Mival-lous

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A boys’ get-together today! 👍

I drove over to Stamford to meet up with ex-business colleague and film producer: Eric Mival. We’ve kept in touch ever since Eric shot a corporate video for Sainsbury’s (that I was responsible for) back in the late 80s.

Our venue of choice was, of course, the iconic George Hotel in the town – and more specifically, The York Bar.

The George Hotel from The York Bar

We haven’t seen each other since August, 2017, and it was good to catch-up with each other’s news!

The focus of our conversation was around Eric’s semi-autobiographical book: Cutting Edge: My Life in Film and Television (get it from Amazon HERE). For me, the enjoyable read had ticked a lot of boxes – my love of the process of film-making AND the fact that Eric had worked on a lot of programmes of my youth including Doctor Who, The Strange Report and of course, the iconic, The Prisoner (amongst many more!). I knew we’d have a lot to chat about, but with the food and service its normal high standard, the time just flew by!

A slightly torturous journey home though, where a major accident on the road to Stamford just after Collyweston caused miles (and miles) of traffic congestion. Luckily, I skirted around the back roads and was home just after 2.30pm (just 10 minutes later than my original ETA).

See you next year Eric! 😀👍

First Visit: The Old Pheasant, Glaston

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Our first visit tonight to The Old Pheasant in Glaston where where we met up with long-time friends, Mick and Jane for one of our regular catch-ups. We last got together at The Fox back in April, so it’s been a while, and there was plenty of news to catch up with! Tonight, our location-of-choice is a Hotel, Bar and Restaurant – but we were there primarily, for the food having seen some great reviews.

The Old Pheasant
Looking good!

Initially, it was very quiet when we sat down (but it was still early – 6.30pm). Happily, by 7.15, it was pretty full! Clearly, it’s a popular place!

The service and the food didn’t disappoint – I opted for the Ginger Soup, Hunter’s Chicken and to finish, Blueberry Cheesecake. It was all delicious, well presented and served with a smile! 😁

I’m pretty sure, it’s one of those ‘finds’ that we’ll be returning too, before too long! 👍

Best Nest!

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Ann and I drove over to Stratford-upon Avon for our regular(ish) get-together with good friends: Alan, Mags, Ian and Ann. Our eatery of choice this time was The Swan’s Nest Hotel opposite the River.

It was the in-house eatery Bistrot Pierre that was our ultimate destination and I thought we’d never been to it before, only to discover immediately on being shown to our table, it was all very familiar! 🙄 A quick check of this Blog revealed that Ian, Mags and I had been there as part of our regular Trainer ‘get-togethers’ back when we were earning: 30th August 2011!

Weather-wise, it was a glorious day! It would have been perfect for eating outside with a bright blue-sky and a temperature well into the low/mid 20s, but our table was already set inside and that’s were we stayed (although it was right by the big window in the corner, so at least we had a good view!)

Luckily, our table had been designed by King Arthur which meant it was easy to chat with everybody (most of the time). I say most because it was also very busy there, and very noisy too (technical term: ‘had atmosphere’). Still, we had plenty of opportunity to catch-up with everyone’s news, even though at times, we needed to raise our voices and it didn’t spoil the experience! 😵

Food and service were both excellent – and the combination of the friendliest of waiting-staff and a wallet-friendly bill, did the trick! We all left with a full bellies (even though none of us had Dessert) and a big smile. 😁😁😁😁😁😁

Unusually, we didn’t set a date for our next get-together – more forgetfulness than anything else – but Mags had picked up on it and started the ball rolling by email. Looks like our next jaunt will be next February/March sometime.

