Monday, 6 July 2015

Norwegian Fjords - Flam and Alesund

On Saturday morning we awoke to the glorious scenery surrounding Flam.  Little did we know of the astonishing beauty of the Fjord we’d just travelled through to get there but that treat was to come later.

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The cold spring in Norway meant the snow melt had been delayed (until we arrived!) There were waterfalls everywhere – two visible in this pic.

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Flam is very small, offering a few pleasant walks. The main highlight is to board the train which climbs up through the awesome Flam valley to the snow line. The very fast flowing river being fed by all the melt water.

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The train stopped at the one of the most powerful waterfalls we’ve ever seen. The wind generated by the falling water, and the a mount of spray, made it difficult to stand still long enough to take a photo. In less than a minute you’d get soaked to the skin! Very exciting!

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Water, water everywhere!

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A view down the dramatic Flam valley and the huge amount of water flowing at the bottom.

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The sun was so bright it was sometimes hard to get a quality photo.

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Such a great train ride (and quite steep in places!).

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At 5 o’ clock we left little Flam after another terrifically hot day. The square white patch, centre right, is the river flowing out into the Fjord. It was to take us six and a half hours to travel back down the Fjord.

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We took a lot of photos of the stunning scenery during the long journey back to the open sea.

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Our day in Flam was wonderful – temperatures in the upper 20’s, waterfalls to die for and spectacular scenery.

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Today (Sunday) we woke up in Alesund. The town was completed destroyed by fire in 1904, which reduced 850 wooden houses to ash. In four years the present Art Nouveau style town had been constructed with the help of a very generous contribution from Kaiser Wilhelm II. We climbed the 418 steps to the top of Mount Aksla for a great view of the town below.

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The town covers seven tiny islands connected by bridges and a sub-sea tunnel.

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James’ new hip stood up to the climb to the top without a murmur but, instead of retracing the steps back down, we decided to take the longer route back to the town through the lovely shaded woods which adorn the huge rocky outcrop. 

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Alesund is very different from most historic Norwegian towns (due to the 1904 disaster) but the architectural style is very well cared for and quite fascinating. 

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The town is Norway’s leading fishing port and it, with the surrounding islands and snow capped mountains are a delight. We had another lovely warm and sunny day. As this is being written, as “Aurora” sails on towards our next port of call Trondheim tomorrow, the sun has just dipped below the horizon at 11:45 and risen again at 01: 45. As we move towards the Arctic Circle we could well see a full midnight sun!

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Very surreal – 11:30 at night and wide awake!

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Such a special moment.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Aurora Cruise to Norway

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Within minutes of us arriving at the sail away party from Southampton on Wednesday we met up with our friend Dolreich.

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Our cabin is at the very front of the ship and, rather than being pinched in at the bow, we have the most superb wide corridors.

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Today we arrived in Stavanger, the first port of call of the cruise. The oldest part of the city is a conservation area full of …….

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……. lovely old wooden houses, cobbled streets and hills.

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The very pretty old part is dominated by “Aurora” wherever you look.

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We were amused to read this sign outside a cafe!

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For a mid sized cruise liner “Aurora” seemed very big moored up in Stavanger.

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The sun shone brightly and temperatures reached well in to the 20’s. Time for an expensive beer! Over £7 and not even a pint! Never mind its Norway and that’s the deal!

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The cathedral looks very English – that because it was built by the Bishop of Winchester (in England!) and is dedicated to St Swithen.

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A very high-tech selfie. Doug’s operating the camera via his phone. Well done Blue tooth.

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The crystal clear waters of the harbour were full of beautiful jellyfish.

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From the ship we could look down on the wooden houses in the old part of the city as if they were a model village.

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We left Stavanger at 5 o’ clock this evening – powering out of the harbour in the very deep waters.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A Grand Selsey Weekend.

