The Crabbit Man Goes on A Cruise III

Now where was I? Flaam, I think. I may repeat myself-but  then I never reread or check these things. Flaam had the bike ride and the little museum which were great. Wednesday our destination was Olden. The activity today was “Hiking Mount Hoven and sky-lift” I took a chance and left my hiking boots at home, brought and old pair of reasonably heavy shoes-that were near done, and i felt i could dump them after the hike. The hike did not start until around 13:30. Olden was another tiny little hamlet with a big souvenir type shop at the dock/harbour. In here I got (yep you guessed it) another fridge magnet. Was impossible finding one without a cruise ship on it. It was another pretty wet start to the day. As I had loads of time I decided to explore, and a bit up the road I found a hiking type shop, and in here I got a bobbly hat.

Eventually it was time for the hike. I glanced at the feet on the bus and noticed everybody had hiking boots-and wondered if i had made a mistake. Some people had waterproof trousers on-but i DID bring my hiking trousers-one or two people were wearing denim jeans. The weather had cleared by now. When we got to the start of the walk via the sky-lift -which was great, stunning views etc, the weather had cleared and things were looking good. At the start of the hike i noticed a few diggers,lorrys and 4×4 cars and a track that was being worked on. Most of the walk was on this track. I asked our guide how long they had been working there and he told me 3 years. Now this track looked very good for a downhill MTB ride. As I said the skies had cleared and the view were breathtaking. This was a good day for me. I could easily come up here with a flask of tea/bottle of water and something to eat and just sit here all day.

But suddenly the weather deteriorated big time. Skies were black, very misty,windy and it started to snow. We could barely see 10 feet in front of us,The guide stoped and told us that we were in charge, he told us were the top was, he told we would see nothing from the top. He said if we wanted to he would take us to the top-but if we wanted to go down early we could. I said the early finish was a good option. So we took the shorter option and we went down to the cafe were the cable car stopped and had coffee and waffles-when i  ordered they just had a fresh batch out of oven-so mine was hot and most most welcome.

Back to the boat-once again a most welcome shower and i discretely dumped my worn out shoes in 2 separate wastepaper baskets on different decks. The “entertainment” that night came from the “headliners” crowd again-as i was not a glutton for punishment i gave them a miss, and chilled out in the casino , watching the quizzes and the karaoke. the karaoke was great too. Some people had done this before and were too good for my liking-but the bad ones were super entertainment- they hadn’t a clue and were most times 2 or 3 lines behind the music.

Thursday was another black tie night-so i gave that a miss. The stop was Bergen-which was a pretty big town-city almost. This also was an early start-8:00 am. Now I am good at the early rising, but i like a slow build up. This one was a waste of time/money. I think I could have done this myself-BUT it did include a cable car ride up to a height were we got great views of the city. The entertainment that night was the Madness tribute band Badness again-with a new show. It was very good but not as good as the first one.

 

The next day was a cruising day so we were homeward bound-this was long and tedious and activities seemed do be winding down. I heard one man in lift complaining that this was the worst cruise he was ever on-i asked him why, he said staff were very rude to him and the floors in the gents toilets were never cleaned and were covered in urine (i was thinking, well sure the boat is rocking-we are bound to miss the target sometimes-and at that rate they would need somebody in there cleaning 24/7-thus no room to do our business). Also something that made me laugh was the pool table-pool table on a boat? I was half expecting to see a jenga game. Entertainment on Friday night was the comedian Mick Miller again-i was not amused but audience was and i wondered if i was at the same show.

At dinner that night one of the women at our table said that her exercise was walking he six dogs. I asked her if they were all in her house-she said not at the same time. I then asked her if they had relevant names. She looked puzzled and asked me what i meant , I said “Well like -John Boy, Jim Bob, Mary Ellen…” And i got a laugh. Like i said the cruising day dragged and disembarking didn’t come soon enough.

