Saturday, 18 July 2015

Download Festival 2015

The beginning of festival season has been a busy one this year, with five festivals under my belt by the start of July. This post is a little delayed, but I wanted to share a handful of photos and videos of my weekend at Download Festival, which was a few weeks back now. I had lots of admin work to be doing, so sadly I didn't see very much of the festival, as I was in the vans, so I'm afraid this post is a fairly limited snapshot of the weekend! I was managing Headphone Disco in the Side Splitter tent for the weekend, which was once again a huge success.

donington park racing
Getting to rag the van around the Donington Park Race Circuit [at 5 miles per hour]....

pot noodle
Trying out my new gas stove and tasty 47p noodles

festival arena
The Side Splitter tent, home to Headphone Disco for the weekend

festival mud
Good old British 'summetime' weather kicks in...

Check it out these short videos from the Headphone Disco at Download Festival 2015:

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Death Cab For Cutie in London

Last week, amidst a hectic work and festival schedule, my girlfriend Emily and I headed to London to see one of Emily's all time favourite bands, Death Cab For Cutie. Emily has loved the band for years, but has never seen them live. We so nearly saw them at Boston Calling last May [read here], when we were visiting the States for a week. Sadly it was raining so torrentially when Death Cab were due to play that we had to leave before they took the stage.

death cab london

We parked at Westfield London, which is conveniently located around a 10-minute walk away from the venue, which was the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. We stopped for dinner at Wahaca at the Westfield centre, which is one of our favourite restaurants. After filling up on some incredible Mexican street food, we walked to the venue and arrived nice and early, bagging ourselves a good spot neat the front.

The support band were We Were Promised Jet Packs, who I had heard of, but never listened to. We really enjoyed them and will add them to the list of other awesome Scottish bands that we like, including Twin Atlantic, Glasvegas and Biffy Clyro. Fairly unusually, We Were Promised Jet Packs had four guitarists, along with a drummer. They multiple layers of guitar and vocals with a Scottish twang created a very cool sound. I'm listening to them on Spotify right now as I type this.

Death Cab For Cutie arrived on stage at 9pm and played for nearly two hours, which was awesome, as many headline gigs are closer to an hour. It was a fantastic gig, the highlight being a beautiful solo acoustic rendition of I Will Follow You Into The Dark by front man Ben Gibbard. The band are very well polished and have a lovely stage presence. Emily absolutely loved seeing one of her all time favourite bands and I left as a solid fan, having gone to the gig knowing only a couple of songs. I hope they tour the UK again soon :)

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Common People Festival 2015

A few months ago, we were excited to see the announcement of Common People, a two-day, non-camping festival on Southampton Common. I was born in Southampton and my sister Sarah and her husband Max still live there. We looked forward to being able to enjoy a festival and be able to walk a pretty short distance back to their house, to enjoy home comforts!

common people southampton

Common People had a lot to live up to, as it it run by the same people behind Bestival and Camp Bestival. I've been to Bestival twice and it really is a very special festival, with a huge amount of work put into creativity and generally creating an exciting and special atmosphere.

Perhaps we were expecting a bit too much, as this was essentially just a day time festival with no camping, but Common People was definitely not as awesome as we had hoped.  The main issue was the queues for everything. There were very long queues for the toilets [even queuing for urinals!], along with huge bar and food queues. We queued for 50-minutes for food and have friends who queued for over 90-minutes. There was just a big shortage of all facilities for the amount of people there, which was disappointing. This also lead to waiting around for friends all day, as our friends wanted to go to the loo / bar / get food and ended up taking forever to queue and get back. By the time they found us, someone else wants to go somewhere and you sort of end up in an endless cycle of waiting. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly no stranger to festivals and events and I know there will be some queues, but these queues were exceptionally long.

festival art

We booked tickets before seeing the line up, which ended up being quite alternative. There were a few acts we were keen to see, but it mostly wasn't necessarily our favourite music. We enjoyed a very audibly and visually awesome show from Saturday night headliner Fatboy Slim, who incorporated a choir into his DJ set, which was pretty special. Jaguar Skills had the crowd bouncing earlier in the day, with one of his trademark mash-up sets. I've not seen Jaguar Skills for a couple of years and I think he's got even more awesome with time! Jaguar Skills was followed by DJ Yoda, who I've wanted to see for years. DJ Yoda was a bit disappointing, with the party atmosphere quickly sliding away and many of the crowd dispersing or sitting back down. 

