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☀️ #41 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Kotor, Montenegro”🇲🇪(2017)

Montenegro logo

Good Morning friends! (dobro jutro) 😀  

Are you ready for a scorcher today? It’s going to hit 41˚C as the heat wave moves in! ☀️ Also i had no idea (until looking) that it’s our 41st day of our lockdown memory tour, fantastic! 😀   

We booked the “Blue Cave Speed Boat Tour” for today but this tour was cancelled (last minute) yesterday evening. The excursion team told us the Montenegro officials read that your were blind and said “A blind person cannot board a speed boat” so they cancelled it! We said “We’ve done much more challenging things than stepping onto a speed boat” but we acquiesced and asked if there were any other tours left.

They only had “Highlights of Montenegro” a 10-12 hour tour with lots of walking. I said “Wow this is going to be magnificently burning hot”…I wasn’t wrong! 😰 

Well let’s see what we’ll be doing… 

The port of Kotor finds a home on the world’s southernmost fjord – or the ‘Bride of the Adriatic’, as it’s also known. As places go, it’s beautiful. Think blue seas. A stony shore. Green mountains. All drenched in the heavenly scent of lemons, oranges, mimosas and camellias. And here’s your chance to explore this gorgeous part of the world.

First you’ll stop at the mountain village of Njegusi to taste the region’s delicious smoked ham and cheese. Stomach full, you’re ready for…

Cetinje. Known as the ‘Valley of Gods’, it was once the smallest European capital and it’s filled to bursting with beautiful buildings. Here you’ll visit the King Nikola’s palace before having some free time to stroll around. Next you’re off to…

Budva – the most popular tourist destination on Montenegro’s map. And quite rightly so. Beautiful architecture meets seductive sandy beaches in this spot. Perhaps that’s why lots of millionaires decide to live here.

Leaving the ship…

After another lovely breakfast we stepped off the ship. “Woah” i said whilst leaving the lovely cool ship and walking into a hot oven. “How can it be this hot already?” Sarah quickly replied “Oohhh that’s better the ship was freezing”. 🤣  

On the coach…

A photo of the narrow road taken from our front seats on the coach

Yay, the Thomson excursion team has made sure the tour guide saved us the front seats on the coach. The first challenge (for the excellent driver) was to climb the famous Kotor serpentine road. The road was simply amazing, and witnessing the driver expertly navigate the hairpin turns and narrow road was incredible. The guide passed a picture (see below) around the coach and Sarah took a photo of it so i could zoom in on my iMac at home…Thanks Sarah 😲 

The Kotor serpentine road winding up the side of the mountain.

Arriving at Njegusi…

 The serpentine was pretty quiet and didn’t have much traffic as it was still early morning. I’m not sure how he guided this massive coach up and around those bends without flying off the cliff, but i’m glad he did, lol! 😀  

We reached the top and the view was simply breathtaking! Sarah was stunned on it’s beauty and said “Wow you can just make out our ship all the way down there”. 😀 

Photo of Sarah stood in front of and incredible landscape of mountains and a valley looking right down to our ship in the sea a t the bottom

incredible shot of the surrounding mountains and then looking down to the ship at the bottom of the valley

Me in my tactical sun hat stood in front of the mountains and valley

Yay…I’m here too! I thought i’d add a photo of me just to make sure you knew i was here, and didn’t collapse into a pool of molten flesh after leaving the ship, lol! 🤣  

Sarah stood in front of the mountain top bar/restaurant

 The group headed into the mountain top restaurant and sat down at tables overlooking the stunning view. I don’t think anyone was hungry as the waiters place a humongous baguette filled with the legendary local ham and cheese in front of all of us. Everyone kept saying “We’ve only just had breakfast about an hour ago on the ship”, even i was struggling and i’m never full! 😀 The ham and cheese was super tasty and it would’ve been nice to take some home with us…But it was time to go!

 We had a few more minutes to take some photos of this stunning place as people were filtering onto the coach.

Me stood with the landscape of hills and the valley behind me

Beautiful landscape of the hills, mountains and down to the ship in the sea at the bottom of the valley

A view throught the mountains

Sarah waving stood in front of the ship right down in th bottom of the valley

 Ok just one more shot of Sarah waving and saying hello to you guys, then we really do have to get back on the coach. 😀  

On to the next stop…

It was late morning now and the serpentine started to get a little busier.

And then…

Photo to taken from our front seats in the coach of the very narrow road with a coach facing us and having to reverse

The coach hit the brakes, our group said “Wooaahhh” and the drivers sorted out a way to carry on. Our coach had to reverse (no idea how he did it) up the hill and around some corners until he found a little pull in. It had taken our driver over half an hour to pull off this manoeuvre, and after a round of applause he drove on.  

We arrived in Cetinje… 

Leaving the air conditioned coach and stepping out into the centre of a bubbling volcano (that’s what it felt like to me)we followed our guide towards the museum, but on the way he quickly stopped to talk to us about a church building.

Vlah church…

Old churh building amongost some trees

Walking along a track the guide pointed out this lovely old church building and started talking about it’s history.

From Wikipedia

The church was initially made of “plot” (Serbian: плот), i.e. of sticks, switches and mud. It was rebuilt three times. First as “suvomeđa” (Serbian: сувомеђа), which means of stones without mortar; then of “klačena” (Serbian: клачена), which is stones with lime mortar; and finally, in 1864 the church received its current form. A guard rail around the church was built in 1897 using barrels of Ottoman rifles captured in 1858 during the Battle of Grahovac. 

The part about the guard rail using barrels of Ottoman rifles captured in 1858 really stuck out to me. I hope my two quickly taken photos showed the guard rail? We didn’t get any closer as the guide was moving fast! 😢

a closer shot of Old churh building amongost some trees

Walking towards the Museum of King Nikola…

Wow it was hot, i’ve never experienced heat like this  before! The Caribbean heat is much different and there is always a cool breeze, but here there was no breeze and it just felt like my bones were being steamed in a cauldron of boiling water, whilst my skin was being attacked by a million angry wasps with mini switchblades  cutting into me! 🔥🔥🔥

Then out of nowhere…

Photo taken behind a secret black police car with the door open and in front is the president of Montenegro

I heard cars whiz past and stop close to us, car doors flew open and there was lots of commotion. 
 
I said “What’s happening? It sounds like the NCIS team has just pulled up and Gibbs and his special agents have just rushed out of their cars?!” I wasn’t too far wrong as it was the President of Montenegro and his bodyguards.
 
a little further away from the rear black car and looking round to the right at the president
 
The guide told us to stop and take shade under a tree for a while and he’ll go and sort out what to do next. He was away for quite a while and whilst he was gone Sarah said “Hey Steve there’s a statue over there let’s go and take a photo” i replied “it’s boiling out there i’m staying under this tree”, of course this reply didn’t work and Sarah stood me in front of the statue, lol! 😓   

Me stood under a statue in montenegro

The guide returned and told us that the President will be inside the museum we were about to be guided around. So we’ll have our break now of about an hour as another group was before us and will be first to go inside the museum. We won’t be able to go back to the lovely air conditioned coach but there is the main square just over there, and there are some shops and a cafe. As the group separated we walked towards the square.

Sarah said “There is not much here but this looks like a souvenir type shop. Let’s get you out of the heat before you explode”. It was a souvenir shop and we bought a lovely painted plate with Montenegro written on and it hangs above the doorway to our kitchen. 😀  

Montenegro plate

Heading out of the shop we walked around the corner and Sarah said “OOooohhhh look at that dress!!” I knew exactly what the noise meant (as i can’t see what i’m looking at, lol) and we walked towards the shop. The dress was hanging up outside the shop and Sarah was completely taken with it. she said “look at the design…it’s all handmade stitching, the colours are beautiful and it’s simply exquisite…I love it! 😍 

Inside the shop…

Minding the step into the shop Sarah had a little look around to see if she could see the dress (the one outside) anywhere inside the shop. The local woman behind the counter said “You like the dress?” as she held up a black dress that Sarah didn’t want or like. “No i wanted to ask about the dress outside” Sarah said whilst pointing out of the window. “This dress would look really nice on you!” the woman insisted, “no i don’t like that dress it’s too dark for me, do you have the orange and red flower dress that’s hanging up outside in my size?” 

The woman continued in her heavy accent “You don’t like? Why do you not like? It look lovely on you!” Just as I was thinking that we’d never get out of here without even looking at the dress the woman said “There is only 1 of the dress outside but this dress (the one she was holding) we have many. Sarah said whilst looking a little disappointed as there was only 1 of those amazing dresses “Could i have a look at it please and try it on?”

The woman finally put down the other dress and got the one from outside and passed it to Sarah. “Wow this is amazing but it’ll never fit” Sarah said whilst trying not to get too excited anymore, but she went over to the changing rooms and tried it on anyway.

“Wow, you look stunning” i said knowing she’s about to tell me i can’t see it very well anyway, lol! “It fits perfectly, i thought there would be no way it fits…I’ve just got to have it” Sarah said with a beaming smile on her face. 

Leaving the shop with Sarah (she’s super excited) still stunned that she’d got the only dress of that kind available and it fitted perfectly, we headed back towards the cafe.

The cafe…

It was really busy and it was the only cafe open around this square and everyone seemed to be here. There was a man selling cold bottles of water under a sheltered bit so we went and bought a couple. Sarah found the only 2 chairs left which were in the sun. As we sat down with a bottle of water each…

Sarah shouted “AArrggghhhh” and flew up out of her seat like i’d just pushed the ejector seat button! At the same time half of the contents of her water bottle hit me in the face and covered mostt of my shirt (i was glad of the cooling down). But i said “What’s just happened?” “Awww the burning hot arms of the chair scorched my forearms as i sat down!” Ouch…I can still feel it as i’m typing this! 🤕 

Leaving the cafe it was time to meet up with the group to have our guided tour around the museum. On the way Sarah found some art and a fantastic building.

Sarah stood in the bottom left of the shot of the old house fills the rest of the shot with a tree on the right

Museum of King Nikola…

This fascinating Museum used to be the royal palace of the Montenegrin King for more than 50 years. So once the president had left we had our chance to see it. 😀  

The museum guide took us around the house and explained the significance and rarity of many of the items on display. She brought it all to life with a passion and pride that left a lasting impression.

The museum has many rooms which were presented as they would have looked when used as a royal palace, including the king’s and queen’s bedrooms, reception rooms, official meeting rooms, etc, and the various displays included clothing, weapons, furniture, medals and flags and other regalia from this historical royal house.

The temperature outside was 41˚C but inside it felt even hotter. We were told not to lean on any hanging wall paintings but the heat coming off any one of our group could’ve melted the painting (and the frame) from 10 feet away! The museum was incredible but everyone was so hot they all just wanted to leave. 

