Tuesday, 27 December 2011

DAY TEN – BOXING DAY–CONTINUED

I slept until after nine and too tired and lazy to go for breakfast – Mike had already been and had his. I have put the DND card in the door and Sense & Sensibility

had just started. My ideal start to a “ tired day”. We have an ‘exclusive lunch invitation today at 12 for members so We will go to that – more champagne – what a bore!

Hopefully I will catch up with this later but there is a lot going on today.

The lunch was brilliant – we expected a buffet but it was a sit down meal with champagne wine or whatever you wanted. There is no way we will eat dinner tonight.

After lunch we went to a show in the theatre – it was Amanda Russell singing “diva” songs. She has a very powerful voice with an enormous range but not to my taste although Mike liked her – she looked a bit like Farrah Fawcett! Then, at the other end of the ship was the annual tug of war match between various staff teams and a couple of guests teams. It was, surprisingly very funny not least because of the quick witty comments from Joff Eaton. He is a very accomplished guy and puts in loads of hours. He did mention today he does 17 hours a day and that is believable.

I had a quick trip around the boat to photograph some of the Christmas decorations -

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Whoops – not those deccies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The chefs won the men's contest and a vey ‘big’ team for housekeeping won for the ladies. They all had thighs the size of tree trunks but obviously fit. Back here now to the cabin to get ready for dinner! walking BACK ALONG THE OPEN DECK IT IS MARKEDLY COLDER – WE ARE ON OUR WAY HOME.

We Did go to the dining room for dinner but only managed to pick at it as we were still full from lunch.

The show was really good, a young boy band called ZOOT ( WHY?). They played 60’s music and for the first time this cruise they were the first act to do an encore.

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I’m sorry to say that we did not make the Quest Show at 10.45 despite my good intentions. We went back to the cabin, were in bed in five minutes and I could hear myself snoring almost straight away. Maybe next year.

 

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Monday, 26 December 2011

DAY EIGHT - CHRISTMAS EVE

In Tenerife today – Santa Cruz. My leg too painful to walk today so Mike went into town and I had a back massage, head massage and a facial. Simply wonderful. Mike brought me back a Chrissie present – a pair of blue slippers. He also brought me back some wrapping paper and sellotape to wrap up the little table presents  have bought for our friends on our table.

Whoops – too busy to finish writing up day 8 & I have forgotten already what we did apart from sharing lunch with 4 other couples who were also on here in February when we were.

 

DAY NINE – CHRISTMAS DAY

Santa passed us by last night ( as usual) and also forgot Phoebe apparently. When I rang and spoke to her asking what she had she said – nothing actually! Precocious or what.

We watched a movie in the theatre in the morning – Scrooged and after lunch there was a Big Band concert – absolutely brilliant. The 9 musicians who form the band are all exceptional. Then it was time for the grudge match between the entertainment director ‘s team and the Captains team. A  funny game of charades proving the Captain has a great sense of humour although he looks rather formidable.

Dinner was a grand affair with champagne flowing and a large choice of dishes including the traditional turkey & Christmas pudding.

After dinner a Variety show which was again of a really high standard and then, for us, bed. I could hardly keep my eyes open. One day I will manage to stay up past 11.

 

DAY TEN – BOXING DAY

I slept until after nine and too tired and lazy to go for breakfast – Mike had already been and had his. I have put the DND card in the door and Sense & Sensibility

had just started. My ideal start to a “ tired day”. We have an ‘exclusive lunch invitation today at 12 for members so We will go to that – more champagne – what a bore!

Hopefully I will  catch up with this later but there is a lot going on today.

 

Saturday, 24 December 2011

DAY FIVE

At sea today on route to Madeira; weather warm but quite cloudy. Mike brought me a roll to have with a banana in bed – didn’t fancy the restaurant today. A trip around the boat offered us a quiz – I was useless. A debate on the paranormal which I sat through in silence as I did not want to embarrass Mike if I got involved. Then a lecture on the Canary Islands.

