Monday, 26 August 2013

Roses Grace and Ghislaine de feligonde come up trumps in local show

Two new roses in my garden.  Grace was planted in a pot last year, and Ghislaine de Feligonde only this year.  I bought Grace during a visit to David Austin last year.

I only got the rambler Ghislaine de Feligonde, this year after hearing it being lovingly described by Mrs Ann bird, Vice President of the Rose Society at the Kenilworth and District Horticultural Society.  She gave the lecture in March, and the very next day, I went to visit Hinton's Nursery .  They were expecting an order from David Austin the following week, and with a phone call and an email they managed to get me Ghislaine de Feligonde.   I have been amazed by this beautiful perpetual rambler.  I love going into the garden and picking a few flowers for the house, or for posies for friends...and with a new rose, I feel it is kinder to cut the flowers quickly and allow the shrub to grow good roots and leaves rather than spend energy on blooms...well that is my excuse.

I was delighted to win two first prizes for these and also best in Classes 1 - 4.

Grace is a beautiful apricot colour, and already in late August, a whole second flush of roses which my Aunt admired yesterday.  Aunty Pat has failing eyesight, with macro degeneration, but she had to stop at this rose...she thought at first it was a large dahlia plant, the flowers were so numerous and colourful.

The past few months have been so busy for me....and I am now having to take it a little slowly due to a sore thumb joint...and whilst I was sorting through a pile of papers, whilst dear hubby was doing the heavier jobs, washing up, hovering, well jobs which hurt my hand....I came across my certificates etc. so I looked up the pictures I took at the time, and decided to put them up.  Nice to look back on during the winter months!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Homeward bound

This was our first cruise, and we shall be cruising again, most definitely.  On this seven day holiday we had four full days on land.  The first day really only started half way through the day.  We had two further full days on board.  The first few hours we spent walking around and getting a feel for where everything was.  The day travelling there and the day travelling back were packed with plenty of entertainment, as well as opportunities to sit and read and knit on our balcony!

We went to ballroom dancing lessons and also watched a cookery demonstration.

The shows were magnificent, with one every other night alternating with comedians and singers including Clem Curtis.  The theatre was so comfortable with plenty of leg room.  During the day there were all sorts of activities too.  Each evening we had the 'Horizon' delivered to our cabin, listing all the activities for the following 24 hours... it took us a couple of days to get into the habit of looking through this carefully and planning our day around 'not to be missed' items. 

I joined a table tennis tournament.....

There was dancing, from disco to ballroom in different venues all going on at the same time.  One bar we came across on the stern had lovely music on a grand piano.  I thought it would be worth going on a cruise for the entertainment and dining alone!  Each evening we had a wonderful selection, with starter, soup, main, dessert, coffee and varying hand made petit fours/chocolates/sweetmeats.  We had wonderful choices ranging from half lobsters to steak done just as one likes it.  The d├ęcor and the standard of cleanliness was top-notch in all areas.

For lunch and breakfast and tea we had a range of options...except we were bared from Noddy's tea party as we did not have a child to accompany us.  Just the once we went for the formal afternoon tea.....wonderful.  Such wonderful sandwiches, pastries, cakes, scones, tea etc, all beautifully served.The age range was surprising.  We had expected many older people, but this cruise had many young families, people in their twenties, thirties and older.  We spoke with many people.  Many of the young set had been on cruises with their parents when they were younger, and just loved it so much that they continue.  They certainly dressed up for the occasion and from the look of some who turned up for self service breakfast as we were having lunch, must have been partying nearly all night!  It was very quiet in our cabin area...with even no engine noise..only the coat hangers sliding along one night when we were in the North Sea!

One evening we got back to find that our valet had left new extra towels along with the night time chocolates!


Although the weather had changed from bright blue skies to misty grey with light drizzle, we had a wonderful time in Stravanger.  There is so much in the town of interest. 

The first part we hit on disembarkation was Old Stravanger, very neat, beautifully kept traditional 18th century wooden buildings lined the narrow cobbled streets.  This cannon was within a few metres of our quay.  Up a little steep road, the houses had pretty gardens, and planters outside the front doors.

This little street with pretty gardens had two liners overlooking the precision clipped espalier fruit trees.

