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Copyright © 1995-2001 
Linda Coffman


Renaissance R7
Dover to Copenhagen
August 3-16, 2001

by Pam and Jim Murphy

FRIDAY, August 3
It seems like we have been anticipating this day for such a long time and now it is finally here.  We spend the morning taking care of all of those last minute details.  Our town car arrives at 2PM to pick us up and take us to JFK.  We had hoped to miss the rush hour traffic but hit a real bottleneck at the Goethals Bridge.  Our driver is a tailgater with a lot of hitting those brakes very hard.  We sit in traffic for at least half an hour but finally arrive at JFK about 5PM.  At terminal "4" we find a skycap and our Renaissance Omni flight has begun the check-in process - they have people stationed with Renaissance signs to direct us, making things very easy.  In the documentation, there are instructions about the weight of the luggage. Mine are definitely overweight and I am prepared to pay the $2 per pound overage, however, weight isn't an issue. Everything goes smoothly and all we have to do is wait for our 8:45 flight.  

Back in April, I went on line and met another couple who would also be on the cruise. We have been communicating since then and found so much in common. This couple actually lives less than an hour from us. So first on our agenda is to try to pick them out in the waiting room.  Spoke to Kathy on the phone on Tuesday (we talked for an hour plus and had never even met!) We described ourselves to each other and also told each other what we would be wearing. We see no signs of anyone who fits their description, so figure that we are there first. At one point Jim sees a couple who seem to fit the description and waves to them, but no response so know this is not the right couple. Then another couple comes along and starts waving and smiling and coming toward us. Jim and I look at each other and can't believe it. Kathy said that they were in their fifties and this couple is close to 80, and wearing the wrong things. Did she lie? As it turns out, they are waving to the people behind us. Finally we spot the right couple and did we ever luck out. Kathy and John are a lovely couple and it appears that we will get along well. We decide to go for a bon voyage drink together while waiting for our flight. Before we know it, it is time to board.  

The flight was on time. The seating selection on line worked out very well. Jim and I have aisle seats next to each other, which is really the most comfortable seating. The seats on board are very narrow but we do have more legroom than on many commercial flights. The flight attendants are not the most polished bunch, the food is fine-typical airline food, and the movie is "Traffic". We make excellent time (about six hours).

SATURDAY, August 4
We arrive in Manston, UK, at about 9:30. Manston is an old RAF airport from World War II. They have a museum with Spitfires. The Renaissance buses are waiting for us and we go directly from the plane to the bus.  There is no clearing customs -- we do not even go inside.  We are taken to Folkstone for refreshments.  Along the way we drive through some very pretty countryside, seeing lots of sheep and cows.  We drive through Dover, passing our ship, in the English Channel, which is being readied for our arrival later in the day. As steeped in history as British tea, Dover sits on England's southeast coast, just across the Channel from Calais, France. Many have come here before us -- Romans built a lighthouse here in 50 AD, Henry II started construction of Dover Castle high on the famous white cliffs in 1181, and a century later pilgrims stopped here on their way to Canterbury. We pass the White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle and with such a clear day can see the coast of France across the Channel. (France and England were at one time joined - during the Ice Age the English Channel formed to separate the two.)

Here, on a secret cliff top balcony, Winston Churchill looked out across the Channel during the Battle of Britain. The medieval tunnels used by the British during the evacuation of Dunkirk are also here.  Today Dover remains a major embarkation point from England to Europe, and we pass the terminal for the Channel Tunnel.

We finally arrive at our destination, Leas Cliff Hall - an entertainment center, or dinner theater type place. This complex is up on the cliffs overlooking the English Channel. We are served a continental breakfast downstairs.  We sit with Kathy and John at tables that have our bus number on them -also at our table there is a great couple from CT, Jerry and Barbara, and two other nice couples.  The one couple is from Kentucky and very young - look like kids to us - and lots of fun. After our snack, we walk along the cliffs and enjoy the sun, breeze and view of the Channel.  This is or was a seaside resort. There is a cable car to take you down to the beach and the amusement park that is down by the water. We then stroll through the downtown area of Folkstone. Not sure if the shops are uninteresting or if I am just too tired to even think about shopping. Very out of character for me!  Folkstone is a lovely little town and we find lots of good photo ops. 

It is finally 12:30 and our bus arrives to take us to the ship (we board at 1:00 PM). Can't wait to get settled and shower! The R7 is one of Renaissance's two newest ships and identical to the rest of the fleet. Upon arrival we have our picture taken (I'm sure that we all look our best after all the travel)!  This will be a case of buying the photo just to get it off the display board! This is the first time I have ever waited on a line to check in for a Renaissance Cruise. Things are set up well, different lines for names beginning with different letters of the alphabet.  They have even staggered the arrival times of the buses.  The good news is that the lines move quickly.  From here our hand luggage is taken from us and we are escorted to our rooms.  We are in cabin 7121 at the rear of the ship. Chose this cabin because it has a deeper balcony than the rooms on the side. The trade off is that you can get the smell of fuel when sitting on the balcony every so often and in the morning the balcony furniture has some soot on it, which you need to wipe off. Our luggage has not yet arrived so we unpack our hand luggage and then go up to the Panorama Buffet where lunch is being served.

It is nice to have this opportunity to just sit and unwind before facing the job of unpacking. When we return to our cabin our luggage is waiting. We had thoughts of going out this afternoon to see Dover Castle - supposed to be worth the visit. However, a shower and getting settled just seems to be the better choice.

At 4:30 we attend the port talk in the Panorama Lounge. This is a must for me, since this is the first cruise where I have had such a difficult time deciding on which shore excursions to select.  Figure that listening to the talk about them might help. First our cruise director, Clodogh O'Connor, speaks.  She is going to be wonderful, must have been a stand up comic in another life.  She gives a general description of our first three ports and then Michael, the shore excursion manager gives the particulars on the tours. After listening, I am still confused which tours to select so wait on line to ask some questions at the end. Michael is very helpful and my decision is made. Renaissance has a new policy (at least new since last spring when we last sailed with them) where they offer a discount of $10 per excursion, if the person (not couple) take seven or more tours with them.  I believe that this is to encourage people to take the tours through Renaissance rather than doing ports on their own.  It appears that the tours may have been marked up in some cases to be discounted.  The pricing of the tours depends on the port.  Some ports have very high prices and others are quite low.  I have also heard complaints on the message boards that people are given no help if they do not book tours through Renaissance.  Not true on this cruise.  In the port talks, Clodogh was extremely helpful in telling us how to do it on our own.  No one felt pressured to take the tours.  Many chose the tours and just as many chose to do the ports on their own.

