Tag Archives: Blind and partially Sighted

☀️ #51 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Martinique” 🇲🇶 (2018)

Martinique logo

 Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends) and welcome to Martinique! 

Sorry but Sarah & i took no photos at all on the very wet shore excursion. Yes even i was in my wet gear (last time ever) and we had no water proof cameras. But this is a must read and a gripping drama of an adventure we’ll never forget! 

Side note…Although it’s called a post it’s actually more like a short story. So settle back with your favourite beverage and enjoy the drama! 😨  

Let’s have a look and see where we are going… 

Kayaking Mangroves Martinique

Had your fill of sunbathing and swimming? This is one for the more active crowd. You’ll first travel to a nearby islet to pick up your kayaks. And with paddles at the ready, you’ll head off into the quiet mangroves. You’ll be in the water about 40 minutes, gliding under tropical canopies. And red and black mangrove trees sprout from the water. Guides are on hand to make sure you get the most out of the day and help you perfect your technique. Plus there’s plenty of time to chill with a fruit juice, or swim in the sea before taking the boat back to the ship.

On the dock and boarding the boat…

After another lovely breakfast we left the ship and joined our excursion guide on the dock. We stood waiting for a while and started talking to a lovely man and his grandson who he was taking on our trip. When the man knew i was registered blind and still kayaking and swimming he seemed to relax a little. Yay i can help without helping! 😀  

We were then guided onto a small fun boat, it had a totally flat and wide floor (like a dance floor) so was easy for me to get on. We took our seats around the edge of the boat and it pulled away bobbing across the sea. The cool sea breeze flowed briskly through the boat (which i enjoyed) and before long we were pulling up to a small islet. Sarah unplugged her insulin pump and stored it safe in our bags that we’d left on the boat, then we stepped off the boat and after a short lesson on kayaking we were ready to get in. 

The kayak and the mangroves…

 As this was the second time we’d tried kayaking (see 1st time in Mexico) we thought we knew what to expect. Sarah climbed in the back seat and i sat in the front waiting for the navigator (Sarah) to direct. The guide took us across the open sea and we swiftly pulled into line about half way up the group. We were kayaking across the open Caribbean sea and it was incredible, it’s such a lovely feeling being out in the open sea. Then we started to turn towards the mangroves. The group pulled in tight as we made our way along the stunning narrow waterway. 

Then…

I heard a commotion a head of me and a screaming/shouting. As we pulled nearer a woman had fallen in and her husband was still in the kayak trying to help her. The woman was freaking out and on the verge of hysterics and could not be reasoned with. As a side note…During our boat ride from the ship the guides showed the group huge photos (about A3) of the omnifarious types of creatures out there including huge crabs that lay on the floor and the sides of the mangroves, and i think the woman had those photos still etched in her mind. Sarah said the woman was up to her shoulders in water and couldn’t get back in to the kayak. Her paddle had hit the side of our kayak so we stopped to give her support and save her paddle for when she gets back in. 

 With the woman safely back in the kayak (she was fuming) the group continued along the amazing mangroves until we stopped for a rest before heading further along for about 20 minutes until it opened back out in to the Caribbean sea. Now we could test the top speed as we flew back to the little dock thingy. I wouldn’t say our kayaking always went smoothly and we have had a few crossed paddles along the way, but we had fun and made it back.

The boat and the short beach break…

 We sat back down on the boat (tired) after a fantastic kayak trip and the guide said “It’s about half an hour until we get to the beach, so relax and come and have a fresh cold drink at the bar area at the front of the boat. I said to Sarah “That was the Blind Sightseers 2nd kayak trip and we made it without sinking or capsizing again” “Yeah i know” Sarah said very slowly and quite slurry. At firs i thought she was just tired as it took a lot out of us with all of the paddling, and how could it be a hypo as she hasn’t had her pump attached? But i said “Are you ok?” If it is a hypo then i need to hear her speak so i know it is for definite. “I think i’m having a hypo?!” Sarah said as she looked at her pump to clarify the very low reading. I knew Sarah really wanted to enjoy the beach we were heading towards but this was going to be a big hypo! 

I jumped up and headed for the juice bar and asked for any full sugar orange juice if they had any? They did and Sarah was just with it enough to be able to drink it…Now we wait to see if the sugar kicks in or Sarah passes out. I do not enjoy this bit at all, but i just think about how Sarah must be feeling and stop complaining! The music on the boat was loud, the people were chatting away while i was trying to keep Sarah sat upright. About 15 minutes had passed and the juice wasn’t really working, so i got up and asked for another one. I knew Sarah really wanted to go on the beach and would be upset if she missed it, but i also knew she’d be absolutely freezing after this hypo…The T1D’s who read this will know exactly what i’m talking about, the bone chill that happens is like your bone themselves are frozen and the only way to get warm again is to have a hot bath. 

With about 5 minutes to go Sarah’s speech became much more normal again and she asked if we’d already been to the beach. “Not yet my love, we are about 5 minutes away but we can just stay on the boat where it’s safe” I said with my arm around Sarah trying to get her warm. “Now way it’s freezing on here and it’s in the shade, at least the beach will be in the sun and i can warm up” “Good thinking” i said as people were getting ready to leave the boat. “Hang on” i said as i heard a couple of people splash into the water “It sounds like we are not on land” “No we’re not, we are in a beautiful film set looking place but the beach island is a long way over there” The guide said we have about half an hour until the boat sounds it’s 1st of 2 horns then you have a few minutes to get back on board, the guide continued You can swim over to the  beach if you want to as we have permission to use the bar there etc but make sure you’re back on the boat shortly after the 1st horn blast”. Sarah said “The sea should be warmer than being trapped in here and lots of people are getting off so we can have a swim over to the island and get warm” “Sounds like a plan, let’s go”.

The sea and the island…

Sarah guided me to the back of the boat and there were steps leading down to the sea. “Steve you can sit on the bottom step and then push yourself off” “Which way is the beach?” Sarah pointed at a 90˚ angle to her right “Ok thanks if i can’t tread water i’ll head that way until i hit land”, here goes…

As i slid off the last step i went straight under and started to sink like a stone. At the same time salt water filled my lungs as i panicked and i seemed to stop breathing. I kicked my legs and frantically thrust my arms in a a swimming motion with little effect…At first. More water filled my mouth and lungs and finally my head poked out of the water. I think the panic of drowning was overtaking me as i couldn’t keep my head above water long enough to spit out all of the salt water. Treading water was out of the question but if i swam i seemed to stay on top. I only know 2 swimming strokes Breast stroke and doggy paddle (doggy paddle really wouldn’t work right now). I said to myself “Steve you’re not drowning here and leaving Sarah all on her own…Just swim to the beach” I knew if i stopped then i’d drown , and i knew roughly which way the beach is so i started the breast stroke (i’m really good at breast stroke). The faster i went the less likely i was going to drown so i kicked and pumped my arms as hard as i could!

I seemed to be swimming for quite a while and i couldn’t hear Sarah at all, i thought Sarah wouldn’t leave me out here alone? But maybe she is next to me or behind me as i can only hear the water forcing it’s way into my ears, either way i’ll meet up with her on the beach as she is an amazing swimmer”. There was no beach or island getting any closer and i tried looking and i thought i could see a shadow of something to my right (it was just blue everywhere else) so i steered myself towards the shadow and kept pumping my quickly tiring arms and legs.