As we wandered round the town we came across some delightful street scenes and liked the bronze statues.
This one with the little boy and ducks was close by the Breiavatnet, a lake in the centre of the town which was surrounded by smart houses, and which had a large fountain.
Even though we could have gone back to the ship sooner, we decided to wander round the newer part of the town, still with some old buildings. 
When I saw a couple of people enter this pretty old house, I walked close to the window and realising that it was had people sitting inside, we stepped into this old merchant's house, and enjoyed a drink and a local pastry, made of sweet dough with a custard flavoured with cardamom and topped with coconut icing.
Not all the buildings are white, down a few roads, we found some very bright colours!
We paid our money and joined the visit to the Cathedral of St Swithun.  There was so much to admire in the building, wonderful stone work and carvings

as well as a pulpit and and five epitaphs of which this is just one.
The pulpit depicts the story of the bible from Adam and Eve at the foot of the stairs  with the triumphant Christ crowning the top of the canopy.
These were executed in the 17th century by craftsmen from Great Britain, with Andrew Smith the wood carver who came from Scotland.
There was a little time left for looking around the shops and admiring handicrafts....
We could have visited a number of museums and other interesting places, but left these for next time!
This was our last stop and thereafter we were homeward bound.


Again another very small village, with pretty paths.  We set out for a walk up the valley, visiting first the Old Church and then the New One.  Each very different, much loved, and a peaceful place to reflect.

The 'current' old church built on a site which has been a place of worship since the 13th century, was built in the 18th century.  The cross shaped church has some pretty carved pews and lovely hat stands.  The oldest pew has 1672 carved on its hat rack. 

Each member had his or her allocated space, with men sitting on the right side, and women on the left.

The Altar was pretty

and worth stepping into to area and it was surrounded with a collection of early paintings.

We followed the trail up the valley to the New Church, looking at the local wild flowers, listening to the bird song and looking through the clear water of the brook.

Afterwards we made our way back down the valley passing some farms

the cows were out for their annual holiday...yes by law they must spend time outside in the sunshine during the summer, and they have beds, proper beds in their barns, with music and they get to lie down by their friends.

Down in the village we went to the local store and spoke to one of the shelf fillers about the famous Norwegian Brown Cheese.  We had located the cheeses but not understanding Norwegian, needed some guidance.  He was very helpful and we bought a large block of the goats brown cheese which is the most highly is delicious, quite sweet, and lovely on a cracker with some nuts with a port as 'pudding'.  There were quite a variety of the brown cheese on the shelves from cows milk, to half cows and goats, and then whole goats milk.

We also met up with the outing from the local Kindergarten and I chatted with one of the minders.  I loved the big buggy they used and they were very happy for me to take this picture.

As we walked the final stint to the ship along the road, where there was absolutely no traffic of any sort within site we decided to cross the road about 50 metres past a crossing and we were told off by a lady on her bike who came out of a side turning!  I wonder whether she was a local who had campaigned to have the zebra crossing put in for the tourists, and then we did not use it?  Even this old lady spoke English!

Andalsnes, second stop

Its virtually two months since our trip, and its only now that I feel that I can resume.  The reason is that a dear friend and her family have been devastated by the loss of their son in the mountains of Norway on a walking holiday, and I have been reflecting on this. 

The accident happened just days after our return.  I had met this young man on a couple of occasions, and I know that he enjoyed my preserves too.  Its just over a week since I attended his funeral service.  It was a moving experience and I got to know much more about James through a wonderful oration given by his friend and also some ministers of his church.  He lived his life well, was an inspiration and a leading light, may that light and his love continue to shine and guide and touch his family and friends during all their lives.

Andalsnes is a very small town with around 3000 inhabitants.  We arrived there early before breakfast I stood on the balcony watching the reflections of the mountains and clear sky on the glass like surface of the fjord.  The only waves or ripples were those made by the Ventura.

We enjoyed walking around Andalsnes.  There was a wonderful room jutting over the water the light must have been wonderful there, and the insulation must have had to be superb for the winter too.

We went into a shop which was full of gorgeous things to make your house homely in the Scandinavian style.  Mainly pale colours which would reflect the light on the long dark winter days

Walking back to the ship, one got the scale....

We had booked to have a trip on the Rauma Railway a wonderful scenic ride up the valley, with a coach back.  Some people on the ship had hoped to do this themselves, but were disappointed as the scheduled trains ran only a couple of times a day, and this was a fully booked excursion train. 

Whilst waiting for our train we popped into a train carriage which had been set up as a chapel.  It had a peaceful atmosphere.  Its stained glass window and altar were beautiful.

The Rauma Railway is one of Norway's most spectacular train rides, and as this was an excursion train it went slowly so that we could fully enjoy the spectacular views. Amongst the most spectacular was Trollveggen which is the highest perpendicular mountain wall over 1800 metres high. 

The train crisscrossed the valley passing over spectacular viaducts and through tunnels piercing the solid rock.  The air was clear, the light bright, and the temperature 19 C...perfect.

On the way back we had a German Guide, and enjoyed the return stops where I tried to spy the famous trolls in the mountains....these two were easy to spot!

There is always time to spot a few flowers.....

some lupines growing wild along the edge of the fjord, and some upward pointing fuchsias in the tubs by the docks, is there an Andalsnes in Bloom group?