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Cannes, land of luvvies and beautiful people and, for today only, His Podgeness and The Duchess. Their presence however would not be until after they had breakfasted and planned both today and the next day. For Podge was still struggling and the planned 10-hour trip around Florence & Pisa the next day was going to be too much. They had to re-plan their strategy. Fortunately however, Podge does dabble a little in the dark scary world of Contingency Planning and room for re-scoping had been built into their whole cruising schedule. Podge is wise & clever. Podge still can’t breath though. Poor Podge.

Visits to Florence and Pisa are from the boat park in Livorno (It’s about as near as the Oceana could get). Podge had spotted that as they were doing two back-to-back cruises, they would visit Livorno, sail on to Genoa for cruise end, start new cruise, sail back to Livorno. ‘Bingo” remarked Podge, “We could do the Easy Pisa Tour tomorrow and Easy Florence on the next visit”. Podge really is so, very clever and having exerted all his thinking energy both Podge and Tubbs went for a rest then Breakfast to plan the day’s adventure in Cannes.

Getting to Cannes was going to be different from any of the previous towns. It wasn’t possible to walk into town, nor was is possible to get the bus. The Oceana was way to big to park alongside anything in Cannes so had to anchor offshore (that’s a nautical term not money laundering, I mean management) and as such it would be necessary to take a trip in one of the ships tenders (these are the lifeboats or survival craft) of about 15-minutes right into Cannes herself.

Podge hates tenders

Back in 2004, Boxing Day to be precise, Podge & Tubbs were basking on the shore of a little Caribbean Island called Mayreau having taken the tenor across from the Aurora anchored some 20-minutes away. They noticed that the waters were somewhat more boisterous than usual, so boisterous in fact that one lady was dragged down under the waves and was being dragged out to see before a number of people raced into drag her, literally, back ashore. “I’ve never seen the Caribbean like this before” said Podge. ‘Most unusual’ he thought. As the waters continued with their bad behaviour, Podge & Tubbs decided to get the tender back to the boat. What followed was 30-minutes of extreme discomfort and yes, even fear. The bouncing about on the waves is fine, tenders are designed to do this: it was when the tender tried to tie up next to the Aurora to let every body off and back onto the ship. The tender was going up then down, rolling left then right, and banging against the ship with such force that on one occasion, there was a loud thwack after which there was a definite crack on the upper wall of the tender, not dangerous but most disconcerting. Eventually, we pulled away from the ship and bobbed about for what seemed an eternity while the captain turned the ship to shelter us so that we could all board the Aurora and the safety of the cabin then the bar. Ever since then, Podge has hated tenders. 

The next day, on board the Aurora, the Captain broadcast the news of the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami that had happened on Boxing day.  

Today’s tender trip was a good trip

Podge needn’t have worried about the crossing. Climbing aboard the tender was a breeze, the crossing was millpond like and getting off the other side even easier. Podge is such a Wimp. ‘Just man-up’ thinks Tubbs. She doesn’t actually say it but Podge is sure that what she’s thinking.

Once ashore, it was like entering a different world. There was, what Podge thought, some sort of premier film event event as there were security guards and limos all over the place and red carpet outside the theatre entrances. Given the total absence of paparazzi however they both concluded that it must be some of film expo / conference. There was certainly no shortage of luvvies however and there were plenty of nice young, and some not so young, ladies each wearing the equivalent, cost wise, to an average 3-bed semi in the UK. Podge and Tubbs just sat on a wall by the sea watching them all meander backwards and forwards remarking to each other how stylish they al looked. “just look at that Italian man on the bicycle” said Tubbs, ‘He looks so stylish even with his cloths on” continued Tubbs. ‘Cripes’ thought Podge, ‘What on earth is going through her head when she’s looking at all these men” he mused. Podge decided he didn’t want to know but couldn’t help asking what she meant. She said that she actually meant compared to being in Lycra. Podge dropped the thoughts.

