Hvar – Pine trees, Cicadas and Staropramen – 11 August 2019

The only port where we had to use the tender.

If there’s one thing P&O are good at, it’s organising. Waited in a queue to collect our ticket for the tender which was really one of the lifeboats. About 15 minutes later we were called to board the Skylark. Just a ten minute jaunt to the harbour.

We walked around the bay and took a detour up through a sort of park with Corsican pines growing everywhere. We could smell the pine resin blowing in the breeze. We also found a Cicada on one of the trees, initially pointed out by an American man. You always hear cicadas in warm climates, but it’s rare to see one.

Walked on and found a posh hotel with a low level infinity pool. Turned back at this point and walked back by a lower path. Stopped at a cafe and had a bottle of Staropramen each, then a coffee. Nice wee place where you can watch the hundreds of wee boats in the harbour alongside enormous yachts. We watched a dog jump off a boat and paddle to the shore, almost beating the couple who were rowing to the shore from the boat. I’m guessing it was too warm to be a guard dog today. We got free WiFi at the cafe too. Not many places seem to have free WiFi these days, or at least I didn’t find any.

Back at the ship we saw the polis in a speed boat huckle some poor punter and his pals. At first we thought he’d been exceeding the speed limit in the bay, but it began to look a bit more serious and they weren’t for letting them go again. Never found the reason, but it certainly spoiled someone’s Sunday.

We decided to try dancing again because Roy & Andrea (the Lovely Jubbly dance teachers) had the night off and one of the entertainment team was playing the tunes. We asked for Desposito and danced a fairly decent Salsa to it. The girl playing the music complemented us on our Armography. I’m guessing it was a complement anyway! Lovely and Jubbly were watching too, but didn’t say much. I think it was a case of “We are not amused.”

PoD was the view from the cafe.

Things I remember about the pretty little town of Hvar:
You must not go topless in the town. That rule applies to both sexes.
The swimming dog
The smell of the pine resin
The Cicada
The old lumpy tree who’s trunk was held up with a wooden post.

It’s a nice quiet looking town and we’d go back there if we got the chance. However, not tomorrow, because that’s Venice!

At Sea – Lovely Jubbly – 9 August 2019

A sea day again.

At lunchtime we got to test out the skills of the new dance teachers. What could they teach us. They had big boots to fill. First off, they were English and had a totally different style. The bloke spoke very fast and gave the impression of being a bit nervous. The woman was much more self-assured and was obviously the brains of the operation. He did the talking, she did the thinking. They taught us the Social Foxtrot which we’d learned a long number of years ago and for some reason it had stuck in my mind. Something few dance steps do, so it was either memorable or simple! We didn’t go in the afternoon, already missing the dry humour of Stuart and Jane! Also the bloke’s constant repetition of “Lovely Jubbly” was becoming irritating.

Although there’s usually a lot to do on sea days, there’s not a lot to photograph. So, today’s PoD was a Royal Caribbean ship following us for a while.

Dinner was in the ‘council’ restaurant and although it was a ‘black tie’ affair with everyone dressed up, we had to wait for about half an hour for a table and then service was extra slow. Something is wrong with P&O. We think they have cut the staff and it’s beginning to cause problems. Lots of people are complaining about the time it takes to serve food. Lots of people are complaining about the difficulty in getting drinks in the bars, because waiter don’t seem to be interested in serving. Scamp thinks it’s linked to the drinks packages they sell. If they’ve sold a drinks package, the company already has your money in the bank, so they don’t need to work trying to sell you drinks. Makes sense. Also people are complaining about grumpy looking waiters and workers on the ship. If P&O are indeed cutting staff, then the remaining staff need to work longer hours for presumably the same wages. That leads to an unhappy workforce and an unhappy customer base. It’s a downward slope from there.

We danced for a while at night, but it wasn’t the same atmosphere and not the same music either. It sounded to me like midi tracks, or ‘Elevator Music’ as Scamp described it.

Never mind, tomorrow we’re in Dubrovnik.

At Sea – Dancing with the Australians – 7 August 2019

Today was a sea day. Not a lot to see. Lots to do though.

