Tag Archives: Legally Blind

☀️ #40 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Corfu, Greece”🇬🇷(2017)

Corfu logo

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι) 😀  

Wow what a day yesterday, it’s time for a little relaxing today….

Glyfada Beach is a Blue Flag strip of sand on Corfu’s west coast. You’ll have three hours to enjoy it during this trip. The soft, golden sand unravels into a crystal-clear lagoon. While behind it, dramatic, tree-peppered cliffs tower over a smattering of shops and restaurants. You can be as relaxed or active as you like – top up your tan as you lie on a sunlounger*, or get stuck in with watersports*. There’s windsurfing, waterskiing and pedal boats up for grabs.

How does that sound for a relaxing day at the beach! ☀️  

On the dock…

After another lovely breakfast we got off the ship and met up with the excursion team who kindly showed us to our coach. This excursion is a really short one  and is only 3 hours long, but we thought that Sarah could swim and play in the sea whilst i had a lay down on a sun bed and go to sleep . 😴   

The coach dropped us off miles away from the beach and we had no idea which way to go. Sarah quickly guided (dragged) me as we needed to follow the other people from the coach. The other people soon split and went in multiple directions and we were soon left on our own. After a few wrong turns (about 15 minutes) we were walking along a path parallel to the beach. “This looks more like it” Sarah said as we were walking down the side of a white hotel looking place. “Wait a minute, they said there would be lots of shops and cafes etc and there are none here”. We continued walking towards what appeared to be an empty beach and Sarah said “No, not this way either, we’ve already been off the coach for about 30 minutes”. 

We started heading back to the parallel path and back down the side of the hotel when…

We heard “There’s Sarah and Steve” and a few seconds later Brian and Ann (friends we met on the captains night evening) were stood in front of us. “No way” i said “Fancy meeting you here?! How areyou doing?” They were not impressed and said “We were on the bus before yours and we’ve walked around the whole place and nothing is open! We’ve paid good money to be on this trip and there is nothing here worth while, we’ve wasted our money”. Sarah said “We’ve also been walking around for ages and your right…There is not much here. Shall we walk down here and see what’s on the beach?”. 

Shortly after reaching the beach Ann said “There’s a cafe type bar over there, let me treat you both to a drink and we can chat for a while and then see what else we can do”, “Wow thank you so much”. ☕ 😀  

The Cafe… 

The cafe overlooking the beach with lots of umbrellas outside for shade on the sun beds

It was a lovely little cafe/bar facing the sea (i think that’s what the photo shows above?) and when the waiter had put our drinks down on the table, Brian said “We enjoyed the meals you left when that huge man stole you from our table, lol” Ann said “Ooohhh yeah tell us what happened. Did you get arrested?” 🤣  

We had a great time unfolding the events of that evening and told them it was also our 10th wedding anniversary. they both said “We’ve been married 42 years this year, we married in 1975 as teenagers”. “Wow” i said “Congratulations…I was born in 1975 and it’s amazing to be married for that long”. 😀  Brian and Ann were from Yorkshire so when Sarah said she grew up in Yorkshire and her family were still there, the conversation kept flowing and we connected really well! Time also flew by as we were chatting, laughing and having a fantastic time after the day had started badly, and we were already half way through our excursion time.

Ann said “Hey…We’ve been chatting for ages don’t let us stop you having your time at the beach. Go and have some time to yourselves. You can leave your bags with us so you don’t need to carry them”. Brian added “I’ll get my iPad mini connected to the internet and show you some Facebook photos when you get back”. Sarah replied “I’m also on Facebook so we can add each other as friends too and stay in touch”. 

The beach…☀️  

Sara at the very bottom walking out to sea with the huge seascape in front of her

I love this photo of Sarah (above) i can spend ages just soaking it in. Sarah works in London and commutes for 3 hours (round trip) into the dull grey and back into the lush greens of home. Her eyes get burned out with all of the close built up areas of London, and they work hard focusing on all of the close up objects and this results in lots of eye strain…But when she is on the ship or on the beach she says “My eyes totally relax as they love not focusing on close up objects but they rest whilst looking into the distance”. 😀  

Knowing all of this, i don’t need to tell you that Sarah really enjoys herself when in the sea… 

Sarah lay down in the sea with a pier in the background

Oh yes I forgot to let you guys know…I’m actually here! I’m burning hot again but my tactical sun hat is working well! 😰  

selphie of me in my tactical sun hat with my face in the shade from my hat but the sun is shining all around

Back at the cafe…

We returned to the cafe after rinsing off the sand under a tap attached to the wall. Ooohhh that was a lovely cold tap, lol!  Brian said (whilst looking sad) “The cafe doesn’t have Wifi so i can’t connect my iPad to the internet” as Sarah said “Oh that’s a shame i was looking forwards to seeing some of your photos, and also searching for my profile and adding you as a friend”. I thought for a moment…”Wait a minute! I think i can do a ‘Personal Hot Spot’ on my iPhone if i have a cellular connection…I’ll just check”. 

