Classical Greece Tour: Day 2 ~ 10th Wedding Anniversary @Sea

Sarah i wedding photo

10th Anniversary

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

An unexpected blessing…..

This trip has been such an unexpected 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. So we are amazed to be spending our 10th wedding anniversary 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, fruit, nuts, seeds bacon and bananas (not all together,lol).

Swimming…..

After looking around the ship and trying to familiarise ourselves with our fave places, 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 ⬆ 

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, iI 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 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…..

A huge 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 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, lol.

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℃ (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 on “Praise, And Thanks Be To God……It’s Our 10th Amazing Anniversary!!!

⬅️ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡️(coming shortly)

Please visit our other tours HERE

Classical Greece Tour: Day 1 🇭🇷 Dubrovnik, Croatia

Wow, Wow, Wow…..Sarah & i have had a fantastic time away celebrating our 10th Wedding Anniversary in Croatia, Greece & Montenegro!

AND….. We’ve made it back in one piece to share all of our unforgettable memories and adventures with you all. 😎  

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, lol).

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 potatoe 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 decks and 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 was taking photos of a unusual bridge she liked, i was also pretending i could see it, lol. 

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

⬆ Me looking at the bridge and surrounding 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…..

If you’ve travelled with us on our other tours click here to view, you will 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!

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 to the end of this day!

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

🌴 Next Day ➡️

Please visit our other tours HERE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Anything that Flies

http://steverebus.com/2013/04/25/our-a-balloon-flight/

  A few years ago for Sarah’s birthday present I booked a balloon flight as she has always wanted to go up in one. There were a lot of cancellations last minute due to poor weather but finally one weekend we got to go. The weather as you can see was not very clear, but it was amazing…..And great for “Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Danger!

A photo from on the horse looking forwards with its head in view overlooking the stunning sea and beach at St James Beach, Antigua

Sorry for being away for so long…..i’ve missed you guys!

For this weeks “Photo Challenge“, i thought i’d look back on our horse ride across the beautiful beach of St John’s Antigua. As both Sarah * i are registered Blind this was a nerve-racking trip for us. It was a brave, DANGER filled trip but we stepped up to the challenge and had one of the best days of our lives! 🤣 

Click HERE to read about the whole day(with more photos).

The Ineffable Mysteries Of A Surprise Visit!

Day 1: Wow…..What a fantastic surprise 3 day visit by my Brother Paul! 😀

The Intricate Plan…..

I really had no idea that Ben(Brother in Christ) and Sarah(my lovely Wife) had planned this visit by my Brother Paul since November!! 

“Paul had bariatric surgery(Sleeve gastrectomy) a year ago after spending 4 weeks in hospital and has progressed so much, he spent most of the past 5 years housebound and is starting to rebuild his life. i’m really proud of him. He has lost around 24 stone(150kg) since the start of this gruelling fight. And for his first trip out of Derby, he wanted to come and see Epsom. I’m so pleased he did as i can only imagine how much of a big deal this is for him!”

The Almost Upset…..

Ben had organised to meet me at my fave restaurant “Sicily” at 2pm, and as i got into town early i decided to take a detour and get more steps towards my Fitbit daily step goal. Little did i know my Brother was standing outside the train station waiting for Ben to pick him up to surprise me at Sicily. 😀 

Paul said “I was standing outside the station just looking around, and suddenly he saw me walking up the other side of the road” “No way, what’s he doing here?….He’s not going to cross over as he is on his way to Sicily” Then just as he said it i was crossing the road towards him. He knows i can’t see enough to recognise anyone even if they are stood next to me. But he panicked and hid behind the nearest object and took a photo as he thought i’d figured out his plan, lol. 😀 

A photo of me crossing road to train station while talking on the phone wearing a black hoody, black shorts and black and white trainers

⬆ Me on the phone to Sarah, crossing the road while Paul takes a stealth photo! ⬆ 

The Surprise Meet…..

Sicily Logo

Front

As i arrived at Sicily i received the usual warm welcome from Grace and was seated at the table. I was thinking through some Bible verses as i expected a deep theological discussion on doctrines etc…..But as Ben arrived he was with his Wife Rosie and son Raffy. I was just getting up to move to a larger table when a FaceTime call came in from my brother Paul!

I usually switch to the back camera(as i can’t see the screen anyway) and try and show Paul around my current location and as i was in Sicily i thought he’d like to have a look. I first pointed it at Raffy and he was giggling into the camera. Then i wanted him to meet Grace and as i was about to point my phone at her…..”ey up bro” I heard in my right ear, i turned and there was my brother Paul standing right next to me!! 😀 

After what seemed like minutes, my mind was just racing “How did he get here? Derby is over 150 miles away! I thought trains were too much for him right now? Did Ben pick him up?  How is this possible?” i finally gave up and gave him a huge hug, i was stunned! Mission Accomplished Bro! 😀

We had a great time catching up on his adventure over a fantastic meal. 😀

Day 2: Epsom, Boyce Avenue & Celebration BBQ @ “Bens’ Burgers”…..