Returned to our cabin and filled out the shore excursion form.  We like to take the ship's shore excursions since, for us, it seems to be the best way to see the most in the short amount of time that we have in port. Our cabin stewardess introduces herself and I ask her to bring a lounge chair for the balcony.  At first she said that she couldn't but I mentioned that on other cruises they have gotten one for me.  She says that she will check and does bring one (tip her $10).

Jim walks off the ship to enjoy a cigar (still no smoking on board). We do find out that the reason the smoking policy is being changed is that they are now marketing to the Europeans who will not take a cruise without smoking. Smoking will be limited to one end of the upper deck and to one section of the Horizons lounge. There will be no smoking allowed in the cabins or on the balconies and no cigars will be permitted. With these restrictions I don't think that the smoke will be a serious problem for non-smokers anywhere but in the Horizons Lounge. We were also told that at present many people do not abide by the no-smoking rule. We asked what they do when someone smokes and were told that a letter is sent to their cabin. At present there is smoking in the crew quarters. They feel that they could not staff the ship with no smoking for the crew, since most are Europeans. Even though it is on the ship I have never personally smelled it. Our cruise has under 500 guests (the ship is not filled to capacity of close to 700) and the next cruise has even less. My guess is that they are not filling the ships and this is the reason that they are marketing to the Europeans.

I spend time on the balcony reading and feel so relaxed. Don't want to sleep so that I can adjust to the new time as quickly as possible. From our balcony we have a wonderful view of the White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle. The sun is warm and I am enjoying listening to the seagulls. Once the sun goes down it becomes a bit chilly. 

We have dinner at 7:30 (Jim made reservations as soon as we boarded) in the Grille Restaurant with Kathy, John, Barbara and Jerry.  I order the rack of lamb and we all agree that the dinner is delicious.  This is the perfect time to catch up with what others did during the day.  Kathy and John did go out to see Dover Castle and thoroughly enjoyed the tour.  The Castle has visuals (such as fake blood soaked bandages in the hospital section and also sound effects) - it houses an exhibition of World War II spying equipment. Kathy even managed to pick up some gifts at the Castle gift shop. Can't believe that someone shopped before I did. Think we are going to get along wonderfully, both being shoppers!

The photos taken today were on display and selling for $7 for a 5"X7".  There is no show scheduled for this evening but they do show the film "Chocolat" in the Panorama Lounge. I have seen this movie so decide to get a good night's sleep.  Plan to relax on the balcony but it is raining and windy, so nix that idea. Welcome to England!   I am able to sleep from 11PM to 3AM and then I am wide-awake.  Walk out to the balcony and the winds have calmed, it is no longer raining, and there are even some stars in the sky.

SUNDAY, August 5
This morning we order a continental breakfast to be delivered by room service.  In the past I have never thought of tipping for delivery, since we tip at the end of the cruise. However read on the message boards that others do tip so give him $2, which is accepted with a smile. Guess it is the right thing to do.

Choosing the shore excursion for today was a difficult decision. We really wanted to see London but my fear was that a lot of time would be spent traveling and that once in London the tour would be pretty much a drive by of the sights with little time to do much else.  So we are taking the full day Canterbury and Leeds Castle tour ($84.99 but we paid $74.99).

We leave early in the morning -- a bright sunny day with a wonderful breeze (guess those stars last night were telling me something).  Our first stop is Canterbury.  One of England's most venerable cities, Canterbury offers a rich slice through two thousand years of history, with Roman and early Christian ruins, a Norman castle and a famous cathedral that dominates a medieval warren of time-skewed Tudor dwellings. The city began as a Belgic settlement that was overrun by the Romans and renamed Durovernum, from where they proceeded to establish a garrison, supply base and system of roads that was to reach as far as the Scottish borders. With the empire's collapse came the Saxons, who renamed the town Cantwarabyrig; it was a Saxon king, Ethelbert, who in 597 welcomed Augustine, dispatched by the pope to convert the British Isles to Christianity. By the time of his death, Augustine had founded two Benedictine monasteries, one of which - Christ Church, raised on the site of the Roman basilica - was to become the first cathedral in England.

At the turn of the millennium Canterbury suffered repeated sackings by the Danes until Canute, a recent Christian convert, restored the ruined Christ Church, only for it to be destroyed by fire a year before the Norman invasion. The cathedral was only a century old, and still relatively small in size, when Thomas a Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered here in 1170.  Becket, an uncompromising defender of ecclesiastical interests, had angered his friend Henry II, who was heard to claim, "Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?"  Thinking they were carrying out the king's wishes, four knights burst in on Becket in one of the side chapels and killed him.  Two years later Becket was canonized, and Henry II's subsequent submission to the authority of the Church and his penitence helped establish the cathedral as the undisputed center of English Christianity and made this one of Christendom's greatest shrines.  Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, written towards the end of the fourteenth century, portrays the unexpectedly festive nature of pilgrimages to Becket's tomb.  Becket's tomb (one of the most extravagant shrines in Christendom) was plundered and destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII in 1538 as part of his campaign to reduce the power of the Church and confiscate its treasures.

In 1830 a pioneering passenger railway service linked Canterbury to the sea again, as it had been up till Norman times, and prosperity grew until the city suffered extensive German bombing on June 1, 1942, in one of the notorious Baedeker Raids, when Hitler ordered the destruction of the most treasured historic sites described in the German Baedeker travel guides. Today the cathedral and compact town center, enclosed on three sides by medieval walls, remain the focus for leisure-motivated pilgrims from across the globe.

We arrive early before anything is open, the best time to see Canterbury is before the crowds arrive. We walk through the gate to the Cathedral but unfortunately are only able to view the Cathedral from the outside since the church is closed to tourists, for services on Sundays.  There is time to leave the tour and attend a service but we stay with the tour to see the rest of the grounds of the Cathedral.  After the tour we are given time on our own to explore the town.  Some shops are not open on Sundays and others don't open until 11:00 AM.  Most of the pubs don't open until noon and we are scheduled to meet back at the bus at noon.  People intending on having lunch seem to only have Mc Donald's open! I manage to fit in a bit of shopping.  I buy postcards, a pair of Staffordshire dogs for myself  (not the antiques but the new ones that are made from the original molds about $56), and a Beatrix Potter teapot for my daughter for Christmas (couldn't resist because she loved the Beatrix Potter stories as a child).  The teapot looks like a cottage with Jeremy Fischer in the doorway (about $30).  Jim's large purchase is a Canterbury mug! Along with some unique shops the town has the Gap, Laura Ashley, the Body Shop and similar chain stores. There is a pottery shop that is closed but in the window they have some very interesting looking tiles from the Canterbury Tales.