Unusually for me, I didn’t take photos of the food! No, I wasn’t asleep! I was without my mobile phone today as it’s new, and whilst I wait for a protective case, it stayed safely at home for fear of me dropping it! 😮👍

Warner Weekend 2019

Reading time: 9 minutes...Well, this is a first for us! We’re off for a Warner Weekend with our like-minded friends: Geoff, Rhonda, Paul and Sue.
Littlecote House
We’re staying at Warner’s Littlecote House Hotel in Berkshire. location-littlecotehouse It’s a themed long-weekend entitled: ‘Oh! What A Feeling‘, celebrating the music of Lionel Richie & The Commodores as well as Tom Jones. There’s also dozens of free activities to enjoy too! Add to that, we’ve got a comprehensive range of breakfast options every day, a three-course dinner every evening, and complete use of the leisure facilities. What’s not to love? 😁

Friday – Arrival

After a brief stop at Bicester Shopping Village (surely more of a city these days as it’s grown quite a bit, since we were last here back in November 2014), we drove the last part to the Hotel in less than an hour, arriving at 2.50pm. 2.55pm: Paul and Sue were just ahead of us and given our unfamiliarity with the area, we drove in convoy through the Hotel’s (already very full) car-park. Boy, this place is busy! I think we got the last two spaces that felt like they were in Hungerford! Still, walking is good for you! 😁👍
Plenty to see and do!
…with organised events (for those of us that need/want organising!)
We were soon settled in our respective rooms – we’re in 303 – and they’re pretty well-appointed. 4.10pm: Next stop was the daily ‘Teatime Teaser Quiz’, and Warner’s are quite well-known for them. The combined talents of the six of us meant we answered pretty much all of the questions with ease. We christened ourselves The Northants Nutters, but in spite of the fear-inducing nature of our name, we didn’t win (but we were close!) Still, the top prize of a solitary cup-cake made us feel that we could forego victory without too much trouble. Anyway, there’s another quiz tomorrow 😁 With the (slightly) sour taste of defeat still ringing in our ears (can ears ‘taste’?) we moved onto the most important activity of the break: booking places for the free activities. We bagged slots for Archery, Rifle-Shooting (what else do you do with a rifle?), Yoga, Swimming, Aqua-Aerobics, the Old House Tour and Skittles… but equally important, we ensured they had us booked-in for eating in the Restaurant too! 🤔
Warner Brothers (and Sisters)! 😁
6.45pm: Second-only to ‘Restauranting’, the next most important activity was drinkies (tonight it’s at Geoff & Rhonda’s room). In preparation, we’d all come armed to the teeth with alcohol, and helpfully (just in case that wasn’t enough) the Hotel had put a free bottle of wine in each Room too! Oh dear! our first big decision… What to do with all the booze? 😵 Luckily, we worked it all out before heading staggering to the Restaurant for 7.30pm. It was our first evening meal here and they’d reserved us a quietish table – Table 192 – near the window – it was ours for the duration and so we can eat when we like. 7.35pm: We must have been one of the last to arrive in the Restaurant – it was packed – they obviously eat early here. But the Table we’d reserved was waiting for us and we were soon giving the Menu the ‘once over’. Wow! Our first Meal ‘punched well above its weight’ both in terms of presentation and taste. Considering how many they were catering for, this was a very pleasant surprise. Piotr, our Polish Waiter, worked his socks off, and kept us fed and watered throughout. Given that we were last to arrive, we were also almost the last to leave. Where had everyone gone? We were about to find out! 9.15pm: We all headed for the Lounge, where (luckily) Geoff had reserved our seating too! On arrival, it became obvious where everyone had gone! HERE!! for the evening of entertainment. Clearly, the ‘regulars’ understand the process – ‘Eat early, and then head for the Lounge as soon as you can so you can grab a seat with a good view’. We arrived just as another Quiz was ending and where everyone was taking it very seriously! 😉 We’d read the evening’s itinerary and weren’t quite sure what to expect in terms of entertainment, but if the number of people packed into the Lounge was a guide (I think 99.9% of the Hotel’s guests were there – we reckon in excess of 200!), we were in for a treat. 👍
Evah Morgan in full voice
9.30pm: First up, was Evah Morgan, a girl with a really powerful voice. I’m sure when she’s not singing, she’s using it to shatter concrete from 100 paces – what a pair of lungs! She easily filled the dance-floor by about her fourth number as she belted-out many Motown favourites. For extra entertainment, it was good to see a few dancing couples with worse hand/body co-ordination than me (and that’s saying something!). I felt like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever in comparison. Evah performed for about an hour – and the audience was very appreciative.
Sahara Blue working VERY hard to engage the audience
10.30pm: Following Evah was ‘Sahara Blue’. In spite of a good voice and excellent stage presence, it was all a bit slow to engage the by-now somewhat dwindled audience. By the time we threw in the towel at 10.55, just two couples were just about to take to the dance-floor. Paul and Sue flew the flag for ‘youngsters staying up late’! 🥴

