❤️Love At First Sight…Village – 17 Years On!!!

Red Love logo with reflection

 Today i’m celebrating a brobdingnagian 17 years since i met my lovely wife Sarah at “Sight Village, Birmingham, UK” 🙌  

This is a major Sight Village show in Birmingham which is held in July each year. Exhibitors throughout the world take part and welcome many thousands of visitors, including people who are blind or partially sighted, professionals, business people and family members.

I was there (from Derby) working for a charity called LOOK and Sarah was there (from Surrey) working for RNIB. She came to my table as she had a magazine which she had just published an article about LOOK and wanted to show me. Sarah opened the magazine and said here are the pictures and the article, i said “Wow, Mmmm, Awww and fantastic…It all looks great” which made Sarah quite proud of her work. I then said while laughing “you know i didn’t see any of what you’ve just shown me, as i’m blind!”. Then as always, a brief pause as Sarah tries to check out my eyes to see if i’m joking, then Sarah laughed and said “No way, me too!”. We both approach blindness in a similar way and love blossomed from that point. ❤️💪🏼 😀 

Our Photos Throughout The Years….

Sarah  i 2005

 ⇧ 2005 ⇧ 

Sarah  i 2006

Me Sarah  Bruce 2006

 ⇧ 2006 ⇧ 

Sarah  I Wedding photo

 ⇧ 2007 ⇧ 

Me Sarah  Bruce 2009

⇧ 2008 ⇧ 

Sarah  i 2009

⇧ 2009 ⇧   

Valentines heart

 ⇧ 2010 ⇧ 

Steve sarah at friday street1

⇧ 2011 ⇧  

Sarah  i 2012

Me  Sarah in Church

 ⇧ 2012 ⇧  

Sarah  i holding hands 2014

 ⇧ 2013 ⇧ 

Me  Sarah at the river Arno

 ⇧ 2014 ⇧ 

Me on the left in my bright orange shirt hugging Sarah on the right with the beautiful panorama of volcanic hills and blue sea behind us

 ⇧ 2015 ⇧ 

IMG 0270

 ⇧ 2016 ⇧ 

MIL 6290

Me  Sarah

 ⇧ 2017 ⇧ 

Sarah as my Backpack

IMG 3598

 ⇧ 2018 ⇧ 

Sarah & i infront of the yellow 1961 Uniog

1 Me and Sarah gugging at room 112

 ⇧ 2019 ⇧  

1 Sarah snow walk

Me Winners Trophy

 

2020 ⇧ 

1 Sarah Doughnut

Me Engand Shirt

21 ⇧ 

📖 Bible Verse

Ephesians 5:25 Easy-to-Read Version

Husbands, love your wives the same as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.

🤔 My Thoughts… 

This is one of my favourite Bible verses that i try desperately  each day to live up to. As soon as i first read this verse it convicted me straight away and i knew i wanted to be a husband like that!

🙏 Prayer

Holy Spirit, thanks for being a constant guiding presence in my life. Give me the faith to take practical and radical action to keep in step with You, so that You can love my spouse through me in a way that will sustain a fun, loving & trusting relationship. Amen.

☀️ #37 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Corinth, Greece”🇬🇷(2017)

The Blind Sightseers logo

 Hi friends and welcome to Day 37 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Corinth logo

Me stood on the right with my arms out stretched and waving as the Thomson Spirit shit covers the whole background

Good morning friends! (Καλημέρα φίλοι)😀  

I love the fact that we’ve just sailed to Corinth on the ‘Spirit’ and we’re now going on a trip along the Corinth canal, then to walk around ancient Corinth in the historic footsteps of the Apostle Paul. To say i was excited is an understatement! 🙏 😲  

But first…☀️  

I’m not good in the sun but Sarah comes alive in the scorching hot weather. So i sloshed on my sun cream as it was already 36 degrees outside (ouch) I’ve also bought myself a ‘Tactical Sun Hat’ to try and keep myself cooler in the sun and provide a little shade with the wide rim…It worked really well but i was still dripping like a candle in a Salvador Dali painting! 🤣  

Corinth canal…

Get ready to be impressed. The Corinth Canal marries up the Gulf of Corinth in the northwest with the Saronic Gulf in the southeast. It’s 3.9 miles long and its width varies from 69 feet at the bottom to 82 feet at the water’s surface. Before it was built, ships sailing between the Aegean and the Adriatic Sea had to circumnavigate the Peloponnese, adding another 185 miles to their journey. On this fascinating tour you’ll drive to Isthmia, around 1 hr’s drive, where a boat will be waiting to whisk you off. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views as you sail through this famous canal. Along the way, your guide will tell you interesting facts about the way it was built.

 We stepped of the air conditioned coach and just as i said “Argghh now that’s hot” Sarah said “Wow that’s better, it was freezing on that coach” we followed the group to the boat. ☀️  

After Sarah excellently guided me onto the boat, we took our seats. The whole trip was just stunning and we were blown away by the walls of the canal and the sheer size of it. The guide was telling us all about the history etc over the loud speakers (my fave part as i can’t see the scenery until i get home and really zoom in for a blurry look). I do listen and hear Sarah’s detailed descriptions of the landscapes and any other points of interest. I also take in the other people around me and their reactions too. 

Another photo taken from the front of the boat looking up the canal with tall walls either side and a bridge on top crossing over.

photo taken from the rear of the boat with the beautiful blue water with hight walls either side

Photo of rear of boat showing people sat looking down Corinth canal.

 The Peloponnese…

☢️ HEALTH WARNING…  

Now for a blistering Sarah panorama!  

A Sarah Panorama of the end of the canal where it expands into the vastness of the sea, with land touching each side

Another Sarah panorama with the sea and land stretching from end to end with rolling hills and mountains in the background

After doing a 180˚ turn we headed back down the canal, fantastic! 😀   

Me stood right at the rear of the boat with the beautiful Corinth canal in the background

 Ancient Corinth…

You’ll now take a short drive to ancient Corinth, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the ruins of the “Agora” marketplace as well as the Temples of Apollo and Aphrodite.

We shot off the coach and followed the guide closely from the front, the path was all uphill and did i mention it was scorching hot?! ☀️ I kept saying to Sarah “Wow the Apostle Paul actually came here!” and after about the 10th time…We’d reached the top.

Me stood in front of the ancient Temple of Apollo wearing my tactical sun hat

Sarah and the Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo

After a brief history lesson all about the temples and the culture as it was back in the day, we headed along another hot dusty path and ended up at the Synagogue. “Wow” i said “Paul would’ve visited this actual Synagogue several times…It’s simply amazing that i’m standing in biblical history”. 

Upon leaving the synagogue the guide stopped and pointed to an ancient hebrew marking on the wall. Sarah quickly took a photo of it to share. I continued “Wow, Paul may have walked under this very arch, wow!” 😲

A remain of the Jewish Synagogue where the Apostle Paul teached and preached

The Agora…

Moving further down and heading towards the agora, the sound of the cicadas were deafening, they were almost drowning out the voice of the guide…It sounded like i was walking around with a massive bee hive stuck on my head but less sticky and much less painful! 🤣  

“Wow…the beema  seat” i said whilst trying to get excited but actually about to collapse due to heat exhaustion. “The agora! This is where the Apostle Paul would’ve been making tents..No way!” i kept going “Did you know Paul stayed in Corinth for about 18 months and he would’ve have frequently visited and worked around here!” Sarah replied “Yes i know Steve it’s incredible, but we’re getting left behind as you keep stopping and making wow noises, lol!” 🤣  

“Sarah could you take some photos of me in the Agora and in front of the beema seat? I’d love to have a photo as a keep sake…Oh and have i mentioned that the Apostle Paul would’ve been around here?!”. Sarah puts up with a lot! 🤣   

Me and the Agora

Me stood (centre) in front of the ruins of the Bema in ancient Corinth

Me stood (centre) in front of the ruins of the Bema in ancient Corinth

The cicadas were still singing their thunderous lament as we walked deeper into the Agora. The guide stopped to show us the ruins and described how it would have looked and what would be happening back in classical times.  

lots of stones which are the ruins of the Agora in Corinth

A portrait view of the the ruins of the Agora and Bema at ancient Corinth

 And then…

☢️ HEALTH WARNING… 

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…Sarah managed to fit the whole place in one monumental panorama!  

A Fantastic Panorama taken by Sarah of the Agora

At this point i was so exhausted, head and shoulders stooped forward and my mouth was dry and frothing. I managed a slow shuffle back to the air conditioned coach. Sarah said “Oh it’s freezing on here! 

It still blows me away when i think of this excursion to ancient Corinth and how we were actually there. 😲

Back at the ship…🛳  

After freshening up back in the cabin, we still had a few hours before the ship left port. We’ve found that if the excursion leaves us with a few hours to spare we can use the ship as the starting reference and go and explore the town nearest to the dock (any further and we’ll get lost). This makes for a full day as we can go on the excursion around the island and then visit local shops and markets around the dock area…Yay! 😀 

Wow…Did i mention it was hot! ☀️ 😰

iPhone weather app showing Corinth at 36° and sunny

“Yay…Steve a beach!” Sarah shouts as we step out of the dock, she continues “No way, holidays don’t start until i’ve put my feet on the sand…Come on!” I was just about to protest (as i’d left my beach shoes in the cabin) when Sarah dragged (i mean guided) me onto the powdery sand. 

The boiling hot sun, the powdery white sand and the gentle touch of the sea rolling over Sarah’s feet educed a wonderful smile. 😀  

My new Microfibre towel…

We were now wet, frazzled and covered in sand and we walked for a while before we found a bench under a large tree. “Yes…Here you go” is said as i unclipped my new microfibre hand towel from my carabiner loop on my BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) shorts. I bought this little towel just before this cruise as i wanted to be more prepared as we learn a little more what we need from each holiday…And this time it worked beautifully! 😀  

After a while we were both sand free, dry and ready for a cold drink. We walked down a few streets then Sarah said “Steve, i think this looks like a cafe? I wonder if they do iced coffees?” “I hope so” i said feeling like a pulsing nuclear reactor. 

They did the best iced coffee (Freddo Cappuccino) and even a sugar free one for Sarah… 

Sarah enjoying an iced Cappaccino outside the Cafe in Corinth

As we were sitting outside drinking our amazing coffees…The man we’d met at the Captains table last night walked past and said hello. “Wow” i said to Sarah after a brief chat with the man, “We’re even making friends and it’s only the first day off the ship”. 

Sadly it’s now time to return back to the ship…

Me stood in the middle of the road with buildings either side in Corinth

As we were walking towards the ship and the dock was empty…We stopped for a few photos… 

Sarah stood in front of the Thomson Spirit shipwith both arms in the air

Sarah stood in front of the Thomson Spirit ship

Me stood on the right with my shadow filling the rest of the photo

Then…

As we were taking lots of photos, another nice person from our ship walked up behind us and asked if we’d like a photo together?! “Oh yes please that would be so kind of you” i said as i passed her my phone. 😀  

Sarah & i in front of the Thomson Spirit in the background

Back on ship…🛳 

We’d had a fantastic day and had lots to talk about with  the people sat around our table at the evening meal. It’s lovely to hear other peoples stories from what they had done throughout the day, and to hear the adventures from the other excursions.

Finally…Just when you think the day is over, we have another fantastic folded creature.

A towel folded into a puppy dog with chocolates as his eyes

Our Route…..🛳  

On Saturday evening Thomson Spirit sails to Itea, Greece. To arrive on Sunday morning having travelled 59 nautical miles at an average speed of 6 knots.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #36 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Dubrovnik, Croatia”🇭🇷(2017)

The Blind Sightseers logo

 Hi friends and welcome to Day 36 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

10th Anniversary

Sarah i wedding photo

Wow, i still can’t believe it’s been 10 years since our amazing wedding day! ❤️❤️❤️ 

An unexpected blessing…..

This cruise (3rd) holiday has been such an unexpected blessing, as Sarah had another “Charcot Foot (diabetic problem)” and was in an air-cast for the last 5 months. We had to cancel our Barbados cruise and stay we’d booked for our birthday celebrations in April…But Sarah had it removed a few weeks ago and she’s been strengthening her leg for this cruise. So we are amazed to be spending our 10th wedding anniversary (July) visiting some fantastic places! 😎  

Sea logo

Breakfast…..

We slept really well and caught up on the sleepless night we had yesterday. We thought we’d go to the Compass Rose (waiter service restaurant) for our 10th anniversary breakfast. It didn’t disappoint and we had porridge, omelette, fruit, nuts, seeds, bacon and bananas (not all together,lol). 🥓 

Swimming…..

After exploring (getting lost) in the many different stairways, corridors and decks  around the ship, we were trying to familiarise ourselves with our fave places so we could find our way back much more easily. we nipped back to our cabin to get our things ready for a couple of hours sunbathing and swimming. Sarah loves swimming (as you can tell in the photos below) and had an excellent time enjoying her anniversary in the pool! 😎  

Sarah laughing and really enjoying swimming in the pool on the ship

Sarah doing handstands in the swimming pool on the ship....Herr feet and legs are outside the water sticking up and her body is underwater!

⬆ Sarah doing handstands in the pool ⬆ 

The Towel Swan Heart…..

After having lots of fun, we headed back to our cabin where we were surprised to find two towel swans placed in the shape of a heart, with flowers and our cards etc in a beautiful display. We rushed out to find the cabin stewards and thanked them profusely… whilst Sarah took lots of photos! 

two towel swans together in a love heart shape surrounded by our anniversary cards, on the bed of our cabin on the ship

 ⬆ Towel folded Swan heart ⬆ 

The invitation…

Earlier this morning Sarah had found an invitation pushed under the cabin door. “This looks a bit fancy, it’s only an invitation to the formal evening. We have to sign it to say that we’re going, then hand it back to reception…..Seems like a lot of paper work to me.” “Oh right, i suppose they need to know how many people will be in the restaurant for dinner this evening, it must be the policy for formal night on this ship. It was different on the Dream ship” i replied. 😕

I hadn’t brought my tuxedo this time as it filled half my suitcase the time before and i didn’t want to waste that amount of space again. I did bring my trousers though as we like the waiter service meal in the evenings. “ i hope they don’t chuck me over-board for not dressing smart enough.” Sarah told me… “You’ll be fine, lol, it’s only for one evening and your new black shirt looks smart enough anyway”. 

Formal Evening…..

As Sarah & i were queuing up to enter the show lounge, the photographers were taking our photos. 

Me on the left wearing a black shirt and Sarah on the right wearing a beautiful while dress with a black ribbon tie

 ⬆ Me & my lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

My lovely wife Sarah wearing her stunning white dress

 ⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

After listening to the Captain introduce himself and some of his crew, we headed to the Compass Rose restaurant where we planned to have a lovely four course meal. 

We said we didn’t mind sharing, and the waiter sat us right next to a window (yay) on a four seater table. We introduced ourselves to Brian & Anne (more about our new friends in later posts) and they kindly read out the menu for us. After ordering from each section of the menu, we got to chatting.

AND THEN…..

An enormous shadow, from an even bigger man darkened our whole table…..“STEVE…..FOLLOW ME” said the man with a really deep transylvanian voice. I looked at Sarah, and then back at the man “FOLLOW ME” he said again. Sarah said “Can i come with him” “yES” he said as we started to stand. We said to Brian and Anne “I think we’ll see you later, we’ve only just ordered our food, and if we’re not back…..you’ll get double, lol”.

As sarah guided me behind this Behemoth of a man (not joking, he was about 7ft tall and 5ft wide) up a few flights of stairs, Sarah said “Where is he taking us?” “I think we’re going to the plank, or at least being court marshalled” was my apprehensive reply. 😨  

We finally entered a small bar area where Claudia (the social director) greeted us with a glass of Champagne and a smelly fish bite (i don’t like fish, if you’d not guessed, lol) and showed us to our seats. Claudia said “I thought you weren’t going to make it?” “To make what?” Sarah replied still looking bemused. “You got the invitation?”.Sarah said “Yes…..the one to the formal evening”. Claudia then said “No, that was an invitation to the Captains table and an evening with the Captain.” “Oooopps” i misread it as a general evening invitation (easily done as the iPhone magnifier isn’t as good as the large CCTV we have at home)”. Sarah whispered to me “The Captain and his other guests were waiting for us up here, as we were seeming to ignore them and eating our meal already with someone else. 😲  

The Captains Table…..

Since Sarah & i already knew the menu (thanks Brian & Anne) this was our easiest food ordering to date. We had a lovely meal and a fantastic time chatting with everyone around the table. It was really interesting hearing everyones stories and experiences…..Sarah already has her next cruise planned in her mind after asking the Captain what place he liked best after 30 yrs of cruising the seas, lol. 🤣  

Now it was time to leave again for the Show Lounge to watch possibly the worst show we have ever seen (heard for me, lol.). 😎  

Me stood behind Sarah on the right of the photo stood in front of the staff captains table with 4 other people(including the captain who is sat next to Sarah)

⬆ Photo of Sarah & i(on right) at the Captains Table ⬆ 

Wow, What a memorable 10th Wedding Anniversary….   

Retiring back to our cabin (making sure we didn’t upset the swans), we talked about our memorable day and how we’d never forget our 10th Wedding Anniversary! Now it was time to sleep, as it’s an early start once we arrive in Corinth. It was also the start of 5 full days of excursions we’d booked and we were really excited, even though we knew the temperatures were going to reach up to 41℃ because of a heat wave across south east Europe (ouch). ☀️  

Thank You…..

Sarah & i would like to thank you once again for celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary and for all of the lovely messages you sent us.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀  

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☀️ #35 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Dubrovnik, Croatia”🇭🇷(2017)

The Blind Sightseers logo

 Hi friends and welcome to Day 35 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Croatia logo

Wow, Wow, Wow…..Sarah & i have had a fantastic time away celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary. Let’s go and see where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to! 😀  

Taxi, Train & The Thomson Plane…..

As the taxi was booked for 3:30am, we thought it would be a good idea not to go to sleep as it makes us more tired if we only sleep for an hour or 2 (we were wrong, we’re super tired now).

There was a little scare as Sarah felt funny, so she did a blood test in the taxi and found it was going low. “Oh no, not already” i thought as Sarah was already sorting it out with a few dextrose. Sarah felt better as we arrived at the airport and with a small struggle to find the suitcase check-in desk, we were finally sorted and heading for the airport assistance. 💪🏼  

The assistance took us through security which all went well, until Sarah showed them her insulin pump…..Then (as they think it’s a detonator) they told Sarah to take of her shoes etc. and carefully and slowly scanned her whole body for explosives. 😨  

Following the guide to our seats in the departure lounge, Sarah & i were looking forwards to a nice bacon roll and coffee. Her work colleague had told her to try this as we’d not had anything to eat since yesterday afternoon… we were ready for it! BUT the airport assistance were too efficient this time and before we had time to figure out the direction of the bacon, the guide took us on the “Fun Train” and straight onto the plane! 😎 

The Airplane…..

As i sat down after being expertly guided to my seat, i said “Wait a minute”….. I was feeling underneath the window at the up & down dimmer switches whilst stretching my legs out testing the large leg room. “This isn’t an Airbus A320! It’s the 787 Dreamliner. Wow i didn’t think it was going to be this monster for a two and a half hour flight” Sarah said “Wow, you’re still getting excited about flying…. you must really love it” I said “Oh Yeah!”.  💪🏼 🤣  

Time for a snack…..

Since we couldn’t have our fantastic bacon roll at the airport, we decided to share some chunky potato wedges on the plane. Sarah simply couldn’t eat them (and i even struggled)…. they tasted (and were as dry as) a sun dried bath sponge! 🤒

Welcome to Dubrovnik airport…..

Dubrovnik Logo

The airport assistance at Dubrovnik were fantastic and before we knew it, we were on a coach arriving at the dock ready to board the Thomson Spirit. We’d only been on the Thomson Dream which is bigger, so we were excited to explore this different ship.

We were fast-tracked again through all of the check-in procedures and were soon dropping our bags off in our cabin ready to go and explore! 😎  

A beautiful landscape of the port of Dubrovnik stood on top of the ship

⬆ View of Dubrovnik bay from the Thomson Spirit ⬆

We managed to weave our way through the many stairways and decks and eventually made it up to the top which was lovely and quiet to take a look around, take some photos and soak in the view and the hot sun. ☀️  

We were surrounded by a sea of blue, sky of blue, deck of blue and Sarah’s new “Hokusai” dress …of blue. 😎   

Sarah stood wearing her new Hokusai wave dress on the top deck of the Thomson Sirit  @ Dubrovnik 4.jpeg

⬆ Sarah wearing her new “Hokusai” dress! ⬆   

Sarah  Dubrovnik 3

⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah ⬆ 

Me stood on the top deck of the Thomson Spirit  @ Dubrovnik 4.jpeg

⬆ Yay, we’ve made it, now let’s chill and enjoy the view ⬆   

A view of the beautiful sea and houses along the bay with a small speed boat coming across the photo from right to left in Dubrovnik

⬆ Our beautiful view of Dubrovnik from the top deck ⬆ 

Swapping sides for a moment, Sarah took a photo of a unusual bridge she liked. 

Me lent against the railing looking out across the landscape and bridge of Dubrovnik

⬆ Me looking over the surrrounding town ⬆  

One more pic of my lovely Wife Sarah! 

Sarah  Dubrovnik 2

⬆ My lovely Wife Sarah and her beautiful dress ⬆

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…..

☢️ hEALTH WARNING…If you’ve travelled with us on our other tours you’ll remember Sarah’s sublime Panoramas……Well she’s back with one (of many) to share with you. 😎

One of Sarah's amazing Panoramas of the bay of Dubrovnik

⬆ Sarah’s breathtaking Panorama of Dubrovnik bay ⬆

Coffee, Life Jackets & Dinner…..

After enjoying ourselves on the top deck, we looked around for a place to have a nice coffee. We knew this ship had no “Coffee Port” like on the Thomson Dream, so when we found “Raffles Bar” and ordered a Cappuccino (for me) and an Americano, we were even more excited as the coffee was well-nice and strong…”I think we can get used to this!” I said sitting back into my large comfy armchair. ☕  

The assistance was fantastic again and the life jacket drill went really smoothly, i think we’re finally getting the hang of this. lol 

We found the “Compass Rose” waiter service restaurant which was very similar to the “Orion” restaurant on the Thomson Dream, we said we didn’t mind sharing a table with others as we always need an unsuspecting guest to read the menu for us, which is always a laugh for all involved and it’s a great conversation starter! 😀  

After a fantastic four course meal, it was time to take one last tour around the ship to see if we’d remembered where anything was before retiring to our cabin after a very long day!

Thank you…..

