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Archive for August, 2016

After a good night’s sleep, lulled gently by the motion of the Boudicca in the clear fjord, we awoke early and looked out of our portholes. We couldn’t see a thing; thick sea fog made it impossible.  As we were due to spend the day ‘scenic cruising’ through the Prins Christian Sund we hoped the fog would dissipate and let us actually see some scenery!  🙂

We couldn’t believe it was a week ago since we’d left home; it all seems so long ago now but it meant we’d reached the mid-point of the cruise.

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while looking out at the non-view beyond the ship’s windows.  The sea was very calm indeed and, when we went out on deck, it was rather chilly.  We pottered around the Boudicca and passed the time pleasantly in the company of our fellow passengers.  Most of the people we spoke to are, like us, extremely well-travelled and have been to some unusual and remote places.  We did an unforgettable expedition to Antarctica in 2006 and it was not surprising to meet other people who had also been to Antarctica, and therefore all seven continents.  Consequently, any conversations were very interesting as well all swapped tales of our various experiences around the world.

At 11.00am we went along to the Lido Lounge to do the quiz and enjoy our first tipple of the day.  There was only two of us in our team, the “Mega Mackems” and we didn’t do all that well.  So what’s new?  🙂

The end of the quiz took us to just before lunchtime, and there was still dense fog outside although the sun was valiantly trying to get through.  We went out onto the rear decks and watched the Boudicca gliding gently through the calm waters.  As we did so, we suddenly left behind the bank of fog to clear skies and perfect visibility.  As Johnny Nash sang, “I can see clearly now…”.   🙂

It was amazing.  Looking behind us, we could see the bank of fog, but here were in beautiful clear weather, sailing along gently with the mountains on either side of us, frequently passing icebergs on our way.  We were glad the fog had cleared, because the Captain Degerlund had promised us some spectacular views of a couple of massive glaciers later on.

We went to lunch in the Heligan restaurant, choosing a window seat so we could watch the gorgeous passing view outside.  Then afterwards we went back to cabin #4125 to get our cameras (and an extra jacket, as it was still cold) before going back up, to the topmost decks on Deck 9 or 10.

As we sailed along, we spotted another whale spout once again, and hoped it would come to the surface and let us see more.  However, he/she kept tantalisingly out of the way, just letting us know he was there by spouting off occasionally.  “Thar she blows!”.

As the time approached 1.00pm, we made our way to the bow of the ship, which was already crowded with bird- and whale-watchers and even, I suppose you could say, iceberg-watchers.  The water was crystal clear and calm, and everything was reflected beautifully on the mirror-like surface.

Eventually the Boudicca slowed almost to a crawl, and we saw the most amazing double glacier cascading down the mountain.  When I say ‘double glacier’, I mean that there was one flow of ice which was then split in two by a projection of rock from the mountain, so it was forced to flow down either side.  The whiteness of the ice and the greyness of the rock were reflected perfectly in the blue of the water.  It was, simply, breathtaking.  I know I’ve used that particular adjective several times before in this blog, but I don’t think there are enough adjectives to describe the sheer beauty of what we were seeing.  Wow, wow and wow!  🙂

The Boudicca kept turning slowly around and around on her own length, to ensure that everyone on board had the best possible views and photo opportunities to capture the glacier.  We then continued on our way, because further on there was another glacier.

As we continued, we saw lots of field ice, bergs and growlers.  One of the smaller pieces of ice had a seal basking on it, the first we’d seen.  He was close enough to spot, but not close enough to get a decent photo.

After getting our absolute fill of icebergs and glaciers we returned to the warmth of our cabin and rested for a while, before going up to the Lido Lounge for the 4.00pm quiz.  I needn’t tell you the outcome.  😦

While we were there, a gentleman came up to me and asked if we would be attending the late night show and the nostalgia quiz, and if I would bring my little polar bear with me.  Whenever we go to northern climes I bring my little soft polar bear, called Spitz (after Spitsbergen) with me.  I was mystified as to the purpose of his request, but apparently he’d brought a soft-toy bear with him, and wanted to photograph them together.  🙂

Then we got ready for the usual delicious meal in the Tintagel Restaurant.  I tried not to eat too much but it really is difficult when everything is so appetising.  I think it will be diet time when I get home!

The show tonight in the Neptune Lounge featured the Boudicca Show Company’s tribute to the music of the 1960s and 70s.  It was a high-energy, all singing and all dancing show and was very enjoyable.  Afterwards we stayed for the evening quiz (gluttons for punishment, or what!) and called ourselves “Cruising, Boozing and Losing”.  We were joined just by Steve this time, but three heads are better than two.

