2010


A new decade, and a second one for this site, the  first years page being for the year 2000. I resist  any comments as too how long this continues, after all, we're all mortal.  On this score however,  I am pleased to report that health wise, I am having a much better start than this time last year, when as reported, I had spent four days in hospital following a stroke.

As I have previously mentioned, at the time this site was first placed 'on-line', the web had only recently started to 'get going'. Then most Internet Service Providers - ISP's, were offering space to
host a web site for those interested , so I thought I would have a go, though it was a year or so, before I had the idea of recording an on-line diary. It is only in very recent years that the Internet has grown to the force it is nowadays. I think I am right in saying that the  likes of Twitter and Facebook were not commenced until around 2005. I have never used such as these by the way - perhaps I am rather old fashioned!

First trip of the year, commenced 22nd January.  Just a three night stay at St Austell, and we felt we made real good use of the four days it gave us. On the Friday enough time was spent in Fowey to justify this little visit, our last being with the boat. Next day down to Mevagissey, but prior to that, we'd enjoyed a stop at Pentewan. The onto the "Lost Garden" at Heligan, really enjoyable 'traditional English' lunch here. Then heading back to the "Eden Project", this our first visit, timed to enter after 3PM, thus ensuring we'd get in the the lowest rate.

On the Sunday, our journey was to Dodman Head, quite a walk to this but well worth it, admiring the sea vistas for perhaps a good hour. Exceptionally narrow lanes were then driven close to the coast to Veryan, and a pub lunch. The another place we'd taken our boat too, the 'Smugglers Cottage at Tolverne, interesting here, because the river had massive great boats moored in it, a total of about five as far as I could count. These are laid up here, as there is no work for them. Back down to King Harry Ferry, where we discovered pedestrians were carried with no charge, so we took a trip! On the journey home the last day, we crossed over Dartmoor, then called in at Chagford, and then onto the Northmoor Inn at Wonson, already known to us from our visits as recorded in one of the earlier entries on this site.

Really cold winter this one! , we thought a trip south to Spain might be good, this most certainly proved to be the case, indeed we considered this to be the most enjoyable short trips we've done in a while. Early on the Sunday 21st February we drove to Bristol Airport, and travelled on the 07.45 flight to Barcelona. We had booked a room at an Ibis Hotel there for a couple of nights. We'd been told that Valentia was also worth visiting, and our intention was to go there by train, as it should be a nice way to view the country. As it turned out, this was not as good as we thought it might have been - far too much urbanization along the coastline. However Valentia itself turned out to be a quite outstanding place, streets packed with gorgeous buildings. No town or city in Britain can in any way come close to these two Spanish cities. Not only buildings, but both had by far the best markets we've encountered in Europe. Stalls selling food were a picture in themselves. Couple below:

The tidy display of fruit and vegetables are certainly worth a visit. We wondered how sales were made without disruption. Below left is the front of Valentias impressive rail station,  and next an example of the streets. All very clean and tidy. The aquarium in this city is noted, though cannot say that fish have much of a draw to me, but what did enthrall us
 was the display by the dolphins, very certainly worth a visit to view alone, as I think these 'photo's well demonstrate.




We made an unfortunate error when we attempted the return to Barcelona - we boarded the wrong train! The station at Valencia is a terminus, moreover it is called Valencia _Nord_ - i.e. it is on the side of that city nearest Barcelona. We assumed the train started and terminated here, this was our main mistake, as the train must have been delayed since its initial start, of this we were unaware. Train arrived at the platform we understood it was to leave from, so we boarded, turned out this one was on its way to Alacante, very many miles to the South. .Still, we enjoyed the trip, plus we did have a walk from the station down to the marina - we  spent a total of four hours in the town.
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6th April, we journeyed over to our French cottage. This time to our regret, we were forced to travel to Portsmouth, this route being necessary, the Poole/Cherbourg link having been withdrawn by Brittany Ferries. Still, this did take us to St Malo, so our onward journey was very much shorter. Two trips out first week, down to Vannes, and another to a town previously unvisited, Hennebont. Longer journey the following week , this being  a three day visit to Le Sables-L-Olone. A couple of months previously, this whole atea had been struck by a great storm, when over fifty lives had been lost, plus countless numbers of animals. It had been an extra high tide, and this was made far worse by really high winds, so sea water had flooded inland, inunduating great swathes of land. This whole area is very flat and low lying, it has long interested me, having visited it previously several times.

