7th November 2014
Fun Fun Funchal, Madeira
The first thing to note is that the harbour and seafront has undergone some major refurbishment in the past few months. In the harbour area itself there is quite a bit of mess, with a lot of construction still taking place, but it appears the rest of the main promenade is almost completed. At the time of this visit the new garden areas are beautifully planted out, and the final clean up seems to be in progress.
So what did we do?
Well first up it was a walk to the market. The flowers, the fruit, the fish and just about everything else is fascinating. This is a veritable smorgasbord for the senses, and not necessarily all good, but we spent a good hour sampling Madeira wine, fruit punch, pineapple bananas and candied hibiscus flowers, as well as taking lots of pictures. We bought a few bits and pieces and a couple of bottles of the local hooch, so a quick trip back to the ship to unload was needed.
Then onward and upward to the fort at the end of the waterfront before climbing the hill towards the street café we attended last trip. But unfortunately many others had discovered this little gem and the tables were full (with more folk waiting to be seated) So back down into the town for a wander around.
A few church visits and many a shop window stared through and lunch (or more importantly beer) was calling. We found a nice bar with a bit of shade that overlooked a small fisherman’s chapel with a hug hibiscus tree in full flower, very pretty.
The beer was cold and good, the salad plentiful and cheep……BONUS.
Ice cream soon followed and after a stroll back to the promenade it was time to find another park side bar to watch the world pass by.
I suppose this wasn’t the most productive and exciting of port days, but we really enjoyed it and I’m sure we’ll come here for a longer holiday at some point.
Just a quick word about other things in Funchal.
The ship offered a tour of Funchal by tukxi…basically it’s a tuk-tuk with a different name. We’ve never seen these around Madeira before and they do look to be great fun. But the price for a tour was far cheaper in the port than the one offered on by the ship’s tour department, and there seemed to be plenty of them around to hire….just a thought.
And of course it goes without saying that a trip up to Monte on the cable car is a must….again it’s much cheaper independently than on a tour….and the views are fantastic. This should be followed by a sled down the hill in a large armchair, steered by a mad man and his mate on the back, but only do this if in fact you’re completely insane and have a very good life insurance policy.
I’m sorry I appear to be getting a little behind with the posts but will soon catch up……It’s just we’re having so much fun 🙂
6th November 2014
Oh look……it’s a sea day!
It’s been a little bit rough over the last 24 hours and today the sky is full of billowing clouds……I feel a poem coming on.
God lifts the water from the sea
To paint his sky majestically,
With candy floss of every shape
From smiling face to swinging ape.
A bird, a bear, or just a ball
Then building, swirling, growing tall
As veiled in grey dark mists surround
With thunder, lightning, raining down.
Uniquely formed each quickly dies
It’s tears to empty from the skies.
And so my friend don’t curse the rain
God clears his sky to start again.
J Arthur Gray Nov 14
Madeira tomorrow, let’s hope the weather improves.
5th November 2014
Remember Remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot…..well lets all hope there’s no gunpowder involved, but the treason and plot wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
And what the devil, I hear you all cry, are you talking about?
Well…..I’ve already spoken about the competitiveness of this lot, but it’s definitely starting to feel like this is one of the strangest groups of people we’ve ever travelled with (to be honest it’s not the whole group and I’m sure most of them are very nice individuals) But as usual the antics of the minority tend to capture my attention, and surprisingly it seems to be some of the older ones who are taking centre stage.
Only two days in and already there have been quite a number of arguments among the assembled. Fortunately there hasn’t been any full blown ‘toe to toe’ rows, but a few little niggles and the odd spat or two have taken place. There’s definitely a smattering of Victor Meldrews around ready with a terse ‘You can’t do that’ or a less than polite ‘Do you mind?’ turn of phrase.
And what have the miscreants who are attracting these remarks done to deserve a verbal tongue lashing?
Has he/she barged through an orderly queue to reach the last of the tea cakes??? NO
Has he/she shouted obscenities throughout the show company’s moving rendition of ‘Bring him home’??? NO (but frankly they should have done)
Has he/she been caught rummaging through Mrs Smiths racey underwear in the laundrette??? NO…..have you seen Mrs Smith?
The main cause of the disputes is space, or more importantly, how someone has positioned (or is positioning) themselves within a space.
Just like any resort with a swimming pool the whole lido deck is neatly lined with closely packed chairs and sun loungers each morning ready to receive the sun worshippers. The early birds grab the best position and then proceed to clear some personal space around their chosen spot by shoving the surrounding furniture away, and like a long line of shopping trolleys the loungers scrape across the wooden deck until the one at the end hits something fixed. This is then repeated by others and the result is puddles of occupied loungers arranged randomly around the pool with the rest in a cluttered heap up one corner of the deck, resembling a traffic jam on the M25.
