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!

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.

Rhodes – City Walls and Giros – 5 August 2019

This city has walls to keep the dobbers out. A bit like Larky with sun.

We survived the winds and high seas last night and were ready to go adventuring. We got off the ship and went for a walk along the promenade then into the city through one of the gates. Inside was like a giant marketplace with shops, and restaurants. No pubs, but all the restaurants seemed to sell alcohol. It was quite a pretty place ins and little groups of trees to break the monotony. It was also full of people, lots of people. There seemed to be people everywhere. We stopped for a drink, because it was hot today. Scamp bought a table cover and I bought a dodgy looking Rhodes tee shirt to tick the box for buying a new tee shirt in every port we docked at. Bought it from a grumpy wee man.

We wandered round and round and always higher up the hill. Eventually we came to the road outside the city walls and then tried to find an alternative way back to the ship. We ended up going down the Street of the Knights which was an interesting street, very steep and with old renovated buildings on both sides. Lots of them with the original coats of arms of the knights who had stayed there. At the bottom of the street Scamp found a restaurant and we went there for lunch. She had Chicken Caesar Salad and I had Chicken Giros which is like pan fried pieces of chicken served with tzatsiki and a wrap. We’d been told to look for it somewhere in Greece years ago by, I think, a dance teacher. Both lunches were excellent. One washed down with a glass of white wine and one with red. Sat in the shade of trees outside it was lovely. If you’re ever in Rhodes I can recommend a good restaurant! Walked back down the road and finally came to the sea, from there it was a short walk to the ship. On the way we took photos of each of us at an arched window through the city walls, but we’d to wait for a couple of girls to finish their selfie poses first!

I did a bit of painting from the ship, but it started out well, then became muddy and eventually I gave it up as a bad job.

Cap’n Bob gave another of his doom laden messages this evening after we’d set sail. Oh, we’re sailing into a storm, with winds in excess of 40 knots! The seas are going to have waves 3m high! The Kraken will wake! Some areas of the ship will be locked off. Make sure you tie down all your valuables. He finished with “… and have a pleasant night on board Oceana.” Numpty.

PoD was a little lizard on the city walls.  I think it’s a Blue Tailed Skink.

If the ship survives the storm we’ll be in Heraklion tomorrow.

Mykonos – The walk of shame – 4 August 2019

Woke to find we were on the port side although we were on starboard last night. Curious!

When we looked out we were next to the dockside and looking out over a pretty little marina to the rocky and scrub covered hills behind with lots of little white housed dotted all over the place. A bit like Skye without the rain. When we walked down the gangway we were met by a long queue for the free shuttle bus to town. I made the corporate decision to go on the water bus to town instead. Paid our €4 and got on the little boat which was nearly full. A bit choppy going out past the harbour and a wee bit ‘rocky boats’ (Technospeak). Got to the tiny little harbour and walked out to more white painted houses. Some with blue doors and window shutters and a church with a blue domed roof. Very pretty. Very picturesque.

We wandered round the twisty turny streets of Mykonos and I found hundreds of photo opportunities at every corner. Finally reaching the three windmills that seem to be the icon for Mykonos. The little narrow cobbled streets are full of tourist shops. Most of them displaying no price tags. That’s a sure sign that the items are expensive. “If you need to know the price, you can’t afford it.” Up near the windmills there is a car park. Some of them have been there a long time, judging by the thickness of the dust on them and by the dates of comments and signatures on them. I added mine too! Just over the hill from the windmills is a little white walled church. More photos taken.

We stopped for a drink at a cafe near the windmills and I had another Cafe Freddo, not as good as the first, but that’s usually the way. After that we made our way back through the labyrinth and just missed the boat back to the ship. Sat in the sun and the strong wind and caught the next one. The sail back to the ship was more rocky and rolly than it had been going because we were sailing into the wind. The boat was rolling sided to side and pitching forward and back at the same time. Interesting!

Back in plenty of time. Time to do a small painting. I wasn’t all that happy with it, but the Posca white brush pen worked well for placing the white houses on the hillside! Watched the mobs of travellers coming and going from the ferry port along the dock from us.

We should have been sailing at 4.30pm, but ever more frantic messages, firstly over the ship’s tannoy and finally into the cabins calling for two passengers, Jean and Derek Hart, to make themselves known to the reception told us that we wouldn’t likely be making that cut-off. Two large suitcases were unloaded from the forward gangway and dumped on the quayside. As the clock ticked around to 5.30, the dock gates were locked and it looked like we would be sailing without the Harts. Just when it seemed they’d given up hope of finding them, two folk ambled down the road to the locked gates and looked up at the crowds standing at the ship’s rail and on balconies. A great cheer, or should that be ‘jeer’ went up and the gates were locked which allowed the Harts to do the walk of shame, grab their cases and get back on board. I imagine Cap’n Bob would have met them at the top of the gangway with “Wait outside my room NOW!”