Just enought time to take one more photo of my beautiful and lovely wife Sarah! ❤️  

Lovely Sarah walking towards us inf front of a lovely old building

Back on the coach…

“Aww feel that air conditioning” i said whilst trying not to melt Sarah with the heat emanating from me! ☀️

Wait a minute…Yes it’s that time again! 

The coach stopped just long enough for Sarah to take a couple of wonderful panoramas. 

Sarah panorama of the rolling mountainous hills

Another Sarah panorama of the sea surround by mountainous hills

Arriving in Budva…

The guide flew off the coach and continued walking at breakneck speed for about 10 minutes. Sarah and i were tripping up little curbs, dropping down slopes and even started falling away from the group at one stage…But then he stopped to  show us this beautiful place…

The church with the bell tower on the left

the sea with the coast line on left

The guide said we had an hour free time and to meet him back in the main square ( i think i know where that is, lol).  

Sarah instantly found a coffee shop and wondered if they did iced coffees like the ones we’d had in Greece? They did even better than that! Sarah got me a massive one and said “If you stand here in the shade of the coffee shop, i’m going to go and see if i can get onto the beach. “Ok i’ll not move”. I didn’t need to move as this iced coffee was incredible…It even had 2 scoops of vanilla ice-cream with a double espresso poured over the top. I talk about this coffee as many times as i can. Wow…The ice cold coffee contrasting that scorching sun, mmmmmm. ☀️ 

Yay, Sarah managed to get onto the beach and put her feet on the sand so we were both very happy! 😀  

Not sure why i took this photo of the path?

A squared stone pavement in the town

We met up with the group and followed the guide back to the coach, the air conditioning wasn’t even cooling me anymore i was just too hot. I’d been boiled for about 10 hours and i think it’s going to take about a week to cool down. 😓 

Back on the ship…

Wow what a day! 41˚C is the hottest Sarah & i have felt so far on our travels, and we always talk about this day. But first it’s time to meet Brian & Ann for the final time on this cruise .

You’ll never guess…??

During our lovely 4 course evening meal Brian & Ann gave us this lovely Montenegrian design wooden box as a gift. Ann said “We didn’t go on any trips today so we looked around the town. We found a craft store and found this lovely box, i knew you’d love it and we just had to buy it for you! We were blown away with their kindness and friendship and we keep this box on our sideboard in our living room. Oh we also still have the 2 chocolates inside which Ann was handing out on her birthday! 😀  

Montenegro box.jpg made from wood with an amazing colourful picture all ove the top

Back in the cabin…

We were disappointed not to find a folded towel creature on the bed on our last day of this wonderful cruise. But this was the first of 2 cruises Sarah managed to book at the same price as the Barbados cruise and stay we had to cancel. Sarah managed to book them a couple of months apart…But we’re going to jump ship (Thomson Spirit) and climb a board the Thomson Majesty and sail away to our next destination! 😀 ☀️ ☕ ⛴

We hope you’ve enjoyed being on this ‘Classical Greece’ cruise with us? Did you have a favourite place?

To be continued… 

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☀️ #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

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☀️ #39 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Olympia, Greece” 🇬🇷 (2017)

Olympia logo

Sarah raising her arms in victory stood in front of the Thomson Spirit ship

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι) 😀  

We booked this cruise as i really wanted to visit ancient Corinth and Sarah really wanted to go on todays excursion….Olympia! 💪🏼   

Within half an hour’s bus ride of the small fishing village of Katakolon, you’ll find the site of ancient Olympia. Thousands of years ago, the park-like grounds of Olympia were crowded with athletes, preachers, merchants and philosophers. The backdrop was the impressive Temple of Zeus – famous for its 40-foot statue of the god himself, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple lies in ruins today, but you can still imagine how its structure would have looked in its heyday. With some help from your guide, the remains of temples, treasuries, porticoes and statues help to bring the site to life.

On the dock…

Meeting our local tour guide off the ship (after an olympic breakfast) we followed her to the coach where the 2 front seats were saved for us again, we really like this Thomson excursion team looking out for us!

The coach had lovely air conditioning again which was great for me, but Sarah had her tracksuit top on as she was freezing, lol! 😀  After about half an hour we arrived at the site of Olympia and stepped off the coach into the blistering sun. Sarah didn’t have her tracksuit top on anymore, and i instantly started overheating! ☀️  

We started walking through the areas where the merchants would have been and the workers and cooks etc. “Wow, how one earth did they do anything in this heat, they were hardcore” i said wishing i had more water. 💧

The guide was incredible and very passionate and knowledgable about the whole area. 

Olympic park in Olympia with lots of trees and sandy paths

Me stood on the right hand side with my tactical sun hat and wearing a black shirt in front of the Olympic park

Olympic park in Olympia with lots of trees and sandy paths

The gym…

Soaking up the blistering heat and more history, we slowly shuffled along to the gym. 💪🏼  

The guide was talking about how the athletes would train (naked) and cover themselves in oil to help collect the dirt, salt, sweat and anything else that stuck to them. Then they would use a strigil as a tool to scrape it all off before bathing.

The guide then said “Does anyone know why this place is called the ‘Gym?” The group fell silent but before the guide continued i said “Gymnós (Γυμνός) is Greek for naked” The guide happily said well done to me and seemed really pleased as Sarah said “How did you know that and none of the others did?” is said “I only know a handful of Greek words (bible study and apologetic books)…And that’s one of them, lol”. 🤣

We then continued walking to take a look at the temples and the ancient lighting of the torch place.

sand paths leading u p to the temples

Ancient piller of the temples

 The guide stopped to read an ancient inscription…

Our tour guide reading some ancient greek carved in a stone on the floor

 Lighting of the torch…

The guide talked all about the history of lighting the olympic flame and carrying the torch around. She then used her shadow to act out the lighting of the flame at the exact point! 😀   

A shadow across the sandy floor of our guide pretending to light the torch from the ancient games at the exact spot

The ancient olympic track…

Totally dehydrated (note to self…One little bottle of water isn’t enough) and my skin felt like it was blistering, we approached the archway to the original ancient olympic start line. 

The ancient archway that leads to the track which you can see through the archway

I thought the huge crowd were cheering away and welcoming us in the true olympic style, but i realised it was the thunderous sound of the cicadas again! 🤣  

The start line…

I thought the heat was blistering already but it didn’t prepare me for the inferno when we walked underneath the archway and onto the track. 🔥🔥

Sarah said “Steve you’ve got to get a photo of me at the original olympic start line! I’ve only been out of my aircast for a few weeks and it would make a great photo…Zena (Sarah’s friend) will comment straight away and tell me off, lol (she did). 😀  

“Here goes” i said “No pressure at all for this shot…It’s only a one off picture” But it worked and Sarah looks fantastic! Sarah had gone for months with an aircast, and now seeing her on the start line looking like a true olympian was another emotional moment for me. She really is my warrior princess wife! ❤️❤️❤️ 

Sarah doing a

Water…I need water…😰 

With our new appreciation of these ancient athletes we slowly made our way to the next stage. 

Me stood listening to the the tour guide

Sarah stood on the bottom right with the whole Olympic village behind her

The archaeological museum…

You’ll now proceed on foot to the Archaeological Museum, which is one of the most important of its kind in Greece and hosts an impressive collection of artefacts. The new museum was constructed in 1975, and eventually opened in 1982, re-exhibiting its treasures. Following some time here you will join your coach for a drive back to your ship.

Photo of the sign at the village camp

Ancient statue of

It was so crowded inside the museum and we couldn’t get many photos, sorry. 

The shop…

We now had about half an hour free time so we went straight for the shop. Yay Sarah managed to find a red t-shirt with the winners reef on the front. I just wanted a bottle of water and stood drinking it whilst trying not to collapse with more heat exhaustion! 

Sarah said “We can’t leave without buying Suzanne (our friend) something from here. Suzanne is mad about the olympics so it would be great to buy her a souvenir from the actual place”. We did! 😀  

Back at the dock… 

the Thompson Spirit in dock

With the ship in sight we had enough time to explore the dock. The dock was great for us and really accessible as it had flat walkways and no surprises. It had a few shops that we could have a look around and see if we can get anymore souvenirs.

rows of the little boats in the dock

rows of the little boats in the dock

And then…

Sarah walking away from the camera along the dock with the Thomson Spirit ship in the background

My beautiful wife has just told me to stand here and is walking away along the dock. “I wonder what she’s seen? Oh wait a minute…She isn’t going for one of her stupendous panoramas is she? She certainly is”. 

A Sarah panoramaa of the whole dock with me stood waving on the right

We don’t visit many docks with a clear view to the ship, so now we have, we’ll make the most of it, lol! 😀   

Sarah doing a i have conquored pose on the dock with the ship in the background

Sarah stood in front of the ship

Photo of me in front of the ship

me stood directly in front of the ship

“I see no ships!” 🤣  

On board the ship…

I was absolutely exhausted as we returned to the cabin…And after drinking about 100 litres of water, cold shower and a change of clothes…I was ready for the fantastic evening meal. 😀  

The photographer…

Our new friends Brian and Ann (met then on the captains night) told us that they had done lots of cruises and had the on board photographer take some photos of them on every cruise. They have a drawer at home full of photos and look at them for lovely memories. “They are not cheap but you can select as many as you like.”. they said as they left the stairway where we had a chance meeting.

Walking up a couple of decks we ran straight into the photographer who’d set up lights and umbrellas at the top of the stairs. “Would you like your photos taken?” “No thanks we’re so tired after todays trip” i said.

“Well we’re doing a special black and white photo shoot this evening if you are interested?” the photographer continued as Sarah and i considered it. I said “I can only just stand up as i’m so tired, nevermind trying to smile and look energised, lol! Sarah told the photographer “Yes ok we’ll give it a go”. The photographer said they’ll meet us back here in 30 minutes, and could i change my shirt into something more suitable for black and white photos (i had a Caribbean shirt on). Thankfully i have 4 identical black short sleeve shirts and i still have a clean one back in the cabin wardrobe! 😀  

We are so glad we had the photos taken! We love them and have them set as desktop wallpapers and iPhone lock screen images…Yay more photos of me and Sarah i’ll cherish. 😀     

Sarah hugging me from behind in black and white

Black and white image of me and Sarah back to back and laughing our heads off

me behind Sarah and we're both laughing

Sarah resting on her hand in a portrait

After the crazy photo shoot, we walked along the deck and it wasn’t long before we bumped into these fantastic creations.  

fantastic carved fruit

Back at the cabin…

I almost collapsed onto the great towel creature that was waiting for us on the bed… 

Towel folded lobster looking at the camera

Wow…What a day! We’ve had an incredible time with so many lovely memories. We hope you’ve enjoyed it too?!

To be continued…  

Our Route…..

On Monday evening Thomson Spirit sails to the port of Corfu, Greece having travelled 165 nautical miles at an average speed of 13 knots.