Now as the morning progresses more and more of the bronzed gods arrive for a session of tanning (steady now) and this is when the territorial fights break out. The late arrivals carefully untangle a piece of the discarded furniture and attempt to drag it into a free space…..but those already in position have made sure the space around them isn’t big enough to accommodate the newcomers.
And, of course, it’s not the established occupants who are being inconsiderate…….oh no, that would be a preposterous suggestion. Possession is not only 9/10th of the law it also allows the possessor of the said space to be an evil selfish bastard as well. So as you can see….this is how it all starts.
But then this situation continues into the evening because some of these space dominators take possession of a particular seat at their dinner table as well, and woe betide anyone who disrespects that. They certain don’t tolerate anyone who wishes to ‘rotate around’ their ‘table of eight’ in order to get to know their companions a little better, and it’s not unknown for the weak to be reduced to floods of tears if they even try.
Oh and if any other evidence is needed for you the reader to fully understand the type of folk who are lurking among those we share this trip with, then here it is.
There’s a small party of Germans aboard who are definitely here to have fun and enjoy themselves, just like us. Now like any gathering of friends, irrespective of nationality, they are tending to get louder as the alcohol flows. Ok, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as this is a regular occurrence, again irrespective of nationality, on every cruise we’ve been on.
BUT there are some who are openly affronted by the behaviour of these happy Bavarians, and the fact they are laughing and joking in their own language drives them into the depths of paranoia.
So begins the huddled whispering, the pointing and a determination to be louder just to prove we Brits always know how to have the best time. They even resort to some attempted ‘Basil Fawlty’ mimicry for added effect…..
‘Vot ever you do, don’t mention ze var’
I even heard ‘How dare they’ at one point.
And I want to ask how dare they what?……..speak their own language? Have fun? Be German?
I though the saying was ‘older and wiser’ but just lately I’m not really convinced that’s necessarily right. I just hope that as I get older I don’t become that nasty and cynical.
That’s what I think (TWIT)
4th November 2014
In a very short time one thing has become abundantly clear…….the folk on this cruise are some of the most competitive individuals I’ve ever encountered. I say individuals but it appears that some of them are working in pairs, and even as part of a team, in order to subdue and humiliate their unworthy rivals.
It all started around the lido pool this morning with the obligatory show of ‘one-upmanship’ in the innocent guise of a few t-shirts, caps and sweat shirts. These are clearly meant to demonstrate the wearers past cruising prowess and dares all comers to challenge their right to be the ‘top cruise dog’ on this trip. Usually the basic ‘I’ve been to the Seychelles’ brigade will bow to the more experienced ‘We trekked across the Atacama Desert’ mob, who in turn will humbly bend the knee to the more obscure ‘Machu Pichu by lama’ elite.
But not this time as many posed using the multiple displays from around the globe tactics in an attempt to outflank their strutting opponents, who would not yield under any circumnavigation of the world….no sir!
Anything from Europe and Australasia was dismissed without a second glance and the previously obscure trips to ‘The Real Rural China’ were now considered ‘old hat’ and literally relegated to the bottom of the bragging rights league table with ‘nil point’.
Whilst initially it was considered that ‘Whale Surfing the St Lawrence’ was a very strong contender in the early rounds, the wearer was summarily disqualified from the competition after it was discovered to be a fake.
After many a taunt and several grunts of intimidation, it came down to a direct, one round, winner takes all face off as ‘I’ve herded penguins by helicopter in the Falklands’ met ‘We tracked polar bears in Longyearben’ in the breakfast at Palm’s Café final. After much parading and swaggering the parties involved decided to call it a draw and went off together to compare notes, but in reality this was just an attempt to bore each other to death to decide the true winner.
Now that was just the start of it.
Anyway, maybe more on that another time, back to the story in hand and even more worrying was the behaviour of some of the passengers during the ‘walk a mile around the decks’ activity earlier today. Despite the member of staff, who was in charge of the event, insisting that the walk would be conducted at ‘a gentle pace’ and ‘it was all just a bit of fun’, it transpires that three of the weaker and less ambulant attendees are now receiving treatment in the medical centre for trample injuries, and apparently one poor lady is still missing.
I admit I may have slightly exaggerated the competitiveness of these situations, but trust me this ‘one-upmanship’ happens, and nowhere more so than in a tin box full of bloody-minded people. It all comes down to the fact that we the human race still retain so much of our basic animal instinct and we desperately need to prove that we’re ‘so much better than you’.
