Tag Archives: Cruising

Inspiration….where are you?

15th September 2015
Sea Day….time to reflect!

P1030597

I’ve been out of the habit of writing for the past few months because my days have been taken up with a ‘slightly more’ demanding project. Life has certainly been hectic so far this year (something I’ve not been used to for a long while) so I haven’t had much spare time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and the desire to be creative has been severely beaten into a corner by apathy and fatigue.
But now things are different and I find myself returning to a more acceptable state of lazy limbo again. This being the ideal opportunity to re-establish my relationship with my reliable companion and boredom buster, ‘writing’ (or technically….typing) I charge the battery on my neglected laptop and begin the search for inspiration.
Now if someone had told me that writing is a bit like exercise, meaning the less you do the harder it becomes to get back into a functional rhythm, I would have seriously laughed at them for suggesting such an absurd notion.
But at this moment in time I have to admit I couldn’t be more wrong.
I’m sat in the most ideal place, surrounded by a million and one things to take pleasure in and yet I’m struggling to string together a single coherent idea. I’m even starting to wonder if maybe my lack of attention has ticked off my abandoned friend and companion and it has no desire to return to this heartless traitor.
I reflect on the times when ideas had come so fast that many were forgotten long before being recorded. They ended up in limbo somewhere in the back of my mind with a hope of their resurrection on a barren day, but even these little gems have deserted me.
Inspiration is definitely like a snowball, the more it rolls the more it grows. But it has to be cultivated and supported because if neglected it may very well roll off down the hill, taking all the good ideas with it, and that means the process has to be started all over again.

Where is that inspiration?
It’s such a fickle friend.
Sometimes it overwhelms me
With ideas that have no end.
Another day it taunts me
And tells me many lies,
Promises an insight
But delivers nothing wise.

Why won’t the words come quickly?
I’m stuck with no idea.
I need you Inspiration
Right now….I’m over here.

Give me mountains not a molehill,
I need a new intent.
I promise to stay faithful,
If you help me I’ll repent
And I promise not to leave you
Just like I did before.
Please help me Inspiration
Come feed my mind once more.

Advertisements

Azores…..

3rd December 2014

Ponta Degarda…Azores…we made it!

334

We made it, despite the rumours!!

Having said that we only had a few hours here so just time enough to stretch our legs and visit the market. Not much else to say really.

There’s lots to do and see here but we either don’t get much time to do anything or the weather is not very good. It would be great to visit in the evening (which has never happened) because the town is all decked out for Christmas and I imagine it would be very pretty…..Ah well……maybe next time

 

4th December 2014

Sea Day & Last of the Rays

P1030727

The weather has been very mixed today and the captain has suggested that things may get a little rough over the next couple of days (let the rumours of impending doom continue)

It’s been really funny watching the sun worshippers trying to catch the last vestige of the big yellow ball in the sky on the odd few occasions it’s poked it’s head out from behind the clouds. They race for the loungers, stripping off to reveal as much skin as they dare, then collapsing in a heap….arms spread wide to maximise their exposure, only to be disappointed by an immediate appearance of a dark cloud which promptly sends them scurrying for cover.

But the weathers just playing ‘peek a boo’ and the fine rain stops as soon as they make it through the door and once again the sun comes out. So they attempt a return….but they’ve been spotted and once again the devious precipitation waits just long enough for them to bare all and relax…….such fun it has with them.

Anyway, enough sillyness.

This is probably my last post for this trip, which has been on the whole very good. Thank you for dropping by and if you’re off on your own adventure soon I wish you a very merry ‘Bon Vogage’….have a great time.

cover monkey - Copy2

Hey..have you heard this one?

1st December 2014

 

Another Sea Day…or just a rumour?

IMG_2672

Cruise ships are one of the greatest places in the whole of the civilised world for rumours, which range from the simply obvious to the incredibly and unbelievably ridiculous.

They’re going on all the time, but there’s always a crescendo of some of the more bizarre ideas as the trip draws near to its conclusion.

Early on there were the stories about certain individuals and their status or occupation, and apparently we had a world famous and well respected fashion designer on board as well as a very well known comedienne and even a Nolan sister. Turns out the designer was just an eccentric with strange hair and very little fashion sense, the comedienne was the least funniest person you could ever meet and the Nolan sister hasn’t been seen again as she’s gone into hiding (or maybe she never existed in the first place)

At one point the ship had a crack in the hull, the crew were working to rule and a whole gang of passengers had been arrested for nicking stuff from the shops (now that one I could believe) The weather was going to stop us getting into Cuba, someone was suing because of a splinter and rum had actually been discovered in the free punch served during the sail away party (that’s just silly)

With reference to an earlier post there is now even one tale being distributed about some members of the crew receiving in excess of $2k in gratuities each month. But I can categorically state that from all the whispering and scheming I’ve heard on this subject it’s more likely that they’ll get much less than that from this bunch to share between everyone.

