This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Canarian Chronicles - The End

Thursday 22nd October - At Home

It's finally over, and what an ending but I'll come to that later. Firstly
I'll carry on more or less where I left off..

The midday navigational update from the bridge on Tuesday suggested that the
weather would be deteriorating and as a result the pitching and rolling
would increase.

In the meantime we done lunch in the pub as usual, watched Joe sing in the
talent show then returned to the pub for a quiz. Afternoon tea followed then
we headed back to our cabins for a kip before getting ready for dinner.

Early evening, the cabin phone rang - HRH has been bad although fortunately
the waste bin was in in easy reach to catch most of the re-appearing lunch.
Trev went around to the cabin to clear up the rest and came back looking a
bit off colour too. By now the ship was really dancing. We elected to stay
in the cabin and have room service again as it would have been no fun,
trying to get too the restaurant, never mind keeping the plates on the table
long enough to eat from them!

Remarkably, the cabin steward managed to bring our order without breaking
his neck. By this time things were really started to move from their
allotted positions in the cabin. My drink performed something akin to a
moonwalk before careering off the end of the bedside table. Trev opened the
fridge to get another can and the next ten minutes were spent scouring all
corners of the cabin in order to return the fridges' contents to their
rightful place!

Eventually though, with food and drink devoured and everything else nailed
down we attempted sleep.

I didn't quite roll out of bed during the night but it was damn close and
the rocking and rolling showed little sign of abating in the morning as we
entered the Bay of Biscay.

Thankfully late afternoon as we turned to begin our entrance to the English
Channel the sea calmed considerably. Our final dinner was pleasant and we
had a couple in the Golden Lion after before it was time for bed.

The disembarkation was delayed as we were unable to reach our required speed
(again) to dock in Southampton on time. We had asked for wheelchair
assistance for HRH but they too were running behind so I went ashore to get
the baggage and pick the car up.

HRH & Trev appeared soon after deciding not to wait for said assistance, and
soon after we were exiting the docks and after a traffic free journey
returned home just before midday.

In fact the journey was such fun that, after depositing HRH in her armchair
with a cup of tea and the tv remote, we turned tail and drove all the way
back to Southampton, stopped for a brief interlude then drove back again.

Oh yes, and we stopped to collect the piece of luggage that I forgot to pick
up earlier........

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The Canarian Chronicles - Part 4

Tuesday 20th October - At Sea

On our way back now, just along the coast of Portugal and the sea is a bit
lively. HRH has already decided she is going to be ill! God help us when we
cross the Bay of Biscay tomorrow!

Anyway, winding back a bit. Firstly, apologies for the last diary entry. It
was as boring as **** I know. Couldn't get in to the swing of it at all and
still not feeling great. Hope this one is a little better.

On Sunday we were in the beautiful island of La Palma. It was still warm - a
lovely temperature in fact but the sun had deserted us.

No tour planned here so were thinking of just strolling around the port city
of Santa Cruz. However, there was a car hire place just inside the terminal
building on the quayside so a short while later Trev was at the wheel of an
olive green Citroen (yuk!) Xsara as we headed south to the tip of the

It's very green here - much more so than at our previous stops, and very
mountainous too. The devastating effects of the recent forest fires can also
be seen, however the 'green shoots of recovery' are very real - unlike the
ones our politicians talk about!

The other thing to mention is bananas. Everywhere you look there are banana
trees - everywhere. Must be one of their biggest exports.

We rounded the bottom of the island and stopped at a beautiful little bay on
the west coast for coffee, then headed back to Santa Cruz through the middle
of the island winding around some very tight bends and narrow roads on the
way. Finished our drive with a quick look around the small city, though
being a Sunday, not much was open. However, this has already gone on 'the
list' as a likely destination for some winter sun.

A short while later we were safely installed in the Golden Lion for some
much needed 'medication'.

Spent the afternoon sunbathing - minus the sun but it was still very
pleasant. Then a kip in the cabin, drinks at a cabin party, dinner then bed.
Not getting into the party spirit at all on this cruise.

Monday morning and dawn heralded our arrival in the port of Funchal, capital
city of Madeira. The sun had returned thankfully for what is our last stop
before heading home. We had pre-booked a tour on the 'net and the minibus
met us on the quayside. Had a very interesting tour stopping at a couple of
high look out points for some fantastic views of various parts of the island
before heading down into Nuns Valley for our final stop. There is no doubt
about it - Madeira is a beautiful island. You need to be fit to cope with
some of the hills though. A car is more or less essential.

The usual location for lunch and then on deck to sunbathe and watch our
departure. The P & O 'Oriana' is in dock beside us and she too is heading
back to Southampton. It was decided that she would depart first and as she
eased past us out into the sea there was much sounding of fog horns. Soon
after, we too let go and set sail for Southampton.

A drinks party in the 'Queens Room' (an appropriate name if ever there was
one) this evening which was pleasant enough. We elected to give the dining
room a miss and instead availed ourselves of room service which was very

At time of writing, the sea has calmed a little but it's still very windy
and sitting out on deck is not an option. If the spray from the sea doesn't
get you, the spray from the swimming pools soon will!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Canarian Chronicles - Part 3

Friday 16th Oct - Tenerife

Had the promised early night last night and woke this morning feeling like a
bag of ****!

Not sure whether I've picked up a bug or it's just withdrawal symptoms. Was
tempted to order a pint for breakfast but thought better of it and opted
instead for some nasal spray and paracetamol courtesy of HRH who carries
more drugs than a chemist!

Anyhow was up early to witness our arrival at the port of Santa Cruz de
Tenerife. Shortly after our appearance on deck the Captain came on the P.A.
to inform us that we would be docking some 40 minutes late as we were unable
to reach the required speed during the night. Clearly the Flymo power plant
down below could do with a tune up!