Epsom…..

We first met Paul in town as we wanted to show him around Epsom, we knew this wouldn’t take long as it’s only a small town, lol. Paul bought a souvenir in the shape of a Raiders cap and we had a great time exploring Epsom.

Boyce Avenue…..

Boyce Avenue are Paul’s favourite band. Their music has helped him through a lot of dark times. So when he said he’d love to see them in concert and mentioned they were playing at the Royal Albert Hall in November 2017, i just had to book tickets for Paul, Me & Sarah! 😀 

Since i knew he like them, and he loves singing…..i’d learnt a few songs on guitar so that if i was ever in the same room as Paul with my guitar, it would be fantastic to play together. And since we’d finished in town and was back home…..That time was now. lol And after this very special moment which i’ll always remember, it was time for Ben to pick us up

Celebration BBQ…..

Ben not only prepared the food, cooked the food…..He even picked us up and drove us to his home! Thank you so much Ben! 😀

Ben went all out for this celebration and cooked Steak, Chicken burger, Lamb Kofte & a lovely salad. Wow Thanks again Ben! 😀

Paul  Vini sat at the table waiting for the BBQ

⬆ Paul & Vini ⬆  

Vini playing football with his brother Raffy whilst holding an ice-cream

⬆ Vini & Raffy playing football with ice-creams. ⬆  

Zea and Raffy playing football

⬆ Luzia showing her skills and having lots of fun with Raffy! ⬆ 

 Rosie  Raffy

 ⬆ Bens Wife Rosie with son Raffy ⬆  

After filling up on all the amazing food, football and chasing Raffy we all headed inside for a rest! 🤣 

Vini Me Raffy  Paul sat on Ben's sofa sticking our thumbs up!

⬆ From Left: Vini, Me, Raffy & Paul ⬆  

Zea Rosie  Sarah

From Left: Luzia, Rosie & Sarah ⬆  

Football on Epsom Downs…..

Now it was time for Ben to try out his new 7 seater, he had never filled all 7 seats before so here goes!!!! 

Yay! We are all in! 🤣  

Full Car

⬆ From Left: Ben, Rosie, Vini, Sarah, Raffy(hidden), Me, Luzia & Paul ⬆  

As it was an open field, i had lots of room and could move around with a little more confidence knowing i wouldn’t hit anything, lol.

Raffy Me Paul  Ben

⬆ Raffy, Me, Paul & Ben ⬆   

Raffy  Vini

⬆ Raffy showing Vini some skills ⬆   

Me Paul  Raffy

⬆ Me, Raffy & Paul ⬆   

Me  Raffy Football

⬆ Me & Raffy ⬆ 

Me  Raffy Football tackle

 ⬆ Raffy with a crunching challenge! ⬆ 

Paul was loving the view right across London and could see Wembley Stadium all lit up too! We had a great evening and we were all tired from running around! 

Day 3: The Cricketers…..

For a nice farewell, we treated Paul to a beautiful roast dinner at the fantastic Cricketers Inn. What a lovely view for a nice warm roast dinner, and of course it has to have a homemade Yorkshire Pudding! 😀 

The cricketers1

The Cricketers(one of my older photos) it wasn’t snowing, lol. ⬆  

 Me  Paul at Epsom Station

⬆ Me & Paul outside Epsom Train Station ⬆ 

Wow…..It was a fantastic few days and i’m so proud of how well Paul is doing. I still can’t believe i’d see him down here so soon! His surprise was overwhelming at times….. And since he arrived home safely…..he’s told me that he’s planned to visit agin in August! Yay! 😀 

I hope you enjoyed Pauls visit too? And i’m pleased you got to meet my fantastic Brother! 

Mayan Treasures Tour: Day 3 ~ Trujillo, Honduras

A postcard of me and sarah with lots of little photos of Trujillo surrounding us in a blue postcard

⇧ Postcard taken and produced by Thomson Dream Photographers ⇧ 

Welcome to Trujillo:

Christopher Columbus landed in Trujillo on the 14th August 1502. During his fourth and final journeys to the Amercas. Since then they have been under the control of the Spanish, the Dutch, the English and even Pirates.

But now…

Sarah & i arrived on the shore, and after a coach trip with a friendly local tour guide telling us about this fantastic place(and the constant invasions by the pirates), we arrived at the beach resort! 🙂 

“Wow” i said as we stepped onto the sand and selected a couple of sun loungers with a table shelter thingy with a free cold bottle of lager welcoming us!

Sarah drinking lager on Trujillo beach

“We’re going to enjoy this”. This was the most relaxing excursion out of the 4 we’d booked,

and then….

