Music Lovers


If you have been disappointed by Eurovison’s voting system-where the best are trashed and the worst elevated, then let us hear from you. Pour your heart out, you are not a lone!


Snowboarding rose to prominence on the slopes in the 1970s and 1980s as an rebellious alternative to skiing. The more sophisticated, sensible skiiers didn’t accept the sub-culture of snowboarding at first and there was a clear divide between the two groups.

As snowboarding became more popular as a sport and began to build its own style, fashion and culture – slopes would aim specific runs to the snowboarders. With more snowboarders taking to the slopes, the resorts are beginning to sell themselves more to the snowboarding crowd, rather than focussing all of their efforts into attracting skiiers.

The best snowboarding resorts offer great slopes for beginners and experts, so any snowboarder can challenge their own ability. Europe offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding destinations, with North America and Canada enticing the serious boarders to travel that extra distance. New on the scene, Japan and New Zealand are gaining a reputation as having some great snowboarding resorts.

France can provide some of the perfect pistes for a snowboarding holiday. Whether you are a professional or up-for-fun, Tignes offers thrills that can rival any resort in the world. Boasting some of the highest peaks in the Alps, Tignes also provides almost two-hundred miles of skiing and snowboarding terrain.

Tignes is one of only two French resorts that is listed as snow-sure, and can welcome almost 30,000 visitors at once. With hundreds of bars and shops, Tignes is the perfect destination to snowboard and enjoy a varied and exciting nightlife. Popular since the 1960s, Tignes has grown to accommodate the growing number of visitors, at the expense of the glacier that is expected to split in the future.

If you want to travel away from Europe, Canada’s Whistler is one of the most popular destinations for skiiers and snowboarders. One of the most popular destinations on North America, Whistler provides two of the best mountains for snowboarding found anywhere in the world.

The snowboarders can unwind and relax after a day on the slopes in Whistler Village, with so many shops, restaurants and bars that you can try a different one every day. Snowboarding at Whistler is increasingly popular and the resort has adjusted to incorporate all levels of abilities.

For the purist snowboarder who wants to focus on the slope, Lake Tahoe in the United States can offer serious boarding pleasure. With over 500 ski runs, boarders can enjoy endless rides down various slopes in the bright sunshine.

Snowboarders can take advantage of the fantastic half-pipes, parks and facilities aimed specifically at the sport. So, for those boarders looking to practise their skills as well as speed, Lake Tahoe could be the perfect destination.

Snowboarding continues to grow in popularity and will continue to do so as holiday makers look for that holiday with a difference. Excitement, skill and pleasure make snowboarding more popular than ever and with so many destinations now embracing the sport, it looks set to grow even further.

Squeezing down the aisle of the aeroplane you search for a seat, whilst trying not to bash people who are already sitting down over the head with your hand luggage.

First choice is clearly a window seat, yet finding one proves more difficult than you initially thought. People are either sat on their own in the middle of a row, or have already taken their positions next to the windows. You consider climbing over those individuals hogging the rows to prove a point, however, you quickly reconsider. Maybe just a little inappropriate. After all, this is the start of your holiday, a time to chill and relax.

Making your way further down the plane, you suddenly spot an empty seat by the window. Hurray. Smiling, you put your bags in the over head locker, leaving out your i pod for later and of course some sweets for take off. Strapping yourself in and feeling pretty happy, you press your nose against the little plastic viewpoint you strove so hard to get. Oh great a magnificent overlook of the wing. Fabulous. You curse those over excited holiday makers, who have taken prime positions on the plane.

So now you are officially on board, strapped in and ready to go. Your holidays have began, perfect. You sit back, relax and wait to take off into the distance. The seats are surprisingly roomy and comfortable. Happy days.

Suddenly your chair jolts and your body is jerked forward. Opening your eyes and turning around you realise Mr and Mrs fidget are sat behind you. Oh no! There is no rest for the wicked and you watch in disbelief as two parents accompany two screaming children down the row in front of you. What’s more, the couple with the sneezes have chosen to sit next to you, feeling compelled to spread their germs. Could you have possibly chosen a worst place to sit. Oh well, this is just a small price to pay for the holiday you are about to enjoy.

You may not be able to chose your fellow travellers, but who cares, suddenly your mind is distracted by the delicious looking pictures of drinks and snacks featured in the in-flight magazine provided, all tempting you to chose your favourite ones.