This was a quiz like no other.  They say that the best humour is often that which is unintentional, and this was the case with the quiz-master, who asked question #11 thus:  “Where in America would you find the gold suppository?”  Everyone in the audience laughed, and the quiz-master, puzzled, said “I will repeat the question.  Where in America would you find the gold suppository?”  Everyone fell about, splitting their sides.  “What?” asked the quiz-master, completely baffled.  At this point someone beckoned him over and whispered in his ear what the word “suppository” actually meant.  The result was that he staggered back to the stage, absolutely killing himself laughing, and had to clutch a nearby pillar for support, while the audience were laughing uncontrollably.  Even one of the dancers came out from backstage to see what all the noise was about.  We told him the word he was looking for was “depository” but it took a while before the quiz continued, and I don’t think he’ll live it down.  🙂

Anyway… fanfare of trumpets… WE WON!  We scored 13/15 and it went to a tie-breaker with three other teams.  Two teams (including ours) had the correct answer, so we had to have a tie-breaker for the tie-breaker!  Still, our answer was the nearest so we won ourselves a free bottle of Fred Olsen fizz, which we will keep to share out to the rest of the team tomorrow.  To the victor the spoils.  🙂

After our hilarious quiz we went along to the Lido Lounge, first of all stopping by our cabin to collect Spitz, the polar bear.  When we got there, the comedian Simon Sands and the pianist Colin James were doing a sort of unrehearsed “nostalgia requests” singalong.  Meanwhile, the gentleman who asked me to bring the polar bear went back to his cabin to get his bear.  His is a teddy-bear that was wearing the outfit of the Green Berets, complete with blazer, medals and little poppy.  The gentleman is an active volunteer with the ex-servicemen’s charity “Veterans in the Community”, and they dress and sell the teddy-bears to raise funds for the charity.  There is a page on the website dedicated to “Ted and Friends” and, because we were in Greenland, the bloke thought it would be appropriate for Ted to be photographed with a polar bear!  So he brought a white napkin to be the “snow” and took photos of Ted and Spitz at various angles, while I did the same.  He said he was going to upload the photos to his website, and I will do the same with my website.  Strange to think my little polar bear, that I have had for about 10 years, will feature on a web site about war veterans!  🙂

We ended a very full day and evening by doing the late-night Nostalgia quiz, but since a lot of the questions were designed for people who remember the 40s/50s/60s, I didn’t know a lot of the answers, as I was only born in the 1960s.  So we only scored 23/40, compared to the winners who got an impressive 37/40.

Then it was off to bed at nearly 1.00am.  Tomorrow we were due to drop anchor at Narsarsuaq, and we hoped it would be another memorable day.

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Tasiilaq, Greenland

It was with excitement that we woke up this morning and eagerly looked out of our portholes for our first glimpse of Greenland.  We had tried to go to Greenland on a cruise 10 years ago (June 2006) but there was too much sea ice so the ship, the Funchal, couldn’t risk trying to land.  So instead they diverted and went to a couple of extra ports in Iceland, but it really wasn’t the same thing.  So now we were finally here!  🙂

The Boudicca was at anchor off a tiny ‘town’ called Tasiilaq (say Tass-ee-lack).  We could see a small landing stage opposite us, a few fishing boats moored up, and colourful wooden houses perched on the hillside and along the water’s edge.  The mountains still had snow at the top and there were a number of blinding-white icebergs floating past us, some of the larger ones tinged with that gorgeous turquoise-blue hue.

We weren’t booked on a tour today as everything we needed to see was within walking distance.  We went and had our breakfast and, as it was formal night tonight once again, we each enjoyed a gratis glass of chilled bubbly with our bacon and eggs, to set us up for the day.  🙂

Around 9.00am we got ourselves ready and went to join the queue for the liberty boat across to the town.  The queue moved quickly and we were on board in no time, and it only took about 10 minutes to get across.  The weather was already bright and sunny but with a distinct nip in the air, only to be expected in northern climes.  I had on a long-sleeved top with my denim jacket over the top, a pair of jeans, and trainers, and to be honest that was perfectly sufficient.  Some people, however, had dressed as if they were going to the North Pole, and there were many thick quilted coats, hats, scarves and gloves in evidence; I though their wearers would soon regret it, particularly as the terrain was quite steep and it would be hot work walking.

We looked at the tiny wooden dwellings, some of them with fish hanging up to dry, and washing strung outside in the front or back porches – no ‘gardens’ at these latitudes and certainly no trees, although there were some scrubby looking bushes.  Hardly any houses had cars outside them, although quite a few had snowmobiles and several had their own boats.  The people who were sitting on their porches or balconies seemed very friendly, and waved as we walked past.

Tasiilaq is the main town in East Greenland and has a population of 2,100 which is slowly growing.  Tasiilaq was discovered in 1884 by Naval Officer Gustav Holm who came from the south-west coast of Greenland.

During the early summer months this part of Greenland is isolated by the great ice coming down from the Polar Sea, and in the winter the fjord freezes over completely.  Supplies are therefore stored from November to June or are brought in from aircraft and helicopter.

Traditionally the people made a living from hunting and fishing until recently, when the population growth made it too big to be sustainable.  Now there is a shift towards tourism, although fishing remains the main money-maker.  Some parts of the old Inuit culture still remain, although the people are slowly embracing the western lifestyle.

We walked up the hill to see if we could find any shops, and we came across a tiny general store that sold a few provisions, household items, postcards etc. and was doing a good trade from the Boudicca’s passengers in strong hot coffee.  We went in and bought four postcards and stamps; the postcards were home-made, that is, they were photos of Tasiilaq printed onto computer photo paper, and cut into postcard size.

We sat outside at some wooden tables and wrote the postcards out, and the lady in the shop kindly said she would post them for us.  We then wandered a bit further on and found another shop, crammed with customers from our ship and selling all sorts of stuff, from traditional knitwear to items made from sealskin, as well as smaller items like fridge magnets, keyrings and pens.

