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My Brother Paul, The London Eye & The Royal Albert Hall!

Hi all! First of all could you please check out my Brother Paul’s New Blog Here. He is writing about his mighty battle with weight loss and mental illness and it would be a real encouragement for you guys to say hi! 

The London Eye…..

Paul has lost a huge 30 Stone (420lb) as i write this post. He came down on Wednesday and i met him at Waterloo station as he wanted to go on the London Eye. It was a great experience and i still can’t believe it’s happened(you’ll know what i mean when you rea his blog).  

We have a lovely photo of us together(below) which we can keep as a great memory of this milestone!  

Me  my Bro Framed

ꜛ Me(left) with my Brother Paul on the London Eye ꜛ

Boyce Avenue AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL…..

Paul’s favorite band is Boyce Avenue and they were playing at the Royal Albert Hall, so after meeting Sarah from work….We headed of to see the band he’d waited 7 years to see. Paul always wanted to go to a concert of Boyce Avenue but could never go as he was stuck inside his flat for years! But now the moment is here!

The Royal Albert Hall

ꜛ The Royal Albert Hall at night ꜛ

Paul had a fantastic evening and it was a dream come true!! I was so blessed to be apart of his special day and i’m so proud of him.

I’m looking forwards for more milestone events to come! 😎 

Classical Greece Tour: Day 2 ~ 10th Wedding Anniversary @Sea

Sarah i wedding photo

10th Anniversary

Wow, i still can’t believe it’s been 10 years since our amazing wedding day!

An unexpected blessing…..

This trip has been such an unexpected blessing, as Sarah had another “Charcot Foot” and was in an air-cast for the last 5 months…..She had it removed a few weeks ago and she’s been strengthening her leg for this cruise. So we are amazed to be spending our 10th wedding anniversary visiting some fantastic places! 😎  

Sea logo

Breakfast…..

We slept really well and caught up on the sleepless night we had yesterday. We thought we’d go to the Compass Rose (waiter service restaurant) for our 10th anniversary breakfast. It didn’t disappoint and we had porridge, fruit, nuts, seeds bacon and bananas (not all together,lol).

Swimming…..

After looking around the ship and trying to familiarise ourselves with our fave places, we nipped back to our cabin to get our things ready for a couple of hours sunbathing and swimming. Sarah loves swimming (as you can tell in the photos below) and had an excellent time enjoying her anniversary in the pool! 😎  

Sarah laughing and really enjoying swimming in the pool on the ship

Sarah doing handstands in the swimming pool on the ship....Herr feet and legs are outside the water sticking up and her body is underwater!

⬆ Sarah doing handstands in the pool ⬆ 

The Towel Swan Heart…..

After having lots of fun, we headed back to our cabin where we were surprised to find two towel swans placed in the shape of a heart, with flowers and our cards etc in a beautiful display. We rushed out to find the cabin stewards and thanked them profusely… whilst Sarah took lots of photos! 

two towel swans together in a love heart shape surrounded by our anniversary cards, on the bed of our cabin on the ship

 ⬆ Towel folded Swan heart ⬆ 

Earlier this morning Sarah had found an invitation pushed under the cabin door. “This looks a bit fancy, it’s only an invitation to the formal evening. We have to sign it to say that we’re going, then hand it back to reception…..Seems like a lot of paper work to me.” “Oh right, iI suppose they need to know how many people will be in the restaurant for dinner this evening, it must be the policy for formal night on this ship. It was different on the Dream ship” i replied. 

I hadn’t brought my tuxedo this time as it filled half my suitcase the time before and i didn’t want to waste that amount of space again. I did bring my trousers though as we like the waiter service meal in the evenings. “ i hope they don’t chuck me over-board for not dressing smart enough.” Sarah told me… “You’ll be fine, lol, it’s only for one evening and your new black shirt looks smart enough anyway”. 

Formal Evening…..

As Sarah & i were queuing up to enter the show lounge, the photographers were taking our photos. 

Me on the left wearing a black shirt and Sarah on the right wearing a beautiful while dress with a black ribbon tie

 ⬆ Me & my lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

My lovely wife Sarah wearing her stunning white dress

 ⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

After listening to the Captain introduce himself and some of his crew, we headed to the Compass Rose restaurant where we planned to have have a lovely four course meal. 

We said we didn’t mind sharing, and the waiter sat us right next to a window (yay) on a four seater table. We introduced ourselves to Brian & Anne (more about our new friends in later posts) and they kindly read out the menu for us. After ordering from each section of the menu, we got to chatting.

AND THEN…..

A huge shadow, from an even bigger man darkened our whole table….. “Steve…..FOLLOW ME” said the man with a really deep transylvanian voice. I looked at Sarah, and then back at the man “FOLLOW ME” he said again. Sarah said “Can i come with him” “yES” he said as we started to stand. We said to Brian and Anne “I think we’ll see you later, we’ve only just ordered our food, and if we’re not back…..you’ll get double, lol”.

As sarah guided me behind this Behemoth of a man up a few flights of stairs, Sarah said “Where is he taking us?” “I think we’re going to the plank, or at least being court marshalled” was my apprehensive reply.

We finally entered a small bar area where Claudia (the social director) greeted us with a glass of Champagne and a smelly fish bite (i don’t like fish, if you’d not guessed, lol) and showed us to our seats. Claudia said “I thought you weren’t going to make it?” “To make what?” Sarah replied still looking bemused. “You got the invitation?”.Sarah said “Yes…..the one to the formal evening”. Claudia then said “No, that was an invitation to the Captains table and an evening with the Captain.” “Oooopps” i misread it as a general evening invitation (easily done as the iPhone magnifier isn’t as good as the large CCTV we have at home)”. Sarah whispered to me “The Captain and his other guests were waiting for us up here, as we were seeming to ignore them and eating our meal already with someone else, lol.

The Captains Table…..

Since Sarah & i already knew the menu (thanks Brian & Anne) this was our easiest food ordering to date. We had a lovely meal and a fantastic time chatting with everyone around the table. It was really interesting hearing everyones stories and experiences…..Sarah already has her next cruise planned in her mind after asking the Captain what place he liked best after 30 yrs of cruising the seas, lol. 

Now it was time to leave again for the Show Lounge to watch possibly the worst show we have ever seen (heard for me, lol.). 😎  

Me stood behind Sarah on the right of the photo stood in front of the staff captains table with 4 other people(including the captain who is sat next to Sarah)

⬆ Photo of Sarah & i(on right) at the Captains Table ⬆ 

Wow, What a memorable 10th Wedding Anniversary….   

Retiring back to our cabin (making sure we didn’t upset the swans), we talked about our memorable day and how we’d never forget our 10th Wedding Anniversary! Now it was time to sleep, as it’s an early start once we arrive in Corinth. It was also the start of 5 full days of excursions we’d booked and we were really excited, even though we knew the temperatures were going to reach up to 41℃ (ouch).

Thank You…..

Sarah & i would like to thank you once again for celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary and for all of the lovely messages you sent us on “Praise, And Thanks Be To God……It’s Our 10th Amazing Anniversary!!!

⬅️ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡️(coming shortly)

Please visit our other tours HERE

Classical Greece Tour: Day 1 🇭🇷 Dubrovnik, Croatia

Wow, Wow, Wow…..Sarah & i have had a fantastic time away celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary in Croatia, Greece & Montenegro!

AND….. We’ve made it back in one piece to share all of our unforgettable memories and adventures with you all. 😎  

Taxi,Train & The Thomson Plane…..

As the taxi was booked for 3:30am, we thought it would be a good idea not to go to sleep as it makes us more tired if we only sleep for an hour or 2 (we were wrong, lol).

There was a little scare as Sarah felt funny, so she did a blood test in the taxi and found it was going low. “Oh no, not already” i thought as Sarah was already sorting it out with a few dextrose. Sarah felt better as we arrived at the airport and with a small struggle to find the suitcase check-in desk, we were finally sorted and heading for the airport assistance.

The assistance took us through security which all went well, until Sarah showed them her insulin pump…..Then (as they think it’s a detonator) they told Sarah to take of her shoes etc. and carefully and slowly scanned her whole body for explosives.

Following the guide to our seats in the departure lounge, Sarah & i were looking forwards to a nice bacon roll and coffee. Her work colleague had told her to try this as we’d not had anything to eat since yesterday afternoon… we were ready for it! BUT the airport assistance were too efficient this time and before we had time to figure out the direction of the bacon, the guide took us on the “Fun Train” and straight onto the plane! 😎 

The Airplane…..

As i sat down after being expertly guided to my seat, i said “Wait a minute”….. I was feeling underneath the window at the up & down dimmer switches whilst stretching my legs out testing the large leg room. “This isn’t an Airbus A320! It’s the 787 Dreamliner. Wow i didn’t think it was going to be this monster for a two and a half hour flight” Sarah said “Wow, you’re still getting excited about flying…. you must really love it” I said “Oh Yeah!”.  

Time for a snack…..

Since we couldn’t have our fantastic bacon roll at the airport, we decided to share some chunky potatoe wedges on the plane. Sarah simply couldn’t eat them (and i even struggled)…. they tasted (and were as dry as) a sun dried bath sponge! 😦

Welcome to Dubrovnik airport…..

Dubrovnik Logo

The airport assistance at Dubrovnik were fantastic and before we knew it, we were on a coach arriving at the dock ready to board the Thomson Spirit. We’d only been on the Thomson Dream which is bigger, so we were excited to explore this different ship.

We were fast-tracked again through all of the check-in procedures and were soon dropping our bags off in our cabin ready to go and explore! 😎  

A beautiful landscape of the port of Dubrovnik stood on top of the ship

⬆ View of Dubrovnik bay from the Thomson Spirit ⬆

We managed to weave our way through the decks and up to the top which was lovely and quiet to take a look around, take some photos and soak in the view and the hot sun.

We were surrounded by a sea of blue, sky of blue, deck of blue and Sarah’s new “Hokusai” dress …of blue. 😎   

Sarah stood wearing her new Hokusai wave dress on the top deck of the Thomson Sirit  @ Dubrovnik 4.jpeg

⬆ Sarah wearing her new “Hokusai” dress! ⬆   

Sarah  Dubrovnik 3

⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

Me stood on the top deck of the Thomson Spirit  @ Dubrovnik 4.jpeg

⬆ Yay, we’ve made it, now let’s chill and enjoy the view ⬆   

A view of the beautiful sea and houses along the bay with a small speed boat coming across the photo from right to left in Dubrovnik

⬆ Our beautiful view of Dubrovnik from the top deck ⬆ 

Swapping sides for a moment, Sarah was taking photos of a unusual bridge she liked, i was also pretending i could see it, lol. 

Me lent against the railing looking out across the landscape and bridge of Dubrovnik

⬆ Me looking at the bridge and surrounding town ⬆  

One more pic of my lovely Wife Sarah! 

Sarah  Dubrovnik 2

⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah and her beautiful dress ⬆

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…..

If you’ve travelled with us on our other tours click here to view, you will remember Sarah’s sublime Panoramas……Well she’s back with one (of many) to share with you. 😎   

One of Sarah's amazing Panoramas of the bay of Dubrovnik

⬆ Sarah’s breathtaking Panorama of Dubrovnik bay ⬆

Coffee, Life Jackets & Dinner…..

After enjoying ourselves on the top deck, we looked around for a place to have a nice coffee. We knew this ship had no “Coffee Port” like on the Thomson Dream, so when we found “Raffles Bar” and ordered a Cappuccino (for me) and an Americano, we were even more excited as the coffee was well-nice and strong!

The assistance was fantastic again and the life jacket drill went really smoothly, i think we’re finally getting the hang of this. lol 

We found the “Compass Rose” waiter service restaurant which was very similar to the “Orion” restaurant on the Thomson Dream, we said we didn’t mind sharing a table with others as we always need an unsuspecting guest to read the menu for us, which is always a laugh for all involved and it’s a great conversation starter! 😎 

After a fantastic four course meal, it was time to take one last tour around the ship to see if we’d remembered where anything was before retiring to our cabin after a very long day!

Thank you…..

I would just like to say a huge thank you(to you the reader and fellow traveller) for staying with us to the end of this day!

Oh did i mention it’s our 10th Wedding Anniversary” tomorrow!!

🌴 Next Day ➡️

Please visit our other tours HERE

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

A photo of 2 side profile head shots of Geese with the one at the back in focus and the one if front out of focus.

As ii’m registered blind, this weeks photo challenge “Focus” is very interesting as i don’t have any focus and need to use the camera’s autofocus! 

I chose this photo as the lens was going crazy trying to focus on each of the birds, so in the end i pressed the shutter and got this shot! 🤣 

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Buildings

Castle Rising Castle

Castle Rising main stairs

Castle Rising 2

Castle Rising 4

Castle Rising 6

Castle Rising 7

Castle Rising 9

I thought i would use “Castle Rising Castle” for this weeks “Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Buildings

While on holiday at the lighthouse Me, Sarah & Brother Ben took a day trip to Castle Rising castle. I gave Ben my big Nikon as Sarah & I were doing an audio described tour provided by the ticket office for £1. It was a fun tour as the audio description was dramatised! 

I still managed to shoot the shots above with my little compact camera! 🤣 


Black white banner

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friend

Bruce looking into Sarah's eyes!

Friend” is this weeks photo challenge…..So i thought i’d share a photo of my best friend and lovely Wife Sarah…..And our(The Late) best friend Bruce THE Boxer. I love this photo of the look of complete adoration in Bruce’s eyes for Sarah! 😊

iReminisce: The London Eye

London eye 7

Today iReminisce about this photo i took shortly before Sarah & i travelled on the London Eye. It rained on both times we’d been on it, so i thought i’d add a dramatic black and white effect to the once colour photo! 🙂 

Shortly after i’d made it black and white…..It was chosen as one of the photos to be exhibited in Florence, Italy which totally stunned me! And which sparked the amazing “Tuscany Tour”. If you’ve not joined Sarah & i on this amazing trip, we’d love to meet you there! 🙂 

IReminisce: The Retreat, Acle, Norfolk

Wow!!! I can’t believe it’s been 9 years since Me, Sarah & Bruce THE Boxer stayed in this log cabin for a week in Acle, Norfolk. 

I remember Sarah had bought me the Baby Taylor acoustic guitar a few months earlier for Christmas. I was so happy i couldn’t put it down…..So it came with us! 🙂 

Me playing my baby Taylor on the porch on the log cabin

It was a lovely relaxing holiday. I played guitar on the porch while Sarah sat in the hot tub for most of the week. Bruce enjoyed long walks and pretending to be a guard dog! 🤣  

Bruce sitting on guard on the porch of the log cabin

The Retreat at night

More “iReminisce

iReminisce: Pisa, Italy

My lovely Wife Sarah said that i should post a photo daily. I’ve taken so many over the years we often forget the memories these pictures evoke. So i’d like to share them with you too. 

Please enjoy as “iReminisce”.