“YES” i said whilst spitting out another mouthful of salt water “This looks like an island. OUCH” i said as my knee hit something sharp and hard, it stopped me dead and i kicked my legs around to try and get purchase on something. I was so thankful that i’d bought some ‘Hot Tuna’ beach shoes with heavy rubber tread, as all i could feel with my feet were lots of points like hundreds of tall pointy pyramids trying to pierce me. As i’m blind i’m really good at feeling with my feet to compensate my sight loss, and after a few attempts i managed to grip on with a foot either side of the huge point. I was crouched and wobbling as i tried to counter the waves hitting me constantly but i was glad of the rest. Looking straight ahead (where i thought the boat would be) i saw nothing but blue. “Wow no boat or people” i could also hear nothing or no-one. “How far have i swam” i thought whilst looking to my left, i was using and straining my very blurry sight to it’s limit but i could make out that this islet i was on continued further along. Realising i couldn’t stay hear (especially as my foot slipped and my left shin is stinging like mad) i pushed away. 

Finally after swimming around those nasty pointy things  i crawled my way onto the beach. “I thought they said there was a bar here” i thought whilst hearing nothing as i sat down to catch my breath and to think about what had just happened. I expected to hear Sarah calling me…But nothing. I looked out again straining until my eyes burned but couldn’t see a boat either. My left shin was really stinging and i knew it was bleeding and had salt water in it,…

Then…

As i was rubbing my hands to get the sand off i noticed my wedding ring was missing. My heart dropped through the floor so i checked again…Still missing. My first thought was “Sarah’s going to kill me” as i dropped to my knees to search around the sand with my sweeping hands. I couldn’t find it and knew it probably flew off in the mad panic from the boat, so i started walking up and down the beach at the sea edge and thought, “if people were looking for me at least they have a better chance of spotting me if i’m up and moving”. The beach was only about 50 meters long and i’d done a few lengths already and still heard nothing. I walked another time up and down the beach with the realisation of my predicament setting in. I was tired, i’d lost my wedding ring and i was lost on a Caribbean islet, i’d stopped walking at this point and was just looking out into the vast blue sea deep in prayer and thought when…

“Steve?” i looked a little to my right where i’d heard the noise and thought “That’s not Sarah’s voice” “Steve?” “Yes” i said as the man continued “Sarah (your wife) has sent me to guide you back to the boat” I was almost in tears of relief as i started to walk into the sea and join him. He continued “How much can you see?” “Very likktle” i said “Ok just follow my voice as i keep shouting at you”. I was back in the water and swimming along behind my navigator as we arrived at the rear of the boat. My mind was picturing me swimming into the propellers and slicing me into a thousand pieces just as i thought i’d made it, but i hit the bottom step instead. 😲

Here is a photo of my wedding ring that is still in Martinique! 

Wedding Rings

Climbing the last step and into Sarah’s arms she said “You’re not swimming ever again!” i replied “I do not disassociate myself from that statement!”. Sarah continued “Do you have any idea how terrified i was that i’d lost you?!

I heard you enter the water as i was looking down to make sure i didn’t trip on any of the tiny steps. A lady who was smashing around with an inflatable lilo and another person were totally distracting me with another inflatable they’d pulled out of nowhere, so when i’d looked up…You’d disappeared. I quickly looked to the right (towards the beach) to see if i could see anyone swimming in that direction, nothing. I looked straight ahead and still nothing. For some reason i looked out to the open sea, and just caught sight of your head bobbing up and down, The woman on the lilo kept chatting and chatting really loudly, people were behind me getting more drinks and some were trying to get into the water, it was really confusing. I tried asking the woman on the lilo to help but she wouldn’t leave her lilo, so i asked a man behind me for some help, and when i turned back around…You’d vanished again! More time passed and my thoughts didn’t get any happier. I was still freezing and feeling a little sick after the hypo, i just wanted you back and to get a hot shower back in the cabin to get rid of this bone chill.

I continued asking for help when this kind man came over to me and i told him how you were heading for the beach, but i’d seen you in the opposite direction heading out to sea! The man looked out to sea and couldn’t see you anywhere, then he looked towards the beach and couldn’t see you there either. A few more minutes went by and the man said “There he is!” “Where?” Sarah said “He’s on the beach walking up and down the beach” “Is he ok?” “he looks fine” “Steve is registered blind and won’t be able to see the boat never mind how he’s going to get back. Could you please go and guide him back?” I was so relieved when the man left to go and get you…And now here you are! You’re banned from ever swimming again and you’re never leaving my sight! 😡 

Safe on the boat…

We’d sat back down when i was about to tell Sarah about losing my wedding ring when she said “What have you done to your leg?” I lifted my throbbing leg up for her to see “Wow it’s cut and bleeding” “I know it’s stinging like mad” “Ibet it is, how did you do that?” I thought about a reply but it would be too long, and i’ll tell her the details later “I’ve got even worse news than my leg” “What could be worse than this?” I held up my hand and said “My wedding ring has gone, it must’ve come off in my blind panic (pun intended)”. I was expecting a drilling but got a hug instead “That’s ok i’m just glad to have you back” ❤️

Back on the ship…

Me and the marella discovery

⇧ Photo of the Marella Discovery from a later date ⇧   

After a refresh and a very strong coffee, we went to reception and asked if a nurse could take a quick look at my leg to make sure it wasn’t infected. We went down to the hospital deck and had my massive gaping wound (large cut) cleaned and got lots of large plasters to keep it covered for a couple of days. 😀  

We decided not to get dressed up for the evening meal and just go up and get a snack from the buffet restaurant. We were just walking in when…

The man,  his wife and his grandson walked up to us. The man was really limping as he approached and Sarah said “Oh no what happened? Did you enjoy the adventure today?” The grandson said he’d really enjoyed himself and the grandad said “I stepped onto a sea urchin and it pierced straight through my sea shoes and deep into my foot”. Sarah & i made the noise together “Aawwwww” “Yes it really hut and when i stepped backwards after the first sting, i stepped onto another one but luckily it didn’t get me as bad! Did you 2 enjoy the day?” Sarah relayed the story of what happened and showed him my leg. As we said our goodbyes i was in need of a chip butty! 😀  

As we sat down and chatted about the usual Blind Sightseers adventure i said “I didn’t know i could swim that fast?!” “Don’t start” Sarah said with a smile lighting up her face. 😀  

Thank you…

If you are still reading this and can’t quite believe what ’The Blind Sightseers’  can do on a simple shore excursion…Then we thank you profusely for coming along for the ride! This is still an abridged version but i know i can’t go on and on and on like Sarah says i do, lol! 🤣    

We’ll see you in the morning for another (hopefully less dramatic) shore excursion.

To be continued…

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☀️ #50 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Saint Lucia” 🇱🇨 (2018)

Saint Lucia logo

Good morning friends! We are in Saint Lucia! 😀 ☀️ 🌴 

Wow…It’s our 50th day of our trip. I can’t believe we’ve hit this milestone already time is cruising by and i hope you’re still enjoying this adventure?! 😀  

What a day yesterday! As we had to focus on not falling to our death we didn’t get to see much of the rain forest canopy…So we thought we’d book this excursion today at a more relaxing pace. Wait a minute…Did i say relaxing? This can’t be right we’re ‘The Blind Sightseers’ lol. 🤣  

Aerial Tram: Scenic Tour

Soar above a tropical rainforest reserve on this sky-high tour. Hop on to an open-air gondola and rise up through Castries Waterworks Reserve, where you’ll have a bird’s eye view over the rainforest. With towering trees, tangled vines, and brightly coloured hummingbirds, this exotic jungle is Mother Nature at her best. As you glide through the canopy, your experienced guide will share their knowledge, point out unusual plant life, and identify the calls of local birds.

