Tag Archives: IKEA

Reading and Basildon Park

IMG_6294Sunday 13 May

Long drive late in the afternoon to Caversham on the banks of the River Thames to our Crowne Plaza hotel for the next 6 nights which, using points from previous IHG stays, was virtually free.

Monday 14 May

Meet up with John & Deirdre at Basildon Park – a National Trust property just outside Reading on a lovely day so we take advantage and sit on the grass with our lunch.


Shell room


Inside Basildon Park

We were able to get in free due to our membership of the Manx National Heritage.

Basildon Park is an interesting house with a shell room and substantial library as well as a kitchen left in the state it would have been when in it’s heyday.

One field nearby has just been dug up so that the equipment required for ground source heating can be installed which will definitely benefit the finances of the house in the long term.

One or two fields have been left uncut and the resultant display of buttercups was a wonderful sight.


Library room

Cody is just learning to walk and this was a very tiring day for him – we definitely managed to tire him out.

Tuesday 15 May

Cody definitely overwhelmed with his toys for his birthday and might have suffered with Sensory overload as many of them had to be left for opening later.

Lunch out with Barbara followed by a brief stroll in the sun around a park in Woodley, it was up to well over 20C today, by the lake watching the baby geese.


Geese family gathering

At one stage, they all were trying to get up a bank, all but one succeeded and the mother had to nudge the last one further along the bank for an easy access route – mother’s instinct!

Gary has hurt his back playing walking rugby and as he is a bit immobile, we stay with him to put Cody to bed as Flic is at college tonight, she is back at work tomorrow after a year’s maternity leave and holiday – how the time has flown.

Wednesday 16 May

Flic is back to work today and whilst Cody is off to the childminder we have a bit of free time in town but were not impressed by the service for breakfast at John Lewis.


More presents

With Gary, we collect Cody from the childminder – he had been fine after the first few minutes, the other children had taken to him well and Flic was home a few minutes later to have some quality time with Cody, opening more presents.

Thursday 17 May

Ikea breakfast considerably better than John Lewis and at half the price and another day to ourselves although we did have to take Gary to the hospital as he was still suffering with his back and had another appointment.


Grandma’s watch

Lunch at Bosco Lounge in Woodley with Gary before we pick up Cody again from the childminder.

Friday 18 May

Mel is arriving today for a few days (she should have been on a course but that is another story) so we are not going to get a look in as far as Cody is concerned.

We are, instead, off to a pre-arranged meet up with Phillip & Sylvia in Cheshire tomorrow, driving on what might be quiet roads as it is the day of the Royal Wedding in Windsor.



Buttercup field at Basildon Park

Jersey and Brittany

imageSunday 6 August 2017

Thanks Flybe!! Your flight from IoM to Manchester this afternoon was over 3 hours late leaving resulting in my daughter missing her Flybe connecting flight to Jersey!

Not at all a good service which means a child minder will be needed for her 5 year old nephew she was supposed to be looking after in Jersey.

Compensation will be claimed, especially since she was, as a result, routed to Exeter for an overnight stop, to catch an early morning flight to Jersey from there to Jersey.

I think I will try and avoid flying at the same time as her again, as on top of the 3 hour delay in the flight to Manchester, there was another 3 hour delay in the flight to Exeter and another 2+ hours delay the following morning due to staff illness. 21 hours it eventually took her as opposed to 5 and a half. Shambles!

Well, that was Mel’s attempt to get to Jersey, now, on Wednesday 10 August it is our turn and we were flying Easyjet to Gatwick, late in the evening, overnighting there and a lunchtime BA flight to Jersey from Gatwick the following day – what could possibly go wrong?

Well, we made it, but our journey to Gatwick was very near the cut off time for keeping the IoM airport open, leaving something like 80 minutes late.


Sarah & Ali’s kitchen for the summer!

Sarah & Ali have sold their house in Jersey and are camping whilst they find another house – a difficult task at the moment in Jersey.

We are well past our camping days and had sought help from our friends Laura & Jim for accommodation whilst Mel had joined Sarah & Ali for a week in self catering above Big Verns.


Suitably dressed in his IoM T Shirt

Harry was pleased to see us.

By all accounts, the experience at the self catering unit was not good and certainly not worth the £1500 they had paid, having to call out Environmental health over some issues.