Saturday – Day 1

Ahh, a day of intense activity follows… 😯 8.00am: But first, the most important meal of the day – Breakfast!
Very nice!
9.20am: There was something for everyone – and given our Australian experience with Sausages, it was good to see the return of the traditional banger (Crown Plaza, Canberra, please take note!). With enough fuel on offer to keep me going for days weeks months, Sue, our newly appointed ‘Events Co-ordinator Supremo’, confirmed today’s agreed activities…
A packed Programme! 😊
10.00am: First stop was Table-tennis, but the biggest challenge was actually finding the room. We eventually tracked it down to the Long Gallery where, apart from us, it was completely deserted. Still, with our combined table-tennis skills bordering on mediocre it was probably best we weren’t playing in front of an audience! 😉
To the Victors, the spoils!
Next stop was Archery lessons. Initially, the safest place to be when we had the bow in our hand was right in front of the target itself. As time progressed though, we all improved. Our results may not have been Robin Hood standard, but the number of shots on target (and close to the bull) meant we could leave with our heads held high (and the local sheep could, once again, safely graze!) Well done us! 😊
Initially, the safest place to stand!
Be afraid, be VERY afraid!
Fresh from our achievements at the Archery lesson, we headed for indoor golf chipping. This had a much less competitive feel about it, but amongst the dozen-or-so participants, it was easy to see who the proper golfers were (certainly not Geoff, Paul nor me!)
Crazy!
However, as the competition played-out, the distinction became less clear, and and the tension in the audience – all 7 of them – rose to almost fever-pitch, evident by the number of buzzing hearing-aids! The overall winner turned out to be a non-golfer! (but still not us though!) 😒 12.30pm: We all met up at the Bar for a ‘swift half’ before going our separate ways for the next batch of events. Geoff, Sue, Ann and Rhonda opted for the aqua-aerobics whilst Paul and I headed for the more manly pursuits of the rifle-range! 2.00pm: The rifle-shooting was a well organised affair and our group of nine was split into three teams. These weren’t (thankfully) AK47s, just air-rifles, but they packed a punch. Round 1 (of 3) required us to hit a large target, whilst round 2 was harder, with five smaller targets requiring a pellet in each – as close to the bull as possible. Crikey! this event should have been sponsored by SpecSavers given the wide variation in our collective accuracy! 😯
My skills as a marksman!
The final round was great fun! Shooting at ducks (plastic ones of course!). Each of us were given four pellets each – and AMAZINGLY I managed to hit 3 out of 4! It wasn’t enough to secure victory, but as a team, we tied top! In an effort to create a ultimate winner, they moved two ducks much further away and we were invited us to all shoot again. This time, victory was snatched away from us by Jenny, who (mostly to her surprise) winged the winning-duck with her final shot. Still, it’s not the winging is it? 😕 3.05pm: Just time for feet-up before the daily Quiz! 4.00pm: We, as the Northants Nutters limbered-up for the Quiz and after our blinding performance yesterday (where we were robbed) we were ready to take on anyone! However, within the first few questions, we realised today’s was harder… much harder (“What’s the only English anagram of tragedy?” and “What did Stevie Wonder lose in a car-crash in the 90s?” Anyone?). But everyone needs a Nerd and thanks to some bonus points awarded for the Doctor Who question, we ended up in the top four! 😊 We’d narrowly missed victory again but there’s always tomorrow! 👍 6.50pm: Everyone came round to ours for drinks before heading to the Restaurant. 7.30pm: Yes, we were last to arrive again tonight where everyone else was already well into their meal. Still, we think ‘fashionably late’ is still de-rigueur in these parts, if you want to be noticed! It turned out to be another great meal, although our arrival time did impact on some of the choices. 9.00pm: Off to the Late Lounge where we caught the tail-end of the music-intro quiz. Given the lack of chairs and tables, this had clearly been a popular event. Once again, our pre-booking of seats was a must. 9.30pm: At last, the main event of the day – A Lionel Ritchie Tribute Act. Calling themselves ‘Oh, what a feeling’ (website HERE) they comprised of Malcolm Pitt and the Jonny Miller Band. Malcolm was ‘Lionel’ and what he lacked in lookalikeness, he more than made up for it with his voice! Amazing! If you closed your eyes, he simply WAS Lionel Ritchie!! 👍👍👍👍👍 Pretty much all Lionel Ritchie’s big hits were covered as well as a few Commodore classics too! The audience (including us) sang along to most of the tunes as it was a very participative experience. Just in case, the ceiling had been specially cleaned!! Fantastic! 🙄
Almost dancing on the ceiling!
If Lionel was great (he was!) The Band though were even greater! Drums (Charlie Kenny), Bass (Jonny Miller), Keyboards (Freddie Miller), Sax – alto and tenor (Alvin Davis) and Lead Guitar (Jack Griffiths) all came together to completely wow us with their musical abilities! They were a well-oiled collective whose talents almost (but not quite) outshone the main star! In fact, I’d go as far to say that I’d happily pay money to see just the Band performing! 10.45pm: All-in-all, ‘Lionel’ and the Band were very well received, but after 70 minutes, it was all over… almost… Not surprisingly, we had a encore (a two-track affair comprising of Say Me, Say You and Dancing on the Ceiling), which ended the performance nicely. 11.45pm: We were done for the day! Paul, Sue, Geoff and Rhonda flew the flag and moved next door into the Kennet Bar for the vocal delights of Carla Jade.