I would just like to say a huge thank you(to you the reader and fellow traveller) for staying with us on another long and tiring day! 😰

Oh did i mention it’s our 10th Wedding Anniversary” tomorrow!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀  

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☀️ #34 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Jamaica”🇯🇲

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 34 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Jamaica Logo

Good morning friends… 

Oh no…We don’t want to go home! 😢 After waking up later (no really early excursions today) we had breakfast at a more reasonable time, and we didn’t have to eat it at breakneck speeds…So we relaxed (which doesn’t happen on our holidays, lol) and enjoyed our breakfast. 🥓 

Out on deck…☀️  

Full shot of me looking at the camera with shades on stood on the deck of the ship

We had a few hours before we had to leave the ship, so we walked around all the decks in the hot sun and took some final shots of beautiful Jamaica. ☀️  

Sarah with braided hair taking a panorama for the deck of the ship and the jamaican landscape in the background

Jamaican landscape with the sea at the bottom of the shot

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

Of course the scenery was stunning…But not as beautiful and stunning as my lovely wife Sarah! 😍 ❤️

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

Sarah on the deck with the beautiful Jamaican background behind her

 We had a lovely time reflecting, taking photos and talking about our amazing adventures on our 2nd cruise. We though that our last cruise would be the ‘Once in a lifetime’ cruise (an dit was) but when we realised just how many places we could explore on the shore excursions, and how many islands and countries we could visit…Going on cruises is perfect for us who have sight problems. 👀💪🏼 😀 

Portait of my smiling at the camera with shades on and braided har

Leaving the ship… 

Leaving the ship in Jamaica is great for us, as our cases get taken away just before 2am and we don’t see them again until Gatwick airport. There is no struggling to find our cases amongst thousands  on the dock, then fully loaded try and board the coach and finally dragging them through the airport etc.😀

The 787 Dreamliner…

Yes you’ve guessed it…It’s the 787 Dreamliner again! Wow i love this plane…Have i mentioned the push button dimmer switches? Or the nice leg room (even in our cattle class?) Or the lovely air conditioning? Or…Sorry i’m going on and on again! 🤣 

It’s not easy to try and write a post about travelling home and making it sound interesting, dramatic and a thrilling pursuit of suspense and adventure…It’s much easier to do this when writing about our excursions…As it does actually happen that way! 🤣  

view from the plane window in med flight with the wind on the lower left and the sun spiking down from the top and creating glorious light

Wow…Would you look at that! 

Thank you for being with us on this remarkable journey, you help light the sunshine in our minds as we look back over our memories. 😀  

Wow…We’ve been on this rollercoaster for 34 days so far (i hope it’s flown by for you as it has for us) and the ‘Blind Sightseers’ are not finished yet…Where to next?? 💪🏼 💭 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #33 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Xel-Ha, Cozumel, Mexico”🇲🇽(2016)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 33 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….! 

Mexico logo 1

Yay…It’s Sarah’s Birthday!!! (11th April) I wonder if it’ll be memorable?! 🤣  

Good morning WordPress family! Are you up for some ‘River Tubing’ today? We‘ve never tried this before and after our kayaking triumph yesterday, we thought it would be a relaxing way to gently float downstream ensconced in the lush landscapes and soothing sun…Well here goes…☀️  

Our initial thoughts were this excursion really wasn’t for us as it sounds like a big park where you have to find all of the events yourselves (that’s not our strong point as we both have sight problems). We are much better with a tour guide who we can follow than to be left alone and get lost…But we really wanted to try ‘River Tubing’ so let’s do this! 😀 

It was an 8 hour excursion and when it took 2 hours to get to Xel-Ha (a seriously bumpy boat and a mostly smooth coach) we thought “If it’s 2 hours here and 2 hours back, surely not even we can get too far lost in 4 hours?! Lol famous last words” 🤣  

Welcome to Xel-Ha… 

An exciting adventure awaits you at the sacred Mayan paradise, Xel-Ha. In this natural lagoon, which was sacred to the Mayans, you can experience some fabulous snorkeling in a natural tropical aquarium, viewing an amazing variety of multi-colored fish and tropical marine life in beautiful clear waters. Upon arrival, your guide will escort you through the park for an orientation, then you are on your own to enjoy time to swim, walk the jungle paths, stroll the beach, relax in a lounge chair,or snorkel at this beautiful lagoon.

Xel-Ha offers a collection of coves, caves, inlets and lagoons. Both the Caribbean Sea and the network of underground rivers and springs feed this area, filling the lagoon with both salt water and fresh water. This sometimes gives an almost 3-D viewing of the alluring coral formation and the myriad of tropical colored fish.

an amazing panorama of the whole lagoon at the mexican

Leaving the coach and making our way to the lockers and changing rooms Sarah managed to take this stupendous panorama. It’s a beautiful place 

Sarah said “There is no way i’m swimming in there!! I don’t mind the crystal clear sea but no way will you get me in there” “That’s ok my love you don’t have to swim when your river tubing anyway, so we can just relax and enjoy. We just need to remember where the changing rooms are when the guide leads us so we have a reference point”. 😀  

Shortly after, the guide stopped and said to meet him in 4 hours back at the main entrance so we can get the coach back. I said “Oh, the entrance is miles away as we’ve been walking for a while and i have no idea where it is, lol But here are the changing rooms so i’ll wait right here for you”. I like to be the pack donkey on all of our tours and i carry the towels, sun cream and other stuff and if Sarah goes swimming, i carry her insulin pump etc. This works really well for me as i don’t really like swimming…I don’t think i’ve been swimming at all since going blind 16 years ago! 

Yay, Sarah’s here so let’s try and figure out where things are…😕

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

 Oooo another panorama from Sarah! Well at least we’d found the river again, so if we follow it up hill we should find where the river tubing starts?! This sounded like a good plan until the multi direction trails didn’t follow the river. After walking for quite a while in the scorching sun, we somehow managed to find the bag check-in for the river tubing, yay thanks Sarah! 😀 

Sarah had to now unplug her insulin pump and put it in my backpack, and after a quick blood test (ouch, her blood sugar was good) i hesitantly handed in my backpack. As we havn’t got a GoPro or anything (really wish we had one after all of these trips) we had to hand in our iPhones too, so i knew we wouldn’t get many photos of the day, sorry! 😢 

Right, let’s go ‘River Tubing’…

We entered another locker room and most of the people in front of us were putting on flippers and snorkelling gear, i said “Oh, i’m not dressed for any of this, i didn’t think you had to put all of the gear on. I thought it was just the river tubing up here?” “Don’t panic we are only here for the river tubing but you can also (if you want) do snorkelling etc” “Excellent, thanks”. Sarah is fantastic at sorting things out . “I’ll sit in the rear hole and you sit in the front hole as i will weigh the back down and it will look like a speedboat”. 🤣  

After we laughed loads as we had many attempts of climbing aboard, we were ready! 

The Mangroves…

“Wow those branches are low” i said while ducking even more although i was practically lying down. It was my first experience of mangroves and as we had no outboard engine we were using the branches and the sides to propel ourselves forward. As it looked exactly like the old Tarzan films i’d watched as a kid, i was picturing (in my mind) a crocodile (or 10) sliding in from the side and tactically stalking us ready for the barrel roll! Nevermind the flesh eating lizards sat on the branches waiting for dinner to float by, lol. 😨  

As my mind was racing but our river tube wasn’t going anywhere fast, i focused on all of the laughter going on around us. There were lots of us slowly getting to grips with how to manage this new speedboat. Sarah said “Wow there is a tiny baby strapped to the front of that woman in one of the other boats so it can’t be that hard, lol!”. After about 10 minutes we cleared the mangroves and the beautiful landscape unfolded before our eyes! 😀

a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

There wasn’t much current and the river didn’t slope much, so our progress was slow…But wow, the feeling of floating downstream through this film set landscape with my arms around my lovely wife Sarah was beautiful ❤️ 

After a while the river tubers were thinning out and there were only a few of us left, this made it even more blissful and quiet.

Then…😨  

Time was passing by easily, and we quickly realised there wasn’t anyone around and the river had got quite wide (with our eyesight anyway) and we were alone! The river tube wasn’t moving, even our hand paddling had little effect. I suddenly felt a burst of speed as Sarah had sat up and put her legs in the water and was kicking her feet (like the flintstones). Suddenly she whipped her feet back up and said “i think a fish (or octopus) has just tried to grab my leg?!” “Oh no that’s not good” i said as the ‘Master of obvious”. Then she said “No wait there, my trainer laces had come undone whilst under the water and started stroking my leg, lol!” “Ok” i said “We need a action plan” 💪🏼 

 Our predicament…

We were floating alone, the river banks were getting wider and wider and we knew it joined up with the Caribbean sea at some point. We couldn’t hear anyone and we were thinking we’d maybe already passed the exit of the river tubing and we were floating out into the sea. The midday sun was scorching and we knew it was time to act.😨  

We’d passed a huge board (see below) whilst walking up to get the river tubes that displayed all of the fish/sharks that live in the water, and as it’s fresh water going to sea water the fish grow much bigger. I’m glad i couldn’t see what was on the board!

IMG 4283

Knowing all of this, and knowing i havn’t swam since going blind…I knew now was the time to “Man Up” and lay down my life for my wife and save her! 💪🏼  

The plan…

I said to Sarah “I’m going to jump in the river and grab hold of the back of the river tube and then stretch out and kick my legs like a snorkeler and pretend to be an outboard motor, and you can sit up front and be the navigator and try and get us back (or anywhere we can get off)”. “Right sounds like a plan…Let’s do this”.

I jumped in and instantly regretted it. I thought i could still swim in my head but my body didn’t have the same idea. After coughing up loads of water and nearly drowning through lack of swimming ability…I slowly adapted and grabbed hold of the river tube. 

At least we were now gaining speed  and heading in what we thought was the right direction. After what seemed like 10 weeks (it was more like 10 minutes) Sarah said (I still can’t see anywhere to get off the bank and it all still looks the same…But there are a few rocks sticking out of the water where we can hopefully stop and rest whilst regrouping and updating our plan. 

The rocks…

Yay, we made it to the rocks…Oh wait a minute, wow these rocks are super slippy (i was like Scooby Doo slipping on a banana skin) ! Sarah was already on top of one of the rocks and looking to see where we could go next and if there was a way out of this crocodile and Piranha infested water. Just as i’d steadied myself and caught my breath (i was exhausted) Sarah slipped backwards…😨 

All i heard was a loud thud and a “Aagghhh” noise from Sarah “SARAH, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” I knew we were surrounded by so many pointy rocks and if she’d slipped and hit her head on one of those rocks…It was curtains. We had no phones or anything out here and no way of calling out as we can’t hear anyone or see anyone. So when i heard “It’s ok i just slipped” from my warrior wife…I felt so relieved. I said “What was the loud thud sound? Are you ok?” “Yeah i missed the more pointed rocks and just hit my back on the other rock. I’m ok though”. I let out a huge sigh (just like our Boxer dog Bruce used to make).

Just then i spotted a slight movement out of the corner of my blurry eyes “What’s that Sarah?” i said while pointing downwards near her feet. “Wow, it’s a snorkeler” “That means we can’t be too far away now…Or it means there are some massive fish, sharks, octopus or crocodiles around here”. Just after saying this the snorkeler had gone and it was time for us to carry on and hopefully find base camp. 

Sarah was sat firmly on the front of the river tube and i was hanging on for dear life while trying to get a nice solid and consistent thrust from the back. Sarah was expertly navigating from the front and when she said “right a little” i twisted and kicked until the river tube turned to the right,, we are getting the hang of this, lol. 

My thoughts quickly returned to “Any minute now i could get savaged by any of the mutated creatures in here, and they would start on Sarah next! But then Sarah said “I think i can see a way out of here?! It looks like there are long steps on the right bank and we could climb out onto land. “Wow, let’s go” I said whilst trying not to drown as i was getting really tired now. 😰

“Yes, just a little further. It looks like we can pull up here alongside these steps”. We finally hit the steps and Sarah climbed out. The steps were really long but only went a couple of steps into the water, so when i grabbed hold of the first step my legs flew underneath and tried to drag me under. Thankfully i had jus enough energy to hang on and throw my leg over and onto the steps (i’m sure Sarah didn’t have this struggle, lol). Pulling the river tube up onto land, we sat back on the steps and thought for a moment about what just happened?! We also knew that Sarah hadn’t done a blood test for quite a while and hasn’t got her insulin pump attached, so her blood sugar could be anything.

As we sat on the steps totally thankful we’d made it out of the water, i looked down directly into the water right next to the steps…”What are they?” I was pointing at what looked to me like a fleet of black stealth submarines taking cover next to the steps. I know my eyes are really poor but if i can make something out…It must be massive, lol! Sarah said “They are fish (i think) and they are massive! “I was just right there a minute ago” i said not quite believing how close they were…But we’ve made it out of the infested waters. Now we might have the same challenge (but on land) as we try and figure out where we are??

The next stage…

We were just pulling the river tube further inland, when…”Is that music i can hear?” i said as i was trying to clear my ears of water “Yes it is” Sarah said “It’s coming from over there”. Sarah took my arm and we started walking towards the sound. Almost instantly the trail opened out and we were standing at the bag check-in desk! “No way” we both said at the same time, i said  “It’s not possible that we’re here, we’d gone miles into nowhere! Is the Bermuda Triangle near here?” 😁

After i got my backpack and Sarah had her insulin pump connected, she quickly did a test and her blood sugar was perfect! 😀 We found the changing rooms and when we were all changed we headed for the inclusive lunch.  

As we only had to follow our noses (it wasn’t far at all) Sarah found a table in the sun and we sat down. “Woah” i said “How did that quickly turn into a ‘Blind Sightseers’ dramatic adventure?” “I know, but how amazing how we ended up right back here! Anyway, let’s get you a burger…You’ve earned it” 🍔  

After a lovely burger and an ice cold bottle of water, we started walking around to see if we could find anything else. Don’t worry, we stayed on the larger trails and we kept other people in earshot.  

Sarah stood in front of the a panorama taken on one side of the river and looking over to the other side. The river running left to right

Sarah’s Sunglasses…

As Sarah also has sight problems…She has a pair of Oakley sunglasses with a particular polarised lens (normal lenses don’t help her eyesight) but like the photo above shows…They are gone!! 😢 We have no idea when (or where) they had gone missing, we only know they are gone. I handed Sarah my own but they only had normal lenses and were not any good for navigation etc…But they did help stop the glare from the hot sun. ☀️ 

Sarah stood in front of the amazing landscape of the river going into the sea with rolling hills all a round

IMG 4308

You’ll never guess what we found next??? Yay, a zip line…

Sarah said “Wow a zip line, i’ve never had a go on one of these. It looks amazing and i can’t believe we’ve found it”. What…Can i really say no?! 🤣 

Sarah sat on a zip line seat going left to right with a big smile on her face

Wow, the action never stops, lol! Sarah must have had spinach for lunch as she seems to have more energy than Popeye and the Duracell bunny combined…I just wanted to sleep, lol! But how can you stop when that smile burns hotter than the sun! 😀 ☀️  

And finally…Yay , she’s not a machine! 

Sarah lying in a hammock which is tied to some trees

It’s time to start heading back…

After one more ice cold drink we asked the server which way the main entrance was, she pointed in the general direction and we thanked her. We started walking and talking about the day we’d had and how amazing the place was even though it’s not quite over yet. “We’ll defo remember this place” i said (we talk about this day all of the time). Arriving at the main entrance area Sarah said “There is a photo kiosk over there, let’s ask and see if they have any photos of us?” I said a little confused “I didn’t know they were taking photos but it would be great if they have any of us river tubing etc”.  

The photos…

Sarah was not happy after speaking to the man as he had just dismissed her saying “If you didn’t scan your armband before each event then we can’t find you on the system” Sarah had told him that we were both registered blind and we weren’t told about scanning for photos and we certainly can’t see it. Sarah continued “We will buy any of the photos you have of us as we really want to remember the day”. The man was having none of it and walked away. Sarah started walking back to me when she saw another man stand behind the kiosk. She returned and said the same to him…He was really helpful and understood our problem, he continued to search the whole day, looking through thousands of images to see if he could find any shots of us…

Then he saw Sarah on the zip line. “Yes we’ll have it” Sarah said, she waited a while longer for him to search some more. The coach was arriving any minute too and we were running out of time fast. He frantically started searching but he couldn’t find anymore photos. “Ok” Sarah said “Can i buy it here?” He said no and that she had to go over the courtyard to have it put in a sleeve and then she can buy it. Sarah came and grabbed me as she knew i’d be worried as it’s been taking longer than expected. “Where are your sunglasses (my sunglasses)” i said “Oh man, don’t say i’ve put them down somewhere and i’ve lost them too?” 😨  

After buying the photo (see the fantastic zip line shot of Sarah above) Sarah was adamant (she wasn’t losing 2 pairs of sunglasses today) and blitz between all of the counters she’d been at…Nothing. Then she asked the man and he started searching all around…Nothing. Then just as everyone had given up, the man had found them in lost property where one of the staff had put them. Phew! 😀  

We also managed to get back to the coach in the nick of time and now we can relax for a couple of hours as we return to the ship.

In the coffee port…☕  

As it was Sarah’s birthday she ordered an amazing chocolate, waffle, ice cream coffee dream cake…Sarah had a tiny taste with a tea spoon (as she’s diabetic) so it was left for me to step up to the plate, man up (again) and try to enjoy this delicious coffee cake thingy! It’s tough sometimes being the husband of a T1D (Type 1 Diabetic) I’ll give it my best shot! 🤣  

plate fo fresh fruit on a table top in front of a view outside across the ocean

 We had a lovely evening meal and as always Sarah had the lovely cheese board to finish. I think that’s what the photo below is showing?!  

Fance cheese and biscuits for Sarahs birthday

Finally we finished off this amazing, challenging, exhausting, conquering and blessed day with (yes you’ve guessed it) Sarah’s special sugar free Mojito and i had a BBC. 

Me on the left with arms around sarah and both smiling at the camera with braided hair and a cocktal in hand

 Thank you so much for celebrating Sarah’s birthday with us, it’s a day we’ll never forget (and haven’t). 😀 

The ‘Blind Sightseers’ are not finished yet…💪🏼  

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #32 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Costa Maya, Mexico”🇲🇽(2016)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 32 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Mexico logo 1

SARAH SAT IN FRONT OF A LARGE COSTA MAYA SIGN WITH THE LOVELY BLUE SEA IN THE BACKGROUND

 Sarah welcomes you to Costa Maya…

Our Kayak excursion didn’t start for a couple of hours, so we had time for a look around yet another nice dock. As you’ll remember from a couple of days ago Sarah said:

“Why don’t you get them to braid your hair as the wind’s been annoying you all day, and you won’t have to touch it for the rest of the holiday?!

 Sarah’s hair has been blowing around all over the place since we arrived in Jamaica…And now it was her turn for the braides, no more worrying about ‘WHS’ (windy hair syndrome).  🤣 

A PHOTO OF SARAH'S BEAUTIFUL COLOURFUL BRAIDS

Right, now is the time for the kayaking excursion. Wow what a bumpy coach ride…”Oohhh a lighthouse, quick Steve pass me your phone”. We were being thrown around all over the place but Sarah just managed (no idea how) to get a glimpse of the lighthouse! 😲  

12 LIGHTHOUSE AT COSTA MAYA

The Kayaking beach…

This is what greeted us as we got off the coach…😲   

SARAH SAT AT THE BASE OF A BEAUTIFUL PALM TREE WITH THE AMAZING BLUE SEA AND YELLOW SAND LANDSCAPE BEHIND HER

 After putting all of our things in our backpacks and securing them in the lockers back in the bar type place just out of shot (above) we made our way back onto the beach to get our life jackets and meet our kayak.

We all gathered around the instructor as he demonstrated how to enter properly, how to paddle and of course the safety drills. I said to Sarah “I think this is a step too far, i can’t see him or anything he’s pointing at or showing us, but i am listening to what he’s saying” she said “Once we get you in the kayak you’ll be fine as i know you have done canoeing as a kid and it’ll all come back to you as it’s very similar”. 

Now it was our turn to enter the two seater glass bottomed kayak (well i almost fell in as it was a lot lower than i thought) and as i fell i head butted Sarah on the way down. Sarah said she was fine but after i regained consciousness she passed me the paddle. “Oh yes, it’s just like the ones i used as a kid when canoeing with my dad. It’s going to be ok…Oh wait, i can’t see where i’m going, lol!) 🤣 

Sarah took her position in the back seat as the navigator. We thought she could hit my left shoulder to go left and right shoulder for right, that makes sense, i just hope i don’t get her paddle around my head (accidentally of course, lol!) 🤣  

As the instructor pushed us away we heard lots and lots of wow, cheering and nervous laughter. It was an amazing feeling to be floating out on the still waters and with a glass bottomed kayak Sarah could see the ocean floor. After while everyone got into the swing of things and we managed to form an orderly queue behind the instructor. 💪🏼  

We followed him out to sea until we stopped over the barrier reef. Everyone was Ooohh and woowwwoooing so it must have been beautiful. It felt amazing being in crystal clear waters with no land in sight, we just sat there stunned. 😲  

We paddled a little further and we seemed to overtake most of our group as they had sunk and were trying to get back into the kayak (wow they are sighted too so we must be doing something right, lol. Steve don’t get too cocky too soon).

The instructor stopped a lttle further on and we all bunched together. He was trying to pass something round for people to hold but the people were not impressed. Then he came to me…Before Sarah had time to say “He’s blind and can’t see it and he doesn’t like creepy crawlies” he had put it on the top of my hand…😨 

It felt soft and obviously wet and if i could see i probably wouldn’t have let him put this black death starfish onto my hand. It looked like a massive tarantula to me as i could just make out the black against my skin. I was just waiting for the huge teeth to sink into my flesh and tear it from my bones…When he took it back and placed it into the sea. Phew!

Wow i wish i had a GoPro video camera, it’s simply stunning…

“Hey Sarah watch this!” i said as we were gathering speed. “Wow a handbrake turn”. I remember as a kid and learning canoeing, that if you jam the end of the paddle straight down and grip firmly…Then the canoe spins round about 180 degrees (similar to a handbrake turn in a car) and i thought i’d see if it happened the same way in a kayak…It did and as i was really impressed with myself for pulling it off Sarah was quietly impressed (i think, lol). 💪🏼  

More Barrier Reef…

We stayed out over the barrier reef for another hour or so just paddling slowly, then stopping and taking in the vast ocean and the feeling of fresh air with the gentle rocking of the kayak, it was so peaceful…A little too peaceful! 

“Where is everyone?” i said as i could see no other kayaks or the shoreline. “I don’t know i think they have headed back to get the sun loungers for the next hour of the excursion” We were quite far out and couldn’t figure out which way to head back to shore. I started thinking of the Jaws film and the zoomed in shots of the faces crumpled in fear as the shark fin circles in closer and closer. 😨  

“I think it’s that way” Sarah said as she hit my right shoulder. “Ok, let’s go”. We started heading slightly towards the shore when…

A really loud whistle and a shout came from our 2 o’ clock. It was the instructor from what seemed like miles away but we could hearr him as though he was sanding right next to us. That was the sound i needed and swiftly pointed the kayak in his direction and floored it! 🤣  

Back on shore… 

A STUNNING PALM TREE WITH DEEP BLUE SKY ALL AROUND

 I love palm trees, especially this shape (above) and this one is just fantastic! 

