A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


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Baltic cruise – Norway

A few weeks ago we went on a Baltic adventure. I’m going to do a few posts of our days ashore, along with lots of photos. Our eighth and final port was Oslo.

I was wide awake at 6am so I opened the curtains and sat in bed, alternately reading and looking at the sail in to Oslo. We didn’t dock until 11am and I’d taken quite a lot of photos by then as the scenery was lovely.

We had breakfast in Islands just before we docked, and then left the ship. We waited for the Hop-on Hop-off bus and set off for our first stop. We wanted to see the Vigeland statue park as I’d read about it and it sounded really interesting. It was definitely worth the visit. It was a lovely sunny day again and perfect weather for walking in a park. The statues were amazing and there were so many of them. These are a few of my favourite photos from the park.

We really loved it there. It was an amazing place to visit, and we didn’t even explore further into the park. I’d definitely go there again if we found ourselves back in Oslo.

After we’d finished walking round, we stopped for a sit down and an ice cream. We picked a couple of iceys at random and they were delicious. They were chocolate coated ice cream, and the ice cream had a liquorice flavour swirled through it. Yum.

We got back on the HoHo and went to the Viking museum next. There wasn’t a great deal there but there were two huge Viking ships as well as several smaller exhibits. We didn’t stay too long as their air con wasn’t working and it was really hot and stuffy in there.

From there we walked to the folk museum and spent a couple of hours exploring. They have loads to look at, including a beautiful stave church. There was a 1950s farm laid out with the old tractor, the buildings, some animals and a farmhouse. Inside there was the farmer’s wife who gave us a glass of delicious, refreshing cordial. We really enjoyed our visit there as it was great to be out in the open air, in the beautiful sunshine, and seeing Norwegian houses through the ages.

Back on the HoHo and we got off in the city centre. We still had a couple of hours before we needed to be onboard so we had a late lunch. Stephen still wasn’t that hungry as he’d had a massive breakfast but I was starving so I had a delicious open sandwich in a little café, while Stephen just had a cake. He had a Scolebrod which was very nice. My sandwich was huge with tons of prawns on it.

We walked back to the ship from there. It only took about 20 minutes as we were docked really close to the centre.

I did a bit of shopping on the way back. We found the Hard Rock Café so I bought a bear and some pins. Practically next door was Pandora. As I’d had some charms in Copenhagen, I wasn’t going to look, but Stephen insisted so I got the Norwegian set of three to go with my Danish ones. Both stores told us about claiming our tax back and gave us the forms. Back on board we saw the chap from blue global and got a nice bit of cash back. Brilliant.

We took coffee for me and beer for Stephen back to the cabin and prepared to watch the sail out, which was amazing. We saw lots of people enjoying the sun and some gorgeous scenery.

We didn’t do much more that evening. We popped to Islands for dinner and didn’t bother with the show. We’d had two days with a lot of walking and exploring and needed to just chill. I’m not sure where everyone else on that ship got their energy!

So, that was our last port. We had one more day, which was spent sailing back across the North sea. We hit a storm for a few hours and the ship got a bit bouncy underfoot. The captain told us that we’d reached gale force 11, which would explain why everyone was walking around as if they were drunk. It still felt safe though and everyone was laughing and having fun.

We had the most incredible holiday. We saw some amazing and beautiful places, which I’ll never forget. I’d do it all over again, given the chance.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Baltic cruise – Denmark

A few weeks ago we went on a Baltic adventure. I’m going to do a few posts of our days ashore, along with lots of photos. Our seventh port was Copenhagen.

We watched some of the sail in from our balcony again. I really loved being able to do that. We saw lots more wind turbines.

We were out of our cabin by 8.30 and heading to Islands for breakfast. I loved the selection in there. You could easily have something different for breakfast every day. I had porridge with dried cranberries, and some mixed fresh fruit with some yoghurt, topped with flaked almonds. Healthy, huh?

We were ready to leave the ship by 9am, but we were slightly late docking again so we had to wait an extra 10 mins. When we got off the ship, it was really hot already. I think it was 20°. We’d planned to do a lot of walking too.

We were docked at Langelinie, which is close to the city centre. We only had to walk for ten minutes from the ship and we were at the Little Mermaid. We took some photos along the way, of course.

The mermaid was mobbed, even at that early hour, but we managed to get some photos although we didn’t bother trying to get down to her.