Sunday – Day 2

A less energetic day is promised! We’re all booked-in for the Tour of the House at a very relaxing 10am! 😊 Afterwards, it’s every camper for themselves! 8.55am: Breakfast! For me, I had sausages in my sights! 😉 10.00am: There has been a lot of good things to do here and for us, this was the highlight – a tour of the Old House. John, our Guide gave us a thorough history of Littlecote House as we wandered through the old building.
The House
There were corridors everywhere and some very unusual rooms to look over. In fact, we thought it was all a bit underplayed as this place featured a King, Ghosts, WWII billeting, a Church, its own organ – the list goes on! There’s not enough room here to do the contents and its history justice, but take it from us, if you’re here, as even if you only have a passing interest in old Houses, it’s most definitely worth it! Stand-out rooms for me? The Church and the Dutch Room. More information about Littlecote House and its history is HERE. 11.30am: As it was dry, we decided to take a wander around the grounds. It might have been dry, but it was perishingly cold (to me anyway!). 12.25pm: On our walk we took in the famous Roman Mosaic which was discovered in the grounds in 1728 as part of an unearthed Roman Villa. I think we were all impressed by the quality of the restoration.
Roman Mosaic – Littlecote House
12.55pm: …and then the obligatory celebratory ‘selfies’ followed… 1.15pm: Back in the warm, we headed for the Lounge for drinks and a quick nibble, whilst enjoying the legendary Tommy Cooper on the big-screen. Simple humour from simpler times (which suited simple me perfectly!)
Just like that!
2.00pm: We went our separate ways (temporarily) with Paul, Sue and I (plus Ann prior to disappearing to go shooting) settling down to watch the Movie: 2018’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Sunday Afternoon Movie
Just the sort of Movie for a Sunday afternoon! 👍 4.00pm: Our final chance to bring honour to The Northants Nutters as the daily Afternoon Quiz beckoned! Even with the team down to half-strength (Paul, Sue and me) we did pretty well and managed to maintain our record of NOT winning, but at least being in the top three! Next year, we’ll clinch this! 👍 6.45pm: Round to Paul and Sue’s for final pre-dinner drinkies! 7.30pm: Our final Dinner here tonight. Again, the food and service didn’t disappoint. Piotr, our Waiter served us proud and we plan on tipping him tomorrow at breakfast. 👍
Our Final Dinner
9.30pm: Another day, another tribute act! 😉 Tonight, it was David Kidd as Tom Jones. Ann sorted out spare underwear for the performance, but wasn’t keen that I did the same! 😊
David Kidd as Tom Jones
This was a polished performance. He certainly sounded like the Welsh Megastar. The only off-putting thing for us was that he’d tried a bit too hard to look like the Star – and that ill-fitting wig was a real distraction! 🤔 David did one encore: It’s Not Unusual which got everyone up on the floor. By 10.35 he was done! All very enjoyable and worth seeing again (wig permitting!) 10.45pm: Back to our room for packing. Check-out time is an unhealthy 10am tomorrow which means an early breakfast. Bye-bye Warner’s – it’s been a great experience! 👍👍👍👍👍👍