Sarah said “Yay, there is a trampoline in the sea”. I would have been more excited but my mind went straight to Sarah’s Charcot feet(diabetic problem again), and how she was going to manage?! But i should have known Sarah would win me over by taking every precaution, and before i could stand up, Sarah was in the sea! 🙂   

Sarah on the bottom right of the photo is swimming towards the sea trampoline on the far left of the photo

I stood waiting and trying to calculate how long it would take Sarah to swim over and climb on before i’d start taking photos…then i heard “STEVE” i knew that was my cue to start taking photos and videos(thank you my lovely wife).

Sea Trampoline 2

Sarah really enjoyed trampolining in the sea as she’d never done anything like this before. But in the photo below…Sarah looks very innocent , but i’m sure she has just shoved the man off the left hand side!! lol. 🙂 

Sea Trampoline

It was quite cloudy, and even spotted with rain for a minute or two, but it’s ok…it was only the fine stuff that soaks you through, so I took a couple of photos of the landscape…

Trujillo Beach 1

Trujillo Beach 2

Then Sarah gifted us with a Panorama!  

Trujillo Beach Panorama 2

After a fantastic inclusive meal where Sarah & i had the nicest Plantain ever, we found a swimming pool with no-one in, and we relaxed for half an hour! 🙂 

IMG 3849

We couldn’t believe how fast the time went and we reluctently headed back to the coach(well at least where we thought it was), but not before we stopped for one last photo at a beautiful fountain.  

Sarah Trujillo Fountain

As Sarah & i were walking along the path, a Spanish speaking man with broken English held my arm and kept trying to tell us something. At first i thought he’d spotted the Grim Reaper tattoo on my leg(had it done 20 years ago when i thought i was tough in my pre Christian days) and thought i was a pirate, so i was in trouble! 🙂 But when my mind slowed down, we realised he was trying to say he was the driver and we were walking away from the coach. lol We thanked him profusely and followed him back to the coach.

Back on the ship…

After a lovely day on the beach, we headed to our usual viewing spot on deck 10. 

Sarah on Ship in Trujillo

Yay another Sarah Panorama…  

Me Panorama in Trujillo

As we will be on holiday for Sarah’s birthday, i treated her to a hand manicure.  Well…the whole holiday is a celebration of birthday’s(we’ll be back home for mine), our amazing marriage and seeing more of God’s creation, 

Sarah getting nails done

Afterwards 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?! I was a little unsure about it, but after Sarah and the lady had decided to put 2 braids in, i went along with it. 

Wow, Sarah’s right again, i didn’t have to touch it for the rest of the holiday, fantastic! 🙂  

My hair in Trujillo

 Well…the “2 Blindies” have managed to have an amazing day in Trujillo, and we can’t thank you enough for joining us as we discover new ground. 🙂  

Our Route:

This evening Thomson Dream sails to Roatan, Honduras. We’ll arrive tomorrow morning having travelled 37 nautical miles at an average of 5 knots.

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡(coming soon)

Fitbit, Footsteps & Photography

After reading this post on Nancy Loderick’s blog, about Nancy buying Mr Ken(her Husband) a Fitbit for his birthday…i got inspired!! I thought maybe i could do this as i’m good at walking, just not so good at seeing where i’m going, lol. 

First…

See if the app is accessible with Voiceover(screenreader) on my iPhone? Yes it is, fantastic…now for a little more research. As i take beta-blocker medication having a heart rate monitor was top on my list, and i found the Fitbit Charge HR(on sale too). When i showed Sarah she said”Excellent, let’s buy each other one as an early wedding anniversary present”.

Second…finding a walking route!

As i’m blind, i have to stick to routes like a racing car on a track, and If i veer of course i may crash! Thankfully Sarah & i live on the edges of a local nature reserve which has lots of walking paths. Once i’m shown a route i can normally remember, but i hadn’t walked along any of the paths for a long time…but here goes!! 🙂 

The Walk…

When i said Sarah & i lived on the edge of the local nature reserve…it starts straight opposite our drive! This helps a lot.  

photo taken from my drive of the trees over the lane

I didn’t want to try the path directly through the woods onto the stew ponds, as i didn’t want to get lost on my first try. lol. So i decided to walk around the outside on the path i could still remember! 😉 

A photo taken from the pavement of the road lined with green trees and a black Audi on the road

⇧ I had no idea an Audi was in my photo when taking this!! 🙂 ⇧  

I had to keep stopping as i couldn’t make out the path from the road, so i thought while i stopped i could take a photo! 🙂 It was further than i remembered(i really need to walk more) but finally i felt the bumps on the path indicating a road crossing. Yes i’ve made it this far, now to find the ponds! 

Photo of a gravel path leading through arching trees with a stew pond on the left

After nearly walking into the first stew pond…i planted myself on the path! 🙂 It’s now starting to look familiar so i can enjoy the ponds. 

Photo of the stew pond taken between 2 trees

Big pond fence path

 I have no idea where this path leads but didn’t want to risk killing myself on my first outing! Maybe i’ll check it out next time…what do you think?