Having spent more then enough time people watching, Podge & Tubbs, ok, let’s be honest, Tubbs decided that they should cross over the main street and view the shops. This is where The Duchess comes into her own and His Podgeness feels his heart start to race and bounce even more than it was already. The shops in Cannes aren’t the average Ted Baker, DryStuff, Clarks, etc. Oh noooo, these were Prada, Gucci, Rolex, And other names so unique to Italy that His Podgeness just knew that they couldn’t even afford to even look in the windows let along go in, although going in isn’t that easy: you have be spotted, approved and buzzed in through the locked security doors. Then she spotted diamonds. “Oooooh look” she says, ’sparkly things, these are nice’. “If you loved me” she said looking at His Podgeness who has by now gone quite blue, through a sudden reduction in oxygen and coming out in a cold sweat. Podge does love Tubbs: His Podgeness does love The Duchess but when he took a look at the earrings being pointed out, ‘F*%k Me” exclaimed Podge, ‘They cost more than a World Cruise”. This was a good ploy, Podge had played a blinder. All jewellery now equated to another cruise and cruises won every time, presumably because Tubbs reckons on getting more sparkly thinks on future cruises anyway. Eventually, she tired and hunger set in. So they started to look around for somewhere to eat, preferably somewhere close to a tourist shop so that they could get the obligatory fridge magnet.

Throughout the whole cruise, Podge had been craving an omelette and when he saw one rather swanky but not too swanky eatery full of luvvies but still with a couple of tables spare, he was in there. No questions, no debate, no why’s or wherefore’s. Podge was in. Tubbs followed, scanning the horizon for fridge magnet shops and maybe another restaurant. Her first quest was fruitful. A suitable shop straight opposite. Her second quest was pointless. Podge wasn’t moving. “There might be somewhere nicer down there” she said, pointing randomly. “There might be” said Podge, ‘There might not be” continued Podge. “But this is nice and I’m staying here. Tubbs knew when to stop and sat down and perused the menu. Guess what, she had omelette and chips as well. They also had a large carafe of Pinot for good measure and they sat, relaxed, ate, relaxed, drank, relaxed, drank, relaxed and then they drunk some more.

The Tender back to the ship

All too soon, it was time to return to the ship and so they made their way back to the tender point for the journey back. Unfortunately, just about every passenger on the ship seemed to have the same thoughts and the number of tenders seemed to have reduced though why was never identified. Each tender can take about 100 people. Podge reckoned they were in a queue of 800+. To load and unload a tender plus the journey time there and back was well over 30 minutes. With two tenders, this was going to take a long, long time. But the clever captan was also good at contingency planning and acted in the same way that Podge had already decided he should. The Captain organised one of the local large capacity sight seeing boats to collect as many of us as possible and bring them over to the ship. ‘Wow’ thought Podge. “We’ve been upgraded, we’re going in a big boat” said Podge to Tubbs. This pleased Podge as they were much nicer than a tender.

Once back on board, Podge and Tubbs deposited their purchases and made their way to the bar for well earned fivesies and for Podge to rest his weary limbs and lungs.

Poor Podge.

The next day Podge was so very, very poorly. His breathing was really, really difficult: Podge’s cold had been upgraded to man flu and this combined with COPD (upgraded from Asthma) did not make for a good mix: No part of Podge’s body had any energy, his lungs even less.

Podge felt sorry for himself.

At around 06:00 Podge dragged himself from his bed desperate not to disturb The Duchess from her slumber (disturbing her slumber was a bad thing) and made himself a coffee and went out onto the balcony to watch the ship arrive into Marseilles. Podge sat for an hour watching the world go by, watched the ship park, watched the men tie up the strings and set the gangplank, or should that be gangway, to allow the eager passengers to escape ashore or join their excursions.

Podge and Tubbs had no plans for the day.