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☀️ #38 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Itea, Greece”🇬🇷(2017)

Itea logo

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι) 😀  

Let’s see where the ‘Blind Sightseers’ are going today…  

 You’ll visit the glorious mountain setting for this monastery with outstanding Byzantine mosaics. Osias Loukas (Holy Luke) settled here in the early 10th.century and the church was built over his grave around 963 AD. It is the earliest extant domed-octagon church, and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

On the dock…

The Thomson excursion team didn’t disappoint again and were waiting for us as we stepped off the ship. The kind man (sorry forgot his name) walked us to the correct coach as they have booked us the front 2 seats again. He also climbed aboard and said “I’m coming on this tour too and i can keep an eye on you both so you don’t get lost or have any disasters”. “Fantastic” i said to Sarah as it makes us less stressed knowing there is one of the excursion team (and not just the local guide) on the trip with us.

On the coach…

“Wow…There are loads of goats in a field. Steve if you could see you’d really like this, lol!” 🤣  

lots of goats in a field of yellow grass

Yay we’ve arrived…

As the monastery was set in the hills there was not much to see as we stepped off the coach. The guide then led us to the top of the steps that circled round and down to the monastery.

“Steve we have lots of long steps going down, i’ll let you know when the next one is approaching” Thank you my love” i said stepping down the first step. Sarah continued “Step down now…then 1, 2 , 3 flat steps and then step down” I obviously have to slow down because if i slip or fall just once i could twist or snap my ankle (especially with my weight, lol). “1,2, step down, 1, 2, 3 step down” isn’t my wife amazing?! 

There must have been about 2,000 steps as it took ages, but we wer’nt last and the Thomson man walked with us all of the way, i told you he was a kind man! 😀

At the bottom of the steps… 

Reaching the bottom of the steps without tripping or slipping once (thanks to my amazing guide Sarah) there was a small cafe, shop, monastery and a museum. “Wow you’d neve guess all of this was here when looking from the top” i said whilst looking at this beautiful place.

IMG 5858

The guide said we have about 10 minutes before we can go inside the church. It was lovely in the courtyard and looking over the valley down below.

Rolling hills and olive rees

olive trees and rolling hills taken under a over hanging tree

As i was taking the 2 photos above i knew i couldn’t get the whole landscape in 1 photo…But i know someone who can!!! 

You’ve guessed it…A stupendously sublime Sarah panorama.

Breathtaking panorama of the rolling hills and olive trees

Then as we were looking out (arm around each other) soaking up the hot sun, the Thompson man walked up behind us and asked if we’d like a photo together? “Wow yes please”. Another photo of me and Sarah i’ll cherish…

Me and Sarah with arms around each other and the rolling hills of olive trees etc behind us

The church…

The guide said we had to wait for the monks to disappear as they don’t want to be around us, so they have to leave and not be seen. “That’s evangelism” i said as the guide was passing Sarah an ankle length skirt. “You have to put this on if you want to go inside”.

Entrance to the church

As we walked inside the church it was a lot cooler (i was thankful for that) and it also had a peaceful atmosphere. The knowledgable guide told us all about the architecture of the church and the golden mosaics of the saints and apostles. I didn’t start a discussion on the Iconoclastic Controversies…I just enjoyed listening to the guide whilst Sarah captured a couple of photos. 😀 

inside the church looking at the arches

Inside and much darker image of the iside arches and roof

 Back in the courtyard…

There was a little shop where you can buy local honey, olive oil and some other lovely souvenirs. Sarah bought some honey (we thought it would be good for hypo’s) and olive oil for us to try on salads (Oopps, i accidentally said salads…I meant steak, lol) when we get home.

The queue was pretty long in the shop so unfortunately we didn’t have time to have a proper Greek coffee in the cafe. We met back up with the group and headed towards the mighty steps.

I am much better walking up steps as the step casts a shadow and i can just make out the contrast and figure out where the steps are…And it’s much easier to fall upwards than fall down and keep rolling head over heals until you’re left in a crumpled, crushed and broken mess at the bottom…Left to exsanguinate as your life slowly slipps away, one blood drop at a time! 🤕

Returning to the dock..

The coach dropped us back right near the dock and as the excursion was only a short one…We had time to explore a little of the town, yay! 

Oh did i mention it was burning hot?! ☀️  

iPhone weather app showing Itea, Greece at 36°C

I know for most of you (and especially Sarah) that 36° isn’t that hot…But for me who wears cargo shorts all year round (even through the winter) it is burning. ☀️  

We started walking and noticed their wasn’t many people around, as not many places were open. So we turned back and headed up the other street. We found a huge cafe/restaurant and headed inside. The place was empty but we could hear a coffee machine and some pots in the back rattling. “I’m not sure where we can order from? And i’m not sure if this place is open?” Sarah said whilst trying to find anyone at all. We walked back outside and Sarah said “There is a woman serving coffee to those people right over there (on the dock overlooking the sea about 100 metres away) but it’s much too far to be part of this cafe”.

We walked around a little further and made sure there were no other shops in the area, then we headed back to the dock to get a table and wait for the barista. ☕ She did walk all the way back to the cafe we’d just been in to get the coffees…Wow i’d collapse of heat exhaustion. 🤕 

The view of the sea and dock from the coffee shop seating area...I am right in the bottom right hand corner of the shot

Wow…This was the view we had from our table! We had plenty of time to just chill (burn) and relax and just soak in the view. Sarah and i love being beside the sea either like this or on a beach, as we live in a super green area near trees, village greens and conservation areas…So we love having holidays with sea and sand! 😀 ☀️ 

Yesterday we had our first ‘Fredo Cappuccino’ in the cafe in Corinth, so when the barista placed 2 of them down in front of us we both grinned. 😀 “Wow” we both said “this is the best one so far” i said whilst trying not to drink it all in one go! We had about 2 hours before we needed to get back onto the ship, so we ordered 2 more fredo  cappuccinos. After a while i asked to order 1 more for me and the barista said “No you’ve had 2 already and you’re not having a 3rd” i thought she was joking until i tried asking again! 😢

After the amazing coffees we decided to have a quick walk up and down the empty dock before heading back on board. 

Sarah taking a panorama of the dock area

panorama of the whole dock with the sea in the middle and i am over on the right taking a photo with my phone of Sarah

 Back on the ship..

We had time to refresh and change out of our sweaty clothes and make our way out on deck for a couple more shots before we leave the port.  

Sarah's panorama taken from the ship with the island in the background and the ship in the right hand side

Wow…After another stunning Sarah panorama, i thought i’d show you my new t-shirt…It’s archangel Michael fighting the war in heaven from Revelation 12:7-9 (for the record…I don’t worship God through the use of icons, statues, mosaics or my t-shirt. There is one mediator between man and God…The Lord Jesus Christ).

Me atood on the deck with my new shirt on with arch angel Michael fighting Satan

We had a lovely evening meal again and when we returned to our cabin…Yay a fantastic towel elephant! 🐘 😀  

Fantastic elephant folded towel

Wow what another interesting, beautiful and  scorching day, i hope you enjoyed it as much as us?! See you tomorrow for the day Sarah has been waiting patiently for! 😀 ☀️  

To be continued… 

Our Route…..

On Sunday evening we travel to Katakolon, Greece. We’ll arrive on Monday morning having travelled 109 nautical miles at an average of 9 knots.

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☀️ #37 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Corinth, Greece”🇬🇷(2017)

Corinth logo

Me stood on the right with my arms out stretched and waving as the Thomson Spirit shit covers the whole background

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι)😀  

I love the fact that we’ve just sailed to Corinth on the ‘Spirit’ and we’re now going on a trip along the Corinth canal, then to walk around ancient Corinth in the historic footsteps of the Apostle Paul. To say i was excited is an understatement! 😀 

But first…☀️  

I’m not good in the sun but Sarah comes alive in the scorching hot weather. So i sloshed on my sun cream as it was already 36 degrees outside (ouch) I’ve also bought myself a ‘Tactical Sun Hat’ to try and keep myself cooler in the sun and provide a little shade with the wide rim…It worked really well but i was still dripping like a candle in a Salvador Dali painting! 🤣  

Corinth canal…

Get ready to be impressed. The Corinth Canal marries up the Gulf of Corinth in the northwest with the Saronic Gulf in the southeast. It’s 3.9 miles long and its width varies from 69 feet at the bottom to 82 feet at the water’s surface. Before it was built, ships sailing between the Aegean and the Adriatic Sea had to circumnavigate the Peloponnese, adding another 185 miles to their journey. On this fascinating tour you’ll drive to Isthmia, around 1 hr’s drive, where a boat will be waiting to whisk you off. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views as you sail through this famous canal. Along the way, your guide will tell you interesting facts about the way it was built.

 We stepped of the air conditioned coach and just as i said “Argghh now that’s hot” Sarah said “Wow that’s better, it was freezing on that coach” we followed the group to the boat.

After Sarah excellently guided me onto the boat, we took our seats. The whole trip was just stunning and we were blown away by the walls of the canal and the sheer size of it. The guide was telling us all about the history etc over the loud speakers (my fave part as i can’t see the scenery until i get home and really zoom in for a blurry look). I do listen and hear Sarah’s detailed descriptions of the landscapes and any other points of interest. I also take in the other people around me and their reactions too. 

Another photo taken from the front of the boat looking up the canal with tall walls either side and a bridge on top crossing over.

photo taken from the rear of the boat with the beautiful blue water with hight walls either side

Photo of rear of boat showing people sat looking down Corinth canal.

 The Peloponnese…

Now for a blistering Sarah panorama!  

A Sarah Panorama of the end of the canal where it expands into the vastness of the sea, with land touching each side

Another Sarah panorama with the sea and land stretching from end to end with rolling hills and mountains in the background

After doing a 180˚ turn we headed back down the canal, fantastic! 😀   

Me stood right at the rear of the boat with the beautiful Corinth canal in the background

 Ancient Corinth…

You’ll now take a short drive to ancient Corinth, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the ruins of the “Agora” marketplace as well as the Temples of Apollo and Aphrodite.

We shot off the coach and followed the guide closely from the front, the path was all uphill and did i mention it was scorching hot?! ☀️ I kept saying to Sarah “Wow the Apostle Paul actually came here!” and after about the 10th time…We’d reached the top.

Me stood in front of the ancient Temple of Apollo wearing my tactical sun hat

Sarah and the Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo

After a brief history lesson all about the temples and the culture as it was back in the day, we headed along another hot dusty path and ended up at the Synagogue. “Wow” i said “Paul would’ve visited this actual Synagogue several times…It’s simply amazing that i’m standing in biblical history”. 