Once your feet are back on the ground, your guide will take you on a short walk through the forest, so remember to wear your walking boots. And, of course, you’ll need a camera to capture the colourful sights around you.

 On the coach…

We sat at the front of the coach (thanks excursion team) and even though our muscles were hurting from yesterdays zip lining and from walking up a million steps through the rain forest, we sat back and listened to the guide tell us about Saint Lucia. I was excited as our excursion involves an arial tram…Could i call it a cable car? If so then it’s the 4th cable car of our lockdown memory trip! 

We heard a lot of people worrying about heights and if the arial tram would be safe. This is where another of our blind perks help us. As both me and Sarah have severe sight problems we don’t know how high we are, which works great as i’m scared of heights…And it worked brilliantly yesterday walking and zip lining above the rain forest canopy! So it should work well today too! 🤣  

 The arial tram… 

Me waiting for the Gondela

 Standing at the start of the arial tram circuit we had a few minutes to wait for our turn to begin. 

Me and Sarah sat in the arial tram

 Yay we are on board and ready to go! Unfortunately we didn’t take many photos as we simply didn’t want to drop our phones out of the arial tram and onto the floor miles below us. 

close side profile of my face as Sarah is sat right next to me and the rain forest behind me

Hey…That’s a sneaky shot, lol! 🤣   

We continued to travel through the multiple layers of the rainforest in our open air ride, we travelled all the way from the forest floor and all the way to the top (and beyond) of the canopy!

Our new car was sturdy and felt very safe, and our guide continued to tell us about the incredible trees and plants we were passing, then as we climbed a little higher the leaves of the trees began to overshadow us and block our view…

And then…

I’m not sure what just happened? But it seems like we’ve just travelled through a classic literature portal in our arial tram which has just trasformed into a ‘travel box’ and we seem to be travelling through ‘Brobdingnag’ as we glide through the pages of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ part 2.

This is my roundabout way of saying the leaves were enormous! I’ve never seen leaves this big ever, 1 leaf easily covered the whole tram and was so wide it was beyond belief!

We were coming up to the half way point where the tram turns around to make the return trip down, the breeze up here was lovely and there is a nice view of the northern part of the island and both oceans come into view…If you could see them, lol! 😀  

Sat looking from the arial tram looking over the top of the rain forest

view over the huge rain forest

Very close up of me looking near the camera with the rain forest behind me

 The rain forest floor…

After the tram ride, our guide took us on a 20 minute walk and continued our education of the fascinating trees and beautifully vivid flowers on the forest floor. The path was treacherous and laced with tree roots, rocks and hidden holes, so when i’d engaged my knees into full suspension mode i was ready to go! The combination of my warrior wife and my super duper sandals protected me once again…Thank you Sarah! ❤️ 

A complimentary (and very tasty) glass of non alcoholic punch  was welcoming us upon our return from the all terrain walk. There is a nice gift shop with locally made sauces and spices. We bought the photo of me and Sarah sitting in the tram from here (2nd photo in this post) which is a lovely memory for us. 😀

Back at the dock…

Right we were on a mission to try and find (and eat) some Breadfruit. This was our 3rd cruise in the Caribbean (5th in total) and the guides always talked about the Breadfruit but we’d never got the chance to eat it. But today is the day. We walked out of the dock and we were instantly greeted by a street with shops, market stalls and men trying to arrest you (i mean sell you things). Our plan (so we didn’t get lost) was to walk up the right hand side of the street as far as we could go, then return by crossing the road and walking back down to the ship…Sound simple enough. 😀  

We didn’t have to walk far before we stumbled upon a fruit and veg stall, and after a while of Sarah looking at each vegetable she said “Steve i don’t think i recognise any of the vegetables at all?!” The man on the stall asked if we needed any help? Sarah said “Your vegetables are amazing and look nothing like anything back in England” “Thank you and that is Dasheen you were just looking at, it’s local to Saint Lucia” he said as Sarah continued “We are looking for some Breadfruit to try, is there anywhere here we can try some? We’d also like to try Dasheen too?!” “If you go over the road into the indoor market there is a place who cooks it all day” “Wow thanks very much” Sarah said and we crossed the road.

Breadfruit & Dasheen… 

We found the little cooking place and it had a few tables outside. The lady said “ Hi Can i help you?” Sarah said “We’re looking to try some Breadfruit and Dasheen if we can pleas?” “What would you like them with?” “Just some Breadfruit and Dasheen on their own please” “What with?” “It’s ok we’d just like to try them to see what they taste like, so on their own please”. The woman getting a little impatient said “You have to have them with something they’ll be too dry on their own” I thought it wouldn’t be too dry for me as i can eat dry toast without butter for some reason, but i digress. Sarah asked “What would you have with them as we can’t see well enough to see your menu?” “I’ll make it nice for you, take a seat”. 

The lady placed the food down in front of us and we got stuck in. Sarah said “Wow it looks like Tipex” We both tried some Breadfuit and decided it tasted of absolutely nothing! I said “I didn’t think something could taste of nothing?!”  After we both decided it was used as a filler like a potato we started on the Dasheen. “Wow, now that’s nice” we both said “it’s so herby and really tasty we should’ve just had a plate of this” i said “Yeah but there is no way i’m asking the lady, lol!” 😀  

The bird feeder…

We left the indoor market discussing Breadfruit and Dasheen as we walked back towards the ship, when a really funny and cool guy walked over to us. He said with his thick Caribbean accent  “Would you like a bird feeder?” Sarah said “No thanks” we had only slowed our pace down a little ⇧This bird feeder is the one you want” “We’re good thank you we don’t need a bird feeder” The man had walked in front of us now so we stopped “I made this bird feeder and it’s just $30 US” “£30 dollars, we are fine thanks and that’s too much” “ok, $25” the man said as he was making us laugh with his humour “That’s still too much and we don’t have room in our suitcases anyway for a bird feeder” The man made a small laughing sound and said “Watch this…You see this is a special bird feeder” he continued as he pulled a couple of wooden bits off the bird feeder and made it smaller “This is a special travel bird feeder as it comes apart” Oh man i thought he’s got us on that one, lol. Sarah continued “It’s still too much for us” Afterr another 20 minutes chatting with this man (we really liked him he had such a cool character) Sarah bought the bird feeder for $15. 😀 

The bird feeder

Back on the ship…

 With another relaxing strong iced coffee we chatted about the fantastic day we’d had and the experiences we’ve shared, and it wasn’t long before we had the photo shoot and the lovely evening meal.

The food photo quiz…

I wonder if you guys could help us? We’ve taken this photo of a fantastic plate of food but we have no idea what it is? And we can’t remember? Could you have a go at describing it for us? We just know we must have loved it as it inspired a photo. 😀   

IMG 0352

 The photo shoot…

We had such fun messing around (i mean being serious) during the shoot. The photographer was great and kept talking so i could have some idea where they were standing. Now we have even more photos together that we’ll cherish. ❤️ 😀   

Sarah and me touching foreheads

Me and Sarah both looking at the camera

Sarah * i looking at each other and Sarah has her hand on my cheek

Sarah with arms aound my shoulders

Sarah with arms aound my shoulders

Photo of me in a suit and a purple spooty bow tie

Sarah with head laying on her arms and a huge smile

 We’ve had another memorable day, isn’t Saint Lucia beautiful? Have you got any rain forest experiences? 

Thank you once again it’s such a blessing to have you guys join us on our adventures. 😀  

But the drama, fun and exploration hasn’t stopped yet!