We board our bus to head for Leeds Castle in Maidstone. Driving through Kent is a feast for the eyes. Kent is known as the 'Garden of England' - the garden referring to the hops that we see growing. It is a country of orchards, market gardens, and the typical round, red-roofed oasthouses, used for drying hops. I also finally see a hedgerow, something I have heard of but never really stopped to think about what it actually is. These are simply rows of hedges where fox are found. Today, there are subsidies to plant hedgerows to help maintain this habitat for the fox. 

Shrouded in mist, mystery and legend, Leeds Castle rises from its own lakes amidst one of England's most picturesque counties, the survivor of 1000 years emerges into the 21st century pre-eminent among the great buildings of the British Isles. It has experienced battles, witnessed intrigue, entertained and solaced leaders of men, inspired countless artists and now provides a place of fascination and enjoyment to half a million visitors each year of all ages.

Originally, a Saxon royal manor built in AD 857; Leeds became the stone Castle of the Norman Crevecoeur family.  From 1278 Leeds was a royal palace where Edward I built the unique fortified mill and barbican.  Falling to Edward II's troops in 1321 because his Queen was refused admission, the Castle was never again besieged, as its reputation for being a ladies Castle grew ever stronger.  In its illustrious history, Leeds Castle has been the home of six medieval Queens of England and will no doubt be graced by many distinguished ladies in the centuries ahead.

Full of historical wonderment, portraits of Richard II, who held court at Leeds, hang near rooms, which may have been used by Henry V's widow, Catherine de Valois, shortly before she eloped with Owen Tudor. Their great-grandson, Henry VIII, enjoyed the Castle immensely and the many Tudor windows bear witness to his architectural improvements.  It was from Leeds that Henry started for his momentous meeting at the Fields of the Cloth of Gold with Francis I of France in 1520, embarking at Dover - an event recalled by the magnificent paintings in the Banqueting Hall.

In 1552, Leeds was granted to Sir Anthony St. Leger, the Lord Deputy of Ireland.  His successors, the Smyths, built a Jacobean house on the larger island, selling it in 1632 to the Culpeper family.  Supporting Parliament during the Civil War, the Culpepers allowed Leeds to become a Parliamentary arsenal.

At the restoration the Culpepers sided with the Crown which had granted over 5 million acres to the first Lord Culpeper for conveying the future Charles II into exile. From the Culpepers, Leeds passed to Lord Fairfax, the successor of Black Tom Fairfax, the great Parliamentary General, whose portrait also hangs in the Castle.  The sixth Lord Fairfax gothicized the main house, entertaining King George III in 1778, while in 1821, the Wykeham Martins inherited Leeds but unfortunately bankrupted themselves rebuilding the Smyth House. Fortunately, Charles Wykeham Martin married an heiress in 1822 and retrieved the situation. In 1926, Olive, later Lady Baillie, bought Leeds Castle from the Wykeham Martins, totally transforming it internally.  Employing two international interior designers, Armand Albert Rateau and Stephane Boudin, Leeds Castle is probably the most complete memorial to these men.

Lady Baillie filled her house with fine furniture, ceramics, tapestries and paintings, all of the highest quality -- her collection of 18th century Chinese Porcelain is remarkable, with many pieces recalling her fondness for exotic birds. Lady Baillies's achievements culminated in the most radical development at Leeds Castle in its long history; by her will, the Leeds Castle Foundation was created to maintain the castle, garden and park for the enjoyment of visitors in pertuity. Now, thanks to Lady Baillie, we are able to stroll the grounds of this magnificent fairytale stronghold.  Upon arrival we are given the option of taking ground transportation to the castle or of walking (about 20 minutes). Our guide recommends walking to experience the true beauty of the grounds. So we walk (and aren't disappointed) though the lushest vegetation, we see peacocks, a mother duck and her babies and black and white swans.  The beauty is breathtaking. From its beginnings in the Middle Ages, the park surrounding the castle was designed to enhance the architecture and status of the building.  The park, in general, and the duckery, in particular, are now home to a large number of wild fowl, swans, geese, king fishers, sparrow hawks and peafowl.

We then tour the castle, found this a bit of a disappointment in many areas since things have been modernized.  However, it still retains the flavor of its beginnings.  The castle is entered through the Norman wine cellar on the lower level by the moat - there are no guided tours within. Tours are operated on a free flow system as you wader through the rooms, at your own pace, which represent the lives and times of those who have lived at the castle. There is a guide stationed in each room to answer any questions that you may have and also written explanations of what you are seeing.

After seeing the castle we are given time on our own to enjoy this magnificent place. We visit the gardens -- color throughout the seasons is guaranteed in the gardens of Leeds Castle, however, it is at its best in the springtime.  There is an aviary with over 100 species of rare and endangered birds. The castle also has a maze and a secret underground grotto.  There is a museum dedicated entirely to a collection of antique dog collars (a quick walk through is enough for me). There are also shops and restaurants on the grounds. We don't take the time to eat, but do hit the shops. I find some postcards and we buy some snacks to take to our room. I also purchased a children's book called "Leeds Castle and the Magic Key" which is a good way for children to learn about the castle.  The shops carry a variety of items including clothing - I didn't find much that I couldn't live without!

After leaving Leeds Castle we drive through the small village of Lenham -very quaint and exactly how you would picture the little villages in the countryside of England.  The village church has a tithe barn where corn is stored to hand out to the parishioners, who are in need. Thoroughly, enjoyed today and would recommend this tour highly.

Upon our arrival back at the ship at 4PM, Jim and I were both starved since we didn't take the time to eat (too busy shopping to waste time on something so mundane!). Order sandwiches from room service, which are delivered promptly. Room service is a very limited menu but great to have available.  

The ship sails at 5PM and we were able to see the White cliffs recede and the cliffs of France became clearer.  As soon as we sail I remember just how much I love the Renaissance Cruises. Not long after sailing it is time for that good old, mandatory lifeboat drill. Due to the weather (water a bit choppy) we only have to go to our stations and not out to the lifeboats which make it go much quicker.

On the cabin television movies are continuously run such as Pollack, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, etc.  