Upon leaving the synagogue the guide stopped and pointed to an ancient hebrew marking on the wall. Sarah quickly took a photo of it to share. I continued “Wow, Paul may have walked under this very arch, wow!” 😲

A remain of the Jewish Synagogue where the Apostle Paul teached and preached

The Agora…

Moving further down and heading towards the agora, the sound of the cicadas were deafening, they were almost drowning out the voice of the guide…It sounded like i was walking around with a massive bee hive stuck on my head but less sticky and much less painful! 🤣  

“Wow…the beema  seat” i said whilst trying to get excited but actually about to collapse due to heat exhaustion. “The agora! This is where the Apostle Paul would’ve been making tents..No way!” i kept going “Did you know Paul stayed in Corinth for about 18 months and he would’ve have frequently visited and worked around here!” Sarah replied “Yes i know Steve it’s incredible, but we’re getting left behind as you keep stopping and making wow noises, lol!” 🤣  

“Sarah could you take some photos of me in the Agora and in front of the beema seat? I’d love to have a photo as a keep sake…Oh and have i mentioned that the Apostle Paul would’ve been around here?!”. Sarah puts up with a lot! 🤣   

Me and the Agora

Me stood (centre) in front of the ruins of the Bema in ancient Corinth

Me stood (centre) in front of the ruins of the Bema in ancient Corinth

The cicadas were still singing their thunderous lament as we walked deeper into the Agora. The guide stopped to show us the ruins and described how it would have looked and what would be happening back in classical times.  

lots of stones which are the ruins of the Agora in Corinth

A portrait view of the the ruins of the Agora and Bema at ancient Corinth

 And then…

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…Sarah managed to fit the whole place in one monumental panorama!  

A Fantastic Panorama taken by Sarah of the Agora

At this point i was so exhausted, head and shoulders stooped forward and my mouth was dry and frothing. I managed a slow shuffle back to the air conditioned coach. Sarah said “Oh it’s freezing on here! 

It still blows me away when i think of this excursion to ancient Corinth and how we were actually there. 😲

Back at the ship…

After freshening up back in the cabin, we still had a few hours before the ship left port. We’ve found that if the excursion leaves us with a few hours to spare we can use the ship as the starting reference and go and explore the town nearest to the dock (any further and we’ll get lost). This makes for a full day as we can go on the excursion around the island and then visit local shops and markets around the dock area…Yay! 😀 

Wow…Did i mention it was hot! ☀️ 😰

iPhone weather app showing Corinth at 36° and sunny

“Yay…Steve a beach!” Sarah shouts as we step out of the dock, she continues “No way, holidays don’t start until i’ve put my feet on the sand…Come on!” I was just about to protest (as i’d left my beach shoes in the cabin) when Sarah dragged (i mean guided) me onto the powdery sand. 

The boiling hot sun, the powdery white sand and the gentle touch of the sea rolling over Sarah’s feet educed a wonderful smile. 😀  

My new Microfibre towel…

We were now wet, frazzled and covered in sand and we walked for a while before we found a bench under a large tree. “Yes…Here you go” is said as i unclipped my new microfibre hand towel from my carabiner loop on my BDU shorts. I bought this little towel just before this cruise as i wanted to be more prepared as we learn a little more what we need from each holiday…And this time it worked beautifully! 😀  

After a while we were both sand free, dry and ready for a cold drink. We walked down a few streets then Sarah said “Steve, i think this looks like a cafe? I wonder if they do iced coffees?” “I hope so” i said feeling like a pulsing nuclear reactor. 

They did the best iced coffee (Freddo Cappuccino) and even a sugar free one for Sarah… 

Sarah enjoying an iced Cappaccino outside the Cafe in Corinth

As we were sitting outside drinking our amazing coffees…The man we’d met at the Captains table last night walked past and said hello. “Wow” i said to Sarah after a brief chat with the man, “We’re even making friends and it’s only the first day off the ship”. 

Sadly it’s now time to return back to the ship…

Me stood in the middle of the road with buildings either side in Corinth

As we were walking towards the ship and the dock was empty…We stopped for a few photos… 

Sarah stood in front of the Thomson Spirit shipwith both arms in the air

Sarah stood in front of the Thomson Spirit ship

Me stood on the right with my shadow filling the rest of the photo

Then…

As we were taking lots of photos, another nice person from our ship walked up behind us and asked if we’d like a photo together?! “Oh yes please that would be so kind of you” i said as i passed her my phone. 😀  

Sarah & i in front of the Thomson Spirit in the background

Back on ship…

We’d had a fantastic day and had lots to talk about with  the people sat around our table at the evening meal. It’s lovely to hear other peoples stories from what they had done throughout the day, and to hear the adventures from the other excursions.

Finally…Just when you think the day is over, we have another fantastic folded creature.

A towel folded into a puppy dog with chocolates as his eyes

 Hope you’ve enjoyed travelling with us today? We’ll meet you tomorrow ready for our next excursion!

To be continued… 

Our Route…..

On Saturday evening Thomson Spirit sails to Itea, Greece. To arrive on Sunday morning having travelled 59 nautical miles at an average speed of 6 knots.

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day  ➡

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

☀️ #36 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Dubrovnik, Croatia”🇭🇷(2017)

10th Anniversary

Sarah i wedding photo

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

An unexpected blessing…..

This cruise holiday has been such an unexpected blessing, as Sarah had another “Charcot Foot (diabetic problem)” and was in an air-cast for the last 5 months. We had to cancel our Barbados cruise and stay we’d booked for our birthday celebrations in April…But Sarah had it removed a few weeks ago and she’s been strengthening her leg for this cruise. So we are amazed to be spending our 10th wedding anniversary (July) visiting some fantastic places! 😎  

Sea logo

Breakfast…..

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

Swimming…..

After exploring (getting lost) in the many different stairways, corridors and decks  around the ship, we were trying to familiarise ourselves with our fave places so we could find our way back much more easily. we nipped back to our cabin to get our things ready for a couple of hours sunbathing and swimming. Sarah loves swimming (as you can tell in the photos below) and had an excellent time enjoying her anniversary in the pool! 😎  

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

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

⬆ Sarah doing handstands in the pool ⬆ 

The Towel Swan Heart…..

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

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

 ⬆ Towel folded Swan heart ⬆ 

The invitation…

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

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

Formal Evening…..

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

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

 ⬆ Me & my lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

My lovely wife Sarah wearing her stunning white dress

 ⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

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

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

AND THEN…..

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

As sarah guided me behind this Behemoth of a man (not joking, he was about 7ft tall and 5ft wide) up a few flights of stairs, Sarah said “Where is he taking us?” “I think we’re going to the plank, or at least being court marshalled” was my apprehensive reply.

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

The Captains Table…..

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

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

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

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

Wow, What a memorable 10th Wedding Anniversary….   

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

Thank You…..

Sarah & i would like to thank you once again for celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary and for all of the lovely messages you sent us.

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day  ➡

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

☀️ #35 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Dubrovnik, Croatia”🇭🇷(2017)

Croatia logo

Wow, Wow, Wow…..Sarah & i have had a fantastic time away celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary. Let’s go and see where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to! 😀  

Taxi, Train & The Thomson Plane…..

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

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

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

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

The Airplane…..

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

Time for a snack…..

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

Welcome to Dubrovnik airport…..

Dubrovnik Logo

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

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

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

⬆ View of Dubrovnik bay from the Thomson Spirit ⬆

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

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

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

⬆ Sarah wearing her new “Hokusai” dress! ⬆   

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⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

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

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

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

⬆ Our beautiful view of Dubrovnik from the top deck ⬆ 

Swapping sides for a moment, Sarah took a photo of a unusual bridge she liked. 

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

⬆ Me looking at the surrrounding town ⬆  

One more pic of my lovely Wife Sarah! 

Sarah  Dubrovnik 2

⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah and her beautiful dress ⬆

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

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

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

⬆ Sarah’s breathtaking Panorama of Dubrovnik bay ⬆

Coffee, Life Jackets & Dinner…..

After enjoying ourselves on the top deck, we looked around for a place to have a nice coffee. We knew this ship had no “Coffee Port” like on the Thomson Dream, so when we found “Raffles Bar” and ordered a Cappuccino (for me) and an Americano, we were even more excited as the coffee was well-nice and strong…”I think we can get used to this!” I said sitting back into my large comfy armchair. ☕  

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

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

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

Thank you…..

I would just like to say a huge thank you(to you the reader and fellow traveller) for staying with us on another long and tiring day! 😰

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

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☀️ #34 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Jamaica”🇯🇲

Jamaica Logo

Good morning friends… 

Oh no…We don’t want to go home! 😢 After waking up later (no really early excursions today) we had breakfast at a more reasonable time, and we didn’t have to eat it at breakneck speeds…So we relaxed (which doesn’t happen on our holidays, lol) and enjoyed our breakfast. 🥓 

Out on deck…☀️  

Full shot of me looking at the camera with shades on stood on the deck of the ship

We had a few hours before we had to leave the ship, so we walked around all the decks in the hot sun and took some final shots of beautiful Jamaica. 

Sarah with braided hair taking a panorama for the deck of the ship and the jamaican landscape in the background

Jamaican landscape with the sea at the bottom of the shot

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

Of course the scenery was stunning…But not as beautiful and stunning as my lovely wife Sarah! 😍 ❤️

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

 We had a lovely time reflecting, taking photos and talking about our amazing adventures on our 2nd cruise. We though that our last cruise would be the ‘Once in a lifetime’ cruise (an dit was) but when we realised just how many places we could explore on the shore excursions, and how many islands and countries we could visit…Going on cruises is perfect for us who have sight problems. 👀

Portait of my smiling at the camera with shades on and braided har

Leaving the ship… 

Leaving the ship in Jamaica is great for us, as our cases get taken away just before 2am and we don’t see them again until Gatwick airport. There is no struggling to find our cases amongst thousands  on the dock, then fully loaded try and board the coach and finally dragging them through the airport etc.😀

The 787 Dreamliner…

Yes you’ve guessed it…It’s the 787 Dreamliner again! Wow i love this plane…Have i mentioned the push button dimmer switches? Or the nice leg room (even in our cattle class?) Or the lovely air conditioning? Or…Sorry i’m going on and on again! 🤣 

It’s not easy to try and write a post about travelling home and making it sound interesting, dramatic and a thrilling pursuit of suspense and adventure…It’s much easier to do this when writing about our excursions…As it does actually happen that way! 🤣  

view from the plane window in med flight with the wind on the lower left and the sun spiking down from the top and creating glorious light

Wow…Would you look at that!

