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Monday, 23 June 2014

Kentwell Hall Mid Summer Fayre

You can see from my last blog, that it was last weekend that we went to Kentwell Hall.
We liked it so much we went back again as it was the mid summer fayre

You can see my photos Here

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Kentwell Hall

If you have ever thought " I have been here before", then perhaps you should go to Kentwell Hall.

It's a 500 year old house in Long Melford Suffolk, that we have visited many times before, and is only a one hour drive from home
So that's what we did today (Saturday) as it was Tudor recreation time, with a 200 strong cast of all ages, dressed and acting tudor times.




Kentwell hall also does other "time themes" as it has a long long history.

But back to today, it was a shame after such tremendous weather, that today was very cloudy and cool, we even encountered some rain on the drive there. But don't let the weather put you off,  you will have a great day what ever the weather.

We have taken all of our grandchildren at some stage to Kentwell, as its  a real "living history" event for them, and they can learn so much, whilst having so much fun.


The "cast" are always willing to engage with you, give you some history, and explain their role, all the time keeping in character.
Today Sue had a long chat with an Alchemist apprentice, and very knowledgeable he was too for such a young person.

If you want to view some more photos I took today, you can find them here 

So go on, treat yourself to a slice of history 


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Flash Bang Wallop, what a picture ??

With credit to Tommy Steel for the title of this blog, this is a subject that I never thought I would write a blog about.
Photo Processing

Now from the outset, you have to know that I am a beginer at Digital Photography, and post production processing, but it just so happens I know a man who is a bit of a wizz.

My son in law Matthew has been a photography for many a year now, and guides me on all things photographic. You can see some of his work here and here

If you had read my previous blog on cruise on MS Braemar, you will have seen some pictures I took at Harwich.

For those of you are technically minded I use a Nikon D3100 with a Sigma 18-200 Lens and use Photoshop elements for post production, where I perform minor tweaks to my photos.

The photos below are all the same

As shot with no post production













After my post production













Then after Matthew had worked his magic


It just goes to show what software and expertise can to to a digital photo

Thursday, 5 June 2014

MS Braemar - Photos

As promised, here are the photos from our cruise on Fred Olsen MS Braemar

Leixoes here

La Coruna here

Aviles here

Santander here

Getxo here

Bordeaux here

Harwich here

Sunday, 1 June 2014

MS Braemar Cruise review

Fred Olsen MS Braemar 20th May to 1st June 2014

The Cruise
A 12 night Cheese and Wine cruise sailing from Harwich in Essex, calling at Portugal, Spain and France
And with it sailing from Harwich (20 minutes from home) made it ideal

The Ship
MS Braemar,  all of Fred's ships are of the mature type, she holds circa 1000 passengers and is similar IMHO to P&O Artemis ( as was )
As do ships of this age, you do not have all the mod cons you would expect of today's modern ships, but she gave a comfortable cruise.

Ports
Besides sailing from Harwich as an attraction for us, a lot of the ports were new to us
Leixoes ( for Oporto )
La Coruna
Aviles
Santander
Getxo ( for Bilbao )
Bordeaux 
The pick of the ports has to be Bordeaux and docking in the heart of the city. It's a pity that the planned use of three gangways to cope with the rising/falling tide could not be accommodated by the local authorities.
This meant only two could be used, with the one up to deck five, being more like a mountaineering expedition than boarding a cruise ship.
This meant those with walking difficulties had a real problem 



Entertainment
As I said in my blog, this was the first cruise for the theatre company, and we both thought they were excellent. It was also interesting to see them rehearsing in the lounges, something you never see on a P&O ship.
The quizzes were varied and plentiful, and we even won a few, and I think we have found our niche in "name that tune" as we won this twice with 20/20.
The crew show was a delight, with songs and dancing from their homeland of Thailand.
Special mention though must go to one of the entertainment team Wilmar for his demonstration of sand drawing, I have only ever seen this on YouTube, but to see it live was excellent.
The band In Tune which played primarily in the Coral Club, were the best I have seen / heard in all my years of cruising.
The comedian we had on board was Don Reid, we saw a couple of shows from him, which were OK, even if some of his material was older than me.
The flautist Stephen Clark and singer Jane Beaumont we did not go and see so cannot comment.

The Weather
As this was a May cruise and we did not go that far South, it was not a hot cruise, but pleasant enough to sit out on deck when the sun was out. The "Bay" did not trouble us too much, so that was a bonus. 

Food
Fred has a reputation for good food, and on this cruise we saw or tasted nothing to dispel that. Evening meals in the MDR come already plated, of good quality and variety .
The portion control is also better IMHO.
For breakfast and lunch we mainly eat in the Palms Cafe. Now for regular cruisers on P&O who eat in the buffet, you would not recognise the Palms. Crisp white linen table cloths, and you are shown to your table. It really is a million miles away from P&O and for the better.


Cabin
We had a superior outside cabin, which meant it had a picture window. The cabin was spacious enough, but the bathroom especially the shower was very cramped.


The Crew
Again another thing Fred is well known for, and they were all delightful, also it being a smaller ship, the really do get to know you, and us them. 
Top marks Fred !!

Summary
This is only our second Fred cruise, the first being a three nighter.
So it was good to be able to compare with other cruise lines on a longer cruise. Now although Fred ships are NOT adult only, they do attract an older passenger base. There were a few families on board with young children, celebrating an uncles 85th birthday and were a delight to have on board.
So all in all a very good cruise. Did we like Fred on a longer cruise ? Yes we did, which is good news as we are already booked for next March for the Solar Eclipse.

So as we say goodbye to Fred, we say hello again to P&O again later in the year to sail on Adonia, as she is the only one of the fleet we have not sailed on yet.