I’ve been very remiss as it’s been nearly three years since my last post, not something I’m proud of considering I made a promise to our family and friends to keep them informed whilst we were on our travels. But then sometimes there isn’t enough hours in each day to do everything, especially when you’re on holiday.
Let’s think about this logically (and hopefully I’ll give myself a damn good excuse for my tardiness)
Most of our travels are cruises and one of the main reasons for the drop in posts initially was the increase in the cost of using the internet on a ship. Back in 2015 I was paying, on average, around £30 for a 24 hour pass…that being the total time available to be online split into as many sessions as it would facilitate. A single pass would certainly last for the duration of even cruises of 3 weeks or more, with an hour or two left over to donate to a friendly crew member at the end.
These days though, internet packages have soared in price (on the cruise lines we use that is) and even the simplest packages are so expensive and not really worth it.
But having said that I think I’m offering a bit of a diversionary excuse to be honest, because the real reason for the decline of my blog was probably because of the developing feeling of obligation to post, no matter what.
Back on the ship after a beautiful day out, in some really wonderful places, it’s nice just to relax with a glass of wine, take in a show or movie, indulge in delightful culinary fare or just sit and chill as you watch the sun go down.
But that’s not what I was doing, because I had a task to complete…a piece of writing to compose (with a photo or two) to let the folks back home know what we’d been doing, and that we were okay. The modern day postcard if you like…but with a lot more space to fill and an expectation that daily communication was required. Well that’s how it felt to me…but I was probably mistaken, and it’s extremely likely the obligation I felt was more a matter of my own pride.
Bloggers live to engage readers and collect things such as likes and comments, and I was (am) no exception. We crave that others see what an interesting life we lead…a kind of ‘look at us’ mentality…a desire for that Andy Warhol 10 minutes of fame. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great bloggers out there whose writing deserves an audience…but for me I needed to realise that there is, in fact, a time for every purpose under heaven (as in the great song ‘Turn Turn Turn’)
A time to relax, a time to enjoy. A time to Blog and a time not fret that you haven’t posted for a day or two (or a week, a month or nearly 3 years)
So I’m going to make an effort to recommence this online journal, but maybe a bit in arrears of any actual events…that way I’m free to enjoy every moment I’m fortunate to experience without feeling guilty if I forget to commit it to script immediately.
24th September 2015
Question: how many witches were executed following the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693?
Answer: none….because of the twenty people hung or crushed to death none of them were actually witches (so I was told)
We had another bright and sunny day to explore ashore, but with only a few hours before we head off for the next stop we have to get a wiggle on as there appears to be a lot to do.
Salem is a fairly new location for the cruise industry, although many thousands of tourists flock here every year on the ferry from Boston, so maybe we need to be on our best behaviour if we want to be invited back.
First impressions are this is a very pretty town and, but for the history of the appalling and harrowing events of over 300 years ago, it would probably be a very sleepy place too.
But it isn’t, far from it.
First of all, as you leave the port, there is a house with all kinds of junk in the garden and around the house. It’s the same stuff we’ve just spent the last eight months getting rid of back home, but the owner has used his/her imagination to create works of art….or just things of interest. It would be possible to spend some time looking through the bars of the fence at all the immerging artefacts, but like I said….wiggle, wiggle.
Once outside the port there is a red line to follow, a tourist trail which takes you to or past every point of interest in this vibrant town. The House of Seven Gables is first followed by the court house and the historical maritime area. There are waxworks, museums, houses of interest, a cemetery, a pirate house and more ghost walks than you could rattle Jacob Marley’s chains at. And it’s all good and overall not too demanding on the pocket book (wallet for us English)
Now the most interesting place for me was the memorial area for the victims of those heinous accusations. I’ll not go into much detail but I found the walk past each marker dedicated to a prematurely despatched, ordinary human, quite emotional. I’m sure their only ambition in life was probably to be happy, healthy and allowed to live as long as possible, in peace.
But then there’s always someone with an axe to grind, a point to make or just wants to be a spoiler for no other reason than they can.
Anyway, back to Salem, and we’ll certainly be back if given the chance, although maybe the witch theme is just a little OTT. I suppose this is definitely a case of ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’. I’m sure Salem has more to offer than that but on this occasion we didn’t have the time to find it.
My joints are stiff and rusty
Old paint’s already peeled
I’m looking fairly shabby
With all my faults revealed.
