We managed to stay in the park until 3pm before admitted defeat to the cold weather and made the short walk back to Trough Ivy House to warm up. The traffic trying to enter the park at this point was horrific! We have never seen so many cars arriving from both directions. We later learned that the park had been closed to everyone except pre purchased ticket holders due to the sheer number of visitors. Before our visit we had read the tips and hints on the Alton Towers website which clearly stated that if you didn’t have a ticket you needed to arrive by 3pm to ensure entrance. The weather was very good for bonfire night and I think it had brought lots of people out at the last minute. Thankfully we had been hand stamped and after our refresh and re-warm we were able to go straight back in a about 5pm
The park by this time was absolutely packed. As most of the rides were being closed off prior to the fireworks starting, this led to some very long queues for food! We decided to wait until the fireworks were finished and set off to find a good spot. Unbelievably, the best views from the grass opposite the towers and lake were very quiet. Most people had stayed further back - possibly in order to make a quick retreat and miss the car park chaos later. We had a great view and the hour we spent waiting for the show to start soon passed – people were dancing to keep warm, there were picnics set up complete with torches and even a family with their own sparklers. It was unbelievably cold by then – we had multiple layers on and were all still freezing.
It is tremendous value for money as there is no additional charge for the fireworks. We spent almost a full day in the park (wimping out only because of the weather!), had a lovely meal in the Rollercoaster restaurant and a delicious hog roast bun in the evening and watched an outstanding firework display.
Maybe we didn’t get on as many rides as we would have on a quieter day but for us it wasn’t about the rides we had come for the fireworks and we were not disappointed. The staff we encountered all day were friendly and polite and mostly young people who must have worked very hard that day to handle the sheer number of visitors. All in all we had a great time but I think next year it’ll be back to Scarefest!
London 2016. Part 2. We had recently acquired a Two Together railcard so decided to go to London for a Christmas shopping trip (or so I thought!). We managed to get some really good priced train tickets especially for the return journey when first class was the cheapest option. Isn’t it odd when that happens but no complaints from us!
We decided to make a return trip to stay at the Citizen M Tower Hill hotel which we had first tried in the summer (see previous post). We had enjoyed the stay very much it really is a spectacularly quirky and very British hotel with the most amazing views from the 7th floor bar. It was the view and the location that drew us back – to see the Tower of London in a night time setting from a high viewpoint was all the excuse we needed!
The hotel is ideally situated right next to a tube station on main lines, directly across the road from the Tower, the Thames and Tower Bridge and surrounded by lovely places to walk and eat. As we stated in the previous post the rooms are very compact but luxurious and we really like the vibe and the atmosphere of the hotel. Overall the stay was once again very enjoyable – it is a very interesting hotel full of artwork and books, comfy seating, great food, lovely staff and the views from the bar are just amazing. We were surprised to find the bar was closed on the Sunday night but spent a lovely very quiet evening in it on the Monday. One thing that stood out to me was the friendliness of all the staff you encounter from the young lady who was polishing the lift doors on the morning we left to the gentlemen who was cleaning rooms on our floor. All the staff you meet have a friendly hello for you which is a credit to the training they receive. We would definitely return and maybe just time our breakfast better as there did seem a few issues on the Monday with a chaotic system for coffees and some empty plates on the buffet bar - but nothing too concerning.
We spent our days in London walking and photographing. The album of images is available on Flickr now. We ate at Borough Market – another on our wish list and went back to the wonderful Bodeans BBQ which we had discovered on our last visit. Their Bodean’s meat platter is delicious – especially the burnt ends and good old poutine fries. It’s rapidly becoming one of our favourite restaurants! http://bodeansbbq.com/tower-hill/
Strangely no Christmas shopping took place I think Chris managed to plan all walks avoiding the shops! We did visit the wonderful Liberty of London which is a magical place all year and especially so at Christmas. We were delighted to find the Wigan delicacy of Uncle Joe’s mintballs nestling amongst the Christmas decorations there but our wallets stayed shut and the bag we had taken to transport home our shopping was not needed! Still another tiring but good break – like all trips to London though I think we need another holiday to recover!
Following our marathon driving effort in August in Scotland our next jaunt in late October sees us back on the train (probably our favourite mode of transport) and heading back to London. We'll fill in the details about this in a few weeks but we have a really special trip planned.
Anyway back to the trains and whilst hitting the Virgin website in search of advance tickets we came across the "Two Together" railcard designed, as the name implies that if theres two of you travelling together then you can get up to 1/3 off ticket prices. Ideal, especially when used knowing the best time to get advance tickets too - we usually try about 6 weeks from travelling though it can be a bit of a lottery.
So following the usual quandry over which photo is best we applied on line and 2 days later it arrived in the post. Great service. Yes it does cost £30 per year but do a couple of trips and it pays for itself. For us it means we're going from Wigan to London for £39 outward (standard) and £72 return (that's first class too) so £111 in total for both of us.
London here we come!
With our cameras poised and routes decided we hit the road (and railways) this Summer on our own for our first proper holidays since our Honeymoon 27 years ago! Yes we'd been away for weekends or the odd night but these were our first steps back into the big time. Our first travel pieces are now up with the highlights of our trip to London in July and our Scottish expedition in August. Well alright it wasn't really an expedition but it certainly felt like it was at times with wild life and wild roads.
Read all about our London experience here.
And follow our 10 day trip to the wild north of Scotland here for my thoughts and here for Viv's view from the passenger seat with a healthy dose of the North Coast 500 thrown in.