A VIEW OF THE STUNNING BEACH AND SEA LOOKING THROUGH A PAIR OF PALM TREES ON EITHER SIDE OF THE PHOTOO

 Yay we made it!! Our first kayaking adventure and it was simply breathtaking. The Blind Sightseers have managed another challenge…Now lets go and relax for a while. 💪🏼  

After a nice slice of pizza (with salad as i’m being good) we took our towels and inclusive bottle of local lager and found two sun loungers between two palm trees. The white sand and the crystal clear sea framed our afternoon perfectly! ☀️ 🌴 

5 SARAH IN SEA

 I’m not sure if this was a private resort but the beach was empty…Yay! 😀

Sarah then says “Oh, we forgot to take any photos of the kayaks…Steve stand here and i’ll take some photos” “But i think there is another group starting their kayaking?!” “just stand still and smile, lol” 🤣  

Me stood on the beach next to lots of kayaks with another group being shwed hwo to use them

“Now go and stand in the sea so our WordPress family actually know that you’re on this trip, and don’t forget to smile” 🤣  

Me stood in the sea at knee dep

 My lovely wife Sarah absolutely love swimming, splashing sitting in the sea, love the hot sun and the powdery white sand and she has got all 3 today. I love taking her photos when she’s so happy and has that lovely beaming smile that lights (and warms) her whole being. 😀  

6 SARAH IN SEA

8 SARAH ON BEACH

9 SARAH ON BEACH

10 SARAH ON BEACH

 It was now (sadly) time to leave this beautiful place, jump on the coach and return back to the ship. We were tired but couldn’t stop ourselves having a beeming grin all the way back as we had just conquered kayaking and had a lovely time in paradise! 😀 

But Sarah didn’t stop there… She just had enough time to capture this stunning view. 

11 CRUISE SHIP IN SEA SCAPE

 Back on the dock…

As we had a little time on the dock, we thought we’d take some more photos of this lovely place.  

13 COSTA MAYA BAY

14 SARAH SAHAPES

 Yay…We came, we saw and we conquered! 💪🏼 🤣    

Back in the coffee port…☕  

15 COFFEE

 After such an exciting day filled with an omnifarious amount of emotions, there is no better way to chill than the coffee port. Wow what a view! ☕ 

Thanks for joining us on this wonderful excursion, we couldn’t have done it without you! ☀️ 

Wait until you hear about tomorrows adventure…It’s a long post but you’ll understand why very soon! 😨

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #31 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Roatan, Honduras”🇭🇳(2016)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 31 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Honduras logo

Good morning friends! Yay we made it off the ship, and after a lovely breakfast  we managed to find the coach. 😀 

First on the agenda is the Roatan Butterfly Farm, home to a technicolor mix of native butterflies and tropical birds. Once you’ve gotten to grips with Roatan’s feathered friends, it’s time to delve into the deep blue and see what’s going on under the water. And that’s where the next part of the tour comes in. You’ll head back to the coast, climb aboard the Roatan Reef Explorer – a miniature submarine – and travel six feet below the water to explore a coral reef. Back on dry land, you’ll call in at the quaint village of West End. Once you’ve had a good look round, it’s on to the highest point of the island for some of the best views around. Rounding things off, you’ll get a chance to buy some handicrafts on the way back to port.

Hey Steve, stand there and smile! 😀  

1 Roatan Me and Palm Tree

 We stopped off at the butterfly farm and Sarah instantly made some new friends… 

Roatán is such a special and lovely place, the time seemed to just slip away whilst watching Sarah with her new friends. This trip really showed the beautiful nature preserve in all its wild beauty.  

2 Roatan Sarah and the Monkey

3 Roatan Sarah and the Parrot

  The semi submarine… 

 Wow it was hot, dark and narrow down there. Once i’d smacked my shin on the solid wood seats that folded down from the wall to let us through (i hit the one that wasn’t folded back up) i realised where the seats were! 😀 

As usual i couldn’t see much at all (can you see anything?)…We couldn’t do any of this without these excursions as the tour guides are very informative and passionate about sharing their knowledge on the history of the countries/islands and teach us lots about local people, culture and food! We’ve learned so much about all these places we’ve visited and it’s all thanks to these guys! 😀 

I have a couple of videos which i’ll post later and see if you can tell me what you see?! 

5 Roatan Coral Reef

 Gifty shop…

We then stopped off at a little gift shop which was a lovely little hut type place. After buying some bits and bobs Sarah found her fave plant/trees/bush type things on the island. They didn’t sell these, and i don’t think they’ll fit in our cases anyway! 🤣  

6 Roatan Sarah and the Spick Plant

 Back in the dock…

Sarah and the Dream! 😍

4 Roatan Sarah and the Thomson Dream

As we had a few hours left before we had to get back on board, Sarah and i thought we’d have a look around the dock. The dock looked fantastic and was much better than most of the docks we’ve visited. 

First we found a clothes shop, yay!. Every place we visit we like to get a shirt, vest or top of some kind to keep and wear as a souvenir. We managed to get a top for Sarah and a vest for me, both saying Roatan Honduras on them! 😀   

But then… 

Sarah’s speech started to slur quite badly…I thought “Oh no, not here (i always talk to the diabetic hypo) it’s a big dock and i can’t see anywhere and there is no one around”. We then saw a hut type thingy and walked straight towards it. Yay it was a smoothie juice bar. Their english wasn’t brilliant (although a million times better than my mexican/spanish) and we walked away with their local “insert funny name that i’ve forgotten” and quickly tried drinking it without getting brain freeze to go with the hypo. 😀

Now i had a reference point, we headed over to a bench which was against a wall (and in the sun for Sarah) but i knew how to get to the juice bar if things got worse…It did! 😨  

Sarah (somehow) managed to do a blood test and it was very low. We had no idea how much sugar was in the smoothie so i quickly got up and grabbed another smoothie!

Now we just had to wait for the sugar to kick in before the ship left without us! It was a tense hour or so but Sarah managed to fight and beat the hypo into submission. To our surprise…We still had another hour before we had to get back to the ship. 

Sarah was feeling sick but still wanted to squeeze the day for all it’s worth, she said “Hey, look over there, i think those people are coming from a beach or something?” i said “a beach? i didn’t think docks had beaches etc”, i was glad to be so wrong! 🤣 

The bridge and the beach…

7 Roatan Sarah

We were just walking across a little bridge and i thought “this would make a lovely photo, Sarah stand there and i’ll try and get a photo”. When taking a shot like this, i stand with Sarah then keep Sarah’s direction in mind as i concentrate on how many paces i need to take so that i get everything in the shot. When i’m ready i ask Sarah to shout so i can get her true reference point and we know it’s time for a few pictures. I first put my thumb in the air to say i’m ready and Sarah can start smiling, then i take multiple images as i have no idea if Sarah is blinking, smiling or even looking at me, lol. Then i either put my thumb up again or put my camera down and start walking back towards Sarah.

But just as i was lining up the shot…A kind man from behind me asked if we’d like a picture together? “Wow, yes please” i said as i put my arm around my lovely wife Sarah. I don’t get many of these shots so i really love it when some  kind person asks us if we’d like them to take a photo of us. I really cherish these moments. ❤️

8 Roatan Me and Sarah

 A few short steps after and we were walking on sand and Sarah was walking into the sea! Wow it’s really quiet here too, yay! 😀  

9 Roatan Sarah in the Sea

10 Roatan Sarah close up

 If you havn’t noticed already on our travels…We “The Blind Sightseers” have quite a few dramas, lol. So when we get moments like this we feel really blessed, it’s like time stands still for us and we can just pause and think about how on earth we managed to get here. 😀   

11 Roatan Sarah in Hammock

 Hey hang on a minute. I didn’t mean pause for quite so long, lol! Sarah could have stayed there all day if time permitted and i don’t blame her after the hypo she’s just had.

But now it’s really time to get back to the ship. “Which way is it again?”

12 Roatan Dock

13 Roatan Dock Tree

 After a couple more photos of the lovely dock it was back to the ship for our return coffee at (yes you’ve guessed it) the coffee port. ☕  

You may not know but this was the easy days excursion as tomorrow we push the limits of what blindies can do…We go glass bottomed kayaking (first time for both of us) across the barrier reef in Costa Maya Mexico. 😨 

12986931 1324584634235281 2723177411284443547 n

 Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #28 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Matlock Bath”🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 28 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Matlock Bath Logo

Wow what a cruise! I hope you’re enjoying this trip down memory lane? 

 🚠 Before we head off back to the sunshine…Here is a trip in the cold and rainy UK, lol!  🇬🇧 ☔️ 😀 

After travelling up to Derby and spending the day with “Our Friends The Wigley Family”  Sunday came and we woke up to a lovely view over Derby.

Hotel Room View overlooking a road and a landscape

⇧ View from our hotel room ⇧

We then made our way to the train station to travel to Doncaster to see Sarah’s family.

Sarah Portrait

⇧ Sarah sat in the train station café ⇧ 

Little did we know that the Tour de France was in Yorkshire on this day, but to our surprise the reservations were overloaded and the train was full so we got upgraded to first class (for free) which was empty! 💪🏼 😀 

Sarah s First Class

⇧ SARAH’S FIRST CLASS!! ⇧ 

We arrived in Doncaster for Marshall’s birthday dinner at Cosmo’s where we met all of the family. We had a lovely meal and it was great to catch up with them all! 😀  

Marshall on left, Sarah in the middle and Alfie on the right

⇧ Marshall (left), Sarah & Alfie ⇧ 

After arriving back in Derby that evening, Sarah & i went to our fave italian Zizzi’s for a lovely meal. I also got to have the lovely chocolate, banana & ice cream calzone, which Sarah stole most of! 😀  

Sarah  the calzone

Then it was Monday 7th July our 7th wedding anniversary where we would enjoy “The Heights Of Abraham” at Matlock Bath.

Cable Cars  Sarah 2

Cable Car View 2

When we’d arrived at the top we found a tower (which was too dark for us to climb) but it looked nice! 😀 

Tower  Cable Cars

And i met a new friend…….

Me and Donkey

⇧ My new friend (i love donkeys in case you didn’t know!) 😀 ⇧ 

And after my amazing driving in the bumper cars (see here) i found another vehicle i had to drive……..

Me driving school bus

⇧ Getting the chance to drive yet again! ⇧ 

Cable Cars  Sarah

⇧ Descending back down to ground level ⇧ 

Cable Car View 3

Cable Car View 4

Cable Car View

⇧ Views overlooking the villages from the cable cars ⇧ 

After a fantastic (and exhausting) weekend we finally checked out and headed home!

The Hotel

⇧ Sarah outside Jury’s Inn, Derby ⇧  

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #27 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Palma”🇪🇸(2015)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 27 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Click Palma Logo to begin the Transatlantic Sunset Tour

Leaving our room for the last time and hoping we’d not forgotten anything, we had a couple of hours on the ship before our coach arrived. We first went out on deck to say hello to Palma! ☀️  

Palma Dock

Wow, we’re really going to miss the sun when we arrive home! ☀️ 

We stayed out on deck for about half an hour reflecting on our crazy cruise and how we actually survived some of the situations that tried to knock us down. Then it was time to say goodbye to my favourite  place “The Coffee Port”. ☕  

Cecily and the Coffee Port… 

Photo of Sarah and Cecily in the coffee port

I would like to say a huge thanks to Cecily and the Coffee Port. Every time without fail, as soon as Sarah and i would walk in, and before we’d seen Cecily, We’d here one of our names(depending who entered first) melodically sung which put a huge smile on our faces, what a welcome! 😀 

She was so supportive of us and made fantastic coffee! ☕ 😀 

Getting the coach…

After leaving the gangway for the last time, we boarded our coach and headed to the airport. It was a nice drive through Palma, but the mood on the coach was somber, as no-one wanted to go home. Although Sarah’s cough was almost constant and she was so tired from just coughing, she really wanted to be home so she can order a replacement insulin pump and get her blood under control. 

Palma airport…🛩

We arrived at Palma airport and found the assisstance that helped us with our luggage, then escorted us to the gate where we sat waiting for the announcements. Sarah said “Let’s go and find you a coffee, then i can go and look around some shops as we will be here for about an hour” “Cool, sounds good to me, as long as we don’t venture off too far”. ☕  

Just then we heard our names called…

We were surprised to see one of the couples who befriended us at the Orion Restaurant in the evenings. They gave Sarah a card and said “Hope your new job goes well, and you find your feet quickly. We wish you all the best”. Sarah was in pleasant shock with this unexpected kindness, especially as we thought we’d never meet them again. 😀  

Yay, the plane…

I was excited to be travelling on an airplane again, and was totally surprised i managed to capture a piece of Palma upon take off! 😀  

Palma from Thomson Dreamliner

Back in the UK…🇬🇧

We arrived in Gatwick airport (freezing) on the Sunday before Bank Holiday Monday. The plan was to have the Bank Holiday as a rest day to try and recover from this rollercoaster of a cruise. But the drama hadn’t quite finished yet…A rest day, what is one of those? 😀 

A&E…🏥

Sarah was suffering beyond even what she can take (that doesn’t happen often) and on Monday morning we had to go to A&E as her chest was now closing up really bad and she could hardly breathe. As it was a Bank Holiday it was quite busy, but we finally got in to see the doctor. He said she had a Respiratory Tract Infection which has now given her a secondary lung thingy (i can’t remember the exact diagnosis,lol). After picking up the antibiotics we made our way home. 😷

Sarah’s new job…

I’m not sure if i’ve mentioned it yet, but just before we started this cruise, Sarah left her job at RNIB (Royal National Institute Of Blind People), where she’d worked for over 10 years, and was going to start her new job at WCRF (World Cancer Research Fund) tomorrow!! Yeah i know it seems mad, but don’t forget we’er dealing with my “Warrior Wife”!!  💪🏼 

Finally…

I can’t explain the emotions i’ve been through typing up this day to day account of our cruise. I’ve been smiling, laughing, crying and shocked to find some great photos that will serve as loving memories for us. 😀  

Thank You, Thank You & Thank You…

It’s been such a blessing to know you’ve joined us on our trip, but beyond that, encouraging us with your kind and loving comments along the way. So we both thank God for you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Hopefully we’ll see you on our other tours too??!! 😀  

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #26 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Alicante”🇪🇸

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 26 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Click Alicante logo to begin the Transatlantic cruise

After about a week of sleepless nights, to say Sarah & i were tired is an understatement. Also Sarahs cough is a lot worse and her lungs feel like a boa constrictor has coiled around them. Her erratic blood sugars are making her sick too…but apart from that, we are excited to find out what our last shore excursion has in stall for us! 😀 

The coach was waiting for us from the bottom of the gangway (phew…at least we won’t get lost around the dock, lol) and we set off towards the castle. As we drove down narrow windy streets lined with vivid green palm trees, with cafes splashed with orange i said to Sarah “Wow, it’s like were driving through one of your fave tracks from Gran Turismo 4 on the Playstation 2!!” “Ok” she said ”Not sure i’d have thought of that, but now you’ve mentioned it, that is exactly what it looks like”….Wow, i’m just full of useful information!🤣   

 Santa Barbara Castle…🏰

As we stepped off the air conditioned coach onto the sandy/dusty car park, the first thing to hit me was the intense heat. The Caribbean was very hot but there was always a lovely cool breeze, but this heat seemed focused on burning me to a crisp! ☀️ 

I’m sure it was just a short walk to the castle and to my surprise i was already halfway down my bottle of water, so when we arrived to find a big climb to the top of the castle which included slanty slopes and invisible rough steps etc, it was time to start the thought process “I think we’ve done something stupid again, and taken on an excursion we should’ve never taken on”. But as usual my thoughts were quickly defeated as my Warrior Wife took my hand and relentlesly attacked the slopes! Sarah always leaves me speechless, as i know she is feeling much worse than me, yet she battles on and fights when most others would give up. This is one reason why i’m so proud of her and love her more than anything! ♥️

The view…

Once we reached to top and found the nearest wall, the view was fantastic and well worth risking our  lives (well my life anyway, lol) 🤣    

Alicante 1

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

A view looking out from the top of the castle down onto the coastline of Alicante

While stood admiring the view, i could hear a noisy flag flapping above my head. I thought “I havn’t tried taking a proper flag photo in motion before”. It took about 5 minutes to try and get my camera to focus, but i finally got my first! 💪🏼 😀   

Spanish flag blowing in the wind

The tour guide was great, telling us all about the gruesome, bloody history of the castle (history never changes) told us we had an hour of free time to have a look around the castle and we’d all meet up at the bottom.

Yay, we had more time to look around! 😀    

A view overlooking parts of te path quite a long way down from the top of the castle

Sarah sitting at the top of the castle

Another view looking down from the top of the castle

Alicante 10

Alicante 7

It really was stunning up here, and i was excited to find Sarah getting her phone ready for one of her breathtaking Panoramas! 😀    

Sarah looking at her phone preparing for a panorama at the top of the castle

HEALTH WARNING…Wow Sarah has treated us with 2 breathtaking Panoramas again!!! 😀    

Alicante Panorama 2

Alicante Panorama 1

After Sarah “Top Trumped” me again with her amazing photos, we decided to begin our adventure down to the meeting place. We knew it was going to be much harder on the way down but we were going to enjoy it anyway! 

Alicante 9

As we still had about 30 minutes, we tried to look at everything we hadn’t seen on the way up. 

Sarah and the gift shop

When turning around, i thought Sarah had found a gift shop and was carrying a huge present for someone, lol. But thankfully it’s one of the statue things we found on the way. 🤣  

Sarah and the castle 3

We then found a cool little alley way.  

Sarah stood directly behind a warriour throwing a spear pretending to throw it too

This has to be one of my favorite photos!! I’m glad to see Sarah(The Greatest Warrior” parting some of her knowledge and instruction to an inferior ranked warrior on how to correctly throw a spear! 💪🏼 😀    

 After many more laughs, we did eventually make it back to the meeting place, and then on to the coach, Ooooohh, air conditioning! 😓 

 The Town Hall Square & Cathedral of Alicante…

 Walking through the town was hard work as it was very busy, but Sarah did find a local craft store that were selling handmade daisy broaches out of wicker etc. So while she was looking, i thought i’d quickly snap a couple of photos.

Alicante Market Square 1

Alicante Market Square 2 Sepia

The Cathedral of Alicante… 

Alicante church 1

Alicante church 2

 On leaving the Cathedral, the tour guide said we have 30 minutes free time, then could you please find your way back to the coach, i’ll be in the bar down this side alley getting a cold drink if anyone wants to join me? Sarah said “Come on quickly, we need to get to him before he gets swallowed by the crowds, as we don’t know our way back to the coach” “Okay, let’s go” i said as we zigzagged our way towards him. We caught up with him and he told us the easiest way back to the coach.

But before we headed back, Sarah had a chance to try the only Spanish phrase she could remember from her childhood holidays with her Dad.

“It worked!!! I must have said it right” Sarah said as she brought 2 bottles of Lager to the small corner table in the little bar we’d stumbled upon. 😀  

The Explanada, one of the most beautiful waterfront promenades in Spain…

 On leaving the bar, Sarah saw this stunning pavement lined with palm trees. It reminded us of the incredible pavement in Horta, Azores.   

Sarah on the Alicante palm tree art path

Me and the pal tree art path

Shortly before leaving the coach back at the dock, we had one final laugh when the tour guide told us he was from California, works in Alicante and is married to his Wife from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. “Wow” I said “That amazing, the guide yesterday was from Derby(my hometown) and Today the guide stays in Doncaster(Sarah’s hometown) a few months of the year, and when he finally said”I’ll be outside the French Gate in Doncaster in November, we both burst out laughing. 🤣  

Back on the ship…🛳

We had just enough time to capture the coastline of Alicante from the ship before Thomson Dream sailed away to Palma, Mallorca for us to get the plane home.

Alicante Dock 1

Sarah on the ship at Alicante dock

After getting changed for the evening meal, we knew it would be the last time we’d see our Orion Restaurant friends. We met them at our usual time and table and had a lovely evening talking about all the adventures of the day. 

Who knows? We may bump into them again on a future cruise, which would be great! 😀     

Our Friends at Orion Restaurant

Leaving the Orion Restaurant, we headed to the delo bar to enjoy our last cocktail with great music. 

Alan Davidson playing piano and singing in Delo bar

After a really long day, we arrived back at our cabin to find a new fantastic towel creature on our table. Sarah quickly moved it into an arty position ready for a humorous photo! 😲   

Lobster Towel

Just one more day to go before we head home, and Sarah and i spent the sleepless night talking about the highs and lows of our 1st cruise, and only my second time abroad! 

Thanks once again for joining us, it’s a blessing to share with you. 😀 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀

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☀️ #25 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Gibraltar”🇬🇮

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 25 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Click Gibraltar Logo to begin the Transatlantic cruise

Sarah on top of Gibraltar rock waving her arms in the air and welcome to Gibraltar

⇧ Sarah welcomes you to Gibraltar! ⇧

After 2 days at sea, and finding out (by our new friends who met us for evening meals at Orion Restaurant)  that on the excursion to the “Rock of Gibraltar” requires that we get a cable car to the top on the cliff! Wow…i love cable cars! It reminded me of the cable cars Sarah & i travelled on at “The Heights of Abraham” day trip.a couple of years ago! 🙂 

So leaving the ship i was extra excited to travel on cable cars in Gibraltar! We found the coach that would take us to the beginning of the rock and got on-board. 

The excursion guides so far have been amazing, and really proud of their country! So happy to share everything and anything about the local history and culture, always creating laughter and a friendly relaxed atmosphere. So when this guide stepped on-board complaining  and quite angry we were quite taken aback! After complaint about everything she showed us, we pulled up at the bottom of the rock and waited for the cable cars.

Just a quick side note…As i’m registered blind (i know most of you will know this already) and don’t see people, just hear them. Whenever i’m out sat in a cafe, restaurant, at church or just around town, i often like to play one of my fave games using my ATS(accent targeting system). I love accents, and i like to try and locate their original area?! Also its my only way of knowing who’s around me, and i’ve now trained myself so i can listen to 3 conversations at once! lol This can be good and bad depending. 😀  Anyway enough rambling! 🤣  

When i got near the guide i asked her where she was from originally? “Derby” she said! “No way, a Derby bird, i’m from Derby too. It’s crazy that we’d meet here in Gibraltar”. It makes sense now. lol. It’s sometimes hard to pin down a accent that’s the same as your own, but i’m getting better.