Overall, Common People was a nice event to take place on Southampton Common and a great way for local people to experience a festival without a lot of the hassle that can go with it. I'd recommend you give it a visit next year if you're local to Southampton, but it won't be on my calendar next year.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Live Music in Cheltenham

It's taken me a little while to catch up on my blog posts, but I wanted to write a short post about a great weekend of live music in Cheltenham, three weeks ago. My girlfriend Emily and I bought tickets ages ago to see Beans On Toast at the Frog & Fiddle in Cheltenham, along with Nizlopi playing at the same venue the following night. We're trying to see much more gigs this year, as we've been a bit slack at that over the last couple of years. It's great to get out there and see live music and it's especially when it's in your home town, at your favourite pub!

frog cheltenham

We've seen Beans On Toast perform at festivals several times and have also seen him before at the Frog & Fiddle a couple of years ago too. He's an incredible and charismatic performer, with a great stage presence and lots of funny stories to tell. I could listen to Beans chat away for hours and his songs are just as entertaining too. I think the thing that's so great about him is that he speaks very honestly and I agree with pretty much everything he sings and talks about. His music is about sex, drugs, rock and roll and politics and everything in between. It's very hard to describe his music, so I'd hugely recommend you check out his videos below and go and see him live if you get the chance.

My sister Sarah and her husband Max came to visit for the weekend and came to the gig with us too. They're also big Beans On Toast fans. We arrived early and watched one support act, who was nice enough. Then a chap called Benjamin Folke Thomas took the stage and got our attention straight away. He played some fantastic folk songs, with a very strange and interesting stage presence, along with some great little stories to tell in between, including tales from his native county of Sweden. Sarah and Max text a couple of friends the following morning and arranged to go and see the same gig again two days later at The Joiners in Southampton, as they loved Benjamin and Beans so much!

Our friends Hannah and Dan also joined us for the gig, and a couple of drinks turned into a few jagerbombs and going 'out out' to the Two Pigs for some dancing, for the first time in a long time. The following day we were feeling rather worse for wear and Emily and I managed to drag ourselves to the Frog in the evening in time to see Nizlopi perform.

I discovered Nizlopi many years ago, when the JCB Song was a big tune on the radio. I checked out some of their other music and my sister really got into them too. I've wanted to see them live for years, but haven't had the chance, so was really pleased that they were playing at the Frog. They were quite different live to how I expected, with way more of an interesting performance than I  imagined and a great fusion of different music styles. This included some beatboxing and faux rap, along with a great energy that I didn't expect from a band which I always thought of as being quite folky. I'd love to see them again, so I hope they tour near my home town again soon!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Wychwood Festival 2015

Last weekend was my sixth weekend at the annual Wychwood Festival, where I manage the awesome Headphone Disco show each night in the Big Top. This has always been our first festival on the calendar each year and is a lovely way to ease ourselves back into a busy season of running festival shows! Wychwood Festival also happens to be held in my home town, at Cheltenham Racecourse, only a couple of miles from my front door. It's lovely to be able to work at and enjoy a festival and then go back to your own bed each night! 

wychwood festival

Every year there's at least one other big Headphone Disco show that falls on the same weekend, as this year was no exception. I travelled down to DJ at a big show at the University of Surrey in Guilford on the Friday night, whilst we also had a show at Bath Spa University. Rolling back into bed at 6am on Saturday morning after a long drive meant I was very tired for the weekend, but thankfully I was able to enjoy free coffee backstage to see me though until the early hours! 

cheltenham festival

This year I didn't get to see too much of the festival, as I had a lot of other work to be doing, but I did get to enjoy some of UB40 and the Proclaimers and caught up with lots of friends who were also working at or visiting the festival. 

headphone disco

I'm very lucky to work with a great team of people, including DJs Josh Lovatt, Kelz and Peter who kept the crowd singing and dancing away until the early hours on each of the three nights, along with a great team of headphone distributors, who are super enthusiastic, even when the temperature drops as the night goes on. 

