Sunday, 26 September 2021

The Cruise

Port of Tyne

Well we did get on the cruise after all, Scotland lifted their restrictions to cruise ships entering their ports a few days before we sailed. I should have posted this earlier but have only just managed to download the photos!

I don't have many as we couldn't get off the ship in Shetland and it was a bit misty so the photographs from the ship there were poor. 

Well we haven't sailed from the Port of Tyne since the 'eighties when we took the car & sailed on the DFDS ferry to Sweden for a log cabin holiday which was great. Now the ferries only go to Amsterdam so we haven't bothered but maybe we should try a trip next year. but without the car. It's a really small port which is nice to sail from, no horrendous traffic jams or huge queues!

It was an easy car trip to the port about 45 minutes, should have been 30 but the roadworks struck again as they always do on main roads in the UK in summer. There was an absolutely huge marquee set up in the ferry terminal car park to do the Covid testing which was fairly quick and very efficiently completed.

We boarded and went to our cabin which was smaller than ones I've had before but it was clean with a small balcony, adequate storage, a big shower & the essential kettle, tea & coffee! This was a Tui ship with primarily UK passengers so they know our habits of needing kettles! 

It was good sailing out of the port, a lot of new houses and offices have been built along the river. Wish my photos were better!

I've never sailed with Tui or Marella cruises as they are called now and I'm not doing a cruise review here as there are lots of them around on the cruise sites. What I will comment on are the things that struck me sailing in a time of a pandemic.

There were numerous regulations which had to be adhered to and the ship was only half full as they weren't booking the inside cabins. Not sure I could hack one of these at the best of times we like a bit of fresh air especially in the morning and we hate air conditioning. 

You had to wear a mask walking around the ship, in the shops, theatre and only four people at a time were allowed in the lifts. You could take your mask off once you were seated in a restaurant or cafe but had to put them on if you got up to get food. All food, drinks & cutlery had to be served by staff to you even in the buffet and cafes. This seems a great idea & one that they should continue with to reduce the problems of the common Norovirus on some cruise ships.

They were not allowing people off the ships in the ports we were sailig to unless you were booked on a ship's excursion. I suppose this was to minimise the risk of bringing infection back to the ship and we knew this before we booked. The only ports we were visiting were all Scottish, Invergordon, Dundee and Lerwick and to be truthful we weren't bothered about going on the ship's excursions. It was great just to be on holiday with no shopping, cooking or housework and watching the sea from the balcony.

We did an excursion to Glamis Castle in Dundee which is the home of the Earl of Strathmore and it was the home of the Queen Mother before she married King George VI and Princess Margaret was born there.

Glamis Castle

It was the inspiration for Macbeth as King Malcolm II was murdered on the site of the present castle & Macbeth became king in 1040. The building of the castle as we know it today began in 1400.

It's not a huge place but it is rather sweet and it was really good to see the rooms which are exquisitely decorated and furnished.

I loved the ceiling in this sitting room, sorry the photo isn't very good. Think my camera is on its last legs.

Not sure how they kept it warm, the room was huge.

The little chairs in the fireplace belonged to the Queen & Princess Margaret.

Early sketch of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen's mother.

Another smaller sitting room.

This was the Queen Mother's bedroom. The cot to the right of the bed was the Queen's & Princess Margaret's as babies, the rocking horse too.


This was King George Vl's bedroom.

As the visit was during Covid there were no guided tours, we had to use an app to self guide. When it worked it was really good but it kept losing the information and you had to keep reloading so that was time consuming. 

There were lots of parts of the castle we didn't have time to see. You can book lunch there and it seemed reasonable, £16 for two courses, not bad for eating in a castle. 

There was quite a good shop and what looked like a great children's playground. 

I would have liked to see the gardens, they looked lovely and the estate is extensive but we only had about two & a half hours which really isn't enough.

The North Sea was amazingly calm for the six days of the cruise. On the way back to North Shields the ship was moving so slowly that I was sure I could have swum faster!

Just hope Marella operate more cruises from Newcastle next year.

Sunrise, Port of Tyne, North Shields

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Tokyo Paralympics 2021

Anyone else enjoying watching the Paralympics?

