To top it all off we went to Hamley’s Toy Shop.
I met up with my family around lunchtime and took them to Burger King in the pouring rain. We then went to Primark to get Mum some new jeans ready for the holiday. Dad then wanted taking to a new record shop that I had found called Boo Hoo Records. I dragged them to Forbidden Planet to get a Star Trek Christmas Jumper that had just been released but it had suddenly dropped off the website and they didn’t have any in-store: I was gutted.
We got on the road at about 4:30 pm after letting the Caravan Park know our ETA. The rain ceased as we passed city limits and we had a good run to Exeter where we stopped and had Frankie and Benny’s for dinner. I used my student discount too which helped bring the price down.
The views were stunning as we got into Cornwall and the light eventually faded leaving us to navigate the treacherous roads in the blackness of night.
We arrived at the caravan park around 10 pm and me and mum went to the bar to collect the keys. There was a live act on playing some horrendous 80s music which seemed appropriate for the clientele of the Caravan Park.
Mum handed me the information pack to retrieve the key to open the caravan and I couldn’t find it. We had a bit of a panic but turns out mum had dropped it in the car! The caravan was freezing and I slept in my jacket that night.
I bought this card from Amazon as I had run out of storage space on my Desktop. I had to remove my soundcard but the motherboard onboard audio worked just fine.
Installing the card was relatively simple physically. The trouble came when I tried to get it to recognize the hard drives. I have an Asus M5A78L-M PLUS/USB3 Motherboard. When I installed the QNINE card the BIOS couldn’t recognize any of the hard drives attached via the motherboard. I wondered whether there wasn’t enough power or whether the card was just defective. 2 hours later after pulling hard drives out and plugging them back in again me and my dad managed to boot the computer and we flashed the BIOS of the Silicon Image Sil 3114 SoftRaid 5 Controller Chip to the latest version, 5.5.00, on the QNINE Card.
To flash the BIOS you can go to Device Manager and find the chip name under Storage Controllers. You will have to leave the card plugged into the computer with no drives attached in order to boot to windows.
The BIOS can be found here: https://www.latticesemi.com/Support/ASSPSoftwareArchive
After the hassle of installing the card, it worked perfectly and I can’t fault it.
Adding this card to my system allowed me to add four 2.5″ hard drives 3 of which were 1 TB in capacity and one 2TB drive. I now have a 7TB backup drive, a 5TB drive to store my photos, videos, downloads, and anything else, and I have my two 240GB SSDs with Windows installed. These are set up in a RAID 0 with the motherboard RAID controller. This was intended to make my system drive slightly faster which I think the read and write speeds are but the response time sometimes runs in the thousands of milliseconds.
The card only supports SATA I which has a 1.5GB/s data rate and my motherboard only supports SATA II with double the data rate but is nowhere near the speeds of SATA III or NVMe drives. Hopefully, I’ll upgrade the PC in the future to take advantage of these new technologies.
My backup and media drives don’t use the RAID controller but rather Windows inbuilt option of Windows Storage Spaces. Again, not the fastest but allows me to have large-sized drives for storing my data. These are set up in the equivalent of RAID 0 so that means there is no redundancy, hence the large backup drive.
Chelsea planned a trip for me and her to go to Great Yarmouth as I’d told her I liked travelling. It would also be a good opportunity for me to practise driving before going back to University in September. Before I knew it the hotel was booked, and then we were on our way.
Day 1 – Travelling
I left Royston around 12 and picked Chelsea up at 12:30. There was quite bad traffic at Duxford and on the M11, but I made good time. It was the first time I’d driven alone.
Once I picked Chelsea up we got on the road. There was a bit of congestion on the A11, so Google Maps took us on a diversion. We stopped at Thetford for the Pancake and Waffle Shack at lunch. I had some fries and onion rings and Chelsea had Oreo and Chocolate Pancakes.
We finally got to Great Yarmouth at 4 pm where we checked in at the Hotel. The room was quite small, I don’t think we could have managed a whole week there but it was nice enough. We were on the top floor overlooking the car park, not the best view.
After we unpacked we got dressed up to the nines to have a posh dinner. We Googled some places and found that the Hotel was quite far away from the main town so we drove. That was a mistake.
There was hardly anywhere to park, even at 7 o’clock at night, but we finally found a parking space down some sidestreet. We then couldn’t find anywhere nice to eat on the front and we were so hungry by this point we ended up at a fish and chips.
