I had a plan for this year, it wasn't a bad plan but a combination of work trips and some personal stuff would get me LH Senator and enough miles for a special treat in 2012 for a friends birthday. It was going to be tricky, but I had every confidence in my abilities to construct a suitable final mileage run and to manage a couple of trips so they worked out cheaper in Swiss C than Lufty Y.
Unfortunately, circumstances have a habit of changing and after a short illness, I unexpectedly lost my mother in January. Everything is now rather up in the air except for some work trips for a number of different reasons. There will be some trip reports and there may be a slightly more exotic mix of flights than I had expected, but with the exception of an already booked trip to Prague at the end of March, I'm not entirely sure when. If needs be, SEN can wait until 2012.
Oddly enough, there may be a bit more UK travel with overnights over the next few months, so expect maybe some train and hotel reviews.
Saturday, 5 February 2011
SQ 318 SIN-LHR
7th January 2011
Business Class, 12A
I arrived at Changi quite early, mainly because I need to get some last minute shopping done and partly because I dislike hanging around hotel rooms on the final day of a stay and Changi is a nice attractive airport with lots of places to look at. The added advantage was that my flight was from Terminal 3, which I've never really had much time to explore before.
I checked in very quickly and proceeded through immigration to try and find my last gifts for friends. This took a bit more time than I thought, some people are just so hard to shop for. After I got all that sorted, I went to have a smoke on the outdoor terrace and then into the SilverKris J lounge in Terminal 3. It’s a quiet time for SQ at Changi, so the lounge was fairly empty. I snaffled some very good pakora, some nice rice and some indifferent sweet and sour pork washed down with ginger ale. After an hour or so reading some English newspapers. I decided to go and get some tranquillity in the Butterfly Garden and then have a final smoke before boarding.
Boarding had started by the time I got through security, as I had left it a little later than usual, but I quickly went through the jet bridge for the upper deck of the WhaleJet. As usual, there was a greeting, a welcome drink (apple juice and bitter lemon) and the offer of newspapers and magazines which gave me an The Economist to enjoy over the wait for take off. We joined the take-off queue and eventually rumbled into the sky with that looooong WhaleJet take-off roll.
Pretty much as soon as we were up, our pre-ordered drinks were served (a weak Gin and Tonic) and orders were taken for main courses. The lunch menu today was:
Mesclun with marinated lobster and sun-dried couscous salad
Fillet of salmon Florentine with vermouth sauce, pureed spinach, carrots and sweet garlic puree potatoes
Singapore Chicken Rice
Grilled Beef Fillet with green peppercorn sauce, parsnip puree, roasted vegetables
Movenpick raspberry panna cotta ice cream
Azuki red bean ice cream with vanilla sauce and granola
Fresh fruit, cheese with garnishes.
Gourmet coffees and teas with pralines.
The famed Singapore Airlines Satay was pretty nice, but you can get better at most hawker centres in Singapore, but it’s a refreshing entree and despite this being my eight flight with SQ, it's the first time I've managed it.
The lobster salad was generous on the Lobster and a bit mean on the greenery, the couscous was properly cooked (unlike Qantas’ efforts before Christmas). The dressing was Thousand Island - one of the few non home-made dressings I enjoy. I enjoyed this dish.
I had picked the biriyani and the Indian Flight Attendant taking the selections said it was a a good choice. It was not a good choice, it was an excellent choice. Two lovely Lamb Chops in a dish of piquant sauce, two nice crispy papads (one of which was sesame coated) and a nice sides of pilau rice with nuts and pickled vegetables. One of the nicest airline dishes I’ve ever had and I’ve had a few over the years.
|Excellent Lamb Chop Biriyani|
I decided to have one more drink and the only thing that would stand a chance with biriyani was the Shiraz, it managed, but it wasn’t a stunning example of the fine breed of Aussie Shiraz (the Bordeaux was infanticide), I wasn’t tempted to a second glass.