I’d always wanted to see the mermaid so I was really chuffed to have finally made it. After we’d admired her for a while, we carried on walking and went into a park where we saw some lovely features.

From there we walked along the harbour front for a while. The harbour front was lovely. We really enjoyed our stroll.

Eventually we came to the Amalie garden. It was small but very pretty with a couple of water features.

After we’d walked through there we were at Amalienborg Palace. We had a look round the outside and then carried on towards Town Hall Square.

It turned out to be a longer walk than we’d expected, partly because we couldn’t figure out which way we were going, even with two guide books and a map, and partly because it was so hot. We got there eventually though, via the Pandora shop, where I got a set of three charms exclusive to Denmark, and the Hard Rock café, where I got a bear for my collection along with three pins.

After taking a few photos round the Town Hall, we went into Tivoli gardens where we had lunch and spent a couple of hours looking round. It was lovely in there, even with the rides and all the people, it was still peaceful and pleasant in the gardens.

We then headed back allowing ourselves plenty of time for the return walk. We were getting quite tired in the heat but made it back by 4pm, ready for our 6pm sail away. After dropping the backpack in our cabin, we went to the coffee port and got iced coffees and some rather lush cakes. We took them back to our cabin and enjoyed them on our balcony.

I sat out there for ages, enjoying the breeze and reading my Kindle. It was heaven.

By 7pm we were getting peckish so ordered room service as neither of us really wanted to get changed and go out. We had steak sandwiches and they were delicious.

I carried on reading for the rest of the evening while Stephen watched tv and did puzzles. There was loads we could have been doing around the ship, but we just wanted to quietly relax and recharge ready for Norway the next day.

 


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Baltic cruise – Germany

A few weeks ago we went on a Baltic adventure. I’m going to do a few posts of our days ashore, along with lots of photos. Our sixth port was in Germany.

We had the choice of exploring the local area or taking a tour to go a bit further afield. I’d always wanted to go to Berlin as I’ve read a lot of novels set in Berlin, mostly spy or war themed, and I wanted to see the places that I’d read about. It was a long coach drive there but we decided it’d be worth it.

Our alarms were set for 5.30am as we needed to be on the dock for 7.15 to get the coach. Unfortunately Stephen’s alarm on his phone went off at 4.30 as despite me reminding him multiple times the day before, he hadn’t changed the time zone on it. Sigh.

My alarm went off at 5.30 and we got up, got ready and headed for the buffet for a quick breakfast. We were back in our cabin and watching the ship dock from our balcony by 7am. The ship was quite late docking as it was getting on for 7.15 and we were only just tieing up. We were lined up by the gangway with lots of other people and we waited and waited. There was a problem with the gangway. The German port authorities couldn’t get one to fit our doorway and it was gone 8am when we finally got off the ship and 8.15 before our coach left. We should have departed at 7.30 so we were a bit worried that we’d have to miss something out. As it happened, it was fine and we had plenty of time to see everything that we wanted.

We had a long drive to Berlin, about three hours, and it was mostly through a flat, uninteresting landscape. Jens talked to us quite a lot during the journey, telling us of his life in East Germany before the wall came down, which was fascinating.

Along the way we saw a lot of wind turbines.I know a lot of people think they’re ugly and spoil the landscape, but I really like them. I think they look graceful.

We had a rest stop on the way, just before we reached the outskirts of Berlin. We had time for a comfort break and to visit the shop for snacks, if wanted. Our driver had a stash of bottled water and beer in a cooler that we could buy.

We carried on into Berlin and drove around for a while, seeing the various sights with a commentary from Jens. Our first photo stop was Charlottenburg palace, which was lovely. We just had a look round the courtyard, while Jens told us a bit about it, then it was back on the coach.Next we drove past the Freedom column and managed to get a quick photo from the coach as we stopped in traffic.

We drove a bit further and got off the coach at the Reichstag.After Jens had talked about that for a while we walked to the Brandenburg Gate. It’s a shame that it was partly blocked off but we saw the Quadriga at the top.

From there we walked across Pariser Platz and round past the US and British embassies. We ended up at the Holocaust monument which was lovely, but quite sobering. Jens talked to us about it for a while and explained that the small car park that we could see to the side was the site of Hitler’s bunker. The local authorities had filled it in and made it into a car park. He told us there are no signs installed as there is nothing worth commemorating.

