Tuesday 24 December 2013


Well, its Christmas Eve now, and I hope you are all ready for the occasion, and I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful 2014.

We will be on our own this Christmas, just the two of us, which means it probably won't be much different from any other day!   But I insist on putting up a few decorations, plus all the cards we get, plus my little Nativity scene.   This was made in Peru, and as well as Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus,  includes a sheep and a very surprised llama!

The dreadful weather the UK has been experiencing this week has mostly missed us by.   We have had torrential rain, and very high winds, but it is sunny now, even if the wind is perishing cold!   Hopefully the snow, which is forecast for Cumbria and the Pennines will pass us by!

So all I can do is to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year, and I promise to try and publish more blogs in 2014!

Sunrise taken earlier this month from the bedroom window

Thursday 28 November 2013


November days here have been rather dreary.   Two spells in hospital, one involving an operation have meant I am unable to get out much.    I can't even take the dog for a walk, so everything that is going on in the Park has to be relayed to me by a rather tired husband!

When I came back from hospital the first time I was astounded by our Chinese Rowan Tree!   In the week I had been away all the leaves had turned bright orangey red and the berries were scarlet.   It stood out like a beacon and was absolutely amazing.   The photograph doesn't really do it justice, but its hard to show the depth of colour.

After a bit the leaves fell off, but the berries are still there - its looking rather Christmassy now!   The birds are gradually getting interested, I think it will have to get a good deal colder before the blackbirds descend and strip the tree.   Meanwhile, I enjoy looking at the berries!

And just to remind us that Spring will come again, this is a picture of some of the tulips I planted in pots last year.   They were very bright and cheerful, and I saved the bulbs and have planted them again this year.   They probably won't be as good, but a bit of brightness is what we need at all times!

Everything now is geared towards Christmas - all the ads on TV, in papers and magazines and in the shops encourage us to gorge ourselves on chocolates and loads of sweet things.   Recipes for ways of cooking turkey and ideas for other things fill the magazines.   At first I felt quite hungry but now I don't want to see another picture of a huge turkey, brown and steaming, leering at me from the page.   Mr.G and I will be by ourselves this Christmas, so we can enjoy it as we wish!

To my followers - I don't deserve you, but thank you for hanging in there!   

Sunday 3 November 2013

I feel very guilty at not having posted here for so long - I am surprised if anyone still reads my blog!     I have no real excuse, except that life, in all its rather tricky ways, has got in the way!

The above photograph was taken in the summer, when the early morning sun slanted in the garden in a rather attractive way.   Now alas, the early sun, if there is any, is from the other corner of the garden, and the sun stays low all day!   There are a lot of tallish trees on our right hand side, which belong the the garden next door, which give shade most of the day now, so we don't get much sun.   The house belongs to a very old lady, who, I suspect has no idea what the garden is like now.   Oh well, maybe if her son comes over from Australia again, we can prevail upon him to trim the hedge/trees a bit!

Our holiday seems a long way away now.   We occasionally think about booking another cruise, but we would like to go to the eastern Mediterranean this time, and that means flying to somewhere, like Venice, first.   I've no objection to Venice, but the hassle of flying, or rather, actually getting on the the plane, rather puts me off.   So we have decided, more or less, to wait until much nearer the time, see how we are healthwise, and then get a last minute, cheaper, holiday.

Otherwise our family stays as it was.   We still have the dog, who is as ever fixated on food, my daughter is moving house later this year, and our great granddaughter is now at proper school, being a "Rising 5".   It just doesn't seem possible that time has gone so quickly!

Monday 23 September 2013


My deepest apologies for any readers I have got left.   I don't seem to have had the time to sit down to write a new blog lately, but as I am suffering from a bad cold now and want something simple (?) to do, I have got going at last!

Our last port of call was Lisbon, in Portugal.  Going under the famous bridge was a close run thing for our big ship!

 This is the capital, but not a tremendously enormous city, so we bravely set out on our own to explore.   Actually, we had been to Lisbon before, on our way to the Canary Islands, and enjoyed a coach ride round the city and a boat trip along the waterfront.   When we were there before we found Lisbon to be a bustling, beautiful city, with lovely tiled pavements and squares, with fountains on roundabouts, in parks and all sorts of places.

This time we took the shuttle bus into the city and were taken to a busy square, with buses trams, and a little market.

The young man here was selling cheese - it all seemed to be one sort, but I couldn't discover more about it.   I would have liked to buy some, but thought it might not travel well!

We decided to go to the Castle this time, and took a taxi as it seemed a rather steep walk up there.   The taxi driver was a bit put out, but eventually took us up, through very narrow winding streets - very much the old part of Lisbon.

The Castle gateway had interesting stonework.   Note the beggar on the left - I was rather surprised to see beggars in Lisbon.   (The man on the right in a blue sweater is not a beggar - that's Mr.G!)

