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Thursday, 29 May 2014

MS Braemar the Final Part

Once again my Ipad ( OK it could have been me) lost today's blog, so here we are ,day 2 in Bordeaux, trying to remember what I typed yesterday.

On our sail out from Getxo ( for you P&O fans we passed Oceana docked in Bilbao ) the Captain announced that we would be picking up the pilot at 0330 for our long journey up the river  into the heart of Bordeaux, plus he would be arriving by helicopter. Well, 0330 is too early even for me, but I did get up on deck by 0700.
Of course there were not too many people about, so it was very quiet and all you could hear was the morning bird song from the trees along the  river bank

  Along with the mist banks rolling along the river, it was stunning and surreal in equal proportions 

We then went under our last bridge, before we arrived in Bordeaux

We had booked a lazy tour today, a panoramic (aka coach ride)  around the city, then a visit to a Chateau for a tour of the vines, and some sampling ( well we are in Bordeaux)

This is where it all begins

These hold one or two bottles :-)

Before being aged in Oak Barrels

You could of course then have purchased a bottle or two, but they were a tad expensive for my wallet.

By the time we had returned to the ship, the weather had closed in and yes, it was raining again .

Day 2

We were greated by blue skies this morning, plus other guests had joined us in this beautiful city.

No tour today, so it was out for a walk, and some retail therapy and time to enjoy the stunning architecture.

The children really seemed to enjoy this mist fountain 

Well that's all from Sue and myself for this cruise as later today we start our journey back to Harwich.

I will write a cruise review which I will post when we get home, i will also post some more photos.

Thank you all for joining Sue and myself on this cruise, and taking the time to read my ramblings

Until next time 



Wednesday, 28 May 2014

MS Braemar Part VI

No sail in this morning as we arrived yesterday :-)

Had a lie in this morning so it was a late (for us) 9am breakfast, we did not have a tour booked for Getxo but they had a local tourist rep on board, so armed with a map we boarded the shuttle bus to "downtown" Getxo.
We had a wander around the shopping centre and then found the Bizkaia bridge, a strange contraption if ever i saw one. 

But still working and used by many after all these years.

We then decided to walk back to the ship along the prom, and what a glorious walk it was. Highly recommended if you ever come here.

It took about 45 minutes to walk but by now the sun was out and it had started getting warm.

So here I sit, up on the sun deck in wall to wall sunshine writing this blog.

It's hard life this cruising.

As we are in Bordeaux for two days, I will only post one blog 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Fred Olsen MS Braemar Part V

This is now the second version of this blog as my IPad decided not to import my photos, so I had to switch it off, and hence lost my unfinished blog, so let's see if I can remember "wot I rote" ;-) 

Early this morning, I posted on my Face Book page that we were arriving in Santander to blue skies, and hoped for some good weather for the day. Well, I will not be doing that again as it has not stopped raining since. 
It seems our "walking tour" yesterday had caused quite a stir on board, and I think Fred HQ in Ipswich will be receiving a few letters next week.
Today even when picking up the stickers for today's tour, the young lass from the shore ex team gave an exasperated look when the tour was mentioned.

But today's tour was Medieval Villages and when we reached the dockside, our coach was waiting for us.
Our first stop was at Santillana del Mar and the brochure this time was correct, and what a pretty village is was too. Even with the drizzle, it's charm still shone through

So after nearly two hours we returned to the coach and on to our next stop of Comillas

This was a not so old village, but did have some very nice property

By now the weather and another 1.5 hours walk had taken its toil on most passengers as we made our way back to the relief of the coach and return journey back to the ship.

We set sail for our next port at 1630 and arrived at Getxo at........

2030, the shortest trip between two ports I have ever had on a cruise ship :-)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Fred Olsen MS Braemar Part IV

Another day, another port, and today is Aviles in Spain, a port we have not been to before. It's only a small port, but you do dock very close to the town.

Now our original shore excursion had been cancelled due to lack of Interest from fellow passengers, but we had a plan B and booked Sweet and Salty. Even this morning Sue said I must read again what the tour involved. So we waited in the lounge at our allotted time and thought " there is going to be lots of room on the coach, as there are only a handful of passengers here".

