Yesterday I stood in The Mall to attend the procession of the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, then queued for 7 hours to see the Queen lying in state. It was a long day, but am very glad to have done so, both as a Royalist and as a mark of respect to the Queen and her 70 years of service to this nation.
Met my church friend Beryl at Victoria station and we got to The Mall around 11am. We were very lucky to get to the front row (well she got the front row and I was 2nd row). After viewing this very emotional event, I decided to join the queue to see the Queen lying in state. Beryl was not interested, as, like many, she had heard the headlines about it possibly being 5 miles long and 30 hours queuing time. Undeterred I crossed Lambeth Bridge(where we saw those very first people in the queue – who had been queuing since Monday night and had been featured on TV) and trekking 3 miles down river to the edge of London Bridge – where I joined the end of the queue! After about half an hour, the queue started to rapidly move and we eventually stopped around Waterloo Bridge. This was where we were finally handed wristbands (I think they must have run out earlier, which was quite concerning to those of us for a while, as there would be nothing to stop any criminal queue jumpers).
My Facebook Summary: For those that may want to know the queue took 7 hours, but am very glad to have done it. It was a very moving experience, there were remarkable things to see along the way and you got quite a few minutes for the actual walking past. To describe the queue experience: The 2 – 3 hours along the river is quite alright and moves surprisingly quickly, some people even had a beer & you chat to all your new queue friends so time goes surprisingly fast! once you cross Lambeth Bridge and hit Westminster Palace grounds, things do slow down, the 2.5 hours of shuffling along queue lanes was a bit tough going, but then you finally get to the airport security and the police there cheer you up! their bag scanner tried to eat my bag and they thought this was very funny. Once past there, you know you’re in the last hour and the end is in sight.
Tips are: check where the end is on the “Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State – Queue Tracker” YouTube page or Twitter link. Wednesday night I heard it was around the Tate Modern(that’s shorter than where I started, but a similar time length) and make sure to get a wrist band! A friend ended up joining the queue at 6:30am Thursday morning and got there at 11am. My niece queued on Thursday night just before 10pm, the queue by then was in Southwark Park (past the Tower of London) and queued for nearly 11hours, walking at 8am in the morning. A couple of hours after her, David Beckham spent 12 hours queuing(what a Super Star that man is) and later that day they ended up closing the queue for several hours due to reaching capacity, queue times increased to 24 hours, but are now down to about 11 hours.
This is my account of hiking in the Knoydart Penisula from Inverie to the Sourlies Bothy and the slight disaster hike it became. There was obviously lots more arguing, more yelped worries and genuine panic (from me at least anyways) than mentioned, but just use your imagination. I’ve had several disastrous hikes, been lost in wilderness-type areas many times before, but this is probably the best one so far, seeing as I was accompanied by my wife, Bronwyn.
The Knoydart Penisula is on the North-East coast of Scotland, not far from the Isle of Skye and is considered the last wilderness in Britain – nowhere else in the UK can you hike for 2 or 3 days and not see anyone else nor be disturbed by any roads or cars. There’s no mobile signal either, no phone boxes, nothing 😀
Access to the Knoydart is from a small village called Inverie, which you can only get to by hiking 27 miles cross-country or by taking a 45min ferry from the port of Mallaig. So why go to this place? Well, the original reason was the same as most visitors there – to see what is claimed to be Britain’s most remote pub “The Old Forge“. Having visited “The Nutshell“, the smallest pub in Britain, in Bury-St-Edmonds and various other unusual pubs, Bronwyn thought I’d like to see this one too.
Staying just within government social distancing and travel regulations, on July 4th 2020 I went on a special rail tour of Scunthorpe British Steel works with my friend Paul (whom had arranged the rail tour). The schedule was up at 6:20am, breakfast, out the door around 7am and back at 2:59am! Quite a packed full day, featuring Skegness, Scunthorpe, walking the Humber Bridge, fish & chips in Grimsby and Lincoln Cathedral and Castle!