Thank you for being with us on this remarkable journey, you help light the sunshine in our minds as we look back over our memories. 😀  

Wow…We’ve been on this rollercoaster for 34 days so far (i hope it’s flown by for you as it has for us) and the ‘Blind Sightseers’ are not finished yet…Where to next?? 💪🏼  

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☀️ #33 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Xel-Ha, Cozumel, Mexico”🇲🇽(2016)

Mexico logo 1

Yay…It’s Sarah’s Birthday!!! I wonder if it’ll be memorable?! 🤣  

Good morning WordPress family! Are you up for some ‘River Tubing’ today? We‘ve never tried this before and after our kayaking yesterday we thought it would be a relaxing way to gently float downstream ensconced in the lush landscapes and soothing sun ☀️  Well here goes…

Our initial thoughts were this excursion really wasn’t for us as it sounds like a big park where you have to find all of the events yourselves (that’s not our strong point as we both have sight problems). We are much better with a tour guide who we can follow than to be left alone and get lost…But we really wanted to try ‘River Tubing’ so let’s do this! 😀 

It was an 8 hour excursion and when it took 2 hours to get to Xel-Ha (a seriously bumpy boat and a mostly smooth coach) we thought “If it’s 2 hours here and 2 hours back, surely not even we can get too far lost in 4 hours?! Lol famous last words” 🤣  

Welcome to Xel-Ha… 

An exciting adventure awaits you at the sacred Mayan paradise, Xel-Ha. In this natural lagoon, which was sacred to the Mayans, you can experience some fabulous snorkeling in a natural tropical aquarium, viewing an amazing variety of multi-colored fish and tropical marine life in beautiful clear waters. Upon arrival, your guide will escort you through the park for an orientation, then you are on your own to enjoy time to swim, walk the jungle paths, stroll the beach, relax in a lounge chair,or snorkel at this beautiful lagoon.

Xel-Ha offers a collection of coves, caves, inlets and lagoons. Both the Caribbean Sea and the network of underground rivers and springs feed this area, filling the lagoon with both salt water and fresh water. This sometimes gives an almost 3-D viewing of the alluring coral formation and the myriad of tropical colored fish.

an amazing panorama of the whole lagoon at the mexican

Leaving the coach and making our way to the lockers and changing rooms Sarah managed to take this stupendous panorama. It’s a beautiful place 

Sarah said “There is no way i’m swimming in there!! I don’t mind the crystal clear sea but no way will you get me in there” “That’s ok my love you don’t have to swim when your river tubing anyway, so we can just relax and enjoy. We just need to remember where the changing rooms are when the guide leads us so we have a reference point”. 

Shortly after, the guide stopped and said to meet him in 4 hours back at the main entrance so we can get the coach back. I said “Oh, the entrance is miles away as we’ve been walking for a while and i have no idea where it is, lol But here are the changing rooms so i’ll wait right here for you”. I like to be the pack donkey on all of our tours and i carry the towels, sun cream and other stuff and if Sarah goes swimming, i carry her insulin pump etc. This works really well for me as i don’t really like swimming…I don’t think i’ve been swimming at all since going blind 16 years ago! 

Yay, Sarah’s here so let’s try and figure out where things are…😕

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

 Oooo another panorama from Sarah! Well at least we’d found the river again, so if we follow it up hill we should find where the river tubing starts?! This sounded like a good plan until the multi direction trails didn’t follow the river. After walking for quite a while in the scorching sun, we somehow managed to find the bag check-in for the river tubing, yay thanks Sarah! 😀 

Sarah had to now unplug her insulin pump and put it in my backpack, and after a quick blood test (ouch, her blood sugar was good) i hesitantly handed in my backpack. As we havn’t got a GoPro or anything (really wish we had one after all of these trips) we had to hand in our iPhones too, so i knew we wouldn’t get many photos of the day, sorry! 😢 

Right, let’s go ‘River Tubing’…

We entered another locker room and most of the people in front of us were putting on flippers and snorkelling gear, i said “Oh, i’m not dressed for any of this, i didn’t think you had to put all of the gear on. I thought it was just the river tubing up here?” “Don’t panic we are only here for the river tubing but you can also (if you want) do snorkelling etc” “Excellent, thanks”. Sarah is fantastic at sorting things out . “I’ll sit in the rear hole and you sit in the front hole as i will weigh the back down and it will look like a speedboat”. 🤣  

After we laughed loads as we had many attempts of climbing aboard, we were ready! 

The Mangroves…

“Wow those branches are low” i said while ducking even more although i was practically lying down. It was my first experience of mangroves and as we had no outboard engine we were using the branches and the sides to propel ourselves forward. As it looked exactly like the old Tarzan films i’d watched as a kid, i was picturing (in my mind) a crocodile (or 10) sliding in from the side and tactically stalking us ready for the barrel roll! Nevermind the flesh eating lizards sat on the branches waiting for dinner to float by, lol.

As my mind was racing but our river tube wasn’t going anywhere fast, i focused on all of the laughter going on around us. There were lots of us slowly getting to grips with how to manage this new speedboat. Sarah said “Wow there is a tiny baby strapped to the front of that woman in one of the other boats so it can’t be that hard, lol!”. After about 10 minutes we cleared the mangroves and the beautiful landscape unfolded before our eyes! 😀

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

There wasn’t much current and the river didn’t slope much, so our progress was slow…But wow, the feeling of floating downstream through this film set landscape with my arms around my lovely wife Sarah was beautiful ❤️ 

After a while the river tubers were thinning out and there were only a few of us left, this made it even more blissful and quiet.

Then…

Time was passing by easily, and we quickly realised there wasn’t anyone around and the river had got quite wide (with our eyesight anyway) and we were alone! The river tube wasn’t moving, even our hand paddling had little effect. I suddenly felt a burst of speed as Sarah had sat up and put her legs in the water and was kicking her feet (like the flintstones). Suddenly she whipped her feet back up and said “i think a fish (or octopus) has just tried to grab my leg?!” “Oh no that’s not good” i said as the ‘Master of obvious”. Then she said “No wait there, my trainer laces had come undone whilst under the water and started stroking my leg, lol!” “Ok” i said “We need a action plan” 

 Our predicament…

We were floating alone, the river banks were getting wider and wider and we knew it joined up with the Caribbean sea at some point. We couldn’t hear anyone and we were thinking we’d maybe already passed the exit of the river tubing and we were floating out into the sea. The midday sun was scorching and we knew it was time to act.

We’d passed a huge board (see below) whilst walking up to get the river tubes that displayed all of the fish/sharks that live in the water, and as it’s fresh water going to sea water the fish grow much bigger. I’m glad i couldn’t see what was on the board!

IMG 4283

Knowing all of this, and knowing i havn’t swam since going blind…I knew now was the time to “Man Up” and lay down my life for my wife and save her! 💪🏼  

The plan…

I said to Sarah “I’m going to jump in the river and grab hold of the back of the river tube and then stretch out and kick my legs like a snorkeler and pretend to be an outboard motor, and you can sit up front and be the navigator and try and get us back (or anywhere we can get off)”. “Right sounds like a plan…Let’s do this”.

I jumped in and instantly regretted it. I thought i could still swim in my head but my body didn’t have the same idea. After coughing up loads of water and nearly drowning through lack of swimming ability…I slowly adapted and grabbed hold of the river tube. 

At least we were now gaining speed  and heading in what we thought was the right direction. After what seemed like 10 weeks (it was more like 10 minutes) Sarah said (I still can’t see anywhere to get off the bank and it all still looks the same…But there are a few rocks sticking out of the water where we can hopefully stop and rest whilst regrouping and updating our plan. 

The rocks…

Yay, we made it to the rocks…Oh wait a minute, wow these rocks are super slippy (i was like Scooby Doo slipping on a banana skin) ! Sarah was already on top of one of the rocks and looking to see where we could go next and if there was a way out of this crocodile and Piranha infested water. Just as i’d steadied myself and caught my breath (i was exhausted) Sarah slipped backwards…😨 

All i heard was a loud thud and a “Aagghhh” noise from Sarah “Sarah, are you alright?” I knew we were surrounded by so many pointy rocks and if she’d slipped and hit her head on one of those rocks…It was curtains. We had no phones or anything out here and no way of calling out as we can’t hear anyone or see anyone. So when i heard “It’s ok i just slipped” from my warrior wife…I felt so relieved. I said “What was the loud thud sound? Are you ok?” “Yeah i missed the more pointed rocks and just hit my back on the other rock. I’m ok though”. I let out a huge sigh (just like our Boxer dog Bruce used to make).

Just then i spotted a slight movement out of the corner of my blurry eyes “What’s that Sarah?” i said while pointing downwards near her feet. “Wow, it’s a snorkeler” “That means we can’t be too far away now…Or it means there are some massive fish, sharks, octopus or crocodiles around here”. Just after saying this the snorkeler had gone and it was time for us to carry on and hopefully find base camp. 

Sarah was sat firmly on the front of the river tube and i was hanging on for dear life while trying to get a nice solid and consistent thrust from the back. Sarah was expertly navigating from the front and when she said “right a little” i twisted and kicked until the river tube turned to the right,, we are getting the hang of this, lol. 

My thoughts quickly returned to “Any minute now i could get savaged by any of the mutated creatures in here, and they would start on Sarah next! But then Sarah said “I think i can see a way out of here?! It looks like there are long steps on the right bank and we could climb out onto land. “Wow, let’s go” I said whilst trying not to drown as i was getting really tired now. 😰

“Yes, just a little further. It looks like we can pull up here alongside these steps”. We finally hit the steps and Sarah climbed out. The steps were really long but only went a couple of steps into the water, so when i grabbed hold of the first step my legs flew underneath and tried to drag me under. Thankfully i had jus enough energy to hang on and throw my leg over and onto the steps (i’m sure Sarah didn’t have this struggle, lol). Pulling the river tube up onto land, we sat back on the steps and thought for a moment about what just happened?! We also knew that Sarah hadn’t done a blood test for quite a while and hasn’t got her insulin pump attached, so her blood sugar could be anything.

As we sat on the steps totally thankful we’d made it out of the water, i looked down directly into the water right next to the steps…”What are they?” I was pointing at what looked to me like a fleet of black stealth submarines taking cover next to the steps. I know my eyes are really poor but if i can make something out…It must be massive, lol! Sarah said “They are fish (i think) and they are massive! “I was just right there a minute ago” i said not quite believing how close they were…But we’ve made it out of the infested waters. Now we might have the same challenge (but on land) as we try and figure out where we are??

The next stage…

We were just pulling the river tube further inland, when…”Is that music i can hear?” i said as i was trying to clear my ears of water “Yes it is” Sarah said “It’s coming from over there”. Sarah took my arm and we started walking towards the sound. Almost instantly the trail opened out and we were standing at the bag check-in desk! “No way” we both said at the same time, i said  “It’s not possible that we’re here, we’d gone miles into nowhere! Is the Bermuda Triangle near here?” 😁

After i got my backpack and Sarah had her insulin pump connected, she quickly did a test and her blood sugar was perfect! 😀 We found the changing rooms and when we were all changed we headed for the inclusive lunch.

As we only had to follow our noses (it wasn’t far at all) Sarah found a table in the sun and we sat down. “Woah” i said “How did that quickly turn into a ‘Blind Sightseers’ dramatic adventure?” “I know, but how amazing how we ended up right back here! Anyway, let’s get you a burger…You’ve earned it” 🍔  

After a lovely burger and an ice cold bottle of water, we started walking around to see if we could find anything else. Don’t worry, we stayed on the larger trails and we kept other people in earshot.  