Pisa

I will start with(probably not the most exciting photo in my archive) but to be stood in Pisa, and in front of the fantastic leaning bell tower was incredible! 🙂 

Please read my full blog post for this day HERE

I’m still not sure whever to post these photos on BOTH of my blogs…..What do you think?? Could you comment below to tell me whever to keep the posts only to Rebus Photography. Or would you like to see them daily here too?? I love sharing with you guys but i don’t want to flood you out, lol! 🤣 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Evanescent

Wow, another “Photo Challenge” where i could post thousands of photos! 🤣 

Here’s a few “Evanescent” moments of my(& Sarah’s) travels.

St Kitts Church

 On a severely rocky train journey through “St Kitts”, i managed somehow to take this photo of one of my fave church buildings! ~ Read about our fantastic journey here! 

In Flight

 Now a little about this bird…..🤣 Taken from my older post “In Flight” 

“This photo brings back memories of patience for me. This is the longest i’d taken getting one shot. I spent 3 days going down to the local lake and sat patiently on a bench taking about 150 shots per day until finally got this one. I learnt that when you can’t see what’s in your viewfinder, don’t take photos of birds! lol” 😀 

Sarah London Landscape

 Sarah had just a few seconds to take this photo whilst doing a 2 day course at the “Institute of Legacy Management” building. She wanted to show me a cityscape of London as she wouldn’t get this chance again! 🙂 

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D2X 9907

And of course i can’t do many photo challenges without a photo(or photos) of “Bruce THE Boxer”. Our lovely Boxer dog which we still miss loads! But i felt this period in time(14th July 2000 – 3rd Dec 2011) felt like it only lasted a short time and would suit this challenge. 🙂 

More Weekly Photo ChallengesW

Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage

Sarah  i playing at church

This weeks “Photo Challenge” left me with so many options i didn’t know where to start! 

The photo above is one of Sarah & i’s favourites and is on our side-board. I thought…..”Heritage” – It has the church building which was built way before our time. “Heritage” – The guitar i’m playing(and not worthy of holding, never mind owning) was built by a fantastic Luthier. “Heritage” – And more important than all of this is the Holy Covenant of Marriage that glues Sarah and i together in the power of His promises! 

I could go on & on…..But i’ll stop here and go and check out your posts on the challenge! 🙂 

The Ineffable Mysteries Of A Surprise Visit!

Day 1: Wow…..What a fantastic surprise 3 day visit by my Brother Paul! 😀

The Intricate Plan…..

I really had no idea that Ben(Brother in Christ) and Sarah(my lovely Wife) had planned this visit by my Brother Paul since November!! 

“Paul had bariatric surgery(Sleeve gastrectomy) a year ago after spending 4 weeks in hospital and has progressed so much, he spent most of the past 5 years housebound and is starting to rebuild his life. i’m really proud of him. He has lost around 24 stone(150kg) since the start of this gruelling fight. And for his first trip out of Derby, he wanted to come and see Epsom. I’m so pleased he did as i can only imagine how much of a big deal this is for him!”

The Almost Upset…..

Ben had organised to meet me at my fave restaurant “Sicily” at 2pm, and as i got into town early i decided to take a detour and get more steps towards my Fitbit daily step goal. Little did i know my Brother was standing outside the train station waiting for Ben to pick him up to surprise me at Sicily. 😀 

Paul said “I was standing outside the station just looking around, and suddenly he saw me walking up the other side of the road” “No way, what’s he doing here?….He’s not going to cross over as he is on his way to Sicily” Then just as he said it i was crossing the road towards him. He knows i can’t see enough to recognise anyone even if they are stood next to me. But he panicked and hid behind the nearest object and took a photo as he thought i’d figured out his plan, lol. 😀 

A photo of me crossing road to train station while talking on the phone wearing a black hoody, black shorts and black and white trainers

⬆ Me on the phone to Sarah, crossing the road while Paul takes a stealth photo! ⬆ 

The Surprise Meet…..

Sicily Logo

Front

As i arrived at Sicily i received the usual warm welcome from Grace and was seated at the table. I was thinking through some Bible verses as i expected a deep theological discussion on doctrines etc…..But as Ben arrived he was with his Wife Rosie and son Raffy. I was just getting up to move to a larger table when a FaceTime call came in from my brother Paul!

I usually switch to the back camera(as i can’t see the screen anyway) and try and show Paul around my current location and as i was in Sicily i thought he’d like to have a look. I first pointed it at Raffy and he was giggling into the camera. Then i wanted him to meet Grace and as i was about to point my phone at her…..”ey up bro” I heard in my right ear, i turned and there was my brother Paul standing right next to me!! 😀 

After what seemed like minutes, my mind was just racing “How did he get here? Derby is over 150 miles away! I thought trains were too much for him right now? Did Ben pick him up?  How is this possible?” i finally gave up and gave him a huge hug, i was stunned! Mission Accomplished Bro! 😀

We had a great time catching up on his adventure over a fantastic meal. 😀

Day 2: Epsom, Boyce Avenue & Celebration BBQ @ “Bens’ Burgers”…..

Epsom…..

We first met Paul in town as we wanted to show him around Epsom, we knew this wouldn’t take long as it’s only a small town, lol. Paul bought a souvenir in the shape of a Raiders cap and we had a great time exploring Epsom.

Boyce Avenue…..

Boyce Avenue are Paul’s favourite band. Their music has helped him through a lot of dark times. So when he said he’d love to see them in concert and mentioned they were playing at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2017, i just had to book tickets for Paul, Me & Sarah! 😀 

Since i knew he like them, and he loves singing…..i’d learnt a few songs on guitar so that if i was ever in the same room as Paul with my guitar, it would be fantastic to play together. And since we’d finished in town and was back home…..That time was now. lol And after this very special moment which i’ll always remember, it was time for Ben to pick us up

Celebration BBQ…..

Ben not only prepared the food, cooked the food…..He even picked us up and drove us to his home! Thank you so much Ben! 😀

Ben went all out for this celebration and cooked Steak, Chicken burger, Lamb Kofte & a lovely salad. Wow Thanks again Ben! 😀

Paul  Vini sat at the table waiting for the BBQ

⬆ Paul & Vini ⬆  

Vini playing football with his brother Raffy whilst holding an ice-cream

⬆ Vini & Raffy playing football with ice-creams. ⬆  

Zea and Raffy playing football

⬆ Luzia showing her skills and having lots of fun with Raffy! ⬆ 

 Rosie  Raffy

 ⬆ Bens Wife Rosie with son Raffy ⬆  

After filling up on all the amazing food, football and chasing Raffy we all headed inside for a rest! 🤣 

Vini Me Raffy  Paul sat on Ben's sofa sticking our thumbs up!

⬆ From Left: Vini, Me, Raffy & Paul ⬆  

Zea Rosie  Sarah

From Left: Luzia, Rosie & Sarah ⬆  

Football on Epsom Downs…..

Now it was time for Ben to try out his new 7 seater, he had never filled all 7 seats before so here goes!!!! 

Yay! We are all in! 🤣  

Full Car

⬆ From Left: Ben, Rosie, Vini, Sarah, Raffy(hidden), Me, Luzia & Paul ⬆  

As it was an open field, i had lots of room and could move around with a little more confidence knowing i wouldn’t hit anything, lol.

Raffy Me Paul  Ben

⬆ Raffy, Me, Paul & Ben ⬆   

Raffy  Vini

⬆ Raffy showing Vini some skills ⬆   

Me Paul  Raffy

⬆ Me, Raffy & Paul ⬆   

Me  Raffy Football

⬆ Me & Raffy ⬆ 

Me  Raffy Football tackle

 ⬆ Raffy with a crunching challenge! ⬆ 

Paul was loving the view right across London and could see Wembley Stadium all lit up too! We had a great evening and we were all tired from running around! 

Day 3: The Cricketers…..

For a nice farewell, we treated Paul to a beautiful roast dinner at the fantastic Cricketers Inn. What a lovely view for a nice warm roast dinner, and of course it has to have a homemade Yorkshire Pudding! 😀 

The cricketers1

The Cricketers(one of my older photos) it wasn’t snowing, lol. ⬆  

 Me  Paul at Epsom Station

⬆ Me & Paul outside Epsom Train Station ⬆ 

Wow…..It was a fantastic few days and i’m so proud of how well Paul is doing. I still can’t believe i’d see him down here so soon! His surprise was overwhelming at times….. And since he arrived home safely…..he’s told me that he’s planned to visit agin in August! Yay! 😀 

I hope you enjoyed Pauls visit too? And i’m pleased you got to meet my fantastic Brother! 

Saviour, Sobbing & Sharing my Testimony ~ Amazing Grace

Grace logo

I was asked by our Minister Nik if i would share my Testimony in yesterdays parade service. The theme was ‘Faith through Adversity’, Nik said “i can ask you some straight forward questions, it will only take about 5 minutes(or so we thought)” “Yeah, ok, if you think it will help?”.

Sunday 8th May 2016…

Walking into the church building Sunday morning, it was quite full, as it was parade service, the scouts and other uniformed groups were there, but Nik found us seats at the front, then showed me up the steps and where i’d stand to speak, after testing the microphone i remembered the steps and sat back down. 

As i’m blind, i can’t use any notes, so i spent a little time trying to etch some answer headings into my mind, hoping i’d not veer too far off track. I then prayed that i’d use this time to Glorify Him, as i talked about the Truth that sets us free, and how i’m not ashamed of the Gospel, it’s the power of God unto Salvation to all who believe…please make it real(be careful praying this).

It;s time…

Steve, we are looking at people who have showed faith in difficult circumstances and I have asked you to share some of your story with us.

Many people here, even those who have seen you around at various church events may not know that you are blind.

My Testimony…

Nik stood next to me at the microphone and started with the first 2 questions:

Have you always been blind? How and when did you loose your sight?

I explained i’d been fully sighted until i was 24, and after 2 brain haemorrhages(March 2000) that burst my optic nerve, i’m now registered blind and have Severe Hypertensive Retinopathy.

“How did that change your life?”

I said “I can only scratch the surface this morning, but if ever you see me walking around here or in town, please ask me anything. But now i’ll try and sketch you a quick picture and give you a flavour of what happened…”

“I went to the gym 6-7 days a week, played football most evenings and was quite violent, acting the tough guy.  I wasn’t a Christian, i hadn’t been born again, or even been inside a church building…so… as i stepped out of the eye consultants office after being told i’d be blind for the rest of my life, i collapsed on the floor crying out….and this was the easy bit”.

“Following this was pure isolation… all my football mates left me, i lost my job, my car…everything, i was completely broken, and on top of that i was left to my acusing thoughts “Nobody wants you, you’re useless now, unwanted, rejected, unloved and unlovable!!”

Suddenly…

It was about this time where my mouth was silenced, an image of Jesus in Glory(Revelation 1) filled my mind, it was so clear(not blurred by my blindness) I could see His flaming eyes of judgment…then…the image changed, it was Jesus on the cross, now His eyes were filled with Mercy, Compassion & Grace, and while looking down straight at me he said “I did this for you, so that you can live. I…LOVE…YOU!!!

I started sobbing uncontrollably…i’d never sobbed like this in my entire life, and it took a couple of minutes for me to try and start talking again….but more sobbing…i was completely undone.

I knew He’d given His life so i could live. He’d come down so far to save me it is immeasurable. His blood washed me clean, white as snow. He’s forgiven me all my sins, past, present and future, and there is no more condemnation for me(or you), it is finished!

I’d been  praying for so long for God to “Break my heart for what broke His” and sang the songs many times, but never had i caught a glimpse of the true cost of His Love, and His free gift of Grace to those who Repent and Believe in Him. I knew He wanted me to share the True Gospel to people listening(and now reading), as it alone is the only Hope. It is the Power of God unto Salvation for anyone that believes.

Still sobbing, i continued…

My every word was a different pitch but i said “My pit was so dark, my accusing thoughts were too heavy, and this led to a daily cycle of waking up and trying to kill myself…failing, which made me feel worse…then drinking so much i could drown them out for the rest of the day, until i woke the next day, then it started again. 

I didn’t have the strength to kill myself, and i didn’t have the strength to live…i was without God, and without Hope!

Nik, who’s hand was rested on my shoulder asked question 4 “I know you were deeply unhappy at the time, what changed that?”

The world followed it’s pattern and sent me to Counselling, then Psychotherapy & finally Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, they didn’t work, they all had no answer for me, they couldn’t reach far enough down to pull me out. I needed a Saviour, I needed the light of the Gospel! 

The Good News & Lovely Sarah

Meeting Sarah changed my life! I have no idea how she’s put up with me. She’s  been so patient and long suffering as i tried attacking her Faith and this Jesus! But she kept on loving me. Sarah always seemed to have a rock she was standing on no matter how bad things got for her, she always had this Blessed Hope that i didn’t,

Jesus worked through Sarah to shine the light of the Gospel, the Good News i was dying for.

Words failed me as i was trying to describe how much i love Sarah, so when my mind filled with thoughts of how far we’ve grown together in love…i broke down again. 

The sobbing was still making me pause every few words, but mentioned Jesus doesn’t want to see anyone perish, but he pursues you, He has come to seek and save that which is lost. He loves you and no matter how bad or hopeless you think you are, He’ll keep coming with His free gift of Salvation!

Nik asked Question 5 “some people would say that your life must be worse now, would you agree with them?”

I’d gone way over my time slot, and i was almost pulled away from the mic as i was so overwhelmed…BUT i knew these tears were not about me, or my losses. I had 1 focus and that was to share the Truth that sets us free. I had no feeling of sorrow or pain. I knew it must have seemed like this to the congregation, and i thought they’d stick me in a counselling room when i’d finished!

The Holy Spirit was filling me like never before, and made the Power of the Gospel so real to me i almost exploded.

I continued “I wouldn’t agree with anyone who thinks(or measures) life by how good our circumstances are. I’d lead them to 2 Corinthians 4 & 5 where it talks about living by Faith, not by Sight, and now that we are born again in the Spirit, we should walk by the Spirit. Not living for things that are seen which are temporary(like my sight loss), but living for the unseen which is Eternal”

“I used to hate this song, but now i’d play it every service if i could…have you heard Amazing Grace, the Chris Tomlin version? If you pass me in the street you’ll normally hear me singing or humming these words:”

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see. My chains are gone I’ve been set free. My God, my Saviour has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns. Unending love, amazing grace”.

Nik then walked me back to my seat next to Sarah. The church was completely silent, it had been silent since i first started sobbing. I could feel Sarah was upset as she didn’t react for a while, then she said “People kept on running up and passing me tissues”. Nik sat down next to Sarah, and Sarah said “You’re not borrowing him again to speak”. 

After the service people came over and said they really connected with the things i said, although i think everyone thinks i’m back in dark depression again.

He showed me the reality and Power of transformation in His Gospel, and how vital it is to share it, as Jesus is the  Way, the Truth and the Life and no-one gets to  the Father but by Him. He’s the forgiver of Sins, breaker of chains, and the only Salvation for Eternal Life in Heaven.

John 3:14-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[a] have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

I felt i needed to share this post to try and explain a little more of what was happening to me, and maybe reach out to someone who is struggling with the creeping death called Depression,or who is just simply lost and without God, and without Hope.