I sat down a pulled my iPhone out of my pocket, plugged in my earphones and listened to my Voiceover screenreader. “Hey Brian, it says i have 3G so you’ll be able to connect and use my connection” “What? I don’t understand what you’ve just said?” After Sarah talked him through connecting via hot spot “Wow thanks, i’m not sure what you’ve just done but thanks” and he opened up Facebook! 😀  

Ann turned to me and said “How did you just manage to use your phone?” I turned down the speaking rate to normal and unplugged my earphones, i said “Can you hear it reading out the name of the apps on my home screen, it even puts a box (Voiceover Cursor’ around the app it’s reading out so you can follow along if you have low vision too. “Wow” Ann said “that’s amazing how it does that”. I said “And if i tap 4 times with 3 fingers it puts on a screen curtain “It’s gone off” Ann said “No, it appears that way but it has just made the screen black so i can have privacy too while i’m using my phone”. “Can you read messages too?” Sarah said whilst laughing “Oh no don’t get him started, we only have about an hour left and he’ll go on for ages”. We all started laughing. 🤣  

Time was simply flying by, and after more lovely conversations on an omnifarious amount of topics…It was time for us all to head back to the coach.

Back at the dock…

Walking off our coach(Brian & Ann had a different ticket)  and towards the port shop. Sarah said “Maybe this shop will have some souvenirs as all of the beach shops were closed?!” “I hope so” i said whilst following Sarah into the incredible air conditioned shop! “Hello again” Brian and Ann said “We’re looking for souvenirs as the beach shops were all closed” I said “Yeah that’s why we’re in here too, lol”.

The hand…

Brian, Ann and Sarah had already exited the shop, i was following a few steps behind as i let a man through as he seemed in a rush. I heard Sarah say “Come on Steve” and then a huge fit of laughter burst out of Ann…Then Brian…And finally Sarah! They were still doubled over in giggles as i got there. “Wow what happened” i said as i’d just carefully navigated the step upon leaving the shop. Ann said whilst giggling “Sarah just grabbed that other mans hand and pulled him out of the shop thinking it was you” Sarah still with an embarrassed laugh said “Come on you, you’ve caused enough trouble , lol!” Now we all burst out laughing! 🤣

Back on the ship…

Before heading back to our cabin Ann said “It’s my 70th Birthday today” “What?? You kept that quiet” Sarah and i said together whilst both in shock. Brian said “We booked this cruise for Ann’s 70th Birthday treat! Would you like to eat with us later to celebrate at the usual place? We meet you at 7pm outside”. Sarah said “Yes of course that will be lovely…And Happy Birthday Ann!” 😀  

Sarah instantly crafted a plan…The plan was to wait until the ship leaves the port so that the shops can open. Then we can find a birthday present for Ann before we meet them at 7pm outside the restaurant…She executed her plan perfectly and the present was lovely, Ann loved it! 😀  

Ann’s Birthday meal…

Photo of Brian and Ann taken from their Facebook page

⇧ Brian & Ann ⇧ 

We met up with Brian and Ann and sat down at a table for 6. There were another couple sitting down too (sorry forgot their names) but they were also from Yorkshire. Sarah & i thought they must be Brian and Ann’s friends but Ann said they’d just met them before we came in and we asked them to join us. 😀  

Brian whispered “Don’t say anything but i’ve arranged a special birthday cake for Ann and she doesn’t know.” “Aww fantastic” i said. And after our starters and main meals…It was time!

A small group of waiters led by a guitar player and all singing ‘Happy Birthday’ they arrived behind Ann. She started laughing as they played (and we all sang a long) the birthday song, and when we’d all finished another waiter placed the cake in front of Ann. She was beaming and happily surprised and thanked Brian profusely! ❤️

After a while Brian and Ann said “We can’t have the rest of the cake as it will make us ill, and the others don’t want it…Would you like to take the rest back to your cabin?” Sarah said “Wooahhh it’s pretty much all cream…Steve you’ll love it” i said “Well what can i say? If it will help you out then i’ll take this burden from you!” 🎂😀 

Back at the cabin…

We returned once more to our cabin and were met with yet another folded towel creature. 🐊 

photo of a towel creature lay on the bed

What a fantastic day! We thought this day would be one of the worst, as we only book a beach break when there are no other excursions available. But today was great and spending it with Brian and Ann was lovely…Oh they are also our Facebook friends now too. 😀    

Thank you all for joining us in Corfu. I hope you had a lovely time? But…We’re not finished yet,

To be continued… 

Our Route…..

On Tuesday evening Thomson Spirit sails to the port of Kotor, Montenegro. Where we’re expected to arrive on Wednesday morning having travelled 185 nautical miles at an average speed of 14 knots

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day  ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #29 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Yay…Caribbean Again!”🇯🇲

Jamaica Logo

 Yay!!!! Were off to the Caribbean again!! (2016) 😀  

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

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

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

The Airport…

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

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

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

Me on-board the Fun Train at Gatwick irport

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

A view from the airplane with the wing in view

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

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

Yay,we’re back in Jamaica! 😀    

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

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

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

The Emergency Drill…

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

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

A selfy of Sarah and i wearing our orange life jackets

 The Coffee Port…

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

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

Day 2…..

Sea logo

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

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

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

Coffee Port Latte

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

Our Route:

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

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #28 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Matlock Bath”🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Matlock Bath Logo

Wow what a cruise! I hope you’re enjoying this trip down memory lane? 

 🚠 Before we head off back to the sunshine…Here is a trip in the UK, lol!  🇬🇧 ☔️ 😀 

After travelling up to Derby and spending the day with “Our Friends The Wigley Family”  Sunday came and we woke up to a lovely view over Derby.

Hotel Room View overlooking a road and a landscape

⇧ View from our hotel room ⇧

We then headed to the train station to travel to Doncaster to see Sarah’s family.