Big stew pond with fence

Photo of the big stew pond with a fenced gravel path along the left of the photo

Photo of the big stew pond

Afterr spending a little quiet time at the ponds, i decided to try heading back through the woods. 

Local nature reserve woods 1

I found this path and i could hear the cars from the road on my left. I knew as long as i could hear the cars…i was going in the right direction. After i veered of track a few times and navigating some trees…i finally made it out! 🙂 

Coffee…

I now could walk in the other direction from home and go to church for a coffee, which is another 2 miles towards my daily goal! 🙂 

Finally…

I walked over 8 miles in total and feel great, i like how i can track my now daily walk while monitoring my health. I think a lot more about eating already…as i know i have to walk for ages to burn it off! 🙂 I’ve been encouraged by reading posts by Ellie at New Creation Ministries, her posts convict me every time! 🙂 

I often spend hours indoors daily studying the Bible and listening to sermons and teachings, but now i can be a lot more healthy whilst listening to the Bible on route! 🙂 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Mayan Treasures: Day 1&2 🛳 London & Jamaica

Mayan Treasures Logo

 Yay!!!! Were off to the Caribbean!! 🙂 

I can’t believe we’re getting another chance to see some of God’s glorious creation! We were so blessed with our last cruise “Transatlantic Sunset Tour” even though we had a roller coaster of a ride! 🙂 

We were up around 4:30am, packing the final items into our cases. I found out the hard way last year on how impossible it was to find my black suitcase on the carousel among hundreds of other black suitcases!! 😦 So this year i’ve treated myself to a dark purple one. Let’s see if this one is better to find?!

Kate, from the local taxis that Sarah uses for work, arrived and we set off for Gatwick. “Now we can relax” i said “As it’s too late to go back if we’ve forgotten anything”. 

The Airport…

Kate was fantastic, and drove us right to the entrance and pointed us in the right direction “Just keep walking that way and you’ll be fine”. We checked in our cases and were given the fantastic airport assistance who guided us through customs and sat us in departures ready to catch the fun train. 

The people at the desk said there was a 1 hour delay…”Oh yes!!” Sarah & i said at the same time “We have time to go shopping and have a coffee”. I think this was a new response for them as they looked a little bemused! 🙂 

After finding the same italian coffee place from last year(it’s becoming another local), we found our way around a few shops and headed back to the pick up point. It wasn’t long before the handheld thing they give me started flashing and vibrating which meant it is our turn to get on-board the train!  

Me on-board the Fun Train at Gatwick irport

After our fun ride on the train, we boarded the plane and i even got a window seat. The 787 Dreamliner didn’t disapoint as it gave it the beans down the runway! 

A view from the airplane with the wing in view

During the 10½ hour flight, Sarah watched about 5 films(well 10 minutes of each, as she said they were horiffic, and saw firsthand why we didn’t have a TV lisence anymore). We enjoyed the in-flight meals though, and it made up for the poor entertainment. 

As i can’t even see who is sat next to me(although i know it’s Sarah), i spent the time listening to the people around me. It helps me understand who is around, where they are, and i get to learn a little about the person by their words and character…as “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart”. 🙂 

Yay,we’re back in Jamaica! 🙂   

The airport assistance escorted us through customs and to the queue for the coach transfer to the ship. As soon as they realised we couldn’t see, they took us and skipped straight passed the queue and onto the coach where we were shown to the 2 front seats! One advantage of being blind, lol.

Arriving at the ship, the coach driver said there were further delays and the queue for the ship check-in was long and it’s seriously hot out there! But when we left the coach, we met the assistance and again, they led us past the large queue straight to the check-in and onto the ship! I always feel a little guilty when this happens, but it’s a fantastic service for us. 🙂

Boarding the Thomson Dream again this year felt like we were coming home. It took us about a week to figure out where everything is, but this time we remembered and it made life a lot easier! 🙂 

The Emergency Drill…

We were now almost experts at the life jackets(well Sarah was) and we needed no help this time putting them on. It was really hot and humid out on deck for the drill, but i handled the heat much better this time. 🙂 

Finding our way back to the cabin with our life jackets on, we wanted to try and take a selfie to keep as a memory, as we probably wouldn’t have chance if we ever needed to use them again. It’s really hard to take a selfie when you can’t see the phone screen, but we took loads and managed to find one.

A selfy of Sarah and i wearing our orange life jackets

 The Coffee Port…

After a full on day, Sarah & i were in need of a proper coffee…and guess what greeting we heard as we walked in??!! Yes it was Cecily! “No way” we both said “It’s so good to see you again”. Cecily then sat us down and said “2 espresso macchiatos?”….No way, she remembered! 🙂 This was really starting to feel like home.

We finished our coffees and headed back to our cabin. Our cases had arrived and we started unpacking as the ship set sail for Trujillo, Honduras…Wow what a day! 🙂 

Day 2…..

