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 :)