Still Rambling

There’s an election in the offing and there has just been one in the U.K. I am a little confused but wasn’t the last one for local Councillors? You know the people who represent the population on the Local Council. Those who run the refuse collection, street lighting, parks and gardens, etc. etc.. So just what did that election have to do with Theresa May, Jeremy Corben and the others in Parliament? To see the TV and the subsequent propaganda you could expect to see Boris Johnson humping dustbins and Amber Rudd digging the gardens and cutting the grass verges on the roadside. But no really it’s got next to nothing to do with them.

The latest election (one which, believe it or not, I still have a vote in) appears to be of the usual conflicting views however I ask should I be voting for the person to represent me or for the Prime Minister that I would like to really mess me up? Surely once again I should be voting for the best person to represent me in the Palace of Westminster. Let us not forget that there are 650 MPs and I should be voting for one of them. Theresa May is only one of them and she represents Maidenhead and Jeremy Corben represents Islington, So I urge people to think carefully before you cast your “X” The leader of the successful party can be sorted out later.

……………………………………..

For a few months now I have been presenting a local radio show aided and abetted by my friend and cousin Peter. It is usually good fun and it does give a good reason to get up on a Monday morning. We have a simple format – the ramblings of two old blokes interspaced with some music. Some people enjoy it so feel free to listen in. We are there from 9 -11 am each Monday on Claremorris Community Radio 96.4 FM or WWW.ccr946.ie/live. There’s nothing heavy and we often follow a theme for each show.

……………………………………..

We have been down to the bog and the turf has been cut so now we need some good weather so that it can be turned then footed (piled into stacks to finish drying) and brought home for the winter. We have been told that this is the last year for this bog for a number of years so the search is now on for next year supplier. Hopefully we will be lucky.

………………………………………..

I quite often say this but I promise I will try harder to write on here more often but for now bye.

 