As Castles go, this one wasn't tremendously interesting, but the surrounds and gardens were old and rather lovely

As was the guardian cat!

The views, however, were spectacular!   that was the square where the shuttle bus went from, which encouraged us to walk down back.

The square contained some rather tatty apartment buildings, with grass and plants growing in the gutters.

Walking down was quite an experience, but a tremendously helpful and friendly man in a tile making shop drew us an accurate map of where to get an elevator down to the bottom.   We would never have found this on our own.   It was free, unmanned (luckily there was another, Portuguese, passenger with us!) and they were busy building another one alongside.   We definitely saw a different side to Lisbon from last time, and I was glad we had made the effort to go out on our own.

Next stop, Southampton, and the coach home.   We did say that would be our last cruise, but I have noticed Mr.G looking at brochures!

Friday 16 August 2013


At last! I have got round to posting about the end of our holiday.   I am surprised there are any of you who still read me, but if you do, you are most welcome.

After Palma we set sail to Gibraltar.   Now I know a lot of people go for holidays to Gibraltar, and its got beaches, lots of sun and cheap booze, but I have to admit, I didn't like it!   It just felt strange to me.   Here it is, a big rock and surrounding land (a lot of it reclaimed from the sea) packed with white houses and biggish apartment blocks.   There are palm trees all over the streets, and bougainvillea tumbling down balconies  obviously a Spanish ambience, and then you come across a red British post box, or one of the old red telephone boxes    In the High Street, there is Mothercare, Marks and Spencer, plus WH Smiths and other British High Street Stores, but in between, and seemingly every other shop is cameras and electronic stuff, leather goods, or alcohol is every shape or form.   And cheap.  Very cheap.   I did indulge myself and buy a leather bag, small, just what I need when I don't want to take my ordinary big bag (purse to you across the pond!)

Approaching the Rock at dawn was spectacular!

We did take a tour of the Rock.   The views were amazing, and it was very interesting to hear about the history.   The Rock itself is honeycombed with tunnels, made by successive armies, linking natural caves etc.   It was used as a Hospital in WWII and as a shelter for the inhabitants when it was bombed.

That's our ship down there!   And Spain across the Bay

We saw the Apes, well you couldn't avoid them!   They knew tourists fed them (although we were asked not to!) and were all over the mini-coaches before the driver had even got the brakes on!

The caves were enormous, big enough for a concert hall inside!   I didn't go inside, but Mr.G did.

And it was very hot there.   We needed a restorative sit-down and cold drink!   (No, that's not us over there!)

I was going to add Lisbon jottings, but it would make this post too long, so you will have to wait until next time!    

Monday 29 July 2013


Our next port of call was Palma.   We had visited it years ago, and I was astonished at the building and change that had gone on since we were there.    We moored quite a way from the town, and the journey in to the centre by the free shuttle bus was not only longer than I had thought it would be, but heavily built up all the way, with hotels, office blocks and blocks of flats.

However, the bus dropped us more or less outside the Cathedral.   The area there, and the park next to it was all on reclaimed land - when we were there it was beach!   We decided to keep to the old town, neither of us wanted to go shopping.

Going towards the cathedral, we crossed the park, which had a large lake and fountain.   The Spanish are very fond of water and fountains and here in front of the cathedral precinct, was no exception.

Deciding that rather than aimless wandering around the old town, it would be better to have a definite place to aim for, I announced I wanted to see the Arab Baths.   I honestly hadn't a clue what they were, except that I had read they were worth seeing!

We walked along beside the cathedral, and then along the narrow streets, and finally arrived at the Arab baths, which had been well sign-posted, so I felt they were obviously a tourist attraction    I was amazed when I got there.   We went through a narrow passage and came out in a pretty walled garden, with four square plots of trees and plants.   It wasn't very big, but was quite delightful.   The entrance to the baths was  narrow and keyhole shaped, and inside was a biggish sort of chimney shaped area, corbelled up to three holes in the roof.   There were notices explaining how the baths worked, something like Roman baths, with warm, hot and cold areas.   The arches that kept up the roof were beautiful, and in very good nick considering they had been there since the early 11th century!

After all that sight-seeing, we wandered back and found a shady place to have lunch, then just walked round the marina and looked at the yachts.   Some of them must have been worth millions of pounds!

And then it was back to the ship, and a farewell look at the old town from the Port area as we set sail.

Next stop, Gibraltar!

Monday 1 July 2013


Our next port of call was a small town called Sete, on the western end of the bit of France that borders the Mediterranean.   We were pleased we were calling there, as one of the excursions went towards the Camargue, and we hoped to see birds and maybe, even, white horses.

