Apex Hotels Blogs

Hamish's Blog - Day Four and Five

 Permanent link

Blog - Day 4

Hamish's Blog - Day four

Yet another fantastic day in Glasgow! Today, for me, has been the best day so far of my time here; I was in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) for the second day of the Judo competition. Having access to the athletes lounge is like a dream come true for any Judo fan, so being based there for the day was really exciting.

The weather was again kind to Scotland's largest city on one of the busiest days expected during the games. Walking towards the SECC with the morning sun shining off the Clyde and highlighting the magnificent Finneston crane towering above the river, you couldn't help but be excited; a fantastic day was in store. After arriving and completing the usual security checks, I made my way to the Sport Information Desk (SID (yes, we do like our acronyms at the Games)) behind the judo hall. Having all the paperwork we needed to distribute to the teams delivered to us, our main task was to put it all in the Results Distribution Units (you guessed it, RDU's). After we had done this, we were able to relax and watch the Judo. In the athletes lounge, teams come and go, preparing for fights; it is incredibly interesting to see the differing preparation techniques from different athletes.

Another positive of being around the competition venue was getting to meet lots of lovely people. Athletes, coaches and other team staff were all more than happy to stop for a chat; these included a number of Scotland and England's day one medallists, as well as others who would go on to win medals this evening. The competition was fierce and to be able to watch it live in Glasgow was a great opportunity; it also gives a huge insight into the lives of the athletes as you see their purest emotions, elation or disappointment, as they return to the warm up area after fighting. The atmosphere within the hall was electric, with euphoric roars when Scottish athletes took to the mat, and good natured support for all other competitors.

Today, one conversation will stand out in my memory for many years to come; it was a request which came from the heart. A coach approached the SID after her athletes had all been knocked out and she had come to say goodbye and to thank us, but also to ask us for help. Judo is a relatively young sport in her country and she asked, since both myself and my colleague are coaches, if we could give her any help in increasing the ability of her athletes but also increasing the popularity of the sport. Her ambition really hit home to me how big a deal it is for these athletes, unused to the international stage, to compete in the Commonwealth Games. This gave a very true sense of the power of these Games across the globe and was a moment which, in my opinion, defines the Games' need for a legacy. I hope to continue to work with this coach in the future to assist her in her plans for her team.

Tomorrow, of course, will be another exciting day with the final day of the Judo, but again I have managed to get my hands on a ticket for the hockey. Hopefully Scotland will be able to live up to their neighbours' success and create a great atmosphere inside the stadium and out.

Blog - Day 5

The most exciting day of my time in Glasgow kicked off, once again, with an early morning bus; it was however less of a concern than usual because of the day that lay before me. After my shift in the SIC, I was going to head to the National Hockey Centre to see Wales take on world champions Australia and Scotland face India. I was then going to head to the SECC once more to catch the final evening of the Judo.

The Winners

Again, the shift in the SIC was quiet and we had plenty of time to watch the Judo preliminaries, some fantastic fights took place and Scotland ended the morning with five athletes qualifying for medal fights in the evening. Having spent the morning in the Village, I headed for the train to Bridgeton, despite the queues and the somewhat more traditional Glasgow weather everyone was smiling and laughing, the atmosphere was fantastic, even in a cramped train. The hockey was another great afternoon of sport with plenty of goals, with Australia getting the better of Wales and India beating a Scotland side with plenty of home support. The crowd stayed behind the Scotland side throughout their defeat and even when it began to rain.

The real highlight of my day, and in fact my time at the Games so far, came in the evening. A packed hall in the SECC played host to one of Scotland’s most successful nights of Judo in recent years. The atmosphere was absolutely electrifying and I personally don’t remember experiencing anything like it at a sports event. Again, emotions were extreme and uncensored when away from mat; despair, delight and frustration were all present. At one point an athlete walked outside and all you could hear was his roar of disappointment. Others crumbled into tears at being defeated in the biggest fights of their lives, team staff and fellow athletes were left trying to comfort the inconsolable. From a Scottish perspective, it was a night of pure elation and joy; the roar when Euan Burton won Gold in the -100kg category is a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life; it was euphoric and there was still more to come… Chris Sherrington’s Gold to finish off the evening left Scotland with 13 medallists out of the 14 athletes we had competing.