===================================================================================================================== Spring 'maritime' meet of the Nimbus Owners Club is held at Lymington - also the base of the importer/distributer. So it is a handy place to hold it, the greater majority of the membership are based within easy cruising distance, so little excuse not to attend, providing they've the time. We do, so we took "Sylvania" there on the last day of April. It had been suggested that those who wished, could join a cruise in the Solent at the end of the planned activities. Unfortunately this did not take place, partly as not enough appeared interested, but also because the weather was not at all attractive - cold wind, which in itself was very strong. A disappointment to me. However as it happened might have been as well. The reason being I had a tummy upset that made me feel very unwell. Still, I did manage to take the boat over to Yarmouth, were we stayed a couple of nights. Then, a very early rise, this to facilitate a return in time to catch Poole Bridge's 9.30 AM lift.

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Wall to wall sunshine in the first week of June, we were lucky enough to take full advantage by a trip down to Plymouth. A new hotel to us - and less than three years old itself. The Future Inn very good value considering the size of the rooms and other facilities. Our stay was for four nights.

We spent some time visiting Totnes on the way down, then called in at QAB for some digital charts. Next day, it had been my intention to explore northern Cornwall, but on the way happened to pass Buckland Abbey, which we found was a National Trust property, so we called in. This led us into visiting three more Trust properties, during the rest of our stay. So the next days trip was to Cotehele, this to us was a drab old house. The near by quay though did attract our interest. Right by the River Tamer, and we recalled sailing up by this quay on Sylvania back in 2007.

Our visit the next day was to a far more interesting house, plus the gardens which were especially enjoyable. This was Lanhydrock, just south of the town of Bodmin. We later drove to the near by car park right beside the River Fowey, following a chat to a local worker, we walked up the river bank to Bodmin Parkway rail station. Our final NT visit was to what must be that organisations newest properties, only built in the mid 1920's. This is Coleton Fishacre, a house built in a close hidden valley, leading down to a cove. The people who chose the site, and had the house erected, were the D'OylyCartes' of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, they had spotted the site while passing in their Yacht off the coast. It is in fact just east of the entrance to the River Dart. A pleasent well kept property, indicating the styles of less than a hundred years ago.

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'Wall to wall' sunshine extended into the second and third weeks of June, though fortunately for the fields and gardens, many of us did get some very heavy showers. Normally this type of weather and time of year, might ensure great heat. Not so. Quite strong north easterly winds preventing this. We had booked our boats annual service at Yarmouth for the middle of the month, and these winds were an obstacle. We were lucky enough to pick a calmer slot on the Friday, leaving in the 18.30 bridge lift, so arriving at around nine PM. I had been concerned as to whether we should find a berth, not only at that time of night, but weekend also. We were indeed lucky.  Specially so, because many had to raft up in the following days.

The really strong winds ensured that most boats, did not venture off our berths for the week. But many enjoyed the bus rides we had round the Island. Still quite windy at the time we felt we should return to our home berth. Before doing so, we headed into it up the Solent, to the entrance to the Beaulieu River. Here we tied up, then after a pot of tea, toured round the Maritime Museum there. Our voyage back was surprisingly calm, again we must have been lucky. Reaching Cobbs after coming through the 18.30 bridge.

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Last days of June and we had it in mind to take our boat down to the West Country, then in say August, to do a rail journey through Northern Europe up into Scandinavia. But after thinking a bit more, considered it an idea to change plan, and do the latter first:

Thus the first day of July, and I am sat in an Ibis Hotel room in Amsterdam. Yesterday morning, we woke on our boat at Cobbs Quay, this at around 4.30 AM! Following some quick refreshment, we walked with 'trolley bags' in tow, the mile to the ferry port, thereby catching the 07.15 fast sailing to Cherbourg. Here, a taxi ride to the station, and the 12.46 train to Caen, changing here for the onward trip to Paris. Crossing this city to the "Nord" station proved not much easier than the last time we did this journey, an hour actually. But once there, not a lot of trouble to locate the platform, then the train that took us onto Amsterdam. Arriving 20.45. Good job we'd took the precaution of pre-booking a room. We were very tired!

