve a variety of excellent real ales and there is also a pub...the sportsman...that shows most sporting events and has a disco downstairs on certain nights! There is also a good independent cinema showing up to date films which is worth a visit.
Interesting activities that can be undertaken if you are not really a hill walker is the boat trip to Bowness where you can go to the Beatrix Potter museum...or you can take a bus trip to nearby Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived.
Well, I am a bit mystified as to why I came across Cheyenne when I was looking under National Parks because, as far as I'm aware it isn't a national park....in the traditional sense.
I've stayed the night here twice and had a little pootle around the town.
It is the state capital of Wyoming and it situated 41N and 104W (bottome right hand corner of the state) and is situated on the intersection of I-25 (main N/S interstate) and I-80 (main E/W interstate) and is situated in a nice part of the country with flat grassy plains as far as the eye can see.
The city was started when the railroad was being constructed and is presumably named after the Indian tribe. As far as I could see the railroad still is an important part of the town. There didn't seem to be much there. The visitors centre cites the main attractions as frontier days, western shopping as well as ranches and the city museum. Tourism is obviously important and they play on their history as a frontier town and in parts this is nicely done and worth a visit.
Both times that I have stayed there it was as a stopover on road trips north to places like Yellowstone. I suspect that most of the town's income is through people like me as there is a plethora of chain motels as well as independent ones. A recommendation would be to try and stay at one that is not near the railroad (could be tricky to achieve) as the trains run all night (and use their 'horn' all night too!). It is a very useful stopover though as the motels are very close to the road compared to nearby places like Denver where the traffic is heavier and the road system a little more complicated.
This book is an absolute must-read for all enthusiasts (if that is an appropriate word) of the second world war, war in general or international events in the period. I've heard that they are making a film of it which should also be interesting.
The author, James Bradley is the son of a pacific war soldier who was part of the flag raising team on Iwo Jima and obviously writes about the period with a sense of pride as well as objectivity and sensitivity.
The story is based around 9 American Airforce pilots who were shot down over Chichi Jima in the air raids on the radio transmitter and receiver station there. The only person that made it out of the sea alive was the future American president George Bush senior. The remaining 8 were all captured by the Japanese and treated accordingly.
The book, as I've already stated revolves around these pilots from their childhood and their reasons for enlisting through their training and all the way to their captures from where their stories are re-told by interviews with Japanese veterans that were on the island.
There are an amazing wealth of interviews from Japanese and American veterans to wives and mothers of the air men involved.
Bradley also sets the scene of the whole war brilliantly starting in the mid 19th century with the first american voyage to Chichi Jima through the rise of the Japanese empire and their colonial escapades. How the mindset of the Japanese military came to be is explained including how they came to be so brutal and in many cases suicidal. He also brilliantly enlightens the readier to the hypocrises of war...by citing examples and statistics of basically every major power over the last 200 years and how at one time or another they were criticised and have criticised each other for their barbarous behaviour....when the figures state that they are pretty much all as guilty as each other.
So, from the American discovery of Chichi Jima through to the war criminal trials touching on many of the major events of the second world war in between.....including Pearl Harbour, Tokyo raids, Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, the tokyo fire bombs and the atomic bombs this is a fascinating insight into the politics of war. It is not for the faint hearted however as there are some frank pictures and reports of the horrors and dehumanising effects of war
The book is written in a wonderful style which reads like a novel but has the substance of a text book/authoratative work. I can't recommend this book enough.
I believe it retails at £11 hardback from amazon.co.uk and isn't on sale new in paperback anymore, but very cheap 'used and new'. Its about 300 odd pages long.
Well, what can I say! I've been meaning to write this review for a while now but I've been recovering from the epic effort to finish the book!!
That opening paragraph has made it sound like it was a struggle....and to be honest at times it was. There were plenty of deviations from the plot. Some up to 50 pages in length to talk about some history that was relevent to the story...although in general I didn't know what to make of the history per se as hugo wrote the history bits in such a way that it read like it was meant to be a text book and I'd probably trust a text book more. I was tempted to skp some bits as they didn't seem relevent but then he would slip in a bit of the plot here and there and often parts would only seem relevent way afterwards.
The book is set mostly in troubled early 19th century Paris.
The plot of a book follows what I would guess to be the last 50 years of a Frenchman's life after being released from prison. There is some discussion as to how he came to be imprisoned and what happened to him whilst in prison but most of the book is concerned with the events in his life post release.
The plot follows the events that shape him and change his hardened outlook on life.
The story is told from various character's viewpoints, we have as mentioned the released criminal who is the centre of the book but there are large parts of the book that don't concern him.