Soon however the ship was docked along side another cruise ship; the Costa

It's worth pointing out here that very few cruise lines are truly
independent any more. The majority are owned by the Carnival Group, an
American company and includes our Cunard as well as the aforementioned Costa
and some others.

Anyhow, had a good morning ashore. No tour this time so had a good walk
around the town. Thanks to a number of steep(ish) inclines and HRH seemingly
getting heavier by the minute I have another excuse not to go to the gym.

Lunch in the Golden Lion again then an afternoon of sunbathing. An enjoyable
dinner but an early night as still feeling a bit below par.

Saturday 17th October - Gran Canaria

The lawnmower engines did their stuff last night and we arrived on time in
the port of Las Palmas - the capital of Gran Canaria.

Me and the better half have been here before a couple of times - in fact
it's one of our favourite cities and at the moment our favourite of the
canary islands. Our first destination was the department store "El Cortes
Ingles" and an injection of caffeine. Was planning on acquiring another pair
of shorts as the waistband on my remaining pair had shrunk in the same
mysterious way as my suit trousers. Winter was coming apparently though -
even in the canaries - and not a pair was to be seen. Will just have to
breath in I suppose!

After our caffeine fix we headed over to the beach area and had a pleasant
stroll. Decided against stocking up on duty free booze as the current
exchange rate makes it hardly worth while.

Headed back to the ship for the usual lunch/sunbathe/dinner. However at some
point during all this HRH availed herself of the ships salon for a trim up.
I kid you not, she was in there less than an hour and came out 90 dollars
lighter. Christ they know how to charge on here at times! I'm sure it looked
very nice but after she'd had a siesta and slept on it I really couldn't see
the difference!

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Canarian Chronicles - Part 2

Thursday 15th October - At Sea
Currently steaming towards our first port of call in the canaries -Tenerife.
Yesterday afternoon we stood on deck as the ship departed Vigo and enjoyed
more of the wonderful weather. This part of Spain looks very pretty and will
go on the list as a destination to see more of at some point.
Yesterday evening we celebrated HRH's birthday with drinks in the bar before
dinner, and rather too many after. Joe was on excellent form as the
undoubted star turn in the late night Karaoke session.
Taking in to account last nights alcohol consumption an easy day was called
for. The temperature was perfect but it was a bit cloudy at times. We were
informed via the lunchtime navigational update from the bridge that, in
order to reach Tenerife on time the ship would reach her maximum speed of
somewhere approaching 24 knots.
Now that may seem fast for something in excess of 90,000 tonnes but consider
that the now retired QE2 could do nearly 34 knots AND go backwards faster
than many cruise ships can forward thanks to its nine double decker bus sized
engines and huge electric motors.
Consider also the the other Cunarder; the Queen Mary 2 that comes in at
150,000 tonnes can also easily do in excess of 30 knots thanks to it's
massive power plant. At the time of writing we have just hit 22.7 knots
thanks to the Victoria's lawnmower engines!
Ah well, an early night beckons - as well as a dry one. Need to give the
liver at least one night off. Plan to be up early tomorrow to see our
arrival in the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We have no plans to anything
other than a stroll around the town, but will see what transpires tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

The Canarian Chronicles - Part 1

Yes, more dodgy alliteration means its time for another dose of  insomnia busting travel tales from tubbystar, accompanied as always by Trev, the better half and on this occasion by Trevs' Mum; Hilda, hereinafter known as HRH!
Also on this trip were our good friends Kevin & Lawrence, Joe & Doug, and Lawrence's Mum & Sister; Trixie & Charlene.
The jaunt this time is a ten day cruise mainly around the Canary Islands but also taking in northern Spain and the island of Madiera too. The vessel in question is Cunards' 90,000 tonne Queen Victoria, currently their newest vessel, at least until the Queen Elizabeth is launched late next year.
After setting sail from Southampton Monday afternoon, yesterday was a full day at sea crossing the Bay of Biscay. It was reasonably calm, considering how rough it can be in these waters but even so the old girl still piched and rolled a fair bit (thats the ship, not HRH!).
This morning we arrived at the busy port of the city of Vigo in north west spain, just above the border with Portugal. It's a pleasant city, never seeming overly busy though the traffic was pretty horrendous.We had made enquiries on the 'net about a tour bus as we were determined not to pay Cunards' outrageous prices. As promised, at 10:00am a open topped double decker bus appeared on the Quay and we jumped on. Lawrence, Trixie and Charlene joined us on the bus and we had an interesting tour although the traffic clogged streets impeded progress somewhat. A couple of well timed stops were included giving us the opportunity to stretch our legs and take a few pix.
The bus returned us to the ship just after midday and we had a bit of a wander round the streets near the quay. The steepness of some of the streets made manouvering the two wheelchairs interesting. Suffice to say I have no need to go to the on board gym this afternoon! It was nearing 1pm which meant it was at least three hours since we had eaten!In cruising terms this is a lifetime so we headed to the Golden Lion for some solid & liquid refreshment.
The Golden Lion, for the un-initiated is one of the many watering holes on the ship and is in the style of a traditional British boozer. Thankfully, the theming extends beyond wood pannelling, copious brass ware and simulated nicotine stains on the ceiling and offers a range of some decent real ales.
The mercury had risen sufficiently to trigger thoughts of sunbathing so some of us headed upstairs to the open decks to catch some rays. HRH decided to go back to the cabin so she could have a good rest.
And so would we.'Nuff said!
At time of writing we have just left Vigo and are now heading out into the Atlantic. A day at sea lies before us tomorrow, then on Friday we are in Tenerife.