SUMMARY

the cruise may have been good, but NEVER AGAIN. I am pretty active and like the open air and spaces. OK the weather did not help here. If I WAS talked into doing another cruise I think i would need somebody along with me. As on the shore days we could hire bikes and head off exploring on our own. I lost contact with some people on the last night but after an hour looking for them i gave up and had an early night. No free wi-fi on the boat-in this day and age, the holiday cost enough etc. There wasn’t the camaraderie as there is on one of the Irish Cycling Safari holidays i go on-so i didn’t write down email addresses or get full names for facebook. Next year i think it’ll be at least 2 cycling holidays one in Ireland and maybe one in England.

For those that are interested pics are on flickr-just key in the name crabbit man-you shouls get them. If you can’t send me a message and i’ll send a link. And as I said before-NO! there will not be a sequel-BUT I am off to Scotland on a coach trip in November, there will be a report on that too-and as always said i’m too lazy to spell check etc

Advertisements
Standard

The Crabbit man goes on a Cruise part 2

Ok-it’ll come as no big surprise in telling yous (again?) that the cruise brought out the cynic in me-but somebody (hi Sue if you’re there) once told me I was a cynic with a joie de vivre. Any questions I asked one of the guys at reception got a somewhat patronising answer-but then i can be very curios and i asked some rather bizarre questions.

Now where was I? Monday was the first day the boat docked-so our first “excursion”. The previous evening the entertainment manager-who’s presentation style annoyed me-said that there would be great views of the fjords and said it would be good to get up early to see them as the lighting would be so much better-the boat came into dock at 8:00am and he suggested getting up an hour before that. I am pretty good at getting up early. I did and went up on deck armed with my camera to see a miserably wet and misty morning-waste if time. Moday’s excursion was called “Stavanger Counntryside” starting at 8:30. According to the brochure info we would see the Gloppendasuren Boulderfield “Norway’s largest field of boulders, some as big as houses.” Well to me this was very reminesent of the holy rock of clonrichet (helps to know the show Father Ted) After that we went to see a big craft shop-big shop full of tacky overpriced souvenirs. And included in the price was a mug of coffee and some traditional “lapper” (thick pancakes) with jam and sour cream. Now I had my hopes raised pretty high here, I was expecting a pancake with some unusual kick/flavour-but no, they were like the ones i get in my local supermarket (and the ones in my local bakery were better). As i said this was a miserably wet day and no great views. I DID  see one great shot of a little church with the mountain in background-but bus could not stop. After the trip I had a walk round the little town-saw the old town and got a fridge magnet at a little market stall.

the nights entertainment was another production by the Headliners Theatre Company -i remembered their previous show so i gave them a miss. I went along to see a “comedy magician” who came from Cuba-another mistake. He singled out people in audience to joke with. I saw a woman in a row near the front who was knitting-did he home in our her? canon fodder i thought? did he? No.

Next day was Flaam. The excursion was and  a train ride up a mountain and then a cycle down most of it. Another rainy day-but i was going to get a bike ride-so i did not care. Half way up the mountain the train stopped to see a big waterfall- i’m ok with that too. Flaam is a tiny village-population of about 350. It had a couple of big souvenir shops, a coffee place, a museum all about the building of the railway (which was one of the main employment things there) and it was fascinating , and a KFC (joke joke). The bike ride down was great, brakes. were a different way round as in uk (no real problem) and if you back pedalled it worked the back brakes (and quickly) now this DID take some getting used to for me, as when i freewheel down a hill on the gerdymobile i tend to back pedal as to give the legs something to do. As we had time to stop and take in the view, i really liked this. So the crabbitman had a pretty good day today. As it was pretty wet, much that i enjoyed the day-i was glad to see the boat and my shower (in that order) . there was a little market here-where I got a great bar of chocolate and another fridge magnet.