After fantastic views from the cable cars, we finally reached the top of The Rock of Gibraltar! 😲  

Looking down over the bay of Gibraltar with the Thomson Dream in the distance

Looking down over the bay of Gibraltar with the Thomson Dream in the distance

My Lovely Wife Sarah

After taking shots of my beautiful wife Sarah (which i could do all day) the guide warned us about the monkeys  that would steal anything and everything that wasn’t in your bag or not in the right place. By this i mean sunglasses on your head instead of over your eyes. The guide told us of one woman who had put her brand new £200 Rayban sunglasses on her head to take a photo, had them quickly snatched by a monkey and were never seen again! 😢

Me and Sarah stood on top of the rock of Gibraltar in the hot sunshine with the sea behind us

A kind person asked if Sarah & i would like a photo together? I said that would be lovely, thank you. But i think my face is wondering if the man was going to run off with my Big Nikon camera! lol. 🤣   

Sarah and the Rock of Gibraltar

The Rock of Gibraltar

The guide said we had about an hour free time before we all have to meet back together, so Sarah got her iPhone out ready to take one of her amazing Panoramas! 

Photo of Sarah taking a Panorama of Gibraltar rock

HEALTH WARNING…Not 1…but 2 of Sarah’s stupendous and breathtaking Panoramas!!! 🙂 

A panorama of Gibraltar rock

Sarah's second panorama of Gibraltar rock

It had been a fantastic day already and the views were simply stunning from up here. We now had to find one  of those monkeys to try and get a photo before we go.  

Sarah taking a video of one of the monkeys at the top of Gibraltar

⇧ Sarah videoing one of the monkeys ⇧  

Photo of a monkey sat on a railing fence looking out ove the bay of Gibraltar

After nipping into the gift shop to get a couple of presents we started heading back towards the cable cars.

We were just near the steps (walking 2 by 2 when we heard a loud “Oi!!” by the woman behind us, followed by a quiet couple of seconds, then lots of laughter??! We stopped and turned round to find out one of the monkeys had touched/stroked the ladies leg near her bum, and she thought it was the man behind her. But after the mix up they all started laughing! 🤣  

Travelling back to the ship after more complaining by the excursion guide  (mainly about her many ex husbands) we had time to take a few photos from the deck before Thomson Dream sailed overnight to Alicante…our last port before we head to Palma, Majorca for our flight home 😭

Gibraltar 1

Gibraltar Sepia

Sarah & i had a fantastic time in Gibraltar and it was great to have a guide from my home town to share her great accent with us.

Creating these blog posts documenting each day of our trip has been such a blessing for Sarah & i, especially knowing that you’ve been right here with us along the way! 🙂  They leave us with such lovely memories every time we read back through them. 😀 

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #24 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “The Model Ship”🌊🛳

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 24 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Sea logo

 After a fantastic 2 days in the Azores we found this new folded towel creature on our table. “How do they do that” i said just staring and touching it? 😲

Swan

“Yeah i know” said Sarah “it’s amazing how they get the towels to do that and stay in position”. 

Just then i had a brain wave…To show our appreciation for the great work our cabin steward has shown us, i will show our gratitude with a model of my own!!! 😀 

I thought rather than using a towel i will go larger and use the whole bed, quilt, pillows and towels! As the towels are blue…they can be the sea. The quilt can be the Thomson Dream and the pillows can be the big pointy thingy on top! 💪🏼  

Having never attempted anything like this before, i knew it would be the thought that counts. I said to Sarah “You’re going to have to wait outside until i’ve finished, then you can open the door and see it as the cabin steward will see it”. 

Here Goes…..are you ready??? 

My Ship

 After Sarah stopped laughing 🤣, she said “It’s massive! I didn’t know you were going to use the whole king size bed?!” I said “Well ships are big, and i didn’t want him to miss it”. She was actually impressed with my first ever attempt. lol. 💪🏼  

Now everything is set, it’s time to head out and relax with a nice latte at the Coffee Port. We also ventured out on deck being ensconced by blue sea. ☕  

At Sea after Azores

We did meet up with the cabin steward that night and Sarah asked him “Did you like the big ship Steve had made for you?” He said he didn’t see anything and just thought the bed was left in a mess…Harsh!! 😔 

Well at least WE all know what happened, and i hope my model ship will put a smile on your face instead!!  😀  

Just 2 days at sea now until we reach Gibraltar!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀   

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☀️ #23 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Sao Miguel, Azores”🐬

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 23 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Såo Miguel logo

 After more wild blood sugar readings, no sleep and seriously nasty coughs, i was really looking forward to our excursion today. If you remember on day 7 – Antigua we had 1 horse power each, but now i was hoping for lots more horse power in our 4×4! 😀   

4×4 Tour of the Western Edge, Azores (Excursion details)

If you want to get up close to São Miguel’s dramatic landscapes, a 4×4 is the way to go. Once we’re all strapped in, we’ll head off to the west side of the island. Our first stop is Vista do Rei. Translated, it means ‘King’s View’ – it was named after King D Carlos, who visited back in 1901 – and the vista from here is definitely fit for a monarch. It pans across Sete Cidades, a massive volcanic crater that’s glazed in greenery and, at the right time of year, baby-blue hydrangeas. Covering its base is a huge lake, split in two by the small bridge that crosses it, plus a picturesque waterside village. We’ll drive along the Pequena ridge to Sete Cidades village, stopping at Lomba do Vasco viewpoint along the way for a few snaps. We’ll have some free time to explore the village, before continuing our drive past Blue and Empadadas lakes. We’ll have one last photo op – at Pico do Ferro viewpoint – before making our way back to the ship.

With the excursion details in mind (see above), we navigated down the gangway and onto the dock. We quickly realised that the day wasn’t going to be as hot as every other day on the cruise…as we were getting wet, and colder by the second! lol 🤣 ☔️   

Our 4×4 driver and tour guide met us off the boat(which was fantastic) and helped us into our Land Rover. Back when i was a panel beater my friend used to race custom Land Rovers with monster V8’s, and as usual i was letting my imagination get ahead of me, especially when the driver cranked up the engine and it was the disappointing sound of a diesel tractor! 😢 Since i’ve been blind and i use my ears to see cars, the engine noises are all i focus on! Sarah is quick to remind me as we walk into town back in Epsom that she really doesn’t want me to comment on every engine that drives by! lol, but she did acknowledge my disappointment with a gentle stroke on my arm. ❤️  

Sarah leaning and the 4x4

⇧ Sarah and the 4×4 ⇧

Our first stop was King’s View which was really high upon the island, as we stopped and the driver asked us to wait in the car as it was chucking it down with rain, and the fog/mist was like a blankett covering all of the beautiful landscapes he had brought us to see, he left to talk the the other driver in the Toyota Land cruiser behind. He came back, apologised and said “We will try and head as low as we can to see if we can go under the fog/mist and see if it’s any clearer down there. But we have a few minutes here so if you want to get out in the rain, you can”. 

A landscape covered in rain, fog and mist

⇧ King’s View ⇧

 On a clear day there is a stunning volcanic crater with 2 lakes, 1 is blue and 1 is green! There were alot of disappointed sighs etc and some people were complaining…i just thought welcome to my world, and you can still see more than me even with the fog. lol 😀  I almost felt equal for the first time on an excursion. 🤣   

We then headed off on a drive to the lowest point of the island which was beautiful and when we got to walk around by the river and volcanic hills it was like stepping onto the film set of Jurassic park.

The fog did lift a little and the rain slowed down enough for us to enjoy 15 minutes in this fantastic place. 

A black and white photo of a lake in Sao Miguel

A path running from right to left through grass fields alined with trees

Me looking Terrified in front of the river with volcanic rocks behind

When i found this photo which Sarah had taken, we both started laughing and thought this was probably the best photo of me ever! 🙂  Don’t ask me what i was up to, i can only imagine that i heard a T-Rex or a volcano erupt!! 😨  

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any great captions to add to this photo??!! I look forward to hearing what you come up with! 🤣  

A 4x4 parked in front of a huge volcano and river

⇧ This place really does remind me of Jurassic Park ⇧   

View of Sao Miguel river from a grass bank with volcanic rocks behind

Looking through the trees atSao Miguel

We all climbed aboard our 4×4 and headed of to a small village to stop and have another rest and look around. On the way Sarah saw a huge black Bull chasing a local who was running for his life right close to the Land Rover…Crazy! Lol. We stopped at a small cafe where the driver(to Sarah’s delight) started talking about the locally made Portuguese custard tarts. I said “No way, these are our favourites, and we have never had a locally made one before! It will be like when i had a slice of “Pizza in Pisa!” 😀  As usual… no body laughed so i asked “Do they sell them in this Cafe?”If they do could you get 3 and have one yourself!” He said “yeah sure” and we sat and enjoyed this special food moment! ☕  

Most of the people stayed in the cafe as it was raining outside, but Sarah & i were already soaked so didn’t mind a little more rain to try and see as many things as possible in this tiny village. 💪🏼  

Sarah in Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel Village

Sao Miguel church through the trees

We were now coming to the end of our fantastic 4×4 drive, but not before he drove us off road and up some really steep rocky terrain, Yay!! 🙂 We were rocking side to side and bouncing up and down, i said “Yeah this is more like it!”. We then stopped and the driver who had his window down as all the windows were steaming up from our drenched clothes…picked up  a small piece of  Sphagnum moss from the towering hillside. As usual i was the only one who didn’t know what it is (i blame going to the worst school in Derby) He then squose it and we were all amazed by how much water was running out of something so small, fantastic! 😀    

Just one more stop and it was to see a tunnel drilled through the mountain that goes out to the sea so that the rain water does not flood the volcanic crater when there is, from time to time heavy rainfall on the island.

The tunnel is around 80 years old and almost 2 kilometers long and it´s actually large enough to walk through and that is also safe enough as long as you don´t go during heavy rainfall. As you know it was raining but that’s not enough to stop Super Sarah having a look! 💪🏼 😀   

Sarah and the tunnel

Back on the ship…🛳

Having got changed out of our wet clothes, we decided to try and get a bite to eat at the buffet restaurant on deck 9. We sat down with an assortment of food and enjoyed talking about what we’d just experienced. We were about half way through when Alan Davidson (the piano entertainer) came and sat down with us. He had seen us the day before in Horta taking photos and had admired my big Nikon DSLR. Sarah said “Yeah it’s a nice camera and Steve gets some lovely photos even though he’s blind”. “Wow” said Alan “I didn’t realise”. I never know if that’s a compliment or not? 🙂 He continued “Back home in Scotland i visit a blind friend and help him with life skills etc, and telling him(using a clock face) where his food is on his plate”. I said “Fantastic, Sarah has just done that with me which is why i’m eating more confidently(and a lot less messy) as normal”. 🤣  

Sarah mentioned that she hadn’t got chance to see much of the town nearest to the dock and we still have a couple of hours left before we sail away. Alan kindly replied “I’ll take you guys, there is a bus on the dock that goes into town, and i can guide you and make sure you get back safely too”. “Fantastic, let’s go” Sarah and i replied. 😀 

Sao Miguel Church

We found the market place overlooked by this Cathedral where Me, Sarah & Alan stopped to find a table out of the rain to have coffee’s and a chat. Alan was also a keen photographer and he found a local who took a few photos of the 3 of us, but sadly i havn’t managed to get the photos of Alan yet, maybe one day i’ll get to see them and share them with you. 😀  

Back on board again Thomson Dream sailed away as Sarah and i listened to Alan with our favourite cocktails. Sarahs is a special sugar free Mojito and mine is a Bailey’s Banana Colada! 🍹 😀 

Alan Pianoman

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #22 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Horta, Azores”🐬

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 22 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Please click logo to begin the tour

welcome to Horta!!! 😀  

Sarah is sat on a wall on the right with her arms stretched out while the cruise ship is facing us on the left

⇧ Sarah welcoming you all to Horta! ⇧

Wow…what an adventurous Atlantic crossing! Both Sarah and i didn’t expect that roller coaster journey. But it was great to be off the ship and once we mastered walking on land that doesn’t move constantly, we headed out to see what we could find. 😀   

We couldn’t book an excursion in Horta as they were all sold out, but we were first taken aback with the stunning bay, and the beautiful sea front with it’s incredibly ornate pavement…We still talk about this pavement! 😀 

Horta Marina 2

A sailing boat in the lower lft of the bay while the hills in the background dominate the reast of the image

White buildings line the left of the pavement and road filling the whole image

Horta designed pavements

Sarah leaning on a palm tree on the right with the Horta marina and bay filling the rest of the image

After following the pavement around the sea front we came to what we thought was the end of the bay…but as we were going to turn back Sarah saw a steep alleyway  between some buildings which really didn’t look inviting, but she was determined not to miss anything while we were here. And after what she’s just been through the last 5 days i wasn’t going to say no! 😨  

 The narrow path became really steep but we finally reached the top. There were high buildings either side of s and i could hear what i thought were Portuguese gangsters. I said “Do you think we should turn round and head back?” Sarah said “No we’ve made it this far and it’s downhill from here, i think i can see the end of the path and it looks like it opens out again” “Ok” i said nervously and we pushed on.

As usual Sarah was dead right! The path ended and we were treated with a stunning view of the bay on the other side of the island! 😲 

We both were silenced and stood in awe as we tried to take in more of God’s beautiful creation. No matter how bad the last few days were Sarah said “Wow, this was worth the wait!” God never fails to show up and when he does we are always left speechless. 🙏 😀   

Warning…one of Sarah’s breathtaking panoramas…

Panoramic view of Horta bay

Sarah in Awe at Horta bay

Me stood on the left with volcanic rock beach all around and a view of the bay

Volcanic rock at Horta bay

Horta hillside with lots of scattered houses

the houses on Horta hill with a massive tree towering over all of them

Beautiful mossy green gill with a house/centre inbedded within

 We were stood for around 10 minutes when 2 people approached us from our left, the woman said “We’ve been all around here and there is nothing worth seeing here! So were going over the other side to see if we can find anything worth seeing over there!” They walked on past us before we could even say hello. I was stunned, then said to Sarah “I can’t see that much but i still know how beautiful this place is!! They must be in a different dimention to us”. Sarah chuckled and quickly ran over to check out all of the amazing black sand! 😕

We stayed here for about 20 minutes and went over to our left to explore the green hills! 

Sarah running and enjoying freedom on the volcanic beach all on her own!

Sarah walking around Horta hill

Sarah relaxing on Horta hill

Getting towards the top of the first hill, we stopped to take in the bay from a different viewing point! 😀  

Sarah says hi

Sarah says a big hello to all of you who are still with us on our adventure!! 💪🏼 😀 

Horta Sepia

On the other side of the green hills another bay opened out for us…Wow this place is beautiful and just keeps giving! 

We thought if we stayed with the sea on our right we would eventually find our way back to the ship…we did but before we headed back on board we stopped to look in the local shops, and stop for a well deserved drink.

Also on the way back we found these interesting photos and paintings along the sea front, by this time it was getting late in the afternoon so we didn’t have much time left in this lovely place.

Sarah at Horta marina

Sarah had just enough time for one more pose! lol 🤣   

Sarah and the ship

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #21 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Relaxing, Reflecting & Coughing!!”🌊

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 21 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Sea logo

Sarah & i were feeling really run down, tired and a little concerned about what the rest of our dream holiday had in store for us. But now we had a few days at sea, so we decided to get out there and enjoy the time we had left. 🙂 

Sarah looking out to sea

⇧ Sarah relaxing and reflecting ⇧ 

During our time at sea, Sarah & i loved standing and looking out over the vast ocean. It seemed to put perspective on how majestic and awesome our God is. Also how small we were in comparison and yet he loves each one of us…amazing! 🙂 

Shopping… 

Handbags on ship

There’s nothing like being surrounded by handbags to put a smile on Sarah’s face! 🙂 

Of all the places…i never thought i’d be in a handbag store, on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. But we have just spent the night in a hospital in the middle of the Atlantic ocean! 😀  Sarah seems to find these shops wherever we go… and if it helps her relax, i’ll be right there with her! 

Another fave spot…

Sarah on deck

Each day we’d find our way up to this spot and just look out over the pool deck and take in the full panoramic view of blue. There was always a live band playing, giving a great atmosphere and a hot-plate thingy where i could get a fresh burger…Mmmm burgers! 🍔🍔 

Hair salon…

Hair salon

After Sarahs last trip to the hair salon she was really pleased with the way the stylist had cut and styled her hair around her eye…. but the hospital adventure had kind of ruined it. So i thought she might like to relax and get it done again. Whilst waiting in the waiting room i took this shot through the window ….That’s the best view i’ve ever seen from a hair salon! 😀 

The evening restaurants…

So far i havn’t said much about our evening meals. For the first few days we really struggled with the buffet restaurants, as the food was placed in big trays under a glass cover with really long fork/tongs to pick up the food. Sarah had no idea what she was picking up as it was just too far away for her to focus and the waiters didn’t understand we couldn’t see properly, which caused a few problems!

At home we try to stay away from self service/buffet style places …not because we are too snooty, lol …but because we simply can’t find anything e.g plates, food, cutlery, where to pay, which causes too much stress and makes us wish we hadn’t gone out at all! 

After a few days we decided to try the “Orion Restaurant” which was waiter service. On entrance the waiter asked if we’d like to share a table or sit by yourselves. Sarah said “Sharing is fine with us” (I thought is it really… 😦 The waiter then escorted us to an empty 8 seater table. After he passed us our menus (which we had no chance of reading) our table soon filled up with people. After friendly hello’s Sarah said to the lady next to her “I don’t want to be a nuisance…but we are both registered blind and so can’t read the menus. Would you be able to read it to us?” After the confused look on all of their faces (my imagination from the body language) the lady said “Of course, but i’d never have guessed that either of you had sight problems”. (My thought was “You need to be on this side of my eyes to understand the problem :(“) After we’d heard the menu, Sarah whispered “This works perfectly for us…we get the menu read out, and we get to meet lots of different lovely people” 🙂 

Shortly after…we heard the people sitting opposite us say “Did you hear the “Code Alpha” last night?” The others replied “Yes we did, it woke us up…it was after 1am!!” “Yeah i know and there was no need to call it around the whole ship”.

I said “Sorry…that was us.”   “It was you two! what happened?” Sarah showed her bruised and bandaged wrists (from where the drips had been attached) and explained everything that happened. We heard this same complaint for the next few evenings…. and even some different, elaborate explanations of what had happened (even one story where Sarah was said to have died and been taken off the boat by helicopter in a silver bullet coffin????.)  

We also heard that quite a few people had complained to reception about the 1am code alpha (because they thought it was a call to abandon ship) and how they felt they shouldn’t have been disturbed in the middle of the night!!

The Cough…

If you can remember…on Day 8 there were a couple of people in the hospital waiting room with deep growly coughs. Well today…Sarah’s got it too !! 😦 This deep booming growly cough (reminds me of the Rockford Fosgate subs in the boot of my old custom Nova) is giving Sarah lots of  chest pain, a sore throat and a pounding head. We’ve noticed the unique sound of this cough around the ship as we’ve been exploring! ….As if Sarah didn’t have enough on her plate with no sleep, uncontrollable blood sugar, one eye closed and exhaustion…she now has this nasty cough 😦

Keep smiling… 😀 

I have no idea how she does it. But no matter what’s going on…Sarah has  a lovely beaming/contagious smile on her face that blesses all who see her 😀 

Sarah reflection

 The Azores…

After about 4 (or is it 5?) sleepless nights (i’ve lost count) we were looking forwards to arriving at the Azores. Sarah was especially looking forwards to getting off the ship and onto solid ground and having the freedom to explore another fantastic island! You just can’t keep this warrior princess down! 😀   

Yippee land ahoy!!!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #19 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Farewell Caribbean” 🛳

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 19 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Sea logo

Farewell Caribbean…hello massive ocean…

After another amazing, hot and breathtaking day in the Caribbean (which was now about an hour away), we thought we’d try and relax with a spot of sunbathing. This meant trying the almost impossible task of finding not 1…but 2, empty sun loungers.

A view of the ocean from the rear of the ship, overlooking the sunbathing area at the bottom of the shot

Fantastic! We found 2 together, no way. But…pretty much after placing our towels onto the sun loungers, Sarah’s Medtronic “Paradigm” insulin pump started alarming!! 

That’s not the usual alarm” I said as Sarah was trying to read the tiny screen in the super bright sun. “I can’t quite make out what it’s saying, but it’s not something i’ve seen before, i need to go back to the cabin and use the magnifier”. The pump continued the ear piercing alarm all the way to the cabin!

Back in the cabin..

Once back, and using our video magnifier, the error message on the screen said “A button has been continually pressed for more than three minutes. to clear press ESC, then ACT”.

Sarah said “That’s weird, my pump’s been nowhere near anything that would press the buttons, but it sounds easy enough, i can finally stop this annoying alarm”. After hearing a few clicks, then a few more, the pump was still alarming. “It’s not working” “What do you mean, are the buttons not responding?”. “No, it won’t clear the error message, can you have a go”. I tried, and still nothing except the error message and the alarm!

We both knew we didn’t have long as the pump has now stopped delivering insulin, as Sarah needs a continual small dose, as not only does Sarah have type 1 diabetes, but a brittle form, and she is also slightly allergic to insulin! 😨  

After taking the battery out, waiting 10 minutes before replacing…the alarm and message were still there! After trying it again, I said “Should we take it to the doctors in the hospital on Deck 3?” “They won’t know anything about insulin pumps, it’s specialised equipment, which is why it’s carefully monitored, and finely tuned by the diabetic clinic”. After a few more desperate tries to cancel the alarm, and running out of options, we had no choice, and headed down to deck 3. 😨  

The Hospital…🏥

Reaching the bottom of the stairs to Deck 3, we were greeted with a couple of corridors and lots of doors. We could hear voices coming from an open door on the right, so we headed there. We found the doctor who was sounding very concerned whilst talking to a couple of very poorly sounding people, who had deep growly coughs. I said “Let’s wait out here”. A man dressed in a white suit approached us and asked if we were ok? After explaining what had happened, he looked at the pump, took it, and asked us to wait in the waiting room.

He returned with the doctor (a female with quite an aggressive manner), she explained that the pump was broken, and we needed to get a new one. But for now she needed to work out how much insulin Sarah’s body ran on. We said the pump gives a small amount of Humalog every 1-2 hours continuously, but all of the information is programmed in the pump that has now locked itself. This didn’t impress her! Between us, we had to try and calculate how much insulin Sarah took each day, by adding up the dosage at meal times, and adding a little more to compensate for the pumps continuous injections in the background. 

After a couple more hours of stressful calculations, the doctor gave Sarah some old school syringes and told us to keep a record of insulin taken, time of insulin taken and food eaten etc. We returned to our cabin worried about how we were going to cope for the rest of the holiday, and did we have enough Humalog insulin in the fridge, as the hospital on-board didn’t use it, or stock it. 😨  

The Phone Call…

We went up to reception on Deck 8(lots of stairs, lol)  to see if we could phone Medtronic (the makers of the insulin pump) as they are an American company, and would still be open. We couldn’t phone the UK diabetic clinic as they were 5 hours in front, and it would be about midnight! 

