Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by Big Boy » Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:35 pm

On the transport side, we pre-booked my son's known rail trips online using The Trainline - huge savings to be had there, and they delivered all of his tickets to Thailand for just an extra £7.50.
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by Chazz14 » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:47 pm

Your photos are superb - nice one!
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by lomuamart » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:39 pm

Train travel and bookings/prices are a minefield. Quite often it can be best to book two journeys to reach your destination.
For instance, I looked at trains (one change) from where I was (approx 90 miles north of London) on Network Rail website. That had a second class single at 46 GBP. Single on the mainline to Kings Cross (no change) was 34 GBP.
I thought that was well expensive so looked at other sites. A ticket booked a week early from the mainline station and underground to Heathrow was 16.11 GBP. The trunk line, booked seperately was 8 quid.
I went from the main station and saved a good bit of money.
How could have booking two tickets (if I had gone that route) have been 22 GBP cheaper?
BB - Trainline was the site I used as well.

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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by STEVE G » Fri Jul 22, 2016 9:58 pm

lomuamart wrote:Train travel and bookings/prices are a minefield. Quite often it can be best to book two journeys to reach your destination.
For instance, I looked at trains (one change) from where I was (approx 90 miles north of London) on Network Rail website. That had a second class single at 46 GBP. Single on the mainline to Kings Cross (no change) was 34 GBP.
I thought that was well expensive so looked at other sites. A ticket booked a week early from the mainline station and underground to Heathrow was 16.11 GBP. The trunk line, booked seperately was 8 quid.
I went from the main station and saved a good bit of money.
How could have booking two tickets (if I had gone that route) have been 22 GBP cheaper?
BB - Trainline was the site I used as well.
Yes, I've found that even if you book over the internet in advance, trains to or from the airports aren't much cheaper, it's much better to buy a ticket from the mainline station and then buy a local ticket to the airport. Also, if you have a UK bank card with the contactless payment thing, you can use them on London transport the same as an Oyster card with the same kind of discount, Kings Cross to Heathrow is 3.10 pounds instead of 6.00 if you buy a ticket.

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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by Zidane » Sat Jul 23, 2016 12:17 pm

An excellent report,as usual.Its been almost 9 years to the day since I was back in the UK.....how time flies !
What I miss about the UK is going to a pub for a decent draught beer and going to watch a live football match.
I certainly don't miss the weather or the expense!
What a shame you didn't make it up north to Manchester or leafy Cheshire.....Macclesfield is renowned for its great pubs ! :D
And the second Test match at Old Trafford now being played.....glorious weather....nobody should be surprised by that ! :wink:
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by buksida » Sat Jul 23, 2016 12:44 pm

  • Shopping seems to be a national pass time and I found supermarket food a lot cheaper than what you'd pay in Thailand, by food I mean breads, pies/pastries/cakes, cereals, cheeses, dairy, meats, fish, and general groceries that westerners consume (of course if you eat like a local in Thailand you can do it for less but few westerners that I know actually do this). There is also a massive selection of products from around the world and no stupid import taxes on food that “non-English” people eat. With the massive competition between supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsburys, Lidl, Aldi, Asda, Iceland, etc there are some super deals on groceries and you really can eat well for less, most shoppers know where to go for what items – it is a science all to itself!
  • Now, if you go out to a restaurant it is the opposite, you'll pay through the nose for “exotic” foods – a laab gai in a Thai restaurant we went to in Reading cost a tenner (500 baht) – and they charged me extra for the prik nam pla! A good Indian meal with all the extras could be had for 8 quid (400 baht) and Fish n Chips or a Kebab for around 6 quid (300 baht) – so prices not too dissimilar to touristy western restaurants in Thailand. The portions however were huge, people definitely eat a lot more than they used to and food wastage is high – get even close to that sell by date and it goes in the bin.
  • As much of a novelty as it was I struggled a fair bit with the diet as the food is very stodgy/heavy compared to Asian cuisine, three meals a day was also something I'm not used to – needless to say I still put on 4 kilos. Whether it be a lower liquid intake (its colder and you dont sweat), or bulkier food (a lot of bread and not so much veg), I found going to the toilet quite difficult and had to take laxatives on occasion. Not having a bum gun didn't help at all – how the hell do people survive using fistfuls of shitty paper to clean themselves?!
  • Wine and beer (in supermarkets) is also a lot cheaper than Thailand and with hundreds to choose from, for example you can get 12 big tins of John Smiths for 8 quid – 33 baht a tin which is cheaper than Leo. I absolutely loved the real ale, each pub had so many different choices – and they're only 50 baht a bottle in Aldi (triple that in Thailand). Pub prices are about the same as bars in tourist areas such as Phuket/Hua Hin/Samui; 3-4 quid/150-200 baht a pint (equivalent to 2 small bottles at 80/90 baht each). The difference is you're getting a nice brew, not chemical laced Chang/Leo/Singha – the only hangover I had was when I returned and started drinking Thai beer again, the stuff is literally poisonous. The whole pub culture though has declined and many of them are boarded up or have been converted into housing or shops.
50 baht a bottle - legendary ...
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Some shots from Folkestone, Dover ... and those cliffs ...
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More to follow ...
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by oakdale160 » Sat Jul 23, 2016 2:30 pm

Two things you mention are obviously connected, low price of beer in S'markets and decline of pub culture.

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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by arcadianagain » Sat Jul 23, 2016 3:25 pm

Nice photos of the cliffs, didn`t see any bluebirds though. (you have to be of a certain age!)