To be continued… 

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☀️ #18 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “St Johns, Antigua”🇦🇬

Click logo to return to Day 1

After another early start(and you’ve guessed it) a bacon roll, we headed off the ship. The shore excursion lady was at the bottom of the gangway steps, and she showed us where to join the queue. Well i say queue, there were only about 8 of us in total. I thought “I think we may have over reached on this one. Maybe it’s going to be too difficult, and really not suited for the blind”. 

We were then led towards the minibus. We were told they’d saved us the 2 seats in the front next to the driver, i said “Sweet”, and climbed aboard. I really didn’t expect what happened next…the driver turned on his CD player which started playing Ed Sheeran “Thinking out loud” and he started singing as i tapped away on my legs to the beat. His voice was incredible, it was like we were having our own concert in the front of the minibus, whilst driving around paradise.  Quite a surreal moment. After more fantastic singing to Tarrus Riley’s  “She’s Royal”, he pulled up at Fort James Beach where we were to start our horse ride.

Welcome to Paradise…

We left the minibus and were instantly greeted with a stunning view of porcelain palm fringed sands, and stilted turquoise waters of Fort James beach, also we received a further warm welcome by the “Horseman(sorry, i forgot his name)”. 🙂 

St John beach with a palm tree on the left and a life guard seat on the right

St John beach 2

Photo of the horse instructor walking across the beautiful beach

 ⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧  

A couple of horses on the left walking across the amazing beach

⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧  

The Horse Ride…

Once everyone was fitted with a protective hat, it was time to line up and meet the horses. He asked for experienced riders first, then one at a time they mounted the horses. It was about this time i started to get a little nervous. I was saying to Sarah “How do we get up there? Are there steps? Which foot do i put forward first? Are the horses big enough to carry me?”

The horseman was out of earshot, but i think he could see my face, he said “Don’t worry, i have a couple of special horses for you two”. This put my mind a little more at ease. Sarah mounted first on the horse named “Sunshine”, what a perfect horse for her! 🙂 Then i mounted easily with the excellent help from horseman onto the horse named “Little Man”, 

After a short tutorial on how to hold(and use) the reins, it was time to move on out! We had only walked along next to a road for about a minute, and i’d just got used to the weird motion of rocking side to side whilst not being able to see the ground or the horse in front. When…a huge commotion…Lots of shouting from horseman, and the horses. I thought(at first) it sounded like a car had hit one of the horses. I pulled back on the reins as i saw Sarah(who was in front of me) appear at my side, Yay my horse stopped! 🙂 We found out at the end, that a car got too close and spooked a few of the horses, so no one(or horses) were hurt.

My plan was to take my Samsung WB550 compact camera with me to take photos & video whilst on the horse, but that was soon foiled when i got onto the horse, and my shorts were pulled tight around my pocket, so it had seal it shut. I didn’t want to try and move, as i thought the horse might mistaken my movements and start galloping off!. I did eventually get an opportunity when my foot suddenly got smacked out of the stirrup by an aloe vera plant(it got a few of us), and as my leg was free i quickly grabbed my camera! 🙂 Note to self, next time take my other camera with a neck strap! 🙂 

The horseman who was overseeing us said “Welcome to Sandhaven Beach”…

A photo of the back of my horses head with a beautiful seacape all around

⇧ “Little Man” taking me on a beautiful journey 🙂 ⇧ 

Photo of Sarah on her horse riding across stunning beach landscape with my orange shirt at the bottom as i took the photo over my shoulder

⇧ Sarah on “Sunshine” & in sunshine, along Sandhaven beach ⇧ 

Sarah on her horse looking inland as she rides across the stunning beach

Sarah looking out to sea as she rides along the stunning Sandhaven beach

⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧ 

Words completely fail me when i try and describe the feeling of riding in paradise. The sound of the waves, the feel of the hot sun with the cool breeze, the movement(and sound) of the horse, topped off with the amazing panorama. We really didn’t want to leave our new fave place on earth!! 🙂 

We left Sandhaven beach and headed back to Fort James beach. We’d been riding for around 1½ hours, and just before we finished, the man asked for my cameras so he could take a photo of us on our horses.

My horse “little Man” was busy eating grass, i think he had my appetite! 🙂 

Photo of me9left and Sarah(right) sat on top of our horses. My horse is eating grass

 ⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧ 

Once off the horses, we were given a bottle of water each as they prepared for stage 2. Stage 2 gave the chance for the experienced riders to ride faster(or gallop as i’m told), and the chance to ride bareback into the water. Sarah and another lady paired up together to do this. 

Sarah bareback riding

Sarah said “I was sat trying to balance without a saddle, when suddenly i was thrown back as one of my legs was pulled up. I looked down to see that the horse had taken a liking to one of my bright yellow laces, and was pulling on it as though it was spaghetti! 🙂 

Once stage 2 was over, we had about 45 minutes before the singing taxi arrived. “No way, does this mean you get to swim in paradise again?!” i said as Sarah was already half way down the beach!! 🙂 

The Swim…

Sarah running towards the empty sea

⇧ Sarah excited to be the only one in the beautiful sea ⇧  

Sarah submerged in the turquoise sea. The whole sea is empty apart from Sarah

⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧  

Sarah walking towards me from out of the sea after her swim

Sarah portrait St John

 ⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 🙂 ⇧ 

The taxi ride was just as fun. The drivers stunning voice carried us all the way back to the ship.

 Back on the ship…

We now had to say goodbye to the Caribbean. 😦 We took our usual sofa’s in the coffee port, and with coffee’s in hand, we watched the island slowly disappear. We both agreed that this was our fave place of the trip, and the horse ride was our best experience so far!!

Our new friend…

On returning to our cabin, the steward had created a folded towel turtle, and used my hat as the shell, fantastic!!  🙂 

Folded turtle from towels with my hat as the shell

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Horta, Portugal, we’ll arrive on Sunday late morning, after 5 leisurely days at sea. having travelled 2,173 nautical miles, at an average speed of 16 knots.

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☀️ #17 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Basseterre, St Kitts”🇰🇳

St Kitts logo

 

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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☀️ #16 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Philipsburg, St Maarten”🇸🇽

Philipsburg St Maarten Logo

After a quick bacon roll from Lido’s on Deck 9, Sarah & i found our way off the ship, and to the shore excursion point. 

St Maarten Island Tour…(excursion details)

Flying under two flags, St Maarten has got something of a split personality. But despite being one half Dutch and the other French, its whole is as Caribbean as it gets. And on this trip you’ll get to see both sides of this two-faced island, with your guide giving you snippets of history as you go

You’ll travel from Philipsburg(Dutch capital) to Marigot(French capital) passing through dinky villages hardly touched by time. Once you reach Marigot, you have some free time to explore this four street-wide city. All patisseries, pavement cafés and designer boutiques, it’s easy to see why it’s known as the French Riviera of the Caribbean.

The Dutch Side…

Our tour started with a drive around the beautiful Dutch side of the island, the air conditioned bus was perfect on this hot day. The guide pretty much told us that this was the place for the profligates. Casinos, night clubs, fast food outlets etc.  I instantly thought of  Mathew 23 “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean”. Not quite in context, but you get the idea! 🙂

I know i keep going on about the vivid colours, i still can’t put into words how stunning they are, i couldn’t get my camera to do them justice! The Colours will be the main thing i remember about the caribbean! 🙂  

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon…

The driver/tour guide said he’d stop the bus for about 5 minutes so we could take some photos of the bay. “Excellent”, i thought as Sarah & i followed a man with a DSLR who was leaving in a hurry off the bus. I thought “if he is so keen to get off, then it must be a beautiful bay”. But as soon as he had moved to the edge of the cliff, he started saying “Why did he stop here? This is horrible, and a building site! There were much nicer places where he should’ve stopped”.

