Thursday, 30 September 2010

Autum is approaching fast!

It dawned on me when I went out this morning, that autumn is approaching fast! We don't seem to have had much summer this year, but maybe we will get a nice long Indian summer and no early cold spells like we did last year!

I went round our garden with a camera, looking for some hidden colour. Unfortunately, Blogger can't seem to load up the photos I want, coming up with some real rubbish, so I have made a couple of collages. They should enlarge if you click on them.

The cosmos I sowed from seed, rather late, have done well, and a big pot by the back door is still blooming merrily. They are a rather lovely pale pink colour, but its hard to see from the photo. There are also two astrantias, one white, planted this year and a deep pinky one. The sedum is really bright now, but there is sadly a great dearth of butterflies. One year we had 25 tortoiseshell butterflies on one clump, but this year - nothing.

There are a few late roses on the climbing roses, and the photinia bush looks gorgeous with its deep red leaves. Number two Rowan tree has produced a couple of huge bunches of berries, which the birds can't get at as the berries are hanging right at the end of rather bendy twigs!

I have now more or less recovered from the disappointment of our cruise, although I still enjoyed the actual cruise very much. Its lovely to have everything done for you for a change! I would love to go on another cruise holiday, maybe to Norway, but I am going to have to polish up my powers of persuasion on Mr G first!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Carmi's Thematic Challenge this week is "Still Life". This jumble of brooches, necklaces and bits and bobs was taken when I was having a sort out so that what I never wore could be given to our Church Bazaar.

Since when it has been augmented with lots of lovely necklaces I can't resist buying!!

Friday, 24 September 2010


And so we sailed south. In a brisk wind. And when we got to Guernsey, although some passengers managed to get onto the tenders, as we were anchored a little way off, we, of course, didn't! Mind you, when I heard that at the Guernsey end there were 35 open-tread steps with NO HANDRAIL I was very glad I hadn't gone!

For the sake of my long-suffering readers, if any of you have managed to stay with me, I have made collages of the views of the Islands we didn't get to, plus a couple more of windy husband and (strange) woman, and the St. Mary's Pilot boat from the Scilly Isles.

However, we did land at Cobh, in the Republic of Ireland. This was a lovely little town, and although most passengers took the (very expensive) coach tours to Cork and beyond (including the Blarney Stone!) we decided to stay in Cobh. We wandered along the waterfront, took photos, had something to eat (a HUGE sandwich, side salad and cups of tea) took more photos and then went to the Heritage Centre.

Cobh seems to be built on the side of a vertical cliff, and as all the houses are painted different colours, it looked very pretty. The big transatlantic liners used to call here, and it was the last port of call for the Titanic on its fateful voyage. It was also the port of embarkation for the Irish emigrants to the USA and Australia. The Heritage Centre had a wonderful sound and vision display of the horrors of some of the ships crossing the Atlantic in the early days.

We had several euros to get rid of, so we went into the Heritage Centre Shop. Most things there were either related to the Titanic, or covered in shamrocks! But I did get a Titanic mousemat for my computer, plus new oven gloves with shamrocks on!

The next day we arrived in Liverpool, to a typical rainy day, and so ended our first taste of cruising. Rather disappointing in that we only landed three times out of a promised 7, and one of those was a substitution (though a very fine one - Bruges) There was a near mutiny on board at all the changes and difficulties and I rather think there were some angry letters written to the Cruise Company.

But despite that, I enjoyed my first taste of crusing - I liked being on board ship, sailing the seas, and not having to cook, clean or wash up!!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


We left Invergordon in the late afternoon, and set out into the North Sea, heading to Honfleur, in France. It was another very uncomfortable night - the fact that the wind had moderated from Force 9 to Force 8 didn't seem to make a lot of difference!

By morning it was obvious we would not make Honfleur by even midday. So the backroom staff worked miracles and got us a berth at Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Zeebrugge docks were vast, a container port as well as a Ferry port, and a place for docking cruise liners. We were glad we had booked a tour coach to take us to Bruges, and not tried to do things ourselves.

Anne-Marie, our tour guide, was very keen to fill us in on the political problems of Belgium, and the tension betwen the Flemish speaking North and French speaking south. Bruges is in the Flemish part.

