Sunday, 19 July 2015

Gay Paree!



It's over 20 years since I was in Paris but the first leg of my tour to Lake Garda took me to Paris for the afternoon & evening. 

We arrived on the Eurostar & then transferred to a hotel next to Gare de Lyon railway station. I've only seen the area around Gare du Nord which never seems to be particularly attractive with the unbelievable amounts of graffiti! 
I'd never been to that part of Paris & was really surprised at how attractive it was. Lots of restaurants & lovely older buildings. Wish I had taken more photographs.




Just look at all those cycles. Amazing! 



And take a look at those motor bikes. All the outside area of the station was covered in them & the bikes. Shows how many people use the trains!

I decided I would just go for a walk as I was on my own & didn't fancy eating alone. So I bought a baguette from the station, they do quite good food in all the railway stations. They even had a Costa! Then I went on my way wandering down to the riverside. It was a really warm & sticky night so I just drifted.


I was amazed at how many people were down there along the banks, drinking & enjoying picnics. Not just students but whole families, right along the riverside on both banks.







Salsa dancing too!






What surprised me was how most of them seemed to have to sit right on the edge & the concrete when there were seats & grassy banks available. Shows my age!





 More dancers! These were doing a sort of tango.


It was a lovely evening & I enjoyed the walk back to the hotel but was glad to get back to my air conditioned room. Normally I can't stand it & switch it off but it was unbearable without it.



This was a lovely little street very close to the station where they were all sitting out eating & drinking.

I was hoping to have a Costa coffee as a nightcap in the station but they had shut shop!

Next stop, Desenzano, Lake Garda.






Friday, 12 June 2015

Staffa & Fingal's Cave


Have to say I'm not quite sure where to start with a post. I've got so many photos but I think I'll go with Staffa & Fingal's Cave, Scotland. The photos are not as clear as I hoped mainly because of the wind, it was really hard to keep the camera steady & often I was hanging onto the rail with one hand to keep my balance.

As you can see it was the usual Scottish weather, the water was a bit rough but not too bad, it was chilly & a bit grey but not too dreek!

We had to take a small boat out from Ffionphort on the Isle of Mull to Staffa. I have seen photos of Staff & Fingal's Cave but I wasn't prepared for what I encountered. I thought you could just land & walk into the cave. No such luck!




Here we are getting off the little boat onto the jetty.



Looking up you can see there could be climbing involved!






Now heights are not my style so I opted out of going up to see the puffins, much as I love them.


It was amazing to see the thrift growing between those basalt columns with no soil & despite the sea water washing them.


So ye tak the high road & I'll tak the low! I chose the low path to Fingal's Cave.


Not quite as easy as I thought. It got 
higher & narrower. 




It was perishing cold & I wished I'd brought some gloves.


I didn't dare take photos at the narrowest point. It was very windy & really cold so didn't want to lose my grip on the rail.



 

It's getting wider & flatter here & the rail has disappeared......for now! That lulled me into a false sense of security.


                   

Here we are at the entrance to the cave & the rail is back thank goodness!

 
Just look at the colour of the water it's gorgeous. I kept thinking of Mendelssohn's The Hebrides Overture when I was looking at the water rushing in & out.  

                      

                     

Now I did wonder whether I should venture in any further but in for a penny in for a pound as they say.

       

but no safety rails here! I did wonder what would happen if anyone slipped & fell in. There were no lifebelts! It was a bit of a drop plus the water was gushing in & out of the cave.

      

 Not sure whether you'd call this a roof or a ceiling because the columns reminded me of the structure of a cathedral. I think Gaudi would have been thoroughly at home here.









 Looking out of the cave you can see how narrow the ledge is & the drop. 




 I made it out!




Everyone got back safely & thankfully the boat came back for us & the boat's dog. By this time I was wondering whether we were suffering from hypothermia!
We considered ourselves very lucky to have been able to land there that day as the previous day the weather had been terrible.
 
Here's the beautiful music of Mendelssohn that The Hebrides & especially Fingal's Cave inspired:

                                 


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

I Don't Believe it!


You go out for a meal drive up the access road to the hotel & suddenly crash! 

A golf ball from their golf club smashes your windscreen.

So after a horrendous shock, what makes it even worse? The golf club manager wouldn't speak to me, sent the young receptionist out to say "Nothing to do with us. It's the golfer's fault". 

"OK then which golfer"?

"Nothing to do with us"!

Which was absolute tosh. What about public liability insurance? They have to have it or their business is running illegally.

So I went into the hotel where I was meeting a friend for a meal & asked to speak to the manager about their golf club manager. Have to say their staff there were lovely asking was I OK, could they get me a coffee etc. Manager apologised, the golf club is now privately owned. He went to speak to the department who deal with insurance & was told yes they are insured but not for golf ball damage! Well I don't believe that for a minute. However he offered on behalf of the hotel to pay the excess on the windscreen replacement.

I wondered what would have happened if I had been walking up the drive & the ball had hit me. 

So a nasty shock, a ruined evening out & now the company doing the replacement say they can't change the windscreen for a week!

Well I'll be writing a thank you letter to the hotel staff for their customer service, a not so nice letter to the Golf Club Manager & it's back on to the insurance company tomorrow to say their windscreen replacement service is unacceptable.

As I said earlier "I don't believe it"!

Monday, 11 May 2015

I Haven't Been Slacking - Honestly!


Aurora

Well I've had a bit of a break from blogging but I have been quite busy. Enjoying myself mostly, on a Panama Canal cruise!  Now I will post about that later as there are lots of photos to upload. Meanwhile above there's a photo of the ship Aurora which was very nice.  It's docked at Puntarenas which was not quite so nice!

Anyway since I got back apart from the washing & ironing, I've been quite busy trying to finish a crochet blanket I started a couple of months ago.  If I'd had room in the luggage I would have taken it with me on the cruise but it was quite bulky & heavy. We only had 23 kg of luggage for a 23 night cruise which needed posh frocks (for me) plus a dinner jacket & a suite for Eric so I took a shawl pattern to do.  I knitted it for two weeks, didn't like it & pulled it out so I had nothing to show for my time spent knitting on the ship. 

My time wasn't totally wasted though.  I went to Spanish lessons which were great. I joined the ship at the end of March when the ship was doing its final leg of the world cruise it had started way back in January. So I only had three weeks to catch up with most of the other passengers who had started when the ship, left Southampton in January! Have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it & we had a great laugh with the young Spanish tutor who had a wonderful sense of humour. 

So now I really need to keep the Spanish up. I had planned to learn some Italian on the cruise for my two trips to Italy in the summer. That went by the board though like the knitting. So apart from trying to finish the blanket, that's on the cards for the next couple of months.

Anyway this is my progress with the blanket so far:


10 of these done!


10 of these done!



Now for the bad news. Only 5 each of these done because I've run out of wool! Never mind the flowery centres are finished so the easy peasy bits are left to do. Well apart from joining the whole caboodle together which I'm dreading.

So will have to order more wool this week. Hopefully it will eventually look something like this.



I changed the colours as I don't do pink & I made it in wool not cotton.

I'm nearly always amazed at how good camera photos are. Bearing in mind I've never bothered to find out how to use it I just point it at the thing & click. It's great, no having to upload the camera photos, they just go. Just like magic!

Wish it was as easy to learn Italian!