15 July 2019 | St George's Channel
15 July 2019 | English Channel
13 July 2019 | Forest of Arden, England
12 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
11 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
10 July 2019 | Waltham Abbey
07 July 2019 | kattegat Strait
06 July 2019 | Baltic Sea
05 July 2019 | Baltic Sea
04 July 2019 | Baltic Sea
03 July 2019 | Gulf of Finland
02 July 2019 | St. Petersburg, Russia
01 July 2019 | Gulf of Finland
30 June 2019 | Gulf of Finland
29 June 2019 | Gulf of Riga
28 June 2019 | Baltic Sea
27 June 2019 | Warnemunde, Germany
26 June 2019 | Kattegat Strait
Queen Mary 2 Sea Day - 07/15/19
15 July 2019 | St George's Channel
Woke up late today. Took our time getting up. Missed the breakfast time in the main dining room, so got dressed and headed to Deck 7, Lido. We each had eggs and bacon, plus a fresh muffin. We walked around Deck 7, along with many other passengers. Some were running. One guy wore a t-shirt stating that he had run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. How incredible! The weather was warmer and sunny out. The many lounge chairs along the edge were all taken with passengers. Some were reading, some were in shorts, catching a few rays. Surprised to see so many outside. We also saw a few people in the hot tub, but no one was in the any of the pools. Maybe the water is too cold for that. The high today was just around room temperature. Light winds made it very pleasant. We discovered an elevator on each side of the ship with a glass wall so we could see the ocean on each side. We found some hallways out to the front of the ship and took some pictures. Mark noticed several dolphins off the bow. Not sure if any of them made it to our pictures. Then we headed to the Royal Court Theater for a talk on The Terrorist Hunters with a former BBC reporter named Margaret Gilmore. She will be doing more talks throughout this cruise. We then attended our first show in the Illuminations Planetarium titled 'Wildest Weather in the Solar System'. It was entertaining. We headed back to Deck 7, Lido, for a late lunch. We did some more walking before heading back to our cabin. I decided to see if I could fall asleep, as I was not feeling that well. I am coming down with a cold. Mark went to listen to a lecture from the Astronomer, Dr Johnathon Crass, on 'Our Place in the Universe'. Mark says he is trying to arrange a dark sky night, which would be great. We showered and changed for our formal dining night. Met up with Terry, Shiela, John and Nancy. We were entertained by a few string classical musicians. It seemed like our service was very slow as it took a full two hours for our dinner. We were likely the last table to leave today. Decided to try our luck at the casino, for the first time. They accept US dollars and just $1 minimum on the roulette table. Our numbers were not selected. We got to see a huge amount of very large wind mills out in the water beside our ship. Not many of them were working. The water was pretty glassy, so must have been a lack of wind to blame. We headed up to Deck 7, Lido, to pick up a hot drink. Mark enjoyed the self-serve ice cream. Catching up on wifi as it was not working thru the day. We must have been too far off shore to connect with their cell towers. It is 17C here at 10 pm. The water is very flat. Our speed is only 11 knots as we are getting closer to Liverpool. The tide will be high just after midnight which will be the correct time to enter the river or channel on route to Liverpool. We will be at the dock long before we wake up as the tv channel showing our current position is stating we will be at the dock at 1 am. Thanks for your emails and messages. Enjoy your day!