We dress for dinner after a short rest. Tonight we meet with Kathy and John for a drink at the Club Bar before dinner.  Kathy and John like eating late, 8-8:30, which is just fine with us  -- it seems to eliminate the returning from the tours and having to rush.  We eat at the Club Restaurant and I order the tournedos of beef - so tender and cooked to perfection. This is our second wonderful meal on board.  Once again this is our time to catch up and compare notes on what we did today.  Kathy and John took the 'Grand Tour of London' tour.  Kathy really wanted to see London and was glad that they made this choice. They had very limited time in London and most was driving past the sites. They had an excellent tour guide that gave them a wealth of information during the drive to and from. There was time to get off of the bus at the Tower of London but the lines were very long and there was no time to go in. Since it was Sunday, Harrods and most shops were closed. After hearing this I think we made the best decision for us. In my opinion we had a very nice day and saw a lot.

After dinner, I stop in at the gift shops.  Find a couple of very pretty sundresses for my daughter ($65 & $75) and also her favorite perfume '212'. We then go to the Paramount Lounge for the show and I ordered my favorite -- Amaretto on the rocks. Tonight it is basically an introduction to the crew with a couple of numbers by the Paramount Performers. Thoroughly enjoy listening to Clodagh, who is from Ireland and has that wonderful lilting voice. She is quick and funny and a show unto herself!

I do notice that on this cruise the photographers are around a lot more than on past Renaissance cruises. I'm not sure if this is because there are fewer passengers than usual or because they are more on top of things.  However, love getting photos taken while on tour. The weather isn't the best and these photos guarantee a clear photo when our camera may not do as well with overcast conditions. Another nice thing that I have never seen before is that they take photos of the sites which can be purchased ($3 each -5 for $10 and the price lowers as you buy more - a good tip is not to buy them a little at a time but save up and get them all at once for the best price). Some of the shots they get are really wonderful and I can't resist! Something else I don't recall from other cruises is having the photos from the day available by the same evening. I could be wrong but think that in the past we always had to wait until the next day.

Return to the room hoping to sit on the balcony but it is raining so decide to hit the bed. People are complaining about the beds being hard but I am sleeping like a baby. Someone told me that they would bring you some type of padding for the bed, which seems to help those with the problem.

MONDAY, August 6
Portland, UK -- Today we have a continental breakfast delivered to the room.  It is overcast and due to rough waters we are tendered.  Getting onto the tender there is a very steep jump but the crew is wonderful with helping us.

Stark, wind-battered and treeless, the Isle of Portland is famed above all for its hard white limestone, which has been quarried here for centuries - Wren used it for St Paul's Cathedral, and it clads the UN headquarters in New York. It was also used for the six-thousand-foot breakwater that protects Portland Harbor - the largest artificial harbor in Britain, which was built by convicts in the mid-nineteenth century. Poorer grades of Portland stone are pulverized for cement - the industrial stone-crushing plant is a prominent and unlovely feature of the island.

The causeway road by which Portland is approached stands on the easternmost section of the Chesil shingle. To the east you get a good view of the harbor, a naval base since 1872, but now jeopardized by the post-Cold-War rundown of Britain's defenses. The craggy limestone of the island rises to 496 feet at Portland Bill, where a lighthouse has guarded the promontory since the eighteenth century.

Thomas Hardy's 'Isle of Slingers', juts out like a bird's beak into the English Channel. The Isle of Portland is not really an island, though it is only joined to the mainland by a narrow strip of land and the Chesil Beach. The mass of land that juts out into the channel is formed from a block of limestone 4 1/2 miles long by 3/4 of a mile wide and rises from near sea level in the south to over 400 ft high in the north.

Portland has been inhabited since early times and traces of occupation have been dated back 7,000 years. The Romans knew it as "Vindilis" and Thomas Hardy wrote about it as 'The Isle of Slingers' due to the fact that Portlanders used to throw stones to keep Kimberlins (strangers) away. It is a Royal Manor and the crown owns many of the quarries dotting the landscape. The breakwater, which forms one of the largest harbors in the world, some 2130 acres, was started in 1849. Prince Albert laid the foundation stone on the 25 July and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, laid the last stone on 18 August 1872. The twenty-three years of construction had cost the lives of twenty-two men. Convicts, who had hewn 5,731,376 of stone to form the breakwater, carried out most of the construction work at a cost, in 1871, of 1,167,852 pounds. Inigo Jones had used Portland stone before the Civil War, and Sir Christopher Wren, Weymouth's MP, used it to rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666. St Paul's Cathedral and some fifty other churches and buildings were built with the famous white limestone. Over six million tons were used in the rebuilding, the stone loaded onto barges from piers on the east side of the island then transported along the coast and up the River Thames to the building sites.

In 1972 approximately 600 tons of stone were quarried for the restoration and repair of St Paul's. Included in the delivery was a block originally selected and marked for Sir Christopher Wren, 300 years earlier. The stone was also used for the Whitehall Cenotaph, the national memorial for the dead of the Great War. A special quarry was opened at Wakeham for the carefully selected stone, and the order from the Commonwealth War Graves was for half a million headstones; all were shaped, carved with names and badges and shipped from Portland to the Western Front. Over 800,000 gravestones were also produced in the 1950s for the nation's war dead of the Second World War. Following attacks from the French, Portland Castle at Castletown was built in 1539. Its partner, Sandsfoot Castle at Wyke Regis, is now a ruin due to sea erosion of the sandstone cliffs. The Castle is built of Ashlar stone, the finest Portland Stone available and cost 4,964 pounds at its completion around 1540.  Its plan is impressive, like an open fan with the curved face of the two-story gun battery facing out to the sea. A climb to the top will reward you with wonderful views across the harbor and beaches, including the point where the US troops embarked for the D-Day invasion in June 1944. It is one of the best preserved of Henry VIII's castles and is of interest as it shows the transition from medieval to more modern methods of fortification.

These days the Verne, on the top of Portland, is a prison, but it was originally constructed as a citadel for the army and held 700 men, though in time of war it could accommodate over 2000. It was heavily fortified and was armed with 30-ton guns. The latest prison to open on the island actually floats! It is HMP Weare, which is anchored in the former Naval Base. Bought from the American Prison Service, it was carried across the Atlantic on a huge barge, it had originally been built to accommodate British troops stationed in the Falkland Islands. The presence of the Navy and its associated scientific establishments was the mainstay of the island's economy for many years, but with the recent changes in defense policy this changed in 1995 when the Royal Naval Base closed. This was followed by the closure of HMS Osprey, the Naval Air Station, in March 1999. With this in mind local businesses are turning to tourism as an important part of their long-term future.

