End of Golden Triangle, Start of Cruise

Whilst we were on our tour of the Golden Triangle there were the obligatory stops at factories and some shops along the way. The one that I found the most interesting was the fabric factory. They showed us how some of their carpets were made and then showed us some examples.  The prices that they charged for these beautiful rugs worked out at several thousand of pounds less than they would have cost us back in the UK. Several people from our party bought some to be shipped back home, but I couldn’t remember the dimensions of our caravan so we had to give it a miss! I did however succumb to having a shirt made to measure, probably the one and only time I’ll be able to afford that luxury! Jane told me she felt sorry for the guy with the tape measure as he was struggling to get his arm around me!

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They gave us a demonstration on how they do the block printing on the material.  It looked very time consuming but the end result was well worth the trouble!

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We had a pit stop for the loos on the way back to Delhi, at a motorway service station, and we stumbled upon a wedding ceremony in full swing…………..

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The guests looked wonderful and colourful dressed up in all their wedding finery!

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Back on the road again and Sue piped up from the back seat that she knew that road…..I had to ask Jane what she meant!!!

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Just trying to be arty!

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Buddha course I’m the one on the right!

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After what seemed like an epic coach trip we were back in Delhi.  Jane and I decided to go out for a walk to stretch our legs. We could see a park from the window in our hotel room so we went out to explore. It was a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed, and on every conceivable space there was a game of cricket going on.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many fiercely contested games going on in such a confined space!  We were the only white people in the whole of the park and did feel slightly conspicuous, but never unsafe or threatened (why would we?).  It was just that I was a little out of my comfort zone really!  The military jet in the background was ironically appropriate due to what had been going on in between India and Pakistan whilst we were there with the Air force plane that was shot down !

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This is a photo of Mike and Sue, and Mike and Sue at Delhi airport.  It was so easy to remember their names!

Now you remember me telling you about Pakistan shooting down an Indian jet, well the knock on effect of that was that all the planes were delayed and we couldn’t now fly over Pakistan and would have to fly the long way round to get to Dubai to start the next leg of our trip.  More of that later…………

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Dubai airport loading our suitcases on to the coach for our drive to Abu Dhabi.  At this stage of the journey we weren’t aware of the slight panic aboard our cruise ship wondering where their remaining 32 passengers were! (I like Sues new Indian top!)

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We passed by the world’s tallest building as we headed to the port. The Burj Khalifa is 823 metres tall and looked great against the setting sun…………

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We also passed this building under construction, it will be the Museum of the Future in the future!

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If we had known (and if the driver had known) that everyone was waiting for us onboard the Celebrity Constellation we wouldn’t have taken quite so much time in the motorway services!

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When we arrived at the cruise terminal ready for our embarkation we were all very surprised at the lack of people waiting to take our baggage and to check our paperwork.  The place was eerily quiet so we made our way to the embarkation gate and onto the dockside, where we were greeted by a member of crew who quickly took our passports, gave us our boarding cards and pointed us towards the one remaining gangplank where all our cases were being manhandled onboard.  As soon as the last of us was through the door the ropes were cast off and we were on our way………..time for a glass of wine to help us calm down!

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And so the sun finally goes down on a rather long and rather hectic day, but at least we are safely on board!

 

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The Amber Fort – Jaipur

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The coach wasn’t allowed up the narrow roads to the fort………..

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So instead we were taken there in 4X4s, which were driven as you would expect – at breakneck speed through the back streets!

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Quite exciting really as you hang on to the framework of the jeep as you swerve to avoid the odd cow that gets in the driver’s way!

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Or even a “not quite” so wild boar that is scavenging for food!

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The Amber Fort, also known as the Amber Palace, was built in 1592 by Raja Man Sing, it is set amongst the hills overlooking the Maota Lake.

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There are four main courtyards within the vicinity of the Fort, and there are various other buildings within these courtyards – the palace of Man Singh 1, The Garden, Tripolia gate, Lion gate, Diwan-i-Aam, Sheesh Mahal and Sukh Mahal.

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Some of the visitors don’t do their sightseeing in the normal way!

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You can get an elephant ride up from the town if you are not brave enough for a jeep drive!

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Mind you it does look an awfully long way up……..

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The elephants only work the mornings and then it’s back home for a well earned rest and a bit of pampering!

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Not all the bright colours in the garden come from the flowers!

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There are on-going renovations and this place looks like it needs a bit of attention!

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We are certainly clocking up the UNESCO world heritage sites on this trip, and the Amber Fort is another one to add to our list!

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The ornate marble work is absolutly stunning

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As are the intricate carvings on the top of the pillars!