As there was nothing planned, it was ‘planned’ they they would have a late breakfast / brunch then maybe they’ll take the shuttle bus into the town of Marseilles, it was after all a place they hadn’t yet visited. They had plenty of time as the boat wasn’t leaving until late anyway as it was to be just a short overnight hop to the next port of call, Cannes. This now leisurely morning ,including an extended ‘rest’ before breakfast pleased Podge greatly but even so, Podge never neglected his duties and so, at the allotted time of 09:00, he presented Tubbs with her Earl Grey Tea, awakening her slowly so as not to start her into one of her ‘moods’ – the sort of irrational, comes out of nowhere for no reason type mood that only women can have:-). Luckily as she slowly awakened, a pleasing smile grew from her sleepy face and Podge knew that he had one a good job and succeeded, and so this day would be a good day. With that, Podge returned to the Balcony to enjoy his peace and solitude.

Eventually, The Duchess arose from her [beauty] sleep and joined His Podgeness on the Balcony (it does sound grand doesn’t it). It was all Podge could do to look up and say good morning such was his physical struggle this day. She gazed upon him and inwardly doubted that she was going to see Marseilles today; there was no way Podge could make the journey. For Podge’s part however, he knew that his Tubbs really wanted to go ashore, if only to get the obligatory fridge magnet and of course, Podge wanted to see if he could buy some more inhalers. And so, although the body was weak, the spirit was strong and he declared ‘ok, let have some breakfast, then make our way, slowly into town’. This pleased Tubbs for not only was she going into town after all, but she was absolutely starving and breakfast, by now it was actually an 11:00 brunch, was just what she needed.

The shuttle bus into town took 30 minutes as the bus took its eager passengers into the centre of town, everybody just looked out through the glass like goldfish in a bowl wondering, wondering when the town would be become a nice town for so far, a nice town it really didn’t look. It’s very difficult to work out how to describe Marseilles, no doubt on sunnier days it may look a lot different, and it being a Sunday may not have helped but the town came across as unkempt, rubbish was everywhere, maybe even unloved but that’s only the perception of an outsider, but the one thing that was for sure, Podge & Tubbs did not want to spend any longer in town than they could help. On arriving and disembarking the bus, they looked around, almost in trepidation. Everything seemed so dishevelled, walking had to be with care for fear of stepping on the wrong stuff, most places were shut and everybody seemed to be just standing around bemused. Is this really the drop off point? everybody wondered. Apparently, it was. Looking around once more Podge & Tubbs espied a department store which was very nice, just as many department stores are in the UK are but once outside again it was back in a cityscape of seemingly neglect and lacking in care. They did wonder down to the Old Port but nothing endeared them there, so they found a pharmacy, bought two more inhalers, €10 this time which is probably £4 each so they seemed to be getting dearer and then they went in search of fridge magnets.

Podge was struggling.

Although all they’d done was sit on a bus for half an hour and wondered around for another half an hour, it was enough to tire poor Podge. Poor Podge was struggling by now. He just wanted to get back on the bus and go back to the ship. But he knew this wouldn’t be possible, nor advisable until the fridge magnet had been sourced. As luck would have it however, the journey back the bus involved travelling through a small market (why do markets alway chirp up women, especially Tubbs?) selling exactly the same sort of stuff that every other market sells although obviously, some of the images differ, such as those on fridge magnets.

Before long both Podge and Tubbs were back on board the bus, Podge clutching his two more inhalers but struggling to draw breath, Tubbs clutching her new fridge magnet and both Podge & Tubbs eager to get out of town and back onto the ship.

Back on board

Once back to the safety and comfort of the Oceana, Podge & Tubbs dropped off their vast array of purchases, Podge took some [legal] drugs, for his breathing, then went along to Magnums for what is now known as fivesies or 5 o’clock drinks. The bar steward greeted them with his normal cheery self and announced that he had heard from a previous bar steward who they had met on their last cruise that Mr Podge liked Laphroaig Whiskey and so they had got some in especially for him. This cheered Podge greatly, he even started to feel a little better but nevertheless, with his body still weak and even though his spirit was now stronger, he still couldn’t run a marathon nor half a marathon, he couldn’t run for a bus, in fact he couldn’t run but at all, he was definitely better than the morning – must be the news about the Laphroaig.

At the end of the day, Podge mused and thought to himself, ‘what a weird day, thank god she didn’t wakeup in one of her moods’.

Poor Podge.