After a long drawn out discussion with the receptionist, asking if there was a way to call out from a ship, as we have a medical disaster, as Sarah knows her body reacts badly to injections etc, and really does need the continued small amounts 24 hours a day.  So we really needed to call Medtronic to see if there is any way of saving the pump! Eventually we managed to phone Medtronic, and after a £52 phone call…he told us “the pump was broken!!”. Sarah has been on an insulin pump for about 15 years, and they have never broken. But 1 hour from Antigua, sailing at sea for 5 days…it breaks! 😰 

Trying to relax…

As the realisation was setting in of trying to manage with injections, and Sarah’s blood sugar was still on the rise after the first injection. We were getting a little worried on how this was all going to play out. We decided to stay in the room and just figure out a strategy for the rest of the holiday. We then managed to figure out how to turn on the TV, i thought a film might help Sarah try and relax after the trauma of the day. 

After a while when Sarah spoke again, i instantly knew we were in trouble! The slightly slurring sound of Sarah’s voice told me her blood sugar had suddenly shot down and it was very low! “Oh no,” i said as i jumped into survival mode. Sarah was still conscious so i knew i had a little time. I went straight to the fridge and got the bottle of orange lucozade that usually works if Sarah is still able to drink. 

After about 10 minutes Sarah was slipping away, so i ran to my bag and got the Gluco Gel and squirted it into Sarahs mouth. Gluco gel is fantastic and absorbs into gums etc, and after a while (a nervous while) Sarah was back with us. “Phew” i said as relief was pulling me out of survival mode. Sarah said “I’ve had a hypo havn’t i?! These injections really aren’t going to work, my body just goes erratic and messes up”. 😢

After a sleepless night of trying to stabilise a yo-yoing blood sugar, we were not really enjoying our first day at sea. But we decided to go and have a nice strong coffee at our fave place, as we’ve probably got another sleepless night tonight too. I said “It’s hard to imagine that not even a day ago we were riding on horseback across that beautiful beach”. 😀   

Sarah has to check her blood sugar every 2 hours, day and night, for the rest of the holiday, as without the pumps continuous feed, we are left with just fast acting insulin, and lots of prayers. 🙏  

This is becoming quite an adventure!!!  

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #18 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda” 🇦🇬

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 18 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Click logo to return to Day 1

After another early start (and you’ve guessed it) a bacon roll, we headed off the ship. The shore excursion lady was at the bottom of the gangway steps, and she showed us where to join the queue. Well i say queue, there were only about 8 of us in total. I thought “I think we may have over reached on this one. Maybe it’s going to be too difficult, and really not suited for the blind”. 🤔

We were then led towards the minibus. We were told they’d saved us the 2 seats in the front next to the driver, i said “Sweet”, and climbed aboard. I really didn’t expect what happened next…the driver turned on his CD player which started playing Ed Sheeran “Thinking out loud” and he started singing as i tapped away on my legs to the beat. His voice was incredible, it was like we were having our own concert in the front of the minibus, whilst driving around paradise.  Quite a surreal moment. After more fantastic singing to Tarrus Riley’s  “She’s Royal”, he pulled up at Fort James Beach where we were to start our horse ride. ☀️🏇 

Welcome to Paradise…🌴

We left the minibus and were instantly greeted with a stunning view of porcelain palm fringed sands, and stilted turquoise waters of Fort James beach, also we received a further warm welcome by the “Horseman (sorry, i forgot his name)”. 😀 

St John beach with a palm tree on the left and a life guard seat on the right

St John beach 2

Photo of the horse instructor walking across the beautiful beach

 ⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧  

A couple of horses on the left walking across the amazing beach

⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧  

The Horse Ride…

Once everyone was fitted with a protective hat (it took a while to find one to fit my big head, lol), it was time to line up and meet the horses. He asked for experienced riders first, then one at a time they mounted the horses. It was about this time i started to get a little nervous. I was saying to Sarah “How do we get up there? Are there steps? Which foot do i put forward first? Are the horses big enough to carry me?”

The horseman was out of earshot, but i think he could see my face, he said “Don’t worry, i have a couple of special horses for you two”. This put my mind a little more at ease. Sarah mounted first on the horse named “Sunshine”, what a perfect horse for her! 🙂 Then i mounted easily with the excellent help from horseman onto the horse named “Little Man”. 😀  

After a short tutorial on how to hold (and use) the reins, it was time to move on out! We had only walked along next to a road for about a minute, and i’d just got used to the weird motion of rocking side to side whilst not being able to see the ground or the horse in front. When…a huge commotion…Lots of shouting from horseman, and the horses. I thought(at first) it sounded like a car had hit one of the horses. I pulled back on the reins as i saw Sarah(who was in front of me) appear at my side, Yay my horse stopped! 🙂 We found out at the end, that a car got too close and spooked a few of the horses, so no one (or horses) were hurt.

My plan was to take my Samsung WB550 compact camera with me to take photos & video whilst on the horse, but that was soon foiled when i got onto the horse, and my shorts were pulled tight around my pocket, so it had seal it shut. I didn’t want to try and move, as i thought the horse might mistaken my movements and start galloping off!. I did eventually get an opportunity when my foot suddenly got smacked out of the stirrup by an aloe vera plant (it got a few of us), and as my leg was free i quickly grabbed my camera! 😀  Note to self, next time take my other camera with a neck strap! 🤣  

The horseman who was overseeing us said “Welcome to Sandhaven Beach”…

A photo of the back of my horses head with a beautiful seacape all around

⇧ “Little Man” taking me on a beautiful journey 🙂 ⇧ 

Photo of Sarah on her horse riding across stunning beach landscape with my orange shirt at the bottom as i took the photo over my shoulder

⇧ Sarah on “Sunshine” & in sunshine, along Sandhaven beach ⇧ 

Sarah on her horse looking inland as she rides across the stunning beach

Sarah looking out to sea as she rides along the stunning Sandhaven beach

⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧ 

Words completely fail me when i try and describe the feeling of riding in paradise. The sound of the waves, the feel of the hot sun with the cool breeze, the movement(and sound) of the horse, topped off with the amazing panorama. We really didn’t want to leave our new fave place on earth!! 😀 ☀️  

We left Sandhaven beach and headed back to Fort James beach. We’d been riding for around 1½ hours, and just before we finished, the man asked for my cameras so he could take a photo of us on our horses.

My horse “little Man” was busy eating grass, i think he had my appetite! 🤣  

Photo of me9left and Sarah(right) sat on top of our horses. My horse is eating grass

 ⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧ 

Once off the horses, we were given a bottle of water each as they prepared for stage 2. Stage 2 gave the chance for the experienced riders to ride faster (or gallop as i’m told), and the chance to ride bareback into the water. Sarah and another lady paired up together to do this. 

Sarah bareback riding

Sarah said “I was sat trying to balance without a saddle, when suddenly i was thrown back as one of my legs was pulled up. I looked down to see that the horse had taken a liking to one of my bright yellow laces, and was pulling on it as though it was spaghetti! 🤣   

Once stage 2 was over, we had about 45 minutes before the singing taxi arrived. “No way, does this mean you get to swim in paradise again?!” i said as Sarah was already half way down the beach!! 🤣  

The Swim…

Sarah running towards the empty sea

⇧ Sarah excited to be the only one in the beautiful sea ⇧  

Sarah submerged in the turquoise sea. The whole sea is empty apart from Sarah

⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧  

Sarah walking towards me from out of the sea after her swim

Sarah portrait St John

 ⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 😀  ⇧ 

The taxi ride was just as fun. The drivers stunning voice carried us all the way back to the ship.

 Back on the ship…

We now had to say farewell to the Caribbean. 😦 We took our usual sofa’s in the coffee port, and with coffee’s in hand, we watched the island slowly disappear. We both agreed that this was our fave place of the trip, and the horse ride was our best experience so far!!

Our new friend…

On returning to our cabin, the steward had created a folded towel turtle, and used my hat as the shell, fantastic!! 😀  

Folded turtle from towels with my hat as the shell

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Horta, Portugal, we’ll arrive on Sunday late morning, after 5 leisurely days at sea. having travelled 2,173 nautical miles, at an average speed of 16 knots.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #17 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis” 🇰🇳

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 17 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

St Kitts logo

Our excursion today “St Kitts Scenic Railway” didn’t start until 11am, so we had a more relaxed breakfast at Lido’s on Deck 9. Then another lovely coffee at the Coffee Port on Deck 8. Now we had sustenance, it was down to Deck 4 and off the ship to enjoy what today had in store for us?! 😀    

Welcome to St Kitts… 

Once an illustrious sugar colony, it now focusses its efforts on being a tropical paradise. A seductive blend of blonde sandss, and duck egg blue seas. 

Once we slowly navigated down the gangway steps, we looked up to see a view of the beautiful bay. 

The Caribbean never failed to surprise us, even when we thought we had seen the most beautiful places, the next place would leave us awe-struck with it’s breathtaking landscapes! 

A panorama taken from the dock pier overlooking the amazing span of volcano hills with the vivid blu sea in front

⇧ Sarah’s stupendous Panorama of St Kitts ⇧  

As i was taking a photo of Sarah, a nice lady came over and asked if we would like her to take one of us both together? “Oh yes please, that would be so kind of you”. The photo she took is probably my fave photo of the trip! 🙂 

Me on the left in my bright orange shirt hugging Sarah on the right with the beautiful panorama of volcanic hills and blue sea behind us

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧

Showing my excitement, and love for the Caribbean. Sarah chose(and bought) me an amazingly bright and colourful Caribbean shirt, 😲

Excursion Details – St Kitts Scenic Railway…

First up, board a tour bus for a drive along the south coast. Important landmarks lie around every corner here.

Second, hop on a train at the “Needs-Must” station, and St Kitts light railway takes you on a 3 hour tour of the islands best bits. You’ll chug over ravines over 300 feet deep, circle mount Liamuga volcano, take a sneak peak at the islands black sand beaches, and soak up the jaw dropping views over lush sugar cain fields,

The Bus…

Another soothing air conditioned bus ride. Our tour guide was fantastic, and told us all about the Economy, history(some grusome battles), and the monkeys! She said “Around 100,000 monkeys live in the tree covered hills, and they steal our fruit etc. So if you want to take one with you, it will help us greatly!”.

View from the bus at St Kitts

⇧ A view from the bus window ⇧ 

The Train…

We got off the bus at the “Needs-Must” station. The hot sun felt lovely as we waited for the train. We had no idea what to expect, and looking at the small narrow train tracks, we expected a little open top fun train, or something like. 

Then…this large double decker monster pulled up. “Wow, i didn’t expect that! It’s really tall, and doesn’t look wide enough to take the height”. I said as we climbed the stairs to the upper deck of the 1st carriage. “Yes! We get to sit at the front too! Unbelievable”.

As the train pulled away, the tour guide told us that the train will sway(strongly) side to side, so it’s best to stay seated, but if you want to stand then keep hold of the rail above the seats. She wasn’t joking!! It was the craziest train i’d ever been on, and i thought there is no way i can take photos whilst being violently thrown around! 

But…as usual, i didn’t let that stop me! My Nikkor lens has VR(Vibration Reduction) on it, so i’ll test it out. I really didn’t expect to have any photos from this amazing, unforgettable train ride, but was surprised when a few turned out not too blurry!  

We started off travelling through vivid green fields flanked by volcanos.

St Kitts 1

St Kitts 2

Then just as a lady asked us if we wanted a “Pina Colada”, we saw the first of many beautiful curved bays, with the sea crashing into the shore.

St Kitts 3

Sarah & i just kept saying “Wow, this is Amazing! How did we get here, it’s like a dream”. The beautiful hot sun shining down, a lovely cool breeze flowing through the train, and a Pina Colada in hand. Some of my fave things are Coconut, Banana and Pineapple, and this drink had them all! Mmmmm. ☀️ 😀   

St Kitts Train

Then as the train curled its way through the lush landscape, a 3 part harmony choir started singing. The ladies would come up to our deck and sing some beautiful songs as part of the trip. The voices were fantastic, and brought even more sunshine to this incredible journey. 😀  

As the singers finished, we heard a horn next to us, so we all started waving at the people on the fun bus! 🙌   

St Kitts Bus

We were then treated to another stunning bay!

St Kitts 7

St Kitts 6

St Kitts 5

St Kitts 4

After passing through more sugarcane fields, the lady brought us a piece of sugarcane with spices. Wow, it was the nicest sweet thing i’d ever tasted! I always talk about this sugarcane everywhere i go.

Sarah St Kitts Train

⇧ Sarah sat at the front of the train! ⇧  

St Kitts Volcano

The tour guide then said “On your left you will make out the bridge we will be travelling over shortly”. I heard Sarah say “No way, the train isn’t going to make it over that, it looks too small and rickety. Steve, if you could see it, you’d be saying the same!!”. 

Train Bridge 1

Train bridge 2

Yes i would! After seeing this photo, i could tell exactly why Sarah was getting worried! 😨

After the bridge, we travelled back towards the end of the journey. But not before we were blessed, by what is now my favourite church building.

St Kitts Church

This fantastic train ride came to an end back at “Needs-Must” station, where the bus was ready to take us back to the ship. But before we boarded, we still had a short time to look around the shops at the dock.

I bought another Caribbean shirt(blue one) so i could keep up with the vibrant colours surrounding us from all angles! Sarah even plaited my hair too! 😀      

My Platt  Blue Caribbean Shirt

⇧ My quiet blue shirt ⇧ 

 Tomorrow will be our last Caribbean island, before we are at sea for 5 days crossing the atlantic for the Azores. 

We’ve booked a horse ride across the beach etc, so i’m a little nervous. But at least the horse isn’t blind(i hope) and will lead the way! Either way, i’m sure it’ll be another unforgettable experience! This holiday has been full of them! 🤣  

 Our Route 4 2day…

This evening Thomson Dream travels to St Johns, Antigua. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 61 nautical miles, at an average speed of 4 knots.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ #16 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Sint Maarten” 🇸🇽

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 16 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Philipsburg St Maarten Logo

After a quick (but super tasty) bacon roll from Lido’s on Deck 9, Sarah & i found our way off the ship, and to the shore excursion point. 

St Maarten Island Tour…(excursion details)

Flying under two flags, Sint Maarten has got something of a split personality. But despite being one half Dutch and the other French, its whole is as Caribbean as it gets. And on this trip you’ll get to see both sides of this two-faced island, with your guide giving you snippets of history as you go

You’ll travel from Philipsburg(Dutch capital) to Marigot(French capital) passing through dinky villages hardly touched by time. Once you reach Marigot, you have some free time to explore this four street-wide city. All patisseries, pavement cafés and designer boutiques, it’s easy to see why it’s known as the French Riviera of the Caribbean.

 

The Dutch Side…

Our tour started with a drive around the beautiful Dutch side of the island, the air conditioned bus was perfect on this hot day. The guide pretty much told us that this was the place for the profligates. Casinos, night clubs, fast food outlets etc.  I instantly thought of  Mathew 23 “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean”. Not quite in context, but you get the idea! 😀 

I know i keep going on about the vivid colours, i still can’t put into words how stunning they are, i couldn’t get my camera to do them justice! The Colours will be the main thing i remember about the caribbean! 😲  

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon…

The driver/tour guide said he’d stop the bus for about 5 minutes so we could take some photos of the bay. “Excellent”, i thought as Sarah & i followed a man with a DSLR who was leaving in a hurry off the bus. I thought “if he is so keen to get off, then it must be a beautiful bay”. But as soon as he had moved to the edge of the cliff, he started saying “Why did he stop here? This is horrible, and a building site! There were much nicer places where he should’ve stopped”. 😡

I ignored his complaining and started taking photos of the scenery i couldn’t see anyway, as i wanted to see what he was talking about when i zoomed in at home after the holiday. I still can’t make out the detail, but what i can see looks beautiful!, and well worth stopping for! 😀 

Photo taken of Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

St Maarten Bay 4

St Maarten Bay

⇧ Lookout Point – Simpson Bay Lagoon ⇧

The French Side…

Moving seamlessly from the Dutch side of the island to the French side, Sarah started to feel a little more at home as the guide said “You won’t find any Burger King, KFC, casino’s etc. You’ll find cafe’s, restaurants, small independent market stores etc”, mmmmmm coffee! ☕ 😀 

After more fascinating history of the island, we pulled into Marigot(French capital), and now had 45 minutes to have a look around! 

Marigot…

 After leaving the bus, we headed straight for the open space where we found another lovely bay 

St Maarten Bay 5

⇧ Marigot bay ⇧ 

We stood for a while to absorb the beautiful view, then it was over to the market to see what we could find.

The smell of the locals cooking on the market was amazing, but Sarah had found a sweet little craft stall. The lady created items from the coral found off the shores St Maarten. “Oooooh, i could have a necklace made from St Maarten”. I knew that to mean “i’m getting one, i just don’t know which one yet?!” sm 

close up photo of Sarah's neckolace she bought fromm a market stall in Marigot, St Maarten

⇧ Sarah’s St Maartens Coral Necklace ⇧  

Sarah really was starting to feel at home here,  but we had to get back to the bus! We enjoyed our stop in Marigot, and we said we’d love to spend a week here to investigate more! 

Back On The Ship…

After finishing the island tour, we went back to the ship to get some lunch. We had a few hours before the ship sails away, so we decided to see if we could find a beach!

Sarah always says “The holiday hasn’t properly started until our feet are standing on the sand!!” 🤣   

After a frustrating hour walking from one end of the dock to the other, trying to find transport to take us to a beach. We started heading back to the ship defeated. When.. suddenly a “Water Taxi” sign appeared! Fantastic, lets go! Eventually we got on-board a very busy(yet cool) boat that took us a short distance across the bay. 

After just stepping out of the boat, i heard “Hi Steve and Sarah”. It was Martin, a kind man i sat next too on the plane over to Jamaica. We’d got chatting on the plane about sight loss and coping etc, and he has a Nephew who is suffering at the moment, so i was giving him some resources that may help etc. We Sadi “Hi Martin, are we anywhere near a beach?” He chuckled a little and said “Yeah it’s right here, just walk down this short pier and you won’t miss it” “Fantastic!” “Don’t be long though, you don’t want to miss the ship” Martin said, as he boarded the water taxi. 

Great Bay Beach…

Photo of the beach, with a palm tree on the left, and 2 cruise ships on the right

⇧ View of the cruise ships from Great Bay Beach ⇧ 

The afternoon sun was getting hot now, which must have been why most of the people were inside the bars. But we had been in air conditioning all morning so didn’t mind a bit of sun. 

It also meant that, not only did we get to walk on the powder white sands, but Sarah got to swim in the turquoise waters with hardly anyone around! An amazing experience! 😀   

Sarah couldn’t believe she was swimming in paradise, and couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day! 😀  

A full photo of just sea, with Sarah head poking out in the bottom right corner

⇧ Sarah relaxing in paradise ⇧   

close up of Sarah walking out of the see,with the water up to her hips. Sarah is wearing her fave spotted puple swimsuit

landscape shot of Sarah walking out of the turquoise sea, onto yellow sands, with sailing ships in the far distance

It really was getting hot now, so we nipped into a small bar for a cold soothing drink. I thought i’d try a local Rum & Coke(though i didn’t taste much coke), and Sarah had her fave Mojito. 🍹

We had a last walk up and down the beach where a woman kept shouting a me to have my hair braided! I think i was the only man here with long hair! 🤣 Then we managed to board the water taxi back to the ship. What an amazing day! This whole holiday has been simply breathtaking for us, and Sarah still can’t believe she got to swim in the beautiful, warm Caribbean sea! 😀 

Towel Folding & Beyond…

You’ve already seen the fantastic towel folded Elephant on Day 1, and each night the cabin steward folded our bed in amazingly straight lines, but he went one step further. We found Sarah’s nightie folded in this fantastic pattern.

a close up shot of the fantastic pattern folded by the cabin steward on Sarah nightie

a photo of the folded bed covers and Sarahs Folded Nightie 2

⇧ Folded nightie and bed, with chocolate mints on pillows ⇧   

Our Route 4 2day…

This evening Thomson Dream sails to Basseterre, St Kitts. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 59 nautical miles at an average of 4 knots.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ #15 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Road Town, BVI” 🇻🇬

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 15 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Road town logo

Absorbing  The Landscapes…

As we were at anchor during our visit to Road Town, with local ship’s tender boats transferring us to, and from the shore. We had a little time to take some photos before we left the ship. It was so calm and peaceful as we stood in front of this beautiful landscape.

A view of the front tip of the boat in front of a beautiful landscape

Me on the left taking a photo of the coastline, whilst a boat enters the image from the right. Also the image has a overkill blue filter

⇧ Sorry…i couldn’t resist the overkill blue filter effect! 🙂 ⇧  

A beautiful image of the small islands of Road Town

⇧ The beautiful coastline of Road Town ⇧  

A boat leaving its stream from left to right with the coastline behind it

 ⇧ I listened patiently until the boat that i couldn’t see was hopefully on the right of my shot! 🙂 ⇧ 

Road Town hillside

⇧ The rolling green hills of Road Town ⇧  

After having a fun(bobbing up and down) tender boat ride, we were driven along the coastal road covered in vivid green trees which stroked the tops of brightly coloured bungalows.

The Dolphin Encounter…

We had now arrived at the Prospect Reef Resort where Sarah got into the water to splash around with dolphins that call this place home.

As Sarah’s eye had been closed to keep out infections, we thought it was best to choose the “Dolphin Encounter” instead of the fully immersed  “Swim with Dolphins”. We just couldn’t risk it! 

We booked the “Dolphin Observer” which didn’t turn out well. Sarah & i were separated and i had no way of knowing which pool she was entering, so i waited on the nearest seats i could find, quietly listening for her name to be called out. Then as i’d hear it, i’d whip out my camera and get some shots. I didn’t hear her name as i was sat at completely the wrong pool. 😢

But all is not lost…i bought the fantastic photos taken by their photographer. Yay! 😀 

Sarah wearing swim suit and life jscket, stood in front of a large surf board promoting the dolphins

 ⇧ Sarah stood in front of the surf board logo sign ⇧ 

  Sarah had never done anything like this before, she was excited and apprehensive at the same time. But as soon as she got into the water and met her new friend, she was blown away! 😀 

Step 1: Meeting the dolphin… 

Sarah on the right touching the dolphins nose

Sarah now looking at the camera with a huge smile on her face, whist still touching the dolphins nose

 ⇧ Sarah’s first touch of the dolphin ⇧ 

Step 2: Dancing with the dolphin… 

Sarah said as she took hold of both flippers, the dolphin started a funky wiggle dance! 🙂 

Sarah stood on the right holding both flippers whilst having a dance with the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah dancing with her new friend ⇧  

Step 3: The Kiss… 

Sarah getting a kiss from the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah receiving a kiss on the cheek from the dolphin ⇧ 

Dolphin totally out of the water half way through a jump

⇧ Dolphin showing its excitement after meeting Sarah! 🙂  ⇧  

Once Sarah was dried off and changed, and we collected the photo CD, it was time to catch the bus back and head for Road Towns pretty main street and market. 