Today our tour is to the village of Abbotsbury and to the Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens. Driving to Abbotsbury we find that the Dorset (this area is Dorset) landscape is made up of hills and valleys - the hills are chalk and stone. We pass through the Saxon village of Wyke.  Wyke village was open to attack by the French on Sundays because everyone was in church - and the French knew it.

There is a superstition in Portland about saying the word 'rabbit'.  If a man is going to work and a rabbit crosses his path he will turn around and go home for the day. The fear of rabbits comes from the fact that rabbits can burrow under the ground and this is not good for stone quarrying since it can cause unstability in the ground.  We approach our destination and the magnificent sweep of Chesil Bank and the surrounding hills provide a dramatic backdrop for the village of Abbotsbury, situated a few miles down the coast from Weymouth. This unspoiled thatched village is home to the Swannery (first introduced by Benedictine monks as a source of meat in winter), home to the only managed colony of Mute swans in the world. The swans have remained for centuries, building new nests every year in the soft, moist pampas grass.

At the Abbey, we see the Tithe Barn - the world's largest thatched barn and home to many farm animals.  This is also the site of St. Peter's Church and its old cemetery. There are so few of the monastic buildings remaining, that the best clue to the wealth and prestige once enjoyed by the abbey in Abbotsbury is St. Catherine's Chapel.  Sitting on the domed hill, surrounded by the narrow medieval fields cut into the hillside it still dominates the Abbbotsbury landscape.  Remarkably, it is built entirely of local stone, from its foundations to the stone-slabbed slates on the roof.  It survives because of its importance as a seamark to sailors crossing the dangerous waters of Lyme Bay.  St. Catherine is the patron saint of spinsters, who one day a year can pray for a husband. The prayer to St. Catherine follows. 

A husband, St. Catherine 
A handsome one, St. Catherine 
A rich one, St. Catherine 
A nice one, St. Catherine 
And soon, St. Catherine

We wander around the village-- however, we are there early and nothing is open.  I found the post office open and manage to get a few postcards. The village is lovely with its stone houses and thatched roofs. 

The Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens are just lovely and we thoroughly enjoy strolling through them.  Established in 1765, by the first Countess of Lichester, as a kitchen garden for her castle, it has since developed into a magnificent 20-acre garden filled with rare and exotic plants from all over the world, most of which were new introductions to England that were found by plant-hunting descendants of the Countess.  There are both formal and informal gardens, and the camellia groves and magnolias have made Abbotsbury world famous.  There is a gift shop open at the gardens, nothing too special here - other than postcards and some very pretty paper napkins.

On the hills above Abbotsbury stands Hardy's Monument-dedicated not to the novelist, as many suppose, but to Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Nelson's flag captain at Trafalgar, to whom Nelson's dying words, "Kiss me, Hardy" (or was it "Kismet, Hardy"?) were addressed. The monument itself is without much charm, but the surrounding view more than makes up for it.

We drive through Dorset and for those with a love of Hardy's works, rural Dorset will always be regarded as the focal point of his writings. Hardy was born and bred in the county and many of his great works were written here, based on the towns and villages that he knew and loved, re-christened with such poignant names as 'Casterbridge' and 'Budmouth'.   We pass many of these towns and villages where we find settings little changed from the days of Hardy's great novels. We drive through Weymouth, which is a lovely seaside resort town.  King George III came to Weymouth for the seawater as a cure for his porphyria, an unknown disease at the time, which made people believe that he was mad.  The first time the king went into the sea -- he was submerged, and when his head popped out, a band was there to play 'God Save The King'. Weymouth then became the 'in place' to go and became the resort town it is today.

I enjoyed this tour -- parts were disappointing but it did give us a good chance to see this area and the landscape was well worth it. The gardens were a visual treat but would have been showier in the spring. Our tour guide was excellent and gave us a good feel for this part of England. We catch the tender to bring us back to the ship. Remember that steep jump getting onto the tender this morning? Well, what was a steep jump is now a steep climb. Once again the crew is very helpful. At one point one of them puts their hand on my rear to help push me up. Didn't even mind since I was just happy to get up there. (Later find out that it wasn't a crewmember at all, but Jim who gave me that push on the behind!) 

We are in Portland for half day and sail shortly after returning to the ship. Jim and I go to the Club Restaurant and I order turkey salad on pita bread.   This was a light selection, made with yogurt, cucumber and mint rather than mayonnaise - tasted like it was loaded with calories -- absolutely delicious. After lunch the photos from the day are already on display. There is one of us taken in the gardens, which I purchase. The gift shop is having a special on Majorca Pearls - buy myself a pair of pearl stud earrings 8mm ($52). These will match the pearls I bought when in Spain. They also have Russian Faberge Egg pendants, some with stones and others of enamel. I bought one of these when we went to Russia and the ones with stones are not worth the money, since the stones tend to fall out. Imagine that the enamel would be a better choice.

This afternoon there is an art auction in the Panorama lounge -- something new since our last trip with Renaissance.  Things are going anywhere from $50 to some very high prices.  Don't stay for this, since I am not in the market for artwork. There is also a wine tasting talk going on in the Panorama Lounge. Believe there is a $5 charge for this. I listen as I was walk by and it seems to be very informative.

One of the crew is wearing a very pretty black pearl pendant  - good size with a nice luster.  I admire it and she tells me that she has connections in Tahiti and got quite a few for next to nothing, when the ship was there. She mentions that she is selling this particular one; I express an interest in buying it. I have been eyeing one in the gift shop for $1500.  She sells me the pearl in an 18-carat gold setting for $225.  From our trip to Tahiti I know that this is a great price.  I bought a ring in Tahiti with a smaller pearl and paid much more for it - and know a little about selecting a black pearl.

The Captain's Cocktail Reception is at 6:30 but decide to remain in the cabin and read since we aren't having dinner until 8:30. At 8:00 we meet Kathy and John at the Horizons Lounge for a drink before dinner. Tonight we have reservations at the Italian Restaurant. The salmon appetizer was especially good and the whole meal delicious. So far this is the best food of any of our Renaissance cruises.

After dinner we go to the Panorama Lounge for an after dinner drink and to watch the show. Tonight's performer is Davie Howe - a fabulous singer and trumpet player with manic energy. His twist is that he can play anything making music with things from a shower hose to a walker (blows into the hollow legs). Davie is also an outstanding drummer.

