Manatu

Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Southport to Cobh the long way round.

Last Sunday we scampered , well crawled reluctantly, out of bed at 4.30 am , scoffed some breakfast , loaded the car with our frighteningly heavy bags and headed off to Liverpool to catch the bus to Dover. Just out of Southport on the coast road two red foxes lazily loped across the road, hopefully a good omen.Thanks David for getting us there and for all the hosting you and Gill did for us both.

We dutifully lined up with our fellow passengers and were allowed on board the bus. We were given all the do’s and don’ts by the driver, quite a long list and not many do’s.

We froze all the way to London, wrapped our jackets around us, scoffed sandwiches made by David and even bought foul coffee at at a bus stop, we still froze. The transfer at London was a bit of a nightmare and T refused to have a porter- silly man, we huffed and puffed from arrivals to departures at the Victoria coach station, very crowded and departures was across a cobbled footpath, not a good exercise with wheeled bags.. We finally tottered to our seats and counted our five bags.Our ragged arrival was observed by two urber cool older kiwis with one immaculate bag each.  Worse still another couple arrived and they only had hand luggage- 6 kgs!!! I have a kilo of jewellery with me , yes I weighed it and dammit  I am going to wear my bling even if it involves a bit of effort!

The trip to Dover was the exact opposite of the first part, we cooked, each bus is its own little empire governed by the bus emperor!

We loaded all the luggage into a taxi for the trip to the ferry terminal, hand luggage wanted to share, we said we had no room – too much luggage…

About 4pm we finally staggered on board , our luggage having been mercifully taken off us apart from one wheelie which contained a special hacking hammer bought by t for his carving- caused a bit of a crisis with the x-ray machine but all was resolved.

Our cabin, sorry, stateroom is fine, have had larger but there is a balcony and room to swing a tiny cat.

Dinner that night was fun, nice group of people, mainly kiwis at our table, 400 on board, we outnumber the Aussies, so day 1 ended in a bit of a blur and not due to alcohol!!!

Amsterdam was to be our first stop but it never happened, 60 knot winds and one engine out of commisssion meant we sailed on to Bergen in Norway. We slept most of day one  and were quite relieved not to be tourists. Dinner that night was at our assigned table and we have two interesting couples with us, two kiwis and two aussies, we are all old!!!

Day 2 and still at sea saw more sleeping but also a little exploration, found the library and borrowed some books. Two of the books I have tucked under the side of the mattress as there is a definite list to port on my side of the bed, obviously a vantage point for many large bums to look out the window..books worked a treat, I now feel secure and mot in danger of falling out of bed. I may even read the books at some time. Brought five on board with us , see why we had all the luggage…

Day 3 – Bergen. Like a picture postcard coming in the fjord to Bergen, and the town itself is full of painted , 3 story high wooden  houses. The houses and some of the public buildings are a bit like my father’s axe, built in 1200 AD, rebuilt about every 200 years thereafter as fires ripped through the closely built wooden houses. All very pretty, with obligatory fish market selling the most expensive fish and chips I  have ever seen, about 30dollars NZ  plus, whale meat was on sale if you so desired. We did not linger too long in Bergen as a/ it started to rain- it rains 260 days a year, think it means it rains part of each day not for 260 days straight, and b/I was getting a nasty cold. A young woman had coughed all over me from London to Dover so the timing was about right- bugger.

Bergen is definitely worth more time than we gave it, a huge music conservatory, Greig is from here, plus an Opera house , however it is tres expensive. We joined all the other inmates of our floating resthome for a late lunch back on board Heard someone say they paid 30 dollars for two cups of tea!!!!. Forgot to say, we were up early the day we arrived and saw two ambulances waiting on the dock and two people were duly wheeled down and driven away. Thankfully they looked alive, not sure how they manage the other kind….

We commented on how relaxed the Norwegians were about entry requirements, and how organised they were, and were really shocked at the tragedy  that occurred the day after we left.

I spent the next day in bed, moaning pathetically.Missed he first formal and a chance to wear some of my bling- bugger again.

Glasgow

I took lots of drugs and we set off for Glasgow, a city I had never been to. We caught a local bus in then did our usual round the city tour, a few others from the ship found the bus also. 40,000 students in G  so that keeps it pretty dynamic. The McIntosh house at the oldest university is very interesting  but think I prefer Wm Morris.  The Commonwealth games will be held in G in 2014 and they are well under way with building all sorts of stadiums.

T loved the begonias in George Square. I bought 3 more books at a second hand shop- can never have too many…

Would like to spend more time here too.

Dublin

We were here 4 years ago and had done all the tourist things so walked into town, nearly an hour from the port, but good exercise, drfted down O’Connell St and indulged in abit of retail therapy. Well, the sales were great. Bought some gin at Marks and Sparks, decanted it into our water bottles which was hilarious as there are very few seats on O’Connell St and those that are there are occupied by not so desirable souls. I dispensed the gin into our bottles with what t described as having a very professional look about it, the whiff of gin caused a bit of interest by our fellow seat sitter followed by a non committal grunt. I disposed off the bottle into a nearby bin and off we set, back to the boat, sorry, ship.

Whizzed thru security, think we could have brought on a case of gin without a raised eyebrow! Surprising how some ships are paranoid about passengers bringing on booze and others are indifferent.

Cobh, pronounced Cove or something like that.

Is a nice little town on the south coast of ireland, the Titanic left from here plus 26,000 females who were transported to Australia from 1820-40. Actually not all 26,000 were from Ireland, some where from UK. Anyway, today 24/7 is now Australia Day in Cobh and they have Irish dancing and irish music plus bands playing. They also have a very moving ceremony called ‘The Blessing of the Bonnets’. The names of all the local womenwho were transported are read out and a bonnet for each one is put inside a small rowing boat. There were a lot of bonnets.

We have been to Cobh before but today was lovely and sunny, whereas we had been there on a cold windy day- seemed like a different place. Has a huge Victorian Catholic cathedral.

The local supermarket nearly sold out of wine! We bought a couple of bottles but no more gin!

Our fellow passengers range from interesting to boring old farts, with a median age of about 67. Many have been on since Sydney and there is a definite air of superiority about those who have been on for 6 weeks already and those of us who have just got on.

We are lucky with our dinner companions,  they are quite fun. Food is excellent, only problem is trying not to eat it all.

We now have five days at sea, then Bermuda- so nothing more to report until after then,satellite connection is a bit dodgy and very expensive, so may just report weekly.

3 Comments

  1. I have a wonderful mental picture of you decanting the gin……!

  2. Now in a hurry to drink at least one of the drink bottles so we can replenish in Bermuda….

  3. What a nice surprise to find your interesting blog Margaret. Margo and I were two of your “quite fun” dinner companions on board the MV Dawn Princess.

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