Throughout the book we follow the trials and tribulations of a single mother who has to resort to prostitution to pay for the upkeep of her child. We also follow the child through the early stages of her life.
The other family in question is a Parisian family with an old traditional grandfather who doesn't like the dangers of the youth thinking (he blames this for the social unrest of the time) and his grandson who has very different political views from the grandfather.
The lives of these characters and the many others in the book all intermingle at various points and all contribute to changes in the released criminal main character. Interestingly looking back the actual time that most of the characters interact with the main character is often very short but the effects can be long-lasting for him. Quite a good analogy for life in the sense that often the smallest of conversations can stay with you and ultimately change your views.
Anyway, I don't want to give too much of the plot away but ultimately there is a happy ending for nearly all the characters in one way or another even if it is far from what they wanted at the beginning of the story.
All this is written in a very novel, insightful style I found in Victor Hugo. I often found myself laughing outloud which I didn't really expect and I got to the end of the book and instantly wanted to start again!
Another point to note is that if you have been to the musical the book is quite different!
A very good read and I learnt a lot about 19th century France in the process.
Well, I'll start by saying that I'm not an American citizen so I can't say anything with concrete proof.
I was an innocent just turned 20 year old when 9/11 occurred and of course thought the attacks were abhorent. I can also remember the revulsion I felt when a group I was with was discussing the ideas that it was all an inside job.
Sadly, with a few more years under my belt. I have become a slightly more cynical version of myself and wouldn't be surprised at all if it was an inside job....although I still doubt it.
With many conspiracy theories there are a few tantalising titbits that don't make sense etc etc that fit nicely into the theories. What I don't understand more than anything else is why in the aftermath of such things people put themselves in situations which appear unclear and thus contribute to these theories.
Two examples are, 1) why did Bush fly out all of Osama's family in the week following the attacks and 2) on a slightly different tact...Kelly's death (weapons inspector) back in 2003....why did the first policeman/coroner on the scene spend half an hour on his own with the body. Whether he did anything improper or not is not for me to say but I still don't know why he didn't make sure someone else was with him...he must have known what may result!!
What is all the fuss about??? Who are we to think that we know what is best and right for every other person in this country???
I think it is time that we started treating our teenagers with some respect. Do people not remember what it was like being a teenager???
I admit that the majority of teenagers who have sex and end up pregnant may not have planned it but I don't believe for a second that they are automatically bad parents. Many teenagers may actually want to get pregnant and they are likely to make the best parents with lots of energy and love to give!
I think the danger arises in this subject that the maturity range of teenagers is so vast that it is nonsense to talk about teenage mums in the way that we do. Surely people will agree with me that a 13 year old mum to be is a completely different kettle of fish than a 19 year old mum to be but this is what we must talk about if we are talking about teenage mums.
Arguably if the time is right for that person and she is with someone she loves it is a great time to have a baby at 19. She'll have A levels or whatever have a family and then presumably get trained and have a career with no maternity breaks through to 60. Surely better for the economy than a well-trained woman having a break to have a family at the age of 30 odd and finding that staying at home is the best thing and not going back to work. Fully trained (mostly wasted training) and 10 years of economically productive work compared to potentially 30 years for a teenage mum?
I don't think that sex education is to blame totally for this perceived 'problem'. My experience of sex education was it was much better in primary school than secondary school. I can remember a condom coming out in GCSE biology (when I was 16) having not seen one before. This is probably a little late. I got all my sex education from girlie magazines when I was growing up and I reckon it stood me in great stead!
I don't think we should concentrate massively on raising sexually responsible children I just think we should concentrate on raising responsible children that know they are respected for who they are, what they'll be able to bring to society and that they know they are mature enough to make the correct decisions. From what I've read and heard some teenagers have sex because they want to feel love or be respected which I think is tragic. They should never have to feel that way. However, many other teenagers say they've had sex because they wanted to and surely that's fine also. They should be respected for that choice.
Afterall, there is a reason why girls begin puberty at 13/14/15. So they can have children. Teenagers are, as far as nature is concerned, supposed to have children. In fact, the likelihood of producing a child with a genetic abnormality increases with the mother's age. Therefore teenage mums are most likely to produce healthy children for the work force!
Sad but not overly surprising. It doesn't really surprise me. The day football became a business it was the market that would decide. There seems little point in calls to regulate football or put a cap on wages (all arguements that have been put forward prior to todays announcement) as this would only put off players from coming to our 'green and pleasant land'!
I also find it amusing when the media announces that wages have broken through the x barrier as this will surely always be the case whether they have risen out of proportion or not as wages usually rise with the cost of living anyway. There are no calls for doctors to have wage cuts although their wages have presumably broken through some barrier or other over the last decade.