Afterwards we made our way back down the hill to where some indigenous Inuit people treated us to an a capella rendition of singing and some gentle percussion.  We then wandered around a bit, looking with fascination and the landscape, the buildings, the blue sea with the Boudicca in relief against the snow-capped mountains and, of course, the blue-white icebergs floating serenely past, in strange shapes sculpted by Mother Nature.  Simply breathtaking.

What an absolutely lovely little place Tasiilaq is!  🙂

Around 12.00 noon we decided to return to the Boudicca and have some lunch, as we all had to be back on board by 1.00pm and we didn’t want to queue for ages to make the last liberty boat.  We boarded the boat more or less straight away, and when it pulled away from the tiny jetty we looked back to see a massive queue that had formed, so well-timed on our part.

Back on board I enjoyed some salad and cold meats for lunch, washed down with a chilled glass of rosé wine.  We then went out on deck as the weather was simply perfect – not too hot and not too cold.  I can’t imagine how those in their huge winter overcoats were coping.

Just after one o’clock the Boudicca weighed anchor and glided slowly out of the harbour and into the fjord.  We were standing at the starboard side of the ship, at the railings, and Trevor excitedly pointed at the sea and said “Whale!”  Indeed we saw the tell-tale water spout that indicates a whale is not far below the surface.  We looked on with baited breath as a few more spouts appeared, followed by a black dorsal fin.  A humpback whale!  The whale surfaced briefly, did a few more spouts to get its breath, then went into a graceful dive, treating us to the sight of its fluke (whale-tail) before disappearing into the deep. We have seen whales on our travels lots of times, including in the Arctic, Antarctic, Caribbean, Alaska and even in the Mediterranean, but it’s a sight you could never tire of.

We then walked to the stern of the ship into the sunshine, and ordered a drink each before sitting outside in the sunshine, watching the wake of the ship as she glided through the blue water.  A few minutes later we saw another tell-tale spout, followed by another – two whales; either of them surfacing enough for us to see their fins, but not diving deeply enough for their tails to show.

What with icebergs and whales and the glorious weather, what a superb day this was turning out to be.

Around 3.00pm I left Trevor on deck before returning to our cabin to shower and change.  While I was getting ready, an announcement came over the tannoy to say the Boudicca was heading directly for an enormous iceberg.  But it wasn’t a case of the Titanic; we were assured we would go around the ‘berg, not into it.  🙂

I took my camera and went up on the deck and rejoined Trevor.  The iceberg certainly was huge; it towered way above the height of the ship and had seabirds resting on it.  It had been sculpted by the wind and the sea and was amazing; and what we had to remember was that we could only see 20% of it – the rest was hidden below the surface of the sea.  A marvel of nature.

Back in our cabin we got ready and went along for the quiz, with our newly-formed team consisting of us two, plus Steve, Marilyn, Michael and his wife Julia who joined us.  Once again we had the highest score, but so did another couple of teams, so it went to the tie-breaker.  We didn’t win.  😦

Then it was time to get ready in our glad-rags for the second formal evening on board.  I wore a floor-length black dress with a plunging neckline, teamed with a floaty green wrap decorated in embroidery, sequins and beads.  It perfectly matched the green hand-made necklace I was wearing.

Then it was off to table #21 in the Tintagel Restaurant where we enjoyed lobster, washed down with  chilled wine and finished off with the cheeseboard and a glass of port.  A delicious meal once again; I simply adore lobster.  🙂

Afterwards it was the usual; along to the Neptune Lounge for this evening’s show, which featured the soprano, Helen Wilding, once again.  There was no quiz tonight, so we just went up to the Lido Lounge and listened to the pianist, followed by one of the Boudicca Show Company’s female lead singers, Alana Asher.  She was very good as we have come to expect on FO cruises; usually the entertainment is superb and Alana was no exception.

Once again it was well after midnight when we went to bed.  What a terrific day we’d had today. 🙂

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We were up just after eight o’clock, as usual, and looking out of our portholes we couldn’t tell where the sky ended and the sea started.  Fog is common in northern latitudes in the summer; the warm air  above the cold sea leads to a dense mist above the waves.  We hoped the weather would clear later.

After breakfast I had only one thought in my head; to go to the shop and buy one of those fantastic globes.  The large ones with a 9” diameter were £320.00, but the smaller 4.5” diameter globes cost £100.00.  With our 5% discount we’d get it for £95.00, so I happily went into the shop and bought one.  It will look a treat on our dining room table which is quite near a big window, so there will be lots of light to keep the world turning.  🙂

At 9.45am we went along to the Neptune Lounge to listen to the port talk, where the speaker was telling us all about the ports of Qaqortoq and Nanortalik, which we will be visiting later on in the cruise.  It was very interesting, even if the guy did tend to go on a little bit.

The talk finished about half-past ten, so it gave us nice time to return to cabin #4125 and get smartened up a little, as we had been invited to the Oceans Club cocktail party at 11.15am.  As mentioned previously, we are now Gold members; only Gold and Silver members receive an invitation.

