Monday, 29 June 2015

Creeping Bentgrass At The Fylde Farm Weekend

Friday night 26 June saw us out at Treales in the depths of the countryside for our gig at the Fylde Farm Weekend.

The weather in Blackpool had been a bit hit and miss but the field was nice and firm as we drove over to the marquee for our set-up.

It was our sixth year at this event and the second one that we had played on the Friday night. A quietish start but the marquee began to fill up and we recognised a few faces and they joined into the banter with us a bit and we had a great time. Special mention to the good folks from Leyland Eagles!

We'd had a request for Fields of Gold to be played tonight - a song we have played ad hoc before but I spent Monday afternoon putting an arrangement together. It was good, but I think I might slow it down a bit and add some pauses in.

Some fabulous feedback when we finished around midnight - it is much appreciated, folks. Someone told us we were the only reason they came to the event! Well, yes, I do like a good laugh myself... No, it's very heartening to be told such things and to be asked to sign CDs. We floated home once the car was loaded up.

It's become a bit of a tradition to find somewhere to stop and partake of a handful of jam butties that Miss Franny makes when we know we will have a late night. Then I took a wrong turn somewhere and instead of heading for Kirkham, we found ourselves doing the back roads to Singleton. But that was ok once I'd worked out where we were in the dark!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

A Day At Sea On Thomson Majesty

Saturday 13 June 2015. We are at sea for the day as we travel southwards from Corfu around edge of the Mediterranean and up into the Aegean on our way to Mykonos where we will spend the next day. All of today's photos are courtesy of David whose camera I or Miss Jeannie used for the odd photo of her snap-happy hubby!

Breakfast in the Seven Seas restaurant. We opted for waiter service for the week with just one day's exception when we ate breakfast in Piazza San Marco on Deck 10. Here we are in the Seven Seas scrunched together for the photo. After this we spread out so as not to splash each other with fruit juice, egg yolk, bean juice etc.

Then a wander of the ship to walk off the breakfast! We called off at the Rendezvous bar for a latte.

Kirsty Ann plays piano in the Rendezvous Bar and coped very well with a maniac taking her photograph a hundred or so times...

Even in the limited shopping space onboard, the two ladies managed to enjoy themselves for quite a while, leaving me and David to lounge next to the windows on Deck 5. Once he'd been in the shops to take their photo of course!

Watching (in vain) for dolphins. We spent most of the day sunbathing and reading. I wasn't as keen on the cocktail of the day as I had been in Corfu, but did manage a few Cocktails of Yesterday...

That evening was the Captain's Gala Night. We scrubbed up, started down the staircase to Deck 6 and heard those magic words in the stairwell: "Just stop there and turn round..."

We allowed the ship's photographers a chance to catch up with David's total of photos taken so far this cruise and the Captain gets to boast "I had my photo taken with Creeping Bentgrass!"

Our lovely waiter team of Yankee, Gede and Marwill had saved our table for us in the Four Seasons (we stayed with them for the week, they were really excellent) and Marwill kept us topped up with wine. (The glasses were a mere staging point...)

As the excellent meal was at the coffee stage an impromptu sing-song burst out in the restaurant.

A drunken diner joined in... The waiter wasn't one of our team, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and had to make the best of it!

It was getting time for the next sitting so we took our glasses to finish our wine by the windows on Deck 5. I have absolutely no idea what I was trying to do here...

Miss Jeannie pinned David down on their sofa. "Let John take one - you can take some more in a minute..."

This lady was on a stand advertising the wares and services of the onboard spa. I can't remember her name I'm afraid and the photo is blurred just enough to render her badge unreadable, but she was absolutely lovely and we fell quickly into the habit of speaking to her for a few minutes every night. What had I just asked her, I wonder...?

"Can you sing Lady Gaga's Poker Face?"
"How far do my ears stick out from my head?"

Perhaps David had just started to sing and she was covering her ears...?

For the second night in a row we were presented with the most wonderful sunset. We went out onto the Promenade Deck to make the most of it.

I nicked the sun and stuck it in my pocket to bring it home to Blackpool! A couple of women were standing near us and wanted to know what we were doing at this point. David showed them the photos on the screen on the back of the camera and then told them to "Just stop and turn round..." C-L-I-C-K!

"CHEESE!" says Miss Franny.

As it got darker we retreated to the Royal Observatory bar. I ponder what to have...

Miss Franny has no such problems and goes for a cocktail with Blue Curacao, triple sec, vodka and orange juice.