Maybe I should start a rumour that folk who don’t pay their gratuities are going to be put on an international ‘tight wads’ register and are likely to be banned admission into any of the bars or restaurants on any cruise ship.

Anyway the latest rumours are that we won’t get into Ponta Delgado and we’re due to get hit by a force 10 storm as we make a run for home. And when we reach the UK we’ll be greeted with three foot of snow and Christmas (like all Christian festivals) will be cancelled in favour of a more politically correct celebration. But there’s nothing left in the shops anyway because of the black Friday lootings and all the turkeys have had to be destroyed because of deadly bacteria lurking in the skin.

Well I just don’t have enough space to list any more of them as there are so many.

Let’s just wait and see…..this could get even more stupid!!!!!

Gratuities……here’s a tip :)

30th November 2014

Another Sea Day

Photo0161

The sea has started to cut up a bit rough over the past 24 hours and those who haven’t taken to their beds yet are looking for things to keep themselves occupied and entertained. There are still a few who are lamely wandering around with their latest batch of t-shirts, bags and coats announcing where they’ve been recently….trouble is everybody else went there as well, so the game is now to prove you paid less for your goodies than anyone else did.

I feel slightly cheated because I didn’t buy anything with the name of a location on it, so I’m not allowed to play because…..well because I’m just a cheapskate (and proud of it)

Others are now scheming on how to get out of paying their gratuities to the well deserving crew members who’ve looked after us all so well (and they call me a cheapskate?) It ranges from cancelling the automatic additions to their cabin account with the intention of feigning illness on the last day and therefore avoiding any contact with the staff, to outright deviousness by claiming they’re unhappy with the service they’ve received over the past 34 days. That has wider ranging consequences that they either haven’t considered or just don’t care about.

One couple stated that as they’d seen their waiter ashore at one of the ports and he was in possession of the latest iphone, was wearing designer clothes and shopping for jewellery then he was obviously paid far too much and didn’t need their hard earned cash.

I am truly amazed by some of the excuses…but somehow I’m not surprised…and you wonder why I hate people!!

Yes, for us Brits, tipping is always a bit of a hot topic because it’s not a culture we’ve been used to, but come on meanies you know the situation and you should factor the cost in with the holiday. I’m so disappointed to hear you criticise the efforts of the guys and gals who work 10 to 12 hours a day/7 days a week and yet you’re too tight to reward their genuine attention to your needs…yet you’ll spend $10 on a tatty t-shirt in every port…shame on you.

Next I’ll hear some poor soul claiming that they’ve had to cancel their gratuities owing to the heavy loses they’ve suffered at the gaming tables, or that they need to be careful with the pennies because they’ve just booked another two cruises.. ….oh too late…I heard those two tales last night.

Look folks if you can’t afford it then just say so, it’s not a crime you know. But please don’t rubbish the hard working staff just to save a few bob.

TWIT.

 

 

Weirdo….

29th November 2014

A Sea Day

download

For us, this cruise has been one of the strangest. Don’t get me wrong we’ve been to some really interesting places and had a very enjoyable time away….the foods been ok, the weather great and the ship and the crew are good as usual. But some of the folk we’ve shared this holiday with are seriously strange. I can’t quite put my finger on any one particular reason for thinking this because there are many. There has been an excess of moaning, far more than the average cruise, and we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of ignorance and bad manners, mainly aimed in the direction of the lovely staff. And if you ever thought I was opinionated…well compared to some of these I’m a rank amateur.

Because of this I’ve been wandering around the ship singing the following which I’d like to share with you all……

“Weirdo” (to the tune Hero-Maria Carey)

There are weirdoes
When you look around this ship
You won’t have to search too far
To find another.
They’re all over
If you wander to the bar
In the restaurant or on tour
They will be there.

And when the weirdo comes along
You’ll lose the will to carry on,
As you cast your eyes on high
And you know you can’t deny,
Now you feel like hope is gone
Look around you and be strong.
But you’ll finally see the truth
As a weirdo stands by you.

It’s a long cruise
When you take this trip alone
Someone reaches out a hand
For you to hold.
Then you face them
And you realise with fear
That a morons sitting near
With scary eyes.