Chelsea had worn heels but took them off once we got to the fish and chip shop because she had already got blisters. She spent the rest of the evening barefoot. To make matters worse, Chelsea then got a bone stuck in her throat!
We went to Tesco to get some drinks for back at the hotel and we were so out of it a lady helped us out by showing us that two small packs of Fanta were cheaper than one large one. Then, we started driving home but forgot to put the directions to the Hotel in the sat nav so we had to pull over.
We went to bed as soon as we got in before something else happened.
Day 2 – Exploring Great Yarmouth
We rose at 8 and got ready before going down to have breakfast. They had a set menu with waitresses coming to take the order and a breakfast bar with toast and cereal and a range of juice. We both got some funny looks being in a hotel in Great Yarmouth and being teenagers. We both ordered a Full English and Chelsea had my beans and mushrooms and I had her bacon, so that was perfect.
From our venture the night before we decided it was a bit far to walk into town, so we drove and this time found somewhere to park a bit further up. It was £7 to park all day which was a bit steep, but we really didn’t fancy driving around for hours trying to find somewhere cheaper.
I liked the way that the light was refracted through the water. You can watch a video below (there is no sound).
The Sea Life Centre was first on the list and we had a special 2 for 1 voucher. as we went in they took a photo of us. It was very dark inside, so I opened the aperture up all the way to F/1.8. They had all sorts of different sea creatures and, as a bonus, they had penguins; Chelsea’s favourite exhibit. We even got to see them being fed. We bought a keyring each with our photo on from the beginning and Chelsea got a Penguin cuddly toy. The Sea Life centre had so many exhibits it’s no wonder we both took lots of nice photos. Mine above. Chelsea’s below:
Here are some photos of when I went to the Sea Life Centre in 2012.
We then had lunch. We found a nicer fish and chip shop on the front by the Sea Life Centre and both had 6 chicken nuggets and chips. Chelsea definitely wasn’t going to have fish this time. It cost about £5 each and you got the nuggets, chips, and a drink. We sat on the promenade to eat our lunch and talked for hours watching the world go by.
We were conscious of the time and didn’t want the market to pack up so we headed off. There was a craft market on in the sports hall which was quite nice, and I took pleasure in teaching Chelsea about all the different types of planes as they had a stall with photographs on. They also had a vinyl stall, but they were framed 7 inches rather than ones to play.
We walked along the high street and looked in lots of joke shops and toy shops and souvenir shops and charity shops before finally getting to the market. They didn’t have much at the market, we prefered the shops. We also looked in a Department store which had “Great Yarmouth’s biggest toy department”, but we weren’t convinced.
On the way back Chelsea stopped and got a fake tattoo of Stitch, her favourite character. We also got some postcards.
Before we got to Great Yarmouth we said that we had to go on a horse and carriage ride. There didn’t seem to be a queue and we’re not good at queuing anyway, so it took a while for someone to notice us, but we got on. It was £10 for a one way trip to pleasure beach, and the horse stopped right near where we parked the car. That saved our legs!
The stop was also just outside the Merrivale Miniature Village. I’d been once before when I was 12, but Chelsea had never been. It was around £18 for both of us, and they took a photo of us too. A convenient cash grab on tourists. They sold us keyrings at the end, just like the Sea Life centre.
We took lots of lovely photos from lots of different angles and I taught Chelsea about how if you use a low depth of field and the right perspective then you can make the photos look miniature. I was annoyed at myself because I didn’t take my macro lens with me to save weight in my camera bag but then I ended up needing it! I still think I got some good photos (above). And Chelsea got some amazing ones too (below).
Here are some photos of me at the Miniature Village in 2012.
It was getting pretty late so we got a slushie and ice cream and sat on the beach before heading back to the hotel to change into our posh clothes to try a fancy dinner again. This time we Googled where to go but lots of places either weren’t open that late or were too expensive for what they were.
We ended up going to Frankie and Bennys, which was lovely, they even had parking. I had a burger and Chelsea had mac and cheese. We had mozzarella sticks for a starter and a tiny little Oreo cheesecake for dessert.
We then drove home in the dark (my first experience) before turning in for the night.
Day 3 – Swimming and Horse Sanctuary
We woke up at 6 to the sound of seagulls and chatted for a little while. Chelsea fell back asleep whilst I wrote my blog. We both thought breakfast finished at 10:30, so I woke Chelsea up at 9:45. I then double-checked the brochure, and that said breakfast finished at 10, doh!