I ignored his complaining and started taking photos of the scenery i couldn’t see anyway, as i wanted to see what he was talking about when i zoomed in at home after the holiday. I still can’t make out the detail, but what i can see looks beautiful!, and well worth stopping for! 🙂

Photo taken of Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

St Maarten Bay 4

St Maarten Bay

⇧ Lookout Point – Simpson Bay Lagoon ⇧

The French Side…

Moving seamlessly from the Dutch side of the island to the French side, Sarah started to feel a little more at home as the guide said “You won’t find any Burger King, KFC, casino’s etc. You’ll find cafe’s, restaurants, small independent market stores etc”.

After more fascinating history of the island, we pulled into Marigot(French capital), and now had 45 minutes to have a look around! 

Marigot…

 After leaving the bus, we headed straight for the open space where we found another lovely bay 

St Maarten Bay 5

⇧ Marigot bay ⇧ 

After standing a moment to absorb the beauty, it was over to the market to see what we could find.

The smell of the locals cooking on the market was amazing, but Sarah had found a sweet little craft stall. The lady created items from the coral found off the shores St Maarten. “Oooooh, i could have a necklace made from St Maarten”. I knew that to mean “i’m getting one, i just don’t know which one yet?!” 🙂 

close up photo of Sarah's neckolace she bought fromm a market stall in Marigot, St Maarten

⇧ Sarah’s St Maartens Coral Necklace ⇧  

Sarah really was starting to feel at home here,  but we had to get back to the bus! We enjoyed our stop in Marigot, and we said we’d love to spend a week here to investigate more! 🙂

Back On The Ship…

After finishing the island tour, we went back to the ship to get some lunch. We had a few hours before the ship sails away, so we decided to see if we could find a beach!

Sarah always says “The holiday hasn’t properly started until our feet are standing on the sand!!” 🙂 

After a frustrating hour walking from one end of the dock to the other, trying to find transport to take us to a beach. We started heading back to the ship defeated. When.. suddenly a “Water Taxi” sign appeared! Fantastic, lets go! Eventually we got on-board a very busy(yet cool) boat that took us a short distance across the bay. 

After just stepping out of the boat, i heard “Hi Steve and Sarah”. It was Martin, a kind man i sat next too on the plane over to Jamaica. We’d got chatting on the plane about sight loss and coping etc, and he has a Nephew who is suffering at the moment, so i was giving him some resources that may help etc. We Sadi “Hi Martin, are we anywhere near a beach?” He chuckled a little and said “Yeah it’s right here, just walk down this short pier and you won’t miss it” “Fantastic!” “Don’t be long though, you don’t want to miss the ship” Martin said, as he boarded the water taxi. 

Great Bay Beach…

Photo of the beach, with a palm tree on the left, and 2 cruise ships on the right

⇧ View of the cruise ships from Great Bay Beach ⇧ 

The afternoon sun was getting hot now, which must have been why most of the people were inside the bars. But we had been in air conditioning all morning so didn’t mind a bit of sun. 

It also meant that, not only did we get to walk on the powder white sands, but Sarah got to swim in the turquoise waters with hardly anyone around! An amazing experience! 🙂  

Sarah couldn’t believe she was swimming in paradise, and couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day! 🙂 

A full photo of just sea, with Sarah head poking out in the bottom right corner

⇧ Sarah relaxing in paradise ⇧   

close up of Sarah walking out of the see,with the water up to her hips. Sarah is wearing her fave spotted puple swimsuit

landscape shot of Sarah walking out of the turquoise sea, onto yellow sands, with sailing ships in the far distance

⇧ Beautiful! ⇧ 

It really was getting hot now, so we nipped into a small bar for a cold soothing drink. I thought i’d try a Rum & Coke(though i didn’t taste much coke), and Sarah had her fave Mojito. 

We had a last walk up and down the beach before boarding the water taxi back to the ship. What an amazing day! This whole holiday has been simply breathtaking for us, and Sarah still can’t believe she got to swim in the beautiful, warm Caribbean sea! 🙂

Towel Folding & Beyond…

You’ve already seen the fantastic towel folded Elephant on Day 1, and each night the cabin steward folded our bed in amazingly straight lines, but he went one step further. We found Sarah’s nightie folded in this fantastic pattern.

a close up shot of the fantastic pattern folded by the cabin steward on Sarah nightie

a photo of the folded bed covers and Sarahs Folded Nightie 2

⇧ Folded nightie and bed, with chocolate mints on pillows ⇧   

Our Route 4 2day…

This evening Thomson Dream sails to Basseterre, St Kitts. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 59 nautical miles at an average of 4 knots.

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☀️ #15 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Road Town, Tortola BVI”🇻🇬

Road town logo

Absorbing  The Landscapes…

As we were at anchor during our visit to Road Town, with local ship’s tender boats transferring us to, and from the shore. We had a little time to take some photos before we left the ship. It was so calm and peaceful as we stood in front of this beautiful landscape.

A view of the front tip of the boat in front of a beautiful landscape

Me on the left taking a photo of the coastline, whilst a boat enters the image from the right. Also the image has a overkill blue filter

⇧ Sorry…i couldn’t resist the overkill blue filter effect! 🙂 ⇧  

A beautiful image of the small islands of Road Town

⇧ The beautiful coastline of Road Town ⇧  

A boat leaving its stream from left to right with the coastline behind it

 ⇧ I listened patiently until the boat that i couldn’t see was hopefully on the right of my shot! 🙂 ⇧ 

Road Town hillside

⇧ The rolling green hills of Road Town ⇧  

After having a fun(bobbing up and down) tender boat ride, we were driven along the coastal road covered in vivid green trees which stroked the tops of brightly coloured bungalows.

The Dolphin Encounter…

We had now arrived at the Prospect Reef Resort where Sarah got into the water to splash around with dolphins that call this place home.

As Sarah’s eye had been closed to keep out infections, we thought it was best to choose the “Dolphin Encounter” instead of the fully immersed  “Swim with Dolphins”. We just couldn’t risk it! 

I booked the “Dolphin Observer” which didn’t turn out well. Sarah & i were separated and i had no way of knowing which pool she was entering, so i waited on the nearest seats i could find, quietly listening for her name to be called out. Then as i’d hear it, i’d whip out my camera and get some shots. I didn’t hear her name as i was sat at completely the wrong pool. 😦

But all is not lost…i bought the fantastic photos taken by their photographer. Yay! 🙂 

Sarah wearing swim suit and life jscket, stood in front of a large surf board promoting the dolphins

 ⇧ Sarah stood in front of the surf board logo sign ⇧ 

  Sarah had never done anything like this before, she was excited and apprehensive at the same time. But as soon as she got into the water and met her new friend, she was blown away! 🙂

Step 1: Meeting the dolphin… 

Sarah on the right touching the dolphins nose

Sarah now looking at the camera with a huge smile on her face, whist still touching the dolphins nose

 ⇧ Sarah’s first touch of the dolphin ⇧ 

Step 2: Dancing with the dolphin… 

Sarah said as she took hold of both flippers, the dolphin started a funky wiggle dance! 🙂 

Sarah stood on the right holding both flippers whilst having a dance with the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah dancing with her new friend ⇧  

Step 3: The Kiss… 

Sarah getting a kiss from the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah receiving a kiss on the cheek from the dolphin ⇧ 

Dolphin totally out of the water half way through a jump

⇧ Dolphin showing its excitement after meeting Sarah! 🙂  ⇧  

Once Sarah was dried off and changed, and we collected the photo CD, it was time to catch the bus back and head for Road Towns pretty main street and market. 

