Posted by: glenswatman | May 31, 2009

200905-2-France England

FRIDAY 15 MAY – Our final day at sea and last
chance for on board activities.  We have
had a rough nights sailing and it is still a bit choppy but I am feeling much
better and ready for action.  Steve is
finally on a winning trivia team (they have been up as tie breakers many times
but lost).  I don’t like being in the
same team as him as one of the guys takes it too seriously.  British immigration officers have boarded
the ship and throughout the day we take turns to clear customs.  Apparently there will be nothing more at
Harwich so you can take in virtually anything on the basis that you are limited
by how much you can carry.  Our final formal
night and Steve must have lost a bit of weight as his trousers now fit!  Alan & Ika are absent and we are upset
when she arrives and tells us Alan is ill with a lung infection and has been on
a drip.  Judging by the number of
“alpha” calls this sailing we have had a lot of illnesses on board and at least
one death.  Guess this is a reflection
on the age of the passengers and the duration of the cruise.  The “Soul Sensation” show is excellent, all
our kind of music.  This is followed by
the talent show with some great singers plus a comedian.



SATURDAY 16 MAY – Cherbourg FRANCE, our final
port of call.  It is 15C out so we rug
up with our coats on and catch the free shuttle into town.  Could easily have walked as it turns out to
be very close.  It is a typical French
harbour town but what we find curious is a whole street full of Turkish kebab
restaurants!  Numerous motorhomes are
free camping along the quay but none are British.  Back on board late morning we decide on a sauna and Turkish bath
to warm up.  There are separate ones for
men and ladies and I am the only one in the ladies.  I’m surprised to find that Steve is out before me but not when he
tells me there was a gay guy in the men’s playing with himself whilst looking
across at him – maybe he saw Steve in The Quest and took a fancy to him!  It is Steve’s turn to spend the afternoon in
bed so I go along to the timed sudoku challenge but must be slipping as I only
come in second.  It suddenly dawns on me
that we need to be packed up before dinner, as the suitcases must be put out
for collection.  We’ve bought duty free
cigarettes and won 4 bags as prizes so getting everything into the bags is a
nightmare.  It is good to see Alan at
the dinner table for our last meal. 
Apparently there is a virus going around on the ship and I suspect that
I am starting with it as I have similar symptoms.  We’ve been really lucky with our dinner companions as although we
are a mixed age group from different walks of live everyone has been friendly
and many of us have socialised together. 
Our last show is British magician “Jamie Allan” who does some amazing
sleight of hand card stunts.  A handful
of people gather for the late night “Family Feud”, like Family Fortunes and we
both end up on teams but luckily only win runners up key rings.  Looking back over the trip we are really
glad we have travelled this way, found Bermuda the most interesting port of
call, like everyone on our table we felt the food was lacking and that in
general cuts were being made and noticed. 
Still for what we paid this is more of an observation than complaint.



SUNDAY 17 MAY – We wake up in Harwich ENGLAND
where disembarkation is extremely efficient and the railway station is directly
beside the ship.  I’ve got a great deal
with tickets from
paying £19 all the way to Stoke whilst people in the ticket line in front of me
pay £49 just to London.  From Harwich the
line is closed on Sundays for maintenance so we are bussed to another
station.  It is really funny listening
to the Americans pointing out features of England – the cars on the wrong site,
the tiny roads, old houses, greenery etc. 
Pass through a town called Stratford and one lady shouts out to ask if
it is where Shakespeare is from!  On the
train to London it turns out she also thinks that Liverpool Street Station is
actually Liverpool – hope she wasn’t planning on doing the Beatles attractions
there.  Laden with bags it is hard work
picking up the two tubes to get us to Euston where we wait about 1-hour for our
onwards Virgin train.  The early morning
rain has ceased and the weather is picking up a bit but it is still cold.  Arrive in Stoke on Trent at ¼ to 2 (less
than 6 hours after leaving ship) and are delighted that Netty & Ian are
there to meet us.  They both look really
well and very happy in their newly married life.  Mum also looks well and is very pleased to see us.  After catching up on news it is difficult to
know what to do next with 5 bags to unpack, 2 weeks worth of laundry to tackle,
1 years worth of mail and family and friends to contact.  Mum cooks us a chicken tikka dinner and it
is tastier than most of the food on the ship. 
Call round to Netty’s in the evening to begin tackling the Russian visa
challenge but with numerous setbacks including the fact they have crossed
Steve’s and my details on the invitation letter.  I have very bad nights sleep.  
My asthma is bad; I seem to have a chest infection, blocked nose and a
chill.  I must look really funny in bed
with a woolly hat on, 2 T-shirts, socks and in addition to the normal bedding
an extra bedspread, dressing gown and blanket. 
Blame it all on the air conditioning on the ship.



