Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hectic week.

Summer must be here because my front garden is brimming with roses and lavander, I love both and the pink roses in particular seem to be doing very well this year. You can't beat the fragrance wafting on a warm breeze!!

I also have beautiful deep red Dublin Bay rose that is coming into full bloom, my favourite roses are orange ones and in my back garden I have two orange ones, but they are not as far on as yet. 

So what has been happening the past week?? Well my friend Debbie and I decided to do a weekend silver course, We had to get up early on Saturday morning and drive into a small village in Berkshire, the journey was dead easy because we chatted the whole way and I don't remember actually much of the trip!!!
We arrived in plenty of time and chatted in the car park before our instructor Larissa arrived. We had a guided tour of the studio looking at all the work by the other resident artists, all very inspiring, there was some beautiful stuff there.

We go cracking on our course, it was great as there was just the two of us. We learned all about how to work silver clay. We made fingerprints which we transferred to the clay and then we made them into shaped jewellery. I was so impressed with the outcome and I will be looking at doing some more in the near future!!

On the second day of the course we learnt how to make prints from original pictures, reducing them on the computer, I am very happy with the outcome, solid silver and personal!!!

The rest of the week has been a blur of work and appointments, I am looking forward to doing some scrap-booking and jewellery making this weekend.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Missing In Action!!

This last week has passed in a whirl of work, conference and travelling! It started last Monday when I miscalculated the start day of the UNISON conference in Bournemouth. I went to work Monday with loads to do and suddenly realised mid afternoon that  was supposed to be in Bournemouth that night and not the following morning. That's what happens when you don't get time to read the paperwork and assume you know what is happening. So I finally headed off for Bournemouth at around 7pm after having my hair cut (which had been prearranged!!!) The journey down was great no hold ups even on the M25, so it was good luck that I accidentally forgot!!

When I found the hotel, I was impressed with the location which was two minutes from the Conference Centre and there was plenty of parking. I felt like this was going to be a good choice on those two things alone!!! So I checked in and that's when it started to go down hill. The reception area was dated and not in a nice way, the carpet was thread bare and despite boasting a lift, sadly it wasn't in my part of the building, so I lugged my bags up three flights of stairs. I got to my room and the first thing I noticed on entering it was a musty damp smell plus the obligatory two iron shaped burns on the thread bare carpet!! The bathroom was spacious with a spa bath with a shower over it. It was a lovely shade of 1970's green, that matched the green mould growing on the shower seal. The next morning I realised the only way I would be able to use that spa bath was if I has started to run it on my arrival Monday night.

Still my room was spacious, I had three beds to choose from, so after dinner I went back with the intention of watching a bit of telly, I had a free view box and a big ancient telly, but sadly the only way to switch it on was via the remote control, which didn't work, I checked and there were no batteries in it !!!
I asked the lady on reception and she said they hadn't go any spare ones, I'd have to wait until the next day. So I had an early night!!!!

My colleague Mark, had the room next door, it was certainly different. He had the Honeymoon suite, a luxurious four poster bed, complete with lacy curtains, he had a balcony and a sofa, a telly that worked but best of all a HUGE circular spa bath in the corner of the room!!!! It was massive, with steps up into it. There was also a shower over the top and on closer inspection it was the only shower, the tiny toilet had only a loo and hand basin. Poor Mark said it was quite an exposed way to shower and he suffered from the same water pressure that I had!!

So the good things to report - Sea view, comfortable bed and nice breakfast.

They eventually replaced the batteries in the changers, but then forgot to make up my room, so the one towel I had in the room was wet.  On the third night we had a bad storm, with rain lashing the windows, I could hear dripping and the next morning there was a puddle of water by the telly, narrowly missing my suitcase!! I mentioned it at reception (it was now obvious why there was a damp smell) and I received the best excuse ever, well madam it has been quite dry of late so the roof has shrunk and when it rains again it leaks!!! Brilliant excuse.

So if you are looking for a place not to stay in Bournemouth, avoid The Bournemouth International Hotel!!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dancing the night away!!

When on board the ship we went out in the evening to The Caruso lounge, the on board entertainment team were there and before the show they went into the audience and got people up to dance. Well that wasn't to everyones taste and we understood that, but Beth enjoyed it and she was itching to get up and have a go. She spotted a member of the team who seemed rather nice and was very pleased when he came over and asked her to dance!!! The next night another one of them had her up as well!!

This is the one that she though quite cute!! His name is Brendan!

Here they are in action burning up the dance floor!!

Beth wasn't the only one in the dancing groove this holiday......

Tom and Rod had a jolly good time as well!!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Mountains above Flam.

We took a trip into the mountains above Flam, we drove to a Hotel where we had a danish pastry,or should that have been a Norwegian pastry?? The view from the garden of the hotel was breathtaking. A look right down the valley, we headed off there after stopping to take some photos. 

Its hard to take in the scale of these mountains,they are massive!

I have come to the conclusion that I am fast becoming the shortest member of the family, in fact only Hunny is shorter than me!!!

Once we came down the hairpin bends from the hotel we caught a ferry back to the ship, its a great way of getting up close and personal with the scenery. Its amazing to think that the people who live on the shore can only get out via the ferry, its very remote.

We were being harassed by another boat who kept over taking us, I really wanted to get the water still so that you could see the reflections, but the other boat kept ruining that!!

Never one to miss a photo opportunity Beth managed to get herself in on this shot while we were waiting to get on the ferry. Very lovely!!!!

At the end of the afternoon we spotted our ship right at the end of the Fjord it is dwarfed by the surrounding mountains.

Just look at how huge the ship is once we got up close to it!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dressed to kill!

