Saturday, 29 December 2012

Friday, 28 December 2012

Lyngen Alps

We've been invited to spend a night at Lyngen Lodge.   Having only seen the Lyngen Alps from the ships as we sail past,  a 3-day stop in Tromsø would perhaps allow me to finally visit?

There is also a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights where there is less light pollution than in the centre of Tromsø itself.   Add this to the potential of seeing the lights on one of the ships' excursions and it opens up opportunities for some interesting photography.

2014 might see us take another Norwegian land-trip and spend a longer holiday in the area combined with some research.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Portrait of a wild goat

Portrail of a wild goat 8/11
Short portrait of a feral goat,   Boxing Day 2012.

We first met it taking up more than it's share of the road and ignoring the passing place signs.   Click through and follow from pic 1/8.

Unusually,  the goats weren't too bothered about the few people who were out and about this morning.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Trains again

The Caledonian sleeper bookings for mid March went online today and it looks as if the sleeper is not going to Fort William on the day I want.   This would mean changing at either Glasgow or Kingussie.

So it's back to the day trains.   I searched through various company and booking websites to find prices varied between £182 first class and £370 second class for 3 people.   This is a direct train from Bristol to Glasgow where one of us is going anyway.

Of course,  looking at these prices,  I booked the first class reserved seats with food included.   I'm not totally sure but think I may actually have booked 3 single seats.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Additional cruise dates

Fjords Norway,  September 2013.

The additional dates have just been added this afternoon.   This cruise includes Florø,  somewhere I've managed to miss completely in 2012.

Looking at Fred Olsen's website,  this cruise looks interesting and it also leaves from Scotland which means our travel time is reduced.

Next question-  is our regular house-sitter available or do I have to book someone else?

Sunday, 16 December 2012


The trains to get to the first two ships are now booked.   Unfortunately the Caledonian Sleeper tickets for coming home won't be available until next week so they still need to be booked.

Travel insurance is due to be renewed and I haven't decided whether to shop around or just renew the current policy.   Perhaps they need a telephone call to see if we can reduce the premiums.

While we can access the excursion lists and booklets online,  they cannot yet be booked so we've that to look forward to in the New Year.

In the meantime,  there is a photograph lecture to look forward to at SAMS and soon it will be Christmas.

The blog is kind of boring at the moment,  I know.   It will liven up in January,  I'm sure,  as the preparations really start to happen.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Oceans and human health

Reflections of UlvikYesterday I attended this most interesting lecture by Professor Lora Fleming at SAMS.

Prof. Fleming talked about all sorts of aspects of how humans and other living things interact with the oceans and seas.   I won't go into details,  but suggest you read the brief introduction on the the SAMS website here.

It made me think about all the observations we've made and experiences we've had on our Arctic visits over the past 4 years.   While my focus of attention has been mostly on the water and scenery,  perhaps 2013 should see me also concentrate more on the people who live in and near the ports we visit?

(photo,  reflections of Ulvik)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Booking pre-cruise travel

The hotel bookings are open for February and,  to take advantage of the best prices,  I've now made the bookings.

Portsmouth Premier Inn £29 per room per night,  room only.   Most likely we'll add the 'meal deal' when we arrive.

Ibis Bristol Temple Meads.  £31.50 per room per night,  room only but we're in the centre of town.   Ideal for the railway station and also for the bus from the airport.  We're being joined, on this cruise, by a third passenger who'll arrive by air.

Ballachulish bridge

Ballachulish bridge
seen from Glencoe yesterday morning

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Enchanted Forest video

Short video from our visit to the Enchanted Forest 2012 at Faskally (FLOW)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Borealis Vinterfestival

Sculpting ice in Alta 1/2Our visit to Alta on MV Discovery will coincide with the Borealis Vinterfestival (winter festival).   In 2012 we saw the ice being carved during our first visit and then the carvings melting away during our second visit.   We look forward to being there while the 2013 festival is in progress.

Rumour suggests that MS Marco Polo will also be in port ?

The preparations for the Finnmarksløpet,  Europe's most northerly sled dog race,  will see the teams and dogs in Alta during our stay.   Organised by the Alta Mushing Association,  the teams of dogs enter into the 500km or 1000km race.

We plan to meet up with one of the dog sled teams providing weather and time allow.   We can't interrupt the preparations;  can we?

