Friday, 28 August 2009

ROME (sorry, I detoured to Darlo again)

ROME! Well, what can I say?!

It`s difficult to pick out just a few photos because we managed to do such a lot in such a short time, thanks to our two personal guides, Roberto for the city and Nuamie for the Vatican. They made our day, both being passionate and enthusiastic, and good fun too.We didn`t have to look at a map ALL DAY!

Roberto picked us up in his rather nice Merc and our first stop was the Colosseum, the 55,000 seater ampitheatre used for deadly gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights.... very impressive!

whoop whoop! Rome`s chariot racecourse is like The Roodee in Chester!

The forum ruins...

The Pantheon is lovely.Known as "The Temple of All the Gods", designed by Emperor Hadrian and built around AD118, it really is a beautiful building and it now houses the tomb of Raphael.

Piazza Navona is where Bernini`s fountain stands representing the four rivers Ganges, Plate, Danube and Nile...we had some fun there, especially when I nearly fell off the wall trying to take a photo of Husb.

We both made a wish in the Trevi fountain, my wish had a lot of effort in it!

...and then it was lunch. Spanish Steps, Gateways into the city, buildings used in the film "Angels and Demons", a Rome traffic jam... we had done plenty more before this point of the tour...


...was fab, we both love maps (despite not needing one today!) and we loved the map room on the walk down to the Sistine Chapel. We were to assume we were walking down the backbone of Italy with the relevant areas on either side as we walked down.But I also loved the Giotto`s, the frescoes, the Caravaggio and of course Michelangelo. Art, Art and more Art. FAB.

St Peter`s Basilica is enormous and well worth me buying a dress from Matalan to cover my shoulders. 537 steps to the summit of the dome, 186m long and with 11 chapels and 45 altars, what a magnificent building.

A truly memorable day.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Chez Nic...Darlington Update (and THE BOWES MUSEUM)

It`s amazing what you can do with an old battered (VERY COMFY) settee and some garden furniture but with a couple of throws, a few bits of foam and some jazzy fabric the Pixen has made herself a lovely cosy room. She`s done a brilliant job.Her two flatmates Ruby and Chuck will love it there.

This is Ruby...

This is Chuck...

Once we`d finished wrestling with the curtain pole(one more hook needed on the end!) and we`d tied ourselves in knots fitting the washing machine(you need to be a contortionist!) we had time for some culture ...
so we visited the BOWES MUSEUM,the highlight being the Silver Swan.

It is a magnificent building in the historic town of Barnard Pixen`s taxi driver said to her when he de-toured past it "I bet you didn`t expect to see THAT in the North East!"
It was the dream of John and Josephine Bowes who both loved the Arts.When poor health limited the chances of them conceiving a child,they developed the idea of creating a world class museum in John`s ancestral home of Teesdale for the benefit of the local people and set about collecting treasures from all over the world.
The diverse collection spans three floors of the magnificent building and contains items too numerous to list. Whether it is paintings by Canaletto or Goya, porcelain produced at Sèvres, or marquetry attributed to André-Charles Boulle it can all be found at The Bowes Museum, which has received Designated status from the government in recognition of the outstanding collection.
However it is the 230 year-old Silver Swan that is the best-loved object in the museum. The Silver Swan is an English silver automaton, a unique attraction that was bought by the Bowes in 1872. The life size model is still in working order and is operated at the museum on a daily basis.

How The Silver Swan Works
The swan is life-size and is controlled by three separate clockwork mechanisms. The Silver Swan rests on a stream made of twisted glass rods interspersed with silver fish. When the mechanism is wound up, the glass rods rotate, the music begins, and the Swan twists its head to the left and right and appears to preen its back. It then appears to sight a fish in the water below and bends down to catch it, which it then swallows as the music stops and it resumes its upright position.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the TOY TALES exhibition which featured 60 years of BBC TV children`s programmes. There were puppets and models from all our favourites including Andy Pandy, Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, Muffin the Mule, Pinky and Perky,Sooty and Sweep and Paddington (Where was SUPERTED!!!!!!! and TEXAS PETE!!!! ?) Absolutely brilliant!

Friday, 21 August 2009


Florence...what a lovely lovely place. I`ve been wanting to visit Florence for ages, in fact, it was one of the reasons I was so keen to go on this cruise, and I wasn`t disappointed AT ALL. Lovely lovely lovely. And a brilliant place to spend our 29th wedding anniversary.

I now know the way so I could go again!

We docked at Livorno on the coast and took the train to Florence.

Consequently we didn`t have a lot of time so we pre booked entrance tickets for the Uffizi Gallery for the afternoon

and spent the rest of morning tootling around the cobbled streets, enjoying the fabulous art work,

the statues,
the ice cream,
the Ponte Vecchio,

the glove shops,
the David

and the impressive Duomo.

It`s a pity we didn`t have longer there because it was such a lovely place (have I written that already??!) but we COULDN`T MISS THE BOAT!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Back to the CROOOOZE... CANNES

I was so looking forward to Cannes. French sand! A proper beach!
The Jade moored out at sea so we were all transferred to shore by lifeboat. I had studied diagrams of the lifeboat shute whilst stomping round the deck of the Jade and was hoping for a bit of a slide but I`m afraid not!

Anyway we had a lovely morning on the beach, swimming in the sea, building sand castles and admiring the boats (they are always so white and shiny)

What took you so long, Gaudi?!!

Sand sculpting over... we had a little walk on a mission to find a shop that sold Perrier water and in particular Perrier Fluo which you can`t buy in England but no such luck

...and then it was back to the Jade on the tender boat again. The sea was just shimmering in the sun. Beautiful.