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The pictures don’t really show this place off in its full glory!

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When you need to take a break you need to take a break!

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A panoramic view is the only way to try and capture the magic!

 

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These very ornate windows are designed like this to capture the breeze and try and keep the palaces cool.

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Just checking the mirror to make sure my hair isn’t messed up!

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After our visit to the Amber Fort we stopped off for a photo opportunity of the beautiful Jal Mahal Palace whose name translates to ‘water palace’. This Palace was built 300 years ago and was built for Maharajah picnics and duck hunting soirees. It is now being transformed to a restaurant.

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Apparently I was wasn’t the only one who had stopped for a quick look!

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A quick stop off for lunch before we carry on with our tour, don’t the Indian bouncers look a lot smarter than the ones we have at home?

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This is the Hawa Hahal and it was built in 1770 as an extension of the womens’ quarters in the city palace. It has 953 windows from which the Royal women used to sit and gaze at the city below without being seen!

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Just around the corner in the same block you see this kind of poverty, not some of the worst that we have seen but this is so close to two palaces!

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They must have been a lot smaller in those days, and no it’s not because I’m getting a little bit bigger!

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These two look like they are the bench men from a Disney film………

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Where as these two look like ******!

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The national bird of India is the Peacock………………

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…. not the pidgeon, although this one might think differently!

Jantar Mantar is, yes you guessed it, another UNESCO world heritage site.  It was completed in 1734 and contains 19 architectural astronomy instruments……………

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But Jane and Sue couldn’t work out the time so they used their watches instead!

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Handy things those umbrellas, useful for sun and rain!

 

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Fatehpur Sikri

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En route to Jaipur (after our “quick” stop at the marble factory) we stopped off at Fatehpur Sikri, an uninhabited ancient city built by the great Mugal Emperor Akbar as his capital in the late 16th century.

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This is another World Heritage site that we can tick off our list, and we are lucky enough to be visiting quite a few more sites on this trip.

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The English established an administrative centre here in 1803 and it lasted until 1850.

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In 1815 the Marquess of Hastings ordered repairs of the monuments at Sikri

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When you visit a place like this you are amazed to think that this was built in the 1500’s. I was having a field day taking photographs, so much so that Jane was always having to check where I was in case I had wondered off somewhere and was going to miss the coach!

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Jane also tried to get in to the act with an unsuccessful attempt at hide and seek!

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This place has had extensive renovations but there are still a lot more to do!

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We were lucky on our visit here as there weren’t too many people around when we arrived and we had the place almost to ourselves!

 

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I had to wait for the local Faqir to move out of the way so that I could take this photo  He took ages to get out of shot, he was probably the most awkward Faqir that I have come across so far this holiday!

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You can just about make out the views through the archways – you can see the countryside for miles around!

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It’s nice when you travel abroad this time of year to see the trees in leaf and the flowers in full bloom!

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This deserted city is the ideal place to find a bit of peace and quiet and some solitude…….and catch up with your facebook!

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Agra Fort and Taj Mahal

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An early start to beat the traffic in Delhi was required today as we were off to Agra to see the fort and the Taj Mahal.  I had always thought that the Taj Mahal was going to be the highlight of this trip so I had very high expectations.

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Driving in India requires the nerve and reactions of a fighter pilot (that turned out to be rather apt later in the holiday) and sitting on a coach you need a steely reserve so that you don’t shout “look out” every 10 minutes or so! The road system and driving requires a separate episode of the blog on its own, and I have enough photos of the strange things you see, so watch this space!

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We were dropped off by the front entrance to the fort and were immediately mobbed by beggars and hawkers.  It was slightly unnerving to have to battle through the crowds towards the gate of the fort and to get to the relative peace and quiet of its confines.

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Once we got inside, not only was it beautiful but everything was a lot calmer. There were still a lot of people around but there was a sense of order and all we had to do was look out for Sunil’s black flag and we knew we were all going in the right direction!

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Jane couldn’t wait for her lunch so she had a quick snack while she waited for every one to catch up!

Agra Fort was built between 1565 and 1573 by some 4000 builders who worked on it every day until it was completed. Shah Jahan was probably the most famous resident and it was he who built the Taj Mahal for his favourite wife…………..

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And here is a picture of my favourite wife with the Taj Mahal in the background!  This picture was taken from the top of the fort at Agra and it looks great from here so I can hardly wait for this afternoon’s visit!

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Well, we have booked in to our hotel, had our lunch and its now nearly time for the main event!

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It’s getting closer, now if only these people will move out of the way then I can take a photo, or two or three, or maybe more!

