30 April 2012

A bit of a celebration

It is dress down for dinner this evening
And a surprise for me - champagne, cake and...

Everyone singing "Happy Birthday" - a bit late but I am on the ship to celebrate my 50th
 Thank you Joce

It might have been pink Champagne - I can't remember

Table number 77

29 April 2012

Martini Mixology

Eggs Benedict comes with Canadian bacon, while American and English are also on the menu - so why not try them all and compare

ohhh - this looks interesting - book me a place

A Cosmopolitan (a la Sex and the City)

Our tutor - head steward of the best ship afloat...



The lesson endeth - and I have a slight problem - those are pretty much my glasses
and there is no way I am going to be able to move from this chair any time soon...
Is that the ship going up and down? - no its just my sozzled perception, the Atlantic is masquerading as a millpond.

28 April 2012

So little time

Day 2 already and here is our programme

So much to do - so little time.  I note that tomorrow there is a Martini Mixology session.

A light breakfast - treat myself to kipper(s)

Joce went for "French Toast" - this must be an American take on "French"

I'm not exactly sure what I did for the rest of the day - certainly a drama workshop run by RADA (we had to listen to someone in our team tell a story and then tell it to the rival team and convince them it was your own experience - I fooled them all - is there money in this skill I wonder?)

First formal dinner - surreal 1000 "James Bonds" all filing into the dining salon.  I never checked, is that real walnut veneer?

Our waiter only gets home ever two years - children are 6, 4, and 2 years old.

First of many

I don't normally go in for this sort of thing - but what energy and SO many costume changes - 10/10 for effort.

One very tired little girl, mother and grandparents

Lift/Elevator in the central atrium

A very long corridor

27 April 2012

M204 - Southampton to New York


11st 1.6lb (70.6kg/155.6lb)and 14.9% fat this morning - I am down to my cruising weight... 24hr buffet? Bring it on (and a bucket)!

And here is the cruise...

Our itinerary - Queen Mary 2 voyage M204

Lets get this straight - you are not ever going to get a better 7 nights at sea - unless your name is Abramovich.  A voyage on the QM2 is a work of theatre - go prepared to enjoy yourself and you will indeed.

My sister comes along - and at no extra charge - you pay for the cabin it seems (and you also pay and keep paying for extras all the time you are aboard - but be prepared for this and enjoy)

Only negatives - boarding (and disembarkation).
Of the two Southampton was the worst - helpful port staff told us that there were several ships all trying to board and leave at the same time - and the QM2 was not at its usual berth.  It took several hours of standing and shuffling - hot, stuffy and no food.  We struggled and for several elderly passengers it was all a bit too much.  All forgotten once we were on board - what a ship!

Cabin 6016 - a long way from the restaurant but perfect for the spa.  Directly under the promenade/jogging track - but no noise

View from out 'stateroom' - IKEA - note and remember this

The spa is very nice indeed - we signed up for the week

This is where Joce met George (Bush, Senior, yes - Mr President)
Spa advice - get yourself on late sitting for the evening meal, you do miss a bit of the entertainment but you get the spa pretty much to yourself after ~18:00 - just a few of the senior staff - which is, in itself interesting:

Advice from the resident* physio about getting the best stateroom without paying full price (you need to 'game' the reservation system) *resident as in came aboard in October 2011 and not gone ashore since - contract ends in New York in 6 days

Heated debate in the sauna between English guest lecturer (specialist subject - Eastern Europe pre- and post- the fall of the Berlin Wall) and lead dancer (Romanian, lived through the pre- and post- fall of the Berlin Wall times).  Me?  I was with the dancer - from what I have seen and experienced he was right on the nail and Mr Professor was talking out of his (unclad) a**e.

Testing the life boats - this one worked fine

Departure photos = yes that is a jacuzzi

meals - there were a lot of these - and all wonderful

And so to bed - you can have breakfast in your cabin but that would be missing the point...

Queen Mary 2 - Voyage M204 Southampton to New York

Queen Mary 2 - Southampton to New York

11st 1.6lb (70.6kg/155.6lb)and 14.9% fat this morning - I am down to my cruising weight... 24hr buffet? Bring it on (and a bucket)!

Click on the picture to access the online album

(Note - this is a raw unfiltered or selected set of pictures - for our friends at Table 77 to view and download. It will be deleted in due course)

25 April 2012

I smell a... ...mouse

I think there is a mouse in the room with me - I heard a noise and caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye...

hmm - I am not going mad - here is the evidence
 After attempting to catch mousey with bait and speed - no good - they can move fast and can squeeze into tiny spaces.  The terrier at #25 would have been game - but probably lots of collateral damage and bloody mess so - professional help

A humane trap - left it in my room overnight and here is the result.  It leaves the mousey undamaged and auto resets - so it may catch the whole family

Guidance is to release mouse at least 1km from where caught - or else it will find its way back - Cannon Hill Park ought to do - it was very cold and wet - so a parting gift of its own weight in sunflower seeds.