After a smooth take off, there is no turning back. To avoid the risk of the people surrounding you grating on your nerves, you decide to make full use of the in flight services.

This may only be a cheap flight, however, the air stewards and stewardesses who have begun serving people are dressed to perfection and make every attempt to ensure you enjoy your holiday. It is good to see staff behaving politely and professionally, regardless of the rude or difficult people they may encounter.

The question “any drinks or snacks” rings down the aisle. Perfect, yes. You order the white wine, which looked so refreshing in it’s picture. Bit pricey, but your on holiday so what’s the problem. Nice and cold. There is quite a range. Chardonnay, Merlot, Rose. Impressive. Feeling a little peckish you eventually chose Pringles- a hard choice considering there was a a rather large selection of appetising treats.

Feeling the calming effect of the alcohol, munching Pringles and enjoying the various travel stories from the in-flight magazine, you have forgotten about your fellow travellers. Listening to Cliff Richard’s “Summer Holiday” on your I Pod, which you embarrassingly downloaded in preperation for this trip, you start to relax into the flight.

Before long, you realise you have already began your descent. That was quick. Things pick up even further when you hear the Captin make an announcement. Due to the crackled over head sound projection, you only hear every third word. Nevertheless, you get the gist- the weather is going to be great upon landing and they are expecting to arrive on time, if not a few minutes early. Good news all round.

Relieved to hear the exciting news you finish your drink and return the tray to it’s folded position, in preparation for landing. You had previously been sceptical about booking a cheap flight, having images of landing in Cairo or Istanbul, instead of the Costa Del Sol. However, as the plane touches down and you are welcomed to Spain by a smiling air stewardess things are looking up. Walking out into glistening sun you head towards the airport feeling content.

It has been proved that you can get fantastic, efficient and reliable flights for great prices- having more relaxing company would have been a bonus, but the dramas are all part of travelling. There are bound to be some irritations even when travelling in first class or with friends. Maybe one day you will be able to chose who you travel with to try and maximise fun. However, as far as the cost, flight and service itself is concerned you are pleased. With extra money in your pocket, luggage collected and sunglasses on your head, you go out to meet the transfer to your hotel. You are ready for a holiday full of Sun, San and of course Sangria.

With fuel prices rising, road tax on the increase and the astronomical cost of living continually emptying the nation’s transport funds – why aren’t people using public transport more? Convenience, cost and efficiency are just three of the reasons that so many people opt to stay in their cars, when they should be the reasons to jump on the train or bus.

For the most convenient form of transport, most people will say that driving alone in your own car cannot be beaten. However, there will be times when this is not the case and public transport will be more suitable. Living in London means that the tube can often be the best way to get from A to B and in the quickest possible time.

For those living outside of the big cities and even larger towns the case is more often than not that public transport isn’t frequent enough and costs too much. Depending entirely on where you live and where you need to go to, it can rarely be argued that public transport is the better option. A forty minute drive to work for me costs twice as much and takes three times as long on the train. So why would I ever consider not driving for this journey?

Convenience is regularly the first thing that commuters will look for when deciding which mode of transport to use. With this in mind, it would seem that there needs to be a major shake-up before people in more rural areas opt to jump on a bus or train rather than drive themselves to work and back.

The cost of petrol (and diesel), road tax and car maintenance continues to rise as the credit crunch is felt across the country. As the nation begins tightening its belts a little further, cost of commuting to work will play an even more important role in choice of transport method.

Driving into London can be expensive, with congestion charges and road tax added to the already hefty fuel costs and car insurance. Commuting to London by train seems to be the sensible option with the tube offering a pretty good service for getting around central London quickly and easily. But this cannot be said for so many other towns around the UK where bus and services are often infrequent and require multiple changes.

So, for those of us that don’t work in London and will not consider car insurance as part of the cost of getting from A to B, is the cost of driving really as expensive as we are told? Fuel prices have shot up dramatically in the last year, rising by about 30 per cent all over the country. Even then, I am still saving a substantial amount of money every week by driving to work despite the protestations of the government who keep trying to persuade us to opt for public transport.