Our booking was for two nights, it would have been too much to have continued travelling the next day, so we used it to explore Amsterdam, and its famous canals. Really well worth while we felt this, specially so being we were sat down. Another early start the next morning for our 07.04 train for Hamburg.  Here we arrived at around 13.30.  Again very hot, around 28ª's in the open.

The next day was a Saturday, and we used this to travel into Denmark, aiming for a town, fact a large village called Ribe. Claimed to be the oldest in Denmark, as was the hotel we found a room at, reputed the oldest in this country. Really interesting place to explore.


These two 'photo's where from our train as we passed over the Kiel Canal a
remarkable man made waterway that provides a shortcut for shipping which
wishes to travel into or out the Baltic from the North Sea. We were later to passbeneath this bridge with the cruise liner "Balmorel" five years later
in 2015
The next two views taken in Ribe, first one being of the hotel in which we stayed.


Muriel did a great job in the planning for the next two days of rail travel. She found that we could travel as far as Stockholm from Ribe. First leg a short hop up the line to a junction called Bramming. Here was an hourly service eastwards towards Copenhagen. Talking to other passengers, we learn't it would be most convenient if we got off our train at a suburban station of this city, as from here we could catch another train coming in on the next platform, that would take us onward to Malmo, and thus into Sweden. When we did get on this train, we found out that it was to travel well beyond Malmo, and again convenient for us, we could change at a lightly used station, from where we could pick up a high speed train to Stockholm.

We had not booked a room in this city (neither had we in Ribe for that matter) but in this case we were pretty late in our arrival, after 8PM I think, so the first job was to find a room for the night. Huge metropolis, in which direction should we look? We could find no obvious inquiry office, so in reality had to take 'pot luck' as too which direction to look for accommodation. As i reminded myself, when touring by car, and then trying to find a place to stay, we had often "dumped" our car, and gone looking on foot. Driving in an urban area, while looking for a hotel, is not so easy. Walking can be more suitable, though in that case, we would then have had to re-trace our steps, in order to retrieve our car. Very often, there can be hotels located close to railway stations, but in this case I think we came out in not perhaps the best side. However, we did find one, and more important they did have a room. We were lucky, I realized how much so the next morning at breakfast. The place was massively busy. I later found out it had four hundred rooms, and was said to be the sixth largest in Stockholm. The largest was at 600! It was indicated these were needed.

Just how fortunate we were to get this room was indicated when we were informed they were full up, and that we would have to find another hotel. The first we tried was itself full, early in the day too! But they did tell us about another one, this hadn fact in fact only just opened, and took the devil to find, as they had not yet been allowed to erect any signs. Virtually no one else staying there I surmised. Still it did us well.

Once we'd transferred our bags, we were free to explore this famour capital city. It was while we were close to a Royal Palace, we heard the sound of a band, this it appeared was to accompany the changing of the Guard. Interesting that we had viewed something similiar the previous year in Copenhagen. Seems these countrie share with us 'Brit's' a fondnes both for Royalty, also the pomp and ceremonial that goes with it.






When we had got a little tired of this, we wandered of downhill towards the water. Here we found
tourist water barges almost identical to those we had  used the previous week in Amsterdam. So we took a ride on one. Restful way of viewing these lovely buildings. Three examples above, also one of the very many scenes I took through the train window. More below:




As I've already remarked, Muriel worked really hard at our European Railway Timetable, to locate good routes and times. She excelled herself in placing us on the best "lines" for the following days routes. First a train that took us up to a place called Mora. Here we were on the well known "Inlandsbanan" line. This is in reality just a tourist rail route, with "Railbusses" running on a line used mainly for goods consisting  mostly of timber. The scenery not in fact all that interesting, as could be expected considering the great majority of the landscape consisted of pine forest, and also being mostly flat, interspersed with a few lakes and rivers. One nice feature of these individual coaches was that each had a hostess on board. These are usually students who do this as vacation job, and very well they do it too. They make use of a PA system to keep us well informed about the rail line, the area we are passing through, and perhaps some of the animals we might catch a glimpse of. Sometimes they would treat to a song!