One of the fun things about a cruise holiday is the chance to get dressed up for the formal evenings. This year we managed to find a couple of dresses for Beth she looked fantastic!!

They like to take photos on cruises so we were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing which ones to buy, at the end of the week we had around 30 to look at!!!

I liked the magazine mock up, Beth takes a lovely photo and looks so grow up now.

The second day on board was a sea day which gave us plenty of time to get ready for the evening. Tom and John on the other hand weren't too keen on wearing shirt and tie, so they dressed for dinner and then scuttled back to their cabins to change into something more casual!!

Our third port of call was Bergen. We were taken by coach into the town centre and from there we walked to the harbour where there were some market stalls and a row of colourful houses which are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. 

The houses are now the home of lots of little pretty shops, pretty little expensive shops I should add!!!

The last time we were in Bergen we needed to withdraw some money, so we found a bank with a great name  - The Fanny Spare Bank!!!!  Brilliant.

Bergen is very pretty sparkling clear water, lots of fresh fish stalls and of course a stall selling traditional Norwegian knitted goods. Beth replaced her wolf hat with a penguin version.

The tiger and Penguin get together!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

At Sea - Aurora Spotting????

Day two we spent at sea, travelling to our next port of call, the beautiful Flam. The first time we visited it was beautiful although the weather was not brilliant and there was lots of low cloud obscuring the views, this time it was clear and we got to see a whole lot more!!

During the day on the ship there were some demonstrations, a chef carving fruit and vegetables, plus beauty and massage demonstrations. We were also very fortunate to have a sunny day so we sat at the rear of the ship on our special deck absorbing the rays!! We had the deck to ourselves which was even better, like a private balcony without the added cost!!!

On the evening of that sea day we approached the start of the Fjords, the sun didn't set until around 11.45pm, we watched it go down from the disco bar on the 12th deck. It was so odd being so light that time of night.

The moon was out and it was still light AND it was nearly midnight, it was weird!!!
We went back to our cabin to go to bed, Beth was really tired and went to bed and fell asleep straight away . We put on the TV and watched the ships web cam. (its very useful when you have an inside cabin as it gives you an idea of where you are going!!) We noticed a strange yellow glow on the horizon, it was not where the sun had just gone down, it was in the complete opposite direction, we were heading north. So we left a note for Beth in case she woke up and went to investigate.

The picture is not very clear but this was the first shot I took, it was quite cloudy as well as being dark, the camera had trouble focusing. The light patch on the horizon just left of centre is an oil rig.

We watched and the sky gradually changed in colour to the below picture.

The sky seemed much brighter and the oil rig is more in focus, possibly due to the extra light, clouds are still quite heavy though. I wonder if we saw the Aurora Borealis??? Once we arrived in Flam the next morning I bought a post card and I now think that we did see a distant Aurora Borealis.

It certainly started off like the orange glow on the horizon, I think the clouds obscured any spectacular display of the green colours. When I got home and checked my email I found a mail from Aurora watch (I subscribe to their early warning emails) which advised that on the 2nd and 3rd of June there was a high chance of of spotting the Aurora from England, so I think that is what we spotted on that evening. I now want to go and see a real display!!!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Home Again.

We are just home from our lovely holiday, a cruise on the MSC Opera to the Norwegian Fjords.
We drove to Southampton and dropped off the luggage. Tom and Rod parked the cars and we went through to check in. That was painless, we were all photographed and issued with a card, which was our room key and also contained details of our muster station, lifeboat and dining room!!Once on board we unpacked. We managed to get three cabins fairly close together on the Rigoletto Deck. The cabins were fairly cheap because they were at the back but the huge advantage was that we were only a few steps from the rear deck, we made good use of that deck as it turned out to be sheltered and relatively warm.
Before we could leave we had to take part in am emergency muster practice. So when the alarm sounded we donned our life jackets and headed for the muster station.

We all listened to the instructions and hoped we would not need them!!! Our holiday had started and we were off to Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.
Our cabin was very comfortable and considering it was a strange bed I had a very good nights sleep. The next morning we went to the buffet restaurant for breakfast but much like last year it was far too busy and crowded, by the time we found a seat the food was cold. The following day we ate at the restaurant which was far nicer!!
We arrived in Ijmuiden around 10am and took a shuttle bus to the railway station. We then took a train into Amsterdam. It was a stress free journey, to start with we needed coins to buy a train ticket and we didn't have enough, so we got on the train and explained to the guard, he was very laid back about it and told me there were far worse things in the world than travelling without a ticket. He told me to buy one for the return journey!!!
Once in Amsterdam, I went shopping and the rest of the party took a canal cruise. It was a very good day for all of us, I managed to go to my favourite shops, Hema, Xenos and Blokker, they had a whirlwind tour of the city! Perfect. 

More tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Today we are in Stavanger a nice port with lots of lovely little shops ! We have walked around the market and Beth has bought herself a new t shirt , we have been search of a wooden horse for mad but all we can find are moose lots and lots of moose!!!!
So now we are sitting on the back of the deck sipping a cold coke before heading off to Oslo later this afternoon!
We are still on our quest to try every cocktail on the menu we are on schedule to complete the task!!!!

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Sailing in the Fjords

Stunning views of the fjords!!! We are now se real nights into our cruise and have found that the views have been stunning!!! Loads of snow capped mountains so there is only one thing for it, a warming drink or two to help the cold settling in your bones!!!!
The clouds have stayed away and we have had good weather . We have visited amsterdam. Flaam and Bergen tomorrow it's Stavanger. For some reason we are all tired today and are having a lazy afternoon!!!

Sailing in the Fjords

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