Related Posts:

My Testimony

Captivity of Negativity

Mayan Treasures Tour: Day 3 ~ Trujillo, Honduras

A postcard of me and sarah with lots of little photos of Trujillo surrounding us in a blue postcard

⇧ Postcard taken and produced by Thomson Dream Photographers ⇧ 

Welcome to Trujillo:

Christopher Columbus landed in Trujillo on the 14th August 1502. During his fourth and final journeys to the Amercas. Since then they have been under the control of the Spanish, the Dutch, the English and even Pirates.

But now…

Sarah & i arrived on the shore, and after a coach trip with a friendly local tour guide telling us about this fantastic place(and the constant invasions by the pirates), we arrived at the beach resort! 🙂 

“Wow” i said as we stepped onto the sand and selected a couple of sun loungers with a table shelter thingy with a free cold bottle of lager welcoming us!

Sarah drinking lager on Trujillo beach

“We’re going to enjoy this”. This was the most relaxing excursion out of the 4 we’d booked,

and then….

Sarah said “Yay, there is a trampoline in the sea”. I would have been more excited but my mind went straight to Sarah’s Charcot feet(diabetic problem again), and how she was going to manage?! But i should have known Sarah would win me over by taking every precaution, and before i could stand up, Sarah was in the sea! 🙂   

Sarah on the bottom right of the photo is swimming towards the sea trampoline on the far left of the photo

I stood waiting and trying to calculate how long it would take Sarah to swim over and climb on before i’d start taking photos…then i heard “STEVE” i knew that was my cue to start taking photos and videos(thank you my lovely wife).

Sea Trampoline 2

Sarah really enjoyed trampolining in the sea as she’d never done anything like this before. But in the photo below…Sarah looks very innocent , but i’m sure she has just shove the man off the left hand side!! lol. 🙂 

Sea Trampoline

It was quite cloudy, and even spotted with rain for a minute or two, but it’s ok…it was only the fine stuff that soaks you through, so I took a couple of photos of the landscape…

Trujillo Beach 1

Trujillo Beach 2

Then Sarah gifted us with a Panorama!  

Trujillo Beach Panorama 2

After a fantastic inclusive meal where Sarah & i had the nicest Plantain ever, we found a swimming pool with no-one in, and we relaxed for half an hour! 🙂 

IMG 3849

We couldn’t believe how fast the time went and we reluctently headed back to the coach(well at least where we thought it was), but not before we stopped for one last photo at a beautiful fountain.  

Sarah Trujillo Fountain

As Sarah & i were walking along the path, a Spanish speaking man with broken English held my arm and kept trying to tell us something. At first i thought he’d spotted the Grim Reaper tattoo on my leg(had it done 20 years ago when i thought i was tough in my pre Christian days) and thought i was a pirate, so i was in trouble! 🙂 But when my mind slowed down, we realised he was trying to say he was the driver and we were walking away from the coach. lol We thanked him profusely and followed him back to the coach.

Back on the ship…

After a lovely day on the beach, we headed to our usual viewing spot on deck 10. 

Sarah on Ship in Trujillo

Yay another Sarah Panorama…  

Me Panorama in Trujillo

As we will be on holiday for Sarah’s birthday, i treated her to a hand manicure.  Well…the whole holiday is a celebration of birthday’s(we’ll be back home for mine), our amazing marriage and seeing more of God’s creation, 

Sarah getting nails done

Afterwards Sarah said “Why don’t you get them to braid your hair as the wind’s been annoying you all day, and you won’t have to touch it for the rest of the holiday?! I was a little unsure about it, but after Sarah and the lady had decided to put 2 braids in, i went along with it. 

Wow, Sarah’s right again, i didn’t have to touch it for the rest of the holiday, fantastic! 🙂  

My hair in Trujillo

 Well…the “2 Blindies” have managed to have an amazing day in Trujillo, and we can’t thank you enough for joining us as we discover new ground. 🙂  

Our Route:

This evening Thomson Dream sails to Roan, Honduras. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 37 nautical miles at an average of 5 knots.

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Mayan Treasures: Day 1&2 🛳 London & Jamaica

Mayan Treasures Logo

 Yay!!!! Were off to the Caribbean!! 🙂 

I can’t believe we’re getting another chance to see some of God’s glorious creation! We were so blessed with our last cruise “Transatlantic Sunset Tour” even though we had a roller coaster of a ride! 🙂 

We were up around 4:30am, packing the final items into our cases. I found out the hard way last year on how impossible it was to find my black suitcase on the carousel among hundreds of other black suitcases!! 😦 So this year i’ve treated myself to a dark purple one. Let’s see if this one is better to find?!

Kate, from the local taxis that Sarah uses for work, arrived and we set off for Gatwick. “Now we can relax” i said “As it’s too late to go back if we’ve forgotten anything”. 

The Airport…

Kate was fantastic, and drove us right to the entrance and pointed us in the right direction “Just keep walking that way and you’ll be fine”. We checked in our cases and were given the fantastic airport assistance who guided us through customs and sat us in departures ready to catch the fun train. 

The people at the desk said there was a 1 hour delay…”Oh yes!!” Sarah & i said at the same time “We have time to go shopping and have a coffee”. I think this was a new response for them as they looked a little bemused! 🙂 

After finding the same italian coffee place from last year(it’s becoming another local), we found our way around a few shops and headed back to the pick up point. It wasn’t long before the handheld thing they give me started flashing and vibrating which meant it is our turn to get on-board the train!  

Me on-board the Fun Train at Gatwick irport

After our fun ride on the train, we boarded the plane and i even got a window seat. The 787 Dreamliner didn’t disapoint as it gave it the beans down the runway! 

A view from the airplane with the wing in view

During the 10½ hour flight, Sarah watched about 5 films(well 10 minutes of each, as she said they were horiffic, and saw firsthand why we didn’t have a TV lisence anymore). We enjoyed the in-flight meals though, and it made up for the poor entertainment. 

As i can’t even see who is sat next to me(although i know it’s Sarah), i spent the time listening to the people around me. It helps me understand who is around, where they are, and i get to learn a little about the person by their words and character…as “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart”. 🙂 

Yay,we’re back in Jamaica! 🙂   

The airport assistance escorted us through customs and to the queue for the coach transfer to the ship. As soon as they realised we couldn’t see, they took us and skipped straight passed the queue and onto the coach where we were shown to the 2 front seats! One advantage of being blind, lol.

Arriving at the ship, the coach driver said there were further delays and the queue for the ship check-in was long and it’s seriously hot out there! But when we left the coach, we met the assistance and again, they led us passed the large queue straight to the check-in and onto the ship! I always feel a little guilty when this happens, but it’s a fantastic service for us. 🙂

Boarding the Thomson Dream again this year felt like we were coming home. It took us about a week to figure out where everything is, but this time we remembered and it made life a lot easier! 🙂 

The Emergency Drill…

We were now almost experts at the life jackets(well Sarah was) and we needed no help this time putting them on. It was really hot and humid out on deck for the drill, but i handled the heat much better this time. 🙂 

Finding our way back to the cabin with our life jackets on, we wanted to try and take a selfie to keep as a memory, as we probably wouldn’t have chance if we ever needed to use them again. It’s really hard to take a selfie when you can’t see the phone screen, but we took loads and managed to find one.

A selfy of Sarah and i wearing our orange life jackets

 The Coffee Port…

After a full on day, Sarah & i were in need of a proper coffee…and guess what greeting we heard as we walked in??!! Yes it was Cecily! “No way” we both said “It’s so good to see you again”. Cecily then sat us down and said “2 espresso macchiatos?”….No way, she remembered! 🙂 This was really starting to feel like home.

We finished our coffees and headed back to our cabin. Our cases had arrived and we started unpacking as the ship set sail for Trujillo, Honduras…Wow what a day! 🙂 

Day 2…..

Sea logo

We spent day 2 exploring and seeing if anything had changed since we’d been gone. There were a few changes but nothing that tripped us up. Now it was time to check out the shore excursions for the next 4 islands! 

Last year we didnt realise how quickly they sold out, so we got in early  and booked an excursion for each of the 4 days, we were excited to have booked a few varied tours, but i was a little worried as we’d booked Kayaking on one tour and River tubing on another. Can blind people really do this without crippling themselves?? 🙂 

Either way…back to the Coffee Port to celebrate with a latte! 🙂 

Coffee Port Latte

 Thanks for joining us, it’s great to see you on-board! 🙂  

Our Route:

this evening Thomson Dream sails to Trujillo, Honduras. We’ll arrive on Thursday morning after the leisurely day at sea having travelled 515 nautical miles at an average speed of 15 knots. 

Next Day ➡

Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 19 ~ Palma

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Leaving our room for the last time and hoping we’d not forgotten anything, we had a couple of hours on the ship before our coach arrived. We went out on deck first to say hello to Palma! 🙂  

Palma Dock

Wow, we’re really going to miss the sun when we arrive home!

We stayed out on deck for about half an hour reflecting on our crazy cruise and how we actually survived some of the situations that tried to knock us down. Then it was time to say goodbye to my favourite  place “The Coffee Port”. 😦

Cecily and the Coffee Port… 

Photo of Sarah and Cecily in the coffee port

I would like to say a huge thanks to Cecily and the Coffee Port. Every time without fail, as soon as Sarah and i would walk in, and before we’d seen Cecily, We’d here one of our names(depending who entered first) melodically sung which put a huge smile on our faces, what a welcome! 🙂

She was so supportive of us and made fantastic coffee! 🙂 

Getting the coach…

After leaving the gangway for the last time, we boarded our coach and headed to the airport. It was a nice drive through Palma, but the mood on the coach was somber, as no-one wanted to go home. Although Sarah’s cough was almost constant and she was so tired from just coughing, she really wanted to be home so she can order a replacement insulin pump and get her blood under control. 

Palma airport…

We arrived at Palma airport and found the assisstance that helped us with our luggage, then escorted us to the gate where we sat waiting for the announcements. Sarah said “Let’s go and find you a coffee, then i can go and look around some shops as we will be here for about an hour” “Cool, sounds good to me, as long as we don’t venture off too far”.

Just then we heard our names called…

We were surprised to see one of the couples who befriended us at the Orion Restaurant in the evenings. They gave Sarah a card and said “Hope your new job goes well, and you find your feet quickly. We wish you all the best”. Sarah was in pleasant shock with this unexpected kindness, especially as we thought we’d never meet them again.

Yay, the plane…

I was excited to be travelling on an airplane again, and was totally surprised i managed to capture a piece of Palma upon take off! 🙂  

Palma from Thomson Dreamliner

Back in the UK…

We arrived in Gatwick airport on the Sunday before Bank Holiday Monday. The plan was to have the Bank Holiday as a rest day to try and recover from this rollercoaster of a cruise. But the drama hadn’t quite finished yet!!!

A&E…

Sarah was suffering beyond even what she can take(that doesn’t happen often) and on Monday morning we had to go to A&E as her chest was now closing up really bad and she could hardly breathe. As it was a Bank Holiday it was quite busy, but we finally got in to see the doctor. He said she had a Respiratory Tract Infection which has now given her a secondary lung thingy(i can’t remember the exact diagnosis,lol). After picking up the antibiotics we made our way home.

Sarah’s new job…

I’m not sure if i’ve mentioned it yet, but just before we started this cruise, Sarah left her job at RNIB(Royal National Institute Of Blind People), where she’d worked for over 10 years, and was going to start her new job at WCRF(World Cancer Research Fund) tomorrow!! Yeah i know it seems mad, but don’t forget we’er dealing with my “Warrior Wife”!! 🙂 

Finally…

I can’t explain the emotions i’ve been through typing up this day to day account of our cruise. I’ve been smiling, laughing, crying and shocked to find some great photos that will serve as loving memories for us.

Thank You, Thank You & Thank You…

It’s been such a blessing to know you’ve joined us on our trip, but beyond that, encouraging us with your kind and loving comments along the way. So we both thank God for you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Hopefully we’ll see you on our other tours too??!!

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Please join us on more crazy adventures!!!

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 17 ~ Gibralter

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Sarah on top of Gibraltar rock waving her arms in the air and welcome to Gibraltar

⇧ Sarah welcomes you to Gibraltar! ⇧

After 2 days at sea, and finding out(by our new friends who met us for evening meals at Orion Restaurant)  that on the excursion to the “Rock of Gibraltar” requires that we get a cable car to the top on the cliff! Wow…i love cable cars! It reminded me of the cable cars Sarah & i travelled on at “The Heights of Abraham” day trip.a couple of years ago! 🙂 

So leaving the ship i was extra excited to travel on cable cars in Gibraltar! We found the coach that would take us to the beginning of the rock and got on-board. 

The excursion guides so far have been amazing, and really proud of their country! So happy to share everything and anything about the local history and culture, always creating laughter and a friendly relaxed atmosphere. So when this guide stepped on-board complaining  and quite angry we were quite taken aback! After complaint about everything she showed us, we pulled up at the bottom of the rock and waited for the cable cars.

Just a quick side note…As i’m registered blind(i know most of you will know this already) and don’t see people, just hear them. Whenever i’m out sat in a cafe, restaurant, at church or just around town, i often like to play one of my fave games using my ATS(accent targeting system). I love accents, and i like to try and locate their original area?! 🙂 Also its my only way of knowing who’s around me, and i’ve now trained myself so i can listen to 3 conversations at once! lol This can be good and bad depending. 🙂 Anyway enough rambling! 

When i got near the guide i asked her where she was from originally? “Derby” she said! “No way, a Derby bird, i’m from Derby too. It’s crazy that we’d meet here in Gibraltar”. It makes sense now. lol. It’s sometimes hard to pin down a accent that’s the same as your own, but i’m getting better.

After fantastic views from the cable cars, we finally reached the top of The Rock of Gibraltar! 🙂  

Looking down over the bay of Gibraltar with the Thomson Dream in the distance

Looking down over the bay of Gibraltar with the Thomson Dream in the distance

My Lovely Wife Sarah

After taking shots of my beautiful wife Sarah(which i could do all day) the guide warned us about the monkeys  that would steal anything and everything that wasn’t in your bag or not in the right place. By this i mean sunglasses on your head instead of over your eyes. The guide told us of one woman who had put her brand new £200 Rayban sunglasses on her head to take a photo, had them quickly snatched by a monkey and were never seen again! 😦

Me and Sarah stood on top of the rock of Gibraltar in the hot sunshine with the sea behind us

A kind person asked if Sarah & i would like a photo together? I said that would be lovely, thank you. But i think my face is wondering if the man was going to run off with my Big Nikon! lol. 🙂  

Sarah and the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar

The guide said we had about an hour free time before we all have to meet back together, so Sarah got her iPhone out ready to take one of her amazing Panoramas! 

Photo of Sarah taking a Panorama of Gibraltar rock

Not 1…but 2 of Sarah’s Breathtaking Panoramas!!! 🙂 

A panorama of Gibraltar rock

Sarah's second panorama of Gibraltar rock

It had been a fantastic day already and the views were simply stunning from up here. We now had to find one  of those monkeys to try and get a photo before we go.  