Boarded the Queen Mary 2 - 07/14/19
15 July 2019 | English Channel
The alarm woke us up at 7 am. We got dressed and finished packing up. Mark took our gym towels and key back to the front desk. Loaded our bags into the car and we were off before 8 am. We drove about an hour before stopping at a rest stop and had some breakfast. Mark kept noticing people wearing F1 shirts, as they were most likely heading to Silverstone for today's British F1 Race. Mark asked someone if they were going to the race and they said yes. Then he asked how far was the track and they said they didn't know. I guess they were using Google Maps or their GPS to get them there. We later heard that there were 130K people in attendance. It was a cool morning, or at least I felt cold walking outside. The sky was very overcast at times. It drizzled some as we headed towards Southampton. Our drive time was around 3 hours. There were plenty of cars on the high ways. Some of the major high ways were closed with the F1 race today. We passed thru green hillsides, some filled with sheep and others with crops like wheat and something that I didn't recognize. We headed towards London before branching off to a different M high way. We were thankful for the car having a good gps. The only issue was the way they mark the exits on the round abouts, or should I say the lack of markings. It would be so very helpful, if they could better identify each of the exits as some did not match the gps. A few of the round abouts had traffic lights in-between and also printed the high way number on each lane. That was the better ones. We had to go around one of them twice as the high way number was included on two different exits and Mark missed the first one. We arrived early in Southampton, so we checked into the recommended tourists locations. We decided to check out Bargate. These ruins were left over from the original stone gate and wall around the city from hundreds of years ago. I got a lot of good visions from touching it. Then we walked a block or so away and found Tudor House and paid 5 Pounds each to get in. They gave us an audio device so we could hear the history on each room and . Watched a movie for a while and then did the tour. The gardens were beautiful. We loved all the canons and artifacts from years gone by. Lots of royals visited this house. They also had stone walls which gave me a glimpse of life a long time ago. They even had a bunker in the basement level, which was used during WWII. We cut our stay short as it was getting after lunch time and we had to return our rental car by 1 pm. We drove to the hotel that was storing our one suitcase and picked it up. Then we drove to the Eurocar location, but it was closed today. We dropped off the car and Mark arranged an Uber ride to take us the short distance to the ship. It was 1 pm when we arrived at the Queens Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal. We dropped off our two big suitcases and kept our small bags as we headed to the line. The line was huge wound around and all the way outside of the terminal. We didn't realize that it was going to take us two hours of inching in their queues to get to the check in area. None of the passengers were happy. I posted some queue pictures on Facebook. Even the Queen Mary II Captain mentioned it in his welcome speech prior to the Safety Drill. He did not offer an explanation of why it took so long to get aboard. We located our cabin on Deck 4 and our luggage was already there. We met our cabin steward, Lito. Then we headed to Deck 7, Lido, for a very late lunch as it was already after 3 pm. We had a quick bite as we knew that our Mandatory Safety Drill was coming up at 4:30. Mark was happy to see the self-serve ice cream! We had to carry our life jackets with us. We got there early and were able to find an empty seat. Then there were multiple ship announcements about delays. We really don't know the reason for the delays. Several elderly passengers showed up and had to stand as there was no more seats available. Mark donated his seat to an old lady, who was very grateful. We took our life jackets back to the cabin and started unloading our suitcases. We didn't get finished as our 6:00 dinner hour was rapidly approaching. We got dressed and headed to Deck 3. Two other couples joined us. John & Nancy were from north of Toronto in Canada, and Terry and Sheila were from England. The Canadians arrived a couple of days ago while the Brits took a 9 hour bus ride today. We didn't eat much for dinner, as we had eaten lunch so late. After dinner, we headed up to the highest decks to take some pictures of our ship heading out the Solent. We stopped by our cabin, briefly and then headed to Deck 2, to watch the Beatles Experience. It was lots of fun with all familiar songs performed. Then we walked around a little bit, but I wanted to get back to our cabin as my nose was starting to run. Not sure where I picked this up. We are not seeing people using the hand sanitizers, like they did on the Sea Princess. As soon as I finish this blog, I am planning on heading to sleep. We have gotten to the end of the Solent and are heading out into the English Channel. We have tomorrow as a day at sea before our first port stop in Liverpool, England. Thanks for the many emails and messages. Have a great rest of your day!