Sarah Portrait

⇧ Sarah sat in the train station café ⇧ 

Little did we know that the Tour de France was in Yorkshire on this day, but to our surprise the reservations were overloaded and the train was full so we got upgraded to first class (for free) which was empty! 🙂

Sarah s First Class

⇧ SARAH’S FIRST CLASS!! ⇧ 

We arrived in Doncaster for Marshall’s birthday dinner at Cosmo’s where we met all of the family. We had a lovely meal and it was great to catch up with them all! 🙂

Marshall on left, Sarah in the middle and Alfie on the right

⇧ Marshall (left), Sarah & Alfie ⇧ 

After arriving back in Derby that evening, Sarah & i went to our fave italian Zizzi’s for a lovely meal. I also got to have the lovely chocolate, banana & ice cream calzone, which Sarah stole most of! 🙂 

Sarah  the calzone

Then it was Monday 7th July our 7th wedding anniversary where we would enjoy “The Heights Of Abraham” at Matlock Bath.

Cable Cars  Sarah 2

Cable Car View 2

We we arrived at the top we found a tower (which was too dark for us to climb) but it looked nice! 🙂

Tower  Cable Cars

And i met a new friend…….

Me and Donkey

⇧ My new friend (i love donkeys in case you didn’t know!) 😀 ⇧ 

And after my amazing driving in the bumper cars (see here) i found another vehicle i had to drive……..

Me driving school bus

⇧ Getting the chance to drive yet again! ⇧ 

Cable Cars  Sarah

⇧ Descending back down to ground level ⇧ 

Cable Car View 3

Cable Car View 4

Cable Car View

⇧ Views overlooking the villages from the cable cars ⇧ 

After a fantastic (and exhausting) weekend we finally checked out and headed home!

The Hotel

⇧ Sarah outside Jury’s Inn, Derby ⇧ 

All photos taken using my iPhone (i left my heavy DSLR’s in the hotel)

⬅ Previous Day 🚠 Next Day ➡ 

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #27 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Palma”🇪🇸(2015)

Click Palma Logo to begin the Transatlantic Sunset Tour

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

Palma Dock

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

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

Cecily and the Coffee Port… 

Photo of Sarah and Cecily in the coffee port

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

She was so supportive of us and made fantastic coffee! ☕ 😀 

Getting the coach…

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

Palma airport…

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

Just then we heard our names called…

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

Yay, the plane…

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

Palma from Thomson Dreamliner

Back in the UK…

We arrived in Gatwick airport on the Sunday before Bank Holiday Monday. The plan was to have the Bank Holiday as a rest day to try and recover from this rollercoaster of a cruise. But the drama hadn’t quite finished yet…A rest day, what is one of those? 😀 

A&E…

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

Sarah’s new job…

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

Finally…

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

Thank You, Thank You & Thank You…

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

⬅ Previous Day 🛳 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #26 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Alicante”🇪🇸

Click Alicante logo to begin the Transatlantic cruise

After about a week of sleepless nights, to say Sarah & i were tired is an understatement. Also Sarahs cough is a lot worse and her lungs feel like a boa constrictor has coiled around them. Her erratic blood sugars are making her sick too…but apart from that, we are excited to find out what our last shore excursion has in stall for us! 😀 

The coach was waiting for us from the bottom of the gangway(phew…at least we won’t get lost around the dock, lol) and we set off towards the castle. As we drove down narrow windy streets lined with vivid green palm trees, with cafes splashed with orange i said to Sarah “Wow, it’s like were driving through one of your fave tracks from Gran Turismo 4 on the Playstation 2!!” “Ok” she said ”Not sure i’d have thought of that, but now you’ve mentioned it, that is exactly what it looks like”. 🙂

 Santa Barbara Castle…

As we stepped off the air conditioned coach onto the sandy/dusty car park, the first thing to hit me was the intense heat. The Caribbean was very hot but there was always a lovely cool breeze, but this heat seemed focused on burning me to a crisp! 🙂 

I’m sure it was just a short walk to the castle and to my surprise i was already halfway down my bottle of water, so when we arrived to find a big climb to the top of the castle which included slanty slopes and invisible rough steps etc, it was time to start the thought process “I think we’ve done something stupid again, and taken on an excursion we should’ve never taken on”. But as usual my thoughts were quickly defeated as my Warrior Wife took my hand and relentlesly attacked the slopes! Sarah always leaves me speechless, as i know she is feeling much worse than me, yet she battles on and fights when most others would give up. This is one reason why i’m so proud of her and love her more than anything! ♥️

The view…

Once we reached to top and found the nearest wall, the view was fantastic and well worth risking our  lives, lol 🙂  

Alicante 1

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

While stood admiring the view, i could hear a noisy flag flapping above my head. I thought “I havn’t tried taking a proper flag photo in motion before”. It took about 5 minutes to try and get my camera to focus, but i finally got my first! 🙂  

Spanish flag blowing in the wind

The tour guide was great, telling us all about the gruesome, bloody history of the castle(history never changes) told us we had an hour of free time to have a look around the castle and we’d all meet up at the bottom.

Yay, we had more time to look around! 🙂  

A view overlooking parts of te path quite a long way down from the top of the castle

Sarah sitting at the top of the castle

Another view looking down from the top of the castle

Alicante 10

Alicante 7

It really was stunning up here, and i was excited to find Sarah getting her phone ready for one of her breathtaking Panoramas! 🙂   

Sarah looking at her phone preparing for a panorama at the top of the castle

Wow Sarah has treated us with 2 breathtaking Panoramas again!!! 😉   

Alicante Panorama 2

Alicante Panorama 1

After Sarah “Top Trumped” me again with her amazing photos, we decided to begin our adventure down to the meeting place. We knew it was going to be much harder on the way down but we were going to enjoy it anyway! 