Christmas Quiz 2016

Well here it is – the big one

same as ever some easy some not so easy and some……

to get the answers simply run the cursor over the space after the question

but only after you have tried the question

Happy Christmas

  1. In what country, the world’s seventh largest by geographical area, is Christmas known as Bada Din (the big day)? India
  2. Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, is a territory of which country? Australia
  3. ‘Three Kings Day’ is known by what numerical name (that’s ‘name’, not ‘date’) in Britain?Twelfth Night
  4. The North Pole, said to be Santa’s home, is located in which ocean? Arctic Ocean
  5. ‘And all the bells on earth shall ring, on Christmas day in the morning…’ is from which Christmas carol? I Saw Three Ships
  6. Marzipan is made (conventionally in the western world) mainly from sugar and the flour or meal of which nut? Almond
  7. What is the technical name of Mistletoe plant genus, and also Latin for glutinous? Viscum(hence the words viscous and viscosity, referring to semi-solid/semi-liquid and thick sticky substances – derived from the sticky quality of mistletoe berries, and also an early word for birdlime, a sticky substance made from the berries, used to trap birds)
  8. Peter Auty sang Walking In The Air in what film? The Snowman
  9. Which Christmas condiment is made from fruit sometimes referred to as marshworts? Cranberry sauce
  10. Which American-born English poet, having first names Thomas Stearns, wrote the poem The Cultivation Of Christmas Trees? T S Eliot
  11. Which Christmas slogan was introduced by Clarissa Baldwin of Dogs Trust in 1978? A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas
  12. Which British monarch (born 1865, died 1936) introduced the custom of giving thousands of Christmas puddings to staff? King George V
  13. In the UK it is traditionally believed that eating a what each day of the twelve days of Christmas brings happiness the following year: Sausage; Mince pie; Carrot; or Turkey drumstick? Mince pie
  14. The fortified wine drink Sherry is named after what town? Jerez (Spain – in Spanish, sherry is called Vino de Jerez)
  15. In Coldplay’s 2010 Christmas single video, the Latin phrase Credo Elvem Etiam Vivere (seen above the stage) loosely means what (combining an ironic rock’n’roll myth, with a seasonal sentiment popularised by Greg Lakes’s 1975 Christmas hit – and for two bonus points: name the Greg Lake song, and the Coldplay 2010 Christmas single)? I Believe Elvis Lives (Greg Lake’s song – I Believe In Father Christmas; Coldplay’s 2010 Xmas single – Christmas Lights)
  16. What is the surname of the family in the 1989 film ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’? Griswold
  17. Who composed the music known as The Nutcracker Suite, for the Christmas themed ballet The Nutcracker, premiered in St Petersburg, 1892? Tchaikovsky
  18. Which southern central US state, whose capital city has the same name, was the last to recognize Christmas as an official holiday? Oklahoma
  19. In which country, the largest of its continent, is it said that finding a spider web on Christmas morning brings good luck, and so Christmas trees are decorated with artificial spider webs? Ukraine
  20. What day of the week was Christmas day in the year 2000 (in the conventional western calendar)? Monday
  21. Charles Dickens is said to have considered the names Little Larry and Puny Pete for which character? (Bonus point: in which Dickens novel did the character appear?) Tiny Tim – A Christmas Carol
  22. Under which Puritan leader did the English parliament pass a law banning Christmas in 1647? Oliver Cromwell
  23. Name the two administrative and ex-colonial regions of China for whom Christmas day (as at 2010) remains a legal public holiday, whereas in the main country it is not? Hong Kong and Macau
  24. In which European country is it said that malicious goblins called Kallikantzoroi (or Kallikantzari – singular Kallikantzoros) play troublesome pranks at Christmas? Greece (the name is thought to derive from kalos-kentauros, meaning ‘beautiful centaur’)
  25. Very loosely related to Christmas, the predatory animal ‘uncia uncia’ is better known by what name? Snow Leopard
  26. Which traditional Christmas plant was once so revered by early Britons that it had to be cut with a golden sickle? Mistletoe
  27. In the song ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’, how many swans were a-swimming? Seven
  28. What former Egyptian president was born on Christmas day in 1918? Anwar Sadat
  29. Driving Home For Christmas was a 1988 hit single for which singer? Chris Rea
  30. Who composed the Lieutenant Kijé orchestral suite, for a 1934 film of the same name, including the Troika movement, commonly used as Christmas theme music, usually with prominent sleigh bells? Prokofiev (Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev)
  31. In Mexico, it is said that wearing what colour underwear on New Year’s Eve ensures finding new love the following year? Red
  32. The Latin word meaning ‘coming’ gave us what term which still refers to the coming Christmas period, and also to a particular tradition popular with children? Advent (as in advent calendars – the ‘coming’ basically refers to the birth of Christ)
  33. In which country does Santa have his own personal postcode HOH OHO? Canada
  34. In 2004, the post office of which country (international dialling code 49) gave away twenty million free scented stickers, to make Christmas cards smell like fir trees, cinammon, gingerbread or honey wax? Germany
  35. ‘Nadolig Llawen’ means Merry Christmas in which western European language? Welsh
  36. ‘Olive the Other… (what?)’, is a Christmas book by Vivian Walsh and J Otto Seibold? Reindeer
  37. In which country, an archipelago of 6,852 islands, is it considered inappropriate to send red Christmas cards? Japan (because funeral notices are customarily printed in red)
  38. The early pagan religious winter festival celebrated by archaic Scandinavian and Germanic people, later absorbed into Christmas celebrations, is still referred to in what alternative word for the Christmas season? Yule (or Yule-tide)
  39. What is the chemical formula of snow? H2O
  40. Which charity in 1949 was the first to produce a Christmas card? UNICEF (originally the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, now called United Nations Children’s Fund)
  41. What red-blooming Christmas plant came originally from Mexico? Poinsettia (Euphorbia Pulcherrima)
  42. Brandy is made from distilling what? Wine
  43. What was Girls Aloud’s 2002 UK Christmas number one single? Sound of the Underground
  44. Which famous comedy double-act partner made the first ever UK mobile phone call, New Year’s Day, 1985? Ernie Wise
  45. White Christmas, a cake made of coconut, crisped rice and dried fruit, is popular in which country? Australia
  46. Quaid-e-Azam’s Birthday is a 25th December celebration in which country? Pakistan (also known as Muhammad Ali Jinnah he is considered the country’s founder)
  47. Who is the narrator in the 2000 film The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? Anthony Hopkins
  48. What was the cyclone named that hit Darwin, Australia, in Christmas 1974? Tracy
  49. Pine needles are said to be a good source of which vitamin? C
  50. What drink invented by Francis Showering has a fawn mascot? Babycham
  51. What creature, noted for feeding on its berries, is linked by name to the mistletoe plant? Mistle thrush
  52. In which Christmas carol does this line feature: “Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither”? Good King Wenceslas
  53. What is the birth sign of people born on 25 December? Capricorn
  54. The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on or around 1 January celebrates specifically what happening to the baby Jesus? Circumcision
  55. Complete the famous rhyming line which follows: “At Christmas play and make good cheer, … ? For Christmas comes but once a year (from Thomas Tusser’s instructional poem A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry, The Farmer’s Daily Diet, written in 1557 – also the source of ‘A fool and his money are soon parted’)
  56. ‘Full of Eastern Promise’ is an advertising slogan of what exotically positioned chocolate product? Fry’s Turkish Delight
  57. Which poem written by Clement Moore was originally titled A Visit from Saint Nicholas? The Night Before Christmas
  58. What was the title of the first Christmas TV special Peanuts cartoon? A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
  59. What celebratory receptacle is falsely claimed to have been modeled on the breast of Marie Antoinette? Champage coupe (or champagne saucer, more loosely, champagne glass – the flat saucery one, not the long thin pointy one)
  60. Which author and creator of Jekyll and Hyde, gave his birthday by formal deed to Anne Ide because she disliked her own birthday of December 25th? Robert Louis Stevenson
  61. What animal is the Scandinavian Christmas Julbock symbol? Goat (precisely a Yule Goat)
  62. Christmas Crackers was the first Christmas edition of which popular UK comedy series? Only Fools and Horses
  63. What song topped the UK charts at Christmas in 1957 and in a medley version in 1978? Mary’s Boy Child (Harry Belafonte and Boney M, respectively)
  64. Which hugely popular actor was born on Christmas day 1899? Humphrey Bogart
  65. What British spacecraft was lost on Mars at Christmas 2003? Beagle 2
  66. What was Queen’s 1984 Christmas single called? Thank God it’s Christmas
  67. American cartoonist Thomas Nast is credited with creating the traditional image of which popular Christmas character? Santa Claus (Father Christmas)
  68. Jackie Wilson’s re-issued song Reet Petite became the 1986 UK Christmas number one after helping to advertise what brand? Levi’s (Levi Strauss & Co)
  69. What is the name of Dorothy Gale’s dog in The Wizard of Oz? Toto
  70. Born Christmas day 1908, by what name was gay icon author of The Naked Civil Servant popularly known? Quentin Crisp (born Denis Charles Pratt)
  71. What is a baby Turkey more correctly called, other than a chick? Poult
  72. La Befana is the legendary character who delivers Christmas presents to children in which country? Italy (Befana loosely means a witch)
  73. Who is the central businessman character in the film It’s a Wonderful Life? George Bailey(played by James Stewart)
  74. In technical astronomical terms what is the duration of the winter solstice; an instant, a day, three months, or six months? An instant (in the northern hemisphere between 21-22 Dec each year; in the southern hemisphere between 21-22 June)
  75. What Christmas-time song did James Pierpont compose in 1857? Jingle Bells (or, One Horse Open Sleigh)
  76. What is the title of biggest selling Christmas single, globally? White Christmas (by Bing Crosby)
  77. Gwyl San Steffan is the name for 26th December (St Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day) in which country? Wales
  78. Which actress singer who charted with Santa Baby and starred as Catwoman died on Christmas day 2008? Eartha Kitt
  79. What Christmas item takes its name from the old French word estincelle, meaning spark? Tinsel
  80. Who is regarded as the first Christian martyr? St Stephen
  81. Kiritimati, the first inhabited place to experience each New Year, is more commonly known as what? Christmas Island
  82. What Paul McCartney hit song video featured the First World War Christmas Truce meeting of German and British soldiers in no-man’s land between the front line trenches? Pipes of Peace
  83. Who was said to have presented the baby Jesus with Frankincense? Balthazar
  84. In which city was the Salvation Army founded? London (1865, orginally the Christian Mission, by William Booth)
  85. When the Julian calendar was switched to the Gregorian calendar how many days were dropped? Eleven
  86. What drink advert launched the slogan ‘The Right One’ in 1970? Martini
  87. What is Virgil Hilts’ nickname in the film The Great Escape? The Cooler King
  88. Before the tradition of hanging stockings up at Christmas what did Dutch children hang by the fireside? Shoes
  89. In which country is it a tradition to hide all brooms in the house on Christmas Eve? Norway(according to legend, witches would steal them otherwise
  90. Who wrote the songs for the 1954 film White Christmas? Irving Berlin
  91. Which US President banned Christmas trees from the White House? Theodore Roosevelt
  92. How many courses are there traditionally in a Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper? Twelve (each one is dedicated to an apostle)
  93. In the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, how many pipers are there? Eleven
  94. From what does the month of December take its name? Ten (Latin, decem – it was the tenth month of the early Roman calendar)
  95. What did Scottish students take from Westminster Abbey on Christmas day 1950? The Coronation Stone (or Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny)
  96. The surname Chandler derives from the making or selling of what? Candles
  97. Who are the four ghosts in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Christmas Past, Christmas Present, Christmas Yet to Come, and Jacob Marley (one point for each correctly named ghost, and a bonus point for all four)
  98. What liqueur goes into making a ‘snowball’ cocktail? Advocaat (or advokatt, pronounced ‘advocar’ – normally a blend of brandy, egg yolks, vanilla and sometimes other ingredients – award yourself a bonus point if you dare order one next time you go to the bar.)
  99. What is the English title of the carol written in 1818 by Austrian priest Josef Mohr originally called Stille Nacht? Silent Night
  100. In Victorian England what people were popularly called robins because of their red uniforms? Postmen