England - 07/13/19
13 July 2019 | Forest of Arden, England
The alarm went off at 7 am. We caught up with today's news and weather report. It was supposed to be 24C today. We showered and dressed and then headed to the dining room. Today, there were lots of other guests in the dining room, plus the adjacent private dining area. Mark and I both had an egg, bacon and toast meal. I asked if they would cook mine very well. However, it came as a fried egg that looked to be cooked only on one side. So, I sent it back and asked them to cook it longer. It came back brand new and in the same condition, so I really didn't eat it. They had some fried bread, which actually tasted like bread crumbs, so I didn't eat it either. They also had several types of fresh fruits and cereals to offer for breakfast. After breakfast, we headed back to our room and got packed up to leave. It was around 9 before we headed to Nottingham. We were a little early, so we stopped by the Nottingham Castle, only to find it was under construction until next year. We got to see some of the statues and plaques, but that was it. Then we drove to The Railway restaurant. Imelda, Lorraine and John were already there. It was so nice to meet up with our cousins that we haven't seen in way too many years. We caught up over a very delicious lunch. Then just as we were wrapping up, Imelda, who walks with a cane, fell on the hardwood floors. Luckily, there was a doctor in the table next to us, who helped out. An ambulance was called and we waited until she was safely loaded in and off to the hospital. We found out later that she needed to wait for a ct scan to see if there was any damage in her neck. We said good-bye to John & Lorraine and drove towards Southampton, to a hotel that Mark had already booked in Forest of Arden. We didn't realize this was a golfing paradise. There were many golfers on the course and in the hotel area. We went for a walk on their trail, but it was quite overgrown with long branches with thorns. We decided to head back to the hotel and check it out. They had a huge indoor pool, work out room and at least two restaurant/cafes. We enjoyed a bite to eat at the cafe. Then got changed into our swim suits and headed to the pool area. They had a hot tub, sauna and steam room as well as a pool. We tried them all out. The sauna was 80C. We didn't stay too long since the facilities were closing at 10 pm. Headed back to our room and showered. Caught up on emails and messages. Thanks for sending them our way. We plan to get an early start tomorrow, heading to Southampton. We need to retrieve our suitcase and return our rental car and board the Queen Mary II after lunch. As we drove up to the hotel, we noticed a sign to watch out for peacocks. Then we remembered that yesterday, a peacock ran across our path as we drove back to the Kilworth House. We stopped and ran out with my camera to get a picture. However, the peacock ran away at great speed and I didn't get a picture at all. Our time in England has flown by. We packed so much into our days here.
England - 07/12/19
12 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
Woke up around 7 today. Showered and got dressed. Watched some tv in our room. Caught up on the internet. Mark has mentioned a few times that this hotel reminds him of the British Hurlingham Club in the city where he grew up in Argentina. Our hotel is like a private castle. Breakfast was included, so we walked around the hotel to the dining area. Enjoyed our breakfast. It was wet outside, so it must have rained over night. We tried, yet again, to get tickets to Silverstone's F1 Practice today. However, they published that the tickets were all sold out. So, we changed our plans today. Our waiter suggested visiting the Richard III Museum in Leicester. Mark watched some of today's F1 practice on our room tv. We could see some rain at the track. We headed to Leicester, which was about 15 miles from the hotel. This city was quite large compared to the tiny towns we have visited lately. We parked on a street close to the museum and were able to get a parking tag from the machine. First, we had to find a shop with some coins to exchange our bills, as the machine only took coins. We enjoyed our visit to this museum. Apparently, Richard III was killed in a battle several miles from here. His soldiers were on the losing end of the battle. They transported his body to Leicester, where he was buried. That was hundreds of years ago and eventually the town built a parking lot over it. Someone did a lot of research and narrowed down his location. There was something published stating that he was buried in an Earl's garden, but over the years that property was sold. In 2012, they were successful in recovering the body. DNA testing was used. They even computer generated his head using the recovered skull. The museum had a lot of history. It was an enjoyable visit. After we were done, Mark added some more money into the parking meter. I wanted to find a place that did acrylic nails, so they will look good for the cruise. I had to wait for my turn as the waiting room was full. Mark took advantage of my down time to find a barber. However, there were too many people waiting there and he changed his mind. After I was done, we headed next door to Five Guys for lunch. Walked around a multi story mall which was built into some very old buildings. Mark found a Boots Drug store, which he remembered from Canada, and bought us some throat lozenges. We went back to the shop to see if they had any Stugeron. We have carried this brand of sea sickness pills for years on our sailboats. We bought a couple of boxes to take home. It is only sold in British countries. We drove back to the hotel around 3:30 pm. Mark took a nap. I was watching some Wimbledon tennis finals. We are nearby the stadium. Have not watched any tennis in many years. We decided to get some exercise and headed out to the many trails around this hotel. We followed the path out thru some forested areas. There were beautiful flowers along the way. The sun was shining and the temperature was over 75 degrees. However, there was a cool breeze and I was glad to have worn my sweater. It was nice to get some walking exercise. We found the entrance to the theater that is part of this hotel. Nothing is played for several weeks. They advertised some great one-night bookings that are coming up. Mark found another pub, closer to the hotel. We drove over to the Black Horse. The parking lot was full, so we had to park up the street. No one worried about parking permits there. We shared a pizza for dinner. Then we headed back to the hotel. We watched some more tennis on tv. We were told that the many people around this hotel were attending a Murder Mystery dinner and show. It sounded like something that would have interested us, but it was sold out. Mark also asked if they had any available rooms for tomorrow night, but was told that the entire hotel was booked for a wedding. It is definitely a stunning place. We are doing research on our upcoming plans. Thanks for the many emails and messages. We are driving to Nottingham tomorrow. Can't wait to meet up with my cousins who I haven't see in a very long time. Enjoy your day!!
