Olden, Norway

Olden was the second place we sailed to on our recent trip to Norway. I had never even heard of the place, I felt a bit embarrassed by that but actually visiting Olden cured me of that as it’s really a very small place, but rather lovely.

River
We were keen to get off the Black Watch and into the lovely countryside, we had eschewed (how do you pronounce that word? I opt for shoo rather than chew) the organised trips and took to the road, winding through some house lined streets and going up into the road that leads to the scenic Oldeelva river.

It wasn’t a blue sky day but I’m quite glad of that as the low wispy cloud was so atmospheric.
Oldeelva river ,Olden

Oldeelva river , Olden

In parts the river became a roaring torrent.
Oldeelva river falls , Olden

Walking further on you reach a lake, called Floen. When we got back to the ship later that day we seemed to be regarded as heroes for managing to walk that far, and back again of course. The onlly other people who went there under their own steam had used hired bikes, and we beat them there!

Lake at Olden

I had wanted to go and visit a glacier too, but if we had gone on that arranged trip we wouldn’t have been able to do the walk, a glacier visit will have to wait for now.
Lake  at Olden

The photo below is taken from the bridge over the river at Olden looking up the valley back towards Lake Floen.
looking up valley  at Olden

On the way back to the Black Watch we decided to take the path along the opposite side of the river, but eventually the ground became very boggy so we had to go further up the embankment onto the hillside where it was drier. All in all I think we must have walked about seven miles or so. The photo below of Olden and the Black Watch at anchor was taken when we were really quite tired and longing to reach our temporary home. It was a great afternoon out though!

looking back to Olden

Ferrol, Galicia, Spain

Back to the cruise, and we had about five hours in the port of Ferrol in Spain, sometimes called El Ferrol. The town is a short walk from the docks and I think we were the last people back on board as we ‘did’ the town in two chunks, going back to the ship for lunch. We did have coffee and churos in a cafe in Ferrol, as we hadn’t tried churos before, we weren’t that impressed with them.

Anyway, we realised that the time had come for the Black Watch to set sail, but we were still in the port.

Bing bong The captain was speaking and the upshot was that they hadn’t been able to get the fuel ‘bunkered’ fast enough hence the delay.

an impromptu deck party 2

The good news was that an impromptu deck party was going to take place at the stern! The weather was gorgeous so we made our way to the blunt end of the ship where Jess Belleza and the Black Watch Band were in full swing.

impromptu deck party

Honestly it was like something out of a Cliff Richard film, I had the weirdest sensation of unreality. A couple of the dancers were jigging away in the shallow end of one of the pools and having a great time too by the look of it. Of course being an absolute cynic a large part of me was thinking that the extra time docked in Ferrol meant more money being paid out by the Fred Olsen cruise line. I’m fairly sure that the whole thing was got up to push the sales of sangria and help to pay the extra port charges – but heigh-ho it was good fun. The music must have been blasting all over the town of Ferrol, a rude awakening for some still having a siesta maybe.

jet skis

All too soon the ship was ready to sail, we found it interesting that despite the fact that they use oil for the fuel they still use the term ‘bunkering’ for the storing of it, as it was when they used coal for the fuel.

The jet skiers were dancing around in the bay, all adding to the sense of celebration.

Then we sailed past ancient fortifications. It’s a very historic area and of course England and Spain were at daggers drawn during Tudor times, so they put on a bit of a show for us, pretending we were the old enemy and seeing us off!

fortifications

There’s a chap in this photo somewhere, done up in medieval uniform and shooting at us – several times, he was thoroughly enjoying himself, boys will be boys!

Castle San Filipe 5

The ship visiting seemed to be a big occasion for the locals and some of them had been lining the harbour as we left, taking videos of the Black Watch and the nutters on it all madly waving. We were sad to leave Ferrol, the weather was fab, much hotter than usual for mid October and we hadn’t had a drop of rain, quite unusual apparently, and I can believe that as the place is very green.

harbour outlet

On we sailed down Spain’s Atlantic coast with the water still disappointingly calm and on to Porto’s port Leixoes.

Getxo, Spain

aGetxo 1

aGetxo 10

Getxo, pronounced Getcho, in northern Spain (Basque country) is the port for Bilbao and it’s a lovely place. It’s easy to see that the town was incredibly wealthy in the past, and it’s not at all shabby nowadays.

aGetxo 2

There’s an esplanade which is over a mile long and I must admit that it’s a lot more scenic than Kirkcaldy’s mile long esplanade. The rich people in times past built huge mansions, all in different styles on the edge of the esplanade, obviously taking advantage of the sea views, and vying with each other as to who could have the grandest house.

aGetxo 5

aGetxo 3
After our morning and early afternoon in Bilbao we went back to the ship for lunch and then walked into Getxo and had a drink in one of the bars. We dodged the tapas which was all very fishy (I’m not a fan of fish) but more importantly it was a very hot day and the tapas dishes were just lying out, not chilled. I can imagine that if you’re a local and are used to eating it then it would be fine but I reckon it would have just about killed us if we had chanced it.
aGetxo 6 ship
The photo above is ofour ship Black Watch and her sister ship Boudicca is moored just behind.