Alicante 9

As we still had about 30 minutes, we tried to look at everything we hadn’t seen on the way up. 

Sarah and the gift shop

When turning around, i thought Sarah had found a gift shop and was carrying a huge present for someone, lol. But thankfully it’s one of the statue things we found on the way.

Sarah and the castle 3

We then found a cool little alley way.  

Sarah stood directly behind a warriour throwing a spear pretending to throw it too

This has to be one of my favorite photos!! I’m glad to see Sarah(The Greatest Warrior” parting some of her knowledge and instruction to an inferior ranked warrior on how to correctly throw a spear! 🙂  

 After many more laughs, we did eventually make it back to the meeting place, and then on to the coach, Ooooohh, air conditioning! 🙂 

 The Town Hall Square & Cathedral of Alicante…

 Walking through the town was hard work as it was very busy, but Sarah did find a local craft store that were selling handmade daisy broaches out of wicker etc. So while she was looking, i thought i’d quickly snap a couple of photos.

Alicante Market Square 1

Alicante Market Square 2 Sepia

The Cathedral of Alicante… 

Alicante church 1

Alicante church 2

 On leaving the Cathedral, the tour guide said we have 30 minutes free time, then could you please find your way back to the coach, i’ll be in the bar down this side alley getting a cold drink if anyone wants to join me? Sarah said “Come on quickly, we need to get to him before he gets swallowed by the crowds, as we don’t know our way back to the coach” “Okay, let’s go” i said as we zigzagged our way towards him. We caught up with him and he told us the easiest way back to the coach.

But before we headed back, Sarah had a chance to try the only Spanish phrase she could remember from her childhood holidays with her Dad.

“It worked!!! I must have said it right” Sarah said as she brought 2 bottles of Lager to the small corner table in the little bar we’d stumbled upon. 🙂

The Explanada, one of the most beautiful waterfront promenades in Spain…

 On leaving the bar, Sarah saw this stunning pavement lined with palm trees. It reminded us of the incredible pavement in Horta, Azores.   

Sarah on the Alicante palm tree art path

Me and the pal tree art path

Shortly before leaving the coach back at the dock, we had one final laugh when the tour guide told us he was from California, works in Alicante and is married to his Wife from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. “Wow” I said “That amazing, the guide yesterday was from Derby(my hometown) and Today the guide stays in Doncaster(Sarah’s hometown) a few months of the year, and when he finally said”I’ll be outside the French Gate in Doncaster in November, we all burst out laughing. 🙂 

Back on the ship…

We had just enough time to capture the coastline of Alicante from the ship before Thomson Dream sailed away to Palma, Mallorca for us to get the plane home.

Alicante Dock 1

Sarah on the ship at Alicante dock

After getting changed for the evening meal, we knew it would be the last time we’d see our Orion Restaurant friends. We met them at our usual time and table and had a lovely evening talking about all the adventures of the day. 

Who knows? We may bump into them again on a future cruise, which would be great! 🙂   

Our Friends at Orion Restaurant

Leaving the Orion Restaurant, we headed to the delo bar to enjoy our last cocktail with great music. 

Alan Davidson playing piano and singing in Delo bar

After a really long day, we arrived back at our cabin to find a new fantastic towel creature on our table. Sarah quickly moved it into an arty position ready for a humorous photo! 🙂  

Lobster Towel

Just one more day to go before we head home, and Sarah and i spent the sleepless night talking about the highs and lows of our 1st cruise, and only my second time abroad! 

Thanks once again for joining us, it’s a blessing to share with you. 😀 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #25 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Gibraltar”🇬🇮

Click Gibraltar Logo to begin the Transatlantic cruise

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

⇧ Sarah welcomes you to Gibraltar! ⇧

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Lovely Wife Sarah

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

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

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

Sarah and the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar

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

Photo of Sarah taking a Panorama of Gibraltar rock

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

A panorama of Gibraltar rock

Sarah's second panorama of Gibraltar rock

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

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

⇧ Sarah videoing one of the monkeys ⇧  

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

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

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

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

Gibraltar 1

Gibraltar Sepia

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

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

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #24 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “The Model Ship”🌊

Sea logo

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

Swan

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

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

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

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

Here Goes…..are you ready??? 

My Ship

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

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

At Sea after Azores

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

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

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

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #23 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Sao Miguel, Azores”🐬

Såo Miguel logo

 After more wild blood sugar readings, no sleep and seriously nasty coughs, i was really looking forward to our excursion today. If you remember on Day 7 Antigua we had 1 horse power each, but now i was hoping for lots more horse power in our 4×4! 🙂  

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

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

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

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

Sarah leaning and the 4x4

⇧ Sarah and the 4×4 ⇧

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

A landscape covered in rain, fog and mist

⇧ King’s View ⇧

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

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

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

A black and white photo of a lake in Sao Miguel

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

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

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

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

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

⇧ This place really does remind me of Jurassic Park ⇧   

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

Looking through the trees atSao Miguel

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

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

Sarah in Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel Village

Sao Miguel church through the trees

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

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

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

Sarah and the tunnel

Back on the ship…

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

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

Sao Miguel Church

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

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

Alan Pianoman

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #22 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Horta, Azores”🐬