And when the weirdo comes along
You’ll lose the will to carry on,
As you cast your eyes on high
And you know you can’t deny,
Now you feel like hope is gone
Look around you and be strong.
But you’ll finally see the truth
As a weirdo stands by you

Lord knows
Escape is quite unlikely
But don’t let anyone
Talk you to death.
Hold on
There may be tomorrow,
In time
You’ll find the way,

But then the weirdo comes along
You’ll lose the will to carry on,
As you cast your eyes on high
And you know you can’t deny,
Now you feel like hope is gone
Look around you and be strong.
But you’ll finally see the truth
As a weirdo stands by you.

Nice Flowers :)

Pretty Flowers

Just thought I might pretty my blog up today 🙂

P1030596 P1030597

We seemed to spend a lot more time in gardens this trip….and very good it was too 🙂

P1030666 P1030598

Bermuda..just lovely

27th November 2014

Hamilton, Bermuda

P1030932

Last stop on this side of the Atlantic before we head home.

First impressions are that Hamilton is nowhere near as commercial as Nassau, and considering the people who live here it probably doesn’t need to be. This is most definitely the playground of the rich and famous, and when they’ve finished playing they head back to their multi-million pound houses which cover the island. The rich and famous live side by side with the rich and not so famous in properties that dominate the skyline or beachfront, and you can get on a boat which will take you to gawp with envy.

Not for us though as we’re heading off towards the Botanical Gardens to see what’s on offer in the flora and fauna department, and as it’s a warm (but not overly hot) day the walk is very pleasant.

P1030902We pass a life sized bronze statue of ‘Johnny Barnes’ which is supposed to depict the spirit of Bermuda, it is very good. It was designed by a sculptor named Fountain, who incidentally designed several other pieces around the island including…yes you guessed it…a fountain.

The walking up the hill we enter the ‘Medical’ district. What a great idea to have all the different clinics and speciality healthcare services centred around the main hospital, there’s even the local branches of Red Cross ad St John Ambulance here as well. This would be a great place for any medical student to do their ‘elective’ placement…not that we know anybody like that!!!

The Botanical Gardens are really pleasant to stroll around with lots of singing birds and ‘spooky’ shaped trees to photograph….just brilliant.

P1030920Then we head off to the fort, which is a bit of a climb but well worth the effort. You can see the amount of effort that was put into digging out the underground tunnels here, and the guns are enormous. Oh and the views are just the best.

The cathedral is pretty and the town gardens are fascinating (or the other way round if you prefer) but the one major downside to this peaceful haven is it’s very expensive. To be fair a lot of the people who live here aren’t short of a bob or two, but when you compare the prices we’ve been used to at previous stops it’s very different. But then it costs nothing to browse and no one hassles you for a sale, it’s all good, and the locals just love to chat.

P1030909So Hamilton is a really great place to visit and we really enjoyed it so thanks for having us, but we didn’t spend much this time….sorry.…but I’m fairly sure you won’t miss it.

Busy Busy Bahamas

24th November 2014

Nassau Bahamas

P1030844

Hmm…not sure what to say…so maybe I won’t say too much.

This port is exceptionally popular with the cruise ships and today we’re the smallest of five floating hotels which are jostling for position along the harbour. So this is a very busy commercial town and most people seem to head off across the bridge to Paradise Island to spend the day on the incredible beaches that are available on the far side of the island.

I’m not saying it’s not a nice place…it’s just not my cup of tea…sorry.

At least the weather was good so we had the chance of a nice long stroll, and I hear the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo are well worth a visit (catch the number 10 bus)

We enjoyed a nice snack lunch at the Conch n Kalik (great conch fritters and chicken wings) followed by some shop browsing before returning to the ship.

P1030818It was nice to see the police in their white uniforms and pith helmets, very smart.

We had a nice day here but sooooooo many people around (including us of course)

P1030848

Club Tropicana drinks aren’t free, but they are good

21st – 22nd November 2014

Havana – Cuba

P1030766

It would be wrong of me to say I’m totally relaxed and looking forward to today’s visit to the city of Havana in Cuba, but I have no rational reason for feeling the way I do, so I intend trying to keep an open mind.

First impressions are, once again, a little mixed as the place we’re berthed at is quite dirty and dishevelled. I must remind myself of my previous comments about not expecting things to be the same here as in other places.

This is a country which is growing and improving, yes the revolution was some time ago but rebuilding takes time…and many boatloads of money.

