May Day Bank Holiday Weekend

Sunday 6th May 2018

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Long Sutton

There is one thing to make sure of when you are invited around to a BBQ with Steve and Sara, and that is that you get to the food before Steve, otherwise you will be very disappointed with the meagre amounts left!

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Sara had worked very hard and produced a lovely selection of wonderful salads and accoutrements, and after lots of helpful advice from me, and an intensive lesson in the fine art in cooking over hot coals, Steve managed to serve up some very passable hot offerings!

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With Daniel Craig only doing one more Bond movie the search is on for the new “007”. If Barbara Broccoli is reading this I think I might be able to make next summer, and Steve says that he would be more than happy to stand in as my stunt double!

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Watch out Blofeld………

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It’s amazing, however old you are water pistols on a hot sunny day are still great fun!

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Luckily for us we had our own gun runner and Fraser supplied all the weapons while Steve supplied the ammunition !

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I have to say Julian, Fraser’s dad, took quite a long while to get changed…………he must have played this game before methinks!

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That night at home we had a visitor in the garden………on his way to a stag night I imagine!

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Bank Holiday 7th May 2018

A promising start to the day……………

for my return to competitive golf for the first time in nearly 2 years. As you can probably tell from the lack of T.V coverage I didn’t win!………..but we did have a great day.!

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NOTE TO ALL DRIVERS OF HGV LORRIES

When travelling into Romsey please can you check the height of your vehicle compared to the height of the local bridges………….. otherwise if you get it wrong this can cause a lot of inconvenience to the local residents who are driving into town to get their dad’s medication, amongst the many others!

 

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Kingston Lacy and the Bluebell Woods

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Tuesday 1st May 2018

We met up with our fellow adventurers Kev and Val at the National Trust property at Kingston Lacy near Wimborne in Dorset. I can’t remember if it was a windy day or that Jane and Val had both chosen a similar hairstyle.

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Kev was having a bad hair day so he wore a cap!  We got together to plan a couple more trips in the caravan, well I say plan, we discuss some dates and Kev does all the hard work with the routes and sites etc. So it looks like we are off to Spain in September for a couple of months and then next summer we are going to drive to Budapest.  That all sounds very exciting!

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Kev still hasn’t got the idea of hide and seek and Jane easily spotted him behind this tree!

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Friday 4th May

I have renewed my golf membership at Hockley.  Although we still plan to travel, I miss my golf and I don’t want to get too out of practice. It must be in the blood, my Dad has had 2 golf lessons this week and he is 82! The first week back was tough………..I had to play 4 times in a week to get my competition handicap back.  Jane was pleased as she got a bit of peace and quiet!

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Talking of Dad, he has discovered a new burst of energy. He has just joined a local art class in Romsey, here he is showing Jane some of his latest work. If you are interested he is making an exhibition of himself on the 6th of August at Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Aikman Lane, Totton, SO40 8FT from 7.15pm-9pm.

There will be other exhibitors, so it will be interesting to see what the class gets up to on a Tuesday morning at the old Convent school in Romsey.

Saturday 5th May 2018

Living with Dad in Braishfield we are close to Parnholt Woods and at this time of year the whole place is awash with colour. The brilliant yellow of the rape looks almost unreal!

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The woods are carpeted with bluebells ……..

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Everywhere you look is another inviting path for you to follow……..

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We were so lucky with the weather, and the dappled sunlight really makes this place come alive.

As you can see I took loads of photos here……..

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If you walk through the woods from the Braishfield end you get to the Clarendon Way, this is a 24 mile track from Winchester to Salisbury (If anyone wants to give this a go let me know, I’m sure we could do it in a day!) At this point on the Clarendon Way you are on a ridgeway and the views are stunning; the photo above was taken at Farley Mount and you can see for miles!

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A Tale of Two Cathedrals, And Much More

Thursday 26th April

 

“If you want a Cathedral, we’ve got one to spare…..” so goes the old Liverpool folk song. They are situated either end of the aptly named Hope Street.

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Both are fine looking buildings

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But we both found that the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Catholic), also known as “Paddy’s Wigwam”,  …….