Sea logo

We spent day 2 exploring and seeing if anything had changed since we’d been gone. There were a few changes but nothing that tripped us up. Now it was time to check out the shore excursions for the next 4 islands! 

Last year we didnt realise how quickly they sold out, so we got in early  and booked an excursion for each of the 4 days, we were excited to have booked a few varied tours, but i was a little worried as we’d booked Kayaking on one tour and River tubing on another. Can blind people really do this without crippling themselves?? 🙂 

Either way…back to the Coffee Port to celebrate with a latte! 🙂 

Coffee Port Latte

 Thanks for joining us, it’s great to see you on-board! 🙂  

Our Route:

this evening Thomson Dream sails to Trujillo, Honduras. We’ll arrive on Thursday morning after the leisurely day at sea having travelled 515 nautical miles at an average speed of 15 knots. 

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 19 ~ Palma

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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 went out on deck first 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 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&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??!!

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Please join us on more crazy adventures!!!

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 18 ~ Alicante

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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”. 🙂

 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, 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

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 all 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. 

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 17 ~ Gibralter

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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! 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

Not 1…but 2 of Sarah’s 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.

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 14 ~ Såo Miguel

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After more wild blood sugar readings, lack of sleep and 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, they’re Sarah’s 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 Derbyshire) 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 Mojito and mine is a Bailey’s Banana Colada! 🙂

Alan Pianoman

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 10,11 & 12 ~ Relaxin, Reflectin & Coffin!!

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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 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 🙂 

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! 🙂  

Yippee land ahoy!!!

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 9 ~ CODE ALPHA!!

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After enjoying a lovely coffee, we decided to explore the ship to try and familiurise ourselves a little more, and find things to do. Bingo, getting drunk and burned on sun loungers were not something Sarah & i found entertaining. 

The hair salon…

We found a hair salon and booked Sarah to get her hair done, and see if they had some ideas to cover her closed eye. I thought “Being pampered and relaxed is just what Sarah needs after a traumatic day yesterday! 🙂 I managed to find my way back to the coffee port on my own to wait for Sarah, which should be at least an hour depending what she chooses to have done. It sounds feeble, but finding the coffee port, and the door handle, and even a spare seat without anyone sitting on it, is a massive achievement for me! 🙂 

Sarah returned looking beautiful, but i noticed she was having another hypo, standing up i said “Quick, lets try and get back to the cabin as we know that Lucozade or hypo stop works for you”. “Ok” Sarah said whilst struggling to stay on her feet. We were only 1 deck above our cabin, but after only a short walk Sarah really started to drop. I thought “There is no way i’m trying to navigate the stairs, and i can’t see to use the lifts”. Luckily we were at the entrance to a bar/lounge. We were greeted by a nice Filipino waitress. I said “My wife needs the sweetest drink you have as she’s diabetic and having a hypo”. She was confused, but showed us to some seats(as Sarah’s legs were really starting to give way) and disappeared. I prayed that she understood and would bring something before Sarah lost consciousness. 

The waitress returned (having told the bar man our situation) with a bright coloured drink. She said it was the sweetest cocktail they did with a lot of syrup in. I thought “a little unorthodox, but we have no choice, Sarah needs sugar now”. 

Having been a gamer my whole life and played some nerve racking, suspense filled and tense computer games over the years, nothing compares to this real life game of trying to encourage Sarah to drink something she doesn’t want, to absorb sugar into her body before passing out! 

Within the next half hour, Sarah was back with us again (phew), but feeling sick from the hypo, We needed to get back to the cabin as we didn’t know if her blood would start to shoot up again, as we didn’t have any idea what was in the drink, which is why we try to always use the lucozade etc. as we know the effects. Sarah also now had the bone chill that only comes from a hypo.

Back in the cabin…

Yay, we found the cabin! 🙂 I’m starting to remember how many doors to count from both sides depending which set of stairs we go down. Once Sarah had checked her blood sugar again and realised it was starting to rocket, it was back in the fridge for the crossbow bolts…i mean syringes. Even with our video magnifier it was really hard to make out the measurements on the needle, but after another big bruised, and big holed injection, it was time for Sarah’s hot bath to try and get rid of that freezing cold bone chill!

A while later Sarah said “Diabetes has already ruined one evening, night and most of today. I’m not going to let it ruin the rest of my holiday. Lets get dressed up and search for some nice live music” “Fantastic idea, we both need cheering up”.

Sunset…

Instead of walking down endless boring corridors, we walked outside to stroll along the deck down to the rear of the ship and look out over the huge ocean. This evening we were gifted with a beautiful sunset.

Beautiful burnt orange sunset.