Sarah taking a video of one of the monkeys at the top of Gibraltar

⇧ Sarah videoing one of the monkeys ⇧  

Photo of a monkey sat on a railing fence looking out ove the bay of Gibraltar

After nipping into the gift shop to get a couple of presents we started heading back towards the cable cars.

We were just near the steps(walking 2 by 2 when we heard a loud “Oi!!” by the woman behind us, followed by a quiet couple of seconds, then lots of laughter??! We stopped and turned round to find out one of the monkeys had touched/stroked the ladies leg near her bum, and she thought it was the man behind her. But after the mix up they all started laughing! 🙂

Travelling back to the ship after more complaining by the excursion guide (mainly about her many ex husbands) we had time to take a few photos from the deck before Thomson Dream sailed overnight to Alicante…our last port before we head to Palma, Majorca for our flight home 😦

Gibraltar 1

Gibraltar Sepia

Sarah & i had a fantastic time in Gibraltar and it was great to have a guide from my home town to share her great accent with us.

Creating these blog posts documenting each day of our trip has been such a blessing for Sarah & i, especially knowing that you’ve been right here with us along the way! 🙂  They leave us with such lovely memories every time we read back through them.

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 15 & 16 ~ My Brain Wave

Sea logo

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 After a fantastic 2 days in the Azores we found this new folded towel creature on our table. “How do they do that” i said just staring and touching it?  

Swan

“Yeah i know” said Sarah “it’s amazing how they get the towels to do that and stay in position”. 

Just then i had a brain wave…to show our appreciation for the great work our cabin steward has shown us, i will show our gratitude with a model of my own!!! 🙂 

I thought rather than using a towel i will go larger and use the whole bed, quilt, pillows and towels! As the towels are blue…they can be the sea. The quilt can be the Thomson Dream and the pillows can be the big pointy thingy on top! 🙂 

Having never attempted anything like this before, i knew it would be the thought that counts. I said to Sarah “You’re going to have to wait outside until i’ve finished, then you can open the door and see it as the cabin steward will see it”. 

Here Goes…..are you ready??? 

My Ship

 After Sarah stopped laughing, she said “It’s massive! I didn’t know you were going to use the whole king size bed?!” I said “Well ships are big, and i didn’t want him to miss it”. She was actually impressed with my first ever attempt. lol. 🙂 

Now everything is set, it’s time to head out and relax with a nice latte at the Coffee Port. We also ventured out on deck being ensconced by blue sea.

At Sea after Azores

We did meet up with the cabin steward that night and Sarah asked him “Did you like the big ship Steve had made for you?” He said he didn’t see anything and just thought the bed was left in a mess!! 😦 

Well at least WE all know what happened, and i hope my model ship will put a smile on your face instead!! 🙂 

Just 2 days at sea now until we reach Gibraltar!! 🙂  

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 14 ~ Såo Miguel

Såo Miguel logo

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 After more wild blood sugar readings, lack of sleep and nasty coughs, i was really looking forward to our excursion today. If you remember on Day 7 Antigua we had 1 horse power each, but now i was hoping for lots more horse power in our 4×4! 🙂  

4×4 Tour of the Western Edge, Azores(Excursion details)

If you want to get up close to São Miguel’s dramatic landscapes, a 4×4 is the way to go. Once we’re all strapped in, we’ll head off to the west side of the island. Our first stop is Vista do Rei. Translated, it means ‘King’s View’ – it was named after King D Carlos, who visited back in 1901 – and the vista from here is definitely fit for a monarch. It pans across Sete Cidades, a massive volcanic crater that’s glazed in greenery and, at the right time of year, baby-blue hydrangeas. Covering its base is a huge lake, split in two by the small bridge that crosses it, plus a picturesque waterside village. We’ll drive along the Pequena ridge to Sete Cidades village, stopping at Lomba do Vasco viewpoint along the way for a few snaps. We’ll have some free time to explore the village, before continuing our drive past Blue and Empadadas lakes. We’ll have one last photo op – at Pico do Ferro viewpoint – before making our way back to the ship.

With the excursion details in mind(see above), we navigated down the gangway and onto the dock. We quickly realised that the day wasn’t going to be as hot as every other day on the cruise…as we were getting wet, and colder by the second! lol 🙂   

Our 4×4 driver and tour guide met us off the boat(which was fantastic) and helped us into our Land Rover. Back when i was a panel beater my friend used to race custom Land Rovers with monster V8’s, and as usual i was letting my imagination get ahead of me, especially when the driver cranked up the engine and it was the disappointing sound of a diesel tractor! 😦 Since i’ve been blind and i use my ears to see cars, the engine noises are all i focus on! Sarah is quick to remind me as we walk into town back in Epsom that she really doesn’t want me to comment on every engine that drives by! lol, but she did acknowledge my disappointment with a gentle stroke on my arm. 🙂  

Sarah leaning and the 4x4

⇧ Sarah and the 4×4 ⇧

Our first stop was King’s View which was really high upon the island, as we stopped and the driver asked us to wait in the car as it was chucking it down with rain, and the fog/mist was like a blankett covering all of the beautiful landscapes he had brought us to see, he left to talk the the other driver in the Toyota Land cruiser behind. He came back, apologised and said “We will try and head as low as we can to see if we can go under the fog/mist and see if it’s any clearer down there. But we have a few minutes here so if you want to get out in the rain, you can”. 

A landscape covered in rain, fog and mist

⇧ King’s View ⇧

 On a clear day there is a stunning volcanic crater with 2 lakes, 1 is blue and 1 is green! There were alot of disappointed sighs etc and some people were complaining…i just thought welcome to my world, and you can still see more than me even with the fog. lol 🙂 I almost felt equal for the first time on an excursion. 🙂 

We then headed off on a drive to the lowest point of the island which was beautiful and when we got to walk around by the river and volcanic hills it was like stepping onto the film set of Jurassic park.

The fog did lift a little and the rain slowed down enough for us to enjoy 15 minutes in this fantastic place. 

A black and white photo of a lake in Sao Miguel

A path running from right to left through grass fields alined with trees

Me looking Terrified in front of the river with volcanic rocks behind

When i found this photo which Sarah had taken, we both started laughing and thought this was probably the best photo of me ever! 🙂  Don’t ask me what i was up to, i can only imagine that i heard a T-Rex or a volcano erupt!! 🙂 

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any great captions to add to this photo??!! I look forward to hearing what you come up with! 🙂 

A 4x4 parked in front of a huge volcano and river

⇧ This place really does remind me of Jurassic Park ⇧   

View of Sao Miguel river from a grass bank with volcanic rocks behind

Looking through the trees atSao Miguel

We all climbed aboard our 4×4 and headed of to a small village to stop and have another rest and look around. On the way Sarah saw a huge black Bull chasing a local who was running for his life right close to the Land Rover…Crazy! Lol. We stopped at a small cafe where the driver(to Sarah’s delight) started talking about the locally made Portuguese custard tarts. I said “No way, they’re Sarah’s favourites, and we have never had a locally made one before! It will be like when i had a slice of Pizza in Pisa!” 🙂 As usual… no body laughed so i asked “Do they sell them in this Cafe?”If they do could you get 3 and have one yourself!” He said “yeah sure” and we sat and enjoyed this special food moment! 🙂

Most of the people stayed in the cafe as it was raining outside, but Sarah & i were already soaked so didn’t mind a little more rain to try and see as many things as possible in this tiny village.

Sarah in Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel Village

Sao Miguel church through the trees

We were now coming to the end of our fantastic 4×4 drive, but not before he drove us off road and up some really steep rocky terrain, Yay!! 🙂 We were rocking side to side and bouncing up and down, i said “Yeah this is more like it!”. We then stopped and the driver who had his window down as all the windows were steaming up from our drenched clothes…picked up  a small piece of  Sphagnum moss from the towering hillside. As usual i was the only one who didn’t know what it is(i blame going to the worst school in Derbyshire) He then squose it and we were all amazed by how much water was running out of something so small, fantastic! 🙂  

Just one more stop and it was to see a tunnel drilled through the mountain that goes out to the sea so that the rain water does not flood the volcanic crater when there is, from time to time heavy rainfall on the island.

The tunnel is around 80 years old and almost 2 kilometers long and it´s actually large enough to walk through and that is also safe enough as long as you don´t go during heavy rainfall. As you know it was raining but that’s not enough to stop Super Sarah having a look! 🙂  

Sarah and the tunnel

Back on the ship…

Having got changed out of our wet clothes, we decided to try and get a bite to eat at the buffet restaurant on deck 9. We sat down with an assortment of food and enjoyed talking about what we’d just experienced. We were about half way through when Alan Davidson(the piano entertainer) came and sat down with us. He had seen us the day before in Horta taking photos and had admired my big Nikon DSLR. Sarah said “Yeah it’s a nice camera and Steve gets some lovely photos even though he’s blind”. “Wow” said Alan “I didn’t realise”. I never know if that’s a compliment or not? 🙂 He continued “Back home in Scotland i visit a blind friend and help him with life skills etc, and telling him(using a clock face) where his food is on his plate”. I said “Fantastic, Sarah has just done that with me which is why i’m eating more confidently(and a lot less messy) as normal”. 

Sarah mentioned that she hadn’t got chance to see much of the town nearest to the dock and we still have a couple of hours left before we sail away. Alan kindly replied “I’ll take you guys, there is a bus on the dock that goes into town, and i can guide you and make sure you get back safely too”. “Fantastic, let’s go” Sarah and i replied. 🙂 

Sao Miguel Church

We found the market place overlooked by this Cathedral where Me, Sarah & Alan stopped to find a table out of the rain to have coffee’s and a chat. Alan was also a keen photographer and he found a local who took a few photos of the 3 of us, but sadly i havn’t managed to get the photos of Alan yet, maybe one day i’ll get to see them and share them with you. 🙂 

Back on board again Thomson Dream sailed away as Sarah and i listened to Alan with our favourite cocktails. Sarahs is a Mojito and mine is a Bailey’s Banana Colada! 🙂

Alan Pianoman

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 13 ~ Horta, Azores

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welcome to Horta!!! 🙂 

Sarah is sat on a wall on the right with her arms stretched out while the cruise ship is facing us on the left

⇧ Sarah welcoming you all to Horta! ⇧

Wow…what an adventurous Atlantic crossing! Both Sarah and i didn’t expect that roller coaster journey. But it was great to be off the ship and once we mastered walking on land that doesn’t move constantly, we headed out to see what we could find. 🙂 

We couldn’t book an excursion in Horta as they were all sold out, but we were first taken aback with the stunning bay, and the beautiful sea front with it’s incredibly ornate pavement.

Horta Marina 2

A sailing boat in the lower lft of the bay while the hills in the background dominate the reast of the image

White buildings line the left of the pavement and road filling the whole image

Horta designed pavements

Sarah leaning on a palm tree on the right with the Horta marina and bay filling the rest of the image

After following the pavement around the sea front we came to what we thought was the end of the bay…but as we were going to turn back Sarah saw a steep alleyway  between some buildings which really didn’t look inviting, but she was determined not to miss anything while we were here. And after what she’s just been through the last 5 days i wasn’t going to say no! 🙂 

 The narrow path became really steep but we finally reached the top. There were high buildings either side of s and i could hear what i thought were Portuguese gangsters. I said “Do you think we should turn back and head back?” Sarah said “No we’ve made it this far and it’s downhill from here, i think i can see the end of the path and it looks like it opens out again” “Ok” i said nervously and we pushed on.

As usual Sarah was dead right! The path ended and we were treated with a stunning view of the bay on the other side of the island! 🙂 

We both were silenced and stood in awe as we tried to take in more of God’s beautiful creation. No matter how bad the last few days were Sarah said “Wow, this was worth the wait!” God never fails to show up and when he does we are always left speechless. 🙂  

Warning…one of Sarah’s breathtaking panoramas…

Panoramic view of Horta bay

Sarah in Awe at Horta bay

Me stood on the left with volcanic rock beach all around and a view of the bay

Volcanic rock at Horta bay

Horta hillside with lots of scattered houses

the houses on Horta hill with a massive tree towering over all of them

Beautiful mossy green gill with a house/centre inbedded within

 We were stood for around 10 minutes when 2 people approached us from our left, the woman said “We’ve been all around here and there is nothing worth seeing here! So were going over the other side to see if we can find anything worth seeing over there!” They walked on past us before we could even say hello. I was stunned, then said to Sarah “I can’t see that much but i still know how beautiful this place is!! They must be in a different dimention to us”. Sarah chuckled and quickly ran over to check out all of the amazing black sand! 🙂

We stayed here for about 20 minutes and went over to our left to explore the green hills! 

Sarah running and enjoying freedom on the volcanic beach all on her own!

Sarah walking around Horta hill

Sarah relaxing on Horta hill

Getting towards the top of the first hill, we stopped to take in the bay from a different viewing point! 🙂 

Sarah says hi

Sarah says a big hello to all of you who are still with us on our adventure!! 🙂

Horta Sepia

On the other side of the green hills another bay opened out for us…Wow this place is beautiful and just keeps giving! 🙂 

We thought if we stayed with the sea on our right we would eventually find our way back to the ship…we did but before we headed back on board we stopped to look in the local shops, and stop for a well deserved drink.

Also on the way back we found these interesting photos and paintings along the sea front, by this time it was getting late in the afternoon so we didn’t have much time left in this lovely place.

Sarah at Horta marina

Sarah had just enough time for one more pose! lol 🙂 

Sarah and the ship

We’ve had a lovely day in Horta and we hope you’ve enjoyed it too?

I’m just sorry it’s took me almost a year to continue our crazy adventure on this Transatlantic Cruse. I’m going to finish it this week, as we’ve just got back from another cruise i want to share with you “Mayan Treasures”. But i knew i had to finish this one first! Sorry once again but i’m back now, and thanks for being so patient with me!! 🙂 

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My 41st Birthday, Yay!!! :)

A portrait photo of me wearing Oakley Bat Wolf sunglasses and my hair braided

⇧ Portrait of me in Montego Bay, Jamaica ⇧ 

Today i’m celebrating my 41st Birthday, Yay!!! If you’ve already read my “About Steve” page you’ll know i should’ve died when i was 25….but God in His endless Mercy and Grace gave me a second chance. Now i thank God for every year and Sarah & i try to go away in April for our Birthdays to capture and enjoy part of His amazing creation! 🙂 

Also…I thank God everyday for Sarah as i know i don’t deserve her, but God never seems to stop expressing His love. My heart overflows with love for her. She has encouraged, inspired and loves me in spite of all my faults, she is the sunshine that warms me along my journey. I really don’t have the words to fully express how blessed i am to have my best friend as my wife to cherish and share every moment of this amazing life! 

