Category Archives: Travel

Jersey at Easter

116Wednesday 5 April

Only home at 10pm last night from my witness duties in court in London and we are off again, this time on the afternoon fast ferry to Liverpool.

Big traffic jam to get out of Liverpool as there is a Premiership mach tonight but eventually get through tunnel and off to Shrewsbury for our overnight.

Thursday 6 April

No problems on route to Portsmouth via Flic’s in Reading after helping her move some books from their garage.

Friday 7 April

A bit of retail therapy at a few nearby shops and dinner tonight at Pizza Express in Petersfield, a place I don’t think I had been to before although might have had a visit when, as a Scout, we camped at nearby South Harting.

Saturday 8 April

 

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Portsmouth’s spinnaker

Foggy as we arrive at Portsmouth Harbour for our long crossing to Jersey for a long wait before we board – not a busy ferry despite it being the week before Easter but we are soon on our way past the Spinnaker and some interesting sights and ships as the fog clears quickly.

 

A very smooth crossing and again, probably another first, leaving Portsmouth in the morning.

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HMS Warrior 1860

 

Lots of reading time on the crossing to Guernsey and the town of St Peter Port is looking good in the sunshine on our stop for about an hour before we head off for Jersey.

Sunday 9 April

 

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Passing the time waiting for a bike ride

A bright and hot start which goes down hill rapidly with fog rolling in whilst we stand around and watch Harry in a taster cycle race at Les Quenevais.

 

Monday 10 to Thursday 13 April

Harry in Sports bugs at Le Rocquier School in the morning, so dropping him off at 8:30 and picking him up again at 12:00 each day.

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Peaceful Greve de Lecq

 

A Monday visit to Social Security to talk about Jersey pensions, Tuesday morning breakfast at Colleen’s in Greve de Lecq and all afternoons spent entertaining him with Lego Builder – his toy of the moment – and a build your own rocket.

Friday 14 April

Good Friday, so Sarah and Ali are off all day.

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What a view from Pizza Express

Evening meal at Pizza Express in St Brelade’s Bay – possibly one of the best located Pizza Express restaurants around but very noisy as lots of groups are taking advantage of the Bank holiday.

 

Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 April

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Daisy chain construction

 

Some time to reacquaint ourselves with some of the delights of Jersey such as a walk around the Reservoir at  Queen’s Valley picking daisies for a daisy chain and on Sunday evening a lovely meal with Laura & Jim at the Sommerville Hotel – plans hatched for holidays this year to Florida and next year to Alaska.

Monday 17 April

Easter Monday and whilst Elizabeth Castle was free to get in yesterday it would have been mobbed so we go today especially as the tides are right for the DUCK to go on the water which is on his “to do” list.

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Visitors up for a parade

 

The interaction with the public inside the castle is wonderful including marching soldiers and rifle firing – the latter not being one of Harry’s favourite things though.

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Castle bound transport

 

Now been to the castle more times than the 12 years we lived in Jersey – still fascinating though and Harry does like the freedom to run around.

However, a storm appears to be on the way meaning yachts are scurrying into the harbour for shelter.

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Storm clouds approaching

 

Tuesday 18 April

Harry off school as it is an inservice day at his school – go off to buy some plant pots that match the ones at home, a sit on the beach at Gorey and a catch up with Sue Thorne at Holme Grown.

Sarah & Ali are interested in moving house so we are off to St Brelade’s for a viewing of a house that needs a lot of work doing to it. All dependent upon schools, mortgages, planning (bounderies) and a few other issues though, so nothing definite.

Wednesday 19 April

Take Harry (who is a bit reluctant) to school and off to Ransom’s for breakfast, pack up the car – leaving their present house for the last time as it pans out – and down to town to meet with Sarah and Ali for lunch at Costa before queuing for well over an hour before we get on the delayed Condor Ferries boat back to Poole which leaves an hour late.

A bit of a jigsaw as two boats arrive at the same time, one from Guernsey and Poole and the other from St Malo.

Cars from Guernsey and Poole going to St Malo have to switch ferries as do the cars from St Malo heading for Guernsey and Poole.

 

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Not long to go, Flic.

All this takes place in a very confined port area – it is amazing they all get to their correct destinations.

 

Thursday 20 April

After a night near Poole, we head back to Reading to check up on Flic followed by a very long (time wise) drive to Liverpool to head home.