We had one place in mind(if we could find it) “Sunny Caribbee”. Everybody was talking about this place and the incredible local spices, sauces, coffee, artwork…everything! 🙂 

We got off the bus and walked into town. We walked for a while longer, then we did(what we always did) when we got lost on our trip…listen for a broad northern accent! It was only seconds until we found some people from our ship who pointed us in the right direction! 🙂 

Sunny Caribbee…

Sunny Caribbee

⇧ Photo of the shop front of Sunny Caribbee ⇧   

Sunny Caribbee Hot Spices

⇧ Bottled sauces with fantastic hats! 🙂 ⇧

Once inside the shop we were amazed by the variety and beauty of the products, and how lovely and helpful the ladies were, We just wanted to take everything! Once we saw the sauce bottles with the hats, we just had to get them as presents! 🙂  

We were sad to leave Sunny Caribbee, but it was time to head off to the main street market as Sarah had seen some beautifully coloured dresses!

Sarah bought a lovely bright dress, but no photos yet. 😦  

After getting lost again in the town, we managed to find directions (yes another northern couple) back to the tender boats. It was another bobbing boat ride back to the ship.

We then took our usual seats in the Coffee Port, while drinking our favourite double espresso macchiato’s, we watched the islands disappear as the ship sailed away.

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Philipsburg, St Maarten. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 92 nautical miles at an average speed of 8 knots.

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☀️ #14 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: La Romana, “Dominican Republic”🇩🇴

La Romana

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

⇧ My lovely wife Sarah’s beautiful 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. 

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☀️ #5 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Sienna”🇮🇹

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 of the day! 😀 

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☀️ #4 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “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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☀️ #3 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “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! 

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 remain in your “ tranquility Lounger” and see what’s coming on day 4! 😀 

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☀️ #2 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Florence, Italy”🇮🇹

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…

The 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!! 😀 

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☀️ #1 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Tuscany Tour” 🇮🇹

Tuscany logo Italy

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

Here goes…This New Endeavour is going to bring back some amazing memories for me and Sarah, and i hope it brings lots of smiles, laughter and interest during your lockdown, as we look back on the places we have been so blessed to visit. 

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.

 
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 that i’ve driven(before i went blind lol), 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…!!!

🇮🇹 Next Day

I Am Free! 😀

A screenshot of my wordpress app open on the reader feed and my voiceover cursor on the like button of a post

Hi WordPress family! I just wanted to update you on the WordPress app and how i can now use it properly on my iPhone!

In case you’re wondering why all of a sudden you’ve started seeing my likes and little picture thingy on your posts…It’s because i can now use the reader on my iPhone using voiceover screenreader. I have waited ages(years i think) to be able to do this as i can’t use the website reader very well at all. So now i am free to go crazy and read all of the blogs i’ve missed spending time on! 😀 

I’m trying to catch up on as many posts and blogs that i can, and i’m also finding lots of new ones…It’s fantastic for me and i have finally been set free on this app!

🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 4 – Day Of Rest

DSCF4340

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…Your fave Boxercise instructor! 😀 

Now let’s talk about rest and sleep. It’s vitally important to take a day of rest to give your body a chance to heal, it helps to de-stress, and also helps our minds focus…On FOOD, lol! 😀 

🎶 Remember our happy singalong…”Every snack you make, every meal you bake. Every bite you take, I’ll be watching you.”  

 

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🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

🐾 Pawing Away The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues With “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 3 – Tug O’ War

Bruce pulling on his plastic sausages from the left and Sarah's hand pulling from the right

Welcome back to your daily lockdown drill brought to you by Bruce…Your fave Boxercise instructor! 😀 

Attention!! Today’s Drill…“Tug O’ War”

One of my fave games was playing Tug O’ War with Sarah (or against anyone who was willing), My string of sausages was a great toy to use in this game, but anything you can get in your mouth will do. It’s a great test to see who could keep going the longest! I Can’t remember who won this game…Me or Sarah?! I’m sure I did!! 🐾  

⬅ Previous Day 🐾 Next Day ➡ 

🐾 Begin Boxercise class from Day 1  🐾

🐾 Pawing away the COVID-19 lockdown blues with “Bruce THE Boxer” Day 1 – “Meet Bruce”

Bruce with his fluffy toy Eeyore

🐾 Hi, I’m “Bruce THE Boxer”, I’ll be your ‘Boxercise’ instructor and I’ll help you paw away your COVID-19 lockdown blues! 

Don’t be fooled by my cute baby face…I’m here to teach you recruits discipline, security detail, accurate attack methods, basic knowledge of weird humans, grooming and best of all…Boxercise drills.

Now we’ve got the small stuff out of the way, click the next day button at the end of this post for your first drill! 😀 

Description…

I may be more than a little biased as Boxer dogs are my fave, but sharing a fun daily photo of “Bruce THE Boxer” will not only put a smile on my face(and help keep his memory alive) for me…But also put a smile on your face(or even LOL) and this may help a little to help paw away some of the COVID-19 lockdown blues! 😀 

Please be patient with me as i’m not sure which will happen first…The lockdown ends or i run out of Bruce photos, lol.  😀 

🐾 Next Day ➡ 

Praise The Lord!

Psalms Logo

Psalm 150:6 (ESV) 

6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Tiger

Job 12:7-10 (ESV) 

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

 Description…

This is another photo taken on our day trip to Chessington world of adventures a few years ago. The crazy thing is…I had no idea that this Tiger(or any of the creatures in my recent posts) were looking at me until i returned home and zoomed in on the photos whilst viewing them on my iMac, lol! 😀 

I hope this beautiful Tiger puts another smile on your face,? 😀 

 

🎶 Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all. 🎶

Smile! 😀

Psalms Logo

Psalm 150:6 (ESV) 

6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

 A black and white framed photo of a close up shot of a smiling lizard

Psalm 118:24 (NLT)

This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Description…

This is a photo taken on our day trip to Chessington world of adventures a few years ago. .

Hope this little dude puts another smile on your face,?

Also hope you are staying safe, well and faithful during this challenging time?! 😀 

“I’ve never seen so clearly since going blind” 20 Years Of Sight-loss!

Me playing my Taylor K22ce at church and in front of a cross on the wall

Hi friends. As it is 20 years to the day since i went blind…I thought i’d share one of my older posts(yet updated) from 4 years ago when i was asked to share a little of what i went through when i lost my sight at 24.

I really hope that you’ll have the time to read it, and that it blesses you in some small way?! 

Here Goes…

I was asked by our Minister Nik if i would share my Testimony in the 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, lol).

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 – July 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, it was out of character but i collapsed on the floor sobbingg my eyes out. And as my crying out got a little too loud they pulled me into a small empty room….And this was the easy bit”.

“Following this was pure isolation… all my football mates left me, i lost my job, my car and ability to do anything…i lost 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, as i was telling my story…

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, and it took a couple of minutes for me to try and start talking again….but more sobbing…i was completely undone. But these tears were different!

I already 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, 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 rarely 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 to stand on no matter how bad things got for her, and i was being dragged deeper into the sinking sand. 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”.

“I’ve never seen so clearly since going blind” This is one of my fave sayings. 😀 

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, lol.