We have just returned from Jamaica, Honduras & Mexico so i have a few photos to edit…but as soon as i get them ready i’ll do a day by day account like my other adventures

I must appologise to you all for not quite finishing my last tour posts for Azores and Spain…but i’ve got the photos sorted and ready to post. Sorry for any overlap from this holiday and last holiday, i hope you enjoy! 🙂 

My Holiday Adventures:

Tuscany Tour

Transatlantic Tour 

Stephen Salmon ~ Absent From The Body & Present With The Lord

Photo of Stephen Salmon  1

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2 Corinthians 5:6-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Meet Stephen…

This post is to celebrate the life of “Brother in Christ” Stephen Salmon (aged 33). His funeral is today so could you please pray for family and friends and all who are affected by his passing.

First i’d like you to meet Stephen as he describes in this video testimony how God pulled him from the streets of Tenerife. Stephen was homeless, addicted to all kinds of drugs and alcohol, and yet God showed him a glimpse of heaven and his new eternal home with Jesus.

 

I saw Stephen’s testimony for the first time whilst looking through the Epsom Baptist Church’s Facebook page which Stephen (and his lovely wife Claire) posted on regularly. Afterwards i shouted Sarah to come and watch as his was the first proper northern accent i’d heard since becoming a Christian, and after moving down to Surrey his voice was like a breath of fresh air, and he somehow made God so personal!

Sarah and i were invited by Ben (our close Brother in Christ, after Ben had visited our church where Sarah & i played in the evening service. We got chatting and he mentioned they were needing a drummer for the morning Worship band. I said we weren’t currently attending a morning service, but i also play the drums…so if you can use me then i’ll come !

The Spirit within…

I still remember the first time i met Stephen, it was at a Sunday morning service and once i heard his accent i nudged Sarah and said “Sarah, that’s the man from the testimony video”. I can’t accurately describe the warmth oozing from him, but the Spirit within him just made you smile. 🙂

The term “Full of beans” always springs to mind when thinking of his character. This brother was “Full On” for God and his hunger for the Word, passion and empathy for the homeless touched so many lives including my own.

As i write this (and thinking of his age) the Metallica lyric “The brightest flame burns quickest” just popped into my head. 

Also (like all of us) this brother was not perfect. We all struggle to mortify the flesh as our body of sin makes war against the Holy Spirit in our journey of Sanctification. I thank God for saving Stephen and giving him the blessed hope we in Christ all look forward to. And i thank God that i got to meet Stephen who not only inspired me…but he encouraged me too. 🙂

Last year i posted one of Stephen’s quotes on iChristian and i’d like to share it again…

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Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sarah was impatient, Elijah was depressed, Moses stuttered, Zaccheus was short, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead …..

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the CALLED|

Like, Comment or Reblog  this if you know you are NOT perfect, but that God is working in your life anyway…

Stephen Salmon (Brother in Christ)

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I’d like to finish with a message taken from his Facebook timeline… 

Amanda McCrea: See you heaven Stephen. You touched so many lives in life and on Facebook. You used social media as a means to inspire and uplift others. A brother in Christ and a wonderful testimony to how God can transform a life. A true servant heart. My condolences to your loved ones. May God comfort you all at this sad time. Love and prayers. Amanda.

Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 10,11 & 12 ~ Relaxin, Reflectin & Coffin!!

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Sarah & i were feeling really run down, tired and a little concerned about what the rest of our dream holiday had in store for us. But now we had a few days at sea, so we decided to get out there and enjoy the time we had left. 🙂 

Sarah looking out to sea

⇧ Sarah relaxing and reflecting ⇧

During our time at sea, Sarah & i loved standing and looking out over the vast ocean. It seemed to put perspective on how majestic and awesome our God is. Also how small we were in comparison and yet he loves each one of us…amazing! 🙂 

Shopping… 

Handbags on ship

There’s nothing like being surrounded by handbags to put a smile on Sarah’s face! 🙂 

Of all the places…i never thought i’d be in a handbag store, on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. But Sarah seems to find these shops wherever we go… and if it helps her relax, i’ll be right there with her! 🙂 

Another fave spot…

Sarah on deck

Each day we’d find our way up to this spot and just look out over the pool deck and take in the full panoramic view of blue. There was always a live band playing, giving a great atmosphere and a hot-plate thingy where i could get a fresh burger! Mmmm 🙂 

Hair salon…

Hair salon

After Sarahs last trip to the hair salon she was really pleased with the way the stylist had cut and styled her hair around her eye…. but the hospital adventure had kind of ruined it. So i thought she might like to relax and get it done again. Whilst waiting in the waiting room i took this shot through the window ….That’s the best view i’ve ever seen from a hair salon! 🙂 

The evening restaurants…

So far i havn’t said much about our evening meals. For the first few days we really struggled with the buffet restaurants, as the food was placed in big trays under a glass cover with really long fork/tongs to pick up the food. Sarah had no idea what she was picking up as it was just too far away for her to focus and the waiters didn’t understand we couldn’t see properly, which caused a few problems!

At home we try to stay away from self service/buffet style places …not because we are too snooty, lol …but because we simply can’t find anything e.g plates, food, cutlery, where to pay, which causes too much stress and makes us wish we hadn’t gone out at all! 

After a few days we decided to try the “Orion Restaurant” which was waiter service. On entrance the waiter asked if we’d like to share a table or sit by yourselves. Sarah said “Sharing is fine with us” (I thought is it really… 😦 The waiter then escorted us to an empty 8 seater table. After he passed us our menus (which we had no chance of reading) our table soon filled up with people. After friendly hello’s Sarah said to the lady next to her “I don’t want to be a nuisance…but we are both registered blind and so can’t read the menus. Would you be able to read it to us?” After the confused look on all of their faces (my imagination from the body language) the lady said “Of course, but i’d never have guessed that either of you had sight problems”. (My thought was “You need to be on this side of my eyes to understand the problem :(“) After we’d heard the menu, Sarah whispered “This works perfectly for us…we get the menu read out, and we get to meet lots of different lovely people” 🙂 

Shortly after…we heard the people sitting opposite us say “Did you hear the “Code Alpha” last night?” The others replied “Yes we did, it woke us up…it was after 1am!!” “Yeah i know and there was no need to call it around the whole ship”.

I said “Sorry…that was us.”   “It was you two! what happened?” Sarah showed her bruised and bandaged wrists (from where the drips had been attached) and explained everything that happened. We heard this same complaint for the next few evenings…. and even some different, elaborate explanations of what had happened (even one story where Sarah was said to have died and been taken off the boat by helicopter in a silver bullet coffin????.)  

We also heard that quite a few people had complained to reception about the 1am code alpha (because they thought it was a call to abandon ship) and how they felt they shouldn’t have been disturbed in the middle of the night!!

The Cough…

If you can remember…on Day 8 there were a couple of people in the hospital waiting room with deep growly coughs. Well today…Sarah’s got it too !! 😦 This deep booming growly cough (reminds me of the Rockford Fosgate subs in the boot of my old custom Nova) is giving Sarah lots of  chest pain, a sore throat and a pounding head. We’ve noticed the unique sound of this cough around the ship as we’ve been exploring! ….As if Sarah didn’t have enough on her plate with no sleep, uncontrollable blood sugar, one eye closed and exhaustion…she now has this nasty cough 😦

Keep smiling… 🙂 

I have no idea how she does it. But no matter what’s going on…Sarah has  a lovely beaming/contagious smile on her face that blesses all who see her 🙂  

Sarah reflection

 The Azores…

After about 4 (or is it 5?) sleepless nights (i’ve lost count) we were looking forwards to arriving at the Azores. Sarah was especially looking forwards to getting off the ship and onto solid ground and having the freedom to explore another fantastic island! 🙂  

Yippee land ahoy!!!

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The Finish Line

As a blind gamer, i was excited to be recommended(by my brother) a brand new racing game called “Project Cars” for the PS4. I’m able to attempt to play a few racing games, If they include Grand Prix tracks, i can often remember each corner from my sighted gaming days, playing F1 97 etc. 

When i sat down to play for 15 minutes last night, i was surprised to be taught a lesson on being over zealous, while lacking wisdom! 🙂

A close up photo of the amazing Ford Capri Touring Car

⇧ Screenshot of my 1980 Capri (Group 5 – Team Zakspeed) ⇧ 

I chose the rather extreme Capri to drive and chose a familiar track. After leaving the pits i span off on nearly every corner as my tyres were cold and not up to race temperatures. An influx of thoughts filled my mind,….

Over Zealous…

It reminded me of when i first became a Christian and first had revelation of the Truth when reading the Bible. I couldn’t believe what i was reading, and how it described me…yes me! I then did what normally happens, and become over zealous like a screaming twin turbo engine and had to tell everyone, and point out the right and wrongs with everything and everyone around me! 

I was making a lot of noise and using a lot of power and energy,  but was lacking something vital, i failed to slowly warm up the tyres of Godly Wisdom!

As we mature, and grow in step with the Holy Spirit, we are given all we need to finish the race. And when we get the balance right, we can stay on track until the end, and if our tyres stay hot, even the storms won’t be able to slow us down! 🙂

Making Doughnuts…

photo of a racing sierra cosworth with smoking tyres doing doughnuts at Donington race track

⇧ Screenshot of my 1988 Sierra RS500 Cosworth (Group A) ⇧ 

After selecting “Donington”, my home town track in Derby, i decided to take the Sierra Cosworth for a ride. I stopped to make some doughnuts, and thought “Here we go again, all that power and energy…and i’m just going round in circles”.

I want to thank God for not leaving us in the pits! But instead He empowers  instructs and steers us towards the finish line! 🙂

Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 6 ~ Basseterre, St Kitts

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Our excursion today “St Kitts Scenic Railway” didn’t start until 11am, so we had a more relaxed breakfast at Lido’s on Deck 9. Then another lovely coffee at the Coffee Port on Deck 8. Now we had sustenance, it was down to Deck 4 and off the ship to enjoy what today had in store for us?! 🙂    

Welcome to St Kitts… 

Once an illustrious sugar colony, it now focusses its efforts on being a tropical paradise. A seductive blend of blonde sandss, and duck egg blue seas. 

Once we slowly navigated down the gangway steps, we looked up to see a view of the beautiful bay. 

The Caribbean never failed to surprise us, even when we thought we had seen the most beautiful places, the next place would leave us awe-struck with it’s breathtaking landscapes! 

A panorama taken from the dock pier overlooking the amazing span of volcano hills with the vivid blu sea in front

⇧ Sarah’s Panorama of St Kitts ⇧

 

As i was taking a photo of Sarah, a nice lady came over and asked if we would like her to take one of us both together? “Oh yes please, that would be so kind of you”. The photo she took is probably my fave photo of the trip! 🙂 

Me on the left in my bright orange shirt hugging Sarah on the right with the beautiful panorama of volcanic hills and blue sea behind us

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧

Showing my excitement, and love for the Caribbean. Sarah chose(and bought) me an amazingly bright and colourful Caribbean shirt, 🙂

Excursion Details – St Kitts Scenic Railway…

First up, board a tour bus for a drive along the south coast. Important landmarks lie around every corner here.

Second, hop on a train at the “Needs-Must” station, and St Kitts light railway takes you on a 3 hour tour of the islands best bits. You’ll chug over ravines over 300 feet deep, circle mount Liamuga volcano, take a sneak peak at the islands black sand beaches, and soak up the jaw dropping views over lush sugar cain fields,

The Bus…

Another soothing air conditioned bus ride. Our tour guide was fantastic, and told us all about the Economy, history(some grusome battles), and the monkeys! She said “Around 100,000 monkeys live in the tree covered hills, and they steal our fruit etc. So if you want to take one with you, it will help us greatly!”.

View from the bus at St Kitts

⇧ A view from the bus window ⇧ 

The Train…

We got off the bus at the “Needs-Must” station. The hot sun felt lovely as we waited for the train. We had no idea what to expect, and looking at the small narrow train tracks, we expected a little open top fun train, or something like. 

Then…this large double decker monster pulled up. “Wow, i didn’t expect that! It’s really tall, and doesn’t look wide enough to take the height”. I said as we climbed the stairs to the upper deck of the 1st carriage. “Yes! We get to sit at the front too! Unbelievable”.

As the train pulled away, the tour guide told us that the train will sway(strongly) side to side, so it’s best to stay seated, but if you want to stand then keep hold of the rail above the seats. She wasn’t joking!! It was the craziest train i’d ever been on, and i thought there is no way i can take photos whilst being violently thrown around! 

But…as usual, i didn’t let that stop me! My Nikkor lens has VR(Vibration Reduction) on it, so i’ll test it out. I really didn’t expect to have any photos from this amazing, unforgettable train ride, but was surprised when a few turned out not too blurry!  

We started off travelling through vivid green fields flanked by volcanos.

St Kitts 1

St Kitts 2

Then just as a lady asked us if we wanted a “Pina Colada”, we saw the first of many beautiful curved bays, with the sea crashing into the shore.

St Kitts 3

Sarah & i just kept saying “Wow, this is Amazing! How did we get here, it’s like a dream”. The beautiful hot sun shining down, a lovely cool breeze flowing through the train, and a Pina Colada in hand. Some of my fave things are Coconut, Banana and Pineapple, and this drink had them all! Mmmmm. 🙂  

St Kitts Train

Then as the train curled its way through the lush landscape, a 3 part harmony choir started singing. The ladies would come up to our deck and sing some beautiful songs as part of the trip. The voices were fantastic, and brought even more sunshine to this incredible journey. 🙂 

As the singers finished, we heard a horn next to us, so we all started waving at the people on the fun bus! 🙂 

St Kitts Bus

We were then treated to another stunning bay!

St Kitts 7

St Kitts 6

St Kitts 5

St Kitts 4

After passing through more sugarcane fields, the lady brought us a piece of sugarcane with spices. Wow, it was the nicest sweet thing i’d ever tasted! I always talk about this sugarcane everywhere i go.

Sarah St Kitts Train

⇧ Sarah sat at the front of the train! ⇧  

St Kitts Volcano

The tour guide then said “On your left you will make out the bridge we will be travelling over shortly”. I heard Sarah say “No way, the train isn’t going to make it over that, it looks too small and rickety. Steve, if you could see it, you’d be saying the same!!”. 

Train Bridge 1

Train bridge 2

Yes i would! After seeing this photo, i could tell exactly why Sarah was getting worried! 🙂

After the bridge, we travelled back towards the end of the journey. But not before we were blessed, by what is now my favourite church building.

St Kitts Church

This fantastic train ride came to an end back at “Needs-Must” station, where the bus was ready to take us back to the ship. But before we boarded, we still had a short time to look around the shops at the dock.

I bought another Caribbean shirt(blue one) so i could keep up with the vibrant colours surrounding us from all angles! Sarah even plaited my hair too! 🙂     

My Platt  Blue Caribbean Shirt

⇧ My quiet blue shirt ⇧ 

 Tomorrow will be our last Caribbean island, before we are at sea for 5 days crossing the atlantic for the Azores. 

We’ve booked a horse ride across the beach etc, so i’m a little nervous. But at least the horse isn’t blind(i hope) and will lead the way! Either way, i’m sure it’ll be another unforgettable experience! This holiday has been full of them! 🙂 

 Our Route 4 2day…

This evening Thomson Dream travels to St Johns, Antigua. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 61 nautical miles, at an average speed of 4 knots.