Oh, What a Feeling! None of us were really sure what to expect when we arrived on Friday. As separate couples, this type of break probably wouldn’t have been on our radar as a getaway destination, but as a group of friends together, it turned out to be a VERY enjoyable long weekend. The activities were all thoroughly memorable in their individual way; the food had been well above our expectations; the rooms were well-appointed; and the service everywhere has been nothing short of excellent. Warner’s seem to have a very ‘well-oiled machine’ here! Simply managing this number of guests – feeding, watering and entertaining – must have been a logistical challenge, but they pulled it off with ease. Collectively we all feel that we’d do it all again together sometime in the future. 👍😊

Trainers’ Weekend Away (2018)

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It’s that time of year again where a group of us Trainers (‘the 5ive’, because there’s 7 of us – don’t ask!) who worked together on the BA Project back in 1999 get together for a weekend of celebration. This year, there’s five of us – Antoinette, Angela, Philip and me – with June joining us on the Saturday.

We try and choose a different venue each year. After Stratford-upon-Avon (2012), Bath (2013), Birmingham (2014),  Liverpool (2015), London, for my 60th (2016) and nothing in 2017, this year we’re in Southsea!

The majority of us are staying at The Best Western, Royal Beach Hotel for a couple of nights, beginning on the Friday.

So, first stop was over to Northampton to pick up the two studio photographs, then it was onto Chertsey Station to pickup Angela. Her train was on time, and we were soon on the last leg of the journey.

90 minutes later, after negotiating the very tight car-park, we met Antoinette and Philip who were soaking up the Sun outside the hotel followed by a swift(ish) check-in.

My room was ready but they were still working on Angela’s. Room 411 certainly had a sea view – and it was initially a little ‘toasty’ in there (until I found the electric fan!)

…not a bad view though! Smile

Friday

By 2.45, Angela was checked-in and after a quick planning session by the four of us, we headed off to Gunwharf Quays by Bus. It only took around 15 minutes and we were soon wandering around, soaking-up the sun.

Wow! It was also as BUSY as I remember it! I think I assumed that being a Friday, it wouldn’t be too manic… how wrong can you be??? People, people everywhere. First stop was the Emirates Spinnaker Tower – an opportunity too good to miss with this glorious weather. Last time Ann and I were here was back in July, 2009 – and it was a fine day then too! In the intervening years, it’s acquired sponsorship by Emirates – and their branding was hard to miss – red, red and err, more red!