Once we were ready, we made our way to the Neptune Lounge where Captain Degerlund and his officers, as well as some of the entertainment staff, were there to greet us.  We enjoyed some canapés and a couple of glasses of fizz each, whilst listening to the Captain tell us that if you added up the nights spent on board a FO ship by all the members present, it would come to over 100 years.  The Future Cruises staff then gave us a talk and showed some slides, showing the cruises planned for 2017/18.  We already have a couple of future FO cruises booked for 2017, and we can’t book anymore because we don’t get enough time off work!  😦

The Oceans cocktail party finished in nice time for us to go to lunch.  Sometimes it feels as if we do nothing but eat and drink on cruises!  It’s no joke that you have to wear all your tight-fitting clothes at the start of the cruise and leave the loose ones until later!  🙂

Venturing out on deck after lunch, we saw that the fog had indeed dispersed and the day was bright and clear.  The noon announcement containing the navigational information told us that we were over 65ºN so it was no surprise that the sea breeze felt rather chilly.  Quite a few whale-watchers and bird-watchers were out, binoculars sweeping the seascape hoping to spot something interesting.  These people are really dedicated; they spend hours and hours outside hoping for a few seconds of excitement.

At 3.30pm we went once again to the Neptune Lounge to listen to a lecture about solar and lunar eclipses.  We had to leave at five to four, however, to be up at the Lido Lounge in time for the quiz with our ‘regular’ team.  We seemed to do quite well in the quiz, scoring 18/20, but once again we lost the tie-breaker.  Is this going to be the first cruise where we never win a single quiz?

Following on from the quiz was the bingo, and we decided to play as it was quite fun last time.  Trevor won £18.00 again!  I have never, ever won even a single line in bingo, and today was no exception.

The bingo ended nice time for us to go and get washed and changed in time for dinner.  Once again we enjoyed the company of our fellow passengers; we found out the other couple on our table are called Doug and Sue.  We regaled each other with what we’d been up to during the day and I told Willie and Lynn about the fabulous rotating globe I’d bought; they seemed interested and said they’d go and have a look next time they were passing the shops.

Tonight’s entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was a comedian called Simon Sands.  He was all right I suppose, mildly amusing, although I had heard a lot of his jokes before.

You know what’s coming next, right?  Yep, the quiz.  The subject was children’s television programmes.  Children’s TV programmes!!  How on earth would we know the answers, unless of course they were from the 1960s when I used to watch “Watch With Mother”.  We did appallingly, only scoring 6/15.

We finished the evening in the Lido Lounge, listening to the pianist Colin James do his tribute to the songs of Neil Diamond.  He was very good, and we enjoyed a few cocktails before returning to our cabin after midnight as usual.

Tomorrow we were due to reach Greenland, and we would set foot on our 80th country.  🙂

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We were awake early this morning as the Boudicca was going into port, because her engines were rumbling loudly and our beds were vibrating quite a lot, from about 5.00am onwards.  It was difficult to get back to sleep after that, so were up and in the dining room in good time, as we had to be along to the Neptune Lounge at 9.00am to leave for our excursion, which would take us to the famous Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland.

We have been to Reykjavik before, in June 2006, and we had done the city and island tour then, but not the Blue Lagoon.  So that’s all we’d be doing today.

We disembarked the Boudicca and had to walk a fair distance to the waiting excursion buses, walking past another cruise ship in port, Holland America Line’s Princendam, which was much larger than the little 28,000 ton Boudicca.  As we were walking along, there was quite a strong smell of bonemeal or fertiliser, mixed with the smell of fish. Fishing is, predictably, the main source of income for Iceland.

Iceland is a fascinating country, containing many volcanoes, a lot of them still active, which was evident from the lava landscape as our tour bus took us on the hour-long journey to the Blue Lagoon.  En route we passed many of the typically-Nordic wooden houses perched on the rocky hillsides, and miles of landscape formed from old lava flows.

Iceland’s whole population is only 330,000, so we thought the guide might have poked fun as us British people because the Iceland football team (consisting mainly of amateur players) had beaten England 1-0 in the recent Euro 2016 competition.  Pride goes before a fall and all that…

The Blue Lagoon is a world-famous destination in Reykjavik because the pool, situated among lava-formed hills, is naturally heated geothermally.  The average temperature is about 39-40ºC and the pale blue colour of the water, which gives the lagoon its name, is due to the various natural minerals in the water, many believed to be therapeutic.

Eventually we arrived at the lagoon and alighted from the bus, our towels and swimming costumes under our arms.  Inside, we were issued with an electronic wristband which would not only open our lockers but could be used to pay for drinks at the swim-up bar in the lagoon.

In Iceland they are very particular about hygiene, so we had to take shower, using soap, before entering the pool.  As we went to the lagoon area we could smell the sulphur in the air, a sort of rotten egg smell.  Going down the ramp into the hot water was bliss; it was like taking a bath.

The Blue Lagoon also sells itself as a spa, so we saw many people swimming or relaxing while wearing kaolin and mineral white face packs.

The water was not terribly deep; I could stand on tiptoe in the deepest parts and the rest was chest-deep.  It really was extremely pleasant just drifting along, swimming gently, in the naturally hot water, from which steam rose into the cooler air.  I could imagine it would be quite an experience to come in the winter, when the nearby hills were covered in snow, and yet here we would be in the hot water.