"White horses" on the waves were in evidence as we anchored outside Sete, and the swell was too great for the tenders to be used.   We all waited a fidgety and anxious two hours before the swell had died down enough for us to board the tenders.   Even so, it was a bit hairy as the ships went up and down, totally out of sync with each other!

The coach set off at a very brisk pace towards Aigues-les-Mortes, a fortified medieval town on the edges of the Camargue, our destination.   It was further than I had realised, but on the way we called at Grande Motte, a specially designed seaside town, with a big marina, beach and some very interesting-looking buildings!

These were both taken as the coach went slowly past, and the guide told us that most buildings were built on a pyramid shape, partly because of the sandy nature of the ground there.

When we got to Aigues-les-Mortes, the guide took us outside to show us the massive towers which are at each corner of the square town, and then we were more or less free to do our own thing.

There was a moat outside part of the walls, which were absolutely massive.

You could walk along the ramparts.   MrG went up there but not having a head for heights, and not fancying all those steps, I stayed firmly grounded!

 The streets were narrow, with a gutter down the centre.   Not hard to imagine the smells there would have been in medieval times!

 All the windows had shutters, and I spotted this pretty curtain inside the window.

Being a Sunday, the restaurants and cafes were full of big French families enjoying long, relaxed meals in the sun.   It was almost impossible to find a place where we could get a snack, so we finally ended up with a gorgeous ice cream each.   Then found somewhere selling sandwiches.   Too late!

On the coach journey there we saw a lot of the salt pans that were one of the principal industries in that area, and in many of the watery pans were big flocks of flamingoes!   It was impossible for me to photograph them, partly because I was on the inside seat on the coach and partly because my camera does not have a very good zoom lens.   So you will just have to imagine them!

Next time - Mallorca!

Saturday 22 June 2013


After Alicante we went to Barcelona.   Now, I have to say that mostly I didn't enjoy Barcelona.   it was extremely crowded, very hot, and very busy.   The traffic was horrendous!   Added to which there was so much pollution that my eyes and nose just streamed!

However, having said all that, there were some very interesting and fascinating places we went to.   

The Spanish are very fond of architectural structures on their roundabouts and road junctions.   They also use statues and fountains.   Makes the road scene much more interesting that Busy Lizzies trying to survive on British roundabouts - if you get that!

We are approaching Barcelona - you can just see the Gaudi church in the centre, and there is also another cruise ship there.

Makes a change from flowers on a roundabout!

The Famous "Ramblas".   I loved the old houses with their balconies.   There isd a pedestrian area in the centre, where all the market stalls are, plus all the pickpockets and small criminals!  We were warned to take great care of our bags etc.

Four stalls in the fantastic Market.   Chillies, fruit spaces and dried fruits and nuts - I could have spent a fortune in there!

    There were lots of stalls selling fish, and lots of Spaniards buying them.   I didn't know what half of them were called, much less how you would cook them!

Some of the fish were positively ugly!

The National Maritime Museum was very new, and mercifully cool.  
The architecture inside was lovely, even if there weren't many exhibits
I'm not sure quite what this big ship was, whether it was a reconstruction or partly the original, but it wasa HUGE!!   Mr. G obligingly stood in front of it for scale purposes!

One of the biggest, and hottest, squares in Barcelona, and where Mr. G lost me and went back to the ship without me!    (You don't want to hear the rest!!)

Monday 17 June 2013


I'm really ashamed that I last posted so long ago!   Why I still have followers I don't know, but I love you all!

We have just come back from what, I am sure, will be our last cruise.   Mr.G got the dreaded norovirus and was confined to his cabin for 4 days!   Luckily (?) we were at sea all those days, so he didn't miss anything.   Meals were sent up to him, in a suitably delicate menu for recovering bodies, and the "Hit Squad" came in twice a day and disinfected us thoroughly!   I soldiered on, with very rough seas across the Bay of Biscay, and administering TLC to husband.

However, we eventually got into warmer and quieter waters, the sun came out, and Mr.G was released from his cabin!

Southampton Water, from our cabin window, a lovely, sparkling summer day

Some very rough seas!

The sun at last came out.........

And people began to kipper themselves!   Haven't they heard of sun cancer??

Passing through the Straits of Gibraltar.  That is Africa over there!

Our first Port of call was Aliocante, on the Costa Blanca of Spain

When we got off the Shuttle bus which ran into town, we found an open top bus, which went round the sights of Alicante for a very reasonable price.

Spain is very fond of erecting statues and modern art on their roundabouts.

The bus took us up to the castle

Which we wished we had got off and had a proper look at.

\It was very hot, and we welcomed our iced and foaming glasses of beer with our lunch!

Spain has some marvellous paved pedestrian walks in all their towns, small and large, and some of them give a rather nauseous impression!

Our next stop was Barcelona and then onto Sete, in France, and Mallorca - but I'll save those for  my next blog!