We’d given up on the salsa class, it was just rubbish, below even beginners level. Did the dance class and enjoyed it as much as the last one. I went to a talk about the planet (or not the planet) Pluto by the astronomer again. Fascinating, and I’m not being facetious either. When someone who knows their stuff and is totally immersed in their topic gives a talk, their enthusiasm just draws you in. I could have listened to this bloke all day.

Dinner tonight for me was Chicken Cafreal with Pulau Rice and Goan Bread. Must ask Delia how authentic it was, but I don’t really care. It was great food but  the service was slooooow in the ‘cooncil’ restaurant.

Dancing with the Australian crowd who tried to teach us the Cowboy Cha Cha. I’m still not sure we got it right, but we had a go at it.

PoD was a shot of a Royal Caribbean ship that was keeping pace with us for a while.

Tomorrow we return to Malta, mid-cruise.

Heraklion – The Wee Train – 6 August 2019

It’s fascinating watching other people work, especially when you’re on holiday.

In the morning I watched a crane with grab loading scrap metal on to a ship. Maybe it’s a ‘man thing’, but I just found it fascinating. It wasn’t just the amount of scrap they dumped at a time, but also the delicate precision with which they could pick out a car tyre from the load that was dumped on the quayside and put it into another pile. Like I say, maybe it’s a ‘man thing’.

We walked in to to town of Heraklion, or rather, the Old Town. It didn’t seem like Rhodes, the other walled town we’d seen. This one seemed a bit more run-down.

After walking for what felt like miles we found a little train, a trolly train I think it’s called and it took us round the walls, in and out of most of the city gates, because it is a city, not a town.
It was quite dilapidated in places furthest from the sea. Lots of old crumbling buildings and football pitches with knee high grass.

We got off at the wrong stop which was supposed to be for a shopping centre. It didn’t look like one, it didn’t even look as if there had ever been one there, and had to walk for a bit in the hot sun. What we did find was an Italian cafe where we had an overpriced latte for Scamp and cafe freddo for me.

Walked round some ruined buildings with a new church in their midst and eventually found the town centre exactly where we’d got on train.
I got a tee shirt, probably the best one I’ve got so far
Scamp found a M&S! Demanded she have her photo taken outside it! She never asks for her photo to be taken outside Marks in Stirling or Glasgow. Maybe it’s a ‘woman thing’!

Cafe Jardin at night (second formal night). We both had risotto which was absolutely beautiful. This was the second menu.

Danced for a while, then off to bed after a wee G ’n’ T on the balcony watching the stars.

PoD was a steel cube on a plinth in a sort of town hall building. Couldn’t understand the significance of it, but very elegant building.

Sea day tomorrow.

A is for Atrium – 2 August 2019

Today was a sea day.

Some folk say sea days are boring – nothing to do – nothing to see but the sea, but that’s not really the case. After a good breakfast we were off wandering around the ship again and then finished our unpacking. Tonight was a ‘Black Tie’ dinner, the Captain’s reception. A chance for a weak glass of whisky or gin and a chance to hear Captain Bob’s attempts at humour, or maybe he’d just give us the safety talk again in case there was someone on board who hadn’t been bored rigid yesterday. Later in the morning we went to a dance class – Jive, but this was Ballroom Jive, not Glasgow Jive, although the couple who took the class were Scottish so that was a tick in the right box.

After lunch we went to a Salsa class, but it was all talk and stepping through the moves which is boring. There wasn’t much dancing. I don’t think I’ll go back to this one. At least in the Jive class we got ample opportunity to dance to some music. After that we went for a splash in the ‘big’ pool. Big is a bit of a misnomer as it’s anything but big. However, it’s the biggest pool on this medium/small ship. It got very busy, very quickly but we did, at least, get wet.

Second ballroom class of the day in the afternoon and it was more of a sequence jive dance. I’ve always hated sequence dancing, but this one had more fun than some. We had to leave early to get ready for the Captain’s Party and the free alcohol, while avoiding the speech.

Dressed in kilt, white shirt, black (well, almost black, frog bowtie) and waistcoat plus all the gubbins that goes with ‘highland dress’, we made our way to the Atrium. Met a woman who complemented me on my kilt and asked what clan it was. She was English, but her mother was a McDonald from Ayrshire, Maybole of all places.  Another man slightly one over the eight asked me what regiment it was, then told me I was wearing Black Watch.  I tried to explain to him that it Clan Campbell, but he wouldn’t listen.  He was either guttered or english, it’s difficult to tell the difference.