Sarah stood in front of the a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

Sarah’s Sunglasses…

As Sarah also has sight problems…She has a pair of Oakley sunglasses with a particular polarised lens (normal lenses don’t help her eyesight) but like the photo above shows…They are gone!! 😢 We have no idea when (or where) they had gone missing, we only know they are gone. I handed Sarah my own but they only had normal lenses and were not any good for navigation etc…But they did help stop the glare from the hot sun. ☀️ 

Sarah stood in front of the amazing landscape of the river going into the sea with rolling hills all a round

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You’ll never guess what we found next??? Yay, a zip line…

Sarah said “Wow a zip line, i’ve never had a go on one of these. It looks amazing and i can’t believe we’ve found it”. What…Can i really say no?! 🤣 

Sarah sat on a zip line seat going left to right with a big smile on her face

Wow, the action never stops, lol! Sarah must have had spinach for lunch as she seems to have more energy than Popeye and the Duracell bunny combined…I just wanted to sleep, lol! But how can you stop when that smile burns hotter than the sun! 😀 ☀️  

And finally…Yay , she’s not a machine! 

Sarah lying in a hammock which is tied to some trees

It’s time to start heading back…

After one more ice cold drink we asked the server which way the main entrance was, she pointed in the general direction and we thanked her. We started walking and talking about the day we’d had and how amazing the place was even though it’s not quite over yet. “We’ll defo remember this place” i said (we talk about this day all of the time). Arriving at the main entrance area Sarah said “There is a photo kiosk over there, let’s ask and see if they have any photos of us?” I said a little confused “I didn’t know they were taking photos but it would be great if they have any of us river tubing etc”.  

The photos…

Sarah was not happy after speaking to the man as he had just dismissed her saying “If you didn’t scan your armband before each event then we can’t find you on the system” Sarah had told him that we were both registered blind and we weren’t told about scanning for photos and we certainly can’t see it. Sarah continued “We will buy any of the photos you have of us as we really want to remember the day”. The man was having none of it and walked away. Sarah started walking back to me when she saw another man stand behind the kiosk. She returned and said the same to him…He was really helpful and understood our problem, he continued to search the whole day, looking through thousands of images to see if he could find any shots of us…

Then he saw Sarah on the zip line. “Yes we’ll have it” Sarah said, she waited a while longer for him to search some more. The coach was arriving any minute too and we were running out of time fast. He frantically started searching but he couldn’t find anymore photos. “Ok” Sarah said “Can i buy it here?” He said no and that she had to go over the courtyard to have it put in a sleeve and then she can buy it. Sarah came and grabbed me as she knew i’d be worried as it’s been taking longer than expected. “Where are your sunglasses (my sunglasses)” i said “Oh man, don’t say i’ve put them down somewhere and i’ve lost them too?” 

After buying the photo (see the fantastic zip line shot of Sarah above) Sarah was adamant (she wasn’t losing 2 pairs of sunglasses today) and blitz between all of the counters she’d been at…Nothing. Then she asked the man and he started searching all around…Nothing. Then just as everyone had given up, the man had found them in lost property where one of the staff had put them. Phew! 😀  

We also managed to get back to the coach in the nick of time and now we can relax for a couple of hours as we return to the ship.

In the coffee port…

As it was Sarah’s birthday she ordered an amazing chocolate, waffle, ice cream coffee dream cake…Sarah had a tiny taste with a tea spoon (as she’s diabetic) so it was left for me to step up to the plate, man up (again) and try to enjoy this delicious coffee cake thingy! It’s tough sometimes being the husband of a T1D (Type 1 Diabetic) I’ll give it my best shot! 🤣  

plate fo fresh fruit on a table top in front of a view outside across the ocean

 We had a lovely evening meal and as always Sarah had the lovely cheese board to finish. I think that’s what the photo below is showing?!  

Fance cheese and biscuits for Sarahs birthday

Finally we finished off this amazing, challenging, exhausting, conquering and blessed day with (yes you’ve guessed it) Sarah’s special sugar free Mojito and i had a BBC. 

Me on the left with arms around sarah and both smiling at the camera with braided hair and a cocktal in hand

 Thank you so much for celebrating Sarah’s birthday with us, it’s a day we’ll never forget (and haven’t). 😀 

The ‘Blind Sightseers’ are not finished yet…💪🏼  

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☀️ #32 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Costa Maya, Mexico”🇲🇽(2016)

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SARAH SAT IN FRONT OF A LARGE COSTA MAYA SIGN WITH THE LOVELY BLUE SEA IN THE BACKGROUND

 Sarah welcomes you to Costa Maya…

Our Kayak excursion didn’t start for a couple of hours, so we had time for a look around yet another nice dock. As you’ll remember from a couple of days ago Sarah said:

“Why don’t you get them to braid your hair as the wind’s been annoying you all day, and you won’t have to touch it for the rest of the holiday?!

 Sarah’s hair has been blowing around all over the place since we arrived in Jamaica…And now it was her turn for the braides, no more worrying about windy hair syndrome.  

A PHOTO OF SARAH'S BEAUTIFUL COLOURFUL BRAIDS

Right, now is the time for the kayaking excursion. Wow what a bumpy coach ride…”Oohhh a lighthouse, quick Steve pass me your phone”. We were being thrown around all over the place but Sarah just managed (no idea how) to get a glimpse of the lighthouse!

12 LIGHTHOUSE AT COSTA MAYA

The Kayaking beach…

This is what greeted us as we got off the coach…😀  

SARAH SAT AT THE BASE OF A BEAUTIFUL PALM TREE WITH THE AMAZING BLUE SEA AND YELLOW SAND LANDSCAPE BEHIND HER

 After putting all of our things in our backpacks and securing them in the lockers back in the bar type place just out of shot (above) we made our way back onto the beach to get our life jackets and meet our kayak.

We all gathered around the instructor as he demonstrated how to enter properly, how to paddle and of course the safety drills. I said to Sarah “I think this is a step too far, i can’t see him or anything he’s pointing at or showing us, but i am listening to what he’s saying” she said “Once we get you in the kayak you’ll be fine as i know you have done canoeing as a kid and it’ll all come back to you as it’s similar”. 

Now it was our turn to enter the two seater glass bottomed kayak (well i almost fell in as it was a lot lower than i thought) and as i fell i head butted Sarah on the way down. Sarah said she was fine but after i regained consciousness she passed me the paddle. “Oh yes, it’s just like the ones i used as a kid when canoeing with my dad. It’s going to be ok…Oh wait, i can’t see where i’m going, lol!) 😀 

Sarah took her position in the back seat as the navigator. We thought she could hit my left shoulder to go left and right shoulder for right, that makes sense, i just hope i don’t get her paddle around my head, lol! 🤣  

As the instructor pushed us away we heard lots and lots of wow, cheering and nervous laughter. It was an amazing feeling to be floating out on the still waters and with a glass bottomed kayak Sarah could see the ocean floor. After while everyone got into the swing of things and we managed to form an orderly queue behind the instructor.

We followed him out to sea until we stopped over the barrier reef. Everyone was Ooohh and woowwwoooing so it must have been beautiful. It felt amazing being in crystal clear waters with no land in sight, we just sat there stunned.

We paddled a little further and we seemed to overtake most of our group as they had sunk and were trying to get back into the kayak (wow they are sighted too so we must be doing something right, lol. Steve don’t get too cocky too soon).

The instructor stopped a lttle further on and we all bunched together. He was trying to pass something round for people to hold but the people were not impressed. Then he came to me…Before Sarah had time to say “He’s blind and can’t see it and he doesn’t like creepy crawlies” he had put it on the top of my hand…😨 

It felt soft and obviously wet and if i could see i probably wouldn’t have let him put this black death starfish onto my hand. It looked like a massive tarantula to me as i could just make out the black against my skin. I was just waiting for the huge teeth to sink into my flesh and tear it from my bones…When he took it back and placed it into the sea. Phew!

Wow i wish i had a GoPro video camera, it’s simply stunning…

“Hey Sarah watch this!” i said as we were gathering speed. “Wow a handbrake turn”. I remember as a kid and learning canoeing, that if you jam the end of the paddle straight down and grip firmly…Then the canoe spins round about 180 degrees (similar to a handbrake turn in a car) and i thought i’d see if it happened the same way in a kayak…It did and as i was really impressed with myself for pulling it off Sarah was quietly impressed (i think, lol). 

More Barrier Reef…

We stayed out over the barrier reef for another hour or so just paddling slowly, then stopping and taking in the vast ocean and the feeling of fresh air with the gentle rocking of the kayak, it was so peaceful…A little too peaceful! 

“Where is everyone?” i said as i could see no other kayaks or the shoreline. “I don’t know i think they have headed back to get the sun loungers for the next hour of the excursion” We were quite far out and couldn’t figure out which way to head back to shore. I started thinking of the Jaws film and the zoomed in shots of the faces crumpled in fear as the shark fin circles in closer and closer. 

“I think it’s that way” Sarah said as she hit my right shoulder. “Ok, let’s go”. We started heading slightly towards the shore when…

A really loud whistle and a shout came from our 2 o’ clock. It was the instructor from what seemed like miles away but we could hearr him as though he was sanding right next to us. That was the sound i needed and swiftly pointed the kayak in his direction and floored it! 😀

Back on shore… 

A STUNNING PALM TREE WITH DEEP BLUE SKY ALL AROUND

 I love palm trees, especially this shape (above) and this one is just fantastic! 

A VIEW OF THE STUNNING BEACH AND SEA LOOKING THROUGH A PAIR OF PALM TREES ON EITHER SIDE OF THE PHOTOO

 Yay we made it!! Our first kayaking adventure and it was simply breathtaking. The Blind Sightseers have managed another challenge…Now lets go and relax for a while.

After a nice slice of pizza (with salad as i’m being good) we took our towels and inclusive bottle of local lager and found two sun loungers between two palm trees. The white sand and the crystal clear sea framed our afternoon perfectly! ☀️ 🌴 

5 SARAH IN SEA

 I’m not sure if this was a private resort but the beach was empty…Yay! 😀

Sarah then says “Oh, we forgot to take any photos of the kayaks…Steve stand here and i’ll take some photos” “But i think there is another group starting their kayaking?!” “just stand still and smile, lol” 🤣  

Me stood on the beach next to lots of kayaks with another group being shwed hwo to use them

“Now go and stand in the sea so our WordPress family actually know that you’re on this trip, and don’t forget to smile” 🤣  

Me stood in the sea at knee dep

 My lovely wife Sarah absolutely love swimming, splashing sitting in the sea, love the hot sun and the powdery white sand and she has got all 3 today. I love taking her photos when she’s so happy and has that lovely beaming smile that lights (and warms) her whole being. 😀  

6 SARAH IN SEA

8 SARAH ON BEACH

9 SARAH ON BEACH

10 SARAH ON BEACH

 It was now time to leave this beautiful place, jump on the coach and return back to the ship. We were tired but couldn’t stop ourselves having a beeming grin all the way back as we had just conquered kayaking and had a lovely time in paradise! 😀 

But Sarah didn’t stop there… She just had enough time to capture this stunning view. 