….. had a more tranquil, calm feeling to it inside and that the stained glass worked to better effect here.

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This Liver Bird doesn’t look like the ones I remember from the TV in the late 60’s!

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Albert Docks and a view of the Three Graces.

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The Ferry across the Mersey………….

Many of the old derelict building are now being refurbished. Its great to see new life being injected in this run down area of town.

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A statue of the first world war truce, when fighting stopped on Christmas day 1914, is situated in the grounds of the bombed out St Lukes church which faces towards Bold street.  The church itself is a monument to the 1941 blitz of Liverpool when it was almost destroyed after having been firebombed.

In the afternoon we took a drive out to Crosby beach which is just north of Liverpool, to see Anthony Gormley’s Another Place, which is 100 statues of iron men spread along 2 miles of coastline. We were lucky to visit when the tide was out to get the full effect. I found it both awesome and eerie at the same time!

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Back to the hotel and a little stroll before tea, and a photo of the Three Graces at dusk.  These buildings consist of The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building.

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Well thanks lads we have had a great time in your city, it’s a shame it wasn’t a little warmer!

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Goodbye Liverpool we have had a FAB 4 Days!

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A Day in the Life………in Liverpool

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Tuesday 24th April

“A Day In The Life” Of A Beatles Fan

“Yesterday” Jane gave the impression that she didn’t know much about the Beatles so I thought that I should rectify that situation with a taxi tour of Beatles associated places. So our “Day in the Life” began with a hearty breakfast before we headed of “Here, there and Everywhere” in our black cab. I was a little taken aback when Eddie our driver took one look at Jane and said baby you can “Drive my Car” to which I replied if you carry on like this I will have to tell the “Taxman” about all your tips. I did regret my hasty intervention as I thought he might end up taking us on a “Magical Mystery Tour” and I would have ended up looking like a “Fool on the Hill”!

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Well I have to say that “in my Life” I have never had such a fun tour, Eddie was a real gentleman, and “When I’m Sixty-Four” like he is, I hope I am as much fun. He said he has to work “Eight Days a Week” to make a decent living but a least he doesn’t have to do “A Hard Days Night” any more, and can rely on “Day Trippers” who want a “Ticket to Ride” to make ends meet!

Above are pictures of the Beatles main homes, these are the homes that they were living in when they became famous ( but “From Me to You”, I think John Lennon’s home was the nicest!) I was going to list whose home was who’s but Jane said that if “We Can Work it Out” so can everyone else! (Top-John, bottom left-Paul, middle-Ringo and right George). “Help” I’m running out of bad puns, there must be “Something” else I can say before I “Get Back” to the main thread of this post, or shall I just “Let It Be”?

 

 

Penny Lane is one of my favourite Beatles songs ever, and in this spot you can see many aspects of the song “Come Together” in one place. (Sorry Bo, I couldn’t use your input here!)

 

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Strawberry Fields was a children’s home behind John’s house, he heard all the laughing going on so one day he sneaked in there to play with the kids  It is said that this time held very special memories for him.

“I Should Have Know Better” than to start these puns, as I have started  on ” The Long And Winding Road” and don’t want people to think “I’m A Loser”, but I just have to “Act Naturally” and hopefully will be “Getting Better” soon “With A Little Help From My Friends”

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As you might guess there are a lot of tours connected to the Beatles, and I would highly recommend the Black Cab Tours which stopped at every point along the route to enable you to take photos and to hear some anecdotes from the driver.

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This Plaque commemorates where it all began………………

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Just over the road from the church hall is the grave yard where they used to practise when they bunked off school………….one of the grave stones mentions a certain Eleanor Rigby!

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After the taxi tour Jane needed a rest from the Beatles for a while so I visited the Beatles Exhibition on my own.  If you are a big fan like myself you will find this fascinating.  You will know a lot already but you will also learn a lot more.

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There is just so much to see and photograph, I was like a kid in a candy store!

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One can only “Imagine” what songs where composed at this piano!