After the competition and medal ceremonies had finished, the volunteers were allowed up on the mats to take photos of the venue. We were joined on the mats by the full Scotland squad and their coaches. After their official press photographs the team were more than happy to pose for photos with the Clydesiders. This was a brilliant show of gratitude from the players towards the volunteers and it really topped off a fantastic evening.

On my penultimate day in Glasgow I have seen great joy, pain and friendship demonstrated by a huge number of people. The atmosphere has been unrivalled and it has really shown the games to be a great success in my eyes. I am looking forward to my last shift in the Village tomorrow and saying goodbye to the many great people I have met.

Hamish's Blog - Day Three

 Permanent link

Blog - Day 3

Hamish sees the Queen

Another fantastic day in Glasgow, and today you can really tell that the games have started. Whenever you are in the city, there is a sense that something fantastic and exciting is happening. You cannot escape them, everywhere you look there is a reminder of the Games. People are talking about them, people are going to see them and people are smiling.

Today has been a quiet day in the SIC, especially at the Judo desk; the first Judo competition started today so all the teams were at the SECC to watch. This left us sitting watching the Judo from our desk in the Village. It has turned out to be quite a successful day's Judo for Team Scotland and Team England so getting peace to watch it was rather enjoyable. The main event in the Village today was a visit from the Queen, she came to have a look round the Village and have her lunch with some athletes. This did bring the whole place to a standstill, however, as the main passage through the Village became blocked by athletes and volunteers trying to get a picture of Her Majesty. The atmosphere, though, was great once again; the sun was shining, the competitions had begun and you could tell. Less people were milling around in the Village but there was a sense that the excitement surrounding the Games was still increasing.

After a quiet day in the Village, myself and a few of the other SIC volunteers headed up to watch this evening's hockey matches between England and Trinidad and Tobago; and New Zealand and Canada. The level of English travelling support was fantastic and made for a great.. Both games were great to watch, it is an incredibly quick sport and never seems to stop. England overcame Trinidad and Tobago with a convincing victory whereas New Zealand had a much tighter game with Canada.

Tomorrow sees my first shift outside of the Village, in the SECC for the Judo competition. A busy but exciting day is surely in store for me and I cannot wait to be that little bit closer to some of the action.

Austin goes to the Games

Hamish's Blog - Day One & Two

 Permanent link

Hamish's Blog

Life as a volunteer at the Commonwealth games

One of our staff from Apex International is working as a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games. He's decided to blog about his experiences whilst he's there (he's even taken Austin with him so expect some pics!). We'll be following Hamish (and Austin) on their adventures in Glasgow.

Hamish at the Games

What's Hamish Doing as a Volunteer

I am staying in Glasgow this week whilst I volunteer at the Commonwealth Games. I am part of the Sport Information team and will be based mainly at the Athletes Village, where I will be on hand to help teams, athletes and officials to find out all the details they need about the Judo competition. Any questions they have about transport, timings or the competition itself, they come to us. We also like to chat with whoever pops in and there are some people who don't even have a question but come in to see us anyway. I will be blogging about my experiences for Apex International as they have so kindly given me the time off to attend the games. I will hopefully be sending some photos of Austin the duck having a good time in Glasgow along with my blogs.

Day One

As a breakfast waiter at Apex International, I am no stranger to an early morning; so as I rolled out of bed at 5am this morning, the familiar feeling of not quite being awake but having to get up struck me hard. It's never a pleasant feeling, getting up in the early hours but it soon became worthwhile. Arriving at the Athletes Village and checking in for your shift, you can already feel the atmosphere of excitement. The cheery faces in security and check in are a great way to get motivated for the day ahead. Walking through the Village towards the Sports Information Centre (SIC), I saw athletes, team officials, coaches and other Clydesiders like me; everyone says "Hello!" or "Good morning!" and you just can't help but smile and return the greeting. It's the atmosphere that really makes the village; even early in the morning there is a happy mood with a party-like buzz in the air.