Listened to Captain Bob attempt some humour and realised why he hadn’t thought to inject some into his speech the previous night. Whisky was cheapest they could find, Gin was thin, gave up and went for dinner which Scamp had booked in Cafe Jardin which used to be the hot chocolate place in the old version of this ship. Ahh! If only Cap’n Bob took some lessons from Noel, our waiter in Cafe Jardin, he’d be a hit with more than the sycophants. Noel, probably not his real name, sold us a bottle of sparkling water telling us it was an excellent vintage and he could recommend it. It’s the little things like that, that give a place a good name. Food was good. Scamp had Piedmont Red Pepper as starter and SeaBass with Cannellini Bean Mash and other stuff! I had Tiger Prawns and Tuscan Sausage then Rustic Chicken Supreme and Parma Ham with other stuff. We were supposed to have three desert plates each from a choice of six, but we chose only two each. Noel knew better and brought us all six! I’d list them, but you’d only be jealous. My favourite was Italian Poached Peach and Scamp’s was Affogato. All that for £15 for the two of us!

Tried dancing at night after I’d divested myself of the highland dress. I’ve danced salsa in a kilt before and it’s do-able, but the brogues have a mind of their own on the dance floor. Kept crashing into other folk on the dance floor. Tried dancing the Jive stuff we’d learned and gave up because I couldn’t remember the sequence. Finally gave a Salsa demo par excellence to show that we CAN dance!

PoD is boring Cap’n Bob giving his speech to …  Well, it looks like nobody was listening, but believe me there were brown-nosers aplenty eager to laugh at all his every attempt at humour.

Bed after a long day. Sea days are so boring, you know!

Strawbs and rain – 29 July 2019

It was a dry start to the day, but it didn’t stay that way for long.

The clouds descended and the rain began.  It was going to be a dull, wet day.  I’d already timetabled a backup for my Linx laptop for today and it went without a hitch.  That was lucky and it was the last good thing that happened.  After restarting the laptop, the message I’d not seen for ages blocked access to everything else.  Apparently Windows 10 wanted, no, demanded that it be allowed to upgrade the OS.  Oh well, I wasn’t going anywhere, so I let it get on with it.  Two hours later the laptop greeted me with the news that it had been updated to the  ‘New’ April 2018 version.  Was this what had taken two hours?  Apparently it was.  I wasn’t impressed.  I promptly got rid of it and downgraded it to the previous version of the OS, only to find that as well as removing the ‘New’ April 2018 version, it had also removed at least one of my apps.  A Windows app.  One of the few things that Mickysoft make that actually works, the one I use to occasionally post the blog.  Thankfully I’d made that backup this morning.  Twenty minutes later the laptop was returned to the state it was in first thing this morning.  Now I have to find a way to block Mickysoft from reinstalling any ‘New’ version.

The rain persisted all day and I took the opportunity to do a little still life of some strawberries fresh from the fridge.  Not our strawberries from the garden, these three came from Tesco.  They got PoD.

Salsa tonight was interesting and exhausting.  New move from last week was called Sombrero <Something>  I’ll fill in the <Something> when we remember – you can see how memorable a name it was!  So was the move!!  We also covered Archangel, Dame Pa’Fuera, ‘New One’ and ‘Old One’.  He must take ages making up these names 😉  That said, he is coming up with lots of short interesting moves that are easy to join together in different combinations.

When we were driving home from Glasgow about 9.15pm the sky was clearing and there was a lovely sunset.  Then the automatic headlights came on.  Nights are fair drawing in already!

Tomorrow we’re off to Larky to get our eyes tested.

Butterflies, Buddleia and dancing the Swivel ’n’ Pivot – 24 July 2019

Dancing and butterflies, but not at the same time.

The day started with an attempt at making buttonholes. Not as easy as it seems and with the sweet, sweet voice of the oriental tutor from the Brother DVD ringing in my ears, it was mystifying. Eventually I found the secret, sneakily hidden away in another part of the tutorial. It was simply a case of trial and error to find the correct stitch length. After that we were “cooking with gas”. By the time I’d sussed it out, it was time to dress properly (Shorts are not deemed suitable for ballroom dancing) and drive in to Glasgow to dance. BTW, if all this stitchery talk is becoming boring, fear not. The end is in sight.