Next up is Download Festival in a few days time, where once again we will raise the roof on the Side Splitter tent on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, with up to 2,000 festivalgoers rocking with us at any one time :)

wychwood stage

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Kayaking in Cirencester

I've just got back home after a lovely day out in the sunshine with friends in the Cotswold Water Park, in Cirencester. The weather has been rubbish for ages, so it was nice to enjoy some warm weather for a change and have a BBQ by a lake.

cotswold water park

My friend Pob has visited the same lake recently, where Cotswold Water Park Hire operate, with a great jetty area and lots of kayaks, rowing boats and paddle boards to hire. I was lucky enough to paddle in one of Pob's two kayaks, so we just had to pay a small launch fee each, to use the lake.

picnic area cirencester

I've been kayaking a few times and was really impressed with how clean and well kept the lake and grounds were. The facilities were fairly basic, with gazebos for changing rooms and a couple of portaloos, but you don't need anything fancier than that for a quick paddle! 

There were a couple of stag and hen groups leaving as we arrived and there were a few families there. It's definitely a great place to chill out with friends on a sunny day and fairly cheap way to have a fun day out too.

kayak hire cotswolds

Monday, 25 May 2015

Cheltenham Jazz Festival

The internationally renowned Cheltenham Jazz Festival returned to my hometown a few weeks ago. It's become an annual tradition for local heroes Thrill Collins to perform on the free music stage to close the Sunday night and this is the third time I've been to see them at the Jazz Fest. The band are the first to admit that their skiffle take on popular songs is a bit of a loose fit for "jazz", but the band are perfect for this slot.

This year we headed up to the Cheltenham Jazz Fest on the Sunday afternoon with my girlfriend's parents and enjoyed wondering around the stalls on site and the little festival record shop. We popped into the free music stage, but it was what I considered to be pretty boring and "minimal" jazz music, the kind of sounds you might expect to hear in a lift in a swanky hotel. We headed up to the lovely India Lounge on the Suffolk Parade for dinner, before meeting up with friends later in the evening, ready for the much anticipated Thrill Collins performance. 

chelt jazz fest

The free music tent which had been full of people sat at tables and chairs listening to the "lift music" all day was starting to fill up. We stood at the front on the right hand side of the stage and were quickly scorned by someone people who said they had been there all day and had what they called the "right of way" and said we shouldn't be standing in the way. We were sure that they had no idea about the party that Thrill Collins were about to create and probably got quite a shock when the band started.

Thrill Collins quickly got the party atmosphere going, but sadly no one was dancing. The big space in front of the stage which had practically had dancefloor written all over it was full of people politely sat cross-legged. After a couple of songs, our friend Hassan lead the revolution, by carefully navigating around the floor-dwellers and started the dancing. We all followed and within seconds, we were joined by many other people who had clearly not wanted to be the first to dance, but had been dying to do so! 

cheltenham jazz

Before playing their skiffle take on Time Of My Life from Dirty Dancing, the band challenged the audience to impress them with the best attempt of "the lift". At the key moment, we took our friend Stefan [who also happens to be Thrill Collins' manager] by surprise and all lifted him above our heads. I was a little worried about him when he was lifted so high that I could no longer reach him, but thankfully he escaped unscathed and apparently quite enjoyed the whole ordeal.

If you've not seen Thrill Collins live before, I'd massively recommend you check them out. They played at my sister's wedding and they are without the doubt one of the greatest party bands on the planet! I've linked to a couple of their videos below.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Birthday trip to Legoland Windsor

As a huge fan of Lego, I've wanted to go to Legoland Windsor for a long time. I went with my family when I was about twelve and just about young enough still to go on the driving school. What better occasion to go to Legoland with my friends, than to celebrate my 27th birthday!

legoland windsor

I carefully checked the local council school calendar to plan to go after the Easter holidays, so it would be nice and quietly. It turns out that schools in the Southwest, London and some private schools were still on the Easter break, so it wasn't as quiet as I had hoped. We did get a few funny looks, as we must have been the only group there without kids, but we had a lot of fun being big kids for the day!

legoland windsor

One of our first stops of the day was a ride on the rapids. My sister and her husband recently became Mr and Mrs Dragon, so we were all pretty delighted to get this well timed photo of them on the ride with the dragon, as it span past! 