At 11.15pm I went up on deck with a crowd of others for an open air talk by an astronomer bloke. It was utterly fascinating as he pointed out constellations with a laser pointer. Saw the Milky Way, The Plough and loads of other stuff. Like I say, utterly fascinating.

It should be Rhodes tomorrow.

It’s surely not that time already – 1 August 2019

My initial thought as the alarm sounded at 3.15am. No time or desire for a shower, because it didn’t really feel like we’d been asleep, despite the comfortable room and bed. Just wanted to get out and get going.

Walked across to the terminal and checked in without waiting in a queue. Then we found out why. The security was where the queues were. We were there too early because it didn’t look as if they opened until 5am. Then the gates lit up and we were through. Something in or on me triggered the metal detector and I got the full body scan. I think it might have been my old amalgam fillings that the metal detector didn’t like. Basically, everything went as smoothly as any airport departure can. Loads of leg room on the Jet2 plane, but oh those annoying announcements were doing my head in “Remember to Bookle Up” What on earth is a ‘Bookle’?

Out of the plane, picked up the cases followed the ‘Orange Bats’ to the waiting coach and from there we were in the P&O machine. Possibly the most efficient embarkation system in the world.

Malta was hot. Thankfully we only had to wait about an hour for our cabin to be ready and then we could get changed into shorts and shirts and explore. The cabin was lovely. The balcony is maybe just a little tight, but it’s a great viewing gallery. The first thing that caught my eye was a crane painted like a giraffe! Much of the ship was as we remembered it, but it wasn’t until later that we realised some things had moved around in the recent refurbishment.

Because it was still afternoon we had plenty of time to go back ashore and get some tonic for the gin we were allowed to carry on board. We just wandered around the tourist shops and cafes by the portside.

Decided on an early(ish) dinner because at 8.30pm we had to play ‘Dress the Dolly’ with our lifejackets in the most excruciating safety drill. Captain Bob gave everyone a warning that they must do as he instructed or he’d want to know the reason why. What a dick. He’s coming right off my Christmas Card list. Really, I know it’s a serious business and is (apparently) a legal requirement, but inject a little bit of humour Bob and you might put the message across more smoothly.

Disappointed at dinner when we were shown to a table for two. One of the great things about cruising is meeting people and there was no opportunity for that tonight. Maybe it was because we were early and the ship wasn’t very full yet, but I hope that’s the reason.

We didn’t have the usual sailaway, but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise. I hate the jingoism of it. The reason was they wanted to play with two of the lifeboats, or they were painting the ship or something. I think Captain Bob was just in another of his moods.

PoD was the Giraffe Crane which stood across the port from our cabin.  Really did look like a giraffe!

Early to rise, late to bed. It’s been a long day!

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!

What a Gay Day Glasgow Style – 20 July 2019

We were going in to Glasgow to meet up with Jackie and Murdo around midday.  The Glasgow Gay Pride march was on and it seemed a shame not to take some photos.

Drove in to Glasgow and went for a walk down Bucky Street to catch a glimpse of the Glasgow Pride march.  After the disappointment of the Embra one, which wasn’t very gay and showed little pride, we hoped Glasgow would be a bit more enthusiastic.  It didn’t disappoint.

We saw about half the marchers walking along past the Tron Church and then on to George Square.  There was no comparison with the watered down Embra parade.  Here there was music, whistles, bands and sunshine.  Although the weather fairies had predicted rain, none came, but the sun did.  Stood watching for about half an hour and then wandered round George Square getting more photos.  PoD went to the flag waver at the top of the page.

Met up with the Skye folk in JL and drove  us all home.  Spent the afternoon sitting chatting.  Lots to catch up with and all the time in the world to do it.  Other than that we didn’t do much.  June, the other sister didn’t manage to come over to join the chat, but that was her loss.  They return to Skye tomorrow, getting the 10am bus.

We may go dancing later in the afternoon.

Aberystwyth without the rain – 12 June 2019

It was a very different place.

JIC, Sim and Sophie were going for a long walk today. We didn’t fancy that. There had been a change of plan and we were making tomorrow’s dinner as well as Friday’s, so we needed some extra supplies. I suggested that we take Madeleine and Jaime in to Aberystwyth with us and go for a walk in what we hoped would be the dry, if not the actual sun, and that’s what we did.