MONDAY 18 MAY – I have a really bad night and
get up at 6am.  By the time the others
get up it is pouring with rain and I’m still not feeling well.  We must sort out our Russia visa so Steve drives
us up to the library to use the Internet.  
Way to Russia quickly sort out the invitation problem and will E-mail
new ones (good job too as they charged us $55 for the service).  I’m whacked when we get back and retire to
bed for the afternoon.



TUESDAY 19 MAY – I sleep better and get up at
8.30am to enjoy my first bath in months, enhanced with my favourite Avon “skin
so soft” bath oil.  We spend the morning
at the library continuing the visa application.  The new invitation arrives but I am frustrated to find “Way to
Russia” direct me to “Real Russia Ltd” for application assistance.  Way to Russia charge £107.80 each for the
visa including assistance but for £115.30 they would have included the
invitation and this would have been a cheaper and quicker option.  Oh well, at least we can now complete and
get the application in the post.  So far
our cheap Russia holiday that started with £2 flights has already cost over
£500 and we haven’t even set off!  If you
have ever seen the movie “Terminal Man” about Tom Hanks ending up living at an
airport you will understand that we are beginning to feel like “Library
Couple”!  Once we get back I again feel
worse and by mid afternoon am struggling to breath.  I’m sure I haven’t got swine flu but am not keen to race to the
Docs but phone for advice.  They say I
must phone the NHS help line for a consultation.  They are extremely thorough and more concerned about the virus on
the ship but insist I must see as Doctor. 
At the surgery Doctor Dean says I have lots of “grott” on my lungs and
need penicillin but that everything else will clear up in time.  Bobby & Kat call round in the evening
and we have a good chat. 



WEDNESDAY 20 MAY – I’m feeling considerably
better but Steve is now barking (more than normal) and wheezing.  We’re terrified of giving anything to Mum so
have been trying to keep out of her way and frequently squirt with
antibacterial spray.  She’s off up town
to meet her mates at the Tudor House. 
Steve gets up and sets to work on some jobs for Mum and U join in but we
are both too weak to do much.  In the
afternoon we go over to Mark & Netty’s in Dawley.  Lauren and Aidan arrive just ahead of us, Marks girls are already
there and Netty has her granddaughter Amber for the evening so it is quite a
house full.  Kevin & Sandra come
straight from work and Stacey’s getting back from work completes the
party.  It is pretty chaotic but nice to
get a chance to see everyone again.  Mid
evening we get a text from Claire. 
Natasha has had an accident doing karate and is at hospital having
stitches for a head wound.   Steve is
going downhill fast so I end up driving back. 
Claire tells us Natasha has needed 5 stitches but was very brave and now
at home sleeping. 



THURSDAY 21 MAY – I answer the door at 20 to
10 as Mum is expecting a pupil.  An
elderly couple are standing there with a sheet in their hand and I ask if they
are here for the lesson with Mum and am just about to ask them in when I hear
Mum coming through.  It turns out they
are Jehovah’s witnesses and must have thought I was offering them the chance to
give Mum as lesson.  I’ve spent the last
3 days unpacking and sorting our stuff but must now pack for our visit to
Yorkshire.  In the afternoon I drive Mum
over to the Princess Royal hospital for an X-ray.  The specialist says that they didn’t replace the hip socket but
he doesn’t consider it is needed and he believes her limp and pain is now down
to a back problem but that is for her Doctor to figure. 



FRIDAY 22 MAY – We are off to Yorkshire to day
and Steve begins driving but gets tired on the motorway so I take over.  At Stanley Middleton’s we pick up fresh pies
for lunch to take to Claire’s where she meets us during her lunch hour.  Steve spends the afternoon in bed but I have
to pick up the kids at 3.30pm.  Mum
joins we for the drive over to Howarth where Daniel arrives on the school bus
and Daz brings Natasha to us.  Her head
looks pretty good with only a small covering over the stitches and no other
bruising.  Daniel looks very grown up in
his Halifax Grammar School uniform.  I
cook tea for all of us after which Claire takes Mum up to Mom & Dads to
spend the night.  We are keeping our
distance, as Mom doesn’t want us to give Dad our colds, as he is not too well



SATURDAY 23 MAY – We’ve slept reasonably well
in Claire’s bed but must come up with a better sleeping plan for Claire when we
come back to stay for longer.  The kid’s
rooms are really small but we talk about Daniel moving into the smallest room
and Natasha into his old room where w may be able to get an extra bed.  We pick up Mum, who has had a lovely
evening, and drive over to Wakefield to drop her at Auntie Pamela’s.  Onwards to Hull where we first stop to shop
at Asda.  John meets us at the gate to
YSS (Yorkshire Sun Society) and leads us to the new visitors caravan.  The old one got wrecked in the floods and
new one used to belong to a member. 
They have done a nice job making it look homely inside and we even have
all new bedding, pink for Natasha and blue for Daniel.  Apart from it not having mains electric and
a TV it seems nicer than the old caravan. 
Tonight is the tramps ball and the kids enjoy getting dressed up then
ripping their clothes and covering them in mud.  The evening begins with a fish and chip supper, £3, or sausage
and chips for the kids.  There are some
really funny tramps costumes and some people really get into the spirit of it
curling up on the floor in boxes.  There
are prizes for the best male, best female and extra one for the kids as Daniel
and Natasha are the only entrants and win a box of jelly babies.   It is 10.30pm by the time we get home to
bed but there is a problem with the battery so we can’t have the lights on and
go straight to bed. 