The coach parked just out of town, and Ann-Marie set off at a more than brisk pace through a pretty park to take us into town, where she would meet us much later on for the return journey.

Unfortunately, those of us with mobility problems were left behind, and at a junction between two paths had to send an able-bodied runner to find the right way! We finally caught up in the square above.

We set off into town on our own, but being peckish, hot and very thirsty, we stopped in the first cafe to have a vacant table. That is Mr G studying the menu. We both had really excellent omlettes and some good Belgian beer.

Much refreshed we set off again. Bruges is a very pretty town, with towers, spires and interesting skylines.

There are lots of canals winding their way through the town. We would have liked to take a trip on a boat, but the queues were so long it seemed pointless. It being a really fine day, lovely sunshine and blue sky, the tourists were out in force!

There were lovely little things to see, like this attic window.

The shops were most interesting. This one is a window full of Belgian tapestry cushions

And this one is one of the many chocolate shops. Belgian chocolate is famous, and there were dozens of shops selling all sorts of chocolatey goodies. It was mouth-watering, but we didn't think we would get any home in a decent state. They would have either melted or got squashed!

Then it was back to Zeebrugge, and time to sail off southward. I was looking forward to seeing Guernsey and the Scilly Isles (another of my "must-see" visits. The weather had moderated considerably, and I could walk around the ship without banging into walls, tables, chairs, etc.!

Sailing southwards seemed like a good idea...........


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Figures and letters

Carmi's Thematic Challenge this week is "figures and Letters".

This old postbox, dates from Victoria's reign, and the VR symbol can still be seen. Eire didn't become a Republic until 1937, after bitter wars between the UK and Irish Republicanists.

It would initially have been red, as were all UK postboxes, but I am sure it was joyfully painted this lovely green as soon as Eire came into being.

The photo was taken in Cobh, in County Cork, on one of the places we actually landed on our cruise. It is a lovely little town, built into the side of a cliff (or so it seemed!), very hilly, but quite beautiful, as all the houses are painted different, soft, colours.


Thursday, 16 September 2010

HOLIDAY: part 2

We failed to dock at Kirkwall, in Orkney, to my bitter disappoointment, and that of the friends we were meeting. So we battled on through a force 9 gale and very rough seas round the top of Scotland and down to Invergordon, in the Cromarty Firth. We stayed here overnight, which did at least give everyone a nice peaceful sleep!

Invergordon is not the most prepossessing town Scotland can offer! It is all to do with Oil. Oil tanks,Oil rigs, and all the engineering that goes with them.

So we got on a local bus and went to Inverness. It is rather a grey town, being mainly built of granite (I think) but it does its best to look cheerful with loads of flowers everywhere. The River Ness goes right through the middle.

And there are pleasant riverside buildings, with interesting skylines.

We found a nice warm shopping mall (the wind outside was still blowing a gale, and very cold as well)

And at one end of the mall was the original Victorian Market, which had been refurbished and had lots of little shops inside.

Having found our way back to the bus station, and had a bite to eat in the cafe there we got on the bus back to Invergordon. Incidentally, I can recommend the cafe in the Bus Station - I had the best sausage roll I have ever eaten there, and also bought a packet of very interesting crunchy biscuits.

Back in Invergordon, we had to walk along the very windswept pier to get to the Ship. We were very glad to be in the warm, and looking forward to dinner, and crusing on to Honfleur.

Little did we know........


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Well, that was a funny old holiday.........

We left Liverpool OK, and went up to Oban, but two of the four launches on the ship were out of action, and the queues to get on land too much for me. So we didn't get to Oban, in Scotland.

We then found ourselves in the teeth of a Force 9 gale (and a very uncomfortable, miserable night) and were unable to land at Kirkwall in Orkney.

We couldn't get to Honfleur (France), and went to Zeebrugge (Belgium) instead. But it did mean we could have a trip to Bruges. More of that another time!

We couldn't land at Guernsey, too much swell to get the launch alongside........

We couldn't land at the Scilly Isles. Too much swell etc. etc........

We did get to Cobh, near Cork, in southern Ireland) and found lovely little town. More later!

All in all, three landings instead of seven, and my favourites missed entirely, and high winds and rough seas.

Funny old holiday!

The pic was taken through our cabin window. Those are VERY high waves!!