Christmas quiz 2015

Well here it is this year’s quiz

You may cheat -if you want to

You may Google – if you wish

Or you may just look at the answers by highlighting over the square brackets

So ready – here we go

 

  1. How many packs of cards are needed for a game of Canasta? [Two]
  2. Which soap has one of the pub “The Malt Shovel?” [Emmerdale]
  3. What is the lowest weight in boxing? [Light featherweight]
  4. Who was Sonny’s singing partner? [Cher]
  5. Where would you find the Mount of the Moon and the Girdle of Venus? [Palm of your hand]
  6. What was Al Capone’s first name? [Alphonse]
  7. Where would you most likely to use the inventions of Kenneth Wood? [Kitchen]
  8. In darts what is the lowest score from three different trebles? [18]
  9. Who wrote “A Brief History of Time”? [Stephen Hawking]
  10. Smee was the boson who was the Pirate? [Captain Hook]
  11. What is dried in an Oast House? [Hops]
  12. Which Pub sells Newton & Ridley? [Rovers Return]
  13. What is a group of porpoises called? [School]
  14. What colour did all lupins used to be? [Blue]
  15. What is a young badger called? [Cub]
  16. Which city was built on seven hills? [Rome]
  17. What is a painted lady? [Butterfly]
  18. What is “mal de mer”? [Sea sickness]
  19. Who is Bruce Wayne? [Batman]
  20. What is Ozzy Ozbourne’s first name? [John]
  21. What do the letters RAM stand for? [Random Access Memory]
  22. What does a man do on two legs a woman do sitting down and a dog on three legs (keep it clean) [shake hands]
  23. When was the first appendix operation performed? [1885]
  24. What was Elvis’s first film? [Love me Tender]
  25. What does an Arab Horse have less of than any other horse? [One vertebra less]
  26. Who was the only English pope? [Nicholas Breakspear Pope Adrian IV]
  27. What colour is the ribbon of the Victoria Cross [Purple]
  28. Which days did the Boomtown Rats not like? [Mondays]
  29. What does beer contain which ale traditionally did not? [Hops]
  30. Name three African countries beginning with Z [Zambia, Zimbabwe, Zaire]