Glasgow was steaming, not to be confused with steamin’, that’s a totally different thing. The heat was unbearable and the humidity was as high as I’ve ever seen it. And we were going down to an airless dungeon to dance! Right, that makes sense. I don’t know if the heat and humidity had frazzled our brains, but we couldn’t put a foot right in Jive, but we fitted a few of the moves together to Anne Marie’s satisfaction. Even better, there was a fan in the room and that did help to cool things down. Quickstep was fairly good until AM decided we needed stretched a bit and taught us the new part of the routine called Swivel ’n’ Pivot. We were a disaster. However after a load of clipped heels and stood-upon toes we were getting the basics. Even tonight with the settees pushed back and the living room turned into a dance floor, we were struggling with it and beginning, just beginning to get it connected up with the normal Quick, Quick, Slow. Not there yet, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Back home we decided not to go to Salsa tonight. Reasons were it was hot still. There are usually too many men, so I have to sit out. It’s a forty minute round trip for an hour of a class that’s well below our level. Scamp offered to make dinner which was Fish Fingers, Egg ’n’ Chips. What’s not to like? While she was making it a flicker on my flowering buddleia bush caught my eye. It was a butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell as it turned out, but a BUTTERFLY on MY BUDDLEIA. This might not be a great occurrence to most folk, but I’ve been carefully tending, pruning and feeding a buddleia for years and years and it finally deigns to flower some time in October when all the butterflies have gone. The woman at the garden centre where I got the one that’s flowering now gave me this advice. “Dig a hole, put it in, water it and leave it.” That’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time, being too kind to it. At least now I know. The butterfly on the buddleia made PoD.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow in the afternoon.

Feeling the heat – 22 July 2019

Woke to high winds and a bit of rain, but by the end of the day it was the heat that was in command

Today I was going to finish the waistcoat, or at least have it near enough finished that I could wear it. That was the challenge. Stitched it up and then faced the task of turning it outside in, or inside out, depending on the way you look at it. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. With that done, Scamp suggested I press it, and that’s what I did. I hadn’t realised how useful a pair of tweezers would be to help you pull out all those little corners that wanted to stay rounded and I wanted to be sharp. Finally got it pressed as flat as my sewing would allow, and that’s when I found my mistake. In my wisdom I’d assumed you only needed to allow one opening to turn the thing outside in and had sewn up the other side, but the instructions that had seemed vague to me at first now became clear. I’d have to undo part of my wonderful sewing. Stitch-rippers are fun to use too. Soon got it sorted and all joined up properly so that it did indeed look like a wearable garment. It still needs the finishing hand sewing to fix the lining, but I’m hoping to do that tomorrow.

That took up most of the day, but I booked an hour before dinner to grab some beastie photos in St Mo’s. That’s where today’s PoD came from. As well as getting some beasties, one beastie got me. Found a cleg chewing happily away at my hand. It won’t bite anyone else in this world. Piriton to the rescue and also some Anthisan to be sure. Still stings a bit, but hopefully I caught it in time. I’ve been so careful making sure that I clear of ticks, I forgot about the ubiquitous Cleg.

Scamp drove us in to Glasgow for salsa tonight and I have to thank her for that. Although it was a fairly easy drive, the wind was dropping away and the heat was building in the early evening sunshine. It was good to be a passenger for once. New moves tonight were Archangel which was Angel with Gabriel bolted on to the end, Sombrero Doble which is actually three Sombreros and that good old standard, New One.

Just in case you though I’d made up the story about the Partick Samurai, here’s the video to prove we did see it:

Tomorrow is to be even hotter than today and then we’re to have heavy rain and thunderstorms at night. Oh what fun. No plans.

The Partick Samurai – 21 July 2019

Sometimes you see something that makes you smile and it lifts your spirits.

Up early, early for us, that is. Just after 8am we decided we should get on our feet and have breakfast with our visitors who were already on the go. Half an hour or so later they were getting into their taxi and heading for the 10.30am Skye bus from Glasgow. So, much earlier than normal we were fed and watered and wondering what to do with the rest of the day.

First things first. Get the sausages out of the freezer for lunch. Get the important things done! Next was a reinstatement of the back room, ready for today’s sewing marathon. Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee.