Lunch in the dining room today – steak, with onions and salad in french bread – which we both left. I indulged in a sweet – just could not resist – dark chocolate truffle with raspberries. Heavenly. Mike was good and had ice-cream – again.

The first ice show was on this afternoon and we got tickets; human nature is a wonderful thing to observe – we sat on the side whilst people stated turning up over an hour before the start. All hoping for the best seat you see the same people day after day in the front of every queue. As it was ticketed everyone would have had a seat regardless. We wandered in eventually after the main rush and went to sit on a couple of seats only to be told that they were taken by a typical American matriarch.  As you are asked not to save seats in any of the venues I told her that only an American would be audacious enough to try and save 5 seats. She accused me of being rude – you have to laugh don’t you? Anyway, a couple next to us were annoyed by this woman's actions so the jumped over into two of her seats – magic. She was so put out it was really funny. Slowly her family turned up and one of them pointed to the now vacated seats next to me – “ Sorry” said I “ they are taken!” Poetic justice or what?

The show was fabulous – such speed on such a small rink and the costumes were spectacular. There was a violinist playing throughout the show – a girl from New Zealand who was a brilliant musician. Her name was “something Primrose” must look her up.

Formal night tonight so the usual dilemma – what to wear. my orange dress I think with the brown silk jacket. That’ll do.

No! I wore my purple and black silk skirt , a black top & my purple silk jacket………. and flip flops. Pretty flip flops.

Neither of us fancied the theatre show as we’ve seen it before so we went back to the cabin and read. I awoke from a sound sleep to go to the loo, looked at the clock and it was only 10 p.m. Could not believe it.

DAY SIX

It’s Madeira. We knew it was hilly but did not expect it to rise out of the ocean so steeply. My heel / calf was still painful so I took some paracetamol before we set off on the shuttle bus to town. We were dropped close to the cable car so decided to do that first.

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very pleasant 15 minute ride over shacks, ruins, expensive villas and lovey apartments all huddled together on the hill side. We arrived safely at the top and had a drink in a cafe with panoramic views across the town to the sea, The ship looked quite small from up there. We then went to find the baskets and walked along uneven cobbles which really tested my leg. At the top of a very steep incline were men in white and wearing boaters. On the side of the road, were all the wicker sledges lined with a flowery curtain type material. They looked quite flimsy – the baskets not the men and we watched several people go off  pushed by the men who held onto ropes on either side . God knows what would happen if they lost their grip or stumbled – it must happen. Stupidly, or perhaps not we had bought return tickets on the cable car so we  wandered back very slowly my leg more painful than ever.

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The trip back down was fabulous and the scenery great. It must be sensational in the Spring and summer when all the flowers are out. Definitely somewhere I would love to come back to to explore the island.

Back in town we found a pharmacy & I took some ibuprofen and hobbled, even more slowly back to the coach. Climbing the stairs of the coach  I heard a pop and this searing hot pain shot up my leg – everyone  had to wait until I could move into the nearest seat.

I managed to get off the bus without too much difficulty but then began the  long walk back to the ship. Once inside we took the lift to the Windjammer and Mike got me some lunch and the pain receded a bit. Then another long walk along the length of the ship to get to our cabin where I am now writing this up – in bed.

After some more Ibuprofen I managed the walk to our restaurant fro dinner but wished I had not bothered. First time this cruise I have been disappointed. Cannot remember what I had for a starter but I ordered gammon as my main course. When it arrived there were three thick very pink, very shiny slices of ham on the plate. It looked like plastic and tasted remarkably similar. Never mind, I really was not hungry so I just picked at it hoping it would go un noticed. No such luck. The head waiter said I must have something else – “ did I like lamb?” Within      a minute a plate was put before me with a t-bone lamb steak on it and various veggies. It tasted lovely but I still was not hungry so I left much more than I ate.  Eta, the girl on our table who only likes KFC or McDonalds decided to try a jacket potato and some fish. She sliced open the potato, smothered it in butter which she mashed in until the potato was plastered all over her plate. It looked dreadful but at least she eat something.