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Here is a shot of the motley crew that we shared our coach with.  Well when I say motley, I really refer to myself I suppose!

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Oh how lovely……..

Well you can’t have too many photos in front of this majestic building…………

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I was just overawed at the sheer spectacle of this place, and from whichever angle you looked at it, it was all in perfect symmetry.

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The colours of the many other visitors added to the brilliance of the day.

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Well if its good enough for Princess Di!

I took so many photos it seemed a shame to waste them!

So to sum it all up then, this place far exceeded my already high expectations.  It truly is one of the 7 Wonders of the World!

(Not too much history to read, but plenty of photographs to view!)

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An Afternoon In Delhi

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Raj Ghat

Raj Ghat is the memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi, India. The memorial has a black marble slab which marks the spot where Gandhi was cremated after his assassination in 1948.

Wise words from the leader of the Indian Independence movement.

I found the visit to Raj Ghat to be very calming and tranquil, which was in great contrast to the busy roads which were only about 100 metres from us.

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Back on the coach and back into the madness that is the Delhi traffic, even if you do get to book an Uber tuk tuk you probably will have to wait a little while!

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Queuing for all major attractions was strictly segregated to make security checking easier and quite often the ladies were taken in to separate private areas to preserve their modesty, which whilst maybe being a good idea meant that us chaps had a fair bit of waiting around to do! Mind you the high value ticket holders did get through a little bit quicker than the general ticket holders!

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Our next port of call was Humayans Tomb, a World heritage monument .

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But first before we start exploring we should visit the loo………well maybe not, I think I’ll wait!

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Whilst walking through these sites I was constantly having to keep my eye on the rest of our group as I was always seeing another photo opportunity that just couldn’t be missed!

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I could have spent hours at each and every place we visited on our first day in Delhi just taking photographs, let alone reading about all the history that they held!

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Well I finally caught up with the rest of our gang (more of which later) but missed a bit of what Sunil our guide was telling us……..I’m sure Jane will tell me later!

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Just as well we weren’t making to much noise with our new fangled gramophones and transistors or else there would have been trouble!

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Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi is the first of the grand dynastic mausoleums that were to become synonyms of Mugal architecture with this style of building  reaching its zenith some 80 years later with the Taj Mahal (more of which later)

It’s hard to believe that this stunning building dates back to the 1560’s

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The next stop on our very busy day of sightseeing was Qutab Minar, another World Heritage site.

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This fabulous minaret was started in 1192 and was completed in 1220.  In 1369 it was struck by lightning, the damaged storey was repaired and another added so that it now stands 73 metres tall.

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What an exhausting day so much to see in Delhi, and looking at the guide book we had only just scratched the surface, but now back to the hotel through the mad traffic and made its time for a curry!

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India

We are having the time of lives over here. There is so much to see and do it has been quite exhausting! This is one of the few times that I have had good enough Wi-fi to send a post. The internet on the ship is $55 a day so the rest of the blog will have to wait until I return

Ian

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On The Way to Delhi

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The flight from Heathrow to Dubai was excellent, I have never flown with Emirates Airlines before but I would certainly recommend them. The crew were all very friendly and attentive. I had booked seats with extra leg room and we found ourselves right at the very front of the plane right by the one of the doorways on to the plane (there are more than one on this plane, it being an airbus A380 they have an upstairs where you have your own “cabins”), and during takeoff the chief cabin steward sat opposite us. Whilst he prepared for the flight he could see all around the aircraft, inside and out by checking the various CCTVs that they had. One of these cameras was a pilot’s eye view and as we took off it felt like we were doing the flying!

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The flight was about 7 hours.  We took off at 10pm and it seemed very odd to see the sun coming up after only a very few hours.

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Thankfully on arrival we were upgraded to a coach transfer to the hotel, unlike this poor chap but I suppose at least he had room to sleep!

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Once you leave the airport you are truly not prepared for the full frontal assault on all your senses. The sights , the sounds and the smells are mind-blowing. The drive to the hotel was fantastic, I have never been on a theme park ride that has been more exciting, you really don’t know which way to look. Your heart is in your mouth as you go around a roundabout to find a bicycle coming straight at you in the opposite direction!!

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After safely arriving at the hotel we were greeted with “namaste” the traditional Indian salutation used at any time of the day which means “I bow to the divine in you”. I also got a “bindi” on my forehead which represents the opening of the third eye.  Its placement was a bit annoying because that is exactly the spot where Jane pokes me when encouraging me to get on with something!

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The view from our hotel room in the early evening as the sun goes down on a very interesting but tiring day!