I drive alternate weeks with a work colleague and we halve our fuel consumption as well as sneaking forty winks when it’s own turn to be the passenger. Car share schemes seem to be popular amongst drivers for these reasons, as they still offer convenience, value and for those green-thinkers among us is a little better for the environment.

If you drive to work then this is a fantastic option for driving down fuel costs, while doing a little bit for the environment. Another choice for drivers is to avoid busy town centre traffic and the problems of parking by jumping on the park-and-ride service that is sometimes provided. By parking just outside of the town centre, you can pay a small fee and park for the whole day with only the small inconvenience of a short bus ride. A fantastic choice if a parking space is both costly and a rare commodity.

As a regular driver I find travelling by train or bus to be both inconvenient and a little too expensive to tempt me to hang up my keys. But with the cost of fuel rising every week I have been tempted to at least consider the possibility of not driving so often, as well as driving with more efficient fuel consumption in mind.

If fuel prices continue to rise as expected, public transport may become a more viable option as cost plays a bigger role than convenience or efficiency. So, if the nation decides to ‘go public’, will the public transport system be ready for the increase in popularity? Judging by the numbers of standing passengers commuting to London, it would appear to be very doubtful at best.

The Last Train Home

So, you have spent an evening enjoying yourself and this has involved you leaving the car at home. You have had a few drinks and a taxi would be too expensive, even if it drops you at your front door. I’m sure you have all been there, running to the station, praying that the train is still there, or even better that it is yet to arrive.

Dodging slow walkers and couples petting the night away, you catch sight of the train station and the train appears to be there. A glance at your watch and you notice that the train’s departure time is in two minutes. Please be the correct time…..

Running through the open barriers, no-one buys a ticket for the last train home, you head for the carriage door. There are crowds of fellow revellers loitering on the platform so you push your way through and jump aboard. It is absolutely packed and everyone seems to be either asleep or drunk.

The smell of kebab and the stench of stale beer fills the carriage as you clamber over someone’s legs to grab a seat by the window. Headphones go in, eyes close and you think about your bed. The last train home is never this simple and you find yourself nudged, poked or shouted at by a complete stranger.

You open your eyes and look at them. Their mouth is moving but all you can hear is Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ on your iPod. Tired and a little worse for wear you pull the earphones out.

“Tickets please.”

Seriously, it’s half midnight and no-one needs to be paying for their train journey at this time of night. You reach into your pocket and grab a handful of coins. Usually an absolute fortune as you refuse to pay for drinks with anything smaller than a note. So you hand over what could be hundreds of pounds and he prints out a beautiful crisp train ticket.

Earphones go back in and you notice that your stop is approaching. It’s always the way. Another carriage along and you wouldn’t have had to pay. So, you stand in the doorway waiting to leave, another ten minutes and you’ll be in bed.

So, it has finally been announced. We have been waiting to hear these words since the news of America’s credit crunch hit our screens, papers and airwaves in 2007. The British Chamber of Commerce yesterday came out and said the dreaded phrase that the country is at ‘real risk of recession in the coming months.’

With an increase in the cost of living, fuel prices rising, house prices falling and airports adding costs to flights of up to £45 – the British public will be looking at ways to save money. So, why should holidays be any different? We go on holiday to relax and unwind, forget about work and get a beautiful tan to make all our colleagues jealous. Will this change when the recession hits?

If you are planning on still going away this summer then remember the key rules to saving money at the airport. There are several rules to ensure you won’t be ripped off and left with an empty wallet at the end of your summer holiday. Nick Trend wrote an excellent article for the Telegraph called Summer saver guide – airport cost cutting which highlights several key ways of making your money go further when booking a holiday.

I will try not to to repeat his advice but his first point is certainly the most valid – shop around for the best deal using price comparison sites. Don’t take the first offer as very often you will be able to find a better deal elsewhere. This is possible for everything from the flights, hotels, insurance, parking and even how you get to the airport. 

If you are driving to the airport, where will you park your car? There are more airport car parks to choose from now so don’t feel obliged to park on-site at the official airport car park, it could be more expensive so pre-book an alternative and you could save a packet. 

There are alternatives to driving to the airport, including rail travel, national express coaches and even private taxis. For convenience, value and peace of mind, choose the one that suits your need and budget to ensure you make a great start to your holiday with as little fuss as possible.