The first task at the sewing machine today was to stitch the front facing (I know what that is now. It’s the bit behind the front that gives extra strength for the buttonholes!) to the front lining. Because its edge is curved and also because the front lining is curved in 3D, not flat (you have to see it to understand) you have to ease it round the complex curve with little cuts in the fabric. With both sides done, the time had come to assemble the waistcoat proper. Scamp and I tried every way we could think of to achieve this, because it has to be assembled inside out, then turned in on itself and pulled through a small gap in the stitching to be right sides out. Think of it as a fabric Klein bottle  and you get an idea of the size of the problem. Eventually we agreed on a way forward which meant that the entire extent of the sewing had to be pinned, then basted before I felt confident enough to start sewing. As this topological discussion had wrapped itself around lunchtime, we were now in the mid afternoon.

I’d grabbed a few shots of a wee bird in the morning and that became PoD. It’s a young Dunnock.

We didn’t know whether to go to Sunday Social or not. The weather was getting wetter and wetter as the day progressed. We both wanted to be there, but couldn’t be bothered to get there. We finally agreed to go dancing for an hour. Drove in to Glasgow and danced for an hour and a half and enjoyed it as we knew we would. Saw most of the usual crowd, but also a few folk we hadn’t seen for ages.

We were sitting at the traffic lights, waiting to turn into Dumbarton Road when this asian boy walked across in front of us, rolling up his black golf umbrella as he went. Then he made a scabbard with his left hand on his hip and with one fluid movement slid his sword umbrella into its scabbard. He had a satisfied smile on his face as he did it. Obviously a Partick Samurai.

Tomorrow is Monday, but still no Gems and the prospect of dancing in the STUC building at night. Weather to be … Scottish!

Rain, but an improving situation – 17 July 2019

Woke to the wet stuff this morning.  Oh well, at least we won’t need to water the garden tonight.

Since there was no Salsa class for us tonight because Jamie Gal wouldn’t be there and also, there was no 7.30 class.  It seemed pointless to travel in to Glasgow for just one class, and not one at which we’d be learning anything new.  With that in mind Scamp suggested that we take the bus in to Glasgow for Jive and Ballroom.  Also in her suggestion was that we could have lunch in Glasgow.  Sounded good to me, just as long as I got through the dancing part.  I don’t really mind  the different moves we’re learning, it’s just that the moves keep changing slightly depending on which of the teachers is teaching.  Also, just when we’ve got to grips with the Seven Deadly Spins, they start inserting other moves in between the spins.  People are becoming confused and I can understand why.  Anyway, we plodded off to Condorrat to get the fast bus to Glasgow.  That meant we’d got there early so we went for a wander round the centre of the town before we came to Blackfriars.  Free dance to get started and we tried a newer routine than the Spins then made a real hash of it.  Michael decided we should go back to the Spins.  That’s when they started changing the first of the inserted routines which left all of us confused and looking at each other.  This was glossed over and Michael seemed to decide he’d had enough and left to go to the physio.  Next up was Quickstep and that wasn’t too bad, in fact I managed the Pendulum and finally worked out  how the Double Lock and Check worked.  So, started off badly, but it became an improving situation.

Next to Blackfriars is a Scottish themed restaurant called Mharsanta.  We’d promised ourselves we’d go for lunch there one day.  Today was the day.  Glass of wine for Scamp and a pint of IPA for me to start with (benefits of travelling on  the bus!)  Chicken Goujons for Scamp’s starter followed by her leveller – Fish ‘n’ Chips.  First main course she has virtually anywhere.  I had Haggis Scotch Egg followed by Steak and Sausage Pie.  Both our meals were excellent.  However, we simply must go back some time because one of  the mains is Mince ‘n’ Mashed Tatties plus a Poached Egg on top.  The only people I’ve seen do this properly were my mum and Scamp.  Now there’s no way on this earth that they could cook it better, but I’d like to see how close they could get!

Got my hair cut in Nile Barber then coffee in Paperchase where they do a very good Americano and apparently a Latte too, before we got the bus home.  A fast bus, but not as fast as the ultra speedy one in.  That was the way the day went.  An improving situation indeed.  It rained all day.

The view from the restaurant made PoD.

Tomorrow I’ve got the dentist at midday other than that the coast is clear.