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“Do You Want To Know A Secret”?  “There’s A Place” in Albert Docks which serves one of the best steaks I have ever tasted, (mind you they were “Mean with the (MR) Mustard) and for dessert the pudding they give you a real “Taste of Honey”! So when  a meal like that is served it is sooo easy to “Please Please ME”!

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Northwich

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Monday 23rd April

On our way up to Liverpool we stopped off to see my cousin Amanda and her other half Mark, and their lovely daughter Niomi.  It’s amazing that time passes so quickly and we never seem to be able to meet up as often as we would like.  It was great to catch up with all the news and to hear that Niomi has followed in her mothers footsteps with her love of horses.

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The next day Mark had to go to work and Niomi had to go to school, but luckily Amanda was free to give us a tour of the local area. We went to the Anderton boat lift near the village of Anderton, this provides a 50ft vertical link between two navigable waterways: the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal.

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It is great to see something like this built in 1875 still working today and still in constant use. It was out of action for a period of time from 1983 until it was reopened after a restoration in 2002

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Had the weather been a little kinder to us I think it would have been good fun to have had a trip on the lift, which has been called one of the 7 wonders of the waterways!

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We then headed in to the centre of Liverpool to find our hotel. The drive was interesting and we passed many suburbs that we had heard mentioned on the radio many times before.  Speke, Sefton park, Toxteth, Everton, Bootle etc, all these names seem so familiar to us that it’s hard to believe its our first visit to this city.

After a short walk around the town we found this place called the Cavern Club and decided to go in as it “rung a bell” with Jane, but she couldn’t think why!

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She also thought she recognised this statue outside, but couldn’t put a name to him!

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Even the names on the wall didn’t give her any clues as there where too many bands to choose from!…………..We will have to investigate this further tomorrow!

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Back Home……BRrrr…..It’s cold

 

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Friday 9th March 

We arrived safely back home in Southampton early in the morning after our fantastic 65 night South American Circumnavigation. The weather was chilly but not as bad as we had expected. We were quietly pleased that we had missed the worst of the winter and that the “beast from the east” was long gone and we could enjoy the warmth of an English spring………so much for that !!!

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The “mini beast from the east” struck a week later. We had just been getting acclimatised to the slightly colder temperatures and then this happened…..a lot lot colder!!

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I know it was not as bad as what had been around in previous weeks but it was a big shock for us!

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I do like the snow especially when you don’t have to travel too far, it is always very picturesque, and somehow tranquil as the ambient sound is muffled by the snowflakes.

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Mind you, we are looking out from a centrally heated house.  I’m not sure the animals like it as much, as I didn’t see any birds having a bath that day!

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Dad was a little concerned that our 75 year old paper boy might struggle in these conditions, so he sent Jane and I out for the Sunday papers which was very invigorating to say the least!

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After all that fresh air a full English breakfast was the order of the day!

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A good thing about being back home is having time to catch up with friends and relatives.  We went over to see my Uncle Keith and Auntie Gay who live in Winterslow near Salisbury, and this was one of the snow drifts that we had to navigate on the way.  It was great to see them again for afternoon tea, and lovely to sample the home-made chocolate sponge cake (not that i’m always thinking of food)!

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The next day I took Jane and Dad on a mini cruise, this time to the Isle of Wight to see my  Auntie Joyce and Uncle Alex!  The weather was a bit warmer and we had a walk from their house in Sandown to the beach, where we had a lovely lunch at the new Bandstand restaurant.

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Friday 23rd March

We have travelled far and wide this last year or so, and still Cornwall  remains one of our most favourite places in the world. So it was great to catch up with Dave and Sally-Anne for the weekend.

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I was not so sure on the colour scheme of Dave’s new car, but he said that he wanted something to blend in with the scenery and nothing too flashy………..

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Tintagel is always a “must” for us when we visit Cornwall……..

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I love the rugged coastline and the waves crashing over the rocks

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Although on this occasion the sea was very benign and not as dramatic as I was hoping for!

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On our trip to Padstow for a Cornish pasty and a look around the shops Dave points out where he bought the card which gave us the name for our adventure.

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Wadebridge has now got a cocktail bar and it seemed rude not to try it whilst we were in the area!