Ocean sunset 2,

As we were out on deck 9, we walked all the way to the rear (non technical name) and entered the ‘Lido restaurant’. We were both a little hungry and as this is the buffet place, it’s fantastic for Sarah as she can have vegetables or salad etc without having any of the carbs, or sugar rich sauces which raise her blood sugar. 🙂

We became a little disheartened after hearing a couple of the live bands playing some popular rubbish on deck 8, but we walked on past the reception and hair salon and walked into a dark elegant room. Sarah said “Oh great…it’s the casino :(”. I said “It looks like the Ultralux from Fallout New Vegas (PS3 game)” Sarah replied “It feels like fallout to me, a shiny, depraved wasteland – just what I’ve come to expect of the entertainment on this boat 😦 lol”. But then a classical piano started playing, just audible over the noise of the casino. “Where’s that lovely piano coming from?” I said knowing that Sarah would love it. “Through there, but i’m not sure what it is as it’s too dark” “Let’s go find out anyway”. i said as i took her arm. 

The Delo piano lounge and cocktail bar…

A view of the Delo bar with quite a few people sat on leather chairs and sofas with a pianist in the background sat at a grand piano

We stood taking in the gentle atmosphere and fantastic piano playing and both said together “This is more like it 🙂 ” We found Sarah a seat at the bar right next to the piano, Sarah loves watching pianists as they play with professional ease and elegance. It brings back lots of her childhood memories of the classical piano lessons she enjoyed! 🙂 

Pianist Keith sat playing at the piano

⇧ Keith the pianist ⇧ 

After about an hour, we were so happy that we’d found another fave place, especially after the last 24 hours, we headed back to the cabin. Sarah did another blood test “Steve, my blood’s still going up!” I said “That’s impossible, you’ve not had any sugar or carbs, and you’ve already had insulin before we left” “I know, and now i’ve got to take some more to try and bring it down” “Ok, take a little more and we’ll keep an eye on it”. 

 Sarah sat on the sofa with the magnifier reading the excursion options for the Azores. I opened Spotify on my iPhone and started playing my “✞ Acoustic Worship” playlist knowing it’s Sarah’s fave. I thought “Time for us to relax and reflect for a while on a lovely end to a hectic day”. 

CODE ALPHA…

Sarah’s next words were “I think my blood’s dropping” “Oh no, I thought, your voice is slurry again, your blood can’t be that low already. Can you manage a test?” Sarah’s test confirmed a huge drop in a short time. I jumped into survival mode and grabbed the lucozade and hypo stop. Sarah was fading fast “No, no ,no, not the big one” i said wondering if this would result in a diabetic coma. I didn’t have to wait long before Sarah lost consciousness!!

I now switched from survival mode, to what will Sarah need if she goes to hospital mode. 

Sarah was sat upright on the sofa, and as i balanced to hold her head upright (there were no pillows in reach) i grabbed the cabin phone and dialled 999! A man answered and asked “How can we help?” I said “My wife is diabetic and she’s having a hypoglycaemic episode and is unconscious but still breathing” He said “She’s unconscious now? What’s your cabin number i’m on my way!”

He arrived in about 60 seconds. I told him what had happened as he was frantically inserting needles etc. He then called the bridge to tell the captain and his team, and a few seconds later i heard “CODE ALPHA, CODE ALPHA cabin 7062”. I thought “That’s blasting out of the tannoy system that goes around the whole ship, and within minutes our cabin was full of people, and a wheelchair. After a few minutes Sarah slowly started to respond, but only groans. The female doctor was now in the room and after checking everything, she said they’d take Sarah to the hospital to try and stabilise her.

The hospital…

After grabbing Sarah’s bag and a few things i thought might help, i was kindly guided down behind Sarah to the hospital waiting room. Sarah was in a private room next door.

A woman sat me down and read through a couple of papers that made sure we had health insurance etc, she then said to my surprise “You really seem to love and care for Sarah” I said “I really don’t deserve her, she is amazing. I lay down my life for her…and give her my all. I’m so blessed to share my life with my best friend, she’s beautiful inside and out. Isn’t that what love is?” It seemed like she’d never heard a response like that, and just said “Wow, that’s lovely” and went quiet for what seemed like minutes! 

I was then able to see my lovely wife. Sarah was still not conscious yet but was in what seemed like a peaceful sleep. I sat down and the doctors and nurses were coming in and out, checking drips, machines and Sarahs breathing etc. 

Sarah in the hospital bed with a doctor dressed in white helping her

Sarah then moved and slowly started to come round, she said “Oh no” her usual response after realising where she is, i said “It’s ok my love, we are just making some nice new friends, just relax and enjoy being pampered”. After another hour of checks from nurses and the doctor, suddenly the nurse panicked and said something to the doctor. All 3 of them surrounded Sarah’s bed frantically adjusting and checking, The doctor kept shaking Sarah and shouting her name but got no response. I thought “It can’t be another hypo as she’s being monitored closely, so what is this?” Soon after i was told by the concerned doctor to wait in the waiting room next door. 