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 3 ~ La Romana, Dominican Republic

La Romana

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Sarah & i were excited to arrive at La Romana, Dominican Republic, and we were really looking forwards to our shore excursion. After applying strong suntan lotion, deet bands to our wrists and ankles and finishing off with our hats, we went to see if we could find where the excursion actually starts! 

Using my knees as suspention, i slowly navigated down the treacherous gangway steps until i reached land. yay! The hot sun was shining, I could hear a local band playing, and then i heard Jo’s voice, she is part of the excursion team. We homed in on her voice and she said that she was coming on the same excursion so we could wait for her and she’ll take us to the coach. Fantastic, we can now relax! 🙂

Sarah s Caribbean Outfit

Sarah’s lovely Caribbean outfit! 🙂 ⇧ 

After a short coach trip, and hearing about the history of the island by the tour guide, we arrived at Casa de Campo,

Roman-styled 5,000-seat amphitheater…

a photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater left view

Amphitheater centre view

Photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater right view

Sarah and the steps

Sarah relaxing in the sun, sat on the amazing steps. ⇧ 

Me at the amphitheater

My new hat kept my head nice and cool, thanks Suzanne ⇧

 After briefly taking in this fantastic amphitheater, it was a short walk to the lovely fountain.

Sarah fountain

Sarah fountain 2

I had no idea that Sarah had stopped sitting down and was now walking towards me, but it’s made a lovely photo! lol. 🙂 

 Another short walk around this beautiful place until we reached the church and river.

St. Stanislaus Church… 

Church Dominican Republic

Me walking in front of the   Church

Me walking around wondering what to shoot next! ⇧  

Whilst looking at the stunning church, at my 6 o’ clock was the stunning Chavón River. What a beautiful place, and such a blessing to be able to be here.

 The Chavón River… 

Sarah at the Chavón River

Chavón River Chavón River 2

Just as i finished taking this photo, Sarah said “quick, take a photo of those ladies wearing the beautiful red dresses”. I span round and said “Where are they?” They were about 10 feet directly in front of me(i told you i was blind! lol). But just then they stood either side of Sarah and posed for the photo…

Sarah and the red dresses

Sarah and the red dresses close u

Some of you more experienced travellers will probably know what i’m about to say?!!

After the photo the ladies said “Tip…tip”, i was about to say “No, it’s ok you don’t need to tip me for the photo, i’m not that good!”. But then as we realised it was they who wanted a tip for posing for the shot, Jo(our Thomson excursion leader) quickly gave them a tip as we had no change at all. That was a lesson learned for Sarah & i, and we will be a little more discerning next time! I still think it was worth the mix up as the photos are lovely. 🙂 

Chavón River 3

At the bottom left of the photo above…you can just make out the paddle boat. That’s where we are heading next! 🙂 

 Paddle Boats & Palm Trees…

Paddle boats and palm trees

Rambo river

Me on paddle boat

 ⇧ Me reflecting on God’s beautiful creation ⇧ 

Sarah paddle boat

 ⇧ Sarah feeling relaxed in the sun ⇧ 

Rambo river 2

Sarah on paddle boat

The whole excursion was amazing. I’ve never seen such vibrant colours, breathtaking scenery and a chance to travel along the “Rambo River”. 

IMG 3249

Back on-board the ship…

We went straight to the ice cold water machine, and then out on deck to get some last shots before we sailed away. 

Dominican Republic 2

Dominican Republic 1

Sarah Portrait on board

 Wow,what a day! The south east corner of the Dominican Republic. was labelled “The fairest land under heaven” by Columbus. I don’t disasociate myself from his opinion!! 🙂 

 Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon the Thomson Dream sails to Road Town, Tortola. We’ll arrive tomorrow afternoon having travelled 277 nautical miles, at an average speed of 14 knots. 

 ⇍ Previous Day – Next Day ⇏

🌴 Day Navigator 🌴

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11 – 12 – 13 – 14 – 15 – 16 – 17 – 18 – 19

Conversation In The Womb

Baby 1: And you, you believe in life after birth?

Baby 2: Absolutely. It’s obvious that life after birth exists. We are here to become stronger and to get ready for whatever awaits us next.

Baby 1: This is absurd. There is nothing after birth! What would life look like outside the womb!

Baby 2: Well, there are many stories about the other side. I’ve heard there is a blaze of light there, an intense and profound feeling of joy with deep emotions, thousands of things to live for… For example, I’ve heard that we’ll eat with our mouth there.

Baby 1: That’s silly. We have an umbilical cord and that is how we eat. Everyone knows that we don’t use our mouth to eat! And, on top of that, no one has ever come back from the other world. Those stories are all coming from naive people. Life just ends at birth. Period. That’s the way it is and we must accept it.

Baby 2: Alright, then allow me to think differently. That’s for sure, I have no idea what life after birth looks like, and I can’t prove anything to you. But I like to believe that in the next world, we’ll be able to see our mother and that she will take care of us.

Baby 1: “Mother”? You mean that you believe in “Mother”? Oh! So where is she?

Baby 2: Everywhere, don’t you see it! She is everywhere, all around us. We are part of her and it’s thanks to her that we are living right now. Without her, we wouldn’t be here.

Baby 1: This is ridiculous! I’ve never seen any mother so it’s obvious that she doesn’t exist.

Baby 2: I don’t agree. That’s your way of seeing things. Because sometimes when everything quiets down a little bit, we can hear her sing. We can feel her hugging our world! I’m pretty sure that our life will start after birth.

Gordon Giltrap At Sunbury Cricket Club

Sarah & i were blessed last Friday evening, when Brother in Christ (and guitar extraordinaire) Phil phoned me to say “would you like to go to a Gordon Giltrap gig tonight at Sunbury Cricket Club ?” I said “Who??”. Phil said “He’s an old school finger style instrumentalist, you’d both really like his style”. He wasn’t wrong…

It was a intimate setting and Phil also found the best seats in the house right on the front row!!

Sarah also took some fantastic photos with her iPhone!

Gordon Giltrap 2

Gordon Giltrap 3

Gordon Giltrap 4

Gordon Giltrap 5

It was a lovely evening, and Gordon also played his version of “Angie” by Bert Jansch (see video below). I said to Sarah “No way, this is the song your Dad plays when he comes to visit! And he is teaching it to Alfie (my brother in law) who also has a Vintage acoustic. 🙂

Tuscany Tour: Day 8

Up bright and early, packed and ready to go (well we’d like to stay another week) we found the right bus to Pisa (phew) and got our favourite seats right at the front, Yes! 🙂

Bus ride to Pisa

Arriving at Pisa airport, Francesca (our assistance person) was great. She sorted everything out, then kindly took this photo of Sarah & i in front of the plane as we were first on-board again! 🙂

Sarah and i at Pisa airport

The takeoff was stupendous! I love the acceleration, and i was just as excited throughout the whole journey! The Captain said “We are at 28,000ft, doing 480mph and its -52degrees outside” Fantastic! 🙂

Sun from the airplane

I think God just smiled at me! 🙂

Begin Tour

Tuscany Tour: Day 7

Sarah & i started our final full day with the legendary amazing breakfast, then headed out to make the most of our last full day in this beautiful city.

Our plan today was to head East, then travel anti-clockwise until we reach our favourite place (South, by the river Arno) to try and take photos of things we may have missed so far, or from angles different from the norm. Right let’s Go!

East…

Church Tower

Wow, another bell tower, how did i miss this! 

a black and white photo of a church

Building wit hroof statues

Pinocchio Workshop

Santa Croce black

North…

Heading North of our hotel, we stopped once again to gaze upon the stunning architecture of the Florence Cathedral and the Palazzo Medici Ricardi…

Christmas Cathedral

Florence Cathedral Bell Tower

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches

West…

As we were heading west, i found another statue, but thought i’d take it from a random angle! 🙂

Statue in North Florence

Florence side street building

Sarah found a shop with sunflowers (her favourite flowers)…

Sunflower shop

Firenze archway

South…

Gold anyone!! 🙂

Florentine Gold

Corridor Windows

Sarah by the river
 
After spending a while around the river, we headed to probably the most famous and popular square (Piazza della Signoria) to capture some more statues! 🙂
 
Me taking photo with iPhone
 
I wasn’t one of the statues, lol. But i was being very still! 
 
Sarah  the Medici Lion
 

Sarah  the Medici Lion 2

 

Firenze Statue 1

 
Firenze Statue 2
 
Jesus
 
Now for probably the most famous statue of all…Michelangelo’s David. Everyone was crowding round and getting the obvious and boring shot of David. So i decided to get a different angle! 🙂
  
Davidov
 
Both Sarah and i had our own favourite statues. I’ll start with Sarah’s.
 
Sarah’s favourite is “Perseus with the Head of Medusa”.
 
Medusa s Head
 
My favourite is of Cosimo Medici on his horse…
 
Medici horse rider  Sky fx
 
Do you have a favourite statue??
 
For the final evening we had booked one of only 7 tables at the amazing “Santa Elisabetta” restaurant in the old 6th century tower at our hotel.
 

Sarah at Santa Elisabetta

 
I didn’t take anymore photos as i was too excited, and i forgot! 🙂
The experience was sublime. Everything was fantastic and it’ll be a meal we’ll never forget!  
 
We then had a final walk out to see the Florence Cathedral at night, it really stood out against the dark night.
 

Florence Cathedral at night

 
Florence Cathedral by night 2
 
Hope you’ve enjoyed being on our little tour today around Florence?!
 
We have been so blessed this week, not only to be here in this stunning city that’s so rich in history. But being part of an exhibition in the Medici palace still leaves me speechless. 
 
Who’d of thought that after being registered blind 14 years ago, i’d be here in a photography exhibition?!! Thank you Lord for always surprising me, and giving me a gift i just can’t explain! 

Tuscany Tour: Day 6 – The Exhibition 2

Oh did i mention…. i’m actually in Italy,Yay!! 

Map of Europe with a blue dot on Italy

Well i’m not actually in Italy as i write this, i’m at home on my iMac! But Sarah kept on catching me opening the maps app and taking a screenshot of our location!

Today we thought we’d head south towards the river, then curl round and end up North of the hotel at the Palazzo Medici Riccardi to see if last night really was a dream.

The Vasari Corridor….

Sarah owning the Vasari Corridor

Sarah & i really liked the “Vasari Corridor”, but now Sarah won’t let me through as i am a commoner, lol. Eventually i managed to negotiate a deal, but it meant looking round more shops! 🙂

Sarah s Gold

Sarah looking fluent in Florin! (Italian gold coin)  

Sarah at Tiffany s

Sarah at Tiffany’s! 🙂

Sarah by the River Arno

After a while we decided to rest a little and get refreshed ready for more exciting touring. Mmmmmm coffee and cake! 🙂 

Cappuccino   Cake

Wow, now that was fantastic! Anyway better get back to it! 🙂 

It wasn’t long before Sarah found another friend, in the form of a statue. 

Sarah and the boar

As we walked past the amazing Florence Cathedral, Sarah noticed and got excited that there was now a Christmas tree & nativity scene.

Me waving at duomo

The Nativity

After being wowed, we took lots of photos to try and get one good enough to possibly make Christmas cards for loved ones.

Now on to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi…

stood in the centre of the road with the palazzo medici riccardi on the left and a bus with its streaming light reflecting in the wet road

We arrived at the palace (left in photo above) and found the exhibition, yay i didn’t dream it! 🙂

As the majority of the artwork displayed was created by blind & partially sighted people, it was really tactile so we got to touch the creations. I’m so used to going to museums etc and not being able to see or touch the art. Thanks artists! 🙂

Me viewing the art

Couple of people touching the art  Me touching the Tactile exhibits

As i mentioned yesterday (see Day 5) i was 1 of 3 artists (still not used to being called that) from the UK who exhibited, so i’d like to introduce to you…Ann and her paintings…

Ann and her paintings

And Christina’s photos…

Christina s Works

After a long walk around looking and touching the art, we went out of the back exit where i found an archway, and a huge ring that we kept finding on the outside of buildings, i think for the horses.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi Rear

Horse Ring

We’d had another fantastic day in Florence, and if you remembered on Day 4, i’d topped the evening off with an amazing cherry topped cake…Well this evening it got better still…..

Bistecca alla fiorentina…..

Bistecca alla fiorentina

Just when you thought the evening couldn’t get any better…Sarah & i shared the amazing Florentine steak! We had been told by Grace from our favourite restaurant in the world (Sicily Restaurant) that we couldn’t leave without trying one. Wow, she was right. It was truly magnificent and everything we’d hoped for, although i think Sarah got arm ache from sawing the never ending extra thick meat!! 🙂

We’ve had such a memorable and unbelievable time in Italy, and as this was Thursday, we still had a full day Friday, before we headed home on Saturday. 

Hope to see you on Day 7, where we take more considered time to get photos of things we might of missed!!

⇍ Previous Day — Next Day ⇏

Tuscany Tour: Day 5 – The Exhibition

Well this is it, the actual reason we came, lol! I know i mentioned i only had my iPhone 5s & Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus to take photos, the main reason (apart from weight, lenses & tiny viewfinders) was the GPS map pins, i love them! 🙂

A satalite map of florence with red map pins scattered around showing where i'd taken photos

It was now Wednesday and it was time for the sun to make way for the rain. The hotel room even had it’s own umbrella with “Brunelleschi” as the logo, i like this hotel! The exhibition didn’t start until 4pm, so we decided to explore (now we knew where we were going after our fantastic walking tour) for a couple of hours with our new umbrella! 🙂

Me with umbrella in narrow streets

It turned out that the streets were much quieter which is great for us, so we could relax a little more too after a couple of hectic days. OOoooo another coffee shop! 🙂

Me and Coffee

 The Exhibition…..

We left the hotel with posh clothes on and fancy umbrella in hand and headed to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi hoping there actually was an exhibition even though we had still seen no signs at all, not even a hint that there’d be one.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Then we turned into the main entrance…..

Sarah said “Wow, now this is a lot of people, the posters are up all around us and look great, and it’s in the beautiful, main part of the palace”. I started to feel a little out of my depth all of a sudden.

Art Senses Entrance with the posters in the background behind people gathering

Crowds gathering with me in the background Art Senses Entrance 2

Sarah then found Ann, who has also travelled from England, UK (thats ⅔ of the UK representatives, lol) so i had a chat with her as i’d never met her before, she’s an enormously talented artist and has a few paintings in the exhibition. 

Me  Ann at Art Senses

We hadn’t noticed, but the crowd had started making their way to the large area in the centre where the president of the blind union was talking (in Italian) through a PA system. By the time we had arrived we were at the back wondering what was going on, and none of us were able to see anything (even the sighted ones) as we were just too far away. 

Then…..

Costanza, who organised the whole thing (with her husband) cut through the crowd, took my had and led me right to the front next to the president and a few of the other artists.

Me  Costanza at Art Senses

Then after about 5 minutes, she put the microphone into my hand and said “Speak one word”. 