Enchanted Forest (FLOW)

Faskally woods, Pitlochry 2012

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Signal boxes

Signal Box, Blair Atholl
Signal boxes in Blair Atholl and Pitlochry on

16 October 2012 Signal Box, Blair Atholl

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Addition to 2013 itinerary

We're probably adding another cruise to the 2013 itinerary...

This is MV Discovery on her first cruise after being chartered by Cruise & Maritime.    Sailing from Bristol in February 2013. 

I've put the ports of call into the 2013 page.

< MV Discovery in Oban,  June 2010.

This time we're being joined by other family members and so are going through the initial planning stage again.
  • Passport-  making sure all the passports are in date now and for 6 months after our return.
  • EHIC card-  all family members are applying for new (or renewed) cards to ensure emergency health care is covered
  • Travel insurance- making sure that all family members have adequate travel insurance,  declare all existing health conditions and add cover for winter sports if they want to go on the husky rides etc.
  • Clothing-  February might seem a long time away but now is the time to buy clothing suitable for the Arctic.   Layers of clothes with the top layer being water & wind proof.   Thermal underwear is a good idea and gloves and hats being essential.   Ice grips for boots are important for the ground conditions.   Sunglasses are essential for the light reflected by the ice and snow.
  • Camera-  a good camera,  plenty of storage space and lots of charged batteries.   The batteries don't last so long in the Arctic cold.
  • Norwegian Kroner-   We'll watch the exchange rate over the next few weeks and will probably buy our Kroner for the whole year and the whole family in one transaction.
  • Health-  A 'flu jab is a good idea unless advised otherwise by a Doctor.   We're going to be on a ship with lots of other passengers from all over the country in the 'flu season.
... more later as we go through the planning stages.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Glenlee again

Glenlee bow
More photographs from the Glenlee (Tall Ship) moored on the River Clyde

Glenlee stern

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Announcing the 2013 itinerary

I've just added the 2013 provisional itinerary online as a new page.

Two Norwegian visits are planned at the moment,  both cruises on different ships.

The first is on Fred Olsen's Boudicca to see the Northern Lights in February.  The second cruise is on Voyages of Discovery's 'Voyager' to the midnight sun.

I'm glad to report that our house sitters are very keen for us to go away again and the house is going to be occupied,  particularly important during the winter trips.    Thanks House sitters !

River Clyde

River Clyde
from the Riverside museum (transport museum) in Glasgow.

Looking towards the city.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Glenlee reflection

Glenlee reflection
relection of this historic sailing ship in the Riverside (transport) museum, Glasgow

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Ships in Oban

Kristina Katarina of Kristina Cruises in Oban Bay on 30 July 2012.
and her tender boat at the Oban Times pier.

Pheonix Reisen's (Phoenix Kreuzfahrten) Amadea anchored off Oban on 18 September 2012 with her tender at the Oban Times Pier.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Late lunch on the way home.

Mid-way between Oban and Fort William is the Creagan Inn. We sometimes stop here for a rather good lunch on the way home. Friendly service and good food.
The weather was warm and sunny between short but heavy showers of rain so everyone was inside...

Balmoral- Historic ship

BalmoralThe Balmoral was at the North Pier in Oban today and, between the showers, I managed to take a few photographs.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


There were 4 cruise ships in Bergen today and another arriving later.  (Thomson Spirit,  AidaLuna, Brilliance of the Seas, Balmoral and of course Ocean Countess).

Ocean Countess appeared small between the AidaLuna and Brilliance of the Seas and I'm so pleased to be on Ocean Countess and not one of the floating towns.

We caught up with friends and colleagues and also seemed to act as informal guides for some of the many cruise ship passengers.

... and then we sailed from Bergen,  our last day in Norway for 2012.   (see the video below)

Somehow sad,  but in lots of ways we're looking forward to a rest and some time at home.  (sorry House sitters-  no more vacancies in 2012)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Departing Åndalsnes

Timelapse video


Åndalsnes and,  again,  a beautiful sunny day.

It's amazing how passengers (including ourselves) are found in the nearest cafe

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Our arrival in Olden was to rain clouds and drizzle.   It cleared very soon and we decided,  once again,  to explore the local community.

The excursions looked very interesting and we couldn't join at this late stage.