After about half an hour we decided to go and get a cold beer (!!) from the swim-up bar.  The local beer was called Gull but we were highly amused to see that the fruit-flavoured  ‘slush’ drinks were called “Krap”.  An American lady near me also found it funny, and she roared with laughter when I mentioned to her that, if she bought one, she could tell her friends that she’d had a ‘Krap’ in the Blue Lagoon, ha ha!   🙂

We enjoyed our beers and had another gentle swim, then we decided to go back in and get showered, dried and changed, as we had to be back on the bus for 12.10pm.  The ambient air temperature felt cold as we emerged from the pool, although the day was actually quite sunny.

Back in the changing room I got dried off and dressed.  One thing I discovered was that felt extremely warm and was sweating.  Meeting up with Trevor outside, we handed back our wristbands, paid for our beers (over nine quid a pint!) and went to have a look around the (highly priced) souvenir shop.  Then it was time to go back on the bus for the return journey to the Boudicca.  What a fabulous experience the Blue Lagoon had been, and something else we can say we’ve done!  🙂

We enjoyed the coach ride back, looking out of the window at the changing scenery.  As we reached the outskirts of the main Reykjavik town centre, some people asked to be dropped off so they could walk back to the Boudicca.  We decided, however, to return to the ship and have some lunch; we intended to go ashore again later, as we were not due to sail again until 9.00pm.

After a light lunch with a glass of wine, we had a half-hour power nap to make up for our disturbed sleep in the early hours of this morning.  Then we got ready to disembark the Boudicca and take the shuttle bus into town.

However, the shuttle buses were parked a long way away (where we’d picked up the coach this morning) and my broken toe, enclosed in my Nike trainers, was hurting rather badly.  So we didn’t get very far before deciding to turn back.  We therefore spent the rest of the day on the ship, doing the usual things – afternoon quiz (nope! still no win), enjoying a few drinks, then relaxing before getting ready for our evening meal.

This evening I decided I’d had enough to eat for the day, so I thought I’d give dinner a miss, just going up to the Tintagel Restaurant in time for the coffee-and-liqueur stage.  In the meantime, I sat in the Lido Lounge, enjoyed a couple of glasses of cava, while listening to background music and doing some of this blog.  Then I joined Trevor after dinner and we went into the Neptune Lounge for the evening’s entertainment.  But instead of it being the usual pre-show dancing, tonight they were putting on a performance of the TV game-show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”  They asked for three volunteers from the audience, so I put my hand up and was chosen.  🙂

The host then carried out the ‘Fastest Finger First’ elimination round, where we had to put the following cities into order according to whichever was closest to the equator:  Aberdeen, London, Manchester and Portsmouth.  My order was Portsmouth, London, Manchester, Aberdeen and not only was I the ‘fastest finger’ but I was the only correct answer.  Therefore I was invited to take my place in the hot seat and play WWTBAM.  🙂

Instead of actual money, of course, I was playing for Fred Olsen prize points.  The game followed the same format as the TV show, where you could use lifelines such as 50-50, Ask the Audience and Phone a Friend.  I ended up winning a virtual £64,000 which was actually 18 prize points, as I couldn’t answer the £125,000 (20 points) question and I’d used up all my lifelines.  It was all good fun and I will be able to trade in the prize tokens at the end of the cruise.  🙂

We then settled down to watch the Boudicca Show Company’s nautical-themed performance of “Oceans”.  We have actually seen this show twice before on other FO ships, but it is an excellent show, full of high energy singing and dancing.  Once again we enjoyed it very much.

Then, of course, we stayed for the 10.00pm quiz.  Did we win?  Did we heck as like!

We finished off the evening by going to the Lido Lounge where we listened to the Timeline Duo performing; we weren’t sure whether they’d improved since the last time we’d seen them or whether they just seemed better because the duo we’d seen in February on the Adonia was so dire.  They passed a bit of time however before the Late Night rendition of “Name that Tune”.  We scored 16/20 which was (predictably) not enough to win.

Then it was off to bed, well after midnight once again, to complete a full and interesting day.  Tomorrow we would have a full sea day once again, en route to Greenland.

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At Sea Once Again

We woke up around eight o’clock this morning to another fine day, as we went up to the Secret Garden for our breakfast.  We had the whole day to do what we wanted, when we wanted, and we were looking forward to what the Boudicca had to offer us.  While we were there, we noticed an elderly chap who had birthday cards sellotaped all over him; apparently he was travelling on his own and this was his way of encouraging people to talk to him.  His name was Alan and he was 72 years old today.

After venturing out on deck to see what the weather was like (bright but crisp, as expected) we spent some time wandering around the ship and chatting to some of our fellow passengers who we were starting to get to know.  Then we went and had a browse around the shop to see if we could pick up any bargains.

In the shop we noticed, on the glass shelves, some interesting globes of the Earth.  They were revolving slowly on their Perspex stands, and I was looking to see where they were plugged in, or where the batteries were inserted, but couldn’t see anything.  We learned that the globes’ rotation was powered by solar power or incandescent indoor light, and aided by the earth’s natural magnetic field.  I gently picked one up off its stand and held it in both hands, and was astonished to see it continue to rotate in my hands!  It transpired that the globe is suspended in some special fluid within a very thin Perspex outer layer, and revolves within.  They were amazing and so very novel.