Age had its advantage as I got my ticket for a whole pound less than younger visitors!! Smile

As expected, the views were spectacular! In addition to the spectacular views on the main observation area (that also included a small glass floor area, so visitors could enjoy the view vertically downwards) there’s an extra floor. This involved a short stair-climb where a small area had been converted to look like a garden – astro-turf and a few deckchairs! The unique feature, in addition to even more stunning views, was that it was roofless! What I thought was a really efficient AC unit working its socks off, was in fact the ‘breeze’ from the roof! Smile IMG_20180720_160125 Overall, it was a great experience and good to see the views across the Harbour and beyond.

We were now in need of some refreshment, and as Philip and Antoinette had arrived ahead of me, they’d already sussed a suitable watering-hole.

The watering-hole in question was The Canteen – a deli style café – a unique eatery that because of its location – in the Barracks of the ‘Hotwalls’ area in the old town. It was so close to the water that it advertised the times for high-tide so that patrons could avoid getting wet/get wet/watch others get wet!!! Smile Smile We enjoyed some small nibbles and a bottle of Champagne whilst occasionally watching other unintentionally dampens their socks from the safety of a ‘just-inside’ location.

Philip and Antoinette walked back to the Hotel whilst Angela and I tried out the bus-service. Confession time: I redacted. We waited longer than expected but eventually the ‘No. 1’ arrived. After a quick change of clothes and then helping Angela determine her journey home (because of engineering works on Sunday), we were back out – after a quick drink in the Bar – and heading out for our evening meal.

Our restaurant of choice (there were so many to choose from!) was Bodrum as we’re all a fan of Turkish food. A £3 taxi fare followed, and we were soon seated and looking through the (massive) menu…

..and the food and service didn’t disappoint. It was all delicious. We learned that it’s a family-owned-and-run business. Dad cooking the meat (uniquely on show actually in the restaurant), Mum, back-of-house, whilst Sons made up the waiting-staff. It all worked very well and a friendlier team of waiters would be hard to find!

We wined, we dined and we wined some more! By 10.37pm it was over. And whilst Philip and Antoinette headed for their next venue. Angela and I called it a night.

Our plans for tomorrow are to have brekky around 8.30 and then head into the Old Town for a Harbour Tour and then do our own thing in the shape of the other attractions on offer.

Nighty-night!

Saturday

June joined us today after breakfast (she travelled down last night and is staying at another Hotel up the road). Our plan today was to do the Historic Dockyard ‘to death’ – history will show that we succeeded!

IMG_20180721_103736 IMG_20180721_110723~2 First activity (after queuing for a bit) was another queue – for the Harbour Tour. This was clearly a very popular option and although we got in the queue by 10.35, we didn’t actually start boarding until just before 11am. The trip lasted just over 45 minutes and took in a comprehensive listing or more or less everything that was moored in the Harbour. Pity then that the Captain’s live commentary was being mostly ignored by most passengers under the age of 20 – more interested in stuffing their faces and taking selfies #GrumpyOldMan.

Our Boat stopped briefly at Gunwharf Quays before returning to where we boarded. It was brilliant!

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This was a steam-powered and sail-powered ship. I don’t recall it all last time we were here, but apparently, it’s been in dry-dock here for 30+ years. Although a good example of ‘best technology in its day’, the overall experience was marred by a distinct lack of background information and hardly any volunteer exhibits. Worth wandering around it though!

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IMG_20180721_151913~2 Then it was off to The Victory. That’s more like it! Plenty of Volunteers around and a unique audio guide that filled all our knowledge gaps.

IMG_20180721_130552 A spot of Lunch followed and then it was more exploring around Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard before retiring and reflecting on the day in a cool shady spot in the Old Customs House Pub. This was nice! We chilled for a bit before heading back to the Hotel

IMG_20180721_174408 Whilst Angela took the Bus, the rest of us (partly) followed the Millennium Walk

IMG_20180721_174805 It was a windy walk, but the great weather made it very pleasurable! Smile

IMG_20180721_180327 Somehow, we ended up back at The Canteen – and another bottle of Champagne! This time, we sat outside and watched the Ship pass by – a unique location with a unique view. Perfect!