Well we’ve been hammered with all the Poppy day propaganda (although not much from the Poppy day organisation [wasn’t it once the Haige Fund?]) wonderful pictures which could be called “Click Bait” (a method of gaining thousands of “Likes” and “Shares” so the site is more appealing to advertisers therefore a money spinner and not always for the benefit of others) They say it is in aid of the British service personnel but what about the millions of civilians killed, maimed, made homeless because of war? Looking at the news it would appear that we have no time for them at all. We make up stories about the grand houses and cars the refugees are given the vast amount of money they are given and all the jobs they are taking. In our heart of hearts we know that this is all poppycock and not true. However the old saying is coming to pass “give a dog a bad name – then kick him”

And so next is Christmas the second most important season of the Christian calendar. All will be self-righteous and pontificating about how Christmas is for the kids, how much they spend on presents, how drunk they plan to get, some will even to calling it “Winterville” or “Wintertide” in order to be “politically correct” what tosh! Christmas has become the time for businesses to make a mint and to fleece the citizens of every last penny. Over Christmas I wonder how many will even step inside a church and say – even quietly under their breath – Happy Birthday Jesus.

         Christmas

The bells of waiting Advent ring,

The tortoise stove is lit again

And lamp-oil light across the night

Has caught the streaks of winter rain

In many a stained glass window sheen

From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green

The holly in the windy hedge

And round the Manor House the yew

Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge

The altar, font and arch and pew

So that villagers can say

“The church looks nice” on Christmas Day

Provincial public houses blaze

And Corporation tramcars clang,

On lighted tenements I gaze

Where paper decorations hang,

And bunting in the red Town Hall

Says “Merry Christmas to You All”

And girls in slacks remember Dad

And Oafish louts remember Mum,

And sleepless children’s hearts are glad

And Christmas-Morning bells say “Come”

Even to shining ones who dwell

Safe in the Dorchester Hotel

And is it true? And is it true

This most tremendous tale of all,

Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue

A Baby in an ox’s stall?

The maker of the stars and sea

Became a Child on earth for me?

And is it true? For if it is,

No loving fingers tying strings

Around the tissued fripperies

The sweet and silly Christmas things,

Bath salts and inexpensive scent

And hideous tie so kindly meant

No love that in a family dwells,

No carolling in frosty air,

Nor all the steeple shaking bells

Can with this simple truth compare —

That God was Man in Palestine

And lives today in Bread and Wine

John Betjeman.

Happy Christmas everyone

Our Cruise around the Med

Saturday 12th September 2015

Southamption  At Sea

ship

The Azura

 The beginning of our adventure

After a rather disappointing breakfast at the Southampton Holiday Inn we made our way to the Mayflower Terminal to be told that the ship had arrived late and the luggage would not be loaded until 11:00.

So we waited in the pay and display car park (£3 for 2 hours minimum) for 3/4 hour when suddenly we moved and the luggage was unloaded the car was driven away and we went for the boarding routine.

Check in, photos taken, cards issued, through security and on to the ship.

The cabin is very nice and comfortable.

Azura

Our Cabin

Azura (3)

Our Cabin (the other way)

We had lunch in the self service restaurant (Venezia) and the choice available was surprising and very good. I had a small fish salad and Margaret had a ham and egg salad.

Later we were treated to a display by the Red Arrows (they were really there for the Boat Show.)

That was followed by the boat drill when we all had to assemble at our assembly point with our life jackets and we were taught how to put them on.

We went to the same restaurant for our dinner and again I had a salad with smoked salmon and potted shrimps (very good) and I followed that with some cheese and biscuits. I also enjoyed a glass of Merlot. Maggie had roast beef and when she saw that I had the shrimps she also had to have them.

Later we went to the welcome aboard show and I must say that it was far better than I expected it to be.

Sunday 13th September 2015

At Sea

big screen

Big Screen

Nice lazy day Sea a little lumpy but it is the Bay of Biscay so what can we expect?

Met some interesting people at breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast was very good with a wide variety of eggs bacon sausage etc. plus the contential breakfast.

Lunch was again a very mixed menu of fish, salads, meat etc. all to a high standard.

Saw the film “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, booked some trips and generally slobbed.

The weather was very bad with the rough seas making walking difficult, sleeping wasn’t easy either.

We went to see an Elton John lookalike but he wasn’t available so there was a comedian “Lloyd Davies” instead. He was quite good.