legoland windsor

We went expecting to have fun in a kind of ironic way, but it was actually a really fun day, with loads to do and see, without having to make our own fun. We stopped for many a photo opportunity and thankfully, despite me getting the school term dates wrong, didn't have to queue for very long for any of the rides. 

legoland windsor

We enjoyed wandering around Miniland, which is a display of different countries and cities from around the world, of course made from Lego. It did look great, although perhaps a little old and faded, so maybe it could do with a revamp. I'm sure it was the same as when I last visited 15 years ago, so perhaps it would be good to get a few modern buildings added in to the display. I did of course still love it though; how could I not, it's Lego!

legoland windsor

legoland windsor

We did wonder what this little man was supposed to be doing in the Miniland display. Someone had beaten us to putting little stones under his bum, but we'd love to know what he was supposed to be doing!

legoland windsor

No day at Legoland is complete with panning for gold in the Pirate Kingdom. It got surprisingly competitive, all trying to pan for the most gold and we wore our medals with pride for the rest of the day, after cashing in our haul.

legoland windsor

Our final stop of the day was the HUGE Lego shop, which was filled with exciting Lego sets of all shapes and sizes. There was so much cool stuff in there, with loads of stuff I hadn't seen before. It was great to see the Simpson's Lego House in real life, which looks amazing, but is a bit much to splash out on. 

We spent a full day at Legoland, but still didn't manage to see everything. I'm looking forward to visiting again, although next time I would love to visit Legoland Denmark, the home of those awesome little Lego bricks.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Above & Beyond at O2 Academy Brixton

I've seen Above & Beyond live a few times now, including watching them from the side of the stage at Creamfields last summer [read here]. My girlfriend Emily and I have become quite big fans of this DJ trio, with the real turning point being the incredible acoustic album they released in early 2014 [read here]. 

We booked tickets to see Above & Beyond at the O2 Academy Brixton, while we were travelling around Vietnam. The tickets were for the We Are All We Need Tour, to tie in with a new album release by the same name.

london view
View of the London Eye and other landmarks from our RestUp hostel room

Emily and I travelled to London with our friends Mark and Marie. We stayed in a hostel on New Kent Road in Elephant and Castle called RestUp. The hostel itself was actually not that bad, although at £120 for a four bed dorm, it wasn't particularly cheap. The area it was located in was pretty rough, so it was definitely a good idea to get a taxi straight back to the door of the hostel late at night! 

love is all we need above and beyond

I've been to the O2 Academy Brixton before and it's one of my all time favourite venues. It's a really interesting building with great character and the sloping floor in the main auditorium means that the view of the stage is awesome from practically everywhere. We easily made our way to about two rows of people from the stage, although we did have to stand in front of a stack of speakers, which in hindsight wasn't the best idea!

Those familiar with Above & Beyond probably know that they get a local person or group of people up on the stage during the show to 'push the button'. It's crazy how popular this has become, as essentially it's just pushing the cue button to play the next song on the CDJ! Our friend Marie was super keen to press the button, having seen them live 15 times and even having a tattoo of their logo on her arm! Marie made an awesome sign, which you can check out in the photo below. She didn't make it on to the stage, however she is visible in loads of the stage photos from the show, including the one below. You can see the Ajunabeats logo on the back of her sign, bang centre of the photo.

above and beyond button

The Above & Beyond show was incredible as always, with a combination of uplifting tunes and motivational messages displayed on the stage. I have to admit that some of the messages can be a bit cheesy, but somehow it works and creates a very special show. Above & Beyond are playing at Creamfields again this year, and for the first time they are performing on one of the two main stages. I'm already looking forward to my next dose of Group Therapy :)

above and beyond band

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Snowboarding in Val D'Isere, France

At the end of March, a group of 11 of us went on a snowboarding holiday to Val d'Isere in France. We stayed in a lovely VIPSKI chalet, which was located just a few minutes walk from the main town centre. One of our group worked for the company the last couple of seasons, so we are fortunate enough to get a lovely discount for staying in the chalet for a week. Our package price included flights, transfers, seven nights accommodation and an abundance of awesome food! We also have other friends who still work for the company and hung out with us in resort. 