Afterwards Trevor decided he would go and spend some time in the Jacuzzi up on deck 7, while I thought I would go to the Iceni Room and do some of this blog.  Trevor then went to the port talk, but as I was just outside the Neptune Lounge I could hear the talk anyway, whilst typing away on my laptop and enjoying a cup of coffee.

We thought we’d go along to the Lido Lounge afterwards to take part in the morning quiz, but when we got there it had just finished, and dolphin racing was about to start.  So we just had a (free!) drink each, chatted to John and Jean Fletcher, and passed the time pleasantly until lunchtime.

It was just a case of pottering around the ship after that.  We sat outside on the aft decks in the sunshine and, whilst it was warm in the sun, there was a brisk wind blowing and the water in the swimming pool was very choppy.

At 3.00pm we went along to the Neptune Lounge once again, where the speaker Chris Bielby was a naturalist and wildlife expert, and he gave us a fascinating talk, accompanied by a slide show, of the  different whales, dolphins, birds and other species, such as arctic fox and polar bears, that can be found in northern latitudes and which we were to look out for.  Personally I don’t think we’ll see any  polar bears this time; we won’t be crossing the Arctic Circle and I think the weather is too warm for them.

The end of the talk was just nice time for us to go along to the Lido Lounge and take part in the afternoon quiz.  We were joined by another very pleasant couple, Steve and Marilyn.  We enjoyed a couple of drinks while doing the quiz and thought we’d done quite well, scoring 18/20.  However, two other teams also scored 18, and it went to the tie-breaker which we lost.  Oh well, we’re getting closer to that elusive prize of a bottle of Fred Olsen bubbly  🙂

We decided to stay at our tables for the bingo.  We don’t normally play bingo but thought it would pass a nice little interesting interlude, so we thought we’d give it a go.  We played six games then the jackpot ticket; Trevor got a full house on the final game which netted him £18.00.  🙂

It was then time to start getting ready for dinner.  Tonight the dress code was smart-casual so it didn’t take us too long to get ready.  In any case we weren’t going to the restaurant tonight, but rather to the self-service Secret Garden, where they were holding a Chinese buffet.

The selection of dishes was such that we were spoilt for choice and didn’t know what to have; the main thing was not to pile our plate too high as it is all too easy to eat too much.  We sat with two other couples and, as usual, the conversation was all about cruises past and present and places visited.

After dinner it was along to the Neptune Lounge as usual for tonight’s entertainment, which was a comedy magician called Davey MacAuley.  The old guy whose birthday it was, Alan, was sitting in front of us and had put a birthday card on the table that had been given to him by his table-mates in the restaurant.  He was hoping that the magician would pick him to assist with a trick.

The magician was actually very good and he did tricks/illusions that we hadn’t seen before.  He did pick Alan to help him, and the old guy milked it for all he was worth; I think he likes basking in the attention.

We followed the show, as we always do, by participating in the quiz.  Nope – still no win.  😦

Then we went up to the Lido Lounge and listened to the pianist and had a couple of drinks before the late night cabaret, which featured the lead singer from the Boudicca Show Company, Luke Suri.  He was a young lad, 22 years old, but a very good singer and entertainer.  We enjoyed his one-man performance a lot.

By then it was after midnight and time to return to cabin #4125.  We were due to reach land once again tomorrow, this time Reykjavik in Iceland.  We settled down and went to sleep almost immediately.

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Fabulous Faroes

I got up this morning about 8.20am feeling, as expected, a little worse for wear.  Walking to the bathroom the fourth toe on my left foot was painful; on closer examination it was swollen, bent over to the left a bit, and slightly discoloured – obviously broken.  But there’s nothing you can do with a broken toe apart from tape it to an adjacent toe to stabilise it, so I just had to put up with the pain.  It did make walking difficult though.

At 9.00am Trevor went along to the spa for his Thai massage while I had a cup of coffee in the cabin and got showered and dressed.  Then we went along to the Iceni Lounge where I had another coffee and enjoyed an apple Danish, as I hadn’t had any breakfast.

Our excursion wasn’t until this afternoon so we were able to pass the time at our leisure just pottering around on the ship until lunchtime.  We went to the Tintagel restaurant where we were pleased to see that they had lifted the “no self-service” ban and so the queues this time were minimal and we were able to enjoy a light lunch before making our way to the Neptune Lounge to await our call to board our tour bus at 1.00pm.

As we had been to the Faroes before, in 2006, we decided to give the capital, Tórshavn, a miss this time, and go further afield to one of the other islands.  There are 18 islands which make up the archipelago that is the Faroes (sometimes spelled Faeroes) and today we were going to visit Vágar, the most westerly of the inhabited islands.

We disembarked the Boudicca and walked the short distance to bus #6.  Our guide was called Arnold and he would be looking after us during this four-hour trip.  Off we went, through the light early afternoon traffic of Tórshavn and, as the commercial buildings and the traffic thinned out, we travelled through more rural countryside, with fields of sheep, hills and mountains and the ubiquitous waterfalls, reminding us of our cruise in the Norwegian fjords in June this year.  We saw many more sheep than people, and any dwellings we did see consisted of colourful wooden buildings, some of them with turf on the roof.