11 CRUISE SHIP IN SEA SCAPE

 Back on the dock…

As we had a little time on the dock, we thought we’d take some more photos of this lovely place.  

13 COSTA MAYA BAY

14 SARAH SAHAPES

 Yay…We came, we saw and we conquered! 😀  

Back in the coffee port…

15 COFFEE

 After such an exciting day filled with an omnifarious amount of emotions, there is no better way to chill than the coffee port. Wow what a view! ☕ 

Thanks for joining us on this wonderful excursion, we couldn’t have done it without you! ☀️ 

Wait until you hear about tomorrows adventure…It’s a long post but you’ll understand why very soon! 😨

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☀️ #31 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Roatan, Honduras”🇭🇳(2016)

Honduras logo

Good morning friends! Yay we made it off the ship, and after a lovely breakfast  we managed to find the coach. 😀 

First on the agenda is the Roatan Butterfly Farm, home to a technicolor mix of native butterflies and tropical birds. Once you’ve gotten to grips with Roatan’s feathered friends, it’s time to delve into the deep blue and see what’s going on under the water. And that’s where the next part of the tour comes in. You’ll head back to the coast, climb aboard the Roatan Reef Explorer – a miniature submarine – and travel six feet below the water to explore a coral reef. Back on dry land, you’ll call in at the quaint village of West End. Once you’ve had a good look round, it’s on to the highest point of the island for some of the best views around. Rounding things off, you’ll get a chance to buy some handicrafts on the way back to port.

Hey Steve, stand there and smile! 😀  

1 Roatan Me and Palm Tree

 We stopped off at the butterfly farm and Sarah instantly made some new friends…

Roatán is such a special and lovely place, the time seemed to just slip away whilst watching Sarah with her new friends. This trip really showed the beautiful nature preserve in all its wild beauty.  

2 Roatan Sarah and the Monkey

3 Roatan Sarah and the Parrot

  The semi submarine… 

 Wow it was hot, dark and narrow down there. Once i’d smacked my shin on the solid wood seats that folded down from the wall to let us through (i hit the one that wasn’t folded back up) i realised where the seats were! 😀 

As usual i couldn’t see much at all (can you see anything?)…We couldn’t do any of this without these excursions as the tour guides are very informative and passionate about sharing their knowledge on the history of the countries/islands and teach us lots about local people, culture and food! We’ve learned so much about all these places we’ve visited and it’s all thanks to these guys! 😀 

I have a couple of videos which i’ll post later and see if you can tell me what you see?! 

5 Roatan Coral Reef

 Gifty shop…

We then stopped off at a little gift shop which was a lovely little hut type place. After buying some bits and bobs Sarah found her fave plant/trees/bush type things on the island. They didn’t sell these, and i don’t think they’ll fit in our cases anyway! 🤣  

6 Roatan Sarah and the Spick Plant

 Back in the dock…

Sarah and the Dream! 😍

4 Roatan Sarah and the Thomson Dream

As we had a few hours left before we had to get back on board, Sarah and i thought we’d have a look around the dock. The dock looked fantastic and was much better than most of the docks we’ve visited. 

First we found a clothes shop, yay!. Every place we visit we like to get a shirt, vest or top of some kind to keep and wear as a souvenir. We managed to get a top for Sarah and a vest for me, both saying Roatan Honduras on them! 😀   

But then… 

Sarah’s speech started to slur quite badly…I thought “Oh no, not here (i always talk to the diabetic hypo) it’s a big dock and i can’t see anywhere and there is no one around”. We then saw a hut type thingy and walked straight towards it. Yay it was a smoothie juice bar. Their english wasn’t brilliant (although a million times better than my mexican/spanish) and we walked away with their local “insert funny name that i’ve forgotten” and quickly tried drinking it without getting brain freeze to go with the hypo. 😀

Now i had a reference point, we headed over to a bench which was against a wall (and in the sun for Sarah) but i knew how to get to the juice bar if things got worse…It did!

Sarah managed to do a blood test and it was very low. We had no idea how much sugar was in the smoothie so i quickly got up and grabbed another smoothie!

Now we just had to wait for the sugar to kick in before the ship left without us! It was a tense hour or so but Sarah managed to fight and beat the hypo into submission. To our surprise…We still had another hour before we had to get back to the ship.

Sarah was feeling sick but still wanted to squeeze the day for all it’s worth, she said “Hey, look over there, i think those people are coming from a beach or something?” i said “a beach? i didn’t think docks had beaches etc”, i was glad to be so wrong! 🤣 

The beach…

We were just walking across a little bridge and i thought “this would make a lovely photo, Sarah stand there and i’ll try and get a photo”. When taking a shot like this, i stand with Sarah then keep Sarah’s direction in mind as i concentrate on how many paces i need to take so that i get everything in the shot. When i’m ready i ask Sarah to shout so i can get her true reference point and we know it’s time for a few pictures. I first put my thumb in the air to say i’m ready and Sarah can start smiling, then i take multiple images as i have no idea if Sarah is blinking, smiling or even looking at me, lol. Then i either put my thumb up again or put my camera down and start walking back towards Sarah.

But just as i was lining up the shot…A kind man from behind me asked if we’d like a picture together? “Wow, yes please” i said as i put my arm around my lovely wife Sarah. I don’t get many of these shots so i really love it when some  kind person asks us if we’d like them to take a photo of us. I really cherish these moments. ❤️

7 Roatan Sarah

8 Roatan Me and Sarah

 A few short steps after and we were walking on sand and Sarah was walking into the sea! Wow it’s really quiet here too, yay! 😀  

9 Roatan Sarah in the Sea

10 Roatan Sarah close up

 If you havn’t noticed already on our travels…We “The Blind Sightseers” have quite a few dramas, lol. So when we get moments like this we feel really blessed, it’s like time stands still for us and we can just pause and think about how on earth we managed to get here. 😀   

11 Roatan Sarah in Hammock

 Hey hang on a minute. I didn’t mean pause for quite so long, lol! Sarah could have stayed there all day if time permitted and i don’t blame her after the hypo she’s just had.

But now it’s really time to get back to the ship. “Which way is it again?”

12 Roatan Dock

13 Roatan Dock Tree

 After a couple more photos of the lovely dock it was back to the ship for our return coffee at (yes you’ve guessed it) the coffee port.

You may not know but this was the easy days excursion as tomorrow we push the limits of what blindies can do…We go glass bottomed kayaking (first time for both of us) across the barrier reef in Costa Maya Mexico. 😨 

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☀️ #30 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Trujillo, Honduras”🇭🇳(2016)

Honduras logo

Welcome to Trujillo:

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

But now…

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

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

Sarah drinking lager on Trujillo beach

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

and then….

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

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

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

Sea Trampoline 2

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

Sea Trampoline

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

Trujillo Beach 1

Trujillo Beach 2

Then Sarah gifted us with a Panorama!  

Trujillo Beach Panorama 2

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

IMG 3849

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

Sarah Trujillo Fountain

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

Back on the ship…

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

Sarah on Ship in Trujillo

Yay another Sarah Panorama…  

Me Panorama in Trujillo

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

Sarah getting nails done

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

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

My hair in Trujillo

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

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

Our Route:

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

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☀️ #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. 

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☀️ #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)

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☀️ #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??!!

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☀️ #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. 😀 

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☀️ #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. 😀 

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☀️ #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!!   

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☀️ #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

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☀️ #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? 

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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!!!

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☀️ #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! 🙂 

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☀️ #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!!! 

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

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

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

Welcome to Paradise…

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

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

St John beach 2

Photo of the horse instructor walking across the beautiful beach

 ⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧  

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

⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧  

The Horse Ride…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

 ⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧ 

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

Sarah bareback riding

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

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

The Swim…

Sarah running towards the empty sea

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

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

⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧  

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

Sarah portrait St John

 ⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

 Back on the ship…

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

Our new friend…

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

Folded turtle from towels with my hat as the shell

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

St Kitts logo

 

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

Welcome to St Kitts… 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s Panorama of St Kitts ⇧ 

 

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

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

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧

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

Excursion Details – St Kitts Scenic Railway…

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

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

The Bus…

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

View from the bus at St Kitts

⇧ A view from the bus window ⇧ 

The Train…

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

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

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

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

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

St Kitts 1

St Kitts 2

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

St Kitts 3

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

St Kitts Train

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

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

St Kitts Bus

We were then treated to another stunning bay!

St Kitts 7

St Kitts 6

St Kitts 5

St Kitts 4

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

Sarah St Kitts Train

⇧ Sarah sat at the front of the train! ⇧  

St Kitts Volcano

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

Train Bridge 1

Train bridge 2

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

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

St Kitts Church

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

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

My Platt  Blue Caribbean Shirt

⇧ My quiet blue shirt ⇧ 

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

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

 Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

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

Philipsburg St Maarten Logo

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

St Maarten Island Tour…(excursion details)

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

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

The Dutch Side…

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

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

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon…

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

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

Photo taken of Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

St Maarten Bay 4

St Maarten Bay

⇧ Lookout Point – Simpson Bay Lagoon ⇧

The French Side…

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

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

Marigot…

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

St Maarten Bay 5

⇧ Marigot bay ⇧ 

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s St Maartens Coral Necklace ⇧  

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

Back On The Ship…

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

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

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

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

Great Bay Beach…

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

⇧ View of the cruise ships from Great Bay Beach ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah relaxing in paradise ⇧   

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

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

⇧ Beautiful! ⇧ 

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

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

Towel Folding & Beyond…

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

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

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

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

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

Road town logo

Absorbing  The Landscapes…

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

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

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

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

A beautiful image of the small islands of Road Town

⇧ The beautiful coastline of Road Town ⇧  

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

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

Road Town hillside

⇧ The rolling green hills of Road Town ⇧  

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

The Dolphin Encounter…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Meeting the dolphin… 

Sarah on the right touching the dolphins nose

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

 ⇧ Sarah’s first touch of the dolphin ⇧ 

Step 2: Dancing with the dolphin… 

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

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

 ⇧ Sarah dancing with her new friend ⇧  

Step 3: The Kiss… 

Sarah getting a kiss from the dolphin

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

Dolphin totally out of the water half way through a jump

⇧ Dolphin showing its excitement after meeting Sarah! 🙂  ⇧  

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

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

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

Sunny Caribbee…

Sunny Caribbee

⇧ Photo of the shop front of Sunny Caribbee ⇧   

Sunny Caribbee Hot Spices

⇧ Bottled sauces with fantastic hats! 🙂 ⇧

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

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

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

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

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

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

La Romana

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

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

Sarah s Caribbean Outfit

⇧ My lovely wife Sarah’s beautiful Caribbean outfit! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

Roman-styled 5,000-seat amphitheater…

a photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater left view

Amphitheater centre view

Photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater right view

Sarah and the steps

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

Me at the amphitheater

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

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

Sarah fountain

Sarah fountain 2

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

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

St. Stanislaus Church… 

Church Dominican Republic

Me walking in front of the   Church

⇧ Me walking around wondering what to shoot next! ⇧  

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

 The Chavón River… 

Sarah at the Chavón River

Chavón River Chavón River 2

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

Sarah and the red dresses

Sarah and the red dresses close u

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

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

Chavón River 3

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

 Paddle Boats & Palm Trees…

Paddle boats and palm trees

Rambo river

Me on paddle boat

 ⇧ Me reflecting on God’s beautiful creation ⇧ 

Sarah paddle boat

 ⇧ Sarah feeling relaxed in the sun ⇧ 

Rambo river 2

Sarah on paddle boat

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

IMG 3249

Back on-board the ship…

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

Dominican Republic 2

Dominican Republic 1

Sarah Portrait on board

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

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Mayan Treasures Tour: Day 3 ~ Trujillo, Honduras

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

⇧ Postcard taken and produced by Thomson Dream Photographers ⇧ 

Welcome to Trujillo:

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

But now…

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

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

Sarah drinking lager on Trujillo beach

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

and then….