TUESDAY, August 7
Cobh, Ireland -- This morning I have my usual continental breakfast in the room.  We arrive in Cobh (pronounced Cove), Ireland at 7AM and it is cloudy but not raining.   Sailing into Cobh takes my breath away - this is my dream come true to see Ireland.  I get chills sailing into the harbor thinking of my grandmother leaving from here to come to America and this being the last sight she had of her beloved Ireland.  Already I can see what they mean about the 40 shades of green (guess all the rain they get makes for healthy vegetation - now I pray for some sunlight to illuminate all those shades!)  

Cobh lies on Great Island, one of the three islands in Cork harbor that are now linked by causeways.  The Victorian seafront has rows of steeply terraced houses in the pastel shades of pink, blue, yellow and in white, overlooked by St. Colman's, an inspiring Gothic Revival Cathedral.

Following a visit by Queen Victoria in 1849, Cobh was renamed Queenstown but reverted to its original name in 1921.  The town commands one of the world's largest natural harbors -- the reason for its rise to prominence as a naval base in the 18th century.  It was also a major port for merchant shipping, the main port from which Irish emigrants left for America, and the port from where the convict ships to Australia sailed.  Cobh was also a port of call for luxury passenger liners.  In 1838, the Sirius made the first transatlantic crossing under steam power from here. Cobh was also the last stop for the Titanic, before its doomed Atlantic crossing in 1912.  Three years later, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sank by a German submarine just off Kinsale, southwest of Cobh.  A memorial on the promenade is dedicated to all those who died in the attack.

The name remained Queenstown for some decades before reverting to its Old Irish name in 1922  --  the Cobh (the cove) of Cork.  Is there anywhere in Ireland more filled with poignant memories than this embarkation point for America?  From here hundreds of thousands of mostly hungry and penniless Irish men and women left to build a new life, especially in the Famine years of 1844-48.  Many thrived and prospered, but many died on the journey in the terrible traveling conditions of the time.

Our ship docks right near the Queenstown Story Exhibition.  The Queenstown Story is based in the disused portions of the railway station at Cobh.  This highly imaginative visitor attraction tells the story of emigration from Cobh in the period of the famine in 1845 up to the era of the great Liners in the 1950s. The historical role which Cobh harbor has played as a port is also illustrated.

Cobh is a pleasant town; its streets climb the steep slope of a hill, the top of which is crowned by St. Coleman's Cathedral, which has a carillon of 47 bells. This is a perfect place for just wandering around.  Unfortunately, there is not enough time for us to do this since we have two tours booked for today.  Just too much that I want to see in Ireland and too little time in the ports.  This is a port where an overnight would be very nice - we would then have time to explore Cobh and also take the full day tour to County Kerry.  

Choosing a shore excursion is very difficult since we want to see it all.  We are really torn between going to Kerry for the full day tour and taking a morning and afternoon tour.  The Kerry tour takes you to the Muckross House and to see the Lakes of Killarney.  On this tour there is some free time to wander on your own in the city of Killarney.  The reason that I am so undecided is that my grandmother was from Kerry but I know that I will not be able to get to the town she came from, Ardfert (near Tralee).  Jim's family comes from Cork.  In the end we decide to do the two tours and skip Kerry. Our goal is to see as much of Ireland as possible and feel that we will see more with the decision we are making.  As you are reading this, I am sure that you are just delighted that we will be taking two tours - all the more to write about and the longer this will be!

Our morning tour is to Blarney.  We had planned to meet Kathy and John in the lounge so that we would be on the same bus.  Jim sends me down first and I check the lounge and don't see them so wait outside.  They never show and here I stand waiting.  Finally they start calling the people to board the buses and there are Kathy and John who have been in the lounge the whole time.  And I thought I only needed glasses for reading! Needless to say, we didn't get onto the same bus.  

As we drive from the pier, we pass several Martello Towers. These towers, which are so plentifully studded along many portions of the English and Irish coasts, were built in Ireland by the military authorities under "The National Defense Act" of 1804. There were originally fifteen between Dublin and Bray, but some six or seven have either been taken down, or have fallen, in consequence of the erosion of their sites by the sea. They cost on an average about 1,800 pounds each, and usually took some six months to build.   We also pass Penny Walls, which are called this because the laborers were paid a penny, for working on their construction.

We drive through Cork, an 800-year-old city whose center is uniquely situated on an island between two channels of the Lee River.  St. Finbarr is credited with laying the foundation of the city by starting a church and school in the 6th century.  The area was a wetland, and St. Finbarr, flush with imagination, identified it as Corcaigh, or "the marshy place."  In time, the school flourished and a considerable town grew.  Because of its relatively remote location and its citizens' spunky attitude, Cork asserted remarkable independence from outside authority, gradually earning the title "Rebel Cork."  The name carried through to the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence, in which Cork men figured prominently.  Today, as the Republic's second-largest city, Cork (pop. 136,000) is a busy commercial hub for the south of Ireland. The traffic moves fast and the people talk faster, even with their almost sing-song accent.

In Cork we have the opportunity to see some of the city's most impressive sights.  We drive past St. Anne Shandon Church, a Cork landmark, famous for its pepper-pot steeple and its eight melodious bells.  The church stands on the hilly slopes of the city, north of the River Lee.  Built in 1722, St. Anne's has a façade made of limestone on two sides and of red sandstone on the other two.  The steeple is topped by a weather vane in the shape of a salmon.  The clock face is known by the locals as the 'four-faced liar" because up until 1986 when it was repaired, each face showed a slightly different time. The word Shandon comes from a word meaning 'old fort'.  

St. Finbarr's Cathedral is absolutely gorgeous. This Church of Ireland cathedral sits on the spot St. Finbarr chose in AD 600 for his church and school, south of the River Lee. The current building dates from 1880 and is a fine example of early French Gothic style; its three giant spires dominate the skyline. The interior is highly ornamented with unique mosaic work. The painted and gilded apse ceiling shows Christ in Glory surrounded by angels. The stained glass windows below tell the story of Christ's life.  The bells were inherited from the 1735 church that previously stood on this site.

Another interesting Cork landmark is the Butter Market that opened in 1770. This is where butter was graded before it was exported to the rest of the world and it supplied butter to the British navy.  By 1892, the exchange was exporting large numbers of casks of butter each year, bringing prosperity to the city. The exchange closed in 1924.