The SIC opens at 7am but our first team official arrived long before then to ask some questions about the day's events. Throughout the morning, athletes and coaches came to check the details of their training, meetings and requirements for the competition. Of course, no day would be complete without an unusual request and today we were asked to find an athlete. This may seem like a straightforward task in the Athletes Village but it is much easier said than done. It took a while just to get in touch with the relevant people and then for them to track down our athlete but we did manage in the end. At the end of the shift, I made my way back through the now buzzing Village, again greeting everyone I passed, and headed back towards Glasgow.

Wearing the Clydesider uniform, everyone wants to talk to you, on the train, the bus or just on the streets, everybody wants to know what you are doing for the games and where you are from. This may just be the friendliness that Glaswegians are known for, but I think it probably has something to do with the good mood the city is in because of the games. The whole city is packed; every street, every train and every shop is full, all day. It's a great atmosphere in itself, as people are always happy to have a chat and a laugh. Wandering around the centre of the city all afternoon was great fun, and the nice weather helped the mood even more. So far my experiences in Glasgow have been fantastic, and I have met a huge number of different people from different countries and backgrounds and I can't wait for tomorrow to do it all over again.

Day Two

It's here; today is the day that the Games really kick off, and you can tell. In the Village, the atmosphere has been upped another notch, and throughout the city there is a feeling of anticipation. The Opening Ceremony tonight is set to be a great evening and a real show of Glasgow's welcome to the world. For the volunteers, however, it was just another day at the office (and a busy one too).

Another early morning make sure that I was well and truly prepared for another day in the SIC. It started early again with team officials trying to check their bus schedules and appointments for the day. This carried on for most of the morning with the odd exception of just wanting a chat. Athletes were also in and out all day, looking for where they needed to be and when. A moment, which for me, emphasised the friendly nature of the games was when a couple of athletes who I had guided to get their kits sorted came in to say thank you. It may not seem like much, but the fact that they took time out of their busy day to say thank you really epitomised the games' sense of friendship and community. This is a key part of the organisers' message for the Games but it can really be seen in the way the athletes and the teams are conducting themselves.

Tonight promises to be a great evening, the Opening Ceremony should raise the excitement for the Games even more, the athletes will begin their final preparations, the competitions will start and the spectators will arrive in their thousands. The friendship amongst the volunteers is already beginning to show as a group of us are going out tonight to watch the ceremony and take in the atmosphere. Another fantastic day in Glasgow was topped off by the near tropical temperatures which have added even more to the atmosphere within the city.

London August 2014

 Permanent link

What's on in London in August 2014

Event of the Month | DINO SNORES FOR GROWN UPS
(22 AUGUST 2014)

Have you ever fancied spending a night in a museum? Dino Snores for grownups allows those childhood wishes come true. Bring your sleeping bag and pillow and experience a sleepover with the dinosaurs!

Dino Snores for Grown Ups | © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is hosting a fun-filled sleepover evening where you can explore the museums galleries at night time. From dinosaurs to creepy crawlies the museum is packed full of wonders.

The night is bursting with activities with stand up comedy, live music and a unique midnight feast (which even includes edible insects!). You’ll also get a three course dinner (without any insects!) and can enjoy a wine, beer or soft drink from their cash bars. With an all-night monster movie marathon too, we can’t guarantee you’ll get much sleep but there will be a full hot breakfast waiting for you in the morning to brighten you up!

This event is for adults aged 18 and over, places are limited so we suggest you book early to avoid disappointment!

Location: The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD



The August bank holiday weekend signals the start of annual Notting Hill Carnival. Running since 1966, the carnival is the largest street festival in Europe. A celebrate of culture and traditions in the Afro-Caribbean communities, the festival is full of colours, unity and sounds.

Location: Notting Hill



A celebration of music, food and fun – The Big Feastival is fun for all the family. Join in cookery masterclasses, meet top chefs for Q&A sessions or simply enjoy music from Kelis, Fatboy slim and many more! Camp, glamp or visit for the day but do not miss out on this unique Feastival!