We had one place in mind(if we could find it) “Sunny Caribbee”. Everybody was talking about this place and the incredible local spices, sauces, coffee, artwork…everything! 😀 

We got off the bus and walked into town. We walked for a while longer, then we did(what we always did) when we got lost on our trip…listen for a broad northern accent! It was only seconds until we found some people from our ship who pointed us in the right direction! 🤣 

Sunny Caribbee…

Sunny Caribbee

⇧ Photo of the shop front of Sunny Caribbee ⇧   

Sunny Caribbee Hot Spices

⇧ Bottled sauces with fantastic hats! 🙂 ⇧

Once inside the shop we were amazed by the variety and beauty of the products, and how lovely and helpful the ladies were, We just wanted to take everything! Once we saw the sauce bottles with the hats, we just had to get them as presents! 😀  

We were super sad to leave Sunny Caribbee, but it was time to head off to the main street market as Sarah had seen some beautifully coloured dresses!

Sarah bought a lovely bright dress, but no photos yet. 😦  

After getting lost again in the town, we managed to find directions (yes another northern couple) back to the tender boats. It was another bobbing boat ride back to the ship.

We then took our usual seats in the Coffee Port, while drinking our favourite double espresso macchiato’s, we watched the islands disappear as the ship sailed away. ☕  

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Philipsburg, St Maarten. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 92 nautical miles at an average speed of 8 knots.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #14 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “La Romana, Dominican Republic” 🇩🇴

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 14 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

La Romana

Sarah & i were excited to arrive at La Romana, Dominican Republic, and we were really looking forwards to our shore excursion. After applying strong suntan lotion, deet bands to our wrists and ankles and finishing off with our hats, we went to see if we could find where the excursion actually starts! 

Using my knees as suspention, i slowly navigated down the treacherous gangway steps until i reached land. yay! The hot sun was shining, I could hear a local band playing, and then i heard Jo’s voice, she is part of the excursion team. We homed in on her voice and she said that she was coming on the same excursion so we could wait for her and she’ll take us to the coach. Fantastic, we can now relax for a while. 😀 

Sarah s Caribbean Outfit

⇧ My lovely wife Sarah’s beautiful Caribbean outfit! 🙂 ⇧ 

After a short coach trip, and hearing about the history of the island by the tour guide, we arrived at Casa de Campo,

Roman-styled 5,000-seat amphitheater…

a photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater left view

Amphitheater centre view

Photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater right view

Sarah and the steps

⇧ Sarah relaxing in the sun, sat on the amazing steps. ⇧ 

Me at the amphitheater

⇧ My new hat kept my head nice and cool, thanks Suzanne ⇧

 After briefly taking in this fantastic amphitheater, it was a short walk to the lovely fountain.

Sarah fountain

Sarah fountain 2

I had no idea that Sarah had stopped sitting down and was now walking towards me, but it’s made a lovely photo! lol. 🙂 

 Another short walk around this beautiful place until we reached the church and river.

St. Stanislaus Church… 

Church Dominican Republic

Me walking in front of the   Church

⇧ Me walking around wondering what to shoot next! ⇧  

Whilst looking at the stunning church, at my 6 o’ clock was the stunning Chavón River. What a beautiful place, and such a blessing to be able to be here.

 The Chavón River… 

Sarah at the Chavón River

Chavón River Chavón River 2

Just as i finished taking this photo, Sarah said “quick, take a photo of those ladies wearing the beautiful red dresses”. I span round and said “Where are they?” They were about 10 feet directly in front of me(i told you i was blind! lol). But just then they stood either side of Sarah and posed for the photo…

Sarah and the red dresses

Sarah and the red dresses close u

Some of you more experienced travellers will probably know what i’m about to say?!!

After the photo the ladies said “Tip…tip”, i was about to say “No, it’s ok you don’t need to tip me for the photo, i’m not that good!”. But then as we realised it was they who wanted a tip for posing for the shot, Jo(our Thomson excursion leader) quickly gave them a tip as we had no change at all. That was a lesson learned for Sarah & i, and we will be a little more discerning next time! I still think it was worth the mix up as the photos are lovely. 😀  

Chavón River 3

At the bottom left of the photo above…you can just make out the paddle boat. That’s where we are heading next! 🙂 

 Paddle Boats & Palm Trees…

Paddle boats and palm trees

Rambo river

Me on paddle boat

 ⇧ Me reflecting on God’s beautiful creation ⇧ 

Sarah paddle boat

 ⇧ Sarah feeling relaxed in the sun ⇧ 

Rambo river 2

Sarah on paddle boat

The whole excursion was amazing. I’ve never seen such vibrant colours, breathtaking scenery and a chance to travel along the “Rambo River”. 

IMG 3249

Back on-board the ship…

We went straight to the ice cold water machine, and then out on deck to get some last shots before we sailed away. 

Dominican Republic 2

Dominican Republic 1

Sarah Portrait on board

 Wow,what a day! The south east corner of the Dominican Republic. was labelled “The fairest land under heaven” by Columbus. I don’t disasociate myself from his opinion!! 😀 

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon the Thomson Dream sails to Road Town, Tortola. We’ll arrive tomorrow afternoon having travelled 277 nautical miles, at an average speed of 14 knots. 

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

 

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

☀️ #13 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “My 40th Birthday” 🎁🎉

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 13 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Sea logo

Happy 40th Birthday!!!

 Waking up to a pile of cards and a present beautifully wrapped from Sarah travelling across the Caribbean sea in a massive ship, was a special and surreal birthday moment. I couldn’t believe Sarah had packed all of my cards and even a present(which was 3 new shirts). Sarah’s love always fills to overflowing! ❤️

Me and my 40th birthday cards sat in the window of the ship

⇧ Me sat with my lovely cards ⇧ 

A close up photo of my 40th birthday cards

⇧ My lovely cards – Thank you everyone! 🙂 ⇧ 

My new shirt and birthday badge…

I quickly put on one of my new shirts(from Sarah), and the birthday badge(from Sara, sister in Christ) and went out on deck to look out over all that amazing sea. 

Me Birthday badge looking out over the sea, leaning on the teac bannister

⇧ Me wearing new shirt & birthday badge ⇧  

Then it was back to my fave place “The Coffee Port” for a birthday Cappuccino with a stunning view! 🙂 

A Cappuccino on a window seat looking out over a beautiful blue seaat sea

⇧ My fave seat in the Coffee Port ⇧  

Sarah’s Cornea Problems…

 Just 1 day before our holiday, Sarah & i spent the afternoon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. Over the past couple of months we’ve been to hospital almost weekly, trying to sort out Sarah’s cornea. We’ve now learned that Sarah’s cornea is crumbling and is completely exposed and cannot heal itself, or the ulcer inside.  The doctor needed to close the eye lid so that it’s safe from air contamination etc. He did this by a botox injection just above the eye. He said it would close in about 2 days(my 40th birthday) and will stay shut for around 3 months. 😨

And during the afternoon…Sarah’s eyelid suddenly closed. We’d hoped that most of the time we would be in bright sunshine so Sarah could cover it by wearing her sunglasses. And for all other times, we’d get creative.

The Captains Gala Reception & Dinner…

Sarah & i had no idea what to expect as this was our 1st cruise, but i’d brought my suit and purple dotted bow tie, and Sarah had brought some lovely dresses, so lets go and try to find the show lounge! 

Sarah had a slight panic when we realised the photographer was taking everyones photo on entrance, but she relaxed a little when he said she was fine to keep her sunglasses on. We ended up with a nice photo to remember my 40th, our 1st Captains Gala and a lovely keep safe shot of us both dressed up! 😀 

Sarah  i at Captains Gala  1

⇧ Me & my lovely wife! ⇧ 

The captain introduced himself and some of his team, then it was down to Deck 4 for the meal in the Orion restaurant. The food, the waiter service and the whole experience was fantastic. A great 40th birthday! 😀   

Our route 4 2day…

Today Thomson Dream continues her journey to La Romana. We arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 546 nautical miles at an average speed of 15 knots. 

 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀  

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

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Start tour from beginning

☀️ #12 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Hello Jamaica” 🇯🇲(2015)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 12 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Jamaica Logo

Yay…Caribbean here we come!!!

🎶 All our bags are packed and ready to go 🎶, and it’s only 5:30am! Thomson included a chauffeur to take us to(and from) Gatwick airport, “cool” i said “I’ve never used a chauffeur before”. She promptly arrived at 5:50, put the bags in the boot and off we went! Really hope we havn’t forgotten anything, but too late now! 

The driving was the smoothest i’ve ever witnessed, the acceleration and the cornering were like silk. didn’t move a inch in my seat, well impressed! lol.

London Gatwick Airport…

After a slightly less smooth check in, Sarah bought a fantastically colourful Swatch watch (pic coming soon), then we found a coffee shop and ordered 2 coffees and 2 bacon rolls. We had no idea this would be our local coffee shop (and food order) each time we flew from Gatwick north…But it was the only place that we could get a seat, lol! 🤣  

As i was wearing the airport assistance buzzer thingy around my neck, we went and had a look around some more shops until it buzzed and beeped! It did, and we were picked up by the buggy/train turbo machine (well maybe a small exaggeration) which drove us right to the terminal where we waited to board the 787 Dreamliner! Sorry i couldn’t take the photo below, but i couldn’t get the window open! 🙂 

A photo of the Thomson 787 Dreamliner in flight above the clouds, flying from left to right

⇧ The Thomson 787 Dreamliner – image from Google images ⇧ 

 As i’ve only been abroad once(Tuscany Tour 5 months ago) and only been in an Airbus A320, i was interested in this 787 monster, as our flight is 9½  hours. It was huge inside, plenty of seating space and legroom, and had remote dimmers on the windows, instead of a plastic pull down blind! Impressed again! The Air conditioning was fantastic (unlike the inflight meals) but i’ll probably not mention them here, lol, just glad we had a bacon roll earlier!  My excitable grin and constant babbling about stats lasted much longer this time (sorry Sarah), and somehow the time just seemed to fly by!  

 Montego Bay, Jamaica…

Who turned on the massive hair dryer?!” It was really hot, but we still managed to get through the airport and get on the bright yellow bus that took us to the ship. The bus was fantastic, super soft suspension bouncing us along to loud reggae music, with stunning vividly saturated colours painting the landscapes. 

Wow that’s a big ship…

After having our photos taken and registering for our on board payment cards, it was time to board. Again i’d only ever been in small speed boats when i was little, so this was another huge 1st for me!  

A colour photo of the Thomson Dream cruise ship standing from the dock and looking up

⇧ The Thomson Dream Cruise Ship ⇧ 

 As this was meant to be our ‘once in a lifetime cruise’ (that didn’t last long, lol), it will be my 40th birthday tomorrow(15th April), and we needed a fridge in the room for Sarah’s insulin, we booked a suite which we eventually located on Deck 7. 

A Towel Elephant using the towels from our suite

⇧ A folded towel Elephant ⇧ 

 We were welcomed by a fantastic folded towel elephant, and a bottle of Champagne chillin in an ice bucket, fantastic…I didn’t know this was ‘James Bonds’ suite, lol! 🤣 

a photo of the lounge area in the suite

Suite bedroom with excellently folded bed covers

We were introduced to the kind and helpful cabin crew who said that we had beaten our suitcases to the ship, so we immediately went for a little exploring.

Well i said exploring…we found the fantastic, air conditioned and peaceful “Coffee Port” on Deck 8, a quiet oasis with stunning views overlooking the Jamaican coastline. Oh and it has sofa’s too! 

Sarah relaxing in the Coffee Port on deck 8 with a lovely view of Montego Bay, Jamaica through the windows

⇧ Sarah relaxing in the coffee Port with views of Montego Bay ⇧

 After beautiful and strong coffees we waited for the emergency drill at 6pm up on Deck 9. 

Me in life jacket on the left of the photo, with a lot of other people on deck 9 stood around with life jackets

⇧ Me on left wearing a life jacket ⇧

 Once out on the boiling hot deck we were guided to our posts and shown how to put on our life jackets. It took me longer to squeeze my head through the tiny hole of the jacket than it took for the whole drill! 🤣 

It was really hot and humid out there, and after hearing a bit of a shuffling panic, a person had passed out near us and was stretchered away, I heard the person was fine shortly after and it was due to heat etc. 

 Returning to the cabin, our suitcases had arrived, so we spent the remainder of the extra long day (as Jamaica is 5 hours behind the UK) unpacking. Sarah was pleased to find a huge walk-in wardrobe and promptly started filling it. 🤣 

I’d hoped to get more photos of the day, but as we were always on the move, being hustled to and from transport, i had to concentrate on walking instead of taking photos. ☹️

Tomorrow will be my 40th and a full day at sea as we head towards La Romana, Dominican Republic. We have booked an excurtion around Altos de Chavón(mediterranean style European village) and a paddle boat ride along the Chavón River where they filmed scenes from Rambo pt 1 & 2, and Jurassic Park.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued…

Hope to see you at sea on my 40th! 😀 

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☀️#11 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Farewell Firenze”🇮🇹

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 11 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Tuscany logo Italy

Well this is it…Our time in Florence and Tuscany has come to an end! 😢 

Up bright and early, packed and ready to go, we said our final goodbyes to the room, the staff and this incredible place.  After having no idea where the bus stop would be…We had a coffee (not sure why we can always find a coffee shop?! lol.) as things are always better when you have a coffee! ☕ 😀  Then we found the right bus to Pisa (phew) and got our favourite seats right at the front, Yes! 😀  

Bus ride to Pisa

Arriving at Pisa airport, Francesca (our assistance person) was great. She sorted everything out, then kindly took this photo of Sarah & i in front of the plane as we were first on-board again! The Thompson airport assistance are simply fantastic. We couldn’t navigate through the airport at all if it wasn’t for the kind and helpful assistants. 😀 

Sarah and i at Pisa airport

The takeoff was stupendous! I love the acceleration, and i was just as excited throughout the whole journey! The Captain said “We are at 28,000ft, doing 480mph and its -52degrees outside” Wow! 😲  Sorry, couldn’t resist the stats…I love them! 😀 

Sun from the airplane

I think God just smiled at me! 😀 

Sarah & i can’t thank you enough for joining us as we travel back through our memories. It’s been fantastic for us as we sit down(with a coffee) and read back through our incredible trips…And to know you are with us(and enjoying) on our journey warms our hearts! 😀

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another “Blind Sightseers” adventure! 😀 

But…

Don’t be too sad as this tour of Tuscany was just the beginning!! The fun doesn’t stop here. So grab your coffee(or tea) as the next stop is the Caribbean!! 🌴☀️😎 

To be continued…

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☀️#10 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Firenze”🇮🇹

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 10 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Sarah & i started our final full day with the legendary amazingly thick cheese…I mean breakfast, then headed out to make the most of our last full day in this beautiful city.

Our plan today was to head East, then travel anti-clockwise until we reached our favourite place (South, by the river Arno) to try and take photos of things we may have missed so far, or from angles different from the norm. Right let’s Go!

East…

Church Tower

Wow, another bell tower, how did i miss this?! 

a black and white photo of a church

Building wit hroof statues

Pinocchio Workshop

Santa Croce black

North…

Heading North of our hotel, we stopped once again to gaze upon the stunning architecture of the Florence Cathedral and the Palazzo Medici Ricardi…

Christmas Cathedral

Florence Cathedral Bell Tower

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches

West…

As we were heading west, i found another statue, but thought i’d take it from a random angle! 🙂

Statue in North Florence

Florence side street building

Sarah found a shop with sunflowers (her favourite flowers)…

Sunflower shop

Firenze archway

South…

Gold anyone!! 😀 

Florentine Gold

Corridor Windows

Sarah by the river
 
After spending a while around the river, we headed to probably the most famous and popular square (Piazza della Signoria) to capture some more statues! 🙂
 
Me taking photo with iPhone
 
I wasn’t one of the statues, lol. But i was being very still! 
 
Sarah  the Medici Lion

Sarah  the Medici Lion 2

Firenze Statue 1

Firenze Statue 2
 
Jesus
 
Now for probably the most famous statue of all…Michelangelo’s David. Everyone was crowding round and getting the obvious and boring shot of David. So i decided to get a different angle! 🙂
  
Davidov
 
Both Sarah and i had our own favourite statues. I’ll start with Sarah’s.
 
Sarah’s favourite is “Perseus with the Head of Medusa”.
 
Medusa s Head
 
My favourite is of Cosimo Medici on his horse…
 
Medici horse rider  Sky fx
 
Do you have a favourite statue??
 
For the final evening we had booked one of only 7 tables at the amazing “Santa Elisabetta” restaurant in the old 6th century tower at our hotel. 

Sarah at Santa Elisabetta

I didn’t take anymore photos as i was too excited, and blinded by the real silver plates whilst picking up the silver knives and forks to see how heavy they were?!…So i simply forgot! 😀 
The experience was sublime. Everything was fantastic and we still talk about this meal all of the time.  
 
We then had a final walk out to see the Florence Cathedral at night, it really stood out against the dark night. 

Florence Cathedral at night

Florence Cathedral by night 2
 
Hope you’ve enjoyed being on our little tour today around Florence?!
 
We have been so blessed this week, not only to be here in this stunning city that’s so rich in history. But being part of an exhibition in the Medici palace still leaves me speechless….Well if always going on about it is speechless!! 🤣 
 
Who’d of thought that after being registered blind 20 years ago, i’d have been here in a photography exhibition?!! Thank you Lord for always surprising me, and giving me a gift i just can’t explain! 🙏 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued…

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☀️#9 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Firenze”🇮🇹

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 9 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Oh did i mention…. i’m actually in Italy,Yay!! 

Map of Europe with a blue dot on Italy

Well i’m not actually in Italy as i write this, i’m at home on my iMac! But Sarah kept on catching me opening the maps app and taking a screenshot of our location!

Today we thought we’d head south towards the river, then curl round and end up North of the hotel at the Palazzo Medici Riccardi to see if last night really was a dream.

The Vasari Corridor….

Sarah owning the Vasari Corridor

Sarah & i really liked the “Vasari Corridor”, but now Sarah won’t let me through as i’m a commoner, lol. Eventually i managed to negotiate a deal, but it meant looking round more shops! 🙂

Sarah s Gold

Sarah looking fluent in Florin! (Italian gold coin)  

Sarah at Tiffany s

Sarah at Tiffany’s! 😲

Sarah by the River Arno

After a while we decided to rest a little and get refreshed ready for more exciting touring. Mmmmmm coffee and cake! ☕ 🍰 

Cappuccino   Cake

Wow, now that was fantastic! Anyway better get back to it! 🙂 

It wasn’t long before Sarah found another friend, in the form of a statue. 

Sarah and the boar

As we walked past the amazing Florence Cathedral, Sarah noticed and got excited that there was now a Christmas tree and a life size nativity scene. 🎄  

Me waving at duomo

The Nativity

After being wowed, we took lots of photos to try and get one good enough to possibly make Christmas cards for loved ones.😀 

Now on to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi…

stood in the centre of the road with the palazzo medici riccardi on the left and a bus with its streaming light reflecting in the wet road

We arrived at the palace (left in photo above) and found the exhibition, yay i didn’t dream it! 😀 

As the majority of the artwork displayed was created by blind & partially sighted people, it was really tactile so we got to touch the creations. I’m so used to going to museums etc and not being able to see or touch the art. Thanks artists! 

Me viewing the art

Couple of people touching the art  Me touching the Tactile exhibits

As i mentioned yesterday i was 1 of 3 artists (still not used to being called that) from the UK who exhibited, so i’d like to introduce to you…Ann and her paintings…

Ann and her paintings

And Christina’s photos…

Christina s Works

After a long walk around looking and touching the art, we went out of the back exit where i found an archway, and a huge ring that we kept finding on the outside of buildings, i think to chain the horses…Or the peasants. 😕

Palazzo Medici Riccardi Rear

Horse Ring

We’d had another fantastic day in Florence, and if you remembered, i’d topped the evening off with an amazing cherry topped cake…Well this evening it got better still…..

Bistecca alla fiorentina…..😲🥩

Bistecca alla fiorentina

Just when you thought the evening couldn’t get any better…Sarah & i shared the amazing Florentine steak! We had been told by Grace from our favourite restaurant in the world (Sicily Restaurant) that we couldn’t leave without trying one. Wow, she was right. It was truly magnificent and everything we’d hoped for, although i think Sarah got arm ache from sawing the never ending extra thick meat!! 🙂

We’ve had such a memorable and unbelievable time in Italy, and as this was Thursday, we still had a full day Friday, before we headed home on Saturday. 😀

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued…

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☀️ #8 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “The Exhibition, Firenze”🇮🇹

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 8 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….! 

Well this is it, the actual reason we came, lol! I know i mentioned i only had my iPhone 5s & Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus to take photos, the main reason (apart from weight, lenses & tiny viewfinders) was the GPS map pins, i love them! 😀 

A satalite map of florence with red map pins scattered around showing where i'd taken photos

It was now Wednesday and it was time for the sun to make way for the rain. The hotel room even had it’s own umbrella with “Brunelleschi” as the logo, i like this hotel! The exhibition didn’t start until 4pm, so we decided to explore (now we knew where we were going after our fantastic walking tour for a couple of hours with our new umbrella! 😀 

Me with umbrella in narrow streets

It turned out that the streets were much quieter which is great for us, so we could relax a little more too after a couple of hectic days. OOoooo another coffee shop! ☕  

Me and Coffee

 The Exhibition…..

We left the hotel with posh clothes on and fancy umbrella in hand and headed to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi hoping there actually was an exhibition even though we had still seen no signs at all, not even a hint that there’d be one. 😕

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Then…We turned into the main entrance…..

Sarah said “Wow, now this is a lot of people, the posters are up all around us and look great, and it’s in the beautiful, main part of the palace”. I started to feel a little out of my depth all of a sudden…As my nerves crashed over me like “The Great Wave Of Kanagawa” by Hokusai. 

Art Senses Entrance with the posters in the background behind people gathering

Crowds gathering with me in the background Art Senses Entrance 2

Sarah then found Ann, who has also travelled from England, UK (thats ⅔ of the UK representatives, lol) so i had a chat with her as i’d never met her before, she’s an enormously talented artist and has a few paintings in the exhibition. 

Me  Ann at Art Senses

We hadn’t noticed, but the crowd had started making their way to the large area in the centre where the president of the blind union was talking (in Italian) through a PA system. By the time we had arrived we were at the back wondering what was going on, and none of us were able to see anything (even the sighted ones) as we were just too far away. 

Then…..

Costanza, who organised the whole thing (with her husband) cut through the crowd, took my had and led me right to the front next to the president and a few of the other artists.

Me  Costanza at Art Senses

Then after about 5 minutes, she put the microphone into my hand and said “Speak one word”. 