We arrive at Blarney.  Blarney got its name from a statement made by Queen Elizabeth I - "I am tired of all this blarney" (referring to the Irish).  At this statement the word entered the language. Our first sight is of the castle. What remains of this impressive castle is a massive square tower, with a parapet rising 83 feet. The vaulted first floor was once the Great Hall. Jim went up the stairway to kiss the Blarney Stone. Now he will be endowed with the 'gift of gab' - lucky, lucky me! Since there are huge lines of tourists ready to pucker up and lay one on this piece of rock, things move quickly once you get to the big moment. Someone had Jim's camera to catch him in his moment of glory and low and behold the camera wasn't turned on - no second chances! Not to worry, there is a photographer to capture this special moment in time, and for a mere $7 you can have a copy sent to you! Ours should arrive shortly! Kissing the stone is a  long-standing tradition, intended to confer a magical eloquence. The stone is set in the wall below the castle battlements and, in order to kiss it you are grasped by the feet and suspended backward under the parapet. Now, doesn't that sound like fun?

I make the decision to shop instead of climbing all those steps to kiss a rock! Those that did kiss the stone say that the steps were very narrow and that it was quite a climb. The good thing about shopping rather than kissing was that it gave me the opportunity to beat the crowds in hitting the shops. There are several nice little shops near the castle and also the Blarney Woolen Mills, which is a huge two-story department type store filled with all sorts of things Irish. This used to be a woolen mill but was eventually bought by the Kelleher family and turned into a shopping complex. By now it must be evident that shopping is very important to me and I am in heaven here! At one of the small shops I buy several tee shirts and hats for Jim - my best find is a baseball cap with Murphy's on it (our name). Murphy's is a local brewery. Another goody is a shirt for Jim that says 'I kissed the Blarney Stone.' Also find some little things that I will put away for stocking stuffers such as pens and lighters and postcards. Pick up a couple of Ireland tee shirt for my friend's grandchildren. Also find an adorable stuffed shamrock toy that I buy for my grandpuppy, Bosley! Shouldn't take her long to tear it apart! Oh for a real grandchild! I find an Irish tweed jacket ($70) for my daughter in blue, which should look great with jeans. Then it is on to the Blarney Woolen Mills, where I buy an agate and diamond (tiny little diamond chips) Claddagh ring, in 10 carat (the standard in Ireland, although they do have 14 carat) gold for a friend ($100), a 10 carat Celtic Cross and a pair of 10 carat St. Bridget Cross earrings for myself. Also get a few silver Celtic crosses for Christmas gifts. During the cruise I have gotten friendly with one of the entertainers, Kelly, who is a sweetheart. She helps me shop for my daughter and daughter-in-law. We find a great outfit made by an Irish designer of Irish wool for my daughter. It is a black skirt and top, with a very narrow stripping of fur trim - sounds yucky but is really nice looking!  Kelly even takes the time to model it for me, so we can be sure of the size. Then see something perfect for my daughter-in-law, by the same designer, but they don't have the size in the color I want. I know there is a Blarney Woolen Mills in Dublin so plan to try to get it there. Other treasures that I purchase are a silk scarf with a Celtic design for a friend, tin whistles for my friend's grandchildren - won't their mothers be pleased? Also get a pair of shamrock boxers for my son's Christmas stocking. There are some beautiful Irish dolls but I have no granddaughter to shop for! Now, we can always count on Jim to find some quality merchandise for himself. He has a ball shopping and winds up with a souvenir plate, mug, and shot glass and orders himself a Murphy plaque. As I have stated in other trip reports, it is my goal to keep Jim happy, so that I am free to shop without interference! This tour is basically a shopping tour, since there is not a lot to see at the castle. We are given plenty of time to do sufficient damage to the bank account! About mid morning the sun comes out and now we have a beautiful day.

Our tour guide is decent but no one to rave about.  In fairness to her, her only opportunity to talk was on the bus since we are on our own in Blarney. During our ride back to the ship, we are given many tidbits about this area such as; in southern Ireland there are no problems with discrimination; the Irish children have the opportunity to choose whether to be educated in Gaelic or in English -- an effort to try to revive the Gaelic language, which nearly died out under British rule; there is an airport in Cork that is trying to expand its flights to become an international airport; at the moment Ireland has the best economy in Europe.

We arrive back at the ship just in time to catch our next tour, which is to Kinsale. This tour guide is wonderful and I really enjoy listening to him. We pass Fota Island on which is the estate of the Barrymores and also a wild life preserve with giraffes - we can even see a giraffe in the distance. Ireland, like England has hedgerows.

Our guide tells us something of the superstitions of the Irish. I am not sure if these are from the past or are still practiced in the present. They set an extra place at the table for the fairies. They dress the boys in girl's clothing because they believe that the fairies prefer boys to girls and are more apt to take a boy child and leave a changeling in its place. We are also told that the largest population is around Dublin and sparse in the rest of the country. Also of interest is that the Irish people desperately want peace in their native land.  

We see little traffic on the road to Kinsale and enjoy the quiet to take in the magnificent scenery. Our first stop is at Charles Fort. This star-shaped fort was built in the 1670s by the English to protect Kinsale Harbor against foreign naval forces but, because of its vulnerability to land attack, was taken during the siege of 1690 by William of Orange's army. Nevertheless, it remained in service until 1922 when the British forces left the town and handed it over to the Irish Government. Charles Fort is one of the finest remaining examples of a star-shaped bastion fort in Europe. William Robinson, architect of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin, is credited with designing the Fort. Across the estuary is James Fort, an earlier structure, which was designed by Paul Ivy in 1602. In 1690 after the 'Battle of the Boyne' the Williamite forces arrived at Kinsale and attacked both forts. This is an idyllic spot for getting the real feel of the beauty of Ireland. The photographer takes our photo here.