So much traffic and a journey that normally takes about 3.5 hours took 5.5 hours and we only just made the ferry before they pulled up the ramp.

We are back to look after Flic very soon though.

Back to Southampton and Storm Doris

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19 February

No more port days, only two more sea days until we get off and it is back to long trousers for day wear. Yes, the musical director,

Dane is being pressed into service for the classical concert this afternoon, so it was the French pianist who missed the ship and we later understand Matthieu took a local taxi to go up Mt Teide but the taxi driver abandoned him, so Matthieu started to walk back only to be mugged and lost his bag.

Nothing on this morning but Crows Nest is crowded as it is cold and windy outside so there is nowhere for the sun worshipers to go.

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Last night dinner

John & Deirdre a having difficulty finding room in their cases, have packed their “Black Tie” wear as tomorrow is a casual night only to see that the Horizon says tomorrow’s dinner and Captain ‘s cocktail invitation is a Black Tie event.😠

Evening entertainment is firstly from Jenny Williams with more singing, partly from the musicals, and the Blue Jays who I think we have seen before with their 1950s Rock and Roll songs.

The lady beside me obviously was just going there for something to do as she didn’t clap once despite it being one of the liveliest shows we have seen.

Still very rough, doubt we will get much sleep although I did manage an hour late morning.

20 February

Yes, not a lot of sleep last night but today we manage to stay awake for an interview with John Lyons the actor who can be seen on stage later in the year in Dial M for Murder and Father Brown.

He related the story that when he was 13 he was helped by Reggie Kray when he was seriously attacked in an E London Road by another gang and even taken to A & E by Reggie.

A back-down by P & O who realise that in error they advised in earlier information that tonight was a casual night but Horizon newspaper said Black Tie. Tonight’s dress code is therefore “optional”.

A “special” tea in the Peninsular restaurant for P & O’s 180th year but it didn’t seem overly special other than the extra calories it gave us!

Probably a 70% / 30% in favour of those dressing up tonight although perhaps this is slightly generous to those wishing to dress up. Entertainment tonight is the comedian, James Martin with more of the same type of comedy – not as good as two days ago and made even worse by the cackling of the two couples behind us.

21 February

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Group Photo with Brenda & Mick

Our last full day and we are now crossing the Bay of Biscay en route to Southampton with Sarah, Ali and Harry being passed in way off Andorra. Another calmish crossing (Force 4) of Bay of Biscay.

An early morning talk by last night’s comedian, John Martin, who talked with a great deal of authority on the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 during WWII – fascinating story with a film, Operation Anthropoid that could be worth watching.

Packing for our departure tomorrow, where is the present we have bought for Flic’s baby? It is getting cold, down to below 60F so we opt for lunch in the Peninsular Restaurant.

Talk to Brenda at some length and Captain Box passes and joins in – he says he has to be more careful with what he says to the crew of his personal boat than the P & O ships!

Some wonderful paintings on show from the art class held throughout the cruise and a good display of craft work including some cards, necklaces and sewing.

Entertainment tonight, another helping of the Blue Jays, a drink in the Crows Nest with John & Deirdre, Brenda & Mick and their friends Wendy and Colin.

22 February

Docking at about 06:00 after extra engine noise from about 5:00. Breakfast in the Oriental restaurant and good bye to John & Deirdre who are getting off earlier than us, hiring a car to drive back to Bromham – let us hope it goes well as John’s mobile phone stopped working before the 2nd US port so many weeks ago.

Our departure time is 10:10, and hopefully Flic has had a bit of rest at IKEA waiting for us whilst we spend time watching supplies arrive for the next cruise – up North to Norway to watch the Northern Lights.

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Supplies of potatoes for next cruise

And now for the journey home but no sooner than we have got into Flic’s car, we are told of a problem at Clearwell with a burst oil tank so that is going to be expensive and need resolving quickly.

Now for the 2nd piece of bad news, because of Storm Doris, tomorrow’s ferry home across the Irish Sea has been cancelled.

We have an enforced extra day in the UK – our ferry is now 14:15 on 24 February – so book a hotel and go after an Ikea visit with Flic & her friend Laura go off to our hotel at Tamworth where we were able to extend our stay for an extra night.

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Laura in IKEA

 

23 February

Storm Doris has arrived with a vengeance and our visit to a local shopping centre to stock up on a few emergency provisions resulted in us parking well away from the building – there have already been reports of roofs being lifted in the vicinity.

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Louis

Find our way to Sally’s cousin, Alan who lives nearby.  No Debbie, she is at work, but a few dogs to play with before we set out for lunch.

Our drive to the lunch venue – the Littleton Arms Hotel at Penkridge – is thwarted on three routes by fallen trees but eventually we reach the pub for a lovely meal.

By now the trees aren’t bending so much in the wind, the rain isn’t quite as bad as it was expected to be and after more cuddles with Louis we retire to our hotel.

24 February

Uneventful drive to Heysham for a surprisingly calm crossing home to Douglas and mountains of post including a Jury Summons but more about that later.

Our cruise is over – and what an adventure sailing up the Amazon for 1000 miles as well as all the other ports of calls en route.

 

Tenerife

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Our last port of call, Tenerife; a place we went to once before, in 1997. Ironically, we arrived then on Oriana ( but on that occasion, left on Concorde! ).

Temperature is a good 20C which is good for our last port of call, especially as we have some clear blue sky to start with.

A somewhat later start to our tour of some of the Island’s Gardens, perhaps the other two ships docked in the port today had bagged the earlier slots and somewhat surprisingly, we left without two passengers who failed to turn up.

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Flower on a Aechmea Del Mar plant at the Jardin de Aclimatacion de La Orotava

The coach takes us out of the cruise terminal, turning back on itself at least 3 times before we head over the tram lines and out of the town towards the north of the island on the motorway, climbing steadily to about 2000ft above sea level before dropping down the other side to Puerto de la Cruz.

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Vineyards, housing & Mt Teide

A stop to photograph Mt Teide from above a modern estate, with it’s snow topping and we then descend to our first garden, Jardin de Aclimatacion de La Orotava, a tranquil walled area built in 1791-1795 following a Royal Order issued by King Charles III in August 1788. (€2 entrance)

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Spanish Moss

Lots of interesting plants and trees including some Spanish Moss although some of the lower foliage which was in flower appeared not to be named.

Sadly, we had to go too quickly, perhaps another 30 minutes would have sufficed.

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Unnamed flower at Jardin de Aclimatacion de La Orotava

Onwards to the Jardin Sitio Litre which derives it’s name from a transaction back in 1774 when it was acquired by Mr Archibald Little (thereby the name Little’s place, in Spanish SITIO LITRE).

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Orchid in the Jardin Sitio Litre

The garden is the oldest surviving garden in Tenerife, is now over 240 years old and has been owned continuously by British families since 1730 when the mansion it is attached to was built by Mr John Paisley, a wine merchant from Scotland. The British connection extends to a Croquet lawn in the gardens.

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Dragon tree (with fellow passengers who would not move to allow people to take photos)

Apart from many of the usual plants and trees seen in Tropical Gardens, this does feature a fine assortment of Orchids as well as a Dragon Tree reputed to be over 600 years old. A sample of the local wine was included but it wasn’t of the best quality.

Back on the coach for an immediate left turn up a very steep narrow road to an aquatic garden in a private dwelling open to the public.

The northern area of Tenerife has suffered of late with holiday makers tending to stay on the south.

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Water garden

Some enterprising people have found alternative ways to make money and this is one.

Not really a lot of plants to see (€5 entrance) here although a turkey or black swan held court, a few turtles were sleeping and of course there was a water element.

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Black swan

A nearby waterfall was quite photogenic but a long walk up from the town and sea front below.

Sadly, before we had left the water garden, one woman travelling on her own, fell and badly hurt her knees but fortunately was able to walk back to the bus.

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Waterfalls near Water Garden

Our return drive to the ship was along the same roads that we arrived on.

Our guide today was very passionate about the north of the island but her English was probably not as good as those in the Brazillian Rainforest.

With the ship leaving at 4:30 there was no time to go out to get internet at the cruise terminal so we will have to wait until we are back in the UK on Wednesday or buy a day’s internet for £12.50.

Sail away party on deck, lots of flag waving and singing as we push away from the quayside but as we do a vehicle with “emergencies” comes rushing up and a very distraught person leaps out – he has missed the ship! Not only is this no doubt a disaster for him, it is not good for us as well – he is one of the Entertainers – Matthieu Esnult from The International Duo. That will make tomorrow’s afternoon concert interesting!

Entertainment tonight is a Liverpudlian comedian, James Martin who managed to have everyone in stitches and took the Mickey out of a lot of the front row. Not sure what was on his CD he was selling as he didn’t sing: possibly a load of jokes!

 

Cape Verde and northwards to Tenerife

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We have arrived in a sunny Cape Verde Islands and in particular the town of Mindelo on the island of St Vincent.

We were supposed to get in at 8am but what with the unscheduled stop in the Amazon for fuel which caused us at least an 8 hour delay, the head wind of about 25mph and the continual swell hitting us we were 90 minutes late arriving which was very good going which under the circumstances is pretty remarkable.

 

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Porto Novo on Santo Antao

An early morning sprint on the port side, past the island of Santo Antao with its rugged coastline, barren tall mountainous appearance and the village of Porto Novo stuck by the coast.

 

Roads or more likely tracks wend their way up to the very sparsely populated mountainside, we are too far away to make anything out though.

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Torre de Belem

 

A Shuttle bus is provided into town through the working dock area and we opt for a leisurely walk along the coast road past a few fishermen, a few guys playing cards, difficult in the wind, towards the sea museum in the Torre de Belem, and a craft square that didn’t really have anything in it.

 

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Fish guarding by a cat

The fish market nearby had the catches of the day being poured over by locals (with a well trained cat guarding the catch) then headed inland to the blue tiled market area.

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Blue tiles near the market

 

The wooden souvenirs in the market were claimed to be made by the individual sellers but surprisingly, the same products were generally on sale around the square and later in some of the shops.

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Market stalls

 

The women’s clothing on sale was very colourful and dramatic but we didn’t see much evidence of them being worn around town by the locals.

A few women were walking along with baskets balanced on their heads and some of the stall holders were hard at work on their sewing machines or chopping up some of the fruit but there were a few pockets of people standing around not doing anything. Not many though.

 

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Colourful side streets

Back to the sea front and up some side streets past a few squares until we get to the Hotel Prassa 3, a modern hotel with an inside courtyard which was happy to provide us with tall capachinos and free wifi for €1.50 each.

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John & Sally enjoying some rest outside modern hotel

As we had been without wi-fi for over a week, it took some time for the emails to download and I came away with at least a further 29 not yet downloaded from a week ago.

 

The town has some buildings that are very modern interspersed with some quite old buildings and some that need a lot of TLC.

 

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Building requiring TLC

From a distance, the houses are generally of the box sort seen in Africa with only a few that have sloping roofs.

 

Many bright colours have been used as outside wall paint, not everything was white which has given it a different look.

A few beggars were in evidence, all of them elderly as the population is generally quite young but they left you alone if you said “no”.

The island was reputed to be good at producing ukuleles but we saw no music shops and, leaving John & Deirdre to wander further, Sal and I take residence back on board in the shade past a lovely mural.

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Wall mural

 

An interesting port of call which is being developed more as a tourist destination in recent years.

Entertainment tonight is Jimmy James (without his Vagabonds) and from my position standing at the back – in between doing a final wash – the sound quality was much better than at the front. Think he is not at his best now.

16 February

A sea day on the way up to Tenerife and Entertainment manager, Elaine Coles gives talk on primates of Cameroon, a passion of hers but we miss talk on ships by Ken Vard, and a talk on Atlantic Volcanoes by Ken MacTaggart.  We do however get to the talk by John Lyons, the actor who played a detective, Jack, in A Touch of Frost. No notes, all off the cuff – very good for someone of his age.

There is a tug of war between various departments of the ship at the rear of the ship which usually means some of them getting wet, much to the amusement of the passengers but good news, the sun is out today so there are more bronzed bodies in evidence.

Entertainment tonight is by 3 West End leading ladies, The Patriot Girls who sang items from the Swing era, some modern versions (such as That Man by Caro Emerald) and Jenny Williams, a Stockport female singer with a mixture of classical, musicals and a couple of film songs, a very powerful voice with a bubbly personality.

Tonight is the last time the clocks change – we must be nearly home.

 

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Awaiting the last passengers before departing Cape Verde

17 February

 

Another sea day and the entertainment is running out of steam, nothing his morning and only a variety show at 3:30 to keep us away from the cooling temperatures of the North Atlantic as we head towards Tenerife.

No decent entertainment this morning so it is book reading time, Sally finishing her 5th and me, well I have finished the book I got for Christmas 2015 – The Blackest Street by Sarah Wise.

This is about the area of Bethnal Green called the Nichol in the late 1800s with references to the Reverend Loveridge whose photo I found a few years back and who I think, was the vicar who married my Grandparents on my father’s side.

Afternoon entertainment was a variety show with some of the Headliners singers and The Patriot Girls and after a stupid film in the evening, “It had to be you”, we were entertained by the International Piano Duo with as well as some opera songs, performed some lively pieces and an exceptionally long solo by Matthieu Esnult.

Northwards to Tenerife.

Crossing the Atlantic at speed

 

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Flying fish from a flying (along) ship

12 February

 

We must have been seriously delayed as we have now left the Amazon delta having spent a night with little sleep as waves are crashing onto our ship which is now doing nearly 22 knots on our way to Cabo Verde.

A very grey day with the hardy sun bathers at a complete loss as to what to do other than sit out under the clouds.

A talk today on Devil’s Island, a former brutal penal island owned by French Guyana and on Cabo Verde with dinner in the Beach House, it saves dressing up again, and more singing of lesser known, but good, songs from the musicals sung by Gerard Bentall.

 

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Ploughing through the sea

13 February

 

Another sea day and an audience with Captain Box, Oriana holds the Golden Cockerel as the fastest ship in the fleet – we are still doing 22.8 knots (about 27mph) which is pretty amazing for a conventional vessel.

A talk this afternoon on Tenerife and the old capital but a leisurely afternoon watching the flying fish.

We establish that the reason we had to go back into the Amazon for refuelling (bunkering) is that there wasn’t enough fuel to give us down the Amazon at Manaus.

Tonight’s entertainment is from the captivating flautist, the very talented Andrea Amat: so good we bought her CD.

11:30 pm we are informed there is a deep fat frier fire in the forward galley on deck 6 with First aid response required. An unusual request to be broadcast to the whole of the ship at this time of night!

Not that I had had much to drink but try saying “deep fat frier fire” after a few alcoholic drinks!

14 February

 

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Valentine’s day

The final sea day before Cape Verde/Cabo Verde and it’s Valentine’s Day. A rose for Sal, but not from me or, John claims, not from him. Sal has a secret admirer on the ship but two days later he and Deirdre admit it was from them!

 

Still doing 22.5 knots, the ship has a top speed of 24 knots; are we trying to break the transatlantic speed record?

A final talk from Bernard Purrier on the type of dolphins or whales we could see around the migratory islands of Cape Verde and the flying fish which we have seen over the last few days whilst crossing the Atlantic.

As the clocks go forward an hour, we forgoe lunch, buy the first Costa Coffee on board and then listen to Martin P Lee’s talk on the similarities between Hitler and Putin. Scary.

The traditional chocoholics display for tea and I sit next to a guy from Wexford who also does a WordPress blog.

 

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Healiners Theatre Co. (Publicly available picture)

Tonight’s entertainment is the Headliners version of a tribute to Queen in the Pacific Lounge with it’s very poor seating but the ability to be up close and personal with the dancers and singers who, if you were in the front row, would be virtually on your lap.

 

A few older gentlemen were in danger of cardiac arrest with the very tight costumes the dance girls were wearing right in front of them. 40 minutes of energetic dance and singing routine and they make it look so easy.

James Michael Stewart provided the entertainment in the theatre and whilst his songs were good, his voice fantastic, the technical crew once again failed him as some of the videos / pictures were not shown and on at least two occasions he asked them to turn down the Mike or the backing sound, with them ignoring him on one occasion. Poor technical assistance.

Tomorrow, our last “new” country – the Cape Verde Islands (Cabo Verde). We are certainly on our way home now.

 

Santarem and leaving the Amazon

IMG_36039 February

We are today at Santarem, still 500 miles up the Amazon, where American Confederates fleeing the American Civil War originally settled. Even today, O’Malley and Higgins are common surnames.

A river tour is booked for the afternoon so we have the morning to ourselves as John & Deirdre go on a jungle walk this morning. Thought a walk into town would be good but looking at where we are docked, the distance to town is more like 2 miles rather than the 1 advertised so decide to watch the world go by in the Crow’s nest.

The berth today is in the commercial dock with a Soya conveyer belt in front of us with it’s attendant containers at moor out in the river. We have been told taxis would be limited where we dock – in fact there are several we find out later!

For our tour we exit the ship on the river side onto a pontoon and then onto our river boat like the small ferries that we have seen in the last two ports of call.

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Fishermen at work

 

Only about 20 or so of us and we are lucky enough to get a front seat as we headed off into the River Tapajos leaving behind the town and we pass more houses on stilts and a number of fishermen.

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Up market house on stilts

 

 

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Our tour guide

We slow down whilst a pod of pink Dolphins attack some fish, some of whom were seen jumping to avoid them.

 

Our guide is a 50 something teacher and his command of English is again very good, he was also from the tribes and came to town to improve himself.

He is proud of his teaching achievements, employing two of his former female pupils as guides on other ships.

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Birds hitching a ride

 

Sandbanks passed with logs floating downstream giving rides to many birds and more meeting of the waters passed, we head off down another river, noted for pyranah and catfish as well as bird life.

 

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Catfish catch

Before that we are told that three divers many years ago went down at the waters meet to see what the effect of the two waters were at a lower point never to be seen again. No one has ever dived there again!

 

 

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Iguana

Slowly down the river, we stop at the Bankside to spot birds, iguanas, plant life and fish.

 

One family have a prized possession of a recently caught catfish, an ugly looking fish which is brought on board for us to get up close and personal with.

An adjacent boat on the same tour also stops for viewing.

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Catfish on board

 

We then pull up on to the bank and are invited to take a fishing line with some meat on the end in the hope we might catch some fish whilst our guide tells us more about the area around us.

 

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Pyranah fishing in the rain

This is just on cue for the heavens to open and I like a few others get absolutely soaked.

 

One lady manages to get a piranha and I get a tug and loose my bait but only two other members of the crew manage to catch a pyranah.

Drying out quickly, we set off on our return by some cattle, we are told these are Indian small cattle, as bigger cattle would get bogged down in the wetlands due to their heavy hooves and weight.

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Pyranah fish

 

Hawks, Vultures and Egrets are spotted high up in the trees and we also manage to spot a Sloth slowly clambering down a tree, very well camouflaged, a bit like how a Koala camouflages itself.

 

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Sloth

Back to the ship closer into town rather than via the sandbanks we went past earlier, the water becoming choppy as the winds pick up ahead of a rain shower but allowing us some close up views of some fishermen, a dilapidated boat and some youngsters enjoying the “beach”.

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Dilapidated vessel

 

We land on the quay, our only patch of Santarem land we tread on, and with a short walk to the ship, we manage to get inside just before the rains came.

Entertainment tonight is an International duo of pianists, one French (Matthieu Esnult) and one English (Ben Socrates) who play some pieces for four hands – difficult – and a male singer, Gerard Bentall, who sung some “new” songs including Bui Doi which does make a change from the old standards we have heard many singers perform on this cruise – a refreshing change.

10 February

 

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Saying good bye to the Pilot

Cruising back down the Amazon, we discharge our pilots at Macapa which is the city on the Equator and we cross over to the Northern Hemisphere just before more rain arrives to spoil it for those cruisers who are only here for the sun, and there are a fair number of those.

 

The talk this morning is on facts about the Amazon delta given by from Bernard Purrier which not only covered wildlife but some interesting facts.

  • The Amazon, 45m years ago, flowed into the Pacific, then the Andes were formed and the flow reversed.
  • It produces 52,000,000 gallons of fresh water into the Atlantic every second
  • It accounts for 20% of the wold’s fresh water
  • The amount of water that goes into the Atlantic in a year would supply New York City with drinking water for 12 years.
  • It can be up to 50 miles wide and as little as 1 mile wide, depending on seasons
  • Water levels are up 20% this year and locals fear a flood which is why some farmers are moving their cattle to higher ground.
  • 100 miles out to sea, river (fresh) water is still evident from the Amazon
  • Pink Dolphins are called Boto and live only in fresh water.

 

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Macapa

Although we have crossed the Equator, we baulked at watching Neptune’s ceremony in humid but overcast conditions which we understand turned to very heavy rain, instead preferring to join a packed cinema to watch “Girl on a Train” which after about 90 minutes of the 112 made no sense but which in the last 20 or so minutes did manage to make up for the previous minutes.

 

Certainly the worst day weather wise we have had so far on the cruise.

The entertainer tonight, Jamie Michael Stewart has a strong voice and a lot of experience but there was something about him that didn’t quite gell. It didn’t help that he was supposed to show some slides but the technical team failed miserably to provide them.

Question is: who sung the song “Love grows where my Rosemary goes”?

11 February

 

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Belem, Brazil

Last night, we went out to sea and back in to another part of the Amazon Delta for refuelling – the Para River. Presumably we couldn’t go direct to the refuelling point through the shallows of the Amazon delta?

 

Surely we have gone south of the Equator again? A bit rough out to sea, Force 6, but of course calmer in the river.

We are moored in the middle of the river outside the city of Belem and tied up to a floating fuel barge taking on, what the captain describes as “tonnes of fuel”.

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Refuelling

 

We drop anchor at about midday and leave just after 8:15pm having experienced, sun, cloud, rain and wind during our stay although for the 2nd time, the build a boat competition suffered rain at 2pm.

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Build a boat competition 

 

There is no ability to leave the ship and the washing machines in launderettes are now turned off to conserve water.

Another talk today by Bernard Purrier, on Macapa and the surrounding area.

Evening entertainment by a female comedienne and magician, Mandy Muden, not the most entertaining but not bad, and a Spanish flautist, Andrea Amat with her captivating story and performance playing a few other flute type instruments. Certainly she is one of the highlights of the entertainment on this cruise.

We are now late so are having to chase across the Atlantic to our next port of call on the Cape Verde Islands on 15 February.

Parantins

IMG_35758 February

After the last two days in Manaus, we are now in Parintins – the home of the Boi Bumba festival, the 2nd largest festival in Brazil and held annually in June. Two teams, red and blue, fight it out in song dance, parades and costumes to recreate a tribal myth about a bull, two lovers and the bull’s tongue. Only one tour here, to a special showing of a carnival extract and we are not going – by choice.

Having experienced a few carnivals in our time (Jersey Battle of Flowers, New Orleans Parades, Douglas Carnival to name but three) we opted to do our own thing.

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M V Braemar at Parantins

This is a tender “port” and the MV Braemar (Fred Olsen lines) is there as well although leaving at lunchtime.

By co-incidence, my friend, Donald was on the MV Braemar until a few days ago around the Caribbean but sadly he had not ventured up the Amazon.

We get our tender boat tickets, being told that it was a 20 minute wait.

One hour later we board the tender after establishing that one tender overheated and broke down. The river current is fierce and against us as we fight our way across to the dockside in an almighty rain storm, having to clamber over a local wooden boat to reach the dockside on arrival.

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Parantins port

We do manage to get sight of a few pink dolphins as we walk up to the cruise terminal and out onto a street that has about 8 or so stalls selling souvenirs – at least we do now have a souvenir, a small mask which will hopefully get put up on the wall quicker than some of the other souvenirs we have bought recently!

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Parantins church

A walk up to the church and then back past the blue team’s museum and back to the area to get on the tender.

Lots of people waiting and both tenders remain at the boat in the middle of the river for about 45 minutes whilst we stand around in the heat, although we were lucky to get a bit of shade after a while.

Another tender has a problem, vegetation has attached itself to the propellor and we learn later took over an hour to get back to the ship, circling it for some time.

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Local ferry about to help a “transfer” hand

 

Meanwhile, passengers for the Braemar were being tendered back from their viewing of the Boi Bumba by some big local ships which were due to assist us later in the afternoon but were delayed as the Braemar overstayed it’s stop!

The captain is delaying departure tonight as last night, with so much current and our requirement for a fast run, the vibration was so bad, the passengers in the Oriental Restaurant ( those on sittings ) were badly affected with things moving on tables – poor things!

Tonight’s entertainment is the new (he joined in Barbados) South African musical director, Dane Noble-Rosema who is obviously standing in for someone who didn’t turn up.

A very accomplished young piano player who, amongst other things, played some compositions of his own including a couple of interpretations of Norway and one of the Cascade mountains in NE USA.

We must be going home, clocks go forward an hour tonight, we are heading downstream towards our last pot of call on the Amazon, Santarem.