Stayed up last night or rather this morning to watch the swimming and have to say they're absolutely incredible. 

Some of the levels of impairment are really high and you just wonder how on earth they manage to swim at all. They are so inspiring. 

The TV presenters are really good at explaining how the disabilities are categorised and the issues that the particular swimmers have completing their stroke.

The back stories are great too hearing from their families at home and how they've fought to overcome their disabilities using sport. It's sad the families are not able to be in Tokyo supporting them but wonderful to watch.

It's amazing that there are any British swimmers competing after all the swimming pools here have been closed to everyone for over a year. T
here are very few outdoor pools so they have had precious little opportunities to train until recently. Few of us in the UK have our own swimming pools and let's face it the climate doesn't lend itself to outdoor swimming in lakes or the sea. 

The only problem I have is that the broadcasts are not on the BBC so you have to suffer advertising. The breaks are annoying but never mind I'll just have to make drinks or go to the loo more often!

Anyway I'm just going to enjoy them, they're amazing to watch. 

Source: International Paralympic Committee, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Shetland Here We Come!

                                            Jarlshof, Shetland

Photograph courtesy of Tom Parnellfrom Scottish Borders, Scotland - Creative Commons licence 

A few weeks ago when our Covid rates were really low & I was feeling a bit low so I decided to book a short UK cruise up to Shetland. Well we'd had our vaccinations, all the rates were pretty low in the UK so it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Well now I'm not so sure but at least everyone on the ship has to be vaccinated and tested at the port and it's an adult only cruise so we'll see.

A few days ago we found out that Scotland wasn't accepting cruise ships from England even though everyone is vaccinated & a recent cruise has had its Scottish ports cancelled.

It seemed daft as you can drive into Scotland, get a train or bus over the border whether you've been vaccinated or not and nobody checks anything. We have been expecting the cruise itinerary to be changed to English ports & have been waiting to hear what's happened to our cruise but have heard nothing from the cruise company.

Well I checked the Lerwick Port Authority website which is where the ship would dock & surprise, surprise, from 19th July they are accepting cruise ships!

So come Saturday if all goes well we'll be on our way to Sheltland. I'd better get the thermal underwear & the waterproofs out, it's never very warm there and they do get more than their fair share of rain! It will be some respite from this heat which we aren't used to.

I lost all my photographs of my trip to Shetland in 2015 courtesy of Windows 10 & my BT Cloud backup. They may be there somewhere in the ether but I can't find them so thanks to Wiki Commons I found a similar photograph by Tom Parnell to one I had taken on a visit to Jarlshof. I think it's better than mine!

Thursday, 10 June 2021

A Good Kick up the Behind!

Well that's what I really needed but I knew I needed more exercise which would help my health as well as my mood. My ankles were swelling a lot and even the walking I forced myself to do wasn't really helping. I can't stand gyms and I knew I couldn't face the risk of going to the pool for a 30 minute swim so I found a great set of videos on Youtube.

The exercises were reasonably easy (there's often an easy version), the trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read is really experienced, very nice, not a total fitness freak and they are very short, 7 minutes! You don't have to lie on the floor (I tried Yoga but can't manage lying down) and you don't need any equipment. 

There's lots to choose from at different levels and different lengths.

Here's my favourite video, a run/walk in the mountains 

I've been doing them for a week. I have to say I feel a bit more positive & have more energy plus my ankles are not so swollen!

Let's hope I can keep up the momentum doing these exercises!

Sunday, 30 May 2021

What a Wimp!

           Photo Wiki Commons:Mike Pennington-Looking north from Sumburgh Head

Have to say I wasn't too sure how I felt about the lockdown ending soon, it felt safe staying at home and doing the shopping online. I have been to the hairdresser and had both vaccinations but hanging on to go to the dentist for a check up. I haven't been to church for months as you have to book online and then I'm not sure whether I'll pluck up the courage to go on the day. Watching services on telly is so much easier, I'm such a wimp!

I do go for a walk most days but have to really push myself. I'm not too keen to go to a restaurant or a cafe just yet and I've only been to two shops in over a year. Been thinking I really need to make the effort to get back to a more "normal" way of life whatever that might be or I might end up agoraphobic! 