We took our time getting ready as we had already missed breakfast. I then drove us into town to go to a tearoom we saw the day before. We settled on Sara’s Tearooms on the seafront near Pleasure Beach. It was a lovely building with seating on one side on the seafront and the other side in a lovely garden surrounded by flowers. Chelsea doesn’t really like the sand as it gets everywhere so we sat with the flowers. We had a milkshake and tuna melt toastie each, but in hindsight, we probably should have shared.
By the time we finished, it was about 12 o’clock, so we got back in the car and drove to Redwings Horse Sanctuary which had free entry. It was only about a 15-minute drive. We parked up and went to the visitor centre where they told us that it was one of the Shire horses’ birthday. They had over 100 horses, ponies, and mules. The place was massive, and we took lots of lovely photos in the glorious sunshine and definitely got enough exercise for the day. Some of the horses had funny names like soup and applejack. They had a special hospital stable for unwell animals. We learnt that they create bonds and friendships and can become depressed when without them, so their friends often stayed with them in the hospital. My photos are above and Chelsea’s are below.
We were very hot and thirsty by the time we had finished looking around so we went to their cafe and gift shop to get a coke and ice cream. Chelsea bought a couple of reduced key rings. 50p for a keyring is a lot better than £8!
We then drove back into town and parked up. I was glad that you can pay for parking on your phone because we wouldn’t have had anywhere near enough change to cover the extortionate prices all weekend. We walked to the swimming pool but the grumpy receptionist said that the next session didn’t start until 4:30, 50 minutes from now.
We passed an ice cream parlour on the way with some cool flavours like Peppa Pig and Minions. They only took cash though so we went somewhere else and then sat on the promenade eating the ice creams, waiting for swimming to open. It was then finally 4:30 so we meandered back to the swimming pool. We didn’t have any change for the lockers so asked if we could get some, but the receptionist said only if we paid by cash.
We walked down the whole of the seafront in search of a cash machine but they all charged around £2 for a withdrawal. The first we found was broken anyway! That meant we had to walk a mile to HSBC on the high street which was surrounded by ruffians. We finally got some cash and headed back to swimming. It was quite late now but we had persevered this far we just had to go swimming.
The men’s changing rooms were open plan and only had cubicles for families or disabled people. They even had women cleaners working in there which I didn’t think was very appropriate. The swimming pool was a lot smaller than the pictures so we were a little disappointed. We did get to experience the wave machine and go down the slide so that was quite fun.
We wanted to get our money’s worth, but we only had the car park till 7:15 pm. So we decided to get out of the pool at 6 pm. We got changed and then headed over to pleasure beach to go on a log flume that Chelsea had wanted to ride since she was little. We helped out some tourists with paying for tokens. It cost 4 tokens per person to go on the ride but you got a special deal if you got 10. We got quite wet on the ride but it was really fun. Chelsea then got some more keyrings of us on the ride. We used our last two tokens up by going on the carousel and got some candy floss before going back to the car.
After the fair, we went back to the hotel and got changed out of our wet clothes into our posh ones for another Frankie and Bennys. We got there quite late and were the last ones in there by the time we had finished eating. I had a pizza which was cooked on a real pizza oven, but to be honest I prefer the American style pizzas. Chelsea had pasta Carbonara. And we got 2 portions of mozzarella sticks for starters this time.
We drove home in the dark and went to bed.
Day 4 – Travelling home via Norwich
We rose at 7 to pack and tidy the room up. We had the car fully loaded up by 9 and so posted the keys in the checkout box and went and had breakfast. Chelsea said she could manage 2 of their Full English!
Once we had finished breakfast we drove to Tesco and filled the car up before heading to Norwich for a day of shopping. It was a nice straight run to Norwich and I had planned on using the park and ride. We took the sliproad and the satnav turned left but there was no left! I then had to carry on to Norwich using the signs and we ended up parking in a multi-storey. Another first for me.
We first looked around Castle Mall, which looked really empty with closed down shops. It wasn’t a great first impression. I then took Chelsea to the market and she loved that. She picked up a Shawn Mendes drawing and some Riverdale comics. We then went to Jarrold’s and had a look around their departments before heading to Intu Chapelfield where Chelsea took me to all the clothes shops and we had great fun with her trying on different dresses. She then took me to CeX and a Record Shop in return. We had Ed’s Diner for lunch as I thought I had a 50% off voucher, but it was only valid after 3 pm. Lunch was still nice though. We both had Chicken Burgers and Chelsea had a side of Mac and Cheese, her favourite.