The Atrium

The Atrium

Dance in the Atrium

Dance in the Atrium

Elsie and Fred at bedtime

Elsie and Fred at bedtime

Monday 14th September 2105

Vigo – Spain

Arrive morning Depart afternoontitle

Spain’s busiest fishing port, Vigo sits on the rugged west coast of the province of Galicia. Over the centuries, this charming town and its resilient residents have been the target for many naval attacks including a couple from Sir Francis Drake.

In these more peaceful days, you will still find the best view of Vigo is from the fort (Castillo del Castro) built to defend it from the hill overlooking the harbour. From here, your Vigo cruise tour will lead you through the steep, narrow streets of the atmospheric old town (Barrio del Berbes) to see (and smell…) the daily fish market.

Try one of the oysters which are fresh from beds in Vigos ‘ria’ – one of the sunken sea-filled valleys for which Galicias coastline is renowned. And our Vigo cruises are also a chance to visit nearby Santiago de Compostela, the subject of pilgrimages since the Middle Ages.

Rain at the start of the day and because of the atrocious weather we docked 1/2 hour late.

We had our usual breakfast (then I discovered the kippers!!) And off we went for our trip “Leisurely Vigo Views“ which started in rain but this soon left leaving glorious sunshine all around. The trip was very relaxed and took in a panoramic view of the harbour a visit to a large mansion with beautiful gardens. The trip ended at a large hotel providing a light lunch and wine and tea or coffee.

“LEISURELY VIGO VIEWS”

Winding your way through the city the coach took us up to LA Guia Hill with panoramic views over the Galician countryside and down by the bay with its many mussel farms.

We continued through the city by Plaza de Espana and Plaza de America with their statues including the fishermen and the statue of the Wild Horses

Went to the 17th century Castrelos Park and the French style gardens

We stopped at the 19th Century Pazo Los Escudos for refreshments of Spanish Tapas and 2ine and coffee and tea.

We returned to the ship and did a little more exploring around the ship to slob around for the afternoon

Went to the Manhattan Bar in the evening to see a Neil Diamond lookalike he was very good after he settled down

Wild Horses

Wild Horses

Vigo0005

French Garden

Church on the top of the Hill

Church on the top of the Hill

Vigo0007

Looking over the Bay

Vigo0008

Pazo Los Escudos

Vigo0010

Pazo Los Escudos

Vigo0012

Maggie on the dock of the Bay

Tuesday 15th September 2015

Lisbon – Portugal

Title

Some of the best views of the Portuguese capital come as your ship cruises along the Tagus River. You pass the Belem Tower and the impressive Monument to the Discoveries with its statue of Henry the Navigator before arriving at the Lisbon cruise terminal.

Although small for a European capital, this city does sprawl a little so you would do best to concentrate on three districts – Baixa, Bairro Alto and Alfama, each with its own distinctive style, making Lisbon cruises a must see.

Baixa has busy streets of inviting shops, cafés and restaurants while Alfama is the atmospheric old town with narrow cobblestone streets, medieval and Moorish-style buildings, wrought-iron balconies with trailing flowers and a mix of small shops and bars.  Bairro Alto is another historic district with narrow streets and is a steep climb from Baixa so look out for the 100-year-old lift (Elevador do Carmo) near Rossio Square. With such a variety of destinations to explore, cruises to Lisbon bring to your holiday a balance of both modern and historical grounds.

Arrive early morning Depart afternoon

Overcast start to the day with a little drizzle at first.

After a good breakfast we went ashore ( that’s ship talk for getting of the ship there’s another one “disembark” means the same thing) and joined our coach No 5 for our “Leisurely Coach and River Trip”

“LISBON BY LAND AND RIVER”

Coach guide pointed out landmarks such as Pombai Square, Liberty Avenue, Black Horse Square Nd Rossio but because of the traffic we couldn’t see much.

Lisbon0013

Not really impressed with the trip as the coach couldn’t stop much for the photographs because of the busy traffic although we did get some nice ones through the coach windows.

Lisbon0004

Maggie wanted to see Doulphins

We were advised to avoid the bar area because we would not be able to hear the commentary so we avoided that deck altogether. Still couldn’t hear it! There were some nice views and photographs taken which we can ‘Google’ when we get home.

Lisbon0005

Belem Tower

Saw the show “When Swing Was King” in the main theatre and really enjoyed it.

Lisbon0001

Flowers everywhere

Wednesday 16th September2015

Gibraltar – Gibraltar

Title

Britons love cruising to ‘home from home’ Mediterranean cruise port Gibraltar – and not just because it has some excellent pubs and tax free shops (good buys include glassware, china, leather goods, alcohol, perfume, silk and cashmere garments).

Gibraltar also offers wonderful views of the Bay of Gibraltar and the Moroccan mountains from the Rock Restaurant, served by cable car from the Grand Parade.

Birdwatchers can spot more than 230 species and there are clearly marked nature trails you can follow to discover the country’s flora and fauna.

The most famous ‘fauna’ of course, are Gibraltar’s Barbary apes – get off the cable car at the halfway station to see these, then proceed to the top and hire an audio tape charting the Rock’s fascinating history.

Alternatively spend a day at the beach – Catalan Bay is the prettiest, with its colourful fishing boats and excellent seafood restaurants.