Miss Jeannie and the Clicky-Monster are on Zombies... I don't think I've ever published a blog entry before with so many photos of people! I'm looking forward to writing the next one though as Mykonos is going to be one of the highlights of the week!

Hellenic Classics Index

Friday, 26 June 2015

Sail-Away From Corfu

Friday 12 June 2015. After dinner it is almost dark and we head down to the Promenade Deck of Thomson Majesty to have a good viewpoint as we sail away from Corfu to start our cruise.

The very last tint of blue colour remains in the sky as we emerge onto the deck. The Old Fortress is floodlit and lights of various hues light up the town houses and coast road. On the end of piers red lights wink out at regular intervals, keeping ships and boats safe.

Most of the large shipping seems to be safely moored up. Only Thomson Majesty shows signs of impending departure. Some small private boats are criss-crossing the harbour without a single light showing. Whether they stop, or whether it just gets too dark to see them any more, I'm not sure!

Looking up the coast road the pier lights cast a reflected pathway of light back to the ship.

I swap to my long lens and set for a four-second exposure to try to get trails of light from car lights on the road. Even with the camera firmly clamped with my hand to the ship's rail I can't help the vibrations that jiggle the light trails a little.

We are standing on the very top deck of the ship - Deck 11. This is the forecastle area around the radar equipment and at the rear of the ship allows access to the funnel stack. A gangway runs along each side of the ship and there is a central hole providing light and a viewpoint to the Pool Deck below.

At the rear is the blue smoke stack. Even in the days of large multi-funnel ocean liners, the exhaust fumes and smoke came out of smaller pipes encased by the visible funnel. Now they are generally run in rows together with a single decorative encasement towards the back of a ship. "Stern!" said David. Oh... er... ok...

There are lots of funnels channelled into a single stack - can you at least try to get that into your brain, you... what? You didn't mean that sort of stern...? There's no pleasing him sometimes...

Down on Deck 10 there's a party going on around here! Traditionally the Sail-Away Party is a chance to stay up, have a drink and dance to the ship's resident party band. On Thomson Majesty they were called Muzzik Unlimited and are well worth a listen. And they have a fine array of hats too...

Moving from the blunt bit to the pointy end, Miss Fran and Miss Jeannie chat next to the ship's radar tower.

The radar equipment is twizzing round nicely, pinging out microwaves and bouncing them off nearby structures, ships and inquisitive Moby Dicks, ready for our departure.

I couldn't resist trying a long exposure to turn the ship into a helicopter but again I can't hold a camera that steady for several seconds. Neat though, huh?

We watched as the last flight came in and the final passengers were processed in the Cruise Terminal. Then the embarkation crew started to walk to and fro between the ship and the terminal, bringing the equipment and paraphernalia back with them. On the dock the blue flashing lights of a police car came and officers stood around an unmarked car on the dock. We weren't sure whether it had committed some misdemeanour or was just a mate they were chatting to. The police car did several journeys up and down the dock with its blue lights flashing and one headlamp out... After half an hour both cars left the dock area one after the other. A mystery it remains...

Anyway, what the heck am I thinking? This is it! We're off! Time for another Bon Voyage cocktail! The Hellenic Classics cruise is under way!

Hellenic Classics Index

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sunset Over Corfu

Friday 12 June 2015. The third entry for this day - and there's another to come! The ruthless rejection of photos continues in this entry though as if I'm not on them, then I took them!

So we'll start with one taken by Miss Jeannie as the two disreputable rogues put on their most winning expressions for the camera.

We have dinner in the Four Seasons restaurant, which is the smaller of the two main waiter-service restaurants. We are welcomed by waiters Yankee and Gede ("Jiddie") who we remembered from our last trip on the Thomson Majesty, last September. Our wine waiter is called Marwill and is kept busy...

By the time we emerge onto the Promenade Deck the sun is sinking in the sky and it's promising a rather spectacular sunset.

Corfu's old fortress. Built to protect the town from attack by sea, the Ottomans parked along the coast and came overland in 1537. The fort was ok but the town was destroyed. A second fortress, the "new" fortress, was built shortly afterwards with 20,000 houses being flattened to make room for it.

We wander round the Promenade Deck to take this one from the stern. We realise that the MSC Musica has slipped out of port as we were at dinner. Never even said goodbye...

This tiny island with the archway through the rock stands alone in the water.

Arty-Farty picture time! A single tree catches the sun with the tree covered cliff face behind in shadow. Shame about the telegraph poles on the left, but I wasn't sure they'd let us chop them down...