We got back on the road after our shopping day and both made it home safe and sound after a lovely holiday.
Go to Chelsea’s website to check out some more of her photos: https://blossomtreephoto.co.uk/
In May, my Grandad boldly announced that we were going to Poland.
For the past couple of years, me, my grandparents, and auntie have been going on holiday as the prices are cheaper inside term time and I’ve had a lot of free time whilst being at Sixth Form and University. Grandad found a good price for Kraków and he booked the tickets. It worked out at just over £250 per person on the EasyJet website.
Day 1 – Travelling
We left on Sunday 30th June. We stopped off in the new Caffè Nero outside the Grand Arcade in Cambridge. Me and Cam suggested that we might need a proper lunch as the plane was landing late and we didn’t think there would be anywhere open by the time we got to Poland but the grandparents didn’t take any notice. I had a chicken and cheese toastie and diet coke. Grandad a Tuna sandwich, Grandma a Bacon Roll and Cam didn’t have anything.
We got the 2:05 pm National Express coach from Parkside, Cambridge. I watched a bit of TV on the coach and it got to Luton quite swiftly.
The first order of business was security. We got our liquids out and headed on through. There was a fairly large queue but it was okay.
Once inside, we sat down at the Hawker Bar where I ordered Spanish Rarebit Bites for £7.50 and a Diet Coke for £3.00!
Grandma ordered the Padang King Prawn Skewers for £7.50 and truffle potato wedges for £4.00.
The Rarebit was very tasty. I got 4 bites. Each was just big enough for a mouthful. The Chorizo complemented the strong taste of the cheese well. The Hawker slaw was unappetizing having been coated with a special sauce. However, after eating a morsel, it did bring out the flavour of the wedges.
The wedges weren’t anything spectacular and you couldn’t taste the truffles. You could achieve the same flavour from frozen ones from Tesco.
The Diet Coke was extremely pricey at £3.00. And by the time the food arrived the large ice cubes had diluted the coke so much that it was almost undrinkable.
Overall, it was a nice experience. They even had plug sockets to charge my laptop within the establishment. But things were just a bit too pricey for what they were. And the Diet Coke should be served in a bottle, not a glass with ice.
Our gate was then called and we boarded the plane. The flight was uneventful apart from the lovely sunset as we came into land at Kraków Airport.
The taxi driver was waiting for us at the airport with Grandad’s name on a bit of paper. I was very excited as it was like we were in the movies.
It was a short 20-minute drive to the Hotel we were staying at; Vienna House Easy.
Once there, we checked in, and as me and Cam predicted they had stopped serving food. We went to the bar and had a cup of tea though. We then went into our rooms to relax for the night, which is where I’m writing this now.
My room was very posh. It had twin beds, cushions for decor, a desk for working on my blog, and lamps all over the place. I decided that I must try the shower and it was wonderful. No fear of running out of hot water, or somebody else waiting to use it. I think by the end of the week this will be the cleanest I’ve ever been.
Day 2 – Exploring the Town
We met at 9 for Breakfast which was on the ground floor of the hotel. The decor was very nice with plush seats. It was a buffet style with a range of juices, breads, cheeses, ham, and a selection of hot stuff such as two different kinds of sausages, bacon, and scrambled egg.
As we hadn’t eaten the day before I decided to try most of it. I had a mixed juice, but it was very watered down and didn’t taste great. The sausages, bacon, and egg were all very nice but nothing can beat Searles in Hunstanton.
We decided we were going to explore the town today. I went back upstairs and got my camera and after a bit of faffing about with everyone going off and coming back again and just missing each other we set off.
The heat was sweltering upon exiting the hotel through the revolving doors. It started at about 28 degrees and rose to 36 by midday.
It was a short walk to the tram stop. It was a very busy stop with a lot of different trams going to different places. Luckily, they had a ticket office so Cam and Grandad could purchase our tickets. If caught without one it can land you a hefty fine: 250Zl.
We had a bit of confusion on where to get off but we got there eventually. We crossed the road into the old town which was surrounded by trees and a green. We meandered down the road further into the heart of the old town where we saw St Mary’s Basilica. On the hour a man with a trumpet stands in one of the very tall windows and plays a tune. We were very impressed, but would be too scared of being up that high to do it ourselves!
I was impressed with just how many birds there were. Hundreds of pigeons flying low around the square and even more starlings flitting in between the roofs of the old buildings.