Please click logo to begin the tour

welcome to Horta!!! 😀  

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

⇧ Sarah welcoming you all to Horta! ⇧

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

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

Horta Marina 2

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

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

Horta designed pavements

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

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

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

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

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

Warning…one of Sarah’s breathtaking panoramas…

Panoramic view of Horta bay

Sarah in Awe at Horta bay

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

Volcanic rock at Horta bay

Horta hillside with lots of scattered houses

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

Beautiful mossy green gill with a house/centre inbedded within

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

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

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

Sarah walking around Horta hill

Sarah relaxing on Horta hill

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

Sarah says hi

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

Horta Sepia

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

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

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

Sarah at Horta marina

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

Sarah and the ship

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

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #21 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Relaxing, Reflecting & Coughing!!”🌊

Sea logo

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

Sarah looking out to sea

⇧ Sarah relaxing and reflecting ⇧ 

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

Shopping… 

Handbags on ship

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

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

Another fave spot…

Sarah on deck

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

Hair salon…

Hair salon

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

The evening restaurants…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cough…

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

Keep smiling… 😀 

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

Sarah reflection

 The Azores…

After about 4 (or is it 5?) sleepless nights (i’ve lost count) we were looking forwards to arriving at the Azores. Sarah was especially looking forwards to getting off the ship and onto solid ground and having the freedom to explore another fantastic island! You just can’t keep this warrior princess down! 😀   

Yippee land ahoy!!!

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #20 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “CODE ALPHA!!”🌊

Awww i told myself not to cry this time whilst reading this…I failed, my face is soaking! 

Sea logo

After enjoying a lovely coffee, we decided to explore the ship to try and familiurise ourselves a little more, and find things to do. Bingo, getting drunk and burned on sun loungers were not something Sarah & i found entertaining. 

The hair salon…

We found a hair salon and booked Sarah to get her hair done, and see if they had some ideas to cover her closed eye. I thought “Being pampered and relaxed is just what Sarah needs after a traumatic day yesterday! 🙂 I managed to find my way back to the coffee port on my own to wait for Sarah, which should be at least an hour depending what she chooses to have done. It sounds feeble, but finding the coffee port, and the door handle, and even a spare seat without anyone sitting on it, is a massive achievement for me! 🙂 

Sarah returned looking beautiful, but i noticed she was having another hypo, standing up i said “Quick, lets try and get back to the cabin as we know that Lucozade or hypo stop works for you”. “Ok” Sarah said whilst struggling to stay on her feet. We were only 1 deck above our cabin, but after only a short walk Sarah really started to drop. I thought “There is no way i’m trying to navigate the stairs, and i can’t see to use the lifts”. Luckily we were at the entrance to a bar/lounge. We were greeted by a nice Filipino waitress. I said “My wife needs the sweetest drink you have as she’s diabetic and having a hypo”. She was confused, but showed us to some seats(as Sarah’s legs were really starting to give way) and disappeared. I prayed that she understood and would bring something before Sarah lost consciousness. 

The waitress returned (having told the bar man our situation) with a bright coloured drink. She said it was the sweetest cocktail they did with a lot of syrup in. I thought “a little unorthodox, but we have no choice, Sarah needs sugar now”. 

Having been a gamer my whole life and played some nerve racking, suspense filled and tense computer games over the years, nothing compares to this real life game of trying to encourage Sarah to drink something she doesn’t want, to absorb sugar into her body before passing out! 

Within the next half hour, Sarah was back with us again (phew), but feeling sick from the hypo, We needed to get back to the cabin as we didn’t know if her blood would start to shoot up again, as we didn’t have any idea what was in the drink, which is why we try to always use the lucozade etc. as we know the effects. Sarah also now had the bone chill that only comes from a hypo.

Back in the cabin…

Yay, we found the cabin! 🙂 I’m starting to remember how many doors to count from both sides depending which set of stairs we go down. Once Sarah had checked her blood sugar again and realised it was starting to rocket, it was back in the fridge for the crossbow bolts…i mean syringes. Even with our video magnifier it was really hard to make out the measurements on the needle, but after another big bruised, and big holed injection, it was time for Sarah’s hot bath to try and get rid of that freezing cold bone chill!

A while later Sarah said “Diabetes has already ruined one evening, night and most of today. I’m not going to let it ruin the rest of my holiday. Lets get dressed up and search for some nice live music” “Fantastic idea, we both need cheering up”.

Sunset…

Instead of walking down endless boring corridors, we walked outside to stroll along the deck down to the rear of the ship and look out over the huge ocean. This evening we were gifted with a beautiful sunset.

Beautiful burnt orange sunset.

Ocean sunset 2,

As we were out on deck 9, we walked all the way to the rear (non technical name) and entered the ‘Lido restaurant’. We were both a little hungry and as this is the buffet place, it’s fantastic for Sarah as she can have vegetables or salad etc without having any of the carbs, or sugar rich sauces which raise her blood sugar. 🙂

We became a little disheartened after hearing a couple of the live bands playing some popular rubbish on deck 8, but we walked on past the reception and hair salon and walked into a dark elegant room. Sarah said “Oh great…it’s the casino :(”. I said “It looks like the Ultralux from Fallout New Vegas (PS3 game)” Sarah replied “It feels like fallout to me, a shiny, depraved wasteland – just what I’ve come to expect of the entertainment on this boat 😦 lol”. But then a classical piano started playing, just audible over the noise of the casino. “Where’s that lovely piano coming from?” I said knowing that Sarah would love it. “Through there, but i’m not sure what it is as it’s too dark” “Let’s go find out anyway”. i said as i took her arm. 