I had no idea what Red Bean ice-cream tasted like, but it slipped down fairly well and unusually wasn’t utterly rock-hard.
|Aduki Bean Ice Cream|
I skipped on the fruit, but had a little cheese, the cheddar was meh, but the brie and the other soft cheese were nice. I then tried to relax over a cup of Earl Grey with Lemon, but by this time, the flight had gone into a short period of Clear Air Turbulence and most of it ended up over my tray table.
|When did I last refuse a cheese course|
I was going to read books on this flight, but I noticed that virtually the whole of series 4 of Dexter was on KrisWorld, so for a change, I actually used the in-flight entertainment. Not that I didn’t get on fairly well with my latest historical tome - Defenders of the Faith towards the end of the flight.
The Singapore Airlines Business seat is unusual in it's width (and the 1-2-1 layout is spiffy). The seat showed the odd sign of wear, but was pretty much well maintained. I did not bother go into Bed mode, but did spend several hours, part reclined and using the width of the seat to get a nice “half-snuggle” position whilst watching Dexter.
|In Flight Entertainment|
During the flight, there were constant top-ups for drinks and a snack basket passed around a couple of times. There was another period of turbulence which delayed slightly the second meal.
Before landing we had a light meal served
Braised ee fu noodles with prawn dumplings, leafy greens and mushrooms
Banger and mash
Penne with arrabiata sauce, grilled chicken breast, arugula, shaved parmesan cheese
Ice Jelly with Fresh Fruit
The antipasti were quite nice, a couple of shrimps, a stuffed artichoke, some “parma” ham, salad and parmesan shavings. I took the penne and they weren’t bad, generous portion of chicken with it. The Ice jelly was vile. Teas and coffees were not offered due to it still being a bit bouncy, which was a shame, I could have done with a cuppa at that point.
|Penne with Chicken|
Approach to Heathrow was fairly direct and the landing was a greaser. We didn’t have the “waiting for a stand problem” at Terminal 3, we did have the slow immigration (no fast track for EU citizens) and even slower bags, although they seemed to have gotten the priority baggage out first which is unusual for Festung Heathrow.
A train and a taxi later I was at Euston, having missed the Birmingham train I had hoped to get by about 2 minutes. However, there was another one along in 20 minutes and the Virgin Bendyleaner soon got me to International where my flatmate was waiting to drive me back home.
After a 28 hour day I was greeted by the cat with a "Where the hell have you been for three weeks and where's my salmon" look.
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
((Family problems are still causing some delays, but I hope to get the final part up by the weekend))
I have stayed at Conrad branded hotels before and I’ve always found them very good on service but not brilliant at handing out the HHonors benefits. This Conrad, I'm happy to say. was perfectly compliant with all HHonors benefits on this visit. I received an upgrade to an Executive Suite overlooking the Fountain of Wealth, access to the lounge and was offered a late check out.
Also in terms of housekeeping, it is impeccable, with my room attendant even asking what fruits I required in my bowl. The main room was large and pleasant with a good work area, a good sitting area with a nice comfortable sofa . The bedroom had a massive bed with quality linens and plenty of storage space. The bathroom had a lovely big tub, double vanity, loo in a small side room and a separate shower. Unfortunately, for some reason, the pictures I thought I'd taken weren't on the camera when I came to download them.
The lounge is very nice, but I understand that there have been cutbacks and whilst the staff are very willing to please, it does need some improvement. The presence of only small plates is silly at breakfast, you end up having to go back two or three times, whilst with a sensible size plate, there would be a lot less work for the staff. Also replenishment seemed rather slow at times, especially at breakfast.,
Whilst the opulence level is pretty high here, that’s not uncommon in Singapore, but there’s no real sense of “side” that you can find in some five star hotels. The staff are a bit formal, but reasonably friendly. I enjoyed it so much that I have booked a return stay in November for three nights.