Like many others, I’ve wanted to see the Amazon river since my Dad first told me about it when I was 5 or 6 years old. The biggest(and back then longest) river in the world! Then in October 2019, was lucky enough to find myself on a 3 week trip to Brazil, based in Rio de Janeiro. Had just gotten married and my wife randomly suggested we go and see the Amazon! What a Brilliant idea! So, after a quick bit of research, I discovered that Manaus is the main Amazon experience town and where most Amazon tours depart from + it’s the cheapest Amazonian place to fly to in Brazil. So, booked return flights from Rio to Manaus town, for a 6 night stay and found a bargain tour to go on.
Then I discovered a slight problem!
The tour was all well and great, BUT upon checking the map I noticed it was primarily a “rainforest tour” and wasn’t along the actual official Amazon river either! In fact it turns out Manaus isn’t actually on the “Amazon”, but sits on the Rio Negro river instead.
Now, my wife did not mind this one bit and am sure 99% of people that visit Manaus are booked on tours and don’t mind either, most people really want to see the rainforest and the animals, BUT I really mostly wanted to see the Amazon river! So what to do?…
Here are some tips from my trip to Iguazu Falls. You really don’t need to take an official tour, as the waterfalls are very easy to get to on your own. You can either walk or get a taxi or Uber to them, on both sides. It takes about half a day to visit the Brazil side and nearly a full day for the Argentine side(it’s a lot bigger and more developed). Try to visit the Brazil side first and then the Argentine side, both are very spectacular, but that is the best combination in my opinion.
In April 2019, I crossed the King Hussein Bridge from Jordan into Israel. There are a couple of other blogs out there I found, but none seemed to give as much detail as would like to have had, so here is my account.
Notes and Preparations
This blog details the crossing at the King Hussein Bridge (also known as the Allenby Bridge) from Jordan into Israel. There are other border points, but this is meant to be the easiest one, as long as you already have a Jordan entry stamp/visa*. All you really need is to be somewhat prepared and to have some patience. Please make sure to know details about your trip to Israel, as you will be asked – which hostel/hotel you’re staying in, what you will be doing there and how long you’ll be there. Also have a copy on your phone or printed-out of your return flights if possible + make sure to have some cash on you to pay for the bus crossing. There is a Bank of Jordan at the border, but having some cash to start with, saves any extra bother(there are several ATMs in central Amman). Due to the interview and times taken give yourself about 4 hours to cross this border.
* = you usually get a Jordan entry stamp/visa on arrival at the airport or wherever. If you do not have one, then use another crossing, as the King Hussein Bridge does not issue visas.
This is a long blog write up of my trip to the Lake District in Feb 2017, it’s purely for amusement and to (erm) write something. Back in 2007 I attempted to climb Scafell Pike and got lost on the mountains(another long story), so I decided to re-visit the place this year with my friend Paul. He’s lived in the USA the past 17 years, so was well up for this trip to arguably the finest of English countryside.
Tues 14th Feb 2017
The plan for the morning: up at 8am, breakfast, pack car, 9am head to Wimbledon, go for 10km run, back by 10:30am, pick up Paul and head to Lancaster!
Take bus 747 from Montreal airport, it runs 24/7.
Travel card costs $8 and lasts 24hours after 1st usage on bus and metro + includes a ride on the 747 bus. $16 for 3 days usage.
Montpelier Highlights for me were:
1) visiting the Skinny Pancake shop for good/different food
2) pick up a free town street map from the Info stand a bit along from Subway, on the way to the state Capitol. this is highly useful.
3) tour the State Capitol building, very friendly and helpful guides there.
4) visit the Hubbard Park tower – about 20mins walk.
5) you can walk back down from Hubbard Park to the town via either path. the higher path is nicer, the lower path goes steeply down the ‘mountain’ and ends up.
6) visit the Uncommon market – reminds me of Bailey and Sage in Wimbledon village 🙂
The Greyhound Bus stop is on Main Street just by the Fire station, it’s on one side of the road only, The other side are for municipal buses.
The supermarket is the south end of of mainstreet.
You can take Bus 29 and 6 from to Greyhound station.
Get hold of the B&B map.
Visit the Capitol, found very interesting, we don’t really have this kind of thing in the UK.