We started off on Friday with mini golf at nearby Les Mielles, followed by a visit to the Elephant park, boy was it windy at both but the 2 coffees and a cold drink at the Elephant park kiosk for £3.20 was a bargain, and dinner at Roccos at Les Mielles Golf club house; excellent value at £88 for 5 + Harry, including drinks. http://lesmielles.com/roccos/general-info-opening-times

Saturday 12 August

Early ferry to St Malo in appallingly cold and wet weather; crowded boat and an expensive coffee kiosk. Passport control not too bad and we head off south, Sarah driving her van, to Decathlon in Rennes by which time the weather had partially improved.

Lots of heavy showers on drive to our gite at Rose cottage near Langudic via a food stop. Finding the cottage wasn’t too difficult although neither of Sarah’s Sat Navs really worked properly.

Cottage is one of 3 – a converted barn in traditional Breton style. The other two are occupied by two German families who are related to each other. Mel was likened in age to the eldest daughter who is 18 – she was chuffed.


Pool & cottage

Harry wants to be in the pool all the time but it is time for bed pretty soon, he is absolutely zonked.

Very well stocked cottage with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, dishwasher, washing machine and all clean crockery and utensils.

Sky TV has the basic British channels which helped in catching up with the first Premiership game results of the season, a 3-3 draw at home to Liverpool and Match of the Day.

The chairs are comfortable, the water hot but the one thing it lacks is an Internet connection and whilst there is electricity, running water and sewage disposal there is no phone reception for about half a mile.

A lovely clear sky tonight but only one shooting star visible.

Sunday 13 August


Auray Town Hall

A short journey to Auray and a walk through a deserted town and down a steep hill to the riverside which was vibrant with locals lunching outside in the sun.

Lots of quaint streets and old buildings in a town not dissimilar to Dinard near St Malo.


Auray riverside

Lunch, after an ice cream and a cake, in a children’s playground, as you do, and an attempt to get the sat nav to get us back to the house, having previously set it to the cottage as “home” – it failed miserably – sending us to totally the wrong village.


Colourful canned fish shop

A long session for Harry in the pool again and a meal outside, temperatures have risen today, it was shorts weather.

Another late night watching football and one with a fantastic smattering of stars with a shooting star but not the promised meteorite show.

Monday 14 August


Carnac standing stones

Visit planned under a cloudless sky to Carnac for the standing stones, The Carnac alignments, and then on to Quiberon. Luckily managed to park near the standing stones for a walk around the perimeter fence.

A bit underwhelming we thought but nevertheless, impressive when you consider when they were built (Neolithic era) and what tools they had at the time.

Onwards to Quiberon we get stuck in an almighty traffic jam, we think it must be a public holiday today, so turn off and abandon that idea, opting for a picnic on the way to Port-Louis and then diverting to a very sparsely populated beach at Plage du Magouero.


Anyone for muscles

Loads of baby muscles on the rocks here and three lifeguards in attendance which is good as they watched anyone venturing into the sea in their immediate vicinity, not that there were many.


An inflatable 2CV

We end up at the Decathlon and Carrefour at Lorient which is surprisingly well found by the Sat Nav.

The Internet at Decathlon was not able to download the Manx.net emails but this was resolved in Carrefour, as was the downloading of the Kindle books from the Cloud onto Sal’s kindle.


At least I went in

Once again, the Sat Nav sends us to the wrong destination when we attempt to return to the house but we now know the way!

Into the swimming pool somewhat gingerly as it appears to be colder than we thought it would be.

Once in though it was good for half an hour’s messing around.

Tuesday 15 August

Sal decides a rest is in order today so the rest of us head for the market at Etel which we thought would just be around a square in the centre of the village – another error, this was huge, spreading from the church to the river front on one way and at least half a mile the other way.

All sorts of stalls, shoes, clothes, ice creams, fruit, veg, meat, crockery etc. Although we arrived just before 10, it was quite crowded but by the time we left about 90 minutes later it was absolutely heaving.


Port du Vieux Passage

We had spotted a broken ship the other side of the river and headed off for this in an effort to have lunch there.

However, we found Port du Vieux Passage to stop for lunch followed by a walk around the coast admiring some lovely houses and locating the isolated house on the rock in the middle of the river although not able to take a good photo of it.


L’ile du Nohic

From the internet it appears it has recently been renovated from a very dilapidated state and may now be holiday accommodation.

Further along the coast we find the wrecked boat, maybe a pirate ship we told Harry, but in fact there were five wooden ships altogether, slowly rotting in the salt water and probably covered by the low tide twice a day.


Pirate ships?

Some very interesting shells and rocks on the sea front by the mouth of the estuary.


T Rex in stone?

Shops closed this afternoon, it appears to be another bank holiday, so back to the cottage and a swim, slightly warmer than yesterday, and a BBQ.