It appeared to be very much a farming community (when climate allows?) with a centre of shops and cafe.

Monday, 27 August 2012


Skjolden is a rather interesting small community that was bathed in sunshine during our visit.

Some passengers went on excursions while a few of us chose to explore the local community.

Farming on small holdings

View out towards the fjord.

Older houses.

Sogn og Fjordane and Lustrafjorden

Skjolden was a new port for us.   Although cold,  the weather was good and we enjoyed our sail in Sognefjorden towards Skjolden.

We sailed past Lavik and the Fjord1 ferries that sail across from Oppedal.   You may remember we made this crossing earlier in the year on a service bus.

Below you'll find the time lapse video of the cruise in Sogn og Fordane and Lustrafjorden

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Schedule :: North Sea

Crossing the North Sea (7th time this year) and time to sort out the photographs/video from Hull.  Also need to re-charge the batteries.   There is a possibility that we'll still be getting thunder and lightning depending on the route we take and whether last Wednesday's weather forecast was right.

It'll be nice to spend time getting to know some of the other passengers.  I must sort out the excursions too

Saturday, 25 August 2012


We weren't due to join the Ocean Countess until afternoon and didn't have to check out of the hotel until 12md.   This allowed us a brief visit to the Hull museum trawler 'Arctic Corsair'

With a forecast of thunder and lightning,  it waited until we were leaving the hotel to join the ship and there was an enormous clap of thunder.   Fortunately the weather then behaved itself and the sailing from the Humber was good.

The video of our departure turned out to be dreadful (but it was the first attempt with the new camera system) so there are no pictures at all for today.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Edinburgh to Hull

As usual for a departure from Hull,  we took the East Coast train via Doncaster.    First class train tickets as usual because they are more economic than second class when we can book 3 months in advance.

A quick visit to the shops was required when we realised we didn't have enough cash for taxis when we returned to Edinburgh.

A lovely sunny afternoon,  we also went down to the marina where the 'Spurn Lightship' was open for visitors.

It was bank holiday weekend and our planned visit to The Deep was delayed until the last hour when most of the people had gone home.  

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Travelling to Edinburgh

It was an early start for travelling to meet the Ocean Countess in Hull.  After an evening meal of Cheese on Toast (that didn't look too happy) we were packed and ready to go.

A lovely drive over to Edinburgh on relatively quiet roads,  we stopped at the Green Welly and arrived in the early afternoon.   There were cruise ships moored at Rosyth,   it would have been nice if it had been the Ocean Countess but she was still on the high seas somewhere.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Ready to leave

MV Ocean Countess

  • packing complete
  • train schedules checked
  • house cleaned
  • house sitters arrival imminent
The weather forecast for the next few days is thunder and lightning so there will probably be a delay in starting the live posts, with photographs, until we're clear of the thunder storms. The automated posts with our itinerary will still appear.

Norwegian Fjords,   see you early next week.

Visits = 4, February to August.
Ships = 4
Norwegian ferries = 3
Norwegian buses = 2
Norwegian trains = 3 day & 1 night sleeper
Norwegian hotels = 7
UK trains = 10 day & 3 night sleeper
UK hotels = 5

Monday, 13 August 2012

Last 2012 cruise

This next visit to Norway will be our last for 2012,  as far as we know.    Once we've edited the photos and video from August,  then I'll start giving the detailed reports that I've been promising.

The connection we use for the short blog posts with small photographs is very cost effective with wide coverage in Norway.   It would, however, cost too much to upload the larger versions of the photographs or any video while we're travelling.

Starting to think of packing the clothes.   The luggage will be much lighter this time because we're not going into the Arctic region nor do I needing to take any formal evening dress.   So it's a few layers of light clothing and waterproofs.

House sitters organised.

Countdown continues.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ship paperwork

Received all the paperwork for the next cruise.   Question is whether to book excursions in advance or not.   There are a couple of trips I'd really like to do and sometimes they're all sold out by the time the ship sails.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Home Produce

Home Produce
a small selection from the garden yesterday. Tasted good!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Corran Ferry towards Ardnamurchan

 Time lapse trial- the batteries ran out before we got any further

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Insects in the greenhouse

Insects- DSCF3242
I had company today,  as I sat in the greenhouse having coffee.