My girlfriend Emily and I arrived a couple of hours before the rest of our group, as we flew from Birmingham, rather than Gatwick. We flew into Grenoble and we were expecting a plethora of places to eat and wait for our friends, as we're used to flying in Geneva. Grenoble is a very small airport with very limited and basic facilities, but the time passed quickly and we were soon on our transfer coach, on the journey to the resort, which took the best part of four hours.

france snowboarding

We were greeted at our chalet by our lovely hosts John and Anni, a chalet couple who kept us well fed for the week and were great fun too. I took the photo above on our first morning; what an amazing view to look out on while eating breakfast! As it was our first morning, we were all full of beans and eager to get out on the mountain as soon as possible. The photo below was taken just as we were all kitting up on the piste outside the back of our chalet. The chalet was technically classed as ski-in, ski-out, but due to the large flat bit on the piste above our chalet, we actually had to walk for a fair while on the home stretch.

Less than an hour after the photo below was taken, our friend Sarah, who was the only newbie in the group, was massively unlucky enough to break her wrist. We were all really gutted for her and really hoped it wouldn't put her off trying snowboarding again in the future. Sadly she couldn't board for the rest of the week, but I think she still had a great time, as we made the most of every evening too. Sarah was wearing wristguards when she fell on her wrist. The doctor said it was fortunate that she was wearing them, as it was likely she would have had to have had her wrist operated on, if the wristguards hadn't stopped making the injury worse. Always wear wristguards when snowboarding, even if they are a total hassle to get on and off over your gloves!

snowboarding in the alps

tignes skiing snowboarding

On our first day we headed over to Tignes, which is pretty easy to get to via a few lifts and runs on the mountain. I went on my first snowboarding holiday two years ago with Emily and her family, staying in Tignes Le Boisses. It was such a great experience to be able to hammer it down the same runs on my snowboard, that I spent a whole week sliding down on my bum and heel-slipping down for a whole week, just two years ago.

The photo of Emily and I above was taken next to Palafour lift in Tignes, which was the same lift we spent hours on end doing laps of when I was learning. It was so great to see how far I had come in such a small space of time. I imagine the 10 weeks we spent in the Alps last winter had something to do with that! You can read about that here. The video below was taken after coming down the run from the Palafour lift on this holiday.

A video posted by Josh Kinnersley (@joshkinnersley) on

mountain views alps

The weather was mostly really good on our holiday and as far as I can remember, I took the photo above on the first day of the holiday. No matter how many times I go up a mountain, I can't help but be amazed at how beautiful the views are! 

apres ski

After a very fun first day on the mountain, we were keen for some Apres and started as we meant to go on by drinking plenty of Toffee Vodka [two bottles, no less] and started a huge dance off! 

A video posted by Josh Kinnersley (@joshkinnersley) on

Despite the weather not being so great on the Wednesday, it meant a lot of people didn't bother going out on the mountain, resulting in very quiet runs for our group to enjoy. The visibility was poor and we got blown around quite a bit on the lifts, but we had a lot of fun! As the week went on, our energy levels dropped, so we progressively headed out later and later. We still wanted to make the most of the week though, so were keen to make the most of our mountain time, even if the weather wasn't the best.

The chalet staff had the day off on Wednesday, so after heading for another very boozy Apres session at Cocorico, we rather drunkenly headed to a restaurant, the name of which escapes me, for dinner. We were definitely being a bit too loud and annoying for the poor restaurant staff, but we enjoyed the meal [and playing drinking games with wine at the table] and enjoyed eating out together. 

mountain white out

mountain white out

The weather improved again later in the week and we decided to tackle Face, which is a black run. I'm told it's one of the toughest runs in the French Alps and having negotiated my way down it on my board, I can agree! 

We actually went down this run twice on the same day. In the morning, the snow was a bit better and it wasn't as difficult to board down. We were all keen to give it another go later in the day, but due to the previously good snow being scraped into giant moguls by hundreds of skiers and boarders, it was really tough the second time and most of us had a pretty tricky time boarding down it. It was still a great achievement for many of us to go down it at all though, as many of the group, including myself, haven't boarded down many black runs before. 

val d'isere view

On Saturday, the last day of our holiday, it was our friend Aimee's birthday. We had all secretly planned to buy Mexican outfits to wear on the piste and her boyfriend Ricchi bought her a Taco outfit to wear. We woke up early in the morning and decorated the chalet and our chalet hosts baked Aimee an awesome [and huge!] birthday cake for us all to enjoy. 