The waiting room…

Ship hospital waiting room

Now i was worried…. i sat here alone in a hospital that’s swaying side to side in the middle of the atlantic ocean. My thoughts started to get the better of me..

“What if this is it, and i don’t get to speak to Sarah again”

“What if i never hear her amazing laugh, or feel the warmth of her hug again”

“What if i’m now on my own struggling to face the rest of life (never mind the holiday) without my lovely wife”

ENOUGH!! i thought and desperately gave it to God in prayer.

“Oh Lord please help, if this is Sarah’s passing to paradise, then i want to say i’m not happy about it, and i’d like to spend more time with her on earth BUT thank you so much for blessing me with such a priceless gift, i can’t express how much i love her and i’ve tried to be the husband you commanded me to be. Sarah has shown me such love, happiness, forgiveness, acceptance and a life i simply didn’t know was possible BUT if it’s not her time, please comfort her and bring her back to me, Amen”.

A short while later the nurse said i could come back and sit with Sarah again. Sarah was awake and fighting with the oxygen mask. She said “Where’ve you been? I told them that my diabetes was unstable which is why i have the pump but they didn’t believe me, they never do, and now they’ve given me a second hypo after pumping me full of insulin again”. I said while kissing her forehead “Oh my lovely, i’m glad to have you back”. 🙂 

We’d been in the hospital for about 2 hours, it was just coming to 3am. Sarah kept asking if i was alright and did i need anything. “I bet you’re hungry and need a coffee” “It’s ok, i’m enjoying being here with you, please get some sleep as you’ve had a rough couple of days, i’ll be right here”. 

It was 6:30am when Sarah was allowed to leave. She was given more supplies to last for the rest of the holiday. Then the doctor explained about how fast acting insulin is absorbed into the body with the syringes, and how it differs and works a lot slower than the insulin pump. She said “Once you’ve had the injection, the insulin will not start to work for 1½ hours and it will be completely out of your system in 3 hours. And as you don’t have the pump giving you little bits all of the time, your blood sugar will rise on it’s own, so you need to give bigger (and overlapping) doses to compensate.

Sarah had never been instructed on any of this over the years because everything had ben controlled by the pump and i certainly didn’t know anything about insulin absorption, as with the pump it pretty much works straight away. We also wondered why she hadn’t explained this to us yesterday, which would’ve helped.

We now headed back to the cabin to try and set up another plan of action, we knew this was going to be a difficult task, never mind adding things like food etc. lol 🙂  

Wow, what a night! That’s 2 nights without sleep already, and it’s time to set up the alarms for every 2 hours on my phone. Sleep is not going to come easy from now on…is the coffee port open yet? Might as well have a nice coffee if i’m awake! 🙂

Only 3 more days at sea (i’ll merge into one post) until we reach Horta, Azores, where we can hopefully do some more excursions! 🙂 

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 8 ~ Paradigm Shift

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Goodbye Caribbean…hello massive ocean…

After another amazing 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 “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 it’s 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, 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 game plan 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!!! 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Way

A view of the island and sea as we take off from Mallorca

⇧“On The Way” home from our “Transatlantic Sunset Tour”. 🙂 ⇧ 

A close up shot of Bruce(our old boxer dog) sprining towards me with his face blown out of proportion by the wind

Bruce THE Boxer ~ “On The Way”, to running straight into me! “) ⇧ 

My other “Weekly Photo Challenges

Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

Pisa Tower

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

FOR This weeks photo challenge “BROKEN”, i just had to post a few photos from my “Tuscany Tour” holiday. 

known worldwide for its unintended tilt to one side. It is situated behind the Cathedral and is the third oldest structure in Pisa’s Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) after the Cathedral and the Baptistry. The tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight.  

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

 More of my Weekly Photo Challenges 

Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 7 ~ St Johns, Antigua

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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 horseback trek.

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 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 goodbye 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.

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 4 ~ Road Town, Tortola

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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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 2 ~ My 40th Birthday At Sea

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Happy 40th Birthday!!!

 Waking up to a pile of cards and a present beautifully wrapped from Sarah travelling across the Caribbean sea was a special 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 eye 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. 

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Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 1 ~ London – Jamaica

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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 drank a nice coffee and 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 Dreamlinerimage 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 9 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! lol. The Air conditioning was fantastic and the time just seemed to fly by! 🙂 

 Montego Bay, Jamaica…

Who turned on the massive hair dryer?! It was hot, but we managed to get through the airport and get on the bright yellow bus that will take 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 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! 🙂 

a photo of the lounge area in the suite

Suite bedroom with excellently folded bed covers

The cabin crew said that we had beaten our suitcases to the ship, so we went for a little exploring.

Well i said exploring…we found the fantastic “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 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. lol.:)

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 enjoyed Day 1? Hope to see you at sea on Day 2! 🙂 

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Wow…What A Rollercoaster Of A Trip!!