While in Mora we thought it wise to try and book a room for the night at the next stop, which would be Ostersund, while looking for the tourist office, we came across a hotel which is part of a well known grouping, so we asked them if they would do this for us. Being that our onward train was booked to arrive at almost nine in the evening, it was a comfort to know we'd not have chase round a small town, and trying to find a bed.


While we were booking in at Ostersund, we were told that they had a group of English people also there. Turned out that these were on a rail tour round that part of Europe, and traveling on the same trains as we would be using. I do admit to being rather intrigued at the fact that this group of just over thirty, felt the need of a tour manager to chaperoned them around, whereas we were managing our arrangements by ourselves.

The following days rail journey was a very long one indeed. The train was timed to leave Ostersund at a quarter past seven in the morning, in actual fact, it was rather late, we did not leave for another half hour. Again we had hostesses with us who kept us well informed of all the worthwhile sights we could expect. Every so often, at convenient places, the train would stop, mainly so we could obtain refreshments, but at others just to take photographs, an example being to take pictures at the crossing of the Arctic Circle. Most certainly this was the most informal rail journey one could ever take, who would think that a train would halt at will on its tracks? It was an exceptionally good job that we had had the fore site to request the hotel at Ostersund to 'phone ahead, and secure that nights room for us. When we did reach the final destination of Gallivare, it was a quarter past ten in the evening. We had been on that train for the previous fourteen and a half hours!! An amazing trip. Worth noting that at this point, starting from Cherbourg, our total rail distance so far amounted to 3,752 kilometres, or 2,331 miles.


We spent the next morning slowly looking round Gallivare, a small town only interesting because its so far north. Yet in spite of this, it was surprisingly warm, I assume part of the reason being that at this period the Sun can be seen most of the night, as well as being quite high in the daytime. Our next train was to be for Narvik, this timed to leave at 12.45 Also on the platform was the group of rail tourers. Our policy was to try and keep well away from them. We got on the last coach of the train, and quickly as we always try to do, found a window seat. With this we are free to take 'photo's without any concern to other passengers.

Really quite a short trip of just 269 Km's to Narvik. Yet in spite of being electric powered, the journey took four hours. Perhaps as well, considering just how scenic this line is. Very interesting line in itself too. It was built for, and  still its main purpose, to move iron ore down to the sea ports. I think we passed three, perhaps four, of these trains. Powered by two heavy electric locomotives, there are usually 62 wagons on each train. Each wagon carrying 70tonnes of iron ore pellets when fully loaded. It is said that thirteen of such trains run each day!






We spent the next day in Narvik, looking round the two interesting museums. The first being that devoted to the events which took place during the earlier days of the 1939/1945 war. This was when the British attempted to seize the place to try and prevent the Germans taking control. The port was very important to them as it was their main source of metal for armaments. The other museum dealt with iron ore and its transport, so was specially interesting to me.

There is no railway line south out of Narvik. But a coach runs to the rail station of Fauske which takes around five hours drive. This is timed to depart at 7AM. At the coach station there was no sign of it. So to be on the safe side we thought it best if we hurried up to the hotel where we knew the rail tour party had been staying, we understood we could travel on the special coach they had booked. So we journeyed down with them. Excellent drive, as much as anything due to our first class driver. This trip included a ferry crossing of perhaps twenty minutes.

I see from the timetable, our train was timed to leave Fauske at 12.55. But this also gives the arrival at Trondheim as being ten minutes past ten in the evening! In truth I cannot remember this. I do know though that I had taken the precaution of looking up a hotel in Trondheim, and then booking a room there. I likewise took great care to memorize its location, and the route we should take from the station. So this we quickly found, and thankfully the room was ready for us. The end of yet another really long day. The actual distance of this rail trip is stated to be 674 kilometres. That of course is from Fauske to Trondheim. No idea of the additional distance from Narvik.