More Touring England - July 11, 2019
11 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
It was after 11 pm when we headed to bed. I woke up several times and could not fall back asleep. We both woke up after 8 am. We enjoyed Victoria's birthday treats for breakfast. By the time we got up and headed out it was much later than planned. We had good wifi and I was enjoying all the emails and messages for this special day. We got to watch some tv news. The weather was predicted to be around 25C which is a very comfortable 77 degrees. We left the Marriott around 10 am. Traffic was still pretty backed up for that hour. It took us around 2 hours to drive to Avebury. We parked at the Red Lion Pub parking lot. We still had to buy a parking ticket and post it on the windshield. We joined a lot of tourists that were walking around the two sets of rock circles. There were gated entrances which locked after we opened them. There were sheep in the one field and the doors had to remain closed so they didn't get out. I did some wonderful connections on the huge rocks. I felt so much energy, similar to Sedona. The visions lifted me out of my body and gave me a view of what happened there so many years ago. We purchased tickets and toured the Manor House and Church, as well as the beautiful gardens around the house. The house was built and sold many times, with each new owner adding rooms. They had some volunteer tour guides in each of the main rooms to answer questions. Our lady guide told us that this house was on the same lay lines as the Pyramids in Egypt. Thru the years the circles were broken up by the church as they deemed this a pagan place. This place was connected to Stonehenge. We enjoyed touring the old house. Everything from the original house was moved to other locations and they reproduced a lots of the furniture and clothes. We could have tried on the clothes or touched any of the items in the house. We got our questions answered which was lovely. Queen Anne was one of the house residents. Apparently she had a huge amount of children, but none of them lived past the age of 11. So sad. The church was very nice. It hasn't changed much over the years. It was still in use in that tiny town. There were some souvenir shops, but one had an alarm go off while we were about to go in. We never did visit any of the shops. We took a break and had a very nice lunch at the Red Lion Pub. They took the cost of our parking ticket off our bill, which was very nice. I keep having to remind Mark to tip. We got used to the 'no tipping' policy in Australia. We toured the second field of rock circles after lunch. There was a huge number of sheep grazing in the field. They didn't seem to mind people walking around the rocks as they grazed on the lush green grass. The two circle areas were surrounded by a grassy moat. Everything about that area was amazing to me. I truly enjoyed our time there. The one guide told us that this was a cleansing area for the people traveling to Stonehenge. I actually had done a chakra cleansing while I was working with the stones. We left just before 4 pm. The traffic was okay to begin with, but then it was bottle-necked as some lanes disappeared. At least the last hour of driving was bumper to bumper. We stopped and topped up our fuel and took a restroom break. We found some pokey machines. Since it was my birthday, I decided to try my luck. I almost got all my money back. The machines were much different than the ones we have been playing lately. We were both exhausted by the time we arrived at the Kilworth House Hotel in North Kilworth, Leicestershire in Central England. Mark selected it especially since it was my birthday and more like a castle than a hotel. It was built on 38 acres of gardens, parklands and woodlands at the end of the 18th century. It was built for John Entwisle, the High Sheriff of Leicestershire. The Kilworth House Theater is next door, but there are no shows being performed during our stay. We only saw a few other guests in the dining room. We decided to check out the local town and ended up having dinner at the White Lion Pub. It was really good. They offered free wifi, which was nice. After we finished eating, we returned to the hotel. It had rained while we were having dinner. Thankfully, it waited until our touring was over. Back at the hotel, it was still sprinkling some. Our hotel wifi connection does not allow us to use Whatsapp. We were able to walk around the hotel and find some connection to wifi using Mark's cell phone. We are 5 hours ahead of East Coast time, but mostly everyone was at work. We made a couple of calls and our day was pretty much over. Sun sets around 9:30 pm. Mark tried to purchase general admission tickets to tomorrow's British F1 Practice but was told in a recording that tickets were sold out. We may drive to Silverstone tomorrow and see if they have any tickets at their box office. If not, we will find something else to do. Thanks so much for all the wonderful emails and messages with good wishes received today!!