Click here for the same but with photos

Having enjoyed the little trip down the English Channel and across the Bay of Biscay plus taking a day out in Lisbon, Podge & Tubbs were now looking forward to the start of their Mediterranean part of cruise with the first stop being Gibraltar.

Podge was looking forward to Gibraltar as he knew he would be able to source a lens for his camera at a good price: Podge was not looking forward to Gibraltar is he knew that Tubbs would having similar thoughts about the jewellery shops. Podge really didn’t know how he felt about Gibraltar! Anyway, it was to be a 10-minute walk from the ship to the square so they opted for a shuttle bus which took 5-minutes but less effort:-).

Once there the exploration started – ‘where are the camera shops’ thought Podge – ‘where are the jewellery shops’ thought Tubbs but then, Podge had a far right thought. He seemed to remember somebody telling him it was possible to buy Ventolin inhalers over the counter and so, at the first pharmacy he saw he went in and asked for 2 and got 2 for £5. This excited Podge unnaturally as he clutched his purchases with pride: ‘Who needs doctors?’ thought Podge and on their they way went. Camera shops came, jewellery shops came, camera shops went, jewellery shops went until at last Podge sees a shop he remembered (well, that’s what he told Tubbs anyway) and in he went. “Can I help you sir” asked the shop keeper. “Yes please” said Podge, “I would like a 70 – 200 telephoto for for my canon camera please”. The shop keeper looked at Podge’s camera and said “No you don’t, what you really want is a 100 – 600 telephoto: that will give the full range in one go”. “No I don’t’ said Podge, ‘I want a 70 – 200 lens”. ‘Hmm’, thinks the shopkeeper, ‘I think a 75 – 300 will be better”. ‘Look behind you on the top shelf” said Podge, ‘see that 70 – 200 lens, that’s what I want. The shop keeper gave in and handed over the lens. Now all that was required was for His Podgeness to pay. So it was out with his best credit card imaginable and popped it into the machine, checked his pin and entered it. [PIN INVALID]. He tried again [PIN INVALID]. ‘I know it’s the right pin” said Podge “look here, 7593” he said to Tubbs (it’s not really 7593 but I wonder if anybody reading this recognised their own pin and immediately thought of changing it:-) ). The shop keeper politely warned His Podgeness that a third [PIN INVALID] would block his card. Podge was now in a quandary. Fortunately, Tubbs The Duchess recognised the signs and took out her own card and paid for it herself. Podge does so love Tubbs.

Leaving the camera shop, Podge sees another pharmacy and again became unnaturally excited at the prospect of buying Ventolin Inhalers over the counter and so without further ado in he went and bought 2 more but this time they cost him £7. ‘Hmm’ he thinks, ‘that makes them a whole pound dearer than the last shop’ but still, he clutched his purchases and continued his walk along the high street only now, he was looking for bars: Tubbs however still had one eye open for all the jewellery shops. But Tubbs is a gracious / caring woman and saw that Podge was starting to slow and thought that it would be a good idea to stop before Podge starting using up all his new inhalers and without further ado found a suitable bar and found a table. Podge, who had indeed started to tire suddenly realised where he was, perked up and order 1 large beer for himself and one large Pinot for The Duchess.

They sat, they drank, they talked, they drunk some more, they ordered the same again and they sat and they drank and they talked and they drunk some more. Eventually, truth be known, they became drunk.

This probably explains how Podge suddenly admitted to Tubbs that he now remembered his PIN, allegedly he was looking at the wrong card [honestly]. And with that Tubbs marched Podge to M&S, leading him by his cauliflower ear all the way to the new tops section: Tubbs is always at her happiest when purchasing new tops. She then lead him to the dress section: Tubbs is pretty happy when buying new dresses. She then leads Podge to the underwear section: Podge is now getting naturally excited, but wrongly so it turns out.The underwear was for him and he was made to choose which to buy. Tubbs then led Podge to the [PAY HERE] section and instructed him to settle up. Podge did as he was told. Podge always does as he’s told. Podge isn’t stupid.