We came to a tunnel cut into the mountain, and travelled through it in the pitch darkness for some time.  There was room for vehicles to pass on the other side, but only just.  Then it was back into the  sunshine and the daylight and the lovely green scenery.  We were lucky that it was a beautiful day, and Arnold told us that it often rained in the Faroes due to their latitude of more than 62º north, but the temperatures were moderate because the islands are situated at the edge of the Gulf stream.

The next tunnel, the Vágatunnilin, was a long one, about five kilometres, and would take us under the sea from Streymoy Island to Vágar.  We seemed to be in the tunnel a long time, and the darkness made me sleepy.  Eventually we saw the light at the end, and emerged once again into the sunshine at the end.  All we could see were grassy hills with boulders and lots of sheep, not just white ones but some jet black sheep and even some with brown fleece.  The sheep were very sure-footed, picking their way around the steep rocky hillsides while they cropped contentedly at the grass.  We also saw some horses and ponies; some of the horses were lying down, basking in the sun.

After the bus wended its way up the hairpin bends of the hillside, we came to a stop at a tiny little village called Bøur, which contained a few turf-roofed wooden houses, a hut with a very clean public WC, and a gravelled path along to the village proper, with its shop.  I tried walking along the uneven gravelly path but it was far too painful for my flip-flop clad broken toe, so I just sat on a nearby wooden bench in the sunshine, enjoying the views of the mountains and the valley below.  When Trevor came back he said the village ‘shop’ was really just the front room of someone’s house, which sold souvenirs and postcards and such like.

Back in the bus we continued on our way until we came to another charming little village, Sandavágur, with its distinctive wooden red-roofed church, set in front of colourful little houses perched on the hillsides.

We alighted from the bus and made our way into the church, which had the faint, evocative smell of incense and had lovely paintings telling Bible stories adorning the walls.  One frieze behind the alter showed Jesus carrying his cross up the hill, being nailed to it, then crucified, then the final pictured showed the Virgin Mary cradling the body of her son.  The church also had a large chandelier and a hanging lamp in the shape of a wooden sailing ship.

Our guide Arnold and the guide from the other bus decided to sing us a hymn.  It was all in Faroese so we couldn’t understand it, but we recognised the tune as “Nearer My God To Thee”.

Afterwards we got back on the bus for a leisurely return journey, stopping several times for photo opportunities.  The scenery really was spectacular; from our elevated position we saw Sørvágsvatn, the largest lake in the Faroe Islands.  What a lovely place it was; it makes me want to come back and explore more, and actually spend a few days here.  I bet it’s amazing in the winter.

On our return journey we went once again through the undersea road tunnel, which is fairly new, only being built in 2002 .  We marvelled at the mountains and waterfalls and came once again to another tunnel cut through a mountain.  This tunnel was fairly narrow and, while there might have been room for two cars to pass, there certainly wasn’t room for anything wider.  So it was with surprise when we were about 100 metres from the end of the tunnel that we saw the headlights of a car coming towards us.  The car driver must have seen the coach headlights before entering the tunnel, so we wondered what on earth he was thinking of, trying to drive through.

The two vehicles approached each other and slowly came to a halt.  A few minutes went by during an apparent stand-off, then the car driver reluctantly put his vehicle into reverse and made his way, somewhat erratically, back to the entrance of the tunnel.  We were on our way once more.  🙂

We arrived back at the Boudicca about five o’clock, just nice time to be able to get washed, changed and ready for our dinner.  In the restaurant there was only Trevor and me and Willie and Lynn; no sign of the other couple.  As ever, we enjoyed a delicious meal and ate far too much, but I was extremely restrained and only had one glass of wine (my first today) and one Amaretto after the meal.  I still had to try and detox after yesterday’s overindulgence.  😦

Regular readers of this blog will know our evening routine by now; off to the Neptune Lounge after dinner to bag our seat near the front and watch the ballroom dancers (we really will have to make the effort to learn) before the show.  Then the lights went down and yes!  Tonight the orchestra played the intro to the tune that we will forever associate with Fred Olsen cruises, In The Stone by EWF.  🙂

The cabaret today was a female opera singer called Helen Wilding, but it was an opera/pop crossover and she was absolutely excellent.  Not only a lovely singer, but with a quirky personality and a different offering from your usual soprano singers.  We really enjoyed her show and we commented we’d never seen a duff show yet.  Great stuff.

We followed the show with the quiz as usual – nope, we didn’t win.  So far our first win has eluded us.  We will have to form a team and see if we can do any better.  🙂

Tonight we decided to do something a little bit different so we went up to the Observatory, where we hadn’t been before.  It was nice and peaceful up there, dimly lit and relaxing.  From our table at the window we could see the bow of the Boudicca as she glided through the North Atlantic ocean.  We watched the horizon rising and falling and the gentle up and down motion was slightly soporific.  I put my feet (complete with broken toe) up on a nearby chair and just relaxed with an alcohol-free (!!!) glass of wine.  🙂

Afterwards we decided just to go back to 4125.  It was 11.00pm which is early for us, but an early night wasn’t going to hurt.  I read my magazine for a short while before settling down to sleep, lulled by the Boudicca‘s motion.  We had another full day at sea to look forward to tomorrow.

