The trip to the heavens (and back)

What a week, I’m exhausted. In a break from usual posts, I’m going to write about my life for the past five days. This post is extremely long so if you don’t care, don’t bother to read!

Alton Towers

It’s been a year since I’ve been to Alton Towers (that time with James), but in a year the number of changes is staggering.

Possibly the oldest ride, Black Hole, was closed March of 2005. To be honest, it was getting very old (it opened in 1988), and incredibly cramped. I bearly fitted into it, so the increasing average waist line of the nation probably negated a third to a half of the people at Alton Towers.

Oblivion was just as I expected, breath-taking, stomach crunching and fast. No other ride gives you that much G-force. Incredible.

We then went onto a brand new ride, called Hex. I won’t ruin what it’s about, but the initial introduction reminds me of Tower of Terror in Disney World, Florida. Saying that, the ride itself is far more psychological. Another new ride we went on is Rita, Queen of Speed. We queued for an extra twenty minutes to get on the front row, and I guarantee you that it is worth the extra wait. 0-100 kph in 2.5 seconds with the wind in your face is something to experience at the front. We left the ride with tears in our eyes.

Next onto the old firm rides, Nemesis and Air. Nothing especially exciting, but nonetheless enjoyable and worth the wait. I’m glad that they didn’t permanently rename Nemesis after McFly’s new album, Wonderland. It would ruin the ride experience to a certain extent (if you’ve been on it you’d understand).

And of course, living in Nottingham means that it’s only a 30 minute drive away.

Petrol Prices

It’s a 900 mile round trip from Nottingham to Aberdeen and back, and another 300 miles if you include to Kent, so I decided to use Shell Optimax petrol, which is 99 RON instead of 95 RON of standard petrol. The price of this varied massively though, anywhere between 96.9 pence per liter to 105.9 pence per liter. Was it worth the extra price over standard (5 pence per liter more), I don’t really know, but the difference isn’t huge. I also saw what could be the cheapest petrol in the country, at 90.9 pence per liter, at two Shell garages in Scotland.

I also don’t understand why people are panic buying. I wasn’t really effected by it, although I had a five minute wait for petrol at a Shell in Nottingham, it was the cheapest petrol station around at 92.9 for standard unleaded.

Aberdeen

The drive to Aberdeen is immense, even from Nottingham. It’s around 480 miles, putting that into perspective, it’s 160 miles from Nottingham to my home on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and it’s 100 miles from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. It takes an excruciating eight hours to drive, and thats if there aren’t any traffic problems. Roughly, around 40 miles up the M1, a heck of a long way up the A1, an incredibly annoying drive along the A66 for an hour, a hop along the M18 then onto the M6 up-to M82 and into Scotland. The views while driving in Scotland are breath-taking, but when you drive 150 miles and the views are still basically the same, you start to wonder when it would finish.

Once you get into Aberdeen itself, it’s bigger than you think it is. It has a Wal-Mart style Asda (basically sells everything) with multi-level parking, and has a fairly large shopping district in the town centre. The traffic in the town centre is terrible, and the bypass around it is even worse! It takes an average of twenty minutes to get through around a mile and a half of road, which means the trips to Asda took at least an hour!

Unite at Aberdeen

Compared to Nottingham Unite, the facilities are fairly similar. It’s more modern, the locks are entirely key card entry, there is an elevator, and the room has more storage. Other than that, it’s almost exactly the same. It’s location is better that St. Peter’s Court, it’s practically opposite the university, and crime doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. All-in-all, I’d recommend it to any student looking for a place to stay in Aberdeen.

The drive back

I drove back on Wednesday (15th), and the rain was terrible. It was as bad as the worst fog I’ve driven in, and thats just the spray from the traffic. Ironically, it was warmer and brighter in Aberdeen.

I got a chance to properly test my new bluetooth headset on the way back, the Sony Ericsson HBH-660. The main problem is that it doesn’t fit onto my ear properly, its uncomfortable on my right ear, however its bearable on my left ear. Another problem is when you move the headset too far away from the phone (or in my case, with too many barriers in between, the connection between the phone and the headset splits. The sound quality is amazing on it, as is the volume as you would expect.

GPS woes

I used the Acer n35 satellite navigation system for this entire ride, and overall I’m fairly impressed. There are a few niggles though. Firstly, it doesn’t always tell you to stay in the correct lane, like when the A1 splits to the A1 and M1, with the M1 effectively being a junction, it doesn’t tell you this and I had to do a last minute lane change to get onto the M1. The round-a-bout directions are often inacurate, to the extent that I look at the map instead of listening following the turn number anymore.

On the plus side, if you do go down the wrong road it recalculates a different route very quickly, and the 3D view is incredibly simple to read, on-par or better than TomTom Navigator 5’s.

Other than that, it’s a really good system, that gets you where you want to go (eventually) and is relative easy to follow.

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