Let us make the best of the warm and sunny weather, we are hardly ever able to sit outside at home.

Wednesday 16 August


Enjoying the sun

We manage to get to Quiberon today, far less traffic but somehow miss the main part of the town, heading to the sea for a walk along the granite coast and a delicious crepe.

Loads of people stopping by the heart stone so getting a picture was quite challenging without people around.


Heart Stone, Quiberon

Leaving the coast we head back inland for a drive towards Port Louis and its fort on the opposite side of the river to Lorient.


Fort @ Port Louis

This fort is built in a strange position as it is surrounded by a moat but the water in the moat recedes at low tide so somewhat useless to keep out marauding pirates, however it is an interesting fort to walk around with some stunning views of the river and its water traffic.


Sea Rescue olden times in France

Inside, there is a museum including a history of the East India Trade as well as shipping in general and a large section on the French equivalent of the British RNLI, the voluntary organisation dedicated to saving lives of people in distress on the sea.


View from Port Louis

Thursday 17 August

A dull and wet morning , so we delay our visit to Pontivy, although arrive at lunchtime when everything, even the tourist information boat on the river is closed.


Bridge at Pontivy

A bit of a struggle to find Decathlon without a proper up to date and working Sat Nav and no internet access other than McDonalds where we stopped earlier for a coffee – you have to order by remotely on screen and pay with a card – no cash accepted, but once fed and clothed (we found Decathlon and bought waterproofs) we headed to Poète Ferrailleur, near Lizio.


Poete Ferrailleur

Poète Ferrailleur is an interesting place all created by one person and with items salvaged entirely from scrap metal, wires, wood – you name it, it is there.

Lots of interactive things for the kids to do including a number of simple board games and many work by a push button.


An exhibit at Poete Ferrailleur

Quite a small site and just outside the village of Lizio where there are a few other activities although we didn’t have time as we had to get back for a swim

Friday 18 August


Pontivy shops

A slightly better morning, and whilst no rain we slightly delay our departure and again for Pontivy for a proper sit down lunch, our first one out as opposed to picnics we have been having.  The café was chosen even before it’s name was found.


Cafés Richard from Maison Richard


with a walk around the old part of the town with it’s fascinating buildings.


La Balade du Pere Nicolas

Internet obtained in the car park of McDonalds before we head for Parc De Loisirs, a sort of mini adventure playground, called La Balade du Père Nicolas with lots of go karts, slides, more board games, a train ride, of sorts, and many small and medium animals.


A big slide for big kids

The brochure advertised a giraffe but where it was is anyone’s guess, and the brochure from both last year and this year advertised a steam engine but the engine was off the rails and probably hadn’t been moved for years so the train was pulled by a tractor. Harry didn’t seem to mind though.

The big slide was a hit however and the zip wire certainly was being used consistently but was being abused by a few larger children as it had a creaking and cracked support but there were not too many other queues, just a few local children pushing in.

Leave in time for a last swim in the pool before we head for Jersey tomorrow.

The Parc is aimed mainly at children from age 4 to 10 there were a few families with older children who still seemed to be enjoying themselves. Harry certainly liked this attraction and at €7 entrance it was good value for money.


Last swim

Saturday 19 August

Last day and a pack up, clean and tidy the house and set off at 10am. There was a cleaning charge of €65 if we didn’t clean so Harry was put to task hoovering – he enjoyed it, we think.

More by luck than judgement we find IKEA in Rennes (neither Sat Nav could help). Whilst we didn’t buy anything, Sarah did for a friend; prices seemed higher than in the UK.

Onwards to the outskirts of St Malo and we spend more time before the ferry, this time in Cora and then in the new nearby Decathlon passing the old site now occupied by gypsys.


Harmony Men on Condor ferry

Condor ferry an hour late from St Malo and on the boat are some members of the Harmony Men, Jersey’s leading male voice choir, who I sung with when I lived in Jersey all those years ago – thanks for the free wine, Les.

Shattered, we get back to Laura & Jim’s for a well earned rest after dropping Mel off at a house for a comfortable bed, rather than camping and a meal at Pizza Express, St Brelade’s Bay.

Sunday 20 August

Take Mel to airport (she was only 30 minutes late this time) and then head for Elephant Park with Harry who now has a bike with him. It is strange having to return him to a campsite rather than a house. Harry is loving the experience though.

Too late for Sunday papers by the time we get to the shops.