 

pics are of Flaam. Now the nights entertainment was a magic show called “Astonishing” the blurb in the daily info sheet said “Prepare to be amazed with this brand new magic and illusion show” “that from start to finish will leave you thinking ‘how did they do that?’ I should have read the small print  (well you could not miss this it was in big letters) “Headliners Theatre Company Presents…” Yep it was that nauseating song and dance troupe again. Going in we were given an envelope and was told not to open the envelope until we were told as it would “ruin the trick.” They did the same trick to different songs. The one were somebody stands on a box, gets into a big bag and when the bag is dropped somebody else gets out. At one or two points i could see a third hand holding the bag up. At another point one of the girls was singing and she did a twirl and the short dress changed into a long one. The man beside me said he was impressed with the way it was done. I told him it was an American dress, one yank and it’s off. And the envelope? it contained 4 cards- it was the one were you shuffle the cards/tear in half discard one half and keep the top card. then with the other half you moved cards around and threw ones away-by the end the 2 cards matched-a simple maths type trick. I was not impressed-and if i new it was that song and dance crowd i would have found a newly painted wall to watch it dry-would have been more varied.

After this we were off to the casino again. There was a movie quiz. I did not take part but helped a couple who were struggling. One question was What movie does this line come from -“You can’t fight in here, this is the war room.”  I told i almost certain it came from Dr Strangelove. They said that they had never heard of it and decided to go with a choice of there own. I told them that when they hear the answers and i am right they will know about it (i am a good loser but a bad winner). They apologised for not listening to me -cos if they did they would have tied for 1st place and there would have been a tie breaker. I was curios and i asked the woman doing the quiz what the tie breaker was -“What year was the film ‘the shootist’* made? i was a year out.

to be concluded-like all trilogy’s

*The Shootist was John Wayne’s last movie. So it was the year he died. I rememnered in 1977 a lot of famous people died -Marc Bolan, Bing Crosby, Maria Calais and what’s his name? oh yes-Elvis Pressley-for some reason i thought john wayne too. But he was the year before-1976.

when she was giving out the answers she would ask the question again and the crowd would call out the answers. There was a couple were i was the only one answering. one was to name the rom/com that was based round 10 linked stories-i shouted out ….”Debbie Does Dallas.”   Oh and the view of the fyords was a bit better when leaving the shore

 

 

 

 

Standard

Bucket List- the crabbit man goes on a cruise (part 1)

When I got my early retirement deal I made a kind of Bucket List. Nothing exciting on it-well not yet. Mine is like the Morgan Freeman list in the movie.

One of the things on it was to experience a cruise. A friend told me that I would not like it, the whole being cooped up and all that. When I told her I was thinking of Norway , she told me that with the aspect of seeing the fjords-that might be different. So I booked one with P&O ferries-not cheap. The woman in the local travel agents  had done this one and mentioned one land excursion I would need to pre book as she knew it was very popular-up the mountain in a train and back down on a bike-that sounds good to me. So she also told me , as i was travelling on my own i would be better pre-booking a dinner table. This would mean I would be eating with the same people every night.

Skip the journey to airport to the start. Cabin had twin beds (was on my own) And a small shower. The boat/ship  (just gonna say boat) had a sort of daily newspaper that told us what was going on-games/entertainment feeding times etc. And sometimes i wished i had read the small print.

First moan was-no free wi-fi on the boat-the holiday was dear enough. And in this day and age and so on and so on.

The big entertainment of the first night was a troupé called Headliners Theatre Company , and their show was called ” Electric Avenue” they did songs from (and i quote) “the decade of excess that was the 80s.” singing and dancing to a backing track they did songs by michael jackson,phil oakley, madonna (and gawd forbid) Prince and the like. This was a pain to my ears. Just too glitzy and all the dance routines looked the same to me. The woman beside me (who was at my dinner table) said she could see the gaps in the clothes were they pulled them off for a costume change.  This show seemed to drag on and on. It was very repetitive and dull. If it was not too dark and i could not see the door i would have been out of there after 2 or 3 songs.

i was up from before the crack of dawn to get to the airport-so i had a fairly early night. when i got to my cabin the paper telling me the next day’s programme was left on my bed.