Personally, when I arrive at the airport I will try to spend as little money as possible. Nick Trend suggests taking a picnic to reduce the cost of eating at the airport as well as making sure you have food that is well prepared and to your taste. This can also be taken on to the plane, just in case the in-flight meal isn’t what you fancied and the £1 tub of pringles seems a little steep to you. 

Avoid spending frivolously and make the most of your money this summer by planning ahead. Don’t fall in to the trap of panic-buying that so many tourists do every year and be sure to use every resource at your fingertips. There’s less money about in 2008 so make sure you take care of every penny that you have.

On Saturday 5th July, I will be making the 90 mile journey from my home to The Junction, Cambridge. I will be doing this in the name of reggae, although the bands I will be seeing would probably prefer to be called ska bands. Since the middle of June, Pama International, The Slackers, The Pietasters and Mungo’s HiFi have been performing across the country on the ‘Reggae for the People Tour 2008’. 

So, as any fan of ska music would be, I am excited at the prospect of seeing some of the best in the business. A big fan of The Slackers and The Pietasters, I am also keen to see Pama International who ex-Specials guitarist Lynval Golding now plays with. Great music is expected and a great atmosphere demanded, so now I must plan the evening’s events to ensure the best time possible.

90 miles is a long way to go for a gig and with a finishing time predicted of around midnight, I must decide to stay or not to stay. A hotel would be the perfect way to end the evening and I wouldn’t have to drive tired (I’m sure I have read somewhere that it isn’t a good idea to do so). So do I pay, approximately £50 I guess, for the pleasure of a comfortable bed and good night’s sleep before bombing home in the morning for a football match.

Hotels have showers, air-conditioning, heating, mini-bars, little biscuits, maybe a trouser press and so much more so it would seem the sensible option. But, I have little money and I am bit tight anyway so I will probably just drive home and get to bed about 02:30am and feel worse for wear in the morning as I run ( i use the term loosely) around on a sand pit with grass.

So reggae will be on the menu this weekend, as well as what appears to be a great deal of driving. Wish me luck with the transport, and I will be skanking the night away to some of the finest ska and rocksteady this country is ever likely to see. I will keep the words of The Specials in my mind as I get closer and closer to home – ‘Enjoy Yourself – It’s Later Than You Think’.

Whenever I fly from a UK airport, or any airport for that matter, I tend to always look for a name I can trust with regards to airport dining. It may go against my better judgment but I tend to find my way to McDonalds for a cheap, easy meal or grab a sandwich and a drink from WHSmiths or Boots. Airports are changing and none more so than Heathrow with its controversial and much publicised Terminal 5.

I have only flown from Heathrow once in my life, and going by what people say about the airport this may be a good thing. However, when I did fly from the busiest airport in Europe I noticed an abundance of restaurants, coffee houses and snack bars. With so many options it becomes even harder to choose and so I eventually settle for the safe option and stick to the McDonald’s breakfast – it does what it says on the tin. 

As lunchtime approaches even more options become available to passengers from countries all over the globe. For a taste of British you can grab fish and chips at Harry Ramsden’s or a good value pub lunch at J.D. Wetherspoons. A whole host of other culinary delights await those a little more brave and with bigger wallets than me at the Seafood and Oyster Bar, Sbarro Italian and for the calorie-conscious – the Health Shelf.

As Bono once said, ‘I still haven’t found what i’m looking for’ so have a look at the fantastically extravagant new eateries at Heathrow Terminal 5. The biggest name and reputation to be found is the Gordon Ramsay endorsed ‘Plane Food’. Forgive the pun and take a look at the menu of Ramsay favourites of veal and foie gras burgers, glazed asparagus or a pea and leek tart amongst other treats.

If Ramsay isn’t your cup of tea or you can’t stomach such rich flavours before a flight then there are many other options available to you. Amato and Apostrophe both serve coffee, cakes and pastries while Carluccio’s, as the name suggests, is an Italian Restaurant where you can also grab a takeaway. For the most eccentric passengers there is the Caviar House and Prunier Seafood Bar or a taste of England can be sampled in good old Huxley’s.

When I take to the skies again will I be brave and put my money where my mouth is? When you’re spending hundreds of pounds on flights, and even more on your holiday accommodation, it feels a little painful to fork our more than a tenner for a quick meal before you board. So, double sausage and egg muffin then please…