Caribbean Cruise

Having just returned from a fortnight’s cruise in the Caribbean would like to share some of the experience in a blog.  In the past have written a daily post but this time it was not possible due to weak internet access, but better late than never…………..

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Here’s the ship
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Here’s a steeple
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Look inside and here are the people

Was lucky enough to have three lovely travelling companions who made the trip fun and meant that am still giggling about some of the jokes they made

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From left to right, Giorgio, Peter and Wilmot

Wilmot was born on the island of St Kitts and he wanted to visit the place around his 60th birthday which was on 3 January this year, hence the cruise idea.  Now, go on and say it, he doesn’t look 60, does he?  Definitely not.  As fit as a fiddle, or as a choreographer.

Then there is Peter, in his own words ’54, good-looking. naturally curly hair’.  What more is there to say?

Thirdly, Giorgio, hails from Italy but has been living in the UK for the past six years and  makes a splendid drag queen.

The four of us made a motley crew and many times I was asked what my relationship was to the other three, which one was my son, etc.

We met up at Gatwick Airport on a grey December morning and landed roughly eight hours later in Barbados.  Would have liked to have written sunny Barbados but it was cloudy and began to rain as we left the plane but the temperature was most pleasant.  We were transported to the port by bus and our first view of the cruise ship was a bit of a shock.   It is absolutely huge and out of all proportion to everything around it, except other cruise ships of course.   Must say at this point that I am totally against the idea of a cruise with regard to the environment but decided to go as wanted to be with the boys on their holiday.  Now I know what it’s like I may not need to go on another one.   We’ll see.

This cruise lasted 14 days and after Bridgetown, Barbados visited St Lucia, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Vincent, Grenada, Tortola, St Maarten, Antigua, St Kitts and Bequia.

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St Lucia

On St Lucia we were lucky enough to visit some friends of Peter and Wilmot’s who have built a house there and spend as much time as they can on the island, although they live and work in London.  It was lovely to be in a private home and to be able to ask about life in St Lucia.  A beautiful place and one of my favourites amongst all the islands we saw.

We docked in Guadeloupe on New Year’s Day so everything was closed and there was a desolate feel to the place as the above pictures show. It all seemed a bit run down and was in stark contrast to St Lucia the day before.

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Dominica

We visited the rain forest area which was very greenimg_7822

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Sulphur pool
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Bus squashed in a hurricane some years ago

Next stop Martinique where we climbed up the hill to a little chapel and had a wonderful view down over the town and bay.  We visited the central library which was impressive and we enjoyed a bit of wifi and tasty coffee in a cafe.

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No getting away from the ship
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Library
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Ubiquitous bread fruit

Now, am going to take a break and hope to continue the journey soon.

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Last full day in Newcastle

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Old window above the shopping area

Today was a beautiful sunny day, although when we left for the centre of town about 9.30 it was just four degrees.  Jo and I went to have breakfast and to do a bit of last minute shopping.

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Street music, thought we were in Edinburgh for a minute

Otherwise the day passed in a pleasant cloud of chat, tea, supper and TV.  This has been a lovely week and having a quiet, peaceful time has given me the chance to think about lots of things.  The distance from has helped and so will return tomorrow with lots of ideas and plans which I hope to put into practice!

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Today’s favourite

Vindolanda

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Dry stone wall

Had a great day with a visit to the Roman garrison site of Vindolanda which is about an hour’s drive from Jo and Tony’s through lovely rolling countryside with glimpses of Hadrian’s wall and of the vallum or deep ditch along the side of the old Roman road plus of course the dry stone walls which are typical of the area.  It was my second visit to the site, the first eight or nine years ago, one which had stayed in my memory as a very special place.  The museum particularly impressed me that first time.

Sometimes when you want to re-visit a place it can be a disappointment but today everything lived up to my expectations, in fact it was better.  The museum has been revamped as had the restaurant and even the toilets!  Obviously the site itself is impressive due to its sheer size and with models it is easier to imagine what the place must have been like in its day.  The artefacts found are amazing and they have remained well preserved through a fluke of the earth’s properties there.  There are leather sandals which could have been made a couple of years ago, lots of pottery, coins, tools, etc.   In fact, you name it, there is a one, or a bit of one.  The wooden tablets which have been dug up are really special as they give such an insight into the daily life in the compound with invitations to a birthday party or laundry list – all kinds of messages to neighbours or to friends or to the authorities.  All wonderful stuff.

