Sunday 26 March 2023

Saint Lucia

I think that I repeating the words of a previous blog here, but we are in Saint Lucia today and 

we never find anything exciting to do within walking distance of the ship.

Except to enjoy the lovely weather, beautiful views from the ship and a short walk to the town.

We did all three of the above this morning and are currently in the duty free tourist village right next to this sign.

In the background is our boat which is by far the tallest building nearby, and probably on the whole island.

It's a nice relaxing Sunday and people nearby are drinking cocktails, so I am sure that we will do the same thing shortly.

Chilling in the Caribbean, it may catch on.

Saturday 25 March 2023

Lesser known sights of Barbados

 Yesterday we had a lovely swim at the beach, and then took a taxi to the Britannia cruise ship for the next part of our adventure. This is a montage of new ship, old ship in the harbour, although I think that the sailing boat is actually very modern too.

This morning I took charge of our outing, that was basically a walking tour of lesser known sights of Bridgetown. I had the route memorised, we left the port gates and immediately turned left at a roundabout. A few minutes later I realised that we should have turned left at the second roundabout.

Fortunately, the first stop was the Kensington Oval national cricket ground and we could see the floodlights above all of the other buildings, so we improvised slightly and got there reasonably quickly.

From a distance we could see an imposing statue of a cricketer. I said that I wonder who that could be? Then added that it couldn't be Garfield Sobers (the only cricketer that I could think of), as he was from Antigua. Anyway, look closely at the plaque and it is actually Sir Garry, a massive Bajan legend, and from Barbados.

Just five minutes walk away was the next sight, and I knew for certain who this was. Rihanna was born and brought up in Bridgetown and they have renamed the street Rihanna Drive. She lived in a cute little house with a star on the pavement outside it and a plaque calling her 'Our diamond'.

A few minutes walk further along the main road and we reached a really quiet locals only beach.

And finally, the Mount Gay rum distillery. It turns out that they charge 25 US dollars each for a tour, which seemed excessive and we soon forget what we learned anyway, so instead we went to the bar.

No one else was in there at 10.30 in the morning, but it all looked very nice and their cocktails were much more reasonably priced than their tours.

We probably enjoyed it more too.


Thursday 23 March 2023

Long walk by the sea

After the excitement of the horses, we decided to go for a walk along the coast, and I was the navigator. 

First stop was Charles Fort, which is just along the beach from our hotel. It was built in 1650 and was one of 40 forts used to defend this small island. We looked over the side of the fort and could see lots of ancient cannons under the sea, and also quite a few on land.

Most of them were very battered and pock marked, but we saw one that looked almost brand new. I asked Darren to pose with it and when he leaned on it it moved. It was a plastic cannon! Who would have guessed?

Next stop was breakfast with a view.

We carried on walking and eventually got to a very lively place called St Lawrence, although it was full of brightly coloured bars and restaurants so nothing was happening at 10.30am.

We turned a few corners and then found a little beach with a sunshine yellow lifeguards house.

This was where I started to get slightly concerned. I thought that we had followed the road round 360 degrees and were heading back up the coast towards our hotel, but the sea was still on the right hand side.

I was just quietly trying to work out how this could be, (some sort of weird shaped peninsula perhaps), when Darren pointed out that must still be walking further away rather than back to our hotel.

Disheartened, and suddenly realising that it was a much longer walk than expected, we picked up the pace and eventually arrived back in the heat of the mid day sun.

Exhausted, we sat about for a while, but managed to rally for a sunset rum punch on the beach.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Arriving in Barbados

After a nice and uneventful flight we arrived in Barbados yesterday afternoon.

In Barbados time it was around 4pm, but to us was 8pm, so we didn't do too much except drink a very strong glass of rum punch, and then grab a load of plantain crisps and ginger cake from the local shop for an extra dinner. Early to bed, and then early to rise.

Sunrise was at 6.02am and we were awake and ready for the first event of the day. Our hotel is right on the beach and exactly where the local racehorses are brought every morning for a swim.

The horses seem to have a little routine where they splash and tap their feet as the waves come in, then after having a nice wash with their trainers, and then they set off on a swim out to the boats.

After a roll in the sand they look refreshed, 

and ready to meet their admiring public. 

Obviously, other tourists got a bit closer, but I always think that it is good to keep a bit distant from almost any animal.

Then we had a nice stroll along the beautiful beach and started thinking about what to have for breakfast.

One last shot of the lovely horses. 

Saturday 18 March 2023

Bath Abbey concert

Last night we went out to see the Fulltone orchestra at Bath Abbey. We started the evening at a famous Bath institution - Sally Lunn's Historic Eating House.

Sally opened the tea house in 1680 and it is apparently world famous, however we were very underwhelmed. So much so that I didn't even bother taking any photos. Sally Lunns is known for their Bath Bunns, but it just seemed to be a large white cob (roll to the Southerners), with a dollop of filling on the top. Apparently in the olden days they served the food like that so it didn't need a plate so saved on the washing up.

Anyway, it was an experience, and we know not to repeat it.

On to the concert at the extremely beautiful Bath Abbey. 

We really need to go on a tour of the Abbey in the daytime to fully appreciate it, but we saw its famous Jacob's ladder on the outside. 

