last - we've started to use our boat again! We planned that our first
would be to Harold Hayles yard at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. So
here we are! (17th June)
Sylvania has the dinghy on the back. Quite apart from the
gorgeous situation, another reason for our visit was to get the engine
serviced. We were lucky in this, I have never liked engine oil to be
changed when the engine is not really well warmed up - could not
complain here, within minutes of arriving from Poole, the engineer was
sucking the old oil out, Perhaps it might not be so important nowadays,
with thinner oils, but even so, I really was pleased with this
Another matter which pleased us was that we managed to get the dingy in the water, and then back on the platform again with little difficulty. Not done that before, had thought it could be to difficult an operation, specially since my 'problem'. But we did it well.
Again full use was made of our bus passes while on the island. First to Newport, then on to Cowes. Next day through Sandown and Shanklin to Ventnor, returning via Niton and Chale, these service buses - mostly double decked in fact, do provide most excellent views of the countryside on the island.
The annual Round the Island Yacht Race took place on the Saturday. To view this, we took a bus to Alum Bay, then to the Needles, so we could watch the early ones round this point. Later we crossed to the far end of the island to view the boats as they rounded Bembridge.
Another trip out of Yarmouth we really enjoyed was one we took in our dingy up the River Yar virtually to Freshwater. On the voyage I took particular interest in the views we were getting of Norton Manor, pictured on the right. As can be seen by the waterline, this lovely old house could be badly affected by rising levels as a result of global warming.
On the Tuesday we set sail for Gosport, little bit tricky entering here because the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour is so narrow, luckily I had already informed myself we had to enter on the left (port). We were thus on the correct side for entry to Haslar Marina, quickly we found a berth, then up to pay for it, £25 for just 24 hours. But they did include the electricity in that sum.
Next morning we crossed on the the ferry over to Portsmouth, and took the opportunity on this visit to go up the Spinnaker, on our previous visits there had been queues, not so this time, not sure if because of less visitors, but it was just ten minutes after opening. I'm not fond of heights, but I was perfectly comfortable up there, and in fact stayed for over an hour.
after midday we set sail for Southampton. This was our second visit
the boat, and our berthing at Ocean Village Marina. Here, we are only
10 - 15 minutes from the main shopping centre of Southampton - though
obviously we do not hang around such places in full summer. We did
though take two trips out in our boat, mainly to take a closer look at
the number of cruise ships in the docks.
Considerable number there were too, best known perhaps being the Queen Mary 2. On the Saturday at berth 106 was a cruise ship we have a particular interest in: The "Grand Princess". The reason being, we are booked for a cruise on her at the end of August! Photograph below:
can be seen on the left, we managed to get AIS working on our Apple
laptop. This is a system whereby vessels of not less than 300 tonnes
are obliged to transmit details regarding their actions, this comes
into its own when visibility is poor. I do confess however for me it is
a matter of interest, what ships are, and where they are going.
In addition we also have the benefit of GPS, this shows the track of our boat - the solid red line, also the position, in this screen shot, the red marker triangle is almost hidden by one of the AIS markers.
We were berthed in Ocean Village Marina when this screen shot was taken, the full screen did show vessels below the Bramble Bank, just North of Cowes so this does indicate the range of this system.
Note the interesting names of some of these ships!
29th August: Commencement of perhaps one of our greatest voyages: I've already indicated we'd booked a cruise on the "Grand Princess", 'photo above. Must confess; though I was looking forward to this, I had no preconceived ideas as to what it would be like.
These two 'photo's were in the Marble Church. We were able to view the changing of the guard, which takes place at twelve midday. Obviously little different to the ceremony in London. even down to the 'bearskins'! Whether it was modeled on that I've no idea, interesting to know. Denmark does of course have a 'Royal Family', but on the day we were there, they were not in 'residence', so this was said to be just a token change.
The last picture shown here was taken in the famous Tivoli Gardens, which I gather was opened in 1844. Large sections in these grounds are given over to so called 'amusements', must confess I for one would not consider many of these enjoyable, in particular the 'chairoplanes'. Persons paid to ride to these, but I would have paid NOT to ride on them!
As might be noticed, we were indeed blessed with the weather while we walked through this lovely Capital City.
All in all this does seem to be an attractive part of the world to live, certainly for those like ourselves who gain pleasure from being on or near the water. Not altogether sure however I'd appreciate living in the little building on the right!
journey took place on a Saturday. Sunday not a good time to
travel, so we booked two nights in Aberdeen. I remarked in my trips 2002 page
how easy we found it to walk round the dock area. We found that trying
to do this considerably more difficult on this visit, the area being
strewn with notices relating to a act dated 2004 warning against entry.