And then to Automation University @ Edgbaston Cricket Ground. Here you see a combined 150 years or so in Automation.

21 April 2012

A Hot Coincidence?

OK I'm shopping in Solihull for the first time since 1995.  After buying new  'standard'* clothes - a real challenge - have been putting this off for six months - I was treating myself in HMV - 5 more DVDs from the big list (Scarface (1932 and 1983 versions), Chinatown and Some Like It Hot).  This last one is my all time favourite - I have it on VHS and now, at last, DVD.

5 minutes later a rather fetching platinum blonde in an entirely inappropriate low-cut and flimsy dress hands me a flyer:

"Solihull Theatre Company Proudly Presents... Sugar - the musical based on the screenplay Some Like It Hot".

Original Theatre Poster (via Wikipedia) A copy of which I have on my landing wall

*No Goretex, no tech, not for sport or outdoors - just for the office

17 April 2012

...and sublime

Choices, choices.   Lager or Laga?

Two proud exports from Scotland - one 16 days old (judging from the best-before date) and one 16 years.

"Tennent's was the first lager to be brewed in Scotland. An authentic Scottish lager with a distinctive, crisp taste...it remains Scotland's favourite beer it accounts for about 25% of beer sales in Scotland. It's success: high quality, natural ingredients; purest water, finest Scottish barley, and the care and experience which only 400 years of family brewing heritage can bring."

"Lagavulin Single Malt is an Islay single malt Scotch whisky produced at Lagavulin on the island of IslayUnited Kingdom. The whisky has a powerful, peat-smoke aroma, and is described as being robustly full-bodied, well balanced, and smooth, with a slight sweetness on the palate."

The Tennents Lager was bought from the co-op on Tiree as sort of an homage to Rab C. - but. strangely, not drunk until more than a week later after I had got home.   The Whiskey just about made it unopened to my hotel room.

12 April 2012

Dublin: stuck in the factory until 20:15... will I get to Seabank in time?

The Seabank was heaving when I popped in during my evening run "we 'ave un table at nine-sirty" - so run up and down the prom for 5km working up an appetite. Above is lobster and scallop in a Bouillabaisse the base of which being lobster and prawn shells rendered down over many hours of gentle simmering.  Big Yum

"Ze seabass has all been eaten" - so I followed up with a Cassoulet - the sausage part was chorizo and the fish 'alibut and squid.  More Yum.  The Chef learned her trade back in the late 60s, starting as a very young teenager in what must have been a very rare venue indeed - a full on French Bistro in a small 'back country' Irish village - and this in the decade when a "Berni Inn" was considered sophistication

The Grand Hotel - they really don't want you to go through this door - reminiscent of "Beware of the Leopard"

T2 at DUB - the Lavazza Cafe - excellent photo - but not really appropriate for the 21st century

09 April 2012

Leg 3 (of course it has to be three legs)

Glen Helen - which I had pretty much to myself on this wet March morning
 I have been to a Glen Helen once before - where I escaped from my 100% Germanic fellow tourists for a bit of Anglo comfort and quite a few gin and tonics.  It is where I learned that the two armpits of the world are Coober Pedy and Tennants Creek.  I see no reason to demur. It is a bit different, strangely the only "thing to do" mentioned on the national park website is cycling - frankly getting sloshed, wandering back to one's swag and then falling asleep under a million billion stars is a whole lot better.

It is pretty moist in the glen - is this navelwort?

Here is the hotel - it is all about location - and this one has it.  Glen behind and TT course in front.
 And this is what I wrote:

Up over Snaefell - and I am still the slowest vehicle on the TT course - like is there a speed limit?  Locals drive like there is not (on checking - no there is not)

Off to Point of Ayre
Some amazing Lichen Heath vegetation in the slack behind the shingle bank
Amazing smells on the seaward side - this family have breakfast on the beach - every Easter Monday - no matter how cold, windy an rainy.  Yum Yum

It is all shingle up at the point - the beach changes with every tide - you can see where the currents meet and you can hear the pebbles moving

The strangest things get washed up

From the far North to the very South - this is Calf of Man
It was a wet and cold Easter bank holiday Monday - the Living Museum at Cregneash had just closed, it was late afternoon and the whole nation headed for the Sound Cafe.  Lots to see in the area and some nice grub before heading for my evening flight at:
To be honest I think this detail of the terminal building looks a bit "National Socialist" - when was it built?
All the available evidence suggests 2000AD - if so they did a very good job of making it look appropriately retro

Bye Bye IOM - three wonderful days - go now! I don't think you will regret it.