Arrive morning Depart early afternoon

Arrived safely in Gibraltar but decided not to go ashore after our experience before. So we sat and let the world go by.

Gibraltar0003

The other side of the Rock

Gibraltar0002

Letting the world go by

Gibraltar0004

Well the Military are still working

Spent the day onboard the ship simply relaxing

We saw the film “The theory of everything” before lunch

They had a great “sail away “party as we left Gibraltar with everyone given a flag to wave songs and dancing

In the evening we went to the Playhouse and saw Ben Makisi an opera singer. He was brilliant and his version of “Bring him home” was far superior to Alfie Boe.

Thursday 17th September 2015

At Sea

at sea

Going for a haircut at the spa. I need it.

Film in the playhouse “A Royal Night Out” Very good funny film – if only it was true.

Had dinner in the Meridian Restaurant with my best bib and bow very, very good had prawn cocktail followed by lamb shank with the cheeseboard to follow.

Jolly good day.

sea day

Lovely day

Friday 18th September 2015

Villefranche – France

Villefranche0001

The steeply terraced streets of this pretty centuries-old fishing village set against a densely wooded backdrop create a delightfully timeless picture. Despite its increasing popularity with tourists, Villefranche remains a small, relatively uncrowded resort with plenty of Gallic charm.

The centre is just behind Villefranche cruise terminal, across the road and up a series of steps.  Along a maze of narrow cobbled streets, you will find chic boutiques and a choice of both cheap and expensive cafés and restaurants. Alternatively, walk along the seafront to a long narrow beach which curls around the bay. Up some steps is the way to the neighbouring, almost Victorian-style resort of Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

Villefranche is a convenient base from which to explore the French Riviera and Cote dAzur and the medieval villages of Eze and St Paul-de-Vence.

Villefranche00017

Quite an experience – to get on land we had to use the lifeboats.  Margaret didn’t’ t enjoy it much as it did rock a bit but the trip (Riviera Panorama) was very enjoyable and the scenery was breath-taking. We had a couple of stops to have a quick look around.

Villefranche00014

More Flowers

Villefranche00015

View from a Bridge

Villefranche00009

Beach at Monti

Villefranche00008

In a Garden

Villefranche00006

Unusual Flowers

Villefranche00004

Relaxing Day

We returned to the ship at about 14:00 and had some lunch and slept most of the remainder of the afternoon. All this gallivanting is so tiring.

Villefranche00019

Hawaiian Themed Dinner

Decided to have dinner in the Meridian Restaurant as we didn’t fancy dining outside in “smoker’s alley” pleased we did as I had duck and Maggie had chicken

Thinking about trying the Peninsula Restaurant tomorrow for breakfast I wonder if there is Eggs Royal or Eggs Benedict?

Saturday 19th September 2015

La Spezia – Italyla spz

Tucked into the Ligurian coastline between Genoa and Pisa, is the pretty town of La Spezia – one of Italy’s most important military and commercial harbours. But it’s not this that attracts so many. La Spezia is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Cinque Terre – a collection of five coastal villages perched on the coastline. Monterosso al Marc is famous for its beaches. Vernazza is a charming fishing port decorated with colourful buildings. Cornigilia is perched high above sea level with painted houses clinging to the cliff face. Peaceful Manarolais is modern in comparison and boasts a rocky cove. While Riomaggiore is a pretty town with attractive tall houses marching up the hillside.

Back in La Spezia itself you’ll find a number of churches and museums. There’s the 13th century Our Lady of Assumption church, housing a surprising collection of art, and the civic museum in the Castle of San Giorgio is just one of seven museums in the town.

Arrive early morning Depart early evening

We had breakfast in the Peninsula Restaurant where I had poached eggs on toast while Maggie had scrambled eggs and bacon and sausage cooked to order so not been hanging about for ages. Really good

Well we didn’t go to La Spezia but instead we went to Livorno Not a pretty port but a short shuttle bus ride of 15 minutes took us to the town. Very Italian town. We saw a Cathedral dedicated to St Catherine and then on to a small church dedicated to Our Lady.

La Spezia0002

Crib in the Cathedral

Afterwards we stumbled upon a huge market with very good and cheap fruit and vegetables and also other goods. We spent a little time at a cafe people watching

Tonight we intend to eat in the Meridian Restaurant and later see what entertainment there is.

Saw the “Flyrights” a close harmony group

Sunday 20th September 2015

19 May 2015

18:27

Civitavecchia – Italy

Arrive early morning Depart early evening

Standing in the Colosseum, visiting Vatican City and tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain are all unique experiences of a lifetime to be had in the Eternal City of Rome, reached from your Italian cruise port Civitavecchia.

Rome’s breath-taking monuments, palaces, churches and classical features are quite unlike anything you will find in any other European city. They will always leave you wanting to come back for more – hence the coin-tossing, which is said to guarantee your return.

The city’s other must-sees include the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon (probably the most complete ancient Roman building in the city) and the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s masterpieces.

While steeped in history, Rome is also a modern, bustling city with designer shops and chic boutiques at every turn. Reasonably priced department stores selling all the latest fashions can be found in the many pedestrianised shopping streets, while restaurants and cafés spill out onto piazzas offering authentic Italian dishes and sensational ice cream.