The sun came out today which made it even more special.  Possibly a Wednesday in October is the time to go for there were few visitors.

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Jo and a bit of Tony

 

Jo and I have just been out for supper with her friend, Nula and now we have settled down for a bit of TV.  All in all a most pleasant day.   Time is running out and tomorrow is my last full day in  Newcastle.

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Very special cloud formation today over Vindolanda

That’s it – Tuesday in Newcastle

Yes, woke earlier and knew the tide had turned.  Almost leapt out of bed and did my yoga exercises, dressed, had a cup of tea and then started writing this.  It’s 10am and nobody except the cats up.  Sky grey, wind blowing but feel energy coursing through my veins which is a relief.  What just passed through my mind is what I will have had to achieve by this time next Tuesday back at work and it is a rather sobering thought……  Maybe going to bed earlier would be the answer but find that so boring.

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Rowan tree in the garden, full of berries

Oh dear, two corrections to make:  the film we watched yesterday afternoon was Kingsman 2 and not whatever I called it.  Even worse, what I wrote were mahjong tiles are in fact hanafuda tiles.  My apologies.

We spent another pleasant day which featured a couple of supermarkets and stocking up on such items as vanilla pods and pine nuts which cost considerably less in the UK.  Popped into Becky’s café again and enjoyed a coffee plus and good to see there were quite a few customers going in and out or pending.

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Becky in her café

Tony cooked up a delicious supper once more, today a stir fry.   Can’t get over having a lovely supper dished up each evening, have so enjoyed it every time.

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Seen on the road today

Monday in Newcastle

Sun shining, no wind and what a difference that makes.  Jo and I went into town, enjoyed a coffee and took in a few shops.  There were purchases for grandchildren and then vitamin supplements for oldies plus the odd item that wasn’t on the list but appealed.  As everywhere, there were few people around before eleven so it was pleasant browsing.

In the afternoon we visited a friend of Jo’s and chose a film to watch together.  It was a strange one, based on a Bond, lots of action and all very unreal.  Not perhaps the kind of film that I normally choose to watch, think it was called Kingsland 2.  The evening was quiet and we watched a number of detective films on TV.  I have never in my life watched as much TV in so short a time and my eyes have gone square.  Funnily enough though, was tired when I went to bed at around midnight.  There is usually a cat on the bed so it feels like home, even if the markings are wrong.   Comforting.

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Proving it’s autumn and the sun is out

The top photos are of Tony’s craftsmanship, his mahjong tiles and case.  Fantastic detail.

Sunday in Newcastle

Sadly the weather on Sunday was similar to Saturday, grey, damp and windy.  Never mind, didn’t come here for the weather.

Jo and I went out to have breakfast at a shopping mall and to meet up with a friend of Jo’s, Nula and also to look around the shops.  Jo found a couple of nice blouses and I hung on to my money.  The rest of the day was spent watching a number of films, detective, on TV and Tony cooked up a lovely curry for supper.

I am in limbo, sleeping long and deep and doing absolutely nothing but eat,  drink and watch TV.  Am amazed at how much I can sleep after not doing anything, getting no fresh air or exercise and just hanging.  Perhaps just needed a rest.  What I do know is that one of these days I shall wake up, a bit earlier perhaps, ready for action!  Well I hope that will be the case.

My apologies to those, if any, who are reading this and find it boring but it is my daily diary and will serve as a private record of my stay here.

Saturday in Newcastle

Well, have to say that the weather was not really welcoming outside activity with strong wind and rain.  Very strong winds at times, although not particularly cold.  The weather meant that it was a sort of hanging around day which was fine with me as happy to catch up on sleep and doing nothing much in particular.

Jo and I went to a small event where they were selling a fair amount of knitted items, the like of which I have not seen since I left the UK in 1974.  Knitted tea cosies are few and far between in Zurich these days.  We watched a lot of TV with such goodies as Strictly Come Dancing and Casualty and although I had done absolutely nothing was ready for bed about midnight.  Tony cooked up a lovely supper of smoked haddock.  Love it and hadn’t eaten it for a couple of years.  Have it sometimes in South Africa.

Was surprised to find that was tired when I got to bed but climbed in, careful not to disturb sleeping cat, and felt blessed to have the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep!