Monday, 30 June 2014

You have to laugh!

It was like deja vu on Sunday morning.  We were on our way to Wiltshire and then Bristol to catch up with family and friends when, at roughly the same spot on the A27 where we last broke down, – WE BROKE DOWN AGAIN!


This time it was a little too far to limp to the garage so the RAC kindly came to rescue in record time and gave us a tow.  Ignominiously, but quite good fun being towed with a rigid tow bar, we arrive at the garage to be met by our dear friends and neighbours  Nigel and Michele (yes, the same people that met us off “Arcadia” a couple of days before!).  We’d phoned them for help and of course they were only too pleased to assist (and it was they who took this photo for posterity). 


Once back in Selsey, and with a day to spare now, we suggested that the four of us take some BBQ equipment and the canoe down to beach for a bit of fun and a relax in the lovely sunshine.  After we downed a bottle of Champagne (courtesy of N and M) it wasn’t long before Doug and Nigel took off in the canoe ……


……… peddling like stink around all the fishing boats (that’s them slightly left of centre) …….


…….. and then arriving back to shore in some strange sort of triumph.


Next it was James and Michele’s turn.  It was purely Michele’s idea to paddle and peddle at the same time – but James wasn’t complaining!


Again two intrepid seamen set foot on dry land at last …….


……. and soon we all settled down to a lovely BBQ and a few bottles of wine.


All went for a dip in the surprisingly warm water - although for some reason the only photo is of James ………


…….. and then it was back for a another glass of wine before packing up and making the 100 yard journey back home.  As this pic shows, more often than not Selsey seems to get wonderful sunshine when inland it’s all cloudy and dull.

Well, a bit of a disaster turned into a great day in the end and today (Monday) the garage is bending over backwards to get the car fixed for us as the breakdown was due to the same fault as before and the repair was incorrectly carried out the first time.  We now have a courtesy car for the next couple of weeks – that should be fun!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Back Home (for a while!).

Friday evening (at the end of our last day on “Arcadia”) we got into the very busy shipping lanes in the Straits of Dover with just eight hours to go before reaching the Solent.


We had a good view of “Black Watch” (Fred Olsen) as she passed by  ……..


…. and a  lightship in a rather fetching red (although it looked bright pink in the haze).


Our last dinner in the evening was rather sad as always – here we are with our two table waiters Velroy and Lawrence who were so kind and helpful and a great laugh.


This morning (Saturday) we disembarked very efficiently and quietly and waited for our dear kind neighbours Nigel and Michele to collect us and take us home.


Arriving home at just after 10 o’ clock we had plenty of time to unpack, mow the lawns, get some groceries for the next few days, have a ‘kip’ and do loads of washing and ironing. After that we relaxed and had a walk down to the sea with the evening sunshine still warm and wonderful  ………..


…….. and to get a view of “our” ship (“Arcadia”) having set sail from Southampton  and passing the end of our road (well almost).  There she is, having got past the Isle of Wight, on here way to Norwegian Fjords.


A nice ‘zoom pic’ of here as she turns and glints in the sunshine.


And, just to show it really was happening, there she is in the distance and that bloke that was on board her only this morning.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Sadly, the end is in sight.

We left Kirkwall, on the Orkneys, on Wednesday evening……….


…….. to the delightful strains of the local pipe band. Every cabin facing the quay had their own balcony view (and as James enjoys ‘the pipes’ he stayed to listen before joining the sail away party on the rear deck …… 


……. where plans were afoot to surprise entertainment officer Tom (as this was his last cruise duty on “Arcadia”) by giving him a dunking in the pool.  Of course Doug couldn’t be left out of the fun!!


Leaving the  Orkneys is a thrilling and beautiful sight …….


… and (for the sea-loving of us) so too is the way the pilot is retrieved from the ship after safely guiding us out of port …….


……. a very speedy and slick operation as the pilot boat speeds alongside, just momentarily touching against the side of the ship, for the pilot to transfer …….


…… then away it goes back to harbour at full speed while “Arcadia” sounds a long ‘farewell’ on her hooter.


Dinner on Wednesday evening was a very enjoyable affair with shipmates Des and Rupert in the Marco Pierre White restaurant where we had a superb meal.  As can be seen, desert comes in the form of a self assembly kit with several pieces which eventually all come together in the stomach!


Afterwards a few more of us meet up in the nightclub for a bit of a bop – Tony (no he’s not legless!), David, Des, James, Rupert and Doug.


After the nightclub, in the early hours of the morning, as we return to our cabin the view from our balcony is dominated by oil rigs as far as you can see.


Thursday is a ‘sea day’ and as usual starts off with deck quoits and shuffle board where, action boy here, is well on his way to amassing a record number of gold stars (to be later traded for a gift – some say P&O are going to give him the ship!)


Thursday evening started off well for James but just after starters he developed a nosebleed and, being on anticoagulants,  had to retire to the cabin for the rest of the evening to sort things out (!)while everyone else enjoyed the traditional parade of the chefs, where the passengers have an opportunity to show their thanks …….


……. then after dinner it’s down to the Palladium theatre for the end of cruise show – including a performance of the Full Monty by the boys of the Headliners theatre company.


Today (and James is fully recovered), we sail through an incredibly calm North Sea …….