Now I can accept this trait in the young, after all it’s quite natural to want to prove yourself to be the best at that age, but in my experience the older generation are just as bad and I find it strange that those who no longer need to prove themselves work so hard to proclaim themselves as the ‘top dog’.
Instead of accepting that ‘we all do what we do the way we want to do it’ there are those who go out of their way to suggest their life has been brilliant and yours?…….well frankly it’s just not good enough.
Well that’s what I think anyway!!!
3rd November 2014
Embarkation was mainly good fun and trouble free as usual, only this time we were known by the few members of the crew who were wandering around the lounge selling dreams and promises (well actually they were pushing the wine, spa treatments and cream teas, but dreams and promises sounds much more exotic and holiday…ish)
Our fellow passengers look like the usual mix of the weird and wonderful, but it noticeable that there are a lot of furtive and suspicious glances being flashed in our direction……..hmmm I wonder what kind of crowd this is?
To be honest we’ve been saying that as we’ve been very fortunate with our travelling companions during the last few trips, then maybe it’s our turn to have a crappy table this time. Looking around the embarkation lounge I was really tempted to get on the phone to the folk from 106 and bribe them to hurry on down to join us…….ah well, let’s see.
The cabin is no too bad, although it’s a lot smaller than the last one despite being the same grade. But a nicer bathroom with a solid shower screen instead of the plastic curtain that sticks to you throughout your ablutions. So all good here.
Muster drill done…….check
Safe mastered………oh dear.
The room safe usually requires a four digit code but this one needs six, what a tricky dilemma….I’m on holiday to relax not fret about two extra bloody numbers.
In the meantime it’s dinner time….cross your fingers and hold your breath.
Well we were wrong and first impressions of our table are good, it all seemed a bit strained at times but I’m sure things will settle down after a day or two.
Ah well let’s see how things go…….and so to bed perchance to dream of white sandy beaches and balmy romantic moonlit nights…..absolutely no chance of that then.
Caribbean & Cuba with Freddie
3rd Nov – 7th Dec 2014
It only seems like just a few short weeks we were doing this same journey down to Southampton to head off on our latest vacation…..probably because it was only a few short weeks ago. I consider myself very lucky to be able to indulge in such wanton behaviour on a regular basis.
Anyway, there’s a slight amount of trepidation this time because we had such a fantastic time on the last cruise, accompanied by such lovely people, that it’ll be a very hard act to follow. But we’re open minded, so let’s see what fortune offer us…..
This blog only exists thanks to generous contributions from our fellow cruisers and the strange and wonderful things they do and say…….let’s hope they’re all in a very giving mood.
In the meantime, here’s my take on a little ‘sea’ related poetry:-
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
Let’s face it…that would be such a great colour for a cruise ship, it would look just like a huge ball of phlegm gliding into the harbour….such fun for the locals!
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
Messy or what? but how much money could you actually wrap up in a five pound note especially considering there’s also a jar of honey involved. Maybe not enough I reckon.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
Better known as a ukulele…….
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are, You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
Hang on a minute, has the Owl really just told a small guitar that it’s a beautiful Pussy? Go on read it again…..see I was right he ‘sang to a small guitar’ so he’s either blind or perverted.
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
I’m not surprised with all that honey…but then Pussy must be stupid as well because she hasn’t realised that he was actually talking (singing) to the ukulele.
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?”
Now how many females do you know who would ask that question? Unless of course Pussy’s adopting the sarcastic approach having already picked out a ring and then casually walked Owl past the jeweller’s window a thousand times already to point it out. Then that previous line does suggest Pussy’s starting to get a bit desperate….Too bad my dear Pussy, he was talking to the ukulele anyway.
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows,
This is all very apt for a trip to the Caribbean…a Bong-Tree? But surely the jeweller’s shop is in the other direction…….AND Pussy’s had to wait yet another year.
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose, His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
This is a disaster, looks like you’ve bagged yourself a cheapskate there Pussy, oh well there’s still the five pound note!
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
See what did I tell you?……..CHEAPSKATE!! – and the Pig should have held out for more.
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
Ah, but is the turkey licensed? And were the Banns read? It all sounds like a bit of a sham marriage to me, or just a rouse to get into your pants Pussy….
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
I really can’t think of a single thing to say about this
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon, The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
And how much of a part did the Bong-Tree play in these celebrations?……quite a bit I would suggest…………..And is there a moral to this story?………Nah not really, it’s just a kids poem
Thank you Mr Edward Lear for the original poem.