"Just turn round, guys!" comes a shout. We squint into the sun for several minutes... There were several other ships in port, both ferries and cargo ships. Some can be seen here. This is the hour most used by professional photographers as the colour of a low sun, either early morning or evening casts a warm yellow glow.

The sunset lights the sky with a fiery orange glow with the layers of receding hills getting progressively lighter in shade.

Looking towards the setting sun presents us with a view of a sea of molten gold. You could just dip a bucket and wait for the contents to harden!

Walking a little further along the Promenade Deck gives us a view straight along the coast road. Towards the far end the street lamps have been switched on as the light level falls.

It's no good... I'm in danger of sobering up and am herded, crying lamentably in protest, into the Royal Observatory bar.

Ooh - hey up though! Straight glasses - we must have gone for orange juice all round! I'm sure they must have been followed by more cocktails of the day. David was already eyeing up the cocktail of tomorrow...

Ninet was the bar waitress in the Royal Observatory. "'Ninette' or 'Ninay'?" I asked. "Oh 'Ninette'!" came the answer, "I'm from the Philippines, not France!" I knew that already of course. I mean... she walked round me instead of just knocking me over!

Hellenic Classics Index

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

On the Thomson Majesty

Last night David and Miss Jeannie came round and we shared photos and attempted to watch them all. But with a total of around 2,500 photographs we were struggling, as the clock ticked inexorably on, to either keep awake or blink after something like three and a half hours... Even our efforts in swigging two bottles of Chardonnay, one of Prosecco and half a bottle of Limoncello, remaining from our Italian holiday last year, was failing to keep us concentrating. Or contributing to the lack of it perhaps...

Anyway, with so many photos there could well be an entry on the blog for every hour of the cruise... Though here I've culled with ferocious determination and we'll cover a whole afternoon...

Here we are shortly after getting on board. This was held up as The Clicky Monster (David) had us dodging port traffic and then holding up proceedings for all other passengers as we hung over the side of the gangway as we were foolishly attempting to get on the ship. The inviting calls of the stewards and ship crew increasingly turned into "Quickly now..." as the crowds of folk wanting to get on or off built up, but these calls were easily diverted by the you-know-who with a casual "Just one more..." and then "Hold up your boarding cards..."

Here we have made it up to the open air deck on Deck 10, having been photographed on every stair landing and every floor. We are in need of some lunch.

And having had lunch we have a coffee each - no, scrap that, three of us have a coffee and David spies the Cocktail of the Day - a Bon Voyage made with vodka, Galliano, apricot brandy, orange and pineapple juice.

Before long we have finished the coffees and are sampling this strangely attractive drink for ourselves...

After a couple of these we go for a wander around the ship whilst the ship's photographers look on with awe and agree they will not make much out of our group during the week... I had left my camera in the cabin. Seemed a waste bringing it out really...

We tried out the stage for size, though this was the only time we were to trouble it on this cruise!

Continuing our wander. You thought I was kidding about the stair landings...?

Up to Deck 7 which is the Promenade Deck. On this level you can walk a complete circuit of the ship. David insists (from the depths of his 9-years naval service) that it is the ship's waist, but I saw no evidence of bin bags (see what I did there?) and being able to walk round from pointy end to blunt bit and back four times to be able to say you had walked a mile just seemed unnecessary so we just did the half circuit and stopped at the roundy end (from the depths of my bathtimes with clockwork tugboat).

From here we could admire or otherwise the flat-sided MSC Musica. I like my boats to look like boats and you have to remember that a boat full of balconies probably has half of them in shadow at any one time!

Round at the pointy end but standing pointing at the roundy end with a bit of Corfu visible behind us.

We explore the parts other tours cannot reach. The selection is labelled "Finished with engines". Quite right too... set the sails Mr Christian and a little less lip if you please!

Oh no! How did that happen? We've wandered into a bar and four more Bon Voyage cocktails have sprung at us, demanding to be quaffed!

We are in the Royal Observatory bar at the front of Deck 9 which affords a Captain on the Bridge viewpoint over the sea. However as we are moored at the dock, this is not as exciting as a storm force seven!

Well that has dealt with the first afternoon quite nicely. We will finish our drinkies and then go to change for dinner. Dinner (more drinks...) and the early evening up to sunset will form the content for the next entry and at this rate of three or four entries for each day, we may just have finished with this cruise by the time we set sail again (not yet booked or looked for... We must be slipping up...)

Hellenic Classics Index