Me on the mic at Art Senses

The place went silent, i could feel there were lots of people around, i had no idea if any of them spoke english. So i  said “ciao a tutti (Hello everyone), i’m Steve Rebus from London”. It seemed to go across well, but i was so terrified i didn’t have a clue what to say next. Constanza gently took the mic and passed it along, aaaghhh i could now relax a little. 🙂

After a few more people spoke we were given a glass of Prosecco and Costanza took me to see what they’d done with my photos. I had only sent the prints and they had mounted, framed and hung them beautifully, i can’t thank them enough, they looked great and very professional!

Me  Costanza with my Photos at Art Senses

It wasn’t long before people started crowding round as they viewed each of our works.

Crowd around my Photos at Art Senses

Everyone kept telling me how fantastic the photos were and that i was a “Provider of  inspiration” (now that’s a title, lol. , all i could say is thanks. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole evening. I never knew it was going to be this big, professionally done and not held in a dark attic somewhere! I’m not good at playing the artist game and kept thinking that i better start taking some better photos, lol. 🙂

After a couple of hours walking round the exhibition, i was amazed at the level of talent. I enjoyed the paintings (a lot were tactile too), sculptures and other photography, simply brilliant!

I’ll post more photos tomorrow when we returned to see if we were just dreaming! 

Me and the poster at Art Senses

Sarah got me to stand next to one of the Art Senses posters while holding the amazingly professional catalogue/book of all the works and artists bio etc. Costanza really worked hard to put everything together, and i thank God that she found Sarah to ask for blind artists from the UK.

I heard Art Senses are holding a similar exhibition next year in Rome!! I better get taking some photos, if i want to be invited as an artist again. Wow to do all this in Rome, unbelievable! 🙂 

⇍ Previous Day — Next Day ⇏

Tuscany Tour: Day 4

During another sublime breakfast, Sarah & i wondered if there was a walking tour around Firenze?! We now have a love of walking tours after our hugely successful one yesterday (see Day 3). It’s much easier for us to just follow a group instead of getting lost and wondering around aimlessly, and it’s a great way to learn the history and culture of the area.

They did do a tour and it started just after lunch. We booked on it and then decided to go for a walk to see if we could find the starting point by ourselves. It was in an area we hadn’t covered yet so we knew it was going to be a challenge…..We failed, but we found a lovely cafe! We sat outside with the sun blazing down, it was fantastic! 🙂

The image below shows me staring at the sun. Since being registered blind and having no central vision at all, i can now stare at the sun without squinting or blinking. Didn’t know it made me look this weird though, lol. 🙂

Me sat drinking coffee outside staring at the sun

We then spent a couple of hours enjoying finding new and wonderful shops, before heading back to the hotel. The reception had arranged for someone to walk us to the walking tour meeting point, fantastic! 🙂

Firenze Walking Tour…

The group met up in a different square than the one we found earlier, and gave us another one of those radio thingy’s, Yay! As the guide was talking about the square, i captured some shots!

Beautiful blue sky behind an impressive church wide impressive building with staues across the roof

One of the roof statues

Moving from the square and through some little side streets, we stopped at the “Basilica of Santa Croce” founded by Saint Francis. Sarah said “Wow, it looks like someone has iced it like a cake! It doesn’t look real”. 

Dark skies hover over the amazing Santa Croce black

Walking through the streets we were told of a local artist who’s adding figures to road signs. 

A figure looking like he's carrying the horizontal block of a no entry sign

 Continuing with more fantastic Medici family history we found ourselves in a familiar square (Piazza della Signoria).

Palazzo Vecchio

Bronze statue of Cosimo Medici

As we didn’t have lots of time to walk around and take photos, Sarah & i revisited on Day 7 to get some more interesting shots. Now it’s onwards to the river. 🙂

The River arches

When we accidentally found the river Arno during the Firenze marathon, Sarah had said that the river looks dirty, like brown sludge. But today with the sun shining bright, it glowed gold like nothing i’d seen before! 🙂

The River Arno Me  Sarah at the river Arno

Me  Sarah at Firenze river Bridge over river Arno

We continued our tour by walking through the “Piazza della Repubblica” ahh, the place with the sparkling building (see Day 1).

Firenze archway

Then finishing our tour at the Florence Cathedral (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore). Yay another amazing bell tower! 🙂

Florence Cathedral Bell Twoer

 I’ve heard of “Knocking’ on Heaven’s door” but now i was stood at “The Gates of Paradise”.

Me stood in front of the gates of Paradise

 Sarah then said “Go and stand in front of the doors of the Cathedral, we need more photos with you in them so people will know you were here”. I really don’t like this side of the lens, but this is for you guys! 🙂

Wow! Were these doors made for the Nephilim?!! 🙂

Me in front of the Florence Cathedral

Florence Cathedral 1

After this amazing tour, we felt that we could now spend a few days exploring with a little more confidence, starting with a trip to our fave coffee (and cake) place which is right next to our hotel. The cherry on top of the cake below really sums up our day. It’s been another unbelievable day that always leaves me saying “How am i here? This is like a dream! I still can’t believe i’m here?!” 

Cake

 You’ll be very pleased to know that my next post (Day 5) is the opening day of the exhibition!

I’m so blessed that you’ve stuck with me on this incredible journey. God bless you. 🙂

⇍ Previous DayNext Day ⇏

Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – San Gimignano

The dark cloak of night consumed us, light had escaped the dungeon of darkness but had vanished..…Sorry, just trying to set the mood for the final destination on our amazing Tuscany in a day tour.

Chiara had been telling us of the year 1348 when the black death had wiped out over ⅔ of the walled medieval town of San Gimignano, the majority of the people who survived the terror had left. Continuing on this theme, and the fact that it was totally dark outside (due to this time of year) set the scene for what we were about to experience!

Welcome to San Gimignano…

San Gimignano

After a short walk uphill, the group arrived at the main entrance of the walled town. We then had about 45 minutes free time to explore, then meet back here. Afterr the group dispersed, Sarah & i entered… 

No amount of photos could ever get across the feeling of this place! The black windows towering over you from each side, the silence and the shadows following you everywhere, generated a smothering atmosphere that had flavours of Fear, Death, Sorrow for the people of old, Awe and a weird taste of Joy and amazement. You really can only experience San Gimignano by physically being here! 

San Gimignano 4

San Gimignano 1

San Gimignano 5

San Gimignano 2

As Sarah was checking out the few little shops on the main walkway, i’d stay outside and just stand, soaking up the atmosphere that my words can’t describe. Sarah says “They only sell pottery or Knives”.

San Gimignano Shop

San Gimignano 3

As i was stood (see above) it was completely silent. Then all of a sudden i heard heavy footsteps from behind sounding like they were headed straight for me. I expected to see a blade sticking out of the front of my chest as an assassin wearing a monks tunic (from the video game (assassins creed) shot out of the shadows sending me to paradise.

As i turned though it was just a person leaving the church behind me, although i’m still not sure how they managed the booming footstep thing. My imagination really doesn’t help my heart at times like these! 🙂

San Gimignano 7

As we met back up with the group having felt we’d been to probably the most special place of the trip. We were so grateful we hadn’t decided to stay in the coach as it was just too dark to risk having accidents. 

I really hope you’ve enjoyed joining us on the “Tuscany in a day” tour?!

Which city was your favourite?

The Siena Cathedral with its humbug bell tower, is my favourite church building of all time (so far).

What is your favourite church building? And why?

⇍ Previous Day — Next Day ⇏

Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – Siena

Photo while sat on the coach taken looking through the windscreen overlooking the mountains with Siena written on the road

While approaching Sienna, we were given a fantastic little radio thingy that you put around your neck. It has a single earphone so you can still hear the tour guide within a large radius,or if it gets noisy. We then met the new Siena tour guide who would guide the group and share interesting stories and history of this stunning place.

Welcome to Siena…

Me stood in front of the Siena Christmas Tree

We were very happy to meet in a little square around a huge Christmas tree (see above). I am now only wearing a thin shirt as it is like a summers day and it’s December!!  🙂

Siena Building

close up of windows on a Siena Building 2

Siena Arches

Walking through the narrow streets and hearing more about how the Medici family slaughtered and captured Siena, we arrived at the famous medieval square (Piazza del Campo). Yay another tower! 🙂 

Siena Campo

Campo Tower 

Siena campo windows

After a walk around the banked curves of the square (feeling like an Indy 500 car), the group then left the square and headed towards (what has now become my favourite bell tower of all time) Siena Cathedral!

Siena Cathedral…

Walking under a narrow archway, the group made a collective sound, it went something like (wooaaahhhhooww), Sarah said “Wow! A humbug tower!” I said understatedly “Oh right” as i could only look at the ground to try and navigate, and i can’t see the tower or any of it’s detail anyway. But when i got back, and was able to zoom into my photos to see what i was pointing my camera at…..”Wow, Wow Wow”. 

Siena Cathedrals humbug tower

Siena Cathedral Bell Tower

Siena Cathedral

a view of the stunning Siena Cathedral 3

 Sarah was very happy when we went inside and found more humbugs! 🙂

Inside Siena Cathedral 2

Inside Siena Cathedral

 The group then sat down to hear the final part of the tour guides history. Just after i said to Sarah “Wow, isn’t it amazing to think that all of this unbelievable place was done for Jesus?! It all points to Him!”. The tour guide said “And this was all done for Mary!”. I was not amused at all! 

We then had some free time and was told to meet back at the medieval square, now which way was that?? 

Siena Campo 5

We did eventually find it, and we met back up with the group. to then return back to the coach, but on the way we passed the Christmas tree where we had first started and it looked beautiful! It finished Siena off nicely! 🙂

Siena Christmas Tree at night

After quite a scare of nearly getting lost and left behind as the group disappeared into the darkness, Sarah and i boarded what we hoped was our coach (it was).  Now it’s off towards our final destination. 🙂

⇍ Previous DayNext Day ⇏

Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – Vinci & Chianti

 As we left the amazing Pisa, Chiara (our tour guide) gave us some more interesting yet gruesome Tuscany history about the Medici family killing everyone again and taking over more villages and cities. She also mentioned a man called Leonardo Da Vinci, “no way” i said to Sarah “I thought he was a ninja turtle, not a real man!” She gave me a swift elbow in the ribs, and Chiara continued.

Welcome to Vinci…

The image below is of the landscape that greeted us from the coach.  

Sarah looking over the Vinci Hills

After taking in the amazing scenery, we headed off on foot to the Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci.

A view overlooking the town of Vinci with a bell tower on the left

A beautiful bell tower with purple blue sunrise over vince

A close up black and white of the Vinci Bell Tower

I really like bell towers!! 🙂

Sarah & i found inside the museum much too dark, so we struggled to see any of the fantastic creations on display. Sarah was using her iPhone 6 Plus with it’s wide aperture of f2.2 to view each design as it showed much brighter on her screen, rather than the dark blob in front of her (she’s a genius).

We did find a cool bike though!!

Vinci Bike

Now it was back outside to have a wonder around and see what we can find. It wasn’t long before we found a familiar object! 

Vitruvian Man

Sarah wasn’t happy with the “Vitruvian Man” and thought Leonardo had missed something out. So we added something extra……The Vitruvian Man & Woman! 🙂

Sarah stood in front of the Vitruvian Man  doing the same pose

Now for Chianti…

After another trip on the coach through amazing rolling hills, olive grows and vinyards, the coach parked right up at the top in Chianti where we were to do a little wine & local Tuscan food tasting.

I didn’t have time to take any photos as we were guided straight to our table and greeted with a lovely plate of local baked bread, olive oil, cheese and spicy meat.

The lady first pour a little Chianti Simple (table wine) into the huge glass and as she was going into great detail of how to hold the glass etc, i continued on the food (i couldn’t see anything she was doing, so her over complicated directions were wasted on me, lol). As i don’t really drink alcohol except a very full bodied glass of red wine on special occasions (normally 1 bottle a year and that’s usually Châteauneuf-du-Pape i receive as a Christmas gift). My thought is that if i’m only going to have one glass on rare occasions, then i would like one that i enjoy! 🙂

I really know nothing about wines, only that some are red and some are white, and some are watery and some are thick (like coffee, lol) and i only like the thick ones, which now i know are called full bodied! 🙂

Then she poured a little of the Chianti Classico (full bodied..Yay!) and that was much better! 

But probably my favourite taste of the day was the 30 year old Balsamic Vinegar we got to taste! Wow, now that’s amazing, but expensive so didn’t get any to bring home! 😦

As we finished there was a mad rush to the little shop area. I stayed at the table as Sarah went to have a look and take a few photos for us!

Chianti Bottles on a shelf

Chianti barrells

look inside the Chianti shop

I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip so far?! Next stop Siena!! 🙂

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Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – Pisa

I forgot to mention in my older 2 posts in this Tuscany Tour series, that i didn’t take any of my DSLR’s with me to Italy (you’ve probably already noticed, lol). All of the photos taken were using my iPhone 5s or Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus. 

I’d like to split Day 3 into 4 separate posts, as i don’t want them to get too long, and dare i say boring! If you’re just joining the “Tuscany Tour” for the first time then you can click here to start from Day 1.

Christmas Tree in the lobby of the Hotel Brunelleschi

Sarah & i were up bright and early, excited yet anxious for today’s big adventure. As we were in the reception area admiring the beautiful Christmas tree (see image above), the entrance doors opened as our taxi driver entered and escorted us to his taxi. It was still very dark (especially down the narrow side street) and already raining, and when i noticed the black minivan with blacked out windows (which only appear on episodes of 24) and the voice of the driver say “Get in”, i had a funny feeling that this could be anyone and we were in some kind of movie (this didn’t do my slight anxiety any good at all, lol). 

The driver was very friendly and nothing like the man i was imagining, he dropped us off at the exact collection point for the ‘My Tour’ coach stop where we were met by Chiara, the tour guide. She already knew we were blind & partially sighted and said it would be easier for us if we sat on the front 2 seats of the coach. “Yes!” i said as they’re our fave seats too, good start! 🙂

It took about an hour until we arrived at Pisa, Chiara was telling us lots of interesting facts and history of the Tuscany regions we were passing through, this (and my excitement) made the journey seem really quick. The coach parked right near the Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) and after a short walk in the group Chiara said “Now you have one hour free time, then meet back here”. This was just perfect for Sarah & i as we now have a point of reference to go from and to return.

Welcome to Pisa!

First for my tourist pose! 🙂

Me stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

And now it’s Sarah’s turn! 🙂

Sarah stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

Everyone was rushing straight for the tower, so we hung back and got a few photos of the Baptistry and the Cathedral.

Pisa Baptistry

Pisa Baptistry 2

The Cathedral  the tower

Lookin up at the Pisa Cathedral

Me looking at the tower

Sarah sneakily snapped me tower gazing and trying to soak up the atmosphere, and the fact that i was actually in Pisa, looking at probably the most famous bell tower in the world! 🙂

Pisa Tower

A zoomed in photo of the top 3 layers of the tower

There was only one small cafe opposite the tower, so Sarah & i went to check it out. We ordered 2 Cappachino’s and to my delight, a slice of pizza. I know you might laugh, but i just had to try the Pizza at Pisa! 🙂

Tower from the cafe

The image above is the view from the open windows at our table, it was just amazing being sat with the leaning tower of Pisa as the backdrop. 🙂

A panaramic shot of the baptistry, Cathedral & the tower in one shot

After this final panoramic photo, we met up with the group and headed back to the coach. 