 

The sun was shining on Sunday morning so we made the most of this glorious day and went for a long walk around the beaches at Rock.  All too soon our weekend was over and it was time to head home, but look out Cornwall we will be back before long!

Thanks Dave and Sally-Anne for a great weekend!

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Sea Days

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On a “sea day”  I still like to get up early just as the sun is rising, have a coffee in the cabin and then head up to the gym.

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So far (this is with one day left to go) I have made it every day.  I have been joined most mornings by (from left to right) Gaynor, Brian, Irene, Mike and Dennis. Unfortunately Mike’s mother passed away while we were on the cruise and so he had to fly back early, and Dennis injured his knee which put him out of action.

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And just to prove that I was there……

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On the very odd occasion, when we were close to land, we were able to make a few phone calls home, as you can see from Janes smiling face she is on the line to Charlotte!

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In the morning after breakfast, there are talks on the up- coming ports of call and all the things we should see and do whilst there. The days at sea can be very busy and you have to plan your day out carefully so that you don’t miss anything, but there is always a helping hand around to point you in the right direction………..

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Jane and Val have been going to choir most days and so far have taken part in two concerts.  They are currently rehearsing for their last show, which is tomorrow (Thursday 8th March) and Kev and I are eagerly looking forward to that! The good news is that there is a CD of all 3 concerts and we have bought one for every member of the family and friends as well!

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Whilst Jane is at choir I go for a game of golf, well nearest the pin on a golf “stimulater”, on deck 13.

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Here are all the usual suspects all waiting patiently for their chance to whack 4 balls against the screen. Obviously its not as good as being able to play real golf in the fresh air but it keeps your swing going and is good fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously ( mind you there are a few that can’t quite grasp the fact that you might not hit the ball as far in here, as you might on your home course, well there is only one person really and I hope he doesn’t read this blog!)

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There is also time to take a few photography lessons, and afterwards time to go and practise what you learned, this one was taken after the macro class……

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Then if things get a bit too hectic there is always time for a quick chat with some of the many lovely people that we have met on our grand voyage.  This is Mick, he is the carer for Pat………

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In recent years Pat has developed a large swelling on top of her head.  There is nothing that can be done for her and most of the time she is fine, but as you can see there are the odd occasions that she loses all control of her facial expression. Poor Mick puts a brave face on it but says it can get him down at times and hopes that when we get back he will be allowed back into his local Sainsbury!

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This is Remy, our cabin steward.  He does a great job of keeping everything clean and tidy for us twice a day.  He is so good that Jane only needs to spend an hour a day dusting!

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Sea days often mean that it could be a formal evening. However there have been 16 this cruise, and at times it becomes a real hassle having to chose which colour bow tie to put on !

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What a lovely couple, its just as well that I chose silver on this occasion as it really sets off Jane’s necklace!

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However some evenings are a little more casual and then I get the opportunity to wear some of my more subtle summer collection.

 

 

 

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The Azores

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Praia da Vitoria is the cruise port of Terceia, the third of the Azore islands to have been discovered-hence its name , which means ‘third’ in Portuguese.

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The combination of mineral-rich volcanic soil, a subtropical climate and gulfstream-warmed waters make the island a haven for plant and animal life both on and off shore.

On the day that we visited the weather wasn’t at its best, it was overcast with the occasional rain shower. However we all said that there was a great “vibe” and although the weather was dull it was a beautiful place. We stopped at a small cafe along the way and each of us had a coffee and one of the famous Portuguese custard tarts. The bill for all this extravagance was 4 euros, what fantastic value for money!

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We hired a car for the day to tour around the island. One of the first things we came across was a statue of Morph, we are not really sure as to why because the inscription was only in Portuguese, why won’t these people just learn and put things in English as well?

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We saw this image of Bart Simpson on a nearby rock as well, maybe the Azorians have a ‘thing’ for animation!

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There are very many fine buildings around this island and it’s hard to believe that many were destroyed in a huge earthquake in the 1980s. They have all been rebuilt to the same designs and plans as before!