Next morning we caught a train going on down to Oslo. This was timed to depart at 8.25 AM, and reach its destination at quarter past three in the afternoon. This allowed us to take another train which took us onto Göteborg - or 'Gothenberg' as us English have come to name this city. We had actually stayed there when we had looked at our boat in February 2006, so we thought it wise to book a room at the same hotel we'd stayed at for that visit. Obviously we knew how to find it, but did not wish to traipse to it, and find it full, specially considering there to be no alternatives handy. The total distance we had covered that day from Tronheim down to Goteborg amounted to 1024 Kilometres.

I see that I have not made clear that starting from Hamburg, our rail tips were covered by a "pass" which cost the two of us a total £614  These allowed travel on any train in all of ten days, and that these days could be taken in a period of 22 days. As is clear, to date, we had made heavy use of each day we had used for train travel. Now we had done the long runs, we could afford more relaxed travel. So from Gothenburg, we spent a day travelling by rail in southern Sweden. First north, to a place called Uddevalla, then from here we caught a quite handy train which did a bit of a loop through Oxenered, then without changing travelled across to a rally lovely town called Boras. Here we got off, and had a good look round. Well worth the visit. Pictures follow:


 A fancy building for our lunch!

The railway station is also attractive, likewise the flowers.

Eventually, and following lunch in a really attractive building, we caught another train down to the coastal town of Varberg. Another place worth the tour round, this concluding at the port/marina. Interesting to note how the boats were moored up, plus also that the majority of the 'leisured' craft, were not new. Fact my impression being that in this area, while boat ownership per household is greatly higher than it is in Britain, the actual amount spent on the hobby appears to be much less than the UK participant spends. While on this matter: As we had previously visited this city for the purpose of looking at our intended boat purchase, we thought it worth taking another trip out to the showroom we'd visited then
. We has a spare morning, as the ferry over to Denmark did not sail to the afternoon. Four on show, and I noted their really excellent build quality, also that they were now installing Raymarine chart plotters as opposed to the Simrad that had been installed on our own purchase. I would have preffered the former!

Once the ferry had deposited us back in Denmark at Fredrikshaven, we found the station, and caught a train to Alborg. We paid this trip ourselves, as it was not worth using one of our 'days', we had used up eight so far. Coming up out of the station, we were once again very lucky, hotel right in front of us, and a room at a reasonable price. So two nights here. Next day just a rail tour through the northern part of Denmark. Out to a place called Struer, then up to Thisted, and reverse the route. Following day, our last using the 'pass' was down to Arhus, then across through Herning to a small place called Skjern, so small in fact we had difficulty in finding somewhere to eat. Finally on south again, to the port of Esbjerg, here we boarded the ferry that carried us back to Harwich. Thus the end of what we agreed was about the most enjoyable and interesting "gallivant" in the 'leisured' fifteen years since we'd discontinued our "day jobs".
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As previously mentioned, it had been in our mind to take our boat down to the West Country, but had then changed plan, and did our rail journey instead. The weather in August proved difficult for boating, but at the end of the month, we did try early one morning, going out under the 06.30 bridge, but when we reached the Swash Channel, the water was so rough, we considered we could not continue on seas such as this to Brixham.

So a change of plan again. We decided we should take a trip over to our cottage outside Josselin in France. Fast ferry Poole to Cherbourg, then a drive down same day. A couple of days out, first being to the Villaine river below Renne, then roughly following it down to Redon. This of interest to us because several fellow Nimbus owners we know, use this waterway to cross through Brittany. Another trip was down to Vannes. Here, apart from the always interesting street market, we found "the country had come to town", a really well done exhibition of farm animals, including cows that were being milked in a mobile milking parlour. Also examples of breeds - or "races" as the French termed them. We then  drove on down to the entrance to the Gulf of Morbihan. Here, we took another look at the vast Marina of Port Crouesty. We returned from France vis Roscoff. We did this because we had booked for what turned out to be a very interesting tour through Plymouth Naval Dockyard.