We arrive in Kinsale, one of the prettiest small towns in Ireland and have warm sunny weather to explore. Kinsale has had a long and checkered history. The defeat of the Irish forces and their Spanish allies in the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, signified the end of the old Gaelic order.  An important naval base in the 17th and 18th centuries, Kinsale today is a popular yachting center.  It is also famous for the quality of its cuisine - the town's annual Gourmet Festival attracts food lovers from far and wide. Kinsale Harbor is situated on the estuary of the Bandon River, and is one of Ireland's most scenic harbors. Some landmarks in Kinsale are St. Multose Church, a much-altered Norman Church that is named after an obscure 6th century saint and marks the center of the medieval town; Desmond Castle, built around 1500, and is known locally as the "French Prison"; the Old Courthouse, now the regional museum has a toll board listing the local taxes in 1788. Kinsale is a picturesque town and what I especially notice is that the houses; shops and pubs are all very bright in color.  We are told that the Irish use the vivid colors to cheer them up with all of their gloomy weather.  Two famous restaurants in Kinsale are Mother Hubbard's, one of Kinsale's most popular cafes and The Blue Haven, identified by the ornate clock above the entrance and one of Kinsale's finest seafood restaurants.  We stroll along the marina and enjoy the beauty of the town's many parks -- we find an abundance of flora and fauna with color peeking out from every rampart, wall, and window-box.  And yes, there are lots of wonderful shops in Kinsale -- and you know that I just can't resist checking them out.  There are mostly craft shops and in one I find a small bronze type of figure that is entitled 'Deirdre and her Lover' which is from the Irish Legend of Deirdre.  This is my daughter's namesake so I can't pass this one up.  I also pick up some postcards and Jim gets a souvenir plate.  You may wonder what he does with all of these plates and mugs (and did I mention that he also collects hats?)  Well, he decorates his home office with all of these 'fine collectibles'.  I refuse to even set foot in that room to dust - it's all his to take care of!  If you think that you have seen clutter, you haven't truly experienced it until you've seen his office!

We no sooner board our bus to return to the ship and the heavens open -- the timing is perfect!  We follow the River Bandon, which is noted for its salmon and trout fishing. Our guide tells us of the story of the White Lady of Charles Fort. The lady was engaged to one of the soldiers stationed at Charles Fort. One day when she was visiting him she asked him to pick her a white flower growing on the battlements. As he was performing this task for his beloved, he fell sound asleep. When caught sleeping he was shot for falling asleep while on duty. The lady found him dead and threw herself over the battlements.  She is said to now haunt the fort.

Another story we are told is the Irish story of the Children of Lir. There was a time in ancient Ireland when the people believed in magic and in druids and spells. These were the days of the Tuatha De Danann tribe, the Goddess Danu and of Lir, the lord of the sea. Lir's wife, Eva, had given him four beautiful children. The children enjoyed swimming in a small lake. But these were no ordinary swimmers! They possessed gills for breathing and webbed feet, as they were, after all, the offspring of 'the ruler of the land beneath the waves'.  After the death of Lir's wife, he married her sister, Aoife who was possessed of magical powers.  Jealousy over Eva began to consume Aiofe and she became an evil woman.  One day she took the four children to the lake and by casting a spell changed them into beautiful swans.  They were to remain as swans for 900 years. The children were left with their voices.  Lir searched for his children that day, but Aoife told him that they had been attacked and killed by wild boars.  His daughter, Fionnuala, now in swan form, approached her father and told him what Aoife had done. Lir was furious and banished Aoife into exile as an evil demon of the air.  Lir faithfully visited his children and the power of his love ensured that their time on the lake was one of bliss. Often the beautiful singing of the children/swans could be heard coming from the water. The only thing that would break the spell cast upon them was the tolling of a church bell. After many years spent as swans a church bell finally tolled -- time seemed to stand still, but in another instant a great white mist had been blown off the nearby lake and enveloped the children as it had done 900 years before. The mist changed into all of the colors of the rainbow before a great wind gusted it away. The children had at last been transformed back into human form.   The children began to age rapidly and so it was that the children of Lir, the last of the Tuatha De Danann died soon afterwards, their legend to live on forever.

In the past, Irish family lands were split up among the children. Eventually the land parcels became so small that they were too minute to be useful. This is when the Law of Primogeniture was introduced to Ireland, where the oldest son inherited the family home and lands. This forced the other sons to enter the religious life or to emigrate. Matchmakers were used to marry off the daughters.

He then explains about the wakes in Ireland. The body of the deceased was laid in a shroud (made by the women of the parish) and kept for three days. A male family member was required to dig the grave. The men and women smoked pipes with some 'funny stuff' in order to mask the smell of the decomposing body. People flocked from all over to the funerals, since not 'paying your respects' was considered an insult.

I believe that we made the right decision in taking the two tours. It gave us the opportunity to see so much of the surrounding lush green countryside and also gave us a broad view of the area in the short amount of time we had. Upon returning to the ship there is a band playing on the pier. While we were on tour, Celtic dancers came on board -- we missed the performance. Those that saw them just rave about the show. The dancer's leave just as we return, giving us the chance to see their pretty costumes. The people of Cobh come out in droves to see us off. Not many cruise ships stop here, making our visit a special occasion for them. It is such a great  feeling to experience the warmth and friendliness of the Irish people. This is the old fashioned kind of bon voyage that you see in the movies. Where are our streamers? Just love it with the band playing and everyone waving goodbye as we sail! I can't help but think of all those who left from this port for America in those 'coffin ships'. Travel can really bring history alive.

Spend the remainder of the afternoon on the balcony reading, enjoying the sun, which is once again out. Crazy weather!

Meet Kathy and John for dinner at the Club Restaurant. Tonight they have a special of reindeer. I have never tasted this so give it a try. It is very good and I enjoy this meal. We then go to the show by the Paramount Performers which is 'Music Makes The World Go Round'.  Kathy and I go to get seats for the 10:00 show. The plan is for John and Jim to meet us. We see Jim come in and are waving to him and we aren't sure if he is ignoring us or if he really doesn't see us. Finally, we see him get a table right near ours and wonder what in the world he is doing - doesn't he like our table? After lots of waving he finally sees us and does come over. Looks like we both need our glasses checked! During all of this there is bingo game going on. We start laughing about sitting here watching others play bingo. Talk about an exciting evening! I don't know what possesses Jim, but he shoots a photo of the assistant cruise director calling bingo numbers. Well, this stops the whole game while everyone teases Jim about his choice of subjects for his photographs! Then as if this isn't enough for one evening, I'm asked to take a picture of Kathy and John -- as I look through the view finder, I can't understand why Kathy keeps raising her arm - figure this is the way she wants it, so click the shot. As soon as I remove the camera from my eye I see that I was shooting the couple behind them and not Kathy and John at all. See what happens with dim lighting and no glasses!

After the show (very enjoyable) I check the photographs from the day and buy the one of Jim and I in Kinsale. The gift shop is having a clearance on the left over items from the Baltic cruises. They have some pretty shawls from Russia for $10-$20. I buy two with a floral print, one with a black background and the other with a cream color. Also purchase two very fine crocheted shawls in shades of gray. Will put the shawls away for Christmas gifts.

Continued... Part Two

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