IMG_20180721_193335 Our final meal was booked for 7.30 at Samphire – a Cocktail Bar and Brasserie…

A couple of us had assumed it was an Indian restaurant (me included), and now I’m not sure why! Still, the food was excellent – and we dined like Kings!

Smoked Haddock Fishcake, served with Hollandaise Sauce & Baby Spinach

Ballotine of Chicken stuffed with a Chorizo and Herb Mousse served with Parmesan Mash and a Herb Cream Sauce Banana and Baileys Bread and Butter Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream

We finished the meal just before 11pm and decided t walk back together to our respective Hotels. Antoinette’s estimation of a “10-15 minute walk” was a little wide of the mark,  but it didn’t matter, it was nice warm evening – and just perfect for a walk.

Thirty-five minutes later, as we approached the Hotel, I said my goodbyes (as I was travelling home tomorrow at the ‘crack of dawn’), headed back to my room, as did Angela. The others made even more of an evening of it, by heading off to a Wine Bar.

Sunday

I woke at 3.30am and it didn’t seem worth going back to sleep. So, after a quick shower, at 4.15, I was checking out and soon on the road. It was fast journey home and I was indoors – 150 miles later – by 6.45am!

It was a great break, and Southsea exceeded my expectations, as did the Hotel. I’d happily stay in Southsea again and the Hotel too! Smile

Cruise 2018 Extra – “Ship Ahoy Cap’n”

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From a photography point of view, occasionally, an opportunity presents itself that’s truly ‘once in a lifetime’. We were offered one of those opportunities today! It’s Wednesday the 18th, we’re in Dubai and it’s our final day on the Cruise.

But first, “turn over your papers”, here’s a bit of ‘O Level’ Cruise history… (stick with it, it’s relevant!)

These days, there are now hundreds of Cruise Ships out there – as new Ships come along (which, these days, is fairly often), older ones are either sold off and given a new identity, scrapped, or if they’re lucky, given a new life as something else, somewhere else.


Cunard currently has (just) three Cruisers – ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Victoria’ and the one we’re on: Queen Mary 2’.  There’s a new one – as yet un-named – on the way, but that’s all a bit hush-hush at the mo’. Because there are fewer Cunard Ships, than many of their competitors, they tend to have a longer sea-life before the fateful decision is taken about their future.

If you’re a seasoned Cruiser (or even if you’re not), you’ll probably remember the ‘QE2’. Launched in 1969, it was then, the flagship of the Cunard fleet but was eventually ‘retired’ almost 40 years later in 2008 and sold to Dubai. Its future? to become a ‘floating resort’ (whatever that means).

“Pencils down”…

So, in typically under-stated Cunard fashion, an announcement was made on-board a few days ago, that there were to be some free – yes, ‘free’ – transfers to the legendary QE2 in the Port of Dubai, on the very day it opens its doors to the public, as a brand-spanking-new glitzy floating hotel.

So here was the promised ‘once in  a lifetime’ opportunity – and we’re on the 3pm Tour.

The complete gallery of photos I took on the day are HERE.


George and the Flame Thrower

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The Oak Room
Ian
and Ann met us at ours today.

We had a long-standing date to take them out for a slap-up lunch at The George Hotel in Stamford in celebration of their birthdays last year.


It’s always more than just a meal at The George, and today was no exception…

…superb food, fantastic service resulting in a great atmosphere for a posh lunch at 12.30.

We kicked-off with a glass of bubbly each and with my thirst quenched, I opted for the Chicken followed by my absolute favourite – Sherry Trifle!

Still, enough of me; the celebrations ended just before 2pm with a surprise ‘candle’ (more like a flame thrower!) carefully placed on a small cake, courtesy of the Restaurant. It surprised us too, and we think the Waiter heard us mentioning the ‘double birthday’ when we first arrived – and exercised his initiative!
Smile
Nice touch!!

We headed back to ours for a cuppa and a bit more chat before the Birthdayees said their goodbyes and headed home.

A super day, and good to catch-up with our good friends.
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