Sunday, 11 August 2019

A busman’s holiday!! Part Two

At our first Icelandic port, Akureyri we were struck how young and old alike were all wearing traditional Icelandic jumpers. We stumbled across two lovely yarn stores and I brought some roving to knit John one of their traditional style jumpers for just £28. The ready knitted ones were obviously hundreds of pounds. 

We celebrated our 37th anniversary at our 3rd port of call, Isafjord, Iceland. We’d booked an excursion to Hesteyri, on a small boat that took 45 people. It was a small disused whaling & herring port, only accessible by boat. The houses there have been renovated and are used as holiday homes. We saw an orca jump out of the water as we headed to our destination. The sea was pretty rough at the mouth of that fjord and we had to transfer to a tiny rubber dingy with an outboard motor to get ashore. We all got pretty wet going back on the dingy as the wind had picked up and there were considerable waves which lapped over it’s bow.

In Flam, Norway we went for a ride on the mountain railway, which offered amazing views of waterfalls & the valley. Our tour guide had boasted earlier in the day how the trains were always on time…...we had a 45 min delay on a platform with no shade and the sun beating down on us. At the railway museum, John was very interested in the motor cycles adapted to go on the railway lines, used during the construction of the line.

To miss the crowds we had an early breakfast and headed off into Bergen to explore. The ride on the funicular railway was amazing, however, by the time we boarded the train we couldn’t see the back of the queue. We were so pleased we’d gone early and were able to see the shops & fish market without having to dodge the people.

Haugesund, Norway was one of our favourite places, a lovely fishing town. We visited a fishing museum and noticed how there was a way to fix the tiller in one place on the old vessels, we thought that would be handy on our boat if we were ever breasted with another boat. Also, we noticed quite a lot of the boats in use now are wooden. There was a lovely haberdashery/knitting shop with manikins dressed in traditional dress. Needless to say I just had to purchase some Norwegian lopi yarn.

We snapped a photo for Edmund of a Norwegian ambulance crew having their lunch on the quay side in Haugesund.

At our last port of call Kristiansand, Norway we just couldn’t resist a trip to Hunsfos Brewery, in a restored paper factory up the valley. We had been warned beer was extortionate in Norway, however, if you get it from the manufacturer it was a reasonable £3/bottle. We then had a visit and tasting session at the fish market.

There were huge delays on the trains heading south from Scotland yesterday on our way home, due to the very heavy rain. We managed to squeeze onto a packed train from Carlisle to Preston. There were lots of Scottish people on our cruise and we hoped no one who was heading to the ship yesterday was severely delayed. To make sure we were in time to board the ship we stayed at the Royal Station Hotel, Newcastle the night before we sailed.

Now we are going to embark on some serous inland waterways cruising as we head south tomorrow to have our boat’s bottom blacked in Leicestershire.

A busman’s holiday!! Part one!

Well actually, we’ve been on a boatman’s holiday. We left our little narrow boat in West Lancashire & headed off from Newcastle on a cruise to Orkney, Iceland & Norway. It was our first big cruise and we were quite overwhelmed by the size of the ship and how well almost 2000 passengers were catered for. There were numerous bars & restaurants, we were spoilt for choice. The most formal dress code was smart casual, in some of the restaurants, just up our street as we don’t have any formal attire at all!! 

The shows in the on board theatre were excellent and very varied. There was a guest opera singer on board who sung while we sailed away down our first fjord, and it echoed. Most times of the day there was a musician or singer performing in one of the bars or lounges.

We really enjoy sitting on our balcony watching the fjord scenery go by in our pj’s having coffee first thing or with a beer in the evening as we sailed away. Some ports had another cruise shipped dock too and in addition coach trips into these places made it very, very busy indeed. Most evenings when we went back to our cabin the stewardess had constructed an animal out of our towels!!!

We were very interested to watch how such a big vessel moored up. A small rope with a weight on was thrown to the dock crew, who caught it with a long hook. Then it took a couple of chaps to pull the huge ropes over the mooring bollards.

Our hearts were in our mouths as we watched the pilot getting on & off of his small tug type boat & onto ours as we entered & left ports. 


I was shocked how smooth the North Sea & Atlantic were, I was expecting much bigger waves & swell. Our weather was beautiful with only a few showers when we’ve been in dock, unlike at home, as we saw on the news the problems with Toddbrook Reservoir at Whaley Bridge, we spent our first few months when we moved onto Burnt Oak in that area.

There were lots of excursion to choose from, some whole day trips on a coach which we didn’t really fancy. So we did a couple of half day trips otherwise explored the ports of call ourselves.

Our first port of call was Kirkwall, Orkney and we’d arranged to go on a trip to Skara Brae which was wonderful, our tour guide was a local archaeologist who’d worked at the site and was very informative & entertaining.

I had contacted a shepherdess in Orkney before we travelled via Ravelry (knitting forum) and met her as she worked in the wool shop there. I was thrilled to be able to get some North Ronaldsay wool to spin & some yarn.