Saturday, May 28, 2016

After Liverpool.

Click on photographs for best results
After Liverpool, with a strong breeze, we sailed up the coast towards Scotland and anchored off Staffa famous  for Mendelsson's composition Fingal's Cave.  When I saw photographs of the cave I had a deja vu  moment because it looked so much like the memorial sculpture honouring Sibelius which I had seen in Finland.  One of the reasons I would like to do this tour again is to visit the cave and Staffa.  We had freak weather here:  one side of the ship was brilliant sunshine and there was a snow storm on the other.

Nearing Scotland and the Orkneys

Not surprisingly the pools were empty.

Docking at Kirkwall with sunny skies we boarded a coach and drove round this beautiful place.

During the war Italians who had been captured during the North African campaign were sent to Orkney to work on the Churchill Barriers - a massive series of concrete causeways that seal the eastern approaches to Scapa Flow.  The channels were blocked with sunken ships and it was considered that attack from that direction by sea was impossible.  However, early in the war a German U-boat Commander took advantage of a gap in the defences and of an exceptionally high tide and sank the battleship Royal Oak where 800 men perished.  Churchill decided to lay massive barriers of stone and concrete on the sea bed from island to island.  From the coach we could see the great chunks of concrete.  More than a quarter of a million tons of stone and rock were laid on the sea-bed and on top of these were laid causeways. Above we are driving over them.

Some of the wrecked ships are still visible

Such peace and beauty where years back there had been such devastation.

This is the Miracle of Camp 60 - a beautiful Italian Chapel built by the Italian POWs from two Nissen Huts joined together.  an artistic prisoner Domenico Chiocchetti collected a small band of helpers including a cement worker, a smith, electricians and others.  The corrugated iron was hidden by plaster board - smooth above panelled below.  The altar, alar rail and holy water stoop were moulded in concrete.  Behind the altar reaching up to the sanctuary roof and buttressed by two windows of painted glass was Chiocchetti's masterpiece the Madonna and Child based on a holy picture he had carried with him throughout the war.  Now the interior made the outside of the chapel seem unsightly.  An impressive facade was erected to hide the ugly outline of the huts.  Windows of decorated glass added lightness and colour.  One of the prisoners moulded in red clay a head of Christ.  Through the years this has been marred by weather but the effect has been to make it even more touching

Chiocchetti fell in love with Barbara - an Orcadian but after the war he had to return to Italy.  He left this scarlet heart imbedded in the floor of the Chapel.  Both of them eventually married fellow country men but Chiocchetti and his wife named their first child Barbara.

Chiocchetti made this figure of St George  from a frame work of barbed wire covered in
The bond remains strong between the Orcadians and the surviving Italians and their families.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Random shots of Liverpool.

 First sight of Liverpool.
 Whether it is the original Cavern or not - delving into its bowels was an experience not to be missed.  Everywhere was a strong smell of Bisto which we finally decided was either hops or malt or both.
 Very chilly to be sleeping out.
 C.G. Jung was here in 1927.  Click on photo to see what he said.
 Inside one of two cathedrals Tracy Emin's scrawl moved me to tears-"I felt you and I knew you loved me."
 During the war many Chinese came to Liverpool and married local girls.  After the war they had to leave their new families and return to China.  Eventually the Chinese sent this beautiful bridge and hopefully many of the famiies were reunited.
Fellow cruisers.  I liked what I saw of Liverpool and felt completely safe.  I think Lord Heseltine - as I remember - did much to rejuvenate Liverpool.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Everybody does it once.


Last Saturday morning I was feeling a little under par with a touch of hay fever.

The phone rang and a worried sounding lady with an ethnic accent said my computer was about to crash.  I grumpily told her I didn’t wish to take her call and hung up.


Almost immediately the phone rang again and the same lady – now quite incensed asked me why I had cut her off when they were trying to help me and stop my computer from crashing.  It was Windows and if I didn’t listen my computer would die and I would lose everything.


Alarm set in as I visualised my recently edited thirteen chapters of an ’An Imperfect Life’ being obliterated – as well as over ten years of my life.  I had spent the last ten days with ethnic sounding ladies who were kind, charming and lovely and I had been a bit rude to this one. 
Before I could apologise we started on one of those tutorials you get when you ask for help with various on line sites and I was lulled into a hectic sense of security – concentrating like mad and trying to follow her instructions.


Then she said she would get her supervisor to help me further and Mr Charm came on – also with an ethnic accent.


He spent quite a lot of time telling me I was right to be suspicious there were so many frauds on the internet but my computer had been attacked with so many viruses – he brought them up on my screen, named a particular virus and brought up Wikipedia to see their definition.  I knew my computer had been playing up daily since I had Windows 10 so I didn’t find it difficult to believe.  Also My Security Norton also has a moan from time to time but still happily accept my annual payment.


This went on for quite some time and then he said what they would do to counteract this so that my computer would be free for the rest of my life.


“And how much is this going to cost me,” I asked?

He brought the figures up on the screen:  £300 for three years and £400 for the rest of my life.


“Oh I couldn’t possibly spend that amount of money without consulting my sons!”



He continued on a bullying rant and as I told him I was going to hang up but I was going to write about it on my blog his ranting and raving only ceased when I put the phone down.


Shaken and upset I phoned my nearest son in Wiltshire and after a few comforting words he told me to phone my Bank, phone the Police and then get our local computer engineers to pick up my computer.


The Bank was very helpful and I spoke to the Internet Banking Team who froze my account.  The Police –a sweet girl told me the Action Fraud Team were ace but as it was the week –end they weren’t there but there was a very comprehensive  internet form and we could do it together.  It took us half an hour but when she read it back to me it was a pretty accurate account and I was so grateful for her help.  It is important to inform the police as they give you a number and pass word which is helpful if you need to claim money from the bank.


These thugs target the old and the young; one young student in his twenties was convinced enough to give his bank details and lost money – half of which was refunded by his bank.


Five days later my computer is back – they found – very well hidden what they had left in the computer, my bank is back to normal and my self esteem is helped by my Hertfordshire Grandson telling me:

”Everybody does it once Grandma.”

P.S.  If I were one of you I would be shaking my head and declaring “I always hang up!” 
Just be warned!