How I love India, however jaded, jet lagged and cynical you are, India will disarm, occasionally alarm and, most certainly, charm. Having spent the best part of 20 hours travelling, the hairdryer heat of India was a momentary distraction as I settled into my cool, air con car and idly stared out of the window anticipating a quiet rest of the day acclimatising myself with some gentle unpacking and a cool drink in my hotel. Exactly as anticipated, a charming greeting, a necklace of fresh flowers and, at last, the cool quiet interior of my room- except, except for the addition of Mr Bo, my room butler. Bustling Mr Bo immediately took charge, swishing curtains back and forward, flushing loos to demonstrate their undoubted efficacy and, bewilderingly, supervising my unpacking! Each item was scrutinised, considered, viewed from a number of angles- and then moved from wherever I had put it with an accompanying mutter of ‘placement Madam, placement’ – and the addition of a small square of white linen on which to sit the offending item. Hairbrush was irrevocably separated from hairspray, toothpaste marooned in the middle of the coffee table in splendid isolation until at last, exhausted by our enforced collaboration, I went in search of supper. Climbing the stairs, slowly, my legs felt as if I was wearing diving weights, and there was the irrepressible, Mr Bo heading downwards. Rather ungratefully I experienced a moment of relief, least he wasn’t going to supervise my makeup removal. Arrived at room, opened door and headed straight to the bathroom for a quick shower- to be greeted by a freshly drawn bath, at the perfect temperature and crowned with a blanket of fresh rose petals floating in a fragrant kaleidoscope of reds and pinks. See what I mean, India gets you ever time, maximum respect Mr Bo.
‘In the middle of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere’ – that was the description of our location as we journeyed by coach from our floating home from home MS Braemar. I had been expecting spectacular scenery, tick, the usual comforts of our favourite ship, tick, and less than tropical weather, tick! However, our sail from Dover had been blessed with calm seas and a following wind so the two days spent reaching the Faroes had been a very pleasant mix of winding down after a hectic time at work, finding a quiet spot to catch up on reading – and enjoying seeing our hardworking yet ever cheerful friends among the crew.
We sailed in the capital of the Faroes, Torshavn, early in the morning and it was a delight, the little red and white houses, some of the older houses with turf roofs, and a busy harbour full of purpose and bustle. It was also really windy, my rather elegant oilcloth hat proved of no use whatsoever and was unceremoniously bundled into my rucksack -and lovely and well prepared husband provided a woolly alternative, might not look great but hey I had warm ears and my hair wasn’t whipping about like a demented medusa, what’s not to like!
We enjoyed our walk around this very small capital – it was a testimony to where it was, no room for fancy and decorative but the practical was executed in a way that rendered it full of integrity and in fact very pretty. It reminded me a bit of a 50’s children’s town toy, colourful square houses, green, green grass and people doing the everyday stuff, fisherman, dustmen, delivery vans all spic and span and purposeful, no dawdling about just getting on with it!
There were some lovely items on sale, wools and felt and glass and ceramics – not cheap but not tourist tat either and I am sure pairs of gloves and woolly hats found their way back on board! We found a warm and cosy coffee shop on the harbour. as the door opened a smell of coffee and fresh bread escaped so we found a corner, got our coffee and watched the Faroese world go by. Bread is obviously a really important staple and it looked delicious as we watched the locals tucking into rolls and jam for a mid morning snack – really good coffee too, and as many refills as you want for the cost of a cup – yeah, my kind of place.
The afternoon was spent touring on with a coach – I am not a huge fan of coach trips but when one has a day and want to see as much as possible it is best to go with the flow – and the experts! We were amazed by the isolation of some of the communities, life lived in a very different way from anything we know, totally self sufficient and pared back. Our delightful young guide was immensely amusing about his island life – comments such as ‘I haf no idea why they live here, must be near a pizzeria!!’
The rain rained and the wind blew but in a way it added to the mood of the places we visited, snug turf roofs, beds built into the walls by the fireplace for extra warmth, and the ability to make and use to its best what is at hand – skills we have lost. The church we visited had small model boats hanging from the roof, testament to parishioners who went out to fish, and didn’t come home and we went back to the ship with a great admiration for these islands and their people – and the guide did remind us that their team beat Greece at football!
Much more to tell and photos to share- been a while since the last blog, BT decided to cut us off for days and then I went on hols but back now and trying to get the photo thing sorted so they appear in nice little blocks, doh, sorry!
I love to snorkel, I love the way that as soon as you pop your mask underwater the noise of the world is left behind and a new world unfolds. It is easy to loose track of time – I have a really bad habit of doing this – and following fish is great but remember to occasionally stick your head up to see where you are, absolutely essential no matter if you are snorkelling from a beach or from a boat, this is really a reminder to me! My first snorkel in the Caribbean was made more challenging by the new underwater camera hanging from my wrist. I absolutely know that one is not supposed to snorkel with the camera attached to any part of ones anatomy, but I also know that I do not want to see said camera disappearing downwards as I fumble to keep mask, snorkel and fins in place – oh yes this snorkelling lark can be a tad complicated- not to mention the strands of hair that float seaweed like having escaped from whatever band I firmly trapped them in.
However, having discarded my first two pictures – my left foot and some seaweed. I eventually did manage to focus on some denizens of the deep, nothing dramatic, and I am not entering any wildlife competitions but I think my fishy friends are fab – so enjoy, posting shortly.
Incidentally, if anyone had any ideas that the post snorkel look was akin to emerging Venus like from the sea, tousled hair playing about the face in the gentle breeze, forget it. Any stray mascara, waterproof or not, gives you the panda look, the hair resembles an unravelled plastic dish scrubber and then there is the runny nose thing – I will draw a veil over it except to say runny nose or not it was worth it!
Back from our cruise with Fred Olsen on MS Braemar and the warm sea and sand are just a memory- but the new islands we visited were, for the most part, a delight. St Kitts we liked a lot, having already done the iconic railway we enjoyed the town, visited an estate house and really enjoyed conch soup and grilled prawns sitting on a wraparound balcony watching the world go on by – that is the joy of cruising, dip in and out and decide which you want to return to and which not. In our case we have always loved Antigua so a stay at Nelsons Dockyard is on the list while St Maartens isn’t – too many designer shops and diamond emporiums and no sense of anyone actually living, buying food and inhabiting the place – but, of course, to some cruisers it is their ideal port of call. Cant wait for my next cruise – luckily only have to wait to July, The Faroes, Norway and Iceland – methinks I won’t be snorkelling!