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 Post: My Full Testimony 

The Sound Of My Eyes! – Repost 😀

Wow, i can’t believe it’s been 7 years since i posted this! I thought i’d repost as i think it could be interesting to the many more fantastic people who have followed this blog in the last 7 years. 😀 

A curious blogger asked me a fantastic question “Do you have a support worker or a friend to read these posts & comments to you? Or is there some other way?”

As my sight is too poor to read print, i use the built in synthetic voices on my iMac to read aloud every post, comment, scripture, quote & prayers. I made a short video so you can hear some of the different voices and get a little insight of how technology can be used to help blind people stay connected and share fellowship with you great people!

Please comment below with any thoughts and questions…I’d love to answer them, no matter how random! 😀 

My Immense and Daunting Challenge

Hi all. As most of you know, i play acoustic guitar alongside my lovely flutist Wife Sarah in church…But the time has come for me to meet my Nemesis! 

My guitar teacher “Harry(best guitarist ever)” has just started me learning the song i’ve been building up to over the last few years. It’s called “Clap” by Steve Howe(see video below). This is a huge challenge for anyone…But as you know i’m registered blind and can’t see my fingers or the frets etc so itreally is “My Immense and Daunting Challenge”.

I would like to write a follow up post around 2025 and i hope to be able to play at least a few bars of it, lol. 😀 

Just wanted to announce this milestone for me…For you who play instruments…What are some of the songs/music that have been your Nemesis? And is there any songs/music you’d still like to be able to play? Also for anyone out there…Do you have a challenge similar to this in any other areas of life? I’d love to hear from you! 😀 

🇧🇶 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 3 Kralendijk, Bonaire

YAY…HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!!

Today was the birthday excursion for Sarah. It was a second choice as the first choice was sold out weeks before we’d even started our cruise. We were thinking about the 4×4 Land Rover trip we’d done in the Azores(see here) but couldn’t really get excited…As it was much hotter here and the thought of being crammed in the back of a Land Rover really wasn’t doing anything for us today. So what we thought was going to be an anticlimax…Turned out to be the best trip of the whole holiday! Oh and i’d just travelled in my best vehicle of all time! 😎 

The 1961 Yellow Unimog…

Awww friends….Let me introduce you to this Yellow, 1961 Unimog…..have you seen the tires, lol! It threw us around like crazy and i still can’t believe that he didn’t slow down for anything. There is no way a vehicle can hit rocks, huge pot holes, climb cracked hills and go around tight bends whilst travelling at break neck speed, it would have destroyed anything else and left them in a pile of spare parts, lol. I’m not sure they issued these with brake pedals! 😎

Sarah & i infront of the yellow 1961 Uniog

Arawak Off-road Safari… 

 First, we  climbed into the Subi Rincon hills, where the amazing yellow Unimog stopped at a set of time-worn Indian caves.

Cave in Bonaire
 
 Bertrand was our fantastic guide, and even better rally driver, lol. He said he had a PHD(pot hole dodger) although he didn’t dodge anything but drove straight over everything which made the ride so much fun…We were all hanging on for dear life!! 😎  

view overlooking the island of Bonaire

 The Bonaire Donkey’s… 

The Bonaire Donkeys

Panorama of the lakes and saltflats with the wind turbines in the centre on the horison

the beauty spot, Seru Largu. This cross-topped monument sits on a raised platform, setting Sarah up with panoramic views of the capital, Kralendijk.

Panorama of the island of Bonaire
  
Sarah & i overlooking the island of Bonaire
 
 Back at the ship…
 
After the incredible and mind bending ride in the Unimog, we quickly went onboard and had an iced coffee before heading out into the town to see what goodies we could find.
Yay, we managed to buy another bauble for our Christmas tree…Oh and i bought another bright and colourful shirt.
 
The Evening Meal…
 
We had a lovely Italian meal and the highlight for Sarah were the sugar free Profiteroles…Now that was a fantastic ending to an even greater day! Happy Birthday Sarah!!
Profiteroles

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

 Join the “Blind Sightseers” on more adventures HERE

 

🇦🇼 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 1 Oranjestad, Aruba

Hi all! Thanks for joining Sarah & i on our Birthday celebration holiday, it’s great to have friends along for the ride.

Marella Explorer…

Unbelievably this is the Blind Sightseers 6th cruse! We have never been on the Marella Explorer and Sarah had booked cabin 8001 which is dead centre and right at the front of the ship. She chose this cabin as she thought the views from the window would be fantastic….She’s right again! 😎 

All it was missing is a steering wheel, lol.

A view of a sunset from our cabin on the Marella Explorer looking directly forward and centre at the front of the ship

⇧ View from our cabin Nø 8001 ⇧ 

Day at Sea…

Before getting to Aruba we had a day at sea. We were pleased with this as it gave us time to walk about 80,000 steps to find out where we could get Breakfast and the evening meal…But most of all find the Coffee Port to see if they made lovely strong coffee!

 🇦🇼 Aruba…

As usual we had booked an excursion for each of the 5 islands we were visiting and todays excursion is: De Palm Island – Full Day, Aruba.

De Palm Island has got it all. Set adrift off the Aruban coastline, this private reef offers up pristine waters and a huge variety of exotic marine life, it’s a first-class spot for an underwater exploration. Your day will start off with a short boat trip over to the island, where the friendly staff will be waiting to meet you. After a short safety briefing, you’re ready to slip on your mask and wade into the warm, clear waters. Expect to meet friendly blue parrotfish and angelfish. Back on dry land, there’ll be time to sprawl out on the sand, take your seat for a banana boat ride or visit the island’s small waterpark before heading back to the ship. Don’t forget that a full buffet lunch and refreshments throughout the day will be included. 

My lovely wife Sarah

 ⇧ My lovely Wife Sarah catching some long awaited sunshine ⇧ 

Me stood on the left in a orange caribbean shirt carrying a black backpack with views of palm island, Aruba in the background

 Yay…It was the first time in a while that i’d been able to wear the bright orange shirt i bought in Saint Kitts from our first cruise…Read all about it here.

 Sarah & i had a great time wondering around this beautiful little island and we also found our fave place….The gift shop! We love to find some things that help us remember the amazing journeys/adventures we have conquered.  

Back at the dock…

After a short boat ride back to the ship, we had enough time to get changed, leave our bags and have a well needed iced-coffee before heading out to explore as much as we can without getting lost before the ship leaves.

We walked up one street and turned right before Sarah stopped and said “Wow, she’s having her photo taken in front of that cool wall art/sign. Quick get one of me” “Ok my lovely, you’re wearing your new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt too, i hope i get everything in”. Sarah had bought this t-shirt for our holidays and couldn’t wait to put on the lovely bright colours and flowers.

Sarah stood on a surf board in her new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt.

 This is one of my fave photos as it shows Sarah’s smile is as bright as her t-shirt. 

We have started collecting Christmas Tree Baubles too since i started going abroad 5 years ago. We love unpacking them at Christmas and filling the tree with all  of the places we visit. We think its a lovely idea to fill the tree with our lives journeys and give thanks to God for everything.

Walking back to the ship we finally found a local Bauble maker…Her daughter makes and paints them herself. We bought it(photo later when Sarah finds where we put them on our return home)

Our wonderful new friends… 

Photo of 6 of us after a lovely evening meal. Sarah & i meeting 5 new friends

 Going back to our day at sea…Sarah & i like to share a table with other passengers, mainly to take this opportunity to try and be sociable( being blind and trapped in your very small world & not having any eye contact it’s almost impossible to be sociable. or start conversations). So asking someone to read the menu for you because we are blind is a great ice breaker, lol! 

We met 2 lovely couples that night and you will hear about them throughout this trip!