Now, with Podge clutching his purchases, and Tubbs clutching her purchases they started to make their way back down the high street but Podge had to stop off at the bar again: Apparently, when one gets to a certain age, fluid retention become challenging.

On the way back to meet the shuttle, The Duchess, for this is how she becomes when nearing a jewellery shop, espied a shop which had a certain attraction to her and she just knew that she would do well in this shop. Podge couldn’t fight back, one because of his own ill gotten gains and two because he had no strength to do so. And so with the same inevitability of death and tax they crossed the threshold into said store. Once in there, Podge saw two rather fetching oriental ladies who were also from the Oceana but who also had a certain level of class and wealth. ‘Sugar’ thought Podge, or something like that, this shop aint going to be cheap. Podge had to sit down: it was all he could do as The Duchess, now in her element and she now browsed the whole shop. Podge’s heart raced, not because of the sight of the rather fetching oriental ladies but because of what The Duchess may do next. Eventually he heard her ask “which do you prefer, these or these?” It was at this point he knew he’d lost. Any answer would cost money but which answer would please The Duchess the most and which answer would cost the least. Faced with a similar challenge in the past, Podge did try to play her at her own game by saying I don’t mind, I like them both, so she bought them both. Podge doesn’t do that any more. So Podge was honest and chose the ones he honestly liked the best and with that The Duchess bought them, with her own card. Podge was ecstatic: this has never happened before.

And so now, Both His Podgeness and The Duchess made their way to the Shuttle for the short 10-minute ride back. They were joined by a party of inmates [seemingly] from ‘Waiting For God’ with half not knowing where they were, the other half worrying about where they they’d been and all worrying about where all were going to sit on the eight seater bus and there was only five of them. Eventually they sorted them selves out, everybody was aboard and off they went to rejoin the Ocean.

Another successful trip aboard.

PS – Podge is now living on edge. How did he get away with not paying up in the jewellers. What lies in store for hime ahead. Podge was indeed a worried man.

The underwear by the way, were twice his size.

Check back for further recants of Podge & Tubbs Go Cruising.

Click here for the same but with photos

Everybody has a bucket list and Podge & Tubbs are no different. Their bucket list mainly centres around places to visit and nearly all by cruise ships. One such item on the list was to visit Florence and Pisa and they surely would have done so had Tubbs not gone and gotten herself poorly the day before they arrived at the port of Livorno: The suspicion is that this was down to excess lager, wine and Italian ice-cream while in Rome so, much to the dismay of Podge, who had to write off £100+ in lost excursion fees but, because His Podgeness loved Tubbs The Duchess he took it on the chin and stayed in the cabin to look after her. And so, Florence and Pisa had to remain on the list, un-ticked.

Another entry on the list was to do two cruises back to back: they harboured this ‘evil’ desire to stay on the ship and watch all their fellow passengers, with sad faces😦 , disembark.:-)

Can you imagine then their faces when thumbing through the P&O cruise brochure, a favoured pastime of theirs, when they saw a cruise sailing from Southampton (on Easter Sunday) to Genoa calling at Livorno immediately followed by another cruise again calling at Livorno (two chances go seeing the sights) and finishing in Venice. “Cripes” exclaimed Podge and Tubbs in unison, “this was made especially for us”. And so, as they were already on a cruise ship, they went to the future cruise sales desk and booked themselves a place and, as they were already on board a P&O boat, they got extra spending money included; Yay.