All this aside I would just like to say I think it is abhorrent that the players earn as much as they do. The arguement that they have a much shorter career than most people and thus should earn more is somewhat valid but presumably they should only earn twice as much and I don't even think that's fair. Why should they be able to stop working at 35 or 40. Everyone else has to work till they are 60/65. In my humble opinion footballers should be able to earn half as much again as the average person since when they retire they would have to retrain etc back to the bottom rung but anyhow these arguements are academic since this will never be the case.
Football is big business of the kind that will never go away as it is surely the most sure-fire way to success as there could be. Money built on the average person's passion. These wages are, presumably, and please enlighten me if this is not true, built on the average Briton's love and willingness to pay to see the games. Season ticket holders, sky's decision that people will buy sky sports to watch the premiership, pubs thinking that they will get more business if they pay for sky sports.
I can't see this changing unless people stop going....a national boycott??? A very unlikely state of affairs!!
The power of the market! Some people win some people lose.
Well, I live in Lancaster on the northwest coast. I only recently moved to the city and one of the main selling points of the house that we eventually bought was the unobscured view westwards over Morecambe Bay to the Lake District in the far distance. It is absolutely beautiful but what I hadn't thought of was an ubobscured view meant unobstructed winds!! It can get very very windy here and also when frontal storms come in the rain can get horizontal with very little trouble.
It is generally pretty wet here although the average rainfall is pretty much bang on the global average (1mm a day or something like that...I think!) so although it may feel like a wet place it is actually nothing out of the ordinary for the planet as a whole.
The wettest time of year on average is Nov/Dec and the driest time of year is May/June. This is also when it is sunniest and warm.
The yearly mean temperature is just over 9 degrees celcius with average maximums of just over 12 degrees celcius and average minimums of just over 6 degrees celcius.
As we are on the west coast it is pretty mild in winter in the sense that we have few frosts but our summer's probaby aren't as hot as places in the south.
I've had the good fortune to be able to visit Carlsbad Cavern National Park twice! It is in the South East corner of the state of New Mexico and thus is a fairly remote place to visit. That is the downside. The plus point to this remoteness is that even in the height of the tourist season it is not likely to be heaving like many of the other national parks in the states.
The main attraction of the park is obviously the caverns but there are also a few trails to explore.
The caverns are fairly cheap to enter and you get the choice of many different tours, all but one being guided. The guided tours cost extra and go to slightly different parts of the caves. I've only ever done the free tour so can't comment on the others.
The main cave is huge! Apparently it was used to film 'journey to the centre of the earth'. You can either descend by lift or walk in (a mile down a GENTLY descending path) which is well worth it! There are signs around the visitors centre saying that it is an arduous walk and that you should be fit to attempt it. It is not arduous at all and is tarmacced all the way. Apart from a few steps and the odd narrow opening you could get a wheelchair down the track!
It probably takes an hour to walk down the path after you've stopped and looked at everything. Allow another hour to wander round the 'big room' which is a glorious display of stalactites and stalagmites in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some resembling animals/people. There is even a little mini fairy grotto.
In true american style there is also a cafe underground which is hidden away if you don't want to ruin your trip to the underworld but is quite an entertaining place to visit if you like kitsch!
You have to take the lift up which probably is no bad thing. We were recommended on one trip to ask if we could walk out. Apparently the rangers often say yes if it is towards the end of the day and it is supposed to give you an interesting new perspective but I never did it.
Aside from the caves there are also depending on the season a spectacular natural migrating bat display which I've never seen but is raved about.
There are also more adventurous tours available that involve clambering around and squeezing up and down small passages and they are all detailed on the national parks website.
A few points to note is that there are few places to stay very near to the caves. There are motels galore in Carlsbad which is the nearest 'town' but there is still a good twenty minutes drive away from the visitors centre.
I visited Arkansas a couple of years ago and left with a mixed view of the place. We spent a few days in total in the state, most of which was spent in the town and national park of Hot Springs. A strange place as the national park effectively was a town. The architecture of the place was very 'Victorian' and reminded me of British seaside resorts. Inside the houses were hot baths which were believed to improve your health...at a cost. I can't remember the exact cost but I didn't frequent any partly due to the cost.
Cold 'mineral' water was also available on request from taps in the street which was nice and I did see locals I think with great big buckets filling up at the taps so there must be something to the water!!!
Apart from the hot baths I didn't think that there was an awful lot else to the national park. I'd seen better scenery and there was nothing else to do in the town. There seemed to be a lot of poverty with the largest selection of pawn shops I've seen and many places outside the central part of the town (which presumably received national park funds) looked pretty rundown. The nicest buildings were the churches! There was plenty of places to stay though so that would not be a problem. I did taste my best united states sandwich in a little cafe on the main street....perfect!