I was looking for a break in Northumberland or Scotland but the prices are quite high for a week in June or July just booking a cottage or a basic hotel even without breakfast was as much as a trip to Spain. Not that I want to go there yet!

I saw that the cruises to Scotland from our local port had just gone online for the summer so I spent a while checking them out. Eventually I played it safe & just booked a 6 day cruise up to Shetland, Invergordon & Dundee in July. 

I've been to Shetland before & I know the chances are the weather won't be great but I'm not a sun lover so it will be fine for me & my husband. I think I just want a break from the housework & some different food that I don't have to buy or cook! 

It was just as cheap as booking a decent UK hotel although I don't even know if we'll be allowed off the ship. To be honest I don't care! I love being on a ship even though the North Sea can be pretty rough. Just hope by July I'll have more courage to go than I have now. 

Sorry the photo above isn't one of mine. I seem to have lost the ones I took when I visited Orkney & Shetland (courtesy of the Cloud when my computer went berserk the photos of that tour have all disappeared). 

I really don't know why I can't motivate myself to complete anything. I have to force myself to do housework & only the absolute necessities are being done! It's partly because I don't sleep very well & feel tired a lot of the time & maybe it's the beta blockers who knows! Even days when I feel OK I find things to fiddle about with on the computer or look at new patterns of things to make.

I keep starting new bits of knitting & I have a big pile of sewing that's lying around waiting to be finished never mind the sail blinds I need to make for the conservatory. I need to get bits & pieces from the shops to finish some things but I can't pluck up the courage to go. 

The weather is really lovely now but the garden needs so much work doing before I can sit outside to knit, sew or read. I need a good kick up the behind to get me going. 

Now the lockdown is easing I'm hoping my granddaughter will want to sew with me now she's left school officially. That might help get me going. I've missed seeing family for over a year now but I'll be looking after my daughter's dog if they get to go to Disneyland in August so with that & the cruise maybe I'll get myself together again this summer. I can only hope & pray I do as I don't like the me I am at the moment!

Take care, I hope you're feeling more chipper than I am!

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Welcome to Spring

Hard to believe it but finally Spring is here and it's a gorgeous day here in the North of England. We usually get the duff weather but not today!

I'm hoping the nicer weather will get me going again. Haven't had the energy or the inspitation to do anything for months. Not really sure why, don't think the lock downs have created a mental health issue, could be an age thing but I think it's more than a touch of lazyitis, more like a wallop!

Here's hoping I can get motivated this year, I certainly wasn't last year. Maybe the thought of being able to go to places will help. Well not too far away as a Med cruise or a holiday to Lake Garda which I really fancied are on the cards even if we've had the Covid vaccine.

I haven't been to the Western Highlands of Scotland for a while so that would be nice, if they'll us in! If not it will have to be Northumberland or the Lake district, both are very nice.

Time will tell whether we'll get anywhere. We might even have to do the garden and sit there! It certainly needs a lot of work doing. 

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Bring on 2021

Normally on New Year's Eve I think back of all the good things that have happened and times I've enjoyed and I always hope & pray that the next year will bring health and happiness. 

There have only been two years that have brought more sadness than joy when I've been glad to see the back of them. The first was 1970 the year my Mam died & my son was diagnosed with serious heart problems and now this year. Not bad I suppose only two out of over 70 years. 

This year has been OK for me & my family but I lost a good friend of over 50 years and a couple of other friends. It has changed our lifestyles but that's nothing compared to the grief and sadness brought to so many families with loss or being unable to visit relatives in care homes. My friend whose 100 year old Mum is in a care home has been unable to see her since March. She has fought for months to get the visits resumed as her Mum has deteriorated so much and they did resume two weeks ago but now they have been cancelled again.

However there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel with the new vaccines which seem to be being given out very quickly. Just hope that it comes in time to save lives and
restore some normality to the lives of those in care homes and their families. 

I look forward to 2021 and hope that people will respect the rules imposed on us so lives will be saved and together with the new vaccines people's lives can return to some kind of normality whatever that is.

Happy New Year!

The Cruise

Port of Tyne Well we did get on the cruise after all, Scotland lifted their restrictions to cruise ships entering their ports a few days bef...