Monday 21 August

Sarah brings Harry to Laura & Jim’s as she has hurt her back and is off to the chiropractor. We take Harry to Colleen’s for breakfast, a play on the beach and then a cycle around the park at Quennevais.


Harry on Greve d’Azette

For some strange reason, the cafe at Quennevais sports centre was closed for refurbishment, despite it being the middle of the summer holidays’ so back to Elephant Park again for some drinks and a little play.

Meet up with Sarah & Ali at a house in St Lawrence for a viewing, a fantastic opportunity if they can get it, but there are some issues in this unfinished house which would need to be resolved first, like a retaining wall that needs building.

Tuesday 22 August

Collect Harry from Sarah’s work and back to Laura & Jim’s where he manages to scrounge another breakfast and samples the trampoline.


Trampoline exercise

A hot day but not at first, so we opt for a morning cinema visit with Harry to watch Nut Job2, he didn’t like the mice!

Now off to Milbrook station café for, a play and paddle in Milbrook park, he did enjoy that although it was very noisy and crowded.


Somerville hotel

Out tonight with Laura & Jim to Somerville, always a good meal and with stunning views over St Aubin’s bay.

Wednesday 23 August

Our last day with Harry and after another go on the trampoline and another breakfast we head off to St Catherine’s for a look at the sand sculpture and a ride along the breakwater before heading off to the park at Gorey, and a paddle in the sea.


Sand sculptures at St Catherine’s

Ali is off this afternoon, so he collects Harry whilst we head back to Laura & Jim’s to pack.

Late (in the evening) BA flight to Gatwick although it was about 15 minutes early leaving, and overnight at the Sofitel.

Tomorrow is a day in London with a lunchtime meal and a visit around the old Highgate Underground station which is long disused before a flight home just in time for the arrival of some biker guests for the Manx Festival of Motoring.

Sarah, Ali & Harry have another three weeks under canvas before settling into a short term let whilst still searching for a suitable house.



Bye bye campsite


Re-visiting Norfolk

IMG_4158Thursday 13 July

It is at least 10 years since we visited the North Norfolk coast having been there regularly from 1985 to 2008 whilst Sally’s parents were still alive. Early ferry from home, calm crossing and no trouble getting out of Liverpool.


Boudecia cruise ship

Fred Olsen’s cruise ship, Boudecia, in the cruise terminal.

Stop at IKEA Leeds for lunch and of course you have to buy things – well it is things we wanted anyway.

Next stop was Great Heckington on the A17 between Newark and Kings Lynn where we had stopped before when we were regularly plying this route on our way to Brancaster.

A bit surprised though by the Penguin Pie on sale there!


Penguin Pie anyone?

Our destination tonight is Norwich and we are in an older style Holiday Inn Express on the northern outskirts of the city. This has definitely seen better days and is in need of some TLC.

Receptionist thinks we are not members of their loyalty club which is somewhat surprising bearing in mind we have been members for over 15 years and amassed several thousand points.

Not a good start as we also took the last parking space and he had no idea on suggestions for an evening meal tonight.

We chose the Reindeer, a pub on one of the roads out of the city; a good choice although a bit alarming as we were the only customers for a meal to start with and it was about 7pm.

Friday 14 July


Old Hunstanton’s unique rock formation

Woken at 05:45 by what sounded like drilling or sanding followed by banging. This lasted a good 30+ minutes but we did manage to get back to sleep before being woken by our alarm at 8.

Day out to the North Norfolk coast to reminisce from when Sally’s parents lived there.

First stop is Old Hunstanton, meet up with John & Deirdre for a walk along the beach to introduce their dog, Lucy to the sea and to marvel at the unique rock formations.

Windy and overcast, so it was not really the weather for shorts and t shirts and Lucy was not impressed at first with the waves, but soon gets accustomed to it and manages to get somewhat wet which does wonders for her recent doggy perm!


John & Lucy nearly in the sea

I am not sure I had ever walked on this beach on the North Norfolk coast, so crumbly and the difference in colours is somewhat amazing.


Windsurfers taking advantage of the weather

Lots of windsurfers struggling with the wind, all wrapped up of course but there were some hardy kids in the sea.

Lunch as a picnic was not allowed in the car park so we eat in our cars instead! Jobsworth!

Next stop was at Brancaster where Sally’s mum & dad had lived for 22 years before their house had to be sold for nursing home fees.

We parked up and walked around a local footpath, what a change but we understand many of the houses are now holiday homes and not lived in permanently.


The “old” family house

It was interesting to see the changes made, especially to the “old” family house.