Because the majority of things we wanted to see in Rome were closed

We cancelled our trip and instead we took the shuttle bus into the town.

Visited the cathedral and walked to the seafront enjoying a coffee on the way. Nice relaxed 3 hour visit

Civitavecchia0003

Maggie enjoying her paddle

In the evening we saw “Byron Johnston” a guitarist Brilliant and exceeded the performance levels of the shows so far.

Monday 21st September 2015

Ajaccio – Corsica

Arrive morning Depart afternoon

corc

Napoleon was born here and, if you did not know that before, it would only take a few minutes after cruising into Ajaccio to cotton on as ‘Boneys’ name and likeness is everywhere.

The main shopping street is called

and the wide tree-lined boulevards, parks and large squares in this newer part of town feature many statues of the great man, notably in the main square (ironically called General de Gaulle). The Old Town between the port and the imposing citadel on the cliff above boasts Napoleons House and the cathedral where he was baptised

The main marketplace is right by the port and here you’ll find lots of local craft goods and endless Napoleonic souvenirs. Nestling in the Bay of Ajaccio, halfway down the islands west coast, Ajaccio is an excellent base from which to explore Corsica and discover why it is called the ‘Scented Isle’ (because of the sweet aromas from the mountainside marquis vegetation).

I had my Eggs Benedict for breakfast really good.

We decided to stay onboard as the powers that be decreed that we couldn’t tie up alongside the harbour so to get ashore we would have to use the tender which Maggie is a bit nervous about. So we had a relaxing day on the ship and attended the Sail Away Party which was fun.

Tonight we are going to see the show featuring the songs from the musicals.

cors bay

The Bay

sail away

Sail Away Party

Tuesday 22nd September 2015

At Sea

sea day

Azura (10) Azura (7) Azura (9)

Slobbing about, relaxing all day before the formal evening

Wednesday 23rd September 2015

Cadiz – Spain

IMGP0007

Sunrise over Cadiz

You cruise right into the heart of historic Cadiz as immediately across the busy Avenida del Puerto from the Spanish port is the main square and shopping area. From there, it is easy to find your own way around this compact city. Behind is the 18th century cathedral (El Nueva) and the view from the top is worth the long climb up its internal stairs.

The narrow streets of the old town below are lined by tall Moorish-style houses with flower-decked balconies mixed in amongst some small shops and tapas bars. Cadiz dates back to the 12th century BC so is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the western world but sultry Seville has long since outgrown its neighbour.

La Giralda (the bell-tower next to its Gothic cathedral), is in Sevilles historic Jewish quarter which also has the whitewashed houses and exquisitely coloured bougainvillea that everyone associates with this lovely city.

 Arrive morning Depart early evening

“ANDALUSIA DRIVE”

We went by coach through Medina Sidonia saw loads of bulls bread for fighting, olive groves and vineyards

We had a stop for refreshments and free time in Went on a trip “Andalusia Drive” not bad. A chance to see some of the scenery around Cadiz however it turned out to be a bit of a history lesson and I wouldn’t recommend it. If I return to Cadiz I think I would be inclined to taking the “Hop on Hop off Bus. Followed by a mooch around Conil de LA Frontera. Maggie had an ice cream strawberry and mango and it fell off but she didn’t cry

Went up on the deck 15 to the final“ Sail Away Party” which was very good

After dinner went to the Playhouse to see Byron Johnstone again but with a different show. This time instead of classical it was guitar rock and roll legends. Excellent!!⚓

Thursday 24th September 2015

 sea day

Arrangements made for disembarkation (getting off the ship) on Saturday – cases outside the cabin the night before, vacate the cabin by 0800 and leave the ship at 10:30.

Filled in questionnaire about cruise for what it’s worth

Had to have breakfast at the smash and grab (Venezia) because we were too late for the Peninsula Restaurant who finish breakfast at 0900.

We will have lunch at the smash and grab with a formal dinner at the Meridian Restaurant this evening followed by the Headliners show “Reel to Reel”

Packing tomorrow 😦

Black tie again tonight

Friday 25th September 2015

At sea

at sea

Lazy day today we ate at the smash and grab as the rich food of yesterday was starting to play me up a little so I ate simply.

The bags are packed and collected clocks put back

Alarm set for 6:00

We leave the cabin by 0800 have breakfast and leave the ship about 10 30

Wonderful experience I really hope to do it again

Saturday 26th September 2015

Back

South Sun

Sunrise over Southamption

Back to Southampton safe and sound after an excellent holiday seeing new sights and meeting new people some nice some not so nice but then that’s people.

Our luggage was taken last night and we have had an early breakfast so now we are waiting for our 10:30 call to disembark the Azura. Then, all being well, it’s off to Burnham on sea and with a bit of luck I will complete this diary and be able to publish this as a blog.

Very efficient disembarkment

News and Journalism

So a 23 year old girl takes off her top in a “holy” mountain and gets a £850.00 fine and a short jail sentence. Major news which lasts for days on radio and TV discussed endlessly on radio. Obviously there’s not much wrong in the world for this to warrant so much publicity. I suppose the lady in question will now achieve the status of celebrity with all the trappings associated with it. Thoughts of Erica Rowe come to mind) TV interviews, Big Brother, shop openings, fete openings etc. all for becoming a public nuisance. Stupid child should grow up and learn respect for others especially when in other countries where believe it or not she is representing the English just as other countries are judged by us when their citizens visit us.