This is another new 'famous landmark' to me, but the ladder is great, and according to the story, goes straight up to heaven.

Inside was amazing, and Darren booked our tickets on the front row four months ago. 

However, I am standing in front of seat E9, and we have seats E1 and 2. Unfortunately, we then found out that they were exactly behind a massive pillar that was holding the church up!

We couldn't see a thing, and even the television was right above our heads so we couldn't see that either!

We moved seats before the start so did get a bit better view, and walking around at the interval I was surprised to find that many, many other people had much worse views than us. 

It was a good concert, although we didn't get the best acoustics, and it was really quite a memorable evening, if not quite in the way I expected. 

Monday 13 March 2023

Two tunnels half marathon

It's been a sporty weekend, although it started very slowly. I volunteered as a park walker at Pomphrey Hill parkrun, so along with two other ladies I put on my blue park walker jacket and hung around at the back of the start looking out for other potential walkers.

Our job was to walk (obviously), encourage and chat to any other walkers and finish behind all of them so that they did not come last.

We only found one lady walker but she dropped out after one lap of the three lap course. Actually I didn't get to chat to her so I can't be blamed for boring her too much. The most exciting thing that happened in what seemed a very long time was that the tail runners, who had to stay behind us disappeared after a while. They thought that we had missed two walkers so were staying a discreet distance behind them, but it turned out that it was just two chaps going for a walk and nothing to do with us!

Sunday morning was a different kettle of fish. We got our bikes out and cycled to the start of the Two Tunnels half marathon. It was billed as a flat and fast course, and after running it I would say that both things were completely untrue. 

The course was out and back twice mostly along a disused railway line, and as it says, through two tunnels.

So we had to run through the two tunnels a total of four times each, one of which was a quarter of a mile long, and the other over a mile. Fives miles in total out of 13, in case you are skim reading this. 

The first mile was an uphill drag then we hit the first short tunnel. I was shocked by how dark it was, you couldn't see the ground a lot of the time and other people were just dark shadows and thumping footsteps. I got through it fairly quickly, then five minutes of daylight and then into the long tunnel. 

I couldn't see the end, and occasionally bikes went past in either direction with blindingly bright lights, but I started to enjoy it. The temperature was lovely, there was no wind and strange violin music was being played through speakers, so it was really interesting. 

Out the other end and along to a turn around point and then  through the tunnels again and back to the start point. At this stage I was having a good time and all of the marshalls were really friendly as I started out on the second lap. I noticed that I was too hot and getting tired but the trip through the tunnels restored me a bit. I saw Darren coming in the opposite direction and he took a photo. 

Still looking cheerful and heading for the final turnaround at about ten miles. After that I was suddenly exhausted and it was a huge slog to the final mile. Finally I tried to pick up the pace and just finish. It was mostly downhill before a steep incline with lots of people cheering. I wanted to walk but felt obliged to sort of run and then I was on the field and only 100 metres to go. 

I briefly thought that I couldn't make it after all and was going to stop and maybe cry, but I chugged along and then jumped over the finish line. 

Maybe I should have jumped higher because I am only just in the photo. 

Fast forward a few minutes and a couple of chocolate bars, and it's all looking and feeling much better. 

My target was to finish in less than 2 hours ten minutes, I did it in 2 hours nine minutes, got a lovely big medal so it was all worthwhile in the end. 

Friday 3 March 2023

Feeling Eduardo

One last look at the sea and then we were off to the Albufeira bus station to catch the Flixbus to Lisbon. It arrived on time and we had a front seat view as it whizzed straight up north on a very quiet motorway. In about three hours we arrived at the huge bus station. A quick metro ride and we ate at the Feeling Eduardo VII hotel.

It's a very strange name, but actually a nice hotel in a great location. After a quick break we set off to explore for the afternoon.

We are at the top of a long straight avenue that runs right down to the main square by the sea.

It's all downhill and after a while we reach a wide road with expensive shops on either side and a tree lined walkway down the middle. Beautiful mosaics all around.

Darren then took over the navigation side, and we plunged out into the backstreets. After many stairs both up and down we came to the top of the tram route.

There was a glorious view from castle ramparts over the city.

More back streets, a quick refreshment stop and a strange conversation with a student who thought that I was Dutch. She seemed very disappointed that I wasn't, and now that I think about it, I am a little bit disappointed too.

By this time the sun was starting to set and our thoughts turned towards Sangria, so we stopped at a little place just at the bottom of the famous elevator and relaxed on our last evening in Portugal.

Wednesday 1 March 2023


This morning we walked past the local mermaid and on to the beach.

I had pictured myself paddling gracefully along the beach, but it didn't work out that way. Everything was beautiful, the weather, the beach, the sea, but the waves just didn't play along.

They swept up the beach at speed and then swept straight back out again. The only way to paddle was to chase them up and down, but when they came back in again they could out run me, and soak my jeans.

In the end I stayed on the sand and occasionally managed a couple of seconds of paddling in ankle deep water. Lovely but quite hard work.

At the end of the beach was a rocky outcrop and we started climbing over it. It was quite a distance with the waves washing around the rocks and through underground tunnels in to tiny secret beaches.

We made our way round to the next beach, and then found piles of carefully stacked stones.

We tried to get further but the path eventually fizzled out and we had no choice but to head back.