We went to the theatre to see a speciality act and I ordered a vodka & tonic. The waiter brought vodka and coke for which he apologised and gave it to Mike. He then brought me a V & T. for free.

The speciality act was a juggler with a strange name although he was Welsh. He looked a bit like Alud Jones. Well, he was brilliant – not at the juggling but his comedy was unusual and very very funny. Best show yet. He even rode a unicycle on stage ………………………… ON A MOVING BOAT. Brave!.

DAY SEVEN = Grand Canaria

Awoke to more blue skies although a few clouds high above the mountains. 21C promised today so we must go ashore. My foot, leg, hip still playing up but some relief from the ibuprofen. Just along the dock from the boat was a Hop On Hop Off bus which seemed very good value for 16euros each.

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We lined up in the sunshine waiting for a seat on the top to get the best views. OMG! what a town – traffic lights every few yards, manic Spanish drivers and it was quite cold in the narrow sunless streets. It soon became apparent that there was little of interest to see, we just accelerated and braked up one road and did the same down another. The couple behind us put their camera away – nothing worth photographing; an American family in front were, like us, bored silly but we all had a laugh and a joke about it . At one point I said I had intended staying on the bus whilst Mike went shopping but the pain in walking was preferable to this torture on top of the bus. They all laughed.

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There was a large shopping Mall near the ship which we went into to get a drink. We searched, floor by floor and finally, when we got to the top there was a Mcdonalds. Poetic justice I guess. Mike went off in search of coffee and I sat at a table, glanced down to see umpteen cafes and bars serving everything! Mike took ages as no one understood “decaffeinated “coffee but he finally got some – a sachet and a mug of milk. Lovely – not.

Back on board for quick snack and then I had to lay down as my foot was so swollen.

Dinner was Ok – I think I am fed up now with all the fancy stuff. Surf and turf with lobster and fillet steak should have been marvellous but I wasn’t keen. The show was a let down too – an American pianist who had zero personality and he played some rubbish music although the ships band were brilliant. We have never seen so many people walk out of the theatre.

Then there was a Rock & roll party on the deck with one of the groups – that was good but it got a bit chilly for us so we went to bed but it was after 10.30!

Friday, 23 December 2011

DAY 2 - AT SEA

After a good night without too much motion we walked the decks and were surprised how warm it was as the  sun came over the horizon. The Windjammer was not very busy and we had breakfast and coffee and then went for a wander. Ship much the same as usual apart from an enormous Christmas Tree on the Royal Parade with the biggest golden balls I’ve ever seen.

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Back to our room a migraine started so I rested whilst Mike went walkabout. Just goes to prove that my migraines come on after stress – when I relax.

By lunch time I felt better and we just had a mixed salad with  french bread but we managed a little slice of carrot cake too. After lunch a siesta for both of us – I wonder why we are so tired???? Now time to get glammed up for the first formal night. Lobster bisque and duck on the menu – yummy!

What to wear?? New black trousers so that I can wear flatties and the pink & black blouse I bought from Matalan for out first cruise. It has definitely shrunk. I wore my silver & black scarf as a stole and managed a little makeup.

The lobster bisque and duck with a blackcurrant sauce did not disappoint and I bought my first bottle of red wine.

There was a nasty accident when a lady nearby missed a step and collapsed in a heap on the floor. An alert was sounded and within seconds people appeared from all directions. They eventually carried her off in a chair followed by a very worried husband.

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We had two new table mates a lady from Essex with her 19 year old grand daughter. They were both very nice but the girl struggled to find any food she likes – a fast food junkie I suppose. Eventually she had chicken and chips but she did not enjoy it.

Making our way through the ship after dinner we were engulfed in a celebration party going on with the ships band and singers and free champagne was flowing. i grabbed a glass and asked Mike to too and then it was on to the theatre.  Two black soul singers who were  good if you like that sort of music and the audience was very appreciated. And then to bed.

