BLOGGINGS!

Mostly travel related.

Since I started this site, the word "Blogs" seems to have appeared. Being that the definition of this almost describes what my web pages are relating, I feel this term be used for my writings here

The year opened with a stay in London, apart from the usual sightseeing, several music and other concerts were attended. Sometime after this a week was spent at St Ives in Cornwall. I confess our early visit to Bleno was not written up in my 'France' page, worse, no mention of another trip down to the "Creuse" area.

This had taken my fancy on our last visit - very quiet, with countryside not unlike England. Hedges for example, these being not common in most of France, but even here not made up of the familiar blackthorn of English hedges  (Not Welsh though - hedges in West Wales are by no means exclusively blackthorn as we've since discovered) Montlucon was our base, and coming back we found a claimed "centre of France" a few miles north of that town. A main success in our French visit was that we made a very good start in work on installing a pine boarded ceiling in the up-stairs of our French home. This will make extra rooms, but much more important, help to prevent heat loss into the roof void.

A one day trip was made to the Isle of Wight. This though was 'small beer' compared with a long travel up through the Outer Hebrides. One night at Carlisle, the next at Oban, then a five hour ferry journey out to Castlebay on the Southern most inhabited island of Barra. Then up through the Uist's and Benbecula, across to Harris, and returning via Skye. A night at Broadford, and then back to Oban, saying at the same guesthouse we'd used some days previous
.

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Isle of Skye - Cuillins in background

From Oban, several more ferries were used to get us to the island of Bute. Two more ferry journeys the next day - the total number of ferries used eventually totalled eleven - ferries are ships we do use rather a lot!! After Bute, we travelled down the south west coast of Scotland to Stranraer, and from here down to Belfast. Here, very unusually, we had major problems in finding accommodation, admittedly it was almost seven before we could start looking, but even so, at that time we did not envisage it would be another two and a half hours before we found a room - good it was too. But we might have accepted anything at that hour of the night! We had to move after two nights, our room to be used by a regular. So we moved closer to the city. The B&B which hosted us there provided free Wi-Fi. I wish this would become common, it most certainly ought to be.

After attending a series of visits which had been arranged by the Charles Close Society, we drove south to Dublin. The friend with whom were to stay with, lived on the far side of that city in County Wicklow. Never the less, we reached this around 9 PM, having left Belfast in the late afternoon. Dublin was vibrant as usual; I have never seen so many
working tower cranes , in any other city. As mentioned; the high speed ferry back to Holyhead, was the eleventh that had carried us on this trip.

Early morning 27th June, commenced the second visit of the year to our French abode. Very hot indeed - 34˚ when we reached Josselin that afternoon. In fact it was pretty warm throughout our visit, so most of the time there was spent in continuing work in the upper room that we'd commenced on our previous trip, it being cooler inside than out. Great progress we felt was made, returning well satisfied on 14th July.

At the start of August, we took a short trip to West Wales, staying at a pub in the village of Talgarron, a few miles inland from the coast near New Quay. On the last day before driving home, we drove south, calling in at Carmarthen and looking round the stall market. Then on again, to have a good look Laugharne and the former home of Dylan Thomas. Skirting Tenby, we continued close to the South Pembrokeshire coast, and to the car park near the village of Angle. Walking from here on the cliff path we were able to watch a large oil tanker being shepherded by tugs out to sea. Fish and chips in Pembroke town, then home.

Another short trip at the end of that month, this time to Norwich, finding several National Trust properties to visit in the area. Apart from Norwich, we also looked round Cromer.

The highlight of the year so far was a voyage lasting a week on the Trinity House Vessel "Patricia". While like most, I knew what the work of Trinity House entailed, but had been unaware until viewing a TV programme, that passengers were being carried on one of their ships. The draw for me that we were allowed on the bridge virtually any time we wished to visit - and I did spend a lot of time on it, really enjoyable it was. We embarked at Falmouth, and sailed along the coast to anchor off Slapton Sands.









Conditions on "Patricia" were indeed luxurious! The accomodation for passengers comprised six double bedded cabins, so it could only carry a maximum of a dozen persons. There were eleven on our voyage. We had our own chef, and two stewards attended our every need. The food on board was absolutely star quality.

All in all a most exceptional experience, but not one I would hanker to repeat, not only because of the cost, but as much as anything to do the same thing again would not really be the 'same', it is best to value such events as a memory.



Next morning, the ship moved out to the middle of the English Channel, this in order to attend the lightship which marks the seperation zone between lanes of the two routes for this busy shipping area. That night we anchored off Mevagissy. Next day we took the opportunity to land at Penzance for a couple of hours. We were then supposed to travel out to the Isles of Scilly, but just off Lands End, the boat turned completely round, she had been asked to look for a reported wreck which might have been a danger to shipping. After spending the night again off Slapton Sands, and a two hour cruise to reach the spot, the search began for the sunken boat, however after a long ramble round the spot, nothing apart from oil slicks could be found.

No quiet anchoring that night unfortunately. Patricia had to get to Milford Haven by Monday morning. As her sailing speed is only around 12 knots, this was an almost twenty four hour journey. Unfortunately sea conditions were not favourable for a restful cruise - it was rough - in fact very rough indeed. Certainly not easy to sleep that night! We did get served breakfast the next morning, but no way could our usual buffet lunch be served, we were served sandwiches instead. Those looking after us were not happy at having to do this. We spent a full day watching the work of the boat lifting and replacing buoys in the 'Haven', then the following day morning set out for Swansea. Again very rough seas, something I had thought my enjoyment of which was not common. Not so, to judge by my fellow passengers, most seemed to get as much pleasure watching the boat rock about as much as I
did!

Again to the displeasure of chef and stewards, sandwiches for lunch. This however was our last voyage on the Patricia, we reached Swansea that afternoon - not a nice place to embark, Falmouth was far better. So ended a memorable week.

The third visit of the year to our French abode commenced 11th October. Aspects of this trip will be found here: France

Cheap flights encourage travel - Bournemouth to Dublin and back for less than 61 seemed well worthwhile, specially in that we have a friend who is pleased to accommodate us. This we did commencing December 10th for eight days. While we had to make use of public transport for trips, this proved no bar to our enjoyment, in fact we considered we were better off without a car, the saving on parking charges well paying the cost of our bus fares etc. A rail journey to Galway for the day was the longest trip we did. While usually to me, rail journeys are enjoyable - you won't catch me reading while on a train! This across the middle of ireland I cannot recomend for scenery. Very flat indeed. Virtually no earthmoving needed in building this line. Dublin to Galway must have been about the lowest cost rail line ever constructed!