I was on a weekend break to Paris some years ago and we decided to visit the Notre Dame cathedral where we were amazed to see a large number of “oriental” tourists climbing over the barriers and pews shouting to each other disturbing the peace and tranquillity of that beautiful place just to get a better photograph of each other in front of the main altar. My opinion of any “oriental” tourist with a camera was very low for a very long time. It was sheer disrespect. BUT did it make the news for days on end? No those were the days of proper reporting not of finding an insignificant “story” blowing it up out of all proportion and then milking it dry then repeating it over and over again.

I used to frequent a pub which was also used by a number of reporters, some freelance some committed to one newspaper or other. Two of them made a good living by taking a short story and investigating it properly then selling it back to the same paper for a large fee. I was also in the pub one evening when another reporter said to me as he ordered me a pint “what do you think of this tale about … I then gave him my opinion. The following morning that story was written with a sentence at the end “A spokesman said…” and there were the very words had said in the pub the night before. All for a pint oh! I do sell my words cheaply!

My opinion – LAZY JOURNALISM!!

Old man rambling

Not So Difficult Christmas Quiz

O.K.so the first one was a little too difficult try this one

Some are easy and others are easier.

  1. In which city did Roger Bannister run the first sub-four-minute mile in 1954? Oxford
  2. Which large animal kills more people than any other animal in Africa? Hippopotamus
  3. Which country do swallows migrate to when they leave Britain for the winter? South Africa
  4. In fashion, what do the initials DKNY stand for? Donna Karan New York
  5. Occurring twice yearly, what name is given to a day consisting of twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness? Equinox
  6. How many X chromosomes do women have? Two
  7. Which city is the largest port in Germany? Hamburg
  8. Which country is the natural habitat of the emu? Australia
  9. Where in the world does the Up Helly Aa Fire Festival take place, which culminates in the burning of a Viking long ship? Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland
  10. Which American film and television actress is best known for her role as Jennifer Hart in the 1980s television series Hart to Hart Stefanie Powers
  11. In 1872, which country played England in the first ever international game of football? Scotland
  12. Who married comedian Les Dennis in 1995? Amanda Holden
  13. Claire Richards was the lead singer in which dance-pop group? Steps
  14. Who became First Minister of Scotland after Alex Salmond’s resignation? Nicola Sturgeon
  15. Which Irish novelist was personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London? Bram Stoker
  16. Which singer starred in the televison documentary From Riches to Rags? Lily Allen (now Cooper)
  17. Who said: “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.”? Thomas Carlyle
  18. How many hurdles are there in a 400 metres hurdles race? Ten
  19. In 1811, nearly a quarter of all the women in Britain were called what name? Mary
  20. Which Portuguese-born navigator was the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean? Ferdinand Magellan
  21. Which historical figure is widely regarded as the greatest of all the Anglo-Saxon scholars? The Venerable Bede
  22. What disease killed thousands of people in Glasgow in 1832? Cholera
  23. Which killer was also known as ‘The Whitechapel Murderer’? Jack the Ripper
  24. In which year was the Wall Street Crash? 1929
  25. The Battle of Balaclava is a famous battle in which war? The Crimean
  26. In which French city was Joan of Arc put to death? Rouen
  27. Who was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover? Queen Victoria
  28. In which century was The Black Death? Fourteenth
  29. Which American outlaw was the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang? Jesse James
  30. In which country was Boxing Day renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994? South Africa
  31. Who served up figgy pudding in Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’? Mrs Cratchit
  32. Father Christmas is known as Pai Natal in which European country? Portugal
  33. Mummer’s Day is an ancient midwinter celebration in which English county? Cornwall
  34. Which band had a Christmas number one in 2009 with ‘Killing in the Name’? Rage Against The Machine
  35. Who is the servant of Cinderella’s father and also Cinderella’s friend? Buttons
  36. Which mathematician was born on Boxing Day in 1791? Charles Babbage
  37. Which country traditionally gives London’s Trafalgar Square Christmas tree? Norway
  38. Who had a Christmas hit with the song ‘Skyscraper’ in 2013? Sam Bailey
  39. In literature, which fictional character said it is ‘always Winter, but never Christmas’? Mr. Tumnus (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
  40. The Christmas favourite of ‘Piggies in Blankets’ is chipolata sausages wrapped in what? Bacon
  41. Which of Santa’s reindeer shares its name with a mythical god of love? Cupid
  42. In the Christmas carol, which town is known as Royal David’s City? Bethlehem
  43. At which of her homes does the Queen traditionally spend Christmas? Sandringham
  44. Which alcoholic ingredient is used in a Snowball cocktail? Advocaat
  45. In the rhyme Christmas is coming, who is getting fat? The goose
  46. Feliz Navidad is Happy Christmas in which language? Spanish
  47. How many Lords-a-leaping are there in ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’? 10
  48. In cockney rhyming slang what are ‘eyes’ called? Mince pies
  49. What was Mr Bean searching for when he got his head stuck in a turkey? His wrist watch
  50. Which monarch was crowned on Christmas Day in Westminster Abbey? William I