So the handful of us arrived at the dockside looking for the coach. We spoke to one of the tour staff who said "Its a walking tour" now all of us looked blankly at each other and a few said " you are joking aren't you ? "
But no, he wasn't so off we went for 4 hours walking around the town.

As I said previously, the town was just across the road, and a pretty town it was. One thing I did notice was the amount of beggars, they seemed to be everywhere in the town centre and by the churches.

Sue enjoyed the tour, but I found it a bit uninspiring, and I do enjoy walking tours, and we have done many in our time.

And so back to the theme of the tour, the salty element was a stop at a Cider bar for time for some refreshments.

And very nice it was too ( and very salty )

We also had some liquid refreshments as well ( well we were in a cider bar ) 

After some more walking, our sweet element was a stop at a coffee shop for a drink and some sweet cakes, before returning to the ship.

Now as a postscript to this, I did check the description in the tour brochure, which just stated moderate walking, but it was unclear that it was a walking tour. So time to rest the feet as it looks like we are doing it again tomorrow in Santander. 

As the entertainment was a Flautist for the first part of the evening that we did not want to see, we ended up sitting on the prom deck in full sunshine, and boy was it warm. It was then the quiz ( no win this time ) then the theatre company with Motown selection.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

MS Braemar Part III

Well as I often say, what a difference a day makes, yesterday pleasant warm Sun, today grey skies and rain, and my, last night was a tad lumpy and noisy.

Did the earth move for me ? Well the ship certainly did.

So we were slightly late arriving in La Coruna in Spain, but we were off on an Estuary and Garden tour. By the time we had boarded the coach, the rain had started to fall.
Our first stop was at Hercules Tower, a light house our guide was very proud of.

The weather at this point had taken a turn for the worst, and we were both cold and wet, and wished we had worn our fleeces under our water proof jackets.

But we were soon back to the warmth of the coach and on to our next stop Pazo de Marina, a now government owned mansion and garden.

Even through the drizzle, the gardens were a joy to walk around, although the going was a little bit tough on those passengers with walking difficulties.

And so on to our last stop of Bentanzos a charming little city were we had a walking tour, and then some free time. Now I know it's a bit of a British trait, that we like to keep people informed, but I think that stopping our guide in mid flow about the history of a Church, to tell her " I'm going to the toilet" was a bit OTT.

We even found a local band practising in a church

And so it was a sleepy return to Braemar, to just scrape into the buffet for lunch before it closed.
Let's hope for some better weather tomorrow :-) 

Last night was a 60/70/80 night, I mention this for two reasons. I did think of one of my FB friends David Taylor, as I know he likes dressing up for these events. Also not only the entertainment team but also all the bar staff joined in as well, so it did set up a great atmosphere.

It was then time for the 60/70/80 quiz, we were joined by Glo and David from our table in out quest for FO prize points. Four teams tied for 1st place, including us, so it was down to the tie breaker, and .......

We won !!! And so added to our point total. If we keep going at this rate, we might even get a key ring ;-) 

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Fred Olsen MS Braemar Part II

Well our second sea day on our way to Leixioes in Portugal went a bit south as we had grey skies and some movement as we made our way across the bay. We did have a "Code Alpha" in one of the lounges we were sitting in today. The speed and number of crew who attended was very impressive.

We had a late night ( for us anyway) as the entertainment was a comedian ( he was billed as starred in the Comedians) but I did not recognise him. Some of his jokes I think came from the original TV Show as they were that old, but he was good entertainment, a quiz ( don't ask ) then a show from the Theater Company called "Happy Days", they do seem to be getting even better.

And so today we arrived in Portugal blue skies and 18C. We had booked a tour of the city, a boat trip, then a tour of a Port Cellar, with of course some tasting.
We did enjoy the tour, even though the city was a tad grid locked at times.
Which was also how the queue was to board Braemar, three coaches arrived back at the same time,full of passengers who had purchased bottles of Port, that had then needed to be stored for safe keeping by Fred, so it took a while.
So after lunch it was time for a beer whilst I posted the previous blog, and wrote this one.
So tomorrow is another day, and another country, namely Spain.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Fred Olsen MS Braemar Part I

And so the day arrived, and it was time for our second cruise with Fred.
One of the main attractions was that it was sailing from Harwich, which is only a 20 minute journey in the car, and it happens to be where I work.