We’d pretty much boiled alive by this point so we went for a walk to find somewhere to have a drink and a sit-down. We ended up in Goralski Praliny where I had a gigantic Ice Cream. And it was only £5!
We then decided to have another wander through the old town. Me and Cam had both done a lot of research beforehand to find places to go and things to do. One of these was a tour of the city on a golf buggy. Seeing as it was so hot and Grandma can’t walk very far we decided to go on one. It took one hour and a half and cost 400Zl, around £80. There was a nice breeze on the buggy which cooled us all down.
The golf buggy was electric. It seems that Poland is quite conscious of their effect on the environment. When we entered our rooms there was a little bag that said if you put it on the door it signifies that you don’t want your room cleaning the next day and as a reward for helping the environment they’ll give you a treat. We all put our bag out but only Cam and Grandma and Grandad got a treat.
We had a tour of the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter of Kraków. It was quite hard to take photos but I managed. We stopped off halfway at an old synagogue and we had a look in there and then got a drink and ice cream.
The buggy’s max speed was about 25 mph and it was open on all sides. It was quite exhilarating driving along on some of the busier roads.
We asked the driver where the tour would stop and he was kind enough to drop us back at our hotel. That saved our legs and from sweltering too much.
Grandma and Grandad both needed another sit-down drink so we stopped in the hotel cafe and had a beer, water, and tea before heading up to our rooms for a siesta which is where I’m writing this now.
We met up again at 6 pm for dinner. We got a taxi to the Galeria Krakowska Shopping Centre. It was huge! Probably the same size as WestQuay in Southampton if not bigger. I took my camera in case we had an interesting meal but we ended up at Burger King (I wasn’t complaining). It did take us a long while to find it though as there was no food court and the place was massive. We went up and down 3 floors before finally finding most of the cafes and restaurants in the basement.
Day 3 – Polish Aviation Museum, Chata, Exploring Town
We rose at normal time and had an uneventful breakfast. After discussing where to go we decided upon the Polish Aviation Museum as it was free on Tuesdays. We got day tickets on the tram this time and over 70s can go free with a valid form of identification, which meant a really cheap day out!
It was a short walk through a forest from the tram stop to Museum Lotnictwa. It was clearly signposted too.
It was quite deceiving in size from the front; a large visitor centre. But once we walked through the building we realized just how large the museum was. Behind the visitor centre, there was a huge field with what must have been over 100 different planes. Me and grandad spent a good couple of hours wandering around looking at them, with me taking lots of photos. Cam and Grandma sat in the shop and waited for us.
I tried a different style of editing on these photos, opting for a film-style look with a heavy vignette, emphasizing the deep greens and blues, with added grain.
I also took some photos of the exhibits inside the visitor centre.
The MIG-29 was my favourite plane so I edited that photo a bit differently, and there being so many spitfires in the world I opted to use a low angle view to capture the propeller and nose against the bright blue sky.
After we had finished looking at all the planes we went to the shop and bought an ice cream. And I got most of my presents from there, including a couple of magnets, a coin, a couple of model kits, and my postcards.
It would be interesting to go back in a few years time as they are building a brand new hangar and seem to be expanding quite quickly. There were also quite a few planes in storage that looked like they had been delivered recently.
We got the tram back into town to find somewhere for lunch. Cam had found a place called Chata online so we went there. On the way, we saw a sex shop which made everyone laugh.
There was real fur on the seats, and with it being so hot it smelt a little, but we got used to it.
Grandad had a Ginger Beer, and I had a raspberry Beer. We tried each others’ but we liked our own, which was good. Grandad had a pork chop with potatoes, I had fish and chips, Cam had pierogi dumplings, and Grandma had Goulash in a bowl made out of bread. Grandma liked the look of the sugar bowl and asked the waitress if she could buy it but the waitress said they had a set amount and you could buy one everywhere anyway. We never did find one though.
It was really cheap and came up to just over 120Zl in total the equivalent of about £25 for 4 people!
We then walked towards Rynek Glowny (Main Square) where we needed another sit down so we went to a cafe which was attached to a book shop (Kurant. Księgarnia Muzyczna). We enjoyed the atmosphere of sitting right on the square with the tourists walking about and the birds flying high between the roofs. We also got to watch the horse and carriages go by.
After we had rested up we crossed the square and saw the Eros Bendato Sculpture which looked like a big bronze head.