A slight obsession with books

Reading and Fibrecrafts


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Cruising the Baltic Sea

For years and years, Russia was on my bucket list of places to visit. I also really fancied doing another cruise as the Alaskan one was brilliant fun and we saw some amazing sights. It occurred to me that a Baltic cruise would tick both boxes so a few weeks ago, we set sail on the Marella Discovery on the  Baltic Capitals itinerary.

We chose that particular cruise because we preferred the choice of ports that it went to and it had the huge advantage of sailing from Newcastle. No flying required! Also, the price was right.

We splurged on a balcony cabin this time. On our previous cruise we had an inside cabin and while it was adequate, we felt that it was slightly stuffy and may have contributed to the migraine that I had for the last two days of the cruise. Also, with so many exciting things to see along the way, a balcony cabin would be more fun.

It was definitely worth it. We spent loads of time either on the balcony, or looking out of the huge windows at the passing sights. I didn’t have any bad migraines and the room felt much bigger.

The cabin was small but enough for our needs. The bathroom was very compact but had plenty of storage space  and the shower was small but mighty.

The bed was comfy, there was plenty of wardrobe space and the lighting was good. I particularly liked the reading lights on either side of the bed. As well as the wall lights, there was a small directional light that pulled out and twisted to where you needed it.

The only thing in short supply was drawer space, but we used the suitcases to store our t-shirts etc, and just pulled them out from under the bed as needed so it wasn’t a problem.

I’d bought some magnetic hooks and clips before we went and they were really useful. They weren’t very strong but were fine for hanging up baseball caps, sun hats etc, and for clipping the Cruise News & other paperwork to the wall.

The ship was lovely. We thought it was just the right size. There were plenty of places to eat and the food was good, especially Afternoon tea in Islands, the buffet restaurant.There were little rolls, all different types, as well as the sandwiches. All small and with different fillings, which varied each day. We just loaded a plate up to share. There were tiny cakes and desserts too, as well as a pudding, such as pear and whisky crumble with custard. Yum. It fast became our favourite meal so we’d fit the other meals in around it, usually having a late night snack from The Glasshouse instead of dinner.

We liked The Glasshouse and had dinner in there a few times. They serve tapas and pizza, both of which were lovely. I’d never had tapas before so I really enjoyed trying the different ones.

Our cabin was on deck six. I’d chosen that particular location as it was as close as I could get to the centre of the ship, while still having a balcony. You get less movement in the centre, which is handy if you’re not sure if you’ll be affected by seasickness. It also had the advantage of being just a few steps away from The Coffee Port. We loved it in there. It spanned the width of the ship, around the central atrium,  and served frothy coffees, huge lush-looking cakes and ice-cream. There was a small supplement payable for it all, but it was nice to sit with a frothy coffee sometimes, (and maybe a cake).

The Coffee Port also had a library on one side and games and jigsaws on the other. Lots of comfy seating too and waiter service.

The entertainment was excellent. We went to the evening show in the Broadway lounge a few times and always enjoyed it. There was plenty going on throughout the day too for those that wanted it. If we were in port we were usually off the ship exploring, and preferred to relax on our balcony the rest of the time.

The crew were fantastic. Our cabin steward was lovely and couldn’t do enough for us. We had a full service in the morning and a quick check, turn down service and chocolates in the evening. The snack stewards in Islands were excellent too. The tables were cleared quickly and the food was kept topped up and looking nice.

The cruise was all-inclusive with most of the food and drink, plus tips, included in the price of the cruise. There was a small supplement for the two speciality restaurants, some of the alcohol, although there was a brilliant selection included, and the Coffee Port. We thought it was terrific value and Stephen enjoyed having the odd beer or gin and tonic. I sampled a few mocktails and the alcohol-free beer. One thing that Stephen really enjoyed was the drink selection in Islands. Not only do you help yourself to food, and soft and hot drinks, but also the beer. There were beer taps with cider, lager and bitter.  There were wine taps too, with white, rose and red.

The captain made announcements daily to update us on various things. He was always cracking jokes and his announcements were never boring. Generally we found the whole crew to be pleasant and cheerful and very approachable.

By the mid-ship lifts on each deck was a map to show you where everything was, and in particular on the deck that you were on. I rather liked them. 

I loved the decor around the ship, from the curtains in the Broadway lounge to the artwork on the stairs. The Atrium was pretty and there were plenty of places to explore. We went for some walks on deck ten, where there was a track all the way around. It was a bit breezy up there but it was nice to stretch our legs on sea days.

We had four days at sea and the other nine days were in port, which we though was just the right mix. We had an amazing time, seeing some beautiful places and meeting some lovely people. One thing that we liked was that most of the other passengers were normal, down-to-earth people. We had some lovely chats.

There was a dress to impress night each week, but otherwise if you wanted to dress up you could, and if you didn’t, no problem. We did dress up a little, but we don’t do fancy.

I’ll upload some pics of the various ports as I get around to sorting them out, with some details about what we did there, if anyone’s interested.

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SAL – Crazy cat lady #10

This is the scheduled three-weekly post for the SAL that I’m doing with several other crafty blogs.

This is where I got to last time.  