It did seem a tad strange though, it was embarkation day, and we had still not packed, but we soon rectified that, and after an early lunch, our car arrived to take us to the port, and in just over an hour we had boarded, and unpacking the cases we had  packed only 3 hours before.

I still do not understand why Fred's muster needs to take you in single file, hands upon the passengers shoulder in front of you, wearing your life jacket, out onto the prom deck to your lifeboat from your assembly point.

Muster over and we set sail, passing many of the landmarks I know well from the shore, but they look different somehow from a cruise ship.

We even had well wishers on Halfpenny Pier, including our Daughter and Grandson.

We had a table for 6 in the Thistle restaurant overlooking the wake of the ship. The food was of a good standard with plenty of choice, and our fellow guests at the table provided good company for the meal.

The show for the evening was "From the West End to Broadway" a selection of songs performed by the theatre company who had only boarded themselves today, but did not show any first night nerves.
 They did end up in a bit of a battle with some passengers in the lounge who were trying to have a conversation during the show :-(  but I'm glad to report, they won in the end.

This morning, we awoke to blue skies and sunshine, so after breakfast, we found a sunny spot on the prom deck

It's got a tad warm, so we have retreated to the pub for me to type my blog. I might even try a gentle session in the gym.

It's now after lunch 

Gym was OK, but I was a tad warm afterwards so needed a pint :-)

My regular readers will know that Sue and I do like a good quiz whilst on holiday, we did one last night, but did not fair that well. However, this morning it was "Name That Tune". I have to say at this point it was 99% Sue, but we managed a very respectable 15/15 and won the quiz along with a few "prize points" which hopefully will increase as the cruise progresses. 

It's  a formal night tonight, and the Captains welcome party, so time to dress up.

One thing I had forgotten to mention was that when we booked the cruise a while ago, we were offered an all inclusive drinks package at £6.99 pppd, which of course we took.
Well as two glasses of wine are £7.20 I think it was a good deal.

Another sea day tomorrow, before we reach Portugal on Friday, which is when I will post ( hopefully ) this blog.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Team Aylott

As we meander through our lives, events happen that cause us to be sad, grief, divorce, illness, the list can go on and on.

However, nature tries to balance these sad times, by including some good times, now for regular readers of my blog, you will know that I have had a brush with Mr C, and more recently a couple of spells in hospital.
Now I'm sure your thinking how can these be good times ? Well they were not, but the support of my family and friends, is as they say "priceless".

When you are sitting in the Hematology Lounge, as the staff administer the IV Chemo, or laying in a hospital bed, with tubes coming out of most parts of your body. It is the support and love that you get from your family and friends, that get you through the tough times.

It is really difficult to put into words, how much this means, but if you have been there, you will know what I mean.

Over the past few years, "Team Aylott" as I now call them, have helped me raise funds (by various methods) for Leukaemia Care, a small charity that is obviously close to my heart.

This Sunday (11th May) was the Tour de Tendring, and Team Aylott again picked up the baton to raise funds.

L to R
Hayley Lambert, Mike Evans, Matthew Mallett, Zoe Mallett, Kevin Ward, Sarah Roberts, Pete Gerard, Di Gerard, Kirsty Lucas

The weather on Sunday, was not conducive to a cycle ride, as there were strong winds, and rain, but even carrying a few injuries, they made their allotted 20 or 60 mile route, and  I am very proud of them all.
Some of the more foolhardy are even going to take part in the Harwich Tri Sprint late this month, so if you think their efforts yesterday, or what will take place next month, is worth a donation, then you can find us Here.

Now you don't have to ride a bike to raise funds, as was shown by Trevor and Sue Smith, who raised funds at a caravan rally they organised.
Trevor was also the person to introduce me to Social Media years ago, so if you don't like my blogs, its all Trevors fault ;-)

And so finally, a very heart felt "THANK YOU" to all who have supported and helped me over the years, you are all part of Team Aylott, and I feel blessed to know you all.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Women's Cycling Tour

Is taking part in my part of the county, and even came through our village today