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Relaxing at Sea

We were up about 8.00am and looked out of our portholes, to a fairly calm sea and blue sky with fluffy white clouds. We hoped it would be a fine day, but on this cruise we really didn’t know what sort of weather to expect, heading north as we were.

When we got along to the self-service restaurant for our breakfast, the queues were tremendous. We couldn’t understand why as we’ve never had an issue with queueing before; we only have about 800 passengers on board Boudicca compared to 5000 or so on some of the American ships, so queueing is quite rare. We assumed everyone had come for breakfast at the same time, but it turned out that the self-service wasn’t self-service at all; the area was roped off and the waiters asked what you wanted, before putting it on a plate for you. Subsequently it took a lot longer, hence the queues. Apparently they were trying to reduce the risk of Norovirus, but we decided in future we’d go to the restaurant and have waiter service if this was going to continue.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed a plate of smoked salmon, cold meats, fresh fruit and a chilled glass of Prosecco. Yes!  On Fred ships you will always find Prosecco or cava next to the orange juice at breakfast so you can enjoy a Bucks Fizz with your brekkie. A nice touch. 🙂

After breakfast we went along to a Thai massage seminar in the Lido Lounge. When we got there, we were the only ones there and the masseuse gave Trevor a 15-minutes neck and shoulder massage whilst explaining the various techniques used in Thai massage, where the thumbs, elbows, knees and even the feet are used to massage any tight or tense muscles. Another lady wandered into the lounge to see what was happening and she too was given a brief massage; we were amused at some of the grimacing she was doing as the masseuse must have had fingers of steel. 🙂

There were still only three people at the ‘seminar’ by this time and the masseuse used up the remainder of her time by giving me a massage too, but I asked her not to do it too hard as I didn’t want to feel like tenderised steak afterwards.

By this time it was time for me to go along to the spa for a pedicure, and Trevor came with me to book in for a massage the following morning.

I enjoyed the pedicure and it finished just in nice time for us to go up to the Lido Lounge for the morning quiz at 11.30am. It was packed in there and we took a stool each at the bar; I enjoyed a glass of cava while Trevor had a pint of Stella. We scored 16/20 in the quiz, but there were about six teams scored 18, so it had to go to a tie-breaker.

While we were in the Lido Lounge we spotted a couple of familiar faces – John and Jean Fletcher, from Yorkshire, who we had met on two previous cruises; once on Boudicca in 2014 and once on Voyager in 2015. So this is the third year we’d seen them! We enjoyed another drink and a chat with them; they had some friends with them and the guy, Kevin I believe he was called, had me roaring with laughter at some of the things he had got up to whilst serving in the Merchant Navy. An amusing interlude before lunch. 🙂

I enjoyed a plate of mixed salad and cold meats washed down with a chilled glass of (free!) rosé wine. Then we had a look around the shops to see if there were any bargains and had a wander outside; it wasn’t too cold but the brisk sea breeze made it seem cooler, and it would have been too chilly to sit outside or go in the pool.

The afternoon passed in its pleasant and relaxing way until it was time to start getting ready for the Captain’s cocktail party at 5.30pm. At four o’clock I went along to the salon to have my hair put up, then I did my makeup and Trevor and I got ourselves glammed up for the evening. Trevor wore his dinner suit with a dark blue bow-tie and cummerbund, and I wore a long black velvet dress with long evening gloves and a lace choker, and shoes with 5” heels.

Off we went to the Neptune Lounge, stopping en route to have a formal portrait taken as well as a photo with Captain Mikael Degerlund, who is from Finland. We hadn’t seen this captain before, but his speech was very funny as he introduced his officers and made dry quips about many of them. We enjoyed some of the free drinks and canapés but we’ve often said before that when you’re travelling all-inclusive the thrill of the freebies has gone a bit, as it’s all ‘free’. 🙂

We then went along to enjoy another delicious dinner, wining and dining with the emphasis for me very much on the former. We enjoyed the dinnertime conversation with our table-mates, more so the couple opposite us whose names were Willie and Lynn, from Scotland. The other couple were quieter and we still didn’t find out their names.

Then it was the usual after dinner – along to the Neptune Lounge for the show, which featured a fantastic violinist called Oliver Lewis. He played everything from contemporary to classical, accompanied by the excellent Boudicca Orchestra. We enjoyed his show a great deal.

Tonight there was no quiz on, so we went up to the Lido Lounge and enjoyed listening to the pianist again, before it was karaoke time at 11.00pm. I always enjoy getting up in the karaoke, and I put my name down to do Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U. When I got up in my 5” heels I could feel the ship’s motion quite distinctly, on top of the several glasses of vino I’d consumed, so I stayed prudently near to a pillar so I could grab onto it if need be.

A few other singers got up and the overall standard was quite good. Then I got up again to do the Cranberries’ Zombie, but I’d never sang this one before at karaoke so I missed the cue to come in. Hopefully the bits I did sing sounded OK, but I think that one needs more practice. 🙂

We left the Lido Lounge well after 1.00am and made our way back to cabin 4125. Whilst I was getting undressed, a combination of the ship’s motion and the fact that I’d embraced the all-inclusive package a little too enthusiastically caused me to catch my toes painfully on the wardrobe door which sent me crashing to the floor. Stumbling into bed I was asleep more or less instantly. Tomorrow we were due to arrive in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

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