The trio left and entrusted us with the main door key. Soon after that we too left. Aberystwyth was dry when we arrived after meeting a milk tanker on a narrow road with very few passing places. Luckily we met at one of those places or it would have been Juke Soup! These narrow country lanes are not meant for wide cars like the Juke and even less for hulking great milk lorries, but we both came through unscathed. We parked at the exact same place as yesterday and walked along towards the castle.

After investigating the ruins, we wandered past the University and in to town proper. Coffee in Nero, just like yesterday and then walked back along the prom past the statue of the Mary Poppins lady and back to the car. Next stop Morrisons to get the extra food needed for tomorrow’s dinner, then home.

After unloading the car I was deciding whether or not to go for a walk when I got in conversation with the man who owned the house and most of the land on that side of the road and he told me how the house was renovated. I’d thought the beams that held up the ceilings (and provided Jaime and me with so many lumps on our head when we forgot to Duck not Grouse) were Greenheart, but he said they were more likely to be Oak and had come from the masts of ships which had been decommissioned in the 1700s. He’d heard about Cumbersheugh, but had never been there. I told him that’s what I’d have recommended. Interesting talking to someone who has a totally different lifestyle to mine.

Not long after that, the rain started and we went our different ways. Then the trio returned with Vixen ‘covered in ticks’. Poor dog, I know how he feels.

Then it was time for the Trinny Trio to start making dinner which was Stew Chicken and Macaroni Pie. Immediately I smelled it, I remembered eating it in Trinidad. It tasted just as good as it smelled.

Apparently tomorrow morning is to be wet, but the afternoon will be better. We may be going for a walk somewhere not strenuous and without ticks. Good luck with that.

A day at the seaside – 11 June 2019

The young ones were off for a walk round a pond. We were going to the seaside

JIC, Sim and Sophie were taking Vixen for a walk around a couple of lakes with unpronounceable Welsh names. Madeleine and Jaime were staying at home. We were off to Aberystwyth. The first problem was getting the car’s sat nav to recognise Aberystwyth. It seemed to be fascinated by somewhere called Aberri… something. Finally tricked it into accepting the proper spelling and off we went into the rain. Driving around on these narrow roads with the high hedges was bad enough in the dry, but in the pelting rain it was a whole new challenge, but the sat nav lady did talk us through the rain and the narrow roads to get us to Aberystwyth, so it did know where we wanted to go all the time.

We went to Morrisons because it was the first supermarket we passed, then drove in to the town. We parked down by the harbour on one side and one of the beaches on the other side. Neither was very inviting in the torrential rain, but we zipped up our rainy coats and walked out into the wet stuff. About twenty minutes after we left the car, I discovered that my rainy coat was no longer waterproof. We ducked into a Nero for lunch and a chance to dry out.

When we came out it was drying up nicely, so we went for a walk up the main street and then back down towards the other beach, although it wasn’t really dry enough for a walk along it or a paddle in the water. Took a few photos of the headland and the funicular railway framed by grey sea and slightly lighter grey sky, and also the lady on the pillar that Scamp felt looked like Mary Poppins.

Our parking ticket was up, but we’d used up almost all of it anyway and so we drove off and found a Tesco the sat nav didn’t know about (ha!) and a very posh one too. Then we drove home through the rain that had returned.

Chicken on peas and leeks for dinner. Our chance to cook.

Walking – 10 June 2019

Today dawned sunny, so we were going for a longer walk than yesterday.

Madeleine decided to stay as this was going to be a fairly energetic walk. The first part was definitely energy sapping and was a climb up a fairly steep hillside, but as Sim had told us, after that it levelled out and we walked along a metalled road … for what seemed like miles, but wasn’t really. The views from the top of the hill were excellent with speckled sunlight over the Welsh hills. It was a circular path that took us back the way we came eventually. Findings were a strange looking Shield Bug with red and black markings, a bird’s nest with chicks in a hole at the side of the road some strange brown striped flies with enormous antennae and an interesting brown butterfly. I got photos of everything except the birds nest because I didn’t want to disturb the parent birds and risk them abandoning the chicks, unlike the rest of the group who crowded round for a better look. Then I noticed I’d set the ISO to 256000! Luckily I only took a few shots with the heavy grain. Unluckily the butterfly was one of those shots.

We just got home before the rain started and I was beat, so I had a snooze. After that it was lunch and I managed to get some more photos taken. Then Scamp and I sat in the garden where I got a couple of sketch/paintings done one of which is here.

The clouds had been gradually massing and when the thunder started Scamp decided the good weather had gone. I stuck it out for ten minutes or so before having to give up too. Just in time as it turned out, because the rain came down in torrents, but the thunder grumbled away down the valley.

Chicken curry and roti for dinner.