The Delo piano lounge and cocktail bar…

A view of the Delo bar with quite a few people sat on leather chairs and sofas with a pianist in the background sat at a grand piano

We stood taking in the gentle atmosphere and fantastic piano playing and both said together “This is more like it 🙂 ” We found Sarah a seat at the bar right next to the piano, Sarah loves watching pianists as they play with professional ease and elegance. It brings back lots of her childhood memories of the classical piano lessons she enjoyed! 🙂 

Pianist Keith sat playing at the piano

⇧ Keith the pianist ⇧ 

After about an hour, we were so happy that we’d found another fave place, especially after the last 24 hours, we headed back to the cabin. Sarah did another blood test “Steve, my blood’s still going up!” I said “That’s impossible, you’ve not had any sugar or carbs, and you’ve already had insulin before we left” “I know, and now i’ve got to take some more to try and bring it down” “Ok, take a little more and we’ll keep an eye on it”. 

 Sarah sat on the sofa with the magnifier reading the excursion options for the Azores. I opened Spotify on my iPhone and started playing my “✞ Acoustic Worship” playlist knowing it’s Sarah’s fave. I thought “Time for us to relax and reflect for a while on a lovely end to a hectic day”. 

CODE ALPHA…

Sarah’s next words were “I think my blood’s dropping” “Oh no, I thought, your voice is slurry again, your blood can’t be that low already. Can you manage a test?” Sarah’s test confirmed a huge drop in a short time. I jumped into survival mode and grabbed the lucozade and hypo stop. Sarah was fading fast “No, no ,no, not the big one” i said wondering if this would result in a diabetic coma. I didn’t have to wait long before Sarah lost consciousness!!

I now switched from survival mode, to what will Sarah need if she goes to hospital mode. 

Sarah was sat upright on the sofa, and as i balanced to hold her head upright (there were no pillows in reach) i grabbed the cabin phone and dialled 999! A man answered and asked “How can we help?” I said “My wife is diabetic and she’s having a hypoglycaemic episode and is unconscious but still breathing” He said “She’s unconscious now? What’s your cabin number i’m on my way!”

He arrived in about 60 seconds. I told him what had happened as he was frantically inserting needles etc. He then called the bridge to tell the captain and his team, and a few seconds later i heard “CODE ALPHA, CODE ALPHA cabin 7062”. I thought “That’s blasting out of the tannoy system that goes around the whole ship, and within minutes our cabin was full of people, and a wheelchair. After a few minutes Sarah slowly started to respond, but only groans. The female doctor was now in the room and after checking everything, she said they’d take Sarah to the hospital to try and stabilise her.

The hospital…

After grabbing Sarah’s bag and a few things i thought might help, i was kindly guided down behind Sarah to the hospital waiting room. Sarah was in a private room next door.

A woman sat me down and read through a couple of papers that made sure we had health insurance etc, she then said to my surprise “You really seem to love and care for Sarah” I said “I really don’t deserve her, she is amazing. I lay down my life for her…and give her my all. I’m so blessed to share my life with my best friend, she’s beautiful inside and out. Isn’t that what love is?” It seemed like she’d never heard a response like that, and just said “Wow, that’s lovely” and went quiet for what seemed like minutes! 

I was then able to see my lovely wife. Sarah was still not conscious yet but was in what seemed like a peaceful sleep. I sat down and the doctors and nurses were coming in and out, checking drips, machines and Sarahs breathing etc. 

Sarah in the hospital bed with a doctor dressed in white helping her

Sarah then moved and slowly started to come round, she said “Oh no” her usual response after realising where she is, i said “It’s ok my love, we are just making some nice new friends, just relax and enjoy being pampered”. After another hour of checks from nurses and the doctor, suddenly the nurse panicked and said something to the doctor. All 3 of them surrounded Sarah’s bed frantically adjusting and checking, The doctor kept shaking Sarah and shouting her name but got no response. I thought “It can’t be another hypo as she’s being monitored closely, so what is this?” Soon after i was told by the concerned doctor to wait in the waiting room next door. 

The waiting room…

Ship hospital waiting room

Now i was worried…. i sat here alone in a hospital that’s swaying side to side in the middle of the atlantic ocean. My thoughts started to get the better of me..

“What if this is it, and i don’t get to speak to Sarah again”

“What if i never hear her amazing laugh, or feel the warmth of her hug again”

“What if i’m now on my own struggling to face the rest of life (never mind the holiday) without my lovely wife”

ENOUGH!! i thought and desperately gave it to God in prayer.

“Oh Lord please help, if this is Sarah’s passing to paradise, then i want to say i’m not happy about it, and i’d like to spend more time with her on earth BUT thank you so much for blessing me with such a priceless gift, i can’t express how much i love her and i’ve tried to be the husband you commanded me to be. Sarah has shown me such love, happiness, forgiveness, acceptance and a life i simply didn’t know was possible BUT if it’s not her time, please comfort her and bring her back to me, Amen”.