…… still looking at oil rigs (!) and heading towards Southampton for tomorrow morning’s arrival.

We’ve had an amazing time on the cruise.  We’ve seen some incredible sights and met some terrific people (as always) – we’ll be keeping in touch with many of them hopefully.  The “Arcadia” (that can produce enough electricity to power 50,000 homes!) has fast become our favourite P&O ship and we’re looking forward to our next cruise on her – whenever that might be!  

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Back to the UK (just!).

The Great British Sail Away party last evening as we left Thorhavn was well attended even though it was a tad chilly. So many passengers are feeling very tired and ‘jetlagged’ – it must be due to all the 24 hour daylight we’ve had.


Despite the lack of energy James took on the role of ‘pace setter’ for the Entertainment Team! (Pity they didn’t realise!)


We don’t need to elaborate on the amount of fun everyone had – James at the back and Doug at the front with the just some of the great people we’ve spent time with on this great cruise.


The later evening has it’s highlights too of course – Doug with ‘Captain Bear’ ………aka Tom!


……. and he’s here getting himself involved in the final of name that tune (which he didn’t win on this occasion!)


This morning we berthed at Kirkwall on the main island of the Orkneys.  The weather started with brilliant sunshine and stayed that way all day.  The little harbour is very pleasant but far too small for “Arcadia” which had to use the new cruise liner facility about a mile away from the city.


Yes, small as it might be, Kirkwall is a city and the most northerly in the UK.  Its stunning, and very robust,  little cathedral of St Magnus dates back to 1137.  It’s so solid looking its not going anywhere soon.


The cathedral is beautiful both inside and out and stands very proud in this old Viking settlement from 1035.


Next to the cathedral is the, now ruined, Bishop’s Palace …….


…….. but thankfully the rest of the city is in much better condition with both modest and grand architecture standing side by side. (Doug unaware ,resting on seat centre foreground) 


Reminiscent of much bigger and more glamorous cities across Europe,  Kirkwall also provide its tourists with horse drawn carriage rides.


After experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of this very welcoming little city, and with such fabulous weather, we decided to relax a bit at one of the ‘watering holes’.  Sitting outside the pub someone very special walked past and recognised us – it was Bosco, our cabin steward on “Aurora” back in December last year.  He’s busy taking care of the crew for this voyage hence we’ve not met up with him until this serendipitous moment.  Life is full of surprises!

Having seen just a smidgen of this 70 island archipelago and, having been on James’ tick list for years, it’s somewhere we’ll just have to return to and do some serious exploring.

It’s a 60’s / 70’s theme this evening (just a pity James chucked all his stuff out 40 years ago!) so we intend to enjoy this last sail away party of the cruise.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Good–bye Iceland / Hello Faroes.

We awoke on Sunday morning in Akureyri, our last port of call in Iceland. 


This was our view from our cabin – a waterfall at 60 deg. C!


Akureyri is quite small but very pleasant.  The church is high up on the hill above the town centre (although it was Sunday it was closed!)


The houses are charming and, all around, everything is very clean and tidy.


A visit to the botanical gardens was well worth the short walk from the town – especially as most other things were closed.


The main shopping street, as with everything else, was very attractive.


We managed a much better picture of an Eider duck on this occasion as there were many of them nesting on the beach next to the town.


The town of Akureyri is situated a fair way along the Eyjafjordur fjord (Iceland’s longest) and surrounded by snow covered mountains.


The sail away party got underway as we left Akureyri and started our journey down the fjord and out to sea. It was Rupert’s birthday and, much to his chagrin it was “recognised” during the party – here he is in the middle with the entertainment officers Martin, Millei, Nick,  Tom and Emma.


The scenery down the fjord was stunning on both sides of the ship and this was the view from our balcony.


A panoramic view looking back down the fjord as we set to the open sea.


Our initial disappointment, at not journeying inside the Arctic Circle on this cruise , was put to rights on Sunday night /Monday morning.  This is us with Des and (birthday boy) Rupert in the Crow’s Nest at the front of the ship at 1 o’ clock in the morning during the four hours we spent inside the Circle (and it’s still daylight!).

Monday was a ‘sea day’ and the regular pastimes of deck quoits, shuffle board and lectures were enjoyed (and the odd knap as we try to catch up with late nights and time zones!).


This is us with our lovely ‘table mates’ just before dinner on Monday – Frances and Sebastiano, Len and Irene.

Tuesday morning, as we woke, saw us at anchor off Torshavn in the Faroes.


It’s a small town with fishing as it’s main industry (tourism being a good second these days). 


There are 18 islands in the Faroes so everywhere you look you can see another island.  “Arcadia” looks quite small anchored in the bay.


Torshavn has many turf roofed buildings – some of them very old as they’ve never had any major fires to destroy anything.  Being a small town it was fairly quickly “done” (including a free bus ride up and around the town) and, as we had to be back on board ship by 3:30, ……….


…… we returned on one of the tenders for the ten minute journey back to the ship. Each tender can take 120 passengers (150 if it’s used as a lifeboat!) so it’s rather a ‘cosy’ ride.

This evening  we’ll be waving the  Union Flags  as we have a Great British Sail Away and head for Kirkwall in the Orkneys for our last port of call on this cruise.