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An early start as we have a lot to see today. Not quite sure what this breakfast offering was so I stuck to an omelette!

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The first stop on our tour of Delhi was Jama Masjid which is one of the largest mosques in India. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656 at a cost of 1 million rupees.

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Men have to cover up their legs when entering the grounds as a mark of respect…….I think I carried off the look very well if I do say so myself!

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Mind you I do think the ladies looked far more elegant!

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It was a quiet place to sit and reflect………quiet literally in this case!

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It’s amazing to think that this lovely building was constructed all those years ago.

 

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The colours worn by the visitors added to the vibrancy of the place.

 

Next stop on the tour was a visit to Raj Ghat, the memorial to Gandhi……….

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And as Trigger said “you don’t hear much of him these days, he made one great film and that was it!”

Mind you he did say some wise words and help build a nation!

This is only half of the first day.  The rest will follow when I get a better Internet connection.

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Farewell to Cornwall

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This was the view we had every morning whilst we were having our breakfast, I can’t really see why Steve and Sara like it so much myself but I suppose it will do for the time being!

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Every time you turn a corner down here in Cornwall you see another photo opportunity, and these days the camera on my phone is so good I don’t need to take the heavier equipment out with me all the time!

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I’ve mentioned geocaching many many times on previous blogs, and the above photo shows you an example of what you might be looking for.  Basically you either have an app on your phone or a separate GPS gadget on to which are loaded some co-ordinates and a clue which takes you to where the cache is hidden.  You then ferret around to search for it while your wife stands there with her hands on her hips and says “how much longer are you going to be”.  Actually we have both enjoyed the places this new hobby has taken us to!

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On our last treasure hunting in Cornwall we came across this clump of snowdrops………….hopefully not too long to wait until spring arrives!

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After a long day out in the fresh air it’s great to go back to The Old Watch House for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake (freshly made at the deli in Fowey), and then sit down and relax with time to suffer that view again!  It was a lot of hard work but I definitely think I could do it again…….. If you are interested in staying in this wonderful house, go to this website and find out more…      https://theoldwatchhouse.co.uk

 

 

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A Wet and Windy Walk

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Its just as well we have the right gear for walking in all conditions, so I suggested a short walk to get some fresh air and then we could sit in and have a lazy afternoon watching a film and not feel guilty!

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Well, when we got out to the coastal path it was really blowing a hooley and Jane was really worried, not only could her hair get messed up but we could get blown off the cliffs!

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However there were some benefits………..the wind did help blow us up some of the hills!

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It was quite hard trying to walk on the narrow paths with the wind trying to knock us over so the best strategy was to walk on the slopes next to the track, and that way you stood more chance of staying upright !

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And this is where the geocache was hidden….well worth the effort………now back for that lazy afternoon!

 

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The Eden Project

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Wednesday 16th January 2019

The weather looked bright and sunny this morning, so I thought I would attempt a geocache a little bit further afield as there seemed very  little chance of getting wet.  Or so I thought…….!

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As I neared the cache’s location I looked back to where I had just walked from and it didn’t look good – it seemed very likely that I was going to get soaked…………….

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Well, I had come this far and it was only a little bit further to the end of the headland so I decided that I might just as well go for it…………….

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So all I have to do now is climb down from these rocks, and there hidden amongst the nooks and crannies I will find the treasure……………well, a Tupperware container with a log book in!  It must look odd to anyone watching, but it does add a bit of fun to a walk and certainly takes you to places you might not normally venture to!

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Well thats another cache to add to my total, just as well because here comes the rain!!

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The Eden Project is a great place to visit when it’s raining………..it’s also lovely when it’s not!  It didn’t look too far on the map, but when you are driving down narrow lanes everything takes a lot longer, so I decided I would have to pay for the ferry on the return trip and save half an hour!

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We met up with a friend of ours that works there, Phillip.  He is the son of Kevin and Val, with whom we have enjoyed many adventures over the last few years, many of which have appeared in previous editions of this blog!

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It was great to see the array of colours outside of the biodomes…………..

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I am going to have to complain to the trades descriptions…………they didn’t have any pork and beef!

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And it was great to feel the warmth inside the domes, mind you when the simulation of how clouds are made shot up loads of steam, it did take Jane by surprise!  Not another ‘bad hair’ day!!!

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It was very quiet and with the exception of a few school parties we virtually had the place to ourselves.

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There is so much to see and we must have walked quite a few miles as we explored around.

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This photo was taken of a statue just outside the domes and I thought I would experiment with some different exposures and colours …….hope you like the effect!

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