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

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

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

Sea Trampoline 2

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

Sea Trampoline

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

Trujillo Beach 1

Trujillo Beach 2

Then Sarah gifted us with a Panorama!  

Trujillo Beach Panorama 2

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

IMG 3849

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

Sarah Trujillo Fountain

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

Back on the ship…

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

Sarah on Ship in Trujillo

Yay another Sarah Panorama…  

Me Panorama in Trujillo

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

Sarah getting nails done

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

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

My hair in Trujillo

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

Our Route:

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

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡(coming soon)

Mayan Treasures: Day 1&2 🛳 London & Jamaica

Mayan Treasures Logo

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

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

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

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

The Airport…

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

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

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

Me on-board the Fun Train at Gatwick irport

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

A view from the airplane with the wing in view

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

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

Yay,we’re back in Jamaica! 🙂   

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

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

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

The Emergency Drill…

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

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

A selfy of Sarah and i wearing our orange life jackets

 The Coffee Port…

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

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

Day 2…..

Sea logo

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

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

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

Coffee Port Latte

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

Our Route:

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

Next Day ➡

Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 19 ~ Palma

Click Palma Logo to begin the Transatlantic Sunset Tour

🌴 Day Navigator 🌴

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

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

Palma Dock

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

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

Cecily and the Coffee Port… 

Photo of Sarah and Cecily in the coffee port

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

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

Getting the coach…

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

Palma airport…

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

Just then we heard our names called…

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

Yay, the plane…

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

Palma from Thomson Dreamliner

Back in the UK…

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

A&E…

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

Sarah’s new job…

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

Finally…

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

Thank You, Thank You & Thank You…

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

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Please join us on more crazy adventures!!!

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 18 ~ Alicante

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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. 

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

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

Sarah looking out to sea

⇧ Sarah relaxing and reflecting ⇧

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

Shopping… 

Handbags on ship

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

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

Another fave spot…

Sarah on deck

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

Hair salon…

Hair salon

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

The evening restaurants…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cough…

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

Keep smiling… 🙂 

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

Sarah reflection

 The Azores…

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

Yippee land ahoy!!!

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 9 ~ CODE ALPHA!!

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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! 🙂 

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 8 ~ Paradigm Shift

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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!!! 

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 7 ~ St Johns, Antigua

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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 horseback trek.

Welcome to Paradise…

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

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

St John beach 2

Photo of the horse instructor walking across the beautiful beach

 ⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧  

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

⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧  

The Horse Ride…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

 ⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧ 

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

Sarah bareback riding

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

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

The Swim…

Sarah running towards the empty sea

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

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

⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧  

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

Sarah portrait St John

 ⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

 Back on the ship…

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

Our new friend…

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

Folded turtle from towels with my hat as the shell

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 5 ~ Philipsburg, St Maarten

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

St Maarten Island Tour…(excursion details)

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

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

The Dutch Side…

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

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

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon…

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

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

Photo taken of Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

St Maarten Bay 4

St Maarten Bay

⇧ Lookout Point – Simpson Bay Lagoon ⇧

The French Side…

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

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

Marigot…

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

St Maarten Bay 5

⇧ Marigot bay ⇧ 

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s St Maartens Coral Necklace ⇧  

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

Back On The Ship…

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

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

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

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

Great Bay Beach…

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

⇧ View of the cruise ships from Great Bay Beach ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah relaxing in paradise ⇧   

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

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

⇧ Beautiful! ⇧ 

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

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

Towel Folding & Beyond…

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

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

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

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 4 ~ Road Town, Tortola

Road town logo

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Absorbing  The Landscapes…

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

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

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

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

A beautiful image of the small islands of Road Town

⇧ The beautiful coastline of Road Town ⇧  

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

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

Road Town hillside

⇧ The rolling green hills of Road Town ⇧  

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

The Dolphin Encounter…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Meeting the dolphin… 

Sarah on the right touching the dolphins nose

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

 ⇧ Sarah’s first touch of the dolphin ⇧ 

Step 2: Dancing with the dolphin… 

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

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

 ⇧ Sarah dancing with her new friend ⇧  

Step 3: The Kiss… 

Sarah getting a kiss from the dolphin

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

Dolphin totally out of the water half way through a jump

⇧ Dolphin showing its excitement after meeting Sarah! 🙂  ⇧  

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

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

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

Sunny Caribbee…

Sunny Caribbee

⇧ Photo of the shop front of Sunny Caribbee ⇧   

Sunny Caribbee Hot Spices

⇧ Bottled sauces with fantastic hats! 🙂 ⇧

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

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

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

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

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

La Romana

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

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

Sarah s Caribbean Outfit

Sarah’s lovely Caribbean outfit! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

Roman-styled 5,000-seat amphitheater…

a photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater left view

Amphitheater centre view

Photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater right view

Sarah and the steps

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

Me at the amphitheater

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

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

Sarah fountain

Sarah fountain 2

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

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

St. Stanislaus Church… 

Church Dominican Republic

Me walking in front of the   Church

Me walking around wondering what to shoot next! ⇧  

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

 The Chavón River… 

Sarah at the Chavón River

Chavón River Chavón River 2

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

Sarah and the red dresses

Sarah and the red dresses close u

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

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

Chavón River 3

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

 Paddle Boats & Palm Trees…

Paddle boats and palm trees

Rambo river

Me on paddle boat

 ⇧ Me reflecting on God’s beautiful creation ⇧ 

Sarah paddle boat

 ⇧ Sarah feeling relaxed in the sun ⇧ 

Rambo river 2

Sarah on paddle boat

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

IMG 3249

Back on-board the ship…

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

Dominican Republic 2

Dominican Republic 1

Sarah Portrait on board

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

 Our Route 4 2day…

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

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 2 ~ My 40th Birthday At Sea

Sea logo

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Happy 40th Birthday!!!

 Waking up to a pile of cards and a present beautifully wrapped from Sarah travelling across the Caribbean sea was a special moment. I couldn’t believe Sarah had packed all of my cards and even a present(which was 3 new shirts). Sarah’s love always fills to overflowing!

Me and my 40th birthday cards sat in the window of the ship

Me sat with my lovely cards ⇧ 

A close up photo of my 40th birthday cards

My lovely cards – Thank you everyone! 🙂 ⇧ 

My new shirt and birthday badge…

I quickly put on one of my new shirts(from Sarah), and the birthday badge(from Sara, sister in Christ) and went out on deck to look out over all that amazing sea.

Me Birthday badge looking out over the sea, leaning on the teac bannister

Me wearing new shirt & birthday badge ⇧  

Then it was back to my fave place “The Coffee Port” for a birthday Cappuccino with a stunning view! 🙂 

A Cappuccino on a window seat looking out over a beautiful blue seaat sea

My fave seat in the Coffee Port ⇧  

Sarah’s Cornea Problems…

 Just 1 day before our holiday, Sarah & i spent the afternoon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. Over the past couple of months we’ve been to hospital almost weekly, trying to sort out Sarah’s cornea. We’ve now learned that Sarah’s cornea is crumbling and is completely exposed and cannot heal itself, or the ulcer inside.  The doctor needed to close the eye lid so that it’s safe from air contamination etc. He did this by a botox injection just above the eye. He said it would close in about 2 days(my 40th birthday) and will stay shut for around 3 months. 

And during the afternoon, Sarah’s eye closed. We’d hoped that most of the time we would be in bright sunshine so Sarah could cover it by wearing her sunglasses. And for all other times, we’d get creative.

The Captains Gala Reception & Dinner…

Sarah & i had no idea what to expect as this was our 1st cruise, but i’d brought my suit and purple dotted bow tie, and Sarah had brought some lovely dresses, so lets go and try to find the show lounge! 

Sarah had a slight panic when we realised the photographer was taking everyones photo on entrance, but she relaxed a little when he said she was fine to keep her sunglasses on. We ended up with a nice photo to remember my 40th, our 1st Captains Gala and a lovely keep safe shot of us both dressed up! 🙂 

Sarah  i at Captains Gala  1

Me & my lovely wife! ⇧ 

The captain introduced himself and some of his team, then it was down to Deck 4 for the meal in the Orion restaurant. The food, the waiter service and the whole experience was fantastic. A great 40th birthday! 🙂  

Our route 4 2day…

Today Thomson Dream continues her journey to La Romana. We arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 546 nautical miles at an average speed of 15 knots. 

⇍ Previous Day – Next Day ⇏

🌴 Day Navigator 🌴

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

Wow…What A Rollercoaster Of A Trip!!

Sarah  i in Caribbean

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧ 

From stunning, breathtaking views, horse riding in paradise, dancing with dolphins, River paddle boat trip, various island bus tours, 4×4 volcano ride, cable cars, OH…. and Sarah’s medical emergancy in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, it’s been an unbelievable few weeks on our cruise holiday to the Caribbean, Azores & Spain. 

Sarah & i arrived back on Saturday, but after going to our local A&E on Monday, we both have been suffering with respiratory tract infections for a couple of weeks now.

So please be patient with me as i’m trying to import all of my photos and sort them out ready for posting here for a daily tour of our trip. But the computer is burning my eyes at the moment so is slowing me down a little, also the headaches, coughing and loss of energy is not helping, but that won’t stop me! lol. 

I’m not sure how long each post will take, and still not sure whever to post on Rebus Photography & iChristian or just on Rebus Photography…I don’t want to duplicate, but i know i have different friends on each blog, so also don’t want anyone to miss the posts. What do you think??

Please join Sarah & i on this incredible journey:

Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 1 ~ London – Jamaica