We arrived back home on 16th September. The very next day we journeyed down to our boat. The reason being that at Weymouth had been organised a visit to the Coastguard Station there. We had not been sure that sea conditions would allow us to take Sylvania. But going out through the 07.30 bridge, we were pleased to find the sea almost perfect, so thoroughly enjoyed the voyage. Two days later we returned. A memorable trip, made more so by the friendly boating people who provided such pleasant company.

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Another visit to Norway!! Reason being we're on a "Hurtigruten" Cruise up the coast of that country, long heard about it, it being quite well known, as it has been in existence for over a hundred years. We wondered what we'd find, being a month away from the shortest day, but at this point (half distance) just about five hours daylight. But it is cold enough for snow - and we do have some! In Trondheim today (17th November) and found walking difficult and tiring, I slipped several times, so made me wary. Do hope we shall continue to stay upright! - Yes, we did!

Later we visited Tromso, a place - like so many, often heard about, specially in war books. Surprisingly bright and interesting, though fully dark at three in the afternoon!. It is the furthest city north, certainly in Europe, and is said to have a population of 45,000. Five days later, we reached the boats final destination, and turn round point. That was 22nd November.



Scenes from the ship, as we cruised North

All the snow and ice made us really wary in walking around, we slipped several times, but managed to keep upright. Amazing to see vehicles and even cyclists travelling with seemingly no trouble at all. I gather this is because they use special tyres.

At Kirkness, we took a coach ride out to the Russian border, I realized that it seemed a bit stupid, just viewing a border crossing, but it was worth it for visiting the area, specially so as we had a most excellent guide, who kept us constantly informed about the whole district, and way of life.


Above and below left: notices about the area. Below, Kirkness


Leaving we headed into the most awfull gale, said by the crew to have reached force eleven, with wave heights of over six metres. It certainly slowed the ship down, the usual speed being fifteen knots, but they had to cut that by a third, and also missing several ports they'd been programmed to visit.





Our return voyage was arranged as far as it could to visit in daytime, ports that had been called at night on the northward leg. At a halt in the Lofoten Islands, we left the boat, then were bussed on a trip to the next port. Apart from the fact the countryside was covered in snow, really interesting. I'd love to return in a less winterly period. Above are two memorable pictures, taken just as we passed over a bridge, at the very same moment our boat passed under. To us, an amazing feat of timing! Above is the bridge we traversed. Worth restating the boat is nine decks high - some bridge!

All in all, both Muriel and myself consider this trip the best and most memorable we've done in our 'leisure' years. Everything good, no praise to high, even better with more daylight however. Below I am placing a group 'photo of friends we made on-board. One of the great benefits on a trip such as this is meeting interesting people. The fact that this is a 'closed' environment allows a most enjoyable social interaction.



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Almost straight after our return, we embarked on another journey. I needed to do some business in Dublin. We had thought of driving with our car, but were aware they were having a lot of snow. Then the idea occurred, why not go by train? This we did, but partly because of luggage constraints decided to leave my camera. Pity as it turned out, the snow and ice being much worse than we had anticipated. Nice to have taken some pictures, conditions really were awful. Similar to that in Norway, but amount of snow, and the fact that we in our countries do not often endure such weather, it is understandable we are less able to cope. Interesting all the same!

Traveling over we journeyed via Birmingham, and stayed the night in a Travelodge at Holyhead, good it was too. Both traveling days were Sundays, so considering rail engineering restrictions decided to return via Hereford. Good route, try and do that again, apart from scenery, less problems at rail station interchanges. We decided to stay overnight in the 'Green Dragon' in Hereford. Good idea, excellent value. Nice trip, apart from the weather.
 

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Seems we've had a quite active year - even by our standards! Years end however, and another little trip: This down to Plymouth for a two night stay The justification being that we had some vouchers that allowed us free accommodation at an Ibis Hotel, providing these were taken up by the year end.