Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Queen Mum, Iona, no Belfast and back to Blighty.

Click on photos for best effect. 
Docking at Invergordon - snow on the hills.
A sedate little town - special to us as every summer Al's mother would take the long journey from London with her three boys and spend the summer on the grandfather's farm.  She told me once after paying the fare she had just a few pence left for a cup of tea or a cigarette and she chose a cigarette.  Different days.

The church - I had a peaceful morning wandering around, buying post cards to send to the Mackays and spotting the little jewellers where Alastair bought me some leaf- shaped gold earrings which I have managed not to lose.
Our lovely ship Boudicca.  462 cabins, 880 guests, 372 crew.

Forward pronounced 'forrard'.

Our next port of call was Scrabster near to the
castle of Mey and John O'Groats.  Above is the beach where the Royals would picnic before visiting the Queen Mum in her summer home.

The Castle of Mey having a bit of a face lift.  Part of the gardens - so beautifully tended.  No photography allowed indoors but a lovely experience in the home that reflected her charm and sense of fun.  Nothing stately about it.  There was a tailor's dummy dressed in her faded blue tweed suit  with a battered soft felt hat.  She always had a perfect posture.  By the dining table was the stool where she used to rest her gammy leg  - damaged by a boisterous young Prince Andrew on his scooter
The guides were very helpful and loved giving you snippets of gossip.  The pretty blue bedroom for Princess Margaret was never used by her.  Too cold!  So she slept elsewhere in the village.
They got one thing wrong when they said she only drank Champagne.  Her favourite tipple was Gin and Dubonnet.  Tea and shortbread in the café and then a stop at John O'Groats.  Not so interesting.

As we retuned to the ship we were piped a farewell.

The rain came but it was good to get back to our welcoming ship and a delicious dinner.
Next off to  the Isle of Mull where we anchored off Tobermory and took a tender to the shore.  Al and I once spent a week on Mull and the weather prevented us from reaching
   Iona where I hoped to see the Abbey and retreat.
A coach took us to the other side of Mull.

Across the water you can see the precious Isle of Iona.  Only a short stretch of water but not to be taken lightly.  Many people have drowned.

This time we'll make it safely.

A ruin en route to the Abbey

There it is.

John Smith's simple grave - easily missed.

Part of the grounds.  Walking back I stopped to have tea - quite an hospitable island but not as wild and remote as I had hoped.

Back we crossed to Mull.  I did a crossword - forgetting it was a short trip and missed everyone vacating the ferry but managed to get off in time!

Only a short distance from Iona but now Mull  was misty and murky

Back in Tobermory and there is our lovely Boudicca.

On board the tender.  I put my complete faith in the lovely young men when getting on and off the ships - one of the most hazardous times.

Oops! my untidy cabin.
Always nice to get back to friendly faces and swap stories over dinner.  We were all single and both men were named Bob which was handy.

This Bob had been a miner from the North East - great fun to tease:)

C'est fini!  I really enjoyed the cruise and didn't miss 'abroad' at all.
OOh I forgot to say: the penultimate day was a very long one -  next day was Belfast - I hadn't booked an excursion so I stayed on board and chilled.  Next time Belfast for sure!


LL Cool Joe said...

Looks like a wonderful trip that took in many interesting places. I'm always surprised how big the cabins are. I imagine them to be tiny for some reason.

Interesting to read that Prince Andrew hasn't changed then. A pain in the arse as a kid, and an adult. Ha.

Granny Annie said...

A lot to see, a lot to read, a lot to enjoy. Thanks for sharing:-)

kenju said...

I always enjoy your stories and pics! tomorrow I will meet my granddaughter's Irish boyfriend, who is from Belfast, I'm told.

DUTA said...

Quite a ship! Even the name Boudicca sounds special.
The journey seems to have been carefully planned: the castle of Mey (royalt summer home),the isle of Mull, the isle of Iona, the abbey...
I envy you, as I usually get seasick on ship journeys.

Mage said...

Oh, you take the best vacations. Your ship is one of my favorites....beautiful lines. Nice cabin too. It's fun to see the ship as well as your stops. Murkey yes, but so lovely.

savannah said...

I've always said I had no desire to take a cruise, but honestly, Pat, you are rapidly changing my mind! xoxox

SDC said...

This tugged my heartstrings a little. I'm glad places you went with YTL evoke good memories.

angryparsnip said...

I so love the name Boudicca for your ship ! Sounds like it could handle any bad weather nature throws at it.
The Island of Mull is some place I have always wanted to visit. Now thanks to you I know someone who has seen it and I get to see the photos.
Doesn't this island have the really shaggy cows and sheep ? Then I thought it was the Island that had the taillessness cats till I realised that was the Isle of Man. But I am sure this islands has plenty of sweet kitties.
Thank You for all the wonderful trip photos.

cheers, parsnip and thehamish

Pat said...

Joey: Loved your comment re Prince Andrew:)
My cabin was termed 'superior outside'. It's for 2 people but I have it just for me. It is sort of middle of the range. There are suites with balconies and inner cabins with no windows. This suits me fine.

Pat said...

Granny Annie: glad you enjoyed it:)

Judy: a boy from Belfast! that should be entertaining. I bet he's charming.

Duta: mal de mer can be a pain. You may have grown out of it. I did a lot of sailing in my youth and have been lucky but I hate to see anyone else sick - makes me feel nauseous.

Mage: I'm very fond of Braemar too - also one of Fred Olsen's but haven't tried Black Watch yet.

Savannah: we'll see you on the high seas yet:)

SDC: yes I was a little nervous at first but it was all lovely and brought us even closer.

Parsip: all Fred Olsen's ships start with a B and I know them all except Black Watch. One thing that is constant is the wonderful crew
The shaggy cows - Highland cattle you see in all parts of Scotland.
I've never been to the Isle of Man - surprisingly - so have never seen a Manx cat. We once stayed on a farm where the farmer lovingly combed the hair of his Highland cattle every night.

Kim Ayres said...

So will you be simplifying your life by calling every man Bob now?

Pat said...

Kim: yes. Don't mind do you?

AndrewM (Bob) said...

Looks like you had a good time!

Pat said...

AndrewM: yes it was special. All good as I was travelling alone.

Exile on Pain Street said...

You know how to enjoy life. It's admirable.

Pat said...

Exile: lots of practice - through thick and thin.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you had another lovely time. Can't wait for your next trip. tell me do you take your computer with you and write as you go along? I could never remember all of a holiday like you do.

Pat said...

Helen: I took my tablet once and got bored with being told daily WiFi was off. Also my taxi driver always teases me about the weight.
Then I think it is part of the holiday to have a complete break from the other world. I find the camera itself very helpful and keep the odd note. So glad you find it worth reading:)