Me on the mic at Art Senses

The place went silent, i could feel there were lots of people around, i had no idea if any of them spoke english. So i  said “ciao a tutti (Hello everyone), i’m Steve Rebus from London”. It seemed to go across well, but i was so terrified i didn’t have a clue what to say next. Constanza gently took the mic and passed it along, aaaghhh i could now relax a little. 😀 

After a few more people spoke we were given a glass of Prosecco and Costanza took me to see what they’d done with my photos. I had only sent the prints and they had mounted, framed and hung them beautifully, i can’t thank them enough, they looked great and very professional!

Me  Costanza with my Photos at Art Senses

It wasn’t long before people started crowding round as they viewed each of our works. 

Crowd around my Photos at Art Senses

Everyone kept telling me how fantastic the photos were and that i was a “Provider of  inspiration” (now that’s a title, lol. , all i could say is thanks. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole evening. I never knew it was going to be this big, professionally done and not held in a dark attic somewhere! I’m not good at playing the artist game and kept thinking that i better start taking some better photos, lol. 😀 

After a couple of hours walking round the exhibition, i was amazed at the level of talent. I enjoyed the paintings (a lot were tactile too), sculptures and other photography, simply brilliant!

I’ll post more photos tomorrow when we returned to see if we were just dreaming! 😲

Me and the poster at Art Senses

Sarah got me to stand next to one of the Art Senses posters while holding the amazingly professional catalogue/book of all the works and artists bio etc. Costanza really worked hard to put everything together, and i thank God that she found Sarah to ask for blind artists from the UK.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the exhibition today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued…

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☀️ #7 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Firenze”🇮🇹

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 7 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

During another sublime breakfast, Sarah & i wondered if there was a walking tour around Firenze?! We now have a love of walking tours after our hugely successful one yesterday (we had no idea what we’d started here, lol). It’s much easier for us to just follow a group instead of getting lost and wondering around aimlessly, and it’s a great way to learn the history and culture of the area.

They did do a tour and it started just after lunch. We booked on it and then decided to go for a walk to see if we could find the starting point by ourselves. It was in an area we hadn’t covered yet so we knew it was going to be a challenge…..We failed, but we found a lovely cafe! We sat outside with the sun blazing down, it was fantastic! 🙂

The image below shows me staring at the sun. Since being registered blind and having no central vision at all, i can now stare at the sun without squinting or blinking. Didn’t know it made me look this weird though, lol. 🙂

Me sat drinking coffee outside staring at the sun

We then spent a couple of hours enjoying finding new and wonderful shops, before heading back to the hotel. The reception had arranged for someone to walk us to the walking tour meeting point, fantastic! 🙂

Firenze Walking Tour…

The group met up in a different square than the one we found earlier, and gave us another one of those radio thingy’s, Yay! As the guide was talking about the square, i captured some shots!

Beautiful blue sky behind an impressive church wide impressive building with staues across the roof

One of the roof statues

Moving from the square and through some little side streets, we stopped at the “Basilica of Santa Croce” founded by Saint Francis. Sarah said “Wow, it looks like someone has iced it like a cake! It doesn’t look real”. 

Dark skies hover over the amazing Santa Croce black

Walking through the streets we were told of a local artist who’s adding figures to road signs. 

A figure looking like he's carrying the horizontal block of a no entry sign

 Continuing with more fantastic Medici family history we found ourselves in a familiar square (Piazza della Signoria).

Palazzo Vecchio

Bronze statue of Cosimo Medici

As we didn’t have lots of time to walk around and take photos, Sarah & i revisited on Day 7 to get some more interesting shots. Now it’s onwards to the river. 😀 

The River arches

When we accidentally found the river Arno during the Firenze marathon, Sarah had said that the river looks dirty, like brown sludge. But today with the sun shining bright, it glowed gold like nothing i’d seen before! 🙂

The River Arno Me  Sarah at the river Arno

Me  Sarah at Firenze river Bridge over river Arno

We continued our tour by walking through the “Piazza della Repubblica” ahh, the place with the sparkling building.

Firenze archway

Then finishing our tour at the Florence Cathedral (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore)Yay another amazing bell tower! 🙂

Florence Cathedral Bell Twoer

 I’ve heard of “Knocking’ on Heaven’s door” but now i was stood at “The Gates of Paradise”.

Me stood in front of the gates of Paradise

 Sarah then said “Go and stand in front of the doors of the Cathedral, we need more photos with you in them so people will know you were here”. I really don’t like this side of the lens, but this is for you guys! 😀 

Wow! Were these doors made for the Nephilim?!! 🤣 

Me in front of the Florence Cathedral

Florence Cathedral 1

After this amazing tour, we felt that we could now spend a few days exploring with a little more confidence, starting with a trip to our fave coffee (and cake) place which is right next to our hotel. The cherry on top of the cake below really sums up our day. It’s been another unbelievable day that always leaves me saying “How am i here? This is like a dream! I still can’t believe i’m here?!” 😲

Cake 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today…Let me know your favourite part?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued…

You’ll be very pleased to know that my next post is the opening day of the exhibition! 

I’m so blessed that you’ve stuck with me on this incredible journey. God bless you. 😀 

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☀️ #6 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “San Gimignano”🇮🇹

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 6 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

The dark cloak of night ensconced us, light had finally escaped the dungeon of darkness but had disappeared..…Sorry, just trying to set the mood for the final destination on our amazing Tuscany in a day tour.

Chiara had been telling us of the year 1348 when the black death had wiped out over ⅔ of the walled medieval town of San Gimignano, the majority of the people who survived the terror had left. Continuing on this theme, and the fact that it was totally dark outside (due to this time of year) set the scene for the omnifarious emotions we were about to experience! 😨

Welcome to San Gimignano…

San Gimignano

After leaving the coach and a short walk uphill, the group arrived at the main entrance of the walled town. We then had about 45 minutes free time to explore, then meet back here. Afterr the group dispersed, Sarah & i entered this foreboding place … 

No amount of photos could ever get across the feeling of this dark macabre town! The black windows towering over you from each side with their eyeless glare, the silence and the shadows creeping and following you everywhere, generated a smothering atmosphere that had flavours of Fear, Death, Sorrow for the people of old, Awe and a weird taste of Joy and amazement. You really can only experience San Gimignano by physically being here! I really don’t think it’d feel like this in the daytime. 

San Gimignano 4

San Gimignano 1

San Gimignano 5

San Gimignano 2

As Sarah was checking out the few little shops on the main walkway, i’d stay outside and just stand, soaking up the atmosphere that my words can’t describe. Sarah says “They only sell pottery or Knives”.

San Gimignano Shop

San Gimignano 3

As i was stood (see above) it was completely silent. Then all of a sudden i heard heavy footsteps from behind sounding like they were headed straight for me. The hairs on my arms and neck stuck bolt upright, and i expected to see a blade sticking out of the front of my chest as an assassin wearing a monks tunic (from the video game (assassins creed) shot out of the shadows sending me to paradise.

As i turned though it was just a person leaving the church behind me, although i’m still not sure how they managed the booming footstep thing. My imagination really doesn’t help my heart at times like these! 😌

San Gimignano 7

We just had time for a super fast coffee before we met back up with the group having felt we’d been to probably the most special place of the trip. We were so grateful we hadn’t decided to stay in the coach as it was just too dark to risk having accidents, and we hadn’t bought our ultra bright torches yet! 😀 

Wow what a super yet action packed day…It was really hard to keep our eyes open on the coach and listen to the end of the tour…But we didn’t want to miss anything from this very special time. 😀 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today on the “Tuscany in a day tour”, let me know your fave part of the day?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued… 

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☀️ #5 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Sienna”🇮🇹

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 5 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Photo while sat on the coach taken looking through the windscreen overlooking the mountains with Siena written on the road

While approaching Sienna, we were given a fantastic little radio thingy that you put around your neck. It has a single earphone so you can still hear the tour guide within a large radius,or if it gets noisy. We then met the new Siena tour guide who would guide the group and share interesting stories and history of this stunning place.

Welcome to Siena…

Me stood in front of the Siena Christmas Tree

We were very happy when we’d left the coach to meet in a little square around a huge Christmas tree (see above). I am now only wearing a thin shirt as it is like a summers day and it’s December…This just felt wrong as i come from England, UK, lol!!🎄 😀 

Siena Building

close up of windows on a Siena Building 2

Siena Arches

Walking through the narrow streets and hearing more about how the Medici family slaughtered and captured Siena, we arrived at the famous medieval square (Piazza del Campo). Yay another tower! 😀  

Siena Campo

Campo Tower

Siena campo windows

After a walk around the banked curves of the square (feeling like an Indy 500 car), the group then left the square and headed towards (what has now become my favourite bell tower of all time) Siena Cathedral!

Siena Cathedral…

Walking under a narrow archway, the group made a collective sound, it went something like (wooaaahhhhooww), Sarah said “Wow! A humbug tower!” I said understatedly “Oh right” as i could only look at the ground to try and navigate, and i can’t see the tower or any of it’s detail anyway. But when i got back, and was able to zoom into my photos to see what i was pointing my camera at…..”Wow, Wow Wow”. 😲

Siena Cathedrals humbug tower

Siena Cathedral Bell Tower

Siena Cathedral

a view of the stunning Siena Cathedral 3

 Sarah was very happy when we went inside and found more humbugs! 🙂

Inside Siena Cathedral 2

Inside Siena Cathedral

 The group then sat down to hear the final part of the tour guides history. Just after i said to Sarah “Wow, isn’t it amazing to think that all of this unbelievable place was done for Jesus?! It all points to Him!”. The tour guide said “And this was all done for Mary!”. I was not amused at all! 

We then had some free time and was told to meet back at the medieval square, now which way was that?? 

Siena Campo 5

We did eventually find it, and we met back up with the group. to then return back to the coach, but on the way we passed the Christmas tree where we had first started and it looked beautiful! It finished Siena off nicely! 🎄 😀 

Siena Christmas Tree at night

After quite a scare of nearly getting lost and left behind as the group disappeared into the darkness, Sarah and i boarded what we hoped was our coach (it was).  Now it’s off towards our final destination of the day!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today on the “Tuscany in a day tour”, let me know your fave part of the day?! we’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued… 

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☀️ #4 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Vinci & Chianti” 🇮🇹 (2014)

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Hi friends and welcome to Day 4 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….! 

As we left the amazing Pisa, Chiara (our tour guide) gave us some more interesting yet gruesome Tuscany history about the Medici family slaughtering everyone again and taking over more villages and cities. She also mentioned a man called Leonardo Da Vinci, “no way” i said to Sarah “I thought he was a ninja turtle, not a real man!” She gave me a swift elbow in the ribs, and Chiara continued. 🤣 

Welcome to Vinci…

The image below is of the landscape that greeted us from the coach.  

Sarah looking over the Vinci Hills

After taking in the amazing scenery, we headed off on foot to the Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci.

A view overlooking the town of Vinci with a bell tower on the left

A beautiful bell tower with purple blue sunrise over vince

A close up black and white of the Vinci Bell Tower

I really like bell towers!! 🙂

Sarah & i found that inside the museum was much too dark, so we struggled to see any of the fantastic creations on display. So Sarah started using her iPhone 6 Plus with it’s wide aperture of f2.2 to view each design as it showed much brighter on her screen, rather than the dark blob in front of her (she’s a genius).

We did find a cool bike though!!

Vinci Bike

Now it was back outside to have a wonder around and see what we can find. It wasn’t long before we found a familiar object! 

Vitruvian Man

Sarah wasn’t happy with the “Vitruvian Man” and thought Leonardo had missed something out. So we added something extra……The Vitruvian Man & Woman! 🤣 

Sarah stood in front of the Vitruvian Man  doing the same pose

Now for Chianti…

After another trip on the coach through amazing rolling hills, olive grows and vinyards, the coach parked right up at the top in Chianti where we were to do a little wine & local Tuscan food tasting.

I didn’t have time to take any photos as we were dragged (i mean guided) straight to our table and greeted with a lovely plate of local baked bread, olive oil, cheese and spicy meat.

The lady first pour a little Chianti Simple (table wine) into the huge glass and as she was going into great detail of how to hold the glass etc, i continued on the food (i couldn’t see anything she was doing, so her over complicated directions were wasted on me, lol). As i don’t really drink alcohol except a very full bodied glass of red wine on special occasions (normally 1 bottle a year and that’s usually Châteauneuf-du-Pape i receive as a Christmas gift). My thought is that if i’m only going to have one glass on rare occasions, then i would like one that i enjoy! 😀 

I really know nothing about wines, only that some are red and some are white, and some are watery and some are thick (like coffee or custard, lol) and i only like the thick ones, which now i know are called full bodied! 🤣 

Then she poured a little of the Chianti Classico (full bodied), yay now that’s the business! 😀 

But probably my favourite taste of the day was the 30 year old Balsamic Vinegar we got to taste! Wow, now that’s amazing, but super expensive so didn’t get any to bring home! ☹️

As we finished there was a mad rush to the little shop area. I stayed at the table as Sarah went to have a look and take a few photos for us!

Chianti Bottles on a shelf

Chianti barrells

look inside the Chianti shop

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today on the “Tuscany in a day tour”, let me know your fave part of the day?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued… 

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☀️ #3 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Pisa” 🇮🇹 (2014)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 3 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

I forgot to mention in my older 2 posts in this Tuscany Tour section, that i didn’t take any of my DSLR’s with me to Italy (you’ve probably already noticed, lol). All of the photos taken were using my iPhone 5s or Sarah’s iPhone 6 Plus. 

I’d like to split Day 3 into 4 separate posts, as i don’t want them to get too long, and i really don’t want to bore you to death! 🤣 

Christmas Tree in the lobby of the Hotel Brunelleschi

Sarah & i were up bright and early, excited yet anxious for today’s big adventure. As we were in the reception area admiring the beautiful Christmas tree (see image above), the entrance doors opened as our taxi driver entered and escorted us to his taxi. It was still very dark (especially down the narrow side street) and already raining, and when i noticed the black minivan with blacked out windows (which only appear on episodes of 24) and the voice of the driver say “GET IN”, i had a funny feeling that this could be anyone and we were in some kind of movie (this didn’t do my slight blindman anxiety any good at all, lol). 

The driver was very friendly and nothing like the man i was imagining, he dropped us off at the exact collection point for the ‘My Tour’ coach stop where we were met by Chiara, the tour guide. She already knew we were blind & partially sighted and said it would be easier for us if we sat on the front 2 seats of the coach. “Yes!” i said as they’re our fave seats too, good start! 😀 

It took about an hour until we arrived at Pisa, Chiara was telling us lots of interesting facts and history of the Tuscany regions we were passing through, this (and my excitement) made the journey seem really quick. The coach parked right near the Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) and after a short walk in the group Chiara said “Now you have one hour free time, then meet back here”. This was just perfect for Sarah & i as we now have a point of reference to go from and to return.

Welcome to Pisa!

First for my tourist pose! 😀 

Me stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

And now it’s Sarah’s turn! 😀 

Sarah stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

Everyone was rushing straight for the tower, so we hung back and got a few photos of the incredible Baptistry and the Cathedral.

Pisa Baptistry

Pisa Baptistry 2

The Cathedral  the tower

Lookin up at the Pisa Cathedral

Me looking at the tower

Sarah sneakily snapped me tower gazing and trying to soak up the atmosphere, and the fact that i was actually in Pisa, looking at probably the most famous bell tower in the world! 🙂

Pisa Tower

A zoomed in photo of the top 3 layers of the tower

There was only one small cafe opposite the tower, so Sarah & i went to check it out. We ordered 2 Cappachino’s and to my delight, a slice of pizza. I know you might laugh, but i just had to try the Pizza at Pisa! 🍕☕ 

Tower from the cafe

The image above is the view from the open windows at our table, it was just amazing being sat with the leaning tower of Pisa as the backdrop. It felt like being in a movie or trapped in a postcard…So surreal! 😲  

A panaramic shot of the baptistry, Cathedral & the tower in one shot

After Sarah had blessed us with one of her legendary amazing panoramic photos (many more to come), we just had time to buy a leaning tower of Pisa espresso cup…Yes it really does lean over, so not the best espresso cup…But a lovely memory! 😀 

Espresso tower Pisa

We then met up with the group and headed back to the coach. This visit already made my day and i’d of been happy if that was the end, but this was only the beginning!!

Oh by the way…..The pizza was fantastic!! 💪🏼 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the first stop of this “Tuscany in a day tour”, let me know your fave part of the day?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! So please remain in your “ tranquility Lounger” and see what’s coming on day 4! 😀 

To be continued…

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☀️ #2 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Florence, Italy”🇮🇹 (2014)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 2 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

As Sarah & i were about to leave the room to try our first breakfast, we suddenly heard a not so faint sound of bells. We quickly rushed to the window and opened the inner windows and the outer shutters, and the sound was immense! I wanted to record the sound but the video below doesn’t do it justice.

The Breakfast…

The breakfast, i can only describe as an amazing taste sensation. The chef must have only had one knife though, as everything was sliced about an inch thick! What seemed like a block of cheese to us, was a slice to them. lol, but i didn’t want to seem rude and waste any! 🤣 

The search for the Palace…

After filling up with breakfast, we started out on our primary objective for the day…to find the Palazzo Medici Riccardi where my photos will be exhibited in a few days time. 

Once out on the main street, i stood facing north (towards the Cathedral) and opened the Blindsquare app on my iPhone. I’d saved 2 locations to the favourites – the hotel and the palace, so they would be read out instantly and hopefully tell me (if the cellular network is good) where the locations are using a clock face description. It said “Palazzo Medici Riccardi is at 11’o clock at 350 yards”. Right let’s go! After passing the Florence Cathedral it was just a straight road until the Palace was on our left. Now to find the entrance which was another mammoth task for us …

A black and white photo of the amazing brick work of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

We started walking around the outside of the whole building finding everything including a cash machine (very useful), clothes store & even a McDonalds (the poshest one we’ve ever seen). Finally we found it but we couldn’t see any sign of the Art Senses posters anywhere. We went inside anyway to have a look around where we’d maybe stumble across a tiny room being set up for the exhibition.

Inside the Palace…😲

Black and white photo taken from the inner courtyard looking up to the roof of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches 2

Black and white close up of the arches in the inner courtyard

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 3

As we were walking around, we both kept saying “I think we’re in the wrong building, there is no way the exhibition will be in here somewhere. But this place is amazing so we’ll keep looking”.

A photo of me looking upwards towards some amazingly designed door frames!

⇧ We totally need to get door frames like these!! 🤣  ⇧ 

Then a few minutes later i found a ceiling design for our home too!! lol.

an increible fresco ciellin g

As we entered the next couple of rooms, Sarah was oooing quite a lot, and now as i’m looking back over the photos to see what i was actually looking at, i should’ve known there were shoes! 😲

Sarah shoes gallery

After being amazed for a while longer, we decided to double check outside to see if this really was the Palazzo Medici Riccardi….It was!! 💪🏼  

I said “There is no way my photos are being exhibited in there, just no way”. 

Then as we turned to find our way back to the hotel, we suddenly realised there was a marathon going on!!

Yes a marathon, actually the 31st annual “Florence Marathon (Maratona di Firenze)”. Now the streets were not only packed, but worse still for us, blocked off so we couldn’t get back the way we came.

Photo of theFirenze Marathon

After a few hours of getting lost, trying different coffee shops and of course the clothes and shoe shops, we found ourselves by the river. Sarah said “oh, this is the river!!” I said “But isn’t the river south, way past the hotel in the other direction?”😕

Firenze River

We both realised we had no idea which way to go and we were both really tired from dodging people and with all of the noise, so we just decided to pick a street and walk up it. Then to our complete surprise as we were getting really fed up, Sarah said “That’s the sign to our hotel”, “No way, i had no idea we were here, now let’s get a takeaway coffee from our new local and rest for a while”.

A blue light shaped as a bell hanging over the street

After an eventful and tiring day, we decided to try heading east but only down one street as it’s dark now and we really don’t want to get lost again. The hanging street lights were beautiful and we found lots of clothes shops and a nice little sandwich/coffee bar to relax in for a while. 

As we returned to the hotel we booked a “Tuscany in a day” tour for the morning. We knew it was a lot in one day but it will be ideal for us. Now we were getting even more excited. I could be stood next to the leaning tower of Pisa!! No way!! 

Hope you’ve enjoyed the adventure today on the “Tuscany in a day tour”, let me know your fave part of the day?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued…

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☀️ #1 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “Tuscany Tour” 🇮🇹 (2014)

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 1 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Here goes…As Sarah & i probably won’t be going on holiday this year…I’ll be sharing a post everyday (nearly 80 days of travels) so you can join us on our  monumental adventure. This new endeavour is going to bring back some amazing memories for me and Sarah, and i hope it brings lots of smiles, laughter and interest during your 2021 new year lockdown, as we look back on the places we have been so blessed to visit. 

Tuscany logo Italy

Wow, the time has come…I’m (and my lovely wife Sarah) are off to Florence, Italy to visit the exhibition where some of my photos will be exhibited! The exhibition is being held at The Prestigious PALAZZO MEDICI RICCARDI, Florence, Italy. I still can’t believe this! It is my first time abroad and i’m really excited!! 😀 

First i’d like to give a big thanks to our brother Ben who kindly managed to wake up at 4:15am and drive us to the airport, guide us into the airport, check in our case and take us to the assistance desk, thanks Ben, we’d still be wondering round the airport now! if it wasn’t for you! 🙂

A screenshot of my iphone showing the Voiceover cursor surrounding the enabled airplane mode button on the control centre.

 The airport assistance was fantastic and couldn’t of made it any easier for us. We even got to ride on the buggy that takes us all the way to the gate! I was the first to board the plane and i couldn’t wait to finally enable “Airplane Mode” on my iPhone whilst sat on the plane! This may seem like a small thing, but remember this is my first time out of the country! 🙂
 
A photo looking out of the window onf the plane overlooking the wing and engine, with a beautiful coloured sunrise panarama!
 
I think my wide eyes and silly grin throughout the whole plane journey was getting tiresome for Sarah (she has been on planes lots of times). But it was fantastic! The best part is when the pilot “Gives it the beans” and accelerates down the runway when taking off, i’ve felt acceleration simular to this in different cars that i’ve driven(before i went blind lol), but when you think just how big and heavy this plane is, it’s just amazing! 😲
 
Once we landed at Pisa airport, the assistance were already there and waiting to escort us from the plane. They also sorted out our passports and picked up our suitcase. Now it was time to get our first Italian coffee while we wait for the bus to Florence. ☕  
 
A photo of the beautiful hills taken from our seat on the bus from pisa to florence. Also Siena is written on the road.
 