And my undercarriage droops a bit
Well, a lot to be quite fair
My fallen arches need a lift
And success in love is rare.
But at least I’ve had the chance to live
A full and active life,
Free from persecution
Safe and happy, little strife.
It doesn’t matter who I am
Or what my interests be.
Criticise me all you want,
You can’t stop me being me.
(A grateful tribute for life, inspired by the innocents of Salem)
Growing old is certainly better than the alternative……dying young
Not sure who should take the credit for this quote……but it’s definitely not me……still a great quote
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have supported, followed, liked or commented on my posts over the last year, it really is appreciated.
The launch of my first book ‘The Other Side of Me’ happened in October and It was a very exciting time, especially holding the very first copy which is something I’ll never forget. Although initially sales were quite slow I’m not disheartened and I’m feeling really positive for the coming year.
So a Happy New Year to you all, my wish is for everyone to achieve their own personal dream, big or small, and just remember……every day can be a new day with a fresh start and renewed hope, don’t waste a single one of them 🙂
Available from Amazon as a Kindle edition or paperback
15th November 2014
Grenada…Nice n Spicey!
Last time we were here it was a Sunday and most of the town stayed shut. But not today and as the ship docked you could almost hear the surrounding area whirring and revving into action (a few crunching gears could be detected as well, but maybe that was just some of the passengers starting to move about)
Unlike Barbados this seems to be a much quieter island and although it has its fair share of cruise ships the atmosphere feels a little more ‘laid back’.
Again there a lot to do here, snorkelling, kayaking, gardening, etc, and for the not so faint of heart there is the infamous Rhum Runner trips. Loud music accompanied by lots of rum punch and limbo competitions await the party goer…and boy do they go. The rum punch would fetch the paint off the walls it’s that strong, and after one or two even the shyest octogenarian is stripping off her corset and whirling it round her head before launching herself under a limbo pole. Strange because not 20 minutes earlier she was stooped over a walking frame, I think it’s time to introduce free Caribbean rum punch on the NHS.
Then of course there are the wonderful white sandy beaches….but none of this is for us today as we have a hike in the mountains planned.
Are we mad? It’s 30 degrees in the shade with the humidity at around 80% and we’re passing up a Rhum Runner trip for a hike!!
Okay we like to try different things……so away we go.
We’re off to find Mt Carmel, the highest waterfall on the island, which according to the brochure ‘is just waiting to be discovered’. But as there is also a picture of the falls then I’m thinking someone must have already found it.
Our driver and guide, Skipper, is great company and soon has us laughing and joking despite many sudden downpours of the wet stuff.
“It may be a bit wet and slippery,” he tells us.
But boy oh boy he was so wrong because it turned out to be exceptionally drenched and more slippery than trying to walk on a sheet of glass covered in washing up liquid…in socks. The 15 minute stroll to the waterfall turns into an hour’s ascent up the north face of the Eiger….without ropes and crampons…..but we all work together and have some really great fun.
By the time we reach our destination, made more impressive by the current weather conditions, we’re all covered head to toe in caked mud. But no one has been injured (luckily) and everyone is still smiling (surprisingly) despite the knowledge that we still have to return back the way we came at some point.
And was it worth the effort…..was it ever.
The waterfall was an impressive waterfall but the sense of achievement somehow made it seem even more spectacular.
Long story short but we made it back in one piece (obviously) and after a quick shower and fresh set of clothes we headed off to explore the town of St Georges.
We climbed the steps to fort George overlooking the harbour, but alas it was closed. So we made our way down the other side of the hill to ‘The Carenage’, the old harbour/port area, principally to find a bar.
Fortunately this was a fairly easy task and we found ourselves in a very quaint place with open views across the harbour mouth. Nice food and cold beer always welcome.
We did try to find somewhere to buy a newspaper….not because we wanted to see any depressing news, but we needed something to stuff into our sodden shoes to help dry them out. But alas there were none to be found.
Ah well I don’t think we’ll be doing much hiking anytime soon!!
Great day out Grenada….with the mud and the crud and the beer.
Sunday 21st September 2014
Sea Day – What makes us human?
I have been listening with great interest to a show on BBC Radio 2, and one of the ongoing topics of discussion has provoked some intense thoughts and feelings of my own. The host has invited some of the great and good of our society to outline their thoughts on the subject of what makes us human, to give us the listener some insight into the way these different individuals, with varied experience of our world, think about what make us the very unique and extremely complex people we undoubtedly are. I have become captivated by the discussion and feel somewhat compelled to express my own ideas.