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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by hhfarang » Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:54 pm

I found pretty much the same moving back to the states; western groceries cheaper here and Thai food much more expensive in restaurants and not nearly as tasty.

Also I had to buy a bum gun and install it on my toilet within the first month of arriving as I just don't feel clean without it! Although not commonly found in stores here, very nice modern ones (advertised as hand held bidets; never bum guns!) with on/off valves fancy spray heads and buttons for triggers can be purchased online.
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by buksida » Sun Jul 24, 2016 12:46 pm

  • The driving and roads are civilized and far safer than the utter lunacy and life threatening antics that plague Thai roads every day. The cameras seem to be keeping things sensible though drivers do hit the gas pedal when they know they're clear of the all seeing surveillance. Maybe the fact that you'll get fined for pretty much everything keeps drivers sane, hitting them in the pocket works, and there are very few cops about. People are generally courteous on the roads and will wait or let someone else go – this would never happen in Thailand. The number of cars on the roads must have tripled since I last visited the country, each household has at least 3 cars and they're all virtually new – there are no old junkers any more. Parking fees are offensive and the M25 is a whore.
  • There are nowhere near as many immigrants and foreigners as I expected or had heard about, but then I have been staying in relatively nice places and away from the inner city. The country is deeply divided over the Brexit issue – but it is life as usual regardless of the outcome. Generally people have been friendly and courteous so far, there is a sense of politeness that you just don't see in Asia. With all the cheap food comes consequence - the women are huge, even the younger ones - they're all pushing strollers around and eating pies, certainly no issues with re-population here. I'd seen about 2 good looking girls in a month, the eastern European women stick out for obvious reasons, they're tall and thin! I'd hate to be single and living in England.
  • Technology is way ahead of Thailand, the internet speeds are fantastic, but you pay for it. The entertainment monopoly is like a mafia, people are paying up to a hundred quid (5,000 baht) a month for Virgin or BT lock-in contracts that provide internet and hundreds of channels of crap TV. Torrents and the like are blocked, you cant download anything and have to pay these big companies. I wanted to buy a new phone but you cant get anything with a dual SIM as the mobile companies want to lock you in to their services alone, it is all very regulated. Tech is cheaper though, bought a laptop there which would have cost a lot more in Thailand.
Some views of the "big smoke" from the Olympic park in Stratford ...
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More to follow ...
Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? - Hunter S Thompson
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by migrant » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:43 pm

Nice!! :cheers:
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by Bamboo Grove » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:05 pm

What's that sickle and hammer photo? Did you visit a workers' paradise?

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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by Bamboo Grove » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:03 am

Funny thing about the hay fever. My brother went to London a week after my visit. I asked him if he has medication for hay fever as we both have had that since our childhood. He said he doesn't require medication for that any more and he's only going to be in London. Today I asked him about this and he said, yes I should have taken your advice as I had to go to a pharmacy to get antihistamines for hay fever. So there's certainly something in England concerning this.

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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by pharvey » Mon Jul 25, 2016 3:42 am

^ Something in the UK at the moment - I've had flu symptoms for the past 4-5 weeks.... runny nose, tickly cough etc. As it had gone on so long, people were suggesting Hay Fever, but as I had never suffered did not take much notice. Tried all the Hay Fever medication without luck - visited the local quack to be told there is a serious flu virus going around.. I'm suffering more being diabetic.

Anywho - back to topic.... Spot on reports and photo's as usual Buks! :thumb:

Heading down to Pembrokeshire with the LHG and MIL for a week's holiday next month........ thankfully I have the dog for company! Beautiful part of the world though.

:cheers: :cheers:
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Re: Trip report: A visit to England after 18 years

Post by lomuamart » Mon Jul 25, 2016 12:44 pm

As Buks says, driving in the UK is easy simply because about 99.9% of people obey the laws of the road.
I hadn'd driven anywhere for almost three years but it was easy. Just had to remember where the switches were for the lights as it could be as dark at 11am as at 11pm sometimes (cloudy days).
Again, totally agree about the real ale. It slips down so easily, so quickly that you get tangled underfoot before you know whats hit you. And no bad hangovers.
I found that cans of John Smiths Smooth Ale suited me. Was only 3.5% (if I remember correctly) but with the widget in the can it gave as close an approximation to real ale as I found - just make sure that they're really cold or the can will explode when opened. There were always other cans of Old Speckled Hen or Ruddles County hanging around but two of them did my head in so I didn't touch them often.
Wine prices surprised me. At Waitrose, a half decent bottle would cost about 8 quid. I seemed to remember that they used to cost about 3-4 pounds but I realised since getting back here that that was about 20 years ago - time flies.
I still can't get over your comments about food prices, buks. I did the grocery shopping almost every other day for three people. OK, there were cheeses, decent bread some cold cuts, some veggies, maybe a 4 pack of beer but not much else and there was rarely change out of 20 GBP.
An outdated comment, I know, but I helped a friend do shopping at Waitrose in Acton Town about 7 years ago. There were 3 adults, two growing boys and the shop was about for a week - they'd have needed top up shopping as well. Bill? almost 200 quid. I couldn't believe it.
And the thing that really amazed me was that she didn't go through a check out. Just walked out. "Hold on a mo, we're going to get nicked for non payment". "No problem" she said "my Waitrose/John Lewis card will be debited accordingly". "But you didn't scan anything, how do they know?" "Oh, they just trust you".
An eye opening encounter and she would never have ripped the shop off. I know some trolleys have scanners in them now but they didn't have all those years ago. It was literally trust.

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