After many months of waiting, Easter finally arrived when they would board the Oceana and set sail for better weather, lovely ports and of course the opportunity (twice) to visit both Florence and Pisa. Unfortunately, their departure coincided with the arrival of Storm Kate, or is it Katie? Who knows, who cares? The fact was, Kate was on her way and she was in one seriously bad mood.  The forecast was for Kate to arrive on Easter Monday and cut across the south of the UK and away to the east. Well, if that was the case, and if Sunday night was anything to go by, Kate wasn’t so bad after all but, when wasn’t realised was that Kate had a nasty sting in her tale that would follow through the following night. As Monday came and went, yes, the sea was less than smooth, in fact it was downright rough and when the Captain said that the trip along the English Channel would be ‘interesting’ everybody knew they were in for a rough ride and , rough it was. In fact, the restaurants on board were less busy than normal and, the obligatory ‘bag’ holders (for those less able to deal with rough seas) were strategically placed around the ship. This pleased His Podgeness greatly as [to date] he had never felt untoward effects of sea-sickness. and so, Podge & Tubbs, having enjoyed a relaxing 1st day and a feast in The Plaza followed by much wine and Prosecco, etc. retired for the night. And then, the tale of Kate lashed out. The ship went up, the ship went down, the ship went up and leant left, the ship went down and leant right, the ship went up and leant right, the ship went down and leant left. Basically, this ship went every which way but loose.

Loose was the right word, sun chairs and tables were moving about, all banging about on the balconies, the screen between balconies were banging and clattering and generally everything was either moving or banging about. Every now and then, every 7th wave according to His Podgeness, the ship would crash down on an almighty wave make an almighty cracking sound. Tubbs, often referred to as The Duchess awoke on numerous occasions complaining how it was disturbing her sleep (this worried Podge greatly). She even declared the whole thing as ridiculous as if it was somebodies fault (this worried Podge even more as it was surely his fault by default).

And so came the dawn followed by The Captain making his 9 0’clock address to all who would, or could, listen. The was when he announced that the naughty Kate had been through wreaking havoc upon the ship to the point than many cabins had become waterlogged as the seas had come over onto the balconies and seeped through the doors, such was the ferocity of the storm. His Podgeness mused for a moment and thought well, if you’re standing on the balcony on deck 10, as he was at this time, and spray is higher than that then yes, I suppose it was, and still remained, a bit choppity but he was more worried about the fall out from The Duchess’s broken sleep and her inevitable grumpiness. The Captain then gleefully announced that we were about to enter, wait for it, THE BAY OF BISCAY. Notorious for its rough seas. He did however reassure all who were listening (many weren’t as they were still suffering the effects of Kate) that the weather would ease off and the sea would calm down.  And, it surely did.

The day went by and the sea got calmer as we approached ‘La Coruna’ corner and Cape Finistaire (the end of the world as the Romans would call it) and down the west coast of Portugal (thinking about it, Portugal only has a west coast) before entering the River Tagus and onwards to Lisbon, their first port of call: Landfall at last. It was here that Podge and Tubbs had booked their first excursion: They had already seen Sintra; they had already seen Obidos; they had already seen the town centre but, they had not visited The Monument to the Discoveries or the Belàm Tower. and so with an advertised excision to these places, the tour was booked and embarked upon also visiting the Jeronimos Monastery Church.

The coach driver / tour guide took everybody on the coach, including Podge & Tubbs around town eventually dropping them off outside of The Monument to the Discoveries with the guidance that it will be possible to walk to the Belàm Tower in about 10-15 minutes but they had to be back for the coach in 45 minutes after which they would be taken to the Jeronimos Monastery Church. So, as quickly as poor old Podge’s lungs would allow, the rushed around both sites to take the obligatory photos getting back just in time for the coach to depart. For those that live in or know Lisbon, they are probably in a state of wondering ‘Why?’. Well, after a 10-minute drive, the coach arrived outside the Monastery which as many will know, is across the road from the Monument: Everybody agreed, they could have walked there quicker. Still never mind, His Podgeness and Tubbs ‘The Duchess’ made their way into the Monastery, were [genuinely] filled with wonderment, came out and made their way along the road to the nearest custard tart shop after which they sat upon a park bench and gorged themselves. Hunger sated, the next, and final stop was the Black Horse Square, the largest square in Lisbon although the guide insisted it was the largest in Europe.  Lots of pickies later, it was back to the coach for the ride back to the ship which was actually only 500 meters away from the square. But Podge and Tubbs were happy and they retired to the bar for some well earned grape juice, of the Pinot variety.

Coming soon, beers in Gibraltar and Monks in Barcelona.

Test Posr

Posted: August 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

Good morning everybody. Just checking my new WordPress App. Hope it works. 😎