And this is how it looks now.Not a massive difference but I have a really good excuse. I’ve been on holiday for the past two weeks so only had a couple of days to get some stitches in that grey kitty. I still have some backstitch to do on him but I’m not sure how much I’ll get done for the next update as I think I’m going to be unpacking and doing laundry for a few months LOL

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:
Avis, Claire, Gun, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina,
Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Mary Margaret,
Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony, Megan, Timothy, Catherine

Look how many of us there are now! We’re getting more people join us all the time and it’s great to see their progress posts every three weeks.

Do allow for people being in different time zones, so not posting all at the same time, but it’s well worth doing a bit of blog hopping to see all the lovely projects that are being worked on.

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Resort scrapping

I usually take loads of photos in the resorts that we stay in so I’m giving each one its own layout. The first one is the Royal Pacific at Universal Resort. It’s such a beautiful place to stay and we really enjoyed our four nights there.

I used pretty much all Basic Grey papers.
Next is Coronado Springs. We hadn’t been there before but it was nice. The theming is lovely and our room was comfortable and spacious. The main part of our holiday was spent at Kidani Village, which we absolutely love. I’ve scrapped photos of the room before so chose to do the view from our balcony this time. 


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Magic Kingdom layouts

We never seem to take as many photos in The Magic Kingdom so I don’t usually have as many layouts as I do for Animal Kingdom. Last year though, we went to the Halloween party and got lots of Photopass photos taken, plus we took a few around the park during the day.

I’m still following the prompts from Shimelle’s A most magical scrapbook class. It’s really helped to get my head back into scrapping and I’m loving it again.

We really enjoyed the 7 dwarfs mine train ride and love how the photos came out when we rode it at night. One of the magic shots that we were looking for was one that was just for that time of year. I love the photo, especially Stephen’s expression. Scrapped with Basic Grey Persimmon.Another magic shot that we went looking for was the hitchhiking ghosts during the Halloween party. Again with Basic Grey Persimmon. I love these photos taken outside The Haunted Mansion. This layout will be the section divider for the Magic Kingdom. There’s not much to it, but I really wanted to include a photo of the castle.


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SAL – Crazy cat lady #9

This is the scheduled three-weekly post for the SAL that I’m doing with several other crafty blogs.

This is where I got to last time.   I haven’t done a great deal again. Life has been a bit hectic lately. I did finish that tablecloth though and I love how it looks with the backstitch.My favourite bit is the tassels.

I also started working my way down from the other table, as there’s a cat there who’s demanding to be stitched. I’d just done the top of his head last time. He’s not quite finished yet but not far off. He’ll be done for the next update. He’s going to be another cheeky-faced kitty. The photo quality isn’t brilliant this time as I got so carried away stitching that I didn’t notice that the daylight was fading and I always use natural light to avoid shadows. Still, you get the idea.

This is where it’s up to now, with lots of odd threads hanging about as I rushed to take the photo before tidying it up. 

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:
Avis, Claire, Gun, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina,
Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Mary Margaret,
Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Tony, Megan, Timothy

Look how many of us there are now! We’re getting more people join us all the time and it’s great to see their progress posts every three weeks.

Do allow for people being in different time zones, so not posting all at the same time, but it’s well worth doing a bit of blog hopping to see all the lovely projects that are being worked on.

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Pandora scrapping

We were so excited to see the new land in Animal Kingdom and we weren’t disappointed. It was amazing! We took hundreds of photos trying to capture the beauty of it. I’m not sure that we succeeded but I did have plenty of photos to choose from when it came to scrapping them.

This layout is the section divider for Pandora and I tried to get lots of photos on it to give an idea of what it’s like. These photos were taken just inside the entrance to Pandora by a Photopass photographer. Scrapped with Basic Grey Archaic.There are a couple of places to eat inside Pandora and one of them, The Satu’li Canteen, quickly became our new favourite lunch spot. I particularly liked that you could order your food on the app and just pick it up when you got there, avoiding the queues. Also, the food was delicious. Scrapped with Basic Grey Boxer. We had a few photos taken at night. I love the magic shot with the Woodsprites. Scrapped using Basic Grey Marrakesh. (that’s nearly all gone now and I’m a little bit sad about it)


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Harry potter scrapping

We love visiting all the Harry Potter stuff at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and usually take loads of photos. There’s so much detail and so much to look at. It’s hard to do it justice with photos though.

I have a pack of papers, embellishments and an alpha that I bought ages ago, as I thought it looked Potter-ish. It’s the Cambridge collection pack by Bo Bunny. I’ve finally dived into it and I rather love it.

I needed one layout to do as the section divider so printed this photo nice and big.   I used the Bo Bunny papers on it. I really like them and I think they go nicely with the photos. We stopped to watch the show for a while, which we often miss as we’re always on our way to do something else and the resulting photos are again scrapped on the same papers.

We always take photos of the Hogwarts Express and we love riding on it. I think it’s brilliant how they’ve made it seem as if you’re on the ‘real’ train with screens for the window and corridor views.And yes, it’s the same paper pack.

Escape from Gringotts is a brilliant ride. We both love it, and the building that it’s in with the fire-breathing dragon is pretty spectacular too.
Finally, there’s a layout with us both drinking Butterbeer. It’s quite sweet but refreshing on a hot day and we really enjoyed it.