DAY 3 – VIGO

Arrived to clear blue skies, sunshine but a cool breeze. We had a wander around the port covering more or less the same as last time – it did look better than we remembered it apart from the pavements covered on pile of dog mess.

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This violinist plays his heart out when the ship is in Port. He can be seen on You Tube as the entertainments manager – Joff Eaton is trying to make him famous. Needless to say the woman in red did not see me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wandered around the town – not very exciting but there was an amazing Christmas Tableau in the Shopping centre -

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Very detailed and portraying the Biblical story in an unusual way and appreciated by adults and children.

Back on  board for lunch of turkey and salad and then a rest on a sunbed for a while. We have been invited to a reception for returning guests tonight – wonder what that will be like? I will let you know later.

Another long afternoon nap – I can’t believe it – I’m so tired. The Reception was a champagne buffet for members only and there was no shortage of drink! We did not over indulge. The canap├ęs were too pretty to eat but we managed a few. Then on to dinner – I had something with aubergines by mistake SO THAT WAS ONE COURSE LESS IN MY TUMMY. They WOULD HAVE BROUGHT ME SOMETHING ELSE BUT I DECLINED. Main COURSE – LAMB SHANK – FELL OFF THE BONE FOLLOWED BY A RASPBERRY MOUSSE.

The lady who fell yesterday was back in the dining room with her arm strapped up so not badly hurt.

I opened my second bottle of red and, on top of the champagne, I was useless. I toddled off to bed whilst Mike watched the theatre show. Here endeth another fun filled day.

DAY 4 – LiSBON

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Awoke to blue cloudless skies and toddled off on the shuttle bus in to town. Some very nice shops and very reasonable too – the prices are very cheap compared with ours and Spain. Had a coffee and the traditional Pastel de Nata ( custard in flaky pastry  ) Delicious. It was quite hot sat in the sun people watching and it was difficult to feel Christmassy. Not a lot of decorations around , perhaps a bit too early. .

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The bridge over the river is a copy of the Golden Gate bridge and is very impressive. Towers over everything – except the ship. It looks as though she will not be able to go under it when we set sail tonight – I wonder

 

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Back on board we had lunch in the Windjammer and then, as I am  suffering from a pain in my heel I went in the hot tub and boy was it hot? It took my breath away. The jets are very strong and the whole thing is suspended out over the sea – awesome.

We had a drink in the Schooner bar before dinner which was casual tonight and I had melon & ham for starter and cock au vin for main. T’was very tasty.  Our companions are becoming more chatty. There is John who Mike has discovered was in the services and Will, with long flowing grey locks who comes from near Glasgow. don’t much about him – he leaves the table as soon as he is finished.

Then we have Evie and her grand daughter Eda – a Turkish name taken from Evie’s husband who died this year.  They come from Romford and know Morney road where Mike was brought up.A new recruit was Erica, on her own and befriended by Evie. She was widowed quite young and her son aged 21 lives in Australia. She was a lecturer At Exeter Uni in Psychiatry and Psychology but is not computer literate ! She also lived for a while in Teignmouth.

There was a hypnotist in the Theatre – we have seen him before and he is very good but does not embarrass the volunteers on stage.

Goodbye Teignmouth Hello Independence.

DAY 1

After finally packing our cases with some of the clothes we could find we set off on a strange route to the motorway.

Leaving home at 8.45 we marvelled that we passed Exeter services in under 15 minutes and , barring accidents and lost keys, it would be  less than 2 hours to Bournemouth; very handy for our trips to see Lynne & Barry.

Talking of accidents and lost keys -  we had a minor panic  on route – Mike forgot to leave Emma a garage key; well, he says he did not forget he was pretty sure that there was one on my key ring which I left with her. Despite me saying – “ I’m sure there was only one key on that ring with the alarm  button “ it took a phone call to prove me right. “ we will have to post it on route” I said and drove off the main road to go into Dorchester. Did you know Dorchester appears to have a new town on the western outskirts  completely separated from the old town? Well, it does and there was no way through. Back to the main road and a search on Tom Tom advised us that there was a Post office 1.8 miles away in Bere Regis. We found it, bought some pens, a jiffy envelope and put in the key to Emma.

