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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Oceana E502 Part I

Well, here we are again, back on the ocean waves, and back on Oceana. It was 2009 since we last stepped on board, and even then, only for 2 nights, so it was like boarding a new ship.

We had only booked this cruise on a morning in mid November as we were about to leave home for our Fred Olsen mystery cruise ( see previous blogs) and it was such a good deal that we couldn't turn it down we only paid .......... No, I'm sorry I can't divulge that.

So come the Friday before we left, we decided to book a hotel for the Sunday night, so that we did not have to fight the M25 / M3 etc. in the Monday morning rush hour. Plus there had been a few accidents on the A12 last week, closing it for a time. 

I first looked at the Premier Inn, which was £78 for the night, but you had to park away from the hotel   ( not sure where). 
I then looked at the Grand Harbour Hotel ( ex De Vere ) a hotel we had not stayed in since 2010, and they had a winter warmer deal, of bed, breakfast and evening meal for £99 for the two of us, so a bit of a no brainer.

So after a very pleasant, non rushed drive down on Sunday afternoon, we arrived at the hotel. A point to note if you travel on the north section of the M25, it seems they have installed speed cameras along the whole north section, and very busy they were too, as all you saw were continual flashes from the cameras, so you have been warned 😀

Arriving at the hotel, we found out that we had been upgraded to a king delux room, so a pleasant surprise to the start of the cruise. The new owners have spent £4M on a refurbishment so it was all very tidy, and the food was good as well. Our room had a balcony facing the Ocean Terminal, so we watched the Saga Sapphire depart on Sunday, and when we rose on Monday, she had been replaced by Oceana.

We left the hotel at 11am for the very short drive, and were on board by 1140. It's the first time we have been to the Ocean Terminal since they completed the road works at the entrance, and the right turn into the entrance of the terminal, instead of the one way system is a great improvement.

The sail away on deck was well attended, even though there was a chill in the air.

And the sun set was stunning.

So here we are on the first of two sea days as we make our way south to our first port of Lisbon, our entertainment tonight is a comedian called Jeff Stevenson. Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a great fan of social media, and have been a Twitter follower of Jeff for quite a few years, but until now not managed to be on the same cruise ship as him.
So I look forward to his show tonight, and of course will report later on his show.

The begining of the second sea day saw us leave the BOB, and I have to say, it was very kind to us, calm seas and no rain. The weather has slowly improved the further south we have travelled, and we even managed to sit out on the prom deck this afternoon, but we did need our coats.

Back to last night, we ate in the Horizon Grill ( inside ) with excellent food, with special mention to the salt and pepper Tiger prawns, after which we saw the late show from Jeff. A consummate professional  with good family entertainment.

Tonight (Wednesday) is the first formal night and the Captains welcome party, so I will need to scrub up and get the dicky bow out ( self tie of course 😜)

Tomorrow we dock in Lisbon, where we will just go ashore and have a wander and post this blog.

So until then, bye bye 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Cirque du Soleil

After my rambling on my last blog, I had  forgotten that we had booked tickets, some time ago to go to see  Kooza, which is the latest show from Cirque du Soleil, and is being performed at The Royal Albert Hall.

I had seen many Cirque du Soleil shows on TV, and if my memory serves me correct, there was even a documentary series on one the channels on Sky some time ago, so this had been added to my bucket list.

We had booked tickets for the matinee performance on Friday  9th January and instead of taking the train to London, decide to treat ourselves by booking an executive car to take us there from Executive Logistics, a company I have used before to take us down to Southampton etc.

So just after midday, Steve ( who we have known from previous trips) arrived in his E class Mercedes to take us to London.

Trying to miss some of the traffic on a Friday afternoon at the bottom of the M11, we went through Walthamstow and then on to Tottenham.

It all got a bit nostalgic as I was born in Walthamstow, so passing the Town Hall and Lloyds Park, and driving along Forest Road where my mother used to live, and all the public houses I used to drink in as a young lad (18 of course). Ah the memories came flooding back.

But we soon arrived, and had a few minutes to spare before the doors opened, so we popped across the road.

And there sitting in all his glory was the newly refurbish Prince Albert.

It was then time for the doors to open and we went inside and I purchased two of the most expensive glasses of wine to drink ( I'll never learn)

You can see a very short video of the show here

Before "curtain up"  the "clowns" came out and mingled with the audience as part of the warm up, and very funny they were.

The show of course is circused based, but it certainly had you on the edge of your seats some times. If you have watched the short video above, you will have seen two guys on what I can only describe as two very large wheels that spin about an axis. They are very nearly at the top of the Albert Hall when they are vertical, and the performers do "fly" above the wheels..

I am sure you will all have seen the acrobats and two of the larger ones jump on the end of a seesaw, and sends the person at the opposite end up in the air.

Its fairly standard in any circus, but in this one they wear  6 foot stilts, get thrown up in the air, and incorporate a few somersaults as well.

So all in all a very good two hours of entertainment, and highly recommended.
If you can't get to London, I believe they are going on tour around the UK once they have finished at the Royal Albert hall.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Happy New Year

Well Christmas has come and gone, and here we are in 2015.

I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year.

My 2015 is turning out to be a bit different from what I had planned. My good lady Sue retired at the end of December, so we had planned out the year with quite a few cruises.

However, for those of you that are regular readers, you will know that I have  CLL but after 6 months of chemo in 2009/10 have been in remission ever since.

The "chronic" part of the title means that there is no cure (at present), so it was inevitable that Mr C would raise his ugly head again and demand a rematch, and that is what he has done.

So I'm off for another CT scan this month so my consultant can decide when I need to start another 6 months of chemo (different chemo this time).

So here is the dilemma, what crusie do we cancel / move so I can find a clear 6 months in my diary ?.

We are due off at the end of the month on Oceana, and then again in March on Black Watch for the Solar Eclipse "up north". I think those are going to be OK, but after that "who knows" at present.

So at least you should get another couple of blogs about cruising from me before I disappear into my black hole.
That said, I will still be blogging throughout my treatment (as long as I'm feeling OK) so the blog will have a "medical feel" about it. But I promise I will not be too gory.

I also hope to blog for Leukaemia Care a charity that Team Aylott  fund raises for.

But until then I do have the two cruises to look forward to :-)

Beside getting a new camera recently, it was my birthday just before Christmas, and I was lucky enough to get a new "prime lens", so this week I went out with my SIL from JRM Photography  and his friend Simon for some long exposure shots of the sunset at West Clacton.

And if you want to see some more of my handy work, can find them here

So until we board Oceana in a few weeks, I will say farewell