Sarah described the beautiful panoramic landscapes from the bus (i couldn’t see them until i got back home to zoom in on my large screen) as it took about an hour to get to Firenze. We then got a taxi to our hotel, as i read on trip advisor that although it’s only about half a mile, it’s tucked away in a small courtyard, and as you know…We can get lost within a 10 foot radius, lol! 🤣 
 
A sepia effect of hotel Brunelleschi at night with the old tower glowing out in the dark
 
Wow, the hotel was fantastic, and the staff were unbelievably helpful.  Once we were settled in to our amazing room, and logged onto their WiFi. We decided to venture out a little and try and figure out where we were in relation to the duomo and the palace where my photos were being exhibited. We knew we were close but as Sarah & i can’t see enough to read a map, we could easily get lost and never find anything! 😕
 
A black and white photo of the top of cathedral of Florence
 
Shortly after leaving the hotel and finding the main street, we heard the thunderous sound of the bells from the north (i think) coming from the Cathedral of Florence (Il Duomo di Firenze), The bells would make our navigation much easier for the rest of our holiday as the Cathedral was only about 300 yards away from our hotel, thank you bells! 🙂 We then headed back to our starting point and headed west, where we found an ever better point of reference!! (see below
 
A whole building completley covered in sparkling blue lights
 
The twinkling lights on this department store were simply amazing to just stand and look at, but it was dark now and we didn’t want to get lost on our first day! All of the streets were decorated beautifully with illuminated stars, borbals & bells so after one more photo (see below), we headed back to the hotel. What an amazing, exciting and tiring first day. 🙂
 
A twinckling star street decoration in Florence
 
I hope you’ve enjoyed being with Sarah & i on my first trip abroad? Have you ever been to Florence? Let me know your fave part of the day?! 🤔 We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

To be continued… 

🇮🇹 Next Day ➡

Say What??? 😀

Please comment and let me know what you think Sarah is saying to Bruce The Boxer?

I thought this might bring a bit of fun to the COVID-19 Lockdown! 😀 

Sarah Tells Bruce a Joke

iReminisce: Sarah & The Dolphin

As iReminisce…Facebook Memories says it’s been 4 years(wow, where did that time go?) since Sarah met her amazing new friend….I have copied the post below from a day on our first cruise as it gives a lovely story of the day. Hope you enjoy as you join us on our loving and warm memories. 😎 

Road town logo

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Absorbing  The Landscapes…

As we were at anchor during our visit to Road Town, with local ship’s tender boats transferring us to, and from the shore. We had a little time to take some photos before we left the ship. It was so calm and peaceful as we stood in front of this beautiful landscape.

A view of the front tip of the boat in front of a beautiful landscape

Me on the left taking a photo of the coastline, whilst a boat enters the image from the right. Also the image has a overkill blue filter

⇧ Sorry…i couldn’t resist the overkill blue filter effect! 🙂 ⇧  

A beautiful image of the small islands of Road Town

⇧ The beautiful coastline of Road Town ⇧  

A boat leaving its stream from left to right with the coastline behind it

 ⇧ I listened patiently until the boat that i couldn’t see was hopefully on the right of my shot! 🙂 ⇧ 

Road Town hillside

⇧ The rolling green hills of Road Town ⇧  

After having a fun(bobbing up and down) tender boat ride, we were driven along the coastal road covered in vivid green trees which stroked the tops of brightly coloured bungalows.

The Dolphin Encounter…

We had now arrived at the Prospect Reef Resort where Sarah got into the water to splash around with dolphins that call this place home.

As Sarah’s eye had been closed to keep out infections, we thought it was best to choose the “Dolphin Encounter” instead of the fully immersed  “Swim with Dolphins”. We just couldn’t risk it! 

I booked the “Dolphin Observer” which didn’t turn out well. Sarah & i were separated and i had no way of knowing which pool she was entering, so i waited on the nearest seats i could find, quietly listening for her name to be called out. Then as i’d hear it, i’d whip out my camera and get some shots. I didn’t hear her name as i was sat at completely the wrong pool. 😦

But all is not lost…i bought the fantastic photos taken by their photographer. Yay! 🙂 

Sarah wearing swim suit and life jscket, stood in front of a large surf board promoting the dolphins

 ⇧ Sarah stood in front of the surf board logo sign ⇧ 

  Sarah had never done anything like this before, she was excited and apprehensive at the same time. But as soon as she got into the water and met her new friend, she was blown away! 🙂

Step 1: Meeting the dolphin… 

Sarah on the right touching the dolphins nose

Sarah now looking at the camera with a huge smile on her face, whist still touching the dolphins nose

 ⇧ Sarah’s first touch of the dolphin ⇧ 

Step 2: Dancing with the dolphin… 

Sarah said as she took hold of both flippers, the dolphin started a funky wiggle dance! 🙂 

Sarah stood on the right holding both flippers whilst having a dance with the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah dancing with her new friend ⇧  

Step 3: The Kiss… 

Sarah getting a kiss from the dolphin

 ⇧ Sarah receiving a kiss on the cheek from the dolphin ⇧ 

Dolphin totally out of the water half way through a jump

⇧ Dolphin showing its excitement after meeting Sarah! 🙂  ⇧  

Once Sarah was dried off and changed, and we collected the photo CD, it was time to catch the bus back and head for Road Towns pretty main street and market. 

We had one place in mind(if we could find it) “Sunny Caribbee”. Everybody was talking about this place and the incredible local spices, sauces, coffee, artwork…everything! 🙂 

We got off the bus and walked into town. We walked for a while longer, then we did(what we always did) when we got lost on our trip…listen for a broad northern accent! It was only seconds until we found some people from our ship who pointed us in the right direction! 🙂 

Sunny Caribbee…

Sunny Caribbee

⇧ Photo of the shop front of Sunny Caribbee ⇧   

Sunny Caribbee Hot Spices

⇧ Bottled sauces with fantastic hats! 🙂 ⇧

Once inside the shop we were amazed by the variety and beauty of the products, and how lovely and helpful the ladies were, We just wanted to take everything! Once we saw the sauce bottles with the hats, we just had to get them as presents! 🙂  

We were sad to leave Sunny Caribbee, but it was time to head off to the main street market as Sarah had seen some beautifully coloured dresses!

Sarah bought a lovely bright dress, but no photos yet. 😦  

After getting lost again in the town, we managed to find directions (yes another northern couple) back to the tender boats. It was another bobbing boat ride back to the ship.

We then took our usual seats in the Coffee Port, while drinking our favourite double espresso macchiato’s, we watched the islands disappear as the ship sailed away.

Our Route 4 2day…

This afternoon Thomson Dream sails to Philipsburg, St Maarten. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 92 nautical miles at an average speed of 8 knots.

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🇬🇩 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 4 St. George’s, Grenada

One of my first attempts at a Time-Lapse video…

The Marella Explorer

Yay, Safe On The Dock….

Island of Grenada from the sea

Once we found and boarded our coach ready for our excursion to the Nutmeg factory, then on to the Chocolate factory..We settled in and Sarah took a lovely photo of the bay of Grenada. We came to the Nutmeg factory last year as it’s Sarah’s fave place, as the incredible smell of nutmeg fills her with warm memories of her Nan Peters when she used it in her cooking.

View of the bay of Grenada

The Nutmeg Factory….

Inside Nutmeg factory

Inside nutmeg factory 2

Inside nutmeg factory 3

Inside nutmeg factory 4

After Sarah stocked up on Aloe Vera oils etc…She had missed getting some of this last year when we had a similar tour…Our Tui tour guide showed us how the Cocoa bean is grown and how they produce it ready for the chocolate.

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The Chocolate Factory…

Sorry but didn’t get any photos or videos of the factory. But the local Mango & Lemon punch was amazing and refreshing…But that was a shadow of the ginger & dark chocolate bar! I saved it until we were back in the UK but i now wished i’d bought about 10 of them instead of 1, i think we need to go back next year!! 😎  

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

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🇧🇶 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 3 Kralendijk, Bonaire

YAY…HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!!

Today was the birthday excursion for Sarah. It was a second choice as the first choice was sold out weeks before we’d even started our cruise. We were thinking about the 4×4 Land Rover trip we’d done in the Azores(see here) but couldn’t really get excited…As it was much hotter here and the thought of being crammed in the back of a Land Rover really wasn’t doing anything for us today. So what we thought was going to be an anticlimax…Turned out to be the best trip of the whole holiday! Oh and i’d just travelled in my best vehicle of all time! 😎 

The 1961 Yellow Unimog…

Awww friends….Let me introduce you to this Yellow, 1961 Unimog…..have you seen the tires, lol! It threw us around like crazy and i still can’t believe that he didn’t slow down for anything. There is no way a vehicle can hit rocks, huge pot holes, climb cracked hills and go around tight bends whilst travelling at break neck speed, it would have destroyed anything else and left them in a pile of spare parts, lol. I’m not sure they issued these with brake pedals! 😎

Sarah & i infront of the yellow 1961 Uniog

Arawak Off-road Safari… 

 First, we  climbed into the Subi Rincon hills, where the amazing yellow Unimog stopped at a set of time-worn Indian caves.

Cave in Bonaire
 
 Bertrand was our fantastic guide, and even better rally driver, lol. He said he had a PHD(pot hole dodger) although he didn’t dodge anything but drove straight over everything which made the ride so much fun…We were all hanging on for dear life!! 😎  

view overlooking the island of Bonaire

 The Bonaire Donkey’s… 

The Bonaire Donkeys

Panorama of the lakes and saltflats with the wind turbines in the centre on the horison

the beauty spot, Seru Largu. This cross-topped monument sits on a raised platform, setting Sarah up with panoramic views of the capital, Kralendijk.

Panorama of the island of Bonaire
  
Sarah & i overlooking the island of Bonaire
 
 Back at the ship…
 
After the incredible and mind bending ride in the Unimog, we quickly went onboard and had an iced coffee before heading out into the town to see what goodies we could find.
Yay, we managed to buy another bauble for our Christmas tree…Oh and i bought another bright and colourful shirt.
 
The Evening Meal…
 
We had a lovely Italian meal and the highlight for Sarah were the sugar free Profiteroles…Now that was a fantastic ending to an even greater day! Happy Birthday Sarah!!
Profiteroles

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

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🇨🇼 Tropical Delights Tour: Day 2, Willemstad, Curacao

 🇨🇼 Welcome to Willemstad, Curacao!!!

Me stood on the right of a panorama with the boat in the centre and the colourful buildings behind me.

Our ship in the dock looking down from the bridge with the surrounding town

 After we boarded the coach and met our tour guide, we drove past the island’s salt flats and on to the Hato Caves that are full of stalagmites and stalactites.

Unfortunately as we arrived, and after climbing about 50 steep and uneven steps to the mouth of the cave…It was way too dark for Sarah & i, so we had to carefully go back down the steps on a tactical withdrawal. On the plus side, we had a coffee in a lovely yellow local coffee shop. 😎  

bottles of Curacao hanging on a display wall

Next up, we headed over to the Chobolo Liqueur Factory, passing the Queen Juliana Bridge on the way. At the factory, we got to see how the island’s famous Blue Curacao Liqueur is made. The drink is distilled from the dried peel of bitter oranges, and you’ll get to taste it for yourself.

Sarah was excited to see where this drink was from and how it was made, as she and her friend Caroline used to like this drink back in the day.

Lastly, we headed back to the ship via downtown Willemstad and had a look around.

 The shop, houses and buildings here were Sarahs fave of all! Wow those colours! We really couldn’t decide on a few photos, so we posted them all. Hope you enjoy!

View of Curacao colourful Buildings 1

View of Curacao sock 1

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Me stood in front tof the colourful Curacao buildings wearing a Curacao orange shirt

 ⇧ Yay i managed to find a new orange shirt! ⇧  

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Back onboard the Marella Explorer… 

 On our return to our centre front cabin we found our first towel art. Sarah thought is was a rabbit sniper…Please let us know what you think it is in the comments below?! 😎 

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 ⇧ Sarah saying goodbye to the best buildings ever from our cabin ⇧ 

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 And finally we were blessed with a beautiful sunset from our cabin window, wow what a day!

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

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🇱🇨Tropical Delights Tour: Day 5 Castries, St. Lucia

🇱🇨The Incredible Pitons At Saint Lucia!

The Pitons of Saint Lucia from our Catamaran

Sarah & i booked a Catamaran cruise to the Pitons…What a stunning trip. Last year we had booked a trip through the multiple layers of the rain forest so we thought we would see Saint Lucia by sea this time….Wow, we were not disappointed. 

View of a posh resort in Saint Lucia from the Catamaran

Sarah & i onboard the Catamaran with Saint Lucia in the background

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

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🇧🇧 Celebrating Our Birthdays On Holiday! 🇧🇧

Sarah with arms in the air on the far left of the photo, running along an empty beach in Barbados

⇧ Whoopppooo….Freeddoooommmmm!  ⇧ 

Hi all!! The Blind Sightseers(Sarah & i) are just back from an amazing holiday for the last 2 weeks. We celebrated our birthdays whilst we were away too. 😎 

I hope you don’t mind?? But for  a week or so i’ll be posting some of the photos from our time away. We really were blown away with the beauty of God’s creation! 

Thanks for all of your patience & friendship….I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed capturing them. 😎 

🌴Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 🌴

 Join the “Blind Sightseers” on more adventures HERE

Blindman Tough Mudder 5K – The Big Day!

Yay…..We did it! 

With more than a week past….My knees are still scabbed and bruised…..But i’d like to give an Elephantine amount of thanks for everyone involved! 💪🏼 

A photo of the hard as nails team with our headbands on and our arms around each other

⇧From left: Adie, Vini, Me, Josie & Ashley ⇧ 

First, I’d like to give a stupendous amount of thanks to my lovely Wife Sarah….The amount of love and encouragement was/is mind-blowing!  And the “Hard As Nails” team…..”“my muscles were fading but the sense of team work was overwhelming and no matter what…..We were getting over those obstacles”.💪🏼 

Second, i’d like to give a monumental amount of thanks to the “Crazy Clappers” team. “When i’d finished an obstacle and was about to collapse……I’d hear the Cheering Team and you’d put a big grin on my face to remind me it was alright and to keep going! 😎 

Third, i’d like to give a gargantuan amount of thanks to all of you guys for your donations to “World Cancer Research Fund” and encouraging   me(& the team) every step of the way! “Intention isn’t Prevention……And you all have helped me spread the good  news with everyone so we can all be aware and empowered to start fighting the cancers we can prevent.” 

Fourth, A colossal amount of thanks to John & Sarah Atherton(from the Epsom Camera Club) for giving up your Saturday and taking the amazing photos of us all….We’ve got fantastic memories of the day!

Finally, I’ve already passed the whopping £1,000! The fundraising page is open for another 3 months…..So if you haven’t donated yet or you’d like to donate again(now you know i’ve managed it) it would be amazing to smash more obstacles and raise as much as i can! 😎 💪🏼

Tough Mudder 5K – Saturday 13th October…….Here Goes!

Adie, Me & Josie at the start with smoke covering the landscape

⇧ From left: Adie, Me & Josie ⇧  

Adie on my back as i carry him on the hero carry

 ⇧ Me carrying Adie on the “Hero Carry” ⇧ 

It was amazing to have my friend of nearly 30 years Adie Monk join our “Hard As Nails” team. I thought we’d sit and catch up over a coffee….I didn’t have this in mind, lol!

Thanks John Atherton for taking another great photo. I can’t thank you and Sarah Atherton enough for giving us all these memories to cherish! 😎  

After jogging a little, we came to this…….

“At over 2 stories high, this is one of the most impressive obstacles in the UK. It is a giant A-shaped cargo net that you and your team will have to scramble up and over it. Working together will be the only way to overcome”.

Adie, me & Vini on the scramble net 

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This is where my new trainers just hooked perfectly around the rope and it felt completely solid. Also my blindness helped me out for once as i couldn’t see how high i was, and didn’t freeze like a couple of people i heard up there!

 Then….When getting to the bottom i hear “Yay, Whoop Whoop, Steve, Steve, Steve” and the sound of the plastic clapper hands were going crazy! What a feeling to know my lovely Wife Sarah and the Crazy Clappers team were cheering me all of the way, a great feeling! 😎  

Me, Vini & Ashley cheering

 ⇧ Me, Vini & Ashley biggin’ up the cheering team ⇧ 

More jogging….Adie and the team were excellent at guiding me when jogging. Moving low hanging branches, telling me of tree roots and pulling me in the right direction. Adie said “I tried running with my eyes closed for a few steps…And there is no way i’d try any of this if i couldn’t see”.

Then…..

“We’ve taken the 10′ Hero Walls and tilted them right at you. By removing the ability for you to climb up and over this wall, you will have to form a strategy with your team, work together and boost each other to the other side”.

Vini on top of the wall and me trying get my leg up to get grip for my pull up!

 ⇧ Ouch, my leg hasn’t bent that far in about 20 years, lol! ⇧ 

More Jogging…..

This obstacle will have you crawling on the ground, pinned down by a giant cargo net. Working your way through this one will require lots of communication, teamwork and a strong will. 

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You’ve guessed it…..More jogging and then….

“The aim of the game is to get your team up and over this stack of super-sized hay bales. There is no right or wrong way so boost, shove or yank every last team member over the other side. 

Ashley helping Josie

⇧ Ashley helping Josie in a display of team work ⇧  

 Next…….

“Can’t go through it, can’t go round it, you’ll have to go over it. Work together to boost and shimmy your teammates up and over this 10′ Tough Mudder staple.

Ashley at the top of the wall

Josie on the top of the wall with all of us cheering at the bottom

Vini helping Josie at the top of the wall

 Yep, more jogging…..

“Time to get swinging. Grab on, hold tight, feel the momentum and swing yourself from ring to ring like a regular Tarzan. This obstacle will test your strength, coordination and flow. Hang in there, you got this.

Really didn’t do well on this one…And i can’t really blame my sight for lack of strength, lol!

Me on the rings

 After a little more jogging……

“One of the most teamwork-inducing obstacles in the Tough Mudder portfolio, this obstacle is difficult to complete alone. You’re going to have to work together to form a human pyramid and, like its namesake, climb up and over your fellow Mudders on the way to the top.

As Vini was making everything look so easy…..It was great to look at the photos afterwards and see it wasn’t all too easy!! 💪🏼  

Vini & Ashley pulling Josie up the pyramid scheme

Vini, Ashley & me pulling Josie up the pyramid scheme

Pyramid scheme 1

Pyramid scheme 2

Pyramid scheme 3

 AND NOW……MY NEMESIS!!!!

“A true Tough Mudder legend. Everest will challenge participants to run up a quarter pipe to reach the summit. Can’t do it alone? Not to worry – teammates are encouraged to hang over the top to pull their new friends up and over.

 I knew this was going to be more difficult for me as i needed to try it and get hands on before i could calculate what exactly i needed to do. Adie & Ashley explained the process….But i knew i just had to do it before i would really know….As running at a half pipe wall thingy when blind is going to be interesting!

Here Goes Nothing…..

Me running at Everest

Me and Everest

I took 1 step too many….and before i knew it the wall was in my face! Ooooo i was so close to reaching the ledge.  

Me crashing into Everest

After hitting the wall i dropped down on both knees, and as the obstacle was made of hardish tyre rubber, it simply burned and ripped the skin off both knees….Wow that stings, lol. Time to regroup and recalculate! 

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“Ok Steve, just do the same but with 1 step less”. Here i go again!

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Yay….That’s better…..And once i had my talon trainers gripped to the ledge, i could just heave myself up. Wow i made it! 💪🏼 

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18JA3400⇧ Ashley showing how it should be done! ⇧😎  

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 The team were fantastic and we all made it up. No-one was being left behind and you could just feel the team growing closer with each obstacle, it was amazing. 

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 Now the final obstacle was overcome, it was time for a short jog to the finish line,Yay! 

The Finish Line & The Headbands…… 

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 WE DID IT…… 

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⇧ When words fail to say how thankful you are!!! ⇧ 

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⇧ Me, Adie & the headbands ⇧ 

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⇧ Adie, Vini & Me for a final photo ⇧ 

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WOW WHAT A JOURNEY……

I hope after getting this far…..You’ve enjoyed this journey with me and the team too? They are already talking about doing a longer and more muddier one with more obstacles for next year. What do you think? Should i go for it? Would you like to see the Blindman take on a greater challenge? Let me know in the comments section what you think!

I can’t thank everyone enough….

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely

Sarah Olypic start line

For this weeks Photo Challenge Unlikely…..I was going to post about how unlikely it was for me to still take photos now that i’m blind…..But i thought i’d post one of my lovely Wife Sarah! 😀 

This trip was such an Unlikely blessing, as Sarah had another “Charcot Foot” and was in an air-cast for the last 5 months…..She had it removed a few weeks ago and she’s been strengthening her leg for this cruise. I love this photo of Sarah on the original ancient start line in Olympia, it was so unlikely to happen! 

iReminisce: Bruce THE Boxer

Bruce THE Boxer

july 14th 2000 – Dec 3rd 2011

As iReminisce, i thought i’d do a little tribute to “Bruce” who died 6 years ago today. He managed to show many expressions throughout the years. We miss him lots! 🙂

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Bruce having fun

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Bruce in the grass

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Bruce sprinting face

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iReminisce: The London Eye

London eye 7

Today iReminisce about this photo i took shortly before Sarah & i travelled on the London Eye. It rained on both times we’d been on it, so i thought i’d add a dramatic black and white effect to the once colour photo! 🙂 

Shortly after i’d made it black and white…..It was chosen as one of the photos to be exhibited in Florence, Italy which totally stunned me! And which sparked the amazing “Tuscany Tour”. If you’ve not joined Sarah & i on this amazing trip, we’d love to meet you there! 🙂 

iReminisce: Born To Run!

I stumbled across an old comment yesterday which i never even knew was there! 😦 Asking if Bruce(Bruce THE Boxer) was aloud to run free on Old Hunstanton Beach? I said yes of course as it took me back to this photo of Bruce running at his favourite place! Then all the memories started flooding back of all our happy times on this beach and staying at the Old Hunstanton Lighthouse for many years(coming soon). 🙂  

Bruce running alone on the beach

More from  iReminisce 

IReminisce: The Retreat, Acle, Norfolk

Wow!!! I can’t believe it’s been 9 years since Me, Sarah & Bruce THE Boxer stayed in this log cabin for a week in Acle, Norfolk. 

I remember Sarah had bought me the Baby Taylor acoustic guitar a few months earlier for Christmas. I was so happy i couldn’t put it down…..So it came with us! 🙂 

Me playing my baby Taylor on the porch on the log cabin

It was a lovely relaxing holiday. I played guitar on the porch while Sarah sat in the hot tub for most of the week. Bruce enjoyed long walks and pretending to be a guard dog! 🤣  

Bruce sitting on guard on the porch of the log cabin

The Retreat at night

More “iReminisce

iReminisce: Let Your Light Shine!

Sarah Sunflower

This is one of my favourite photos of my lovely Wife Sarah, and it shows what happens when she smiles! 😎

More “iReminisce

iReminisce: Pisa, Italy

My lovely Wife Sarah said that i should post a photo daily. I’ve taken so many over the years we often forget the memories these pictures evoke. So i’d like to share them with you too.

Please enjoy as “iReminisce”.

Pisa

I will start with(probably not the most exciting photo in my archive) but to be stood in Pisa, and in front of the fantastic leaning bell tower was incredible! 🙂 

Please read my full blog post for this day HERE