Back on the coach and then we went for lunch. We went to a place called Maximillians and had a traditional Bavarian lunch of Pigs knuckle with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. It was really nice, and filling, and was followed by a lovely apfelstrudel. We had the choice of beer or water with it and we had plenty of time to enjoy it before getting back on the coach.

We had another short drive before being dropped at the wall with instructions on how to walk to Checkpoint Charlie and what time to meet up with the coach. We had about an hour to ourselves so had plenty of time to have a good look at the wall, which was what I’d really wanted to see, and read all the information there. It was quite a long stretch of wall and there was a lot to read and to look at. It was brilliant to see it, but also very emotional.

After lots of photos we walked down a block to see Checkpoint Charlie. There wasn’t much to see there but it was good to see the place that features in so many of the spy novels that I’ve read. We had time to pick up a few souvenirs before getting back on the coach for the drive back to the ship. We had another comfort stop on the way back, and most of us got ice creams to eat in the lovely sunshine before we carried on with our journey.

I think Jens had got the time wrong that we were meant to be back as he said a couple of times that we’d be back in plenty of time. In fact we got back just a few minutes before 7pm and we should have been back for 6.30 for a 7pm sail away. We were the last ones on board and went straight up to our balcony to watch them packing everything away prior to sailing off. Our neighbours were out on their balcony too and we had a good natter while we were watching. We stayed there for a while, watching the sail out from Rostock.

We went up to Islands for dinner and just had a small meal. It’d been really hot, in the 30s at one point, and we were a bit drained, especially after the long drive back. We had a lovely chat with the couple at the next table. She’d just had her 82ndbirthday. I want to be cruising and exploring at that age too 🙂

Back to the cabin where Stephen watched the England match while I typed up some notes on the laptop. If I didn’t make notes of what we did each day, I’d forget as all the days would blur into one.

Next is Copenhagen.

 

 

 


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SAL – Crazy cat lady #13

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 where it’s up to now.I’ve  managed to get the backstitch done on the right, including that slipper and have started working on the chair. Her legs look a lot better for that backstitch and I’m hoping to finish the chair and the rest of the backstitch on her legs by next time.

For the stitch-a-long I’m linking up to these lovely blogs:
Avis, Claire, Gun, LucyAnnKateJessSueConstanzeDebbierose,
ChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHelenStephLindaHeidi,
JackieSunnyHayleyTonyMeganCatherine, Deborah, Connie

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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Kitty cats & pretty paper

I’ve done a few layouts of the cats recently, so thought I’d get them uploaded before I forget. I’ve printed loads more photos of them while I was getting the ones from our cruise so I’ve got plenty more to play with if I need a change from holiday scrapping.

This one is a scraplift of one that Rachel posted on FaceBook. I saw it, loved it and rushed straight to my desk to copy it. Good job she doesn’t mind 🙂The next one is using some of the stash that I’d gathered for Shimelle’s Clear your desk class. I love this photo of Sammie on her ‘balcony’.The next one is inspired by a layout by Rachel – again. Frodo will only take so much grooming before he wants to play with the brush. This is another one of Sammie, using more of the Clear your desk stash.And finally yet another scraplift of a Rachel layout. I really love her style so I do tend to use her for inspiration quite a lot. This is another that I saw, loved and scraplifted within an hour.It uses the new Doodlebug papers that Rachel used in her Hey Little Magpie blog post for August, which caused me to do a bit of shopping 😉
I think I’ll be scraplifting a few more of those layouts at some point too.


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Baltic cruise – Latvia, part 2

We’d been seeing groups of people in lovely costumes as we’d been walking round Riga, and had wondered what was going on. Apparently it was for the song and dance festival which is on for one week every five years. What brilliant timing for us to be there while it was on. Everyone that we asked was happy for us to take photos of them too.

So, continuing with our day in Riga. When I left off in part one, we were headed for the Freedom monument. It was one of the things on my To Do List. It was quite spectacular. Lots of detail at the bottom and it was really tall.

After we’d had a good look at it, and admired some of the costumed people, we went into the park which borders the monument and had a lovely walk round. It was really pretty in there.

There was an area of the park that you had to climb up to get to a viewpoint and we saw an interesting building from up there. We went for a closer look.That round building is the Powder tower, which houses the Latvian war museum.

We walked back through the park, taking a few more photos as we went.

After leaving the park we bought a few souvenirs in one of the shops and asked for directions to the House of the black cats. It was only a couple of streets away so we found it easily. It has an interesting history. The story tells of the Latvian owner who was denied membership in the Great Guild. To show his displeasure, he built two cat sculptures on his roof with their backsides facing the guild, and their tails straight up to finish the insult.

We decided to head back in the direction of the ship as we’d seen everything that we wanted to and we were getting peckish. We had thought that we’d have lunch out but as it was getting close to 3pm, we decided to head back and have afternoon tea on the ship. We took a few more photos on the way. More costumed people for the festival.And Stephen was very taken with this.

We got back fairly quickly although we had to detour a couple of times to go around all the people who were getting ready for a parade, we think.

We dropped our bags & jackets in the cabin and headed up to deck nine for food. The afternoon tea was lovely again.

We took mugs of coffee back to our cabin and put the tv on to Sky sports news to get updates on the grand prix and have a relax before going back out in the evening.

Our cabin was facing away from Riga Old Town but we could see the National library from our balcony.There was another lovely modern building. I think it’s a bank. Stephen took several photos of it.We did have one more bit of excitement. We watched the pilot boat come out to us again and this time caught the pilot stepping over from our ship to the little pilot boat. One photo taken just before and the other just as he’d stepped over. How cool is that!

We were late going back out in search of more food. We’ve done a lot of exploring over the past five days and just wanted to rest for a while. We went for a snack in the Glasshouse at about 10pm and then headed over to the Broadway lounge where we caught most of the second showing of Starry Starry Night. It was a Van Gogh/Moulin Rouge show and wasn’t bad, although probably not something we’d have gone to normally. What we did want to see was Sebby Mercury, which followed Starry starry night at 11.15.

Sebby is one of the show team and has his own show that’s a Queen & Freddy Mercury tribute. It was brilliant. He’s a great singer and was great on stage. He got the audience singing along and talked a bit about how much he admired Freddy Mercury. He said how he knew he didn’t sound like him or look like him, although he did dress the part, but that he loved singing the songs. Everyone was singing along, especially with Bohemian Rhapsody and we had a great time.

It was well gone midnight when we got back to our cabin but as the next day was a sea day, we planned to have a lie in and a lazy day. Coming soon, Germany and our visit to Berlin.


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Baltic cruise – Latvia, part 1

A few weeks ago we went on a Baltic adventure. I’m going to do a few posts of our days ashore, along with lots of photos. Our fifth port was Riga, in Latvia.

We had a bit of a lazy morning and didn’t head up for breakfast until 9pm. We did watch the sail in from our cabin though and it was quite interesting. We could see land getting closer and then we headed up a river to the port.

Islands was rammed so it seems that we weren’t the only people having a slow start to the day. We were struggling to find a table so we walked along deck nine to the Snack shack and got breakfast from there to take back to our cabin. We didn’t lose out as we got exactly the same as we’d planned to get in Islands.

The captain had given us a bit of an update about the expected weather last night on one of his announcements. He said that it’d be cloudy but dry in the morning but pants in the afternoon. I love that he just says it how he wants! It did look cloudy and quite breezy but wasn’t too cold once we got out there. We were fine with our jackets on.

We were docked a five-minute walk from the old city, even closer than we were in Tallin. We didn’t follow a particular route but just ambled along, taking photos and going up any of the lovely cobbled streets that appealed. The first interesting building we came across had an armed soldier walking about outside it and two sentries. I couldn’t find it in my guide book but once home, I Googled it and I’m pretty sure it’s Riga Castle. We saw lots of lovely buildings so took various random photos. I loved all the colours! At one point, we spotted a lovely cat posing on the steps of a church. We weren’t the only ones snapping photos of the cat rather than the church either.And some more lovely buildings. These are in Dome Square, which was full of open air restaurants. We carried on walking, taking streets at random and found an armadillo. A bit further on we came out in another square. This one was the Town Hall Square and had a gorgeous building called The House of Blackheads.

In the centre of the square was the statue of St. Roland.From there we walked a little further and found The Latvian Riflemen monument.

By that point we’d lost our bearings a bit and weren’t sure which way to go next. We spotted a Costa so we went in there to get a drink to warm up a bit and while we were drinking our coffees, I used Google to figure out where we were and which way to go to get to the Freedom monument.

I still have loads of photos from Riga that I want to share so I’m going to stop here and put the rest in another post.