Wells-next-the-sea was the last stop of the day and although we debated going to the end of the causeway on the little train, we opted for a walk along the causeway instead stopping half way along just to sit and stare, just so peaceful.


Wells-next-the-sea breakwater railway engine

Now that the sun had come out and the wind dropped, photographs were looking good and we took more than we normally would as hopefully Gary can turn one or two of these into a painting for us.


Boats at low tide

After walking up the high street, the hairdressers, Jenny was still there, we head back to the car park and the fish and chip shop for a classic evening meal of fish and chips on the harbour wall and surprisingly not bothered by seagulls.


Taking Lucy for a walk



After our farewells, we head back to Norwich for a much better night’s sleep tonight.

Saturday 15 July

Drive to Earley for a visit to Flic, Gary and Cody. The traffic was appalling, where does everyone go?

Gary called out for work so we entertain Cody before we head to our hotel and then to a meal at Prezzo in nearby Woodley with them and Gary’s mum, Barbara. Cody was so good allowing us to have a virtually uninterrupted meal.


Clearwell house

Sunday 16 July

After lunch with Flic and Gary, we head off to Clearwell. Some great comments in our visitors book, one guest has been there 7 times, so we must be doing something right.

The garden is in need of some TLC since our Gardner left at the end of May but the new gate looks good.

Monday 17 July

Of course, most times we come here, work is required on the house but this time, we thought we would do some touristy things, so head off towards Wales.

Our first stop, using our Manx National Trust cards, is the nearby National Trust castle at The Kymin. A castle on the hill above Monmouth which has connections to Nelson who, in 1802 dined at The Round House at The Kymin having sailed down the River Wye 3 years before Trafalgar and is probably the most famous guest to have dined at the Round House.


Monmouth from The Kymin

Allow an hour to look around the grounds but for those who are of reduced mobility, it is not really accessible inside the Round House but the view from the grounds are fantastic.


We drive on to Abergavenny for a coffee, we last were there at Christmas in 2003, and then on down some narrow lanes to Llanthony Abbey, a 13th century monastery sacked after the dissolution of the monasteries by the Henry VIII administration in the mid 1500s.


Llanthony Abbey and hotel

The Abbey is surprisingly intact after all these years with some of the rooms still recognisable.


Llanthony Abbey ruins

Retracing our tracks down the narrow Welsh lates, we head for Skenfrith, a village on the border between England and Wales for afternoon drinks at The Bell, whilst we watched youngsters wandering around in the river Monnow.


Tower inside Skenfrith castle

A walk around Skenfrith castle, which was built in the 13t Century on the banks of the River Monnow to help keep the English and the Welsh apart!


The Bell at Skenfrith

This brought back memories of a Scout camp I had gone to, possibly when I was 14 or 15, and whilst I had not visited the Pub then (I am sure the Scout leaders had!) we had visited The Bell a couple of times recently, once with my Mum about 12 years ago for afternoon tea and once on New Year’s Day 2014 when torrential rain had raised the river Monnow to virtually flood level.

Much more civilised weather today.


The Bridge at Skenfrith New Years Day 2014


The Bridge at Skenfrith on a summer’s day in July 2017





Tuesday 18 July


Westbury Gardens

After meeting up with our caretaker and his brother-in-law, Paul who is now going to do some limited gardening for us, we head off to Westbury gardens close to the Severn River.


Westbury Gardens

This is a National Trust property so using our Manx National Heritage cards we were able to get in free to view these gardens modeled on a Dutch garden complete with canal and very hungry fish.


Hungry fish

The one building remaining, a tower, had some very ornate wood panelling and there were many differing species of flowers, plants and fruits in evidence including the most enormous 400 year old oak tree and a somewhat larger than normal thistle.

A brief tidy up of one of the hedges on our return from food shopping and pack up ready for our journey home tomorrow.

Wednesday 19 July

A stop at Labels near Ross-on-Wye for some clothes and we head off northwards taking A roads rather than Motorways.


Houses at Brockhampton

Our route took us via Ledbury, Malvern and Brockhampton where we stopped for our lunch and had a brief view of the extremely ancient house again using our Manx National Heritage cards to get in.

What a wonderful house this is, just wish we had more time to explore it and the area around.

Back on the road, we get held up by 3 sets of traffic light controlled road works and a broken down Lorry on our way towards Shrewsbury and are at the ferry in Liverpool with plenty of time for our crossing home.

Now for some home time, garden time and preparation for our next visit – this time to Jersey and France.




Back to Southampton and Storm Doris


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.


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


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.


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.


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.



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.