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Some buildings just looked bizarre, Kev commented that this one looked plain eerie with all those eyes looking at you!

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Our tour guide Kevin took us to this place which is famous for its natural swimming pools made from the reaction when the hot volcanic lava hit the cooler sea.

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We had brought our swimming costumes, but the windy weather put us off going for a swim, Val did dip her toe in and said the water was warm but that’s as far as it got!

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We were all impressed with the majesty of the sea…………

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And at the power of the waves as they crashed and exploded over the lava rocks.

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Val did her best ‘King Canute’ impersonation and told the sea to halt………..but to be fair Kev never pays much attention either!

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Well to sum it up we saw this island on a bad day, but we all agreed that we must return and see it in June or July when all the flowers are out.

 

 

 

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Antigua

Tuesday 27th February

Antigua

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Today was our last day in the Caribbean before we head for our last port of call in the Azores and then back home. So we thought we would end it in style, and have a trip to a few beaches on a catamaran.

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The boat was full of the new friends that we had made, Pauline and Mike were amongst the crew!…..

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This early in the day (before lunch) the drinks that were served were water or fruit juice…………

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And everyone was having a great time, catching a few rays and enjoying the ride…..

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It was great fun and very relaxing just laid out on deck………….

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The views were stunning…………

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A lovely day on board, time to take in the scenery as we wizz by…….

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The boat pulled right up to the beach so that we could get off and have a swim and a snorkel……..

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The sea was a little too rough for snorkelling as the waves had churned up the sand, but the water was lovely and warm to swim in……..

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Time to get back onboard and have some lunch and  head to the next beach……

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The food was delicious. It must have been very difficult to prepare a meal for us all in such a tiny space.

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Along with the food came the part of the day where they opened the free bar. Thats when the real fun began………

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Kevin suddenly remembered that he could pole dance (something he had learned in Soho in the 60’s).  This kept us entertained for a while……..

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He also remembered some of the jokes from his sell-out one man show! Which was met with great acclaim!

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So much so that he laughed at some of his old jokes that he hadn’t heard in a while!

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He also showed us a dance routine that he had taught John Travolta in the mid 70’s.  He got the whole boat rocking……….

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Val and Lorraine watched from the wings whilst drinking rum punch and piña colada…..

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At the end of the trip we had drunk the barrels dry (reminds me of an Andy Williams song!) .

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As we sailed out of Antigua there was a great sail-away party, which several members of our party were unable to attend due to being crashed out on their beds……Kev Heard!

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A stunning sunset to end our time in the Carribean……..Next stop the Azores in 5 days time.

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St Kitts

Monday 26th February 

DSC_2095 In 1623 St Kitts was the first Caribbean island to be colonised by the British.  From there the British moved out to other islands so St Kitts has always been known locally as the “mother” island. Michael was the driver for our tour around St Kitts and what a great guide he was too!

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The British heritage was plain to see, they had to take the glass out of the phone boxes though as it was just too hot.

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At times it was very uncomfortable to hear the things that had gone on in the past. Where this fountain now stands used to be the the stage where slaves were auctioned. It’s sad to think that this activity took place in the shadow of the Anglican Church. Michael told us that under all the big houses around the square were cellars where the slaves were kept before being sold. It was very sad and very sobering to think back to those awful days!

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These two houses, although not in the best of repair, had a great view of the sea.

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This picture was taken as we passed through one of the many towns on our trip.  It does look a bit run down, and there were many more places that looked a lot better, but I haven’t got a photo of those.

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This is a picture taken from Brimstone hill fortress.  We were lucky with the weather again and got some great views.

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Michael’s son joined us for a short ride back home from the shops; what a little cutey he is!

Goodbye Tourists!

One of the stops was  at a place called Bloody River, so named because the French and the British massacred hundreds of the native Carib indians to prevent a rebellion, and the resulting loss of life caused the river to run red with blood. As we got out of the coach we noticed these children from a local day care centre waving at us, so we all waved back and as we got back on the coach to leave they all called “goodbye tourists”. So cute!

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St Kitts is another stunning island and I think we need more time back here to explore.

 

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