I can only presume this being a result of the attacks in previous
years, docks in the south have never been easy to get into, I imagine
the earlier ease being due to the part of Britain the port is in.|
Pity the change, but we did enjoy exploring other sea related parts of the city.
On the Monday we took the shortish rail trip across the north of the county to Inveness. Here we booked three nights, and next day enjoyed our longest rail ride - nine hours in all. This to the very 'top' of Scotland, and the towns of Thurso and Wick. To me, this turned out to be the most pleasurable of our rides. Open interesting scenery, and the train was quite speedy, certainly as compared with the following days route, this being a result of a better track I assume.
The rail line distance from Inverness to Wick is given as 161 miles, we decided to use the first train, timed to leave just after 7 AM, so we had to skip breakfast. The arrival in Wick was around half eleven, and return an hour later.
Often said a picture is worth a thousand words, and perhaps I've indulged myself here, but I really enjoyed this scenery, excellent means of viewing it also. Perhaps too few visit this far north part of the British Isles, worth doing so, as I suggest these views well demonstrate.
The final views in this block were taken close to the 'top' of this journey, and illustrate the farming, and how late it can be, the combine was working in the scene on the right. This part of Britain had endured even higher rainfall than is usual for this district, and it may well have been the case some fields were still too wet to allow harvesting - above right.
Our ride the next day was down to the Kyle of Lockalsh and back again. We'd really been blessed with the weather up till now, this being obvious from the pictures shown here. For the rest of our time in Scotland this altered. Heavily overcast and some rain, so not good for photographing through the window. For myself though, I do not think the 'highland' parts of Scotland to be as scenic as the 'lowland' areas. We'd 'done' most of these, so again we were lucky. It was too long a 'hop' to travel by rail Inverness to Oban, so we booked again the Glasgow Ibis. A fellow passenger had suggested we could take a trip out to the southern end of Lock Lomand, so this we did once we'd dumped our bags in our room.
|In reporting on our cruise, I remarked that we found organised trips tended not to suit us. Excellent example in this regard on our trip to the island of Coll. We found Cal-Mac were doing one, and as we wished to visit, we booked. Not good at all I'm afraid - complete waste of time in fact. A taxi did take us round part of the island, but we'd have done far better exploring on our own. Our days visit to Tobermory turned out to be far more enjoyable. A really isolated town, 21 miles from the ferry port at Craignure. It is famous for its painted houses. Picture right.|
time to visit an attraction I had
not previously viewed, the Arc de Triomphe, This as we all know is on
the famous Champs Élysées, a long wide boulevard being a main feature
of the city. At the western end is a much lesser known aspect - the "La
Defense" area of the city. This remarkable futuristic set of buildings
can just be glimpsed behind the group of young people. We were
impressed with La Defense in our previous visit, as recorded in
our 2003 blog. |
will become clear, our main purpose on the trip, was to view Christmas
Markets, these having become quite famous over the recent years. We
came across a couple of these in Paris, the first outside the "L'Este"
station - not all that good. A far better one we stumbled on was on the
large courtyard underneath the Grand Arch, which can be seen
described and pictured in the afore mentioned blog. Yes, a really nice
market here, but as rain commenced we did not linger.|
Our main intent however was to visit some German Christmas Markets. Muriel had the idea of these from a cruise itinerary. Being this would be Rhine based, it seemed sensible to go to perhaps the most famous city on this river, Cologne. To get there, we took a trainfrom Paris Nord to Brussels, we'd been advised we could break our journey here, so we took a wander. Mistake! Howver we did reach Cologne that evening. I did wonder!
Pictured below left is the first of the markets encountered, right outside the famous Cathedral. Alongside, is placed another of this icon, pictured from across the Rhine. As those who follow these journals well know, I've long taken interest in the waterway traffic of Europe, so I made sure barges were included in the picture.
One of the very many pleasures of travel is the people we meet up with.
The pair on the right for example. Muriel has long been attracted
to dachshunds - a breed we used to keep. We came across these in one of
the markets in Cologne. The Germans explained that the one on the left
is a female, and she is five months old. The other one is her
boyfriend, who was twenty months old, as they explained; males always
prefer a mate to be younger than they are! They trust these two will
All in all I think we found six markets in this city, some better than others, but all certainly worth a visit. One point I would make however was that our two day visits coincided with a weekend, rather unfortunate that as they were far too crowded for comfort. If anything the shopping streets were even worse, we found these streets really good and interesting in themselves, a good variety of shops, specially those selling musical instruments - as we all know these people have music in their blood.
After our visit to this city, I set to wonder what our route should be to return to Paris. Perusing the European Rail Timetable we carry with us, I noticed there appeared to be a rather interesting route to a town called Trier. I confess I'd never heard of this place before, but from the the details I could glean, it seemed an interesting place. "Oldest town north of the Alps" was one statement I noted.