£50 club caravan, £7 per couple per day visitor fees, £5
bedding pack


SUNDAY 24 MAY – We’ve all been cold in the night so are happy to get up
and find it is a hot and sunny morning. 
We enter the petanque competition with Natasha and I in one team and
Daniel and Steve in the other.  Nat
& I are consistently bad and don’t even get a point in either of our two
games.  Steve & Daniel do really
well and lose 15 – 14 in the final. 
Sheila is so impressed with Daniel’s performance that she gives him her
prize of a free drink voucher.  Spend
much of the afternoon at the swimming pool. 
Natasha gradually manages to worm her way further in but as it is only
chest high we trust her not to wet her stitches.  The evening entertainment is skittles and Daniel enters us as
“The Randomers”.  Natasha is the star of
the team as the only one ever to knock over all 9 pins but even that is not
enough to get us to the final. 
Throughout the day the kids have enjoyed looking at the magazine adverts
on the club walls, the product name has been cut out and this is the base of
the competition.  The last 3 questions
are in the evening in the form of tunes being played and you have to guess the
advert. Daniel & Natasha draw but Daniel wins the tie breaker of how many
calories in a slice of wholemeal bread and this time wins a box of liquorice
all sorts.  Steve stays up watching TV
in the lounge but has a big problem coming home as it is very dark and he
spends half an hour being lost in the forest. 
That’s all he needs as he still has a cold and fells cold and shivery
but at least we have extra duvets tonight.



MONDAY 25 MAY – Bank holiday Monday and surprisingly the weather is
nice.  We spend a lot of time at the
pool and the kids enjoy being able to sit in the Jacuzzi.  Late afternoon the weather changes and it
rains in the evening. 



TUESDAY 26 MAY – We are all getting very lazy and don’t get up until
10am.  At North Point centre we go to
the clinic to get Natasha’s stitches removed. 
She is very brave and the nurse comments on what an excellent job was
done on the stitching.  North Point is a
good shopping centre so we stock up on food before returning for lunch.  As Natasha can now go in the pool properly
we spend the whole afternoon up there. 
Mark arrives with his children Ethan, 10, and Bethany, 8, so it is great
for the kids to have someone to play with. 
 Andy & Chris call for a
chat in the evening as they are going away. 
Spend the evening watching TV in the clubhouse.



WEDNESDAY 27 MAY – It is a bit of a miserable
morning so we decide to have a ride out to Hornsea and begin at the Freeport
factory-shopping outlet.  The kids are
most interested in the amusement arcade and have had so much fun they go in
another one when we get to Hornsea seafront. 
It’s really cold and blustery and with Steve still not feeling well we
return for lunch.  The kids spend all
afternoon in the swimming pool.



THURSDAY 28 MAY – We all spend the morning at
the pool and I put in 50 lengths.  In
the afternoon we leave Steve behind and go for a ride to visit John & Maureen
in their bungalow in Wawne and then to North Point shopping centre.  Britain’s got talent has become our
addictive TV viewing this week.



FRIDAY 29 MAY – It is a glorious day so we
have an early swim.  My false nails are
growing out and I have a heck of a job getting them off after soaking them in
remover – never again.  I attempt to
clean Mums car in the afternoon but the water keeps going off and it ends up
looking worse than before I started. 
Plenty of time for sitting out sunbathing in the afternoon.



SATURDAY 30 MAY – We drive to Auntie Pamela’s
in Wakefield arriving around 11pm. 
Whilst eating an early lunch we catch up on their news then take Mum
with us to Bradford to rendezvous with Claire. 
She is going to the Midlands to Aidans birthday party, taking Natasha
with her and dropping Mum at home. 
Daniel has opted to come back with us to Keighley.  It is another lovely day so I get loads of
washing done.  Late afternoon we receive
the Tesco grocery delivery that Claire ordered on line – very efficient. 



SUNDAY 31 MAY – We drive round to visit Mom
& Dad and find them both well. 
There’s a car boot sale at Bracken Bank community centre and we walk
down to it but other than enjoying the exercise it wasn’t worth it with only 2
stalls.  Claire arrives to pick up
Daniel but we stay on for lunch and for me to defrost their freezer.  Early afternoon we go to town to check out
divan beds with drawers.  I’ve seen some
good deals on line but now realise that the quality of the drawers varies and
you need to see them.  Whilst Claire
takes Natasha swimming Steve and I set about clearing out Natasha’s room ready
for decorating.  In between all this I
make use of the Internet to book our bus, insurance and other things ready for
Russia.  Not sure we could keep up this
pace for too long.



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