So for me…………what makes us human?
Today, surrounded by the vast Atlantic Ocean, an insignificant speck in this wonderful miracle we all inhabit, I thought I’d be serious for once………
It is certainly very easy to state all the different individual characteristics which make each of us good and honourable citizens of the world, or good humans if you prefer. Compassion, generosity, patience, tolerance, perseverance, these are all positive and admirable traits which allow us to be welcomed into society with open arms and held high as role models, encouraging others to follow in our footsteps and take up these preferred and highly acceptable characteristics.
But I’m assuming this topic of discussion is more about what collectively sets us aside from any other life form rather than just identifying the desirable attributes we should all adopt to make this world a better place to live and thus create a more human society.
What really makes mankind different, what drives us as a species, what wholly separates us from the animals?
It is certainly a fact that some of the positive individual traits I have already mentioned can be seen demonstrated to varying degrees by many of the creatures we share this amazing planet with, but no one would ever consider them to be human. It would also be fair to say there are many of our fellow homosapians who possess few if any good characteristics and in fact regularly demonstrate negative attributes like cruelty, dishonesty and intolerance which are considered wholly undesirable and antisocial. But does this make them any less a human??
Now I’m not a religious person, which doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God or consider that maybe there is a higher being in charge of all of this, and it is said in the bible that God created man in his own image. Now I’m sure the theologians will give many varied interpretations of this statement, but mainly it is believed to mean we have been given freewill to make our own choices. We are also gifted with insight and judgment, which enables us to consider the potential consequences to our decisions, and armed with this knowledge many may still choose to do the right thing for the greater good for all, even at great personal cost. So does this answer the question of what makes us human as no animal would ever do this, as all animals act instinctively in their own individual interest? Well that could be part of the answer but for me there is more to it than that.
Personally I think it is our creativity that makes us human, we haven’t just evolved physically through procreation, we have survived as a species and evolved quicker than our friends the animals because we have successfully developed our natural ability to imagine, design and create. The skill and knowledge acquired over the centuries is used to improve the things we already have and give us an ability to invent and develop anything we need to make our existence considerable better. This doesn’t just include the physical things that have helped us to progress, like machinery, electricity and medicines, but also extends to the concepts, ideas, systems and theories which develop our personalities and attitudes.
Although mankind can’t take any of the credit for creating God, there have been many different religions and cultures put in place by man to answer a need. They were developed to give us ethics and moral guidance, comfort in time of need, plausible explanations to our desire to understand about how we came to exist and the meaning of life. Religion and culture created and bonded the early communities and gave the local citizens support, but best of all religion offered its faithful disciples a promise of a continuation of life beyond their physical existence. Culture like humans has evolved to keep relevance with time, constantly developing all but the basic core values in order to meet the ever changing needs of the people, and so it gives a purpose and identity, with or without a god.
Government was created to give us rules, enhance social structure, protect and nurture its citizens and develop the means for countries to grow and prosper.
Technology not only gives us a more efficient way to make things, travel and communicate, but literally assists us to live longer healthier and happier lives.
And all of this has been created by humans, but why?
The answer for me is very simple, it gives us the one thing we all crave and desire, the one thing that drives our every waking moment, keeps us going through this life at an unbelievable pace, we create to give us HOPE.
Not the negative and selfish ‘I want it all’ type hope, although that exists today more than ever, but the simple hope that just wants everything to be a little bit better for everybody.
A hope for a better future, for peace, an ability to cure disease and eliminate suffering, to prolong our useful life, maintaining a state of happiness and enjoyment. Our biggest hope is probably the desire for an extension of being beyond this physical existence and the knowledge we will participate in an eternity of continuing wonderful experiences.
Hope unites us in a way that nothing else can. It crosses all cultural barriers and standardises every religion. It drives us to invest unquantifiable time and resources into the technology and research in the quest for more answers. Hope gives life a meaning and a purpose, and yet for each of us hope is as simple as it is different, and tomorrow it can all change.
From great thinkers to reward winning directors, dedicated religious and community leaders to world renown rock legends, from the rich and famous to an average nobody like me, hope drives us, inspires us and gives us the strength to face whatever life may throw at us.
‘What makes us human?” for me it’s our endless search for Hope and the optimistic comfort it delivers…………..and yet it promises nothing.