“ i would like this sent express delivery please “ I said. “No problem, that will be £15. 35 to arrive by 9 a.m. Monday” the postmaster said. “ I’m sorry,” I said. I only want one little garage key sent less  than a hundred miles not the whole garage!”

“ That is the charge I’m afraid but it would only be £5.60 to arrive by 1 p.m. Will that be OK?”

“O, that is so much better I said but I though highway robbery died along witDick Turpin”.  He smiled, knowingly and stuck the very expensive label on to my teeny weeny envelope. It was almost too big.

Outside I said – “Mission accomplished Mike but don’t make the same mistake again”……….. When I told him the price he went very, very pale.

Back in the car I tried to reprogram Tom Tom but all I got was “ no route available” . Time after time it did that and we could not find the A35.  Then the light came on – I was putting in the post code and hitting ‘ 0 ‘ instead of ‘O’. Easy mistake although stupid Jean! Once sorted, Tom Tom took us on a circuitous route back to the main road and we made our way to the car park on the outskirts of Southampton.

We were then dropped off by the ship, our luggage put on the carts and we entered the terminal……………… along with at least 3000 other people. It was heaving. We snaked our way around the hall having a laugh and a joke with a couple every time we passed one another. Mike took charge of the paperwork so I had my hand bag around my neck; my laptop on my shoulder and I wheeled the overnight case behind me.My impression of a donkey! I actually left the case  behind at one stage and a kind lady retrieved it for me. Then we progressed (slowly) to the X-ray and finally on to the booking hall. At last we were climbing the ramp on to the ship and headed straight for the Windjammer for a late lunch.I was starving & had pork & mushroom casserole with mash followed by …………………. chicken & chips. Only a couple of chips. Resolution straight down the drain.

We found our room, cases arrived and I unpacked and then it was time for dinner. I requested a table for two but got a table for 6. Never mind – it was quite entertaining as we had three octogenarians  ladies from Cardiff who were fantastic. One had just returned from Australia.

We also had a scholastic looking old guy who got very hot under the collar as the service was a bit slow and made a big fuss to the head waiter. We didn’t mind at all, first night of a new cruise there are bound to be hiccups. Then it was off to the Theatre where we struggled to keep our eyes open and we were both in bed asleep before 10. The gentle rocking helped.

Here endeth the first day. Night night.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Goodbye & Hello

On Monday, 12th December we will be saying goodbye to our home in Paignton

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We have been here just over 10 years – very happy years. We will never find another home so perfect.  Quiet, Secluded with views over the town towards the sea.

 

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The garden although beautiful is too much for us now -

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We will be happier with less to worry about but will take the very best of memories with us.

It is time to move on – this house is much to large for us and we also feel in need of change. Post Mid – Life  Crisis?? Who knows but we are excited about our move to Teignmouth.

Teignmouth where Mike grew up; a smaller town than Paignton but much prettier and more attractive in every way ; We will still be up a hill ( difficult not to be in this neck of the woods) and we have a sea view from the garden.

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All on one level, no stairs  it will be easier for us both although I have to negotiate the steps to the front door. That will be my daily exercise LOL.

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A light bright airy lounge with a balcony off one end

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A large conservatory off the kitchen so we will probably spend most our time there

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And a manageable garden which I am looking forward to  seeing come to life next year. Exciting not knowing what to expect.

There is a bus stop in the road so we can walk into town and bus back – for free with our bus passes and avoid all the hassle of trying to find somewhere to park. Always difficult especially in summer.

As I type this I am surrounded with cardboard boxes – an over enthusiastic packer has left us with very little  to survive until Monday but a great excuse to eat out. Toby & Phoebe are coming to stay tonight and will have to share the double bed upstairs – Whoa! will we get any sleep I wonder?

The next time they stay over it will be very new to them both and I hope they will like our new home as much as we do.

Next time I will be writing from Teignmouth – exciting times.

JJ