SUNDAY was a cruising day-Norway was still a fair bit away. Dress code for dinner was “Black Tie.” I did not want to do this.  At 9:30 am there was a “solo travellers get together” -this actually was good. i asked if anybody was not up for the black tie thing and two english men said that they were. We discovered that the buffet was not a black tie thing so we arranged to do that. And as we were on own on we kept each other company on the boat. There was also “free table games lessons”. This was in the casino and we were taught the basics of the roulete, blackjack, and 3 card poker (forgot their name for it). And for attending we got “free vouchers” for the casino (you had to match the bet on the voucher-but was only £3).

There was another solo travellers get together at 4pm-as the queues in the buffet were bedlam-and here we got served- i decided this was a better option.

The big band that night was a Madness tribute band called Badness . They did stuff from the ska period (madness, bad manners, the specials etc etc) And they were actually very good. A live band who had a very good feed back with the crowd. After that it was off to the casino to use my vouchers.

The casino proved to be a pretty good spectator sport. Watching people lose loads of money,win it back and then lose it all and more. Me? I had a set amount to play with here, so i did not lose much-think i actually broke even. My friend from the solo tea party and i got hooked up with an english couple at the roulette wheel and proved good company.

There was quizzes going on in here 2 or 3 times a day. No cash at the bar. We just handed over our “cruise card” some of us had “spending money” on our ticket-so i kept pretty much within it.

 

to be continued

Standard

here i go again groan and moan

I’ve grumbled about this before-the old what if? mumble. Some of you know I took an early exit from work just over 2 years ago. Early exit? Early retirement ? call it what you want. I got a nice little compensation payment to tide me over until my official pension started. I worked out how much to get by on monthly for the almost year and a half before the official pension started. Well the official pension starts next month-I got another nice little hand out along with it.

Now my what if questions about other careers/jobs have stopped. When I get those annoying calls trying to sell me a pension plan, I say “I’m a retired civil servant.” This cuts them short, they apologise and say “your pension is best out there, there is no way we can beat that”

Donegal Joanne told me that I am very good at taking myself out of things. True, I keep wondering what will go wrong if I try something. With my savings and that nice little hand out, I have enough to buy a house and furnish it (well enough for me) and will still be able to get a holiday or two a year. My last job actually taught me how to be frugal and be prepared to pay for things. So now I am actually starting to talk myself out buying a house. I am visiting an estate agent (real estate person?) to make an appointment to view a house. My buddy is an architect, he said that he will come along with me and tell what needs to be done to fix it up (if anything). I suppose my biggest worry is being in the house on my own. Now I love the outdoors, so if I can help it I’ll only be there when it’s time to go to bed and get up for breakfast.

I have seen a couple of houses I like –one is next door to my sister-it was she who suggested this one. Good location, space for car and my architect buddy gave it the thumbs up. Was in town looking at another house today. A new house “new turn key house.” And VERY nice it was too. Very compact, as that’s what I want. But no space for car, street parking and it is about £16 or £17,000 cheaper than the other. BUT there are loads of other houses around it-no idea what neighbours will be like and with such a cheap price (less than £100,000) I would imagine people will be buying houses here to rent out. My brother seems to think living next door to family is a big mistake. He has pointed out another house in town cheaper. I’m thinking just tell estate agent –look I can get these cheaper. To be honest I prefer house beside sister location wise –and location IS important-isn’t it. Mind you, shame about that new house.

On a lighter tone yesterday’s cycle ride was  FANTASTIC !! glorious weather. A couple of old graveyards, an old abandoned railway bridge, saw the rich area and well a good day.

But still, never realised house buying was so tortuous-peope coming at me asking me why I am looking where I am looking and why am I listening to certain people.

Does anybody else think buying a house with a sibling as a neighbour is a mistake? now i DO get on ok with her.

No time to edit-well i do, but i’m just too lazy

Standard

party on dudes

A quick HAPPY 4TH OF JULY !! to all/both of my American readers. Dam the british and all the other solgans you shouted back in 1776 (i think). Do any of yous wish to go back to the old style pre indo day ? naaah don’t think so. i know a Dubliner who wishes THEY could go back to old ways (the man’s an idiot)

ANY WAYS hope yous has great weather (was pretty miserable here, if you’re watching the boring golf you’ll know that). And yous got a day or two off work to get out and do things you love to do.