Unlike the majority of ski companies who select Saturday as their guest transfer day, VIPSKI do their transfers on Sundays. This was great as we were able to enjoy quiet runs on the mountain for the day, which was probably a good thing, as the Mexican outfits weren't the easiest outerwear to board in! We got a lot attention on the mountain and had a really fun day.

fancy dress ski holiday

mexican fancy dress

We had a fantastic week and I'm already keen to get our next snowboarding holiday booked in, so I can get my next fix of mountain air and snow related shenanigans! 

Thanks for reading :)

Friday, 27 March 2015

Hudson Taylor at the O2 Academy Oxford

Last month my friend Pob and I went to see Hudson Taylor at the O2 Academy Oxford, as part of their UK tour.  I knew a few of their tracks from an EP they released a while back and Pob is quite a big fan of their music. We had a nice pub roast at a pub on Cowley Road in Oxford and arrived early to the gig, to see the support band.

We hadn't realised that the main demographic of the band were teenage girls, which didn't seem to fit their folky songs, but we soon discovered when arriving at the venue that we were very much in the minority! There were fans who had been queuing outside the venue all day and we were amongst the oldest there at the ripe old age of 26 and in the minority 3% of males at the venue!


We weren't impressed by the supporting solo guy at all and I can't remember his name. He was just a bit dull and his voice wasn't all that great. It was nice that Gabrielle Aplin sang with him during a couple of songs of his set though. You may know Gabrielle Aplin from John Lewis Christmas advert fame - she also dates one of the Hudson Taylor brothers.

You always run the risk of getting a bit bored when seeing a band live that you don't know very well, as it's nice to be familiar with the songs and sing along. Despite not knowing most of the songs, I really enjoyed the gig and was impressed by the bands vocals. Hudson Taylor have released their debut album Singing for Strangers today [30th March 2015] and it's well worth checking out if you like popular folky music, with nice melodies and charming Irish vocals. You can check out a couple of Hudson Taylor's tracks in the videos below; Battles is an older track and World Without You is a track from the new album.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Delta Force Paintballing

A couple of weeks ago I organised Paintballing day with a group of friends in North Bristol. I've always wanted to give Paintballing a go, so booked ten of us in for the day with Delta Force, who are the biggest Paintballing company in the UK, with dozens of centres. I found a deal for £3.50 per person for entry and 100 paintballs through an affiliate site. Further paintballs are charged at £7.99 per 100, or £6.99 per 100 if buying 1,000 at a time. 

At the start of the day I thought I'd end up spending a small fortune, but it didn't actually turn out to be hugely costly. The ten of us bought 1,000 paintballs at a time and split the cost at the end of the day, which seemed a lot simpler than the hassle of buying our own paintballs each time. I spent about £30 on paintballs for the day, using around 500 including the first 100 which were free. 

paintballing group

There were around 40 participants at the Delta Force Paintballing centre on the day we visited and our group were kept on the same team and joined by people from another group. The staff tried to keep the teams as fair as possible, but the team we were up against were mostly a lot younger than us, which made it a little one-sided for us a lot of the time. I'd much rather have had it like this and stayed on the same team as my friends though and it's just luck of the draw with what groups are there on the day.

The day was well structured and organised, with helpful and friendly staff doing a safety briefing and marshalling each game. We played six different scenarios in total, with each scenario played twice, reversing the starting points for two teams. The game scenarios looked great, with different structures, including temples, churches, bridges and forts. Some of the games involved having a good strategy in place and others were obviously designed to make you use up a lot of ammo to make you buy more, but it was all good fun.

As we visited in March, it was very muddy, which made it a bit tricky to be stealthy at times, especially where there were knee deep pools of mud and water in places! This made the game play tricky at times, but it was still a lot of fun. I'd like to go again in the summer one day as I think I could have moved a lot faster and played the games differently with harder ground.