This visit already made my day and i’d of been happy if that was the end, but this was only the beginning!!

Oh by the way…..The pizza was fantastic!! 🙂

Hope you’ve enjoyed the first stop of this “Tuscany in a day tour”. Please take your seats and see what’s coming next! 🙂

⇍ Previous DayNext Day ⇏

 

Tuscany Tour: Day 2

As Sarah & i were about to leave the room to try our first breakfast, we suddenly heard a faint sound of bells. We quickly rushed to the window and opened the inner windows and the outer shutters, and the sound was immense! I wanted to record the sound but the video below doesn’t do it justice.

The Breakfast…

Breakfast, i can only describe as an amazing taste sensation. The chef must have only had one knife though, as everything was sliced about an inch thick! What seemed like a block of cheese to us, was a slice to them. lol, but i didn’t want to seem rude and waste any! 🙂

The search for the Palace…

After filling up with breakfast, we started out on our primary objective for the day…to find the Palazzo Medici Riccardi where my photos will be exhibited in a few days time. 

Once out on the main street, i stood facing north (towards the Cathedral) and opened the Blindsquare app on my iPhone. I had save 2 locations to the favourites – the hotel and the palace, so they would b read out instantly and hopefully tell me (if the cellular network is good) where the locations are using a clock face description. It said “Palazzo Medici Riccardi is at 11’o clock at 350 yards”. Right let’s go! After passing the Florence Cathedral it was just a straight road until the Palace was on our left. Now to find the entrance which was another mammoth task for us …

A black and white photo of the amazing brick work of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

We started walking around the outside of the whole building finding everything including a cash machine (very useful, clothes store & even a McDonalds (the poshest one we’ve ever seen). Finally we found it but we couldn’t see any sign of the Art Senses posters anywhere. We went inside anyway to have a look around where we’d maybe stumble across a tiny room being set up for the exhibition.

Inside the Palace…

Black and white photo taken from the inner courtyard looking up to the roof of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches 2

Black and white close up of the arches in the inner courtyard

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 3

As we were walking around, we both kept saying “I think we’re in the wrong building, there is no way the exhibition will be in here somewhere. But this place is amazing so we’ll keep looking”.

A photo of me looking upwards towards some amazingly designed door frames!

⇧ We totally need to get door frames like these!! 🙂 ⇧ 

Then a few minutes later i found a ceiling design for our home too!! lol.

an increible fresco ciellin g

As we entered the next couple of rooms, Sarah was oooing quite a lot, and now as i’m looking back over the photos to see what i was actually looking at, i should’ve known there were shoes!

Sarah shoes gallery

After being amazed for a while longer, we decided to double check outside to see if this really was the Palazzo Medici Riccardi….It was! 

I said “There is no way my photos are being exhibited in there, just no way”. 

Then as we turned to find our way back to the hotel, we suddenly realised there was a marathon going on!!

Yes a marathon, actually the 31st annual “Florence Marathon (Maratona di Firenze)”. Now the streets were not only packed, but worse still for us, blocked off so we couldn’t get back the way we came.

Photo of theFirenze Marathon

After a few hours of getting lost, trying different coffee shops and of course the clothes and shoe shops, we found ourselves by the river. Sarah said “oh, this is the river!!” I said “But isn’t the river south, way past the hotel in the other direction?”

Firenze River

We both realised we had no idea which way to go and we were both really tired from dodging people and with all of the noise, so we just decided to pick a street and walk up it. Then to our complete surprise as we were getting really fed up, Sarah said “That’s the sign to our hotel”, “No way, i had no idea we were here, now let’s get a takeaway coffee from our new local and rest for a while”.

A blue light shaped as a bell hanging over the street

After an eventful and tiring day, we decided to try heading east but only down one street as it’s dark now and we really don’t want to get lost again. The hanging street lights were beautiful and we found lots of clothes shops and a nice little sandwich/coffee bar to relax in for a while. 

As we returned to the hotel we booked a “Tuscany in a day” tour for the morning. We knew it was a lot in one day but it will be ideal for us. Now we were getting even more excited. I could be stood next to the leaning tower of Pisa!! No way!! 🙂 

Please join us on day 3 to see how we got on!!

⇍ Previous Day — Next Day ⇏

Tuscany Tour: Day 1

Wow, wow, wow!! What a fantastic and surreal experience!! 

Apologies for anyone who has already read this post on Rebus Photography, my plan was to Reblog it from there but the reblog button has disappeared, so until i can get it sorted i’ll have to post it on here too. 

After spending 1 week in Italy pretending to be a photographer, and being blown away by the beauty and simply magnificent sculptures, architecture & History of this amazing part of the world. I’ll try and bore you to death with my day to day experiences. 🙂

I’m trying to create a post for each day we were there (maybe extra ones too!) as we did a few tours which included Pisa, Vinci, Chianti, Siena, San Gimignano & of course Firenze. 

First i’d like to give a big thanks to our brother Ben who kindly managed to wake up at 4:15am and drive us to the airport, guide us into the airport, check in our case and take us to the assistance desk, thanks Ben, we’d still be wondering round the airport now! if it wasn’t for you! 🙂

A screenshot of my iphone showing the Voiceover cursor surrounding the enabled airplane mode button on the control centre.

⇧ Airplane Mode ⇧
 
The airport assistance was fantastic and couldn’t of made it any easier for us. We even got to ride on the buggy that takes us all the way to the gate! I was the first to board the plane, and i couldn’t wait to finally enable “Airplane Mode” on my iPhone whilst sat on the plane! This may seem like a small thing, but remember this is my first time out of the country! 🙂
 
A photo looking out of the window onf the plane overlooking the wing and engine, with a beautiful coloured sunrise panarama!
 
I think my wide eyes and silly grin throughout the whole plane journey was getting tiresome for Sarah (she has been on planes lots of times). But it was fantastic! The best part is when the pilot “Gives it the beans” and accelerates down the runway when taking off, i’ve felt acceleration simular to this in different cars, but when you think just how big and heavy this plane is, it’s just amazing! 🙂
 
Once we landed at Pisa airport, the assistance were already there and waiting to escort us from the plane. They also sorted out our passports and picked up our suitcase. Now it was time to get our first Italian coffee while we wait for the bus to Florence. 
 
A photo of the beautiful hills taken from our seat on the bus from pisa to florence. Also Siena is written on the road.
 
Sarah described the beautiful panoramic landscapes from the bus (i couldn’t see them until i got back home to zoom in on my large screen) as it took about an hour to get to Firenze. We then got a taxi to our hotel, as i read on trip advisor that although it’s only about half a mile, it’s tucked away in a small courtyard.
 
A sepia effect of hotel Brunelleschi at night with the old tower glowing out in the dark
 
Wow, the hotel was fantastic, and the staff were unbelievably helpful.  Once we were settled in to our amazing room, and logged onto their WiFi. We decided to venture out a little and try and figure out where we were in relation to the duomo and the palace where my photos were being exhibited. We knew we were close but as Sarah & i can’t see enough to read a map, we could easily get lost and never find anything! 🙂
 
A black and white photo of the top of cathedral of Florence
 
Shortly after leaving the hotel and finding the main street, we heard the thunderous sound of the bells from the north (i think) coming from the Cathedral of Florence (Il Duomo di Firenze), The bells would make our navigation much easier for the rest of our holiday as the Cathedral was only about 300 yards away from our hotel, thank you bells! 🙂 We then headed back to our starting point and headed west, where we found an ever better point of reference!! (see below)
 
A whole building completley covered in sparkling blue lights
 
The twinkling lights on this department store were simply amazing to just stand and look at, but it was dark now and we didn’t want to get lost on our first day! All of the streets were decorated beautifully with illuminated stars, borbals & bells so after one more photo (see below), we headed back to the hotel. What an amazing, exciting and tiring first day. 🙂
 
A twinckling star street decoration in Florence
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed being with Sarah & i on my first trip abroad? Hope to see you on Day 2 as we explore a little more…!!!

You’ll Never Believe This…. (Part 4)

Wow, the time has come…I’m off to Florence, Italy to visit the exhibition where some of my photos will be exhibited! The exhibition is being held at The Prestigious PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI, Florence, Italy. I still can’t believe this! It is my first time abroad and i’m really excited!! 🙂

I’ll be away from my blogs for a week or so, but i’ll be taking hundreds of photos to share with you all on my return!! 🙂

See also: You’ll Never Believe This…. (Part 1), (Part 2) & (Part 3)

The Simple Way

A couple of weeks ago, Paul (one of our preachers) asked if i’d like to share a song that’s on my heart before his sermon (which was yesterday). It’s not a full band song, but one where i accompany a single singer, a prayerful and reflective song. My first thoughts were “Oh yeah i’d love to go up to the front and terrify myself while i share some words and try to play a song”. So i said “Yes i’d love too”. He said “Great, the theme is unity”. 

As i went away i said “Wow, thank you Lord” as for nearly 2 months now i’ve been doing a personal daily expositional bible study on Ephesians 4 & 5, which is all about unity. Verses suddenly flooded my mind about unity in the Spirit through the bond of peace, unity in the faith, unity in the body and on and on they came. I started getting excited and thought instead of sharing a song, i’d share all of the things i’d been learning for about 6 hours instead! lol. 🙂

Then the more sobering verses and thoughts came along…

“If we are not growing in the knowledge and understanding of Christ, if Jesus isn’t the head, and if He is not leading the way, then unity is impossible!” Jesus who is The Way, The Truth and The Life, simply said “FOLLOW ME!”. 

✞ Song “The Simple Way” by Sara Sargent

I then went to ask my loving sister in Christ Sara if she would bless us with her beautiful voice while i accompany her on acoustic guitar, and to maybe show me some of the songs she had written but kept quiet. So last week Sara came and showed me “The Simple Way”, wow! 🙂

This is a short section of the song which i recorded on my iPhone as i was learning the guitar chords. The quality isn’t brilliant, but i hope you too are blessed by Sara’s beautiful voice. 

After the service people were saying that we should record it. I’d love to go to the local recording studio and record this song (and maybe a few others) What do you think?

My New Rebus Photography Blog

Weekly photo challenge logo

Hi all!! I just wanted to remind or notify all of my friends here on iChristian that all of my Photo Challenge contributions, my Photographic Exhibition updates & anything else involving my Photography, is now being published to my new “Rebus Photography” Blog,

I’m trying to create a stand alone place where i can direct anyone who is interested in my photos, as iChristian is starting to get bloated and slow, and it’s not as easy to find photos etc…So please, if you have not checked it out yet, head on over by clicking the image below and let me know what you think! 🙂

Click image of Rebus photography blog to view site

An Evening With Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges! 😄

 Wow!! Just returned home from an evening of Worship at church, where we were blessed by the amazing voice of Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges and his Spiritual songs, it was an honour to meet him too! 🙂

Read about Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges on Wikipedia…. 

Eugene 2

Eugene 1

⇧ Eugene “Hideaway Bridges performing at our church ⇧ 

Eugene  Hideaway Bridges  Me

⇧ Me meeting Eugene during the interval 🙂 ⇧ 

Ephesians 5:19 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,

Christian & Gospel Genre On iTunes

A screenshot taken from my iPad of Christian  Gospel iTunes

⇧ Screenshot taken from my iPad ⇧ 

Ephesians 5:19-20 New International Version – UK

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Yay! I’ve just found out that iTunes now finally has its own Genre for “Christian & Gospel” music. Praise the Lord! 😄 🎸 🎶

Graduations & Celebrations!!

Sarah’s Graduation

So proud of my lovely wife Sarah on her graduation! Despite major difficulties following her latest eye operation, she managed to earn a “distinction“. Congratulations, it was a lovely evening! 🙂

Me stood on Sarah's right in my suit with Sarah's beautiful smile next to me

 ⇧ Sarah & i on way to the graduation ceremony ⇧ 

The graduation ceremony took place from 6-9pm on Thursday 6th November at Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, celebrating the excellence of the class of 2013/14 from the IOF Academy.

Sarah s Graduation ceremony with everyone on stage

⇧ Graduates of the Certificate in Fundraising ⇧ 

 Sarah’s Dads 70th Birthday Party

Sarah & i had a fantastic weekend in Doncaster celebrating Sarah’s dad’s 70th Birthday! They had a huge party with amazing food (thanks Amanda) and we were entertained by a wide range of fantastic musicians!

Also thanks Madeleine (my sister in law) for asking me to acompany your stunning voice. it made my night! It was an honour to play on Sarah’s Dads new electro acoustic through his sweet PA system!

Sarah's dad playing guitar in front of 70th birthday banners

⇧ Sarah’s dad performing for us with his new acoustic guitar ⇧ 

Me sat playing Alfies new guitar

⇧ Me playing on Alfie’s new acoustic guitar ⇧ 

Marshall always connected on his phone

Marshall (my brother in law) is always connected ⇧

a close up portrait of Alfie

Alfie (my brother in law) ⇧ 

Some Exciting News…

I’ve been a little quiet here on iChristian for a couple of days, as i’ve been trying to construct a stand alone photographic blog. The iChristian theme isn’t the best for viewing (and finding) all of my photos etc. Also some of you have showed interest in me creating a blog just for my photos, weekly photo challenges and seeing the world through my cameras etc.

So here’s my exciting blogging news…

Please click on the new blog button to view my new blog Rebus Photography

I would love for you to visit Rebus Photography (click button above), and although it’s still under construction, i’d be so blessed to get your opinions, comments, suggestions. I’ve added a few pages e.g “My Photo Galleries”My Exhibitions” ” and more… also borrow your eyes to spot any mistakes as it’s been really difficult for me to create. 

I don’t want to lose any of you amazing friends who encourage, inspire and bless me each day. So i thought i’d leave this as my homepage on iChristian throughout October, and as i’llbe posting photos onto my new blog i will reblog them here on iChristian during October too. So hopefully everyone will have chance to view (and enjoy) my photos as we move.

Of course iChristian will remain mostly the same, but it’s always growing as new ideas come to me. My hope is that you’ll enjoy and be blessed by these two blogs! 🙂

My new blog Rebus Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

What nocturnal photos do you like taking? Whether it’s a starry sky, a street lamp, or the shadows cast by your cat, share them with us. 

I didn’t think i had many to show for this challenge, but i had lots! Here are a few of my fave Nighttime shots! 🙂 

photo of a sunset streaking down the centre with a cross on the left and a bird flying on the right

⇧ God blesses our cliff top walk at Old Hunstanton, Norfolk ⇧

Our Livingroom wall lights

⇧ Sarah chose our fan style living room wall lights ⇧

Moon Shadow

⇧ Moon Shadow ⇧

Moon 1

⇧ My 1st ever moon shot! 🙂 ⇧ 

a photo of a firework spraying out over the dark sky

⇧ Taken at the amazing firework display at Brockham, Surrey ⇧  

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And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)

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Life: the time God gives you to determine how you spend eternity

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