We have to wait a while for immigration clearance and there’s a huge queue to change money into Cuban Convertible Pesos, but once that’s done we’re off. It’s a hot and sticky day and like many places there is the gauntlet of horse-drawn carriage owners and taxi drivers to negotiate. But to be fair they’re not as pushy as some of the ones we’re encountered on previous trips, so the first good point of the day is awarded.

We walked along the harbour front but a lot of care is needed here. The pavements are quite bad and are very uneven with huge holes here and there. But the people appear genuinely pleased to welcome us to their city with many an ‘Ola’ handed out along with big smiles. All seems friendly so far.

Some of the streets and buildings are seriously depressing though and there is a lot of construction and renovation happening. Unfortunately our first wanderings led us into a less salubrious area of the city and within a short time we quickly get lost in all the backstreet alleyways. I wouldn’t say we felt in any danger but elderly men urinating against the wall is never a good sign.

P1030769Much is made of the old American cars which dominate this city, and it’s true there are so many of them around the average car enthusiast could spend hours here and look at nothing else.

 

But be careful if you decide to ride….be absolutely clear in your negotiations as we heard many a story of a price being agreed but the passengers not realising the price quoted to them was per hour and/or per passenger and not a total for a tour. We heard one couple saying that as they’d had insufficient money when the time came to pay, the driver had demanded the man go off in search of cash while his terrified wife remained in the sweltering confines of the back of his car.

There are a lot of ‘dead’ railway engines around the streets as well, not all are accessible to look around but seeing the scatterings of ‘open air’ museums was interesting.

Anyway, by the evening of the first day I’m still not totally convinced, but the highlight of this tour was about to happen….we’d booked to go to ‘Club Tropicana’ to see this world famous show.

Well what can I say? It was very spectacular and with half a litre of Havana Club rum between the two of us it got better by the minute. Then to be fair we were quite lucky as we were directed to seats which gave us a decent view of the stage. Others were not quite so fortunate. The members of the audience are packed around oblong tables and this poses a big problem, a lot of folk are facing the wrong way….and it’s nigh on impossible to rotate your chair for a better look as the person behind is so close.

Overall we were both quite pleasantly surprised by the entertainment on offer although I would say that some parts became quite repetitive. This is a high-energy dance show with lots of fast salsa drum beats, so don’t expect too much variety. But it was very lively and colourful, what more can you wish from a show?

And so closed our first day here….dare I say with a smile….but was Havana or Havana Club responsible?

Day two was just as hot and sticky and there’s a load more to see and do, so off we go again. The one inescapable fact about this place is it’s cheap…very cheap.

We bought a number of presents to take home and food and drink is very reasonable…for example lobster for two with several mojitos to wash it down will cost around £20, and we bought two litres of Cubans finest rum for around £8!

We visit the the usual tourist haunts such as the Cathedral, the government buildings, revolution square, the armoury museum, etc and it was all very interesting. There is an awful lot of renovation going on so the future potential of this city appears to be a really good place to visit.

P1030807We end up having lunch in some back street café, which turns out to be the owner’s front yard with chickens and children running around, and a pile of colourful laundry drying on the washing line overhead. This for me was one of the highlight of this trip so far and demonstrated how friendly the people are here, as well as how desperate they are to earn a living, however they can. Needless to say the food was as good as the hospitality…..

And that was Havana. Much better than we’d expected and certainly different but I’m not sure we’ll come back….why?….probably because I wonder if the major renovation of this city which is happening at the moment will have a huge impact on the people and spoil the atmosphere and attitude that you feel in these somewhat chaotic streets. And as for those fantastic American cars….we all know what happened to the old buses in Malta once outside agencies put money into the local economy. Losing them would just be disastrous….oh well, I suppose we should come back in a few years time to find out what’s happened.

ADIOS CUBAP1030799

 

Sea Day

20th November 2014

A Sea Day

IMG_3152

So far I haven’t included many posts during this trip about the numerous sea days we’ve had. Mainly this is because nothing much has been happening to inspire me or worth any particular mention.

After the successful and exceedingly exciting launch of ‘The Other Side of Me’, my first novel, I’ve spent most of the time on sea days trying to concentrate on my next project, or more importantly trying to decide what to do!!

I’m currently considering trying to turn this cruise/holiday blog into a book, something like a cruisers diary with a plot line running through it (a bit like Adrian Mole meets Bridget Jones with a touch of Deputy Dawg thrown in for good measure) Oh well, let’s see.

Tomorrow we reach Cuba and although I feel a certain amount of excitement about the visit, I also feel a little apprehensive.

In the meantime here’s a little ditty.

ditty

Yes I know that was awful but what did you expect? 🙂

%d bloggers like this: