We saw this cruise a long while ago and Sue said it would be a great break for her birthday so we booked. The first time we’d been with Viking and the first time down to Bordeaux.
The cabins on River cruise ships are mostly smaller than on ocean going ships but they didn’t waste any space when they designed them – a place for everything. We had a couple of days in one cabin then were upgraded because our old cabin was in need of some work. We ended up with a lovely cabin with balcony.
We had been looking forward to Bordeaux – an f4 Photographic friend, Dave Robson, had shown me pictures of the Place de la Bourse with water reflections (Google it) but, because of the current actions of the Gilets Jaunes, they had drained all the water out so it was pretty unspectacular. However, to make up for it, we were berthed near a skateboard park and I managed to get a couple of decent action shots there, plus, there were a lot of attractive young ladies dressed in tutus in protest at the Gilets Jaunes so they were worth pressing my shutter for!
The Rivers Garonne and Dordogne were much much wider than I had expected, with quite strong tides and a lot of wildlife. I saw a great number of what I believe were Red Kites, up and down the river but they were a long way away and I didn’t have a long enough lens for them. Most of the small towns we visited were also quite unspectacular but pleasant enough to walk around. Our visit to a vineyard, Chateau Rayne Vigneau, was interesting – there were wall to wall vineyards in every area you could see – very pretty.
The best evening without a doubt was in Chateau Kirwan where we went for dinner, served by the ship’s crew – who were excellent – Viking looked after us very well.
I’ve been quite lazy with the camera so far this year. There’s lots going on later but at the moment when it’s cold wet and miserable I don’t really feel happy. It was dry yesterday though so I ventured as far as Burton Agnes to see the lovely show of Snowdrops on the woodland walk. I didn’t take many photographs but at least I got out.
Yes – it was!
We went to Bowness again to the Belsfield Hotel where we went last year. Not many new things to take pictures of but we met our friends Martin & Maxine Shelmerdine again and had a good catch up. The weather was quite kind but a lot of mist on one of the days curtailed the walking. Still, a nice trek up Brantfell gave us a good view over Windermere and burned off a few Christmas calories. As you can see, one of the 12 drummers drumming got left behind – probably too much prosecco on Christmas Eve.
All in all a Merry Christmas!
“We’ve never been to Rhodes” was the wistful murmur. I knew what was coming so got the credit card out. “I’ve seen this hotel” – I turned the computer on. “I need some sun before winter” – we made the booking.
I was looking forward to this as well. We stayed in a hotel just outside Lindos, it was built into the side of a mountain and the people at the hotel were just lovely – nothing too much trouble. The room was spacious with good sea view as well. We hadn’t planned to do much, other than get the bus into Lindos for a stroll around and to go on an excursion to Rhodes at night. I was particularly looking forward to that, the camera was at the ready and so were the sea legs (we were due to have an evening cruise around Rhodes harbour). It chucked it down with rain whilst we were on our excursion but not before we’d been bored to death by a tour guide who wanted to impress us with his in depth knowledge. Granted he was a knowledgeable man but 20 minutes standing under a tree talking about how to defend Rhodes from incoming attacks isn’t really seeing the sights of Rhodes. Also, the evening cruise turned out to be 30 minutes in complete darkness on a local ferry with no apparent points of interest to point the camera at. The worst value excursion I’ve ever had.
Here’s a few images from Rhodes :-
My birthday treat from Sue was to go to Lisbon. We flew from Liverpool with EasyJet which was quite painless and got us into Lisbon early afternoon. We went to the information desk to get some Lisbon cards to make best use of buses, trams and trains and asked where the taxi rank was. There were hundreds of people just outside the entrance milling around and we found out that the taxi drivers were on an 8 day strike, protesting at Uber being given more licences than the official taxi drivers. We opted for the bus and waited in the queue, only to get to the head of the queue and find out we needed to buy a ticket before we got on. Instant panic and I just managed to get tickets whilst Sue stayed in the queue. When we asked for Avenide do Liberdade, where our hotel was, the driver said he couldn’t take us there as the road was closed off owing to the taxi drivers’ strike but we would be dropped off 10 minutes away. For 10 minutes, read 25 minutes with a stop for beer on the way. It was boiling hot and dragging a case along cobbled streets and map reading at the same time isn’t the greatest of fun. We were 200 yards away from the hotel (although didn’t know at the time) and we asked a group of 4 policemen where our hotel was but they didn’t know……
Anyway, after the travel trauma we got to our hotel and it was just lovely – not a brilliant view out the window but a great room. The bar was good but the food in the restaurant was decidedly average for the price. We went out on subsequent evenings and had mixed success. One restaurant with a sniffy waiter and average meal, next one much better – and the final evening we decided to go to a small family restaurant in a back street near to the hotel. We had looked at it previously and thought it might not be very good and given it a miss, despite it getting great reviews on the net. However we decided we wanted to stay local on the last evening and walked to it to see if we could reserve a table. The two guys sitting in the front of the restaurant (looked like someones front room) were taken aback that someone wanted to reserve a table but booked us in. When we get there later that evening we were asked where we wanted to sit – there was nobody else in which we thought a bad sign. We ordered a wine which he hadn’t got but he offered a substitute for the same price which was great. The menu was short but we took that as a sign that the food would be good – it was excellent. Then an Asian lad started to play accoustic guitar and one of the two lads who took our booking sang. They were both quite good. The downside was that the second guy then went to do some washing up and left the Asian lad to sing – he was just awful. I think 1 out of 25 notes was in tune. By this time the restaurant had started to fill up and one girl at another table who seemed to be known by the guys, got up and started to sing and rattle her maracas. She sang a couple of Fado type songs which led to a healthy discussion about the origin of the song between head waiter, guitar player and a couple of Belgians at an adjacent table. What a great evening for almost half the price of the two nights before.
I arranged with the hotel to get me a taxi driver to take me to a couple of places to take some night time photographs. It was a bit windy and I couldn’t get to all the places I wanted to but here’s a few images from my birthday break.
Thanks to the couple in the Park for posing against the statue
An f4 trip to somewhere new. Fresh challenges like, what do we photograph, what’s the beer like, what have I forgotten, have I remembered to register my car with reception, where’s the nearest ATM – all spring to mind. Discussions earlier in the year led us to Maldon. Colchester with it’s history, Maldon and West Mersea with the Thames barges and numerous coastal landscape spots, a potential photographer’s feast.
The weather was reasonably kind to us, with the notable exception of when we visited Walton on the Naze. I was expecting more from the tower at one end but the pier at the other, together with a sudden onset of fog, made for some interesting results. We visited a couple of good restaurants, one on the seafront at West Mersea and the other, a Thai restaurant in Colchester. The third was an Indian restaurant in Colchester and I have to say that even a sardine would have felt uncomfortably squashed, there was that little room.
Anyway, here are a few images from the break, including the one that won “Best of the Annual Trip” – “Thick Fog at Walton”.
Having had the pleasure of photographing the Hull Floodlight Football Summer League across this summer with the f4 Photographic Group, courtesy of Chris Johnson at ERCFA, I was asked to cover one of their under 7’s days at the Roy West Centre in Hull. There are a number of 3G surfaced pitches, well laid out and ideal for the kids to have a really good day out – and it was. There were between 30 – 40 teams and up to 9 matches all going on at the same time. A morning session and then an afternoon session. Hull City Manager Nigel Adkins was there, as was Roary, the Tigers’ mascot and Hull City legend Dean Windass came along too. They were interviewed for TV and videoed for a programme to be aired later in the day. All in all, a great way to get kids enthused about the health benefits of sport (including Smokefree sidelines) and also to teach them about team spirit and working together. ERCFA are also looking to promote football in other areas – girls and womens football are now especially popular in light of the recent success of the womens’ national team. Here’s a selection of “action” shots from the day – if you want the whole lot, including teams, they’re over on Flickr – here.
“This looks like a good day out”, said Pete, “Yes”, I replied. “Let’s take the girls” – so we did.
The Shuttleworth Collection, down at Old Warden, is a collection of vintage cars and aircraft, together with The Swiss Garden and the house – and it makes a lovely day oout, especially when they are having a flying day, which is what my photography pal Pete Stockton and I wanted.
We stayed at a small pub just outside the village and arrived at the venue early next morning. Some planes were already up and enjoying themselves and there was a good display of old cars and motorbikes, together with a great amount of nostalgic stuff. We took a charabanc trip up to the house and had a look around, followed by a look around the Swiss garden and lunch. The air display started at 2pm and went on until 6 and there were a lot of old planes in the air. What a great time, fab weather and we all really enjoyed it. A thoroughly well recommended visit. Here’s some pics from the air show, garden stuff to follow.
This year in the f4 Photographic Group, we looked for some extra photo opportunities around us and one suggestion was to look for sporting events. I asked around various places and found Chris Johnson at the East Riding FA. He was very helpful and said that we could go down to photograph the Summer League on a Monday evening, and, with a programme running over a few months, it was ideal for sustained practise at something different. They are at Hull #FFL on Facebook. There are some of the f4 images on the FB page – here are some of mine.
Sue read a review about The Fountaine Inn in Linton in Craven and thought a few days away walking would re-charge the batteries after the extreme heat we’ve been having. A pleasant drive through North Yorkshire saw us arrive at lunchtime where we shared a ploughman’s lunch. Lovely meal and beer later we decided to go for a quick walk and there are plenty of them in the area. Grassington is only a stroll away and there is also an easy path along the river to Burnsall where we had a refreshing cuppa at the Red Lion. In order to get there you have to cross the river by means of a very bouncy suspension bridge – Sue didn’t like that. She also didn’t like being stung by a wasp when we were having lunch sat outside the pub – her hand swelled up like a balloon.
The next morning we went to Gargrave to walk the Leeds/Liverpool canal path into Skipton but first got some antihistamines and cream to help with the swelling which had started to go up her arm and was very itchy. It seemed to have sorted the trick by the next morning.
This is a really picturesque part of the County and well worth a stay – we really enjoyed ourselves – the food was excellent and the people were very welcoming.