People in Spain seem to live a sort of split shift life. The shops don’t open until 11 am then close at 2 pm. Then it’s lunch and siesta time and everything opens up again at 5 pm until 8 pm. THEN they open again at 11 pm until 2 am. I was particularly amazed to see that even a shop selling candles and fancy soaps as well as things for kiddies was open from 11 pm until 2 am. Presumably people must actually go into the shops at those times otherwise they wouldn’t open up, but I was left wondering if it was errant husbands who had been out on a longer than expected drinking binge who were the customers. Maybe they feel the need to go home with peace offerings for their wives.

So again, we didn’t contribute anything to the town’s economy. except for the amazingly cheap drinks, 3.60 euros – because it was only the bars that were open!
aGetxo 9

We in the UK take it for granted that shops open from 9 am until 5.30 pm but I know that Peggy was surprised that our shops closed at 5.30 apparently they open until 8 pm in the US.

aGetxo 27 deco 7 + yachts

It was another gorgeous hot day, about 27 centigrade, very unusual for the time of the year and the locals said we were very lucky as it rains all the time there! That must account for it looking so green and verdant.

Cruising from Rosyth, Fife

We chose to go on a cruise leaving from Rosyth in Fife because it’s fairly handy for us, in fact we even looked at a house in Rosyth when we were looking for a new home a couple of years ago. Rosyth is by the River Forth and for me it meant that our trip would be exciting from the very start as we would be sailing under the bridges – all three of them, and getting up close to the third one – the Queensferry Crossing, still under construction. We checked in at 4.30 pm on September, 30th – as we were asked to and by 6.00 pm the Black Watch set sail. The photo below was taken from the ship, looking over to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh

The photo below is of one of the islands in the Firth of Forth, Inchcolm.

Inchcolm

The photo below is of the new bridge called the Queensferry Crossing, still under construction.

new bridge 1

The photo below is of Kirkcaldy where we used to live until a couple of years ago.

Kirkcaldy

If you look closely at the photo below I think you can just about make out all three bridges.

anew bridge 4

The week previously had been wild and windy but the weather had taken a turn for the worse as far as I was concerned as the North Sea that we sailed into was a flat calm. What a disappointment, I’ve always loved heavy seas, ever since going on an incredibly rough voyage to Scandinavia as a schoolgirl. Anyway, we sailed along at an average speed of 16 knots and after sailing from the North Sea into the English Channel I was a bit happier as the sea was quite a bit choppier there.

I was still wondering if we had done the right thing in going on a cruise though as I’m not really a people person. I’m fine once I get to know folks but a shipful of around a thousand strangers was a bit daunting to me. For the first few days I did a lot of reading in our cabin, apart from meal times. I must say the food was really delicious, but going out for fancy meals has never been my top way of relaxing, although I did get used very quickly to having everything done for me. The evening meal was five courses but we usually just had three courses, I think we were unusual in that.

Just about the first thing that struck us was that everybody seemed to be so much older than us. I reckon that the average age was about 80. To be fair we deliberately booked up a cruise that was for adults only, mainly because I thought it would be a nightmare if there were a lot of badly behaved kids rampaging around. It never occurred to me that going on a cruise is actually cheaper than paying for a care home – but it is, and I’m sure the care is better on board too! We did find a few people who were younger than us, some folks who were maybe only around 40 or so.

The ship seemed to be full of people who were more or less addicted to cruising, loads of them had booked up for their next cruise before this one came to an end. They claim that the sea air makes your clothes shrink!

When I started to explore the ship a bit more I noticed that there were loads of people reading books, a few using Kindles. John Grisham was very popular but I didn’t see anyone reading the sorts of books that I tend to go for. There were a fair few knitters around too. I had thought about taking some knitting as it’s getting on for my knitting ‘season’ but I really thought that I would definitely be looked on as being a bit eccentric – knitting on a cruise.

So the first few days I was a bit down and that song about Camp Granada kept running through my mind. But then we made friends with the people at the next door table, and we discovered some old friends were on the cruise, old in both ways as we’ve known them for 30 years or so and they are both over 80 and still going strong. So by the time we got to the first port – Lorient in Brittany on Monday I was feeling a lot more optimistic. Tomorrow I’ll show you some photos of that port.

I’m Back!

Yes, I’m/we’re back home now after cruising on Black Watch from Rosyth in Fife via the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay to Brittany and Normandy in France and then on to Spain and Portugal. We were amazingly lucky with the weather, apparently they get a lot of rain in the north of Spain (although I think their idea of a lot of rain might be very different from mine) but to be fair the place is all very green and lush so they must get a fair amount I suppose.

Anyway, we took loads of photos and I hope to get through at least some of them tomorrow and so have a cruise blogpost up soon. We decided against going online on the ship as it cost £13 for 30 minutes and was very slow so with both of us using it it would have been very expensive and no doubt frustrating.

I wasn’t at all sure about going on a cruise but after the first couple of days, when I was eyeing up the lifeboats and deciding that there was no way off the ship, I settled down and threw myself into life on board, visiting the cinema, cabaret shows and comedy shows. Amazingly there were five talks by a chap who had run trips to the First World War battlefields in the past, he was very interesting and the talks were incredibly popular, just about standing room only sometimes.

Meanwhile, you can see a lot of images of Black Watch here.