A short while later the nurse said i could come back and sit with Sarah again. Sarah was awake and fighting with the oxygen mask. She said “Where’ve you been? I told them that my diabetes was unstable which is why i have the pump but they didn’t believe me, they never do, and now they’ve given me a second hypo after pumping me full of insulin again”. I said while kissing her forehead “Oh my lovely, i’m glad to have you back”. 🙂 

We’d been in the hospital for about 2 hours, it was just coming to 3am. Sarah kept asking if i was alright and did i need anything. “I bet you’re hungry and need a coffee” “It’s ok, i’m enjoying being here with you, please get some sleep as you’ve had a rough couple of days, i’ll be right here”. 

It was 6:30am when Sarah was allowed to leave. She was given more supplies to last for the rest of the holiday. Then the doctor explained about how fast acting insulin is absorbed into the body with the syringes, and how it differs and works a lot slower than the insulin pump. She said “Once you’ve had the injection, the insulin will not start to work for 1½ hours and it will be completely out of your system in 3 hours. And as you don’t have the pump giving you little bits all of the time, your blood sugar will rise on it’s own, so you need to give bigger (and overlapping) doses to compensate.

Sarah had never been instructed on any of this over the years because everything had ben controlled by the pump and i certainly didn’t know anything about insulin absorption, as with the pump it pretty much works straight away. We also wondered why she hadn’t explained this to us yesterday, which would’ve helped.

We now headed back to the cabin to try and set up another plan of action, we knew this was going to be a difficult task, never mind adding things like food etc. lol 🙂  

Wow, what a night! That’s 2 nights without sleep already, and it’s time to set up the alarms for every 2 hours on my phone. Sleep is not going to come easy from now on…is the coffee port open yet? Might as well have a nice coffee if i’m awake! 🙂

Only 3 more days at sea (i’ll merge into one post) until we reach Horta, Azores, where we can hopefully do some more excursions! 🙂 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #19 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Goodbye Caribbean…hello massive ocean…”🌊

Sea logo

Goodbye Caribbean…hello massive ocean…

After another amazing day in the Caribbean(which was now about an hour away), we thought we’d try and relax with a spot of sunbathing. This meant trying the almost impossible task of finding not 1…but 2, empty sun loungers.

A view of the ocean from the rear of the ship, overlooking the sunbathing area at the bottom of the shot

Fantastic! We found 2 together, no way. But…pretty much after placing our towels onto the sun loungers, Sarah’s “Paradigm” insulin pump started alarming!!

“That’s not the usual alarm” I said as Sarah was trying to read the tiny screen in the super bright sun. “I can’t quite make out what it’s saying, but it’s not something i’ve seen before, i need to go back to the cabin and use the magnifier”. The pump continued it’s piercing alarm all the way to the cabin!

Back in the cabin..

Once back, and using our video magnifier, the error message on the screen said “A button has been continually pressed for more than three minutes. to clear press ESC, then ACT”.

Sarah said “That’s weird, my pump’s been nowhere near anything that would press the buttons, but it sounds easy enough, i can finally stop this annoying alarm”. After hearing a few clicks, then a few more, the pump was still alarming. “It’s not working” “What do you mean, are the buttons not responding?”. “No, it won’t clear the error message, can you have a go”. I tried, and still nothing except the error message and the alarm!

We both knew we didn’t have long as the pump has now stopped delivering insulin, as Sarah needs a continual small dose, as not only does Sarah have type 1, but a brittle form, and she is also slightly allergic to insulin! 

After taking the battery out, waiting 10 minutes before replacing…the alarm and message were still there! After trying it again, I said “Should we take it to the doctors in the hospital on Deck 3?” “They won’t know anything about insulin pumps, it’s specialised equipment, which is why it’s carefully monitored, and finely tuned by the diabetic clinic”. After a few more desperate tries to cancel the alarm, and running out of options, we had no choice, and headed down to deck 3.

The Hospital…

Reaching the bottom of the stairs to Deck 3, we were greeted with a couple of corridors and lots of doors. We could hear voices coming from an open door on the right, so we headed there. We found the doctor who was sounding very concerned whilst talking to a couple of very poorly sounding people, who had deep growly coughs. I said “Let’s wait out here”. A man dressed in a white suit approached us and asked if we were ok? After explaining what had happened, he looked at the pump, took it, and asked us to wait in the waiting room.

He returned with the doctor(a female with quite an aggressive manner), she explained that the pump was broken, and we needed to get a new one. But for now she needed to work out how much insulin Sarah’s body ran on. We said the pump gives a small amount of Humalog every 1-2 hours continuously, but all of the information is programmed in the pump that has now locked itself. This didn’t impress her! Between us, we had to try and calculate how much insulin Sarah took each day, by adding up the dosage at meal times, and adding a little more to compensate for the pumps continuous injections in the background. 

After a couple more hours of stressful calculations, the doctor gave Sarah some old school syringes and told us to keep a record of insulin taken, time of insulin taken and food eaten etc. We returned to our cabin worried about how we were going to cope for the rest of the holiday, and did we have enough Humalog insulin in the fridge, as the hospital on-board didn’t use it, or stock it.

The Phone Call…

We went up to reception on Deck 8(lots of stairs, lol)  to see if we could phone Medtronic(the makers of the insulin pump) as they are an American company, and would still be open. We couldn’t phone the UK diabetic clinic as they were 5 hours in front, and it would be about midnight! 