10 July 2019 | Waltham Abbey
Our alarm woke us at 7 am. Got up and showered. Organized our suitcase. Then headed downstairs and out the back door, just before 8 am. The owners of our b&b lived two doors down which is where breakfast was served. We met up with one other couple, who were from Ottawa, Canada. They are in England for a few days, prior to heading to Southampton to take a Celebrity Baltic cruise. Enjoyed a very tasty breakfast. We headed back to the Churchill Guest House and finished packing. We took our suitcases down to the car, which was parked close by on the street. Started our drive around 9 am to the east side of London. We stopped once to get fuel. It was a Shell station that did not have restroom. So, we headed back to the M1 and found another Shell station with restrooms. The traffic was backed up once we got close to the city. There was one car accident and they were tying up a lane, which slowed us down. We went thru a couple of lengthy tunnels and eventually arrived at the pre-arranged restaurant Coborn Pub. Victoria was there, working away. We had such a lovely visit. Lunch was good, but the portions were way too big. I am not sure how we managed to not take any pictures. Thanks, Victoria for meeting up with us. We could not find any parking lots around the restaurant, so we just parked on the street. It was for permitted cars only. Just as we headed to the car, we noticed a meter patrol guy at our car. When we got close to him, I asked him to be kind as we could not find parking and we were only there for today and leaving. He decided to walk away. I hope that means we are not getting a parking ticket. We headed over a few streets to the Dr Who Store which housed a Dr Who Museum. Again, there was no parking lot, only a side street with permitted parked cars. Mark took a chance once again and thankfully, no one patrolled that street. We walked over to the store and checked out their Dr Who merchandise. Mark paid 3 Pounds each for our entry to the museum. We entered thru one of their Tardis Police Call Boxes. We were warned that we could not take any pictures in the museum as everything was copyrighted. They had lots of costumes and pieces from many of the shows. My favorite was the Van Gogh painting where he added, 'To Amy'. Mark loved the Weeping Angels. It was interesting. We didn't stay much longer. Our car was safe in the spot where we left it. Mark found a cell phone store to get them to figure out why we do not have data, after paying for a month's service. I told him to stop on the side and if someone complained, I would drive around the block. The store was able to reset something on the phone. We now have his UK sim carded cell phone working. Lots of stores around there. I was surprised at the amount of litter and trash on the streets. They had plenty of trash bins, but no one is using them in the big city. I thought the Brits had a higher sense of cleanliness.
The next stop was to Waltham Abbey where Mark booked us into a Marriott hotel. We got our room and got connected to their wifi. Answered a lots of emails and made some plans for the next few days. Tomorrow's drive to Nottingham got moved to Saturday. So, tomorrow will be an interesting day for us. Mark's cousin suggested that we visit Avebury. After doing some research, it definitely peaked my interest. We may also drive back to Stonehenge as we fill my birthday with some stunning places to visit. Today, was surprisingly warmer. Our highs were in the upper 70's. I still wore my sweater but we didn't need our jackets. The sun felts nice and hot. Thanks for all the emails and messages. We decided to take a drive thru the town of Waltham Abbey. There were many row houses as well as single and double units. Everything looked nice and clean here. We stopped at the Queens Head pub for a light dinner. Mark got to try a local beer. After we finished, we drove back to our hotel which actually has a beautiful indoor swimming pool and gym. However, neither of us are feeling enough energy to partake today. We are watching the movie, 8 Days to the Moon and Back, on our tv. All is well here!