I’ll be down Dingle way cycling in 2 weeks time-hope weather is favorable and there be some feisty dames in the group.

Might be a grumpy blog coming soon, i have a lot on my mind, and need to let off steam.

Currently reading and enjoying a Paul Theroux book and listening to to wonderful album (vinyl) “Damage and Joy”

and you lot?

Standard

Finally Got There

At the end of June 2002 my little cycling club went on a big trip over the sea to The Isle Of Man. This year was not a great year for me-I decided to give the cycling club a break –and in a spurt of madness I joined a gym. BIG BIG mistake. For a start I missed out on the Isle of Man trip AND I managed to put on almost 2 stone in weight ( 28lbs for my American readers). My cycling buddy has often mentioned this trip and for the past 2 or 3 years we have talked about a (well for him) a return visit-and this week we did.

Legend has it, that Finn MacCool was having a frequent row with some Scotish giant and he dug hi hands in the ground in Northern Ireland and threw it at him. The gap in the ground here is where our lough Neagh is and the lump of ground is-the Isle of Man. Now there IS a similarity in the shapes of the two-so I am not disagreeing here.

The Isle of Man is most famous for the big motor bike race –the TT and it is a somewhat tax haven. It has a population of about 85,000 –which is about the same as Belfast. And its main town (at the ferry landing spot, unsurprisingly) Douglas has a population of 30,00 –about the same as Derry (Northern Ireland, not over by Boston) .

On landing my buddy (Paul to save time)  went straight to the hotel-but (to cut a complicated story short) we decided to double check the date of our depature. Now, from Belfast there are only 2 crossings a week Sunday and Wednesday. So we were out on the Sunday and back on the Wednesday. I thought it was odd the times were the same-turned out they made a mistake and the return trip was 3 or 4 hours earlier. If we had not checked we would have been stranded.

1

So we did a short little run, took us up round a road that was shut off to cars due to erosion and falling rocks-which is great for walkers and cyclists. We came across an abandoned resort that had gone to rack and ruin, despite being a very lively and upbeat place about 20 years ago. On the way back from here Paul decided on trying an offbeat route that looked good to him-this was more a mountain bike route which even my trusty gerdymobile (dawes galaxy) found tough. We eventually finished with our traditional end of day’s cycling pint of cider and crisps (potato chips usa peeps).

2

We were invited up to the house of a friend’s son for a bar-b-que. Which was a great way to end the day.

Next day was our first proper day’s cycling. We discussed this the previous night and were warned there was a hard climb en route (HARD? HARD?). At the start the weather was not great. I was looking for a new gillet and a water bottle from an I.O.M bike shop with their logo on it. Now hard was not the word for a few climbs that day. I did not know whether to cycle or wallpaper these climbs and there was at least one descent that scared the do das out me. En route we came across a fascinating junk shop called Junk Jurby-it was like stepping back in time 50 years and like inside of Dr Who’s Tardis. I would have needed 2 days in there in the record section alone. They were in no order and had bizarre titles. Given time I bet I could have found something really bizarre like  “The Isle of Man Kazoo Orchestra Does AC/DC” or maybe even a rare Bruce Sprinsteen or mono rolling stones or beatles in mint condition for 50p. There was also a book selection-that I would have needed an extra week to look through as it was mayhem too. There was really old postcards and a bottomless box of buttons.

I set my new speedometer (OK Marni?) at the start of the trip –at the end Paul and I went for our traditional cider and crisps and we had a bet on the miles-he thought 60 but I thought 70-but for some reason the mileage froze at the junk shop stop and only said 32-we decided that was about half way.