Sarah  i in Caribbean

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧ 

From stunning, breathtaking views, horse riding in paradise, dancing with dolphins, River paddle boat trip, various island bus tours, 4×4 volcano ride, cable cars, OH…. and Sarah’s medical emergancy in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, it’s been an unbelievable few weeks on our cruise holiday to the Caribbean, Azores & Spain. 

Sarah & i arrived back on Saturday, but after going to our local A&E on Monday, we both have been suffering with respiratory tract infections for a couple of weeks now.

So please be patient with me as i’m trying to import all of my photos and sort them out ready for posting here for a daily tour of our trip. But the computer is burning my eyes at the moment so is slowing me down a little, also the headaches, coughing and loss of energy is not helping, but that won’t stop me! lol. 

I’m not sure how long each post will take, and still not sure whever to post on Rebus Photography & iChristian or just on Rebus Photography…I don’t want to duplicate, but i know i have different friends on each blog, so also don’t want anyone to miss the posts. What do you think??

Please join Sarah & i on this incredible journey:

Transatlantic Sunset Tour: Day 1 ~ London – Jamaica

Tuscany Tour: Day 8

Click Tuscany Tour logo to start the tour from day 1

Up bright and early, packed and ready to go (well we’d like to stay another week) 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! 🙂

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” Fantastic! 🙂

Sun from the airplane

I think God just smiled at me! 🙂

Begin Tour

Tuscany Tour: Day 7

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Sarah & i started our final full day with the legendary amazing 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 reach 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 i forgot! 🙂
The experience was sublime. Everything was fantastic and it’ll be a meal we’ll never forget!  
 
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. 
 
Who’d of thought that after being registered blind 14 years ago, i’d be here in a photography exhibition?!! Thank you Lord for always surprising me, and giving me a gift i just can’t explain! 

Tuscany Tour: Day 4

Click Tuscany Tour logo to start the tour from day 1

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 (see Day 3). 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 (see Day 1).

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

 You’ll be very pleased to know that my next post (Day 5) 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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Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – San Gimignano

Click Tuscany Tour logo to start the tour from day 1

The dark cloak of night consumed us, light had escaped the dungeon of darkness but had vanished..…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 what we were about to experience!

Welcome to San Gimignano…

San Gimignano

After 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… 

No amount of photos could ever get across the feeling of this place! The black windows towering over you from each side, the silence and the shadows 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! 

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. 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

As 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. 

I really hope you’ve enjoyed joining us on the “Tuscany in a day” tour?!

Which city was your favourite?

The Siena Cathedral with its humbug bell tower, is my favourite church building of all time (so far).

What is your favourite church building? And why?

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Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – Siena

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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 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!!  🙂

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. 🙂

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Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – Vinci & Chianti

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As we left the amazing Pisa, Chiara (our tour guide) gave us some more interesting yet gruesome Tuscany history about the Medici family killing 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 inside the museum much too dark, so we struggled to see any of the fantastic creations on display. Sarah was 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 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, 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!) and that was much better! 

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 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

I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip so far?! Next stop Siena!! 🙂

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Tuscany Tour: Day 3 – Pisa

Click Tuscany Tour logo to start the tour from day 1

I forgot to mention in my older 2 posts in this Tuscany Tour series, 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 dare i say boring! If you’re just joining the “Tuscany Tour” for the first time then you can click here to start from Day 1.

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 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 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. 🙂

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

After this final panoramic photo, we 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”. Please take your seats and see what’s coming next! 🙂

⇍ Previous Day — Next Day ⇏

 

Tuscany Tour: Day 2

Click Tuscany Tour logo to start the tour from day 1

As Sarah & i were about to leave the room to try our first breakfast, we suddenly heard a 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…

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 had save 2 locations to the favourites – the hotel and the palace, so they would b 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!! 🙂 

Please join us on day 3 to see how we got on!!

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Tuscany Tour: Day 1

Click the Tuscany Tour Logo to start from day 1.png

Wow, wow, wow!! What a fantastic and surreal experience!! 

After spending 1 week in Italy pretending to be a photographer, and being blown away by the beauty and simply magnificent sculptures, architecture & History of this amazing part of the world. I’ll try and bore you to death with my day to day experiences. 🙂

I’m trying to create a post for each day we were there (maybe extra ones too!) as we did a few tours which included Pisa, Vinci, Chianti, Siena, San Gimignano & of course Firenze. 

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.

⇧ Airplane Mode ⇧
 
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, 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.
 
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? Hope to see you on Day 2 as we explore a little more…!!!

My Fireworks Photos For Bonfire Night! :)

Fireworks 3

Fireworks 2

Fireworks 4

Fireworks 1

Fireworks 5

Suzanne Firework

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

Pedestrians Sign

The Challenge “This week, publish an image of a sign — from the signs you encounter on the street to more personal, less obvious signs that hold meaning for you.”

 On a walk in London, alongside the river Thames, Sarah & i stumbled across a surprising Sign inviting us to “Walk on the water”.