After a long drawn out discussion with the receptionist, asking if there was a way to call out from a ship, as we have a medical disaster, as Sarah knows her body reacts badly to injections etc, and really does need the continued small amounts 24 hours a day.  So we really needed to call Medtronic to see if there is any way of saving the pump! Eventually we managed to phone Medtronic, and after a £52 phone call…he told us “the pump was broken!!”. Sarah has been on an insulin pump for about 15 years, and they have never broken. But 1 hour from Antigua, sailing at sea for 5 days…it breaks! 😦 

Trying to relax…

As the realisation was setting in of trying to manage with injections, and Sarah’s blood sugar was still on the rise after the first injection. We were getting a little worried on how this was all going to play out. We decided to stay in the room and just figure out a game plan for the rest of the holiday. We then managed to figure out how to turn on the TV, i thought a film might help Sarah try and relax after the trauma of the day. 

After a while when Sarah spoke again, i instantly knew we were in trouble! The slightly slurring sound of Sarah’s voice told me her blood sugar had suddenly shot down and it was very low! “Oh no,” i said as i jumped into survival mode. Sarah was still conscious so i knew i had a little time. I went straight to the fridge and got the bottle of orange lucozade that usually works if Sarah is still able to drink. 

After about 10 minutes Sarah was slipping away, so i ran to my bag and got the Gluco Gel and squirted it into Sarahs mouth. Gluco gel is fantastic and absorbs into gums etc, and after a while(a nervous while) Sarah was back with us. “Phew” i said as relief was pulling me out of survival mode. Sarah said “I’ve had a hypo havn’t i?! These injections really aren’t going to work, my body just goes erratic and messes up”. 

After a sleepless night of trying to stabilise a yo-yoing blood sugar, we were not really enjoying our first day at sea. But we decided to go and have a nice strong coffee at our fave place, as we’ve probably got another sleepless night tonight too. I said “It’s hard to imagine that not even a day ago we were riding on horseback across that beautiful beach”. 🙂 

Sarah has to check her blood sugar every 2 hours, day and night, for the rest of the holiday, as without the pumps continuous feed, we are left with just fast acting insulin, and lots of prayers.

This is becoming quite an adventure!!! 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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.

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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.

Wow, Did you enjoy this trip as much as we did? Did you have a fave part?  

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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.

Wow, Did you enjoy this trip as much as we did? Did you have a fave part?  

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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.

Wow, Did you enjoy this trip as much as we did? Did you have a fave part?  

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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. 

Wow, Did you enjoy this trip as much as we did? Did you have a fave part?  

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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! 😀 

⬅ Previous Day 🇮🇹 Next Day ➡

 ☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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!! 😀 

⬅ Previous Day 🇮🇹 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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! 😀 

⬅ Previous Day 🇮🇹 Next Day ➡

☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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!! 😀 

Previous Day 🇮🇹 Next Day ➡

 ☀️ Start From #1 🏝 Or join the adventure at:

☀️ #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!

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 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 

18JA3166

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. 

18JA3225

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! 

18JA3410

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

18JA3425

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! 💪🏼 

18JA3400

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

18JA3442

 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. 

18JA3449

 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…… 

IMG 4417

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

IMG 4427

⇧ Me, Adie & the headbands ⇧ 

IMG 4432

⇧ Adie, Vini & Me for a final photo ⇧ 

18JA3461

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….

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

As a “Blind Photographer” my sight is really blurry but i can just about frame a shot by the lines. I don’t often know what the lines of the objects are, lol. But it’s how i can get some good images now and then! 😀 

A black and white photo of my Taylor Koa K22 with lots of textured shadows

As i could get my hands on this guitar….I knew exactly what the lines were! lol.

I thought this weeks Photo Challenge was an ideal opportunity to post a photo of my Taylor K22ce acoustic guitar, which is made from the exotic tropical wood Hawaiian Koa. I just love the lines of this beautiful wood and never get bored looking at them.

Barbados & Caribbean Islands

Hi all. It’s been quiet over here for a couple of weeks….As Sarah & i (the blindies) have been on holiday! 😀 We tried a cruise and stay this time and had a fantastic action & adventure trip as usual, lol. We have just arrived home and i’ve lots of photos to sort out which i’ll post on here as soon as i get the days sorted out etc. 

I must be the slowest holiday blogger of all time….As i still have the last 2 cruises to post yet, lol But a huge thank you for all of your patience with me. I’ll post this holiday first and then work backwards for the other two! 

Here a a few photo so far to give a little taste…..

Me wearing a black best and orane shorts waling along the beach in Barbados with braided hair too

Me walking along the Barbados beach

Sarah running towards the camera with a volley ball net on the right on the Barbados beach. The sea is behind her

Sarah running along the Barbados beach

Sarah & i having a photo shoot during the Captains dress up night on the ship

Me and my lovely Wife Sarah

Join us on our other adventures HERE

iReminisce: The London Eye

London eye 7

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

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

Weekly Photo Challenge: Evanescent

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

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

St Kitts Church

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

In Flight

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

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

Sarah London Landscape

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

IMG 0317

D2X 9907

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

More Weekly Photo ChallengesW


Lets Go Somewhere, McKinney

A husband and wife traveling near and far while remaining full time coaches

Secret Diary of a Yorkshire Lass

Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Study . Work . Travel . Blog

A UK-based travel blog exploring the wide world one step at a time.

Hymn Lyric Archive

Need lyrics to a Church Hymn? Just type the Hymn Title in the search box to find the lyrics.

thriftyshopper7.wordpress.com/

Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Therapy Bits

Living life with dissociative identity disorder and complex ptsd

Reformed Brit

Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Michelle Lesley

Discipleship for Christian Women

The Proverbs 31 Woman

Emboldening the college woman in fearless faith

%d bloggers like this: