iReminisce: Group B

me and Sahar in front of the beautiful Corsican hills

Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends

No way we’re in Corsica! My lovely wife Sarah is going to kill me for ruining this post with another of my digressions…But my fave cars of all time raced here and i can’t contain myself….Yes it’s Group B rally cars!  

Awwww i can hear that ferocious engine sound (and the monster dump valve) of one of my favourite cars…The Lancia Delta S4. It had an Abarth-designed supercharged and turbocharged 500bhp 1.8-litre engine, it could hit 60mph in just over two seconds…And this was 1986! 

But…After a fatal accident (here in Corsica) Group B rally cars were banned and a FISA investigation later proved that drivers’ reactions were too slow to keep up with Group B cars, and drivers’ eyes could not adjust their focus between the fast corners, which caused tunnel vision. Now that’s fast…And insane!! 

They said the cars had so much raw power but with little containment…I have a wife like that, lol! Sorry Sarah! 🤣  

View our full day in Corsica

iReminisce: The Original Olympic Start Line

The start line…

I thought the heat was blistering already but it didn’t prepare me for the inferno when we walked underneath the archway and onto the track. 🔥🔥

Sarah said “Steve you’ve got to get a photo of me at the original olympic start line! I’ve only been out of my aircast for a few weeks and it would make a great photo…Zena (Sarah’s friend) will comment straight away and tell me off, lol (she did). 😀  

“Here goes” i said “No pressure at all for this shot…It’s only a one off picture” But it worked and Sarah looks fantastic! Sarah had gone for months with an aircast, and now seeing her on the start line looking like a true olympian was another emotional moment for me. She really is my warrior princess wife! ❤️❤️❤️ 

Sarah doing a

View our full day in Olympia

iReminisce: Corinth Canal

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

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

View our full day in Corinth

iReminisce: The Hokusai Dress

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! ⬆

view our full cruise from Croatia

‘Steve’s Blindman Trail Marathon’ in memory of my mum Valerie ❤️

Hi all, this is the official release for my fundraising towards my brobdingnagian challenge…It’s exactly 7 calendar months until my trail marathon! 💪🏼 

‘Steve’s Blindman Trail Marathon’ in memory of my mum Valerie ❤️

I’m planning to step off the sidelines again soon… this time in memory of my wonderful mum, Valerie who died after a 14 yr struggle with Multiple Sclerosis, in the same month that I was registered blind.
I’ve always wanted to do something positive to celebrate her life and as you may know, my lovely wife Sarah has just started work at the MS Society. I can think of no better time or charity to make my fundraising in memory wish come true and I can finally add my mums name to the MS Society fight to stop MS. 💪🏼

I know I’ll be stretching myself past my limits for this challenge and so your encouragement and support would really help me to keep my training on track. Any donation you can spare would build my morale and endurance so I can smash this and reach my £1,000 goal to make my mum proud.

Together we can be a force for change and BEAT MS

1 MS Society Banner Marathon 001

Steve’s Blindman Trail Marathon
Fundraising for Multiple Sclerosis SocietyIn Memory of my mum Valerie

Story…

Hi, I’ve chosen to raise funds for MS Society and I’d love everyone who kindly decides to support me and this amazing charity, to take a moment to remember my lovely Mum Valerie!

She spent so much of her too short life giving to me and my siblings before MS took her independence and eventually her life. This is why I’ve decided to give something positive back. I want her name and face to join the fight so that she can live on through the tireless work the MS Society is doing to find treatments that will stop MS for good. 💪🏼

My beautiful mum passed away from progressive MS, after a courageous and tiring 14 year battle, in July 2000.

As you may know I’ve been registered blind since I was 25. My sight loss happened in the same month my mum finally lost her life and missing her added misery to my own struggle to come to terms with the isolation and insecurities of managing my new life as a blind man.

And so…….

My Challenge…Sunday 24th April 2022

I originally planned to take part in an MS officially organised event but quickly realised that with my sight loss walking an unknown route amongst so many people would create too much external stimuli on my senses and be too confusing for me to manage without serious injury.

I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do the challenge at all but I’ve finally found a safe(ish) trail about 2.5 miles long, in the woods and past a lake near my home. I am hoping this will work well as my walking route, (I’ve now learned it enough to be able to follow it without guided help). I think this trail will work really well for me to do my trail marathon challenge … if I can manage to make my way safely around this uneven, hilly, rough terrain about 11 times! 😰

I’ve begun to realise, as I write about this challenge during the start of my training, that I’ve only managed 2 laps each time so far, after which I collapse, needing water and food, lol! I have no idea how I’m going to continue for 11 laps non-stop but I’ve got seven more months to build up my strength and endurance… I hope. 🙏

It’s slowly dawning on me that this challenge is going to include around 8 hours non-stop blind walking… Ouch that’s going to hurt and take a lot of concentration, mental effort, strength, energy and discipline. And so before I get time to change my mind, I’ve decided to create a JustGiving fundraising page and I’ve notified the MS Society…so no backing out now 🤣.

Please help me complete what feels like an impossible challenge in memory of my wonderful mum… because Together we are strong enough to beat MS. 💪🏼

You can follow my training over the next 7 months on my Fitblitz blog and I will use my apple watch to count the steps, miles and elevation etc of the challenge, uploading the screenshots to let you know of my adventures and celebrate with me if I finish, lol! 🙌  

About Multiple Sclerosis Society

Over 130,000 of us in the UK have MS. It’s unpredictable and different for everyone. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re the MS Society. We understand what life’s like with MS. We’re here for you through the highs, lows and everything in between. Together, we are strong enough to stop MS.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

Click HERE for my JustGiving page.

QR Code for my JustGiving page: 

Please click of hold your camera at this QR code for my Blindman Trail Marathon JustGiving page

☀️ #58 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Oranjestad, Aruba” 🇦🇼 (2019)

The Blind Sightseers logo

  Hi friends and welcome to Day 58 of this monumental, inconceivable and definly memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Aruba Logo

🇦🇼 Good morning friends!

Thanks for joining me and Sarah on another Birthday celebration cruise and stay in the Caribbean, it’s great to have you guys along for the ride.

Marella Explorer (Apr 2019)…🛳  

Unbelievably this is the Blind Sightseers 6th cruse! We have never been on the Marella Explorer and Sarah had booked cabin 8001 which is dead centre and right at the front of the ship. She chose this cabin as she thought the views from the window would be fantastic….She’s right again! 😎 

All it was missing is a steering wheel. 🤣  

A view of a sunset from our cabin on the Marella Explorer looking directly forward and centre at the front of the ship

⇧ View from our cabin Nø 8001 ⇧ 

Sea logo

Sarah stood on the deck looking out to sea with a cargo ship in the far distance

Before getting to Aruba we had a day at sea. We were pleased with this as it gave us time to walk about 80,000 steps to find out where we could get Breakfast and the evening meal…But most of all find the Coffee Port to see if they made lovely strong coffee? They did! 😀  

 🇦🇼 Aruba…

As usual we had booked an excursion for each of the 5 islands we were visiting (you didn’t think you’d come away to rest?!) and todays excursion is: De Palm Island – Full Day, Aruba.

De Palm Island has got it all. Set adrift off the Aruban coastline, this private reef offers up pristine waters and a huge variety of exotic marine life, it’s a first-class spot for an underwater exploration. Your day will start off with a short boat trip over to the island, where the friendly staff will be waiting to meet you. After a short safety briefing, you’re ready to slip on your mask and wade into the warm, clear waters. Expect to meet friendly blue parrotfish and angelfish. Back on dry land, there’ll be time to sprawl out on the sand, take your seat for a banana boat ride or visit the island’s small waterpark before heading back to the ship. Don’t forget that a full buffet lunch and refreshments throughout the day will be included. 

On the dock…🛳  

Marella Explorer over the sea whilst stood on the dock

 We had a short walk around the dock until we arrived at the place to get the little fun boat. 

The little fun boat…🚤

 Yay, it didn’t disappoint as it bobbed up and down spraying us in the face with nice cool sea water. 

Me bottom right with a view over the little boat filled with our group

De Palm Island…🏝

My lovely wife Sarah

 ⇧ My lovely Wife Sarah catching some long awaited sunshine outside the cafe ⇧ 

When booking this shore excursion we had visions of excitement and adventure from the amazing Xel-Ha island in Mexico, unfortunately this wasn’t like that. This place was tiny in comparison which worked well for us not getting lost but there wasn’t much to do either. The weather was overcast and muggy, until the clouds parted and gave the sun chance to burn a hole through your flesh! 🔥 

I was well impressed by the solid wooden walkways that curled around the whole place, and i marvelled on how long it must have taken to construct this very accessible path. When i was fully sighted i worked as a panel beater in a bodyshop so i know a little about sanding etc. I was enjoying the smoothness of the wood when Sarah pulled me from my reverie…“Steve! Come on stop touching everything to see how smooth it is, lol!” 🤣  

We found the cafe first (funny how that happens) and use it as our starting reference point. We found a souvenir shop (we’ll be back) then the toilets (useful) and passing the bar and food court (Mmmmmm) we stumbled upon the sun bed area. Seeing that all of the sun beds were taken and we’d only just got here, we walked back to the cafe to see if they had iced coffee?! 😀  

Walking around the cafe looking at the assortment of food we suddenly heard an american man with a bright and cheery accent right behind us “HOWDY” Sarah and i turned to face him and he continued “I hope you don’t mind me interrupting? But i saw you have an insulin pump and wanted to ask about it” Sarah talked to him about how long she’d had Type 1 diabetes and how long she’d had the pump. The man was a chemist/Pharmacy person and his niece was debating whoever to get one or not? After Sarah talked about how much of a life saver the pump has been i think his niece will be getting one! The man (sorry forgot his name) had arrived on the ‘Celebrity Silhouette’ cruise ship that we’d noticed towering over ours in the dock, and it was also his first time in Aruba, then we finished up our coffees (no iced coffee, just a machine) and parted ways with the lovely man. 😀  

Me stood on the left in a orange caribbean shirt carrying a black backpack with views of palm island, Aruba in the background

 Yay…It was the first time in a while that i’d been able to wear the bright orange shirt i bought in Saint Kitts from our first cruise…Read all about it here.

We quickly figured out that this place was mainly for snorkelers, and that wasn’t an activity the ‘Blind Sightseers’ could do (yes even we have limits, lol). We managed to secure 2 sun bems ( nobody wanted them as they were in the shade) and as i sat down Sarah went to see if she could have a paddle in the sea?! Sarah quickly returned looking sad as they’re were rocks pretty much all the way round and lots of ‘Beware of Jellyfish’ signs. More clouds came and lowered the temperature so we walked into the food court place as it was lunchtime already.  

Yay…I was happy as they were mainly serving burger and chips (well french fries which are fake chips) and Sarah said they served salad too! 🤣 Once again (like the sun beds) every table was taken except the only one in the blistering sun no-one wanted…So we sat down and i placed my ‘Tactical sun hat’ on my frying head and enjoyed the burger, although i wasn’t sure which one of us was barbecued, lol!  🍔  ☀️  😀  

“HOWDY” the man said whilst walking past, i said to Sarah “I don’t have to ask who that was as his accent is fantastic” as we waved in his general direction. As Sarah and i can’t make eye contact it’s almost impossible to make friends or start a conversation unless people come over to us. So it felt great to make a friend here who always says “Howdy” when seeing us! 😀  

Sarah & i had a great time wondering around this beautiful little island and we found lots of little places until stumbling into….The gift shop! We love to find souvenirs that help us remember the amazing journeys/adventures we have conquered, and Sarah bought a fantastic t-shirt with “Biba Dushi” written on the front. Biba dushi in Aruba means “living the sweet life”. The language is actually called Papiamento and is one of Aruba’s two official languages spoken by many on the island. Papiamento is a Creole language derived from Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and African languages.

Back at the ship…🛳 

After another fun ride on the little boat back to the ship, we had enough time to get changed, leave our bags and have a well needed iced-coffee before heading out to explore as much as we can without getting lost before the ship leaves.

We walked up one street and turned right before Sarah stopped and said “Wow, that lady is having her photo taken in front of that cool wall art/sign. Quick get one of me” “Ok my lovely, you’re wearing your new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt too, i hope i get everything in”. Sarah had bought this t-shirt for our holidays and couldn’t wait to put on the lovely bright colours and flowers.

Sarah stood on a surf board in her new yellow Michael Kors t-shirt.

 This is one of my fave photos as it shows Sarah’s smile is as bright as her t-shirt. 

Walking back to the ship we finally found a local Bauble maker…Her daughter makes and paints them herself. We bought a beautiful one which even had a cruise ship painted on with the Aruba island and even 2019 on it. 🎄 😀  

We’ve started collecting Christmas Tree Baubles since i started going abroad 5 years ago. We love unpacking them at Christmas and filling the tree with all  of the places we visit. We think its a lovely idea to fill the tree with our lives journeys and give thanks to God for everything.

Our wonderful new friends…😀  

Photo of 6 of us after a lovely evening meal. Sarah & i meeting 5 new friends

Sarah & i like to share a table with other passengers, mainly to take this opportunity to try and be sociable( being blind and trapped in your very small world & not having any eye contact it’s almost impossible to be sociable. or start conversations). So asking someone to read the menu for you because we are blind is a great ice breaker, lol! 

We met 2 lovely couples that night and you will hear a little more about them throughout this trip.

Thanks for joining us on our visit to Aruba! Have you been here before? 🤔

We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #51 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Martinique” 🇲🇶 (2018)

The Blind Sightseers logo

  Hi friends and welcome to Day 51 of this monumental, inconceivable and definly memorable blind sightseers tour….! 

Martinique logo

 Bonjour mes amis (Good Morning My Friends) and welcome to Martinique! 

Sorry but Sarah & i didn’t managed to take any photos at all on the very wet shore excursion. Yes even i was in my wet gear (last time ever Sarah has commanded) and we had no water proof cameras. But this is a must read and a gripping drama of an adventure we’ll never forget! 😲  

Side note…Although it’s called a post it’s actually more like a short story. So settle back with your favourite beverage and enjoy the drama! 😨  

Let’s have a look and see where we are going…🤔  

Kayaking Mangroves Martinique…🛶

Had your fill of sunbathing and swimming? This is one for the more active crowd. You’ll first travel to a nearby islet to pick up your kayaks. And with paddles at the ready, you’ll head off into the quiet mangroves. You’ll be in the water about 40 minutes, gliding under tropical canopies. And red and black mangrove trees sprout from the water. Guides are on hand to make sure you get the most out of the day and help you perfect your technique. Plus there’s plenty of time to chill with a fruit juice, or swim in the sea before taking the boat back to the ship.

On the dock and boarding the boat…🛳  

After another lovely breakfast we left the ship and joined our excursion guide on the dock. We stood waiting for a while and started talking to a lovely man and his grandson who he was taking on our trip. When the man knew i was registered blind and still kayaking and swimming he seemed to relax a little. Yay i can help without helping! 😀  

We were then guided onto a small fun boat, it had a totally flat and wide floor (like a dance floor) so was easy for me to get on. We took our seats around the edge of the boat and it pulled away bobbing across the sea. The cool sea breeze flowed briskly through the boat (which i enjoyed) and before long we were pulling up to a small islet from what seemed like a beautiful film set!. 😲 Sarah unplugged her insulin pump and stored it safe in our bags that we’d left on the boat, then we stepped off the boat and after a short lesson on kayaking we were ready to get in. 

The kayak and the mangroves…☀️  

 As this was the second time we’d tried kayaking (1st time in Mexico) we thought we knew what to expect. Sarah climbed in the back seat and i sat in the front waiting for the navigator (Sarah) to direct. The guide took us across the open sea and we swiftly pulled into line about half way up the group. We were kayaking across the open Caribbean sea and it was incredible, it’s such a lovely feeling being out in the open sea. Then we started to turn towards the mangroves. The group pulled in tight as we made our way along the stunning narrow waterway. 

Then…😨  

I heard a commotion a head of me and a screaming/shouting. As we pulled nearer a woman had fallen in and her husband was still in the kayak trying to help her. The woman was freaking out and on the verge of hysterics and could not be reasoned with. As a side note…During our boat ride from the ship the guides showed the group huge photos (about A3) of the omnifarious types of creatures out there including huge crabs that lay on the floor and the sides of the mangroves, and i think the woman had those photos still etched in her mind. Sarah said the woman was up to her shoulders in water and couldn’t get back in to the kayak. Her paddle had hit the side of our kayak so we stopped to give her support and save her paddle for when she gets back in. 😨  

 With the woman safely back in the kayak (she was fuming) the group continued along the amazing mangroves until we stopped for a rest before heading further along for about 20 minutes until it opened back out in to the Caribbean sea. Now we could test the top speed as we flew back to the little dock thingy. I wouldn’t say our kayaking always went smoothly and we have had a few crossed paddles along the way, but we had fun and made it back. 🤣  

The boat and the short beach break…😲  

 We sat back down on the boat (tired) after a fantastic kayak trip and the guide said “It’s about half an hour until we get to the beach, so relax and come and have a fresh cold drink at the bar area at the front of the boat. I said to Sarah “That was the Blind Sightseers 2nd kayak trip and we made it without sinking or capsizing again” “Yeah i know” Sarah said very slowly and quite slurry. At firs i thought she was just tired as it took a lot out of us with all of the paddling, and how could it be a hypo as she hasn’t had her pump attached? But i said “Are you ok?” If it is a hypo then i need to hear her speak so i know it is for definite. “I think i’m having a hypo?!” Sarah said as she looked at her pump to clarify the very low reading. I knew Sarah really wanted to enjoy the beach we were heading towards but this was going to be a big hypo! 😨  

I jumped up and headed for the juice bar and asked for any full sugar orange juice if they had any? They did and Sarah was just with it enough to be able to drink it…Now we wait to see if the sugar kicks in or Sarah passes out. I do not enjoy this bit at all, but i just think about how Sarah must be feeling and stop complaining! The music on the boat was loud, the people were chatting away while i was trying to keep Sarah sat upright. About 15 minutes had passed and the juice wasn’t really working, so i got up and asked for another one. I knew Sarah really wanted to go on the beach and would be upset if she missed it, but i also knew she’d be absolutely freezing after this hypo…The T1D’s who read this will know exactly what i’m talking about, the bone chill that happens is like your bone themselves are frozen and the only way to get warm again is to have a hot bath. 

With about 5 minutes to go Sarah’s speech became much more normal again and she asked if we’d already been to the beach. “Not yet my love, we are about 5 minutes away but we can just stay on the boat where it’s safe” I said with my arm around Sarah trying to get her warm. “Now way it’s freezing on here and it’s in the shade, at least the beach will be in the sun and i can warm up” “Good thinking” i said as people were getting ready to leave the boat. “Hang on” i said as i heard a couple of people splash into the water “It sounds like we are not on land” “No we’re not, we are in a beautiful film set looking place but the beach island is a long way over there” The guide said we have about half an hour until the boat sounds it’s 1st of 2 horns then you have a few minutes to get back on board, the guide continued You can swim over to the  beach if you want to as we have permission to use the bar there etc but make sure you’re back on the boat shortly after the 1st horn blast”. Sarah said “The sea should be warmer than being trapped in here and lots of people are getting off so we can have a swim over to the island and get warm” “Sounds like a plan, let’s go”.💪🏼  

The sea and the island…🏝

Sarah guided me to the back of the boat and there were steps leading down to the sea. “Steve you can sit on the bottom step and then push yourself off” “Which way is the beach?” Sarah pointed at a 90˚ angle to her right “Ok thanks if i can’t tread water i’ll head that way until i hit land”, here goes…

As i slid off the last step i went straight under and started to sink like a stone. At the same time salt water filled my lungs as i panicked and i seemed to stop breathing. I kicked my legs and frantically thrust my arms in a a swimming motion with little effect…At first. More water filled my mouth and lungs and finally my head poked out of the water. I think the panic of drowning was overtaking me as i couldn’t keep my head above water long enough to spit out all of the salt water. Treading water was out of the question but if i swam i seemed to stay on top. I only know 2 swimming strokes Breast stroke and doggy paddle (doggy paddle really wouldn’t work right now). I said to myself “Steve you’re not drowning here and leaving Sarah all on her own…Just swim to the beach” I knew if i stopped then i’d drown , and i knew roughly which way the beach is so i started the breast stroke (i’m really good at breast stroke). The faster i went the less likely i was going to drown so i kicked and pumped my arms as hard as i could!

I seemed to be swimming for quite a while and i couldn’t hear Sarah at all, i thought Sarah wouldn’t leave me out here alone? But maybe she is next to me or behind me as i can only hear the water forcing it’s way into my ears, either way i’ll meet up with her on the beach as she is an amazing swimmer”. There was no beach or island getting any closer and i tried looking and i thought i could see a shadow of something to my right (it was just blue everywhere else) so i steered myself towards the shadow and kept pumping my quickly tiring arms and legs.

“YES” i said whilst spitting out another mouthful of salt water “This looks like an island. OUCH” i said as my knee hit something sharp and hard, it stopped me dead and i kicked my legs around to try and get purchase on something. I was so thankful that i’d bought some ‘Hot Tuna’ beach shoes with heavy rubber tread, as all i could feel with my feet were lots of points like hundreds of tall pointy pyramids trying to pierce me. As i’m blind i’m really good at feeling with my feet to compensate my sight loss, and after a few attempts i managed to grip on with a foot either side of the huge point. I was crouched and wobbling as i tried to counter the waves hitting me constantly but i was glad of the rest. Looking straight ahead (where i thought the boat would be) i saw nothing but blue. “Wow no boat or people” i could also hear nothing or no-one. “How far have i swam” i thought whilst looking to my left, i was using and straining my very blurry sight to it’s limit but i could make out that this islet i was on continued further along. Realising i couldn’t stay hear (especially as my foot slipped and my left shin is stinging like mad) i pushed away. 😨  

Finally after swimming around those nasty pointy things  i crawled my way onto the beach. “I thought they said there was a bar here” i thought whilst hearing nothing as i sat down to catch my breath and to think about what had just happened. I expected to hear Sarah calling me…But nothing. I looked out again straining until my eyes burned but couldn’t see a boat either. My left shin was really stinging and i knew it was bleeding and had salt water in it,…

Then…😨  

As i was rubbing my hands to get the sand off i noticed my wedding ring was missing. My heart dropped through the floor so i checked again…Still missing. My first thought was “Sarah’s going to kill me” as i dropped to my knees to search around the sand with my sweeping hands. I couldn’t find it and knew it probably flew off in the mad panic from the boat, so i started walking up and down the beach at the sea edge and thought, “if people were looking for me at least they have a better chance of spotting me if i’m up and moving”. The beach was only about 50 meters long and i’d done a few lengths already and still heard nothing. I walked another time up and down the beach with the realisation of my predicament setting in. I was tired, i’d lost my wedding ring and i was lost on a Caribbean islet, i’d stopped walking at this point and was just looking out into the vast blue sea deep in prayer and thought when…

“Steve?” i looked a little to my right where i’d heard the noise and thought “That’s not Sarah’s voice” “Steve?” “Yes” i said as the man continued “Sarah (your wife) has sent me to guide you back to the boat” I was almost in tears of relief as i started to walk into the sea and join him. He continued “How much can you see?” “Very likktle” i said “Ok just follow my voice as i keep shouting at you”. I was back in the water and swimming along behind my navigator as we arrived at the rear of the boat. My mind was picturing me swimming into the propellers and slicing me into a thousand pieces just as i thought i’d made it, but i hit the bottom step instead. 😲

Here is a photo of my wedding ring that is still in Martinique! 

Wedding Rings

Climbing the last step and into Sarah’s arms she said “You’re not swimming ever again!” i replied “I do not disassociate myself from that statement!”. Sarah continued “Do you have any idea how terrified i was that i’d lost you?!

I heard you enter the water as i was looking down to make sure i didn’t trip on any of the tiny steps. A lady who was smashing around with an inflatable lilo and another person were totally distracting me with another inflatable they’d pulled out of nowhere, so when i’d looked up…You’d disappeared. I quickly looked to the right (towards the beach) to see if i could see anyone swimming in that direction, nothing. I looked straight ahead and still nothing. For some reason i looked out to the open sea, and just caught sight of your head bobbing up and down, The woman on the lilo kept chatting and chatting really loudly, people were behind me getting more drinks and some were trying to get into the water, it was really confusing. I tried asking the woman on the lilo to help but she wouldn’t leave her lilo, so i asked a man behind me for some help, and when i turned back around…You’d vanished again! More time passed and my thoughts didn’t get any happier. I was still freezing and feeling a little sick after the hypo, i just wanted you back and to get a hot shower back in the cabin to get rid of this bone chill.

I continued asking for help when this kind man came over to me and i told him how you were heading for the beach, but i’d seen you in the opposite direction heading out to sea! The man looked out to sea and couldn’t see you anywhere, then he looked towards the beach and couldn’t see you there either. A few more minutes went by and the man said “There he is!” “Where?” Sarah said “He’s on the beach walking up and down the beach” “Is he ok?” “he looks fine” “Steve is registered blind and won’t be able to see the boat never mind how he’s going to get back. Could you please go and guide him back?” I was so relieved when the man left to go and get you…And now here you are! You’re banned from ever swimming again and you’re never leaving my sight! 😡 

Safe on the boat…

We’d sat back down when i was about to tell Sarah about losing my wedding ring when she said “What have you done to your leg?” I lifted my throbbing leg up for her to see “Wow it’s cut and bleeding” “I know it’s stinging like mad” “Ibet it is, how did you do that?” I thought about a reply but it would be too long, and i’ll tell her the details later “I’ve got even worse news than my leg” “What could be worse than this?” I held up my hand and said “My wedding ring has gone, it must’ve come off in my blind panic (pun intended)”. I was expecting a drilling but got a hug instead “That’s ok i’m just glad to have you back” ❤️

Back on the ship…🛳  

Me and the marella discovery

⇧ Photo of the Marella Discovery from a later date ⇧   

After a refresh and a very strong coffee, we went to reception and asked if a nurse could take a quick look at my leg to make sure it wasn’t infected. We went down to the hospital deck and had my massive gaping wound (large cut) cleaned and got lots of large plasters to keep it covered for a couple of days. 😀  

We decided not to get dressed up for the evening meal and just go up and get a snack from the buffet restaurant. We were just walking in when…

The man,  his wife and his grandson walked up to us. The man was really limping as he approached and Sarah said “Oh no what happened? Did you enjoy the adventure today?” The grandson said he’d really enjoyed himself and the grandad said “I stepped onto a sea urchin and it pierced straight through my sea shoes and deep into my foot”. Sarah & i made the noise together “Aawwwww” “Yes it really hut and when i stepped backwards after the first sting, i stepped onto another one but luckily it didn’t get me as bad! Did you 2 enjoy the day?” Sarah relayed the story of what happened and showed him my leg. As we said our goodbyes i was in need of a chip butty! 😀  

As we sat down and chatted about the usual Blind Sightseers adventure i said “I didn’t know i could swim that fast?!” “Don’t start” Sarah said with a smile lighting up her face. 😀  

Thank you…

If you are still reading this and can’t quite believe what ’The Blind Sightseers’  can do on a simple shore excursion…Then we thank you profusely for coming along for the ride! This is still an abridged version but i know i can’t go on and on and on like Sarah says i do, lol! 🤣    

We’ll see you in the morning for another (hopefully less dramatic) shore excursion.

We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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☀️ #49 The Blind Sightseers “Escape The Lockdown” With Distant Memories: “Antigua” 🇦🇬 (2018)

The Blind Sightseers logo

  Hi friends and welcome to Day 49 of this monumental, inconceivable and definly memorable blind sightseers tour….! 

Antigua logo

 Good morning friends…Wow we’re in Antigua! 😲  ☀️  

Well the trip is still going ahead (i knew they wouldn’t cancel this one) but let’s remind ourselves what the ‘Blind Sightseers’ (and you) are doing today?! 😨  

Antigua Zip Line Canopy Adventure: 

Hear the distant sound of running water, exotic chirps and the whistling of birds flying over the canopy. This is an adventure playground with a difference. It all takes place 50 to 300 feet off the ground in Antigua’s rainforest canopy, including a series of 12 zip-lines – some stretching lengths of over 300 feet, a leap of faith, 3 aerial walkways and a suspension bridge. Not forgetting the hidden tree house where the world seems to stand still.

This thrilling journey includes 26 elements and 9 typical challenge course features, with water stations along the way. This really is an adventure in the sun! Don’t worry, you’re in safe hands, all the rangers here are trained to world challenge course standards and before you set off in your harness you’ll have a full safety briefing, to learn all about the equipment.

On the dock…🛳  

Yay we’re back in Antigua! If you remember the last time (our first time here) we did horse riding across the beach. We love that all of the assistance people on the dock wear bright yellow t-shirts too. After following our assistance person to the taxi place we got in a nice minibus that took us to the deadly zip lines. 😨

The safety harness…

Our small group went inside and had a short safety briefing and as they know i’m registered blind i got my own assistant. They let me hold the harness and the huge carabiners. I started to feel a little better after holding the super heavy duty harness. The assistant strapped it on really tight and i was ready. I checked that Sarah was still next to me and had everything sorted too. Sarah often gets neglected as the people see that i’m the blind one and then leave Sarah to carry on without help…But Sarah is also registered blind but not quite as severely as me (totally different eye problems). 

The ranger dude…🙌  

Walking out and onto the start of the wooden bridge with thousands of steps leading up and through the rain forest and above the canopy Sarah and i was greeted by the amazing ranger guide (forgot his name unfortunately). He was simply fantastic and guided me up every step by calling out when a step was coming etc. He said “I’ll clip onto the cable behind you and fly down with you” i said “Thanks as i won’t be able to see the end and when i need to brake, i’ll just fly straight into the tree at the end like a cartoon character”. 🤣  

Here goes…😨  

Me on the zip line with te zip line dude attached to me

He used really clear instructions and before long i was lifting my feet up and landing on the platform at the other end. “Wow that was cool” i said whilst laughing and trying to find the rail to lean against. I wonder where Sarah is…Sarah was last and all on her own to figure out how to do it all, she of course managed it somehow! 😀 The ranger asked if we were both ok and if we enjoyed the little zip line to start with.

TH LITTLE ONE???

I said “Little one? Yeah it was amazing, so is there longer and higher ones?” “Oh yes the longest one is called the screamer and i’ll let you know when we get there as it takes a video of you too”. 

I remember wishing i had a camera up here as it was beautiful, and i still can’t believe we only had 2 photos and 1 video of the day…But that’s better than nothing. 🤣  

We had much more fun on the longer zip lines, climbing higher and higher steps with the guide passing us cups of water at each water station, wow i needed that. 

And then…The Screamer!!! 😲  

We finally arrived at ‘The Screamer’…It’s the highest, fastest and longest zip-line in this place. It stretches 328 feet across a ravine and is 350 feet above the rain forest floor.

I stepped slowly to the edge of the platform, my heart was trying to pound its way out of my chest…Even though i’m on beta blockers and my heart rate cannot go over 120bpm no matter how hard i try. I reached above my head and clipped my carabiner onto the cable and took a deep breath as I sat my whole weight into my harness. “Are you ready to make some noise?” the ranger dude behind me said “Oh yeah” and we stepped of the incredibly high platform…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8AOqkE3j4w

YAY…We’ve done it!! Sarah flew down too and even did a couple of spins (nobody likes a show off, lol) we both laughed lots and with just a couple of zip lines left we could safely say ‘The Blind Sightseers’ have conquered another challenge! 💪🏼  😀  

Me on the zip line with the zip line dude attached to me and we are high above the rain forest

 The cafe, bar and gift shop…😀  

Finishing the last zip line and then walking across rope bridges we ended up in the gift shop. I thanked the ranger profusely as he left to guide another group. 🙌  

“Wow it would be fantastic if we could buy something from here to remind us of this monumental day. Sarah found a beautiful Antigua bauble for our Christmas tree and she bought a really cool t-shirt (Sarah modelling it below) that says “For a good attitude, change your latitude”.

Photo of the back of Sarah's t-shirt

Returning to the dock…🛳 

We had a quiet ride back as we both were reflecting on managing zip lining as blindies and the relief that i didn’t die today. 😀 The minibus pulled in and we started walking back towards the ship for our iced coffee refresh when…

Sarah said “My hat” “What do you men?” i said “I’ve lost my hat?!” “What your really cool one that you’ve had for years” “Yes that one, i think i’ve left it at the zip lining place or on the minibus. I lost my sunglasses yesterday and now my hat today”. We walked back to the taxi rank and asked the man who then phoned one of his drivers. About half an hour later another minibus arrived with the second group from our tour and the driver had Sarah’s hat! Sarah must have left it in the cafe after all of the excitement! Phew! 🙌    

Back on the ship…🛳  

“Aww now that’s a  nice cold coffee” i said whilst sitting back in the lovely big arm chair in the coffee place “I can’t believe we’ve done it, a blind man (and woman) have done zip lining!” “I knew we would do it and i still get to keep one of my fave hats”. 😀  

We’ve booked a photo session tomorrow like the one we had last year when we were at ‘Olympia’, it’s a colour shoot this time instead of black and white. And of course as it’s another lovely new island we have another shore excursion booked too. 

Did you enjoy your time in Antigua? Have you ever done zip lining before? 

We’ll meet tomorrow…Same time…Same place for another adventure! 😀 

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🙌 Yay…Snow!!! 💪🏼 🤣

Finally it was our turn for some fun in the snow! 🤣 

After a nice warm coffee (and me getting a little too excited), we started out in our back garden. “Awww it’s the fat snow that make snowballs!!” ☕ 😀

Our back garden… 

2 Sarah back garden snow

3 Sarah back garden snow

The woods…

1 Me Ram Pond

After an exciting run around, we decided to venture out into the woods for a snow filled adventure.

1 Sarah woods

1 Sarah snow walk

My lovely wife Sarah started off looking all innocent, and she was guiding my way through the woods nicely…When…

Hey…They are like bowling balls” i shouted whilst being bombarded!!  

2 Sarah snowball

1 Sarah snowball

After Sarah unleashed a flurry of blasts…I took a large amount of damage and some of the hits were nearly fatal! I knew i had to return fire…

Here it comes…🤣 

2 Me Baseball snow

3 Me Baseball snow

Thankfully i managed to lower the amount of bombs coming my way…And as i’m blind and can’t see Sarah…I can hear her heartbeat and locate her position, lol! 🤣

Anyway, there is no harm in getting closer!

Screen Shot 2021 01 24 at 18 07 47

Now it was time for the big guns…Here is a nice (accessible for the blind) monster snowball to finish the job, lol! 🤣 

1 Me Rampage snowball

Wow…I hope you’ve had as much fun as me and Sarah in the snow?! Is it snowing where you are? 😀 

☀️ #20 Escape Lockdown 2021 With The Blind Sightseers: “CODE ALPHA!!”🌊🛳

The Blind Sightseers logo

Hi friends and welcome to Day 20 of this monumental, inconceivable and definitely memorable blind sightseers tour….!

Awww i told myself not to cry this time whilst reading this…I failed, my face is soaking! 

Sea logo

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 has the super 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 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 been 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! 😀  

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

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

Sea logo

Farewell Caribbean…hello massive ocean…

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

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

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

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

Back in the cabin..

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

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

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

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

The Hospital…🏥

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

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

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

The Phone Call…

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

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

Trying to relax…

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

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

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

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

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

This is becoming quite an adventure!!!  

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

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

Click logo to return to Day 1

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

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

Welcome to Paradise…🌴

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

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

St John beach 2

Photo of the horse instructor walking across the beautiful beach

 ⇧ The horseman strolling along the beautiful beach ⇧  

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

⇧ Horses being led to the sea to cool off ⇧  

The Horse Ride…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah ensconced in Sunshine! 🙂 ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

 ⇧ “Little Man & “Sunshine” ⇧ 

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

Sarah bareback riding

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

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

The Swim…

Sarah running towards the empty sea

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

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

⇧ What a way to relax! 🙂 ⇧  

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

Sarah portrait St John

 ⇧ I think Sarah enjoyed her swim! 😀  ⇧ 

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

 Back on the ship…

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

Our new friend…

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

Folded turtle from towels with my hat as the shell

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

St Kitts logo

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

Welcome to St Kitts… 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s stupendous Panorama of St Kitts ⇧  

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

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

⇧ Sarah & i at St Kitts ⇧

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

Excursion Details – St Kitts Scenic Railway…

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

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

The Bus…

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

View from the bus at St Kitts

⇧ A view from the bus window ⇧ 

The Train…

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

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

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

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

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

St Kitts 1

St Kitts 2

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

St Kitts 3

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

St Kitts Train

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

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

St Kitts Bus

We were then treated to another stunning bay!

St Kitts 7

St Kitts 6

St Kitts 5

St Kitts 4

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

Sarah St Kitts Train

⇧ Sarah sat at the front of the train! ⇧  

St Kitts Volcano

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

Train Bridge 1

Train bridge 2

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

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

St Kitts Church

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

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

My Platt  Blue Caribbean Shirt

⇧ My quiet blue shirt ⇧ 

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

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

 Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

Philipsburg St Maarten Logo

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

St Maarten Island Tour…(excursion details)

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

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

 

The Dutch Side…

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

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

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon…

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

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

Photo taken of Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

Lookout Point, Simpson Bay Lagoon.jpeg

St Maarten Bay 4

St Maarten Bay

⇧ Lookout Point – Simpson Bay Lagoon ⇧

The French Side…

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

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

Marigot…

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

St Maarten Bay 5

⇧ Marigot bay ⇧ 

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah’s St Maartens Coral Necklace ⇧  

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

Back On The Ship…

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

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

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

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

Great Bay Beach…

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

⇧ View of the cruise ships from Great Bay Beach ⇧ 

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

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

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

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

⇧ Sarah relaxing in paradise ⇧   

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

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

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

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

Towel Folding & Beyond…

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

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

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

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

Road town logo

Absorbing  The Landscapes…

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

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

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

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

A beautiful image of the small islands of Road Town

⇧ The beautiful coastline of Road Town ⇧  

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

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

Road Town hillside

⇧ The rolling green hills of Road Town ⇧  

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

The Dolphin Encounter…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1: Meeting the dolphin… 

Sarah on the right touching the dolphins nose

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

 ⇧ Sarah’s first touch of the dolphin ⇧ 

Step 2: Dancing with the dolphin… 

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

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

 ⇧ Sarah dancing with her new friend ⇧  

Step 3: The Kiss… 

Sarah getting a kiss from the dolphin

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

Dolphin totally out of the water half way through a jump

⇧ Dolphin showing its excitement after meeting Sarah! 🙂  ⇧  

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

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

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

Sunny Caribbee…

Sunny Caribbee

⇧ Photo of the shop front of Sunny Caribbee ⇧   

Sunny Caribbee Hot Spices

⇧ Bottled sauces with fantastic hats! 🙂 ⇧

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

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

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

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

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

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

⬅ Previous Day 🌴 Next Day ➡

🏝 Join us:

Start tour from beginning

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

La Romana

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

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

Sarah s Caribbean Outfit

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

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

Roman-styled 5,000-seat amphitheater…

a photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater left view

Amphitheater centre view

Photo of the circular seating of the Amphitheater right view

Sarah and the steps

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

Me at the amphitheater

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

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

Sarah fountain

Sarah fountain 2

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

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

St. Stanislaus Church… 

Church Dominican Republic

Me walking in front of the   Church

⇧ Me walking around wondering what to shoot next! ⇧  

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

 The Chavón River… 

Sarah at the Chavón River

Chavón River Chavón River 2

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

Sarah and the red dresses

Sarah and the red dresses close u

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

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

Chavón River 3

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

 Paddle Boats & Palm Trees…

Paddle boats and palm trees

Rambo river

Me on paddle boat

 ⇧ Me reflecting on God’s beautiful creation ⇧ 

Sarah paddle boat

 ⇧ Sarah feeling relaxed in the sun ⇧ 

Rambo river 2

Sarah on paddle boat

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

IMG 3249

Back on-board the ship…

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

Dominican Republic 2

Dominican Republic 1

Sarah Portrait on board

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

Our Route 4 2day…

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

 

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

 

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

Sea logo

Happy 40th Birthday!!!

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

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

⇧ Me sat with my lovely cards ⇧ 

A close up photo of my 40th birthday cards

⇧ My lovely cards – Thank you everyone! 🙂 ⇧ 

My new shirt and birthday badge…

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

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

⇧ Me wearing new shirt & birthday badge ⇧  

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

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

⇧ My fave seat in the Coffee Port ⇧  

Sarah’s Cornea Problems…

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

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

The Captains Gala Reception & Dinner…

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

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

Sarah  i at Captains Gala  1

⇧ Me & my lovely wife! ⇧ 

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

Our route 4 2day…

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

 

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

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

Jamaica Logo

Yay…Caribbean here we come!!!

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

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

London Gatwick Airport…

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

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

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

⇧ The Thomson 787 Dreamliner – image from Google images ⇧ 

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

 Montego Bay, Jamaica…

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

Wow that’s a big ship…

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

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

⇧ The Thomson Dream Cruise Ship ⇧ 

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

A Towel Elephant using the towels from our suite

⇧ A folded towel Elephant ⇧ 

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

a photo of the lounge area in the suite

Suite bedroom with excellently folded bed covers

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

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

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

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

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

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

⇧ Me on left wearing a life jacket ⇧

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

Hope to see you at sea on my 40th! 😀 

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

Tuscany logo Italy

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

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

Bus ride to Pisa

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

Sarah and i at Pisa airport

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

Sun from the airplane

I think God just smiled at me! 😀 

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

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

But…

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

To be continued…

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

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

East…

Church Tower

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

a black and white photo of a church

Building wit hroof statues

Pinocchio Workshop

Santa Croce black

North…

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

Christmas Cathedral

Florence Cathedral Bell Tower

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches

West…

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

Statue in North Florence

Florence side street building

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

Sunflower shop

Firenze archway

South…

Gold anyone!! 😀 

Florentine Gold

Corridor Windows

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

Sarah  the Medici Lion 2

Firenze Statue 1

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

Sarah at Santa Elisabetta

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

Florence Cathedral at night

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

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

To be continued…

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

Map of Europe with a blue dot on Italy

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

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

The Vasari Corridor….

Sarah owning the Vasari Corridor

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

Sarah s Gold

Sarah looking fluent in Florin! (Italian gold coin)  

Sarah at Tiffany s

Sarah at Tiffany’s! 😲

Sarah by the River Arno

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

Cappuccino   Cake

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

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

Sarah and the boar

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

Me waving at duomo

The Nativity

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

Now on to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi…

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

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

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

Me viewing the art

Couple of people touching the art  Me touching the Tactile exhibits

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

Ann and her paintings

And Christina’s photos…

Christina s Works

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

Palazzo Medici Riccardi Rear

Horse Ring

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

Bistecca alla fiorentina…..😲🥩

Bistecca alla fiorentina

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

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

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

To be continued…

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

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

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

Me with umbrella in narrow streets

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

Me and Coffee

 The Exhibition…..

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

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

Then…We turned into the main entrance…..

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

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

Crowds gathering with me in the background Art Senses Entrance 2

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

Me  Ann at Art Senses

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

Then…..

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

Me  Costanza at Art Senses

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

Me on the mic at Art Senses

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

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

Me  Costanza with my Photos at Art Senses

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

Crowd around my Photos at Art Senses

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

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

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

Me and the poster at Art Senses

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

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

To be continued…

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

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

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

Me sat drinking coffee outside staring at the sun

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

Firenze Walking Tour…

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

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

One of the roof statues

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

Dark skies hover over the amazing Santa Croce black

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

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

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

Palazzo Vecchio

Bronze statue of Cosimo Medici

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

The River arches

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

The River Arno Me  Sarah at the river Arno

Me  Sarah at Firenze river Bridge over river Arno

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

Firenze archway

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

Florence Cathedral Bell Twoer

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

Me stood in front of the gates of Paradise

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

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

Me in front of the Florence Cathedral

Florence Cathedral 1

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

Cake 

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

To be continued…

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

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

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

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

Welcome to San Gimignano…

San Gimignano

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

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

San Gimignano 4

San Gimignano 1

San Gimignano 5

San Gimignano 2

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

San Gimignano Shop

San Gimignano 3

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

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

San Gimignano 7

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

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

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

To be continued… 

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Siena…

Me stood in front of the Siena Christmas Tree

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

Siena Building

close up of windows on a Siena Building 2

Siena Arches

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

Siena Campo

Campo Tower

Siena campo windows

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

Siena Cathedral…

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

Siena Cathedrals humbug tower

Siena Cathedral Bell Tower

Siena Cathedral

a view of the stunning Siena Cathedral 3

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

Inside Siena Cathedral 2

Inside Siena Cathedral

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

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

Siena Campo 5

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

Siena Christmas Tree at night

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

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

To be continued… 

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

Welcome to Vinci…

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

Sarah looking over the Vinci Hills

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

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

A beautiful bell tower with purple blue sunrise over vince

A close up black and white of the Vinci Bell Tower

I really like bell towers!! 🙂

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

We did find a cool bike though!!

Vinci Bike

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

Vitruvian Man

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

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

Now for Chianti…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chianti Bottles on a shelf

Chianti barrells

look inside the Chianti shop

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

To be continued… 

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

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

Christmas Tree in the lobby of the Hotel Brunelleschi

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

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

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

Welcome to Pisa!

First for my tourist pose! 😀 

Me stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

And now it’s Sarah’s turn! 😀 

Sarah stood in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

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

Pisa Baptistry

Pisa Baptistry 2

The Cathedral  the tower

Lookin up at the Pisa Cathedral

Me looking at the tower

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

Pisa Tower

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

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

Tower from the cafe

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

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

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

Espresso tower Pisa

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

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

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

To be continued…

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

The Blind Sightseers logo

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

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

The Breakfast…

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

The search for the Palace…

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

Once out on the main street, i stood facing north (towards the Cathedral) and opened the Blindsquare app on my iPhone. I’d saved 2 locations to the favourites – the hotel and the palace, so they would be read out instantly and hopefully tell me (if the cellular network is good) where the locations are using a clock face description. It said “Palazzo Medici Riccardi is at 11’o clock at 350 yards”. Right let’s go! After passing the Florence Cathedral it was just a straight road until the Palace was on our left. Now to find the entrance which was another mammoth task for us …

A black and white photo of the amazing brick work of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi 1

We started walking around the outside of the whole building finding everything including a cash machine (very useful), clothes store & even a McDonalds (the poshest one we’ve ever seen). Finally we found it but we couldn’t see any sign of the Art Senses posters anywhere. We went inside anyway to have a look around where we’d maybe stumble across a tiny room being set up for the exhibition.

Inside the Palace…😲

Black and white photo taken from the inner courtyard looking up to the roof of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi arches 2

Black and white close up of the arches in the inner courtyard

Palazzo Medici Riccardi 3

As we were walking around, we both kept saying “I think we’re in the wrong building, there is no way the exhibition will be in here somewhere. But this place is amazing so we’ll keep looking”.

A photo of me looking upwards towards some amazingly designed door frames!

⇧ We totally need to get door frames like these!! 🤣  ⇧ 

Then a few minutes later i found a ceiling design for our home too!! lol.

an increible fresco ciellin g

As we entered the next couple of rooms, Sarah was oooing quite a lot, and now as i’m looking back over the photos to see what i was actually looking at, i should’ve known there were shoes! 😲

Sarah shoes gallery

After being amazed for a while longer, we decided to double check outside to see if this really was the Palazzo Medici Riccardi….It was!! 💪🏼  

I said “There is no way my photos are being exhibited in there, just no way”. 

Then as we turned to find our way back to the hotel, we suddenly realised there was a marathon going on!!

Yes a marathon, actually the 31st annual “Florence Marathon (Maratona di Firenze)”. Now the streets were not only packed, but worse still for us, blocked off so we couldn’t get back the way we came.

Photo of theFirenze Marathon

After a few hours of getting lost, trying different coffee shops and of course the clothes and shoe shops, we found ourselves by the river. Sarah said “oh, this is the river!!” I said “But isn’t the river south, way past the hotel in the other direction?”😕

Firenze River

We both realised we had no idea which way to go and we were both really tired from dodging people and with all of the noise, so we just decided to pick a street and walk up it. Then to our complete surprise as we were getting really fed up, Sarah said “That’s the sign to our hotel”, “No way, i had no idea we were here, now let’s get a takeaway coffee from our new local and rest for a while”.

A blue light shaped as a bell hanging over the street

After an eventful and tiring day, we decided to try heading east but only down one street as it’s dark now and we really don’t want to get lost again. The hanging street lights were beautiful and we found lots of clothes shops and a nice little sandwich/coffee bar to relax in for a while. 

As we returned to the hotel we booked a “Tuscany in a day” tour for the morning. We knew it was a lot in one day but it will be ideal for us. Now we were getting even more excited. I could be stood next to the leaning tower of Pisa!! No way!! 

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

To be continued…

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