It was quite painful when you got hit by a paintball, but I only got one epic bruise. This was from where I got caught at the top of my leg at fairly close range. When we got home, our group were sending each other photos of their bruises on a group Facebook message, which quickly turned into a rather strange competition to see who had the most impressive injury! Don't be put off by the pain of Paintballing. It does hurt a bit, but it's really nothing to worry about and it's loads of fun!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A brief visit to Singapore

Visiting Singapore was a fairly last-minute decision back in November. Emily and I were in Malaysia and realised we had enough time to visit Singapore, which is relatively cheap and easy to get to from George Town in Malaysia, which you can read about here. I ran out of time to write this blog post at the time, so it was nice to find the time to look back and write about this now I am back in the real world!

singapore skyline

We arrived in Singapore after a 14-hour night bus, which left over two hours late and also arrived two hours later than we were told. We've come to expect any bus or train in Asia to take way longer than they tell you when you book, but Malaysian buses had been pretty spot-on until this one. The border crossing from Malaysia to Singapore was really quick and easy. We were dropped off to go through Malaysian exit immigration, re-boarded the bus to go over a big link bridge between the countries, then got off the bus again briefly to go through Singapore entrance immigration. I love collecting immigration stamps in my passport, so was delighted to get so many for the visit to Singapore from Malaysia and back again.

singapore building

We stayed in a guest house in Little India called D&E Inn Pte Ltd, which we booked in advance and I'd now advise avoiding if possible! They were the cheapest on, but the service was terrible and there was nowhere to leave your bags on arrival before checkin or on your last day, which every other place we have stayed has offered as standard.

Little India is a clean, bustling and vibrant area and we stopped for a tasty lunch at a little hawker centre, before exploring Singapore further. The transport in Singapore is incredible; think London Underground, but super efficient, clean and inexpensive. We got a 3-day tourist travel pass, which was excellent value for the unlimited travel it offered. The only downside to this pass was having to pay a deposit for the card, which they make very difficult to claim back.

gardens by the bay singapore

We'd heard from friends that Gardens by the Bay in Singapore was well worth a visit and it really was a lovely place to spend a relaxing few hours. Gardens by the Bay is similar in some ways to the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, however more focus was on the infrastructure and design than on the nature at Eden Project. This includes an enormous manmade waterfall in one of the domes, which you circle around on giant suspended walkways. 

We went to see a light show at the end of our visit to Gardens by the Bay, which was themed to Christmas music. It wasn't very busy and we had plenty of space to lie down on a big bench and look up at the lights glowing in time to music on the giant pods in the sky. This seems almost impossible to describe, so you can check out the video below that I found on YouTube. It was definitely more exciting in real life and the Christmas music when we visited made it a bit more lively too!

gardens by the bay

singapore wheel

Having done 'the cultural thing' for weeks around Asis, we decided to have a break from this for a day and headed to Universal Studios Singapore to indulge in Western food, rollercoasters and being big kids! Universal Studios Singapore is one of many attractions on Singapore's Sentosa Island, which also hosts a huge waterpark and an abundance of rollercoasters and other cool stuff. 

Universal Studios Singapore is big enough that there is plenty to do for the day, but not so big that you don't have time to do everything. Being the middle of the week and not in main school holidays, it was pretty quiet and the queues were very short for most rides. Closing time was 7pm and by 5pm many people had left, so there were no queues at all! We went on the best rides up to five times, including the awesome virtual reality Transformers ride.

universal studios

I've always loved the Shrek movies, so was delighted to discover that there was a Far Far Away land, totally devoted to all thing Shrek! There were some fun rides, a 4-D cinema experience, along with all the ride staff dressed as characters from the movies. 

singapore universal studios

One of the highlights of the day at Universal Studios was the Waterworld live action show. The set and show was based on the 1995 Waterworld movie starring Kevin Costner, which I haven't seen for years but loved when I was younger. The show was very impressive, with people doing stunts on jet skis, explosions and some cheesy acting. 

water world show

After our brief two day visit, Emily and I booked a bus back to Malaysia, taking us directly to Kuala Lumpur, where we were due to fly out from to New Zealand a couple of days later. I'd definitely like to visit Singapore again in the future as there was so much awesome stuff to do. I'd also like to visit the Raffles Hotel and drink a Singapore Sling cocktail in the very same bar that it was created.

Thanks for reading!