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Old 2nd May 2019, 12:52 AM   #1
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Join Date: 19-Jun-2011
Location: Leeds
Posts: 124
Default Trip up to London, Birmingham and Inverness

This will be a short trip report on my recent (Feb 2019) trip up to Britain.

This was a trip that I was anticipating as I have not been back to Britain since graduation from University a few years ago, albeit for a postgraduate exam this time. (for some archaic reason, we still do British postgraduate exams for many specialties in Singapore).

As airfares and hotels were self-paid, I hence had to choose the most value for money ones.

Options at that time were SQ, BA and QF as the only 3 direct options. As the preparatory course was in London but the actual exam was in Inverness, Scotland, SQ was ruled out as the nearest airport would've been Manchester, a good 500 miles south of Inverness.
That left BA and QF, for which QF (funnily enough) was a good $200 cheaper, despite INV-LHR being on BA codeshare.

Seat 71D

This was an almost empty flight even in Y. I'd estimate a 30% load SIN-LHR. Not sure what the load was SYD-SIN.

QF A380s have a special seat at 71D. 70D is taken out as an emergency exit on the floor. This led to fantastic leg room:

Emergency exit hiding under the carpet.

In any case, it didn't matter as it was so empty that I had the whole 4-seat row to myself (as did most people in Y). Would be useful in full loads and probably worth paying the extra to secure this seat in future.

Touchdown to LHR T3 was at 6am, and immigration clearance took (a surprisingly quick) 20 minutes.

The next four days were spent in Hammersmith hospital:

British hospital canteen food for lunch ... Boy did this make me appreciate Singapore hospitals food far more.

Headed up to Birmingham for a couple days before the exam to visit a university mate.
Britain's second city is very pretty at night.

Last edited by isaac; 2nd May 2019 at 01:07 AM..
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Old 2nd May 2019, 01:17 AM   #2
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Join Date: 19-Jun-2011
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After a short 48hrs in Birmingham it was time to fly up to Inverness.
The only provider from BHX to INV is currently flybe.

BHX is actually surprisingly well-connected to the city centre, unlike lots of other smaller airports with only road connections.
From Birmingham new street train station, there are multiple trains calling at BHX station, barely a 15 min ride away. From there, there is a 2 minute airtrain (similar to our skytrain at SIN) to the airport terminal itself.

Flybe BE831
Bombardier dash 8 Q400

Surprisingly, a full flight.

Unremarkable, except it was significantly louder and far more vibration than the A380. A reasonably short 1h30m jaunt which would have taken 6h plus via rail.

View through the dirty window of what I believe is the Moray Firth.

Dash 8 on the tarmac of INV.

Inverness is extremely pretty and not grungy unlike what many big cities in Britain can be. I did catch many odd stares and remarks by cab drivers, hotel receptionists, waiters who were curious as to what a Chinese male would be doing in Inverness in the middle of winter. According to the receptionist, the hotel business is extremely slow in winter (for obvious reasons). Did not see any other Asian person (except for one of my examiners!) for the 3 days I was there.

Thankfully, the weather was very mild (10-15 degrees) for the time of year.

Lots of very good and reasonably priced meals.

Scotland also has its own banknotes, which I found really interesting.

Day of the exam which was in raigmore hospital, the only tertiary hospital for the Highlands, an area 35 times the size of Singapore.

Last edited by isaac; 2nd May 2019 at 01:31 AM..
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Old 2nd May 2019, 01:38 AM   #3
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Join Date: 19-Jun-2011
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Having completed the exam I had one day prior to my flight back.

Decided to explore the town by foot

View from the top of Inverness castle. Grand tour fans might recognize that bridge as the end point of their epic Scottish journey in season 3 episode 7, where Clarkson et al toured Scotland in their Italian classic cars.

Sadly, (although at this point 9 days in I was sorely craving Asian food) the trip came to an end. It was an unremarkable BA A320 flight to LHR where I boarded QF2 to Singapore. This time however it was 100% load and I couldn't even get a aisle seat in Y. Painful agony for 12hrs. Should've booked that 71D for US$100.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 2nd May 2019, 07:25 PM   #4
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Join Date: 12-May-2011
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Thanks for a very enjoyable read, isaac! Nice pictures of Birmingham and Inverness, and always fun to fly in turboprops like the Q400's...

No comment on the hospital canteen food over there, though! I too appreciate the food in the various food courts and other F&B outlets at Singapore hospitals (As a visitor or patient...)...

On a technical point: some of the photos appeared quite large when I viewed them from my Mac...might want to consider reducing the image size (I normally keep width to 1024 or 1280 pixels for the pics I post).

Cheers and thanks again for the TR!
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