The only other place that really sticks in my mind about Arkansas is the lunch stop we made by a meander of the River Mississippi. there were loads of jetties there so we decided to do a little fishing but since we didn't really have any proper equipment we just thought we'd try with string and bread (we did have hooks in our camping bags). Lo and behold within about 5 minutes we'd caught a catfish! It was amazing!! Felt like real hunter gatherers. We baked it up on a fire that night and it tasted so so good!!!!
I have mixed memories of Arkansas really. It was a reasonable state with some interesting parts but definitely not one of the stunning states.
No reviews on Montana.....wow! Well, one of my favourite states in the whole USA. Hubby and I did a roadtrip across the states a couple of years ago and I was looking forward to Montana as it has the famous glacier national park in it and some famous ski resorts. When I actually looked at the map I was surprised to see...and a little dismayed that there was an awful lot of Montana that was nowhere near the Rocky Mountains. I thought, still the land would have been there regardless I suppose it doesn't really matter what state its in. Well, it took a full 16 hours total driving (with a few detours to drive across the state. This is excluding night stops and major sight seeing detours.
I had been looking forward to the mountains all trip but when it came to it I didn't want to get to them as I had become enchanted by the 'big sky'.
Perhaps we didn't take the usual route across the state which I believe is interstate 94. We took US highway 2 which runs mostly parallel but a fair few miles to the north..very close to the Canadian border at points.
We crossed the border via a town which I forget the name of but it had the 10 commandments on a road side banner.......not to some travellers tastes perhas but an amazing sight......we then embarked on miles and miles of roads surrounded by golden fields. We stopped the car at one point and took a 360 degree panorama photograph where we couldn't see a single house or person...awesome!
For the next 10 hours or so we drove pretty much due west passing nothing but fields with cows and hay barrels in them. I didn't know that Montana was so agricultural and it was a real eye opener. There was also an awful lot of poverty. Before I just thought of the bussling mountain towns doing a roaring trade with the ski and hiking businesses but there's miles and miles of poverty to montana better akin to traditional views of states like Kansas.
One thing which was a bit daunting was that we had to watch the fuel guage. there was gaps of hundreds of miles without 'large' towns so we had to make sure we always had enough fuel to get to these towns.
The sunset as we were driving west seemed to go on for ever and was magnified by the large sky. it was just beautiful. We had the weird sensation that we were always driving downhill when it was infact flat...something to do with the big sky I believe.
Anyway we got to Glacier national park and it was everything I'd hoped for and more. We obtained a back country camping permit and were forced to watch a video on how to combat a bear......a bit daunting and a good video in terms of information. We then set out on our 6 mile there and 6 mile back walk to a little lake called Cracker Lake and camped there for the night. The permit was free and it is the most amazing blue glacial lake I've seen. It had its own very little glacier too. We awoke the next morning and it was rather windy but it was a good night and the sunset coming up over the snow was a sight to behold. We walked back and saw lots of signs of bears but didn't see any.....much to my relief and disappointment!
The rest of the day was spent driving the 'going to the sun road' which was beautfiul but busy even in October but i'd still recommend it!
That's pretty much all I have to say about Montana......definitely go!!!!!
Archerfish.co.uk is one of the best paid-to-click sites that I have come across from the perspective of a Brit. Most of these sites pay in dollars so when you cash out and get it exchanged into sterling via paypal you don't really get all that much back....if only the pound was stronger eh?!
Archerfish though does pay in sterling. They send out a reasonable amount of emails per day.....enough to get a reasonably amount of cash but not too many so you feel like you're spending your entire day clicking on things for very little reward. E-mails are worth usually 0.25p each but you get at least 4 a day.
The site itself has lots of opportunities for paid to click etc etc so there's lots of opportunities to earn more (most sites have these very infrequently). They pay out at 3 pounds which is very achievable...I'm almost on my second payout already (after 5 months)...they also payout in cheques so you don't need a paypal account but this does take longer as the minimum for cheques is 10 pounds I think.
I'd definitely recommend this site!
Amazing music. Bryan Adams on vocals and Hans Zimmer writing the score are a team that should be set up again!
I have watched the film and the music brilliantly captures the essence of what the film is trying to portray. The lyrics are designed to tell part of the story while the narrator does the rest but it is easily listenable to without having watched the film.
There is a mix of love songs, instrumentals and the more soft rock end of things that Bryan Adams is famous for. some of the songs are repetitive as they are obviously meant for the film but its fine.
The film is set in the Amercian midwest - southwest so if you ever find yourself visiting the states and going on a road trip anywhere around Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Kansas make sure you take this album with you!