Last Saturday we had a beach BBQ with Selsey friends Nancy and Zoe (a sort of Sitges Reunited!). 
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Our afternoon started off with us being able to witness a Lifeboat “shout”. Sadly, we didn’t get a pic of the boat as it was launched from the boathouse but it looked, and sounded, an impressive sight as it powered out to sea.
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With the excitement over we settled to a bit of relaxation. Zoe excelled at being the chef and the rest of us excelled at periodically moving everything further up the beach as the tide came in. Zoe, Doug and Nancy.
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After fully sating ourselves Zoe and Doug decided they’d like to take a trip in our Hobie canoe ……
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…… but not before Zoe took some pics of our happy band.
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Nancy and James were looking forward to relaxing while Zoe and Doug embarked on their voyage. It was not to be ……. a video of the next five (hilarious) minutes can be found on Doug’s Facebook site – its worth watching! www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNm33CSH1hA&feature=share
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We’re very laid back in Selsey, as Nancy here demonstrates  …….
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…… even down to the fishermen (on our very crowded beaches!).
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We were so long on the beach we saw the lifeboat return from its successful rescue mission ……..
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……. and we stayed just long enough to watch the lifeboat being winched back up the ramp and into the shed. This is not the end of the lifeboat crew’s work. After each rescue mission they have to wash and polish the boat and prepare it for the next job. Hats off to these great men and women.
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After the BBQ the evening saw us relaxing even harder in Zoe and Nancy’s Jacuzzi/Pool.
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Changing coloured lights, built in music speakers and a good supply of bubbly, oh,  it was a hard job to relax.
Thanks Zoe and Nancy for a great time – it was a hoot!

…..

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A Well-Overdue Blog!

There’s been an absence of a blog as there’s been an absence of us doing very much over the last few weeks. Having said that, the reason’s been that James has been in hospital for a bit of refurbishment in the form of a hip replacement. On June 2nd, at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon, his osteoarthritic left hip was replaced by a new ceramic one. At 10 o’ clock the next morning they got him up and walking! Up until a couple of months previously there didn’t seem to be too much wrong but an x ray of the joint surprised everyone.

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Anyway, cutting a long story short, the recovery has been nothing short of amazing. Within 3 weeks James is now walking, climbing up and down stairs totally unaided and gentle gardening and housework is common place. James’ surgeon is the main one to thank for all this – backed up by regular exercises and the very essential walking. James has seen a lot of Selsey’s beaches in his daily walks!

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A very interesting sight, if you look at the sea, is the tremendous tidal race which scours the headland around the Bill. It’s like a very fast flowing river at certain times of the day and treacherous to swimmers and any craft that doesn’t have a powerful engine. It’s a good job we have our own lifeboat!

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We had a great outing to Portsmouth Historical Dockyards on Monday. There’s far too much to see in one day and, as we didn’t get there until the afternoon we decided to concentrate on the Mary Rose. We left the very impressive HMS Warrior for another visit, as our year’s pass allows us unlimited visits.

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Likewise, we left the equally magnificent HMS Victory, which is open but still undergoing major restoration, for another visit.

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We weren’t prepared for the amazing number of Mary Rose artefacts and the superb state of preservation that they were in.

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The Mary Rose was raised over 32 years ago, having been at the bottom of the Solent for some 400 years since Henry VIII watched his precious gunship sink in front of his eyes. Since its raising, the ship has undergone continuous preservation and restoration and it’s still continuing. The vessel’s structure is now being dried out and the large grey extraction tubing rather obscures the ancient timbers.

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Some fully restored woodwork is on display – looking at these cannon carriages almost takes your breath away!

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Looking closely, the decking and the hull details are in excellent condition.

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The ends of the massive deck support timbers have rotted off or been eaten away where they projected from the mud of the seabed. It was the mud which has preserved this special vessel over the centuries.

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The almost perfectly complete skeleton of the ship’s dog.

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From the highest point of observation you can look down on everything from the Castle Deck to the Keel. Fantastic!

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Today we had a great few hours when we met up, for the first time, with fellow bloggers and narrow boaters Linda and Richard from nb “Mary H”. We enjoyed over 3 hours of chat over lunch in the lovely surroundings of Chichester Harbour.  It was very nice to meet up with you both. Thank you.