Location: Alex James Farm, Oxfordshire, OX7 6UJ



Calling all cyclising enthusiasts, jump on your bike and join in this festival of cycling! View beautiful, iconic landmarks as you travel around the traffic-free streets and enjoy music zones, bands on bikes and stilt bikes to mention a few! You can stop off in the special parking zones and experience the free entertainment as you make your way around the route!

Location: Around London



The Longines Global Champions Tour brings together 30 of the top riders in the world in a competition spanning 12 countries. London is one of the last stops on the tour so results are key to the success of the riders.

Location: Horse Guards Parade, The Household Division, Horse Guards, Whitehall, London, SW1 2AX



The first major exhibition devoted to Jean Paul Gaultier’s couture fashion world. From Sidewalk to the Catwalk is full of exhibitions bringing together iconic costumes dating back to 1970’s up to the present day, cutting-edge designs and avant-garde creations.

Location: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS



Discover an array of exciting works from world-renowned and emerging artists. Full of diversity and talent, the Summer Exhibition allows artists new and notorious to display their works together to create one of the most significant exhibits in the art world.

Location: Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, W1J 0BD



BBC Proms is an annual event of orchestral music concerts and events. There’s even something for the kids to enjoy with an exploration of CBeebies through an orchestra. If you can’t get tickets to any of the big events in the Royal Albert Hall there’s also various parks showing live screenings.



BBC Proms is an annual event of orchestral music concerts and events. There’s even something for the kids to enjoy with an exploration of CBeebies through an orchestra. If you can’t get tickets to any of the big events in the Royal Albert Hall there’s also various parks showing live screenings.

Location: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN



See legendary hits performed live on stage with this Michael Jackson musical tribute. Stunning dance routines, special effects and a dazzling tribute to the King of Pop! Thriller has been wowing audiences for years, tracing the life of Michael Jackson.


Dundee August 2014

 Permanent link

What's on in Dundee in August 2014

Event of the Month | ALBA REAL ALE FESTIVAL
(22-24 August)

Alba Real Ale Festival

Celebrating Scotland’s Independent Brewers, The Alba Real Ale Festival is back again! Spend your August bank holiday weekend with a selection of over 40 ales, ciders and lagers. This festival is perfect for those who enjoy an ale or two or for those looking to enjoy a fun, friendly, family day out!

The festival is held in The Royal Tay Yacht Club which features striking views over the River Tay and a family friendly atmosphere. With local performers taking to the stage including Charlotte Brimner and Rock Bottom you can enjoy music during the festival too.

You can even take the kids along! Sunday will be particularly focused on families with a bouncy castle, face painting and a magician!

Tickets are available to buy online, best to book in advance to avoid disappoint to this annual festival of real ale, music, family fun and entertainment!

Location: The Royal Tay Yacht Club, 34 Dundee Road, Broughty Ferry, DD5 1LX



Become an ice cadet for the day and experience what life would be like in the coldest, windiest and most remote places on Earth. Learn all about the Antarctica and experience some exciting challenges including braving ice-cold temperatures and riding a snowmobile.

Location: Dundee Science Centre



Great fun for kids who love pirates! Jump aboard the Frigate Unicorn and enjoy storytelling, face painting and competitions. Dress up in your best pirate costume for a chance to win a prize too!

Location: Frigate Unicorn



Fancy braving the chilly waters of the Tay? Take part in the Discovery Mile Championship swim, so far around 100 swimmers are set to take part and you can join them. As long as you are over 12 years old and can swim. There’s also prizes for the top 3 in various categories.

Location: River Tay Estuary



The Dundee Car Show is the perfect event for any car fanatics. From vintage to classic cars and kit to commercial vehicles, this is a show not to be missed, especially not be any petrol heads! If you’re especially proud of your car you can enter it too for only £2 per vehicle!

Location: Baxter Park, Arbroath Road, Dundee, DD4



Ceilidh dancing is a great Scottish tradition, learn the moves and enjoy the music aboard the Frigate Unicorn. Performing throughout Scotland and also in Ireland, Germany and Holland – the ceilidh band are a popular choice and their lead accordionist has also twice won Scottish Accordion Champion!

Location: Frigate Unicorn



Discover the historical, medieval past of Dundee on this guided tour. Explore the Old Steeple, dating back over 600 years, the Franciscan monastery of the Howff and Dundee’s last remaining medieval house.

Location: Dundee Contemporary Arts, Town Walls, 152 Neithergate, Dundee, DD1 4DY



Romeo & Juliet is coming to Glamis Castle with The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the UK’s premier open-air touring theatre. Experience a performance full of passion, heartbreak, murder and betrayal featuring two star-crossed lovers and feuding families.

Location: Glamis Castle, Angus, DD8 1RJ



A celebration of the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Caird Hall will host a unique double string orchestra. With 14 Scottish Ensemble musicians performing alongside 14 young string players at the beginning of their career, Commonwealth Strings will be a symphony of musical talent.

Location: Caird Hall City Square, Dundee, DD1 4TB



Calling all green fingers or those aspiring to be so – Carnoustie Flower show features around 200 classes so you can learn all about potting plants, vegetables and floral art. There’s even a children’s section for kids taking a keen interest in flowers and plants!

Location: Carnoustie Leisure Centre


Edinburgh August 2014

 Permanent link

What's on in Edinburgh in August 2014

Event of the Month | Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
(1 – 23 August)

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is part of the world-famous Edinburgh Festival. Nearly a thousand musicians, drummers, pipers, dancers and singers will perform on the esplanade of the striking and iconic Edinburgh Castle. Over three weeks, more than 200,000 people will join together to experience a celebration of music and entertainment at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The Tattoo is referred to as a ‘global gathering’ with talented performers coming from all over the world to take part.

Edinburgh Castle Tattoo Fireworks

Ending with a stunning display of fireworks and red arrow or RAF flyover the Tattoo is a magnificent event which will leave your heart pounding and adrenaline high! If you can’t get tickets to the Tattoo you can take in the dazzling firework display over Edinburgh Castle from our Apex International and Apex City Hotels in the Grassmarket.

The Tattoo has always sold out in advance in recent years, so make sure to get your tickets sooner rather than later.

Location: Edinburgh Castle Esplanade


Edinburgh International Festival (8th – 31st August)

The International Festival was founded in 1947, just after the Second World War. Unlike the Fringe Festival, artists and companies take part on an invitation-only basis. During the festival you’ll get to experience theatre, classical music, opera and dance by performers from across the world. At the end of the festival, you’ll not want to miss the stunning fireworks concert which takes place at Edinburgh Castle.

Location: Various locations around Edinburgh


Edinburgh Art Festival (31st July- 31st August)

Scotland’s largest annual visual arts festival returns to Edinburgh this August. The festival, which showcased in 1947, showcases some of the Scotland’s most impressive contemporary art as well as exhibitions from some the most influential artists in the scene. Over 40 exhibitions will be taking place across the city, many of which will be free!

Location: Various locations around Edinburgh


Edinburgh Fringe Festival (1st July- 25th August)

By now, everyone knows about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it is after all the world’s largest Arts Festival. With over 40,000 performances taking place in 250 venues across the city, you’ll need to put some time and thought into choosing the performances you want to see. Highlights this year include shows from Brendon Burns, Al Murray and George Galloway.

Location: Various locations around Edinburgh


International Book Festival (9th – 25th August)

If you want to attend a somewhat quieter and more relaxing festival in Edinburgh this August, the International Book Festival might be just what you’re looking for. Book lovers will congregate in the surrounds of Charlotte Square, and together they will celebrate the books they love and discuss the big issues of our time. It’s the perfect spot to spend an hour or two reading your favourite book.

Location: Charlotte Square


SKC Dog Show (23th – 24th August)

If you’re a dog lover, why not attend The Scottish Kennel Club Championship Show this August? The event will take place across 2 days at the Royal Highland Showground. On Saturday you’ll be treated to Working, Pastoral, Utility, Toy and Agility competitions. On Sunday there will be Gundog, Hound, Terrier, Obedience and Agility competitions to enjoy. Bring the whole family and make it an event to remember.

Location: Royal Highland Showground


Mela Festival (31st August –1st September)

The talent of Edinburgh’s ethnic minorities will be showcased during the Mela Festival. Prepare yourself for some Bhangra beats, family fun and delicious food. The festival manages to attract more than 20,000 visitors, and this year looks set to be no different. Don’t expect to be allowed to stand back and spectate however… you’ll be expected to join in on the fun!

Location: Leith Links


Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (Every Saturday)

The Edinburgh Farmers’ Market has become an Edinburgh institution. Held every Saturday, and located a short walk from Apex International Hotel and Apex City Hotel, you’ll find a fantastic array of Scottish produce to tickle your taste buds.

Location: Castle Terrace, Edinburgh. EH1 2DP


London July 2014

 Permanent link

What's on in London in July 2014

Event of the Month |TOUR DE FRANCE 2014
(7, 24, 25, 26 & 27 JULY 2014)

See the world’s top cyclists pass through London as part of the Grand Depart for the Tour De France or watch live coverage from a dedicated fan park.

Tour de France

Watch cyclists, including Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome, as they pass through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before going alongside the River Thames. The route through London will see them pass iconic landmarks such as the Tower of London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, before finishing on The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. Fans are expected to line the streets in celebration of the passing cyclists.

Come together with other supporters in the free fan parks around London. Featuring giant screens you can watch the Grand Depart and Tour De France live. Watch the Grand Depart live Trafalgar Square’s big screens followed by the Tour De France live screenings at Canary Wharf. Not only will there by live coverage at Canary Wharf but also plenty of French themed food, prize give aways and special celebrity appearances too!

The Tour De France is the world biggest cycling event, experience the excitement, atmosphere and dedication as the world’s top cyclists go head to head for the title.



Hyper Japan is the biggest Japanese culture celebration in the UK. Discover the world of anime, taste cuisine from the best sushi chefs in the UK, experience Japanese fashion shows and shop for unique hand-made gifts. There’s also a chance to join the COSParade and be in for a chance of winning a prize for best costume.

Location: Earls Court, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Road, London, SW5 9TA


ROOFTOP FILM CLUB (Throughout July)

A unique experience for film lovers - The Rooftop Film Club brings the stars of the big screen under the stars in the sky. During July there will be classics including Flash Dance and Top Gun screened from Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop. Book early to avoid disappointment as screenings are extremely popular.

Location: Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX


ROOFTOP FILM CLUB (Throughout July)

A ten day “extravaganza” packed full of music, dance and comedy. From Tom Jones to Jake Bugg, Tim Minchin to Diversity – each day is filled with a variety of acts for every taste. Experience high quality festival food for a change with specially selected restaurateurs, artisan traders and produces available in Hyde Park.

Location: Hyde Park



The annual summer opening of Buckingham Palace begins in 26 July. As one of the world’s last remaining working royal palaces, Buckingham Palace is an iconic London attraction where during summer you can visit the luxurious state rooms, full of royal treasures.

Location: Buckingham Palace



Following a sell out last year, after hours zoo nights have returned. Unleash your wild side with comedy, cabaret and a silent disco all held within London’s very own urban jungle. Don’t miss out on this event held most Friday nights throughout July.

Location: ZSL London Zoo, Outer Circle, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4RY



Bastille Festival is now in its 7th year, celebrating all things French including food, arts, theatres and film. You can experience wine tastings, creative workshops and many more activities all in Borough Market. There’s also an open air party to round up the day.



One of London’s most spectacular venues, featuring panoramic views over London, is hosting a silent disco. Three DJs will travel to Level 69 to spin the decks and entertain those looking to party. Combining stunning views and excellent music The Shard’s Late Night Silent Disco is a truly unique experience.

Location: The Shard



In their first live performance since 1980, The Pythons reunites for a hugely popular comeback show. Featuring the all-star cast including John Cleese, Terry Jones and Eric Idle, Monthy Python will be the talk of London’s comedy scene in 2014.

Location: The O2


Please log in to comment

We use cookies on this website to measure & improve performance.  (X) Hide this message