4

We were shattered after that day and decided to request an easier route for the last day (ha ha). Looks like the isle of man has a lot of hills. After a bit of trying I eventually got the water bottle (gillet was easy enough). At a coffee stop we passed some scaffolding were there was workmen working –but a large chunk (and I do mean LARGE) chunk of wood fell of a hoist (or something) and very nearly hit the guy who was in front of me’s  head. Not a word was said –no sorry. There were some police officers close by so my friend and Paul went over to report this. I noticed that the police woman they were talking too was pretty easy on the eye (and I have a thing about women in uniform), so I decided I needed to make my statement too.

All in the trip was great. Most of the time the weather was great. Pretty good scenery parts reminded me of some roads near home. Quite a few somewhat brutal hills. On the last day we were shown a kind of Greenway-an old railway track, that I was told they were working on as a route for walkers/runners  and cyclists-and it was great (and obviously flat). Think the mileage this day was 47 miles. One place we stopped did a pretty good icecream-the sort that gives you a brain freeze. 6 am sea front below.

6

Isle of Man is great for cycling-BUT, like in most things, the weather helps. And I brought a stone from the top of the £$$%!!! brutal climb to place somewhere on the next ramble and will once again upset the balance of nature-and spelling mistakes, typos and wrong grammar are all my own work too-so there.

 

 

 

Standard

Bucket list 2 and more

For some reason I have redone my bucket list. As usual in my own way of doing (or wanting to do) things are trivial, even daft-even huh? But then it’s MY bucket list. Hopefully as things get done I will ad to it.

BUT yesterday I decided to get on the gerdymobile and go for a wee cycle. I have decided to go that little bit further each ride now. Normally when I am on my own it is usually around 15-20 miles. Yesterday was a glorious day,so I just HAD to get outside. When I got to the point where I would turn I decided to head on towards the beach-Benone. This is a beautiful beach, pretty close to where I live. Part of it was actually used in “The Game of Thrones”-so there! At the usual turning point the sign said Benone 5 miles-hmm I thought 5 miles out, 5 miles back means an extra 10 miles-nothing wrong with that. When I got to the beach I munched on my obligatory banana and took in the glorious view. On the return trip I called in at an old graveyard that I was always curious about, and then at a little café for a dam fine cup of coffee (and I said that to the waitress) and a scone. Then homeward, calling in at a local shop for a 99. I checked my little speedo thing expecting 20 miles  and it read…35.3 miles.

So next time I’ll be pushing for the far end of the beach which is another 5 miles out.

ANY WAYS the typical me bucket list (so far-can’t get the colour change to work for the reasons)

  1. Go on a long train ride –possibly one with a sleeper thing (been reading Paul Theroux recently and this has fuelled this idea)
  2. Holiday abroad once a year ( abroad is anywhere outside Ireland, even England or Scotland-but preferably a bit further-more in an email Marni)
  3. Buy 3 x £10 scratch cards –or even 6 X £5 ones or 15 X £2 ones in one go (told you this was silly-that’s a very extravagant waste-will be using coins in my loose change money box for that one)
  4. Bet £20 on a long shot (if I win a lot on the scratch cards I’ll do this £20 on a horse with odds of 20/1 or something with “a name I like” )
  5. Get a car valet (just too lazy to do it myself)
  6. Get a tea-leaf reading (don’t believe in this stuff-but curious, and with a “big burfday” coming up-is this not a better time than ever?)
  7. See a proper Shakespeare play on stage (preferably Macbeth-and live on stage not one of those “live telecasts” in a cinema)
  8. Have a REAL Chinese meal (or Japanese or Vegan one) ( I know the stuff you get in them takeaways are not the real thing-so want to see how much different/better it is)
  9. Experience a cruise (a couple of people have told me I would hate this-the whole being boxed up in the one place and all that-but I’d like to try it just once)
  10. Send a note in a bottle (would have thought everybody would like to do this)
  11. Talk about what ails me without being pushed to do it (it takes a lot-and I mean A LOT to get me to open up-think the last time it took 2 or 3 pints of something to get me to talk)

 

And that’s it so far-as I tick things off  I’ll ad more and blog about it. And as you know i am just to lazy to spell check and read over.

 

Standard