Tomorrow…Curacao… 

Thanks once again for joining us on our adventure, i hope you’ll join us tomorrow for our trip around Curacao. 

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

 Join the “Blind Sightseers” on more adventures HERE

 

Blindman Tough Mudder 5K – The Big Day!

Yay…..We did it! 

With more than a week past….My knees are still scabbed and bruised…..But i’d like to give an Elephantine amount of thanks for everyone involved! 💪🏼 

A photo of the hard as nails team with our headbands on and our arms around each other

⇧From left: Adie, Vini, Me, Josie & Ashley ⇧ 

First, I’d like to give a stupendous amount of thanks to my lovely Wife Sarah….The amount of love and encouragement was/is mind-blowing!  And the “Hard As Nails” team…..”“my muscles were fading but the sense of team work was overwhelming and no matter what…..We were getting over those obstacles”.💪🏼 

Second, i’d like to give a monumental amount of thanks to the “Crazy Clappers” team. “When i’d finished an obstacle and was about to collapse……I’d hear the Cheering Team and you’d put a big grin on my face to remind me it was alright and to keep going! 😎 

Third, i’d like to give a gargantuan amount of thanks to all of you guys for your donations to “World Cancer Research Fund” and encouraging   me(& the team) every step of the way! “Intention isn’t Prevention……And you all have helped me spread the good  news with everyone so we can all be aware and empowered to start fighting the cancers we can prevent.” 

Fourth, A colossal amount of thanks to John & Sarah Atherton(from the Epsom Camera Club) for giving up your Saturday and taking the amazing photos of us all….We’ve got fantastic memories of the day!

Finally, I’ve already passed the whopping £1,000! The fundraising page is open for another 3 months…..So if you haven’t donated yet or you’d like to donate again(now you know i’ve managed it) it would be amazing to smash more obstacles and raise as much as i can! 😎 💪🏼

Tough Mudder 5K – Saturday 13th October…….Here Goes!

Adie, Me & Josie at the start with smoke covering the landscape

⇧ From left: Adie, Me & Josie ⇧  

Adie on my back as i carry him on the hero carry

 ⇧ Me carrying Adie on the “Hero Carry” ⇧ 

It was amazing to have my friend of nearly 30 years Adie Monk join our “Hard As Nails” team. I thought we’d sit and catch up over a coffee….I didn’t have this in mind, lol!

Thanks John Atherton for taking another great photo. I can’t thank you and Sarah Atherton enough for giving us all these memories to cherish! 😎  

After jogging a little, we came to this…….

“At over 2 stories high, this is one of the most impressive obstacles in the UK. It is a giant A-shaped cargo net that you and your team will have to scramble up and over it. Working together will be the only way to overcome”.

Adie, me & Vini on the scramble net 

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This is where my new trainers just hooked perfectly around the rope and it felt completely solid. Also my blindness helped me out for once as i couldn’t see how high i was, and didn’t freeze like a couple of people i heard up there!

 Then….When getting to the bottom i hear “Yay, Whoop Whoop, Steve, Steve, Steve” and the sound of the plastic clapper hands were going crazy! What a feeling to know my lovely Wife Sarah and the Crazy Clappers team were cheering me all of the way, a great feeling! 😎  

Me, Vini & Ashley cheering

 ⇧ Me, Vini & Ashley biggin’ up the cheering team ⇧ 

More jogging….Adie and the team were excellent at guiding me when jogging. Moving low hanging branches, telling me of tree roots and pulling me in the right direction. Adie said “I tried running with my eyes closed for a few steps…And there is no way i’d try any of this if i couldn’t see”.

Then…..

“We’ve taken the 10′ Hero Walls and tilted them right at you. By removing the ability for you to climb up and over this wall, you will have to form a strategy with your team, work together and boost each other to the other side”.

Vini on top of the wall and me trying get my leg up to get grip for my pull up!

 ⇧ Ouch, my leg hasn’t bent that far in about 20 years, lol! ⇧ 

More Jogging…..

This obstacle will have you crawling on the ground, pinned down by a giant cargo net. Working your way through this one will require lots of communication, teamwork and a strong will. 

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You’ve guessed it…..More jogging and then….

“The aim of the game is to get your team up and over this stack of super-sized hay bales. There is no right or wrong way so boost, shove or yank every last team member over the other side. 

Ashley helping Josie

⇧ Ashley helping Josie in a display of team work ⇧  

 Next…….

“Can’t go through it, can’t go round it, you’ll have to go over it. Work together to boost and shimmy your teammates up and over this 10′ Tough Mudder staple.

Ashley at the top of the wall

Josie on the top of the wall with all of us cheering at the bottom

Vini helping Josie at the top of the wall

 Yep, more jogging…..

“Time to get swinging. Grab on, hold tight, feel the momentum and swing yourself from ring to ring like a regular Tarzan. This obstacle will test your strength, coordination and flow. Hang in there, you got this.

Really didn’t do well on this one…And i can’t really blame my sight for lack of strength, lol!

Me on the rings

 After a little more jogging……

“One of the most teamwork-inducing obstacles in the Tough Mudder portfolio, this obstacle is difficult to complete alone. You’re going to have to work together to form a human pyramid and, like its namesake, climb up and over your fellow Mudders on the way to the top.

As Vini was making everything look so easy…..It was great to look at the photos afterwards and see it wasn’t all too easy!! 💪🏼  

Vini & Ashley pulling Josie up the pyramid scheme

Vini, Ashley & me pulling Josie up the pyramid scheme

Pyramid scheme 1

Pyramid scheme 2

Pyramid scheme 3

 AND NOW……MY NEMESIS!!!!

“A true Tough Mudder legend. Everest will challenge participants to run up a quarter pipe to reach the summit. Can’t do it alone? Not to worry – teammates are encouraged to hang over the top to pull their new friends up and over.

 I knew this was going to be more difficult for me as i needed to try it and get hands on before i could calculate what exactly i needed to do. Adie & Ashley explained the process….But i knew i just had to do it before i would really know….As running at a half pipe wall thingy when blind is going to be interesting!

Here Goes Nothing…..

Me running at Everest

Me and Everest

I took 1 step too many….and before i knew it the wall was in my face! Ooooo i was so close to reaching the ledge.  

Me crashing into Everest

After hitting the wall i dropped down on both knees, and as the obstacle was made of hardish tyre rubber, it simply burned and ripped the skin off both knees….Wow that stings, lol. Time to regroup and recalculate! 

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“Ok Steve, just do the same but with 1 step less”. Here i go again!

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Yay….That’s better…..And once i had my talon trainers gripped to the ledge, i could just heave myself up. Wow i made it! 💪🏼 

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18JA3400⇧ Ashley showing how it should be done! ⇧😎  

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 The team were fantastic and we all made it up. No-one was being left behind and you could just feel the team growing closer with each obstacle, it was amazing. 

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 Now the final obstacle was overcome, it was time for a short jog to the finish line,Yay! 

The Finish Line & The Headbands…… 

IMG 4397

 WE DID IT…… 

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⇧ When words fail to say how thankful you are!!! ⇧ 

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⇧ Me, Adie & the headbands ⇧ 

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⇧ Adie, Vini & Me for a final photo ⇧ 

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WOW WHAT A JOURNEY……

I hope after getting this far…..You’ve enjoyed this journey with me and the team too? They are already talking about doing a longer and more muddier one with more obstacles for next year. What do you think? Should i go for it? Would you like to see the Blindman take on a greater challenge? Let me know in the comments section what you think!

I can’t thank everyone enough….


Lets Go Somewhere, McKinney

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